The long ball has come under attack lately. With Opening Day bringing us a new baseball season and the recent steroid controversy haunting some of the game's heaviest hitters, don't be surprised if the sluggers try to slip under the radar. Maybe they'll rediscover the lost art of the bunt single, or maybe we'll see them crowd the plate in hopes of landing a free pass (and a welt) to first for being whacked by an errant pitch.
Play ball? Under that kind of intense media cynicism, where every homer is open to asterisks and scrutiny? Base on balls, please.
Thankfully, as an investor, you don't have to step into the batter's box under those same playing conditions. If the pitch is right, you have every incentive to swing as hard as you can and send that ball screeching toward the left-field seats. In fact, if you're willing to accept the risks that come with aggressive investing -- like the stock recommendations made regularly to subscribers of our Rule Breakers newsletter service -- it may very well be the only way to play the game.
Slugging percentage matters
Let's say that two years ago you bought equal chunks of Commerce One, JDS Uniphase
It's the baseball equivalent of striking out, grounding out, and then belting one deep. While you only had one hit (pun intended), add it all up and you more than doubled the value of your investments in just two years.
So would you still take it? Of course.
Think about that. You could have bought dozens of Enrons that ultimately went to zero. One NetEase tiger in your tank and it wouldn't matter. One runaway winner is all it takes to make it easier to laugh at your mistakes. One bases-loaded shot beyond the warning track clay will make you forget your graceless whiffs earlier in the game.
Perfecting your swing
It seems simple enough. Swing hard and good things are bound to happen. That doesn't mean that you swing at every slider in the dirt. If your aim is true, however, you can miss badly more often than not and still make up for it with the perfect towering shot.
So how can you spot the perfect pitch? For the most part, you can't tell until after your bat makes contact with it. But when you're talking about growth stocks, it certainly helps to go for it early in its disruptive state. When it is still obscure or its demeanor so unconventional that the rest of the investing community is months -- if not years -- from catching on, that's when you swing.
That's about as risky as you can get for a hitting strategy. You're going to strike out quite a bit. Not every Rule Breaker is going to pan out. Yet as a baseball statistic, batting for slugging percentage (the amount of bases divided by plate appearances) has been unfairly overshadowed by the traditional batting average metric.
That's a shame, because more often than not, when someone praises a gauge such as on-base percentage, it's under the assumption that a cleanup hitter will follow with the long ball to take advantage of the base runners ahead of him.
Handing over the right lineup card
Have you been having a bad 2005 so far? The market's had a rough first few months, so you're clearly not alone. However, it probably hasn't been much of a dud if you owned a company like GuruNet
A few months ago, GuruNet went from running with a subscription model to an ad-based approach at its flagship site. By serving up relevant text ads from Google
You can afford to swing and miss often if you make contact with a big winner every now and then. That's pretty much the philosophy behind our Rule Breakers newsletter service. While subscribers are treated to two fleshed-out stock recommendations every month, each issue also has dedicated columns about nanotechnology, biotechnology, and early adopters. Our hope is that you'll walk away with even more stock ideas to try to hit out of the park.
Finding the next Microsoft is a tired cliche -- and it may ring hollow now that the stock has been cut in half over the past six years -- but there is a lot of truth to the notion that wealth awaits those who find revolutionary stocks early in their cycle of defiance. Why not join us in our search for tomorrow's great growth stocks today? Sign up for the newsletter service for a free 30-day trial and see if it rekindles your appreciation for the lost art of the long ball. It will definitely give you something to think about the next time you step into the batter's box.
For some other pitches you may want to swing at:
- Check out which stocks are making the cut these days in our Rule Breakers newsletter.
- Read up on why Cyberonics has set its sights on the depression market.
- Check out GuruNet's path to paid search profits.
- There are many more compelling story stocks worth telling.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz won't let any potential asterisks get in the way of his fond memories of being at the game in which Mark McGwire ripped home runs 56 and 57 during his historic season. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.