Alarming Negativity - Cramer's Mad Midday (8/21/08)

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Includes: CSX, KHC, LEH
by: Joan Wickham

Stocks discussed in the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV program, Thursday, August 21.

CEO Bill Johnson – HJ Heinz (HNZ)

HJ Heinz CEO Bill Johnson discussed his company's recent successes in a tough market. Johnson said Heinz is growing because people like good tasting food, and that's what his company delivers. Johnson said global demand for his company's products is strong, especially in Russia which has become the second largest market in the world for ketchup. He said ketchup sales in that country were up 68% in the first quarter of 2008. Johnson also noted that while it has been difficult to gain access in many international markets, including China, the company is making strides. He said that consumers don't trade down in quality once they are exposed to Heinz' brands. When asked whether a stronger dollar hurts the company, the CEO said that the dollar's strength has been immaterial. He noted that sales for the company are split 50-50 between domestic versus international and the company is comfortable with the value of the dollar.

Michael Ward, Chairman, President and CEO of CSX (NYSE:CSX)

Michael Ward of CSX discussed the recent changes in his company's board of directors. After a lengthy proxy and legal battle, CSX has taken on two new board members, with two others still pending. Ward said he welcomes the new members and hopes that the influx of their new ideas and opinions will help strengthen the company. After a lengthy proxy and legal battle, CSX has taken on two new board members, with two others still pending. Ward said he welcomes the new members and hopes that the influx of their new ideas and opinions will help strengthen the company. On the company's outlook, Ward said that he still sees a vibrant market for railroads, citing, in particular, the export coal market. He said the coal market is not dependent on the value of the dollar, but rather on strong demand from China.

Outrage of the Day - Lehman Brothers (LEH)

Cramer told the management of Lehman Brothers, to “get off my front page.” He urged the company's leadership to decide on a plan of action for the company and execute it.Cramer reiterated again that no one wins from perpetual delays and speculation. With so few traders trading during the height of summer, Cramer said the bears run rampant on stocks with no direction. “We're all tired and burnt out,” said Cramer, “We need a resolution.”

Cutting Through the Gloom

“This is one of the most challenging periods in my 30-year trading history,” Cramer told viewers. He said that the doom and gloom in the market is palpable and the negativity is almost alarming. As an example of that negativity, Cramer displayed a headline in a Wall Street Journal article, which alarmingly pointed out that prices for home heating oil are on the rise. Cramer questioned why the headline shouldn't have been that prices for natural gas, which is what heats most homes in the U.S., will be lower this year than last year. He also wondered why the article didn't mention that people are switching from oil to gas in record numbers or that the switch is easier than most people expect. He told viewers not to dwell on conventional wisdom and negativity. Rather he returned to his mantra that “there is always a bull market somewhere.” He said that those who laugh at this notion are just wrong. “It's too expensive to listen to the negativity,” he said.

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