Cramer's Mad Money - 5 Reasons Why The U.S. Is Not Europe (10/3/11)

by: Miriam Metzinger

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money TV Program, Monday October 3.

5 Reasons Why The U.S. Is Not Europe

"We are not Europe. We are not in 2008," Cramer emphasized after the Dow sank 258 points on Monday. He outlined 5 essential differences between the U.S. and Europe.

1. We have one currency. Even if the dollar has been "pathetic," a single, valid currency makes solving problems less complicated.

2. We have a central bank that has been decisive about keeping interest rates down. Europe has several major banks, and the head of the European Central Bank is too obsessed with fighting inflation.

3. The U.S. can react faster than Europe to a financial crisis. TARP was implemented "forcefully and swiftly," while Europe is reacting slowly to its crisis.

4. The U.S. has a great mix of natural resources and a strong labor force. Europe has used up its natural resources.

5. The U.S. is aware of the problems with its banks, while the Europeans seem to be in denial.

Cramer noted that corporate balance sheets on the whole are strong, earnings are robust, although not as robust as they would be if it weren't for the European malaise. The S&P 500 is trading at a multiple of 10 and is not overvalued. Auto sales are strong, there was a healthy supply managers' report. In fact, the stock market should have rallied if it weren't for the ongoing sour news from overseas. While it is not 2008 and the U.S. is not Europe, the market is treacherous right now, and Cramer would buy with caution, and even then, only stocks with high dividends.

CEO Interview: Tony Alexander, First Energy (NYSE:FE)

In this "safety first" environment, nothing is safer than a stock with big dividends and consistent earnings. Utilities have often been a place to hide, but with new EPA regulations, many utilities will have to invest in restructuring. First Energy (FE) actually benefits from new environmental rules, since it is a green company already; most of its energy comes from clean coal, nuclear and natural gas, and it will profit as its competition falters. The stock yields 5%. Tony Alexander discussed how he saw the regulations coming and made smart acquisitions and other changes to deal with the new rules. While the company will still have to spend $2-3 billion, the amount is well within FE's budget. When asked about the dividend, Alexander said the yield is a major priority, but management needs to see a strong economy before they will consider raising it. While growth has not been as robust as it once was, especially on the industrial side, it is improving.

"This stock is the right one to own in this environment," said Cramer.

Microchip Technology (NASDAQ:MCHP): A High-Yielding Semiconductor Play. Other stocks mentioned: Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)

While few tech stocks are known for their generous yields, Microchip Technology (MCHP) is the exception. The company makes microcontrollers that are used in simple electronic devices, and the stock yields 4.5%. Cramer would wait for the stock, which has already been hammered and is likely to fall still lower, to reach the level of a 5% yield before buying. The company's microcontrollers are cheap and can be produced on low-cost equipment. Given the simplicity of its technology, MCHP can produce chips more quickly than the competition. In spite of the punishment the stock took over the summer, it is still up 5.4% from where Cramer recommended it a year ago. Management is unlikely to cut the dividend, and when it yields 5%, the stock will have a multiple of 12 with a 10% growth rate,"an attractive risk/reward," said Cramer.

Cramer took some calls:

Yahoo (YHOO) is not a buy on rumors that it might be taken over, because its fundamentals are not strong.

Oracle (ORCL) is down below where it was before it reported its astounding quarter. Cramer would be a buyer at $25.

Qualcomm (QCOM) reported a strong quarter, but since the stock does not have a high yield, Cramer would only consider buying it using deep in the money calls.

Veolia (VE) Is Not An Attractive Dividend Stock

While Veolia (VE) at first glance, might seem like an attractive stock in this environment, given its 12.5% dividend, Cramer thinks the yield is a red flag and would stay away from the stock, which has been hammered. Citigroup is bullish on VE, and cited its viable waste management and water businesses, based in Europe. Because it has a staggering 2,583 businesses, even after restructuring, the company has overextended itself, according to Morgan Stanley. Its cost cutting measures were not enough, even as it has plans to continue its restructuring efforts. Cramer thinks these reforms will take too much time and are too complicated; the size of VE's problems is "staggering." Also, since 80% of its businesses are levered to Europe, the company will doubtless suffer from economic woes on the continent. The dividend is likely to be slashed in half, since management has already announced a policy to lower its payout, and the hefty yield is not sustainable. Cramer would sell VE.


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