It Pays to Be Cramer

It's done.

TheStreet.com's (Nasdaq: TSCM  ) Jim Cramer now has a long-term deal in place that will keep him at the company he co-founded for another three years.

The terms are surprisingly modest for the investing world's rock star. His annual salary will go from $750,000 to between $1.3 million and nearly $1.9 million over the next three years. He will be eligible for booyah bonuses equal to as much as 75% of his salary. Cramer will also receive 300,000 stock options that will vest over the course of the next five years.

No, this doesn't cover any of the work that Cramer does outside of the company, including his hit CNBC show Mad Money, but who are we kidding? All of the media exposure that Cramer generates through various outlets ultimately funnels traffic right back to his TheStreet.com roots.

In other words, Cramer is worth every penny.

The Street knew it would be getting a hometown discount. Cramer's a smart guy. He owns a sizable chunk of the company, so it's in his best interest to keep his payday modest, if it results in improved financials that help move the stock higher.

I may have had beefs with Cramer in the past, chiefly over how he has zigzagged in and out of Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  ) over a more lucrative buy-and-hold stance on the medical-robotics specialist. I can also criticize him for going on The Colbert Report early last year and, when asked to pick the one stock that would make viewers of the hit comedy news show rich in 2007, choosing NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX  ) . Shares of the leading exchange operator had peaked a few weeks earlier and closed out the year lower.

Then again, it's hard to make those knocks, because both of those stocks are active Rule Breakers newsletter recommendation. His heart and mind have to be in the right place if his picks often coincide with some of David Gardner's early adopter growth stock selections.

Love him or hate him, Cramer has expanded the financial news audience. I will never agree with his frenetic trading turns and bite-sized buy-and-sell rationalizations, but he's gradually taking his time as Wall Street's great entertainer to work in a few educational nuggets, too.

So maybe I shouldn't be surprised when I find myself agreeing with Cramer -- like when he rightfully took regulators to task earlier this year for taking so long to approve the merger between XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR  ) and Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) -- instead of shaking my head.

He's not perfect, but everyone working in the financial journalism industry owes Cramer a little gratitude for the content fodder, the colorful edutainment, and especially the wider audience.  


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