The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which the Fool's Isaac Pino and Catherine Baab-Muguira discusses topics from around the investing world.

In today's edition, Isaac and Cat dig in to the Dow Jones manufacturing companies, including 3M, General Electric, Caterpillar, Boeing, and United Technologies, in search of profits. However, it turns out that these can be hard to come by for the highly cyclical, capital-intensive industrial giants. Compared with high-tech stalwarts like Microsoft and Cisco, profit margins are razor-thin for focused manufacturers such as Caterpillar and Boeing:


Source: Morningstar.

The companies with the highest profits in this sector are those with diversified businesses where innovation and patented technologies differentiate their products. Leadership is critical in building these competitive advantages over time, and Isaac believes 3M and GE have cornered fast-growing markets that will drive their stocks higher over the long haul.

For GE, in particular, the company has positioned itself as an infrastructure leader and will play a huge role in the buildout of an energy grid that will be four times as large as the current U.S. power grid in 15 years. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how this company will drive double-digit growth for the company primarily through GE Energy. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio of businesses. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.