In my previous career as a professional baseball player, being successful 30% of the time created millions of dollars worth of buying power and a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame. But in the real world, that same 30% success rate is a ticket to bankruptcy court. Therefore, I will continue to "work the count" so I can get on base and maximize the chances for success. With that in mind, let's take a quick look at last week's picks, and then move on to some stocks that are going to make you some "real money."
Mine Safety (MSA - Get Report) was up nicely before getting hit Monday along with the broader market, losing 2.8% to $41.23. This pullback (on weaker-than-average volume) gave me an opportunity to reload my position; I have successfully traded in and out of this stock previously and believe this pullback is another good buying opportunity. Boston Scientific (BSX - Get Report) has come down slightly in the past week, but it just received FDA approval for its Flextome cutting balloon catheter to treat coronary artery blockages resistant to regular balloon angioplasties. It's not a matter of if the stock is going higher, but when. Biomet (BMET) is an earnings play; it announces Wednesday. I believe it will beat the number; that's why I bought 10 Oct. 30 calls. I paid very little premium to control 1,000 shares of a great company. That's the beauty of options -- leverage. Now for this week's picks. Leading off is Watson Wyatt & Co. Holdings ( WW - Get Report), a global leader in personal services such as actuarial analysis and retirement plan consulting. The aging of the population makes retirement issues more crucial, thereby helping Watson. At 17 times trailing earnings, the stock is too cheap: Either the company persuades investors to make this number higher or it gets acquired. I believe Hewitt Associates ( HEW) is a possible buyer. The company's numbers are nearly as consistent as our Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, is incomprehensible. With no disrespect to Greenspan -- whose Fed makes another rate decision Tuesday -- his use of the English language would render Noah Webster dumbfounded, and he's a great antidote for insomnia. Meanwhile, Watson Wyatt's zero debt, forward P/E of 14.36 and return on equity (ROE) of 21.44% offer investors the kind of "peaceful sleep" they really want.
Batting second is Walgreen ( WAG), the nation's largest drugstore chain (it also has stores in Puerto Rico). Walgreen was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, necessitating the closing of 74 stores. It has since reopened at least 38 stores, quite possibly more by the time you read this. Walgreen will be announcing its earnings on Sept. 26. I'm sure there will be some adjustments because of the hurricane, but that does not concern me; it is "the best of breed" in its category. I am most impressed with Walgreen's hurricane assistance. It has provided more than 300,000 prescriptions to hurricane evacuees in all 45 states in which it operates, in addition to transplanting more than 500 displaced employees to work at other locations. It has donated more than $1 million to the American Red Cross and raised another $2 million through in-store customer donations. All this, complemented by about $42 billion in sales for 2005, solidifies Walgreen as the best of breed, and I believe the recent weakness in the stock represents a buying opportunity. Batting third: Affiliated Computer Services ( ACS). This monster technology company, employing more than 52,000 people, trades more like a value company than like a fast-growing technology company. With a forward P/E just over 13, an ROE of 15.32%, and free cash flow of almost $700 million, it is easy to see why I like this company. Affiliated's main competitor is IBM ( IBM - Get Report); I have never been a real fan of IBM, which is getting "long in the tooth." Affiliated Computer Services recently recruited a senior executive from IBM to run its government unit; this will only add to the already strong government pipeline that remains robust at $1.2 billion. Its only other real competitor, Computer Sciences ( CSC), has negative free cash flow of roughly $765 million. I know there has been some negative investor sentiment surrounding Affiliated Computer Services because of flat internal growth, but a great deal of that was driven by the government. In the past two quarters, internal growth in the government segment was weak from less short-term work and the runoff of welfare-to-work business. But bookings of $219 million ($700 million for fiscal 2005) are well ahead of expectations and set the stage for improving internal growth throughout fiscal 2006.
Affiliated Computer Services raised its fiscal 2006 guidance to revenue growth of 25% from 20% because of the Ascom and LiveBridge acquisitions. I expect fiscal 2006 revenue growth to reach 30%, supported by fiscal 2005's strong bookings. On the bench: I planned on recommending GFI Group ( GFIG) when I wrote this piece over the weekend. But the stock, which has been public for about eight months, had a huge move on Monday -- up 11% on nearly six times its average daily volume. I don't buy breakouts; it's just not my style, preferring to buy on weakness instead. I plan to buy this stock on a pullback, as GFI's business -- it specializes in interdealer brokerage services for over-the-counter derivatives products and related securities -- has terrific growth prospects.