There's a Post-It note on my
workstation that says "Accounting irregularities = sell." I don't see anything this morning in
-- both well-covered on the
side of our site -- that makes me feel any different.
I love buying opportunities that are macro, meaning that the bonds went down (rates up), so a bunch of stocks got clocked off from out-of-stock/into-bond programs. I love buying opportunities that are price-oriented, like the
today off of "valuation." (Who the heck knows about valuation with these kinds of stocks? I have bought Be Free. Seems like a chance to get more.) I don't even mind buying stocks off of earnings shortfalls if we can quantify what the shortage is all about and believe it can be made up, a la
when it broke.
But I never touch accounting irregularities.
It is not
Gary B. Smith's
rule of not buying the first break that keeps me from doing it. Accounting irregularities carry with them a horrible stench that doesn't go away with lemons or tomato juice.
, two poster boys for this stuff, never recovered. We all know about
, although now that the class-action suit is settled, I am back in at last.
Tyco: Join the discussion on
These investigations just take too long and are too hard to come back from. In defense of Tyco, it is only an informal inquiry, which means they are cooperating. No subpoenas need to be issued, but I can't take any chances. Sure, one day I am going to miss a home run with my Post-It. But it hasn't happened yet.
I am not bucking it today.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long IBM, Be Free and Cendant. 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