Looking for Lost Leaders

Cramer's nervous when leaders like Nokia and Lucent pull off the highway.
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We always feel blind when our leaders veer off the highway. Right now, the market is like some rainy nighttime interstate, say

Interstate 95

, near Beaufort, S.C., where I have always encountered torrential downpours. I am following a car as a leader, a

Lucent

(LU)

or a

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

, and suddenly the leader exits.

Always makes you nervous when that leader pulls off the highway. It was so comfortable to be behind that blazing car, letting him do the hard work. What happened to that guy?

Right now, the market just saw a bunch of leaders swerve --

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

, Nokia, Lucent and

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

, to name a couple. These companies all reported pretty decent quarters (I could argue there were chinks in Lucent and maybe in some hardware for IBM, but they were just chinks).

But this veering from the path of progress has left us wondering whether the leaders are history. We can't craft new leaders out of

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

or

Dow

(DOW) - Get Report

. They can't get us where we have to go.

So what do we do? We pull over ourselves. And we wait for it to let up. It will. There's nothing so atrocious about the earnings or about what Greenspan said today -- "I remain vigilant" -- to make us feel that the sun won't come out again in the morning.

But it might take till the morning.

Give it some time.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long IBM, Lucent, Nokia and Texas Instruments. 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.