Here's that nightmare short problem, live and in color. Take a look at the banks. Take a look at the brokers. Remember yesterday when I said I did not want to rebuild these shorts? It is precisely because of the problem of the snapback rally that we are seeing right now.
After I did that piece, a bunch of short-sellers told me that I was nuts not to slam out these stocks. It made all of the sense in the world, particularly after
talked about the
vaporization of capital.
But to me, as a short-seller, the worry is the future, not the past. I don't care about what happened in April. Tell me what happens in May and June. If the
doesn't have to tighten hard and the stock market stops going down and we are almost through with
the 1994 scenario, these stocks are incredibly cheap.
Chase Manhattan Bank
, which traded recently in the 90s and now gets downgraded in the 60s -- yes, that is right, the 60s -- would be a steal.
, kept down right now by insider selling lockup expiration, could be selling at 10 times next year's earnings. You can't short that. Or
Bank of America
, which I am buying right here, would be so cheap on a cash-flow basis as to be a giveaway.
If the future is brighter than the past, these stocks should be bought. If it is as bad as the past, they should be sold.
When I am short something, I like to be sure that I have everything going for me. Everything. These two soft numbers,
retail sales, take away one of the things I have. They make it too dangerous to be short this group.
I know that the Chase numbers might be too high if the stock market stays bad. I know that their venture-capital holdings could fizzle. I know that their credit-card business could erode. But even the analyst who downgraded the stock today is carrying six bucks for this year. It doesn't seem like a lay-up anymore to short a stock that is selling for less than 12 times earnings and that is buying its stock back aggressively -- and that is very well run.
this short-selling business is so hard.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Bank of America and Chase Manhattan Bank. 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