NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It was the Amazon.com ( AMZN) of its day. Shoppers could order goods through its revolutionary mail order catalog. In fact, it was the largest mail-order and merchandising company in the United States for more than 60 years. It owned the tallest building in the world, at 108 stories tall. By 1995, there were no Sears employees to be found in the Sears Tower, despite it being the company's headquarters at one time. It is no longer the Sears Tower -- the company lost the naming rights in 2003 and the nation's tallest building is now called the Willis Tower. Sears was kicked out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average back in 1999 and it is now being removed from the S&P 500. This is the same index that added Monster Beverage ( MNST) to the index just a few weeks back. There is a very important lesson for individual investors to learn from this story. It is better to own the Best Stocks Now, not the best stocks of yesteryear! Take note, all of you Cisco ( CSCO), GE ( GE), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), JCPenney ( JCP) and other stodgy old stocks of yesteryear devotees! Companies have life cycles. You want to own them in the prime of their life, not when they are way past their prime. As a professional money manager, I can almost predict what stocks are held in a portfolio that is transferring to me from one of the big wire-house firms. In fact, I recently wrote an article about this for The Street:
The Best Stocks to Own (Hint: They Are Not the Most Widely Held) Like the "Carnak the Magnificent" skit on the old Johnny Carson show, I can usually hold their statements up to my forehead and see GE, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, etc., etc., etc., before I open it up. Why is this? I guess it is because these household names are like a big fuzzy blanket wrapped around nervous investors. Now, having said this, GE was once one of the best stocks in the market, as was Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Microsoft, etc. A lot of money was made in those stocks during their day.
The problem is that their day came and went a long time ago. Again the trick is to own stocks in their prime. What are some of the Best Stocks Now? Let's consider TJX ( TJX), whose stores include retailer TJ Maxx. I have owned it for a long time.
This company is now a $35 billion company. It passed Sears a long time ago in size. Consider that Sears now also includes K-Mart. Attention Sears Holding shoppers! Here is the performance of TJX over the short term, intermediate term and long term. When I compare TJX with the 2,935 stocks in my database, it gets a performance grade of "A." Bravo! Compare the performance of TJX with Sears Holding: Yecch! I am one of those hybrid investors who like to combine performance with value. Pure value investing leads to way too many value traps. Pure performance investing ignores value. So then, what does the valuation of TJX look like right now? OK, TJX is not the cheapest stock right now, but filet mignon is not cheap either. I paid $17 a pound for a nice 8 oz. model from my supermarket the other day. Ground chuck was a lot cheaper. When I take the performance and the valuation of TJX together and compare against all of the other stocks in my database, it comes in at #120 and earns an overall grade of A-. At any given time, I like to select from the top 200 stocks in the market. My final roster only has room for 25 players. That is why I own TJX in the Conservative Growth portfolios that I manage. I doubt Sears Holdings will crack my top 200 any time soon. At the time of publication the author had a position in TJX but in none of the other stocks mentioned. This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.