Grab This Low-Risk Stocking Stuffer for 2013

For the balance of the year, we'll be focusing on companies that we believe are well-positioned for the slow-growth environment that we envision for 2013. These names all sport strong balance sheets and rock-solid business franchises -- qualities that should easily help them withstand a broader soft patch. That said, given the fiscal-cliff uncertainty, we would start with partial positions in each, even though we like these stocking-stuffers at their current prices. In the event of a market selloff, we would then fill out each position at lower levels -- and, of course, should we see a resolution to the fiscal impasse, we would be comfortable paying somewhat higher prices.

In this column, we will highlight American Express (AXP). Among financial-sector names, this company was one of the best at navigating the 2008-to-2009 financial crisis and recession. Earnings did fall by more than 50% during this stretch, with annual net income falling to $2 billion vs. the normal level of $3 billion to $4 billion. However, the firm never lost money during this period. Sustaining profitability throughout the financial crisis, the worst U.S. business downturn for more than 50 years, was a feat that few financial institutions managed to accomplish....329 more words left in this article. To read them, just click below and try Real Money FREE for 14 days.

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