Driving season and summer are almost over. Hurricane season is predicted to be not nearly as deadly as last year. The
has stopped raising rates for now. There is a cease-fire in the Middle East. A huge airline terror plot was foiled, and the stock market is arguably undervalued. These are good times.
I believe that it is time to get back into the market. I believe we could see some further relief in oil prices, as long as there is not a very disruptive hurricane.
A stock I have owned and recommended for some time is
. I have
recommended it because I believed the trend for litigation was going the company's way, and that would clear a path for this company to be broken up into at least two parts and maybe three.
Altria could be valued as high as $100 per share when the breakup occurs. The drag on earnings is
( KFT), the No. 1 food company in the U.S., in which Altria has an 87% ownership stake.
Federal Judge Gladys Kessler, of the District of Columbia, ruled last week that while Altria was culpable in deceiving smokers about the health hazards of smoking, she did not have the ability to award substantial financial penalties. Altria jumped 4% on the news.
Altria could announce the spinoff of Kraft and split the tobacco portion of the company into Phillip Morris domestic and Phillip Morris International at the company's Aug. 30 board meeting. While the timing of any breakup announcement is speculative, I feel certain that they will.
To view John Layfield's video take of this column, click here
I recommend Altria as a trade; buy it now, wait for the announcement and then take profits. If you have to sit on it for a while, then you have an almost 4% dividend to keep you happy.
King of Content
Telephone, cable, and satellite companies are all racing to offer phone, cable and Internet under one bill and in a synergistic way. A lot of companies are trying to make sure the three screens that content is viewed, handheld, PC and TV, are compatible as well. It is a very exciting time for both consumers and investors.
The sure winners in all this are content, and the company that can best display advertising in a way that consumers will use.
That's why I like a lot of content companies, but especially
, which just announced an advertising agreement with
for MySpace that will be worth a minimum of $900 million. That's not a bad return on a company that News Corp. bought just last year for $588 million. (
Full disclosure, I am a regular on News Corp.'s Fox television.
Rupert Murdoch claimed that Internet was one of the keys to the future of his Fox empire. Murdoch is putting his money where his mouth is. Last year he also bought IGN, a service that allows video gamers to download games over the Internet. IGN also will be used with Direct2Drive service, which is offered by News Corp. and will enable the selling of movies and shows.
The loser in all of this is
. News Corp. and many other content companies are trying to circumvent iTunes by creating their own platform for Internet downloads. Along with
creating its own music download system with its new phones, pressure is being put on Steve Jobs, the charismatic CEO of Apple. Nokia recently bought Loudeye to offer music downloads that will play on their smart phones they offer.
There will be a lot of consolidation in the next year within this industry. I believe Apple is one of the stocks that will be hurt, and Google will benefit.
There has been a lot of companies trying to take market share from Google, which so far is like Lance Armstrong, it just continues to stay ahead of the pack. While everyone else is trying to catch up with Google, by the time they do, Google is in a different place.
In sum, I recommend buying Google, News Corp., Nokia, and Altria, and staying away from Apple, unless a new product comes out that is another disruptive technology.
being poor is bad, staying that way is stupid.
At the time of publication, Layfield was long Altria although holdings can change at any time. A former All-American offensive lineman at Abilene Christian University, John Layfield played professional football for the then-Los Angeles Raiders and later in the World League. After wrestling in Japan, Mexico and Europe, Layfield arrived in the WWE in the mid-1990's. A former WWE champion, JBL was a featured wrester at WrestleMania 21 and can also be seen on Friday Night SmackDown! on UPN. Outside of the ring, JBL is a self-taught investor who was recruited to write a personal finance book, Have More Money Now, which was released in the summer of 2003. He has appeared on finance shows on CNN and Fox News Network. He is co-chairman of the Smackdown Your Vote! Campaign and he has joined both the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) for tours through Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East countries. He regularly visits the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Bethesda naval hospital to meet with wounded troops.