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Dykstra: Reveling in Holiday Gifts

I trust that Thanksgiving provided everyone an opportunity to enjoy quality time with family and friends. Undoubtedly, many of you continued to enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers through the weekend, and since I suggested they were early Thanksgiving treats last Monday, here is a review of my picks from last week.

  • Frontier Oil (FTO): Monday morning the stock opened at $34.50. Friday afternoon, the stock closed at $37.07. This represents about an 8% gain in just one week.

  • Dell (DELL): I suggested buying this stock Monday morning as well, and it opened at $29.98. The stock closed Friday at $30.33. This represents approximately a 1.5% gain in one short week.

Going back two weeks now, I'd strongly encourage anyone long the Symantec (SYMC) April 15 calls to add to the position. This option closed at $3.40 Friday, which, in my opinion, is a gift.

Let me explain: If you bought 10 of these calls for $3.40 on Nov. 25, with the expiration date being Friday, April 21, you enabled yourself to control 1,000 shares of Symantec stock at the price of $18.40 (the strike price of $15 plus the option premium of $3.40). Bottom line: For $3,400, you are now in control of 1,000 shares of Symantec until April 21, as opposed to spending $17,640 for an equivalent position in the common stock. What's more, this opportunity comes in a company with a forward P/E ratio of 15.24, $4.43 billion in cash, and $842.7 million in free cash flow. All I can say is, "Lock and load!"

Permit me a related aside. When I write a column, my goal is to put all readers in investments where they have limited downside risk while maintaining the potential for substantial upside. This is one of those situations, but it's not easy. It takes discipline!

Now let's get to the new picks.

Buying Good Health

Centene (CNC) is a major player in the fast-growing Medicaid managed-care industry, providing managed-care programs and related services to individuals receiving benefits under Medicaid, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The company's health plans serve Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. Centene contracts with other health care organizations to provide specialty services, including behavioral health, disease management, nurse triage and treatment compliance.

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