There's a reason so many investors keep coming back to tech stocks, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday. Earnings. Solid, raw, organic earnings are what matters most, and while tech may not be the only game in town, they sure know how to play.
Why is tech so special? Cramer directed viewers' attention to Nike (NKE) - Get Report , the athletic apparel giant that has been defying the odds for decades. That was, until the past few months, when Nike began to lose its edge in the U.S. and today announced layoffs.
Then there's Kroger (KR) - Get Report , the best-in-class grocery store chain that today slashed forecasts, sending shares plummeting 18.8% on Thursday. This reliable earner is reliable no more, Cramer said.
Still other examples include Nucor (NUE) - Get Report , the Action Alerts PLUS holding that fell 7.6% on Thursday, Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) - Get Report , down 2.5%, and Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) , off 2.3%.
But there aren't any shortfalls in tech, Cramer said, at least not yet, as these companies are riding a wave of innovation that's lifting the entire sector. Even Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report , which received a downgrade today, is both consistent and inexpensive.
OnReal Money, Cramer says that while tech has become a curse word of late, don't forget those reasons why so many clamor for it. Get more of his insights and a free trial subscription to Real Money.
For years, Rent-A-Center had been a consistent growth stock, with over 3,000 locations nationwide and a growing customer base that preferred the company's installment plans to buying merchandise outright. But over the past four years, sales have been falling off a cliff, sending shares down 70% from their highs.
In 2016, activist investor Engaged Capital took a stake in the company and urged a sale. They argued that taking the company private would be the best way to fix Rent-A-Center's problems, which a stagnant board of directors seemingly had no ability to fix. Engaged was then backed up by another activist firm, Marcato Capital, which helped it secure three board seats on June 8.
So with the activists in charge, should investors jump into the stock hoping for a quick sale of the company? Cramer reminded viewers that he never recommends speculating on a takeover or a sale when the fundamentals are bad. In the case of Rent-A-Center, sales are continuing to decline, which will only make it harder to find a buyer willing to pay up for damaged goods.
In the end, Cramer said he doesn't want to own, or even rent, shares of Rent-A-Center. It's just too risky.
Buy Groceries, but Don't Invest in Them
Mark today in the books: it's the day the grocery business became uninvestable, just like the department stores.
Cramer said that today's 18.8% decline in Kroger, what had otherwise been a fantastic company, proves that the grocery business is now a race to the bottom. While that may be great for consumers, it's toxic for shareholders. Kroger management said it best on the company's conference call, they see more competition coming for the foreseeable future.
The grocery business already ran on razor-thin gross margins and that's when they were only competing with other grocers. But then Costco (COST) - Get Report entered the grocery space, followed by the high-end organic chains like Whole Foods Market (WFM) and Trader Joe's. That was followed by Walmart (WMT) - Get Report and Target (TGT) - Get Report and then the dollars stores, the drug stores and well, you get the picture. And that's not even mentioning the elephant in the room, Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report .
No one wins with this much competition, Cramer concluded, which is why, as of today, investors need to steer clear of the grocery sector.
Executive Decision: Patterson-UTI Energy
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Mark Siegel, chairman of Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) - Get Report , a stock which is off 30% from its highs as oil prices have continued to decline.
Siegel said that Patterson has always maintained a solid balance sheet for downturns like these, which is why they were able to complete the acquisition of Seventy-Seven Energy to help bolster their business.
Much of Patterson's success stems from so-called "super-spec" rigs, which are the gear to use when you need to drill deep or complicated wells, some of which may travel as much as a mile down and extend horizontally for two miles. Currently, there are 425 super-spec rigs and over 90% are being utilized.
When asked about oil prices, Siegel said that "$50 is the new $80," meaning that many oil drillers can now make money with oil at current levels, where previously they needed much higher prices. $50 oil is not good for offshore or international drilling, he added, but shale oil works just fine. That's why Patterson has seen their rig counts rising for 12 consecutive months, despite the falling price of crude.
Cramer said that Patterson is making all of the right moves.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on HP (HPQ) - Get Report , Coach (COH) , Kate Spade (KATE) , Cloudera (CLDR) - Get Report , Western Digital (WDC) - Get Report , Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) - Get Report and XPO Logistics (XPO) - Get Report .
Cramer was bearish on Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT) - Get Report , Crestwood Equity Partners (CEQP) - Get Report , Transocean (RIG) - Get Report , 3D Systems (DDD) - Get Report , Michael Kors (KORS) , FedEx (FDX) - Get Report , Micron Technology (MU) - Get Report and Pandora Media (P) .
Am I Diversified?
In the "Am I Diversified" segment, Cramer spoke with callers and responded to tweets sent via Twitter to @JimCramer to see if investors' portfolios have what it takes for today's markets. The first portfolio included Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report , Apple (APPL) , Cisco Systems (CSCO) - Get Report , EPR Properties (EPR) - Get Report and Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Report .
The second portfolio's top holdings included Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) - Get Report , Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report , Intel (INTC) - Get Report and Viewray (VRAY) - Get Report .
Cramer and the Actions Alerts PLUS team say they're confident in their oil stocks. Find out what they're telling their investment club members about Magellan Midstream (MMP) - Get Report and Dow Chemical (DOW) - Get Report . Get in on the conversation with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
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At the time of publication, Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had positions in MMP, DOW, NUE, GOOGL, WDC, CSCO, AAPL, PEP.