2 standout terrible performers

Alcoa and B of A are well behind the market, and both continue to lack worthy fundamentals.

By Jim Cramer Sep 10, 2012 9:05AM

TheStreet.comImage: Arrow Down, Kyu Oh/Photodisc/Getty ImagesIt's time for the laggards to do some lifting, and the two biggest laggards I know are Alcoa (AA) and Bank of America (BAC). Suffice it to say that, of the major challenged companies left standing after the Great Recession, these are standout terrible performers, and even in the past two years they've been hideous.


It may be hard to believe, but in April 2011 Alcoa was at $18 and looking like it was headed to the $40 price it carried in May 2008.


Bank of America was, at one point, participating in the big-bank stock rally that came from the bottom in March 2009, and the shares reached as high as $19 in April 2010.


Then it experienced that sickening slide down to $5, courtesy of some horrendous selling by two funds that had heavy concentration in the name and heavy withdrawals in part because of Bank of America.


I could argue that things have gotten better at both throughout the past two years, but it simply hasn't mattered. Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld has taken out a tremendous amount of costs at the company and has done so better than any of the CEOs I can recall who have run the company. Plus, he has helped pioneer new uses, including well-designed cans for carbonated beverages, as well as the skin of the Apple (AAPL) iPad.


But he's been dealing with an aluminum glut of insane proportions, and there is no end in sight to it, in part because Alcoa is huge in both Europe and China and both seem to have aluminum coming out of their ears. The Chinese are really at fault here. They overproduce simply to keep people working, even though it would be cheaper and cleaner to import aluminum from Alcoa.


Not happening.


Bank of America has the misfortune of being up against Wells Fargo (WFC) everywhere it looks, and Wells Fargo is gunning for pretty much every piece of business Bank of America has. Wells Fargo gets much more out of its clients than Bank of America does, so everything it takes is almost immediately additive, and the gross margins on working with existing customers in new business lines is very high.


Of all the bad hands coming out of the great recession, B of A has had the worst: an overpay for Merrill Lynch when it was about to go under, and an extremely stupid, expensive acquisition of Countrywide Credit. The latter would have gone under long ago if it weren't for Bank of America's previous management.


Both have charts that look like nascent breakouts to me. But neither has any catalysts I can see to back that breakout. Bank of America still has tens of billions of dollars in lawsuits to settle. Alcoa has to deal with the continued downshifting of China and the endless austerity drives in Europe.


That said, I am sure they will pick up adherents just because they are so far behind the rest of the market. They seem like ideal catch-up plays.


My take? As much as I think Kleinfeld is great, I would rather play Vale (VALE). Iron has already fallen a huge amount, but it has less European exposure than Alcoa. As for B of A, I am not a jump-up-and-down fan of CEO Brian Moynihan's thinking that he should have been able to get more control over the problems there.


Again, if you like B of A, you should love Wells Fargo.


These are two stocks that are well behind the market. They'll both be needed if the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) is to keep going higher. Yet they're two names that lack the fundamentals right now for me to get behind.


Jim Cramer, TheStreet.com 

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 WFC, VALE, AAPL.



More from TheStreet.com

Sep 10, 2012 4:18PM

''It may be hard to believe, but in April 2011 Alcoa was at $18 and looking like it was headed to the $40 price it carried in May 2008.''


I'll tell you what's hard to believe, that at $18 you recommended to buy AA. What type of people do you think read these articles? 85 year old dementia patients who can't remember what you wrote on here yesterday, let alone what you called your best dow stock of 2011! And now a year later you write about what a bad stock it is. I think it's about time you stop writing articles based on what your magic 8 ball tells you.

Sep 10, 2012 12:29PM

this hack recommended alcoa ,not just as another dumb pick, but as BEST dow stock of 2011

at $18 per share......if that's one of his BESTS think what the rest must look like



Sep 10, 2012 4:25PM
Don't forget yourself, Cramer, on that list of terrible performers.
Sep 10, 2012 12:32PM

furthermore he just called sell on CLF on friday morning at $33 and today it is at $40...

you can't make this stuff up.........this hack knows nothing

Sep 10, 2012 4:41PM
Wow Cramer.....an 8 hour posting and 9 comments...hmmmm, maybe MSN should do the wise thing and look for a replacement.
Sep 10, 2012 1:24PM
Cramer, better re-evaluate.  These two are dead weights.  BAC is the worst bank to do business with so Wells will eat their lunch and Alcoa will return when the housing market and auto market comes back.  What poor advice.
Sep 10, 2012 6:30PM
Sep 10, 2012 12:48PM
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