8 Stock Picks for 2012

For the year ahead, we like these large, high-quality companies that pay dividends.

The numbers suggest that the economy is growing modestly, but recent stock market volatility indicates that the future is anything but certain. So it's a good time for investors to seek out industry giants that are likely to prosper even in an era of tepid growth.

Rarely have values appeared as tempting. Many big companies have spent the past few years paying off debts, leaving their balance sheets squeaky-clean. Many have also built up treasure troves of cash, which can be used to boost dividends and finance growth. With debt woes slamming Europe, firms that sell mainly in the U.S. and in emerging nations look especially attractive. (Share prices are as of December 1.)

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Kathy Kristof
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Kristof, editor of SideHusl.com, is an award-winning financial journalist, who writes regularly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and CBS MoneyWatch. She's the author of Investing 101, Taming the Tuition Tiger and Kathy Kristof's Complete Book of Dollars and Sense. But perhaps her biggest claim to fame is that she was once a Jeopardy question: Kathy Kristof replaced what famous personal finance columnist, who died in 1991? Answer: Sylvia Porter.