This Is Your Dare-to-Be-Great Moment

A pessimist would say that my portfolio is half-empty.

And even though I tend to be an optimist, I remember where my discount brokerage account stood a year or two ago ... so I see my portfolio as half-empty (or one-third empty post-rally ... either way, you get the idea!).

What does make me feel better is that any new money I put into the market will be buying stocks at these discounted prices. Not everything is priced as a bargain, but even after this rally, the market volatility is presenting us with individual opportunities that could once again have our portfolios overflowing.

In short, this is that dare-to-be-great moment we investors dream of.

How so?
Greatness is born out of despair:

  • When you look at lists of the top-ranked American presidents, three consistently rise to the top: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. Why? Because they successfully faced major challenges. The first helped found a fledgling country, the second ensured that the country wasn't torn in half, and the third presided over our biggest financial crisis ever.
  • Think of the person you admire the most. Dollars to doughnuts, you admire this person because of how he or she overcomes adversity.
  • The adage says that the best time to buy is when there's "blood in the streets" -- not when there's "sunshine on your shoulders."

I could go on, but you get the idea. Tough times are the breeding ground of opportunity because there’s a premium on poise. And tough times are what we’ve been facing.

I don't know when we'll get out of this financial crisis. I can’t tell whether the positive earnings results posted by IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) and the rest are hiccups. I have no idea if we're in the middle of a bear-market rally, a double-dip, a Triple Lindy, or a bona fide recovery. But I do know this: The investing legends of this generation will be made now. And they'll have some things in common:

  • They won't listen to the pundits.
  • They will buy when others sell (and vice versa).
  • They will be mocked until they are revered.
  • They won't be reactionary -- they'll have a plan and principles.

A place to start
As a starting point, let's focus on the first two bullet points. What are the Wall Street pundits shunning right now? As you are probably aware, it's rare for the Streeters to make sell recommendations. "Hold" is Wall Street's polite way of saying "sell," so I went trolling for companies that have consensus hold ratings but strong fundamentals -- reasonable profit margins, positive expected growth, and, to pick names that should be able to comfortably cover their debt, good interest coverage.

Here are five such names.

Company

Net Income Margin

1-Year EPS Growth Estimate

Interest Coverage

ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG  )

8%

9%

6 times

Cerner (Nasdaq: CERN  )

11%

12%

26 times

Torchmark

13%

4%

11 times

Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS  )

10%

2%

>100 times

CR Bard (NYSE: BCR  )

18%

13%

55 times

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Whether your goal is as simple as retiring a few years earlier, or as far-reaching as becoming an investing legend, this is the time to be carefully daring. Wall Street dislikes these companies, but it takes more than just being contrarian to make an investing legend. You also have to be right, so remember those final two bullet points I mentioned earlier -- planning and principles. In short, it'll take time and research to separate the legend-makers from the retirement-takers.

The Fool's co-founders, Tom and David Gardner, already have their plan and principles in place. In their Stock Advisor newsletter, they look for companies with strong fundamentals that are poised to manage this economy and continue growing for years to come. You can see their views on all of their recommendations for free with a 30-day trial. There's no obligation to subscribe. 

Already subscribe to Stock Advisor? Log in here.

This article was originally published April 16, 2009. It has been updated.

Anand Chokkavelu inspires the uninspired (and wonders whether anyone will get the reference he just made). Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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