And then there were four. The baseball postseason has progressed from the eight-team division championship to the four-team league championship series in the past week. Arguably, the better team won each of the first round series: the Boston Red Sox were revealed as too one-dimensional, the New York Yankees as lacking clutch hitting, while the Atlanta Braves revived their annual role as bridesmaid. As for the San Diego Padres, they proved they really didn't belong in the postseason, as reflected by their lackluster regular-season record. As baseball moves toward its climax, the stock market has been having some "climactic" action of its own. Hopefully, the recent selling pressure is paving the way for a sustainable rally, possibly starting with Thursday's advance by the Nasdaq Composite. (Major averages were modestly higher midday Friday.) And just as baseball's postseason separates the contenders from the pretenders, that is the goal of this column, and brings us to today's picks.
I picked up some Bank of America ( BAC) on Thursday at $41.55. Again, to be a "winning trader," you must go against the grain, and while everyone has been selling the last few days, I have been buying as much stock as possible. As with most other financial stocks, Bank of America's stock has been hit recently by fears of more Federal Reserve rate hikes. This selling has created a tremendous opportunity to own shares in this great franchise. Bank of America trades with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 9.55 and has a return on equity of nearly 17%, meeting one of the key criteria for stock selection that I laid out in my debut column . In addition to Bank of America's stock trading at a below market P/E multiple, its dividend yield of 4.8% makes it particularly attractive at these levels. And who knows, maybe the recent weakness in stocks will compel the Fed to be less aggressive than feared, and that would give a boost to a lot of stocks -- financials in particular.