DuPont (NYSE: DD) is one of the longest-lasting business legacies in American history. Starting as a gunpowder factory more than 200 years ago, DuPont is now a $42 billion company with a place in the elite Dow Jones Industrial Index (INDEX: ^DJI) and a mouthwatering 3.5% dividend yield.

What's another year to such a storied company? Let's have a look at how 2011 treated the chemical giant.

Just the numbers
From a fundamental point of view, DuPont is doing mighty fine. The company has beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates in each of its quarterly reports this year by an average of 14%. GAAP earnings are up by 10% year over year in spite of heavy integration costs from a big acquisition.

The $5.8 billion deal for Danish food-ingredients giant Danisco is transformative even for a company of DuPont's stature and size. The American food-chemicals market has belonged to Monsanto (NYSE: MON) and Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW), but now there's a third horse in that race.

DuPont also bought silicon-ink maker Innovalight from a consortium of venture backers that included nanotech expert Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY). That's a direct play on the solar-power market, as Innovalight's ink is used to make solar cells. And if you still think chemicals are boring, DuPont also showed off inkjet-printed OLED screens featuring technologies from Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL) and is pouring research into making OLED displays even better.

So DuPont is keeping an eye on the horizon ahead, not content to rest on its considerable laurels. That's why this is a stock to hold for the next 10 years and beyond. This is exactly the kind of rock-solid stock that will help your retirement portfolio survive the end of Social Security and Medicare.