Financially, Cisco is in stellar shape, with more than $45 billion in cash offsetting a $16.3 billion debt load. That financial wherewithal gives Cisco ample dry powder for acquisitions in 2013 -- as long as management can avoid the urge to overpay, shareholders should be able to see added value from a deal.

Illinois Tool Works

It's been a stellar year for shareholders of Illinois Tool Works ( ITW) -- the $28.5 billion diversified industrial stock has rallied more than 31% since the start of the year, easily beating the broad market's gains over that same period. Calling ITW diversified may be an understatement -- the firm has more than 800 individual units in 58 countries, spanning everything from food and beverage equipment to auto parts to commercial construction.

More than just diversified, individual units are given the freedom to make their own business choices, an approach that some corporate executive suites may see as scary. But that decentralized management approach also ensures that individual units aren't bogged down by a central management team that's overwhelmed with decision-making. Acquisitions have been a critical part of ITW's growth strategy -- and part of the reason why it has such a massive number of individual units under the corporate umbrella.

After the untimely passing of ITW CEO David Speer late last month, there are some big questions to be answered about the firm's new boss. Speer, after all, led ITW through the recession, and onto new share price highs in 2012. But successor Scott Santi has the same bona fides as Speer did (he's another lifer at ITW who joined the firm back in 1983 as a sales rep), and it's likely that he'll keep the firm on the trajectory that Speer had established. With analyst sentiment on the upswing, we're betting on shares this week.


Coach ( COH), on the other hand, has had a less impressive run in 2012. Shares of the luxury handbag maker have slipped around 5% since the start of January, a time when the S&P 500 has climbed double digits. While that price action isn't ideal for the investors who own shares now, it's giving Coach an opportunity to lose the premium pricing that's scared value-seekers from shares for the past few years.

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