Friday's rally wasn't about Washington, or interest rates or infrastructure spending, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers. It's all about COVID, particularly Merck's (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report new COVID oral medication that may reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by up to 50%.
If Merck's pill helps put COVID in the past, Cramer said that makes stocks the thing of the future.
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What should investors be buying on the Merck news? Cramer said with 10 million people possibly returning to the workforce, he'd look at travel and leisure and anything that's seen supply chain disruptions, like Honeywell (HON) - Get Honeywell International Inc. (HON) Report or General Electric (GE) - Get General Electric Company (GE) Report.
As for next week's action, Cramer said he'll be watching two things on Monday, the latest update on the beleaguered infrastructure bill in Washington and the ticket sales from the new Venom movie, which could indicate if AMC Entertainment (AMC) - Get AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. Class A Report is a buy.
Later in the week, Cramer's attention will be on Levi Strauss (LEVI) - Get Levi Strauss & Co. Class A Report and Constellation Brands (STZ) - Get Constellation Brands, Inc. Class A Report on Wednesday and ConAgra Foods (CAG) - Get Conagra Brands, Inc. Report on Thursday. He was bullish on both Levi and Constellation, but said there are far more exciting places to be than ConAgra. He suggested Walt Disney Co. DIS on the heels of the Merck news.
Finally, on Friday, all eyes will be on the latest non-farm payroll numbers, news which will tell us if people are finally starting to return to the workforce.
Executive Decision: Keurig Dr. Pepper
In his first "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Bob Gamgort, CEO of Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP) - Get Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. Report, the beverage company which just wrapped up its annual analyst day.
Gamgort said there were plenty of doubters three years ago when Keurig merged with Dr. Pepper, but since then, the company has delivered total returns of 85%. Keurig Dr. Pepper is now a holistic beverage company, he said, with brands including its namesakes as well as Mott's, Snapple, Canada Dry and more.
In addition to the $4 billion share buyback program announced today, Gamgort said the company forecasts earnings per share in the high single digits. The company plans to shift resources from debt repayments back to mergers and acquisitions, he added.
When asked about growth, Gamgort noted that 10% of his company's sales stems from direct-to-consumer e-commerce, a trend that was accelerated by the pandemic. Keurig has consistently added two million new households a year, and there are no signs that is slowing.
Executive Decision: Five9
For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also spoke with Rowan Trollope, CEO of Five9 (FIVN) - Get Five9 Inc. Report, the call center company which today announced that its shareholders rejected an acquisition offer from Zoom Video (ZM) - Get Zoom Video Communications (ZM) Report, a deal first announced in July. Shares of Five9 responded by rallying 4.7% by the close.
Trollope said that he's been in close contact with Five9's investors and they've been very supportive throughout this process. Five9 was excited to do the deal with Zoom, but Trollope said they're equally excited to continue as a stand-alone company.
Sales at Five9 continue to be strong, Trollope continued, with enterprises adopting the company's platform more than ever. They haven't been distracted by the merger, he said, and have kept their focus on their customers.
Five9 has also added a record number of new employees during this time.
Executive Decision: SolidPower
For his final "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer checked in Doug Campbell, chairman and CEO of SolidPower, the solid-state battery maker that will soon be coming public via SPAC merger with Decarbonization Plus Acquisition III.
Campbell explained that unlike other solid-state battery makers, SolidPower has already achieved industrialization of their technology. The company currently has a megawatt-hour scale assembly line that is already producing solid-state cells.
SolidPower's technology is designed to be a direct replacement for existing lithium-ion battery factories. That means companies already producing lithium-ion cells can leverage their existing infrastructure investments and easily convert to solid-state technology.
When asked about safety, Campbell explained that unlike lithium-ion cells, which may catch fire, when solid-state cells get punctured or crushed, they fail in a non-destructive manner. Solid-state cells also require less cooling and safety systems, which drives the cost of the battery pack down.
Cars, Gold, Interest Rates
In his No-Huddle Offense segment, Cramer opened the phones and took calls from viewers to hear what's on their mind. The first caller asked about Lithia Motors (LAD) - Get Lithia Motors, Inc. Class A Report and Cramer said the company is in great shape and he'd stick with it.
If investors want to be in gold, Cramer said Barrick Gold (GOLD) - Get Barrick Gold Corporation Report is the best place to be, but when it comes to utilities, he preferred American Electric Power (AEP) - Get American Electric Power Company, Inc. Report over the caller's stock of Consolidated Edison (ED) - Get Consolidated Edison, Inc. Report.
Finally, Cramer said he'd not be a buyer of Zillow (ZG) - Get Zillow Group, Inc. Class A Report going into a rate-hike environment and he was equally bearish on Palantir (PLTR) - Get Palantir Technologies Report, which has a very skittish shareholder base.
Here's what Cramer had to say about some of the stocks that callers offered up during the "Mad Money Lightning Round" Friday evening:
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