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Nike Is a Victim of Its Success

Posted at 6:09 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015

No, there was nothing wrong with Nike (NKE) - Get Report. Nothing. People can nitpick, but Nike had the misfortune of reporting on a day where many of the winning stocks fell down on the job and the losers rose to the occasion. It was almost as if winning NFL coaches of teams that had already won the bye rested their starters, like Nike, and let lesser players on the field. 

Nike stayed in the clubhouse.

When I went over Nike's quarter in depth last night, the only thing I could think could go wrong is that it is impossible to outdo what they just did.

But how many times have we seen the great ones do just that? How many times, for example, has Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report outdone itself? How many times did that chain put up much-better-than-expected numbers when "everyone" thought it had peaked?

I know Nike's not coming up with all new products to sell into, so it is constrained by its footwear and apparel mantra. But Starbucks, which does have a lot of food, is, in the end, a coffee company. I think the two are similar in their success. I did read some criticism that Nike didn't have the gross margins some wanted and it did have inventory issues because of the West Coast port slowdown, and some thought that to be ridiculous so long after that settlement.

Still, though, I think this was a total victim-of-success call and that Nike will be a terrific stock to own a week from now.

Remember, CVS (CVS) - Get Report got walloped last week and nothing was wrong at all. We've seen it happen many a time with Facebook (FB) - Get Report or with Priceline (PCLN)  or with several of the best biotechs. (Starbucks and Facebook are part of TheStreet's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.)

So don't fret. There was nothing wrong with this one except the machines seem geared to sell anything that's been up and buy anything that's been down. Today they would rather bet on Ensco (ESV)  and Freeport McMoran (FCX) - Get Report. Fine. Let's see how long that lasts.

At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long SBUX and FB.

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We Keep Going Back to Crazy Town

Posted at 1:58 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015

Welcome back to Crazy Town. That's the odd city where everyone does everything wrong, buying the wrong stocks, reaching the wrong conclusions and taking the wrong risks.

What defines Crazy Town? Higher oil? Even slightly higher oil? The impact? It is threefold.

First, higher oil means less stress on the system. We are nowhere near where there will be less stress on the system. To be sure, you need to know that, on average, you need $45 a barrel to keep most companies alive in this country. There's some cheaper oil, but that's being pumped in 2015 and it won't be around long in 2016. At $45, the troubled oil companies can sell futures and lock in, say, $50, which keeps them around to play on and even allow for dividends.

Now we are $9 off the $45 mark, and that's pretty darned far. But any time we get away from anything in the $20s, hope springs eternal and the whole group comes roaring back on a bet that, once again, we have held levels north of $30. To me, this is silliness. You need to see some real movement upward to sustain most of these companies, and many will have to reorganize in 2016 if oil stays here. Plus, tomorrow we have inventories and last week's number caused bids to evaporate and oil plummeted. I see no reason why that couldn't happen again.

That means you will see the usual suspects go down if we get hit, mainly Freeport (FCX) - Get ReportChesapeake (CHK) - Get Report and a bunch of companies that Carleton English just highlighted -- or lowlighted, if you want to have a better characterization. Be careful of these. They all need dramatically higher prices to avoid harsh common stock circumstances.

Second reason? When you get higher oil, you take the heat of the incredible meltdown in the master limited partnerships and pipeline companies. These are companies that people buy for their dividends, not for their growth, with the possible exception of TransCanada  (TRP) - Get Report and Enbridge (ENB) - Get Report, two Canadian energy providers.

Put simply, this group has been one of the great disasters of this era. I cannot believe how poorly they have performed. Now, there have always been outlier pipelines that have periodically gotten in trouble. Plains All American  (PAA) - Get Report and Boardwalk Partners (BWP) , for example, are widely considered to be second-tier players that have had real problems maintaining any growth.

Then a few weeks ago, an earth-shaking tectonic shift occurred among the pipeline companies. Kinder Morgan (KMI) - Get Report, which is a corporation, not a master limited partnership, decided to slash its dividend by 75% from 51 cents to 12.5 cents per share, something so unthinkable even a few months ago that it opened the floodgates of fear and loathing for the group. No one had been more vocal than CEO Rich Kinder about his plans to grow the dividend by 10% every single year.

A year later and he cratered it. Kinder had made two big acquisitions and they cost a lot of money and the company had a mountain of debt and the credit markets had become totally unfriendly at the same time that Kinder felt the stock was too low to offer equity.

So he just axed the darned thing.

You had to figure that if Kinder had no issues cutting his dividend by three-quarters, everyone could join them. Since then, a bunch have done so. However, yesterday another pipeline company, Oneok (OKE) - Get Report, which had fallen down to $22 from $36 just six months ago, came out and said it was going to maintain its distribution even as many thought it might go the way of Kinder.

When it didn't, the group took off. I do not believe this relief rally, which has taken Oneok all the way up to $29, would happen, however, if oil were going down. It's a positive confluence.

Finally, higher oil means there might be more demand than people realize. Oil got to within a few bucks of its low in the Great Recession where demand had dropped precipitously, and there's a growing new consensus that, given the economy's so much stronger than it was back then, oil is unnaturally low. I don't buy this argument one bit given that supply is so much bigger, particularly in the U.S., than it was back then. However, as I said, these are the reasons why we rally in Crazy Town, where gasoline -- the worst possible commodity to go higher because we all use it -- is regarded as a positive.

At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, had no positions in the stocks mentioned.