Forget the market's double standard, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Monday. A slow and steady rally is just as credible as a rapid decline. Cramer said the notion that every decline is genuine but every rally is suspect is, frankly, absurd. He gave five reasons why the market deserves to go higher.
First, companies are surpassing analysts' expectations. Cramer said he heard many analysts struggling to adjust their models to the new normal this quarter.
Second, the earnings have been very strong. Going into this quarter's earnings reporting period, stocks traded at 18 times earnings on average. Now they trade at just 16 times earnings.
Cramer's third reason that this is a legitimate rally is the bevy of buybacks. Companies like Citigroup (C) have pledged to retire 7% of their stock this year. That matters.
Fourth? Takeovers. We've seen a number of mega-mergers over the past few weeks and are setting a record pace so far this year. Finally, Cramer said, the results have overtaken many of the biggest skeptics, which means short-sellers are buying in to cover their failed bets.
That's not to say that in some areas there's not too much hype. Cramer said he hates hype, especially today's analyst quip that shares of Tesla (TSLA) could increase not by 20%, but by 20 times their current value. Hype like that, Cramer said, is madness.
Cramer and the AAP team say they're trimming Eli Lilly (LLY) and adding WestRock (WRK) and Textron (TXT) . 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.
Shaken by Shake Shack
One of the most stunning upside surprises this quarter was Shake Shack (SHAK) , Cramer told viewers. Shares of the high-end burger chain shot up 18% in a single session thanks to a 1.2% increase in same-store sale. But does that mean the stock is still a buy?
Cramer explained that since Shake Shack's IPO in 2015, the problem with the stock has been its sky-high valuation. As the company grew, it struggled with the law of large numbers and saw its growth rate steadily decline. After posting same-store sales growth of 13.3% in 2015, growth slowed to 4.2% in 2016 and fell by 1.2% last year.
But this quarter, Shake Shack surprised Wall Street with a 1.7% increase in same-store sales and a rosy outlook for the rest of 2018.
Cramer said Shake Shack once again trades at a lofty 79 times earnings, far higher than, say, McDonald's (MCD) at 20 times earnings.
Even if you valued Shake Shack as a tech stock, at 3.7 times sales, it would rival Spotify (SPOT) . Cramer told viewers who caught the stock's rapid rise to take profits, as it will be hard for the company to maintain the momentum, even if their burgers are delicious.
Executive Decision: ForeScout
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Michael DeCesare, president and CEO of ForeScout Technologies (FSCT) , the cybersecurity company that just posted strong earnings with revenues up 42% year-over-year. Shares of ForeScout are up 6.2% for the year.
DeCesare explained that there's been a fundamental shift in the way corporate networks are managed. It used to be that administrators were able to control what devices were on their network, but today, with the "bring your own device" movement and now the Internet of things, it's impossible to keep up.
ForeScout's software monitors everything on a company's network, he said, and will de-authorize any device that's not doing what it's supposed to. From phones and tablets to thermostats and cameras and especially legacy devices, ForeScout keeps an eye on them all.
DeCesare addled that ForeScout partners with all of the major cybersecurity players and is part of an integrated security solution.
Executive Decision: SS&C Technologies
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Bill Stone, chairman and CEO of SS&C Technologies (SSNC) , the financial services automation provider with shares that are up 20% for the year. SS&C just completed a $5.4 billion acquisition of rival DST Systems.
Stone explained that SS&C provides a host of services for securities providers, including back-office functions, trading, modeling and risk analysis. He said all of the best funds use outside providers for these services and many of them are "common sense" for those in the industry.
When asked about the DST deal, Stone admitted they did add a lot of debt to their balance sheet, but his company has a great track record of paying down their debt and SS&C generates tremendous cash flow.
Cramer said SS&C is a great company that helps protect investors.
Now that President Trump's stance on Chinese phone maker ZTE is softening, there's a chance China may reconsider Broadcom's (AVGO) proposed merger with Qualcomm (QCOM) . That could light a fire under the semiconductor sector, Cramer said, as this group is bundled as a group in many ETFs.
Over on Real Money, Cramer takes a close look at moves in semiconductor stocks. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Align Technology (ALGN) , Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) (BRK.B) , Criticare Systems Inc. (CMD) , Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) , IAC Interactive (IAC) and CoreSite Realty (COR) .
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in LLY, WRK, TXT, C, AAPL, NVDA.