Silver Shimmers in Otherwise Dark Market

The market’s just too volatile, the economy too depressed for investors to attempt much more than capital preservation right now. And it doesn’t help that President Obama’s spending plans are just killing all kinds of stocks. So Cramer recommended that viewers take shelter where they can.

The bulk of Mad Money’s recent picks have been dividend-paying companies, especially less economically sensitive names like Kimberly-Clark and Verizon Communications. But Cramer also endorsed precious metals like gold and silver because they, too, offer protection against the wild swings of a troubled market. There’s also inflation to worry about, as the Federal Reserves continues to print large amounts of money, and gold and silver defend against that as well.

Cramer thinks gold, now at $917.60 an ounce, is buy, and he suggested that investors start to build a position. He’s recommended all types of gold plays, from bullion to coins to the SPDR Gold Shares to Agnico-Eagle Mines. Any of them work. It’s just a question of which strategy you like best.

But silver, too, is worth a look. Not only is it historically cheap, but also silver has been outperforming gold this year. While gold is up about 6% in 2009, silver’s jumped 15%. And since 1968, the average price of an ounce of gold was 52 times that of an ounce of silver, but right now that figure’s up to 74 times.

Cramer likes the iShares Silver Trust as the best silver investment. This exchange-traded fund actually owns silver and usually tracks its price closely.

There are other options, though, but Cramer’s less enthusiastic about them. Silver bullion, much like gold, is bought in bulk, so this is largely a play for the wealthy. Coins often get marked up 15% to 30%, but people compelled to buy them should look to the Canadian Maple Leaf and U.S. American Eagle, sold at these countries’ respective Mints.

Silver Wheaton is the pure-play silver company, but Pan American Silver has the best growth, Cramer said, even though the company has exposure to underperforming base metals. If the Mad Money host could recommend any miner right now, he’d stick with Agnico. As attractive as silver might be, he likes gold more.

Cramer does believe that both gold and silver will decline in the short term. So his stance on these precious metals in bearish. He just thinks that they’re a great insurance against the market, and he wants to give investors the chance to buy them on the way down.

Cramer recommended that investors build a position in gold and silver equal to 20% of their portfolio. If, say, they want 100 shares of the GLD, they should buy 25 shares right now, the next 25 at $85 and so on. Follow the same model for buying the SLV. Grab some shares at $12, then $11.50…Worst-case scenario? The share price reverses direction and you don’t get a chance to buy more at discounted prices. That sounds like a win-win to Cramer.

Questions for Cramer?

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