Journalists on Jihad

Beware of bylines, Cramer said during Tuesday’s Mad Money. A series of negative news stories can do more damage to a stock than a bad earnings report.

More specifically, this has to do with what Cramer sees as a media-wide loathing of Big Pharma, much in the same way the Democrats dislike the group. Once a reporter’s mind is made up, not even the best stocks can withstand the attacks, “even if,” he said, “there’s no news in the articles.” Cramer’s charitable trust sold off its Schering-Plough shares for this very reason.

Who was the culprit? The New York Times’ Alex Berenson.

Schering-Plough has taken a lot of hits for its shared cholesterol franchise, shared with Merck , consisting of Vytorin and Zetia, and Berenson has been getting his whacks in every step of the way. In the past 18 months, he’s written 10 articles about the two treatments on everything from unpublished side effects to delayed trial results to the high cost for patients.

Read Berenson’s latest, “For Widely Used Drug, Question of Usefulness Is Still Lingering,” another negative article about the two drugs.

Now Cramer’s not slagging Berenson or saying that his work is off point at all. In fact, Berenson worked at immediately after he finished school. This guy’s a pro, and his stories are spot on. But Berenson’s relentless press about Schering and Vytorin make the stock too difficult to own.

Note: Don’t confuse Berenson’s consistency with a one-off article that hurts a company for a day. That’s what happened to Genentechwhen the Times criticized the high costs of that company’s cancer drug Avastin. The stock’s rebounded 29% since that July 6 story.

The lesson here is that often times bylines are the same as “sell lines.” And right now that’s the case, no matter how good a company is may be, for Schering-Plough.

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