The two latest picks in my deep-in-the-money options-picking system have made it onto my scoreboard - both of them big tech stocks. On Friday, we put our money down on Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report, while an opportune price drop in Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) - Get Report on Monday let us place our bets that this stock will rebound soon for a quick cash-out.

Volatility has pushed options prices up this year, keeping us out of a few of my favorite picks, like


(CAT) - Get Report

(Jan. 7 and March 4) and

United Technologies

(Feb. 18 and March 6). But the recent four-day rally gave us an entry point with my latest picks.

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My system - which bets that shares of value-priced stocks will rise - has a win record of 96-1. With even more picks on the board, we will soon push the number of wins higher.

Unless you're a derivatives trader at


(AIG) - Get Report

, you need to pay yourself a bonus by getting in on the picks action through a subscription to my Nails on the Numbers newsletter.

My most recent win was March 10 on

Cameron International


, bringing the year-to-date win total to $8,800.


(GLW) - Get Report

has had the biggest payout so far, adding $5,800 on Jan. 6 after 62 days in play.

When I consider a stock for my system, I want to know whether the company uses its capital wisely. The best way to judge is to look at its return on capital vs. its cost of capital. I won't get into all of that now, but today we can review how to determine a company's cost of its debt - one of two components in the cost of capital. We do that by looking at how much the company pays on its debt.

The cost of debt begins with the average yield to maturity it pays on its bonds. We multiply that rate by 100% minus its tax rate. Let's look at an example.


(HAL) - Get Report

, which paid off for me several times last year, had $2.586 billion in long-term debt (excluding leases) last December - down slightly from a year earlier.

Halliburton's effective tax rate in 2008 was 38%. So subtracting the tax rate from 100%, we get 62%. We multiply that by 4.131% -- the yield to maturity on its bonds, which expire in October 2010. This gives Halliburton an estimated after-tax cost of debt of 2.6%.

Next, we calculate the debt portion of Halliburton's total capital - or debt plus equity.Halliburton shares ended 2008 at $18.08, giving it a market cap then of $16.2 billion. Adding in long-term debt, total capital at the end of the quarter equaled $18.8 billion. So, long-term debt equaled 13.8% of total capital, while equity made up 86.2%.

In the next step, we would multiply the after-tax cost of debt times the weight of the debt, giving us the debt portion of our equation for the weighted average cost of capital. We'll look at the cost-of-equity side of the equation next week.

Lenny "Nails" Dykstra, a guy who's used to winning, consistently profits from his deep-in-the-money options calls. You can, too, with his

Nails on the Numbers


Try Lenny's service free

and see how it works for you. If you decide to subscribe, just one winning call will pay for a whole year!

At the time of publication, Dykstra had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Nicknamed 'Nails' for his tough style of play, Lenny is a former Major League Baseball player for the 1986 World Champions, New York Mets and the 1993 National League Champions, Philadelphia Phillies. A three time All-Star as a ballplayer, Lenny now serves as president for several privately held businesses in Southern California. He is the founder of The Players Club; it has been his desire to give back to the sport that gave him early successes in life by teaching athletes how to invest and protect their incomes. He currently manages his own portfolio and writes an investment strategy column for, and is featured regularly on CNBC and other cable news shows. Lenny was selected as OverTime Magazine's 2006-2007 "Entrepreneur of the Year."