The holiday season is upon us and with its arrival, we will be taking part in a multitude of festivities. That said, don't let your guard down! In order to remain true to our financial game plan, we must stay disciplined. Here are my picks for this week: At an investors' conference on Dec. 8, Tribune Co. ( TRB) CEO Dennis FitzSimons told investors "clearly the year hasn't been what we hoped it would be." Well, I guess that's why shares of one of the country's top media companies are on sale. The Tribune Company says it reaches more than 80% of U.S. households and is "the only media organization" with newspapers, television stations and the Internet in the nation's top three markets -- New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. On top of that, this media monster, founded in 1847, owns the Chicago Cubs. Granted, more than 95 years have gone by since the team's last World Championship; in fact, it's been over half a century since its last World Series appearance. Still, the team embodies much of what makes baseball uniquely great and magical. That said, the Chicago Cubs alone are worth close to half a billion dollars. And as every Major League Baseball season passes, the Chicago Cubs are worth more money. What am I trying to say? If you split up the Tribune Company -- whose other assets include The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and myriad broadcasting and entertainment businesses -- the breakup value alone is worth well north of $30 a share! This stock is grossly undervalued and should hold its 52-week low set last week at $30.24. I am looking for a rebound to its 50-day moving average at $32.24. Remember, my job for all of you who have been following my advice is to make you money! That's exactly what we are going to do with this week's second pick, Verizon Communications ( VZ - Get Report), which owns the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million voice and data customers. The stock is undervalued and testing its 50-day moving average at $31.06; I am looking for a rebound toward the 200-day moving average at $33.51.
This company has excellent financials with return on equity over 22%, more than $74 billion in revenue in the past 12 months and free cash flow of over $7 billion. The company's debt-to-equity ratio is an acceptable 1.0, and even better for my purposes given the stock's attractive forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.1. To make money in Verizon, follow this lead: Buy 10 April calls with a $25 strike price for $6.30. By the way, I will have this exact same order in before the opening bell Monday. Buying deep in-the-money calls is one of my favorite plays since I have been writing for TheStreet.com. Here's why: we are going to control 1,000 shares of Verizon, which closed Friday at $31.08, all the way until the third Friday in April, for just $6,300. Realize we are only paying 22 cents of premium (the difference between the option and the common stock price). After the tax-related selling subsides, anytime during the next four months, you will need only one or two nice bounces up ... and you will be in the kill zone! But, remember, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to educate yourself with regards to options, before you just "dive in." Not much action in
last week's picks although I viewed the dip in Excel Maritime Carriers ( EXM) as an opportunity to buy more shares, and will continue to do with the stock near current levels.
Ironically, many of us initially learned of his death from another controversial figure, Howard Cosell. For it was Cosell, "the human thesaurus," who relayed the news of Lennon's death to many of us during the broadcast of Monday Night Football, which at that time was at the pinnacle of its popularity. In fact, along with Sixty Minutes, Monday Night Football was the most watched show on television in 1980. Amazing how once again, the world of sports interfaces with the world in general. Nonetheless, a silver anniversary -- or any anniversary quite frankly, regardless of its nature, celebratory or otherwise -- is a time for reflection. As we reflect on John Lennon's remarkable albeit relatively short life, perhaps we should seize the opportunity to reflect on our own lives. Fortunately, the timing is right, as the holidays usually afford us shortened work weeks. This allows us more free time to spend with our families and friends. Granted, many of us will spend some of our free time shopping for the holidays, as well as traveling. However, this should not preclude our ability to reflect on our present position. Furthermore, after appropriate reflection, we should properly evaluate our position, and formulate a plan for moving forward. Obviously, this applies to our investments as well. We should reflect upon our investment goals, both short- and long-term, evaluate the performance of our portfolios, and adjust our position if necessary. Attempt to avoid the mentality that winners equate with being right and losers equate with being wrong. Failure to do so will allow emotion to cloud your judgment, which invariably will cost you money. Rather, view it such that winners and losers are both inevitable products of the system, often influenced by circumstances beyond our control. The goal, however, remains the same: maximize the winners and minimize the losers. This can best be achieved by diligently doing your homework and remaining disciplined. Remember, life is a journey. Enjoy the ride!