Where's the leadership?, Jim Cramer asked his Mad Money viewers Monday, as he tried to make sense of this most fickle of stock markets.
Since the peak in January, this market has seen leader after leader rise and fall, Cramer said. First, we loved the banks, but then turned on them as loan growth slowed. Then we liked the industrials, until tariffs entered the lexicon. Then it was the soft goods, but only until interest rates began to edge higher. Finally, it was our beloved FANG stocks, until we turned our back on them today.
But Cramer said there seems to always be a bull market somewhere, and today it was in the REITs, the oils, any one of the many takeovers and of course, any stock with an upside surprise or without China exposure. In each of these cases, it makes it harder to the shorts sellers to win, Cramer said, and that's why the markets aren't plummeting, but rather holding their ground.
Cramer said he's a fan of the beaten-down tech names, like Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report and Intel (INTC) - Get Report , and he remains a fan of the banks, which are raking in fees from all these mergers. Even the industrials could be a big winner if a compromise on trade can be reached.
So while it's hard to sustain an advance in a market where the leaders change by the hour, Cramer said investors should take some solace in the fact that we're at least not heading lower.
Executive Decision: Allergan
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down in person with Brent Saunders, chairman and CEO of Allergan (AGN) - Get Report , which posted a 38-cents-a-share earnings beat with rising revenues and gross margins. Shares responded positively at first, but fell by the close, down 5.1%.
Saunders said that Allergan remains focused on creating shareholder value, which is why they're conducting a strategic review of their options. That said, all options must be viewed against their current operations, which are going very well. Allergan was able to buy back $17 billion worth of their own shares and pay down $13 billion in debt.
When asked about their pipeline, Saunders explained that their migraine drug just needs two more studies, but so far the data are good, with 80% of patients seeing relief in just a few hours. Botox also remains the gold standard in its market and Allergan is actively looking for new applications for that drug, including marketing it to millennials and men.
On the downside, Saunders admitted that they do have one drug losing patent protection but, he noted, they're prepared for it and losing patents is part of being in the pharma business.
At the end of the day, Saunders said, he's running a company, not a stock, and that's exactly why Cramer said he continues to recommend it.
Cramer and the AAP team say Allergan's results were solid. They're holding onto their small, "spec" position that protects against downside. 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.
Don't Get This Deal Wrong
Soon after T-Mobile (TMUS) - Get Report announced its merger with rival Sprint (S) - Get Report , the sellers began dumping shares of both companies. But according to Cramer, the markets are getting this deal all wrong.
According to the bears, there's no way this deal will ever pass muster with the regulators. After all, turning four wireless companies into three will surely reduce competition, increase prices and cost American jobs. Or will it?
T-Mobile argues the tie-up will create a fierce competitor to AT&T (T) - Get Report and Verizon (VZ) - Get Report and only spur more innovation and price competition. Beyond that, T-Mobile argues that it's AT&T and Verizon that have the monopoly in government sales and a strong T-Mobile will only increase competition in that sector as well. T-Mobile will also be a stronger player in the next generation of 5G networks, something that's far less likely without the deal.
All of these notions may sound crazy, Cramer admitted, but over the years T-Mobile's magenta-clad CEO, John Legere, has proven the skeptics wrong time and time again. Cramer said he's likely to do it again this time as well.
Over on Real Money, Cramer talks about how this market over-rewards winners and over-punishes losers. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Ventas
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas (VTR) - Get Report , the healthcare REIT which just posted strong results that included a 6.8% rise in revenues.
Cafaro said there are a number of reason that led to Ventas' strong results this quarter. One of those reasons is a continued decline in new starts for senior living facilities. After overbuilding in the past, the decline has become welcome news.
Cafaro was also upbeat about their new $2 billion investment into university research facilities. Ventas has partnered with great universities like Brown, Yale and Penn, she said, and are building research facilities for all sorts of great research.
Through it all, Cafaro said the Ventas dividend remains rock solid, even above 6%. While the market might not be favorable for REITs at the moment, Ventas is always finding new ways to create value for their shareholders.
Executive Decision: First Data Corp.
In his final "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also sat down with Frank Bisignano, chairman and CEO of First Data (FDC) - Get Report , the payment processor which just posted a three-cents-a-share earnings beat that sent shares rocketing up 18.4% by the close.
Bisignano said that First Data is becoming a "cash-flow machine" that has allowed them to make smart acquisitions of fast growing companies while also paying down their debt and strengthening their balance sheet.
First Data is not only in the merchant acquisition business, Bisignano said, as his company is also providing merchants services like fraud detection to help them manage their businesses better. First Data's job, he said, it to enable commerce.
When asked about bitcoin, Bisignano replied that if their customers ask for bitcoin, they'll certainly consider making it available.
Cramer reiterated his recommendation of First Data.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AGN, MSFT, FB, AMZN, GOOGL.