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 Nov. 13 on RealMoney.
You can feel it starting to emerge right now. At first everyone was frozen in their tracks after Sept. 11. Was it the beginning of a new world order? Would the consumer ever spend again? Was the economy going to sink into oblivion? We might have started thawing, but then the anthrax attacks struck, and we began to think that nothing would ever be the same again, that even the mail was not safe, something so trusted and so, well, daily and in our homes.
But now that seems to have drifted from our consciences. We are focused on it now like we were on Tylenol or the Unabomber, and we aren't as scared as we once were.
So now companies are starting to make their moves. Wealthy companies are peering out of their fallout shelters and saying, "you know what, we can buy advertising cheaply, we can build brands inexpensively and if we support those brands with enough dollars,
we can take share from everyone who is still frozen and worried and scared."
It's not an easy decision. The advertising agencies are reeling themselves this time. The advertising agencies seem unable to do anything other than talk about how bad things are, perhaps because so many people in their industry are losing jobs. I don't blame them. One of the reasons people still think the bear market is alive and well in the U.S. is that the brokers are laying off people left and right. Therefore the personal negativity gets translated into a belief that the market must be much worse than it is, or at least that's what it is letting on.
In an environment where the personnel at ad agencies are worried and uncertain, it's not easy to be confident. It doesn't matter, there are enough people out there who know that share-taking is to be had right now. I am seeing it. I am seeing
take share in banking.
is taking share in food.
is taking share in networking.
is taking share in cell phones.
AOL Time Warner
is solidifying share online and in magazines, which is why I am done selling it for now and will look to rebuild the position at lower levels.
are taking share in retailing. And, last but not least,
has decided to take share in autos.
These share-takers are not thinking about now but rather what will happen two or three years from now. They know disarray won't last forever. They all remember how expensive it got to build share just two and three years ago, so they don't want to wait until it gets expensive again.
It is difficult to reward share-takers with higher prices right now. The process of taking share often requires more spending than Wall Street would like. Take the case of
. I think Merrill Lynch is in massive retrenchment, a retrenchment that could help its bottom line, short-term. But Citigroup isn't doing a giant pullback. I see it being aggressive here. When the smoke clears, Citigroup will be bigger and more profitable than ever. Merrill will be smaller and less profitable. That's the way it has to turn out.
The market's not dumb. It will see through those who are retrenching and value them not as growth stocks but as takeover plays. It will ultimately place a premium on growth because that's always what drives stocks in the end.
That's why, for my personal account, I have begun to buy share-takers, not willing to wait to see that share being taken. I know I have to act now, while people still believe everything is in disarray.
Because it won't be for long. And when the disarray gets sorted out, the share-takers' stocks will be much, much higher.
Incredibly funny article in
blasting me for blasting the mutual funds for losing so much of my money. Yeah, guys, right, it was all my fault.
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 Citigroup, Cisco, Nokia, AOL Time Warner, Best Buy and Target. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to