Resilient companies can often also be categorized as recession-resistant companies. Some of them offer products that people need to buy in good times and in bad. Others offer something attractive when money is scarce.
Owning shares of resilient companies is essential to a well-rounded portfolio, especially when a recession hits. Having them can help balance your portfolio's performance so that it takes less of a hit during bad times, while still performing well in the good times.
Let's take a look at three companies for 2020 that can help recession-proof your portfolio and generate maximum performance, no matter the economic situation.
1. Trupanion: Benefitting from the humanization of pets
As humans become more isolated behind computer screens, they still tend to seek some form of companionship, and this has led to increased pet ownership. That increase in pet ownership has led to the increased humanization of pets, and with it, the humanization of pets' "needs," including health insurance. Trupanion (NASDAQ:TRUP) is a stock benefitting from that humanization. The company offers pet insurance, which can be a godsend when a beloved pet gets sick or injured.
Trupanion covers congenital and hereditary conditions which are typically not covered by other pet insurance plans but are the most common problems for pets. The unexpected expense of uninsured vet bills can tip a pet parent's world sideways, especially in uncertain financial times.
Trupanion has several strengths. The first is underwriting that is more detailed than traditional pet insurance in order to spread the risk appropriately and charge fair prices for your specific pet. CEO Darryl Rawlings said, "I liken our value proposition to the Costco model, where Costco members inherently understand that whether they are purchasing a large flat-screen TV, a bottle of Bordeaux, a can of tuna, or a roll of toilet paper, they are always getting the best value."
Over its 20 years in operation, the company has collected granular data that gives it a strategic advantage over traditional insurers. The most common pet insurance needs are for congenital and hereditary conditions, generally not covered by traditional pet insurance. Trupanion will cover those needs, relying on its accumulated data which differentiates the expected costs between the hundreds of different dog and cat breeds in North America.
Next, I like the subscription model in times of recession. The payments are already set up on a regular basis, and consumers have the expense already built into their expectations. Trupanion's 10-year average monthly retention rate is 98.5%. The company's 2020 goal is to limit monthly cancellations to 1.3%.
Finally, Trupanion's method of client acquisition relies on independent contractors, or "Territory Partners," minimizing benefit costs and other expenses. Trupanion compensates Territory Partners with commissions and residuals.
Market penetration for pet insurance is only 1%-2% in North America, while Western Europe has ranged between 5% and 25%. Trupanion views its long-term revenue growth rate of 20% to 30% as an appropriate level for North America's very large and under-penetrated market.
Warren Buffett, who made a fortune investing in insurance companies, would tell you insurance is a profitable long-term investment. I think Trupanion offers an investment opportunity offering steady growth in an underserved market.
2. Intuit: Counting on taxes being due every year
Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) has been evolving rapidly since the last recession. It is now well prepared to deliver positive results for shareholders, in spite of stressed markets.
Since 2010, Intuit has been growing and reinventing itself in mobile and cloud. Fintech acquisitions were made to enhance its TurboTax and QuickBooks brands, fueling consumer and business demand. The results speak for themselves: Intuit's stock is up 800% in 10 years.
Intuit continues building a multi-faceted, one-stop-shop for meeting financial needs. Last month it acquired Credit Karma, complementing its earlier acquisition of Mint, a personal finance budgeting app.
Brad Leimer, former head of innovation at Santander Bank, said, "Acquiring Credit Karma brings them revenue sources like referrals to credit cards and personal consolidation loans that are a good complement to Rocket Mortgage."
Intuit dominates the do-it-yourself tax preparation market with TurboTax. The company reported, "Through February 7, IRS data shows total e-filed returns are up 0.6%, with self-prepared e-files up 3.5% and assisted e-files down 3.7%. Based on what we are seeing, our share within the do-it-yourself category is up year over year. We are growing the category and growing our share, which is right where we want to be."
The company has been aggressively building self-service financial tools for consumers and businesses, which strike a chord in the marketplace. Intuit's customer base has risen from 29 million to 52 million over the past decade.
Intuit's price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio stands at 32.7, compared to the industry average of 28. The company deserves a premium given the complete consumer financial tool platform it is building. You can count on taxes being due every year and plenty of other financial needs occurring with regularity. The do-it-yourself nature of Intuit's products are very appealing when times are tough, and should support the share price in recessions.
3. Johnson & Johnson: 2020 guidance of 5.5% sales growth
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is a steady Eddie company that has weathered six significant recessions over its 133-year history. The company's diverse businesses in the healthcare field are a big part of that success. If one segment is faltering, the other segments often make up for it.
To illustrate, in the 2008-09 Great Recession, Johnson & Johnson shares dropped a maximum of 35%, while the S&P 500 Index plummeted as much as 57%. The company's success hinges on the segment product mix of pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, and medical devices.
Company brands Tylenol, Johnson baby products, Neutrogena, Visine, Band-Aid, and many more are the kinds of purchases made in good times and in bad, and they provide a firm foundation for Johnson & Johnson in a recession. Consumers probably seldom go through a day without using one of Johnson & Johnson's products.
Steady management through ups and downs has led to 36 consecutive years of adjusted operational earnings growth. It also led to average earnings-per-share (EPS) growth from 2007 through 2009 of 7%.
Additionally, Johnson and Johnson has continuously paid -- and raised -- its dividend for 57 consecutive years. A track record like this should reassure skittish investors everywhere. The right stock picks make surviving a recession much easier.
Having reviewed Johnson & Johnson's performance during tough times in the past, it's easy to accept the fiscal year 2020 guidance of 5.5% sales growth and expanding margins. Some companies have a recession-proof business, and Johnson & Johnson is one of them. Investing in this dependable company is a solid choice.