Updated from 12:04 p.m. EST

As mentioned in previous columns, I am forever seeking a competitive edge in order to maximize my chances for success. This begins with impeccable preparation, which commences at 5:30 a.m. each morning, and rarely culminates prior to midnight. But regardless of how well prepared you are, life has an uncanny way of presenting you with situations in which your preparation is virtually worthless.

In essence, my strategy is to stay disciplined, regardless of the situation. This approach has served me well throughout my career, be it baseball, my various businesses or investing. Discipline allowed me to develop into the consummate leadoff hitter. I saw more pitches than anybody in the history of Major League Baseball during the magical 1993 season with the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies. This was directly attributable to the fact that I approached each at-bat with a plan. That plan had to be flexible in order to respond to the situation dictated by the scoreboard.

In other words, you must have a strategy to deal not only with the expected, but perhaps more importantly, a strategy to deal with the unexpected.

Discipline yourself, as I do, to always play the percentages, thereby creating that competitive edge that is integral to success. Furthermore, recognize, acknowledge, and accept when the percentages are not in your favor, so that you do not take on unnecessary risk.

Unfortunately, precious few of us are truly clairvoyant; therefore, we are bound to pick stocks that will go down in price. When this inevitability occurs, I believe in stopping the losses from the start and moving on. Remember, this can happen only through a disciplined approach, which for my trading means:

  • Using limit orders -- never a market order;
  • Not "marrying" positions, meaning you have to leave your ego and emotions out of trading;
  • Learning to sell your losers for tax purposes and to avoid the "opportunity cost" of keeping capital tied up;
  • Using options to leverage my bets, instead of using margin, but understanding that options must be handled with care;
  • Using tight stop-losses based on technical indicators, such as the 50- and/or 200-day moving average.
  • Don't waste your time or cloud your thinking by sulking over a stock that "went down." Instead, know the scoreboard, stay disciplined and get back in the box. This will allow you to maximize your successes.

    Information Is Everything

    Information is the currency of today's global economy. Individuals and enterprises rely on the global distribution and storage of information to govern nations, conduct business transactions and make personal decisions.

    Yet the information we count on is increasingly at risk. Cyber threats, natural disasters, user errors and system failures put the security and availability of crucial information assets in jeopardy. Individuals and organizations are looking for a partner to help them understand and manage the risks to information -- whether it is protecting personal information on a PC or building a global IT infrastructure that is both resilient and flexible.

    For many, that partner is Symantec ( SYMC), the world leader in helping individuals and enterprises assure the security, availability and integrity of their information. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in more than 40 countries.

    With innovative technology solutions and services, Symantec helps individuals and enterprises protect and manage their digital assets. Symantec provides a wide range of solutions, including enterprise and consumer security, data management, application and infrastructure management, security management, storage and service management, and response and managed security services.

    Symantec is the world leader in providing solutions to help individuals and enterprises assure the security, availability and integrity of their information.

    Symantec's recently completed merger with Veritas leaves no doubt: Symantec is the best security software company in the world. The announcement of the Veritas merger started a prolonged decline in Symantec shares that I believe culminated earlier this month when the company lowered its revenue guidance and announced the resignation of its CFO.

    At this point, I believe all the bad news is priced into the stock. Yes, Symantec lowered its 2006 revenue forecast but is still projecting $5 billion of sales in the coming year, has minimal debt, more than $4 in cash per share on the books, and cash flow above $840 million in the past 12 months.

    I would be a buyer right here in the $19.50 range. If you are a trader and like to book short-term profits, I would sell at the 21-day moving average of $21.69.

    Because this company is so undervalued, I would set a stop-loss just above the 52-week low of $18.01. If it goes back to that area, I would buy more.

    My other pick this week is Macrovision ( MVSN), which develops digital rights management technologies. The company's software combats widespread, casual digital piracy while offering solutions that enable customers to electronically control the use of digital content and software, and to build significant new revenue models.

    Macrovision has built, and continues to add to, a large patent portfolio that helps differentiate its products and is important to its license-driven and solution-based business model. The company generates recurring revenue from a variety of sources by licensing the use of its patented technologies and software solutions.

    The selloff in this stock is way overdone. Not only was it knocked down, it looks like the punch came from Mike Tyson (during his prime). Macrovision has disappointed shareholders, for sure, but the company has $225 million in cash, no debt and $50 million in free cash flow. At 16 times next year's earnings, the stock presents a low-risk opportunity for a trade.

    From a technical perspective, Macrovision looks good for a couple points. I have a buy order in at $15.05, and would recommend selling at the first technical hurdle it will have to cross, which will be the 21-day moving average at $17.98. Or, if you want a little more holiday money, wait until the 50-day moving average at $18.56.

    Again, this stock is undervalued, so set your stop just above the 52-week low of $15.03.

    The Whip Comes Down

    As I predicted last week , Cisco ( CSCO) beat the number and had a strong forecast, but the stock went down.

    Therefore, as I stated last week, we must now take a serious look at John Chambers, Cisco's CEO and president. David Montgomery, the managing partner of the Philadelphia Phillies, was recently faced with a similar situation. Despite a new stadium, a team that was in playoff contention until the last pitch of the regular season, and tremendous fans in a great sports town, the Phillies managed to draw approximately 600,000 fewer fans than the previous year, with a resultant loss of at least $20 million in revenue. Montgomery made the business decision he needed to make; he recognized that the team was no longer appealing to its fan base, so he rectified the situation by bringing in a new leader.

    It is time for the board of directors of Cisco to respond to its shareholders, of which I am one, and recognize that despite being a flat-out, awesome money-making machine, Chambers is not putting people in the seats. For whatever reason, he does not engender excitement on the Street; therefore, the fans are not buying Cisco's stock. Hence, it is time to follow the lead of Montgomery. Albeit tough, Cisco's board or activist shareholders need to make the right business decision: Mr. John Chambers has to go!

    Another stock I mentioned last week, International Paper ( IP), is up sharply today on news Koch Industries is buying Georgia Pacific ( GP). Remember, I spent $7,300 to control 1,000 shares of this high-quality company's stock and based on those 10 options contracts, made $1,100 in a week as my "good 'til canceled" sell order was filled this morning at the open at $8.40.

    That's another example of the leverage of options, if they're used intelligently, and "good 'til canceled" (or GTC) orders are another aspect of the discipline I use to maximize trading success.
    At the time of publication, Dykstra was long Cisco and Symantec.

    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.

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