How many separate markets can we have at once? We have a
selloff at the same time as a bank-stock rally and a cyclical ramp. We have a
selloff within the confines of a rally in old-line hardware and disk drives.
A trader's dream -- a lot of games.
The purists will hate this, but doesn't it feel like when you are at the casino and you haven't had any luck at the blackjack table, so you try your hand at the horse-racing telecast and then end up betting on ice hockey? (Oh, I can see it now -- the staid critics will somehow construe that analogy as a tacit admission that the market has become more like a casino than ever. To which I say, Where have you been? Wake up and smell the coffee.)
The bank index provides the best evidence of the search for the hot table. The BKX started off a tad disappointingly after a really bad show yesterday. Then it came alive, like a dice game that brings in new players. In another minute, this part of the casino will be so hot that we will start betting with the shooters blindly! (Was it the
quarter that made things better? Was it just plain wrong that the banks sold off yesterday? Beats everybody.)
Or the oil services. We are long
. Everyone tells me it was a bum quarter. But the double zero does come up a bunch of times, and the stock isn't down despite the number cuts.
In the meantime, I'm going bust in my
. The major personal-computer table is cold, while the peripheral and big iron table is white hot. Stay for a better shoe or pull out now?
All I can say is the clock says -- oops, this is no casino ... they have clocks in here. I knew there was a difference.
So I am on some conference call for a small-cap value-crusher yesterday,
, a hodge-podge company with defense and semi-cap equipment mixed in. Hasn't done anything in years. It is the type of stock that I used to seize on because it should start doing better after
Kulicke & Soffa
, and it has some exposure to smart bombs, which we sure seem to be going through.
But it has no analyst coverage. None. Nada. No sponsorship. Mario Gabelli has a big position, and he's got a hot hand. I just like to listen. But what do I hear in the Q&A? Get this,
asks a bunch of questions.
It was like I was in a dream! I mean, Lynch, he asks four or five questions, and I figure management can barely contain itself. I'm surprised someone in management didn't say, "You mean
Peter Lynch?" If I hadn't heard his voice in those
ads, I would've bet it was someone posing as Lynch to get the stock going.
Anyway, what a joy to hear someone interested in a stock that nobody cares about. Even if it is 10% ago -- the stock has gone down since the call, no doubt because the company guided for a murky near term. (In fact, that's a lesson in itself -- no Net but plenty of value equals decline.) But for me, it was like getting to see
in action again. Except Lynch never batted .406 -- he's a .700 hitter from way back.
(And if you don't believe me on this, check it yourself. I own no Kollmorgen stock. I plead guilty to having made a lot of money with Peter Lynch in my IRA, however.)
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Dell and Halliburton, although positions can 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