It may not be the silliest thing Jim Cramer has ever said. But it came close.
“I don’t care if they treat shareholders horribly. The fact is – is that they make you money and there’s lots of companies that treat you real well and have really good corporate governance and are letting you into any boardroom and they’re awful. I’ll take performance any day of the week…”
He was talking about Apple, a company that Cramer said should get a special pass because it makes great products and oh yeah, its stock has been gangbusters.
Was he serious or just doing shtick? Hard to know but during a brief “Stop Trading” segment on CNBC Thursday, Cramer said it boiled down to rooting for companies whose stocks go up.
“I’m a dollar sign represented by a man,” he said.
Fair enough. If that’s the benchmark, then there are lots of people – particularly within the moneyed class in America – who would side with Cramer and give Steve Jobs a pass. What’s a periodic antenna reception problem when you’re the hottest thing on Wall Street?
But if recent history teaches anything, it’s that people under the influence of stock-induced sugar highs always come up with inventive justifications to rationalize the behavior of companies they invest in.
Once upon a time, let’s recall that many in the investment world – as well as the media, unfortunately – were convinced that the folks who ran Enron were financial wizards. In the end, that didn’t work out too well for all concerned. Ditto for WorldCom and Tyco, along with a host of lesser well-known, though equally bogus outfits. As long as their share prices kept hitting new all-time highs, they got a free pass. Then the music stopped and we know how that tale ended.
Apple obviously is in a different category. Yes, it’s rightfully taken heat over its options backdating practices and a decision to keep Jobs medical condition a secret. But those are just symptoms of the same mindset that’s led Apple to this latest PR crisis. Apple’s not trouble not because it’s crooked. Apple’s in trouble because it’s turned tone deaf.
Incidentally, Dave follows me on Twitter and I’ve never been able to get him to tell me why.