Our economy is starting to run too fast, and it's getting hot out there, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday. If it keeps going like this, someone's going to get hurt. That's because a fast-growing economy breeds inflation, which in turn forces the Federal Reserve to aggressively raise interest rates to slow it.
How can investors take the temperature of the economy? Cramer said to look no further than the non-farm payroll numbers, which have been tepid at best. In fact, this week's jobless claims were the lowest we've seen since 1969.
But April may be an outlier, as many retailers have noted. Poor weather in much of the country has caused a surge in business so far in May and, Cramer said, he's seeing inflation in other areas, like oil, lumber and his personal barometer, corrugated cardboard, the kind used in all those Amazon.com (AMZN) boxes.
Speaking of Amazon, Cramer said the reason he's not overly worried about this inflation, at least not yet, is because of the "digital deflation" caused by Amazon, the cloud, and all of technology. These anti-inflation forces are strong, he said, as more and more companies are doing more with far less than they used to.
So as the market enters a "good news is bad news" environment, investors need to stat keeping a close eye on just how fast the economy is sprinting.
Speaking of running, Cramer and the AAP team are talking about PepsiCo (PEP) and competition in the sports drink space. 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: Canopy Growth Corp.
In his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Bruce Linton, chairman, president and CEO of the Canadian-based Canopy Growth Corp., which has applied to be the first cannabis company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Canopy hopes to be listed under the ticker "CGC".
Linton explained that his company has both a medical division and a recreation division. On the recreation side, he expects his company's partnership with Constellation Brands (STZ) , which owns a 9.9% stake in the company, to result in a whole new class of low-calorie beverages with all sorts of possibilities. On the medical front, the possibilities are also only beginning to emerge.
Canopy's products are current sold by over 1,000 pharmacies in Germany, and Linton said there is still much work to be done pairing cannabis products with oncology treatments, for example, to help with not only pain, but also loss of appetite.
Linton even sees potential in the red-hot animal health market. He said ithas been proven that dogs feel pain as they age and Canopy hopes to develop products to help with pain, mobility and other symptoms as well.
Cramer said Canopy Growth is a real company with real earnings.
Expectations Aren't Great
Nothing's more lethal than great expectations, Cramer reminded viewers, as he highlighted the stunning change of fortunes for three housing-related stocks, Masco (MAS) , Owens Corning (OC) and Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) .
After soaring in 2017, shares of Masco and Stanley Black & Decker have fallen 19%, with Owens Corning down 30% so far this year. Cramer said the culprit was expectations. When expectations are too high, it's not enough to just meet the estimates, he said, you need to blow them away and give investors something new to look forward to.
That didn't happen in the first quarter. While all three companies posted solid results, they simply weren't enough to impress Wall Street. Then came rising interest rates and commodity costs to dampen expectations even more. When the trio posted earnings this quarter, Stanley Black & Decker only met expectations, with Masco missing by five cents a share. Owens Corning posted the worst results of the bunch, helping it lead the group to the downside.
Cramer said while these stocks are inexpensive, trading at 15 times earnings for Stanley Black & Decker, 13 times for Masco and 10 times for Owens Corning, they're not cheap given the challenging environment. Only Stanley Black & Decker would receive his recommendation, as it's the least levered to new housing.
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer explored whether there's any value in owing a homebuilder or a consumer packaged goods stock in the current environment. Most of the home builders are off 20% for the year, while the CPG companies are off 30%. Only Estee Lauder (EL) has bucked this trend, but that company is seen as aspirational brand and not as a consumer stock.
When it comes to the homebuilders, Cramer said the simple fact is that interest rates are rising and no money manager will buck the business cycle no matter how good the earnings are. The CPG companies offer some yield protection, but with commodity costs on the rise, there's little hope these companies can save themselves, either.
Cramer concluded that there are easier ways to make money than with these two group, which is why he'd take a pass.
Over on Real Money, Cramer says some of these stocks are exploding. And you do not want to get hit by one of them. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Trinseo
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Chris Pappas, president and CEO of chemical maker Trinseo S.A. (TSE) .
Pappas said that demand for their products remains strong around the globe and Trinseo is on track to have record sales for its third year in a row. When asked about the effect of President Trump's trade war with China, Pappas explained that while about 20% of sales come from China, most of their products are made locally in China, so they're not affected by trade talks.
Turning to the headwinds of rising commodity costs, Pappas explained that their operating rate drives their earnings, not the price of oil. Most of their products operate on fixed margins, where price increases are simply passed onto their customers.
When asked about their use of cash, Pappas said Trinseo remains committed to returning cash to shareholders through buybacks, but they also plan to continue investing in their business.
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