Jim Cramer, financial media mega-star, has been known to change his mind. It's not uncommon for J.C. to do a complete 180 degree turn from one day to the next. And yet, that's how fast market sentiment can turn. (So there's no reason to get on Cramer's case!)
On his television program, "Mad Money" Jim boldly announced that U.S. financial stocks had hit the "bottom." His reasoning was multi-faceted, including: (1) Jim's homemade index of leading financial companies had completed their 1990-like journey to 50% losses, (2) The Fed had committed itself to "substantive action" on cutting rates and/or doing whatever it takes to minimize recession risks, and (3) Companies like Countrywide (CFC) and Washington Mutual (WM) are being gobbled up, while companies like Bear Stearns (BSC) and Citigroup (C) are receiving cash infusions from abroad.
Oddly enough, Jim didn't start recommending that investors dive headlong into the financial sector. Other than recommending Goldman Sachs (GS), Cramer merely explained why financial stocks as a group had, for the most part, capitulated.
Incidentally, Cramer's not a big fan of indexing. Yet if you buy his logic about a "bottoming out," now would be the time to get a larger exposure to a financial index. Or would it?
My sense is that there may be a bit more pain for the segment at large. (One only needs to look at market volatility to see that investors haven't quite capitulated.)
That said, one opportunity now looks particularly intriguing. Specifically, an old favorite, the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index (DVY).
Due in large part to a 40%+ weighting in financial companies, DVY has dropped nearly 20% from peak to trough. Ironically enough, 40% of the financials segment loss of -50% on the Cramer index is equivalent to the 20% loss one might expect. (In other words, the DVY is exactly where you would expect it to be.)
Now, here's the good part. If you believe Jim's thesis that financials have bottomed out, but you're not inclined to suffer through extraordinary volatility to find out, you can pursue the sensible risk that DVY represents.
DVY yields the same 4% that CDs and high-yield savings accounts are offering. But with rates dropping, that 4% won't be around much longer. Meanwhile, you could benefit from rather significant capital appreciation if a "bottom" in financials is in. In fact, you could benefit regardless, if the 100 highest paying dividend companies collectively appreciate in value.
It's far from a sure thing... nothing in the world of investing is. However, anyone who is inclined to buy Jim Cramer's belief that financials have "bottomed" would likely do well with an allocation to DVY.