Editor's Note: Jim Cramer's column runs exclusively on RealMoney.com; this is a special free look at his column. For a free trial subscription to RealMoney.com, click here. This article was published Feb. 27 on RealMoney.
Asbestos has fallen off the radar screen since that key injunction that
got against more payouts, but that doesn't mean the issue has gone away. In fact, it's about to get back on the screen, big-time.
Here's why: There's going to be a hearing next week on the
injunction, very similar to the Halliburton injunction, at the same Pennsylvania court where all the action is. I think the Honeywell injunction, which, like HAL's, is a temporary one, will be made permanent shortly after that.
But don't break out the bubbly. The HON injunction is for only a certain number of claims for the old NARCO (North American Refractories) asbestos hook. There are still more than 100,000 claims from Honeywell's Bendix brake division that aren't covered and a possibly huge exposure from an old printing business of Honeywell's predecessor company, Allied Chemical (Mergenthaler Linotype.)
So both HAL, with its Kellogg division (70,000 claims), and HON, with Bendix and Mergenthaler, still have worries ahead, regardless of whether either injunction is made permanent.
Nevertheless, the next bit of news on asbestos is going to be positive -- the March 7 hearing -- and then, if you are nervous about the other exposure, exposure that neither company has enough insurance to protect itself from, especially after all the insurance coverage they've committed already, you can take profits after that HON injunction goes permanent.
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.
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