Standard & Poor's research shows that consumer staples, utilities, and health-care stocks outperform the market 80%-90% of the time during recessions. As my Foolish colleagues Tim Hanson and Brian Richards point out, this outperformance owes to their reliability and healthy dividend policies.

With that in mind, I used our new CAPS screening tool to discover which defensive stocks our 165,000-member CAPS investment community loves most.

These stocks have:

  • Market capitalizations greater than $10 billion.
  • Debt-to-equity ratios below 50%, which indicates rock-solid balance sheets.
  • Trailing three-year revenue growth above 5%, to demonstrate enduring demand for products.
  • Dividend yields greater than 2%.
  • Four- or five-star ratings from our CAPS community.

Company

Sector

Debt-to-Equity

3-Year Revenue Growth

Dividend Yield

Merck (NYSE: MRK)

Health Care

26%

7%

4.4%

Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO)

Staples

18%

6%

3.4%

Medtronic (NYSE: MDT)

Health Care

42%

9%

2.2%

Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM)

Staples

47%

13%

2.3%

Becton, Dickinson (NYSE: BDX)

Health Care

29%

6%

2.1%

Telecomunicacoes de Sau Paulo (NYSE: TSP)

Utilities

18%

7%

4.3%

China Mobile (NYSE: CHL)

Utilities

7%

21%

3.4%

Data from Motley Fool CAPS.

Of course, screens are merely a first step in the stock-selection process. As Miguel de Cervantes -- whose overly idealistic Don Quixote flails impulsively after unachievable dreams -- reminds us, "Diligence is the mother of good fortune." Come and join us on Motley Fool CAPS to dig into these companies further. Let our 165,000-strong (and counting) CAPS community help you polish your portfolio.

For related Foolishness:

Ilan Moscovitz doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection and an Income Investor choice. The Fool owns shares of China Mobile, Coca-Cola, and Medtronic. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.