Oops, sometimes I get so caught up in the jargon of the biz that I forget not everyone knows what happens in the kitchen of even the best restaurants. So please forgive me for the off-handed comment I tossed out at 4:11 Friday about
and give me a chance to explain myself. First of all, I love Cisco like a sports team from Philly, just to establish my blind credentials for what I am about to say.
So much money is run competitively these days, meaning run by mutual funds eager to be written up by the press in order to get more dollars in, that on the last day of the month some managers can't contain themselves and like to do even better they would naturally.
Usually, this eagerness gets manifested by super-aggressive buying of favorite names at the end of the month in order to move big holdings, so called "marking up." Sometimes things get really out of hand, and after 4 p.m. these funds take the stocks up even further in order to increase their performance. Many funds use last price, as opposed to closing price, to calculate their returns. These funds would be boosted by such buying.
Cisco was slated to go out at about 109.675. That's where all of the trading was at the bell. But after the bell, people bid Cisco up to 111, furiously taking the stock in a way that would, if you owned a million shares of Cisco, be incredibly meaningful to your performance. Normally I don't care about these things; let the regulators discover who is doing it. But this was so egregious a markup, so artificially positive, that I was trying to call attention to it.
What is the harm in it? Again, I care a great deal about closing prices; that's what we live by. The incessant desire by some managers to distort closing prices for their own benefit seems wrong to me. This Cisco after-hours trading seemed wrong to me. And I am
Cisco. It should seem wrong to you too.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, his fund was long Cisco, although positions can 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.