These columns from Jim Cramer originally appeared on RealMoney on Friday, June 27. They are being republished here as a bonus for readers of TheStreet.com.
The Way Ahead Is Down
Sell everything. Nothing's working. Revisit when the prices are adjusted for a big recession, soaring inflation and a crushed consumer. Sell at 12,000 and come back at 10,000. Even better: Short it.
Are you going to argue with any of that? Do you have a case against it? What's the counter? Takeovers? We've had a couple:
. Good if you owned them.
Lower rates? Can the
help? We assume the Fed is done. The odds favor higher rates. Bank turnarounds? How, with short-rates going up? With housing prices going down?
Can oil go down? Only with a worldwide crash, and with a worldwide crash, why would we come back at 10,000?
Can the consumer get more liquid? How? Unemployment's going higher. Wages won't go up in that environment.
That's the environment. It's pretty bulletproof when it comes to its logic.
In fact, there's really only one thing that could be wrong with it.
Everyone and his brother believes in it.
It is the most consensus of consensus views.
Sometimes the consensus is dead right: Housing's been going down and everyone knows it's going down, and it keeps going down.
I have said the same thing about
Bank of America
-- cut the dividend already! -- and
-- cut the dividend again already! -- and
. That's been right. That's worked.
So you can't just say the consensus is wrong.
The negativity coming into today's session is as thick as I can recall nearing most short-term bottoms. The issue is there is not enough
out there. Despite the consensus, which obviously creates a need for lower prices before it is worth buying, there isn't a big spike in the VIX, there isn't a gap down, or a crescendo of selling. There isn't even any volume. So while the bearishness is real thick, the selling isn't. (
had an excellent piece on this yesterday, noting how much lower the VIX was than at other bottoms.)
I think we lack a climax because we haven't
a climax, some session where people can say, "I don't care how much lower GM goes, I know it is a buy." Same with Citigroup.
That's because unlike most other times in the stock market, the stocks of big companies that are cascading all need capital, and the companies themselves aren't selling anything off except common.
should have sold Bloomberg. It is not a core asset. It should have sold its
stake. It can make it without it. But no ... nothing.
Citigroup has a lot of core assets, but I now believe that the management of that place is so screwed up it's not redeemable anymore. They just need a 20% Saudi investor. Bank of America will now have to start the process of being the nation's largest mortgage lender in a nation that doesn't have much buying to do. Maybe that will change next year, but by then I suspect the federal government or these state governments will have wiped out
, which surely would been out of business if BAC had stepped away. The mistakes here have been catastrophic. So what if Wachovia or Washington Mutual have great deposit bases? We know in the end that the FDIC will have to act to protect them and then we will find out what Sheila Bair is made of. I figure she's like everyone else that has surfaced in finance with the Feds (except Bob Steel) -- an empty suit.
In the meantime, I cannot disagree with the statement at the top of this piece, except for where it comes to commodity companies that sell into China -- they are the bull market. Anyone who thinks they have to go down too is not in keeping with the way the market works: There's always something that works, it is just the volume of it may be so small that it doesn't matter. That's where we are right now.
All my indicators say that it is extremely dangerous to short here: oscillators, attitudes, polls. They haven't worked either -- or yet. I think the palpable gloom simply does one thing -- it'll be a stair-step down rather than a cascade, where you can make a little money when you are on the stair but then give it back on the next step, until we get to some level that better reflects a GM bankruptcy or a Citigroup collapse, one or the other, or both.
This Market's Winners
Do you think this week will finally end the oil inventory nonsense? Do you think this week could be the breakout where oil doesn't trade on the slight build or the "heavier than expected" chatter?
I sure hope so.
Yesterday was a horrible market, but midday, when the market was really beginning to roll over, the whole complex turned. This was quite an achievement given the overwhelming collapse of the futures and the propensity of the bears to push things down.
