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.
(Nasdaq: BIDU): I'll give you 1.3 billion reasons I like China's leading search engine.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
(Nasdaq: GMCR): K-Cup is O-K by me. Drink up, java junkies.
(Nasdaq: DNDN): The best revenge is a good Provenge.
Las Vegas Sands
(NYSE: LVS): Always bet on the house -- just don't bet the house on it.
(Nasdaq: ACOM): Just how many Cramers are out there, anyway?
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 is China's leading search engine in the world's most populous nation but that's really an incomplete equation. It's the heady growth expected over the next few years -- as China's economy and web-savvy audience grow -- that's driving this speedster. Revenue and earnings soared 60% and 163% respectively in Baidu's latest quarter.
Green Mountain continues to sell a ton of Keurig single-cup brewers and even more of the K-Cup portion packs that refill the popular appliances with premium coffee. K-Cup sales soared 92% in Green Mountain's latest quarter, so no one is tiring of the value proposition and convenience of single-cup brews. Starbucks
Dendreon isn't an ordinary biotech. The stock has popped roughly fivefold since providing upbeat clinical trials data last year on its potentially huge Provenge. Now that the FDA has approved the drug, Dendreon's promising treatment for prostate cancer patients is about to cash in on a huge market.
Las Vegas Sands owns the Venetian on Nevada's legendary strip, but it's also pushing off its gondola to faraway waters. It closed last week on $1.75 billion in loans to complete the next two phases of its casino resort in Macau. Gaming in China may be risky -- and Macau has cooled, lately -- but the global diversification will serve Las Vegas Sands well. Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts
Ancestry.com went public last year, and the leading website for folks looking to dig deep into the roots of their family trees hasn't been a disappointment. It has beaten Wall Street's profit estimates in each of its first two quarters as a public company. This is a great sign that Ancestry.com didn't go public at its peak. It's here to grow, as analysts are targeting 24% growth on the top and bottom lines this year.
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 we recommended Baidu and Green Mountain to subscribers of the growth-stock newsletter service, our advice came in the form of thorough buy reports, complete with financial data and dozens of exploratory observations.
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.
This article was first published May 28, 2009. It has been updated.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that wedding vows may take all of two words, but stock relationships need more. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story. Baidu and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.