The Times They Are A-Changin'

Cramer touches upon some of the differences between now and when his wife traded.
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Must be something about these year-end things that gets you all nostalgic. When my wife decided to hang up her trading spurs five years ago, one thing she said she would not regret is the sheer phoniness of all of the newfangled companies that I wanted to trade.

Karen liked to trade

Maytag

(MYG)

and

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

.

Cat

(CAT) - Get Report

and

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

were what the market was to her. She loved the autos and the drillers.

Toys R Us

(TOY)

and

Federated

(FD)

were her meat and potatoes. Tech? That's

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Data Gen

(DGN)

. I wanted

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

. I believed in

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

and

Sun Micro

(SUNW) - Get Report

.

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

and

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

made sense to me.

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was worth more than

GE

(GE) - Get Report

to me even back then, and I wanted it on my sheets -- big. It drove her crazy, and she could never accept the notion that Cisco could be bigger than

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

.

Now a new generation of names has taken over. Names like

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

and

Excite

(XCIT)

. Names like

Lycos

(LCOS)

and

Inktomi

(INKT)

and

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

. I know it, and you know it. For most of this year, I struggled to not be like my wife -- and I am a huge believer in online! I skipped eBay and fought off Amazon. I laughed at

Onsale

(ONSL)

, and I derided

Infoseek

(SEEK)

.

But those stocks made you money in 1998. And that is all that matters. I don't give a rat's #^% about whether eBay is in business next year or not. I should have seen it coming when my wife liked the bidding. (I still think it is incredibly overvalued, but so what -- I wish I had those 200 points in my bank.)

So, as 1998 comes to an end, I have to remind myself that the most important part of my job, both as a fund manager and as a columnist, is to be open-minded, to not be mired in the

Western Digitals

(WDC) - Get Report

and

Seagates

(SEG)

when all around me are potential Yahoo!s and

AOLs

(AOL)

.

My wife, in the end, felt put out to pasture by Cisco. As much as I may scoff at the valuations the Net has put on many companies already, I must never let new stocks put me out to pasture. Her retirement was right. In the end, the Net stocks will retire a whole passel of money managers.

I don't want to be one of them.

Random musings:

The big switch to the new site design is rapidly approaching, and I am told that

TheStreet.com

will be heavily staffed this weekend (including execs) for customer-service purposes. Remember, these days I am so far removed from the action of

TheStreet.com

that I feel it is a large part of my job to represent the average customer of the site. Get the transition right, and this customer will be plenty happy. Get it wrong, and this customer will demonstrate a level of passion that I usually reserve for losing Philadelphia sports teams.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, his fund was long Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, America Online, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, General Electric, Western Digital and IBM, though positions 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 by sending a letter to TheStreet.com at

letters@thestreet.com.