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Not as Bad as They Look

The trader takes another look at Bank One and First Union. He thinks he can't stay negative on them for long.
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In an era where we measure stocks by how many points they move per hour (that is the standard measurement for a

Red Hot, kind of like a British Thermal Unit) it's probably pretty meaningless to look at yield these days. But I found myself looking at

Bank One


again today, thanks to the




discussion on

our show, and thinking, what the heck, this stock doesn't yield north of four very often.

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Same thing with

First Union


, which clocks in at 4.5%. These stocks have been hammered, just hammered, as their disappointments have taken on lives of their own. I don't want to call bottoms in a group with this kind of anti-Chartman activity, but I can't stay negative on these stocks as they get near 5% yield. At that point you are talking about cash equivalent with some serious upside if these two banks get it together. And if they don't, they won't stay independent for long. They have too much mass.

Sure, I guess I should worry that Net banking could kill these guys. But if you are from Philadelphia, as I am, you can't get away from First Union. They are everywhere. I have to believe that there are whole areas of the country where Bank One has a hammerlock on business. I don't know, if these stocks shoot through 5%, I will hold my nose, close my eyes, hum really loudly and get long ONE and FTU.

Random musings

: My anti-oil bet is looking pretty mediocre right now, with that article in

The Journal

today about how it is going to be a cold winter. To which I say, oh, give me a break, what is this, Accu-Investing?

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. 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