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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You didn't have to be a contrarian to make money in 2014, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Monday. In fact, tried and true conventional wisdom seemed to be best strategy last year Here's Cramer's his top ten investing lessons investors can take with them into 2015.
1. Sweeping judgements kill. Cramer said making broad statements that a strong dollar, weak oil or a troubled Europe will kill off everything has proven to be just plain wrong.
2. Don't sell too soon. Cramer said investors need to "hold on for the ride" when selling begins and stick with their discipline.
3. Beware of bottom fishing. Cramer said sometimes down and out stocks stay that way.
4. Use caution with commodities. Stocks that deal with declining commodities, like the oil stocks, are likely to keep getting clobbered.
5. Dividends aren't everything. Even juicy dividends are not enough to protect you from commodity and other market pressures.
7. The best biotechs develop. The best biotechs will continue to be those with big development pipelines.
8. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Just ask the utilities or the airlines, which have reinvented themselves to make big profits.
9. Mergers are powerful. Making smart acquisitions are just as good as, and sometimes better than, building the business yourself.
10. Buybacks can matter. Cramer said stocks with bug buybacks can always be bought into weakness.
The Dow's Top 5
On a viscious day like today, Cramer told viewers they need to take their cues from the best performers of last year, which is why he revisited the top five best-performing stocks from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
First up was Intel (INTC) , a stock that booked a 39% gain in 2014. Cramer said the turn in PC spending should continue in 2015 and Intel has little competition left. He expects shares to surge another 25% this year.
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) was second on Cramer's list. This stock's 34% gain from last year is far from over, he said, and the company could earn $6 a share with a 20 times multiple, or a 20% gain from current levels.
Next up was Home Depot (HD) , which was up 27% in 2014. Cramer said this company keeps buying back its own stock and will benefit from increased home formation. He expects shares up another 42% in 2015.
Fourth on the list was Microsoft (MSFT) , a stock Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS. Cramer said he expects Microsoft to earn $3 a share and finally receive a market multiple, which would boost shares up 16%.
Finally, there's Cisco (CSCO) , which rose 23% in 2014. Cramer said this company needs more of a worldwide recovery but is a high-quality company that deserves a 15 times multiple, or 22% more than shares currently receive.
Watch Out in the Oil Patch
The price of oil may be nearing a bottom, but that doesn't mean investors should start jumping into the oil stocks, Cramer warned viewers. The earnings per share estimates for these companies are still way too high, he continued, and that means the analysts are not your friends.
Case in point, U.S. Silica Holdings (SLCA) , the fracking sand provider that was upgraded to rave reviews on Aug. 27 last year, sending shares from $67 to over $73 on the promise of a sand "super cycle" that never materialized.
With shares now down over 60% from those highs, trading just under $25 a share, investors may think U.S. Silica is a steal, but think again. Back in February 2014, shares of U.S. Silica were also trading under $25 share -- but back then oil was still trading at $97 a barrel.
That means either U.S. Silica was way overvalued back then or it's got a lot more to fall now, Cramer concluded. Unfortunately, this same scenario is playing out throughout the oil patch. Cramer said it's impossible to own any of these stocks given the huge cutbacks in earnings estimates that are still coming.
Executive Decision: John Chambers
Chambers said Cisco expects 2015 to be the "Internet of everything," where everything from your car, home, health records, cities and more all become digitized and online. He said this represents a $19 trillion opportunity in an industry where security is everything.
Chambers continued that the motto of his industry continues to be "disrupt or be disrupted" as the speed of innovation is getting faster and faster. That's why the organizational changes Cisco made last year will soon start to bear fruit as the market worldwide gains traction.
When asked about his company's lawsuit against Arista Networks (ANET) , Chambers said Cisco is not by nature a litigious company, but every once and awhile it needs to send a message and protect its intellectual property and $6 billion-a-year research and development efforts.
Cramer said with Cisco offering investors dividends plus growth, this is one stock to own though today's selloff.
Executive Decision: Stanley Crooke
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke to Dr. Stanley Crooke, chairman and CEO of Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) , a stock which was up big on the news of a new partnership with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) . Cramer spoke to Crooke three weeks ago and is bullish on the company's outlook.
Crooke called Johnson & Johnson the "ideal partner" for Isis when it comes to expanding his company's platform into the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. He said new anti-inflammatory treatments are desperately needed in this space and the collaboration will allow Isis' platform to expand into even more areas.
Cramer said that shares of Isis would have been up even more had the market not be down over 300 points.
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-- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in JNJ, MSFT and SBUX.