When managing a portfolio, you are often faced with difficult decisions: Which stock is going to perform best for me? Is it time to cut a position that is just not living up to expectations? What does the current market environment mean to my portfolio?
In many ways, coaching football is very similar. Which of the veterans is just not pulling his weight anymore? Is it time to start the rookie in his place? How do I motivate my team when playing the toughest team in the league?
Basically, it comes down to decision-making and motivation.
When you look at coaches in the NFL, there is a clear-cut winner as
players' coach: Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. In my opinion, he is the best coach in the league.
Why? Well, it used to be you needed a coach who was great with the X's and O's. However, now the game is so complex on and off the field that you need a coach who can also be a counselor and, for the most part, a father figure as well. In order to do that as a coach, you must have your priorities in order.
Dungy is one of the most professional coaches. He even went through one of the most difficult experiences a father can go through -- the death of his 18-year-old son -- and never flinched in his job.
Dungy's reputation is impeccable off the field and on. He just happens to be one of the best X-and-O coaches in the league as well. He knows how to put the right people in the right places. (And a great portfolio manager knows how to pick the right stocks in the right sectors at the right time.)
Dungy also created a system that works for his team -- something many successful portfolio managers do as well. He's the architect of a defense that's called the Tampa 2, which literally changed the way offenses could attack a Cover 2 defense (two safeties play deep, each covering half of the field each). When you speak to Dungy's players, you constantly hear them say things like "I will do anything for him" and "He gives me advice that I will be able to use for the rest of my life."
In my opinion, Coach Dungy's most important attribute is that he sticks to his game plan for life. He is willing to openly serve God in an environment that isn't necessarily conducive to doing so. Players know who can and can't play, and they know who are real and who are not. Coach Dungy has proven to players that he is real on and off the field.
Now, on to a company that's also the real deal. You need to decide for yourself if
is worth putting on your team, but as far as I'm concerned, this is a stock worth signing to a long-term contract.
The company is a cash cow. It is trading at just about $21. The stock price of this giant has fallen so low that it's hard to pass up.
It's true that it's getting harder for cigarette smokers to smoke in public and that the industry is facing a tougher environment. But I think the company's leaders are taking it in the right direction. They are trying to cut the expenses at a rate higher than the dropping number of cigarette sales. They are also looking to acquire companies to assist in the distribution of their cigarettes. All told, the company is reportedly looking to trim $1 billion in the next three years.
That makes me think Altria will be in good shape to continue its dominance.
Look at its balance sheet. It has a return on equity of 94.5%, and its return on assets is 24.5%. It has a forward P/E of 11.3, $38.2 billion in revenue and $14 billion in operating cash flow. It has $4.8 billion in cash and $38.1 billion in revenue. It's got institutional support, too -- 72% of the stock is held by institutions.
Its first-quarter earnings also came through solidly with EPS of $0.37, up 12% from the year-ago period. At 21 bucks, I think it's hard to miss with this one.
Keep moving the chains!
A clarification for this column was issued after its initial publication. Please see
Corrections and Clarifications
At the time of publication, Brown had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
Tim Brown played 16 seasons in the NFL, where he made nine Pro Bowls. After a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004, Brown retired as an Oakland Raider. He was a Heisman Trophy winner in college for Notre Dame.