Every few weeks I try to get away from the short squeezes and the
futures ramps and deal with the reality of the paper I trade: the companies themselves.
Normally, my partner,
, plays field marshal, and I hang back directing resources, assessing exposure, analyzing risk, the troika of variables that make or break a given year.
I dial into my share of conference calls, read all the research and the quarterlies, and I take one-on-ones (Wall Street parlance for meetings with management) when they shlep to my office. But conferencing, ah, now that's too rare a luxury.
For the last two days, however, I have had the treat of hearing an array of technology companies speak at
massive parley in midtown Manhattan. The presentations, I say, knowing full well that I'm spreading butane all over this fire, were nothing short of dazzling.
Just when I thought that
couldn't be exceeded in terms of robust demand for January,
blows me away with reports about a Europe that is so robust that it is off-setting East Asia handily. It didn't hurt that CPQ's CFO Earl "The Pearl" Mason, who in his next life should come back as an announcer for the NBA, had mouths gaping with stats like how his company now makes $95,000 a minute! I bought both of these stocks from my cell phone at the meetings, causing cautious Jeff to wish that I stuck by my trading turret instead of venturing uptown.
Then it was off to
. I went to hear this young aggressive enterprise software company because, in a knee-jerk way, I slammed it and some other high-priced brethren in a gratuitous shot at Art Samberg from the
Roundtable. Art, for what it's worth, I owe you an apology big-time. Could there be a company better positioned than these guys to deal with issues like
and the dreaded
? I don't think so. You're dead right on this one; I showed my ignorance in that piece and I am sorry for being wrong. PSFT was another cell phone buy special from the back of the audience.
, I could go on and on; exciting, intriguing stories, with good momentum and a quantified Asia problem. At worst, on plan; at best, on fire.
Last year tech had roared from January 1 right on into the conference and then came out like a shorn lamb. I remember gagging on my
in mid-speech last year, flushed with perspiration as I talked about losing money hand over fist in the darn thing. (It had declined seven points while I was on a panel.) This year tech more or less backed into the conference and is coming out with a full head of steam. I, for one, was grateful to hear that East Asia, while far from over, is being quantified and explained in ways that makes me more comfortable than I have been any time since this flu set in. No, nobody said Asia is getting better. Nobody told us an exact date when it will turn. But they did assure us that much of the negative news is discounted fair and square.
Ah yes, not everything was positive. I sat on a panel with a bunch of pure tech managers, solid, great guys with lots of experience. They were all pretty much negative or worried or scared.
Made me double down when I got back to the office.
You spoke; I spoke. So many of you complained about the ticker and the green slime on the right side of the screen at
that I gave it my best shot while on Squawk Box Wednesday morning...
Lot of fun with Haines, Kernan, Faber and the
gang yesterday. I know that the suck-up meter is running high, but I do like those guys. And, yes, it is true, I am not paid...
Continually hearing about people not being able to get in the
chats. Will speak up about it when we do the next one...
Finally, I know I have played my hand aggressively about what I bought from the
conference. I would urge you to check any of these out before you just bought them and I am not listing them as recommendations, but I am trying to give you a diary of what I saw and heard. Remember though, this is tech. It can change on a dime, and so can I.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com. At time of publication his fund is long Gateway, Compaq, PeopleSoft, Texas Instruments 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