Cramer's advice on stock picking right now: Choose top-tier stocks that 'trade on today's earnings'

  • CNBC's Jim Cramer said Monday that weak market breadth is not a major concern because the Fed may adopt a more hawkish stance.
  • "Don't go too far off the beaten path for now" when picking stocks, the "Mad Money" host said.

CNBC's Jim Cramer said Monday he's not too concerned about weak market breadth, particularly ahead of the Federal Reserve's final policymaking meeting of the year and a potentially more hawkish posture from the central bank.

"We can make money with a narrow market or one that has better breadth. We just have to recognize that as long as we have good earnings, which we do, and we have a Federal Reserve that's not carpet-bombing the economy, assuming that's still true on Wednesday, … then there will be plenty of studs to pick from," the "Mad Money" host said.

Cramer emphasized the need to own top-tier stocks, or the "studs" as he calls them, because there's a better chance that the Fed moves up its timeline for interest rate hikes.

"Don't go too far off the beaten path for now," he said. For example, he said there are upstart companies involved in marketing and database management, "even though we've already had better versions of the same thing like Salesforce, Shopify or Oracle."

"These better versions have much cheaper stocks — they trade on today's earnings, not tomorrow's sales," he said, contending that's an especially important criterion for successful stocks in a higher interest rate environment.

If the Fed does, in fact, embark on a hawkish tilt, Cramer said investors will "have fewer winners to pick from. There will still be studs, but the supporting cast will be smaller and many other players won't be as productive — they might even go negative."

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