The stocks that time forgot

There are hundreds that might not even bother to exist, for all this market cares.

By Jim Cramer Jul 24, 2012 10:22AM

First Horizon (FHN) is one of those banks where, for the longest time, you couldn't lose. It was the fastest-growing bank in one of the stable and consistent growth areas in the country: Tennessee. It was the hometown bank that grew nicely.

 

You figured it gave you a nice dividend and every time it got too cheap you could count on someone -- maybe BB&T (BBT) -- to make a bid, and lightning would strike.

 

Just win-win.

 

Until, like so many other institutions in the mid-2000s, it decided to go nuts lending everyone who wanted a mortgage all the money they needed in areas of the country it knew nothing about.

 

I guess you could say the government should have closed First Horizon, had it bought by another bank in a sweetheart deal or maybe a shotgun. Or maybe it should have been seized or just ceased to exist.

 

But it survived, one of a handful of walking-dead regionals like Regions (RF) and Fifth Third (FTB) and Huntington (HBAN) and Key (KEY), companies that exist to make loans and make a little money on them while they reserve for the bad loans and hope one day business comes back.

 

Now it's coming back. It reported a quarter last week that had some growth and an improvement in net interest margins. It has reserved hugely now for mortgage putbacks, including anything that the government enterprises might need. It has the best loan-loss ratios since the crisis began.

 

Yet people couldn't care less. Because of the reserves it reported a loss. It has little dividend. It has a meager buyback. Unlike Wells Fargo (WFC) or US Bancorp (USB), it hasn't taken over gigantic share in the interim. It's just there. A $7-and-change stock with a tangible book value of about 10 that might not even bother to exist, for all this market cares.

 

I think there are hundreds of stocks out there like First Horizon about which no one cares, stocks like the stocks that got bids Monday. Did anyone care about Nexen (NXY)? I could have written the same thing about Nexen that I just wrote about First Horizon. RailAmerica (RA)? That was some deal that the once-kind-of-private-equity Fortress Investments foisted on the market. Geoeye (GEOY) was a total loser.

 

But ultimately their day came. The problem was you got nothing while you were waiting.

 

So what happens to something like FHN? Eventually it makes so much money and it stops reserving any money because everything is reserved that you can buy it for cash. Or we finally get to the point where it can start paying a large dividend on its own because all capital requirements have been met and it is now running itself instead of the government quietly running it through rampant regulation.

 

Until then, though? I can tell you it is cheap until the cows come home and you will not care at all. Like Alcoa (AA), which I wrote up Monday night, it simply will not matter. You could say, "Jim, don't even bother me with them."

 

But we live in a strange world. I have no doubt that this company is worth its tangible book of 10. I have no doubt that Tennessee is now a growth area, one of the most stable in the country. I have no doubt that eventually you will make money.

 

But "eventually" is a curse word in this market, and right now you have to asterisk First Horizon with "eventually" and I will just have to wake you when we get there.

 

I just hope it isn't too late.

 

 

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 has no positions in the stocks mentioned.

 

 


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12Comments
Jul 24, 2012 2:13PM
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it's only me and the lonely bot commenting today.........i hope this means everbody on this site knows

cramer is a hack..........i never thought cramer was stupid......i always thought he was just another carney barking hack................but to mention alcoa again is just plain stupid

REMEMBER THAT HE PICKED ALCOA AT $18 AS HIS BEST DOW STOCK OF 2011 AND OF

COURSE IT GAPEED DOWN AND THEN WENT TO $8

so mentioning this loser is just plain stupid.....not even the most naive cramer follower will fall for this

Jul 24, 2012 3:32PM
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spent a year tracking kramers bets in a yahoo portfolio... bottom line he broke even... would nto ask him to place any bets for me
Jul 24, 2012 3:19PM
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They can ALL not exist for all I care. Legalized gambling is all it is.
Jul 24, 2012 7:02PM
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He's just a loud mouth with an opinion he's getting paid plenty for. Not making his fortune on stocks just the networks carrying his advice.
Jul 24, 2012 5:23PM
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"Yet people couldn't care less. "  This sentence perfectly summarizes the collective attitude toward all of Cramer's rantings.

Jul 24, 2012 6:58PM
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these so called tv financial experts are probably told what to say and think  by the highest bidder--so much for honest opinions......
Jul 24, 2012 3:00PM
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Well , like I said before, stocks is another way for RICH people to control people... screw it...... I'm tired of worrying about Europe or other countries,, this is just plain Bull SH#@%
Jul 24, 2012 5:02PM
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Why should he care, probably gets kickbacks from the clearinghouses willing to sell his picks to a hungry audience. Just posing a hypothetical not accusing him or ANYONE else, but wondering is this considered scandalous.or legal?
Jul 24, 2012 5:28PM
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Was it just me or the companies Barnaby the Clown was talking about opposite to his description.


I really like his GEOY he states what a loser and its up 11.5% on the day LOL!  Too funny

 

But it survived, one of a handful of walking-dead regionals like Regions (RF +4.07%) and Fifth Third (FTB) and Huntington (HBAN +1.53%) and Key (KEY +1.03%), companies that exist to make loans and make a little money on them while they reserve for the bad loans and hope one day business comes back.Geoeye (GEOY +11.50%) was a total loser.

Jul 24, 2012 3:54PM
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spent a year tracking kramers bets in a yahoo portfolio... bottom line he broke even... would nto ask him to place any bets for me

 

Is this analysis on capital appreciation alone or did you factor in dividend payments as well?  Rookie mistake if you didn't factor dividend payments.

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