It's 4:25 a.m., and, remarkably, I am already behind.
I thought I had done all of the homework that I would need to do today. I had devoured a foot-high stack of research, read through all of the trades that came out Monday. Checked the Web site. And finished a piece today for
Then I read today's
. And I know now that I will be swamped and unable to check out all of the things that need checking out before trading begins.
Think I am exaggerating? Alright, let's go through it.
breakup. Is that the end of mergers? Does that mean that old mergers are back on? Is that what must-read
column about calls on the drugs was signaling? How are these companies doing? Is there anything to buy? Anything to sell? These stocks are gonna get hammered.
moves into networking. Is that why
did not participate in the rally yesterday? Nor
? Is that why Intel was strong? Is this story even important? Do I buy more Cisco immediately, knowing like the
story last week, that the bears had this story in advance and must now cover Cisco? Probably. Can I wake Jeff on the Left Coast about this? The Lilly trade -- betting against those two reporters who keep calling the bottom of Lilly, with the help of Larry Feinburg, worked -- why not Cisco? I am long it anyway.
? Is that restructuring big enough to excite Wall Street? Was it known? Will it matter? Is it for real? Who is next?
jumped yesterday on a couple of price target bumps and some
closings in Florida. How about JPM? Lagging Dow stock? Gotta be careful with the banks;
speaking today. But he's got to like that budget surplus number from A-2.
. Jeff called me from the
conference with something negative about Motorola yesterday. Was this it? I don't even remember. It was 769 calls ago. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.
story really negative? You know you gotta buy Schwab if it gets hit because the brokerage stocks have finally got fire. Was that a plant? Who put that story out? Why today?
Oil at four-year lows. Do I want to call a bottom? Is there a bottom?
asthma drug approval. That's boosted the stock 15 points. Do I short some Merck? Will I get a plus-tick now that the Glaxo deal has been called off?
news yesterday, but I have been too negative about At Home, gotta make some calls today.
Discount airlines raising fares? Is there a large airline that didn't go up enough yesterday? Let me think. Check the tables in the back.
, negative article. Probably marks the bottom in CA. Call Jeff at Robbie Stephens and tell him I want to buy some because this article is so negative. All the negatives are now known.
Mutual funds all had a big day, I see. Like me. Great. We are all in the same stocks. Gotta change that; gotta get into new stocks. Where they aren't.
And then, out of nowhere, I see how I will really have to occupy my morning. The CFO of
is stepping down. Got to throw my resume in there. Can do that job part-time and produce better results.
Gonna be a busy morning.
Our readership has grown rapidly during the last year, causing me tremendous anxiety that we are doing enough for all of you. At the same time I am conscious of the wide array of talent and, in many cases, stock market intellect, of so many of our readers. That's why I keep trying to switch my topics. Sometimes I write for the newbies, other times I try to pen as sophisticated a story as I can, knowing I can always annotate it on a weekend for those just getting started.
I try to mix up my pieces between trading and investing, and between daily insights, and deeper insights into how the market works. As always feel free to tell me what you would like me to focus on, and I will do my best.
But the one thing I haven't done is ask you to help me. No, I am not talking about stock tips. Everybody should know by now what I think of those. I simply presume you are offering me what you are trying to merchandise. I don't like those kinds of situations.
Our audience is so knowledgeable that I want to ask you folks a question. How can you tell a good spinoff from a bad one? When I look over my columns for the last year I have found only one that I think was a total clunker: my anti-
column, the spinoff of
. I looked at this company in a very traditional way: Management from parent had loaded sub with debt and a ton of cyclicality. That meant, to me, that one should buy Monsanto and short Solutia. That was wrong. I think it was wrong not because of my fundamental analysis -- you don't load up sub with debt as a way to entice shareholders to buy -- but because I missed something about spinoffs that still seems to elude me. It bothers me endlessly that I would probably write the exact same piece today, because I still don't know what I missed.
Similarly, I thought
would be okay when it was spun off from
. This company was a leader in storage. But Imation proved to be a complete dog. I thought
(YUM), the subject of Monday's
Heard on the Street
, also seemed like a bow-wow, but then
, a great investor, took a big stake. So far my initial judgment was right, but there has to be something again that I am missing; Robertson is the very best. No way he takes a stake idly.
What am I missing? Send an email to
email@example.com and let's get something going on this. (Click
here for reader letters.)
But please, before you fire off an email, remember that I come to you hat in hand after doing all of the available research that any homework-driven person would do. I just want to get some sort of debate going about how best to analyze these things and predict the ones that will be winners.
will have forums. I used to go into Net forums all of the time, but they became exercises in cheerleading. What I am trying to do with this piece is set a tone for the kind of contributions our readers can make, contributions that you won't find anywhere else.
Thanks in advance for your help.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com. At time of publication his fund is long Cisco, Lilly, NationsBank and Intel. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Mr. 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 welcomes your feedback, emailed to