While the economy has impacted every firm, some are clearly doing better than others. Here are seven firms that have saddled up to ride out this recession.

1. Apple
Apple loyalists, many of whom would cut their budget for food and water before buying a PC, are not only buying the products, they are vocal advocates of them. Apple's March quarter showed 9% year over year revenue growth and an operating margin of 20.4%, one of highest ever. More impressively Apple sold 3.8 million iPhones in the first quarter to easily beat the earnings estimates. In short, the iPhone means iProfit.

2. Google
When people try to find bargains, where do they turn? The internet, of course. That makes Google a winner. And even though those searches aren't turning into customers as often, Google still beat the consensus earnings estimate in their recent quarter. Net income for the three months ended March 31 totaled $1.42 billion, or $4.49 per share, compared with $1.31 billion, or $4.12 per share, a year ago. Apparently, Google in the search space means "won with many zero's after it."

3. McDonald's
McDonald's is still lovin' it as people turn to the hamburger giant as they tighten their wallets and increase the speed of their lives. The coffee has improved, and an entire meal can be had for the mocha/frappe/whatchamacallit you used to drink when you had money. First-quarter results were reported with global comparable sales up 4.3%, operating income increased 5% in constant currency and EPS reached $0.87, a 17% increase in constant currency. Besides what better excuse than a recession to dive into some of those tasty McDonald's french fries?

4. Wal-Mart
Even when budgets got tight, Wal-Mart's balance sheet bulged because in difficult times, they get to keep their existing customers, and gain customers that were repositioned from the downturn. There April sales numbers solidly beat monthly same store sales estimates, growing 5%, compared to estimates of around 2%. Sam Walton's goal of making quality goods affordable works in any economic condition. In this case, "always low prices" means always a good business. (Learn more about a company's balance sheet; check out Reading the Balance Sheet.)

5. Altria
Those addicted to nicotine will continue to pay the price (in many ways) regardless of economic condition. Excluding one-time items, Altria earnings per share rose to 39 cents from 37 cents per share a year earlier in the first quarter. Tobacco firms may not worry about economic downturns, but they will be worried about pending legislation in congress that will give the FDA jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products. So while they may be riding out the recession easily, they still just may see their profits go up in smoke.

6. Colgate-Palmolive Company
Even in a recession, brands still mean something, even better if they are low cost brands. While there is some pressure on higher-priced brand name staples, for most people skimping on laundry detergent or toothpaste is like letting the recession win. This shows in the recent strong earnings of reported net income and diluted earnings per share of $507.9 million and $.97, respectively, in the first quarter of 2009 and the company feels comfortable with its estimates going forward.

7. Abbott Labs
Solid advancements in medical science that result in people having better heath care generate returns in all market conditions. After all, people still get sick and still need health care products no matter what the economy is doing. Abbott Labs continues to develop products and increase profits. First-quarter earnings ending March 31 came in at $0.73 per share, reflecting 15.9% growth, and $0.03 above the mid-point of Abbott's previous first-quarter guidance range. That will make shareholders feel better.

The Bottom Line
Companies that have solid brands, loyal customers and great products can not only ride out this recession, they may just be positioning themselves to gallop into increased profitability as we turn the corner. (Find out where to turn when looking to invest in a tumultuous market. Read Industries That Thrive On Recession.)

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Retirees: 7 Lessons from 2008 for the Next Crisis

    When the last big market crisis hit, many retirees ran to the sidelines. Next time, there are better ways to manage your portfolio.
  2. Economics

    The 2007-08 Financial Crisis In Review

    Subprime lenders began filing for bankruptcy in 2007 -- more than 25 during February and March, alone.
  3. Economics

    Industries That Thrive On Recession

    Recessions are not equally hard on everyone. In fact, there are some industries that even flourish amid the adversity.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    Is a U.S. Industrial Recession on the Horizon in 2016?

    Find out why the industrial economy may be teetering on an industrial recession and what could prevent it from going over the cliff.
  5. Fundamental Analysis

    Gloom and Doom for Global Markets in 2016?

    Learn about the volatility in global markets during the beginning of 2016. See why famous investors are saying some economies could see recessions.
  6. Economics

    Lehman Brothers: The Largest Bankruptcy Filing Ever

    Lehman Brothers survived several crises, but the collapse of the U.S. housing market brought the company to its knees.
  7. Investing News

    Is it the Right Time to Raise Interest Rates?

    Warning signs have started to emerge that point to a potentially dismal 2016 for the U.S. economy.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Worried About a Recession? Consider These 5 Stocks

    If you're worried about a recession, consider these five stocks that offer resiliency potential.
  9. Economics

    3 Economic Challenges Russia Faces in 2016

    Learn about the three largest challenges facing the Russian economy in 2016. How will low oil prices and high inflation impact the Russian economy?
  10. Economics

    Davos 2016, Day 1: No Crash, But Robots Are Taking Over

    Lagarde says chill out, Biden wants to rescue the middle class.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Which mutual funds made money in 2008?

    Out of the 2,800 mutual funds that Morningstar, Inc., the leading provider of independent investment research in North America, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do interest rates increase during a recession?

    Interest rates rarely increase during a recession. Actually, the opposite tends to happen; as the economy contracts, interest ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the risks of annuities in a recession?

    Annuities come in several forms, the two most common being fixed annuities and variable annuities. During a recession, variable ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the risk of investing in the industrial sector compare to the broader market?

    There is increased risk when investing in the industrial sector compared to the broader market due to high debt loads and ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can I hedge my portfolio to protect from a decline in the retail sector?

    The retail sector provides growth investors with a great opportunity for better-than-average gains during periods of market ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the correlation between term structure of interest rates and recessions?

    There is no question that interest rates have enormous macroeconomic importance. Many economists and analysts believe the ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  2. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  3. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  4. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  5. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
Trading Center