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KMB) owns a handful of hugely popular health and hygiene brands that include Kleenex, Scott towels, and Huggies. That positioning means that it doesn't get much more defensive than KMB; this stock is the king of consumer staples.
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Kimberly-Clark's brands lead the pack in the segments they compete in -- and four of them generate more than $1 billion in annual sales. While competition from store brands continues to be a challenge in a sluggishly rebounding economy, consumers are far less likely to trade down on products like diapers. For that reason, the firm enjoys an economic moat that most of its rivals lack.
Today, around half of KMB's sales come from outside North America. And as that sales mix continues to move outside the continent, investors should benefit. High birth rates in emerging markets could provide considerable growth for KMB in the years ahead, especially as growing middle class populations have the cash to pay for luxuries like disposable diapers.
Like any good defensive name, KMB currently pays out a dividend of 3.3% right now.