And the Best Stock for 2009 Is …

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For everyone who wants to get 2008 behind them as soon as humanly possible, you've got just one more day to get through. And what better way to look forward to a more prosperous New Year than to see which stock has been crowned the best stock for 2009?

To help you make your shopping list, we looked at 14 great prospects that look likely to survive and thrive in the challenging economic environment we're facing right now. But rather than just picking one ourselves, we turned to our Motley Fool CAPS community to separate the best from the rest.

Judging from the results, investors put a premium on the bluest of blue chips for the coming year. And in the end, we had one of the closest races we've ever had for the top spot.

Honorable mention
Three stocks fell just short of cracking the top three. Pfizer (Nasdaq: PFE  ) was a somewhat reluctant pick for Fool contributor Brian Orelli, but investors see promise in a decent pipeline combined with a dominant cash position and healthy dividend. Search engine leader Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) may have fallen on hard times in 2008, but cheap valuations are just one reason why many find the stock attractive now. And even with oil down $100 from its highs, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) keeps raking in the cash -- and shareholder interest -- from its position atop the energy industry.

A love/hate relationship with tobacco
Third place goes to tobacco giant Altria (NYSE: MO  ) . Even after spinning off sexier components like Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT  ) and its international division, Fool contributor Morgan Housel liked what was left -- a boring cash cow. CAPS members agreed, as Altria gathered 13.1% of the vote.

Don't turn out the lights yet
Falling just short of the top spot was conglomerate General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) . Despite suffering from financial woes, GE's growing exposure to the energy industry could be the growth catalyst it needs to emerge from the ailing economy a winner. 17% of voters agreed with the pick.

This winner doesn't need a Band-Aid
With 17.7% of the vote, winner Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) just eked its way into first place. When consumers are clamping down, it's good to have dozens of brand-name products with built-in constant demand, and J&J delivers on that score. With a history of strong sales, earnings, and dividend increases, investors are looking to the blue-chip company to deliver great returns in 2009.

All of our selections got strong support, including those that didn't make the top six. Are you part of our 125,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community yet? Head on over and pick one of our top selections for your portfolio. It's free, but the experience you gain could be priceless, Fool.

Here's to a profitable 2009!

Pfizer, Kraft Foods, and Johnson & Johnson are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of Pfizer. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns shares of General Electric and Altria. The Fool's disclosure policy makes you a winner.

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