I wish I had known.

I wish I had known more about Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR) a few years back. I wish I'd known about the approximately 50-year history of dividend hikes, the solid history of returns on capital, and the company's solid position in several attractive markets.

Had I known all of that, I could have possibly bagged a near-double in three years and collected a nice little dividend along the way. Oh, well, c'est la vie, right?

Even though I don't own this stock, that won't stop me from admiring it from afar. Sales in the first fiscal quarter were up 15% as reported and up 14% on an underlying basis (which, by this company's definition, means excluding acquisitions and currency effects). That 14% growth is exceptional. Even other solid conglomerates like Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK), Danaher (NYSE:DHR), and Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) would be looking up to that level of growth.

Just as positive, the company didn't fritter away that growth. The operating margin grew slightly, and the company posted 30%-plus growth in pretax and net income, as well as in earnings per share.

All of the businesses were strong except for appliances and tools, with process management and network power delivering the strongest bottom-line growth. And with the company recently announcing the acquisition of Artesyn Technologies (NASDAQ:ATSN), this unit will be getting a little bigger in the near future; Emerson hopes to combine good technology from Artesyn with lower-cost manufacturing and a global scale of business.

Although Emerson's growth will probably slow a little in the coming years, there's still plenty of business to be had in markets like process control, where the company will benefit from more power plant and energy infrastructure construction. Consider the recently announced deal with BP (NYSE:BP) to replace automation systems at three refineries.

Furthermore, I think the company's fairly broad diversity of businesses (process control, industrial automation, network power, HVAC, and appliance/tools) should insulate it somewhat from cyclical ups and downs and competitors like General Electronic (NYSE:GE) or Tyco (NYSE:TYC), which may be formidable in one, but not all, of those units.

Maybe this will sound like sour grapes -- since I missed the big move here -- but I don't see a whole lot of value left on the table with these shares. It's a well-run business that produces nice cash flow, but I don't see much of any margin of safety here, let alone one large enough to make me comfortable buying in today.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).