Cramer: Don't Pine for a Mirage
NEW YORK ( Real Money ) -- I have been hearing lamentations that perhaps this market isn't that strong because whole groups are being left behind. The steels aren't rallying. Copper's been hideous. The oils aren't keeping pace. The miners are bad news. Aluminum's horrendous. The fertilizers can't get out of their own way.
To which I say: good!
Have you ever spent time going back and looking at the charts of what led us into the valley of the shadow of the deadly bear market of 2007 -- until, well, perhaps, the present, when the averages just took out those highs?
It was a total rogues gallery of leaders -- narrow, dependent upon the kindness and steroids of the Chinese government and in need of hyperinflation in order to maintain growth.
Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn't say, "Can we really be in a trustworthy bull market if Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) can't rally?" First, Freeport, with its recent $9 billion foray into oil-and-gas assets, has done what can only be regarded as its level best to destroy itself. The borrowings alone are hideous, even with money costing so little right now. But, as Freeport is a miner and refiner of mostly foreign copper and gold, I question whether you want it as your leader, as it was during its January-to-June-2008 rally from $33 to $61. Back in that antediluvian moment, Freeport was the most visible of the leaders.
Latin American mineral giant Vale (VALE) spurted from $14 in January of 2007 to $42 in May of 2008. It's now struggling to maintain $17.
Peabody (BTU) put on 50 points between Jan. 2007 and June 2008, rallying as high as $89 as a leader in the great coal bull market of that moment -- impressive, but not as strong as Arch Coal (ACI) , which rolled from $27 to $75 in that same period. Of course, these moves pale in comparison to Cliffs Natural (CLF) , the true leader of the era, which pushed from $24 to $120 from the beginning of 2007 until the middle of 2008.
Alcoa's (AA) been in the Dow kennel for so long that I think its parents forgot about it. We need a PetSmart (PETM) for aluminum companies. Alcoa rose from $29 to $45 between January and June 2008, a move that defined the halcyon days for the commodity players -- which, despite Alcoa's gigantic efforts to become more proprietary, is still very much the company's lot in life.
But of all the components of that faux bull market that brought stocks so high last time, nothing defined it more than the fertilizer companies. The stench still hangs over Agrium (AGU) , which soared from $30 in January 2007 to $113 in June 2008. Potash's (POT) miracle move from $15 in January of 2007 to $80 in June of 2008 is still the stuff of bull-market legend -- perhaps outdone only by total market darling, Mosiac (MOS) , which tore from $20 in February of 2007 to $157 in June of 2008. The descent from these heights, of course, was every bit as precipitous. We discovered just how easy it really is to make fertilizer; the barriers to entry turned out to be much lower than anyone had thought at the time.