When picking stocks, I look for many of the same things coaches look for when sorting the winning players from the losing players.
Yes, I look for performance and sound practices. For players, that means running their routes correctly and using proper techniques that will allow them to stay strong for the entire season.
In business, it means doing things the right way to produce results now and later -- keeping good books and having a sound, executable strategy. And -- most of all -- not accepting the status quo or becoming complacent. And -- when striving to improve -- they don't take shortcuts.
In business, shortcuts lead to scandals. In sports, they lead to the same thing. I try to avoid companies and players like that at all costs. Hard work and sound fundamentals are key ingredients of winners.I'm going with Verizon (VZ - Get Report) today. This is a solid company with a steady stream of revenue with significant standing in the marketplace and a cheap, cheap stock price. Everybody has cell phones these days, and while Verizon isn't the only carrier, it is a true heavyweight. Today it hit a new 52-week low, trading between $26.41 and $27.83 today. In afternoon trading, it was sitting right in the middle at about $27.25. To give you an idea of just how far this company has fallen, it is off more than 37% in the last year. Lots of people are recommending sitting on cash, staying on the sidelines. Now is the time that some people get rich. Verizon is a solid company, and regardless of the length of the recession, in the long-run, this company will move north. I don't expect it to take that long actually for it to rebound a bit. After all, it is at a new low as the Dow fell below 8,000. That's a pretty key level for most traders and it is a mental threshold. I am cautiously optimistic that we are at the low end of a trading range at least in the near term. Looking at its metrics, Verizon has a forward P/E of just 9.95 and a return on equity of 12.45%. It has a massive revenue stream of $95.55 billion and $27.37 billion in operating cash flow. Lastly, I like the fact that it has $1.67 billion in cash in the bank. While it certainly could have more, it does have a nice chunk of change to work with if need be. Not insignificantly, today hundreds of people were lined up at Verizon stores to get their hands on the BlackBerry Storm, Research In Motion's (RIMM) first touch-screen phone. Its main competition is the iPhone from Apple (AAPL - Get Report). People who use their BlackBerry absolutely love it and tend to be loyal customers. Police had to restore order at one location in Manhattan after the store ran out of the new phones less than an hour after opening, and people waiting for the new phone became angry. While this incident is not good and the store should have been more prepared, it shows how rabid these consumers can be for the BlackBerry. The relationship is beneficial for both companies, and Verizon is one company that can help you get on the scoreboard. Keep moving the chains!