The economic recovery is already one of the longest of the post-World War II era, which means that the U.S. will probably have a recession at some point in the next four years, no matter who wins the presidency. But though an economic downturn might cause Americans to put off buying the latest electronic gadgets, they are unlikely to stop buying laundry detergent or toilet paper.

Over the past five years, P&G has made great progress streamlining its operations, focusing on its core brands that bring in the most profits and selling off those that don't.

Two years ago, P&G's management said that it would concentrate on 70 to 80 brands that accounted for 90% of sales and more than 95% of profit.

As for income, P&G began paying dividends in the 19th century, continued all through the 20th and shows no sign of stopping in the 21st. The company has raised its dividend in each of the past 60 years and offers an annual dividend yield of 3.08%, significantly more than a 10-year Treasury note and just as safe.

With a big market share in the U.S. and a considerable presence in Europe, the company is expanding further into developing economies. It has been highly successful in marketing Pampers, which has had an average 5% annual revenue growth during the past four years, in countries such as China and India, where many families are only beginning to buy disposable diapers.

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Thomas Scarlett is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.

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