Editor's note: This is the final installment of a five-part series titled "Cramer's Crash Course," which outlines the things investors need to know to survive and thrive after the stock market crash of 2000. Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of the series!
Our Gameplan Now
Like doctors, we always say: First do no harm. We have to protect the franchise no matter what. That means no foolish bottom-calling, no harebrained attempts to predict when stocks have stopped going down.
That means applying our scale buying on the stocks we really love while continuing to triage the stocks we think won't work. I can tell you that if the market opens up big we will jettison a healthy amount of stock, notably all we added in the last hour on Friday. We don't think the first rally holds. We will then wait until it comes in and begin applying cash in stages betting that the places to be will be the drugs and the
semis (the former is very safe generally, while the other is the safest of the risky stocks).
We will try to use out-of-the-money April calls as a way to play upside once the market settles, with the idea that a defined-risk bet like that makes the most sense -- as we don't want to dent too much of our cash hoard.
Why not? Why isn't this exactly what we are waiting for? Because part of our concern is the faint possibility that this market is indeed different and it doesn't come back and instead keeps chewing at committed capital. We have a good year going and we don't want to blow it already. We are well ahead of most of our compadres and have no desire to sink to their level. We would rather have them catch us as we both go up, rather than risk the franchise on the way down.
As always, we are neither bulls nor bears. We will take our cue from the stocks. We know that when you get the kind of three-column
New York Times
headlines as we had on Saturday, we are closer to a short-term bottom. Will it be a lasting bottom?
Fortunately, that is one thing we don't have to call.
Remember to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of "Cramer's Crash Course" series!
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. 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 invites you to comment on his column at