Retail Retake

Gary B. Smith's latest column has inspired Cramer to re-examine the retail stocks.
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So how do we fundamentalists use charts? Here's a prime example:

Gary B. Smith's

excellent

column from this very morning.

I keep thinking that there has to be a way to play retail because it's been knocked down so much. It's just ugly. But what has been daunting me, quite frankly, is that the specialty companies are all doing quite well fundamentally but they go down every day.

As the

TaskMaster

said last night in his

column where he actually called me a nice guy -- tell that to the business side why don't you! -- I have been searching for answers everywhere for what's wrong in retail. I am dreadfully afraid that by the time I find out what's wrong, the stocks will bottom and I will miss a good move.

(Why do I care? For the same reason readers took me to task for not catching the bottom in the oil drillers. I knew to sell them. I knew to short them. I knew to cover them. I just didn't know to buy them. I don't want that to happen in retail land.)

So when I saw Smith's back-to-school column this morning, I devoured it. I have the same thoughts about

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

-- no matter how many times I've scalped good gains in that name, I know the easy money has been made.

Staples

(SPLS)

mystifies me. I know that the company said something, then denied saying something and then reiterated something that was bad for the stock. I also know there is a tremendous overhang from a secondary that was done a gazillion points but only a few weeks ago.

And then there is

Limited

(LTD)

. Hmm. Dowdy old Limited. That has produced

Intimate Brands

(IBI)

(which I am long) and Abercrombie & Fitch and who knows how many other great concepts. Eureka. Limited is kind of like a bricks-and-mortar

idealab!

or

CMGI

(CMGI)

. The stock has drifted down nicely. I think the management is a top-drawer team. I got an email the other day that said I should take my girls shopping at

Limited Too

.

So the chart says the time is right. The buzz says the time is right. I have to read the research make a few calls and maybe -- just maybe -- make a move today on Limited.

Thanks, Gary! And thanks to all of those people who keep emailing and responding to my queries. It is simply an unbeatable truth that if you want to do it yourself, you need the help of unbiased (no bankers pushing back here!) sources like those of us at

TheStreet.com

Random musings:

You should all go read

Robert Sillerman's

response to Greenberg's

piece from yesterday. Most execs don't bother to respond to things Herb writes. I think that's because Herb frequently nails them and there's just no possible rebuttal to that.

Sillerman's comeback shows me that there are two sides to this one. I have only met Sillerman once, at a wedding for an old friend. But I have bet with him many times, and he has made me a great deal of money. People who have conviction and argue back (like our guest

Richard Babson

on

TSC's

show last week) and stand their ground always impress me. Those who fold do not. And the repartee, for this voyeur, is unbeatable.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Intimate Brands. 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

jjcletters@thestreet.com.