What's the yardstick by which all snooze-inducing events are measured? Watching paint dry? Watching grass grow? As somnolent as these activities may be, the paint and lawn-care industries harbor some surprisingly solid companies.

Since the global paint market is as fragmented as a Jackson Pollock original, rumors of merger and consolidation activity have become a key factor in the industry. I've decided to peer into the paint biz and identify a definitive boring stock worth your consideration. (In a future installment, I'll do likewise for lawn care.)

The princes of paint
Backed by two centuries of operating history, Akzo Nobel (NASDAQ:AKZOY) is the biggest paint company in the world, looming imperiously from its headquarters in the Netherlands. Akzo recently sold its pharmaceutical unit to Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP), stirring speculation that it aims to acquire another coatings champ.

The U.K.'s Imperial Chemical Industries (NYSE:ICI) is the most widely rumored acquisition target, and its shares have ramped more than 20% during the past month. A Citigroup (NYSE:C) analyst even upgraded Imperial, based on its increasing likelihood of being acquired by Azko or Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW).

I was initially excited to dig up such a large, boring company that seems to fly under the radar of our Motley Fool CAPS players; only seven members have weighed in on Imperial's prospects, so the company has no CAPS rating. However, all the excitement surrounding the swirling buyout rumors simply cans this company's chances of being dubbed a definitive boring stock.

Two American paint firms have also been mentioned as potential takeover targets. Valspar has seen an analyst upgrade on buyout prospects stemming from its "low-cost, high-quality and geographically well-positioned coatings assets." Pittsburgh's PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) is a rumored contender in the buyout activity. Valspar's shares haven't moved too dramatically, but there's a little too much enthusiasm there for our purposes today.

Lastly, there's Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW), the U.S. market leader. Poor Sherwin has mostly been excluded from the hoopla, but it's got my attention. Sherwin-Williams is priced similarly to Valspar, even though it generates significantly stronger returns on capital. Both companies have grown at the same pace over the past five years, and they pay roughly the same dividend yield. Sherwin-Williams does have a stronger brand name in its favor, which may partly explain its higher margins. It might not necessarily fit into Akzo's acquisition strategy, but there's a chance that Sherwin-Williams may nicely fill a boring niche in your portfolio.

Further painterly Foolishness:

Subscribers of our Inside Value newsletter know a little something about boring. There are no flashy names here -- just some of the best companies in the world, unjustifiably priced for mediocrity. If this style of investing interests you, why not sign up for a free 30-day trial?

Fool contributor Toby Shute is the grandson of a house painter, but he personally enjoys reading the paint companies' SEC filings more than using their products. He welcomes your feedback. Dow Chemical and PPG Industries are
Motley Fool Income Investor picks. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy has a fresh, glossy sheen.