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Cramer Takes a Tip on Tips from the Trading Goddess

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Okay, so I'm with the wife and kids at Key West, and we're sunning ourselves on the spit of the beach in front of the cheaper of the two Marriott's right before New Year's. The wife tells me to go get us a couple of pinas and I saunter up to the little beach bar to order.

Some guy looks at me like he knows me. Three-tenths of a second go by, and he's pointing at me. I mouth the call letters as he says them --


-- because whenever I am recognized, it is almost invariably for my role as co-host to

Mark Haines

on Squawk Box, a job I take very seriously.

"That's me," I say. "And where's the Trading Goddess?" he says, as I point to six yards away where my wife and kids are. (Wow, those philandering politicians and celebrities must always be embarrassed by these questions as the odds are that some are not with their wives.)

As the drink line is long, and I've got no place to go, I naturally accede to a question about stocks. "What do you think about

Con Stores

," the gentleman asks me. "Hmmmm," I mumble, "haven't looked at it lately, really feel liked I missed the move to $45."

No, he suggested. I'd missed nothing. They had a strong Christmas. They import a lot of stuff from East Asia so their margins will expand, he said. Plus it is domestic and doesn't sell anything over there. You know, I said, now hooked by this guy, I don't know how that Kay-Bee toy acquisition is working out? Just fine, he assured me. Just fine.

This could be a big stock.

He bantered on about it as my two pinas got poured and I paid. I shook his hand and returned one of the drinks to my wife and ran back to call Jeff, my partner, about Consolidated Stores. I asked him to pull up the First Call notes and check in with some analysts. Get it ready for me, I said, and dashed back to the beach.

"Where were you?" my wife asks. "I went upstairs to call Jeff to get some information on Con Stores."

"Did that just come to you?" she states somewhat rhetorically.

"No, the funniest thing happened. When I was getting our drinks a guy recognized me and he gave me this great idea, Con Stores, that really fits into my domestic thesis," I said through sips of my pina.

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"It was a tip?" she said.

And right then I knew my day at the beach was no longer going to be a day at the beach.

"Kinda, well, no, not exactly, it was more like. . . ."

She couldn't wait for me to finish "It was a tip," she declared.

"What have I always told you about tips?"

So, for the four millionth time in our ten-year marriage I repeated, "Tips are something that you leave on the table for the waiter." "Ahh," she said "that's better. Do you think that guy at the bar will be there for you if something goes wrong at Con Stores? Will he call you and tell you to get out? Will he give you the big sell call ahead of any problems?"

I nodded. We'd been through this drill so many times it didn't need repeating. Tips are the bane of the investing experience, whether they come from strangers or best friends. Nobody has a Rolodex-like brain to be able to get people out of stuff they tip you about. And nobody really cares once the tip is handed off.

Yesterday, Con Stores blew up. It had a crummy Christmas. Its sell through at Kay-bee Toys was disappointing. It didn't have the right merchandise. Oh let me count the ways Con Stores didn't work.

When I got home last night I mentioned the Con Stores blow-up to my wife. "No kidding," she said. "What would you do without me?"

Which is slightly better than "I told you so."

* * * * *

Random musings: So Donald Trump is selling his casinos, eh? The

LA Times

asked me to review Trump's book, "The Art of the Comeback." As there was nothing redeeming to it, I didn't bother, using my late mom's old saw, if you have nothing good to say don't bother to say it. But this book is written like a selling document, a virtual prospectus, for this transaction. So maybe the SEC should review it, instead of me. If they didn't like it as much as I didn't, at least they could do something about it.

Uh oh, big unemployment number. I'm shakin'!!!!

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Mr. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback, emailed to