I follow quite a lot of companies, so the usefulness of a watchlist to me cannot be overstated. Without my watchlist, I'd be unable to keep up on my favorite sectors and what's really moving the market. Even worse, I'd be lost when the time came to choose which stock I'm buying or shorting next.

Today is "Watchlist Wednesday," so I'm discussing three companies that have crossed my radar in the past week -- and at what point I may consider taking action on these calls with my own money. Keep in mind, these aren't concrete buy or sell recommendations, nor do I guarantee I'll take action on the companies being discussed weekly. What I can promise is that you can follow my real-life transactions through my profile, and that I, like everyone else here at The Motley Fool, will continue to hold the integrity of our disclosure policy in the highest regard.

Linn Energy (Nasdaq: LINE)
Did you really expect me to start off with anything other than an oil-and-gas-related company?

Linn Energy, with assets primarily located in the Permian Basin and Williston Basin, is one of the largest master limited partnerships, with proven reserves of 4.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 15,000 producing oil and gas wells. As natural gas prices have eased, fears that Linn's profitability could be affected or its production would taper off have risen, but that hasn't been the case.

In fiscal 2011, production grew by 40% with management predicting production growth of approximately 20% this year. What gives the company such a competitive edge is its sheer size; its immaculate borrowing ability gives it an edge over many of its peers when it comes to bidding on new wells.

Linn's dividend shouldn't be ignored either. With MLP distributions often getting favorable tax treatment, Linn's 8.1% yield is too delectable to ignore. Although MLPs often see payouts fluctuate along with their income, Linn has raised its distribution eight times in the past six years. Linn is a big red bull's-eye for income seekers.

North American Palladium (AMEX: PAL)
We often give gold, silver, and copper a lot of attention, but poor palladium often gets lost in the mix. Palladium has plenty of practical uses, but is primarily used in catalytic converters, in ceramic capacitors, and as a jewelers alloy. With its limited supply and relatively consistent demand, I feel palladium prices have nowhere to go but higher.

That could mean good news for the two primary palladium miners, North American Palladium and Stillwater Mining (NYSE: SWC). Stillwater is solidly profitable and making its living off mining platinum group metals. North American Palladium has struggled to become and stay profitable, but could present the better value of the two despite its current string of losses.

North American Palladium's secret weapon is both the expansion of its Lac des Iles palladium mine and the build-out of the Vezza gold mine. Lac des Iles has shown roughly three times better palladium ore grade from underground sources than the surface. The $36.7 million it spent in the first quarter on expanding the mine should remedy its mediocre overall ore grades. Also, the Vezza mine is expected to yield 40,000 ounces of gold in its first 12-month rolling period and should both boost the company's bottom line and give it added metals diversification. Things are about to get exciting with North American Palladium.

Nokia (NYSE: NOK)
Things aren't looking too good for the former leader in handset production. Nokia's stubbornness in recognizing the trend toward smartphones as well as its failure in developing its own operating system have left it just a shell of its former self. To add insult to injury, Moody's lowered its credit rating on Nokia to junk status last week. The big question now is if there's any value left in Nokia's stock at such depressed levels?

Believe it or not, there just might be! While most people are looking toward operating systems partner Microsoft to step up and buy the company outright, I doubt that'll happen. So far the reception for Nokia's smartphone, the Lumia, has been lukewarm at best. Apple's iPhone outsold Nokia's Lumia by nearly three-to-one last quarter. Where Nokia's value really lies is in its patent portfolio.

Earlier this week, Intel purchased about 1,700 patents from InterDigital (Nasdaq: IDCC) for $375 million, so it's possible the roughly $625 million in royalty income Nokia generates annually from its patent portfolio could command a hefty sum. Only time will tell, but keep Nokia on your radar for safe keeping.

Foolish roundup
Is my bullishness or bearishness misplaced? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and consider following my cue by using these links to add these companies to your free personalized watchlist and keep up on the latest news with each company:

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.