Today's pick is the world's greatest company.
This company generates $51.12 billion in global revenue; it has 76,000 employees in 102 countries; it makes a wide range of software products for computing devices. The company is the one and only
Microsoft has often been described as having a developer-centric business culture. A great deal of time and money is spent each year recruiting promising software developers and keeping them in the company. In a sense, the software developers at Microsoft are considered its "all-stars," and it's clearly working.
Microsoft is not only a stellar company; it's got stellar employees. As of 2006, Microsoft employees (not including Bill Gates) have given over $2.5 billion to nonprofit organizations worldwide, making Microsoft the top company in the world for per-employee donations. It's no surprise, then, that in January 2007 the Harris Interactive/Wall Street Journal Reputation Quotient survey recognized Microsoft as having the best corporate reputation.
Everyone knows about the company's strong financial performance, vision and leadership. Still, nothing is more beautiful than Microsoft's financials. The company has a forward
P/E of 14.56, return on equity just shy of 40%, $20 billion in cash, and on top of that, it has free cash flow coming in over $11.0 billion. But the most amazing fact is that this behemoth has zero long-term debt.
I am going to buy 10 January 22.50s (MSQAX), using a limit order set to pay $6.50 or better. The stock closed Friday at $28.25.
Game of Life
In the aftermath of Phil Rizzuto's death, I came across a quote from the immortal Yankee clipper, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio: "The fans loved to watch me play. The fans loved Scooter!"
That speaks volumes about the little spark-plug, who was an integral part of seven World Series championships with the Yankees. Holy cow -- Rizzuto, despite his physical parting, will continue to live on.
As baseball enters the final quarter of its regular season, all of the divisional races are still in question. Moreover, as usual, the wild-card races will most likely involve several teams, at least until the last week of the season. The Mets, fueled by the hot bat of Moises Alou, continue to maintain a modest margin over the Phillies and Braves in the NL East.
The Cubs have a slim lead over the fading Brewers in the NL Central, with the Cardinals definitely in a position to steal the division with a late push. In an effort to fortify their chances, the Cubs signed staff ace, Carlos Zambrano, to a five-year contract extension for $91.5 million.
Playing at a close to .800 pace over the past 25 games, the Diamondbacks are slowly squeezing the life out of the NL West, opening a comfortable margin over the Padres and Rockies, buoyed by Brandon Webb's 42 consecutive scoreless innings. In contradistinction, the sun appears to be setting on the Dodgers in the West.
Meanwhile, despite three botched outings by recently acquired Eric Gagne, Beantown still finds its beloved Red Sox on top in the AL East, albeit with a somewhat uncomfortable lead over the lurking Yankees. The Indians have reclaimed the top spot in the AL Central over the struggling Tigers, with the Twins barely maintaining contact.
Placido Polanco, the Tigers second baseman, who is enjoying a terrific year, set a major league record with 144 consecutive error-less games by a second baseman. The Angels maintain a slim lead over the Mariners in the AL West, with the eventual runner-up most likely being a prime contender for the wild-card berth.
The NFL and NBA are in a holding pattern, nervously awaiting the next turns in the Michael Vick and Tim Donaghy cases. Vick is still contemplating a plea agreement as more gruesome allegations surface, coupled with further pending charges in Virginia.
On the other hand, it is rumored that Donaghy will implicate other referees as part of his plea agreement. Suffice it to say, Roger Goodell and David Stern will be extremely busy with damage control over the next several months. Regardless of their success in dealing with their respective delicate situations, the mere fact that they must be preoccupied with such raises the question popularized by the Simon and Garfunkel song, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?"
Alas, the embodiment of Joe D. permeates Williamsport, Pa., this week, as the best Little League teams across the world vie for the Little League World Championship. Wide-eyed kids, proud parents and entire communities epitomize what is good about sports. More importantly, it serves as a wonderful commentary on what life can and should be.
The Players Club appreciates the innocence of Little Leaguers, which allows them to show unbridled emotions on the field. The unforgettable experience of participating in a Little League World Series can forge relationships that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the innocence and unbridled passion of youth are invariably replaced by the harsh realities of life.
Relationships that are seemingly rock solid unexpectedly erode over time, and sometimes, inexplicably, end. All too often, the underlying reason for these fundamental changes in relationships is money, or perhaps more importantly, the lack thereof.
By guaranteeing recurring cash flow, though our strategic partner, The Players Club endeavors to allow relationships to be judged on merit and the foundation on which they were established, rather than allowing financial issues the ability to dramatically alter one's perspective.
Always remember: Life is a journey; enjoy the ride!
At the time of publication, Dykstra had no positions in stocks mentioned.
Nicknamed 'Nails' for his tough style of play, Lenny is a former Major League Baseball player for the 1986 World Champions, New York Mets and the 1993 National League Champions, Philadelphia Phillies. A three time All-Star as a ballplayer, Lenny now serves as president for several privately held businesses in Southern California. He is the founder of The Players Club; it has been his desire to give back to the sport that gave him early successes in life by teaching athletes how to invest and protect their incomes. He currently manages his own portfolio and writes an investment strategy column for TheStreet.com, and is featured regularly on CNBC and other cable news shows. Lenny was selected as OverTime Magazine's 2006-2007 "Entrepreneur of the Year."