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The "serious pain" seen across the stock market, especially in the technology sector, might be "horrifying," but it shouldn't discourage investors from starting to look for opportunities among the tech plays, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 1.25 percent in Thursday's trading, briefly entering correction territory intraday. Wednesday marked the worst day of trading for tech stocks in seven years, with the Nasdaq plunging over 4 percent.
"Many of these stocks were up dramatically for the year, and when you get this kind of pullback, it typically does more damage to the winners," Cramer explained.
"People are justifiably nervous about giving back their gains, too — and they have some outsized ones, particularly the big growth managers — and when they see this kind of sell-off, they sell hand over fist so they don't lose their year[ly gains]," he said.
But investors who are interested in bottom-fishing have to keep an even keel if they want to preserve their portfolios, the "Mad Money" host said.
"If you want to pick among the rubble, you need to take your emotions out of the equation. You need to be clinical, you need to be rigorous, [and] you need to be empirical," he said. "I want you to take a deep breath — do some yoga, even — and ... set some downside targets. Find a predetermined level where you think your favorite tech stocks would be worth buying and then wait for them to come to you."
When Cramer reviewed some of the hardest-hit names in the Nasdaq 100, an index containing the stocks of the 100 biggest non-financial companies in the Nasdaq, seven key tech stocks caught his eye: Autodesk, Idexx Laboratories, Amazon, Take-Two Interactive Software, Intuitive Surgical, Expedia and Intuit.
All seven are "high-quality growth stocks that are all riding powerful secular trends," but their stocks are down between 11 and 16 percent just for the month of October, he said.
"You can start buying one of these tomorrow. Pick at it, alright? Don't buy all at once," Cramer suggested. "Why these? Because they all just reported great quarters or have been on a roll, yet their stocks are getting crushed as if they're doing poorly. We aren't guessing with these. We know the last data points are positive, so that is the best place to go."
As for the rest of the tech sector, the "Mad Money" host preached patience, warning that jumping in too soon could put investors in the "house of pain" as the sell-off continues to run its course.
"At the end of the day, there's simply no rush to buy most of the tech stocks," he explained. "These companies don't start reporting for another couple of weeks, so unless the market rebounds pretty dramatically, ... you can afford to take your time here."
But even though most tech plays don't have protection from dividend yields and are likely trading at inflated levels, they do get less pricey as they fall, meaning more bargains could be on the horizon, Cramer said.
"The bottom line? The tech breakdown has been agonizing," he said. "But for the higher-quality names like Autodesk, Idexx, Amazon, Take-Two, Intuitive Surgical, Expedia and Intuit, I say nibble right into the weakness. Buy some tomorrow morning. Just, please, don't put all of your cash to work at once, because we don't know if the pain is actually over."