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  Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 | 10:27 AM ET

Cramer: 'Most controversial stock' of my career

Posted By: Paul Toscano

Divergent market expectations and positive consumer reviews of the new iPhone have made Apple an increasingly controversial stock, CNBC's Jim Cramer said, but if demand for the new smartphone outpaces expectations, it could be a turning point.

"I've been puzzled over Apple," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street" Wednesday. "I think the stock is very, very cheap. This could be a catalyst. We're starting to hear good things about demand. It will move the needle if they sell out."

Cramer said that personally, he was expecting to buy a new version of the iPhone, "These reviews are extraordinary, so you just go buy it."

(Related: For Apple, mum's the word on iPhone 5C pre-orders)

Opinions of Apple had been dampened recently, after the company didn't announce a major deal to expand into China and many analysts worried about "sticker shock" in the country over the iPhone 5C. However, he said that reviews of the device and software could reinvigorate both analyst and consumer enthusiasm.

As a result, Cramer said that "this has got to be the single most controversial stock I've ever seen in my career. You love the product … why isn't the Apple love there? The answer is because the institutions don't care for Apple anymore."

Much-loved stocks like Tesla, Netflix and Amazon are beneficiaries of the high regard from markets and as a result are relatively disconnected from the P/E multiple expectations you'd see for most companies, Cramer said. There is no "Apple metric" to set it apart from the pack, he said.

Cramer explained that for Apple, institutional investors are looking for a new product that will shake up markets and are concerned with year-over-year growth.

(More tech: BlackBerry unveils the Z30 as its new flagship smartphone)

However, he said that Apple is a "big value stock" and right now "it's very cheap." On top of the positive reviews from industry watchers, he pointed out that Morgan Stanley and Pacific Crest recently put out positive investor notes on the company, after last week's announcements and better-than-expected demand.

Cramer suggested that investors key off shipping information from UPS on Apple products, which in the past has been a useful early sign of demand.

(Related: Microsoft paying for Apple's next product cycle)

"The stock has been a very tough stock to own, but you need to see positive momentum in earnings and you need to see a new product," he added. "These reviews read like it is a new product."

»Read more
  Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 | 10:23 AM ET

Cramer: Microsoft's dividend is a desperate move

Posted By: Paul Toscano

Microsoft's new dividend hike may be a desperate move by a company that has better strategic options, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Tuesday.

Microsoft announced a more than 20 percent increase in its dividend Tuesday and disclosed plans for a new $40 billion buyback. The quarterly dividend was raised to 28 cents per share, a 5 cent boost over the previous quarter. The dividend will be payable to shareholders on Dec. 12.

(Read more: Microsoft boosts dividend by 22%, sets $40 billion buyback)

"The dividend boost is substantial. You already have a nice dividend," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street."

"[Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer just wants this stock higher so bad ... by any means necessary. ... I think that Ballmer doesn't want his legacy to be a $33 stock."

"Microsoft, as opposed to Apple, is doing everything. It's just that some of it isn't working so well," he added.

Cramer said that the move by Microsoft is a "quandary" and feels like a move of desperation from a company that "doesn't need to be desperate." Some speculation on why the move was made is that Capital Research, one of Microsoft's largest shareholders, was unhappy with the recent performance of the company.

"If the Cap Re guys are unhappy, then you did wrong. Plain and simple," he explained. "If they're unhappy, you respond to them."

Cramer's solution for the company, which he has been talking about for weeks, is to split it up to create value for shareholders.

(Read more: Cramer: 'It's time to break up Microsoft')

When asked whether the Microsoft dividend hike could be the first of several similar moves by large-cap companies into the fourth quarter, Cramer said, "I think you've got to" expect it.

He added that many firms are trying to do whatever they can to keep their stock price up, pointing specifically to companies in the pharmaceutical, chemical and commodity sectors.

(More investing: Big demand for small-cap stocks)

"These companies are not stopping. ... These companies are saying 'we are mad as hell about our stock price and we're not going to take it anymore,' " he said, and the result is dividend increases, acquisitions and strategic partnerships.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 | 7:39 AM ET

Apple is now a no-growth 'value trap': Doug Kass

Posted By: Alex Rosenberg
Douglas Kass at the Reach poker tournament in New York.
Amanda Gordon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Douglas Kass at the Reach poker tournament in New York.

Are Apple shares cheap? Now that they've fallen over 10 percent on the back of Apple's recent product launch, it seems to be a fair question. But even though Apple now has a lower price-to-earnings ratio than do slow-growth companies like Microsoft, Intel, or IBM, Doug Kass says the stock still doesn't present an attractive value.

"Apple has become a value trap," the founder of Seabreeze Partners Management said. "This is a company with no growth, and profit margins that are way too high vis a vis the competition."

Indeed, at its latest media event, Apple disappointed many investors but not releasing a much cheaper iPhone, as some had been pining for. Instead, Apple released more high-end phones that will keep profit margins high, but threaten to do further damage to the company's already-declining market share.

(Read more: At a crossroads, Apple must make one huge decision)

"We remain disappointed with Apple's decision to remain a premium priced smartphone vendor," Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha wrote in a note that downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "outperform" after the event. "On our new estimates, Apple's smartphone share will decline to 15.5 percent/13.1 percent this year and next from 18.1 percent last year."

But Kass says that there's a second issue at work: While Apple's prices have stayed high, the company has not delivered innovation to keep pace.

»Read more
  Monday, 16 Sep 2013 | 10:51 AM ET

Cramer: Buying here is like trading 'on quicksand'

Posted By: Paul Toscano

Many of the stocks most loved by the market may be troublesome for investors moving forward, CNBC's Jim Cramer said, and buying these names could be a dangerous proposition in the near term.

