This time of year is filled with the melodramatics. That's what happens when the stakes are high and one plays for real money. The NBA and NHL Playoffs breed this kind of excitement. Fans in Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and various other cities are feeling the rush.
Even in baseball, where we haven't even reached the All-Star break, the news has been filled with turn-your-head headlines. San Diego Padres pitcher Greg Maddux reached the amazing milestone of 350 wins, and he will possibly be one of the last ever to reach that monumental achievement. I never really liked Maddux (he broke my wrist during my first at-bat in 1990 -- opening day at Veterans Stadium; nothing but a memory this day and age), but Greg Maddux amazingly continues to push ahead. Elsewhere, the Padres parted ways with another long-time winner: Jim Edmonds, releasing the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner following his disappointing 26-game tenure with the club. Edmonds struggled with the club, batting just .178 and struck out 24 times in only 90 at-bats.
The takeaway here is that even with winners, there are ups and downs. Maddux and Edmonds both had stellar careers; however, the last week was certainly quite different for the two of them.
That brings me to today's pick. Today I'm going with
. The company provides a number of financial services; focusing mainly on protection and wealth management products. It also provides long-term care services, pension products, annuities, and mutual funds. Lastly, the company offers investment management services to institutional customers -- a very profitable line of business.
Last week the company said its income fell by 11.9% in its first quarter and that CEO, Dominic D'Alessandro, will step down in May 2009. The firm expects to announce a successor by the end of this year. Its profits were $869 million, or 57 cents a share, shy of the $986 million, or 63 cents a share in the year-ago period. Manulife said the global equity market decline is to blame for its shortcoming this quarter.
Maybe so, but I like this company for a handful of reasons. It has $7.42 billion in operating cash flow and over $12 billion in cash on hand. Its debt is standing at $6.53 billion.
However, the most critical factor for me is the street's take on the stock. Right now, Manulife's been unfairly punished and that means there is an opening for us to take advantage of -- a key landscape for scooping up a win. It traded as high $39.63 last week, before it reported its numbers. But it was down after that , closing at $37.13 on Friday.
That leaves the stock trading much closer to the bottom of its 52-week range, which is $33.44 to $46.61. It achieved that peak in November.
The bottom line, this stock is undervalued and could provide a quick win. This morning, I will place limit order to buy 10 contracts of the January $30 calls (VICAF) for $7.90, or better. As a reminder, once the order is filled, I immediately place a good-till cancel (GTC) order to sell at $1.00 above the entry price. That way, we'll lock in a $1,000 win when the stock moves our way.
Always remember: Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.
Know What You Own
: MFC operates in the life insurance industry, and some of the other stocks in its field include
American International Group
( AXA) and
( AZ). These stocks closed at $40.28, $36.36 and $19.94, respectively. For more on the value of knowing what you own, visit TheStreet.com's
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."