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With the prospect of another interest rate hike on the horizon, there could be more downside ahead, Jim Cramer warned his Mad Money viewers Tuesday after an overheated consumer price index number sent investors heading for the hills.
Cramer said the market has had two masters lately, oil and the Federal Reserve. But while rising oil was seen as signally global strength, today's rise in the price of rent, medical care and energy is now having an adverse effect on the stock market.
The problem is that if the Fed does take its cues from today's 0.4% rise in the CPI and raise interest rates, that will only affect housing and put more pressure on the oil stocks, which will in turn hamper production and lead to higher, not lower, oil prices.
But in the short term, Cramer said the stocks that were hardest hit were the retailers and consumer stocks. Case in point: Clorox(CLX) - Get Report , which delivered better-than-expected earnings and raised its dividend, only to see shares fall by 2%. The reason? Clorox trades at a lofty 25 times earnings but its 2.4% dividend will be no match for bonds once interest rates start rising. Add to that Clorox's rising costs due to higher energy and commodities and its valuation will be under continued pressure.
Cramer said his bottom line is that what was working yesterday no longer works today if the Fed is once again on our radar.
Off the Charts
In the "Off The Charts" segment, Cramer checked in with colleague Bob Lang over the charts of the pet care stocks, a group that continues to roar as Americans spend seemingly endless amounts of money on their pets.
First on Lang's list was PetMed Express(PETS) - Get Report , a stock that broke out two weeks ago, then hit all-time highs and is now consolidating. Lang felt this stock is only resting before continuing higher.
Next was Blue Buffalo Pet Products (BUFF) , which has been climbing on high volume since March with the MACD and Chaikin money flows both signaling the bullish move is for real. Lang felt $29 a share and beyond was possible for Blue Buffalo.
Lang was also bullish on VCA (WOOF) , which has an impressive Chaikin money flow indicator and a relative strength indicator at super bullish levels. He was equally impressed with IDEXX Laboratories(IDXX) - Get Report and Zoetis(ZTS) - Get Report , two more pet names in a strong bull market.
The pet group may be small, Cramer concluded, but it generates big profits.
Focus on Treehouse
The news is out: Amazon.com(AMZN) - Get Report is moving into the private-label food market. But does that make Treehouse Foods(THS) - Get Report , the private-label food maker that Amazon consulted with, a buy?
Cramer said there's no doubt the American consumer remains more frugal since the Great Recession. That's why so many retailers are moving towards more private-label offerings. But so far we don't know if Amazon plans on actually using Treehouse or simply consulted with them.
Treehouse is the major player in the private-label food space, Cramer said, with products in over 20 categories. The stock is also up 16% so far in 2016 after the company reported a 7-cents-a-share earnings beat and boosted its full-year guidance. The company has little competition given its scale and expertise.
That's why Cramer said he'd be a buyer of Treehouse, even trading at 22 times earnings. The company is a fast grower that consistently under-promises and over-delivers, he said, and even without Amazon the stock would be bargain. Add to that the possibility of Amazon partnering with Treehouse and the story becomes even more compelling.
Focus on Baxter
Cramer said he's always been fan of company spinoffs and breakups, as they often create instant value for shareholders. That's why the combination of Baxter's medical supply business didn't seem to mesh well with the company's pharmaceutical side.
Shortly after he proposed the breakup in in his book, Baxter announced it would indeed spin off its pharmaceutical arm as Baxalta, a company that was immediately acquired for a quick 24% gain.
But now that Baxalta is off the books, what about the remaining Baxter? The company still held a 19.5% stake in Baxalta and Baxter's stock is already up 16.5% for the year.
Cramer said with so much of healthcare coming under fire this election year, money managers are pouring money into the safe and scandal-free Baxter. The company is also still innovating, introducing 17 products last year and 21 this year. Add to that Baxter's cost-cutting efforts and expanding gross margins and Cramer said Baxter is still worth owning.
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer reminded viewers that not all stocks pull back because something is wrong with the company. Case in point: Home Depot(HD) - Get Report and TJX Stores(TJX) - Get Report , two retailers that delivered blockbuster earnings, but saw shares fall sharply with the broader markets.
Cramer said that things are still going exceptionally well at Home Depot, as home improvements and plants for your garden continue to be outside the reach of Amazon.
So, too, with TJX, which buys distressed merchandise from department stores and sells at prices that even Amazon can't match. The company's HomeGoods stores continue to grow as consumers keep investing in their homes.
Cramer said there's no hurry to own either of these stocks, but you should own them.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in stocks mentioned.