Cramer's Mad Money - The Whole Foods of Fitness (5/25/11)

by: Miriam Metzinger

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money TV Program, Wednesday May 25.

CEO Interview: Bahram Akradi, Life Time Fitness (NYSE:LTM). Other stock mentioned: Whole Foods (WFMI)

Cramer called Life Time Fitness (LTM) the "Whole Foods (WFMI) of fitness centers," given its emphasis on quality and its popularity. LTM has 92 centers in 21 states and offers a high-quality service; members pay $1,400-$1,500 a year for a wider range of offerings. The company is seeing its lowest debt in 5 years and is rapidly taking share.

Unlike many fitness centers, which tend to attract younger singles and are basically "just rooms full of equipment," said CEO Bahram Akradi, Lifetime's focus is to provide fitness solutions for the entire family and is a "healthy way of life company." Each member has a program tailor-made to suit their favorite activities. Lifetime's "My Health Check" program is geared toward reducing corporate healthcare costs. The attrition rate is back to historical lows of 31-33%, down from 36%, which rose only because Lifetime temporarily stopped building new centers (Akradi noted that new centers see lower attrition rates). Lifetime has resumed its expansion and the CEO said the company could easily build 200 new fitness centers.

"This is a great growth stock," Cramer said, "And it is going higher."

Remembering Mark Haines

Cramer dedicated Wednesday's Mad Money to CNBC anchor Mark Haines who passed away on Tuesday night. "He was probably the first business journalist to ask tough questions of a CEO." Those who were interviewed by Haines had "their feet put to the fire" and "there were no free passes" or soft questions. Haines encouraged Cramer to appear on television and nicknamed Cramer, "The Reverend Jim Bob of the Church of What's Working Now."

"He will be missed," said Cramer.

National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), iPath DJ-AIG Copper Total Return Sub-Index ETN (NYSEARCA:JJC), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX), Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL)

Two months after the earthquake in Japan, the sector rotation that occurred in its aftermath out of industrial stocks and into defensive names seems to be in the first stages of reversing. Right now "Industrials are priced for imperfection and consumer staples are priced to perfection," said Cramer. "This is the first time the market has been rational for a long time." Even as oil dropped, National Oilwell Varco (NOV) has seen a 5.7% gain and management said fluctuations in the price of oil are not adversely affecting business. Procter & Gamble's (PG) stock declined substantially, and the copper ETN (JJC) is up 2%, which is significant, since copper tends to predict rebounds. Cramer would avoid hot, high-flying internet stocks like LinkedIn (LNKD) and Yandex (YNDX) and buy Netflix (NFLX) instead, since it is undervalued in comparison. Cramer reiterated that CEOs of industrials which weathered the recession are "still the best business people in America," and the slowdown in the sector was just a blip on the screen of a long-term bullish trend.

Cramer took a call:

Polo Ralph Lauren (RL) is down 14 points and there may be another day of decline for the stock. Cramer did not foresee the disappointing quarter and admitted he didn't realize how badly the company was affected by rising commodity costs.

CEO Interview: Ron Shaich, Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA)

Analysts who have underestimated Panera Bread (PNRA) don't understand the subjective secret sauce that is the recipe to Panera's success: casual, healthy, high-quality dining. The company has earnings per share growth at 20% on strong traffic, improved product mix and well-timed grain purchases that preceded rising wheat prices. Panera was named the Casual Dining Brand Of The Year in a Harris Poll, and the stock is up 154% since Cramer got behind it in 2008. With a multiple of 23 and an 18% growth rate, it isn't too late to buy Panera.

CEO Ron Shaich discussed Panera's 20 year history of providing excellent food for quality- and health-conscious consumers. Panera was the first to eliminate trans-fats from its menu, to use natural, antibiotic-free chicken, organic meals for kids and more recently, is providing complete transparency on the calorie content of its items. Panera's proposal to start a drive-thru service is not going to be implemented hastily and will not be done in a way that will interfere with the dining experience in the restaurant. Shaich says the company "gets permission" from customers to pass on commodity costs and has not seen a decline in traffic when prices are higher, evidenced by the fact that Panera held up well even during the past recession. Panera is buying back its franchises, but is doing so gradually, and only when the "price makes sense."

Cramer is bullish on Panera.


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