Could 2018 be the year in which one of the longest bull markets in history finally succumbs to exhaustion? Recent activity in the major indices seems to suggest that the closing weeks of the year could continue a downward trend. As high-flying equities with stretched valuations keep slumping, we've devoted a Motley Fool Industry Focus: Consumer Goods podcast to defensive stock ideas from the consumer goods sector.

In the following video, we discuss TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX), and break down for listeners why the off-price retailer, despite a 42% year-to-date ascent, is still a safe and stable play. Learn about TJX's core business as well as its most promising new revenue stream by clicking on the video below.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Nov. 13, 2018.

Vincent Shen: The next one that we'll look at is TJX Companies. This is another business model that I think, like you mentioned with the wealth effect, and in general, can thrive in weaker economic environments and markets thanks to the focus it has on quality at a discount. The company reported 6% comps growth in its fiscal second quarter. Year to date top line growth is in the double digits at 11%. All of this is for a company with over 4,000 stores, and management sees an end goal of about 6,100 locations. This is not a small chain. It's a big, multi-billion-dollar business still managing to put up those kinds of numbers. And, as a brick-and-mortar-focused retailer, their e-commerce business is still very young and only starting to get its legs. Still a very small part of the company. What else stood out to you, Asit?

Asit Sharma: TJX Companies, to me, is a twofer. It's a two-for-one buy. You get a defensive place to rest your money, but you also get, in acquiring this stock, a growth narrative. We've talked about TJX off and on on the show. I can't remember us devoting an episode to it. One of the things that I really love about this company is that it has an inordinately acute grasp of inventory. It has buying teams dispersed all around the world, and they just specialize in buying discontinued inventory, discounted inventory, inventory from other retailers. They put it on the shelves. Fashionistas love to come in and see what's new every week. It's a very lucrative model that has served TJX Companies well.

What's caught my eye recently, I wrote an article a couple months back about how TJX utilized its square footage. I noticed that the new square footage growth is actually going not into its core fashion stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, but more toward this new line of business personified by the Home Goods store. The company has made a move into the home furnishings industry. It's taking its inventory chops and applying that with some pretty nice merchandise. Those stores are doing quite well.

Again, this is in the discretionary version of the ETF that we've talked about; but to me, it's a staple stock when the economy goes bad. Those who are buying clothes that are top-of-the-line start going more to TJX to see what's on their shelves, maybe at a discount. The same with home furnishings. We saw in the recession that stores like Home Depot, which offered folks a way to spend on their homes without buying a new house -- that is, renovating or putting in new furnishings -- this is the type of line of business that would benefit TJX if the economy indeed goes south.

I like it for all those levels. The stock is up 42% this year. That's because you have this twofer. Investors acknowledge and recognize that it's a safe place to put money, but it's also a growth story. What are your thoughts on TJX?

Shen: You're right. I'm not sure if we've had a single episode dedicated to TJX before, but it's come up a few times -- and in one episode, at least, as a best-in-class retailer, maybe a special shout out for the brick-and-mortar-focused category that we really like here. I know a lot of Fools are fans of how TJX is flexible with the layout of its stores, what those store formats look like, and ultimately having very strong management of its inventory, keeping people coming into the store, showing really strong comps growth, and specifically maintaining strong traffic levels. So, keeping customers coming back to the store again and again.

Asit Sharma has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Vincent Shen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has the following options: short February 2019 $185 calls on Home Depot and long January 2020 $110 calls on Home Depot. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and The TJX Companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.