The insight-mongers over at 24/7WallSt recently pulled together a list of what they consider to be America's "recession-proof" companies, and despite the doom/gloom of many in the manufacturing sector, quite a few manufacturers offered investors the market durability (and dividend growth despite downturns) to make the list.
These investment all-stars include Kimberly-Clark (15), Colgate-Palmolive (14), Procter & Gamble (13), Abbott Labs (12), Bristol-Myers Squibb (11), Johnson & Johnson (10), General Mills (9), Coca-Cola (7) as well as the big tobacco firms Lorillard, Altria and Reynolds American in a three-way straight at 6,5 and 4.
There are other reasons for this continuing profitability (including, of course, cost-cutting/retrenchings) but looking at this list, many of these companies survive downturns on the strength of brand loyalty and the solid relationships they've built over time with consumers (e.g., K-C's Huggies brand diapers) as well as global diversification (with Coca-Cola of course being the poster child).
Interestingly, Kimberly-Clark and J&J are called out as being part of the S&P "Dividend Aristocrats" group, but that's a topic for another post. Congrats to all these companies for staying out in front of the stock market's steamroller.