For speculators, loss comes with the territory

Even wise risk-taking can result in horrific hits. But as long as they're contained to a piece of your portfolio, you should be able to handle them.

By Jim Cramer Jun 22, 2012 9:48AM

When you speculate, you are going to lose some money. Fact of life. It's just what happens.


The concept is alien to many people who speculate, though, and some do nothing but speculation. Unlike most others who talk and write about stocks, I have been adamant that speculation can be part of anyone's portfolio. I think it should be a part of it if you want to stay engaged.


But it can't be your portfolio.


Right now I am taking heat on four different speculative situations that have not panned out: Heckmann (HEK), Key Energy (KEG), Magnum Hunter (NGAS) and SandRidge Energy (SD).  People want to know why I have abandoned them or why I don't buy them for my charitable trust or why I can't push them on my venues.


To all of these questions I say: These stocks are all calls on oil and gas. They are options on crude going higher. They are the most leveraged way to play the complex. If oil and natural gas go higher, these stocks soar. If it goes lower, they get crushed.


Oil has gone lower, much further than anyone I know thought could happen and much further than I thought it could go. I figured it would stop at $80 to $85. I didn't see the collapse of all commodities coming, because I kept hearing that supply was tight and that China was a voracious user and that, as a result, oil had to go higher -- endlessly higher.


I believed it could come down partly because the Saudis don't want it to be as high as it was, as that encourages both alternative energy and drilling in the U.S.


Magnum Hunter and Sandridge aren't just calls on oil and gas. They are leveraged calls with gigantic drilling budgets, relative to their size, and each company has a desire to get big fast.


Key and Heckmann, meanwhile, support that growth. The former is an incredibly aggressive oil-service company, and the latter works with oil-and-gas companies that frack for natural gas, although it has tried to shift aggressively toward crude.


I can't think of better businesses to be in when crude is going higher, and I can't think of worse businesses to be in when it's heading lower.


That's why these are speculations. They are sink-or-swim, go-or-stop, home run or strikeout, just like biotech companies with one product that might pan out or might not.


Right now these are among the biggest losers in the market, thanks to the collapse of crude. As long as you'd recognized that risk going in -- as long as you'd realized these weren't Chevron (CVX) or ConocoPhillips (COP) or Exxon Mobil (XOM) -- I think you would have been a little more accepting of the losses.


If this was all you'd owned, you are upset, but not justifiably so. If this is the case, in fact, I wonder whether you just didn't buy them because they were single-digit stocks of which you could buy a lot more shares than, say, Apple (AAPL).


Even wise speculation can produce horrific losses, but as long as they are contained to a piece of your portfolio, you should be able to handle these declines. Plus, it ain't over till it's over. I like Devon (DVN). It's been atrocious and horrible, but it will come out just fine when oil bottoms.


These four will do better than fine.  


Right now I think all of these are near the threshold at which everyone will give up on them. Yet unless the world is headed toward a serious depression -- which I don't think is the case -- I think it is unrealistic to presume that oil can keep going down at this pace.


It's a terrible thing to lose money, but with speculation it comes with the territory. Sometimes the territory is miserable. This, unfortunately, is one of one of those times.



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 CVX, DVN and AAPL.



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Jun 22, 2012 11:37AM
Jun 22, 2012 1:02PM
So what's today's topic really about, Jim? In your keynote data, you've got the big three of oil & gas manipulation up today. Since banks are also up today, it tends to suggest that fuel and banking oligarchies are forcing a positive finish to June on what's left in our wallets. Barrels are down but gas at the pump jumped again. I would gladly compare returns data with you. Your money is in with the manipulators on Wall Street, mine is out of the markets and on Main Street. The sub-economy isn't going bust by a long shot. All of today's gains are borrowed, both on time and on borrowed time.
Jun 22, 2012 11:36AM


I am not sure that any thing works in the market anymore. If you consider just how much of the action is triggered automatically by computers-which are reacting to specific numbers/ % changes/ Etc. Etc.- you have to wonder just what is real.

Today up 60+ on the news that 15 major banks have been downgraded? Or has the rally automatically been triggered by robo-trade because of the drop yesterday.

There may not be any such thing as speculation-it may be more of a game of chance similar to red or black on routlette anymore.
The Little Guy just can't play this game against the computers anymore.

Jun 22, 2012 11:07AM

Cramer, Cramer, Cramer!       you are such a dork!


get of TV and stop giving the American public such useless information.

Jun 22, 2012 11:10AM
listen to cramer and lose... Do teh opposite of Cramer and win..
Jun 22, 2012 11:53AM

you heard?  Next time you may want to right that you researched, even if you did only "hear" about it daytrader Cramer.


I heard you say Bear Stearns was fine.

Jun 22, 2012 12:31PM

Subject of this post should be "Losing big by being wrong about oil & gas".


Yeah, turmoil in Iran was supposed to make oil supplies for the summer gravely tight, and we were supposed to see gas > $5 a gallon.

Amazing how much money you can lose in the market by speculating the wrong way, isn't it?

Jun 22, 2012 11:16AM
again today cramer's all american picks are lagging the market.........give it up clown
Jun 22, 2012 11:32AM


I'm just going to keep adding electric utilites based only in the U.S. to my portfolio for the rest of this year, especially through the election.  I hate buying any security during an election year.  But, I'm okay with the electric utilities.  4 to 5% dividend and I can sleep at night.



Jun 23, 2012 11:35AM
Fire this Cramer idiot and put him out on the street.  You and "anyone I know" haven't been paying attention to the fact that the economies of the US, Europe and China are not doing all that well, or that supply is up and demand is down?  Or perhaps that doesn't matter to the speculator scum and the greed machine?  Any day the speculators take it hard is a good day for the common slug Americans!  What, there are no "signs" and "hopes" of demand in developing nations?  Please get down on our knees and "hope" that King Bernanke will come to the rescue of the greed machine.  Are there any hopes and signs of that happening?
Jun 22, 2012 11:09AM

"right now i am taking heat on four different speculations that didn't pan out"

it's way more than 4 you idiot

Jun 22, 2012 11:15AM
and this miserable speculation keeps you "in the game"..........what horse shat
Jun 22, 2012 11:11AM

the latest gold and oil calls are gap down total are so wrong so often i am starting to believe in the idea of a jinx

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