"I think a lot of people were short, because all you saw was the government could be shutting down, Summers comes in, you have the Fed meeting," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street" Monday. "Suddenly you have this event, it was a lightening bolt for a lot of people. A lot of hedge funds had to cover exactly what they were shorting."

»Read more
  Thursday, 12 Sep 2013 | 6:18 AM ET

Housing bulls pile into MDC

Posted By: Mike Yamamoto | Managing Editor, OptionMonster
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Housing stocks have been trying to rebound in the last week, and yesterday the bulls piled into home builder MDC Holdings.

OptionMonster's tracking systems detected upside option activity in the October 30 calls, where nearly 2,700 contracts traded for $1.15 to $1.75. The volume was well above the strike's previous open interest of 417 contracts, indicating that new positions were established.

These calls lock in the price where shares can be purchased, letting investors benefit from gains in MDC for much less capital than buying the stock directly. The options can also provide significant leverage in a rally, but they will expire worthless if shares remain below $30 through mid-October.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 11 Sep 2013 | 6:15 AM ET

Bulls drill for a gusher in Newfield

Posted By: Pete Najarian

Options have been active in Newfield Exploration, and buyers were stepping in yesterday.

The September 25 calls lit up OptionMonster's trade scanners, with large blocks fetching $0.25 and then $0.30. More than 7,700 traded in volume well above the previous open interest of 3,100 contracts, so new money was definitely being put to work.

These calls lock in the price where the oil stock can be purchased, controlling moves to the upside at limited cost. They can also generate some extreme leverage if the shares move far enough.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 | 5:53 AM ET

Intel bulls look for more gains

Posted By: Pete Najarian
Getty Images

Intel has been holding near its 200-day moving average, and yesterday the chip maker saw steady and impressive upside option action.

The November 24 calls lit up early, trading in size for $0.44 and followed by a large chunk that went for $0.62. About 19,500 contracts traded in volume well above the strike's previous open interest of 3,938, showing that new money was put to work.

These calls lock in the price where the semiconductor stock can be bought, letting investors cheaply position for a rally. They can also generate some nice leverage from even a small movement in the underlying share price.

»Read more
  Monday, 9 Sep 2013 | 4:59 AM ET

Bulls pile into housing sector

Posted By: David Russell | Writer, OptionMonster
A new home under construction in Daybreak, Utah.
George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A new home under construction in Daybreak, Utah.

The bulls piled into home builders and related stocks on Friday, triggering a flurry of upside option activity.

Mohawk Industries, a maker of flooring products, hit shortly after the open as investors snapped up the November 115 calls, most of which priced for $9.85. More than 2,400 of the options traded against previous open interest of just 195 contracts, indicating that new positions were initiated. Mohawk rose 3.58 percent to $121.38.

These calls lock in the price where shares can be purchased, letting investors cheaply position for upside and control the amount of money that can be lost to the downside. They can also generate significant leverage when a stock goes up.

»Read more
  Friday, 6 Sep 2013 | 10:38 AM ET

Cramer: 'It's time to break up Microsoft'

Posted By: Paul Toscano

Microsoft is an unwieldy business and should be broken up, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Friday, and the tech giant needs a savior like Ford's Alan Mulally to drive a corporate "miracle" and get the company back on track.

Although Cramer dismissed the rumor that Mulally would jump to Microsoft—because his job isn't yet complete at Ford—Cramer said that in theory, Mulally would be a good thing for the company.

"I still think Alan wants to get to $3 to $4 earnings power for Ford before he's done," Cramer explained on "Squawk on the Street" Friday. "He's worked miracles at Boeing, he's worked miracles at Ford—he could work miracles at Microsoft."

(Related: Ford CEO plays down reports of an early exit)

Cramer said that Mulally's strategy would be to find the right people who are "charged up" to bolster Microsoft's business and would simultaneously avoid troubled, high-cost acquisitions like those that have plagued the company in the past.

Cramer predicted that Microsoft would eventually be broken into three pieces, adding that "it is too big, too unwieldy and it's not getting anywhere. It's time to break up Microsoft."

Microsoft has to do "something wild," Cramer explained, like spinning off the Xbox business that is "buried within" the company, or turning Nokia back into a pure cellphone company and using the proceeds to buy a company like Sprint. "You could go buy Netflix with Xbox," he said, and run the Windows business like a utility company with reliable cash flows.

(Related: Microsoft: Xbox One pre-order supply nearly sold out)

Cramer listed the big components as the Windows operating system business, an entertainment business—including Xbox—and the "other" business with the Nokia cellphone division as a cornerstone.

»Read more
  Friday, 6 Sep 2013 | 6:29 AM ET

Cheniere bulls clean up in a hurry

Posted By: David Russell | Writer, OptionMonster
Workers install a natural gas pipeline.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
Workers install a natural gas pipeline.

The bulls came back to Cheniere Energy after a long hiatus yesterday, and the move paid off almost instantly.

OptionMonster's tracking systems lit up with unusual activity in the October 34 calls late yesterday morning, with traders snapping up big chunks for $0.23. We immediately flagged the trades in our chat room and via email to our subscribers, and it was a good thing we hurried.

Barely 10 minutes later, buy orders started hitting the stock, driving it up $1 from its level when the calls appeared. Those October 34s more than doubled to $0.50 in the process.

»Read more

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  • The CNBC Stock Blog is a cross-section of expert opinions and insights from our TV and Web site coverage. This blog includes posts written by and about top analysts and strategists, super-investors and CNBC's own market mavens. You'll find stock picks, news about publicly-traded companies, commodities, hot sectors, ETFs and the latest options action.

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