The first-game jitters are gone. Heading into the second week of my inaugural season, let's check my stats thus far.
My leadoff hitter
, was up 6.4% to $22.18 as of Monday's close, from $20.85 when I recommended it here. Keeping pace, my second hitter,
, was up 4% from where I recommended it to $44.97.
While these represent impressive gains in a week, the combined increases will merely buy you a few gallons of gas or a couple of lattes at
. Always remember to keep things in perspective and please note: I am a trader! I lock in profits when I feel the market is extremely volatile, as it has been of late.
So I sold Symantec on Thursday at $22.22 for a $2.27 gain -- I bought the stock on Aug. 25 with a cost basis of $19.95. As for Dow Chemical, I am still holding my January $35 calls. Rather than cashing in here, I have chosen to wait because I believe this option will yield greater gains down the road.
So my table setters have done their job, they got on and scored. Now, we have to keep the rally going.
A Pitch to Hit
My leadoff hitter this week,
Mine Safety Appliances
, should actually be hitting cleanup.
Mine Safety manufactures and supplies a sophisticated and comprehensive line of products used by workers around the world in the fire service, homeland security, construction, oil and gas, chemical and other industries, as well as the military. Somehow, this company has been able to remain beneath the radar screen. Insiders still hold 25.55% of the company. On average, it only trades approximately 226,000 shares a day -- although it did have a big move up on Friday, prompting me to sell my pre-existing position.
Now let's get to the bottom line: making money. This hidden gem certainly delivers on that account.
Its forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratio is 16.45; the return on equity (ROE) is 22.61% and it has plenty of money left after it pays its bills to throw in the "kitty" with free cash flow of about $60 million. Mine Safety just broke through its 21-day moving average at $41.35. I think we are in the sweet spot here. It's going higher!
By the way, remember what I said last week: If you don't want to drop $41,000 for 1000 shares, buy a deep-in-the-money call, because there is minimal premium to pay. For example, you can buy 10 contracts with a Dec. 30 call for somewhere around $12,500. In other words, you will control 1000 shares of Mine Safety all the way until the third Friday in December, with virtually no premium for approximately $12,500.
That is the beauty of options -- the ability to leverage your position. But beware, options move fast and if you are not on top of your game, options can exact some significant pain!
, which closed Monday at $25.04. In my opinion, this could be one of the most undervalued stocks on the
New York Stock Exchange
. I'm not just telling you this because it's "Boston" and my good friend, Curt Schilling, pitches for the Red Sox. No, this is more about the "Scientific" part.
Boston Scientific manufactures minimally invasive medical devices used in interventional cardiology, radiology and other medical applications. The stock is trading at a forward PE of 12, and Boston Scientific's return on equity is almost 30%. Are you ready to talk about cash flow? How about almost $2 billion in cash flow from operations and free cash flow of $655 million?
I know the company trimmed its third-quarter earnings-per-share estimate last week, but it maintained guidance for the year. People do not realize that Boston Scientific has a significant, broad pipeline, with a serious lineup. Boston Scientific has the ability to generate growth in areas outside of drug-coated stents, which makes this company even more attractive down here at these levels. Remember, this company will generate $6.5 billion of revenue this year.
This is a "rock-solid" company that just happens to be on sale right now. At this price, the first thing you should do after you read this column is buy this stock: Lock and load!
Another medical appliance maker from which I am expecting good things is
Biomet, which makes replacement hips and knees as well as dental reconstructive implants, trades with a forward P/E ratio of 18.26 and sports a return on equity of 23.4%. The company generated over $416 million in free cash flow in the past 12 months and has a minuscule debt-to-equity ratio of 0.18. Thus, Biomet meets the parameters required before I take a position in a stock. I detailed these last week and will repeat them here:
The stock's ROE must be higher than the forward PE.
The stock must have an abundance of free cash flow. This is very important because this tells me if the company is making real money; i.e., what's left after paying all its bills.
The company must have low levels of debt, with a debt-to-equity ratio -- long-term debt divided by shareholders equity -- preferably below 1.0 but absolutely below 1.5. (Note: I'll occasionally tolerate higher-than-normal debt ratios for fast-growing companies if I have strong faith in the firm's potential upside.)
Now comes the infamous "but": Biomet will be announcing its earnings on Sept. 21. I anticipate that it will beat the number and report solid earnings for the quarter. Unfortunately, anything that can be misconstrued as imperfection on the conference call can lead those operators on Wall St. to take a stock apart. Given the incredible scrutiny on conference calls nowadays, if Biomet doesn't guide up, it runs the risk of being lambasted like a rookie who fails to run out a ground ball.
Hence, you have to be careful going into earnings. But I have confidence in Biomet and am long the October $30 calls in anticipation of strong results.
The Business of Sports
September is synonymous with the baseball pennant races, the start of football season, and the U.S. Open tennis championships at Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Special Open moments, including the pugnacious Jimmy Connors' incredible comeback against Aaron Krickstein at age 39, the colorful wizardry of John McEnroe, a severely dehydrated Pete Sampras -- vomiting between points, yet somehow holding on to win -- are indelibly etched in the collective minds of the sports world. This year's Open had several poignant story lines, particularly the personal triumphs of Mary Pierce, Kim Clijsters and James Blake. Moreover, the fluid elegance and consistency of Roger Federer are wonderful to behold.
However, the feel-good story for me in this tournament is Andre Agassi, the onetime brash, "Image is Everything" poster boy, who has graciously developed a humility which parallels his maturation as a husband and a father. By the way, I would highly recommend purchasing futures on his children as he is married to Steffi Graff, who won 22 women's grand-slam championships. But seriously, Agassi's match with James Blake epitomizes my strategy with the market.
Despite losing the first two sets, Agassi did not panic, nor wilt away. On the contrary, he continued to chip away at Blake with his trademark relentless ground strokes from the baseline. Adhering to Warren Buffet's adage of "buying when others are fearful," Agassi gambled with high-risk shots when perhaps others would not, enabling him to claim victory in a fifth-set tiebreaker.
Similarly, staying the course with a sound investment strategy -- augmented by timely, calculated gambles -- is a winning recipe, which I will continue to outline in the weeks ahead.
Life is a journey, enjoy the ride. I trust that Andre is doing so, despite ultimately falling to Federer in the finals.
At the time of publication, Dykstra was long Boston Scientific and long calls on Dow Chemical and Biomet.
Nicknamed "Nails" for his tough style of play during his Major League Baseball career, Lenny Dykstra was an integral member of the powerful Mets of the mid-1980s and the Phillies of the early 1990s, including the world champion 1986 Mets squad.
Today, Dykstra manages his own stock portfolio and serves as president of several of his privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a state-of-the-art ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a new venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores throughout high-demographic areas of Southern California.