There's no secret behind the market's rally, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Monday. Some companies are thriving during COVID-19 and those are the stocks leading the averages higher.
Back in late April, Cramer debuted his COVID-19 Index to highlight these stocks. In just the past few weeks, the index has gained 6%.
If you look at the 10 best performing stocks in Cramer's COVID-19 Index, it's easy to see why this group of stocks has been able to trounce the averages. The biggest gainers included Peloton (PTON) - Get Report, the connected exercise equipment maker, vaccine maker Moderna (MRNA) - Get Report and Livongo Health (LVGO) - Get Report, the platform for managing chronic diseases.
Also making the top 10 were emergency communications company Everbridge (EVBG) - Get Report, expense manager Coupa Software (COUP) - Get Report, glucose monitoring company DexCom (DXCM) - Get Report and network infrastructure provider Cloudflare (NET) - Get Report. Cramer said all of these names were made for the stay-at-home economy.
Rounding out the list were payments processor Square (SQ) - Get Report, pulse oximeter maker Masimo (MASI) - Get Report and Beyond Meat (BYND) - Get Report, the plant-based protein company. Cramer said all of these companies focus on health, technology and safety and that's why investors are sending them higher.
Executive Decision: Upwork
In his first "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Hayden Brown, president and CEO of Upwork (UPWK) - Get Report, the remote working platform that connects companies to freelance workers. Shares of Upwork are up 44% over the past month.
Brown said that Upwork has been helping companies staff critical tasks for 20 years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has gone mainstream. Companies big and small are realizing the productivity gains and environmental benefits of staffing with remote workers.
Upwork works with small and medium-sized businesses all the way up to Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report, Brown added. Many companies simply can't find the talent they need in their local area, making remote work their only option. Now with the pandemic, more companies are being forced to try remote work.
Brown said this is a once-in-a-generation change in how work gets done and Upwork has skilled labor that's ready for remote work.
Cramer said Upwork is the "real deal" and perfect for our new normal.
Executive Decision: LivePerson
For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also spoke with Rob Locascio, chairman and CEO of LivePerson (LPSN) - Get Report the conversational commerce company with shares up 51% in just the past week.
Locascio said picking up the phone to talk to a company has been around forever and has a lot of inertia, but the death of the call center has finally come now that COVID-19 has forced call centers to close. Companies are moving to digital and messaging customer service options faster than before and on LivePerson's platform, month-over-month growth in conversation volume was up 10-fold.
Packed call centers just don't work in an era of social distancing, Locascio explained, nor does hearing barking dogs and crying babies in the background as call center employees attempt to work from home. Companies need automated options for working with customers and that's what LivePerson provides.
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Retail Doesn't Work Without Competition
"Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report has changed my life," Cramer proclaimed to viewers. But that doesn't mean we can't have too much of a good thing. In a world where shopping at a physical store is becoming dangerous, Amazon is exactly what you want, Cramer said, but retail doesn't work without competition.
Our economy needs another rescue package, Cramer said frankly. Amazon has spent nearly $4 billion on COVID-19-related expenses. Only Walmart (WMT) - Get Report, Target (TGT) - Get Report and Costco (COST) - Get Report can compete with those numbers. All of our other small businesses need help to survive.
Restaurants are in even worse shape than retail. COVID-19 requires them to operate with fewer tables, making it impossible to turn a profit. The only way to survive is with takeout and delivery and that, too, requires technology and expertise. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) - Get Report has done it, and so has Domino's Pizza (DPZ) - Get Report, but we want a world with far more than three choices.
Executive Decision: American Electric Power
For his final "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer checked in Nick Akins, chairman, president and CEO of American Electric Power (AEP) - Get Report, the utility which just reported a top- and bottom-line miss that sent shares down 16% for the year. The stock currently yields 3.5%.
Akins said the pandemic has thrown the utility industry a curveball and everyone is working hard to adapt. As the economy shut down, industrial power demand fell by 7% to 10%, while commercial demand declined 5% to 7% in most areas. Residential demand increased by 6% as most people sheltered in place.
Akins noted that residential power has the highest gross margins, so they're recalculating what this change means for their business. AEP is adapting to the crisis with forbearance for customers in need and new protocols for their workers in the field. Akins said nearly 12,000 of their 18,000 employees are at home, but the rest remain in the field.
AEP is still committed to reducing their carbon footprint, Akins concluded, and just received approval for a new wind project in Arkansas. He said renewable energy remains a great hedge on price and carbon output and they will continue to make investments.
Here's what Jim Cramer had to say about some of the stocks that callers offered up during the "Mad Money Lightning Round" Monday evening:
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AMZN, COST.