Cramer: Look at the Facts on Financials

This column by Jim Cramer appeared on RealMoney earlier today. To check out a free trial to RealMoney, please click here.

If you listen to the bank bears, everything's worse than it was four weeks ago. The losses are increasing, the auction-rate preferreds are now biting, the mortgage implode-a-meter now measures how many homebuilders are going under. German banks are repossessing Vegas vanity projects, and Freddie Mac's ( FRE) moaning that it isn't their fault, they didn't compromise standards, things have just gotten much worse.

To which I say, let me give you some evidence that would suggest otherwise. Check out the prices from July 15 and those from last night's close:

  • Ambak (ABK): $1.70 -- $4.59
  • MBIA (MBI): $3.90 -- $8.28 (not including today's blowout earnings!!)
  • Wachovia (WB): $8.90 -- $17
  • Bank of America (BAC): $18 -- $31
  • Fannie (FNM) (yes, FNM!): $6.90 -- $9.90
  • Freddie (yes, FRE!): $4.05 -- $5.89
  • Wells Fargo (WFC): $19.90 -- $29
  • JPMorgan (JPM): $30 -- $39
  • Lehman (LEH): $11 -- $17
  • WaMu (WM): $3.10 -- $4.90
  • Citi (C) (yes, C!): $14 -- $18
  • AIG (AIG) (yes, AIG!): $20 -- $24

When I made my bottom call -- as usual maligned by people who say I have called many bottoms -- regardless of whether I was saying a trading bottom or whatever, I was simply speaking of not violating those levels. There's a host of other commodity-consuming companies' levels that also hit bottom at the same time with the peak in oil that I don't think will be violated.

My evidence doesn't say that things are going to roar. I believe that Fannie and Freddie will have to be bailed out by the federal government and the common will get crushed, contrary to what the regulators are saying. I think Fannie's numbers today are much worse than should be allowed, and the common should be confiscated this afternoon -- the heck with the shareholders. Both FNM and FRE common shareholders should be given 10% of NewCo, with the government getting 90%, so we can benefit from the comeback. FNM and FRE are both worthless right now; I am not one who defends them. I think they are worse minus 10 or something, but stocks stop at zero.

I do believe that Washington Mutual doesn't have enough money to get by, and I would be more emphatic if it weren't for that lawsuit against Dick Bove meant to silence hard-working critics. I do believe that AIG will have to do a $15 billion to $20 billion in-the-hole financing to get out of this period, and I think that management should be investigated for alleged fraud. I don't believe GM ( GM) or Ford ( F) common shareholders will have anything more than Sirius ( SIRI) shareholders have in the end. Their common is worthless, too, that's how bad the obligations, the car models, the leasing, the gas mileage, the legacy contracts and the unions are.

I do believe that housing will not bottom until the end of 2009, and that most houses will still have to fall 20% to where buyers are if the patterns of the bottom in Stockton and Bradenton are followed. I do think that one or two of the major homebuilders will go under, but it hasn't happened yet, and their balance sheets are improving, so this is looking too bearish. As you can see from Beazer ( BZH) this morning, the public guys keep being able to skate.

Is that negative for you? How about this? I think Citigroup needs to sell 500 million shares at $10, eliminate the dividend and then issue $10 billion in preferred on top of that. And that's just to stay in business. BUT IT WILL.

I am simply saying that despite all of those negatives, I do not believe we will take out the July lows, because we should have by now -- we haven't. Instead, we have seen commodities collapse, inflation dwindle, the Fed have the ability to cut if it wants to now, a Merrill Lynch ( MER) rebalancing of its books so it will make it, a stabilization of the endless run on Lehman so it can breathe, and a plan to be able to get out of auction rate hell.

Again, I hate the market. I hate that it can be up 300 one day and down 200 the next. I despise it, don't trust it, think it is phony on up days and would like most days to be 100% short because I hate it so much.

But that, as intellectually satisfying as it sounds, may not make you as much money as being long a lot of stocks that are in bull-market mode.

I think the easiest thing in the world today is to say, "This market is horrible, and you should short everything, particularly commodities, financials, retail, agriculture and tech."

But I am stuck in the real world: That strategy, except commodities, hasn't worked since July 15.

What can I do? I am so stuck with these darned facts that it infuriates me. Nothing would be more satisfying to then to say, smugly, that it is all a big joke and I am 100% short things that are bad.

Or, even better, I am short everything that is bad and long everything that is good.

What a luxury. But the facts haven't supported that thesis.

Maybe they will, but in the end, I am stuck with the facts.

Those prices I quoted aren't illusory. Billions of dollars traded there.

They are the facts. I am betting they will withstand the onslaught.

If I am wrong, then I'm wrong. I am not paid to say nothing or to report the news. Others do that. I am paid to try to figure it out.

My work says those prices will hold, that they were the bottom. Only one stock of the major financials, just one stock, has violated those lows -- Merrill Lynch. And because it did, that broker's in the best shape to survive of all but Morgan ( MS) and Goldman ( GS). I don't want to own it, but I doubt anyone now questions Merrill's viability, even though Doug Kass is right about the potential captive managers (although the people in those funds are wealthy, not like the holders of auction rate preferreds).

To me, it is still in the bears' court to prove that those levels will get taken out, or at least taken out in non-Merrill Lynch style. Until then, I am sticking by my call, because so far it is right.

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

Jim 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. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for Action Alerts PLUS. Watch Cramer on "Mad Money" weeknights on CNBC. To order Cramer's newest book -- "Jim Cramer's Stay Mad for Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer)," click here. Click here to order "Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich," click here to order "Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World," click here to get "You Got Screwed!" and click here for Cramer's autobiography, "Confessions of a Street Addict." While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback and invites you to send comments by clicking here.

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