Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money TV Program, Thursday December 15.
The market is a tug of war between bullish domestic news and the horror that is Europe. Stocks rallied hard on great data from U.S. companies, only to drop on gloomy statements from overseas implying a repeat of the Great Depression. Novellus (NVLS) surged 6 points on a takeover bid, brokers gave investors a present of an additional 47 million shares in IPO Michael Kors (KORS); the stock surged 25% early in the day. Jobless claims were better than expected, and manufacturing has seen the strongest growth in 7 or 8 months. Honeywell (HON) issued a forecast for 2012 that shows they are undeterred by global weakness. "No excuses," Cramer remarked, "Just terrific growth from Honeywell." The company saw a 13% increase in orders. FedEx (FDX), a gauge on consumer confidence and internet retail, reported a "stunningly positive" quarter, and transports rallied. For all that, the Dow gave up much of its gains on dire predictions of disaster for the European economy. What is in store for Friday? "Who knows," said Cramer.
Cramer took some calls:
A caller wondered if plummeting gold prices will be bad for Signet (SIG) and Tiffany (TIF), two retailers that sell a lot of jewelry. Cramer doesn't think gold has declined that much; it is where it was in the summer and is up 10% for the year. In any case, Cramer doesn't think SIG and TIF should be plays on gold, but on consumer confidence. Both are "inconsistent and spotty," and Cramer wouldn't buy them.
Cramer is "mystified" by the fact that Electronic Arts (ERTS) hasn't risen, because "What is good for Zynga (ZNGA) is good for ERTS."
CEO Interview: Alex Smith, Pier 1 Imports (PIR)
Pier 1 Imports (PIR) is one of the best turnaround stories in retail, and has earned upgrades on its strategy of upgrading stores, closing underperforming locations, expanding into the internet and improving selection by making the transition from selling mainly heavy, expensive items, to smaller merchandise that sells quickly. PIR reported a strong quarter, but the stock didn't rise because it preannounced good numbers ahead of the quarter. The stock has seen a 46% gain since Cramer got behind it last April and has moved 15% since September.
All categories of the business were strong and PIR reported higher margins. CEO Alex Smith says robust performance in the 3rd quarter is crucial to the company because it gets the momentum going ahead of the holiday season. PIR opened 11 stores and closed 1; Smith says the company plans to expand its store count from 1,015 to 1,100 and to continue to manage import costs effectively. PIR initiated a program to stimulate e-commerce: Its Pier to Go program allows customers to order items online and pick them up at stores. By next summer, Pier to Go will give customers the option of home delivery or pickup. Smith predicts 10% of sales will be on the internet in the coming years. Pier has earmarked shares for a buyback program but will be "cautious and opportunistic" about the pace of these buys to ensure they are purchased at the right price. When asked about PIR's increase in inventory ahead of the holiday season, Smith said the decision to increase inventory was made a year before, and the merchandise is moving as expected; "We are feeling good about our seasonal buys."
Cramer would take advantage of the fact the stock hasn't moved yet to get into PIR.
CEO Interview: David Cote, Honeywell (HON)
Honeywell (HON), the diversified industrial, forecasted a 2012 that is expected to be in line with sales and earnings in spite of a more challenging macro situation. Cramer thinks HON can weather the European economic storm, because the company is leveraged to powerful long-term trends like aerospace, energy efficiency and security. The stock has risen 82% since late 2009 and it raised its dividend by 12% to yield 2.8%. Honeywell will benefit from the need for new planes and from its diversity. CEO David Cote said, "We look for diversity and opportunity." Honeywell's stock tends to do better when oil prices are high. Cote remarked, "We want the highest oil prices the market can afford." As governments pass more regulations on energy efficiency, Honeywell will benefit with its energy efficient devices. However, Cote cited governments worldwide as potential obstacles to growth, since their failure to resolve credit problems hinders the progress of the general economy.
"Honeywell is a long-term favorite of mine, and it is pretty darn good," said Cramer.
Macy's (M) is up 24% year to date and is just off its 52 week high. Macy's is proof that the customer is alive and well; same store sales were up 4.8% for October, and the stock has seen a 92% gain since 2009. Macy's has the advantage of having both middle-range and upper-end merchandise. CEO Terry Lundgren said the secret sauce is execution; "We have the greatest retail team in the industry...we are hitting it out of the park in every category." Lundgren said the past two years have been the strongest in the decade.
When Cramer asked about Martha Stewart Omnimedia's (MSO) deal with J.C. Penney (JCP) and how that will impact the deal MSO already has with Macy's, Lundgren replied that Macy's actually produces 90% of MSO's merchandise, and won't lose out on the agreement with JCP. Details about the availability of MSO products in Macy's and J.C. Penney are still being hammered out. Macy's is investing a considerable amount in its flagship store in Manhattan, the largest store in the world; "We want to make it not only the largest store in the world, but the greatest." Cramer would buy Macy's on any pullback.
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