"Ever go out with a group of friends and try to figure out what you want to eat?" Jim Cramer asked
"RealMoney" radio show listeners Tuesday.
"You know how difficult this can be. ... Now imagine that they're avoiding beef and chicken because they're worried about bird flu and mad cow disease," he said.
Cramer cited the fact that medical experts around the globe believe that bird flu will hit the U.S. by the end of the year and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that a cow in Alabama has mad cow disease, the third report in three years.
Sure, you could think about selling companies such as
, KFC parent company
, Cramer said.
But he also wants to think about how to make some money, and that's by buying pork-related stocks.
The two pure plays are
Premium Standard Farms
, he said.
"This is where the obvious doesn't work," Cramer said, adding that Premium Standard, whose ticker is PORK, has been disappointing.
Don't reach for it over Smithfield, even if it only sells for $17 a share while Smithfield sells for $28, he says, because Premium Standard is in reality a more expensive stock.
The growth of a company is how Cramer judges whether it's cheap or expensive, not the actual stock price. And at $17 a share, he said that Premium Standard isn't growing as fast and isn't as good as Smithfield at $28.
"When we compare the growth rates, Smithfield is much cheaper," he said. Plus, it's best of breed, which means that if the market takes the stock down it will most likely snap back, he added.
Smithfield is the worldwide producer of pork, and demand should remain strong as long as we're worried about avian flu and mad cow, Cramer said.
"I need you to find stocks that are comfortable for you, that fit your personality," he said. "Maybe you're risk-averse, maybe you love to speculate. You need to do the homework so you will not be surprised and not panic out if the stock goes lower."
When a stock goes down, people sell rather than buy more if they haven't done their homework, he added. And that's because they don't really know if there's something really wrong with the company or if it's just a problem with the stock.
The first step, he said, is to listen to the conference call. Every quarter, every publicly traded company has a conference call when management says how the quarter went, how the company made money and what the future looks like.
The calls are available on the company's Web site, now that the government requires that this material is made available to investors. Cramer said that what you're listening for is growth, particularly accelerated revenue growth.
"When you hear that business is accelerating, you may have something worth following," he said.
Next, you have to read the press, he said. He recommended plugging the stock symbol into Web sites including
, which he co-founded nine years ago, and those of Yahoo! Finance and
The Wall Street Journal
He said it's important to read the articles about the company because you need to understand what you own.
Finally, he said, get the research. The company's Web site will have reports generated by analysts from large brokerage firms who cover the company.
This is the minimal amount of homework he believes must be done before buying a stock, and it should take about an hour a week per stock, Cramer said.
This is why he said to not own more than five stocks. And if you don't have three reasons to buy after all this homework, Cramer said to avoid the stock.
Cramer prides himself on the fact that he has kept clients out of every single airline stock since he's been in the business, telling listeners that if they want to buy an airline they may as well be giving their money away.
He stuck by this pronouncement, saying that businesses that are focusing on wealthy customers and business travelers is a business model he's seen "a gazillion times" that "has never worked."
And just because
is offering fliers a chance at better seats for a $15 fee, "that barely covers the fuel bill," he said.
The only stock tied to the airline industry that he will recommend is
, because it has no passengers.
That means no complaints, he said, and the company can pass on whatever fees it wants.
Even though Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, is not behind the proliferation of U.S. business interests in his country, Cramer likes mining company
as a way cash in on economic growth in the country.
Chavez will have to provide jobs for his people, Cramer said, and he believes that mining is one place where they will find work.
"When you listen to the president talk about the Iraq war, do you really believe him?" Cramer asked listeners.
Despite recent statements made by Bush that most of Iraq will be turned over by the end of the year to the new trained Iraqi troops, Cramer cited a poll that showed 65% of the American people believe that he has no Iraq plan.
The stock market also tells Cramer something different from what the president is saying, and it says that this war is going to go on for a long time.
"I listen to the way stocks trade," he said. And the gigantic military industrial companies are going higher.
are all hitting the new-high list or have been there for a while, he said.
When it looked like the war was going better, they hit 52-week lows, Cramer said.
The New York Times
is going to feel a bit lighter because the paper of record will stop publishing its daily stock listings, Cramer said, adding that it will only offer this information online.
The level of interest in the stock market hasn't been this high in six years, he said, and yet the tables are being excised from the print edition.
This is because print media is "moribund," he said, citing comments by Rupert Murdoch that the old ways of media are dead.
He quoted Murdoch as saying that information is no longer in the hands of media barons, but that it will become like fast food, with people accessing it via phones and handheld wireless devices.
There's money to be made on Murdoch's declaration, Cramer said, and he believes that it's the handheld devices that will deliver information to us.
Among his top picks in the field were
, which makes flash memory;
, which makes storage for larger files that won't fit on flash;
, which makes headsets for hands free communications;
, which makes wireless technology controllers; and chipmakers
Cramer owns Qualcomm for his
ActionAlerts PLUS charitable trust.
While the U.S. market is a major market, Cramer said it's not necessarily the best or the fastest-growing market. The Asian economy is among the major growth markets, he said, and when people think Asia, they think China.
But China presents "a conundrum," he said. It's the best place to sell products, because a billion people take down a lot of products, but its financial markets have no oversight.
Industrial Commercial Bank of China
will soon conduct a mega-initial public offering, which sounds good at the outset, but Cramer said to "run from this deal."
No oversight means that companies can say whatever they wish to boost their stocks, he said, adding that after the largest Chinese life insurance company became public, accounting fraud was revealed within a matter of weeks.
The wise way to invest in China is to put money into the U.S. companies that are going to dominate China and capitalize on its economic growth.
, which expects 20% of its earnings to come from China in the next couple of years. He said that the stock at $35 does not reflect this good news.
is the insurer that he believes will make money in China. He said that even though the stock fell on hard times because the previous CEO was in trouble with the law, the franchise is intact.
And for retailers in China Cramer likes
Timberland has been "a sleeper stock," he said, but Cramer believes that it's at the beginning of something big now that it will open stores in China. And Best Buy is taking a stake in China's fourth-largest retailer.
Cramer told a caller that he still likes
even though the stock is down in part on news that the new PlayStation will be delayed until November.
The company makes most of the great video games out there, he said. And even though
might have something good, its financials are "in shambles."
Electronic Arts is best of breed and has been sitting on its duff because Wall Street believes that it will miss earnings estimates, he said, adding that we must care about this because earning are all that matter to the Street.
He said that the company is bottoming, but that future quarters could be excellent. He doesn't know when the rally will come, but be believes it's going to happen and he would buy aggressively on the stock's weakness even though this quarter may not be great.
Cramer also said that
is a great investment because it could "take over the mantle from BlackBerry," which is made by
Research In Motion
Plus, he believes that
is getting behind Palm, saying that he would stick with the stock or even buy more before it really takes off.
Finally, he told a caller to be patient with
because it's "a coiled spring" that will go higher once we hit gardening and swim season. He believes the stock, which is trading below $24, could run up to $30, which is when he would sell.
Want more Cramer? Check out Jim's rules and commandments for investing from his latest book by
At the time of publication, Cramer was long Qualcomm.
James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for
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