When the stock market makes big, intraday swings, CNBC's Jim Cramer says investors should fall back on secular growth themes that work in any environment.
"You need to have a list ... where you can say, 'That's it, my buy price has been hit. Time to pull the trigger,'" the "Mad Money" host said on Wednesday. "This way your decision-making process is bloodless and unemotional. You've already made the call during a calmer, non-battle-oriented moment — you're just waiting for lower prices to give you a better entry point."
Cramer said that one main reason for market volatility is that major institutional firms are jumping in and out of stocks based on data points that may not be totally accurate.
But those position changes move the needle, leading to sell-offs like the one earlier this week that was spurred by rising Treasury rates and prolonged by concerns over the future of health care costs.
So, during market-wide volatility, Cramer likes to steer investors towards secular growth stocks, groups of equities that have bright futures regardless of the day-to-day market action.
Cramer's first pick was aerospace, fueled by rising global demand for airplanes, an expanding middle class around the world and the billions of people who have never experienced air travel.
The "Mad Money" host's favorite stock in the space was Boeing, the giant aircraft manufacturer that dropped $3 on Tuesday ahead of its earnings report.
"What happened next is a classic example of the rigorous nature of thematic investing: Boeing reported today and it was an astounding quarter and the stock zoomed up," Cramer said. "If you had Boeing in your shopping list yesterday and bought it into that flash-sale weakness, you would have done very well. In response, the whole aerospace cohort took flight, which is what you'd expect from a tailwind that powerful."
Cramer's second secular growth theme was video gaming, a central part of the growing stay-at-home economy.
The earnings windfall even boosted shares of Nvidia, which makes graphics chips for computers and the wildly popular Nintendo Switch.
"Perhaps the easiest secular growth theme to take advantage of right now is the defense business," Cramer said, pointing to President Donald Trump's calls for more defense spending in his State of the Union address.
"Anyone who listened to Lockheed's conference call or Raytheon or Harris knows that military spending is already aggressive, both here and abroad," the "Mad Money" host said. "If these stocks wilt under fears about, say, rising interest rates, well, that's a terrific buying opportunity."
Finally, Cramer couldn't neglect mentioning the secular growth power of the cloud. More and more companies are moving their on-premise software systems to the cloud and simultaneously finding ways to turn a profit from their deluge of data.
"Salesforce.com [is a] quintessential cloud play, but I would also mention Workday and then ServiceNow — dynamite quarter — both companies that automate and improve on expensive back-office functions, saving their customers fortunes," Cramer said.
"Buying stocks into a precipitous decline will always carry some risk. That's why you buy gradually in stages on the way down," Cramer said. "But the bottom line is that while nothing is risk-free — these are stocks, for heaven's sake. They're just pieces of paper — you'll do a lot better if you embrace my shopping list method so you're prepared the next time we get a flash sale."
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Nvidia.