QE3 Not Required: Three Stocks Thriving Without the Fed

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When U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opened the floodgates of easy money with quantitative easing (QE3), Wall Street staged a party.

But even though the market quickly jumped to five-year highs, stocks fizzled shortly thereafter.

And that leaves investors wondering whether this market has staying power.

"The question now is if investors feel brave enough to continue to buy stocks at such elevated levels," Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist at GFT Markets wrote in a note to investors. Investors looking for a safer route should focus on companies that can thrive on their own merits -- even without an intoxicating shot of QE3.

Companies that make products we have to have - the necessities of life, in other words -- tend to be more resistant to market ups and downs.

Let's take a look at three companies that have delivered steady, reliable returns for decades -- with or without QE1, QE2, QE3 or, someday, QE99.

General Mills (NYSE: GIS) Satisfies Investors' Hunger

It's a fact -- people have to eat.

And steady sales make a food company's shares less volatile than the overall market.

One food company, General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS), controls some of the most recognizable brands on the planet, including Wheaties, Pillsbury, Old El Paso and Betty Crocker.

But the best food companies also invest in long-term trends -- like the shift toward eating healthier foods.

So GIS has added up-and-coming labels like Cascadian Foods, Good Earth and Muir Glen to its stable.

But that's not all.

In order to increase its international exposure, General Mills has been on an acquisition spree. Its most notable purchase last year was Yoplait International, helping to boost international sales.

U.S. sales accounted for 61.6% of GIS revenue in the latest quarter, down from 65.2% a year ago.

Overall sales at General Mills rose 5.3% year-over-year in the last quarter, to $4.05 billion. Net earnings rose 35.3%.

And this is a company that believes in rewarding investors.

In fact, General Mills has been paying steady dividends for 113 years -- and counting. Its current quarterly payout of $0.33 a share yields a tasty 3.3%.

The next two stocks that don't need QE3 include two energy companies gushing profits for investors.

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