Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 6:06 a.m. ET on Real Money on May 15. To see Jim Cramer's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.
NEW YORK ( Real Money) --There should have been mergers and acquisitions. That's right, during this whole run-up, there should have been many more deals, more acquisitions to spur growth, or to take market share. We can sit here and wonder why the heck there's been such a dearth of M&A since February. Or we can reach a very logical, inescapable conclusion: Most CEOs were too stupid and pessimistic to take the opportunity to do any buying.
Well, here's some real bad news. The time for transformative deals, unless we get a broad-market pullback, has probably passed. Harsh judgment?
I don't think so.We spend a heck of a lot of time, much more than we should, about why stocks shouldn't be higher. Think about all of the admonitions we've heard: There's no real revenue growth, so don't pay up. Fed chief Ben Bernanke is about to change his mind; don't pay up. Tax rates are going higher; don't pay up. Sequester's coming; don't pay up. Fiscal cliff's here; don't pay up. Europe's burning; don't pay up. China's faltering; don't pay up. Valuations are stretched; don't pay up. Commodity prices are falling; don't pay up. I mean, the fact that I have sat here and listened to these different objections at every single milestone is a pathetic reminder of how wrong people can be. It's an incredible thing, isn't it, that a good manager like David Tepper can come on CNBC's "Squawk Box" and just be unequivocally bullish and make news for doing so? But most chief executives don't see it that way and didn't see it that way. Instead of looking for bargains when prices were lower, they sat on their hands and bought back their own stock instead of the stocks of others when they had the chance. Most -- but not all. Think of the ones who did. Think of the people who did step up to the plate in this period. First, there's the totally and correctly beloved Warren Buffett, who bought Heinz (HNZ) three months ago at the same price he would have to pay for it today, except he got the whole company. That's right: In retrospect, he stole Heinz, given how high Campbell Soup (CPB), General Mills (GIS), Hershey (HSY) and the like have traded.