Until all of the negative trade news is fully baked into the stock market, investors need to remain cautious, Jim Cramer warned his Mad Money viewers Thursday. Other markets, like oil and U.S. Treasuries are already assuming the worst, Cramer said, but so far stocks have not followed suit.
The fact is that the trade wars are about a lot more than trade; it's about China becoming the first country to challenge U.S. supremacy in several areas. That's why many of President Trump's advisers talk more like 1980-style Cold War warriors than trade negotiators. Neither side is feeling overly compelled to compromise, Cramer said, and for the first time, our government is willing to take action against bad actors like Huawei.
Cramer said while Trump may say that China ultimately pays for tariffs, in reality, they're a tax on U.S. consumers and earnings estimates must be adjusted downward to reflect the new reality. Trump also mistakenly assumes that every company can simply move out of China, but that too is not true and it will take time for many companies to make that transition. In the case of Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , there are millions of Chinese jobs at stake.
Cramer said investors need to stop hoping for a quick resolution and accept that tariffs are likely here to stay for a lot longer.
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Watching for Capitulation
In a market where everything is headed lower, are there bargains to be found? There are many investors hoping there are, but Cramer reminded viewers that hope should never be part of the equation.
Case in point: Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report , which reported fabulous earnings but still saw its share plunge 4.8%. The reason? Management didn't have a cohesive answer as to what happens with additional tariffs. Cramer noted that only six Dow stocks remain in an uptrend, and that's an ominous sign. Only the managed care stocks seem to be keeping their heads above water.
Investors are beginning to draw desperate conclusions, Cramer added. Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) - Get Report fell 5.5% today after an analyst concluded the company could see a 10% shortfall as a result of African Swine Fever. In reality, Chipotle might see less than a 2% decline.
Cramer said investors need to see capitulation. They need to see the market have a big down opening where investors throw up their hands and give up. Then, he said, the bottom will be at hand. We are not there yet.
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How to Play 5G
On a big down day, it's always a good idea to pay attention to the sectors that are rallying, Cramer told viewers. Today, that sector was the cell tower stocks, a group that's benefiting from the upcoming 5G wireless rollout.
Cramer explained that cell towers are the perfect way to play 5G, because once a tower is built, additional antennas and equipment can be added to that tower with minimal expense. Given that T-Mobile (TMUS) - Get Report will likely be allowed to merge with rival Sprint (S) - Get Report , this will be three strong competitors in the U.S.
Among the cell tower companies, American Tower (AMT) - Get Report is the largest, with 41,000 towers in the U.S. and almost that many overseas. Those overseas properties have been posing a challenge however, as the company struggles in India.
Coming in second is Crown Castle (CCI) - Get Report , a 100% domestic player with no overseas exposure. Crown Castle is leading the charge in small cell towers, of which tens of thousands will be needed for 5G. Crown Castle also pays a 3.5% dividend.
Finally there's SBA Communications (SBAC) - Get Report , which was not a favorite of Cramer's. He said the company has the weakest balance sheet of the group and barely mentioned 5G on its conference call.
When a Bargain Isn't a Good Deal
Mallinckrodt emerged in 2012 as a drug roll-up company, one that was poised to snap up smaller drugs to become a pharmaceutical powerhouse. Things were going well for the company and its shares reached highs of $134 in 2015. That was until Mallinckrodt acquired Questcor for $5.6 billion. Today, shares trade for just $8.
Questcor was a catastrophic acquisition for Mallinckrodt, Cramer explained, and the company only has itself to blame. Questcor's only drug, Acthar gel, had been approved decades earlier and had no patent protection. The company dramatically raised the price of Acthar and began marketing the drug for a host of new conditions, drawing the attention of the public and regulators.
Mallinckrodt is one of the most reviled companies, Cramer explained, which made last week's news that the company is suing the government in an attempt to protect Medicare payments, so devastating. Shares plunged another 24%.
Cramer said the risks of owning Mallinckrodt are simply too high, even for speculation.
Executive Decision: TG Therapeutics
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Michael Weiss, chairman, president and CEO of TG Therapeutics (TGTX) - Get Report , the biotech with shares still up 75% for 2019, despite recent weakness.
Weiss said that developing drugs is a long process, but when you get it right, it's magical. That's why TG takes an unconventional approach to their treatments, opting to develop cures for early-stage Leukemia, Lymphoma and MS. These treatments take a lot of time, he said, but so far they've been encouraged by their progress.
Weiss added that their treatments have been given an orphan drug designation by the FDA, but the market potential remains sizable.
Cramer noted that TG Therapeutics is a speculative company, one that still has no revenues, but their story continues to be compelling.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AAPL.