There is nothing like a bear market to emphasize the importance of investing in solid, reliable, and steady companies that can deliver consistent revenue and earnings for a long time. And if last year's downturn wasn't enough, a certain bank's recent, high-profile collapse must have done the trick for some investors.

Quite a few corporations out there have the tools to survive and even thrive over long periods. Two such companies are AstraZeneca (AZN -0.67%) and Visa (V 0.32%)

1. AstraZeneca

U.K.-based AstraZeneca is a drugmaker with a vast, diversified portfolio of over three-dozen products across six major segments. Last year, the company had 14 blockbuster medicines that generated more than $1 billion in sales. While AstraZeneca's oncology segment is its most important in terms of sales, the company's broad lineup allows it not to be too dependent on any single product or unit.

Also, drug spending is likely to remain relatively stable regardless of economic conditions. Physicians won't be inclined to stop prescribing lifesaving medications, nor will patients want to stop taking them, even during the worst recession.

All these factors render AstraZeneca's business reliable. The company also generates solid financial results. Last year, the company's total revenue increased by 19% year over year to $44.4 billion, while its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) came in at $6.66, 26% higher than in 2021.

It's true that last year, AstraZeneca benefited from the acquisition of rare diseases specialist Alexion Pharmaceuticals -- the transaction closed in July 2021. For its fiscal 2023, the company expects revenue to grow by a low-to-mid-single-digit percentage year over year, more in line with the usual top-line growth rate for a pharmaceutical company of this size. Moreover, excluding coronavirus-related sales, AstraZeneca expects a low-double-digit percentage growth.

On the bottom line, the drugmaker projects adjusted EPS growth in the high-single-digit to low-double-digit percentage range. That would be a solid performance for AstraZeneca, not to mention that this year promises to be active for the company's pipeline with multiple expected data readouts and approvals expected. In the fourth quarter of 2022, AstraZeneca received more than 10 regulatory approvals worldwide.

AstraZeneca's ability to develop new products is a key reason the company's business is safe and can remain so for a long time, especially given its highly diversified portfolio and strong financial performance. 

2. Visa

Payments processor Visa owns perhaps one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The company is deeply entrenched in its industry, with banks, merchants, and customers relying on its services daily. Visa processes trillions in payment volume every year.  The company benefits from a network effect, where the value of its platform increases as more people use it.

Visa's business also displays high switching costs on the side of the banks and the merchants who rely on its payment network. That partly explains why Visa has been a leader in this area for years -- while providing market-beating returns in the process -- and it is difficult to imagine the company losing its top spot. That's why it is a safe stock to buy regardless of economic or market conditions.

But Visa also has loads of growth opportunities ahead. The company has been riding the coattails of the cash displacement phenomenon over the years. The more people use credit cards that bear its logo instead of other payment methods (such as cash or check), the more fees it collects from these transactions. But we're arguably still looking at a massive opportunity for Visa to replace non-digital transactions.

As the company's CEO, Alfred Kelly, recently said:

There are still hundreds and hundreds of millions of people to bring into the financial mainstream. There are still trillions of dollars spent on cash and check.

That's great news for Visa's future. In the meantime, the company continues to deliver solid financial results. During its latest reporting period, the first quarter of its fiscal year 2023 ending on Dec. 31, the company's revenue increased by 12% year over year to $7.9 billion. Visa's adjusted EPS jumped by 21% year over year to $2.18.

Even during challenging economic conditions marked by high inflation, like what we experienced last year, Visa continues to perform well. That's a great sign of a reliable business. And with the massive white space left in its industry, Visa can deliver market-beating returns to investors for years.