Cramer: Oil InventoriesDon't Mean a Thing
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Today with the futures breaching $140 -- remember, I think they're on the way to $150 -- we can see the error of relying on these numbers, which I have said for years now are meaningless. Witness how many times the inventories have been more full than expected and yet oil has doubled.
I want to go back to the cheaper-than-oil stocks, though. Natural gas. Oil has to go down $65 to get to where natural gas is right now. Meaning that historically oil trades at six times the price of natural gas. So natural gas -- forget the season, which is supposed to be bad for nat gas -- needs to come higher.
We have lots of natural gas, more than can be stored; those inventories are particularly meaningless and can vanish with a couple of days of warm weather. We have abundant finds all over the country that were worthless pre-horizontal drilling, so the numbers for these companies are way too low. So are most of the pipeline companies -- did you see
That makes the
way off their highs
-- the best bargains in a market where almost no company can be assured to beat estimates. And I think that, like WMB, they will beat estimates
Money has to go somewhere. Most mutual funds can't sit on cash. The complex is a growing part of the
, and this is the cheapest part of the complex.
I would use more futures weakness this morning to buy these stocks for the biggest snapback of all the players out there.
All week I have been featuring oil service companies that reduce the risk of offshore drilling. I think we should be buying those, too. The "Mad Money"
on our site has all you need to know about where to go. Check it out.
The bargains in this market are not
They're these stocks, because bargains are defined as companies that beat estimates but which are trading as if they aren't going to.
That's the natural gas complex.
That's the only place worth owning besides gold in this miserable market.
: You want the truth about oil speculation from a real expert? Dan Dicker
that will knock your socks off.
A New Reality for GM, and Its Shareholders
extreme? Yes. Do I want GM to file bankruptcy? No. Is it the most rational thing for them to do? Yes.
The problems with GM are so myriad that it is difficult for the company to solve things without some sort of wholesale breakage with the past. I was disappointed, severely disappointed, with how the unions held up these guys, which then made the automaker less competitive vs. the Japanese.
I believe that GM has made remarkable strides to bring down costs per car and truck, but the problem now is that it has the
cars and trucks because of gasoline's rising costs. Until that happened and the unions held them up, I thought that GM was making the turn.
Now the issue is not the prospects for the common shares, it is the prospects for the company; and the company should not be compromised by the common. It is possible that the common can be diluted down to some single-digit number, but why the heck should it even exist? Why don't the bondholders get the company?
There's not just the cars and trucks. We have
transparency when it comes to GMAC, which I regarded as perhaps among the worst lender when it came to residential mortgages. How do I know that? Did you ever see GMAC's ads? They were more aggressive than even
, although less aggressive than
-- the ones that may have been scammed left and right.
GMAC, like Chrysler, is a black box because
doesn't have to tell us jack. This is why they can always tell us that they are in great shape.
I look at GM like I look at the American steel industry. No one ever thought, for example, that Bethlehem Steel would ever have to reorganize. That was the richest company in America by the way it paid its executives in the 1960s. In the 1990s it had some big years. It was a gigantic company and the biggest maker of all sorts of steel.
But it didn't rein in the unions and it didn't reinvest in the business and it didn't have the right steel in the end, as it was mostly hot-rolled or ship steel and in all of the wrong places.
When it disappeared, people stopped thinking about it immediately.
Forget that GM was once a blue-chip like Bethlehem Steel. Forget that it is a big employer -- it is far smaller than it used to be. Forget that it is widely owned.
Just remember that it would be the solution to keeping the company alive and it's that, not the common stock, that's the most important thing that we should worry about. The bondholders have much more at stake than the common-stock holders.
They are the ones to focus on.
Thornburg Spells the End for the Gang of Four
seems to be the template for all of the pending failures in this market. Recall what TMA did -- it came on TV endlessly and told you things were fantastic, that it was a better lender, that it had fewer defaults and that the business was fundamentally sound. Execs bought stock, which made you think either they are idiots or were just trying to paint the tape -- make it look better.
