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I have not been a market watcher my entire life, and in many ways I am still relatively new at managing my own money. I pay attention, do my homework and listen to smart people, and then make my own decision.

That's quite different from when I was in my playing days. Back then, I let my money manager make a lot of decisions for me. I thought that was the way it was supposed to work, and I really didn't have to do a whole heck of a lot except keep pulling down those passes and bringing home those paychecks.

When I was playing, I left my finances, to a large extent, to the pros. Only later did I realize that I could handle certain parts of my portfolio myself. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not recommending a mass exodus from brokers or advocating that everyone manage all of their own money. That could be a disaster, especially if you don't have the time to do your own research and make truly informed decisions.

I wouldn't try to play one of the best teams in the league without ever opening the playbook, and I wouldn't gamble away my money by not doing my research before plunking down my hard-earned cash. Winging it will get you in deep trouble. When you do that, you make decisions after only seeing a fraction of the picture.

Now, for me, getting started was fun. I took a small amount and watched some stocks. I listened to people on TV. I read

The Wall Street Journal


and other great finance news sites. I paid attention to the way the market affected the stocks I was following, and I talked to my friends about my investment ideas.

Some were good. Some were garbage. I displayed flashes of greatness but also made a lot of rookie mistakes. Since then, I have refined my process. I look at a company's fundamentals and try to pick those I am not only familiar with and can get information on rather easily, but those whose products I like (for the most part).




has caught my eye. It weathered the storm the last few weeks very well, and although it is down a bit today while the market is getting clobbered, I still like it. Wal-Mart sells everything, and people go there out of habit. The company has good metrics and solid books.

It has $6.91 billion in the bank and $24.14 billion in operating cash flow. It has a return on equity at a sizable 20.75% and a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 15.22, which is right on the border of being undervalued in my mind. Overall, given its performance today and its price -- trading down $1.00 at $58.65 in afternoon trading -- the company has "buy" written all over it.

I definitely believe this is a steady company to invest in during tumultuous times.

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.