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NEW YORK (
) -- "Things are better this time around," Jim Cramer told his
TV show viewers on Wednesday, as he attempted to explain why $4 a gallon gasoline hasn't begun crippling the stock market.
Cramer said he could take the easy way out and just say that high gas prices haven't hit the economy yet, but that would put him in the same camp as the perma-bears who have been predicting the market's demise ever since the lows of 2008.
In reality, Cramer said that if high gas really was hurting the economy, then discretionary stocks like
wouldn't keep heading higher. "Do we really need $150 sneakers?" he asked.
Cramer listed five reasons why the markets aren't being affected by the pain at the pump. First, the economy is growing. Cramer said that hiring can conquer all, even expensive gas. Second, he said unlike 2008, interest rates are low, allowing business and consumers to refinance their mortgages and debts to offset higher gas.
Third, Cramer noted that gas isn't our only energy bill, and thanks to a warm winter and falling natural gas prices, the pain at the pump isn't as bad this time around.
Fourth, Cramer said that companies are ready this time around and some, like
all benefit from helping companies save on energy and fuel costs, which is why he owns the latter two for his charitable trust,
Action Alerts PLUS.
Finally, Cramer said that consumers are not as shocked with $4 gas as they were in 2008. Put all of these factors together and Cramer said that things are simply better now than they were in 2008, which is why stocks, even discretionary ones, can still surge higher even as gas prices continue to creep towards and past $4 a gallon.
Electronic Healthcare Trend
In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Glen Tullman, CEO of
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions
, a stock that's up 135% since Cramer first got behind the company in January 2009, but also one that fell short on its most recent earnings release.
Tullman clarified that Allscripts did update its guidance throughout the year and did deliver on its updated projections. He said that bookings were up 26% and the company delivered strong financial results and steady, consistent growth. Tullman also noted that while the adoption of electronic healthcare records doubled last year, there are still more than half of all smaller practices that have yet to upgrade.
Tullman also touted Allscripts' deal with
to bring electronic records to the chain's Minute Clinics. He said that more and more healthcare is moving away from hospitals, and CVS responded to Allscripts' unique, open system that allows the company to add new applications as they growth with the system.
Turning to the larger picture, Tullman explained that as electronic records grows in adoption, they will evolve from merely accounting systems into information systems, ones that allow providers to have real-time analytics and insights that will produce better outcomes for patients.
Cramer said that while Allscripts may not be growing as fast as some projected, it's clear that the company still has a lot of growth ahead of it. He reiterated his recommendation.
Riding Global Trends
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer once again spoke with Michael Johnson, chairman and CEO of
, which delivered a stellar 14-cent-a-share earnings beat on a 19% rise in revenues. Herbalife also raised its 2012 guidance and boosted its dividend by 50%. Shares of Herbalife are up 225% since Cramer first recommended the company in November 2009.
Johnson characterized Herbalife as being at the intersection of two global trends, obesity and underemployment. He said unlike other direct marketing companies, Herbalife is different in that it brings a social, personal element to its products and offers an un-pressured environment for customers to obtain great, healthy products.
Speaking of products, Johnson said that Herbalife's products are unlike any other, and the company spends heavily on product development and even grows their own crops to ensure quality. "There's really nothing else like it," Johnson explained.
Turning to sales trends, Johnson said that emerging markets such as like India and China are experiencing a sales surge as customers begin to adopt a daily consumption model for Herbalife products. Once that occurs, he noted, the company will have a lot to talk about. Johnson had similarly bullish things to say about the company's expansion into Central and South America. He said starting with Mexico, sales and excitement for Herbalife has been unprecedented.
Cramer called Johnson a money-maker for investors and continued his recommendation of Herbalife.
Am I Diversified?
Cramer spoke with callers to see if their portfolios have what it takes for today's markets. The first caller's portfolio included
Cramer said this portfolio had perfect diversification.
The second caller's top holdings included
Procter & Gamble
Cramer called this portfolio "terrific."
The third caller had
Bank of America
as the top five stocks.
Cramer said this portfolio also has "what we want" in a portfolio.
The fourth caller's top stocks were
Cramer also blessed this portfolio as perfectly diversified.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on
Cramer was bearish on
Embracing Natural Gas
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer asked whether we are hostage to higher oil prices. His answer: yes and no.
Cramer said in the short term, there is little our country can do to get relief from uncertainties in the Middle East. But in the long term, America has the opportunity to lower gas prices for good. Cramer said 25% of all U.S. imported oil goes to one thing, trucks, and if were were to switch those trucks, everything from pickups to heavy 18-wheelers, to natural gas we could turn the tide once and for all.
making high-tech natural gas engines right here in America and
Clean Energy Fuels
building out natural gas fueling stations, the politicians in Washington aren't saying a word about natural gas.
Cramer said America needs a "Cash for Clunkers" style incentive program to help companies embrace natural gas over imported diesel fuel. America also needs the auto companies to stop their sprint for electric vehicles and also embrace natural gas as a bridge fuel. Only then, he said, will the price at the pump be in our control and not the control of hostile nations.
--Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
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At the time of publication, Cramer was long Eaton, Boeing.
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.