Maybe there is too much
hoopla but please, let's sheathe the long knives!
All morning people have been emailing me urging me to take a swing at Buffett and his acolytes because Buffett had a poor year last year. Amazing.
I know that I don't care for his current stock picks, and in the past I have criticized those stocks are being too brand, not enough growth, but criticize Buffett? Why? He represents pretty much everything I believe in: optimism, strength of the financial system, individual stock-picking and a sense of the greatness of management in selecting stocks.
Oh, but he had a bad year last year. For a 12-month stretch he underperformed!! Hoo-hah. Yep, that's long enough to wipe out decades worth of achievement. That record has been rendered meaningless, as in what have you done for me lately, baby!
Oh, he stuck with
too long. Like nobody else made that mistake. Still likes
. Fool. He should have to go on Howard Stern to defend himself!!
Buffett would be in a jam if he were a hedge fund or mutual fund manager. He only wants to buy stocks he understands. He doesn't feel that the Net is his expertise. He doesn't know how to judge them as entities. So he has taken a pass.
Wrong!! Buffett is in the analogous position many of you are when it comes to the cyclicals. You don't know how to play them. Maybe you don't even understand them. So you pass.
To me, if he is not in the quarterly or monthly performance game -- and Buffett isn't -- why should he at this stage start jumping all over stuff he doesn't know or understand? I think that is the true strength of the individual investor (Buffett is the ultimate individual investor) and the weakness of the professional, who must flit from hot area to hot area to keep gaining assets.
Buffett doesn't have to play if he doesn't want to. That's strength, not weakness.
I know when I had a crummy year last year (identical to Buffett's, by the way) I couldn't believe that piece in the
The New York Times
, implying I was screwing up -- for a couple of mediocre months after 18 years of good numbers. But I accepted it as part of the business I had chosen (thanks, Godfather!).
Buffett hasn't even chosen the hedge fund business. Let's cut him some slack for the billions upon billions he has made people -- he didn't cost you anything last year -- and be happy that he even puts up with all of us at this stage of his game. When we have soundly trounced him for a half-dozen years, let's debate his strengths and weaknesses. But slam him?
I don't think so.
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 the stocks mentioned, although holdings 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