Those of us who remember "Marlboro Friday" in 1993, when
started a massive cigarette price rollback, got a shiver today when
spoke the truth. You really have to go back to that awful event seven years ago to remember when so many portfolio managers have been so faked out by a great American company.
Understand that this P&G thing was from left field. During the fracas when P&G was thinking about buying every drug company in the world, P&G went out of its way to reaffirm its earnings estimates. Like Philip Morris in 1993, this was just a bolt of lightning on a pretty sunny day. And if you hid under the Clorox or Colgate tress you got whacked, just as you did in the other brands in 1993.
But there was one big difference: Philip Morris brought that one on itself. P&G felt like the pitiful helpless giant hobbled by a fifth-rate power (costs) when it was on that call. P&G lost control of its destiny today, and the result was a stock that simply wilted as sure as a bar of Ivory in a rainstorm.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if there is more risk in P&G than
but much less reward, which are you going to be in? All of that price-to-earnings flotsam and discount-to-normalized-earnings jetsam didn't save you today.
It cost you. Big time.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Brocade. 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