Do mutual funds really play this mark-up game? Would anyone really buy PMC-Sierra (PMCS) or Broadcom or Q Logic (QLGC) because he has a large position in the name and if he buys it "up" he will increase his net asset value? Would anyone really be that desperate, vain or short-term self-interested?
Of course! Now more than ever. In fact, I suspect that some funds are now starting to move stocks; you see it occurring as certain buyers stake out names and tell the shorts to stay away. Take the opening in Broadcom today. You are probably thinking that only a moron would buy Broadcom on a day when its cohort is shellacked by disappointments. I would add, though, only a moron and someone who needs to tell the shorts, "Stay away from Broadcom, I am taking this up to boost my performance."
And boost it it would! Remember, someone with 3.8 million shares in Broadcom can take that stock up a couple and pick up some nifty performance, maybe just enough to make it so the fund is not down 20%. Ahh, but you are thinking, how does that help you, the shareholder, long term?
Now who's the moron? It doesn't help you the shareholder one bit. It helps the manager market his fund better.
and I always marvel that we knew of this one fund manager who used to brag about how, on bad days he would "market" so he didn't have to stare at his screen. He was totally into marking his stocks to help the marketing effort. Look, the sooner you stop being naive about the motives of many of these managers, the sooner you will be a better client. That's all I want you to be.
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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. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to