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For investors struggling to make sense of the market, Jim Cramer turned to the history books on his "Mad Money" TV show Friday, and made some startling discoveries.
Leafing through John Kenneth Galbraith's
The Great Crash: 1929
, Cramer was struck with by the many parallels between the crash then and today. He said that after the "big" one-day crash in 1929, the market continued to decline slowly, week by week and month by month, for over two years until 1932.
One stock that went through both events was
. During the Great Depression, US Steel fell from a high of $262 a share all the way down to just $22 a share two years later.
By contrast, US Steel already has fallen from its high of $196 a share this year to just over $34 a share at today's close. The similarities are striking, he noted, but what took two years in 1929 has taken just five months this year.
"We've already crashed for many stocks," said Cramer. But unlike 1929, the economy hasn't, and that has Cramer perplexed.
Back in 1929, unemployment hit a high of 25%, but today it's just 7%. Cramer said with so many safeguards in place, the economy is unlikely to see such a huge downturn again. But he's not as hopeful about the markets, which are still unwinding at an accelerating pace.
Cramer said that at this point in the cycle, he actually hates the rallies. "We need the velocity to accelerate and for people to just give up," he said. Only after all of the panic and forced selling is over can we finally call a bottom, he added.
Cramer: Don't Buy on Billionaire Sells
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Poised for a Rebound
Cramer checked in with
chairman and CEO Peter McCausland to get a update on how the compressed gas business is weathering the economic storm.
Cramer last recommended Airgas on May 8, and since then the stock has fallen sharply, down 46%. The stock was up 3.3% at the close of trading today to $33.48 on a day when the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 312.
McCausland's confident his company's stock will rebound and told investors they should take a long term view of the market. In his opinion, he said people are just too negative.
Airgas reported earnings that beat Wall Street estimates by 3 cents a share, largely due to higher margins. McCausland said that before reaffirming its earnings guidance, the company polled its customers and found they felt pretty good about the state of the economy.
McCausland also said Airgas shareholders should not be worried about energy prices because only about 10% to 15% of its business is affected by the price of oil.
Cramer said Airgas' stock may be broken but its business is solid.
Guilt by Association
Looking for another recession proof stock? Cramer said shampoo giant
might be right up your alley.
Shares of Alberto-Culver, maker of such products as the Nexxus and TRESemme brands, recently fell 12% after rival
Helen of Troy
reported disappointing earnings. But Cramer called this move a mistake and a classic case of guilt by association.
Cramer explained that Helen of Troy gets 55% of its sales from discretionary personal appliances such as curling irons and foot massagers and only 45% from hair products. Culver, on the other hand, gets 95% of its sales from hair and skin care products, both of which fare well during recessions.
Helen of Troy also fell due in part to product destocking at many hair salons. But here again, Cramer noted that Helen of Troy is not Alberto-Culver, who sells his products in retail stores, not salons.
Beyond the recent decline, Cramer said there are also other reasons to like Culver. Ninety-five percent of the company's products are shipped in plastic containers that are made from oil-based resins. With the price of oil nearly half that of its highs, Culver should see significant margin increases as its raw costs decline.
Cramer also noted the Culver's recent purchase of the Noxzema brand from
Proctor & Gamble
as another huge opportunity for the company.
Culver also has $3 per share of cash on its balance sheet and zero debt.
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At the time of publication, Cramer was long Altria.
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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