As my diary is truly an online, almost real-time look at what we are thinking, when the market started down, I penned the reversal day
piece. We knew that there would be several ways to play the reversal day and we wanted to game as much as we could, so we could put money to work on Thursday.
We huddled and came up with a two-pronged initiative. The first prong, to be done Thursday, involved buying tech, both new and old. As we figured that people would be shorting the
ahead of the number -- something easily proved by looking at the premiums on all of the puts on that index, which were incredibly high -- we didn't mind buying
, all stocks that have some drag from the S&P 500.
The tougher prong would be the Friday prong. On a soft number, would they go for the cyclicals or the soft stocks? In other words, would
star, or would the excitement be in the
? Further complicating things was the question of the financials. If the numbers were weak, then the prospective four tightenings would be figured down to three or two. So we had to figure that we could buy some banks and brokers.
As the day went on, and we felt bolder, we wanted to cheat and anticipate the second prong by starting some nontech positions on our sheets. At an afternoon meeting
proposed that we should buy nonfinancial stocks with catalysts that might occur next week. He recalled that
had a meeting next week, press only. We thought about it, but decided we should wait until Friday to put it to work. That was a mistake: GE rallied throughout the rest of the day and we would have to pay up to get it Friday.
I had considered buying calls on the index of cyclical stocks put out by
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
. But we all felt that the risk was too great and we would be trapped if something went wrong with our thesis.
We settled on buying some
as a compromise.
And we went back to buying tech all afternoon.
When we went home we were conscious that we had put multiple millions to work in a matter of a few hours. We weren't leveraged, but we were long. To me that meant, if we got this wrong, we would be hurt -- not badly, but certainly we would take a clipping. We went home Thursday a bit bummed and nervous. We don't like betting on unknowables, even when we've done our homework.
Alas, the moment the employment number came out we knew we had connected and the ball was headed out of the park. I took an imaginary cut when the number came out, and stared out the window toward Wall Street. I knew I didn't have to worry about anyone catching that rope. I knew I didn't have to think about running around the base paths.
Not a called shot, but darn close to it.
And we went on to have a great day.
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James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Cisco Systems, Dell Computer, Intel, Microsoft and Merck. 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