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Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: The Costco of Pet Stocks

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"It's getting too hard to try to make you money in this market," Jim Cramer told viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show Tuesday. "In this bear market, the only concern should be to protect the money you have."

According to Cramer, one of the few remaining high-growth, defensive themes that's still working is pet diagnostics.

Idexx Labs (IDXX), Cramer says, is the best of breed, which offers an integrated play on pet diagnostics.

Idexx makes a pet diagnostic test for veterinarians and offers a full range of services, including management software and laboratory services. "Even in a recession," Cramer said, "people still spend money on their pets."

Cramer says the company has two upcoming catalysts as it prepares to replace two of its most popular blood and urine testing kits with new models.

Cramer also likes the company's recurring revenue stream and the $1.5 million still left in its stock buyback program. He also likes the company's low beta value, which means the stock is not very volatile in tough markets.

Idexx shares rose 75 cents a share in Tuesday's down market, which makes the stock worth looking into. Cramer says he does worry that the stock trades at more than two times its current growth rate, but notes that he's willing to pay a premium for Idexx because none of its business is economically sensitive.

The bottom line, Cramer says, is that the time is ripe for defense stocks like Idexx Labs.

An Overlooked Tech Stock

Cramer turned to overlooked and undervalued tech stocks that have been crushed by the market. Tech companies, he says, are unique because they don't need to borrow money and can "march to their own tune, independent of the market."

One of his favorites in this bear market is Riverbed (RVBD).

Riverbed's Steelhead products aim to allow corporate networks to run more quickly and provide better remote access services. The company's stock "blew up" in October after it reported an in-line quarter and has been drifting lower ever since, he says.

But Cramer believes the current price represents an excellent risk-reward proposition. The estimates, he says, are so low that Riverbed can easily beat them. The company has a 41% long-term growth rate, and Cramer says he's willing to pay up to 80 times earnings for a growth rate that high.

"There aren't a lot of cheap stocks that work in this horrible environment," he said, "but Riverbed's one of them."

Cramer still believes Apple (AAPL) is in fine shape and will probably bottom tomorrow as many tech stocks begin to recover from recent losses.

Getting It Right

Cramer says opportunity may be knocking at the door of AT&T (T) and investors should be listening.

Recently, CEO Randall Stevenson, made comments that the company's consumer business was weakening. The news media, Cramer says, widely interpreted this news as a guide-down of AT&T's earnings. But this is not the case, he emphasizes.

Stevenson told Cramer personally that while the company's consumer business may be affected by a slowing economy, it remained strong in wireless and other areas.

Cramer says the weakening consumer will not affect the company's earnings. Rather, he says, Stevenson's explanation helped clarify the situation. Cramer believes AT&T stock has gone down on a fictional guide-down and not on the facts. Cramer expects the company to nail its earnings estimates and boost its dividend later this year.

Cramer still likes the business model at Verizon (VZ) long term, but belieres the opportunity to buy AT&T, which is down 12% from its high, is too good to pass up.

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