High Drama

The trader thrills as the lights go up on earnings period.
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Can't hide it anymore. I like earnings period. I like the excitement, the playoffs-like feel of it. I like trying to make the snap judgment about whether a company made it or blew it.

Take

Compuware

(CPWR)

. Release read great. But those revs? That wasn't what I was looking for. Or

AOL

(AOL)

. Tremendous profits, but wouldn't it have been better if they had beaten the 800,000 new subs some people were looking for? Was that

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

guidance about losses new or old? That

Reuters

story, does that guy know what he is talking about?

It's a million judgments all rolled up into an incredibly tiny sliver of time. And sometimes I think, gee, it's just great theater, as if we could get

Frank Rich

to review the Amazon conference call, or the

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Report

roadshow, or the roadshow of

quepasa.com

(PASA)

for that matter. For many companies, this time is like when you brought your report card home to your folks when you were in grade school. You can play up that penmanship, but if you blew the spelling grade, so what. You don't want to let anybody down and you know that the quarter is past already and what matters is current results.

But that doesn't make you any less jittery.

What I like most about it is the imprecise nature, the psychology of it.

Was Amazon too cocky? Was AOL definite enough about that sub growth slowdown? Was

EMC

(EMC)

too promotional? Did

UTX

(UTX) - Get Report

really say anything new? I guess I like it because it allows those who have remembered previous calls to have the edge on those who are coming in cold. If you remember what cards came up in the previous quarters, you have a better chance to make more money in the future.

Sure beats Black Jack because they never shuffle the shoe.

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 and United Technologies. 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.