But of all the components of that faux bull market that brought stocks so high last time, nothing defined it more than the fertilizer companies. The stench still hangs over Agrium (AGU), which soared from $30 in January 2007 to $113 in June 2008. Potash's (POT) miracle move from $15 in January of 2007 to $80 in June of 2008 is still the stuff of bull-market legend -- perhaps outdone only by total market darling, Mosiac (MOS), which tore from $20 in February of 2007 to $157 in June of 2008. The descent from these heights, of course, was every bit as precipitous. We discovered just how easy it really is to make fertilizer; the barriers to entry turned out to be much lower than anyone had thought at the time.
Also on fire back then were steels, a commodity that rallies only on severe price increases over contained periods of time. That's how U.S. Steel (X) could run from $72 in January of 2007 to $191 in June of 2008. Terrific, but nothing like shooting star AK Steel (AKS), which vaulted from $18 in January of 2007 to $73 in June of 2008. Don't even bother to look at that flyspeck of a stock now.
Oil and gas played kingly roles. Those were the days when Chesapeake (CHK) was levitating, going on a run from $27 in January of 2007 to $69 in June of 2008. Apache (APA) doubled in a similar time frame.
Yep, those were the leaders of that era, companies that made undifferentiated product that needed rampant inflation and an ever-growing China to beat the numbers and stay strong.You want that leadership? You worried about those stocks? Then I think you ought to recognize how zero-sum those stocks were at the time. They had everything going for them, and the rest of the market had very little going for it. All in all, I'd rather take what we have going now. It's a lot healthier, and certainly a lot safer and potentially much longer-lasting. Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, has no positions in the stocks mentioned.