By David Braverman
In a volatile market, companies with steady long-term growth in earnings and dividends -- and solid balance sheets -- can be quite appealing.
With that in mind, we built our latest stock screen to search for companies with the highest Standard & Poor's quality rankings of A or A+. Those are companies that they have displayed superior long-term earnings and dividend performance. Our second criteria: Each company must hold at least an A- credit rating from S&P's Ratings Group -- indicating a high degree of financial stability.
As an added kicker, we looked for companies that, through stock-buyback plans, have repurchased enough shares to reduce the total outstanding by at least 1% in the last year. Many investors consider an active buyback plan a sign of management's confidence in a company's prospects.
Our screen turned up the following seven stocks:
Automatic Data Processing (ADP )
Colgate-Palmolive (CL )
Emerson Electric (EMR )
Imperial Oil (IMO )
Jefferson-Pilot (JP )
Merck (MRK )
Pitney Bowes (PBI )
Braverman is senior investment officer for Standard & Poor's