Tobacco king Altria (NYSE:MO) may not have been one of the top 10 performing stocks during the last recession, but there seemed to be few people doubting its potential to withstand the current tough times. And that's not surprising, because when tough times hit, the companies that will hold up well are those that sell must-have products. To break out a little Economics 101, you're looking for products like cigarettes, where the demand is about as elastic as a titanium rod.

On The Motley Fool's CAPS service, more than 8,000 members have weighed in on Altria's stock and, as the stock's five-star rating suggests, many think that it's the place to be. As the current score leader on Altria, CAPS member PuddinHead42 has managed to rack up 52 points on the stock by sticking with it through the recent market turmoil. As PuddinHead put it: "[Altria] is one of my long term buy and hold stocks, I have been adding at these crazy low prices and high, safe dividends."

PuddinHead42 is one of CAPS' All-Stars -- players with a rating of 80 or greater -- and has managed a stock-picking accuracy of 72% while racking up nearly 500 points. Altria isn't this player's only great call. Here's a look at a few other prescient picks:

Company

Date Picked

Call

Points

CAPS Rating

Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK)

10/10/08

Outperform

65

*****

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY)

6/13/08

Outperform

51

****

Petrobras (NYSE:PBR)

10/6/08

Outperform

33

*****

Data from CAPS.

So what is this investor looking at these days? Here are a few of the most recent calls on CAPS:

Company

Date Picked

Call

CAPS Rating

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B)

2/20/09

Outperform

*****

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

1/21/09

Outperform

****

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK)

10/10/08

Outperform

*****

Data from CAPS.

While not all of these picks may pan out, they could be a good place to start some further research. I decided to take a closer look at Motley Fool Inside Value favorite Wal-Mart.

More recession protection
Altria may sell a product with one of the lowest demand elasticities, but Wal-Mart sells a whole host of products that consumers need through good times and bad (including cigarettes). Even better, Wal-Mart sells many of those products at lower prices than most of its competitors.

So while few businesses could be said to be recession-friendly, Wal-Mart is certainly more recession-resistant than most. And that's exactly how the retailer managed to post increased total sales, higher adjusted profit, and positive same-store sales when it reported its fourth quarter in February. That's what's called "growth," and it's something that many more companies did before the onset of the recession.

There are plenty of CAPS members who are on the same side of Wal-Mart's stock as PuddinHead42 -- in fact, there are 5,221 of them. CAPS member foolmenottwice is one of those Wal-Mart fans who highlighted the company's ability to keep prices low:

Walmart knows how to move merchandise and to move it at the lowest overhead. It may not look it in the store but they are very high-tech when it comes to managing inventory. This means they can give the appearance of being the low price leader. With their size and low overhead they can make big buys to realize low price.

Definately a survivor and a safe / good buy

But here's the important question: what's your take on Wal-Mart? Will it continue to prove the power of its model? Get in the action by clicking over to CAPS. CAPS is absolutely free and already has more than 130,000 stock pickers chipping in to find the best stocks out there.

Related Foolishness:

Duke Energy and Petrobras are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Berkshire Hathaway, Chesapeake Energy, and Wal-Mart Stores are Inside Value recommendations. Berkshire Hathaway is a Stock Advisor recommendation, and the Fool owns shares of it. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. He is also keeping a close eye on some of these stocks through his CAPS portfolio. The Fool’s disclosure policy will miss Kal Penn on House.