Nothing harder than being given your chance. At least, that's what I hear. -- Uncle Joe from "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens.

I know it will come as a shock to most, but I am not a literary buff. While I may know precious little about literature, however, I do know Uncle Joe was certainly on the money with his statement. With great expectations in mind, here are my picks for the week.

Home Run

PetSmart ( PETM) is the largest specialty retailer of services and products for pets. The company operates more than 760 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, a growing number of PetsHotels, a large pet supply catalog business, and it's the Internet's leading provider of pet products and information (

PetSmart provides a broad range of competitively priced pet food and supplies and offers complete pet training, grooming and adoption services. Since 1994, PetSmart Charities, an independent 501(c)3 organization, has donated more than $39 million to animal welfare programs and, through its in-store adoption programs, has saved the lives of more than 2 million pets. Also, PetSmart is recession proof. Yes, "recession proof!"

After all, many people have more intimate relationships with their pets than they do with their spouses. We will do virtually anything to make our pets happy.

The company boasts return on equity (ROE) of over 20%, which compares favorably with its forward price-to-earnings ratio of 15.7. PetSmart had free cash flow of $126.4 million in the past 12 months and has a modest debt-to-equity ratio of 0.3. Even after Monday's 4.4% bounce, I think the stock has upside potential and wouldn't be a seller until it hits technical resistance at $24.65.


Israeli-based Koor Industries ( KOR) is active in the fields of telecommunications, defense electronics, agro-chemicals and other chemicals, and venture capital investment. The company provides digital telecommunications products for evolving new services and converging networks in approximately 145 countries. It also provides switching and networking products to various countries in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia Pacific. Koor Industries also develops and manufactures defense electronic system products for air, sea, and land deployment in approximately 25 countries.

Koor has been called the " GE ( GE) of Israel" by some commentators, and I think it can similarly be a winner for investors.

From a technical perspective, I would look to buy this stock at $10.35 and sell at $14.95.


The American conglomerate 3M ( MMM) operates in seven segments, covering everything from health care and office supplies to safety and security.

The stock is struggling to stay above its 50-day moving average, which is $73.25. If 3M doesn't hold support (and it closed Monday at $72.53) it will most likely test its 52-week low of $70.40.

The play here is a deep-in-the-money call. Why spend $73,000 for 1000 shares of common stock when you can go out to January and buy a call, which is exactly what I did Monday morning! I bought a January $65 call for $8.80.

Once again, you must use all your weapons when playing for big dollars. I am now in control of 1000 shares of 3M until the third Friday in January for $8.80 -- as opposed to spending approximately $73,000.

There are downsides, though: Remember, nothing in life is free. The clock is working against you as the January expiration approaches -- this is known as time decay, or theta, in options parlance. You have to pull the trigger when you get a nice bounce up. Take your profit and look for the next victim! (For a list of options definitions, please check out the glossary for's Options Alerts newsletter.)


TC Pipeline ( TCLP) is a small pipeline company that transports natural gas in the U.S.

As a holding company with exactly two investments, TC is easy to understand. Its larger investment, responsible for 86% of the firm's income last year, is its 30% stake in the Northern Border Pipeline System. Stretching 1250 miles from the Canadian border of Montana to Chicago, this system is responsible for transporting roughly 22% of the natural gas that Canada exports to the U.S.

TC Pipelines also owns a 49% general partner interest in Tuscarora Gas Transmission, which in turn owns an interstate pipeline system that originates at an interconnection point with facilities of Gas Transmission Northwest in Oregon and runs southeast through northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. Now, here comes the best part: TC Pipelines is a master limited partnership that holds a large chunk of the U.S. assets of TransCanada, the largest Canadian pipeline company.

Fundamentally, TC fits my criteria: a forward P/E of 12.7, which is lower than its ROE of 17.40%, plus free cash flow over $30 million and a minuscule debt-to-equity ratio (less than 0.1). TC trades above its 50- and 200-day moving averages, a positive technical development.

And now, a quick word about some prior picks.

  • Yahoo! (YHOO) rose over 4% last week and I sold my position on the rally. Remember, I am a trader! I lock in profits when I feel the market is volatile, as it has been lately.
  • Pfizer (PFE) is up a hair in the past week despite a lawsuit filed last Wednesday claiming that it oversold the benefits of Lipitor and a story in The New York Times outlining the company's recent woes. I'm still bullish on this name for reasons outlined last week.
  • Judging from some email, many readers were under the impression that I recommended buying Fannie Mae (FNM), whose shares fell hard last week on reports regulators have found more accounting fraud. In fact, I recommended deep-in-the-money calls -- the January 2007s, to be precise, after noting I didn't get filled on the January 2006s. I also wrote: "This is not the kind of stock or option I would chase, so if it doesn't come my way, so be it."
  • I don't make excuses and I am willing to take the heat when I'm wrong, but the vitriolic finger-pointing was misplaced in this instance.

    Great Expectations, Reprise

    October has arrived, and with it, baseball's regular season concludes and the post-season commences. The "Elite Eight," to borrow a label from college basketball, will compete for their respective pennants, and ultimately the World Series Championship.

    Arriving in the postseason, while monumental, merely raises the expectations to a far greater level. Regardless of how unexpected your post-season arrival may or may not have been, you are expected, particularly by the hometown fans, to stay on course and complete the journey.

    Expectations come in two forms: those that are thrust upon you by others, and those you put on yourself. The expectations you feel obligated to fulfill will invariably have a dramatic effect on your evaluation of self. Unrealistic expectations, prevalent amongst players and fans alike, can and often do cause undue pain and suffering. Witness the example of my former teammate, Darryl Strawberry, who was once anointed the next Ted Williams.

    In the postseason, starting pitchers are expected to get to the set-up men; aces are expected to at least get to the closers. Table setters are expected to get on base; power hitters are expected to drive home runs. Managers are expected to make decisions that generate rallies offensively, and squash them defensively. Unfortunately, there is only one World Series Champion crowned each year. Hence, only one organization with its 25 players and fan base realizes its expectations.

    Although there are similarities with investing, notable differences are evident. Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing!"

    I can certainly relate to that as a ballplayer, as most people do not remember who came in second. However, "coming in second" as an investor may represent the difference between a $75,000 profit and a $100,000 profit. Unequivocally, we all want to be the guy who realizes the $100,000 profit, but I don't know many that would abandon the $75,000 profit. Remember, it's about making money!

    In the event that we do not fulfill our expectations, we would be wise to pay attention to the words of Confucius: "The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools."

    Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride!

    At the time of publication, Dykstra was long PetSmart, Pfizer and 3M although holdings can change at any time.

    Nicknamed "Nails" for his tough style of play during his Major League Baseball career, Lenny Dykstra was an integral member of the powerful Mets of the mid-1980s and the Phillies of the early 1990s, including the world champion 1986 Mets squad.

    Today, Dykstra manages his own stock portfolio and serves as president of several of his privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a state-of-the-art ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a new venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores throughout high-demographic areas of Southern California.

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