Natural Selections for a Darwinian Market

Here are 20 well-off companies that could use their financial strength to snap up bargains in the bear market's clearance bin

By David Braverman

Companies with little debt and tons of cash could take advantage of the downturn in the financial markets to snap up assets (and competitors?) at bargain prices.

The following 20 stocks have the most cash among S&P 500 Index companies that have Standard & Poor's Issuer Credit Rating of "AA-minus" or better.

Bristol Myers (BMY )

ChevronTexaco (CVX )

Citigroup (C )

DuPont (DD )

Exxon Mobil (XOM )

General Electric (GE )

Hewlett-Packard (HWP )

J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM )

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ )

Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY )

Merck & Co. (MRK )

Merrill Lynch (MER )

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT )

Morgan Stanley (MWD )

Northern Trust (NTRS )

Pharmacia Corp. (PHA )

Procter & Gamble (PG )

Schering-Plough (SGP )

State Street Corp. (STT )

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT )

Braverman is a senior investment strategist for Standard & Poor's

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