National Lemming Day: Investors pile over the cliff

The only explanation for recent stock action is market players following others blindly. The bulls just have to hope analysts don't think this is National Lemming Week.

By Jim Cramer Apr 25, 2013 9:37AM

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Stock market © Digital Vision SuperStockCould this be National Lemming Day? Is that what explains recent market action? There are lemmings all over the place, and they seem to be doing their thing to excess everywhere I look.

First, there's the obvious lemming romp: Apple (AAPL). Finally those analysts who held out hope for some incredible dividend boost that would put Apple in the sainted 4% club or a new product that would save 2013 decided to jump off the cliff. We got a plethora of downgrades and price target cuts usually saved for accounting scandals or high-profile (and sudden) resignations. The hatred of this company's management is now so palpable that I am in the awkward phase of feeling bad for billionaires, irrespective of my great-great uncle Vladimir Lenin's admonition that if the rich are unhappy, it is their own fault.

But the lemming-like behavior isn't just concentrated in the once-sainted Apple territory.

Check out Eli Lilly (LLY). Here's a company that beat the Street with a sweet earnings report that showed it has handled the patent cliff that came from the expiration of the special status of its blockbuster schizophrenia drug, Zyprexa. But a patent cliff is one thing, a lemming cliff is another. The naysayers were all over the thing by saying that it was a lower tax rate, a research credit and a one-time payment that did the trick. Otherwise, it was all of the usual cost cutting, and the lemmings are saying that cost cutting won't cut it. There's got to be some growth, and with flat revenue, there was none.

The drug shareholders quickly turn into lemmings once they get a load of the so-called bogus Lilly beat. They immediately come for AbbVie (ABBV), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and even sainted Pfizer (PFE), as the group, considered invulnerable for ages, suddenly has hair on it -- the technical term for "oh boy, things aren't as clean as I thought." Having sold Bristol-Myers about a point ago for my charitable trust, deciding not to be greedy, I have a little schadenfreude for these lemmings. It's about time that someone took profits in these stocks.

Speaking of profits, though, how about the mass lemming move in Amgen (AMGN)? Wow! The lemmings were willing to pile over the cliff down 6 points, the worst decline for the one-time biotech king in three years. Why not? This quarter marked the first revenue miss by Amgen in about that length of time, as it looks like core products, epogen and aranesp, the anemia franchises, could be losing steam. One is tempted to blame the end of doping by athletes. In the meantime, the host of new drugs in the pipe aren't contributing anything new, so there's too much hope in the stock given its almost 23% run for the year.

And it might not be done going down, which is causing a lemming move in Gilead (GILD), Biogen (BIIB) and Celgene (CELG). The crime of these last three? How about all being up 40%, 43% and 55%, respectively.

Now, I understand that these stocks are up too much. They have the characteristics of classic growth equities, though -- namely, terrific prospects, strong predictable growth that's not expensive in the out years and crystal clear balance sheets to fund them. Still, the lemmings hate to see profits taken away, so they willingly follow others blindly off the cliff.

How about AT&T (T)? Holy cow!

  • no real revenue growth;

  • a possible tapering off of its monster buyback that has retired more than a half billion shares in the last few years;

  • not enough new cell phone subscribers, especially when you consider the competition from Verizon (VZ); and

  • a really nasty lack of wireline growth, for which a lack of small business growth is cited as the culprit. (Hmm, did the small businesses in Verizon's territory have a more robust time of things?)

So not one but two high-profile analysts, one from Citigroup and the other from Morgan Stanley, downgrade the stock. Now here's some real lemming-like behavior. Think of it. When Verizon reported that bang-up number the other day, it was pretty clear that its business was coming out of the hide of somebody. But nobody saw that. Worse, AT&T's weakness is being used as an excuse to sell Verizon! No winners in that group. Oh, and should I point out that AT&T actually did add post-paid customers? Oops! What's the point of being positive, even as the stock yields 5%? Sorry!

Kind of funny when you think of it. But lemming behavior is always a terrific curiosity.

