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Rule No. 22: Wait 30 Days After Warnings

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-second 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


Few rules have saved me more than the 30-day preannouncement rule.

When Tibco Software (TIBX) preannounces a bad quarter, do you rush to buy it? Are you someone who put money to work in Waters (WAT) right after that vicious preannouncement the other day?

If you are, this rule is for you:

Always wait 30 days after an earnings preannouncement before you buy.

I designed it because I recognize how compelling some of these price adjustments are, but they often are not deep enough to make the stocks ultimately attractive.

Here's why. When a company preannounces a bad quarter, it isn't just looking at the past. It is looking at its order book, its future. Believe me, if there were any hope that the company wouldn't have to preannounce -- hope in the form that maybe something could get better, not worse in the next 30 days -- the company would wait.

Preannouncements signal ongoing weakness. That's why I like to wait 30 days to see if anything has gotten better before I pull the trigger to buy.

Sure, I will miss some great opportunities. Most of the time, though, after 30 days, I find that there is more woe and another leg down! If there isn't, then I might miss a point or even 2, but I will be on terra firma. That's the only thing you want to be stepping on in any market, including this one.

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
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 by clicking here. 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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