Don't Run From Terrifying Events, Profit From Them
From European debt concerns to unrest in the Middle East, 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 Thursday. "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."
(Slideshow—Cramer: Buy This, Not That)
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. At his hedge fund, some of his employees would bring their concerns about a given disaster being reported in the media. Cramer would respond asking how it affected the earnings of Bristol Myers . Of course, the stock would rarely be affected by the latest disaster. Cramer's point was that a news event would almost never 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.
When Egyptians were protesting their government in early 2011, Cramer said there was a moment when even oil prices got knocked down with everything else. Those who were quick to buy in have enjoyed considerable gains.
"There will never be any shortage of terrifying events around the world that bring down the whole market, especially after they're amplified by the media's megaphone of negativity," Cramer said. "The next time it happens, don't run away because there might well be an opportunity for you to profit."
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