With the Winter Olympics in high gear, I find myself inundated with figure skating terminology. Oh, I'll forget it all in a few days. I'm just that way. And then in four years I'll be spoon-fed the terms all over again.
My wife loves to watch the figure skaters. She grimaces when someone doubles a triple jump. She cheers along when a pirouetting athlete nails a difficult feat. I just drift in and out, with new words cropping up in my speech.
After watching a few days of the stuff, I now find myself applying the terms around the house. I no longer stub my toe, I stub my toe picks. When it's supper, it's time to Salchow. I also find myself applying many of the rink's terms and phrases to my stock-reviewing process.
Hitting the ice
A "flip jump" happens when a skater jumps from the back of one of foot and lands on the other. In my fiscal mind, no one has done this as well as Netflix
If anything, the reasons for the recovery that found shares tripling off their lows were the same things that spooked investors in the first place. The price war kept rivals out as Netflix achieved critical mass, all while making its only real competitive threat -- Blockbuster
A "toe loop" is a jump that has the skater landing on the same outside edge that he or she started from. To me, that's Apple Computer
The "layback spin" happens when a skater spins as the head and shoulders are arched back. You probably know more than a few companies that have found themselves going in circles, surrendering to the inertia. Legacy carriers? Profitless dot-coms? This one's not as pretty when companies do it.
"Crossovers" occur when skaters round their turns or pick up speed by placing one foot over the other. I'll have to give satellite radio the nod for that nifty maneuver. Sirius
Around the village
Certain sports remind me of stocks, too. I've seen free-falling stocks that would love the luge. What's the difference between a slalom skier and a company that has to go back and restate its financials? Not much. They each have a long path of obstacles to overcome.
Curling may seem like an odd sport at first. It originated in Scotland centuries ago and finds players pushing a "stone" over an ice rink with the intent of landing it inside concentric circles. Isn't that what far too many companies do? The ones that manage earnings? They provide guidance and then do anything possible to make sure they nail the number. That sometimes comes at the expense of future quarters.
That's why I prefer to side with stocks that laugh through the market's curling matches. Check out companies like Pixar
Snowman-building should be an Olympic sport
A lot of that Olympian slang can bleed over into business-speak. Companies may be skating on thin ice. Sometimes a company has a competitive advantage for a spell, and it's considered a power play. After a product peaks, it's all downhill from there.
So why is it that no one has ever made investing an Olympic sport? Why can't there be some fiscal decathlon where folks crunch numbers between stock screens? Can't we get Warren Buffett out there donning tights? How about David and Tom Gardner trying their luck on the tandem luge?
Sure, watching the two brothers going downhill would be a pretty peculiar sight. Readers of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter know that they're more likely to be hopping the equity chairlift than going down the steep alpine.
Since the newsletter service was launched nearly four years ago, David's picks have averaged a 46% return, while Tom's selections are up a whopping 73%. That compares nicely to the 21% average stock market run in that time. Two of the Olympic hopefuls I mentioned earlier -- Pixar and Netflix -- have been big winners since they were first singled out.
Tomorrow is the third Friday of the month. That means a brand-new issue will be released, with David and Tom each adding another pick to what has been an impressive list so far. You've still got time to check it out, even if it's just as a trial subscription offer for the next 30 days.
So get cracking on brushing up on that Olympian terminology. Don't let 2010 catch you off guard.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't really know the difference between a Lutz and a Salchow figure-skating jump, but please don't tell his wife. He does own shares in Pixar and Netflix. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Rick is a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance.