If you're looking for an honest read on the economy, look no further than the rails, Jim Cramer reminded his Mad Money viewers Wednesday. Today the markets received earnings from CSX (CSX - Get Report) and Cramer showed viewers how this one earnings report can be used to read the entire economy.
Cramer said the page investors must pay attention to is titled Revenue Highlights, and breaks down the railroad's revenues by cargo type. For example, this quarter, shipments of chemicals rose 5%, a sign to buy Dow Chemical (DOW) . Autos rose by 2%, led by SUVs and trucks. Cramer said he'd buy Ford (F - Get Report) , which trades at just eight times earnings, on this news. Agriculture and food led Cramer to recommend DowDuPont (DWDP) , while forest products made him think of home builder Lennar (LEN - Get Report) .
All of the money to buy these stocks needs to come from somewhere, Cramer added, and right now money managers are selling healthcare. That's why Eli Lilly (LLY - Get Report) and HCA Healthcare (HCA - Get Report) ended the day lower.
Shares of CSX ended the day up 4%, but that's only part of the story. Investors need to look at cargo group by group to truly understand how the economy is doing.
While it's true that there seems to be a new streaming service announced every week, including some hotly anticipated ones from Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Walt Disney (DIS - Get Report) , the fact is that when it comes to high-quality content, consumers simply can't get enough. And it's also a fact that younger millennials would rather pay for four or five streaming services rather than that huge cable bundle we, in the older generation, have become accustomed to.
Cramer said even with recent price increases, Netflix, the service, still remains cheap. Consumers would be willing to pay a lot more for this indispensable content, just as they'll be willing to pay for content from Disney and Apple. And that's why shares of Netflix, the stock, also remain attractive.
Campbell has been a mess for years, Cramer explained, with shares off 37% over the past three years, culminating in the sudden departure of the company's CEO, Denise Morrison, in 2018. But just when it seemed all hope was lost, activist investor Dan Loeb took a stake in the company and pushed hard for an outright sale or the replacement of the entire board of directors.
Last November, Campbell and Loeb came to an agreement, giving Loeb two board seats and a stake in the company's search for a new CEO.
Since then, Campbell has been able to stabilize its core business and seemingly has its leadership vacuum under control. Trading at 15.7 times earnings, Cramer said he doesn't see much upside remaining, but he was attracted to the company's dividend, which pays you to wait for either a turnaround or the eventually sale of the company.
Executive Decision: First Horizon
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Bryan Jordan, president and CEO of First Horizon National (FHN - Get Report) , the regional bank with shares up 13.8% for the year, including a 1.6% increase today.
Jordan said First Horizon has another terrific quarter with both loan and deposit growth that keeps them well positioned for the future. He said overall, risks are being managed better by financial institutions and they've worked hard to build a credit portfolio that works well in our changing economy.
When asked about more mergers in the industry, Jordan said there are still deals that can be done, however for 2019, First Horizon will be focused on optimizing the footprint they have and not on expansion.
Finally, turning to the topic of technology, Jordan explained that technology spending is one of the fastest growing areas for his bank, both in back office tools like risk assessment, and customer facing applications for account management and bill payments.
Anadarko and Chevron
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said the acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum (APC - Get Report) by Chevron (CVX - Get Report) for $33 billion may have been the first merger in the oil patch, but it won't be the last.
Cramer predicted just last week on the show that mergers in the oil sector were likely to occur. He said there are still far too many oil companies and Apache (APA - Get Report) , Concho (CXO - Get Report) , Parsley Energy (PE - Get Report) and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD - Get Report) could all be next. That's because Chevron wasn't the only bidder for Anadarko, Occidental Petroleum (OXY - Get Report) was also in the bidding.
Over on Real Money, Cramer is calling it like it is, and sharing his perspective on the markets. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Search Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" trading recommendations using our exclusive "Mad Money" Stock Screener.
To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.
To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here.