As baseball takes its midseason break for the All-Star Game, a quick recap of the season thus far is in order before we get to this week's pick.
The Western divisions in both the NL and AL have all of their respective teams in position to win the division. The NL Central remains highly competitive with St. Louis leading, but Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Houston are within striking distance of first place. The AL Central has the Detroit Tigers, with the best record in baseball, leading the Chicago White Sox by a small margin. The AL East has the Red Sox with a small cushion over the Yankees. The NL East is the only division that does not appear to be competitive at this point, as the Mets have a double-digit lead on the rest of the division.
The All-Star break is usually a time when general managers begin to decide whether their team will be a buyer or a seller before the trade deadline on July 31. Speculation will dominate the papers, as well as the sports talk shows, as to what "stars" will be changing addresses before the trade deadline. This is certainly the time of year when GMs make their deep-in-the-money calls.
This weekend saw France revel in the victory of Amelie Mauresmo in the ladies' singles at Wimbledon. On the other hand, the country was undoubtedly heartbroken with France's crushing loss on penalty kicks to Italy in the World Cup. Unfortunately, the great Zidane's career ended with a red card in overtime. Congratulations to the Italians, who overcame pre-tournament accusations of scandal to claim the greatest prize in futbol.Hopefully the disheartened French can find some solace in their beloved Tour de France, which has two weeks left until its champion rides down the Champs-Elysees. Lastly, the gentlemens' singles title at Wimbledon was won for the fourth consecutive year by Roger Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal for the first time in his career after four consecutive losses. Federer's mastery of the grass at Wimbledon appears to be taking on a Sampras-esque quality. We can only hope that his budding rivalry with Nadal will continue to blossom, as it already has the flavor of Borg/McEnroe. Federer's 48th consecutive grass court victory, coupled with his eighth Grand Slam title, certainly qualifies him as a deep-in-the-money call. Although the stock market continues to be downright scary, we will invest in areas that are known to hold up during these turbulent times. Health care happens to be one of those areas. The pick this week is Medtronic (MDT - Get Report). This company has no business trading below $50; that is why we are going to buy the November $42.50 in-the-money call. The price for this option closed Friday at $6.30, and it was trading near that level Monday morning. This is a world-class company ... on sale! For us to control 1,000 shares of Medtronic for about the next five months, we will pay $6,300, as opposed to paying $47,590 for 1,000 shares of the common stock. Remember, this company is arguably the best on the planet when it comes to medical technology. It has the numbers to back it up: a forward P/E at 17, return on equity at 25.68%, over $11.20 billion in revenue and $6.10 billion in cash. To top it off, it has $5.77 billion in free cash flow. What's everybody worried about when you can invest in a company like this? The company's primary products include those for heart and vascular disease, neurological disorders, chronic pain, spinal disorders, diabetes, urologic and digestive system disorders and ear, nose and throat disorders. The company's customers include hospitals, clinics, third-party health care providers and other institutions. Medtronic is also involved in governmental health care programs and group purchasing organizations. If you are still not convinced, I will close with this: The company serves physicians, clinicians and patients in about 120 countries. Only one thing left for me to say: Lock and load! Remember: Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!