The Conundrum of Bethlehem Steel - TheStreet

The Conundrum of Bethlehem Steel

Another quarter, same sad story. If Bethlehem Steel were an animal, and we had a heart, we know what we would do with it.
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Glory be, the good folks at

Bethlehem Steel

(BS)

must have some sort of canned command, some function key for every quarterly press release that says: "We are very disappointed with our third-quarter financial results. Our shipment levels and prices were depressed because of unfairly traded steel imports, and we incurred substantial additional costs in connection with extensive and planned modernization and other outages."

Sure enough, the third quarter just got reported and there's that caveat graph explaining why business is still crummy. Not only that, but with the good old

Fed

getting tight, you can bet that whatever might have been cooking in those coke ovens of Bethlehem Steel will be severely cut back going forward.

Why even bother to look at this company? Because on a price to revenue -- something they taught was important at school -- we should be loading the boat up, $800 million in equity gets you $4 billion in revs.

Yet, this stock is simply some sort of wasting asset that goes down every day. I keep waiting for a business school graduate to tell me why Bethlehem Steel shouldn't go to zero out of sheer lack of interest, but instead the kids usually get taught some reason about why it is a buy. Indeed, Bessie is a conundrum. If it were an animal, and we had a heart, we know what we would do with it. But it is people and mills, and the former can't get a break no matter how hard they try.

And there is no euthanasia for companies.

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

jjcletters@thestreet.com.