Stocks discussed in the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV program, Wednesday, September 10.
Commodities No Relation to Reality - Foster Wheeler (FWLT)
"It's never been harder to buy anything commodity related," Jim Cramer told viewers. "And it may not be worth your time, effort or sanity." Cramer said commodity stocks bear no relation to the actual health of the companies. For instance, companies that are doing well are seeing their stocks slammed in the stock market. That's because these stocks are completely under the control of large hedge funds, some of whom are much larger than the companies they trade, he said. With the end of the quarter nearing and fund redemptions on the rise, Cramer said there's a rush to get out of the commodity stocks like he's never seen before. He said the speed and volatility of the decline in some of these stocks is mind-blowing. Even for a seasoned trader like Cramer, who now trades only for his charitable trust, the markets have proven to be too difficult. Cramer admitted to buying 100 shares of Foster Wheeler at $40 a share just two days ago, only to sell them today at $35 a share for a loss. Cramer still contended that the commodity stocks have fallen far greater than that of their underlying commodities. Foster Wheeler, he noted, has $10 a share in cash, and trades at just 6 times its earnings. Yet even with this incredible valuation, Cramer still asked "why buy these stocks at all?" Cramer said until worldwide demand increases, or some of the smaller commodity companies get takeover bids, there will be no end in site for just how low these companies will trade.
In the wake of the surprise announcement from Fedex that earnings would be 36% better than expected this quarter, Cramer said now is the time to revisit the restaurant stocks. As oil prices continue to fall, Cramer expects upside surprises from the largest and strongest restaurant chains such as Darden Restaurants. Cramer's last mention of Darden was a sell recommendation on June 6, 2007. Since then, he said the company has lowered guidance so far that it sets the stage for it to "under-promise" and "over-deliver." Commodity prices have come down, both reducing Darden’s costs to do business and putting money back into the pockets of consumers. And even while costs were way up, Darden did much better than its rivals. With price increases already in place, companies like Darden can only benefit as the raw costs that prompted those increases begin to decline. Likewise, as gas prices continue to fall, more and more consumers should be returning to the restaurant scene. When the rest of the industry was contracting, Darden was expanding. And this is already the largest restaurant chain in the world, with 1,700 Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 locations. Darden just added 39 new Olive Gardens in fiscal 2008 – something the company hasn’t done since 1994 – and plans to add 75 to 80 new restaurants across the board in the first half of its 2009 fiscal year. Cramer also applauded Darden for managing of its food costs, which are estimated to rise only 2% this year, despite double-digit increases in many items. He also mentioned the company's 2.6% dividend yield and stock buyback programs as added reasons to own the stock.
Andrew Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy Fuels, feels his company is in the midst of a multi-year move as natural gas becomes a serious contender for our country's alternative fuel needs. He believes the time will come when truckers will be able to travel coast to coast using natural gas rather than diesel fueling their vehicles. Littlefair said Cramer's vision of a nationwide network of Clean Energy fueling stations is not a pipe dream and can come to fruition. Littlefair reminded viewers that 1 million trucks using natural gas would displace 40% of the diesel fuel used in the U.S. He noted that on average, natural gas saves $1.50 a gallon at the pump and produces 50% less emissions. Littlefair went on to say that converting to natural gas would be huge for companies such as the privately held Swift Transportation, which buys around 1 million gallons of fuel a day. Littlefair remained very optimistic that a California ballot initiative slated for November that would earmark $3 billion for alternative fuels and put another 25,000 natural gas vehicles on the road would pass. He said that initiative alone will save 1.2 billion gallons of gas and diesel fuel a year. Cramer and Littlefair both questioned why companies like General Motors (GM) manufactures 19 models of natural gas vehicles abroad, but none here in the U.S. Cramer again recommended Clean Energy as his No. 1 speculative natural gas pick.
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