The markets sold off late last week, and you can expect the market to continue to head south this morning. This is how the game is played; the operators on Wall Street run them up, and when stocks are high enough, they start selling. Then the public starts unloading.Welcome to the big leagues my friends. The outlook remains murky, with the housing sector and subprime placing a heavy burden on the economy. This week brings a new round of earnings reports with Apple and Texas Instruments reporting today after the bell. I would not be afraid to start a position and get long both companies this morning. With Intel ( INTC) reporting strong earnings and raising guidance, I believe now may be the time to invest in firmly established technology companies, so today I will take a look at Microsoft ( MSFT). Intel and Microsoft both rose to the top of the technology world together. Microsoft software runs on some 95% of the desktop computers in offices and homes and has a 70% chunk of work group server software that controls how group desktops access each other and transfer tasks to printers. Microsoft's earnings should also reflect the benefits of strong computer sales. With the dollar weak, international sales have brought about strong earnings from international corporations. Furthermore, Microsoft scored a major win with its release of Halo 3 this quarter. The game's release brought in major revenue for Microsoft in addition to spearheading a large boost in sales of the XBox 360 console. Microsoft continues to show strong year-over-year growth, while also providing excellent value for shareholders. With a nearly 40% return on equity, one can clearly see how management focuses on making the most out of its resources.
This is a company that earns $11.15 billion in free cash-flow; that is astonishing to me.The company reports earnings this Thursday, and I will look for a strong showing. Microsoft has provided steady deep in-the-money options wins in the past, and the future should be no exception. Today, I will place a limit order to buy 10 April 25 calls (MSQDJ) for $5.90 or better.
Game of LifeThere is joy in Red Sox Nation, as the Bosox came back from a 3-1 deficit to claim a berth in The World Series. After Josh Beckett, who has established himself as a postseason star, shut down the Indians in Game Five, the Red Sox returned to Fenway to win Games Six and Seven over the weekend. Last night, it was not the "big guys," David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, but rather a "little guy," Dustin Pedroia, who came up huge, with a single, double, homer, and five RBI. Yes, Manny was being Manny, Beckett was virtually unhittable, and Papelbon was lights out, but ultimately, it was a team effort that allowed the Red Sox to outscore the Indians 30-5 in the last three games. They will begin the World Series on Wednesday night in Boston against the Colorado Rockies, who have only won 21 of their last 22 games. By the way, the Denver area received four inches of snow yesterday. In managerial news, Joe Torre is a free agent after he turned down the Yankees offer to remain as their manager. Torre, who led the most fabled franchise in sports to 12 consecutive playoff appearances, six World Series appearances, and four World Series Championships, was offered a one year contract for $5 million, which represented a $2.5 million pay cut.
Although there were $1 million incentives for reaching the post-season, making the ALCS, and making the World Series, Torre evidently did not feel that he needed to be given incentives at this stage of his career.As always, Joe handled the press conference with aplomb, thanking the Yankees, the fans, and particularly his coaches and players. Hence, the Bronx Bombers will have a new general next year, who undoubtedly will be expected to take them back to the World Series. Dan Mattingly, Joe Girardi, Tony LaRussa, and Tony Pena have been mentioned as possible successors thus far; however, that is merely speculative, and the list may grow in the coming days. Furthermore, LaRussa has expressed a desire to return as manager of the Cardinals. Trey Hillman, who managed in the Yankees minor league system for thirteen years, was hired as manager of the Kansas City Royals, replacing Buddy Bell. In the NFL, the Patriots continued to decimate their opponents, blowing out the winless Miami Dolphins, to run their record to 7-0. The Indianapolis Colts, the only other undefeated team, have an opportunity to go 6-0 tonight, when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars in Monday Night Football. On the college gridiron, the Top 10 continues to be a place filled with land mines, as four members of that elite club lost this week. In particular, the number two spot seems to be especially treacherous as the University of South Florida, with their loss to Rutgers, became the third number two to lose in consecutive weeks, following on the heels of LSU and California. New Englanders, already euphoric with the performance of their beloved Red Sox and Patriots, can now claim to have the second best college football team in the land in Boston College. The Players Club recognizes and appreciates how the performance of "your sports teams" can galvanize a community. Moreover, we understand the ability of athletic contests to dictate the mood of millions. By guaranteeing recurring cash flow, through our strategic partner, The Players Club endeavors to protect the millions earned by the thousands of select athletes, who influence hundreds of millions of lives around the world. Always Remember: Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!