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Jim Cramer started his "Mad Money" TV show by asking his viewers if they were better off than they were four months ago when the big sell-off began. His answer: an emphatic "no."
With the exception of China, the one bright spot, Cramer said the news has been discouraging in sector after sector of the U.S. economy.
He said retail is "downright awful," with stores empty and no one buying anything. He said the auto industry is ailing and housing is awful without any serious tax credit to help homebuyers.
According to Cramer, aerospace has "fallen off a cliff," while there is softness in tech except for smartphones.
Cramer said the companies that figure to do well are those with business connections in China, which he said has $2 trillion in reserves and can do whatever it wants.
to fare well because China will be spending $40 billion on wireless infrastructure. And he said
, which he also owns for his
Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, has announced plans to build three plants in China.
Among the sectors he sees doing well are restaurant stocks such as
, which he says are benefiting from lower commodity costs, lower gasoline costs and lower labor costs.
In the health care sector, he liked the performance of
, both of which are cash rich and making their numbers.
Cramer: Riding the Rail
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Cramer said the biotech sector is showing a lot of M&A activity. He also said even investment banks are doing better, including
, which he also owns for his
Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.
Finally, he said companies in the minerals and steel group such as
, which he also owns for his
Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, and
will benefit from the voracious demand of the Chinese communists.
Cramer said the markets won't really get any better until "we are better off than we were four months ago."
A Change of Heart
Cramer has a change of heart on
, which makes stents, implantable defibrillators, pace makers and other medical devices.
He said he has strongly disliked the stock ever since he recommended a sell on it on Feb. 1, 2007 when it was at $18.33. The stock has fallen 53% since then. He said the company bit off more than it could chew when it picked up Guidant in 2006 for $27 billion in stock and cash.
But he said the company, now a $8 stock, has mounted a turnaround. He said it posted a strong fourth quarter, in which it beat analysts' estimates when it posted 21 cents a share in earnings. The company, which corners 47% of the market for stents, has seen year-to-year growth in stents move into positive territory.
Cramer said the company has $1.6 billion in cash and its next debt maturity isn't due until April 2010. Furthermore, it intends to save money by shutting down five of its 17 plants and eliminating 4,300 jobs.
Cramer offered the stock as a Valentine's stent-o-gram that will guarantee to get your heart beating.
Speculative Defense Play
Cramer offered viewers another speculative stock in the defense industry:
He said his last defense pick --
, a maker of unmanned aaerial vehicles, is up 31% since he recommended it on Oct. 28.
He said Axsys could be just as good. The company makes high performance surveillance cameras and imaging systems that are used in highway surveillance, missile tracking and unmanned drones.
He said the $830 million company sells to various defense agencies and the Border Patrol and relies on defense contracts for 90% of its sales.
He said Axsys has a number of contracts it is working on with other companies including a $2.5 billion border security contract with Saudi Arabia and a $2 billion contract to develop a system to enhance the vision of drivers.
Cramer recommended home gamers to buy it after the company's quarterly report on Wednesday. Since it is a speculative stock, he said to take some time to think about it, don't chase it if it goes higher, use limit orders and buy in small increments.
Cramer was bullish on
Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions
SPDR Gold Shares
He was bearish on
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At the time of publication, Cramer was long Goldman Sachs, Pepsico and Freeport McMoRan.
Jim Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for
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