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Tickers in this Article: WFC, BAC, ESV, TEX
If you invest with the mindset that what matters first and foremost is the performance of a business not the performance of the stock market, you will discover that now is a great time to be shopping for a stock pick. Thanks to the recession and recent market shocks, there are a number of businesses which, over the course of the next two to four years, will likely be earning significantly higher profits that they are earning today. Short-term business performance is not a smooth process and as such, short-term stock price movements may not climb smoothly upward. If you can overlook this fact of stock market reality, then you may be intrigued by the following companies.

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Banking on Profits
As one of the better large financial institutions today, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) should benefit mightily from a less competitive landscape going forward. As a result of the financial crisis, names like Washington Mutual, Wachovia and Countrywide Financial no longer do business. That means the business of lending to homebuyers and small businesses is now left to an even more select few. Wells Fargo, which took over Wachovia in the midst of the financial crisis, is positioned to do very well. While the company is still dealing with problem loans of its own, it is in much better shape in terms of future credit losses than Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Trading at 50% of book value, Bank of America shares have not inspired investor confidence. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, could earn up to $3 a share in 2011. By 2013, some estimates see over $4 in per-share earnings. Trading at $28 a share, Wells shares looks cheap on a multi-year basis.

Industrial Might
For the past few years, mining, machinery and construction stocks have skated along the bottom of the cycle and are just now starting to see signs of cyclical improvement. If the cycle for these businesses continues to improve over the next few years, earnings could experience a rapid surge upward. Such stocks would likely see their share prices appreciate not only in response to the higher profits, but also if earnings multiples expand. Terex (NYSE:TEX) looks like one such candidate. Having spent the past two years reinventing itself and reporting losses, Terex should see a large increase in earnings over the next three to four years. At $28 a share, this stock might just be a bargain.

In the oil sector, oil drilling rig operator Ensco (NYSE:ESV) is one of the most profitable companies in its industry, and its fleet of modern rigs has major operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Its upcoming delivery of ultra-deepwater rigs is right in the sweet spot of the drilling industry today. Plus, with the company's pristine balance sheet and 3% dividend, shares in Ensco should deliver very nicely over the next several years.

The Bottom Line: Get Rich Slowly
Stock markets are intended to create incredible wealth over a period of years, not days or months. Somehow that main point has been overlooked by many market participants today. Those willing to accept that notion should look very closely at key businesses that are poised to thrive over the long term. (Value investing is one of the best-known stock-picking methods. Check out Stock-Picking Strategies: Value Investing.)

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