What the Dow’s 1,000-Point Drop Means for You

Was the Dow’s 985-point intraday collapse proof of total capitulation by traders? Was it a sign of what Cramer calls a “whoosh” or “crescendo trade,” where all the sellers sell and the only people left are buyers with conviction? During Cramer’s 30 years on Wall Street, a crescendo was “the single greatest buying opportunity in the world.” So did today’s move qualify?

Unfortunately, no. It was “a mistake,” Cramer said, “and it doesn’t count.”

He pointed to the action in Procter & Gamble at about 2:45 PM ET, when the share price dropped to $47 from its opening bell price of just under $62. Cramer immediately knew something was wrong – not with the company, but with the stock. That’s why he said during Street Signs that if he were still a hedge fund manager that he’d bid $49 for 50,000 shares of PG right then and there. Watch the clip here.

In the blink of an eye, Cramer said, PG had gone from an attractive stock to “a steal of a lifetime.” The dividend yield jumped to 5% from 3% in an instant. And this on a solid company that recently reported a strong quarter. But sure enough, the stock snapped back to $61 soon after, virtually erasing the move, as some apparently took Cramer’s advice and bought PG.

The point he was trying to make was that only those traders who were bidding for Procter at that very moment, when it was down in the $40s, were able to capture those profits. It was an anomalous moment not available to everyone who wanted to get in. The crescendos Cramer mentioned before don’t work like that. They work only when people have the chance to buy. Not to mention, it’s looking like the Dow drop was caused by a trader who tried to sell $15 billion worth of stock instead of the $15 million he’d intended.

So what’s the takeaway? Until we suffer a truly vicious decline, a legitimate one that takes us under Dow 10,000 for real, this market is probably too volatile for most individual investors. Therefore, the best defense is what worked during the horrible pullback between October 2007 and March 2009: dividends.

Cramer urged viewers to write up a list of stocks with safe payouts so they’ll be ready the next time we get another P&G moment. And when those yields hit 5% like Procter did today, he said, buy, buy, buy.

Cramer’s charitable trust owns Procter & Gamble.

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  • Jim Cramer

    Jim Cramer is host of CNBC's "Mad Money" and co-anchor of the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

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