Are investors looking at our economy all wrong? Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Wednesday that with all of the focus on manufacturing and trade, we're losing sight of what's most important -- consumer spending.
This is a classic situation of not being able to see the forest through the trees, Cramer explained. The president may grab all of the headlines talking about tariffs and trade, but our economy is still dominated by consumers, and consumer spending was front and center in this quarter's earnings.
Nearly every retailer posted monster gains this quarter, including Target (TGT) , Kohl's (KSS) , TJX Companies (TJX) , Home Depot (HD) and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) . Target saw a monster 6.5% boost in same-store sales in what management called the best consumer environment they've ever seen.
How did Wall Street analysts not see this move coming? Cramer said first, it's because they incorrectly assumed that a slowdown in housing equated to a slowdown in spending. It doesn't.
Next, they also assumed that Amazon (AMZN) was going to take over the world. Yet off-price retailers, home goods retailers, auto parts and drugstores have all largely been unaffected thus far.
Finally, Wall Street got it wrong because, yes, millennials. Younger consumers continue to spend money on accessories, video games, experiences and more.
Don't Be Distracted by Politics
Political turmoil is again dominating our headlines, Cramer told viewers, but that doesn't mean they will have any meaningful impact on the quarterly earnings of your favorite companies.
Cramer said that for as worrisome as yesterday's headlines were for President Trump, given the political landscape, he will likely remain untouchable for the rest of his term. That said, a weakened president typically means a weakened U.S. dollar, and that could actually be a good thing for our multi-national companies.
"What does all of this mean for the earnings of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) ," as well as the earnings for most other companies you follow?, Cramer asked. Well, not much, as most political events like these have historically been brushed aside by investors.
Over on Real Money, Cramer explains what he thinks about investing decisions based on politics. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
'Bad Blood,' the Tale of Theranos
In a special interview, Cramer sat down with John Carreyrou, investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal and the author of the new book, "Bad Blood," which details the story of Theranos, and its charismatic CEO, Elizabeth Holmes.
Carreyrou first reported on the Theranos case in October 2015 and has followed the investigation, which has led to 11 counts of fraud, and evidence of efforts to both defraud investors and also doctors and patients about tests that simply didn't exist. Carreyrou said he doesn't think Holmes started off with a plan to commit fraud, but after her technology ran into setback after setback, she chose to lie rather than admit the truth.
In the end, Theranos went live with tests that did not use the company's own technology, but rather diluted samples so they could be used with existing technology. The result was the voiding of one million tests, an event which endangered the public health.
Carreyrou continued by saying he feels Holmes suffers from "noble cause syndrome" where the ends justify the means, even if that means defrauding the public and your investors over the short term.
Purr-fect Investing Ideas
The bull market in pet-related products rages on, Cramer told viewers, so much so that he felt compelled to create the "Mad Money Humanization of Pets Index," a fictional ETF to track this powerful theme.
Then there was Central Garden & Pet (CENT) , Pet IQ (PETQ) , a guest segment on Tuesday night's episode, and PetMed Express (PETS) . Cramer said he's weighting each of these companies at 10% of the index.
Finally, there were the tangential pet companies, including General Mills (GIS) , which owns Blue Buffalo. Cramer gave General Mills 8% of the index. Lastly, Henry Schein (HSIC) , JM Smucker (SJM) and Walmart (WMT) , our nation's largest pet supply retailer.
How would you have done investing in the Mad Money Pet Index? Based on the current mix, you'd be up 30% so far in 2018 and 144% over the past three years.
Cramer and the AAP team have the industrials in focus, including Honeywell (HON) , Emerson Electric (EMR) and 3M (MMM) . 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.
Executive Decision: Exact Sciences
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Kevin Conroy, CEO of Exact Sciences (EXAS) , a stock which soared 30.5% Wednesday after the company announced a partnership with Pfizer (PFE) to help market ColoGuard, the company's at-home test for colon cancer.
Conroy explained that every year 50,000 people die from colon cancer, a preventable and curable disease if caught early. Yet, two out of every five Americans have still not been screened for colon cancer. Big problems call for big solutions, Conroy said, and Pfizer brings the resources and the credibility for Exact Sciences to reach their goal of 10 million screenings a year.
Currently, ColoGuard only has 3% market share, Conroy said, and that's why Pfizer is the perfect partner to help spread the word to doctors and patients.
When asked about other products in their pipeline, Conroy said they're very excited about a new test which can detect 95% of liver cancers with a simple blood draw. He said the test could be a game changer, as liver cancer has thus far been difficult to detect.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in HON, EMR, MMM, KSS, AMZN, AMGN.