NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Are the airlines breaking up? Are they no longer trading in lockstep with each other? Remember that all of these stocks bottomed at once, right after the Ebola scare and during the beginning of the "big" rollover of oil.
The group then marched higher right into earnings season, with Southwest (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report , the winner of last year's top S&P 500 honors -- that's right, the No. 1 performing stock -- leading the way.
But as oil hit a seeming floor -- seeming because it looks like another test might be on the horizon -- one by one, the group members stalled, despite some terrific earnings. Then chatter about the stronger dollar and how it's holding back U.S. tourism, thoughts brought on by the MasterCard (MA) - Get Mastercard Inc. (MA) Report and Visa (V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report calls, rippled through the group, keeping it from rallying to all-time highs.
It's been erratic, to say the least, ever since the year began.
But on Tuesday, I think the group may have found a new leader: Spirit (SAVE) - Get Spirit Airlines, Inc. Report . This stock's been an amazing performer all along, but it peaked last year after a research analyst pretty much said the growth is priced in.
When you have growth priced in and oil going back up, that's not place to be.
On Tuesday, though, Ben Baldanza, the fantastic CEO of Spirit, came on Mad Money and talked about how the company's in an expansion mode, finding 35 more markets to go into. These markets are almost all domestic, and have nothing to do with the strength of the dollar or the need for foreign travelers -- something that only Southwest among its peers can really claim immunity to.
The market loved it. Growth story no matter what.
I think if this group is to get its footing back, it has to have a thesis beyond just lower oil prices. It needs growth. It needs to show that as it adds routes it can maintain fares or even increase them.
And if it can, because of the domestic centric nature of Spirit and the fact that it has plenty of markets it can go into and come under the operating costs of the group, it might be the horse to bet on if there is to be a next leg.
How will we know if it is going to happen?
The stock, which was up on those fabulous earnings, is now just four points from its all-time high. I think if it takes out that high, then the amazing run from $16 to $84 that this stock has taken in the last two years will be preserved and continue to even loftier levels.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 6:20 a.m. EST on Real Money on Feb. 11.
Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, is long MA.