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Rule No. 23: Beware of Wall Street Hype

Editor's note: Jim Cramer's new book, Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World , is available in selected bookstores now. As a special bonus to RealMoney readers, we will be running Cramer's "Twenty-Five Rules of Investing." For more about the new book and to order it, click here . Today, we present Cramer's twenty-third rule of investing. Read more about his rules:

  1. Pigs Get Slaughtered
  2. It's OK to Pay the Taxes
  3. Don't Buy All at Once
  4. Buy Damaged Stocks
  5. Diversify to Control Risk
  6. Do Your Homework
  7. Don't Panic
  8. Buy Best-of-Breed
  9. Defend Some Stocks
  10. Don't Bet on Bad Stocks
  11. Don't Own Too Many Names
  12. Cash Is for Winners
  13. No Woulda, Shoulda, Couldas
  14. Expect Corrections
  15. Watch Bonds
  16. Don't Subsidize Losers
  17. Check Hope at the Door
  18. Be Flexible
  19. Quit When Execs Do
  20. Patience Is a Virtue
  21. Be a TV Critic
  22. When to Wait 30 Days


Amateurs and professionals alike simply don't have enough respect for the Wall Street promotion machine.

They don't realize that balls can stay in the air much longer than they should. They don't understand that analysts and firms get behind stocks -- sometimes irrationally, sometimes greedily -- and they can keep the stocks propelled in an up direction well beyond reason.

That's why I say,

Never underestimate the Wall Street promotion machine.

Consider American International Group (AIG - Get Report) and Fannie Mae (FNM). Here are two companies with extensive banking opportunities dangling from one side and good track records hanging from the other. These have been two lovey blankets for the sell side for so long that they won't give them up. Both stocks stayed up far too long, even in the post-Spitzer era, because the analysts viewed it as their job to keep the stocks up.

Now, I don't mind admitting that things are better now than they used to be. I own Cabela's (CAB - Get Report), and the analysts who brought it public have bent over backward not to recommend the stock, to the point that I miss the promotion machine.

Analysts now have some degree of conscience and are able to separate themselves from being flunkies for banking. But that doesn't mean they won't fall in love with some stocks and do everything they can to praise them long after they shouldn't. It tends to happen particularly to winners, stocks like the online education companies or the biotechs or some of the doggier software companies. The hope never ends. The hype never ends. Not until the cracks are so obvious that it is too late to get out.

In particular, when you short a stock remember that an analyst will twist any data point into a positive to get a stock juiced. Again, that's his job. Don't think badly of him; just be ready to reload when he does it.

1. Pigs Get Slaughtered 2. It's OK to Pay the Taxes
3. Don't Buy All at Once 4. Buy Damaged Stocks
5. Diversify to Control Risk 6. Do Your Homework
7. Don't Panic 8. Buy Best-of-Breed
9. Defend Some Stocks 10. Don't Bet on Bad Stocks
11. Own Fewer Names 12. Cash Is for Winners
13. No Regrets 14. Expect Corrections
15. Know Bonds 16. Don't Subsidize Losers
17. No Room for Hope 18. Be Flexible
19. Quit When Execs Do 20. Patience Is a Virtue
21. Be a TV Critic 22. When to Wait 30 Days
23. Beware the Hype
Check back for more of Cramer's Rules

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Cabela's.

James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for Action Alerts PLUS. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to jjcletters@thestreet.com. Listen to Cramer's RealMoney Radio show on your computer; just click here. Watch Cramer on "Mad Money" at 6 p.m. EST weeknights on CNBC. Click here to order Cramer's latest book, "Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World," click here to get his second book, "You Got Screwed!" and click here to order Cramer's autobiography, "Confessions of a Street Addict."

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