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NEW YORK (
) -- Winning money managers know how to quit when they are ahead, Jim Cramer told his
TV show Thursday. He said the weakness in many of the market's top stocks was nothing more than hedge funds and money managers locking in their gains after the best quarter we've seen in 14 years.
Cramer recalled how he first learned about locking in gains: It was back in early 1991, as the first Iraq war was about to get started. He said that his hedge fund had already picked out the stocks that would rocket higher if the war would end quickly. So as the bombers were readied, Cramer went all in on those stocks, using all of the money and leverage he could muster.
Five days later, when the war ended in spectacular fashion and stocks soared, Cramer said his hedge fund was up 28%, a year's worth of gains. Taking the advice of his wife, Cramer said he sold everything and only dabbled in the markets thereafter, taking the entire summer off.
Cramer explained that the same thing is happening now, after 2012's terrific first quarter. He said the only real movers were stocks betting on interest rate cuts in China. Those stocks, like
, all opened lower only to turn higher by the end of the day.
Everything else, however, and especially the market leaders like
, a stock which Cramer owns for his charitable trust
Action Alerts PLUS, finished sharply lower by the end of today's trading.
Cramer said fortunately the markets are strong enough to absorb all of this big-money selling. But investors can expect to see even more market gyrations tomorrow as the first quarter draws to a close.
If "big data" is the future of technology, then investors better sit up and pay attention, Cramer told viewers. What exactly is big data? Think of it as the huge piles of digital records being amassed daily by companies, organizations, search engines and social networks. As more and more information is being stored online, its possible uses -- for everything from marketing to crime prevention -- grows exponentially.
Cramer said that
proved just how large big data is becoming after the company blew away the numbers, sending shares up $10 each, or 19.5%, in a single session. But while Red Hat may be hot, Cramer said that
, an Action Alerts PLUS holding, remains his favorite.
EMC has been on a big data shopping spree, making several acquisitions in recent months to help solidify its position as a leader in the same. Yet shares still trade at just 14.7 times earnings despite the company's 15% growth rate.
Cramer also gave the nod to a handful of others in the big data market, including
, another name on the Action Alerts PLUS list, along with
IBM has been moving in a big way into the analysis of big data, yet its shares also sell at a scant 12.6 times earnings with a 10.8% growth rate. Cramer said that while smaller, Teradata is a data warehouse player that's risen 84% since he first recommended it 18 months ago. Teradata trades at 22 times earnings with a 15% growth rate.
But no matter which stocks investors choose, Cramer said that big data will be one of the big themes throughout 2012 and beyond.
In the "Mad Tweets" segment, Cramer responded to questions sent via Twitter to
. When asked whether now's the time to buy into the cruise lines, mainly
, Cramer gave a resounding "Yes!"
Cramer said that the cruise stocks have been under immense pressure since Carnival's ship ran aground off the coast of Italy last year. That accident was a disaster for not only Carnival and its reputation but also for the entire cruise industry as many travelers opted to stay away and vacation elsewhere. But now the worst may be over, said Cramer, as he released the group from his "Sell Block" by saying that Carnival may now be worth buying.
When it comes to the cruise lines, there's a happy duopoly, explained Cramer, with Carnival and Royal commanding 75% of the market. This two-horse race makes Carnival, whose shares are down 2% for the year, attractive, given its 3.1% dividend and its opportunities for a comeback.
Cramer turned to some of his favorite technicians, Dan Fitzpatrick and Carolyn Boroden, for confirmation. Fitzpatrick's research noted that Carnival has been building a base for eight months and if shares can break above their 200-day moving average, that would signal the time may be right to buy. Boroden's research was similar, noting the stock's pattern of higher highs and higher lows, a sign of regaining strength.
Cramer said it's always important to know whether you're bottom-fishing or about to catch a falling knife when it comes to beaten-down stocks. In the case of Carnival, Cramer said the stock is cheap and appears to be about to stand on its own two feet once again. He would be a buyer at current levels and would get more aggressive if shares sink lower.
In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Marty Mucci, president and CEO of
, a payroll processor with a 4% yield. Paychex delivered an inline quarter and reaffirmed 2012 guidance.
Mucci said that he felt good about the quarter and where Paychex is headed, but remained conservative on the company's conference call. The said sales were up in the quarter, but new business formation remained flat, causing Paychex to make up lost revenue in other areas.
Some of those new areas include acquisitions, said Mucci, an area where the company's strategy remains "flexible." Mucci also noted that Paychex is rolling out new products internally, including new online offerings as well as apps for smartphones and the iPad.
When asked whether increased regulations and uncertainty regarding health care costs are hurting Paychex, Mucci said that while consumer confidence is the primary driver in new business creation, increased regulations certainty don't help the situation. On the other hand, Mucci noted that increased regulations do drive smaller companies to outsource their payroll to the experts that can help them navigate through it.
Regarding the fate of Obama-care, Mucci said that Paychex has backup plans to deal with any outcome and will continue to help businesses large and small make the right choices for their organizations.
Cramer remained bullish on Paychex, especially given its 4% yield and prospects for growth as the economy improves.
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer pondered whether the strong demand for recent IPOs has anything to do with the widely anticipated IPO of Facebook, expected this May. Cramer said he wouldn't put it past big institutions looking to get in on the Facebook deal to buy and hold large chunks of these less-popular IPOs to prove that they're worthy of some Facebook shares later on.
What does that mean for regular investors? Cramer said it means that they're likely to get in on upcoming IPOs and also do well with them, as many of the first-day stock-flippers are now holding onto their shares. With little-known stocks like
jumping big on its first day of trading, Cramer said the IPO market will be the place to be for the foreseeable future.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on
Cramer was bearish on
American Realty Capital Trust
--Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS was long AAPL, IBM, EMC.
Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for TheStreet.com, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of TheStreet.com or its affiliates, or CNBC, NBC UNIVERSAL or their parent company or affiliates. Mr. Cramer's opinions are based upon information he considers to be reliable, but neither TheStreet.com, nor CNBC, nor either of their affiliates and/or subsidiaries warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such. Mr. Cramer's statements are based on his opinions at the time statements are made, and are subject to change without notice. No part of Mr. Cramer's compensation from CNBC or TheStreet.com is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."
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Some of the stocks mentioned by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are held in Mr. Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio. When that is the case, appropriate disclosure is made on the program and in the "Mad Money" recap available on TheStreet.com. The Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio contains all of Mr. Cramer's personal investments in publicly-traded equity securities only, and does not include any mutual fund holdings or other institutionally managed assets, private equity investments, or his holdings in TheStreet.com, Inc. Since March 2005, the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio has been held by a Trust, the realized profits from which have been pledged to charity. Mr. Cramer retains full investment discretion with respect to all securities contained in the Trust. Mr. Cramer is subject to certain trading restrictions, and must hold all securities in the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio for at least one month, and is not permitted to buy or sell any security he has spoken about on television or on his radio program for five days following the broadcast.