"What's the matter with
Hushed whispers everywhere. You hear it; I hear it. What's with AOL? Somebody selling AOL? They saying something bad? Something gone on AOL?
Let me offer my views. As someone who is long AOL and has been long AOL, I am not immune to hitting it up and marveling that on these back-to-back up-200 days, AOL ain't doin' squat. I am not oblivious to the
But I can only reach bullish conclusions about this one. The Net has been an unbelievable performer for a couple of years now, and AOL has been a great leader. The problem with AOL, though, is that it got so ahead of the rest of the market that something had to give.
Only two things can give in these situations -- one bullish, the other bearish. The bearish, of course, is that AOL collapses in a giant pullback and gets hammered to where everything else is. This type of action would have reminded me of the
swoon, where it got so ahead of the market and became such a darling, that when it got its comeuppance, it was a nightmare.
The bullish, well that's what's happening now. The rest of the market moves up to AOL, so it no longer looks like this ridiculous outlier. In the meantime, AOL does nothing, recharging, shedding those nonbelievers and racking up some skeptics who want to short it because it has become dull.
I never sell a dull stock short, and I never bet against a winner. AOL is both right now and it, along with its compadres in the
, are simply biding time, waiting for the rest of the market to get a little health in it before they blast off again.
Why shouldn't I be more worried? All I can do is keep checking in and checking and getting the fundamentals and getting a line on how business is, and all I hear back is that things are the same: terrific. Sure,
isn't buying them. Sure
has a competitive instant-messaging product. Sure, the company hasn't been jumping up and down lately; it's just been doing business. As usual.
I wish I could say the same for a lot of other technology stocks, but the carnage recently shows that AOL, if anything, seems invincible vs. PCs and semis and drives. And lower prices for PCs are good for the Net and therefore, of course, for AOL. That, in the end, is all you can ask for. Which is why I am not shaking in my boots that AOL is only up 7/8 on a plus-200 day.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, his fund was long America Online, though positions 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 by sending a letter to TheStreet.com.