Grandstanding on Granville
: In response to your column
Grand Illusion, I thought you were a little rough on Joe Granville. We all use him as a contrary indicator, but you crossed the line today in your role as a guest host on
. Heck, we are all wrong at some point, Joe is just wrong a little more often. But he is still doing his best work. He's right about one thing though: The advance decline ratio points to a tired, sick market. We are going south.
Jim Cramer, the problem with your
questions for Granville was that they were too easy on him, not too hard! The guy has been more wrong for the last several years than
. At least Metz had the decency to drop out of sight! I don't get my jollies from beating up on people, but if the guy is willing to come on TV, he should take his lumps like everyone else.
Joe Granville, one thing you've always said that I agree with is you are neither bull nor bear, you just want to make money. I agree. We can't follow permabears or permabulls. Just take what the market gives you whether it be long or short.
Michael C. Chapman
Give the Masters Some Respect
While it is clear from
Feb. 24 column,
All Star Teams Are Good for Baseball, Not for Funds, that he does not like multiple-manager funds, what is less clear are the reasons for his disenchantment with Masters Select Equity Fund. Mr. Hayden points out that two of our six managers' individual funds outperformed Masters in 1997 and 1998. That Masters did not outperform all six funds should come as no surprise. Masters' intended style diversification ensures it will not outperform the funds managed separately by the Masters managers.
Hayden suggests investors should assume the performance of the managers' own funds is reflected in their performance for Masters. That this has not been the case is also not surprising since our managers run concentrated portfolios for Masters. The concentration seems to be working. Masters Select Equity outperformed the weighted average return of its managers' own funds by 7.1% during its first two years (through Dec. 31, 1998).
Masters' three large-cap managers beat the
by 4.6% over the fund's two-year life (after all fees). The two small-cap managers beat the
by 16.6% over the same time period.
Our analysis excludes the performance of Jean-Marie Eveillard, who we replaced last October when we realized we had given him a mandate for which he was not well suited. The fund's returns suffered because of our mistake.
Hayden also bases his dislike of Masters on the fact that an investor has no control over the hiring or firing of a manager. Perhaps this is a concern for investment professionals with extensive access to fund companies. Absent such access, we believe our ability to identify and monitor superior stock-pickers makes Masters an excellent core holding.
Ken Gregory, President of Litman/Gregory Fund Advisors, adviser to the Masters fund
Not a Cure-All
Regarding your article
As Hollis-Eden Touts Its New Drug, Investors Look for the Data, as a cardiologist who reads a lot, this whole story about a cure for AIDS has to be bogus. I agree, cure for everything, cure for nothing. Also, HIV is incredibly facile at shifting its antigens, evolving through swarms of mutants to try to avoid every drug thrown its way. Hard to see that anything related to an androgenic steroid like DHEA would have very much effect.
Kevin P. Foley, M.D.
I was holding several hundred shares of
, and I showed your
article to my broker, and he gagged. We are in the San Diego area, and that was one thing that bothered my broker. He thinks San Diego companies are not among the best. And the reverse merger really did him in. OK, maybe they do have the cure for AIDS, but better safe than sorry.
Rants and Raves About Ralphie
Thank you for your article
Way to Go, Ralphie Boy! Er, Maybe Not. Back in October, I wondered why no one had picked up on the fact -- and you didn't in this article either -- that good ol' Ralphie Boy literally called the market bottom on Oct. 8 with his intraday forecast for a lower Dow. He lowered the target for the Dow that morning, and the market tanked.
A couple of hours later, the market suddenly reversed and began to climb. The Dow closed down or up about 2 points and the
cut its losses in half. The next day, the bull market began. It reminded me of
infamous bearish call during the summer of '97. It nearly ruined her career. Well, I think it actually did.
poll, I voted "Ralph, Unfairly Judged." At least he doesn't say "get out" at the bottom the way your
I think you should write a sequel: "How To Read Ralph" just the way
Getting a Handle on the Writings of James J. Cramer." If you guys have nothing better to do, do some research from which we can benefit. This analyst-bashing is getting very tiresome. We want more for our money.
Mr. Toad Fled the Kingdom
I love reading your columns, though I wish you could transfer some of your stock-picking karma to sports and get our beloved
out of their horrendous slump.
Having said that, I just wanted to warn you of an upcoming disappointment:
Mr. Toad is no longer at the
. It was shut down last year.
Sorry to disappoint you and the kids.
PCs Should Profit from Y2K
In reference to your article
PC Makers Lose Their Leading Edge, I respectfully submit to you that your article is wrong where you, without much supporting evidence, state the following: "and in the short term, with corporations applying the brakes on technology spending until the Y2K problem is sorted out, there is little good news to cheer investors."
