Last October, in the heart of the financial crisis, The Motley Fool launched the Motley Fool Pro service. Armed with a $1 million real-money portfolio and the ability to go long and short the market using equities, options, and ETFs, the Pro portfolio weathered last winter's market tempest -- its worst one-month return was negative-2.45% (February) -- and has also profited from the subsequent rally. It's currently outpacing the S&P 500 by 3.1%.

The success of the Pro portfolio hasn't gone unnoticed by the larger investment community. In last weekend's edition of Barron's, Fool co-Founder Tom Gardner and Pro Advisor Jeff Fischer discussed, among other things:

  • How the Pro team shorted a sector index to profit in a down market.
  • Why companies with strong competitive advantages and recurring revenue streams -- not unlike IBM (NYSE:IBM), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) -- are particularly attractive.
  • Using options to generate additional portfolio income, hedge, and speculate.
  • Leveraging the knowledge of the Motley Fool CAPS community to identify promising -- and not-so-promising -- companies to go long and short.
  • How the proprietary CAPShot screening tool takes community intelligence one step further. Sneak preview: Today's top CAPShot scores include Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), Noble (NYSE:NE), and Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW).
  • Why the Pro team wants to keep adequate cash on hand at all times.
  • Introducing investors to advanced options strategies like "Stock Repair," which in some cases can help you get back to breakeven on your investment.

You can see the Barron's article for yourself by clicking here.

You've heard Tom and Jeff sound off about options and CAPS. Now it's time to talk back. How do you use options in your own portfolio? Or will you forever swear off them as "too risky"? Is now the time to short the market again? Chime in through the comments box below.

Atwood Oceanics is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Oracle and has a mean disclosure policy.