Thin Green Line

Friday, February 03, 2006 | 09:00 AM

I have a column coming out later today on sentiment and speculative excesses. Its an area that many investors have a hard time finessing through; There is a tendency to want to "be a contrarian."  But be a usccessful contrarian means more than merely go against the crowd.   

Why? It is the Crowd, after all, who takes markets higher. Hence the expression, "Don't fight the Tape." That translates as go with crowd.

The value of the contrarian play is to indentify when the crowd goes postal. Its only when they become over-stimulated, that the line between exuberance and sheer madness fade away. Indeed, that "thin green line" is all that separates Bull Markets from “irrational exuberance.” Crossing that same line is how an otherwise normal aggregation of sporting fans morphs into a full on mob of rampaging soccer hooligans. When the unthinking, instinctual part of the brain takes over – the ancient lizard brain – speculative excesses often occur.

The trick is in identifying what data to use and what to discard. I have long counseled against overweighting anecdotal evidence versus actual data; It is too easy to simply filter everything through your own rose or cloud covered glasses.

I ifnd that anecdotal evidence has a very specific purpose:  when it implies excess speculation, it  should send you out hunting for specific quantitative sentiment data (which we detailed lots of specifics about here).

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With those caveats in place, consider these peculiar anecdotal examples of sentiment run amuck: Prices of Jim Cramer's Mad Money tchotckes on eBay.

The auction giant eBay has become legendary for all sorts of odd items being bought and sold. Recall the Vintage Stock Market Machine Predictor Computer we found last April.

Now, the trading of these items are not what's at issue. What raises a red flag now are some of the eye opening prices that these otherwise modest giveaway items are fetching:

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Jim Cramer Talking Bobbleheads:
97_1jpg

Bidding: over $127 (see here and here)
Prior winning auctions of Talking Bobble Heads went as high as $255 and $212.50.

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The Red and Black Bulls and Bears
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Bidding: $160  (see here)

02_1jpgThe Winning bid for just the head -- the head!-- of a bull was $26.00; The narrative is priceless:

"STRAIGHT FROM THE CNBC STUDIOS, JIM CRAMER'S MAD MONEY SHOW OFFICIAL FOAM BULL.  IN ONE OF HIS PASSIONATE MOMENTS, JIM CRAMER BIT OFF THE LEGS, HORNS, TAIL AND THREW THIS BULL INTO THE AUDIENCE AND I CAUGHT IT.  THIS A MUST HAVE FOR ANY FAN OF WALL STREET OR JIM CRAMER."

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Official MAD MONEY Jim Cramer T-shirt
7d_1jpg

Bidding $46 (see here)

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Perhaps its not all irrational exuberance:  Mad Money "Bling"  -- in the form of this 14K Gold MAD MONEY Charm Pendant  -- has precisely zero bidders.
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Perhaps we haven't reached the level of total madness . . .





Sources:

Unreal Mad Money Trading After Hours!
Paul Hickey and Justin Walters
Birinyi Associates, January 27, 2006
http://tickersense.typepad.com/ticker_sense/2006/01/unreal_mad_mone.html

Completed eBay auctions can be seen here, and current sales are here.

Granville, Cramer and the Second Coming
Doug Kass
Street Insight Contributor, 1/16/2006 8:47 AM EST
http://www.thestreet.com/_rms/markets/marketfeatures/10261858.html

Friday, February 03, 2006 | 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
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Comments

barry, they keep saying that companies are beating 4Q estimates, and completely aside from downbeat guidance for '06, my question is this: who cares about the # of them beating est when the NAME BRAND, BIG CAP names are the ones who are doing the missing??

Posted by: scorpio | Feb 3, 2006 9:26:38 AM

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