Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money TV Program, Wednesday December 18.
Thank You, Ben Bernanke. Stock discussed: Frontier Communications (FTR)
There was fear of a major selloff if the Fed announced it would taper bond buying. However, the Dow rose 293 points on precisely that news. One reason for the rise in the Dow may be that it was a "relief rally" after the "big, bad news" about tapering was finally announced; sometimes uncertainty can be the biggest factor in keeping stocks down. Wednesday saw the last meeting of the Fed under the leadership of Ben Bernanke. Cramer thinks Bernanke was "smarter than the average bear," and only after his departure will many realize how right he was. Cramer was critical of Bernanke when he was raising rates at the beginning of the housing crisis, but Bernanke quickly reversed his course entirely and lowered interest rates dramatically. It seems that Ben Bernanke attracted criticism no matter what he did, when what he did, according to Cramer, might have been a major factor in the recovery of the U.S. economy. "Thank you, Ben Bernanke," said Cramer.
Cramer took some calls:
Frontier (FTR): "I don't want you to own that stock."
Xilinx (XLNX) and Ciena (CIEN) are comeback stories and gifts that will keep on giving. The optical communication industry was volatile, but Cramer thinks there is now secular growth in the space as companies upgrade data centers and build out their cloud computing infrastructure. Ciena makes a broad range of products that are in demand among telecom and cable companies. It has been making smart acquisitions to improve networks, particularly those involved in transferring data over long distances. Ciena reported a 2 cent earnings miss, but Cramer thinks the quarter was decent, although it sent the stock down 7%. Cramer sees the decline as a buying opportunity.
Xilinx also reported a quarter the street didn't like, but it has strong prospects going forward. XLNX has 50% market share in programmable logic devices, or customized chips. Since XLNX concentrates on design rather than production, it can keep it gross margins high at 60%. If this number goes to 64%-66%, Cramer thinks the stock is headed higher. XLNX got hammered on its conservative guidance, but Cramer thinks 2014 will be a big year for the company, as it is designing ever smaller chips and will benefit from the 4G buildout.
Cramer took a call:
With healthy eating plays like Whole Foods (WFM) expanding stores and Hain Celestial (HAIN) posting double digit growth, it is time to put your portfolio on a diet. Tried and true traditional food stocks like General Mills (GIS) are not seeing growth, and GIS missed its quarter. The trend towards natural and organic foods is here to stay, and that raises concerns about Coca-Cola (KO), Kraft (KRFT) and other defensive food stocks with processed items and food the younger, health conscious generation is avoiding. While these stocks are often bought for their dividends rather than their growth, a rising interest rate environment makes bonds look just as attractive and less unhealthy.
Cramer took some calls:
Ruby Tuesday (RT): "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday," it tried to reinvent itself many times, but wasn't successful.
Breaking up has been good to do for many companies. Such a move can unlock value, increase Wall Street coverage and attract the attention of money managers. A pure play is so much easier to value and understand than a collection of diversified businesses under one roof. The best breakup stories have seen several phases of stock upticks: when there is merely chatter about a possible deal, when the breakup is announced and after the breakup, when analysts initiate coverage. Cramer discussed two potential breakup candidates which might be worth buying:
Merck (MRK) is a slow moving big pharma dinosaur that doesn't get enough credit for its large pipeline, its diabetes franchise and its anti-psychotic medication that reduces the weight gain associated with other treatments. Cramer thinks MRK should spin off its animal health and consumer businesses. MRK should boost its dividend or increase its buyback. Cramer thinks a breakup announcement could cause the stock to rally 20%.
Applied Materials (AMAT): This semiconductor company should spin off its solar panel and display segments. It was in negotiations over a merger, and while these plans may or may not pan out, Cramer thinks the spinoff should happen, merger or no merger.
Cramer recalled his time working at Goldman Sachs (GS) and how the company concentrated heavily on retention of its employees. Training often took as long as 6 months and required significant time and resources. Losing employees is expensive, so Goldman Sachs invested heavily in retaining the employees it had, and the result was eventual savings. Costco (COST), Whole Foods (WFM) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) understand that turnover of staff can be expensive, impact efficiency and in the end, entail high training costs. These companies provide employees with higher wages and benefits, and managers usually come from existing employees. While some would expect this to conflict with profitability, these companies prove that, "the more humane and remunerative these companies are to their workers, the bigger the bottom line."
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