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.
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.
More from TheStreet
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.
Cramer, Cramer, Cramer! you are such a dork!
get of TV and stop giving the American public such useless information.
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.
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?
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.
"right now i am taking heat on four different speculations that didn't pan out"
it's way more than 4 you idiot
the latest gold and oil calls are gap down total losers...........you are so wrong so often i am starting to believe in the idea of a jinx
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
After enjoying a smooth rise in stock prices since May, investors are about to be hit with another bout of volatility.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.