The 98-Lb. Weakling Stocks

Cramer doesn't look for strength when he's buying. The dips still look good to him.
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Sure is tempting to believe this correction is over.

We had 5% declines in the blue chips and some 40% declines in the Internet faves. Some stocks, like

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, dropped 15 straight points.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

gave up everything it made when it reported a blowout quarter.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

shed 12 points.

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

got blown out for 12. These are some serious declines.

Yet all that has happened is that the fundamentals look pretty good. Personal computers seemed to be having a strong January. Telco equipment spending seems very robust.

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

, a company that gave plenty of people something to worry about because of geography, performed well.

Tellabs

,

(TLAB)

reporting after the close, guided numbers higher. And now awaiting us we have

EMC

(EMC)

and

AOL

(AOL)

-- two companies that many people, myself included, believe will report strong numbers.

I know, you expect me to throw in some caveat. I mean, isn't that what people do in this business? How about "We have to wait to see what the

Fed

does?" Or why not, "Let's look at the quality of AOL's earnings before we pounce." Or even dumber, "Let's see how this whole impeachment thing shakes out before we make a move."

Yeah, this business is all about people telling you to wait until you know what is behind the curtain. But if you wait, I can tell you, the rewards are far smaller than if you anticipate. I know I bought all the way down Friday and those buys held up well on Monday. I have no desire to get even longer up here, but I do feel that this selloff has concluded and if I owned nothing, I would be doing some scrambling to get positions on.

It is precisely to avoid that scramble that I showed my hand last week when the market looked ugly. I don't like to buy strength. Last week, when EMC and Intel and IBM were being hacked, I bought. Now I have to wait and see if I get higher prices. When I do, I will sell my trading stocks but keep my core positions. That's how I work.

And if you didn't buy down, what do you have to do? Let's take

Qwest

(QWST)

. Yesterday, for whatever reason, there was a big seller of Qwest. You have to hope, if you want into Qwest, that the seller returns. If he is there, you will get a good price relative to where it was. If he is finished, you will have to pay up. I can't pay up; too much risk involved. If I have conviction that a stock is going higher, I move to buy into the crescendo selloff, not up here.

People, of course, call this buying on dips. It has a bad reputation, mostly because many of the intelligentsia think that one day the dip will be bought and it will wash everyone away. I know last October I felt that way. I genuinely believed, like many intelligent worriers, that the dip maybe, this time, could not be bought. It cost me.

So now I am back to my old ways, buying the weakness of the stocks that I love. No, I am not going out to the playground, a la

Peter Lynch

and watch kids play who have no idea what the money supply is. That, to me, amounts to ignorant bliss. I will stay current and be sure that everything is okey-dokey in my stocks, because if the fundamentals turn out to be bad, I would only have my playground watching to blame.

And I will wait until so much buying comes in that I can lock in some good gains on the portion of my stock earmarked for trading. It's what I do for a living; I like it that way.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, the fund was long EMC, AOL, Qwest, IBM, Philip Morris and Intel, 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 a letter to TheStreet.com at letters@thestreet.com.