ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR
The excitable CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer has just added a new file in his computer. "I have it as 'Mark Penn Idea,' " he tells us. "I have this working page in my PC for when a new idea strikes me from his work because it is that explosive." Yes, that Mark Penn, Sen. Hillary Clinton's grand strategist, former President Bill Clinton's pollster, the CEO of public-relations giant Burson-Marsteller who just wrote Microtrends, which charts 75 emerging trends. "Oh, God, it's the Rosetta stone," chants Cramer. "His book is the start of many, many great stock ideas."
Cramer's endorsement of the soft-spoken Penn on Mad Money isn't just the product of their friendship born at the Harvard Crimson. Cramer believes Penn is the master of trend polling. "Mark Penn was the guy who had polling data in his trunk," he says of their Harvard days. "He'd be trying to push it in while trying to close the trunk." Cramer says the book gives him the confidence to buy into long-term stock swings. Some examples: The "Ardent Amazons" chapter describes the huge growth of women in jobs requiring brute strength, so he now recommends Under Armour. The "Sun Haters" chapter has him yelling "buy" of Schering-Plough, maker of Coppertone. "I'm trying to find themes that can be parlayed into money," says Cramer. "This is like manna from heaven."