Now's not the time to test the idea of "the survival of the fittest," Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday, but we're about to face an extinction-level event for many businesses in America -- unless our government steps in quickly with an additional stimulus plan.
This is indeed a situation where only the strong will survive, Cramer said. Most companies simply aren't prepared for extended shutdowns of their business and they can't get the credit they need to survive. Many companies have business interruption insurance, but those policies don't cover interruptions from pandemics, leaving them with few, if any, options. Just like the payroll protection plan for individuals, Cramer advocated for more protections so small- and medium-size businesses can survive.
You won't see the distress in the stock market, however, as the averages comprise mainly those companies with strong balance sheets that can survive COVID-19.
That's why Cramer continued to recommend what may be the only survivors, namely Walmart (WMT) , Target (TGT) , Costco (COST) and Amazon (AMZN) in retail, and, in restaurants, Starbuck (SBUX) , McDonald's (MCD) , Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and Domino's Pizza (DPZ) .
With more government intervention, this will be a coup by big business at the expense of everyone else, Cramer concluded, and that would be catastrophic for the economy and our way of life.
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Executive Decision: Planet Fitness
In his first "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness (PLNT) , to learn more about the company's plans to reopen for business.
Rondeau said Planet Fitness has five locations already reopened with more coming soon. Customers will find additional sanitation stations located throughout their gyms and increased cleaning efforts from their staff to keep everyone healthy.
So far, Rondeau said he's been encouraged by the reopening efforts. He said they've only seen a slight bump in cancelations, and franchisees are finding landlords and lenders accommodating given the company's strong history of growth.
Rondeau added that exercise should be deemed essential because it may help build a strong immune system. The pandemic is raising awareness of just how important health and fitness is, as severe obesity may be a risk factor with COVID-19.
Turning to the topic of competition, Rondeau said he's not worried about companies like Peloton (PTON) . He said in-home alternatives are great for some, but most people prefer a real gym experience.
Executive Decision: Alteryx
For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also spoke with Dean Stoecker, chairman and CEO of Alteryx (AYX) , the enterprise software company that saw its shares cut in half amid the pandemic.
Stoecker said that thanks to the pandemic, companies are realizing the importance of data and analytics in their digital transformations. That's why Alteryx was able to add companies like Chevron (CVX) , Carnival Corp. (CCL) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) as customers even during these difficult times. Alteryx now counts 37% of the Global 2,000 as customers and just passed $400 million in annual recurring revenues.
Analytics is playing a big part in COVID-19, Stoecker said, from sequencing the virus's genome to tracking its spread to managing supply chains for critical supplies. Everyone needs data and analytics. Alteryx is doing its part to help with their newly announced Adapt program, which allows furloughed employees to train on the Alteryx platform and learn new skills for free.
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Off the Charts: Volatility
Are we experiencing a garden-variety selloff this week or perhaps something more ominous? Cramer checked in with colleague Mark Sebastian, the market volatility expert, in the "Off the Charts" segment to find out.
Sebastian is an expert in the undefined, the CBOE Volatility Index. Typically, when the market declines, the VIX, also known as the fear gauge, rises and vice versa. Sebastian noted that while the VIX has indeed been falling over the past few weeks as the markets rallied, we still have not seen a second spike in volatility, as is traditionally the pattern.
In February 2018, the VIX saw a sharp spike as the markets fell, followed by a second spike around a month later. This week's decline has come quickly, however, making Sebastian cautious about sounding the all-clear.
Executive Decision: S&P Global
For his final "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer checked in Doug Peterson, president and CEO of S&P Global (SPGI) , the ratings agency with shares up 9.9% for the year.
Peterson said in this environment, companies are looking for liquidity at unprecedented levels and that means they're relying more than ever on the ratings and research that S&P provides. He said all of their services have been in high demand.
When the Federal Reserve announced their credit program, companies needed to prove that their bonds were investment grade. That proof came from S&P. Peterson Sid his company is also doing research on which sectors will be most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Peterson spoke highly of their operations in China. Last year, S&P was the first foreign financial institution allowed to operate in China without a partner. He said they've begun issuing ratings in China and business is going well.
Turning to their own business, Peterson said S&P has a strong balance sheet and liquidity, but they turned to their own team of experts to re-evaluate their risks to ensure they continue operating at the level investors have come to expect.
Here's what Jim Cramer had to say about some of the stocks that callers offered up during the "Mad Money Lightning Round" Thursday evening:
Callaway Golf (ELY) : "I think this is an interesting level to buy into golf."
Cardlytics (CDLX) : "This looks like the right price to buy into this one."
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in COST, AMZN, SBUX, ABBV, BMY.