Waking a Sleeping Tiger

It's not smart to bet against solid managers with temporarily flagging performance. Witness Tiger Management's Julian Robertson.
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One of the dumbest strategies around is to shoot against great managers that have momentary stumbles. Last week, people in the business were telling me that Tiger Management has been having a tough year. Julian Robertson, the unbelievably good manager who runs Tiger, has had periods of underperformance, as have all managers, this one included. (I wrote many times of my tough year last year, and I carry it around on my back like a steamer trunk, despite excellent performance this year to date.)

The moment I got that call, I should have gone and bought some

US Air

(U) - Get Report

, one of Tiger's biggest positions. (The other is

Tricon Global

(YUM) - Get Report

, which I am now doing work on to buy.)

Tiger is too good to sit around and let a great investment lie fallow. Sure enough, this morning Tiger filed to urge management to bring out shareholder value. As I write, the stock is up huge. Anybody who bought puts or shorted this quality airline has been crushed. A "smart" strategy has been revealed, quickly, as a bogus one.

Sometime or another you will hear of a manager who has been stumbling. If his long-term track record is good, you don't want to bet against him. That may be the very moment when his long-term record comes into play and he returns to his normal course of outperformance.

Maybe this is that moment for Tiger. I wouldn't bet against it.

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.