Skip to main content

The Cutting Room: The Guy From Olstein Financial Alert Wows Cramer

Also, green-room faves and the Taskmaster.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Bob Olstein rocks. He's as close to a forensic specialist of balance sheets as I have ever seen. He goes short; he goes long. He loves cash; he hates fluff. And he makes you money with value. Year after year after year.

So imagine how I felt on Friday night after the close when I found out he was going to recommend, on our

TV show,

Anchor Gaming


, one of those stocks that seems to be born for

Herb Greenberg

to pick apart.

Gaming stocks are notoriously volatile (meaning they go down) and have been subject to a lot of intense short-seller scrutiny. (Yes, I thought, where the heck is Herb when we need him? I'll just turn the whole segment over to him.)

But Olstein won me over. He didn't buy Anchor when it was riding high; he's buying it after it's been cratered by a bad quarter. That made me rethink my knee-jerk criticism of this stock. And when he said he thought it could earn five bucks, that made me think that Bob is playing the contrarian to the contrarians! He is buying a trashed gaming play that may have nowhere to go but up. Yeah, I could get into that, I thought to myself. And a big new

Wheel of Fortune game rolling out in September, to boot.

Bob's second pick,



, just reported great earnings this week; no flies on that one. I had a tougher time with



only because I had already said that Mattel could be interesting after our rehearsal with Bob a couple of months ago.

In a tough tape since then, the stock has basically done nothing but drift lower. Bob's sticking with his analysis that it's too cheap and being priced by the pessimists. Me? I am not sure. I think it is not risky, but as long as Jill Barad is running the joint it ain't goin' nowhere.

Of course my favorite moment was getting Bob to contrast



, which he is short and I have puts on, with Federated. It was exactly Bob's argument -- one has oodles of cash, the other burns it (you figure which is which) -- that got me to buy the puts in the first place.


waffles! Holy cow, he didn't take a stand on





went for it with gusto, however, which was just fine with me, as I am long it for the quarter next week.

U.S. Steel


left me yawning, but Gary was in Pittsburgh, so I see the synergy. It will take more than a double bottom to snare me in that one, though, and I agree with Adam that the capital structure is still too difficult.

We burst out laughing in the green room during this session, as Lashinsky has fabulous, droll comic timing and Smith is just plain hilarious. Man, I love those two guys.

Our final segment saw the emergence, live and in color, of the


, who overnight has become my favorite columnist on

. If you are not reading his nightly column, wake up and smell the Java. This guy rules. As he did on the show. We all felt badly for the brooming that

John Bogle

got (we even lamented in the green room that he should at a minimum now write a column for us, if not join our board!).

We didn't doff the cap enough to

Dave Kansas

, who last week predicted the carnage in the dot-com world would subside. Dave took the "sunny side" (to use a stupid

Steve Frank

expression) with his


forecast. Taskmaster's prediction of 500-point decline didn't get fleshed out enough. Be sure to

vote for the predictions you think will actually come true!

We ran out of time, but not before I could sing the praises of



, which is now my largest position.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund was long Intel and Dell, and had puts on Amazon. 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