Soon before each of the seven recessions since 1970, short-term interest rates on Treasuries crossed above longer-term rates (i.e., rates "inverted"). Based on where rates stand today, adjusted for the Fed's policy of near zero target rates for overnight loans, Bloomberg reports the economy has a 60% chance of recession in the next 12 months.

Currently, two-year Treasury notes are yielding about 80 basis points (0.8%) less than five-year notes, but according to **Bank of America** research, the adjusted rates only show two-year Treasuries yielding 20 basis points less than the five-year. An approx. 80-point difference marks the chances of recession at 15%, whereas the 20-point adjusted difference marks the chances at 60%.

"The adjusted curve is giving a powerful signal for an upcoming U.S. recession," Ruslan Bikbov, a fixed-income strategist at Bank of America, told Bloomberg. "If that happens, the Fed's target rate could remain near zero beyond 2014," he said in an interview on Oct. 3.

Worried about a recession's possible impact on your portfolio?

To help protect you from such a scenario, we looked back in time and identified a list of stocks that outperformed the market during each of the last three big market downturns over the last decade (between 10/01/2007-03/02/2009, 04/19/2010-06/28/2010, and 07/18/2011 to the present day).

For each stock we list the alpha, i.e., outperformance, relative to the S&P500 index, a benchmark for our analysis.

In addition, all of these stocks appear to be undervalued relative to Benjamin Graham's valuation equation.

And finally, all of these companies have proven themselves to be more profitable than their competitors over the trailing 12 months (TTM).

Considering their track record during market downturns, and their superior profit margins, do you think these undervalued stocks are worth a closer look?

Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

*List compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA:*

**1. Duke Energy**

TTM gross margin at 34.78% vs. industry average at 27.31%. TTM operating margin at 22.55% vs. industry average at 18.89%. TTM pre-tax margin at 20.7% vs. industry average at 14.44%.

Diluted TTM earnings per share at 1.54, and a MRQ book value per share value at 16.95, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*1.54*16.95) = $24.23. Based on the stock's price at $20.15, this implies a potential upside of 20.27% from current levels.

**2. Bank of Marin Bancorp**

TTM gross margin at 83.61% vs. industry average at 71.27%. TTM operating margin at 49.87% vs. industry average at 39.28%. TTM pre-tax margin at 34.19% vs. industry average at 22.71%.

Diluted TTM earnings per share at 2.84, and a MRQ book value per share value at 24.35, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*2.84*24.35) = $39.45. Based on the stock's price at $34.15, this implies a potential upside of 15.51% from current levels.

**3. TrustCo Bank Corp.**

TTM gross margin at 71.5% vs. industry average at 61.37%. TTM operating margin at 41.85% vs. industry average at 32.96%. TTM pre-tax margin at 25.43% vs. industry average at 14.12%.

Diluted TTM earnings per share at 0.39, and a MRQ book value per share value at 3.48, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*0.39*3.48) = $5.53. Based on the stock's price at $4.49, this implies a potential upside of 23.07% from current levels.

**4. AT&T**

TTM gross margin at 56.91% vs. industry average at 50.34%. TTM operating margin at 15.51% vs. industry average at 15.41%. TTM pre-tax margin at 13.85% vs. industry average at 13.7%.

Diluted TTM earnings per share at 3.44, and a MRQ book value per share value at 19.21, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*3.44*19.21) = $38.56. Based on the stock's price at $28.94, this implies a potential upside of 33.24% from current levels.

**5. Entergy**

TTM gross margin at 31.07% vs. industry average at 27.31%. TTM operating margin at 19.54% vs. industry average at 18.89%. TTM pre-tax margin at 16.83% vs. industry average at 14.44%.

Diluted TTM earnings per share at 7.06, and a MRQ book value per share value at 48.62, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*7.06*48.62) = $87.88. Based on the stock's price at $66.39, this implies a potential upside of 32.37% from current levels.

*Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.*

*Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Alexander Crawford do not own any of the shares mentioned above. Profitability data sourced from Fidelity; price, BVPS, and EPS data sourced from Yahoo! Finance.*