Jim Cramer's Best Blogs

Catch up on his thinking on the hottest topics of the past week.
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Jim Cramer fills his blog on

RealMoney

every day with his up-to-the-minute reactions to what's happening in the market and his legendary ahead-of-the-crowd ideas. This week he blogged on:

  • Separating the stock market's winners from the losers.
  • Why financial stocks are essential to any meaningful rally.
  • Why the current market is not such a bargain.

Click here

for information on

RealMoney

, where you can see all the blogs, including Jim Cramer's -- and reader comments -- in real time.

These Are the Champions

This article originally appeared on RealMoney on Wednesday, Dec. 24, at 10:27 a.m.

Is it too early to pick winners from losers? Is it too early to anoint a company a survivor? The analysts sure don't think so.

We are seeing some Darwinian selection going on in many industries, so it might be pertinent to flag the winners and judge whether they are worth investing in.

First is

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

. The destruction of

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Report

, as well as smaller outfits like

Tweeter

, has created an incredible opportunity for Best Buy to take a huge amount of share in the consumer electronic hardware business. I say tough one, as I have seen analysts put as much as 13 cents per share in winnings from closing Circuit City stores. But in the end I have to tell you that I do not like the business itself -- I fear the upside's been discounted as consumer electronics is easy to do without, and I don't think 2009 will be a turn year for this kind of merchandise.

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Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

is such a winner over

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

,

JC Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

,

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

and all the other major discounters that it is hard for me to believe it isn't game, set, match already -- except for

Costco

(COST) - Get Report

. I believe Wal-Mart is a big stock for next year precisely because it is the winner. (Odd, but Macy's is

back

to where it was before it got its credit agreement. That's a little too negative for me.)

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

and

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

: 2009 will be the year that these two feast off everyone else, and they will surprise in their share-take. It is time we call these two the winners vs. both cable and

Sprint

(S) - Get Report

, although the latter continues to stay in front of people in a way that makes Verizon and ATT spend tons, thereby hurting their bottom line.

Here's one that's ongoing and might make for a happy duopoly:

Walgreens

(WAG)

and

CVS

(CVS) - Get Report

.

RiteAid

(RAD) - Get Report

is

totally on the ropes

and will have to cut back or reorganize. In the interim, you are going to see CVS move in aggressively and Walgreen leverage its entrenched stores. (The latter has told people it has cut back its expansion, so it doesn't figure to take as much share as CVS.) This is a great theme for 2009.

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

is going to be the winner in the hardware/warehouse space in 2009.

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

is struggling and spending, but Lowe's has always taken advantage of downturns to take share and I bet 2009 will be

the year

that it pulls away. I know

Sears

(SHLD)

has a great balance sheet, but I know Lowes has it sights set on destroying Sears and I think Sears can't win that fight.

With so many of the casual dining places cutting back -- look at

Ruby Tuesday

(RT)

-- this will be

Panera's

(PNRA)

year. It will all be about the balance sheet -- most of the restaurant companies overexpanded and do not have the balance sheet to take advantage of what I suspect will be bankruptcies galore in some really great locations. Panera will be

the winner

in the space.

Yum! Brands

(YUM) - Get Report

has got good chances to expand too, but it will take those expansion plans overseas so it might not be evident.

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

, of course, is going to win out in the low-end fast food business.

Two that nobody are talking about that are going to be huge winners in the insurance space are

Chubb

(CB) - Get Report

and

Travelers

(TRV) - Get Report

. These two specifically have not sought TARP money. If the new administration insists that TARP beneficiaries try to fix themselves, then you will get some opportunities for these two to expand. Travelers has

always

used turmoil to pick off players -- St. Paul's of late -- and I think that this time will be no different.

Oracle's

(ORCL) - Get Report

incredible quarter, with its aggressive sales people leveraging a series of good acquisitions, tells me that this database management player could take over this category. This company's a juggernaut -- I think that its competitors fall by the wayside. You just have to get behind this company if you think, as I do, that we have a realistic growth story.

There are some other obvious ones --

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

,

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

,

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

-- but you don't need me to tell you about those.

Depending on price and whether you believe that the economy won't be falling off a cliff, there are some pretty darned good investments here.

Random musings:

Popular outpouring in droves toward

Eric Oberg's piece

about ETFs that bully the market.

Part two

is now up and, like yesterday's installment, it's a must read.

Also, run don't walk, as Dougie says, to Kass's bottom call in housing, which I totally agree with. Prices have come down, mortage money has come down, the bargains are great and the people are on the sidelines. Not everyone is losing his or her job!

At the time of publication, Cramer was long WMT.

Without Financials, We're Stuck

This article originally appeared on RealMoney on Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 4:43 p.m.

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

,

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

,

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

and

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

usually can be the basis of a rally. These are the stocks that have led all rallies.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

,

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

and

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

-- these are the stocks that have led all declines.

