BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- With the Federal Reserve blessing riskier assets through QE2, investors are seeking cheap stocks that can offer downside protection if the economy worsens. Here are 10 large-cap companies with net liquidity positions, meaning they have more cash than debt. No matter the industry, cash is king. Companies with excess cash can boost dividends, buy back shares or purchase competitors, rewarding shareholders.

Below, the companies are ordered by net cash balance, from plenty to too much.

10. Stryker ( SYK) is a medical-technology company, making orthopedic implants and surgical equipment. Its third-quarter profit surged 47% to $338 million, or 85 cents a share, as revenue grew 6.9% to $1.8 billion. The operating margin widened from 23% to 27%. Stryker's stock trades at a forward earnings multiple of 14, a book value multiple of 2.8, 26% and 34% discounts to health care peer averages. It pays a 1.2% dividend yield with a payout ratio of 19%. Roughly 58% of analysts covering Stryker rate its stock "buy" and the remainder rank it "hold."

Bullish Scenario: Piper Jaffray ( PJC) offers a $59 target, suggesting a 12-month return of 14%.

9. Amgen ( AMGN) is a biotechnology company, developing and selling human therapeutics. Its third-quarter net income declined 10% to $1.2 billion, but earnings per share fell a more modest 5.9% to $1.28, cushioned by a lower share count. Revenue grew marginally to $3.8 billion. The operating margin contracted from 42% to 39%. Amgen's stock sells for a trailing earnings multiple of 12, a forward earnings multiple of 11 and a book value multiple of 2.3, 35%, 49% and 53% discount to biotech industry averages. Around 68% of analysts rate it "buy."

Bullish Scenario: Sanford Bernstein predicts that Amgen's stock will advance 38% to $77.

8. Chevron ( CVX) is the world's second-largest energy company, behind Exxon Mobil ( XOM). Third-quarter profit decreased 1.7% to $3.8 billion, or $1.87 a share, as revenue stretched 7.6% to $46 billion. Chevron's stock trades at a trailing earnings multiple of 9.9, a forward earnings multiple of 8.5, a book value multiple of 1.6 and a sales multiple of 0.9, 38%, 43%, 65% and 53% discounts to oil and gas peer averages. It offers a dividend yield of 3.4% with a payout ratio of 33%. Of analysts covering Chevron, 19 advise purchasing its shares and six say to hold.

Bullish Scenario: Barclays ( BCS) offers a $110 target, implying an impending one-year gain of 30%.

7. MasterCard ( MA) is a credit-card company, providing transaction processing. Its third-quarter profit increased 15% to $518 million, or $3.94 a share, as revenue ascended 4.7% to $1.4 billion. The operating margin rose from 50% to 54%. MasterCard's stock sells for a trailing earnings multiple of 19, a forward earnings multiple of 15 and a book value multiple of 6.8, on par with industry averages. Analysts are bullish, with 31, or 86%, rating it "buy", four rating it "hold" and one ranking it "sell." A median price target of $284.27 implies 12% of upside.

Bullish Scenario: JPMorgan ( JPM) forecasts that MasterCard's stock will climb 25% to $315.

6. Oracle ( ORCL) designs and sells systems software and related services. Its fiscal first-quarter profit increased 20% to $1.4 billion, or 27 cents a share, as revenue jumped 48% to $7.5 billion. The operating margin narrowed from 36% to 28%. Oracle's stock trades at a forward earnings multiple of 13, a sales multiple of 5 and a cash flow multiple of 17, 53%, 78% and 34% discounts to software peer averages. Of analysts following Oracle, 35, or 81%, rate its stock "buy", seven rate it "hold" and one ranks it "sell." A media target of $31.69 suggests 8% upside.

Bullish Scenario: Evercore Partners ( EVR) expects Oracle's stock to appreciate 16% to $34.

5. Intel ( INTC) is the world's largest semiconductor company. Its third-quarter profit surged 59% to $3 billion, or 52 cents a share, as revenue grew 18% to $11 billion. The operating margin extended from 28% to 37%. Intel's stock sells for a forward earnings multiple of 11, a book value multiple of 2.4, a sales multiple of 2.7 and a cash flow multiple of 7.8, 24%, 37%, 17% and 37% discounts to semiconductor peer averages. Intel offers a 3.1% dividend yield with a 34% payout ratio. Around 60% of analysts rate it "buy." A median target of $23.45 implies 12% upside.

Bullish Scenario: Stifel Financial ( SF) offers a target of $32, suggesting a 12-month return of 53%.

4. Cisco Systems ( CSCO) sells communications equipment and infrastructure. It is scheduled to report fiscal first-quarter results Nov. 10. Fiscal fourth-quarter profit soared 79% to $1.9 billion, or 33 cents a share, as revenue increased 27%. The operating margin widened from 18% to 22%. Cisco's stock trades at a trailing earnings multiple of 18, a forward earnings multiple of 12 and a cash flow multiple of 13, 44%, 49% and 20% discounts to industry averages. Of researchers following Cisco, 38 rate its stock "buy", 10 rate it "hold" and one ranks it "sell."

Bullish Scenario: Credit Suisse ( CS) predicts that Cisco's stock will advance 32% to $32.

3. Google ( GOOG) owns the world's most popular search engine. Its third-quarter profit expanded 32% to $2.2 billion, or $6.72 a share, as revenue increased 23% to $7.3 billion. The operating margin remained steady at 35%. Google's stock sells for a trailing earnings multiple of 25, a forward earnings multiple of 19 and a book value multiple of 4.6, 33%, 41% and 35% discounts to Internet software and services peer averages. Of analysts covering Google, around 85% rate its stock "buy." A median target of $671.41 implies 8% of upside in the next 12 months.

Bullish Scenario: Citigroup ( C) forecasts that Google's stock will appreciate 16% to $725.

2. Microsoft ( MSFT) is the world's biggest software company, selling the Office suite and Windows operating system. Fiscal first-quarter profit surged 51% to $5.4 billion, or 62 cents a share, as revenue expanded 25% to $16 billion. The operating margin widened from 35% to 44%. Microsoft's stock trades at a trailing earnings multiple of 12, a forward earnings multiple of 10, a sales multiple of 3.5 and a cash flow multiple of 8.9, 65%, 64%, 84% and 65% discounts to software peer averages. Microsoft offers a dividend yield of 2.4% with a payout ratio of 22%.

Bullish Scenario: RBC ( RY) offers a target of $36, suggesting that Microsoft will climb 33%.

1. Apple ( AAPL) sells laptops, music players, tablet computers and smartphones. Its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rocketed 70% to $4.3 billion, or $4.64 a share, as revenue gained 67% to $20 billion. The operating margin fell from 30% to 27%. Apple's stock commands a premium relative to hardware peers based on book value, sales and cash flow. It's fairly valued based on book value. Of analysts covering Apple, 47, or 90%, advocate purchasing its shares and five recommend holding them. None say to sell the shares. A median target of $370.29 implies 16% of upside.

Bullish Scenario: Piper Jaffray offers the highest price target, predicting Apple's stock will rise 35% to $431.

-- Written by Jake Lynch in Boston.

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