Don't Run From Terrifying Events, Profit From Them
From European debt concerns to Egyptian unrest, Cramer said it seems the markets are threatened by a different disaster every other week.
"We now live in a world where the media is in total hurricane disaster mode every single day," Cramer said Monday. "They take every geopolitical issue, every weather issue, every story of crime and punishment and they fan the flames of panic, portraying them all as equally huge disasters. Every negative story is exaggerated to make it seem as though it's the end of the world."
The overreaction to news events is part of the sea change in how media operates, Cramer said. It's also a sea change in how investors view the markets, he added. Investors are often unable to see past the "endless gloom" reported by the media and so the market sells off. It also makes it difficult for investors to feel "opportunistic."
So what can be done?
During his 20 years as a hedge fund manager, Cramer would employ the following strategy whenever news events drove down stock futures and overwhelmed the broad market.
Step 1: Put it in perspective. The news story may be terrifying in and of itself, but investors should question how it affects their numbers. He noticed, for example, that Bristol Myers would rarely be affected by the latest disaster. Rarely would a news event affect this company's numbers.
Cramer would then develop a list of other companies that wouldn't be hurt by the event in case it turned out to be worse than he expected.
Being as the media reports on crisis so often, Cramer recommends developing your own list of Bristol-Myers names. Perhaps Kinder Morgan Energy Partners or Verizon Communications , he said.
Step 2: Question whether the event is really bad for all earnings. With news of anti-government protests in Egypt, people were correct to reach for oil names, Cramer said. Those stocks became tremendous buys when the futures took them down.
Step 3: Identify beneficiaries of the event.
"If part of the problem in Egypt is the inability to feed people and our government wants to look good and get friendly with whoever comes in or stays in, then you have to reach for the fertilizers and the farm equipment stocks," Cramer explained, adding that Deere and Potash are choice names. "Or take the defense stocks; big potential beneficiaries of instability in the Middle East."
Step 4: Ask yourself whether the event could have a positive outcome. Michael Cembalest, chief investment officer at JPMorgan, pointed out that Egypt's economy is poorly run. The situation in Egypt, Cramer said, looks similar to what happened in Indonesia in 1965. The government was overthrown and Suharto took power. In the end, Cramer said it resulted in "fantastic" economic growth for Indonesia. Cramer doesn't know if Egypt will turn out that way, but the markets did go higher on Monday. His point is to avoid becoming overly negative.
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