Editor's Note: James J. Cramer was the keynote speaker at The Miami Herald's Making Money Conference, held Saturday. We're running the full text of that speech here, and this is the first of four installments.
I love stocks. I love the stock market. I think that the stock market as a pastime is more exciting and, of course, far more lucrative than any other endeavor in the world. It has more winners than all of the state lotteries put together. It makes you more money in a day than any casino or racetrack will make you in a lifetime. It beats going to the movies or a
game any day of the week. I think it can be gamed and beaten by you, at home, doing some amount of work. I think you have the big edge over the professional these days, and I think that many of the professionals are letting you down in a huge way.
And for this view, I am hated and reviled by many of the professionals in our business. They know that if I continue to help level the playing field with my efforts through
, I'll be making their jobs harder and harder and harder. They know what I know, that every month I get dozens of letters talking about the hundreds of thousands of dollars
has made for its readers, while all of the other professionals, both journalists and money managers, have seemingly done their best to obfuscate, confuse and ultimately cost people money.
Well, I have some bad news for them. I'm just getting started.
Let me tell you a story I hear repeated a gazillion times a year by people in all walks of life. Earlier this week, I went to Philadelphia to keep my dad company while he had a bladder stone removed. Of course, these days when I go to my hometown of Philadelphia, I get quite a reception because of my vocal bullishness for the past 18 years. I saw one of the anesthesiologists in the halls, and he recognized me. He's a subscriber to
. He said he had been making money pretty consistently in the market.
He wanted to know what I thought about wireless semiconductor play
. Earlier in the week, I had been reeling from some big design wins that RF Micro had gotten from
. They had hurt a company I owned the shares of. I did some work on RF Micro, and I could tell that it was extremely well run, had a big backlog and was still one more great way to play wireless.
Not many of the amateurs out there, I figured, knew RF Micro. I asked him who his broker was that he had bought that one. He looked at me like I was dreaming. "Broker?" he said. "I don't use a broker. I get this stuff by reading
and watching television and keeping my eyes open for interesting stories."
His broker, he said, always put him in dogs. He didn't want those. He wanted the New Economy stocks. His story is the story I hear day after day from people who have gone on to the Internet to take control of their finances. It is a wonderful, fulfilling story, where the good guy wins and things work out well. They may not end happily ever after, but you could sure have a great time and make a lot of money on the way!
Yes, we are in a peculiar time right now, a time when the brokerage houses have fallen well behind on the New Economy stocks, or believe they are jokes or aren't here to stay, except the ones that they underwrote. Those they love! As if we should trust movie critics paid by
. People at the mainstream brokerages have fallen behind at the same time that the people, everyday people, love this game and thirst for knowledge, insight, rules and basic, hard-core methods of making money. They want methodologies that produce results, not just those that sound good in the textbooks.
These days, the dichotomy could not be more severe. The gulf between the dreaded combination of brokers pitching Old Economy stocks or products that pay out the most in commission and the free or low-cost Web sites and chat rooms where you can learn plenty about the New Economy and find the RF Micros and the
could not be wider. The days when you could just afford to let someone handle your money for you without intervention, where you were the passive client or the passive indexer, are over. We all know it. Everybody knows it. But few are willing to help you figure out how to bridge to this new world of informed, exciting stock investing. It just isn't in many people's interest, except those of us who put out
I think in this speech I can give you all of the tools you need to become a better investor and give you the methodology I use now -- and believe me, it's not based on price-to-earnings multiples or discounts-to-book -- to find the next big stocks. I will even give you a hint as to what I'm buying. But, most important, I'm going to make you into a better investor, a better trader or a better customer of the full-service souls out there. I am going to help you level the playing field.
Be sure to check back later today for the
second, third and fourth installments of this column.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long InfoSpace. 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