Assessing the TSC Summit Picks

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Sometimes you have to force yourself to focus on opportunity, even when such an exercise seems painful and ill-timed. On Saturday, in a market that can only be described as bearish, I had to leave my kids and come to work at

TheStreet.com

for a bull session about the market.

Confidentially, I was dreading it. I can never look at my kids and tell them that I am going to work on a weekend when I spend so much time at the office during the week. Yet, there I was, driving in on a Saturday for the

TSC

Summit, ready to listen to still more ideas that will cost me a fortune as the bear growls.

Yet, two minutes into it, I realized that this roundtable was different. This wasn't going to be a clash of egos and a pat-on-the-back session. Real issues would be discussed without the guarded, staid rituality that emasculates virtually any gathering of professionals. I heard some terrific ideas, ones that I will spend many hours in the coming days.

I found myself blessed that in a very short time I could get up to speed on some European names worth buying from people who have kicked the tires and done the work.

Investor AB

,

Robert Friedman's

pick, as well as

Louis Vuitton

(LVMHY)

,

Craig Ellis'

pick, and I had no idea that

Ucar

(UCR)

, a darling of this market last year, had fallen so low and am glad that

David Schafer

called it to my attention. Similarly, I found myself thinking that

Alexander's

(ALX) - Get Report

might be worth a try if we don't go into recession, especially after

Sam Lieber

spoke so eloquently about it.

It's always gratifying with someone with as hot a hand as

Seth Tobias

likes a group that you like, and his choice of

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

seemed so right given the decline in the stock's price. I found myself wishing the stock would go lower on Monday so I could pick some up.

But it was

Gary B. Smith's

pick,

America Online

(AOL)

, that most intrigued me. Smith doesn't care about P/Es; in fact, check out where, in the

transcript, he thumbs his nose at all of the rest of us in the room, in a delightful fashion, I must add. He made a case for AOL that I had forgotten myself, that your AOL address is where you live. In a market where so many things go wrong, it is nice to know that some new things are already timeless.

All in all it was a spirited and enjoyable session that caused me to remember why I went into this business to begin with: because I like picking stocks. These months have been trying for people like me, who still get excited for new ideas only to see them melt down before your eyes. The pain in the room was palpable. Misery loves company? No, we love company and companies.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com.

At time of publication his fund is long America Online, 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 by sending a letter to TheStreet.com at

letters@thestreet.com.