Financial theater's rock star is once again in Barron's crosshairs.
The weekly financial publication is ripping into Jim Cramer, leaning on research that suggests that his picks on CNBC's Mad Money are losing to an already sinking market.
"Cramer's recommendations underperform the market by most measures," Bill Alpert writes. "From May to December of last year, for example, the market lost about 30%. Heeding Cramer's Buys and Sells would have added another five percentage points to that loss."
Accusations are bound to fly, of course. Now that News Corp. (NYSE: NWS ) owns Fox Business and Barron's parent Dow Jones, it's only natural for CNBC's largest stakeholder, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , to take the jabs personally. Derailing the success of Mad Money -- and it's now more popular than ever -- would be beneficial to Fox.
Or so the conspiracy theory goes.
Some would suggest that I also have an ax to grind. Fool.com competes with Cramer's TheStreet.com (Nasdaq: TSCM ) for website readers and newsletter subscribers. I don't necessarily agree. I don't know too many enthusiasts of financial news that tether themselves exclusively to one site. What is good for one site operator should be good for the entire industry.
What would conspiracy theorists suggest, that no financial site or publication dare to question Cramer's track record on his fast-paced show? Does anyone really want him to be an unquestioned celebrity?
I don't expect anyone, Cramer included, to beat the market consistently. I am part of the analyst team for Rule Breakers, and we too got pounded in 2008. Accountability is important, and I think investors will learn more in down years than they ever will when everything is rising. However, when you put out a book called Watch TV, Get Rich you better darn well get used to the idea of scrutiny.
Me, I'm a fan of the Baron of Boo-yahs.
"Cramer is worth every penny," I wrote when he signed a contract extension with TheStreet.com last year. I won't always agree with what he says or the impulsive nature of dismissing due diligence for the sake of a lightning round, but I think his ambassadorial ways have helped make stock investing cool and interesting to mainstream audiences.
I rarely watch his show, though. In fact, I have never sat through an entire episode. That will change this week. I'm going to watch Mad Money every day this week. I'll be back the next morning, praising him when he's right and calling him out when he's wrong.
I don't for a second believe that I'm better than Cramer. I just think that his audience deserves a second opinion.
Bring it on, Jimbo.
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