With the United States in the edge of a fiscal cliff and Europe now officially in a recession, investors are jumping into more defensive stocks that can hold up in this hostile investment environment. Short of a zombie apocalypse, these are stocks you can feel safe about owning no matter what happens in the economy or the stock market. Think stalwarts like Kimberly Clark (NYSE: KMB), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL) or J.M. Smucker's (NYSE: SJM). [In other words, these are companies that have been consistent winners and dominate their industries. StreetAuthority Co-Founder Paul Tracy calls these the World's Greatest Businesses, or WGBs for short.]
As you can probably tell, the best place to find such stocks is in consumer goods. After all, consumers rarely skimp on items they need. This means they will spend on companies producing food, medicine, beauty products and household necessities no matter what economic conditions come their way.
While recently searching for safe, long-term investment opportunities, I found a stock that's very popular among consumers. Since 1946, many households have used and continue to purchase one of the world's most popular products. You know it from its "burpable" seal, which inventor Earl Tupper modeled after a paint can -- the Tupperware.
But it was after the first Tupperware party in 1948 that sales really took off. Tupperware Brands Corp. (NYSE: TUP) is the pioneer of the party marketing strategy, providing millions of women around the world with an independent business opportunity. According to this strategy, Tupperware representatives approach other women about hosting a party in their homes in order to demonstrate a few products. In turn, the hostess gets gifts and a percentage of the proceeds from the sold products.
The American pantry and fridge have been transformed ever since.
Today, Tupperware is more than just a kitchen container manufacturer. The company's current product lineup includes products from cooking tools to cutlery and classic storage containers (under the Tupperware brand), and now beauty and personal care (under the Armand Dupree, BeautyControl, Avroy Shlain, Fuller Cosmetics, NatuCare, Nutrimetics and Nuvo brands) -- all of which can still be purchased at parties or online.
With operations in almost 100 countries, the company projects rising earning estimates, a healthy growth and a decent valuation in the years to come, making it a compelling stock to add to a defensive portfolio.
Financially, the company is strong, with revenue and earnings steadily rising since the economic downturn of 2008. Third-quarter earnings more than quadrupled to $47.5 million, or 85 cents per share, compared with the year-ago period. For 2012, earnings are expected to reach $4.96 per share, an 84% jump from 2008, and rise 11% in 2013 to about $5.54. Revenue has been rising at a 5% clip since 2008. It is expected to reach about $2.6 billion this year and grow about 5% in 2013 to $2.7 billion.
Since going public in 1996, this company has also consistently paid dividends to shareholders. In the third quarter, Tupperware raised its dividend payout 20% to 36 cents per share, putting the yield at about 2%. Take a look at the chart below...
Risks to Consider: Tupperware is not immune to an economic downturn. If the markets have a significant selloff, then the stock price could decline with the market, as it happened during the market selloff in 2008, when Tupperware was down 28%. However, by 2009 it had rebounded nicely (about 109%).
Action to Take --> Buy Tupperware Brands up to $65 a share. The stock is must-have for investors looking to build a defensive portfolio. The stock has delivered an annualized return of 16% during the past 10 years and could hit $80 within the next 12-18 months, all while paying a 2% dividend along the way.