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 originally published June 10 on RealMoney.
The market's taking the power to do deals away from the cable companies. The market, which had been in love with these companies for so long and felt they could do nothing wrong, roared with applause when these companies paid ever-higher prices for subscribers.
, the two highest bidders, expressed a willingness to pay premium prices -- certainly into the $5,000s per, if the market had allowed them -- their stocks just soared.
got caught up in it, too, agreeing to pay a rich price to get
Now, though, we are in a different spiral. Now Adelphia is perceived as dishonest. Charter is perceived as totally profligate and run by a rich madman bounced only by his own hubris.
So, now the whole group goes down, which creates an unbelievable opportunity to buy Adelphia's cable properties at prices that might turn out to be half of what was paid just a few years ago.
And nobody can take advantage of it. All of the stocks are too low, as the market is saying, "Don't even think about it."
Of course, this extreme is as wrong as the extreme to the high end was. No matter. You can't give cable companies away.
Anyone with a long-term perspective should be tempted by these prices and be willing to sit and buy, knowing that these companies can be huge cash generators. But that would require taking punishment, something that there has been too much of lately. The same people who can take pain in the value now manifested in cable have already taken huge pain in the industries known as wireless and telecom.
I know I am buying Comcast for my
as I couldn't flip it if it rallied anyway because of my holding restrictions. I am betting that the AT&T deal will close with Comcast, and rationality will return at some point in my lifetime, preferably 2003.
But I am not holding my breath.
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. At the time of publication, Cramer was long Comcast.
To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for Action Alerts PLUS by
clicking here. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to
to get Cramer's book, "Confessions of a Street Addict."