NEW YORK (
fills his blog on
every day with his up-to-the-minute reactions to what's happening in the market and his legendary ahead-of-the-crowd ideas. This week he blogged on:
- Why something must change regarding Europe and the markets;
- the signs that things are spinning out of control; and
- how Oracle and General Mills are performing amid a tough environment.
for information on
, where you can see all the blogs, including Jim Cramer's -- and reader comments -- in real time.
Something's Got to Change
Posted at 7:43 a.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 23.
Gigantic decline to a not-quite-oversold position followed by a meager increase in the futures. And no substantive change in Europe.
This is precisely why I wanted our markets to sell off more. There is no self-fulfilling prophecy of European action based on a minor stock selloff. That's not a wake-up call to anything. And it is Europe that has to take action, because we can't and everyone knows it.
We were going to do fine this year if the sluggishness was contained just to the United States. But when it went to Europe the markets were overwhelmed. One of the two of us has to get better or we can't advance and will most likely decline.
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So, the idea that we can just quietly buy this market today and think it is all clear without further downside, perhaps to a level that could be as low as, say, 1010 on the
, to throw out a bandied level, seems fanciful.
I am always taking heat for liking a sector and then when the facts change not liking it. Basically you should
like a sector then. Because facts do change.
But nothing changed last night in Europe. So what's the point of getting positive?
Bernanke's Wake-Up Call
Posted at 12:45 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 22.
The Bernanke wake-up call continues. This time with a healthy dose of a commodity collapse, a collapse in European banks and a sense that things are spinning totally out of control.
At this point what happens is the levels take over. We look for touchstones, and I come back to levels ascribed to the hot hands. The levels say we do not hold, that this is not a significant signpost for a bottom. Doesn't mean we couldn't bounce. And, nobody ever made a dime panicking.
But it does mean to me that we aren't done. We are in the vortex, we are at a fulcrum and the last time we were here, we were worse off than now, as Ben Bernanke told us.
So, wait for a better moment to sell. We are not down enough to buy. I will take a pass until we get to a more significant level. Or something macro happens that is better than what has occurred.
But, that doesn't mean no more downside.
A Tale of Two Pairs of CEOs
Posted at 2:40 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
We talk all the time now about how our market correlates with the European drama and the inability of the continent to solve its debt problems. When
or Credit Agricole catch pneumonia, we get a miserable cold. They take us down with them almost tick by tick.
That doesn't mean we should forget about individual companies, because when the European woes take a break or are eventually solved, you are going to wish you had paid attention, in particular, to what chief executive officers at best-of-breed companies are doing because that's going to make you the big money.
Ironically, because of the international challenges and weak economies globally, it's never been more important to look at who is at the helm. I say ironically because the earnings-per-share successes they are delivering only occasionally are noticed. But when they are, it's gigantic. And then they get it wrong?
Forget about it.
Cases in point: Larry Ellison at
vs. Leo Apotheker at
, and Ken Powell at
vs. Gary Rodkin at
Both Ellison and the-now-rumored-to-be-fired Apotheker face almost identical challenges selling technology products worldwide. Oracle last night reported a terrific quarter where Ellison talked about how things are only getting better. He emphasized that even Europe was incredibly strong. I got the feeling that the only limit for Oracle is how many salespeople they can bring on to handle their business. Apotheker? He's talking about a world that looks increasingly bleak, so bleak that he wants to hit the panic button and break up the company because sales are that terrible.
Could there be a more stark contrast? Perhaps.
Because when you consider the numbers and outlook that Ken Powell gave this morning on General Mills compared to what Gary Rodkin gave at ConAgra, it's pretty amazing. General Mills, with terrific brands such as Cheerios and Yoplait, faced higher inflation costs, passed them on to consumers, and gave a terrific outlook.
ConAgra, the company behind names like Slim Jim and Orville Redenbacher, faced the same challenges and punted, missing the quarter big, in part, because of raging inflation. Didn't it rage for General Mills, too? Just disturbing -- and made worse by Rodkin unsuccessfully trying to buy
, a private label company, on the eve of the quarter. Without that deal, I can't think of a reason to buy ConAgra other than a decent dividend. All things considered, I would rather own an electric utility -- same dividend, much more consistent growth.
Yep. Two pairs of executives. Identical challenges. Two CEOs shine and you made big money with both of them today, with Oracle rallying about $2 -- or 7% -- and General Mills rising $1.66 -- or more than 4%.
And the other two?
Right now, there's no reason to own them. They just keep disappointing. In fact, if you really want a sign of a CEO's importance to creating, or more importantly, destroying value, HPQ is up almost $2 today, or nearly 10% higher.
The reason? Leo Apotheker may be out at the helm. That says it all.
At the time of publication, Cramer was long ORCL, though holdings can change at any time.