Selling on a decline isn’t always the best move for investors

Selling on a decline isn't always the best move for investors

When the bank stocks sold off after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday even though banks benefit from rate hikes, CNBC’s Jim Cramer was frustrated.

“So the Fed raises interest rates but the bank stocks have a severe, two-day sell-off?” the “Mad Money” host said. “What the heck? All because [Fed Chair] Janet Yellen didn’t say the economy is red hot, so hot that [incoming Fed Chair] Jay Powell, her successor, had better tighten four times next year instead of the suggested three? It literally is that stupid.”

As shares of major banks like JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup slid in unison after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Cramer worried that investors were jumping the gun.

People might assume that since the Fed didn’t say anything about multiple rate hikes, it’s time to sell, particularly because there’s not enough lending to balance banks’ trading revenues, he said.

“That’s been the pattern in this market,” Cramer said. “There’s some sort of weird unrequited love for stocks that then causes a quick jilt to kick in and suddenly the romance is over.”

Cramer pointed to manufacturer 3M as an example. When CEO Inge Thulin didn’t “substantially raise” the company’s guidance at a recent analyst meeting, some quick hands sold the stock while others simply assumed it would go down.

But those who paid attention to the substance of the meeting knew the old-line conglomerate was doing well, Cramer said.

“The weakness is going to turn out to be another chance to buy,” the “Mad Money” host said.

On Thursday, life sciences company Danaher held an analyst meeting where management shared better-than-expected growth numbers. Still, the stock sold off, giving investors what Cramer saw as yet another opportunity to buy into an “extremely well-run” name.

What frustrates Cramer most is the notion that any given sector, like the cyclicals or the retailers, is “done.” Market commentators say it all the time, but they’re often proven wrong, he said.

“You look a few weeks later and you wonder, how in heck did Gap get up there? Have you seen VF or Canada Goose? You mean Caterpillar broke through to the $140s? Norfolk Southern, what’s that doing at $140? Wasn’t it just at $120, where it was supposed to be really expensive?” Cramer said.

“It’s almost as if the stocks are playing leapfrog over your ability to perceive where they could go,” he added.

And while there are real concerns to keep in mind for the bank stocks — if the yield curve continues to flatten, it could risk stifling lending even more — there are always risks in investing.

“There were risks with all of those other stocks, too. And guess what? They’ve just moved systematically higher,” Cramer said. “So the next time you see weakness in a formerly strong group, remember that stocks do get cheaper as they go down. Far too many people treat pullbacks as reasons to sell, when in reality, they can be excellent buying opportunities, especially as stocks break out of their old ranges and fail to be contained by what you thought would contain them.”

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