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Cramer’s Lessons from 2009 Bottom

While it might be too soon to do some bottom fishing right now, it’s not too soon to learn the lessons from the bottom in March 2009 and to start building your shopping list of opportunities, Cramer said Tuesday.

So what are the top performers since that bottom and what are the lessons learned?

Cramer looked at names that trade on the US exchanges with market capitalizations of over a billion dollars. And coming in at the top of the list is Dollar Thrifty Automotive , up 8,326 percent from the market bottom through the end of last week. The rental car industry has been consolidating, and Dollar Thrifty has been the target of a takeover battle between Avis and Hertz .

“In difficult moments, when it feels like everything is falling apart, be on the lookout for consolidating industries with solid fundamentals that have fallen out of favor,” Cramer said, “because you could find yourself a lucrative situation, maybe as good as Dollar Thrifty.”

Pier 1 Imports is the second best performer since the 2009 bottom, up 7,173 percent. Cramer said PIR showed us that companies that execute big improvement plans can deliver tremendous gains for its shareholders. After four years of restructuring its brand, Pier 1 is posting “terrific” results and is still spending to improve its e-commerce business and to make its stores more productive, he said.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals comes in a number three, up 6,642 percent from the bottom. Cramer said this small biotech company is a terrific reminder of the importance of speculation. Jazz is a “niche player” with a major drug for narcolepsy, and there’s not a lot of competition in that market. That gives the company pricing power.

Finally, Dana Holding is up 5,200 percent from the bottom. This auto parts maker is the kind of “cyclical smokestack” stock that gets crushed in a recession, Cramer said, but comes back with a vengeance as the economy recovers.

Of all these stocks, Cramer thinks Pier 1 is best to own right now because its turnaround is far from over.

So while the market may be horrible, Cramer doesn’t want you to forget that you can still find individual stocks that represent fantastic buying opportunities.

“Right now may not be the right time to go bottom fishing,” he said, “but you should still keep your eyes out to develop a shopping list and remember to scale into high quality stocks on the way down because the best buys are in hideous moments.”

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

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