7. St. Jude Medical ( STJ)

Company profile: St. Jude Medical makes cardiovascular medical devices, including the world's most widely used mechanical heart valve. Its products include tissue heart valves, pacemakers and implantable cardiovascular defibrillators.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 25% this year and have a three-year annualized return of almost 7%. Morningstar has a $49 price target on its shares, a 30% premium to the current price.

Morningstar says St. Jude Medical has "taken the lead in certain therapeutic areas," underscoring its wide moat status, which it originally earned for its cardiac devices. Analysts give its shares four "buy" ratings, one "outperform," and six "holds," according to an analysts survey.

6. Autodesk ( ADSK)

Company profile: Autodesk is the leading vendor of computer-aided design software worldwide.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 24% this year and have a three-year annualized return of 30%. "Its strong competitive advantage, coupled with a sound business model, leaves the company well-positioned to benefit from a more stable economic environment," says Morningstar. Analysts give its shares five "buy" ratings, one "outperform," and two "holds."

5. Federated Investors ( FII)

Company profile: Federated Investors provides asset management services for institutional and individual investors. Mutual funds represent around 85% of the firm's assets under management. It's a big player in the money market fund arena with $285 billion in such assets at the end of 2011.

Federated Investors has seen run-off in those assets due to low rate, and now it faces the challenge of new Securities and Exchange Commission regulations that is seen hurting money fund managers by costing them more to manage.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 19% this year (although they fell 5% last week), and have a three-year annualized return of 2.3%. The firm has been a big money market manager and so has been whipsawed by rate declines that have led to investor withdrawals, but Morningstar says "we think that the worst of the outflows are behind Federated and expect the firm to continue using its position as a top domestic manager of money market funds to expand both the depth and breadth of its operations."

But Federated Investors may face new challenges as the SEC is proposing changes to money market funds regulations that call for more capital contributions on the part of fund managers. Its shares yield a hefty 5.41%. Analysts give its shares two "hold" ratings.

4. Capella Education ( CPLA)

Company profile: Capella is a regionally accredited, exclusively online post-secondary education company. It offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 23% this year, but have a three-year annualized loss of 8%. Morningstar says "With high demand for education, price-insensitive customers, minimal investment requirements, government-aided pricing, and a solid industry position, Capella possesses a wide economic moat, in our opinion." Analysts give its shares three "buy" ratings, two "holds," and one "underperform."

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