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'Mad Money' Mailbag: Getting Started

Editor's Note: The following are questions received from viewers of "Mad Money," seen every day at 6 p.m. EDT on CNBC.


I only have about $1,000 to invest, and have no idea how to start. What do you suggest for someone who is new to the stock market?

-- Trisha from Tallahassee, Fla.

James J. Cramer: First of all, don't be scared of starting out investing with too little money. That said, even in the era of discount brokerages, the best and most cost-effective way to maintain a diversified portfolio with less than $5,000 is with mutual funds. First, I'd read all I could find online, and there's a lot of useful information for free out there on sites like TheStreet.com, Yahoo! Finance and Morningstar. When you feel comfortable enough, use one of the free mutual fund screening tools out there to find an investment vehicle that best fits your goals.


Should I continue to buy Metris (MXT) if the Fed keeps raising rates?

-- Darren from California

James J. Cramer: Metris is one of my top picks in the credit card space. I think the company is a solid acquisition target now that its fundamentals are improving and management is paying down a substantial portion of debt. Following this morning's acquisition of MBNA (KRB) by Bank of America (BAC), I think the company could be the next name to catch some takeover speculation.




Are you still bullish on Altria (MO - Get Report)?

-- Pete from Idaho

James J. Cramer: I like Altria here at just 12.7 times estimated earnings and I own shares for my charitable trust. (To see all of the holdings in my charitable trust, visit ActionAlertsPLUS .) The company has announced preliminary plans to break the firm up into four separate companies, and I think shares could be worth more than $80 when each business is valued separately.


What is your take on Cisco (CSCO - Get Report)?

-- Sue from New York

James J. Cramer: Cisco has been out of favor on Wall Street for some time. But I expect a round of new technology product launches and increased adoption of high-speed data services to breathe some life back into this tech behemoth in the second half of this year. I think Cisco is a buy at this price.


Would you pick up Duke Energy (DUK - Get Report) with extra cash?

-- Christina from Brooklyn, N.Y.

James J. Cramer: Even though the stock is trading at a 52-week high, up 18% for the year, Duke remains my favorite utility stock. CEO Paul Anderson has done a great job turning the business around, and the recently raised 31-cent quarterly dividend (4.1% yield) is above the industry average.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
C $53.49 2.04%
CSCO $30.19 2.30%
DUK $77.06 -1.90%
MO $56.50 0.37%
MXT $0.68 -28.09%

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DOW 18,288.63 +155.93 0.86%
S&P 500 2,117.39 +12.89 0.61%
NASDAQ 5,008.0960 +44.5690 0.90%

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