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JBL: The Strong Survive

Wal-Mart and Pfizer have had bad news, and their stock prices show it. Bargain-hunters take notice.

Albert Einstein stated that the greatest invention of man was compounding interest. Mr. Einstein obviously never heard of a "Supercenter" discount store or Viagra.

I love bargains. I love buying good companies at a discount. The two companies I'm highlighting today are both. They also helped revolutionize America: one through a new retailing model of everyday low prices, and the other through lifestyle-changing drugs.

Both companies have faced bad publicity, and their stock prices reflect it. However, both companies are typical of my investment strategy: ample cash flow and manageable debt, and great growth prospects.

The Blue Pill




is not dead. Badly bruised, maybe, but not dead. Quite the contrary, Pfizer still has free cash flow of over $9 billion. This is not some airline stock waiting to go bankrupt. Rather, Pfizer is a company still making wheelbarrows full of cash.

Pfizer's phenomenal growth has slowed. I believe this is already factored into the price of $21.25 as of Friday's close.

Pfizer's acquisition of Pharmacia gave it control over the two Cox 2 pain inhibitor drugs Celebrex and Bextra. The lawsuit against



Cox 2 inhibitor drug Vioxx caused the entire drug class to receive bad publicity and more potential lawsuits. This crippled earnings, and caused this merger to be almost worthless as it stands now.

Lipitor is the flagship drug of the company, yet it grew at only 1% domestically in the third quarter and only 6% internationally; Lipitor also faces a patent case at the end of the year. The company offered lackluster guidance for 2005, and withdrew its guidance for 2006 and 2007.

This is the bad news -- very bad news if you, like me, were a Pfizer shareholder heading into this week, as the stock was clobbered (pile-drived, bull-dogged and Samoan-dropped) Thursday and was down again on Friday.

The good news is Americans hate treadmills. Americans like being able to take a pill to be healthier. Viagra ushered in the new lifestyle drug era. With an aging population, this is potentially a terrific era for the pharmaceutical companies.

Pfizer still has a decent pipeline and plenty of cash to fund an already massive research and development effort. Pfizer believes using this cash to increase advertising will help sales as well.

Pfizer has 10 drugs with more tha $1 billion in sales. Pfizer has potential blockbusters in several newer drugs, including another cholesterol drug (torcetrapib) and an insulin inhalant (exubra).

With a dividend yield over 3%, the worst news behind it and potential blockbuster drugs emerging, this is a chance to get a great company on sale.

I have owned Pfizer for some time, and earlier this year added to my position. Do I wish I'd bought in the low $20s vs. the high $20s? Absolutely. But I sure wouldn't be a seller here.

Sam's Store



is the same price as it was in 1999, yet earnings have doubled. Sam Walton's firm has rarely ever traded at a discount to the market as it does now. With a forward price-to-earnings ratio just above 15, Wal-Mart's stock is a screaming buy.

Sam Walton had a vision and he achieved it in spades.

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with almost $300 billion in annual sales. Mr. Walton cannibalized a lot of mom-and-pop stores by offering a better service and everyday low prices. Wal-Mart is No. 1 one in general merchandise and food and beverage. The retailer is No. 3 in the pharmacy sector.

Despite some obstacles, Wal-Mart still has been able to grow domestically. But overseas is where the company has a tremendous opportunity. Wal-Mart has set a long-term goal of deriving 33% of its earnings from international operations. On the opening day of a Wal-Mart in Shenzhen, China, in 1996, 100,000 customers came through the doors the first day; it also has set a global record with 40,000 sales in a single day.

Analysts, in my opinion, have mistakenly said that oil prices will hurt Wal-Mart sales too much. At $45 a share, that has already been factored in. I believe we have temporarily seen a peak in oil prices. You're already seeing some profits being taken in energy stocks, and I think you will see a sector shift from energy to value. Wal-Mart is now a value play.

And if gasoline prices remain high, consumers will not want to drive to many different stores to shop. In a Wal-Mart Supercenter, consumers can buy everything they need with one stop.

Wal-Mart does have some potential risks. A class-action lawsuit is pending, and Wal-Mart continues to fight against labor organizing. Wal-Mart also is still being protested in certain communities as the dreaded mom-and-pop store killer.

Wal-Mart has a history of winning these fights. However, if labor were to organize, it would hurt the company.

Wal-Mart's biggest advantage is in inventory management. Its recent investment in RFID (radio frequency identification, which will replace the bar code) will pay great rewards.

Wal-Mart shares went above $70 in late 1999 after the company announced plans to launch its Web site; the only problem was the Web site wasn't ready. Wal-Mart since has slowly built a very good Web presence. Wal-Mart's nationwide presence allows consumers to be able to return or to have repaired the merchandise that they buy over the Internet.

I believe there will come a day when one will be able to buy merchandise over the Wal-Mart Web site, and, because of Wal-Mart's huge distribution network, have it delivered the same day.

With EPS estimates of $3, Wal-Mart is trading incredibly cheaply.

I have recently added shares of Wal-Mart to my portfolio, and I shop there often. Look for me in the "big and tall" section.

At the time of publication, Layfield was long Wal-Mart and Pfizer, although holdings can change at any time.

A former All-America 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 been seen 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 Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals to meet with wounded troops.