Cramer's Mad Money - When A CEO Leaves (3/21/13)

by: Miriam Metzinger

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money TV Program, Thursday March 21.

Mellanox (NASDAQ:MLNX), Ulta Salon (NASDAQ:ULTA), True Religion (NASDAQ:TRLG), Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), Avon (NYSE:AVP), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Costco (NASDAQ:COST), ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH). Other stocks mentioned: Yahoo (YHOO), P&G (NYSE:PG)

When a CEO or CFO announces he or she is leaving suddenly, that is a red flag that something might be wrong with the business. However, the operative word, Cramer emphasizes, is "suddenly," and without a clear successor in line. Mellanox (MLNX) saw a meteoric rise until September, when the CFO announced he was leaving. Since then, the stock has dropped 50%, and is still in Cramer's penalty box. The CEO of Ulta Salon (ULTA) said he was leaving not long after the CFO resigned. The earnings report last Thursday was disappointing, and the stock dropped from $88 to $74 in a single session; obviously, management knew something was wrong at the company. True Religion (TRLG) said it was not renewing the contract of its CEO, and the stock got hammered.

A possible exception to this rule is when a CEO is so bad that his or her departure will be a dramatic improvement for the company. Groupon's (GRPN) stock roared when it was announced the CEO was leaving. Andrea Jung of Avon (AVP) was such an infamously poor CEO that the company has been improved by her departure.

When excellent CEOs or CFOs announce retirement, the stock may not necessarily get hit if there is a clear reason for the departure and if the successor has strong credentials within the company. When Jim Skinner announced his retirement as CEO from McDonald's (MCD), people feared a decline. COO Donald Thompson, who was groomed for the position, took over, and while MCD had a rocky 2012, the stock is performing well in 2013. Legendary founder and CEO of Costco (COST), Jim Sinegal, announced his retirement last year, but the plan of succession was clear; COO Craig Jelinek took the helm, and since then, the stock has risen 35%. ARM Holdings' (ARMH) CEO is going to leave soon, but since there is a clear plan for management, Cramer doesn't think ARMH will be affected adversely.

Cramer took some calls:

Yahoo (YHOO) has a great CEO in Marissa Mayer. While it wouldn't hurt to take some profits in the stock, Cramer thinks it is going higher.

P&G (PG) has a CEO, Robert MacDonald, Cramer once criticized, but he thinks performance has improved. Cramer had P&G as a holding for his charitable trust, and sold it when he felt it rose too much; "I can't tell you not to sell when we sold, but don't sell all of your position."

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), FedEx (NYSE:FDX), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST), Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU), First American Financial (NYSE:FAF), Radian Group (NYSE:RDN), Supervalu (NYSE:SVU), Eastgroup Properties (NYSE:EGP), Boston Group (NYSE:BXP)

With the Dow dropping 90 points, a few things are happening that may indicate that there might be a further fall in the averages, at least for the short-term. Cramer is concerned that Meredith Whitney, who has been bearish on banks, is getting bullish; he is wary when bears become bulls as the averages have run so much. While he doesn't think the Cyprus crisis will affect the U.S. economy dramatically, there might be a short-term decline in stocks, since he doesn't have confidence that the Europeans will be able to resolve the situation quickly. There may be a sell-off on Friday, as investors may not want to go into the weekend with long positions, given the uncertainty. Domestically, sequestration is also a major concern. Another cause of caution is the disappointing earnings from several companies that gauge the macro economy: Caterpillar (CAT), Fedex (FDX) and Oracle (ORCL).

While Cramer would advise caution for the short term, there are many good things happening that are reasons to stay in stocks. China's Purchasing Managers Index Report was encouraging, and the performance of shippers indicate that China's economy might be getting stronger. Retailers have been performing well, with shares of Ross Stores (ROST) and Lululemon (LULU) rising after their disappointments. Housing will also boost the economy and create jobs. While it pays to be careful, there are still reasons to be bullish for the longer term.

Cramer took some calls:

First American Financial (FAF) is a stock a caller asked Cramer about, but he prefers Radian Group (RDN), which is going higher.

Supervalu (SVU), along with other supermarkets, is performing well after a long period of slowness for the industry; "It's Revenge of the Nerds for the supermarkets."

Eastgroup Properties (EGP) is a solid commercial office REIT. For those who think EGP has too much exposure to warehouses and want a pure office play, Boston Properties (BXP) is a good choice, but Cramer thinks EGP is cheaper.

CEO Interview: Lars Bjork, Qlik Technologies (NASDAQ:QLIK)

Thursday was not a good day for tech, as many stocks in the sector stumbled because of Oracle's disappointment. Qlik Technologies (QLIK) is up 20% year to date and is in a segment of tech that is still working: big data and analytics. While other companies in the sector organize and analyze the data of a business, Qlik finds solutions that allow the managers to analyze data themselves. The stock shot up 4 points after a successful quarter. It has a robust 33% growth rate, but trades at a high multiple of 47 times earnings. CEO Lars Bjork discussed what sets Qlik apart from its competitors; the company focuses on self-service, dynamic rather than static information and allows the business owner to be in control. "This is where the growth is," said Cramer. "These guys are hitting the cover off the ball."


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