And then they diluted the stuffing out of it, issuing hundreds of millions of shares.
Take a look at
today, a personal mortgage insurer I seriously doubt can survive. OK, shudder, Cramer doesn't know what he's talking about. He's overstretched and given to hyperbole.
Good, we got that out of the way.
Given how right I have been on the Gang of Four --
-- that I would still be questioned is a little ludicrous, but being called a moron and a fool and someone who screams and frets needlessly, I thought it would be good to put the caveats in myself.
MGIC just authorized an additional 160 million shares on top of 300 million shares. That's called dilution. It is what we have seen time and again from these under-reserved mortgage companies. It is necessary to keep up the charade of solvency so it can still write business and those who need the companies -- PMI is the other one -- not to default don't have to write down the value of anything insured by these dopes. This refinancing is important for the fiction being maintained by
, which relies on the MTG and PMI guarantees and another one,
, to avoid catastrophic losses. As long as they go through the motions of dilution that FRE can keep using them, and
, doesn't have to write down the mortgages currently insured by them.
This charade, along with the charade of the insurance of the complex instruments that contain bad mortgages by MBIA and ABK, is vital to be able to string out these companies' lives so they can get more suckers to invest in them. That keeps them alive longer so that they may make it through the ending of the house depreciation cycle.
Of course, I have no hope in that whatsoever and believe the losses in these companies are staggering.
The template of TMA really needs to stay in front of you because that 27-cent company was worth 100 times that last year at around this time.
I suspect that every stock in this piece will suffer a similar fate. Why? Because, of all things, TMA was the
Now, the endless apologists will say, "Cramer has no idea that TMA is nothing like these other companies."
To which I say, wrong. They all need house price appreciation to survive. It is the common denominator. And does anyone remember what happens when you divide by zero?
KB Home Quietly Builds Behind the Scenes
Let me give you a contrasting case on the homebuilders today. Go through the
quarter. Oh, its awful -- big, big loss, terrible numbers year over year: 4,200 new home orders vs. 7,265 net orders the year before.
But the linked quarter showed improvement. And again, KBH proved that when you cut prices, you sell homes, and that's what it did.
Also, most important, this company is very liquid, retiring debt, doing the right thing to come out of this era ahead of the game.
When will that be?
Given the fewer number of homes being built and the lots being terminated, I think that next year at this time you are going to see a turn. Which means that you might have to start buying the stock at the end of this year.
Check the stats for the lower cancellation rates in the linked-quarter compares. They are too good to ignore. You might see why this stock might be the homebuilder to buy when we get an all-clear.
To Keep Your Money, Stay Out of Casinos
These casino stocks may be the weakest stocks out there after the banks, brokers and autos. They are remarkably weak, and I know this industry is in trouble.
Today, Morgan Stanley really put the wood to the group with a big number slash for
-- could Kirk "Mr. Ford" Kerkorian be in trouble? -- and, more important, a crushing blow to
International Game Technology
, where it said that basically the stock still has 15% more downside.
The IGT downgrade and number cuts aren't a simple push-out. IGT is losing share, according to this downgrade, and one of its key target markets is Indian gaming, which Morgan Stanley believes is down sharply. It gave you little hope to own this stock, and it seemed like a sell recommendation even as the analyst protested just such logic in the downgrade.
Could you be more brutal? Well, yes: The conviction sells of
over at Goldman were pretty vicious.
Then we also learn today that the MGM Mirage and
facility, the Borgata in Atlantic City, is seeing some softness. That's awful, especially because of a big build-out of this property that cost $400 million!
This group must be avoided at all costs. It is coming apart at the seams, and no Chinese casino is going to save it. The overbuilding in this industry is catastrophic. There has been so much new capacity coming on that you have to believe there will be some belly-ups in this sector.The decline in visitors is truly stark, and we are getting a huge reversal of the trend that says these stocks are immune.
They are not.
I still think they are all sales.
At the time of publication, Cramer was long Devon and Southwestern. Jim Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for
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