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It's not just size that makes CAT's positioning in the equipment business attractive -- the firm has a reputation for well-built machines that see limited downtime. That gives Caterpillar a leg up in an industry that's seen sales volumes contract from their pre-recession peak. Make no mistake: The $100 billion heavy equipment market is still massive, but it's shy of the high water mark set when firms were buying bulldozers, excavators and mining equipment as fast as Caterpillar could build it.

Caterpillar shored up its operations in the wake of the Great Recession, and the firm managed to dramatically increase its unit sales and net margins even as peers were struggling to recover. With a captive finance arm and low interest rates fuelling sales for customers who want to take advantage of extremely cheap borrowing costs, CAT should have little trouble moving its machines -- especially as green sprouts start popping up in the global construction business.

Paccar

2013 is panning out to be a strong year for truck manufacturer Paccar (PCAR). The $19 billion firm has seen its share price rally nearly 20% year-to-date, besting the already-impressive performance in the S&P. Paccar builds trucks under the Peterbilt, Kenworth and DAF brands, with a huge 25% share of the U.S. market and more than a 15% share of the European market for commercial trucks.

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An aging worldwide commercial truck fleet should provide a major tailwind for PCAR. As companies look to replace older fuel-hungry and high-maintenance trucks in their fleets with new models, the firm's offerings are well-positioned to take their place. Like Caterpillar, Paccar's brands have a reputation for quality, so the firm is able to charge premium pricing and earn deeper margins without eating into its sales numbers.

Historically, PCAR has been able to turn just under 10% of sales into cash, an impressive number for a capital-intense business like truck manufacturing. As a result, Paccar boasts an attractive balance sheet with a hefty cash position and a reasonable amount of debt.

Currently, the firm pays out a 20-cent dividend that works out to a 1.5% yield. With PCAR's history of payout hikes, investors look due for a raise in the next quarter.

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