Keep your head up and focus on long-term plays, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday, after another roller coaster day on Wall Street. Cramer said he understands why people are scared to invest in this environment, but there are still bright spots in the market.
All eyes will of course be on tomorrow's labor report and what that might mean for the Federal Reserve and interest rates. Given all of the uncertainty, many investors are calling for the Fed to pause this month, then possibly raise rates once next year. Tomorrow's report will provide some insight on whether that may happen.
Cramer urged the Fed to not only look at jobs, but also the slowdown in homes, autos, loans, railcar loads, electricity demand, construction and high-end retail as well, just to name a few. While wages may indeed be on the rise, it's likely that immigration, rising minimum wages, a shortage of truck drivers and tariffs are all playing a part and the Fed has no control over any of those factors.
That's not to say there aren't still bargains to be had however. Kroger (KR) shares jumped 3.2% Thursday after the company said it will be increasing spending to lure shoppers. Costco (COST) also surged 3% on strong same store sales.
Executive Decision: Yum! Brands
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands (YUM) , which just wrapped up their annual investor day.
Creed said the Yum aims to turn their brands RED, which stands for relevant, easy and distinct. He said that KFC is already one of the most distinct brands out there, while Pizza Hut is become more relevant every day with new items and pricing, and Taco Bell continues to be the coolest brand with younger consumers.
Yum recently acquired online ordering service QuikOrder to help expedite the company's transition to digital ordering. Digital kiosks will be coming soon to KFC and Taco Bell locations. Delivery is also available at more than 10,000 location.
While many investors may not be aware, Yum Brands is the largest restaurant company in the world, with 46,000 locations globally and seven new locations opening across their brands every single day.
Cramer said Yum Brands is an excellent operator and its shares should be bought.
The White House doesn't seen to have a policy regarding China, Cramer told viewers. They have two China policies.
In one camp there are the trade warriors, led by Larry Kudlow. This camp simply aims to sell more goods in China, like planes, autos and farm equipment and have China be a better global trade partner by playing by the rules.
In the other camp are the cold warriors, those that aim to slow China's rise as a global superpower. Slowing, or even stopping, trade with China helps achieve this camp's overall political agenda.
Over the past few days, we saw both camps in action. The trade warriors touted progress on trade, including a pause in rising tariffs to allow for more time to work a deal. But then we also saw the arrest of a Huawei executive, the daughter of its founder, on charges the company sold American technology to Iran. Cramer said the significance of this arrest cannot be understated and is sure to be a hot topic in future negotiations.
Cramer said until we know more, the Chinese-related tech stocks need to be off limits.
Executive Decision: Ollie's Bargain Outlet
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also sat down with Mark Butler, chairman, president and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet (OLLI) , the closeout retailer that saw its shares plunge 17% today on seemingly no news. Earlier this week the company reported a 4.6% increase in same store sales.
Butler said business has never been better at Ollie's and their parking lots remain full of customers. He said the disruptions caused by the changing tariff story has created a ton of canceled and changed orders that Ollie's is now buying at great prices. "The phone keeps ringing," he added.
Ollie's recently opened their first store in Texas and has their third distribution center under construction to serve their continued expansion efforts. Ollie's now has 8.8 million active members, and Butler noted that while some have noted their recent purge of inactive members, this is something they've done every year to clean their database.
Finally, Butler noted that Ollie's has also benefitted from the demise of Toys R' Us by not only getting a lot of great inventory, but also by buying 18 former locations and acquiring several leases.
Cramer was bearish on Funko (FNKO) .
Executive Decision: U.S. Concrete
In his final "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also checked in with Bill Sandbrook, CEO of U.S. Concrete (USCR) , a stock that managed to rally 5% today, but which remains off 50% for the year.
Sandbrook said that the weather has been having a big impact this year. February was the wettest month on record in Dallas, Texas, he said, as was September, October and the year overall. Similar stories are playing out in other parts of the country as well. However, when the sun is shining, Sandbrook said U.S. Concrete is seeing record volume days and all of their business is not lost, it's only deferred into future quarters.
Looking forward, Sandbrook said there are many positives. He said many states are raising taxes in order to fund infrastructure projects the federal government is not getting done. His company has 70 major projects in their backlog, not counting Amazon's (AMZN) two new headquarters, both of which are in the "sweet spots" for U.S. Concrete. His company is also diversifying away from just concrete and adding aggregates.
Cramer said he's watching this company closely.
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