From now on, inexpensive stocks will go up and expensive stocks will go down. Stocks of companies that represent real value -- even though the companies aren't doing well -- will advance. Stocks of companies that have businesses that are growing like wildfire will wilt and go down. If a company is doing poorly, you will double your money. If a company is doing well, you will lose everything.
In my kids' vernacular, that's Opposite World. They shout out "Opposite World" after they have said something particularly ornery or obviously untrue, as a way to avoid punishment. In the journalists' vernacular, however, that's justice and rationality. That's how it should be. And we will all rue the day when we weren't playing in their Opposite World.
The New York Times'
, the single most respected business journalist going, takes issue with a
column I wrote this week where I asked rhetorically, if
Procter & Gamble
has less reward and more risk than
then which are you going to own?
P&G, as you remember, got cut in half this year for missing the numbers. Brocade and Broadcom? My
doesn't have enough places set to describe their performance. Norris, however, confuses several notions in the piece. He says that people who owned P&G didn't really care about traditional measurements either. They knew their stock was expensive, in part, because
index funds had moved P&G up to a 37 price-to-earnings multiple. He says they were playing the same game as those who owned Brocade and Broadcom.
I think that's wrong. The people who own P&G tend not to own Broadcom. P&G was still being justified as a stock that was selling at a discount to its group given its growth rate. P&G was very much part of the earnings world, so when earnings disappointed, it got clobbered. The momentum funds did not own P&G.
In fact, P&G was a bastion of a new group of managers that are under assault, those who play hybrid between value and growth. The closet indexers owned P&G. The growth funds that are uncomfortable with tech and needed traditional groundings owned P&G.
It's the next step that Norris takes -- assuming that P&G's decline sows the seeds of value's revival -- that's plain wrong. Oh, if only that were true. If only value did come back, our lives would be so much easier. But there is nothing in Norris' story that can lead you to conclude that P&G's swoon will lead to the buying of down-and-outers. That will only happen when all of the Brocades and Broadcoms blow up. And I don't see that happening any time soon.
If anything, the opposite conclusion could be reached. I think P&G's gaffing of its shareholders will force more mutual funds into
the Red Hots -- oh, I know, somebody changed the name, but so what, they are Red Hots to me -- and out of the traditional growth stocks. Value? I love value. But, as the kids would say before I can upbraid them for fibbing: "Opposite World, Opposite World."
: Many, many thanks to all of you who wished my father and my wife well this week. Dad is doing just great, so great that he was up and around yesterday afternoon. Credit the laser and an iron constitution. Karen's a bit grumpy, as anybody would be who just had her wrist rebroken because the previous doctor botched the job. She is resting comfortably and responded positively to the Baskin & Robbins milkshake I brought her last night. Credit the pain killers. Both are doing just great and I have passed on all of your kind greetings.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Brocade. Cramer's fund also may be long or short certain stocks in his biotech or B2B rotisserie leagues or TheStreet.com New Tech 30 index. 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