To help sort out the holdings in your portfolio, Cramer said he likes to rate each stock on a scale from one to four. Ones are stocks he'd buy at the current price while twos are stocks he'd buy on a pullback. Threes are stocks to sell at a higher price and fours are stocks to sell now. Cramer said using a simple rating system allows investors to remove emotions from the rally equation. As the market moves higher, stocks that were a one become a two, stocks that were a three become a four. If the fundamentals haven't changed, Cramer concluded, that stock you're in love with may have just gotten too expensive.
"Cash is king," was Cramer's third lesson for investors. He reminded them that cash is what makes everything else possible, and a portfolio without cash on hand is like a car running on empty. Cash provides flexibility, said Cramer, so when the market gives you an opportunity to start a position you can take it. Likewise, if there's an opportunity to add to a position, you can do that as well. You need to have some cash on the sidelines or you won't be able to do any buying without first selling something else. How much cash should an investor keep on hand? Cramer said 5% of a portfolio is a good minimum, but he's gone as high as 20% at times when market euphoria seemed to be too high.
Next, Cramer said that in order to take maximum advantage of a big market run, investors need to be prepared to sell, sell, sell. Generally, people don't like to talk about selling, said Cramer, but it's part of the investing process since the goal really is to "buy low and sell high." Good companies have get very expensive, as investors have seen with high-fliers like Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG), Netflix ( NFLX) and Deckers Outdoor ( DECK) and, in the era before that, Intel ( INTC), Cisco ( CSCO) and Microsoft ( MSFT). A big "up" day or two gives investors the perfect opportunity to sell, which in turn protects them from potential downside. That doesn't mean you should sell everything, however -- you're looking to balance capital preservation with capital appreciation. The quality of the stocks is not in question, Cramer concluded, only the price.
A Portfolio Red Flag
What can a major move higher in the markets tell you about your portfolio? A lot, said Cramer. He said underperforming the markets during a big move is not that big a deal, but if your portfolio radically outperforms the market, that's a major red flag. Cramer explained that when your portfolio leaves the major averages in the dust, it usually means you're taking on too much risk. "Taking on unnecessary risk makes no sense," he said, and watching how your portfolio performs during a rally will tell you just how much risk you're taking. Stocks that have big "up" days also have big "down" days. Performing too well during a rally can also mean your portfolio is not properly diversified, said Cramer. Not having proper diversification can wipe out an entire portfolio in a heartbeat -- just ask those with tech portfolios in 2000 and 2001. No more than 20% of your portfolio should ever be in a single sector, he reminded viewers.
Curb Your Emotions
Cramer's final rule for market rallies: Don't chase stocks higher. He said after a big one-day move in the markets, it's very tempting to want to step up and buy more the following day. "Don't do it," Cramer advised. Don't let your emotions lead you astray because you simply cannot buy stocks after the market has just spiked. It may sound crazy, he said, but there will always be a pullback coming, one that will afford you a better entry price. To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here.To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC. -- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C. To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRutt or get updates on Facebook, ScottRuttDC