Sunday, August 19, 2007

Barron's Drive-By Shooting of Cramer

Maybe the city where you live has enough drive-by shootings that they don't spark much interest anymore. Where I live, Evansville, Indiana, population 150,000, however, drive-by shooting are very rare, and when they happen, everyone knows it wasn't a crime of passion or of larceny, gone wrong, but a professional job. As I was passing through the Atlanta airport today, I noticed that Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" and the was on the cover of Barron's weekly. Barron's cover and lead stories were all about shooting the "jester", or as I call him the "edutainer" of Wall Street. They had gone back to the beginning of the "Mad Money" show and measured how an investor would had of fared had they followed all of Mr. Cramer's touts on the air. The news wasn't good. Barron's crowed that investors would have been better off to have shorted his picks. The charts and graphs were interesting reading and everyone likes to see the sages knocked around every now and then. But as I sat there waiting for my 2 hour-over-due plane, it occured to me that this past week saw billions of dollars evaporate in one of the worst meltdowns of the markets we have seen in a long time. Indeed, the country's largest home mortgage company, Countrywide Finance, may have come within a heartbeat of going bankrupt. And in this time of great volatility and uncertainty, Barron's had chosen not only to do a drive-by shooting on Mr. Cramer, they had put it on the front page. Three things bothered me about Barron's actions:
  1. Touch: Good grief what a lousy idea to focus on the Jester when the stock and bond markets of the US and the world were reeling, and people genuinely wanted to know what was going on.
  2. Times: It is common knowlege that investors are increasingly getting their investment news from the web and not the traditional financial media. It is also well known that, Mr. Cramer's online investment site, is very successful and widely respected. Barron's own website seems to be in a constant state of reintroduction.
  3. Timing: The thought is almost too delicious to utter. Could it be that the editors of Barrons were trying to show their new boss, Rupert Murdoch, that they can sucker punch the competition with the best of them?

I know Mr. Cramer is an edutainer because reprints this blog from time to time, and our investment style is as far from his, as Indiana is from New York. We are long-term dividend oriented investors. Our average holding time is 5 years, Cramer's holding time is measured at most in months, if not days, yet Jim Altucher of the Daily Blogwatch often mentions our site to provide a long-term conservative perspective.

I am truly hoping that this is not the first example of the "new" Barron's hard-nosed financial reporting. It is out of touch, it is a cheap shot, and the timing reeks of -- let's show off for the new boss.

I would like to suggest to the folks at to do an long-term analysis of the track record of Alan Abelson, Barron's long-time feature editor. When he has been bullish, go long the S&P 500, when he has been bearish, short the S&P 500. My guess is that the results will be ugly. In my mind, Mr. Abelson has predicted 7 of the last 2 bear markets.

Booya, Jim, the blue-bloods are attacking the blue collars. This is what you probably always wanted.