Oh man, I can't believe Buzz Gould and Batch Hammer let me do this. They let me sit in on their brunch at Tabla today, as they figured out how to approach Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report-Monday. Where else can you get this kind of insight into how the Young Turks play the game these days? So let's listen in and see if we can learn the game plan from the pros. I preferred the fly-on-the-wall approach for this skull session, injecting myself only once.
: What does this Microsoft shortfall mean, Buzz? What kind of opening are we looking at tomorrow?
: Batch, a controlled one, as we always control these things on bad days. How much capital do we have?
: We're in great shape capital-wise because when we dipped into the red a week ago Friday, we were in undated with money and we didn't have to spend too much to help ourselves get back in the black. Of course, we're down a couple as of Friday.
: I thought I told you to mark up the
into the close to get us back in the black? I thought I told you to move up
and the rest of those infrastructure things?
: Buzzy, I took those suckers up huge, it was some of the other stuff that caused the shortfall, you know, the hard-to-control stuff like the Gilder stuff. Man, where's that guy been? He really high-tailed it.
: As I always say, easy come, easy go, Batch-mo.
: Come on Buzz, what's the plan?
: We formulated the plan at Tens last night, Batchy. You should have been there. Now that's mixing business with pleasure. Anyway, here's the deal. Everybody thinks that Microsoft is gonna stink up the joint. So what do we do? We set the alarm early, my man, and we come in and we blast those
futures to the sky with a couple of million bucks early morning. There's no liquidity then. We all agreed to go in early at the Tens session, so it won't even take more than a couple of million to get those Dawgs flying up. We start at 4 a.m. and we keep running 'em up until the television talking heads pick up on it.
: But what if real sellers come in?
: Will you give me a break? Nobody big uses those futures. They're there for us to manipulate. We can really color the whole thing. Maybe even put out the word that it's
buying. I can just hear those talking heads saying, "Boy, it looks like this market is going to shrug of Microsoft after all."
: Buzz, I'm in awe of you. I feel the way Bakala did with Uncle June. Man, I gotta hand it to you. You know how to play this game. But what if we get some Mister Softee downgrades? Wasn't it a crummy quarter after all?
: "Nah. We're putting out the word to the analyst community to say it's Microsoft posturing, you know, going for the sympathy vote. Bunch of hogwash, I know, but that way we won't have to use too much capital to keep up the usual suspects. You can bet the behind- the-scenes strong arming from everybody from the big dog up north to the corporate finance will keep that kind of shelling to a minimum. Calendar's too deep to kick 'Soft now."
: Hey Cramer, why did you have to knock 'Soft? You trying to make my life tougher?
: Buzz, actually the call was ...
: Oh, so you stuck around for the conference call did you? Well, three gold stars for you. (Turns right back to Batch Hammer.)
: We could let everything come in and then buy them cheaper, kind of let the market take its course for once.
: What have you been smoking, Batch-o-roonie? We can't let that happen. Charts will be ruined. Shorts will get a chance to cover. Public won't get juiced. Forget about it, we have to keep the balls in the air long enough so we can get more money in to keep up our favorites, mostly the infrastructure plays because they still have mo. This CMR thing, or CRM thing or whatever, now that has legs. That's customer retention or something. What is that R for, darn it?
: (sotto) Did you ever think, Buzz, that this time it will be different? This time the money won't come in? This time, the dip won't hold?
: Batchy, you're going Biggs on me now, aren't you? Let me tell you something: We have no choice but to buy. It's buy or die, man. We stay on the sidelines for a big move up, we lose our jobs. Nobody gives a rat's &*&$ if we're down when the Nasdaq is down. We'll just pick up and move to some other fund. Just shuffle the desk with some other go-go managers. But if we don't participate in the upswing, its back to the institutional sales game and, believe me, I've seen enough hockey to last a lifetime.
: Ah, when you put it that way, I say, pass the nan bread, but no more beer. Gotta get up early tomorrow, I want John Q. Public to hear about those futures flying up and have him put more money in. Pronto.
(Sound of beer glasses toasting.)
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was short Microsoft. 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