You want some really hideous lemming behavior? Check out the vast suicidal wave that's engulfing the consumer packaged goods stocks because the beat of Procter & Gamble (PG) is regarded, similar to Eli Lilly, as a beat with no soul. Yes, that $0.03 earnings per share beat came on the heels of disappointing revenue growth, and, more important, some commentary on the call made you sound like a chump for riding P&G from $63 to $80, where it was coming into the quarter. The culprit? How about a forecast of 69 cents to 77 cents for the next quarter when the Street was looking for 81 cents?

That's because P&G will have to spend more money to stay in place and because the conditions are "choppy," the actual word used on the call. Choppy! Holy cow! If I want to hear the word choppy, I will take my Boston Whaler out to the ocean with a storm coming my way.

You know the analysts are going to try to nail that 15% gain down before it becomes 10%, even as I actually like to hear about spending to build up the franchise.

What a terrific reason to blast Colgate (CL), right? I mean, isn't Colgate feeling the pain of Procter, even as it sure hasn't indicated that before? How about the exodus from Kimberly-Clark (KMB), even as the company was on the show last night saying all the right things about how the business is performing above expectations.

Anyone want to draw a conclusion that PepsiCo (PEP) could be another Procter? The market's doing so, even as I just spoke to the CEO at PepsiCo, too, and the future's pretty darned bright. Could that be an opportunity? Or is that just way too glib given that the world's supposed to be ending?

Wow! Hershey (HSY) is clobbered even as Credit Suisse says it will beat the quarter!

Jump first, ask questions later -- or maybe don't even bother to ask questions given how well those stocks have performed.

Look, all of these moves can be justified on a discipline basis. The market is filled with haves and have-nots, and the haves are a smaller group than the have-nots, even as they have rallied far more than the multitude of disappointments out there.

And not all groups are experiencing lemming behavior. Panera Bread (PNRA) is down around 4 points on what's perceived to be the first quarter in multiple years that you didn't get a raised forecast. Brinker (EAT) didn't really deliver either, but Starbucks (SBUX) and McDonald's (MCD) are having a good day. Maybe that's because they are perceived to be more akin to Yum Brands (YUM), which is up nearly 5 points. But how does that explain Chipotle's (CMG) strength?

And Whirlpool's (WHR) profit-taking on an in-line quarter hasn't hurt Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) or Masco (MAS). I am chalking those up to the powerful wave of domestic spending from the wealth effect.

And Boeing's (BA) magnificent quarter is moving Honeywell (HON), Precision Castparts (PCP) and Alcoa (AA).

Still, though, National Lemming Day is defining the action. The bulls just have to hope that analysts don't think it is National Lemming Week and more analysts take the plunge Thursday and Friday.




Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust and is long AAPL.




More from

Apr 25, 2013 10:22AM
and you would know, as lemmings is your area of expertise......duping them is how you make your living
Apr 25, 2013 10:25AM
watch the wizard of oz and you will see cramer behind the curtain giving advice to lemmings
Apr 25, 2013 11:26AM
The only thing dangerous about analysts is the odd fool that listens to them.
Apr 25, 2013 11:15AM
What the hell is going on in America. We have the economic technology to be growing at 5 to 8%. Final consumption taxation - only - no item or person exempt. Then give the America people the direct right to decide what they want for government - (bypass congress). In 4 years we will cut government by 35%. The fed has only two jobs; provide an honest CPI and keep inflation between a deflationary 1% and 0 inflation. Start paying off the federal debt. Business, money and jobs will move back to America and the purchasing power of the consumer will increase between 15 to 35%.
Apr 25, 2013 11:16AM
Bulls have a tendency to blindly follow the herd, sometimes straight to the slaughterhouse, without even realizing it until it's too late.

Cramer the end is near. The whole US led world economic system is about to collapse. Already APEC is half the world's economy and they no longer trade between themselves in dollars rather the Chinese RMB.


The hand writting is on the wall. This is not going to end well.


