A Recession-Resistant Seal

Here's my favorite quote so far this earnings season:

"Great companies find a way to win, regardless of the challenges they face."

Those were the words delivered by RPM International (NYSE: RPM  ) CEO Frank Sullivan in wrapping up the company's fourth-quarter conference call. The results show this coatings and sealants company is a great one, especially considering the gloomy macro environment.

Through its consumer segment, which constituted 35% of sales in fiscal 2008, RPM International is exposed not only to the constrained consumer, but also to the horrific housing market. In that respect, the company is somewhat in the same boat as both competitors like Sherwin-Williams (NYSE: SHW  ) and PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG  ) and customers like Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) . The company sidesteps the worst of matters, however, by selling primarily to the small repair and maintenance end of things, rather than Crunk My Colonial-type overhauls.

Amazingly, RPM International's consumer segment grew organic sales, took market share, and increased margins. Among all the companies affected by the housing downturn, there are certainly others that impress me. Vulcan Materials (NYSE: VMC  ) has flexed its pricing power muscle, and Builders FirstSource (Nasdaq: BLDR  ) has bitten into some competitors' share of the market, but RPM's trifecta is something truly rare.

The company's not completely swimming upstream, of course. RPM International is also levered to global industrial growth, providing materials like corrosion-resistant coatings for mining infrastructure and grated slip-resistant flooring for offshore oil platforms.

RPM International might not be the best company I've ever seen, but this is one remarkably robust operator that, critically, is not inclined to make excuses when the sun's not shining. That's worth a whole lot in this Fool's book.

Related Foolishness:

Home Depot and Builders FirstSource are Inside Value selections. Sherwin-Williams is a Stock Advisor recommendation. RPM International and PPG are Income Investor picks. Paint the town red with any of our newsletter services, which you can try free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy isn't one to make excuses, either.


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