Didn't take much to shake out all of those bullish strategists on Monday, did it? Now here it is Thursday, and only
Abby Joseph Cohen
comes to mind as someone who said, "Hey, it's business as usual."
And then there is
. Everybody may have forgotten his 5% to 10% correction call, relayed breathlessly by
. Everyone may just remember that he did say we were going to 10,000 after. Maybe he's home scot free!
I remember. And it bothers me. And he's not the only one.
What should strategists do? Frankly, we know they aren't ringmasters. They aren't market disciplinarians. They also are neither
But they can take actions, make decisions, without looking at the futures. Without sensing panic and running with it. Without looking at the tape and saying, "Hmmm, the tape is bad, I want to run for the hills."
When I traded with my wife, who would freeze the plasma bag if she were to undergo a transfusion, she used to love opportunities created by strategists. On a day like Monday she would say, okay, without the strategist downgrades, maybe we would be down 100 off the
story. Instead they will exaggerate the selling, and down 200 we will buy. Just like that.
What she knew, and what you can know, is that strategists who make correction calls knee-deep into a correction are no different from weathermen who look out the window and tell you it is raining outside. You want a strategist to be a good weatherman. You want him to tell you what it is going to do tomorrow, not today. Right now.
That's why I have always been partial to
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
. Wien makes it a point to make important calls before they are in the conflagration. He doesn't make the fire burn faster on tough days. In fact, I always thought that what bothered me the most about
calls at Morgan is that he does the opposite of Wien. He likes to feed in the liquid oxygen while the fire is raging. Potent, self-fulfilling, but in the end, not actionable and therefore not helpful.
Of course, one method generates a lot of headlines and publicity. The other way generates a lot of profits. In my newspaper days I know which I would favor. But I am in my client days, and when I look back at Monday, only a couple of people served the client well.
Lord knows I have loved
. But this stock has become more of a cult than any drug stock I have ever seen. Usually cult stocks are jokes, out-and-out jokes that get hyped. What has made Pfizer so hard to buy/sell/hold right here is that this is a cult stock that also happens to be the best-run drug stock in the industry. But I have had to pare back if only because everyone on my plane rides -- both ways -- couldn't stop talking about it. That's about the fifth public forum where discussion of
/Pfizer is all that I could hear. It's too hot for this lover of Pfizer to be big in the stock still, until it gives up some of its gains.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund is long Pfizer, although positions may change at any time. 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