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So now we have to hope that the

Robbie Stephens

conference changes the tech tide. And we must wonder whether the whole operation isn't like one of those futile efforts to change the Jersey coastline that the Army Corp tries after every storm.

That means Jeff Berkowitz, my partner, and Matt Jacobs, his new sidekick, will go out and hear once again that everything is A-OK with personal-computer spending, so-so with corporate, weak in Asia, weakening still in Latin America and maybe okay-maybe not in Europe.

Yep, you see the problem with tech, despite what those who have developed tech as a religion think, is that things aren't as robust as we would like. That's the given. Christmas was strong, but then things trailed off. In fact, I told Jeff to be looking just as aggressively for shorts as for longs. After all, when


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miss the top-line, not all is well. Things are knocked down enough now, of course, that if Jeff insists, I will buy something tech, but I hope it is fiber related or Internet related, cause nothing else is working.

The lesson of the conferences is very sobering. Two weeks ago at


tech conference, we thought all was well, but it was not good enough. Last week, though, there was this boring Florida food stock conference, and, what can I say, we coined money trading those old sleepy names. It was, well, what can I say, easy, compared with the vicissitude of trading


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& Co. Let's face it; between hamburgers and windows,


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has the edge right now.

In fact, it is not just the foods. The banks had a great tone all week. Lots more buyers than sellers. Made some decent money in retail, too. Even some cyclicals worked!

But tech remains as treacherous as I have seen it in some time. The 3:20 swan dive in tech on Friday showed me that these stocks still are in the wrong hands.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. As we get closer and closer to the spring, the traditional underperformance of tech beckons. Other than the Internet, it is very hard to be long tech going into the summer months as the disappointments and preannouncements grow in number. Chalk that up to a traditionally soft Europe that this time won't be able to be made up by other areas of the globe, save the United States.

Does this mean we have to abandon tech? Does this mean I will be bombarded, as I continue to be, by people sending email telling me that Dell had a great quarter and tech is doing better than ever?

I never abandon "tech." That would be like abandoning the most valuable portion of the growth stock market. But I can underweight it at times as I look for better opportunities.

This is one of those times. So keep sending email to complain about how I am wrong about the group. And I will keep making money in the boring, pedestrian ends of the market (worked on





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this weekend, to give you the tenor of my thinking).

Opportunity doesn't always knock in the computer industry. Sometimes it takes a vacation.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At the time of publication, his fund was long Hewlett-Packard, though positions 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 by sending a letter to