NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- After discussions on the New York Rangers' playoff chances ( They made it!) subsided, the talk around TheStreet's offices focused on why in the world would George Soros pick up a stake in hapless J.C. Penney (JCP)?
I made an attempt to contact conservative media tycoon Glenn Beck for his thoughts, but was only able to reach a gnome. Apparently, Beck, floating his second conspiracy theory in as many days, connects the Soros' purchase with JCP's stance on gay marriage.
Because you never know with Beck, I guess I have to explicitly state that I am joking.
In any event, why would Soros buy such a large chunk of JCP? Is there anything to indicate, on any level, that this company deserves long-term investment of any size? Consider that question rhetorical because it has the most obvious answer. Beyond Soros's rationale, which we do not know and will never truly know (even if he goes public with media talking points), there's a scary aspect to this story. People -- rank-and-file retail investors -- will consider following Soros into this trade. In response to TheStreet's coverage of the Soros' news, we already have people pondering the question on Twitter:
"@ thestreet: Soros Takes JCPenney Stake to Lead Retail Higher go-tst.com/krUVT" do we follow?— Aruns Point OF View (@ArunsPOV) April 26, 2013Unless you're a nimble trader, run away. Soros -- intentional or not -- will set off the type of prolonged dead cat bounce we have seen in Best Buy (BBY), another company going absolutely nowhere.
He buys. The media finds and over-reports the SEC filing confirming the purchase. The stock pops. That's phase one. In phase two, the fairy tale kicks in. As we have seen with Best Buy, expect sentiment on JCP to turn mysteriously positive. The media will turn it into meme with story after story of the "turnaround" at JCP. The stock rises even higher. Several months go by. Soros skims some profit. JCP's true colors show. The business crumbles again. He's rich. You're not. Move on the next target. Now, I am not saying this is Soros's M.O. But, whether he's gaming the market or not is really beside the point. That's the way the dominoes fall when a guy such as Soros takes a large stake in a loser like JCP. It's not like he's buying Apple (AAPL), a company you could make a logical bull case for. If you're a long-term investor, it would not be quite as crazy to counter the negativity that surrounds Apple and take a position. There's a nice, rising, more-than-stable dividend, a beyond-strong cash position, an exciting existing product line and the potential for an equally-as-solid pipeline. JCP has none of the above. Don't buy into the dead cat bounce. Follow @rocco_thestreet -- Written by Rocco Pendola in New York City
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