5. Pentair ( PNR)

Company profile: Pentair, with a market value of $4 billion, makes pumps mostly for commercial and residential applications, including sump pumps, well pumps, and fire-protection pumps as well as replaceable filters and enclosures for electronic systems. At the end of March, it announced a $10 billion merger with Tyco International's Tyco Flow unit.

Dividend Yield: 2%

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 33% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 23%. Analysts give its shares six "buy" ratings, one "buy/holds," and 10 "holds," according to a survey of analysts by S&P.

S&P has it rated "buy," with a $55 price target, which is a 23% premium to its current price. It says that recent acquisitions will bolster its water filtration footprint and "we expect solid cash generation to be targeted for acquisitions, buybacks and dividend hikes" after a 10% increase early this year.

4. Xylem ( XYL)

Company profile: Xylem, with a market value of $5 billion, provides a range of products in the transportation, treatment, and testing of water including water and wastewater pumps and filtration, disinfection, and biological treatment equipment. It is an October 2011 spin off from ITT ( ITT).

Dividend Yield: 1.51%

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 5% since its IPO. Analysts give its shares four "buy" ratings, one buy/hold," and seven "holds," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. Analysts estimate it will earn $1.88 per share this year and $2.14 in 2013, which is 14% growth.

Morningstar says the company is a "rare water pure play that deserves to trade at a premium to its diversified industrial peer group because the water industry has highly visible long-term growth drivers."

3. American Water Works ( AWK)

Company profile: American Water, with a market value of $6 billion, provides water, wastewater and other related services to residential, commercial and industrial customers in the U.S. and Canada. It is the largest publicly traded U.S. water utility. Nearly 90% of its revenue comes from regulated utility markets.

Dividend Yield: 2.77%

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 5.6% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 26%. Analysts give its shares eight "buy" ratings, two "buy/holds," seven "holds," and one "weak hold," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. Their consensus estimate is for earnings of $1.95 per share this year, growing to $2.09 next year.

Morningstar analyst Mark Barnett says that "despite its position, we recommend that investors dial back their enthusiasm when considering this investment, as government regulation limits the profits the company can make and creates hurdles to rapid growth."

2. Pall ( PLL)

Company profile: Pall, with a market value of $7 billion, specializes in making water and air filters and owns patented filtering technologies and processes.

Dividend Yield: 1.43%

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 3% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 35%. Analysts give its shares three "buy" ratings, one "buy/hold," four "holds," one "weak hold," and three "sells," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. S&P has it rated "strong sell," based on weaker international demand "and our view that the timing and execution of a new global restructuring program will take longer than planned to implement."

But Morningstar says the company is poised to benefit from its high-value-added filtration systems that help end users lower operating costs. They have applications in everything from water systems to the bio-pharmaceuticals industry.

1. Basic Sanitation Company of the State of Sao Paulo ( SBS)

Company profile: Basic Sanitation, with a market value of $9 billion, collects, treats, and distributes water throughout the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. The company also designs and builds water treatment facilities and distribution networks.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 33% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 45%. Analysts give its shares two "buy" ratings, one "buy/hold," one "hold," one "weak hold," and one "sell," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. Analyst expect it to earn $5.31 per share this year but that will decline 35% to $3.47 next year.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 10 Stocks That Won't Leave You High and Dry portfolio on Stockpickr.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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