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Tickers in this Article: GE, MRK, IBM, BA
General Electric (NYSE: GE) is a company that has its large hands in several businesses that should flourish as our nation's economy and the world economy springs alive. Specifically, it has sizable exposure to the appliance, lighting and aviation businesses along with others that are poised for growth as spending perks up. GE comes to mind because earlier this week the Connecticut-based conglomerate disseminated its first quarter numbers, which really grabbed investors' attention.

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GE's Charged-Up Results
The company turned in 21 cents a share from continuing operations, and that was much better than the 16 cents that The Street had been expecting. On the downside GE's revenue line came in at $36.6 billion, and some thought that was a bit weak. However, it was a good quarter considering the operating environment, and one that could garner investor attention and cause some fence-sitters to jump in.

Even beyond the big picture view and the most recent financials, the company offers a tempting dividend. The forward yield is just above 2%, which isn't the biggest on Wall Street, but a nice sweetener for shareholders. Finally, investors should note that there was a small amount of insider buying in late 2009 at over $15 a share. While insiders are not always spot on in their stock picks, it's a sign that the executive, Alan Lafley, saw upside potential from that level. This makes the current price a bit more appetizing than had there been no activity.

Buckle Up
When the economy was hemorrhaging, most families weren't thinking about traveling and the entire airline industry was hunkering down. However, with the cloud beginning to lift on the domestic economic storm, there is a chance that we could see airlines sprucing up their fleets and a growing demand for pleasure-related travel. Also, as businesses begin to generate improved profits, travel budgets should get freed up, which will help as well.

Boeing (NYSE: BA) has the added benefit of having a military aspect to it. With demand likely to be high for aircraft and other weaponry as new threats emerge this century, Boeing looks poised to generate hefty profits down the road. In the near-term the company also looks attractive as it's expected to generate a respectable $3.84 per share in 2010 and in excess of $4.50 in 2011. If it hits those targets BA could easily trade for more than $80 and maybe in the triple digits in the next two years as the investment community warms to it.

They Compute!
International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) warrants attention too. The company having been around since the earlier part of the last century is a survivor, and as this economy picks up steam, the New York-based organization's technology will see great demand from individuals and businesses as they spend and expand.

The company comes to mind because it is coming off a better than expected first quarter, which it released earlier in the week. In conjunction with beating out analyst's estimates by four cents, IBM also increased its guidance. Finally, while not many in the press seem to be talking about it, at the end of the March quarter IBM had more than $12.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet. The company is well positioned to make it through a prolonged recovery period and to possibly take advantage of opportunities (acquisitions) if they should present themselves. (Learn about the controversies surrounding companies commenting on their forward-looking expectations in Can Earnings Guidance Accurately Predict The Future?)

The Right Medicine
Drug company Merck (NYSE:MRK) is another firm that deserves attention. Recently, the company's stock has slipped back to the mid-$30s. But with Schering Plough under its able wing, the company has plenty of growth potential and plenty of cost savings can be had. At just over 10.5 times this year's estimate the shares are a bargain.

Bottom Line
The broader markets could be headed for a correction. For this reason, it makes sense to place companies with long operating histories, a knack for surviving and those that are expected to generate meaningful profits on the radar screen.

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