CNBC's Mad Money host Jim Cramer is laying out his case against Warren Buffett's recent stock moves.
Last night (Tuesday), after Berkshire Hathaway's fourth quarter portfolio snapshot, Cramer warned on CNBC that investors should not follow Buffett's lead because they will not profit "within the time frame they care about." (Transcript and video clip are in the WBW post Jim Cramer Warns Investors: Don't Follow Warren Buffett This Time.)
This morning, on his TheStreet.com site, Cramer goes into greater detail, explaining why he's "struggling with some of the things that Warren Buffett is doing with his cash these days."
Cramer's prime complaint: Warren Buffett was "selling America" last fall when Berkshire reduced its stakes in Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, ConocoPhillips, and U.S. Bancorp. "What's more American than these stocks?" he asks. (The post notes that Cramer is currently long Johnson & Johnson and ConocoPhillips.)
Cramer draws a contrast with Buffett's "now-fated" October 16 New York Times op-ed piece that argued it was time to buy American stocks. Since then, the major market indexes have continued to plunge, so "those who bought America that day are feeling ... well, downright un-American. Or at least they're feeling poorer."
Cramer says that he is "sensitive" to that Times piece because at the same time he was advising an exit from stocks if investors needed to keep their money safe for a major purchase in the next year.
And he argues that while rich people can afford to buy for the long term as Buffett advises, everyone else can't.
"As long as Buffett was buying and not selling, or as long as he was at least holding, you couldn't knock him. But now it turns out he's putting a terminal value on something we thought we were to hold forever."
While Buffett is "obviously a tremendous investor" and "doesn't have to answer for anything," Cramer continues, "It is fair to say that many, many people relied on his judgment to buy stocks just like the quintessential American names of Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. To them, what can I say? 'Don't worry about it.'"
Cramer concludes that Buffett's "actions should be scrutinized just like anyone else's," so TheStreet.com is starting its own Buffett Watch. (He cites his friend Doug Kass, "who has been on this case for months now" and who has his own questions today about Berkshire's portfolio.)
"We need to know what's happening. Buffett's firm is too big, and he is too important to ignore. We need to know daily and some institution has to have the guts to do it. Glad it's us."
Current stock prices:
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Berkshire Class B:
Johnson & Johnson:
Procter & Gamble:
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