Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report proved itself to be the greatest abettor of progress in our lifetime, Jim Cramer proclaimed to his Mad Money viewers Wednesday, after this Action Alerts PLUS holding reported blowout earnings Tuesday that sent shares soaring 6.1%.
Just think about everything that Apple has made possible with its iPhone, Cramer said, including a sizable chunk of Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report earnings and the lion's share of Facebook's (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report .
Apple makes shopping at Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report possible from your couch and has helped launch shares of Netflix (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Report and game makers like Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) - Get Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Report into the stratosphere as well.
Sure, Apple can be a mean competitor, Cramer admitted, and the iPhone has left a host of industries in its wake, but no company has done more to usher in a new era of doing just about everything from shopping to entertainment to banking.
Analysts Get the Message From Apple
Apple finally got control of the narrative on its conference call, Cramer told viewers, and that changes everything.
For more than two years, Apple has been trying to explain to analysts that it's more than just a device company and that its services mattered. This quarter, the analysts finally got the message.
Cramer encouraged viewers to listen to a conference call from a year ago and compare it to today's call. The analysts' questions today were all bullish, asking about the benefits of new tax laws, strength in services, rising gross margins and more.
Not only was Apple able to see its services soar, but iPhone sales were also strong around the globe, including in China and India.
Cramer said services are important, which is why the markets covet stocks like Netflix and Amazon. And that's also why Cramer thinks shares of Apple can trade back to their old highs and beyond.
Executive Decision: Nexstar Media Group
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Perry Sook, chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar Media Group (NXST) - Get Nexstar Media Group, Inc. Class A Report , the nation's second largest TV affiliate, with a stock that's up 50% over the past 12 months.
Sook said that this past election season was incredibly strong for political advertising on local TV stations and Nexstar is already looking forward to the 2018 midterm elections, which will likely be huge as well. Nearly half of Nexstar's revenue stems from local TV news broadcasts, Sook said, and with print and radio waning, local TV remains a great business to be in.
Nexstar is committed to its dividend and will continue with plans to raise its payout 25% a year, thanks to its increasing free cash flow.
Turning to the economy, Sook said that Nexstar works with a lot of small, local businesses and now that the uncertainty of the presidential election has passed, those on Main Street appear to be confident about the future.
Executive Decision: H&R Block
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Bill Cobb, president and CEO of H&R Block (HRB) - Get H&R Block, Inc. (HRB) Report , the tax preparer, shares of which have lost 39% over the past year, due in part to growing online competition.
Cobb admitted that 2016 was not a good year for H&R Block, but as he announced in June, this year things will be different and his company has been very aggressive so far this tax season. He said H&R Block has a number of new initiatives, including interest-free loans on customer tax refunds.
H&R Block also has a new partnership with IBM (IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report to use their Watson platform to both find every deduction available and make tax time a more enjoyable experience for customers.
Cobb said that people need to rethink how they do their taxes. So many people are leaving money on the table and are not getting the refunds they should be. H&R Block, he said, is committed to providing the best outcomes both digitally and at their retail locations.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Check Point Software (CHKP) - Get Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Report , CyberArk Software (CYBR) - Get CyberArk Software Ltd. Report , Sanchez Energy (SN) - Get Sanchez Energy Corporation Report and Aecom Technology (ACM) - Get AECOM Report .
The Chip That Could
The semiconductor stocks have been roaring as of late, but Cramer discovered one forgotten name that still has a lot of potential, Maxim Integrated (MXIM) - Get Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. (MXIM) Report .
Maxim manufactures chips for a host of applications including automotive, data centers, consumer and industrial. The company is best known for its power management chips, but Maxim also has sensors for things like fitness trackers, test equipment and more.
Cramer said the reason shares of Maxim have been largely ignored was the company's dismal 2016, where sales actually shrank for the year. But after doubling down on its strengths in power management and diversifying into other fast-growing categories, shares of Maxim are already up 16% for 2017, trading at 20 times earnings.
When Maxim last reported, it delivered a three-cents-a-share earnings beat with a 7.9% rise in revenues and expanding gross margins. The company's automotive business grew 18%, while its consumer products were up 16%. Maxim also issued strong guidance for the rest of 2017.
So what's the Fed worried about? Cramer and Jack Mohr are telling their investment club members about the likelihood of the Fed raising short-term interest rates in March. And, AAP is moving on Apache (APA) - Get Apache Corporation Report again.
Not only that, Cramer and Mohr just issued a really bullish update on Apple and Arconic (ARNC) - Get Arconic, Inc. Report . You need a free subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had positions in APA, AAPL, GOOGL, FB and ARNC.