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Rogue Jury Lives On

Cramer can't take the idea of what lawyers will do with the recent Philip Morris verdict.
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Pain becomes me. But I don't think I can handle the pain that Morris (MO) - Get Free Report is dishing out this morning. I am perpetually long MO calls, always hoping for the big split, but I rarely like to be in common because I fear the rogue jury.

The rogue jury lives! Can you imagine the cheers coming out of the mass tort bar this morning? They thought they had already hit pay dirt with their multibillion-dollar payday for the big 'bacco settlement. Now one of their California minions asks for $15 million in punitive damages and gets $50 million. Mucho hatred out there for these guys.

I know that yield is great. I know that this company is well run, although the international numbers didn't look so hot in the last quarter. But I can't take the notion that hundreds of lawyers will now read this verdict and start suing these guys all over again.

Why shouldn't we try to call the bottom in this stock? Are we going to look back and see the home run develop before our eyes? Maybe. But this one will have to be done without me. Or at least be done from a lower level, one where the selling pressure is less intense. (And as I write this, there are before-hours trades going on for millions of shares down a buck and seven teenies from last night's close.)

The goal of this game is not to win the Congressional Medal of Trading for buying stocks above and beyond the call of duty. The goal is to make the most amount of money with the least amount of risk. MO doesn't qualify.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At the time of publication, his fund was long out-of-the-money Philip Morris February 50 calls, though positions 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 by sending an email to