Earnings season among the industrial heavyweights is in full swing, and the numbers kinda sting. From General Electric (NYSE:GE) getting flamed by its financial unit to Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) getting squashed by slumping machinery sales, these are some pretty rough reports. All the more striking, then, are the results out of Danaher (NYSE:DHR).

Danawho? Exactly. The large conglomerate, which makes everything from postal scanners to dental instruments, is far from a household name. Part of the reason is that Danaher, as a serial acquirer, has so many subsidiaries operating under their original monikers. These latest results might make the name Danaher stick in your mind, however.

On the top line, Danaher's consolidated revenue was off 13%. Compare that with the 21% decrease over at Post-it powerhouse 3M (NYSE:MMM). Net income dropped by roughly the same amount -- 13%, or 19% after adjusting for some favorable effects last year. Companies like GE, Honeywell (NYSE:HON), and ABB (NYSE:ABB) have reported earnings declines of 35% or more.

Best of all, though, was Danaher's cash flow performance. It's not for nothing that I've dubbed this company a king of cash flow; the 5% drop in cash generation is simply dynamite compared with the deep declines over at United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) or Honeywell.

Granted, Danaher benefited from four extra days in its first quarter. But this is hardly on the scale of Goldman Sachs' recent sleight of hand. That bank's unmatched brazenness reached new heights when it changed its reporting calendar, sidestepping a $1 billion loss from December in its latest earnings release.

During boom times, workhorse companies like Danaher tend to fade into the background. With less cyclical components such as its medical technologies division supporting Danaher's earning power during this depressed period, the company finally gets a chance to shine. Maybe Fools will finally start talking about this industrial elephant in the room.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.