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CNBC's 2019 Stock Draft kicked off on "Power Lunch " Thursday.
Ex-NFL star Nick Lowery, last year's winner, is defending his title against nine other teams. In 2018, he wrested the prize away from from "Mr. Wonderful," Kevin O'Leary, with his picks of Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and Advanced Micro Devices. His stocks ended the challenge up 37 percent.
The contest begins with the closing prices on Thursday and ends with the closing prices on Jan. 31, 2020, the Friday before the Super Bowl. The winner is determined by the average percentage change of all three selections.
Here is the draft order, chosen randomly last week:
Here is a round-up of Thursday's picks:
First to pick was Tim Seymour, who is no stranger to investing. As CIO of Seymour Asset Management, he has over 22 years of experience in the business. He chose General Electric.
"This is one of those picks that is hard to love," he said. "This is a debt and balance sheet clean up story."
GE was down 2.5% on Thursday and is down 35.52 percent from a year ago.
"This was the hardest decision of my life," said Seymour.
Jarvis Green, former National Football League player, made the second pick of the day, which is Constellation Brands.
"They are growing and they have huge profits for revenue," Green said. "I think the alcohol part of is going to be a winner and the cannabis and CBD part of it as the technology grows will catch up."
The stock is up a whooping 32% year to date.
Entrepreneur & reality TV star Bethenny Frankel chose Boeing.
The company has been under pressure since it had to ground its 737 Max aircraft.
"They've had some issues but everybody loves a comeback," she said.
The stock is up 18.83% year to date.
CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer called the choice a good one.
"My only problem is … this thing has run. So you may be later than you think without a trade deal," Cramer said.
Nick Lowery, 2018 champion of CNBC's Stock Draft, revealed his pick for this year — Nvidia.
"We are doubling down on the idea [of] microchips… AI and also the beginning of robotic driving cars. They are positioning perfectly," Lowery said.
Nvidia is up 41% in 2019.
For celebrity chef Bobby Flay's first pick, he went with something he knows about: food.
"I'm going to go with Kraft Heinz, " he said. "I'm a huge Heinz ketchup fan and they also own Grey Poupon so they have the mustard and the ketchup and all the condiments covered."
"If people get a little nervous with the market they are going to tuck in and eat a lot of food at home," he added.
The company is in the midst of a executive shake up and is down 24% this year.
Maria Ho went with fintech firm Square as her pick.
"They launched a credit card and it's great for the small businesses and mid-sized business. It;s probably not going anywhere...we are going all in right now," she said.
Shares of Square is up nearly 30% this year.
This is Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard first CNBC Stock Draft and he went with electric automaker Tesla for initial pick.
"Fast cars. Fast balls," he said. "I don't drive one but I'm all about … saving the environment."
Tesla hit a 52-week low on Thursday and was down 3.61% in afternoon trading. Share lost more than 25% so far this year.
Kevin O'Leary, co-founder of O'Leary Funds, chose Johnson & Johnson.
"I think we are going to have a lot of volatility next year, so you want a quality balance sheet and you [have to] care a lot about earnings and you really want as little debt as possible. So I've gone safety with a lot of growth," he said.
The health company underperformed the market this year with a gain of 7% versus s 17% return. Its profits dropped 14% in the first quarter.
Mentalist Oz Pearlman came in third place on NBC's America's Got Talent a few years ago, but he's hoping for a first-place win in this year's Stock Draft. His first choice was Disney.
"I'm never going to be Mr. Wonderful at reading a balance sheet. What I do, I get in people's heads. And what I think is in people's heads: entertainment," Pearlman said. "Disney is about to roll out a streaming service that we are going to call maybe a Netflix killer. "
That streaming service, Disney+, is set launch in November for $6.99 a month and will offer its deep catalog of content, as well as new shows.
"This is what I will be talking about next year when I win the stock draft," Pearlman said.
Shares of Disney hit a 52-week high on Thursday and are up 25% in 2019.
The Beardstown Ladies went with Alibaba as their first-round pick.
"We called Alibaba the Amazon of China. But we like their fundamentals. Their long-term debt is only 20% of the capital and they predicted they have double-digit earnings growth this year," they said.
"And on top of that, they are flexible. They are expanding into food service and streaming," they added.
Shares of Alibaba soared more than 37% this year.
For his second pick, Tim Seymour went with Electronic Arts.
"The tailwinds in the gaming sector are very exciting," he said. "You can make an argument it's a media play. This is the NFL."
Shares of Electronic Arts are up more than 18% in 2019.
Jarvis Green chose streaming giant Netflix as his second pick.
"Netflix has a year ahead of Disney right now…We binged one time for 14 hours on Netflix," Green said.
Netflix is the front-runner of the so-called FANG names, rallying 37% this year.
Bethenny Frankel decided to add cannabis to her portfolio in the form of Canadian pot company Tilray.
"I'm betting on legalization. It's great for wellness, for pets," she said.
Shares are now just over $51 a share, but they were once as high as $300. Frankel thinks they can get there again.
For Nick Lowery's second pick, he went with Advanced Micro Devices.
