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NEW YORK (
) -- You can't start a fire without a spark, Jim Cramer told
viewers Thursday. In the case of the U.S. economy, that spark is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Cramer said Bernanke's goal is simple: keep the economy hot enough to spur hiring. But after his first round of interest rate cutting and bond buying failed, and his second round of massive bond buying also fizzled, Cramer said this time Bernanke is really pouring on the gasoline. According to the Fed's statement Thursday, it plans on keeping the economy hot enough that companies will eventually not only want to hire, they'll need to hire.
There are many things the Fed can't control, said Cramer, like the continued woes in Europe and the stalled Chinese economy. But what Bernanke can control is the U.S. housing market, by keeping interest rates super low, and the banking sector, by instilling confidence that it's OK to loan money.
Cramer said both of these actions will work off the remaining housing glut in our country and eventually stimulate home building, which is a big portion of our economy.
When home prices are rising, people feel richer, said Cramer, and that in turn will stimulate other sectors of the economy including retail and autos. He said keeping interest rates low also keeps a lid on the U.S. dollar, which helps companies that sell internationally as well.
Cramer said there are plenty of skeptics about the Fed's actions. While he's not ready to begin celebrating quite yet, he thinks things are starting to move in the right direction.
In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Michael Sutherlin, president and CEO of mining equipment maker
, a company that may be poised for a turnaround thanks to the Federal Reserve's actions.
Sutherlin said Joy Global is starting to see a bottom in both the U.S. and Chinese markets, and he feels pretty good about his company's prospects in both places. While the company still expects 2013 to be flat to down slightly from 2012 levels, Sutherlin is optimistic about his company's project flow, and it still has streamlining and cost-cutting to be done.
When asked about the Chinese market, Sutherlin explained how his company uses China's electrical generation numbers as a gauge of overall economic activity. He said the Chinese demand for electricity is growing between 5% and 6% at the moment, which is down from the 10% to 11% levels they were seeing. But after a very light spring, demand has picked up over the summer and looks good for the winter months.
Sutherlin also said that while coal-fired generators are becoming an endangered species here in the U.S., around the globe there are still hundreds of projects being built. The U.S. is also ramping up its export abilities to be able to meet that demand.
Cramer said while it still may be early for Joy Global, past performance shows that investors who get in early are the most handsomely rewarded.
Two Companies in One
Sometimes it doesn't matter how good a company is, if it's packaged wrong for investors it will never receive the value it deserves. That's why Cramer is such a fan of breakup stories, companies with disparate businesses that could unlock tremendous value if only management would decide to split themselves up.
Such is the case with
, a company that has two very different businesses under one roof.
One half that is an old-school crane business. The company makes everything from giant tower cranes to boom trucks, all of which are levered to construction and, therefore, economic growth. But the other half of Manitowoc is restaurant equipment, where the company makes things like fryers, grills and ice makers for the food service industry. That business is not cyclical, which means it appeals to a completely different investor base.
Cramer said using conservative estimates, Manitowoc's crane business could be valued at $2.5 billion, while its red-hot food service business could fetch an additional $2.5 billion. That means as a breakup possibility, the company is worth up to $5 billion.
That's far more than the $3.9 billion the market is giving the combined company, noted Cramer, and represents a 28% premium over today's prices. If management were to pull the trigger on a breakup, shareholders could profit by $4 a share almost overnight.
Here's what Cramer had to say about callers' stocks during the "Lightning Round":
: "With a 6% yield, it's attractive, but people continue selling it. I keep doing work on it to find out why they're so bearish on it."
Clean Energy Fuels
: "This is speculative. We don't have any politicians supporting natural gas."
: "It's had a very big run. I prefer a pullback."
: "It's a good one. I'm going to bless it."
Cliffs Natural Resources
: "The dividend is good. I'm going to say it's good here."
Hudson City Bancorp
: "They're getting bought. It's time to ring the register and move on."
: "It's an up stock and a great income producer."
: "I think Abbott is terrific. I've only watched it go higher."
In the Thursday "Sell Block" segment, Cramer reminded viewers that when top-level management leaves a company, they should be leaving, too.
Last Tuesday, apparel retailer
reported a blow-out quarter, but also announced its co-founder and CEO is retiring in December and leaving the company's board of directors.
This follows the company's CFO being terminated earlier this year and the company's other co-founder leaving the company in July.
Cramer said this is simply too many executives lost in too short a time and clearly signals there is likely no effective transition plan in place. Shares fell 16% on the news, but Cramer said he's still not at all comfortable investing in such a company.
, the semiconductor company that seemed unstoppable. Last Monday, the company announced its CFO is retiring -- news that sent that stock down 20 points. Cramer said this stock is also a must-sell given that it's still up big for the year.
History has shown that when executives leave, shareholders suffer. Such was the case with
. He said investors need to keep these examples in mind.
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said the great teachers never stop learning. That's why he took time out Thursday morning to learn from one of the best retailers of our time, Mickey Drexler, CEO of
( JCG). Cramer said that Drexler is the king of inventory management and has one of the best eyes for fashion out there.
According to Drexler, the recent strength in retail has been coming at the hands of deep discounting, which means the companies that are most in control of their inventory and costs are coming out the biggest winners.
Drexler also expressed doubts that
CEO Ron Johnson will be able to pull off an effective turnaround at the retail giant.
Drexler, who also sits on the board of
, took a moment to mention that he misses the late Steve Jobs but feels the company's present CEO, Tim Cook, is doing a fabulous job.
Cramer said you learn something new every day in the stock market, and he learned plenty.
--Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AAPL.
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