Goodbye to the Gentlemen's Agreement

There used to be an unofficial moratorium on bad news at the end of the quarter. No more.
Author:
Publish date:

Oops, someone better tell these juries that it's the end of the quarter and if they had any decency they would hold out until tomorrow evening before they lower the boom on another tobacco company. (Philip Morris (MO) - Get Report just lost a biggie in Oregon.)

When I first got in the business, there was sort of an unwritten rule that nobody is supposed to announce anything materially negative on these last days of a quarter. Kind of a cease-fire. A unilateral one, because you, of course, could say anything good you wanted.

But that changed a few years ago. These days analysts aren't afraid to say anything about a company at the end of the quarter. Could

Goldman Sachs

have held back its critical comments about

Gillette

(G) - Get Report

until April? I guess so, however, the scoop might be lost. Heck, I have been hit by massive secondaries on the last days of a quarter in the last couple of years.

In fact, the second half of the day before the end of a quarter, and the next day -- the last day of the quarter -- all have been quite bad of late.

Don't think this quarter will be any different. At this point, most managers not long MO are probably thrilled to see this news. People need the

Dow

down just to look less stupid! I think they will be blessed with an even easier comparison tomorrow.

Random musings:

Don't forget to join me on the

AOL

chat at 5 p.m. I intend to be irreverent and opinionated as all get-out -- for a change.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long AOL, although positions can 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

letters@thestreet.com.