The Shift Makes Sense; Finding a Cure for 'High-Multiple-Itis': Jim Cramer's Best Blogs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Jim Cramer fills his blog on RealMoney every day with his up-to-the-minute reactions to what's happening in the market and his legendary ahead-of-the-crowd ideas. This week he blogged on:

  • how investors should consider owning earnings growth vs. owning sales growth, and
  • why Wall Street needs to watch out for "High-Multiple-itis" and "momentum denouement."

Click here for information on RealMoney, where you can see all the blogs, including Jim Cramer's -- and reader comments -- in real time.


The Shift Makes Sense

Posted at 3:05 p.m. EST on Thursday, May 1, 2014

Portfolio managers right now are gripped between owning earnings growth at a reasonable price and owning sales growth at unreasonable price.

[Read: Berkshire Prediction: General Electric Is on Buffett's Mind]

I think the vast majority of the growth companies delivered on their promises, but the stocks had gone up so far vs. historical levels of valuation that they couldn't just keep going up. But once they stopped going up, they were of no use to the faux growth managers who had been hiding in them but never really understood them. They just liked them because they were going up.

But the growth-at-a-reasonable-price stocks have started to betray some of their investors. Clorox (CLX) and Church & Dwight (CHD), ExxonMobil (XOM), Express Scripts (ESRX) and Cardinal Health (CAH) have all disappointed this week. These were bought because they weren't supposed to disappoint.

So, Thursday we are getting a bit of a shift that makes sense when you think of it. Some of the high-flying stocks are down huge to the point where they aren't as expensive historically. Call them fairly valued, not undervalued. Some of the low fliers have become expensive historically vs. their growth rates.

[Read: Android Stinks and Apple's About to Prove It]

There's only one problem: you get three days like this and the valuations will shift again.

Oh, and don't you for one minute believe that isn't exactly what will happen in three days -- if not sooner.


Finding a Cure for 'High-Multiple-Itis'

Posted at 2:20 p.m. EST on Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sitting with CEO Kevin Plank at the new Under Armour (UA) store in Soho this morning surrounded by fashion, I recognized just how fickle the Wall Street fashion show really is. Under Armour has been victim of a disease that has variably been called "High-Multiple-itis," "momentum denouement," and "Amazon road kill."

[Read: Here's How Geothermal Energy Will Soon Heat Up Wall Street]

Understandable given that only a handful of companies in the S&P 500, notably Amazon (AMZN) and Salesforce.com (CRM) have had consistently higher sales growth than the company.

Remember, though, that ever since the end of February when Salesforce.com blew away the numbers and then rallied and pirouetted, the kiss of death for the algorithms (yes there's an algo for that), it's been history for all of the high-multiple earnings stocks and the high enterprise-to-sales stocks. And at 50 times earnings, Under Armour is ground-zero for the contest.

Under Armour has really been heavy, especially when you consider that the darned stock was just added to the S&P 500. That was a short-lived spike after a quarter that seemed a tad Amazon-like -- meaning that it had big spend that might not be immediately requited with earnings.

For me, this has gotten all hit or miss. I am adamant that the high-multiple-itis can only be cured by growing into the multiple, something that Under Armour has been through before. It's a wild ride that twists and turns -- meaning turns down -- before it goes higher.

[Read: LinkedIn Results: What Wall Street's Saying]

But higher-multiple-itis is different from "no-multiple-itis," meaning a company that has no intention of being profitable because it wants to be the next Amazon. That's because I think the latter cohort has to be sold on every bounce. Even today's bounce. But the former can be ridden as long as you accept that the downturn's cure can be considered worse than the disease by a lot of the fast-money crowd.

The history of this period following the Salesforce.com pirouette is simple: Four days of downdraft followed by two days of upward movement that ultimately fails. The first day -- today -- that they bounce brings out the "REIT" buys the next day, meaning the analysts come out of their foxholes and try to get the stocks higher.

But the next day has been a total must-sell day, even for Under Armour, and forget about the enterprise-to-revenue guys. Remember, the selloff is not the fault of the CEO. People decided to pay too much for Under Armour's growth and while Under Armour beat earnings and sales, it did not raise the forecast. In the world we are in now, you need clean beats, top and bottom, and clean raises, top and bottom. If not, you are instantly waste-binned. Also in this new era, it does not matter whether you are being conservative in your forecast. They are all taken as gospel.

[Read: News Corp. Courts Harlequin in $414M Deal]

If you have any doubt about what the market likes, consider Apple (AAPL), which beat on the top and bottom line and then allowed you to raise estimates based on the pipe alone. Under Armour did not let you do that. It's spending didn't let you.

So, right now, spend is out. Acquisitions are out. Firing and returning capital is in. I think that today's a respite.

Don't be greedy.

At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long AAPL.

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