Excel - Thanks mate.
I personally prefer companies with great long-term track records and favourable business economics. I generally like simple and predictable companies, where I can predict with a degree of confidence what their business will look like in 7-10 years. Out of ~1600 LSE stocks, around 120 meet satisfactory requirements of this, of which 70 are very good and 36 are excellent.
Call me stingy, but I'm never willing to pay too much for growth, in ideal scenarios I like to pay a "zero growth" multiplier for a company of this type. TSCO in 2012 would be a great example of that, and on the NYSE at the moment, Aflac (AFL) fits that criteria of quality/value. Some great companies are almost always recognised for their potential in the market, DOM or ITRK for example,
If I personally had to acquire companies from scratch today, off the top of my head I might choose Greggs, MITIE Group, Tesco, Cranswick, (and on the NYSE) Aflac and Berkshire Hathaway. But those are really a matter of taste. Once I buy, I'm very reluctant to sell, so it's really a case of buy-and-hold for the long term in these cases. I'm relatively young, so (god willing) I have quite a while to take a long-term view.