A Quarantine for Old Stocks

Just a one-page sampling of companies beginning with the letter 'H' turns up so many stocks that no one cares about anymore.
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By mistake, the other day, I ripped out a page from my S&P chartbook that comes every week. I love my chartbook, something I used to crib from my wife when she worked with me. (It comes by old-fashioned hand delivery, and we used to pore over it together every Saturday morning. Man, were we out of control and, certainly at the time, without children.)

The page scared me to death. It showed me what happens if you stray too far from the

NDX

!

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Cramer's Latest Each chart page comes jammed with four charts on a side. I happened to have ripped out a page of H's. Every one of these stocks had a terminal chart.

As this was a random act of tearing out, I shuddered to see one after another chart starting out high on the left and finishing low on the right.

First up was

Harris Corp.

(HRS)

, the communications company. There has been a fabulous rally in communications stocks, but it has studiously avoided this old warhorse. The chart shows a move from 40 to 20.

Next up was

Hartford Financial Services Group

(HIG) - Get Report

. This stock had been eroding for months, but then had an obvious short squeeze up over the breaking of

Glass-Steagall

. Now it has turned decidedly down again. It has dropped 20 points from its high.

Once-proud

Hasbro

(HAS) - Get Report

was next. What the heck happened here? I mean, what was all of that consolidation for anyway? Wasn't it to boost earnings? This company has been a one-way ticket down, and it isn't even

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

.

When you have an H in a name, you are certain to pump into some health care companies. Talk about wasting assets. These stocks, long a favorite of every growth portfolio manager, have just about gaffed everything they have come in contact with. They are simply awful. In this case, we see

Health Management

(HMA)

and

HealthSouth

(HRC) - Get Report

, which might as well be the same down charts. Look out for tax-loss selling between now and year-end. And don't expect a January bounce!

Hecla Mining

(HL) - Get Report

is next up, and like every mining company, this has become a one-way ticket to the underperformance graveyard. It's been cut in half.

Heilig-Myers

(HMY) - Get Report

was a shocker. This stock used to represent a proud furniture retailer that I traded constantly when I was at

Goldman Sachs

in the '80s. It labored mostly in the 30s and 40s then. Now it's at 4!! Amazing. With no sign of a turn.

Finally, there is

Heinz

(HNZ)

. Talk about great '80s stocks. This one has just become one long run downhill.

What are all of these charts saying? I think they are saying that this is the old noninvestable economy we are looking at, stocks that, if they had decent balance sheets, would probably be taken private because nobody cares about them any more.

There is simply too much competition for stocks like these. What is amazing, though, is that there are so many old stocks nobody cares about anymore -- like much of the bottom portion of the S&P.

They should quarantine these guys so nobody buys them by mistake!

Very telling.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.