“Market Madness” Sweet 16: Southern Division

In the spirit of March Madness, the "Halftime Report" is hosting its own "Market Madness" stock tournament.

On Monday the desk debated the Southern division in our "Sweet 16", with Bank of America, Delta, Exxon Mobil, and Home Depot facing off.

In the match-up between Bank of America and Delta, the North Carolina-based bank came out victorious.

Both Stephanie Link, Managing Director & Active Equities Portfolio Manager with TIAA Global Asset Management, and Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, saw Bank of America as deserving to move on to the "Elite 8".

"Bank of America has a diversified business stream and CCAR upside," Stephanie Link said, "and expense cuts still have room to come down."

Pete Najarian took the other side of this match-up, choosing Delta on an attractive valuation.

"Delta has great cash flows and strong pricing power, not to mention it's too cheap at these levels."

When Exxon Mobil took on Home Depot, the home-improvement retailer came out on top in another 2-to-1 nail biter

This bout instead saw Pete Najarian and Stephanie Link on the same side of the court, with Josh Brown on his own siding with Exxon Mobil.

Pete Najarian pointed to continued upside potential for Home Depot as the seasons begin to change.

"Spring is near, and housing-related names continue to be an area of strength in this market."

Stephanie Link identified Home Depot as the secular winner in the home-improvement retail oligopoly. "They have limited ecommerce competition, a strong balance sheet, conservative guidance, and a best-in-class management team."

These are the official standings as we reach the halfway point in our "Sweet 16".