Today was the kick-off of CNBC's annual Stock Draft Contest, but Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers that investing isn't a contest. According to the Stock Draft contest rules, contestants are allowed to pick just three stocks which they must hold for the next nine months. As fun as these contests are, Cramer said, these rules encourage a "swing for the fences" approach that's not suitable for regular investing.
There are different rules for a four-week trade vs. a four-year investment, Cramer said. But no matter what your time frame, doing your homework, maintaining a diversified portfolio and buying in increments -- especially as a stock is heading lower -- will never go out of style.
Many people say stock picking isn't worth the trouble and that, indeed, funds are better. Cramer agreed that index funds have their place in the investing landscape, especially for those who lack the time or inclination to do their homework. But stock picking is most certainly still in style and a great way to beat the averages.
Among the many portfolios announced in the Stock Draft today, Cramer said the Beardstown Ladies team had interesting choices with Alibaba (BABA) - Get Report , Biogen Idec (BIIB) - Get Report and Visa (VISA) as their picks. He also felt mentalist Oz Pearlman's contest portfolio, which included Walt Disney Co. (DIS) - Get Report , Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report and bitcoin, also had potential.
Of all the portfolios, however, Cramer told viewers to keep their eye on last year's winner, as he may be poised for a repeat performance with Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report , Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - Get Report as his three picks.
Cramer and the AAP team are focusing on earnings this week, especially Facebook (FB) - Get Report and Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report . 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: Align Technologies
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Joe Hogan, president and CEO of Align Technologies (ALGN) - Get Report , a stock Cramer told viewers to sell two months amid worries about new competition. Cramer said that call proved to be dead wrong, as those fears were unfounded and shares have rallied 20% since their February lows.
Hogan said when it comes to their business, it's all about supply and demand. Align currently represents only 10% of the overall orthodontic market and the company still has lots more room to run. Customers continue to choose their products over the competition and the company has the right technology and the operational expertise to execute.
When asked about today's news that rival Smile Direct is partnering with CVS Health (CVS) - Get Report , Hogan noted that the partnerships is just one of many between retail and healthcare recently and that trend is only likely to continue. He said there's room for both Smile Direct and Align to grow and Align has key differentiating factors, including the involvement of a dentist in the treatment process.
Cramer said he was wrong to doubt Align's strong position against its rivals. Align, he said, is just better.
On Real Money, Cramer keys in on the companies and CEOs he knows best. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Centene
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Michael Neidorff, chairman and CEO of Centene (CNC) - Get Report , the health plan provider that just posted a five-cents-a-share earnings beat, but still trades at just 10 times earnings.
Neidorff reiterated that the Affordable Care Act is working. He said Centene services over two million people who love the program. Everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare, he said, and Centene works hard to keep costs low by making sure problems are addressed correctly the first time.
When asked about the rhetoric in Washington, especially among those on the campaign trial, regarding a single payer system or Medicare for all, Neidorff said Centene believes in sound public policy, not politics. He said politicians know they can motivate people to vote with fear, which causes overreactions to things that often aren't big problems. He said the big problems are providing people with wages they can live on, and not be in poverty, and giving them access to healthcare they can afford.
Finally, when asked about rumors Centene may be forced to exit some markets, Neidorff said they are not losing any markets. In fact, he noted, they are gaining markets and expanding in other markets like Michigan and Kentucky.
IPOs Worth Their Weight
The market is being flooded with new IPOs, Cramer told viewers, but very few of these deals are worth chasing at these sky-high levels.
Cramer has been cautioning viewers for weeks that the onslaught of new IPOs is putting pressure on the market. That's because every time a hot IPO debuts, money managers need to sell something in order to raise cash. And while it's true that the average IPO in 2019 is up 20% from its offering price, for those forced to buy in the open market, those gains fall to just 2% on average.
Cramer once again sounded off against the sky-high valuations of last week's offerings of Pinterest (PINS) - Get Report and Zoom Meetings (ZM) - Get Report . He said both companies are "ridiculously overvalued." But that's not the case with Jumia Technologies (JMIA) - Get Report , which is up 89% from its IPO just two weeks ago. Cramer said this African online marketplace has lots of room to grow, and he'd be a buyer on weakness.
As for the rest, Cramer said he's not been overly impressed and only hopes the flow of new deals begins to slow.
Delivering for Chipotle
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said the best executive hire in recent memory was initially the most surprising -- that of Brian Niccol as CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) - Get Report .
Cramer said Niccol, the former head of Taco Bell, seemed an unlikely fit for the natural and organic Chipotle. But Niccol has been playing offense and the the numbers show it's working. Niccol has been making Chipotle culturally relevant again while increasing engagement and visibility. He's been digitizing and modernizing the entire operation, ushering in the ability for delivery and catering via a second line that doesn't interrupt in-store dining. Speaking of in-store dining, Niccol has increased throughput, all while adding a new level of accountability and creativity.
Cramer applauded Niccol's efforts with a "job well done."
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) - Get Report , DexCom (DXCM) - Get Report , Tandem Diabetes Care (TNDM) - Get Report , HCA Healthcare (HCA) - Get Report , Herman Miller (MLHR) - Get Report , Tractor Supply (TSCO) - Get Report and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT) - Get Report .
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in FB, MSFT, DIS, GS, NVDA, CVS.