Bernanke and Bush and Obama had the chance to save the USA and they threw in the towel and merely protected the super rich without regard to the rest of America. Just like Congress is going to exempt themselves and federal workers from Obama Care while the rest of us get to wait for death panels to decide whether or not we live. Just think your fate is going to be in the hands of someone exempt from having their care decided by death panels. If they get sick they can see a doctor and get the lastest cures. While the rest of us pay for the cures with our mandated health care insurance and get locked out of having health care by the death panels.


Yep things are going to be horrible by 2015.

Apr 25, 2013 12:04PM

ABS....I just hope someone would kill the s-o-b instead of having a 2 year trial..

We as Americans are not too bright sometimes, I can't wait for the "bleeding hearts" whining.

Apr 25, 2013 12:33PM
As George Carlin once said " It's all B.S., and it's bad for you".
Apr 25, 2013 12:40PM
George Carlin was a modern Socrates.
Apr 25, 2013 10:17AM
I don't hate APPLE Jim.  But I do understand the importance of Innovative Visionary Talent.  I also recognize folks like Gates and Jobs don't come around every twenty minutes.  Are the Bulls the same team without Jordan?  Are the Lakers the same team without Kobe? Is boxing the same without Ali?  So goes it with APPLE.  And without unfathomably low interest rates, a Bond Market driven onto the edge of the cliff and teetering dangerously close to the tipping point, and a tax structure driving folks into a buy and hold strategy we all know to be stupidly risky, do you even think there would be any folks hanging with this market you could deride as being Lemmings?  Because Jim, without Lemmings, you are a nobody.  JMHO
Apr 25, 2013 11:49AM

National Lemming Week - is that a democrat thing?

Apr 25, 2013 10:40AM
it's all about crowd management.  learn how to make the swarms move - as in "the tide rises" and you'll lift a variety of stocks. 
Apr 25, 2013 2:58PM
What a strange article.  I read it twice and still can't tell what the heck the message is.  Maybe there is no message--just babble.
Apr 25, 2013 12:28PM
Yup 10 dollars worth of foodstamps for admission...Gotta get it back, someway..
Apr 25, 2013 11:35AM
Verizon is actually up because they charge $30 to upgrade your phone (they should just call it a baggage fee) whether you buy from the phone from them or not. How many customers? And how many upgrades per year? That's a lot of fees.
Apr 25, 2013 11:20AM

Robert Johnson....First off we have to figure Which persona Regal is ??

As for the sarcasm part....?

Just about 50% of everything put on here is sarcasm...And it's fairly easy to recognize after awhile.

The doom & gloom part.....Is sometimes much worst than sarcasm.

Apr 25, 2013 10:39AM

WONDER IF THE MANIPULATORS..(found it) got their "marching orders" to accelerate the buying?


Kind of a big jump in just a few minutes, but the futures were up "originally."

Apr 25, 2013 10:51AM
If it's National Lemming Day... then why is Ben Bernanke continuing to destroy us with even MORE bad investment in the markets? ALL business platforms in America are dead, Jim. Economies are based on people working for tangible purpose, being compensated for such labor and being able to purchase family-sustaining needs and wants from what they earn. This entire nutcase concept of platforms that import, drop ship and do administration only is-- TERRORISM. WTF? If today is National Lemming Day than tomorrow can be National Get Rid Of Pariah Day. All lawyers, financiers, bankers, administrators, politicians, paper and button pushers HAVE TO GO. Those aren't livings. Hell, financier isn't even a career, it's a cancer. The New Unemployment Filings indicate a gross LACK of job sustainability and we are now aware that the Harvard Professors Excel spreadsheet that caused millions to be mass terminated... was FLAWED. That's CRIME not business. Time to go after psychopaths and help them jump off that cliff.
Apr 25, 2013 12:18PM
DO IT !   Tax the s_hit out of the "rich".
The Obama jihad on America continues --- LuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLuLu

Apr 25, 2013 12:26PM

ABS....That sounds about right..South side of Chicago, is so nice in the SummerTime...

Right, Mirage Guy ?

(oh no, that was a hint)


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