You see, business needs PCs to be more productive and efficient. And business is spurred by demand. With the economy screaming, and worldwide economies on the mend, businesses will hire more people, who will most probably need computers that are Y2K compliant. I am talking about businesses the world over, not just in the U.S.
Every business in the world is going to have to have Y2K-compliant hardware and software. Many of them have left taking the necessary steps to the very last minute (er, year). As human nature would have it, the great majority will wait till the last six months, probably, before doing anything about it.
My forecast is this: U.S. computer companies won't be able to produce enough computers to satisfy the worldwide demand this year.
As a small-business man, I am planning to purchase the other computers that I need in the very short term. I'll want to beat the rush.
Buffett, Giant of Investing, Looks Smaller All the Time is a fine example of myopic, impulse-of-the-moment writing. Take a closer look at
annual report and see what's going on with
. There was an interesting analysis by an insurance industry expert that would raise the eyebrows again. Thirty-three years and never a loss. Don't be too quick to write him off.
Is the Best Yet to Come?
Thank you so much for your article
The Worst Is Behind Us. It was an eye-opener. Love the table. I guess this means my rent, which has already gone up 60% in the past four years, is going to go up again even sooner than I expected. If this is a low-inflation environment, I know I cannot afford a high one. Time to move to the country.
Thomas John Hornblower
Dan Colarusso and Suzanne Kapner:
In response to your article
Rite Aid Analysts Swallow a Bitter Pill, I am not surprised that
is having problems. In southern California, they recently bought out
, which were my favorite. They had great ice cream for 69 cents a cone. They immediately raised their prices by 50% -- gotta get those margins up. Guess they were surprised when people switched to the
down the street as a result. I wasn't surprised when they started closing some of the ex-Thrifty locations due to slow sales.
In response to your column
Stop Boring Us, I ask, where did this "going forward" craze start? They are the most redundant words on Wall Street.
Some examples: You write: I will, going forward . . . .
Our sales projections, going forward . . . .
Hardly one single
announcer can say: "We project, future earnings, sales projections, earnings forecasts, etc." without adding the words "going forward."
I am the greatest guru of stock prices, going backward! I shall be glad to do a weekly column "Going Backward" at no charge, going forward. Wishing you the best, going forward!
In general, I agree with
opinion in his column
A Rift in the Valley. The day of interstate wine distribution is overdue. But I think in making his argument, he is guilty of overkill. A lot of good citizens have reasonable doubts about this situation. Many teenagers do not have to steal their parents' credit cards; they have their own. When my own children were in college, I and they received frequent letters from
advertising its card for use by college students.
They don't have to wait at home for a delivery, as the delivery will often be made to a fraternity house or off-campus housing. Many of the most notorious teenage alcohol abuses occur on college campuses, where the administrators usually bury their heads in the sand until someone dies and then run around pounding their breasts and announcing reform.
I am opposed to
Sen. Orrin Hatch's
bill, but I do not question his motives or those of his supporters.
The Best Things in Life
The Money Numbers and the Future of the Economy is a nice article on M1/M2 velocity. I think e-commerce, reduced settlement/clearing intervals for checks in recent years and online trading (including day trading) are increasing velocity. I believe that as e-commerce takes a bigger bite out of GNP, velocity will increase and compromise some of the long-cycle management techniques
, et al. are fond of employing.
I know the percentage of M1 that e-commerce represents (and I include online trading) is small right now, but I think the trend is clear. How do you manage macroeconomics when everything financial happens in three seconds or less?
If you think we are having fun now, watch what happens when trading is available to the masses approaching 24/7 and trades are via bid/ask matches by computer, not a live broker.
How Now Dow Cow?
Did you get your Dow 10,000 shopping all done yet? It is a big holiday, isn't it? Wait a minute. I must be getting swept away by
breathless teasers about hitting the "historic" level. Oh, what an extravaganza they have planned for us all! Add this to
cliche list. I am so tired of hearing about Dow 10K.
John M. Gustafson
I enjoyed your column
AOL: Fast Access, Whatever It Takes. I couldn't agree more. Who cares about the content? Just give me fast access. I'll find all the content I want once I am online.
is my access provider, but I never look at its services. I just use it to connect to the Web.
My telco says it can't deliver DSL to my location, an urban subdivision about six miles from the
campus, and my cable company says it cannot now provide cable-modem service and has no idea when it will be able to.
When do I get to join the 20th century, much less the 21st?