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Secret Santa for Stock Pickers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One thing I've learned on this financial beat, which I failed to understand at my previous job with ZDNet, is that heat is not always evidence of light.

A good, loud argument, about software or stocks, is not always evidence of progress. It may be evidence of resistance. I've written about this at Seeking Alpha, speculating that loud, active comment threads about a stock may indicate trouble for the stock in question. But it goes further than that.

Sometimes silence can be golden for investors. I'm going to offer some examples of stocks that have been rising in silence, that the crowd doesn't care about, stocks you might consider as presents under your virtual Christmas tree.

The first is News Corp. (NWSA). I'm a Democrat but I've been pounding the table for NWSA for a year now. The shares are up 43% so far this year, but when I write about them I feel like I'm writing to myself.

What's happening here is important. As Time noted recently, NWSA is going to become two companies. News Corp. will retain the newspapers while a new Fox Corp. will take the entertainment assets. The papers, along with the book publishing and education businesses, will be under Robert Thomson, while Rupert Murdoch himself will lead Fox.

Newspapers are a dying industry, but media monopoly is alive and well in film. The other big studios -- Disney (DIS), Viacom (VIA.B) and Comcast (CMCSA), the last of which owns the bigger half of NBC Universal -- are all vertically integrated, just like in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

They control the outlets where the product is shown, they pay themselves for it and they keep all that money in their pockets. It's a gold mine, and the new Fox could make things better by taking BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster whose takeover was halted by the phone-hacking scandals.

Now, those "tainted" assets will be part of News Corp., another company, leaving Fox free to finish its deal with BSkyB. The separation is brilliant for shareholders, for creating value.

Second is Delta Airlines (DAL), up 35% since August. Airlines have been a horrible business, but the skies are clearing. Airlines can make money with long-haul routes, which keep planes in the air rather than on the ground.

Delta has gained cost visibility by buying a Philadelphia refinery to make its own jet fuel, and it's holding the line on prices while fuel costs drop. Just as important, it's making important moves to expand its international operations, which means more full planes going more long distances. But, again, no one wants to read that story.

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