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Rule No. 7: No One Made a Dime by Panicking

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 seventh rule of investing. To read about his first rule, click here ; for his second, click here ; for his third, click here ; for his fourth, click here ; for his fifth, click here ; for his sixth, click here .


You see it over and over again. A stock gets hammered. People flee after the hammering. The market gets crushed on a huge down day. People leave at the end of the day. A sector gets annihilated. Quickly. People can't take the pain; they bolt after the annihilation.

Panic is the operating instinct in all of these cases. There's something basic and instinctive about panic, about the desire to flee. It might work when it comes to individuals and things that might threaten us physically. But it can't make you a dime. That's why I say:

No one ever made a dime panicking.

There will always be a better time to go, a better time to leave the table than the one brought on by panic.

Let's take the latest panic, the run out of Biogen Idec (BIIB). As soon as I saw the panic in that stock, I wanted to run the other direction; I wanted to buy. If you bought the heart of that panic, the $36 price, you could have made a quick 5 points already. If you flipped it then, you could have gotten back in and already would be up a couple for the investible side of the ledger. I think that stock ultimately will go back to the $40s and maybe even the $50s, making a mockery of those who fled.

We get mini-panics all the time in the market. We had a mini-panic in Starbucks (SBUX) off a weak monthly comp number. We had a mini-panics in Panera (PNRA) and Whole Foods (WFMI) off a couple of not-so-great months. These down-5 and down-10 situations don't need to be chased or participated in. A better time to sell will come.

I want you to do something for me next time there is a panic. I want you to take the opposite side of the trade. When you see one of those high-speed routs of a sector or a stock, buy a little. Get a feel for it. See what I mean. The most rewarding trades you can make are those where the decks have been cleared out by panicky folks using market orders who just don't get that the exit doors aren't as big as they think they are.

Mind you, I am not saying that all merchandise that gets panicked out of is worth buying for the long term. I am saying that it's a rare day when a stock or market that is socked that there won't be some sort of bounce that allows you to get out at a better price than you would have if you just joined the fleeing masses.



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
Check back for more of Cramer's Rules

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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