"Googled picked it for their cloud. PlayStation has it. There's a shortage of PC chips," Lowery said.
Shares of Advanced Micro Devices have surged more than 50% year to date.
Chef Bobby Flay chose retail giant Walmart for his second investment.
"If the market gets a little tight, I think everybody is going to be looking for everyday low prices," he said.
Shares of Walmart were little changed on Thursday but are up more than 11% for the year.
Maria Ho picked UnitedHealth as her second pick.
"We are betting on the fact that the government's scrutiny over heath care is going to subside hopefully," Ho said.
Shares of the health insurance provider are down nearly 7% this year.
Noah Syndergaard went with Amazon for his second pick.
"Every day I feel like getting two or three Amazon boxes," he said. "I really admire their purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 and they passed Walmart as the largest retailer in 2015."
Shares of the ecommerce giant were little changed on Thursday, as investors awaited Amazon's earnings report, expected after the bell.
Amazon is up 27% year to date.
"Mr. Wonderful" Kevin O'Leary chose Marlboro cigarette maker Altria for his second pick.
O'Leary said it's a "low risk pick," and the company has a strong balance sheet.
However, Altria reported worse-than-expected earnings for the first quarter on Thursday and its acquisition of electronic cigarette company Juul is under scrutiny from The Federal Trade Commission.
"It's a growing market. There's always going to be that issue and that's a little bit controversial but that's just enough excitement for me. I won't invest in cannabis stocks but this is a way for me to get it around the fringe of that growth," O'Leary said.
Altria's stock is only up 4% this year.
Oz Pearlman deiced to "swing for the fences" by picking Bitcoin as his second investment.
"The obituary has been written for this time and time again. Crypto is dead. I don't think so," he said. "There are so many applications still there for it. It is not going away."
He said there is a rebound now underway — and to take a big win in the draft, another "crypto mania" could seal the deal for him.
The Beardstown Ladies chose biotech firm Biogen as their second pick.
"Their price is beaten up because of their failed trials of the Alzheimer's drug, but that's not the only drug in their pipeline. They've got other drugs and we are taking a chance in that," they said.
Biogen halted the trial for its Alzheimer's drug last month, which shocked investors as the drug was expected to be a blockbuster. Its stock is down 24% in 2019.
Tim Seymour decided to go with Macy's, a "grizzled veteran that is also a turnaround story," after the Beardstown Ladies took what he wanted as his third pick, Biogen.
Cramer wasn't sold on the stock.
"[CEO] Jeffrey Gennette is doing a good job but he's still got to deal with the fact that he's in a classic mall and you have to be in strip malls so you can take things right back to the parking lot."
Shares of the retailer were down more than 3 percent on Thursday and almost 19 percent for the year.
Jarvis Green went with athletic apparel retailer Lululemon as his third pick.
Jim Cramer called it "a remarkably good pick."
"It's a secular growth story. It's treally only company that has been able to have sustainable challenge against Nike," Cramer said.
Shares of Lululemon climbed a whopping 46% this year so far.
For her third pick, Bethenny Frankel went with Facebook.
"I believe in growth. I believe in the continuation of Facebook to grow. They've got the best management," she said.
Shares of the social networking giant were up 6% on Thursday and 48% year to date.
Nick Lowery's third pick turned out to be Microsoft.
"I just can't believe it. When you look at triple threats, Microsoft crushed earnings; their AI is the finest there is and their business has gone to a subscription model which is much more leaning to consistent earnings," Lowery said.
Shares of Microsoft are up more than 27% this year. Lowery is bullish on the tech sector as it has outperformed the market for the past 10 years.
Bobby Flay is betting on basketball for his third pick — specifically The New York Knicks, in the form the team's arena Madison Square Garden.
"The Knicks have had some woes for a really long time. They are a very important part of the company," he said. "We're going to have a very, very different year come the fall."
MSG is up more than 14% this year.
With her third pick, Maria Ho decided to go with Apple.
"We are going with something that feels a little bit safer and it's solid. With its service business that they are transitioning to, we feel like it can go up," she said.
Shares of the tech giant are up 30% this year.
Baseball star Noah Syndergaard went with something he knows well for his third investment: Nike.
"When I think of athletic clothing and innovation, I think of Nike," he said. "I'm a Nike guy myself, sponsored by Nike. I've got to stay true to my roots. It's just a great company."
Nike is up 18% for the year.
Kevin O'Leary went with Procter & Gamble as his third pick.
O'Leary believes the consumer staple name is going to work well with more volatility coming this year. The stock is up 12% in 2019.
"I'm going to win by just taking the least risk," he said.
For his final pick, Oz Pearlman decided to bet on Goldman Sachs.
He called the company "one of the best run banks on the Street."
"We're are going to go after old highs from about two years ago," he said. "They've weathered many storms before and I think we're going to have strong, strong results in the next 9 months."
Goldman is up 21% so far this year.
The Beardstown Ladies's third stock pick is their old love Visa.
They picked it last year and are still bullish on the stock, calling the company "the gorilla of the credit card business."
Visa just posted better-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Wednesday. The stock is up more than 22% year to date.
And that's a wrap of the 2019 draft.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette.