United Technologies

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Construction and aerospace conglomerate United Technologies ( UTX) is first on our list this week. The $72 billion firm owns league-leading brands such as Carrier air conditioners, Sikorsky helicopters, and Pratt & Whitney jet engines.

While the products that roll off of UTX's factory lines are certainly big-ticket and capital intense, the firm has been able to avoid the downside of the business cycle -- particularly with interest rates at historic lows.

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Selling big-ticket items also comes with some attractive side effects. For example, maintenance for jet engines and elevators is highly regulated, driving significant aftermarket sales for UTX as wear parts get replaced at premium prices. The acquisition of Goodrich this summer skews UTX's focus more toward aviation, but it's a business that should be extremely complementary to the firm's existing aerospace operations.

The purchase wasn't cheap, and UTX will take some time getting its balance sheet back in shape. Regardless, the consolidation should be especially attractive once the firm finds its cost savings.

United Technologies has a long track record of being a good steward for investors' money. The firm has historically returned more than 70% of free cash to investors in the form of dividends and share repurchases, two tools that management can use to directly return value to its owners. Expect UTX's growth trajectory to keep throwing off cash right now.

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