March Madness is upon us, and scorecards in Sports Illustrated's 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview suggest that you don't want to pick your team based on the number of players who perfected their free-throwing technique way back when in the family driveway. UCLA guard Darren Collison may have the best scorecard, making free throw shots 91.2% of the time. But Utah has the best overall average this season, at 78.4%. Still, Utah doesn't even have one of the top 10 free-throwers. No matter. The better free-throw-shooting team does not have an edge in games where free throws decide the game. In fact, the best free-throw teams only win about half the time in games decided by up to three points, according to SI's data.
Any one player can be the best free-thrower, but it's consistency across the whole team that matters most. The same is true in stock strategies: Anybody can make an outstanding pick, but it's consistency across the record that counts. My deep-in-the-money (DITM) call options trading system, which you can follow through my Nails on the Numbers newsletter, has such a record: 96-1. It's a winning streak I'm proud of. In the past week, I've gone for Microsoft ( MSFT), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and -- yesterday's pick -- Halliburton ( HAL). I expect all these picks to ring the bell for me this year. Both Microsoft and Halliburton won for me repeatedly last year. Other big bets that paid off handsomely in 2008 include picks General Electric ( GE), Archer-Daniels-Midland ( ADM) and Garmin ( GRMN).
Now let's get to today's question from a reader. I subscribe to Nails on the Numbers and also several TheStreet.com publications. I have owned Foster Wheeler (FWLT) for a long time, and it has gotten hit hard. I am debating what to do next: hold or sell. I noticed you recommend buying and holding. And in Action Alerts Plus, Jim Cramer recommends selling on strength. What price constitutes selling into strength? Please advise me on my next move. Different guys will see different things with the same company. This happens because each of us looks at different metrics. And it's common for experts that look at the same metrics to have opposing opinions on a stock's future. However, in this case Cramer and I are not really expressing opposing arguments. You sell into strength by trading out a long position for a shorter position because you believe that -- in the short term -- the price will increase temporarily. Long term, you expect a reversal, but you don't try to time the stock's decline. With this point of view, Jim is supporting my DITM call strategy, which is a short-term stock-replacement strategy. Although I buy DITM call options over positions of seven months to two years, I do so with the expectation of a quick increase, win and subsequent trip to the bank. I picked Foster Wheeler Feb. 27 -- a position that didn't make it onto my scorecard because of the option's high premium. At that time, stock in this provider of engineering services to power-generating companies had just fallen 37% to $14.73 and was trading at 4.1 times expected 2009 earnings per share. In the past three weeks, shares have risen 28% to close Wednesday at $18.90. Selling your position any time as it was rising but before it reverses would be selling into strength. 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!