Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money Program, Wednesday, January 20.
It was another roller coaster ride for Wall Street Wednesday. The action, however, was more volatile than what's usually witnessed by investors.
Mad Money host Jim Cramer pointed out to viewers that the Dow swung about 1,000 points during its session Wednesday. The S&P 500 closed down 22 points, or 1.2%, to 1,859, not before tumbling as low as 1,812.22, its lowest level since February 2014.
The market first saw heavy selling, "then it took off like a rocket ship," Cramer said. "Then there was a bruising sell off."
All eyes appear to remain on the Fed and whether it will keep intact its plan to raise interest rates. While "the world is in crisis mode... the Fed wants to slam the brakes," Cramer said.
The Mad Money host kept his worries focused on Fed action, pointing to past Fed moves that put markets in a tailspin. His example: In 1937, as the world was recovering from the Great Depression, the Fed raised rates, which just about put the economy into a "recession within the Great Depression."
The ominous signs continue to surface. Industrial production is lagging and car manufacturing is slowing, while retail and home sales are peaking. And, of course, there's the troubled oil sector. "Now the market is fighting for its life," while the Fed tinkers with a possible rate hike, Cramer said.
And this all comes as investors also look overseas.
Japan's market is down more than 20% from its highs.
Germany is down more than 12%, but its markets may be better off, given the push by the European Central Bank to ease rates and with data on the economy that looks rather good. "Germany could have a better market than ours," Cramer suggested.
Domestic markets "seem expensive," Cramer said, thanks to a strong dollar and continued "tight-fisted polices" from the Fed.
"The currency issue is making our market look rich," he added.
To sum up his feelings, Cramer said "stocks are stuck in no-man's land and are not cheap." Cramer said we need to see a few key developments before suggesting things are clearing up, including more clarity on the Fed's next moves.
Making A List, and Checking It Twice
When can investors expect to "find an investible bottom?"
Cramer brought out his checklist to determine if it's safe to again look at the markets and "determine if we found the bottom." As his list suggests, that bottom still appears elusive.
Does the Fed Narrative Change? - This doesn't look good, given that New York Fed President William Dudley said last week, "All systems are go" regarding the economy and that the Fed still may tighten.
Political Uncertainty Resolves Itself - Maverick candidates from both sides of the aisle - Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump for Republicans - are roiling the political waters. "There's more uncertainty than when I put this list together," Cramer said.
China Cleans Up Its Act: Not happening. Instead, China has become worse, Cramer suggested.
Commodities Bottom: Commodities have only gone lower.
Oil Stabilizes: Oil continues to be in a free-fall, now down 20% since the start of the year.
Geopolitical Situation Improves: Cramer put this one on his list when North Korea surfaced as an issue. Those concerns may have been put on the back-burner, "but we cannot say that about the rest of the world."
Zombie Companies Put To Death: No major commodities companies have filed for bankruptcy even as balance sheets appear stretched to the hilt. Also, China's "superfluous" companies continue to do business.
The Dollar: Markets want "relief from the super freakin' strong dollar," Cramer said. Instead, the dollar keeps surging, especially against emerging market currencies.
Healthy M&A Market: The number of takeover deals may have peaked.
The Return Of a Healthy IPO Market: There haven't been any recent IPOs, and "the ones we have seen have fallen apart," Cramer said.
Peak In Certain Sectors: The housing market doesn't look strong. Key indicators like car sales look weak.
Market Sentiment: Cramer said he was looking for a worsening in stock market sentiment. He got that one right.
Tech Sector Leadership: Can investor interest expand beyond "FANG" (Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)? That doesn't appear likely.
According to Cramer, "we still have a lot of box checking to do."
Is there a sector that investors should carefully consider during the current market turmoil?
How about good ol' American telecom stocks?
The Mad Money host spent his time talking about two of these stocks - Verizon and T-Mobile - and how they may be attractive to certain investors.
Verizon, the traditional pick, has a strong dividend with a 5% yield, and is viewed as less risky. Verizon offers "capital preservation and income generation." And Cramer suggested Verizon could be the "best run" of the old-school telecom companies.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is the high-flying growth stock. The wireless provider continues to stir things up in the wireless space with its aggressive push to take market share with lower prices and attractive packages. T-Mobile also could be a takeover target.
At the end of the day, it appears to be an apples-to-oranges comparison. Cramer suggested Verizon is better suited for investors seeking less risk, while T-Mobile may appear suitable for younger investors willing to take on more risk.
One stock to avoid in the space? Sprint (NYSE:S). Cramer said the wireless company is "looking stressed out" and "cannot keep up with the others."
Cramer also said eventually the telecom space could move from four players to three with the ongoing talk concerning consolidation.
Oracle In The Clouds
Cramer also spent time with Mark Hurd, co-CEO at Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), talking about the company's moves to support enterprise clients in the cloud, the company's growth and competition.
Hurd pointed out what he called Oracle's big advantage among enterprise software companies - its ability to offer both on-premise and cloud capabilities to companies using its platforms. He said Oracle's accelerating cloud growth can be attributed to strong development of the technology, investment in items like R&D and a sales force that's becoming more accustomed to selling cloud services.
The Oracle executive also took on the competition, saying "we win more deals" than others working in the same space. "It's a fight, but it's clear we are winning."
Hurd also said Oracle's management is strong, which along with himself includes co-CEO Safra Catz and chairman and founder Larry Ellison.
2 For 1 Deals For Oil
It was BOGO (buy one, get one free day) in the oil markets.
To round out his show, Cramer pointed to talk that Iran's re-entry into the global oil markets has the nation doing big deals in an effort to take market share from other producers. The effort reportedly includes offering one free tanker of oil to any buyer purchasing another tanker.
The price war doesn't appear to be easing. And that could spell trouble for high-cost U.S. oil producers.
Bigger companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) (NYSE:RDS.B), are "doing their best to defend dividends," Cramer said. Meanwhile, small- and mid-size independents "are just trying to defend their business."
And hedge funds that had been shorting these types of companies apparently "are turning on bank stocks that lent to these independents," thinking that they may be vulnerable with the ongoing rout the oil industry continues to fight.
The pain for the energy business persists.
Calls taken by Cramer:
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) - Cramer said he would "bless" a long-term position. He said the stock likely isn't going below $50.
Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT:LNG) - Cramer said the liquified natural gas market is crowded. "I'm not a fan."
Get Cramer's Picks by email - it's free and takes only a few seconds to sign up.