Tech will take a back seat this week to the soft-goods players. It won't happen intentionally; it is just that after a couple of days of bond strength and tech weakness, we are now in day two of the rotation into safety.
The assault against safety, however, is also in full swing.
missed out on a promising antidepression drug on Friday, causing someone to puke up six figures worth of the stock well after the closing. (I stuck around to participate on the buy side, alienating everyone at home and missing a fabu Italian dinner.) The trade went on all the way down at 138. If the print, which is slang for where the trade went on, holds, it could be a good sign for the group. But the fact that people bail from Merck so easily now shows how skittish this market has become. We used to save our bailing for tech!!
Rumors abound of something big at
, too, some splitup or something. I know I bought on this, but then got walloped by the State of the Union address attack on tobacco, a battle of the amoralists, I call it. Anything positive from Morris in the mid-40s will rocket the stock, I am betting.
Don't forget the
trial, the one where
patent is in doubt. A win here could restore some of the luster to the poorest-acting drug stock around.
will begin training their sales forces for
, the already celebrated antipain drug (good points about this made in
reports and tries to put a good spin on
focus on the food group,
discussion of its bottling spinoff and earnings from
, and you can see how this whole kitchen/bath group could be on the radar screen.
While this shift occurs, I will be watching for stability to develop in the Net stocks. They took it on the chin again this weekend in an unlikely place, Lewis Perdue's
double-header on the site this weekend
. I thought he made some good points, and given the newfound impact of
on stocks, I expect some more weakness.
I, for one, though, will be glad to have the spotlight off tech for a couple days. We have been deluged with new information courtesy of the conference calls, and very little time to digest it. How bad was
ever come back? Is
now overvalued? Is
going to salvage everything with good numbers? Will
wreck everything with even bigger losses? Too many questions; not enough answers.
Which is why it will be nice to focus on Merck for a change.
: If you want to read my take on Social Security and stocks -- which is a bearish take, by the way -- please go to
www.washingtonpost.com and check my piece in the
section of Sunday's paper. Please do not interpret my bearishness about the plan to mean I am a seller of stocks. I am in favor of stocks going higher if earnings go higher. I am in favor of stocks going lower if earnings go lower. In other words, I am in favor of the fundamentals, not supply and demand, dictating stocks' moves.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, the fund was long America Online, Cisco, IBM, Lucent, Merck, Monsanto and Philip Morris, though positions can change at any time. 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 at