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You want to short
. You want to short
. You want to bet against
. But do you know why you want to do it?
I know why. Not because I have interviewed dozens of hedge fund managers and I have the skinny on those companies. I know why because as a hedge fund manager, I had stocks I hated. I hated them because they could be counted on to go up, boosted by their endless backers who refused to care about
I hated those stocks because I played by the rules and the owners of them didn't. I hated those stocks because when my investors called, they wanted to know why I didn't own them. They wanted to know why because the stocks were going up and were readily accessible to all, including hedge fund managers, and it bothered them I wasn't in them.
Funny thing, though; that's not enough of a reason to short stocks. You have to have the goods.
Let me discuss two of my favorite shorts of the old days:
Applied Micro Circuits
. During the heyday, I was one of those people who would look every day to see what time Kevin Landis would come on
. I knew that people would be shorting these stocks because they hated them. I knew of an actual cartel that would buy these stocks and keep them higher. (Don't worry, the government knew, too, but who was hurt? Who had standing to be aggrieved by stocks going higher?)
Anyway, I would wait until an hour before Landis was due to come on and load the boat up with those shares. Then I would peel them off slowly after he had talked about them and they had jumped.
But you know what? I didn't get rid of them. I didn't short them. Because the stories were intact. I just kept some on, and I knew Landis would be back on
in a couple of days, when I would just do the same.
Then, on a couple of days in the spring and summer of 2000,
said their customers were slowing down purchases.
you could short them. And we did, every time Landis was on. And we didn't cover them all when Landis was done because we knew he would be back on, and it kept us fresh to keep the names on the sheets so we could short them again when the mustachioed wonder was back on the set.
You had to have more than hatred to bring down a stock. You needed
If you know that auctions are slowing down on eBay, you should have your whole fund short it. If you heard that
Barnes & Noble.com
was going to pay you for buying books on line, you should short Amazon. If you knew that the government was going to ban Electronic Arts' games, you should short ERTS. If you knew that
had decided to ban advertising, you should short Yahoo!.
But if you know nothing more than what I know, which is that these stocks are as expensive as all get-out, then even during this seasonally weak period they will be unrewarding shorts.
Sorry to let you down. Sorry not to give what many of you want.
But that has never been my style.
Why is the press so suspicious of the situation in Iraq? It's because it wasn't suspicious enough about Vietnam. If you think that's not the case, go read
They Walked into Sunlight
. Real good read. ... My television partner Larry Kudlow wants to know why the Democrats were so gloomy about the economy. I think it is because they want to be elected and don't want to see George W. Bush elected, but then again, I always had a keen eye for the obvious.
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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