Skip to main content

Editor's note: Welcome to "Booyah Breakdown," an explanation of certain terms and topics Jim Cramer discusses on his "Mad Money" TV show. Feel free to ask a question if you're confused about something Cramer talks about, but please keep in mind that we do not provide advice on specific stocks.

I'm new to investing and have been educating myself with the help of yourarticles. I would like to know what "EBITDA," "ttm," and "yoy" on the financial sheets mean. -- B.K.

OK. Here's your acronym lesson:

EBITDA stands for "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization."

Many analysts use EBITDA to compare the profitability between companies, arguing that iteliminates the effects of the financing and accounting decisions. They claim that interest, taxes,depreciation and amortization don't have anything to do with the nuts and bolts of the business.But I'll argue that all they're doing is making the numbers look pretty. The company will stillowe its interest and tax payments and will have to account for depreciation and amortization tocomply with the accounting rules. So use EBITDA cautiously.

And one more warning: Some folks use EBITDA to evaluate cash earnings. Don't do it. Stick withoperating cash flow.

Now, "ttm" means "trailing 12 months." So numbers from the past year are being used whencalculating a particular financial ratio. For instance, you'll often see the price-to-earningsratio quoted as "p/e (ttm)." That just means the earnings per share number from the past 12months is used in the calculation.

And "yoy" means "year over year." So you're comparing a number that's calculated today to thesame number calculated exactly a year ago. Many times, revenue is reported "yoy." So if anearnings release says that second-quarter revenue increased on a year-over-year basis, that meansrevenue is up from the same time last year.

BTW (that's "by the way"), for more financial-acronym help, go to Yahoo! Finance and put inyour favorite ticker. Click on "key statistics" and scroll down to the bottom. A bunch of acronymsare defined for you. (Check out

"this link" for some moreacronym fun.)

Your lingo column explained a number of Cramer phrases that were total mysteries to me. But I'membarrassed to admit that I'm still not 100% sure that "ring the register" means "sell" andshooting the gun means to "buy." -- C. L.

You're right on the "ring the register." Cramer's telling you to sell it. So ring theregister to calculate your grand total and then take your money and run.

As far as the shooting guns, he doesn't mean "buy," per se. It's just more of Cramer beingfrustrated at someone or something. Think of it as him venting his frustration on the bull's-eye at target practice.

I am trying to find software that I can use to enter in the price I pay for a stock, note any changes if Ibuy more or sell, something that will calculate my cash percentage, etc. Can you recommendsomething? Or should I put it in an Excel spread sheet? -- H.D.

If you're an Excel wizard, then go for it. But know that you're on your own to calculate taximplications and cost-basis adjustments when your stock is acquired or your company merges with anothercompany.

TheStreet Recommends

Remember, you have to adjust your initial investment in the stock -- your cost basis -- forstock splits, mergers and any other corporate activity, and that could get complicated.

So check out For $49 a year, you can enter up to 100 stocks (or download them fromyour broker), and the site will not only track your buys and sells, but it will also adjust for anymergers, acquisitions, stock splits, etc., says Shawn Ward, a product consultant, a part of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services. So if you're holding a company that'sacquired, GainsKeeper will calculate your basis in your new shares.

In addition, GainsKeeper will help you with the tax stuff. So technical tax issues like thewash-sale rule and qualified dividends all will be taken care of for you. You won't have to do athing. And the best part is that you'll always know your tax situation, so that means no surprisescome tax time.

Even better, you could just download your GainsKeeper info into tax-preparation programs likeTurboTax, CompleteTax or TaxCut. Then your

Schedule D - Capital Gains and Losses

will be instantlycompleted. WFM! (translation: works for me!)

When Jim sells a stock, does he use FIFO or LIFO? Based on his cost basis, some ofhis trades look like losses if he was using FIFO. -- R.H.

Very observant, R.H. Yes, Cramer uses FIFO.

FIFO means first in, first out. So that's the order Cramer uses to sellhis shares. In a simple example, let's say he bought 100 shares of a stock three separate times, onMonday, Wednesday and Friday. If, in the following week, he decided to drop 150 shares, he wouldsell Monday's shares and the first 50 shares of Wednesday's lot.

LIFO is short for last in, first out. So in our example, he would sell Friday's shares first,then take the remaining 50 from Wednesday's lot.

Unless you specifically identify which lots you want to sell, you're required to use FIFO fortax and accounting purposes. But if you have the inclination, specific identification can help yourtax situation.

In our example, let's say your Wednesday lot was the most expensive of the three. If you sellthat first, you'll minimize your gain and therefore lower your tax bill. Gainskeeper can help youdecide which lots are best to sell for tax purposes, notes Ward. (All for your $49. Not tooshabby.)

TAFN (that's all for now!), but keep sending your questions!

Tracy Byrnes is an award-winning writer specializing in tax and accounting issues. As a freelancer, she has written columns for and the New York Post and her work has appeared in SmartMoney and on CBS MarketWatch. Prior to freelancing, she spent four years as a senior writer for Before that, she was an accountant with Ernst & Young. She has a B.A. in English and economics from Lehigh University and an M.B.A. in accounting from Rutgers University. Byrnes appreciates your feedback;

click here

to send her an email.