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Apple's Got Its Mojo Back

This column was originally published on RealMoney on Nov. 7 at 8:53 a.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for readers.

If you read many of the columns on RealMoney, you'll note several writers voice a reliance on their feel for the market. From fundies like Jim Cramer to technicians like Rev Shark, "the gut" seems to be an important aspect of trading. This approach is summed up by a recent email I received from long-time reader C.I.:

Gary, I believe picking stocks is as intuitive as it is analytical. With 20 years investment experience, I have learned to trust my "gut" and it usually does not let me down. When my gut feel is wrong, I have a greater degree of comfort in my decisions, even though they may be wrong, because I listened to myself and acted accordingly. If I am going to lose a football game, it won't be because my best running back did not have 20 carries and someone else was calling plays. C.I.

First, let me state I agree with C.I. Relying on your intuition and feel does work in the market. Let me also say I believe it is inferior to a pure statistical method. I make that statement for two reasons.

One, if you rely a lot on intuition and are objective about testing it, I believe you will find it is accurate no more than 50% of the time. In my experience, most people are biased when remembering how right their gut was and tend to ignore all the times they were wrong. An accurate accounting will usually prove sobering.

In addition, even if one's intuition is helpful, it is still inferior to a raw statistical approach because while a gut-feel player may be right more than he is wrong, that advantage is mitigated by the fact he doesn't take as many trades as pure-data man.

As an example, gut feel may look at 100 trades, take only 20 that look great, and be right on 15 of them. Pure data, however, might take all 100 trades, and be right on 50 of them. So while his batting average is lower, the sheer number of his attempts can result in overall higher profits.

Finally, I've found the intuitive approach hard to pin down. If my trades didn't work that day, was my feel off? Was it the market? Or did I simply have an upset stomach? Without pure data to test, it's difficult to say.

Of course, one has to always do what's best, and if that requires you to use your gut, so be it. Over time, though, I believe that approach will cost you profits.

Today, the Nasdaq, Apple Computer (AAPL), EnCana (ECA), Sirius (SIRI), Golden West Financial (GDW) and Kohl's (KSS).

Charts produced by TC2000, which is a registered trademark of Worden Brothers Inc.

And that is the final word from Cameron Indoor Stadium, where everyone is loving my Blue Devils to take the NCAA hoop title. Like I said last year, though, I think they'll come up just a bit short, this time to Michigan State.

P.S. from Editor-in-Chief, Dave Morrow:
It's always been my opinion that it pays to have more -- not fewer -- expert market views and analyses when you're making investing or trading decisions. That's why I recommend you take advantage of our free trial offer to RealMoney premium Web site, where you'll get in-depth commentary and money-making strategies from over 50 Wall Street pros, including Jim Cramer. Take my advice -- try it now.

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith writes a daily technical analysis column for and also produces a daily premium product for called The Chartman's Top Stocks -- click here for a free two-week trial. While Gary cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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