3 Surprising Jim Cramer Stock Picks

Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Steve Jobs; Just the mention of these greats conjures immediate feelings about their professions. Every profession has its luminaries who carry the torch of public-facing goodwill. 

Even the staid discipline of stock investing boasts personalities that are synonymous with the market itself. Every generation has produced a leading name representing personal investing to the public.

Even today, in our investing-guru-saturated world, one names rises above all others when the public is asked about the stock market: Jim Cramer. In fact, a strong argument can be made that he is the most famous (not to mention powerful) stock market celebrity who has ever lived. 

The Making Of A Market Legend
It’s well known that Cramer can move stocks by just mentioning their names. I’ve seen sophisticated market screeners try to anticipate his picks in their own analyses. But he wasn’t always so revered.

#-ad_banner-#Jim Cramer started his working life in a very humble fashion, but everything he did served to build a base for future fortune and fame. An early job was hocking ice cream as a Philadelphia Phillies stadium vendor. Indeed, his bombastic personality and loud voice were first trained in this hard scrabble sales position.

His prodigal intellect came to the surface with his acceptance to Harvard, from which he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in government. Cramer’s journalistic skills were first honed at Harvard as editor in chief of the school paper. He went on to also graduate from Harvard Law School. 

One of Cramer’s early mentors was the famous lawyer Alan Dershowitz, for whom he was a research assistant. I cannot help but correlate his stock research skills with the intensive training from Mr. Dershowitz. 

He did not pursue the practice of law but rather followed his passion into journalism. After moving to Los Angeles, Cramer’s humble apartment was robbed so many times he was forced to live in his car for several months when looking for a safer place to live.

Jim’s interests soon shifted to investing. His first stock promotion effort was leaving stock picks on his answering machine. His picks and style so impressed The New Republic owner Martin Peretz that he staked him $500,000 to invest in the stock market. Peretz was not disappointed in his choice, as Cramer returned 30% over the next two years. 

This outstanding performance helped him land a job as a broker with Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management. Further market success led to the launch of his hedge fund, Cramer & Co in 1987. The fund turned into a monster success, with only one year of negative returns, in 1998. In 1999, Cramer returned 47%, and in 2000, 28%, crushing the S&P 500 by 38 percentage points. During its history, the fund averaged 24% annually until Cramer’s retirement from it in 2001. 

Along with managing the Fund, Cramer was also the editor of Smart Money magazine where he continued to build skills as a formidable financial journalist. Next, he launched the wildly successful website TheStreet.com with his former investor Martin Peretz. 

Cramer’s fame went into overdrive when he started the Mad Money program on CNBC. He continues to host this incredibly popular TV show, along with being involved in other ventures, to this day.

Why Does Cramer Remain So Popular?
Cramer’s popularity goes far beyond his accuracy as a stock picker and journalistic skills. The truth is, he has made many bad calls along with the great ones, and is not without controversy. However, his intelligence, showmanship, and ultra-high energy combined with an everyday-man persona supercharges his celebrity status. 

For our purposes, though, his market prowess is most important. Here are three surprising Cramer stock picks for 2017: 

1. The New York Times (NYSE: NYT)
What a surprise! I would have never guessed this legacy media/newspaper company would be a Jim Cramer favorite. That is until I looked closer at the enterprise.

Shares have been roaring higher, up 70% since Trump took office, and the company has been readily beating earnings estimates. Digital subscriptions are up by 50% year-over-year, and things have not looked so good for many years.

Cramer points toward the Trump election as the primary reason for the much-improved numbers. The controversy about the media has driven subscribers toward the NYT rather than away from it. 

Make no mistake, ad revenues are way down and are severely downward trending. However, the current momentum may keep things alive as the company continues to gain footing in the digital era. 

2. Domino’s Pizza (NYSE: DPZ)
The “stay at home” economy is thriving. Home delivery of everything is the new norm. Domino’s truly was the trailblazer for fast, efficient pizza delivery on a massive scale. 

Cramer calls Domino’s one of his all-time favorite stocks. He considers it a technology company that delivers pizza rather than a restaurant chain, bolstering his love of the business. 

Despite disappointing second-quarter results, Cramer’s interview with CEO Patrick Doyle reveals that the company is suffering from lagging same-store international sales. The sales did not meet the company’s expectations, but Doyle is confident they can be improved. 

3. AllianceBernstein Holdings (NYSE: AB)
AB is an investment management and research company that has captured Cramer’s interest. He calls it a “very good “company and an inexpensive stock. Insider selling and short interest have pushed the stock’s price down recently, creating an ideal entry point. 

Even if this selling proves to be founded in poor performance, the stock still yields a very healthy 8.9% dividend. 

Risks To Consider: Never invest blindly on the word of an investment guru, even Jim Cramer. Despite all his success, Cramer has experienced spectacularly bad stock picks during his tenure. Professional investors always think about the downside and worst-case scenarios rather than how much can be earned.

Action To Take: Start following Jim Cramer’s stock picks but always do your due diligence before making any investment decision. 

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