This market will not bail the margined players out. It simply will not let them get out of here alive. Even as the market lifted at the opening, it didn't lift the heavily margined names -- the stocks that have come public in the last 18 months. Now it is punishing those names severely.
Why aren't these names coming back? Three answers: supply, supply and supply. If the margined sellers don't blink and sell, the venture capitalists blink and sell. If the venture capitalists don't blink and sell, the executives blink and sell. If the executives don't blink and sell, the rank and file blinks and sells. And if the employees don't blink and sell,
Buzz Gould gets his redemptions and sells.
These new stocks are ticking time bombs with their jittery owners. They can stay up for only so long before one of these cohorts tries to grab something off the table before the stocks blow up.
That's why we are being conservative, why we are buying household names and selling what is ever left of the funny-money names. We have to do it because someone else will do it first. We want to be in stocks that get cheaper as they get lower -- older stocks -- not more expensive (because the newer stocks are ruled by chartists who like stocks less as they go down.).
We don't want to be in stocks where the shareholder base is your enemy. We want to be in stocks that have been hit hard already, that are seasoned where the owners are not thinking about getting out.
We are now seeing the brutal effects of the underwriting tactic that sold off a small piece of the equity to get a great underwriting pop. Who cares about that pop now? Now we see the dark side; there would have been no pop if it weren't for the artificially tight supply (check out the five-part
manifesto about this.)
Right now neither bull nor bear is winning. Right now the
one-third rule is playing out perfectly: one-third of stocks look like they have bottomed, one-third is groping for a bottom and one-third is groping for oxygen. If you are on margin and your stocks are groping for oxygen, you will be soon too, so take action now. Get liquid. Don't be a casualty of the margin clerk.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. 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