Life is full of surprises. Players that were picked up off the scrap heap can sometimes still bring it and help a team get where it's going. A perfect example was on display for all to see during last night's Monday Night Football matchup between the hard-nosed Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins. Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not return to the game in the second half because of a shoulder injury. In steps Byron Leftwich, the former Marshall standout who was the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-06 before landing in Atlanta in 2007. He had signed a 2-year deal with Atlanta, but was cut after last season. He originally backed up Joey Harrington -- another quarterback looking to settle in with a new team -- but Leftwich grabbed the starting job away -- only to be injured and get relegated to the backup role. Once a starter, Leftwich must have felt like a bit of a nomad in the last two years. However, last night he got his chance to show what he can do. He took over with the Steelers leading 10-6. On his first pass of the game, Leftwich connected with wide receiver Nate Washington for a 50-yard completion, setting up a touchdown that would put the Steelers ahead 16-6. He gave the Steelers offense a new, more mobile look. He also connected with Santonio Holmes for a 15-yard hook-up on third down from their own 18 yard line and a 5-yard scoring toss in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Steelers won 23-6 and they had scored 13 points with Leftwich under center versus 10 with Roethlisberger. Now, don't get me wrong, there isn't a quarterback controversy brewing here. Big Ben is their starter, but Leftwich stepped in when he was needed and performed like a professional quarterback should. For my pick today, I'm also going with a comeback story of sorts. I'm going with Archer Daniels Midland ( ADM). This stock was absolutely battered for quite a while. It reached a 52-week low of $13.53 on Oct. 10. It has peaked and volleyed a bit since then with the market volatility, but appears to be on its way back up and has gained a substantial amount since that low. For those of you not familiar with ADM, it procures, transports, stores, processes, and merchandises agricultural commodities and products primarily in the United States. It operates in three segments: Oilseeds Processing, Corn Processing, and Agricultural Services. This is a good company.
This morning it reported very strong quarterly numbers. ADM said its earned $1.05 billion, or $1.63 a share during its fiscal first-quarter. Analysts had been expecting, on average, 69 cents a share. The reported earnings more than doubled its profits from the year ago period. In the first fiscal quarter last year, the company earned $441 million, or 68 cents a share. ADM said it benefited from an accounting change and higher prices for its goods. Sales jumped to $21.16 billion, a 65% increase from the $12.83 billion in the year ago period. Wall Street had been calling for $15.98 billion in sales. ADM said the higher sales was a result of higher average selling prices Now the saying goes, "buy low and sell high", right? So, now that the stock has rallied off the earnings news, why am I buying? Because I think this stock still has room to grow. The stock had lost nearly 39% of its value in the last year. Its numbers blew Wall Street's estimates out of the water. Investors like this company and were just waiting for some good news. Obviously past performance is no indicator of where it will go in the future, but ADM has a 52-week high of almost $49. Even with its rally, in early morning trading the stock was at about $24.50, up about 15%. The market has been dragged down so far, and with it some really good companies have taken it on the chin. I had waited to see what the company was going to report. I generally do not like to buy stocks that are approaching their quarterly numbers because it can be just too risky. Now that this stock appears to be on the way up, I'm glad to ride that wave a bit. "Keep moving the chains!"