The following article is part of The Motley Fool's "Stock Madness 2005," a contest based loosely on the annual NCAA College Basketball Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness. From March 17 to April 4, our writers and analysts will engage in head-to-head competition with each other, advocating and arguing on behalf of 64 stocks we've selected as among the most interesting to Foolish investors. You, dear readers, are the fans and referees -- you'll read these exciting duels and then vote for the stock you think is the better investment... and should therefore move on to the next round of play. The company that survives six "games" will be our tournament champion, and its writer our most valuable "coach."

But, please, make no mistake -- "Stock Madness 2005" is a GAME!

Our writers are doing this for fun. They are enjoying the spirit of competition and the art of debate. They are delighting in the search for positives in the companies they've drawn... and negatives in the companies they're pitted against. They are NOT necessarily recommending these stocks as the ones they believe in above all others. As ever, YOU must decide whether the stocks we're writing about -- winners and losers -- are deserving of your investment dollars.

Round Rock, Texas
Price: $38.50
52-week low-high: $32.60-$42.57
$94.60 billion market cap

By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Look back over the past year of Dell coverage -- heck, look back at the company's history -- and it's hard to deny that this company is among the cream of the crop. Some even call its efficiency scary. Take that, Carly Fiorina.

Last quarter, Dell, which is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, reported its usual perfect performance in earnings, even if top-line growth might have been a little light. Investors might even get a little bored with the way that Dell can consistently hit the bull's-eye with earnings.

Meanwhile, Dell's been tearing it up in comparison with its competitors. We have all heard by now that IBM (NYSE:IBM) is exiting the PC industry. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) recently parted ways with Fiorina. Gateway (NYSE:GTW) continues to struggle. While I'm an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fan going way back, well, heck, I do recognize that Dell is still the reigning king of the personal computing as we know it.

And, of course, Dell's too smart to be pigeonholed. It isn't just about computers anymore. It's into printers, musical devices, televisions -- all playing a large part in the digital living room.

Dell's hard to kill because of that knack for killer innovation. Many of you recall that its first real differentiator was direct sales. By selling directly to its customers, it cut out the middleman and built a PC empire. This is all part of the legacy of greatness.

So, for our Stock Madness, I've got to say that for the long term, Dell's got the game in hand.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.

Summit, N.J.
Price: $33.05
52-week low-high: $22.47 -$35.24
$5.5 billion market cap

By Charly Travers (TMFBreakerCharly)

As one of only a few profitable biotech companies, Celgene is a hot commodity. Over the past two years, its stock has tripled, and for good reason. The company is turning in phenomenal numbers. Last year, sales came in at $330 million, up 35% over the prior year. Celgene expects to turn in another stellar performance in 2005 and has issued guidance for sales in excess of $500 million for this year.

The lion's share of Celgene's revenue comes from its drug Thalomid, which is used in the treatment of multiple myeloma. However, unlike many small biotechs that are one-trick ponies, Celgene has a diversified product lineup with several smaller products backing up Thalomid.

Celgene is not completely dependent upon Thalomid; it has another winner on the immediate horizon with its drug Revlimid. It is in late-stage clinical trials for use in patients with multiple myeloma -- or I should say was in clinical trials, since the trials were recently stopped because the drug worked so well. A trial stopping early because a drug has great results is a fairly rare event, and I think that bodes well for Revlimid's sales potential. Revlimid clearly works and will be the second winning drug in Celgene's portfolio once it is approved. It could be on the market next year, and sales should ramp up fast.

In an industry known for feast-or-famine stock performance, Celgene is a clear winner that certainly falls into the former category. Few companies in Stock Madness are going to match its growth over the next three to five years, and Dell is not one of them.

Fool contributor Charly Travers does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article.

Sorry, Charly! I understand that biotech is an exciting and growth-heavy industry that includes lots of words that many of us can't even pronounce. It kind of flies in the face of the whole idea that Peter Lynch has espoused -- that one should invest in a company only if he or she can illustrate what it does with a crayon. Meanwhile, all the excitement over biotech carries a heck of a lot of risk for investors. Look what recently happened to BiogenIdec (NASDAQ:BIIB) as just one example. Not only is there the risk that drugs ultimately might not make it out of clinical trials, but also there's the risk that something might come up even after approval that forces the company to withdraw the drug -- and take a hit in sales. A vote for Dell is a vote for a solid company with a stable future and a name all consumers know -- and can pronounce! -- A.L.

Dude, I am NOT getting a Dell. It is nothing but a 1990s growth story. Problem is, we're halfway through the aughts, and Dell's stock has gone exactly nowhere for the past six years. It has been a complete bust. Yes, the company is a dominant and efficient monster that destroys the competition. So what? Selling PCs is a lousy commodity business, and being the king of the trash pile still just means that you own a trash pile. And it's not just the PC business that stinks. Management has a history of being completely abusive to shareholders. The company diverts an obnoxious amount of its free cash flow into repurchasing shares, which it has to do because of its excessive stock option grants. So if you want a "has-been" that treats its shareholders like dirt, vote for Dell. -- C.T.

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