We were wrapping up
first pick on the
, and I was thinking to myself after listening to
talk about how this is just another roll-up that Churchill Downs might be a better short than a long.
In my ear my producer said "no more questions, time for the next stock." At that moment, Frank, an extremely nice guy, said Churchill Downs could be the
Hold it, I said to myself. That line cannot stand. People are watching this show trying to figure out what to do. They are trying to decide whether to buy or sell based on what they hear. They may think that this stock could go up the way America Online went up.
And if they do, they would be WRONG!
I know we were not supposed to spend any more time on the stock. But I don't care. All day I hear in the background the mind-numbing hype of stocks on my television. There is always someone calling in and asking about a stock and it is always a great stock and the commentators never, ever challenge the assumptions.
This can't happen on our show. Churchill Downs is no America Online. Never will be. Etched in stone. Never will be. If you think it will, you are kidding yourself.
I said just that on the show.
Immediately I was worried after I did. Would other guests not come on now that I said Frank shouldn't use that analogy for Churchill Downs? Would our producer be mad that I went right through the whispered warning?
And then I thought about that great line that
Tommy Lee Jones
at the beginning of
: "I don't care." If you can't be tough on a guest when he makes an absurd statement that could benefit a stock too much, then the show ain't worth doing.
Maybe that's why ours is. There are no free passes on
-- the Web site or the TV show.
It's the upside we are worried about right now, and the dearth of good names to play it with. Last week frightened us because many of our favorite tech companies stumbled a bit or warned us of pending problems. At the same time the financial companies didn't give us much encouragement about how the quarter ended.
Yet as the rally progressed, the real move was in stocks that we couldn't find a reason to buy.
, for example, rallied substantially. But on what? On
money flows? On stock buybacks? On catch-up?
You can't buy a stock on that. You have to have some belief that something has changed for the better there, and I have no such belief. Same goes for
. I didn't see any reason why Pfizer should rally other than it was oversold. You can't just buy because it would feel good if you did. You have to have a reason.
All next week we will be faced with this same dilemma: trying to figure what stocks have fundamentals that are not so terrible that they will go up in the absence of anything else happening.
Talk about a default game of investing.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. 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