Tim Brown: Cisco a Clutch Player

You need to find stocks that will perform when it counts the most.
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Teams that let early opportunities slip away may regret it later on. Football is just 16 games, so more so than most sports, each and every game counts. Losing a single game can be devastating for a team and can make the difference between playing in January and being at home to watch the bowl games.

Some NFL teams that were expected to do well this season had losses this past weekend that may come back to bite them big-time later on. Both the Jets and Cowboys lost games that many felt they should have won.

Let's start with Dallas first. The team has had a ton of distractions and injuries. They have lost Adam "Pacman" Jones to an off-the-field incident, and Tony Romo is relegated to the backup role with a broken finger. Roy Williams broke his leg yesterday, and T.O. has not been getting the kind of touches that will make him happy. All this spelled a 34-14 drubbing by the lowly Rams, a team that is likely going to be in the sweepstakes for the top pick in the draft next season.

Out in Oakland, the Jets fell to my former team, the silver and black. The Raiders, under a new head coach, fought hard and kept the Jets in check until the final minutes in regulation, when the Jets managed to kick a game-tying field goal with just seconds left. The Raiders intercepted Favre in the end zone earlier in the game and held him to less than 200 yards passing and no touchdowns. In all, they picked him off twice -- the second coming late in the fourth quarter.

The Jets did gain 242 yards on the ground, but they lost the game. The Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 57-yard field goal in overtime to send the Jets back to New York with a 16-13 loss and a 3-3 record.

Janikowski performed when the team needed him.

Today, I'm expecting

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

to finish strong. The company designs, makes and sells Internet protocol (IP)-based networking devices. Its products are related to the communications and information technology industry around the world.

In midday trading, Cisco was at just $18.25, about $2 above its 52-week low, which it hit on Oct. 16. In the last year it has fallen 43%. It's trading at a real bargain, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Morgan Keegan recently upgraded the stock to outperform from perform. In the note, Morgan Keegan noted that Cisco is well positioned for the economic downturn. It also mentioned the company's strong balance sheet.

I like its stats too. It has revenue of $39.54 billion, operating cash flow of $12.09 billion and $26.24 billion in the bank. That's key when the market is as crazy as it has been. Having cash on hand allows companies to use that money to continue to grow the business instead of having to rely on outsiders or consumers.

It has solid institutional support of more than 73%, which is also another check on my checklist. This provides me with extra assurance that institutions, which are diligent in doing their homework, have bought into this stock. They tend to be long-term, buy-and-hold investors.

Lastly, Cisco has a price/earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.75 and a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 9.75. I consider anything below 15 to be undervalued by Wall Street traders, and this one fits that bill. It tells me this stock is undervalued and that I am getting it at a bargain.

Adding a company like Cisco to your roster should help produce a winning team. We'll chew up yardage with this one.

Keep moving the chains!

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.