Editor's note: The following is text from Jim Cramer's keynote speech at The Deal Economy Event on Dec. 5 at the New York Stock Exchange, New York City. To watch video replays of the event, click here. To read more content from Jim Cramer on Real Money, click here.
Where to Buy in 2014
When I heard I was coming back to orate at The Deal conference this year, I knew I was in big trouble.
Last year, I spoke at a time of incredible turmoil in the stock market. Washington had gone off the rails, hedge fund managers were shorting stocks left and right, individuals were rushing to sell any winners to lock in gains ahead of new taxes and the economy looked very tepid.
Into that breach, I came here with some breakup and takeover ideas that I look back on now and think, "wow, what a genius." The reality? The talk came at pretty much the lows for the era. That's how you could catch doubles with recommendations like Deckers (DECK), the maker of Uggs, or Alliant Tech (ATK), the government's bullet maker, without takeover bids. It's how Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) could rally 40% or Hess (HES) could rally 70% percent from last year's speech, just on the talk of a breakup, not on the reality.
And it's why almost all of the picks I made handily beat the market year over year. I have always said it is better to be lucky than good and maybe last year's talk is Exhibit A of that adage.
But we are in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately profession and that means I have to give you a whole new crop of stocks that I think can beat next year's market, too.
That's no mean feat with stocks up 25% on average this year and only five stocks in the Dow having rallied less than 10%. Amazingly, only two stocks in the venerable index are actually down, IBM (IBM) and Caterpillar (CAT), and their declines are pretty imperceptible. It's just the opposite of last year's scenario.
It's been a banner year for fund performance, unless you work at one of the considerable number of portfolio managers who fought the rally tooth and nail, which, thank heavens, we didn't do for my charitable trust, my principal way of keeping my hand in the market these days.
The Market's Changed Dramatically
This year I want to do something different. In 25 days, I will have a new book out, Get Rich Carefully, and it's about looking at stocks from some totally different perspectives. Over the five years since I wrote my last book, I believe the market has changed in some dramatic ways, particularly in relation to methods of trading, as well as government intervention.
It's a market that looks sublime and placid on the surface, but underneath lurks a seething Washington bear that hibernates and then springs up every few months to wreak havoc on stocks, clawing them down 5%, 8%, 10%, sometimes almost as much as 20%. The market's become a bucolic farmer's field to make hay when the sun shines, except when the hidden landmines of Washington appear underfoot and blow up those who have been lulled into thinking that all is well in the republic.
Get Rich Carefully is born of that tension, a confidence-crippling political environment layered on top of a pretty decent earnings story and the polemical challenge from Washington, I think, is responsible for so many people staying away from this glorious bull market (or at least fleeing from it at the worst possible moments, every time a Washington IED explodes in their faces, vanquishing hopes of participating in the riches this market's producing for those who don't have one foot out the door at all times).
That's why I wrote Get Rich Carefully. Because between the mechanical failures of the market that make a mockery of the asset class known as common stocks and the internecine warfare between Democrats and Republicans that I actually think will be worse this time around as we approach the 2014 elections, we are going to have still one more year with deep fissures that will present terrific buying opportunities.
And let's be sure of one thing before I get into the stocks and themes I like. I don't care if you are for big government, small government, no government or single issues that keep you from thinking beyond those parochial concerns, I just want you to make money.
To do so means to expect the unexpected and attack it with a strategy involving NOT stocks specifically, but long-term themes that enable you to take advantage of Washingtonian-inspired bear raids to put money to work at lower prices than you should otherwise be able to get.