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The 2 Vs of Long-Term Investing

Vice and vanity.

The key to successful long-term investors it identifying the big-picture themes, Cramer told viewers on Thursday, and no two are bigger than these.

As he said, “They’re practically built into our DNA.”

Whether it’s smoking or drinking, or Americans’ desire for wrinkle-free skin, these themes tend to transcend the business cycle. In good times or bad, for the most part, they work.

“The customers just keep coming back,” Cramer said, “as getting older has a way of increasing vanity and getting drunk or smoking has a way of hooking you into lifetime usage.”

So, which stocks do you buy? Cramer recommended both Allergan and Medicis , though he prefers the former a bit more. Between them, these companies sell everything from dermal fillers and breast implants to obesity intervention devices and body contouring equipment. If you don’t recognize the official terms, think Botox and Lap-Band, and that should give you an idea of what Allergan and Medicis offer. Though it is worth pointing out that Allergan’s biggest division is eye care, where it sells treatments for glaucoma, infections and dry eyes.

Both of these companies boast strong products, excellent management and the potential to attract takeover bids. Cramer just thinks Allergan wins out here because of its international business and the chance that Botox could be approved to treat migraines, which could be a huge market opportunity. In the end, though, he said Medicis is a very close second, so both could be bought on weakness.

Just one caveat: The idea that these businesses work during booms or busts doesn’t mean they should be bought and held without regard for the market’s mood at any given time. Cramer’s regular rules for investing still apply—Do your homework. Some times money managers dump tobacco stocks for more growth-oriented names. Other times top-performing companies fall behind. Therefore, the onus is on you to keep current with your portfolio.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

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