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4 MadMo Maxims for Portfolio Protection

If investors are going to survive in this crazy market, then they’re going to need a madman to show them how.

Enter Cramer, who dedicated today’s entire show to doing just that. It’s his Stock Market Survival School for protecting your portfolio. He already described the importance of avoiding margin and market orders, as well as knowing intimately the stocks you own, and now he has four more quick lessons.

First, be careful about owning too many stocks. Given the amount of homework required to keep current on companies and their potential, any more than 10 is probably too dangerous. Cramer said 10 high-quality names is better than 30 that you just can’t keep up with. After all, you aren’t running a mutual fund, are you?

Second, while single-digit speculative stocks certainly make investing interesting, don’t go overboard with them. Remember, share prices drop below $10 for a reason. So just one of these plays will do, Cramer said. Otherwise, there’s probably too much risk in your portfolio.

Third, diversify, diversify, diversify. ‘Nuff said.

And lastly, embrace the defensive power of dividends. Not only do they boost your gains – as Cramer mentioned earlier in the show, 40% of the total return from the S&P 500 since 1926 has come from reinvesting these payouts – but they offer protection in this volatile market. Here’s how:

When share prices decline, dividend yields go up, and that attracts new investors. So while you’re collecting that cash at an increasing rate of return, the new buyers put a floor in the stock, and even take it higher as more pour in, offering you a return on the stock itself as well.

These dividend stocks – especially those “accidental high-yielders,” as Cramer calls them, which wouldn’t typically yield as much if it weren’t for a decline – are some of the few plays he’ll recommend during a pullback. And that’s because they work.

In fact, “Accidentally high-yielders worked better than any other kind of stock during the financial crisis,” Cramer said. “They will still work whenever the market gives you these dividend bargains.”

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

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