Over the past year or two, I've written about an attractive company here and there that seemed like it might be a good investment for me and perhaps for you, too. In looking over some of them recently, I noticed that a few still seem like good places in which to consider plunking your dollars.

More than newsprint
I profiled The Washington Post Co. (NYSE:WPO) back in 2004, noting how it's much more than merely a newspaper company (which is a good thing, since the newspaper business is facing many challenges these days). I pointed out the strength of its Kaplan educational subsidiary: "Its Kaplan subsidiary saw revenues advance 35% in 2003 to $838 million, putting it on a pace to perhaps hit $1 billion in revenues next year." Well, it's now the company's main revenue generator.

The company is growing. Its revenues increased by 16% over the past fiscal year, while long-term debt has fallen in recent years. Then, there's brand value. As I noted earlier, "The company owns some very valuable and well-known names. The Washington Post is the nation's fifth-largest newspaper (circulation-wise) ... [and] Newsweek magazine is also a major property, with a readership of around 3 million."

Learn more in these articles:

Storing up dollars
Another interesting company is Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM), which makes money by storing papers, files, digital data, and more. In my 2004 article, I cited green flags such as the company's growth rate (revenues grew 21% over the past year and 14% over the previous year), innovation, competitive advantages, and compelling business model. I also noted some red flags, such as rising debt (which has kept rising, as the firm makes acquisitions). But the firm is taking advantage of low interest rates with its debt, and is also increasing its net operating cash flow.

Learn more in these articles:

Financial services profits
Then there's First Data Corp. (NYSE:FDC), which I also wrote about back in 2004. Here's how the company describes itself:

[It] is a leading provider of electronic commerce and payment solutions for businesses and consumers worldwide. Serving 4.1 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data powers the global economy by making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses around the world to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. The company's portfolio of services and solutions includes credit, debit, private-label, smart and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; money transfer services; money orders; fraud protection and authentication solutions; check guarantee and verification services through TeleCheck; as well as Internet commerce and mobile solutions. Western Union and its subsidiary, Orlandi Valuta, together make up one of the world's largest money transfer networks with approximately 225,000 Agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories. The company's STAR Network offers PIN-secured debit acceptance at 1.6 million ATM and retail locations.


If you're licking your chops now, consider that the company is growing briskly (annual revenues topping $10 billion, up 19% over the past fiscal year and 12% over the previous year) and its net profit margins are near 20%. Its Western Union unit boasts 75% of the money-transferring business and it processes 40% of all Visa and MasterCard transactions.

I'm not alone in liking First Data -- Motley Fool Inside Value newsletter chief Philip Durell also recommended it as a promising undervalued investment. Bill Nygren, manager of the well-respected mutual fund OakmarkSelect (FUND:OAKLX) mutual fund, has also invested in First Data.

Learn more in these articles:

Fizzy money
Last year I also recommended Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) as a firm worth looking at. I was surprised earlier this year to learn that Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett bought a big stake in the firm himself. The company is the top U.S. beer brewer and also one of America's largest theme-park operators. You may not realize it, but it also is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and the planet's top recycler of aluminum beverage containers. Its market share for beer in the U.S. is around 50%, more than twice that of its closest rival, SABMiller. Bud is also an Inside Value recommendation, and it sports a dividend yield of about 2%.

Learn more in these articles:

Another fizzy treat
Finally, last year I also recommended looking at PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) -- and ended up buying some myself. I love that the company makes products that so many people love, and it offers much more than just carbonated beverages. Almost any salty snack you can think of belongs to PepsiCo, for example. It even offers a dividend yield of nearly 2%. (For more recommended dividend payers, check out Motley Fool Income Investor.)

Learn more about the company in these articles:

Summing up
So, should you rush out and snap up shares of these firms? Probably not. Instead, do some research on any that interest you, and then consider buying. If you're looking for more investing ideas, you'll be able to peek at long lists of recommendations that have much more research behind them by taking advantage of some free trials of our newsletters. We cover a lot more than stocks, too -- learn how to effectively prepare for retirement and let us point you to some outstanding mutual funds, too.

Selena Maranjian 's favorite discussion boards include Book Club , The Eclectic Library, and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of the Washington Post Co. and PepsiCo. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written: The Motley Fool Money Guide and The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens . The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.