Pining for Heroes

Stock prices may have to go lower for them to appear.
Author:
Publish date:

Tina Turner's

got it all wrong. We could use some heroes, any heroes, in this market.

Let's face it, right now there 's not a single hero in the

Nasdaq

or the

New York Stock Exchange

.

America Online

(AOL)

? Stalled, hideously stalled, by sellers in the mid-100s.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

? Every time it looks like it is about to romp,

Bill Gates

gives somebody a jillion dollars to keep them from

Sun Micro

(SUNW) - Get Report

or AOL, or

General Instrument

(GIC)

or whatever boogie man this real live

Stephen King

character sees next. (If Microsoft were from Derry instead of Redmond, we'd never doubt that analogy.)

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

? Needs Viagra to stay in the upper 100s.

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

or

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

? Love them, but both seem to be bent on making acquisitions before the pooling rules change or before everybody good is snapped up. That M&A trigger is too easily pulled by these folks.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

? Maybe, but IBM says that whatever is good for anybody else is bad for IBM, and we don't need such a narcissistic hero.

How about

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

? Yeah, how about Intel. Talk about bad acting. Isn't Intel the elephant in the room, the one that nobody will talk about, but can't be avoided when discussing the circus in front of us?

There are markets that go up without Intel. But they aren't markets many people feel comfortable in. When we were just starting

TheStreet.com

,

Dave Kansas

used to wax eloquently that Intel was his tell, and for much of the time, Intel is my tell, too. If Intel is in gear, I can't count on my fingers and toes how many stocks I would like to own.

When Intel is sickly, I want to quarantine whole segments of the market. We have a plague month when Intel catches something, and I imagine wheelbarrows of dead semis and PC and semi equipment stocks being pushed by gaunt mutual fund managers to the performance graveyard.

Yep, that's the problem with this market.

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

just can't play the part of hero. By doing so, it implies that the inflation cycle is not under control. We don't want

Phelps Dodge

(PD) - Get Report

to be the new leader. Or

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

, as these companies only really kick butt when demand for capital is so great that rates have to rise.

Sadly, that's why this market's not going anywhere fast. It seems the only way we will get some heroes is if these stocks get cheaper and more buyable.

There are only two ways stocks get cheaper. One is that interest rates go lower. The other is that stock prices go lower. I was wishing for the former, but wishing is something I have to save for my

Sixers

against the

Pacers

. Guess that makes it the latter.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long America Online and Cisco Systems. 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

letters@thestreet.com.