Getting Comfortable With Networkers

Cramer looks at a few companies vying to be the next Cisco.
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Maybe it's easier to find the next

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

than it is to find the next

America Online

(AOL)

. Isn't that what the run-ups in

Redback

(RBAK)

(which is the name of the Australian beer these guys were drinking when they came up with the idea for the company),

Clarent

(CLRN)

and

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Report

are saying?

Here are three companies that have all the right products, all the right bloodlines and are sired by, or compete with, Cisco and other top networkers. (In fact, people are combing the prospectuses of new issues, looking in the competition section and

buying

if they see Cisco's name. That's viewed as a

positive

despite Cisco's take-no-prisoners attitude.) No matter that these players are niche players vs. the full-court press provided by Cisco. People want the buzz. These have the buzz. In spades.

Juniper made it easy to find. One of the investor-relations people from Cisco's team actually went there ahead of the roadshow. Clarent was a little slower out of the gate, but it took off on Friday like an ICBM. Redback had a bunch of geniuses from

Bay

as its founders, which tells you that good things can happen, as Bay made a ton of money for people before succumbing to a

Nortel

(NT)

bid.

These stocks, plus

Ariba

(ARBA)

($5 billion in market cap already!) and

Brocade

(BRCD)

(business to business and fiber channel -- both great buzzwords right now), were on fire last week. All of them are extremely expensive. All of them have the momentum of Apollo's Chariot at

Busch Gardens

, meaning you can't get in front of these.

Guys like us are frantically trying to sink our teeth into these companies, get comfortable with them, with the idea that the next dip is a time to buy. If you don't have confidence in what the companies do, you will almost certainly be shaken out on the next down leg because these stocks have no margin for error.

Those of you who traded during the era when Cisco started are not totally surprised by these moves. Cisco started out strong, too. The difference, though, is how fast the market is willing to give unproven companies the benefit of the doubt and take their stocks to heights that even early Cisco lovers can't stomach.

But the lesson of the runs in AOL and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

is that unless you get in early, you miss the best part of the move. That fear of missing the big move, the one that takes these companies to multibillion-dollar status, overrides any worry that maybe the horse is not worthy of the accolades.

Random musings:

Boy, has AOL's press changed! That article in

The New York Times

Sunday was the single most positive article I can recall reading about a company.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long America Online, Cisco, Clarent, Juniper and Yahoo!. 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.