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Unwrapping Last Week's Gifts From the Media

Nonstories that you can play to make an easy buck.
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Some stories startle every time they hit the tape. Yet they are strictly repeats of previous stories. They can generate trades -- bad trades -- that lose you money. They cloud your thinking and destroy your concentration.

We had a boatload of these stories last week. Here's a checklist of stories that don't make sense to trade off of, because they are simply rehashes of previous stories, already discounted by the stock market.

First, the big one,


cares about stock prices. While I don't do the textual

analysis that my colleague

James Padinha

does, I am well aware that Greenspan has cared about stock prices since the time the once-soaring


average destroyed the Japanese economy. He has repeatedly warned that he fears a Japanization of our stock market if things get out of control. That this Jackson Hole speech could prompt a fresh round of "Holy cow, the Fed looks at stocks" is strictly a fault of daily journalism. The maw of daily business journalism demands that stories seem like they are fresh as a daisy even when they are no more alive than silk flowers. People then freak out and bail. This Greenspan story generated just that reaction on Friday, even though we have had

10 years

where the Fed was glued to the stock market.

Of all of the opportunities-by-same-old-same-old stories, the best is the chronic "



to cut prices" articles that happen every quarter. If you haven't followed Intel, when you see that headline your first thought is "uh-oh, they must be in trouble." But Intel's mantra is to cut prices. That's what it does. Regularly. That's Intel's stock-in-trade, to bring the prices of chips down, to make them more accessible to the consumer. Yet, every time this story runs -- and it has run dozens of times -- Intel gets hit. I stand there with a bushel basket each time. It always works.

The corollary is "



announces price cuts." Every time this story runs, people panic out of the boxmakers. Again, when Intel cuts prices, these boxmakers cut prices. It always makes the tape. It always sends this group down.

And I always buy them

, because the price cuts are expected. What a great opportunity to profit off of news-headline hysteria!

How about "



announces new chip that is better, faster and cheaper" than Intel's. Here's another old saw that gets treated with massive respect by journalists every time it happens. Makes me sick to my stomach. Intel is the world's greatest manufacturing company. Its plants are like wonders of the world. AMD is a crummy manufacturer; it has a hard time delivering on its promise. But Intel goes down every time we see this AMD headline. Another money-in-the-bank opportunity, because AMD will screw it up!

Finally, we had another uncritical gift from the journalists, "OPEC to remain vigilant on production quotas." As soon as I see that, I reach for the puts on the drillers, because they would not be issuing this nonstory unless something was afoot. This is one of those stories like "Tarses' job secure, ABC execs say." You wouldn't be reading this story

unless the opposite

is true. But no one ever breaks this cycle. Call me cynical, but that's how I make money.

Random musings

: You must read

Herb Greenberg's

column today. He turned it over to Jeff Matthews, from

Ram Partners

, one of those managers everybody in my business knows and respects as an investor (not a value investor, or a Graham and Dodd type), who delivers a blistering analysis of



. ...

Premier Parks


, another Herb

favorite, seems destined to pay higher insurance costs after these coaster tragedies, not to mention a decline in traffic. My wife and I love coasters and we have now sworn them off. ...

Dave & Buster's


comments kept filling my box all weekend, mostly of the cautionary kind, even as everybody seems to love to go there. The caution stems from the gigantic size of the MISS, which was huge by even nonthemed restaurant standards.

Taking a hard look at

Becton Dickinson


today after spending three hours in the emergency room of a Flemington hospital Saturday night, as doctors worked furiously to put my wife's wrist back together after a roller-blading accident. (She fell backwards and landed with all her weight on her left hand, so the wrist pad couldn't do the job. While her wrist may be broken, her spirit was intact, as the father of another patient asked whether she was the "Trading Goddess" as they wheeled her gurney to the X-rays. She is now doing fine, cast and sling aside.) As I studied every single box in the storage room next to my wife's bed as we awaited the orthopedist, I was impressed that Becton Dickinson still has such a hold on these hospitals even after its management has run the ship aground. Seems like a natural for



to look at.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund was long Intel and Tyco. 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