Taking Lumps for Doubting Retail

Keeping track of missed opportunities -- like Circuit City and Abercrombie -- to learn from them.
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Friday is recrimination day at my shop. That's when we sit down and figure out what we screwed up on this week. First, we are always screwing up. That's like striking out or grounding out. It happens. What we are trying to do is get closer to

Ted Williams

and further away from

Dave Kingman

(better average, fewer strike-outs on the way to the fences).

This week the topic was retail: how we missed playing so many obvious doubles in this group. We were so fixated on the power of e-commerce and what it might do to brick-and-mortar retailers. We also didn't believe that this group could have a January-February rebirth when seasonally it hasn't done all that well.

We shouldn't have missed it. Art Samberg gave us a great DVD heads-up about

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

in the


roundtable earlier this year. That was a huge winner this week. We also knew enough to be long

Diamond Multimedia


for a good move. And we could not be oblivious to the early return of tax refunds, courtesy of the electronic revolution.

But the subject this week at our meeting was the belief that the move would not be long lasting.



(ANF) - Get Report

. We love this stock. We buy it every time it gets hit. But then we worried about the stock having too big a move too fast. And we fretted about how somebody might downgrade it because it has had such a run. We also did not think it could sustain this kind of momentum. We had sold it on a scale, 5,000 shares about every two points, and on Tuesday we found ourselves at tag ends -- and we just blew out our last 20,000. Consequently the stock jumped five straight points and, as it remained on our trading screens after we sold it, we had to live with the second-guessing for the rest of the week.

The take-away? As long as the fundamentals remain strong and you can monitor those fundamentals, you should not get off the horse just because it has done so well. We constantly have to remind ourselves of that lesson. I am hoping this piece, like many of the pieces I write, forces me to think of this the next time I want to sell a stock simply because it has been such a winner.

Random musings

: Take a look at the correlation between Japan and our banks. A good trade almost every time is that when Japan rallies, our banks move. Now that the pattern is noticed, maybe it won't work now and then, but if you think Japan is for real, banks might have more of a move than we thought.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. 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 a letter to TheStreet.com at letters@thestreet.com.