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"Guilty until proven innocent" was today's market theme, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Wednesday. You could look at the overall market or on a case-by-case basis but the overall sense is you may be in the right company in the right sector but at the wrong time -- found guilty by association.
Case in point: Valeant (VRX) has become the poster boy of higher drugs prices and both houses of Congress want to investigate it and other drug companies. Valeant was down another 6% at today's close.
So investors in other stocks that own pricey drugs -- like Allergan (AGN) - Get Report , a holding in Cramer's charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS -- got spooked and dumped shares regardless of whether the drug companies are going well or not.
Then there are the media stocks. CBS (CBS) - Get Report reported Tuesday and CEO Les Moonves raved about rising ad rates and the benefits of its hit shows and sports programming. The whole sector rose -- until Time Warner (TWX) dropped a bomb on its midmorning conference call, lowered its forecast and gave a sucker-punch to the industry. Even Disney (DIS) - Get Report , which reports Thursday, got slammed by association despite its more diverse business.
If you're a trader, you have to join the fray on guilt-by-association days like today. But if you're an investor, wait three to five days for the punishment to ride out and then pick up high-quality plays trading on a discount.
Executive Decision: Brent Saunders
In his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke to Allergan CEO Brend Saunders. The company, reportedly in talks to be taken over by Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report , reported a 29-cents earnings beat. Even if Pfizer walks away, Allergan retains terrific earnings power, Cramer said.
Is the company for sale? Saunders wouldn't comment on that but he did say his company recently agreed to sell its generic drugs business to Teva (TEVA) - Get Report , expected to close in the first quarter, so it can focus on branded drugs.
As for drug prices, the controversy is nothing new, Saunders said. "We're in the innovation business," Saunders said. Pharmaceutical companies have a social contract to invest money in R&D and raise prices in a responsible way while growing the business for shareholders. All of those things can live in harmony and do, in the vast majority of the industry.
As for the company's marquee drug, Botox, Saunders said it is the number-one branded pharmaceutical in the world but was dragged down by the strong dollar. There are still millions of dollars of opportunities in the pipeline.
Cramer called Allergan the drug company of the future.
As China Goes, so Goes Our Market
Has fear fled industrial and oil stocks? Cramer asked. After being stuck in an intense bear market since the last days of August they've been rallying pretty furiously, regardless of relatively anemic earnings reports. What caused those stocks to bottom and then come roaring back to life?
Simple: The Chinese stock market. It finally stopped going down. China's markets are up more than 18% since then.
The Chinese government won its war against short-sellers, arrested people for telling the truth about stocks and managed to shut down insider selling, Cramer said. They backstopped every stock that could take the Shanghai Composite down. The amazing earnings in China by AAP holdings Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report and Apple (AAPL) - Get Report as well as Alibaba (BABA) - Get Report show that the Chinese consumer has come roaring back.
Executive Decision: Richard Fain
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer talked to Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) - Get Report CEO Richard Fain. Royal Caribbean beat third-quarter earnings estimates by 13 cents. Its net yield -- how much it received from passengers -- was up 5.1% on a constant currency basis. More important, the company announced a $500 million accelerated buyback.
Fain spoke to Cramer from the deck of its Anthem of the Seas ship, which he said provides all sorts of activities, from surfing to skydiving.
Why are people flocking to cruises? The food is better, with more alternatives, Fain said. People have begun to realize that you can go new places without having to pace and unpack. It's also a great value that people used to think was too expensive.
Fain said that cruising appeared for the first time recently in China's five-year plan for economic development, a relatively novel development for the company where the growth has been tremendous, about 45% annually over the last three years. "It took us 10 years to get here, but we're ready to build on that success," Fain said of China.
Executive Decision: Walter Robb
In a third "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer talked to Whole Foods (WFM) co-CEO Walter Robb. The company's stock, down 39% for the year to date, fell Wednesday after reporting weaker-than-expected third-quarter revenue and negative same-store sales growth. Guidance came in well below what analysts were expecting.
Robb admitted it was a tough quarter. "We have eight million customers a week coming into stores," he said, and the company's recent announcement of $1 billion in share repurchases is proof of confidence in the steps the company knows it needs to take. He thinks the stock is a good buy at this level.
The strategy will be to strategically reduce prices, as well as communicate Whole Foods' differences from other markets selling natural foods while aggressively promoting its quality standards and transparencies.
He acknowledged the company will have to adjust to a more competitive marketplace that seemed to have sprung up overnight. However, Whole Foods is positioned to evolve in new ways, including its new 365 by Whole Foods concept of smaller stores with easier in-and-out options.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AAPL, AGN and SBUX.