Between the end of the world on Friday and the Fiscal Cliff clock ticking down to the wire, it may seem surprising to some that the S&P 500 is managing to hold its ground just 3% and change off from its Fall 2012 highs.
VeriFone SystemsVeriFone Systems ( PAY) is all about getting its customers paid. The firm makes point-of-sale (POS)systems and provides payment processing services to merchants, turning those credit card swipes into cash in businesses' accounts. VeriFone enjoys league leader status in the POS market, supplying around half of the country's credit card terminals. VeriFone has two big tailwinds right now: the hardware upgrades retailers are making to comply with tougher security standards, and the increased use of mobile payment terminals in conventional brick-and-mortar stores. The increased adoption of pricier computer-based terminals is a nice margin booster as well, especially as the computer components become increasingly commoditized. On the payment services side, it's PAY's own business that's commoditized. At the end of the day, it all comes down to rates, and if VeriFone can't offer the best transaction fees for retailers, they'll go with someone else. One advantage for PAY is the fact that its hardware is so prevalent and can be made proprietary -- even so, card payment networks (like MasterCard) hold the power on the service side of the business. Strong financial health helps to make VeriFone look attractive right now, with almost half a billion in cash offsetting a very manageable $1.3 billion debt load. With analyst sentiment on the rise, we're betting on shares this week. CBS Corporation Media giant CBS Corporation ( CBS) has its hand in nearly every format -- it owns an eponymous TV network and production unit, pay TV channel Showtime, CBS Radio, a billboard advertising group, and publishing house Simon & Schuster. That diversified portfolio of companies is especially valuable when held together, as it offers CBS exceptional cross-promotion and content sharing opportunities that standalone firms can't leverage. The biggest chunk of CBS is its namesake network. The channel boasts a collection of hit shows, content deals with giants like NFL (CBS is broadcasting Super Bowl XLVII in February), and bigger advertising checks than cable networks can muster. It's not just the national network that's under CBS' umbrella -- the firm owns local networks in 30 markets, generating local ad sales and retransmission fees from local cable companies.