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Dykstra: The Real Measure of Success

Consistency's a key to greatness. Plus, the bullish case for Nordic American Tanker, GFI Group and Constellation Brands.

In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics, you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.

-- Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame Pitcher

Undeniably, Seaver's numbers speak for themselves. Along those same lines, I recently came across this baseball trivia question: Who are the only two pitchers in Major League history to start their careers with 10 consecutive winning seasons? The second pitcher to accomplish this incredible feat of consistency is Andy Pettitte, former New York Yankee, now pitching for the Houston Astros. Amazingly, the first was initially the property of the Boston Red Sox, but went on to legendary status with the Yankees. His name was George Herman Ruth, better known as "The Babe."

Needless to say, he put up some numbers. What better lead-in to my home run for the week.


Nordic American Tanker

(NAT) - Get Free Report

owns and operates double-hull oil tankers.

The stock has been hit in the past week along with energy stocks generally, and specifically after the company reported disappointing earnings Monday. Nordic American fell 1% to $35.25, but I think it's ready to make a move back to $40.

The company has the best balance sheet in the industry: no long-term debt, a high current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities), and a credit facility in place if needed. The stock is trading near its 52-week low, which appeals to me more than chasing momentum on the new-high list. What I really like about Nordic American is its current dividend yield of 9.4%.

Underlying demand for oil continues to be strong, and the company is well positioned to benefit and maintain its dividend in full. Tanker rates are seasonal, and for the quarter ended Sept. 30 averaged $23,000 to $24,000 per day. Fourth-quarter rates are confirmed to be quoted $48,000 to $50,000 per day. Furthermore, there is a mandatory schedule for the phasing out of single-hull vessels because of legislative and environmental restrictions imposed by governmental agencies. As a result, Nordic American is in a favorable long-term competitive position due to the makeup of its fleet.

Nordic American just added another tanker and now has eight Suezmax double-hull oil tankers. The eighth ship will begin operations in November. As with all their ships -- which cost $70 million to $80 million to build -- this will be accretive to earnings. The company has ships contracted to

BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust

(BPT) - Get Free Report

: one long-term contract and seven under volatile daily rates.


I first recommended

GFI Group



Sept. 20 and said at the time, "I plan to buy this stock on a pullback."

Well, there haven't been many pullbacks since then and the stock jumped 10% Monday after it was upgraded by J.P. Morgan.

GFI is an interdealer brokerage, market data, and analytical software provider for global cash and derivative markets. GFI offers hybrid electronic and voice-assisted trade execution with pre- and post-trade products.

There are some very smart people running this company and I would (again) look to buy this stock on a pullback to support at its 50-day moving average at just above $36.

Pinch Hitter

With the market being so rough of late, I'm not going to "force" anything. But one name I'm definitely keeping an eye on is

Constellation Brands

(STZ) - Get Free Report

, which is way oversold at $23 and change.

Constellation Brands engages in producing and marketing beverage alcohol brands in a portfolio of wine, imported beer, and spirits categories worldwide.

Check out these numbers: trading at 12 times forward earnings, with over $550 million in free cash flow, and over $4.2 billion in revenue.

I can guarantee you one thing, this "pinch hitter" would be in a lot of teams' starting lineup.

Recap & Review

Consistent with the overall market, there was some volatility in

last week's picks, most notably




Koor Industries



PetSmart showed impressive resilience after its Oct. 6 profit warning and is down just 2.2% since its Oct. 3 close. I did sell my preexisting PetSmart stake at for a profit.

Koor, meanwhile, has totally shaken off last week's weakness and is now up 4.6% since Oct. 3 after rising 2.7% to $11.19 on Monday; I sold my Koor stock into this rally.

This market is much too dangerous and volatile to take chances. I keep "good-till-cancelled" (GTC) sell orders on all of my positions so when I have an opportunity to take a profit, I am ringing the register! To that point, I got filled (sold) the January $65



(MMM) - Get Free Report

I bought last Monday.

Strategic Adjustments

As the baseball playoffs enter their second week, the four surviving teams will vie for their respective pennants. The miraculous run of the Boston Red Sox, the defending World Series Champions, ended abruptly as they were swept by the Chicago White Sox. This was the White Sox's first playoff series win since they won the World Series in 1917. Hence, we are assured of a new World Series Champion this year although the eight playoff teams this year included several perennial participants, led by the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves.

While even the most casual sports fan is aware that the Yankees represent the richest history in baseball, the accomplishments of the Braves are often taken for granted. Incredibly, the Braves have won 14 consecutive National League East championships. Unfortunately for the team and its fans, it's difficult to ignore the Braves' consistent futility in the postseason.

Other than their World Series victory in 1995, it is almost bankable that the Braves will be eliminated in the playoffs, usually in the first round. They epitomize Yogi Berra's "it's

déjà vu

all over again."

Despite being eliminated last night, the Yankees have had much greater success in recent years than the Braves. The Bronx Bombers won four World Series in five years including three straight in 1998, 1999 and 2000. They also made it to the World Series in 2001 and 2003. Therefore, despite their similar regular season successes, their postseason legacies are as different as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League.

The continued regular season excellence of these two teams is a tribute to their respective organizations. Although they differ somewhat in their approach, both organizations have a consistent plan which they execute exceedingly well. Characteristically, the Yankees identify needs and fill them with the best available free agents, recent examples including Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, and Randy Johnson. (That said, Derek Jeter, arguably the "heart and soul" of the Yankees, is homegrown.)

On the other hand, the Braves seemingly have an endless array of young players, developed in their farm system, that they plug in seamlessly. Witness the 16 rookies who started for the Braves this year, with names recognizable only to the most devout baseball aficionados. Still, the Braves have acquired big-name free agents on occasion, notably Greg Maddux and Tim Hudson.

Despite their different approaches, both the Braves and the Yankees displayed an uncanny ability to adjust to adversity this year. The Yankees lost 40% of their starting rotation, including free agent pickups Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, to injury. Similarly, the Braves lost Mike Hampton, and their "heart and soul," Chipper Jones, for a significant part of the season due to injury. Yet they didn't seem to miss a beat.

In the investment world, consistency can signify ongoing success, in the case of the Yankees -- or continual disappointment (failure), as with the Braves.

My blueprint for successful investing incorporates the regular season's successes of both teams, ideally with the Yankees' knack for winning it all. Have a consistent plan, execute it regularly, and make strategic adjustments when necessary. Invariably, adversity will strike at the most inopportune time.

However, a consistent plan usually provides appropriate strategies to weather most storms. So define your plan, execute it, and adjust to the plate umpire's strike zone when necessary.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride!

At the time of publication, Dykstra was long Nordic American Tanker calls.

Nicknamed "Nails" for his tough style of play during his Major League Baseball career, Lenny Dykstra was an integral member of the powerful Mets of the mid-1980s and the Phillies of the early 1990s, including the world champion 1986 Mets squad.

Today, Dykstra manages his own stock portfolio and serves as president of several of his privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a state-of-the-art ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a new venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores throughout high-demographic areas of Southern California.