It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the most shorted stocks can lead the markets higher. That was Jim Cramer's assessment of Wednesday's market action. Cramer told his Mad Money viewers that just four unlikely stocks helped keep the bears at bay today.
In order to short a stock, sellers must first borrow shares to sell, Cramer explained. When it's time to close out their position, short sellers must then buy back and return the shares they borrowed.
That means when written-off and left-for-dead companies surprise to the upside, the shorts can be caught off guard, which causes a lot of forced buying.
Snap has been missing estimates ever since the company came public, but this quarter was a blowout, Cramer said, with the company announcing that profitability may be "within reach," sending shares soaring 22%. Meanwhile, Capri Holdings, formerly Michael Kors, has a portfolio of brands that have never looked stronger, which is why its shares also skyrocketed 11.3%.
The New York Times Amy be the butt of jokes at the White House, but the subscription economy is for real, and Cramer said that helped the Times gain 10.3% by the close. Finally, there was Skyworks Solutions, the iPhone supplier that goes down every time Apple (AAPL) - Get Report shares fall. But Cramer said there's a lot more to Skyworks than iPhones, the company is also a big winner in the coming 5G wireless.
So while it may seem strange the the market can be led by short sellers covering their losses, that's exactly what happened today.
Cramer and the AAP team are focusing on earnings this week. 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.
Can investors profit from the ongoing trade wars with China? Cramer uncovered one way, and that's cybersecurity and who owns the upcoming 5G wireless infrastructure.
For years, the Chinese companies of Huawei and ZTE have been undercutting their global rivals on price, taking market share. But as it became clear both companies have close ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese military, questions began to arise about the possibility of spying using this most sensitive of network infrastructure.
In just the past year, the CIA has issued warnings on equipment provided by both companies and banks have been put into place at military and other sensitive installations. There have been calls to have the European Union follow suit to protect NATO as well. Here in the U.S., both Huawei and ZTE have been shut out of the 5G market altogether.
Who benefits from the downfall of Huawei and ZTE? Cramer said it's hard to believe, but that would be Nokia (NOK) - Get Report and Ericsson (ERIC) - Get Report , two stocks he hasn't recommend since 1997. Both stocks have been underperforming for years, Cramer said, mainly because they were being undercut on price by China. But with fewer and fewer companies willing to take the risk, both Ericsson and Nokia could be big winners as 5G wireless is deployed worldwide.
Of the two, Cramer said he's betting on Nokia, which has a better portfolio of products.
Poised to Profit from 5G
The 5G wireless buildout is finally here, Cramer told viewers, and Nokia and Ericsson aren't the only ways to profit. Cramer said there are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake and there are plenty of companies that will be winners.
Skyworks Solutions had been struggling as of late, but with shares trading at just 12 times earnings, Cramer said this stock has a long run ahead of it thanks to 5G. The same applies to Intel (INTC) - Get Report , which makes chips for a lot more than just PCs.
Cramer was also bullish on Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Report , makers of all things 5G, and Broadcom (AVGO) - Get Report , which also has 5G exposure and shares that trade for just 10 times earnings and are a terrific opportunity, especially on a pullback.
Over on Real Money, Cramer's says the shoppers are on Google, not on Fifth Avenue. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Centene
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Michael Neidorff, chairman and CEO of Centene (CNC) - Get Report , the health plan provider with shares that lost 1% after the company posted a six-cents-a-share earnings beat with revenues up 29% year-over-year.
Neidorff said he didn't understand the market's reaction to the quarter, as his company beat on every line item this quarter. He reminded investors that Centene's stock will be splitting 2:1 starting tomorrow, making it easier for retail investors to buy their shares.
When asked about the mood in Washington, Neidorff said they remain very active in Washington, promoting the message that we need to move the conversation form politics to sound policies that will benefit the American people. He said the single-payer systems proposed by some in Washington are simply too expensive for our country to afford.
Finally, turning to the topic of technology, Neidorff said he's all in favor of new technologies like the Apple Watch to help patients monitor their health. He said Centene is also doing their own predictive analysis to help make people aware if they might be at risk for certain medical conditions.
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said there's one big takeaway from listening to the conference calls of Clorox (CLX) - Get Report , Ralph Lauren (RL) - Get Report and Estee Lauder (EL) - Get Report . Advertising is all about digital and direct-to-consumer, which are both code for Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report , Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report and Facebook (FB) - Get Report .
Cramer said all three companies talked about their online advertising spending this quarter and Alphabet's Google is the place Clorox is putting their money. Ralph Lauren is also moving more ad dollars to digital and social channels, while Estee Lauder is relying more on celebrity influencers to expand the reach of its brand.
It's no wonder Google saw 22% revenue growth, Cramer concluded, which is why he continues to recommend the stock.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Yeti Holdings (YETI) - Get Report , Canada Goose (GOOS) - Get Report , Idexx Laboratories (IDXX) - Get Report , Zoetis (ZTS) - Get Report , Wix.com (WIX) - Get Report and Alibaba (BABA) - Get Report .
Search Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" trading recommendations using our exclusive "Mad Money" Stock Screener.
To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.
To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here.
At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AAPL, GOOGL, AMZN, FB.