Bankers are sensitive individuals -- sensitive to public relations. They don't come out after a merger's announced and say they're going to hack jobs, cut back people and cause trauma throughout our networks, cities and towns. They don't talk openly about consolidation and cost savings. They would have to deal with the wrath of every politician,
bureaucrat and reporter if they did. That's why
didn't rally yesterday; the companies can't speak now about what they want to do as one bank without running the risk of having the deal blocked or delayed by politics.
Each time we see big mergers, we hear that no big cuts are coming and we take these guys at face value. We sell the stocks and say, "The consolidation gains won't be there."
merger from a couple of years ago. NationsBank did the same thing: low-balling and being sweet and kind, not axe-wielding and bitter.
Sure enough, NationsBank stalled as people thought that the knives had been sheathed and that the company had forgotten how to make the big cuts that always occurred after its deals.
But once the spotlight had dropped from the merger and the community heat had declined, you saw the changes and the gains and you made a fortune. NationsBank took out the costs and then some.
We saw the same thing happen when NationsBank merged with
. It didn't look like any big sweeping changes would be made. And then, voila, NationsBank went to work and made gut-wrenching cuts that should produce huge gains down the road.
This should happen in the BankBoston-Fleet deal. If the combined company doesn't make any changes, this merger would be as stupid as wood. If there are no cuts, then you have a two-headed monster that will produce nothing but mediocre numbers. The bankers know this.
So, I will wait a few weeks -- maybe even months-- until everybody gets disappointed, and then I will go in and buy as I always do. And the rewards will be there -- as they always are.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. 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.