Investors continue to agonize over the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China. Just when it seems like there is some resolution, we hear that it may escalate. It's an ongoing saga, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers on Monday evening.
However, Jim Cramer has a cheat sheet he wants investors to know about.
He broke it down into three parts: U.S. stocks with China exposure that are doing well, those that are doing OK and those that are suffering.
So what's the bottom line? If markets get volatile again thanks to the trade war, look for tech and industrials to struggle the most, Cramer said. But more importantly, consider using the pullback as a buying opportunity in Starbucks, Nike, Estee Lauder, Yum China and Boeing, he suggested.
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Executive Decision: Norfolk Southern
For an "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer talked with Jim Squires, chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern (NSC) following the company's investor day presentation on Monday. Shares pushed higher by 3.2% as a result of the company's ambitious plan to lower its operating ratio to 60% by 2021.
Cramer pointed out that the gain is even more impressive, considering the stock's rally from its December lows and after last month's earnings beat. In 2015, the company's plan was to get its operating ratio down to 65% by 2020 and Norfolk Southern just about hit the mark at the end of 2018, Squires pointed out.
He's proud of his employees and how much the company has achieved, but believes there's more work to do. The company's plan to improve further will come by growing its revenue at a 5% annual growth rate while at the same time improving efficiencies along the way via precision railroading practices. "This is an aggressive plan, but it's an achievable plan," he said in regards to analysts' questioning whether the company's outlook is realistic.
He added that the economy remains quite strong, with plenty of cyclical and secular growth drivers going forward. "Overall, the climate looks good to us," he said.
Over on Real Money, Cramer says he's not buying into all this recession talk. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Hasbro
On the show's second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro (HAS) .
"I think this is a very well-run company," Cramer said, adding that Hasbro deserves a second chance and has a lot of good things going for it right now.
From 2012 until 2017, Hasbro had 5% annual revenue growth and double-digit earnings growth, Goldner said, but then the Toys R Us liquidation caused a big headache for toymakers. It made 2018 a very disruptive year, even for Hasbro's best brands. However, Goldner was very optimistic that the company will return to its prior trajectory.
Inventories are down and momentum is strong, he reasoned. The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) has a strong slate of entertainment this year, and with Hasbro licensing the company's characters and themes, it should do well in 2019. The company also has several digital gaming initiatives, one of which, Magic the Gathering, is gaining serious online traction.
"2019 is all about growth," Goldner said, adding that the board has raised the dividend in 15 of the past 16 years, following an 8% dividend bump this year. "We really believe in our business."
Executive Decision: S&P Global
On the show's third "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Doug Peterson, president and CEO of S&P Global (SPGI) .
This is a great company that's become consistent under Peterson's transformation, Cramer reasoned.
The company's not just a ratings agency anymore, it has a subscription business as well as an index business. Peterson explained that because of this approach, other segments can carry the company when another might be underperforming. By narrowing its focus, S&P Global was able to build a suite of products that leverage all of its data, analytics and other helpful market insights into various products for its customers.
Further, the company received the first 100% wholly-owned ratings agency license in China, the third largest bond market in the world behind the U.S. and Japan. Peterson explained that for China to be serious economic power, it needs a stronger bond market and thus, it needs a ratings agency. "This is a long-term play," he reasoned.
Finally, he touched on gender inequality. If the U.S. had the same women's participation rate as Norway, the economy would be larger by 8%, or $1.6 trillion, he said. Peterson stressed the importance of women in management and executive roles in corporations, arguing that when women succeed, everyone succeeds.
Don't Buy Recession Talk
On the show's "No-Huddle Offense," Cramer took on the rumors about a potential recession in the second half of 2019. "I'm not buying it, not one bit," he reasoned.
Bears will make an argument like this: The yield curve is threatening to invert, worldwide growth is under pressure and commodity prices are in decline.
However, Cramer countered those points, saying that because central banks are keeping rates artificially low, it creates strong demand for U.S. bonds, the highest quality and most liquid asset in the world.
More so, they yield more than the bonds from many developed nations around the world, so of course there's strong demand. That, more than anything, is keeping long-term rates low, not fueling a looming recession.
Worldwide growth is under pressure because China is struggling. But China is struggling because of the trade war with the U.S. If that gets solved, then China returns to growth, importing from the rest of the world, such as Europe, and worldwide growth returns, Cramer reasoned.
While China hurts commodity demand to some extent, Cramer also blamed excess oil supply from the Permian as a culprit to lower prices. It's not a lack of economic activity hurting demand, but rather a surplus of supply weighing on prices.
There are things he's worried about -- like a strong dollar, a government shutdown and higher tariffs -- but Cramer's not worried about a recession this year.
Lightning RoundIn the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Manitowoc ( MTW) , Yeti Holdings ( YETI) , Illumina ( ILMN) , Palo Alto Networks ( PANW) and Etsy ( ETSY) . He was bearish on Cronos Group ( CRON) and Crispr Therapeutics ( CRSP) .
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