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No Pattern? Prepare Instead.

Thursday was a day for gaining intelligence, and preparing for a possible snapback rally in tech.
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We try to look for themes every day at

Cramer Berkowitz

. Let's say


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up. Well then, how about

International Paper

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? Or the

Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index

? Or

Dow Chemical

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Or the banks. If





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are up, how about taking some

Wells Fargo

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? Or

Bank of America

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Or the techs.


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moving? How about grabbing some




All day we look for patterns, patterns that have made us money in the past. If we see two or three members of a sector charging, we try to figure out why others aren't -- an abundance of supply perhaps? -- and take our faves of the ones that haven't been soaring. That's a bet that the market is slow to react and we are fast. It is a bet that these others will be swept up in a group move.

Thursday's session was difficult for pattern spotters. The cyclicals seemed to be moving after a two-day hiatus, but many of the cyclicals that moved up were oil-related. So, we did not feel compelled to take


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aggressively or bid big for DuPont. The banks moved, but that may have just been takeover, so we didn't get sucked in. The listed techs moved up, but the


techs fell (that's a tell that the selloff was NDX-program related, because


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soared and Lucent didn't get clocked) and we were glad that


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kept us from acting on our intuitions.

Some groups were so mixed as to send totally confusing signals. Retailers seemed weak, except for a couple of department stores. Aerospace seemed strong, but after the close,


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announced a disappointing contract loss.


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led a very promising network group and then got pole-axed late in the day.

So, we found ourselves sitting on our hands, making calls, trying to gain intelligence and taking very little action.

Was it a wasted day? Not at all. We are trying to set up for after Oracle rains on the tech parade. We think a snapback rally is in the works for clobbered tech, once the Oracle news is in the market. Sometimes being ready for the next day's move is all you can do in a day.

And that's what we did.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund was long Alcoa, DuPont, Cisco, Lucent, Tellabs and Bank of America. 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