Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Dec. 23

Cramer says investors should take a wait-and-see approach to today's market.
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"There is nothing so compelling in this market that it must be bought," Jim Cramer told the viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show Tuesday.

"I'm not saying buy, buy, buy, I'm saying wait, wait, wait," he asserted.

Cramer said that he'd love to hear just one money manager or talking head on TV say that now is not a good time to buy. Instead, he said, the airwaves are filled with positive takes and predictions on the market. "This is not a once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity," he told viewers, "this is a range-bound market."

While all of the "pros" are predicting 2009 to be a banner year for the markets, Cramer took a more pragmatic view. Investors, he said, are not dumb. They've lost money in record amounts and are smart to leave the markets in favor of government bonds.

"It's not reckless to sell when you can't afford the risk," he said. But he said don't expect them to come roaring back because of those losses.

Cramer said that while stocks like


(CAT) - Get Report



(NUE) - Get Report


U.S. Steel

(X) - Get Report

may appear to have bottomed, they likely haven't.

Likewise with


(AAPL) - Get Report

, said Cramer, a stock which was praised last week for "hanging in there" after the company announced it's pulling out of the MacWorld Expo, only to get pulverized this week. "Every rally is met with a cascade of selling," Cramer said.

In order for the markets to rally, Cramer said they need the financials to rally, something he's just not seen yet. Until he does, he's adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Cramer: Goldman's Insulation Blanket

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Warm Up With Suburban

Cramer said investors looking for a play on the cold winter weather should look no further than

Suburban Propane

(SPH) - Get Report

. This master limited partnership currently boasts a juicy 10.7% dividend yield and offers investors some stability to boot.

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Cramer said the story at Suburban is a simple one: margins. While the price of natural gas has plummeted in recent months, it's not falling evenly. The result has been a 45% reduction in the wholesale price of gas, but only a 12% reduction in the retail price. That leaves a 33% increase in margins for Suburban.

Cramer said Suburban also offer stability, since the company is 90% owned by retail investors and not large hedge funds looking for quick cash. Suburban also focused mainly on heating and cooking products, which are far more stable than the oil and gas markets in general.

Finally, Cramer said Suburban's dividend is safe, with the company recently boosting its dividend for its 10th consecutive quarter. The company also has a great balance sheet, with $4 a share in cash and a large untapped credit facility at its disposal.

Outrage of the Day

In his "Outrage of the Day" segment, Cramer sounded off at recent

Wall Street Journal

story which dubbed the private equity firm Cerberus as a hero for turning around


(C) - Get Report


If Cerberus were a hero, said Cramer, it would have put up its own money to bail out Chrysler and not look to the government for a handout.

Cerberus, he said, has more money than just about any private equity firm out there, and if this was any company other than an auto, they'd have to use their own money.

Cramer advocated helping the shareholders of


(F) - Get Report


General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

. He said if Cerberus loses its $7.4 billion investment in Chrysler, that's a risk it should've been prepared to take.

Mad Mail

Cramer told a viewer that he recommends companies like


(MCD) - Get Report

, which he also owns for his

Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, or


(DIS) - Get Report

for his young daughter's first portfolio.

He told a second viewer that he's still a fan of

Yum Brands

(YUM) - Get Report

for the company's continued growth in China.

How Dividends Work

As a fan of high-yielding dividend stocks, Cramer took a moment to explain to viewer exactly how dividends work and what investors need to know about it.

Cramer said the two terms most often associated with dividends are the "ex-dividend date," the first day a stock trades without the right to a quarterly dividend, and the "record date," the date the dividend payment is actually made.

But Cramer said the most important date to remember is what he termed the "must-have" date. That date, said Cramer, is simply the one before the ex-dividend date, the date you must own a stock in order to qualify for the dividend.


U.S. Bancorp

(USB) - Get Report

as an example, Cramer said the company will pay its next dividend on Jan 15. The ex-dividend date, is Dec 29, but the "must-have" date is Friday, Dec 26, the day after Christmas.

"This is the date you need to own US Bancorp in order to get the dividend on January 15," he said. On Dec 29, shares of USB will likely trade down 42 cents since those shareholders will no longer qualify for the dividend.

Lightning Round

Cramer was bullish on


(GSK) - Get Report



(PEP) - Get Report



(PFE) - Get Report



(VZ) - Get Report


Philip Morris International

(PM) - Get Report


Flowers Foods

(FLO) - Get Report



(CAT) - Get Report


He was bearish on

Vodafone Group

(VOD) - Get Report


(BIDU) - Get Report



(BA) - Get Report


National Oilwell Varco

(NOV) - Get Report



(TEX) - Get Report


Check out the latest edition of

"Cramer's Take onTop-Searched Stocks" on Stockpickr.

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At the time of publication, Cramer was long McDonald's.

Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of 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, 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 is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."

None of the information contained in "Mad Money" constitutes a recommendation by Mr. Cramer, or CNBC that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You must make your own independent decisions regarding any security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy mentioned on the program. Mr. Cramer's past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance. Neither Mr. Cramer, nor, nor CNBC guarantees any specific outcome or profit, and you should be aware of the real risk of loss in following any strategy or investments discussed on the program. The strategy or investments discussed may fluctuate in price or value and you may get back less than you invested. Before acting on any information contained in the program, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and strongly consider seeking advice from your own financial or investment adviser.

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 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, 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.