It's finally starting to dawn on people that the coronavirus is a real crisis, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers after a horrific day on Wall Street. Cramer said with so many people panicking, it's time to stop buying the averages and circle around high-quality, recession-proof stocks that can weather this storm.
Cramer took some comfort in the Federal Reserve's emergency actions over the weekend. He said cutting rates to zero and injecting additional liquidity wasn't meant to save stocks, it was meant to shore up the banking system and prevent a 2008 financial crisis. The banks have all of the support they need to power through the coronavirus disruptions. Cramer said he was also encouraged by the talks in Congress of a stimulus package to help individuals and small businesses survive these disruptions.
As for stocks, Cramer said the problem is that 60% of the market is controlled by ETFs and index funds, which sell entire sectors or the entire market, throwing out the good with the bad. Some industries will be on the ropes for a long time because of the coronavirus, Cramer explained.
Investors are right to sell the airlines, cruise lines, aerospace, oils, restaurants, entertainment and even retail. But that doesn't mean the recession-proof names that live in your pantry and medicine cabinet should be sold as well.
Cramer said with so much panic in the markets, it's still too early to begin picking at consumer packaged goods stocks, Investor need to hold their nose and just wait out the rest of the selling before it'll be time to buy.
Executive Decision: ThermoFisher Scientific
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Marc Casper, CEO of ThermoFisher Scientific (TMO) - Get Report, which just received emergency authorization from the Federal Food and Drug Administration for the use of its COVID-19 test.
Casper said their test will be available in over 200 labs across the country and has the ability to provide results in as little as four hours. He said samples will be collected at doctor's offices and testing facilities and sent to their expanding network of equipped labs.
When asked about their capacity, Casper explained that they began shipping 1.5 million test kits and are ramping up production to support two million tests per week with further capacity planned for up to five million a week. Casper recommended people follow the government guidelines for who should be tested so as not to overwhelm testing facilities.
Cramer asked Casper how ThermoFisher's test compared to other COVID-19 tests and Casper responded that the only competitor is the virus itself. He said everyone's tests are needed and the more capacity we have, the better.
Executive Decision II: CVS Health
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer checked in with Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health (CVS) - Get Report, the drug store chain that has pledged to donate areas of its parking lots for COVID-19 testing.
Merlo explained that CVS is a unique positions to provide local healthcare solutions to millions of Americans, so it only made sense to open their parking lots to make testing more readily available to everyone who needs it. He said they are currently working out the details of how to provide secure areas where patients won't need to leave their cars in order to get safe, effective testing.
Merlo added that this outbreak is not about politics or competition, it's about everyone working together to stop the spread. He said customers have been stocking up on cleaning supplies and refilling their medicine cabinets, but so far, they've only seen a few spot shortages of merchandise.
CVS is also adding new programs for their Aetna members. Merlo said they are working to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing and are also adding zero copayments for telemedicine to help reduce the need to see doctor in person and risk spreading infections.
Executive Decision III: Dow
Fitterling said that the market is full of fear, uncertainty and doubt, which has led to their depressed share price and outsized dividend. He said Dow has been strengthening their balance sheet, including paying down debt and refinancing debt to move out their maturity dates. The company currently has $2.4 billion in cash, more than enough to pay their dividend.
Fitterling added that he feels the move to the downside is overdone. He said business in China is starting to recover after just weeks of disruption from the coronavirus and he expects the U.S. and the rest of the world to bounce back as well. The drop in oil prices is also not sustainable, Fitterling said, and he expects prices to rebound in that market as well.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on IAC Interactive (IAC) - Get Report, Waste Management (WM) - Get Report, Verizon (VZ) - Get Report, Inovio Pharmaceutical (INO) - Get Report and Shopify (SHOP) - Get Report.
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer responded to calls for closing the stock market until the pandemic runs its course. He said while it's true that companies use the stock market to raise capital and most companies don't need to raise capital, it's still important for shareholder to be able to sell when they want to sell. Sure, the averages will continue to get hammered, he said, but that just means opportunities are being created.
Cramer noted that even the Spanish flu of 1918, which infected 27% of the world's population, peaked in a little over four months. That's why he said you can still own stocks and ride out the bad news.
Cramer and the AAP team are looking at everything from earnings and tariffs to the Federal Reserve. Find out what they're telling their investment club members and get in on the conversation with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts Plus.
On Real Money, Cramer keys in on the companies and CEOs he knows best. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Introducing TheStreet Courses: Financial titans Jim Cramer and Robert Powell are bringing their market savvy and investing strategies to you. Learn how to create tax-efficient income, avoid top mistakes, reduce risk and more. With our courses, you will have the tools and knowledge needed to achieve your financial goals. Learn more about TheStreet Courses on investing and personal finance here.
Search Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" trading recommendations using our exclusive "Mad Money" Stock Screener.
To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.
To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here.
At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in the stocks mentioned.