These 3 Tricks Are the Deflated Footballs of Investing

Deflated american football
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This is supposed to be a showcase week for the National Football League, building up to Sunday's Super Bowl. However, it seems as if all that the sports media world is talking about is how the New England Patriots may or may not have used footballs that were not inflated to league-required specifications.

This is a big deal. In the snowy conditions of the AFC Championship game that propelled the Patriots to the final contest of the season, a lighter football is easier to throw and catch. The weight of the Deflategate scandal will linger, but some will always argue that part of the competitive art of the game is to find ways to give your team the upper hand.

Investors can play with their own version of deflated footballs, too -- and unlike in the NFL, it's not against the rules. Let's go over a few ways that investors can gain an advantage over their peers in the pursuit of beating the market.

1. Get There Early

%VIRTUAL-WSSCourseInline-799%Everyone's a genius in retrospect. Buying into Apple (AAPL) just ahead of the iPod rollout in the fall of 2001 would have resulted in nearly a 100-bagger today. There have been big gains for those hopping on everything from cloud computing to streaming video before those platforms started to take off.

This doesn't mean that investors should be speculating in penny stocks or chasing overpriced securities. Sometimes what seems like a ground-floor opportunity actually winds up being a trapdoor to the basement. However, spotting a hot trend or a fast-growing company when it has minimal analyst and financial media coverage is the way many stories detailing someone's best investment start.

2. Buy the Beaters

Most companies beat, or at the very least meet, Wall Street's quarterly earnings estimates. However, investors should always look for the publicly traded companies that consistently beat analyst profit targets.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) was one of last year's biggest winners. Shares of the no-frills carrier soared 126 percent in 2014, fueled by a year of rising travel demand and lower jet fuel costs. The company also consistently beat analyst income forecasts in every quarter through 2014.

3. Buy What You Know

Legendary mutual fund investor Peter Lynch made a killing in the market with the simple "Buy what you know" tenet. He invested in the places where he regularly ate, shopped and slept. He would take his wife and daughters to the mall to gauge retail store trends.

It's a strategy that continues to work today. What are you passionate about? What are the publicly traded companies in your line of work? How many of the companies that are local to you trade on an exchange? Don't buy them all, of course: You want to buy the ones that are successful. Your experience and insight place you at an advantage to folks who don't care, don't know, or don't hear about the companies.

The Deflategate theory claims that underinflated footballs give the offenses that use them an advantage because they are easier to grip, and the same sentiment applies here. Buy companies that are easier for you to grasp and they will make it easier to score in all forms of inclement weather.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned.The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Is your portfolio ready to score this year? Check out our free report for one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.