By the Numbers

The slowdown is catching people snoozing, but number cuts should wake them up.
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Number cuts! Remember those! Remember how frightening they are? With the weaker economy you can expect to hear a ton of them. We saw the havoc they can cause, penny-wise, yesterday in


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Today we are seeing their pound-wise impact on the autos and the brokers.

The economy has been so good for so long that we forgot the meat-axe-like impact that cuts have, especially midday cuts when companies are calling around and saying they can't make numbers.

Given where we are, late May, I thought we had a chance for a few more days without cuts. You figure, How bad can it be that they can't pull the old rabbit out of the hat with six weeks to go before the end of the quarter?

But this slowdown is catching people napping. The first week of June should bring a whole new round of cuts from economically sensitive companies.

Which is why we are buyers of firms like


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American Home Products


on this kind of weakness.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund was long Clorox, Kimberly-Clark and American Home Products. 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