I'm sure you'll have some cosmic rationale
But here you are in the ninth
Two men out and three men on
Nowhere to look but inside
Where we all respond to
-- Billy Joel
In addition to being a musical genius, the "Piano Man" evidently understands baseball, too. In my present role, I continue to have a greater appreciation for the pressure faced by the pundits who give stock advice. I feel that pressure mounting, as the market has become a minefield in recent weeks. However, as in baseball, I believe that pressure in the markets creates unique opportunities.
Responding to the heat, here then are my picks for this week.
. Yahoo! provides the best Internet services in the world, and online advertising dollars will keep rising. This company will continue to grow and make money for many years to come.
Because I believe Yahoo! is a screaming buy down here near its 52-week low, you should do what I did and buy an option. In this case, that would be a call -- the right to buy the underlying stock at a specified strike price for a fixed period of time.
With regard to options, remember what I have been trying to drive home over the last three weeks: The way to win playing the dangerous game of options is to buy deep-in-the-money calls that give you plenty of time. If you buy a Yahoo! April 20 call, you will pay about $12.80 per contract. Buy 10 contracts and control 1,000 shares; you will have saved yourself almost $20,000 vs. the cost of buying the common stock in the open market.
. This oil and gas equipment service company manufactures products used in the energy industry for drilling, production, well servicing and line pipe applications, and industrial tubing for various applications. This is one of those companies you don't hear too much about, even though it's in one of the hottest sectors on the planet right now.
Maverick's products are used in newly drilled oil and natural gas wells, and for transporting oil and natural gas. Even with Monday's bounce, I still like the outlook for this stock and believe it can at least retest its 200-day moving average at $31.69. The company continually seeks opportunities to enter new markets.
Check out these very impressive numbers: Maverick has a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 6.43, its return on equity (ROE) is an impressive 31.90%, and it has very minimal debt and free cash flow of almost $50 million. They are definitely doing a lot of things right in Chesterfield, Mo.
. Talk about undervalued! This stock does not belong in the $20s. One day we will all wake up and see Pfizer trading back in the $30s.
Pfizer is now the world's largest and most valuable health care company, and it does a whole lot more than just make prescription drugs. Pfizer owns more than 50 different over-the-counter products that you and I use every day, including Visine eye drops and Listerine mouthwash.
I just want to remind everyone that sometimes common sense works: This is one of the greatest American companies of all time. Look up the word "integrity" in the dictionary and you will see a picture of Pfizer's CEO, Hank McKinnell. And by the way, with almost $15 billion in the bank and $9.4 billion of free cash flow, Pfizer is one I'll take on my team anytime.
But that is not the reason I am picking Pfizer today. Again, let me make myself clear: I'm suggesting Pfizer
, because I am here to make you money, plain and simple! Trading at $25.19 as of Monday's close, Pfizer should have no trouble trading back up near its 200-day moving average at $26.70. If you want a "gift," buy 1,000 shares of Pfizer right here.
. I believe I may have found the only company in America operating in the residential home industry that is a bargain, with a forward P/E of 7.35, ROE over 35% and a debt-to-equity ratio under 0.6.
Fannie Mae's stock has been taken apart in the past year by accounting scandals and because of increased regulatory scrutiny. But I believe the pain is just about over -- at least as far as heading south -- back below its 52-week low at $45.56.
My recommendation would be to again buy deep-in-the-money calls. I had a limit order in Monday to buy the January 35 call at $11.90 and didn't get filled. On Tuesday, I plan to take a stab at some January 2007 calls; this is not the kind of stock or option I would chase, so if it doesn't come my way, so be it. And remember whom you're dealing with; those operators on Wall Street will "carve you up" unless you put a limit order in.
And now, a quick word about some prior picks:
Biomet : As I predicted here, Biomet's earnings blew away expectations. But after a brief rally in reaction, the stock is now lower than it was before the Sept. 21 earnings report. I have a lot of faith in this company and bought more of the Oct. 30 calls. In this treacherous market, who knows, maybe next time it will miss and the stock will rally.
Walgreen : Last week I predicted there would be some adjustments because of Hurricane Katrina, so I wasn't really surprised when the company reported disappointing results Monday. I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses after a 2.4% decline, because I'm not. I just want people to know that this is a great buying opportunity for a "best of breed" company.
GFIC : I recommended the stock on Jim Cramer's "RealMoney" radio show on Sept. 19, and it continues to run, rallying another 5% Monday with almost no coverage in the mainstream press.
Down to the Wire
As of Monday, all of the division titles in the American League, as well as the wild-card berths in both the National and American leagues, were still unsettled. The pressure to perform intensifies dramatically as the number of games dwindles. Every at bat, every out, every man left on base is magnified and scrutinized to a level that can be overwhelming. Some will succumb to the pressure while others will punch through it, refusing to be "punched out."
Fair or unfair, careers can be defined by one moment under the microscope. Just ask Kirk Gibson or Bill Buckner.
Similarly, managers are subject to intense pressure as well, which can cause them to alter their usual strategies. Gene Mauch decided to pitch Jim Bunning and Chris Short every other day during the stretch drive for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964. That resulted in the Phillies squandering a six-game lead with 10 games remaining to the St. Louis Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series. Amazing how a manager of Mauch's stature would change his strategy so significantly at that point in the season.
Of course, in all fairness to Mauch, we are all geniuses in retrospect, but the message for investors is to find a style that works for you and stick with it!
The "boys of summer," and athletes in general, are paid large sums of money to overcome the pressure, which can be stifling at times. The fans expect us to produce, and that creates even more pressure. Recall
last week's column in which I noted that a 70% failure rate in baseball makes you a legitimate candidate for the Hall of Fame. This should demonstrate how truly difficult it is to produce under pressure.
Despite the monumental expectations and the crushing pressure, athletes would do well to remember
The Godfather Part II
, in which Hyman Roth declares to Michael Corleone, "Michael, this is the business we have chosen."
Life is a journey; enjoy the ride!
At the time of publication, Dykstra was long Yahoo!, Pfizer and Biomet although holdings can change at any time.
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.