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If was seven years ago today the stock market hit rock bottom, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Wednesday, and since that generational low in 2009, the market caught fire and hasn't looked back. That's why Cramer took a few minutes to recap the top stocks since the bottom.
Cramer said the top stock, General Growth Properties (GGP) , which is up 9,975% since 2009, was not a household name that most investors would recognize. However, numbers two through four -- Regeneron (REGN) - Get Report , Under Armour (UA) - Get Report and Wyndham Worldwide (WYN) -- were all hiding in plain sight.
Extra Space Storage (EXR) - Get Report was another big winner investors may have missed, but moving down the list to Priceline (PCLN) , Signet Jewelers (SIG) - Get Report and semiconductor maker Qorvo (QRVO) - Get Report , were easy to spot. Rounding out the top 15 were United Airlines (UAL) - Get Report , L Brands (LB) - Get Report and Cramer fave Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report , also household names.
Cramer said he still endorses owning a good index fund as a way to get into stocks, but as all of these top stocks show, finding real gems with outstanding performance isn't out of reach for even the smallest investor.
One-Dimensional 3D Systems
Cramer noted the 3-D printing stocks were on fire in the post-recession era, with 3D Systems rallying 910% between 2012 and 2014, only to round-trip and give back all of those gains.
What went wrong? Cramer said 3D Systems was on an acquisition binge, buying no fewer than 16 companies in 2011 and 2012. That was a red flag for Wall Street because the company was simply buying its growth.
The strategy at 3D Systems was to buy up all of the talent in the industry, a strategy that went wrong very fast when company management admitted that it didn't care about profits or margins and simply planned to continue spending money on more acquisitions.
By 2015, 3D Systems finally abandoned its losing strategy of buying up everything in sight, and its interim CEO is giving investors new hope for a recovery. Cramer said he's not among the bulls in this case because this company has shown little that it’s on the road to recovery.
Every portfolio needs to have a little gold, Cramer reminded viewers. For those who like to play it safe, he continued to recommend the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) - Get Report , but for those with a higher risk profile, he said you can't do better than Randgold Resources (GOLD) - Get Report .
The catalyst for owning gold is a continuing outflow of money from China, Cramer explained. All of that money needs to go somewhere, he said, and the safe haven it's heading to is gold.
So why Randgold? Cramer said it's because Randgold is the best-run gold miner in existence, with a pristine balance sheet and the know-how to operate in areas of the world others wouldn't dare.
Randgold shares have been so strong of late that not even five analyst downgrades had an impact. The first downgrade came on Oct 26 of last year, Cramer noted, when shares traded at $71. Today, five downgrades later, they're at $91 a share.
While the bears have trouble justifying a 28 times earnings multiple, Cramer said the simple fact is that when interest rates fall gold does better, and right now is a perfect time to add the precious metal to your portfolio.
Executive Decision: Bob Dutkowsky
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Bob Dutkowsky, CEO of TechData (TECD) - Get Report , which just posted a 20-cents-a-share earnings beat with robust guidance that helped propel its stock to a 15% gain for the year.
Dutkowsky explained that distributors like TechData were once the enemy of major tech companies, which opted to sell their products themselves. Now, he said, distributors are once again being embraced as they are the most effective way to move products around the globe.
What makes TechData so successful? Dutkowsky said it's the flexibility to pivot to the hottest products while at the same time moving away from those that are not. Tablets were all the rage a few years ago, Dutkowsky explained, but now laptops are back and TechData is well positioned for that demand.
When asked about the hottest areas of tech, Dutkowsky said he's excited about the prospects for the connected home, a category that's only just beginning.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Blackstone Group (BX) - Get Report , Nucor (NUE) - Get Report , Alcoa (AA) - Get Report , Occidental Petroleum (OXY) - Get Report , Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Report , Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) - Get Report , Darden Restaurants (DRI) - Get Report and Verizon (VZ) - Get Report .
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer asked, when will stocks finally get their due? When will money managers stop seeing rallies as only short-term interludes in a larger bear market?
Many money managers remain bearish on oil, for example, but many of the oil stocks have seen their secondary offerings gobbled up by the market, taking bankruptcy off the table.
Cramer said money isn't leaving the stock market, it's only rotating to different sectors. There's always a bull market somewhere, Cramer reminded viewers, even when it's hard to find in a world with slowing growth and a Federal Reserve that's fighting against you.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in SBUX.