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Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Playing a Short-Term Rally

To help sort out the holdings in your portfolio, Cramer said he likes to rate each stock on a scale from one to four. Ones are stocks he'd buy at the current price while twos are stocks he'd buy on a pullback. Threes are stocks to sell at a higher price and fours are stocks to sell now.

Cramer said using a simple rating system allows investors to remove emotions from the rally equation. As the market moves higher, stocks that were a one become a two, stocks that were a three become a four. If the fundamentals haven't changed, Cramer concluded, that stock you're in love with may have just gotten too expensive.

King Cash

"Cash is king," was Cramer's third lesson for investors. He reminded them that cash is what makes everything else possible, and a portfolio without cash on hand is like a car running on empty.

Cash provides flexibility, said Cramer, so when the market gives you an opportunity to start a position you can take it. Likewise, if there's an opportunity to add to a position, you can do that as well. You need to have some cash on the sidelines, otherwise you won't be able to do any buying without first selling something else.

How much cash should investor keep on hand? Cramer said 5% of a portfolio is a good minimum, but he's gone as high as 20% at times when market euphoria seemed to be too high.

Be Prepared

"Be prepared" was Cramer's next lesson for investors. He said in order to take maximum advantage of a big market run, investors need to be prepared to sell, sell, sell.

Generally, people don't like to talk about selling, said Cramer, but it's part of the investing process since the goal really is to "buy low and sell high."

Good companies have get very expensive, as investors have seen first hand with high-fliers like Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Netflix (NFLX) and Deckers Outdoor (DECK), and in the era before that, Intel (INTC), Cisco (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT).

A big "up" day or two gives investors the perfect opportunity to sell, which in turn protects them from potential downside. That doesn't mean you should sell everything, however -- you're looking to balance capital preservation with capital appreciation.

The quality of the stocks is not in question, Cramer concluded, only the price.

A Portfolio Red Flag

What can a major move higher in the markets tell you about your portfolio? A lot, said Cramer. He said underperforming the markets during a big move is not that big a deal, but if your portfolio radically outperforms the market that's a major red flag.

Cramer explained that when your portfolio leaves the major averages in the dust, it usually means you're taking on too much risk. "Taking on unnecessary risk makes no sense," he said, and watching how your portfolio performs during a rally will tell you just how much risk you're taking. Stocks that have big "up" days also have big "down" days.

Performing too well during a rally can also mean your portfolio is not properly diversified, said Cramer. Not having proper diversification can wipe out an entire portfolio in a heartbeat -- just ask those with tech portfolios in 2000 and 2001. No more than 20% of your portfolio should ever be in a single sector, he reminded viewers.

Curb Your Emotions

Cramer's final rule for market rallies, don't chase stocks higher. He said after a big one-day move in the markets, it's very tempting to want to step up and buy more the following day.

"Don't do it," Cramer said plainly. Don't let your emotions lead you astray because you simply cannot buy stocks after the market has just spiked. It may sound crazy, he said, but there will always be a pullback coming, one that will afford you a better entry price.

--Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.

To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRutt or get updates on Facebook, ScottRuttDC

To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.
At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in the stocks mentioned.

Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of or its affiliates, or CNBC, NBC Universal or their parent company or affiliates. Mr. Cramer's opinions are based upon information he considers to be reliable, but neither, nor CNBC, nor either of their affiliates and/or subsidiaries warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such. Mr. Cramer's statements are based on his opinions at the time statements are made, and are subject to change without notice. No part of Mr. Cramer's compensation from CNBC or is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."

None of the information contained in "Mad Money" constitutes a recommendation by Mr. Cramer, or CNBC that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You must make your own independent decisions regarding any security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy mentioned on the program. Mr. Cramer's past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance. Neither Mr. Cramer, nor, nor CNBC guarantees any specific outcome or profit, and you should be aware of the real risk of loss in following any strategy or investments discussed on the program. The strategy or investments discussed may fluctuate in price or value and you may get back less than you invested. Before acting on any information contained in the program, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and strongly consider seeking advice from your own financial or investment adviser.

Some of the stocks mentioned by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are held in Mr. Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio. When that is the case, appropriate disclosure is made on the program and in the "Mad Money" recap available on The Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio contains all of Mr. Cramer's personal investments in publicly-traded equity securities only, and does not include any mutual fund holdings or other institutionally managed assets, private equity investments, or his holdings in, Inc. Since March 2005, the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio has been held by a Trust, the realized profits from which have been pledged to charity. Mr. Cramer retains full investment discretion with respect to all securities contained in the Trust. Mr. Cramer is subject to certain trading restrictions, and must hold all securities in the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio for at least one month, and is not permitted to buy or sell any security he has spoken about on television or on his radio program for five days following the broadcast.
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