Don't Be Greedy

Cramer doesn't want to load up on companies like Intel that have already had a nice gallop ahead of their earnings.
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I'm going into

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

lean. Have to. Too many great analysts hedging their bets lately about the chip giant. We all know the consensus. But that won't mean jack. We all know that the company has no competition again, because of the ineptitude of "competitor"

AMD

(AMD) - Get Report

.

So why not load the boat up? I like to buy Intel big ahead of a quarter when it hasn't run up. (I have along position in Intel, just not a big one relative to quarters past.) But Intel just has a nice gallop here and that worries me. I like it when it is sold out and plenty of people are betting against it. Suddenly, though, it seems like everyone expects nothing but good news, so I have scaled back.

Similarly, I love

International Paper

(IP) - Get Report

and think they have a chance to report any quarter they want. But I was looking to catch a three- or four-point move off of a $50 base. Voila, it was there today. That doesn't leave much room unless the quarter is a blowout and I can't imagine that happening in an environment where some paper grades are very weak. So I scaled back from that one, too, as it flirted with $54.

The stock market game is one of psychology, and it is at its most psychological at the intersection between earnings and pre-and post-reporting stock market action. If a stock has run up ahead, it lessens the odds that we will see a ramp post earnings. If the stock and the whole market have run up in advance, it lessens the odds even more.

While I expect good numbers from almost all of the companies I am long -- wouldn't be long them otherwise -- I have taken some off the table ahead of the news. That way I am in shape to buy them on any knee-jerk selling created by a miss of some stupid whisper number that I could care less about.

Arrogant? Mature? Oblivious? No, just unwilling to be greedy in the face of a great run. No more than that.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Intel and International Paper. 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

jjcletters@thestreet.com.