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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Things in America might just be better than you think.
Jim Cramer voiced those sentiments to "Mad Money" viewers Monday as he called into question the government's latest retail sales numbers, which paint a dismal picture of the American consumer.According to Cramer, individual companies are telling a different tale. Cramer said if the government's retail sales numbers were indeed so awful, how do you explain that shares of Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Costco (COST) are all hitting new 52-week highs? Both Ford Motor (F) and General Motors (GM) reported an uptick in sales, not a downtick, he added. Even in the beleaguered banking sector, Citigroup (C) reported better than expected earnings and Wells Fargo (WFC) has positive things to say. Strip out the monster trading loss at J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and even that bank saw strength in small business lending and credit card activity. Cramer said the government's view of the economy is at odds with data from corporate America and he's siding with corporate America. He said the market didn't crater on Monday's news, and that's also a positive sign that things are simply better than the government is telling us. This being an election year, he added, don't expect that to change anytime soon.
Advice for HeinzCramer had some advice for the management at HJ Heinz (HNZ): follow the lead of Kraft Foods (KFT) and spin off lagging divisions. Cramer said there's a lot to like about Heinz, including the company's safe, defensive business and its juicy 3.7% dividend yield. But when the company last reported on May 24, it lowered its long-term guidance, specifically citing weakness in it's frozen foods division. Heinz' frozen foods has become the weak link in an otherwise stellar portfolio of products, noted Cramer, which is why he recommended the company either spin off the ailing division or just sell it. While the company has shown no outward signs of making such a move, Cramer said Heinz does have a track record of similar of making divestitures to unlock value in the past and those deals were larger than its current frozen food products which accounts for 15% of sales.
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