Mad Money Recap - Ben Knows Something (12/16/08)

by: Miriam Metzinger

Stocks discussed in the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV program, Tuesday December 16.

Ben Bernanke Finally Gets It: Fortune Brands (FO), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)

Almost a year and a half after Cramer’s rant heard round the world about Ben Bernanke,(“They Know Nothing!”) the Fed Chairman is finally getting the right idea, according to Cramer, who was pleased with the generous rate cut, the pledge to keep rates low and the Fed’s commitment to buying back mortgage-backed securities. Cramer feels more confident that his June 30th 2009 prediction for the bottom in housing will come true and in the meantime, he is looking to buy into a potential turnaround. He would look at early-cycle play Fortune Brands, JP Morgan on its downgrade Tuesday, Wells Fargo on lower mortgages and Goldman Sachs, which has cut its wages 50%.

Ralcorp (RAH), Kraft (KFT), Treehouse Foods (NYSE:THS)

In spite of recent optimism, consumers are still feeling poorer and are more likely to buy generic brands, says Cramer, and an ideal play on this trend is Ralcorp which is seeing a 10% growth in private-label sales. In spite of rising sales, the stock price has dropped 11 points since September. Cramer notes many are nervous about private-label stocks because they aren’t thought to be safe and don’t offer big dividends. With heavy M&A activity, many of these names have some debt. However, the potential growth for generics is so substantial and the bad news is already priced companies like Ralcorp, which also owns name brands since purchasing Post cereals from Kraft. Cramer also likes Treehouse Foods, but he notes this company has more debt than Ralcorp.

Plaxico Burress Good Judgment Award: SEC Chairman Christopher Cox

Cramer awarded the Plaxico Burress* Good Judgment Award to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox for dismantling the market regulations that could have prevented the current crisis. Frequent viewers are familiar with Cramer’s lament over the Cox’s repeal of the uptick rule, a regulation that required a stock to tick up in price before being sold short. Cox’s hands-off approach also encouraged naked short-selling (when traders don’t first borrow the stock they want to sell short). The lack of oversight in short-selling is one reason many stocks have fallen so far so fast. Cox also gave Bear Stearns the thumbs up a few days before it collapsed and did not consider investigating Madoff who was making suspiciously high returns.

*Plaxico Burress, the New York Giants wide receiver, put a pistol in his sweatpants before going out for a night on the town and accidentally shot himself while adjusting the gun. In honor of this incident, Cramer founded the Plaxico Burress Good Judgment Award

CEO Interview: Sam Reed, Treehouse Foods (THS)

Sam Reed said Treehouse is “standing right in the middle of the path of progress” and is “a close to a pure play in private label brands as you can get.” While Reed did not address the issue of debt, he did say that acquisitions are the main engine of growth for his company, and said Treehouse has doubled its growth in 3 years thanks to buying brands. With demand for private label growing double the rate of demand for branded food, Reed sees significant potential for further growth.

Cramer changed his mind from his call earlier in the show and says he now likes Treehouse as much as he likes Ralcorp

Seeking Alpha publishes a summary of Jim Cramer's stock picks every day including: Mad Money Recap, Lightning Round and his Stop Trading! Picks.

Get Cramer's Picks by email-- it's free and takes only a few seconds to sign up.

Seeking Alpha is not affiliated with Jim Cramer, CNBC or