Times are tough, no matter what size a business is. Start-ups and corporate giants alike are struggling to stay afloat long enough for business to pick back up. These companies have bucked the downward trend: they grew a profit, despite the bad economic climate. Here are six companies that survived the recession, and the secret to their success. (Read more background info, in Industries That Thrive On Recession.)
IN PICTURES: Obtaining Credit In A Bad Economy

  1. Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN)
    It all started in a garage, like so many large corporations we know today. Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos believed the internet could meet consumers' needs in a unique way, and began shipping books to customers worldwide in 1995. His vision proved to be profitable, as Amazon has grown to the place to go for online shopping; the company grew sales by 28% in 2009, a tough year of deep dips in sales for most businesses.

    The company's secret? Focus on the long term: Amazon looks to innovate with products like its new Kindle 3, and strives to expand market share, forever anticipating the next change. (Learn more about Jeff Bezos, in 5 Billionaire Habits That Can Make You Richer.)

  2. Ford (NYSE:F)
    Just years ago, Ford was in deep financial trouble, along with the entire American car industry. Plagued by recalls, safety issues and lagging sales, Ford was looking like it was on its way out - until CEO Alan Mulally took over. It took three years of losses, rigorous cuts in jobs and costs, but Ford is now posting a $2.7 billion net income for 2009, and recently announced 2010 second quarter profits for April through June of $2.6 billion.

    The company expects to end 2011 with less debt than cash - quite a turnaround in just a few years. A complete overhaul, eliminating models from its line, cutting costs and revamping its image got Ford back into the game at a time when recovery is toughest. (Henry Ford: Industry Mogul And Industrial Innovator.)

  3. Domino's (NYSE:DPZ)
    It's not easy to admit your product stinks on national TV, but Domino's Pizza did just that. Sparked by a consumer survey (with video clips on TV), the pizza overhauled its recipe, proving that change is good for business. Under the new campaign and new recipe, profit more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2009, increasing sales for that quarter by $23.6 million.

    The secret to Domino's turnaround was novelty: changing the self-proclaimed cardboard crust and ketchup sauce to a new, improved pizza brought people in the door. Time will tell if Domino's can keep these new customers, but for now, the pizza giant has turned this remake into a financial success. (Learn more about the fast food industry, in Is Buying A Franchise Wise?)

  4. Snuggie
    It's been called a robe you put on backwards by Jay Leno, and parodied all over TV, but the Snuggie was undoubtedly last Christmas' hit. This blanket with sleeves was snagged up by 20 million people during 2009, and while exact sales numbers are hard to come by, this novelty has turned out to be a recession hit. Why? The one thing we all did a lot in 2009 to save money was stay home, curled up on the couch - just like the Snuggie commercial. The Snuggie is proof that novelty, the right price point and timing can translate into big bucks.

  5. Intel (NYSE:INTC)
    "What goes down must come up" seems to be the secret to Intel's recent $2.89 billion profit, which came in much higher than expected. Intel sat tight during the recession while client companies held off on computer purchases for their employees, and is now seeing the upswing, with profits soaring to a 10-year high. Intel's secret to success is simple patience: by waiting for pent-up demand to return, it's back to making the big tech bucks.

  6. Lego
    Last year was a tough year for toy companies - except for Lego. During 2009, when most companies were holding tight to ride out the recession storm, Lego's profits soared 63%. Exploration of the global market was the key to this company's recession-bucking success. While the U.S. had a stagnant toy market, Lego was able to expand to Asia and increase its sales in Europe, bringing in the big bucks. For a recent surprise addition to Lego's profit: after a recent interview where British soccer star David Beckham admitted he was building a Lego Taj Mahal during his down time, sales soared 663% - proof that sometimes free celebrity endorsement is the best profit boost of all. (For more on a celebrity's influence on investors, read Play The Market Like Tiger Plays Golf.)

The Bottom Line
If the recession has proven anything, it's that even corporate giants have to think outside the box to stay afloat. These companies show that with patience, innovation and occasional brutal change, you can beat a recession and come away with a profit even during the roughest of times. Of course a little help from a famous soccer star doesn't hurt either.

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: Billionaire Pledges and Other Positive Press.

Related Articles
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Why You Shouldn't Bet Against Bezos, Amazon (AMZN)

    Amazon disappointed Wall Street for the fourth quarter, but ignoring those expectations and paying attention to the underlying numbers is often wise.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. Economics

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

    Lagarde says chill out, Biden wants to rescue the middle class.
  9. Investing Basics

    Rise of the Co-Investment in Hedge Funds

    Learn about the rise of co-investment deals among hedge funds. See how these high-risk and high-reward opportunities are becoming more popular.
  10. Economics

    3 Financial Crises in the 21st Century

    Take a look at several of the most prominent financial crises of the 21st century, and understand why the Great Recession was a truly remarkable contraction.
  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. 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 ...
  2. Ponzimonium

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

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
  4. Dark Pool Liquidity

    The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is ...
  5. Godfather Offer

    An irrefutable takeover offer made to a target company by an acquiring company. Typically, the acquisition price's premium ...
Trading Center