The Real Problem of This Market

According to Cramer, it all boils down to two stocks: Intel and Pfizer.
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All right, let's get off the desk for a second. Step away from the machines. Huddle on the couch with us. What are we really talking about?

The real problem of this market:

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

.

Both of these stocks act like the circus bug warriors in

A Bug's Life

. They look like they are fierce combatants ready to lay down their lives for you. But they are mere actors, and, unlike the movie, they aren't stepping up.

There is only one problem. We believe in these stocks. We have gone to them before, and they have worked for us. We know people who own these stocks. In fact, we don't know anybody who

doesn't

own them.

Yet, the stocks can't possibly live up to our expectations anymore. Suddenly Pfizer, the drug company that could do no wrong in the 1990s, feels like Pfizer, the laughingstock of the '80s. Trovan? Give it the hook over that liver stuff. Viagra? Better as a Leno laugh line than as a drug. Zithromax? Heck, they won't give it to me anymore at my HMO. They say it's because they are worried I will get immune to it. But I think it's because it is too expensive.

And then there is Intel, which is a proxy for everything that ails the

Nasdaq

from

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

to

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

. I remember six years ago when I gave a talk at the 92nd Street Y, I asked how many people own Intel. Show of hands. Not one went up. (All shot up for

Philip "Killer" Morris

(MO) - Get Report

, though.)

Now if I were ever to be asked back there instead of the staid guys they let in now, and I polled that audience about who owns Intel, I am sure every hand would go up. Heck, whom can you sell Intel to if everybody owns it? Intel has infected every portfolio, and Pfizer doesn't have anything to cure it!

Until we discover new leadership, these two circus bug pretenders will continue to let us down. They just don't have the juice right now. And we are asking them to do too much for us.

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

letters@thestreet.com.