I've got a red-hot icebreaker for you.
The next time you find yourself in a dwindling social situation, where it seems as if the conversation is running on fumes, just fling the following question into the mix:
"What do you think about Jim Cramer?"
It's as easy as that. Cramer is a polarizing figure. Some people love him. Some people hate him. Either way, everybody has an opinion on financial journalism's reigning rock star.
I'll confess to being entertained -- and on occasion enlightened -- by the Mad Money star. However, there is nothing I hate more than when Cramer opens up the phones to kick off the Mad Money Lightning Round.
In rat-a-tat-tat fashion, callers will swap boo-yahs and holler a ticker symbol Cramer's way. They'll get a snappy line or two in response, occasionally with a silly sound effect as an exclamation point.
It may be entertaining to watch, but it's the equivalent of nails against a chalkboard to me as an investor. After all, we're all looking for stock ideas. It's just not right to boil down due diligence to the ring of a cash register or a charging bull.
Every lightning round finds me with the same three-word plea that is never heeded by Cramer.
"Tell me more!"
Walk a short mile in Cramer's long shoes
Let's play a game. I'm going to pretend to be hosting Cramer's lightning round. And you're going to throw out the names of some of my favorite stocks. I'm going to splice out all of the ego-massaging banter and get right to the nitty-gritty one-liners.
- Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) : There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they must be searching for something.
- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) : Farewell, barista. Hello, K-Cups.
- Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) : All we are saying is give Pre a chance.
- Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS ) : It's a long shot, but the jackpot is huge if it turns around.
- Mosaic (NYSE: MOS ) : Fertilize me, baby, and watch me grow.
Did any of that work for you? I hope not. It may be a worthwhile exercise to boil down a stock's buy thesis to a Cramer sound bite or a cocktail-napkin scribble, but you really need to know more than what five seconds of a talking head will tell you.
Baidu isn't just China's leading search engine. The company is sporting chunky margins, and analysts see earnings climbing 25% higher this year. Green Mountain Coffee is the company behind the Keurig machines that make premium home-brewed java, one cup at a time. The company sold 711,000 home brewers over the holidays, so demand for the company's K-Cup coffee refills will be huge in the near term. Palm was supposed to be the fading smartphone pioneer, but now it has a chance to regain its edge with this year's introduction of the head-turning Pre.
Las Vegas Sands has been pummeled, as most casino operators have been over the past year. However, analysts see the company returning to profitability next year. If even weaker players get snuffed out, survivors like Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN ) will greatly benefit when gamblers come back. And Mosaic is a fertilizer maker selling at a single-digit earnings multiple. The global economic slowdown has merely paused the boom in developing nations like China that will continue to pump up demand for agricultural and livestock products. Players like Mosaic and PotashCorp (NYSE: POT ) will be there to cash in.
You have to be hungry for more
Fleshing out snappy sound bites to a few sentences -- as I just did -- is better, but it's still not enough.
As a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers analyst team, I don't settle for bullet points. When I recommended Baidu and Green Mountain Coffee to subscribers of the growth-stock newsletter service, my advice came in the form of a thorough buy report, complete with financial data and dozens of exploratory observations. There was also a Q&A session with a fellow analyst.
Due diligence doesn't end there, of course. A vibrant community of analysts and subscribers continue to discuss the recommendations, with updates as the fundamentals change for the better or worse.
Does Mad Money do that? Of course not. It may be weeks, months, or even years before a stock is revisited during the show's lightning round. And, as you can expect, you'll be left hanging with the same three words.
Tell me more.
Whether you join me and my fellow analysts for a free trial in time for the next batch of monthly recommendations or not, never settle for less information than you deserve when the time comes to plunk down your hard-earned money on a stock.
You deserve better than that.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that wedding vows may take all of two words, but stock relationships need more. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Baidu and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. The Fool has a disclosure policy.