Does Ryan Jacob know anything? That's right, does the guy who runs the
Jacob Internet fund know anything?
Oh, I know that's not cricket. In this game we are supposed to speak in reverent terms about the people at the helm of mutual funds. We are supposed to be in awe of their stock-picking prowess and hang on their every word. We have them on TV shows and we respect their judgment and their picks. (
talked with Jacob about his record.)
But, I ask again, does Ryan Jacob know anything? Jacob had the good fortune to be picking Net stocks for another fund, the
Internet fund, when it was hot.
Now he is picking them for himself and, maybe, just maybe, you. If you are unlucky enough to be in his fund you are down more than 40% since the year started. Where I come from (which, by the way, is the same city he comes from, Philadelphia), that stinks.
Sure, he started his fund at a bad time. But is that the investor's fault? Is that the market's fault? Did someone put a gun to his head and say, "You better start a mutual fund right now for Net stocks or I will blow your head off"?
In the time he's been running his fund he has picked some of the crummiest stocks on the Net:
, to name a few. Of course, like almost all mutual funds, who has a clue of where and when he bought them? But judging from his performance, it wasn't down here at these prices. (Give Jacob his due, however; he does provide investors with relatively
recent holding information.)
And he's gotten one of the greatest free passes I have come across.
Check out this funny comment, quoted on
a few months ago, from those folks at
: "He did look at valuations
when he managed the
fund and to the extent that anyone can be valuation sensitive in that area, he was," Scott Cooley, a Morningstar analyst who covers the fund, told us.
I even gave this guy a free pass when he was on our now-departed TV show. I bought the hype, too. I figured, Heck, he's got to know.
Look, when I started this mutual fund column, I said it was going to be different. I was not going to put out the usual bilge about managers. I know the truth; they aren't all created equal.
So, we could say, "Hey, tough market, better luck next time." Or we could even say, "Look, nasty sector, but if you wanted it, he gave it to you, in spades."
I say, Uh-uh. No way. He's losing people money. Big-time.
Tomorrow: Cramer puts his money where his mouth is and invests real money in 50 mutual funds. Find out his game plan. Then, on Sunday, a mutual fund horror story.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at