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Rule No. 8: Buy Best-of-Breed Companies

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 eighth 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; for his seventh, click here.


In cars, we buy best of breed. Not even an issue. We pay up for the brand because we know that a brand, a good brand, signifies reliability. It signifies a higher level of service, a quality of ownership that can pay dividends for years.

Why don't so many of us feel that way in the stock market? Why are so many drawn to an Albertson's (ABS) or a Safeway (SWY) or a Kroger (KR), inferior supermarket chains, when Whole Foods Market (WFMI) is clearly the best of breed?

Why did so many people lose money in so many different audio component stores, when Best Buy (BBY) is the only company that delivers sustainable profits in that retail sector?

Why do people want Advance Micro Devices (AMD) when Intel (INTC) has proven again and again to be the best bet?

The list goes on and on. Way too many of you are unwilling to pay up for best of breed because you think that you are getting short-changed. There are very few bargains out there in the world of secondary and tertiary players. I believe that when it comes to price-to-earnings multiple, investing in the more expensive stock is invariably worth it because you get piece of mind.

That's why I say:

Own the best of breed; it's worth it.

Take Walgreen (WAG) and Rite Aid (RAD). Sure, Rite Aid seems perpetually in turnaround mode and you have to love a $3 stock. Don't you? Not me; I have to tell you that I think Walgreen is the bargain of those two, because I never mind paying a higher price for the better company.

Or consider those who bought Dell (DELL) two years ago vs. those who bought Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Gateway (GTW) or Sun Microsystems (SUNW). There was never any question among any investor that Dell was the best of that breed. But so many went astray because the others seemed like bargains.

Forget about it. Buy best of breed. Pay up. You almost never will find yourself regretting 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
Check back for more of Cramer's Rules

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Intel.

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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