This column was originally published on RealMoney on Sept. 27 at 2:17 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
The action looks so scattered, but there's something behind the action, beneath it, lurking that makes me nervous, and I am not talking about
. I am talking the most chilling tell of all:
The Food Stocks
They are all up.
At first I thought that perhaps the canned goods trade post-Hurricane Katrina, as
well-documented by James Altucher, might be behind the strength. But the move is too all-encompassing besides
, they all are ramping.
are both up, too.
That's not a good thing.
The food stocks are like parasites, they suck the blood out of all other sectors, including tech and industrials. They live off the rest of the market -- an awful combination of cannibals and vampires.
We have not seen this group act in tandem like this since the spring of 2000, when the
was also too aggressive. That's when you saw these giant moves in the cereal and beverage companies. Of course, it was easy to be fooled at the time because part of it was takeover: Bestfoods got a bid from
, making people feel that there might have been something else.
That's not the case this time. This time there's no possible misdirection play. We have been zero-sum in this group for a long time: Kellogg goes up so General Mills goes down; Pepsi goes up so Coke goes down. That's why it is such a sit-up-and-take-notice moment.
I bought some General Mills yesterday for my charitable trust,
ActionAlertsPLUS. The company reported a nice upside surprise, went up a buck and change and then started giving back what it had made.
Not today. It's on the way up.
I don't want to overthink this move. The best way to play it would be with
, which is still facing a big break in its tobacco litigation that will unlock the food group within.
The next-best way might be General Mills because the good quarter just got reported.
You have to like the comeback that Unilever's been making too with a 4% yield.
Mostly, though, you should take heed of the bigger sea change here. The steels, the chemicals, the aluminums can't get out of their way. The machinery call, as much as I didn't like it yesterday, has legs again. And to see the Hormel and the Heinz and the
move, you have to believe there's something big afoot. Something big and bad. In the economy.
P.S. from TheStreet.com Editor-in-Chief, Dave Morrow:
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At the time of publication, Cramer was long General Mills and Altria.
James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for
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