Today they duked it out, and as always, it made me very uncomfortable, because Apple, RIMM and Google stand for nothing other than themselves. They are zero-sum plays. Apple wins? Everyone else in the category loses. RIMM wins? Sell

Motorola

(MOT)

and

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

. Google? The ultimate zero-sum play: As long as Google's winning, I don't want to touch anyone in the space.

Exxon's the worst. I see people buying Exxon's stock and shorting all of the oil ETFs, as Exxon has become an

S&P 500

name and not an oil name. I keep hoping that someone will come forward and admit that they are doing some operating on these stocks -- maybe Eric Oberg knows what the strategy is?

But without the financials, what the heck do we really have? You need to see some growth in the economy, but it is the credit side of the ledger that won't let it happen. That means the financials have to rally to give us a serious industrial rally.

When we consider the yin and yang of these two, I am always going to go with the destruction of the financials over the rallying in the tech/XOM. The powerful pull-down of financials always makes it so you can't make a big bet on this market. And that was pretty much today's story...

Random musings:

Fueling fire that we are near a bottom, according to

Bizjournals

, Florida's existing home sales rose!

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

This Market Isn't Such a Hot Offer

This article originally appeared on RealMoney on Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 3:16 p.m.

You know what would make me feel better about this market? If I heard one, just one, portfolio manager come on TV and say, "This isn't a great opportunity, and you should wait until prices go lower, maybe much lower, to take action."

I think the vast majority of managers who come on TV love this market. They love it even though it is entirely a one-step-forward, one-and-a-half-steps backward tape where you get a half-hearted recovery in a stock and then a smackdown.

I know that some stocks seem like they have definitely bottomed and don't want to give up the big gains -- stocks like

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

and

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

and

U.S. Steel

(X) - Get Report

. But we are at a level right now where it seems that you will get hammered if you get aggressive. On a given day, we are getting a moment where stocks plummet, and that's worth taking advantage of,

provided you blow out when they rally

, as is the case even today!

Take

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

. Last week, all we heard was how good it hung in

despite

the Steve Jobs pullout of Macworld. Then you come in yesterday, and the stock gets slaughtered. Weren't all the sellers finished when they heard about Macworld? Nope.

This morning I was excited to see

PPG Industries

(PPG) - Get Report

open up nicely after its terrible preannouncement last night. Until it started to give up the ghost as sellers materialized.

FedEx

(FDX) - Get Report

is another one like that. Well off its lows, but whenever it recovers a couple of points it gives up a couple of points. Totally discouraging.

Or

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

. This one can open up well, as it did today, and then just give up the ghost, sucking everyone in.

Was there a soul who didn't know that

Textron

(TXT) - Get Report

was in trouble with those small plane, helicopter and finance businesses. But sellers materialized there, too, on the obvious.

There always seem to be sellers in

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

anytime a buy program takes that one up a tad. Same with

EMC

(EMC)

, which can't get off the $10 level.

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

seems forever trapped at $35.

The fertilizer stocks? Don't get me started: four up, seven down, that's the ticket.

The drillers go up a half point for every point they go down, although, with the exception of

Nabors

(NBR) - Get Report

, they are well off their lows. Still, every time they rally, they are met with a cascade of selling. Same with the natural gas companies: The sellers lurk on any upward move.

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Report

seems to have good days punctuated by hellish ones that work off whatever has been gained. It's been here for two months, plus or minus a couple of points.

These are all amazingly frustrating situations. They wear you down. They make it so you feel, why bother? Why bother with a

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

, which does a great number and is almost back to its disastrous October lows? Why bother with a

Pepsi

(PEP) - Get Report

, which delivered nicely but has been in a three-month rut? Or

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

? It has come out and said the dividend is safe. It has started to clean up its financial services division. It reiterated guidance. The market says, so what, it is at $16, and that's not low enough to spur buying.

So many are like that. So many are so range-bound -- although some have much bigger ranges than others -- that the

only

way to make any money now is to play the extremes but hope the bottom doesn't fall out -- which happens if you don't have a dividend or if the dividend is cut.

Sure, you can get counterintuitive runs up --

Foster Wheeler

(FWLT)

,

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

and

National Oilwell Varco

(NOV) - Get Report

are good examples, but they were only down on their butts because of hedge funds gone wild.

Which brings me back to the first comment: the bullish commentators. I ask you, given these ranges and the market's total do-nothing stance, what's so compelling at these levels? What do these promoters see? Do they see a stabilization in the financials, something I want to see before I get aggressive? Are they looking at the "valuations" as being too cheap, even though many were cheaper in October and November? So why can't they get cheaper again? What's better?

I

can

make a case that things will get interesting again when the accidentally mid-yielders become high yielders,. I was looking at Nucor, which pays a dividend next week, and I was thinking, why the heck buy it up here when it was in the low $30s not that long ago and things have only deteriorated for it? I just can't get my arms around it. Deere yielded 4%, now it is 3%. Why not wait until it yields 4% again?

All good things come to those who wait on this market.

All bad things come to those who force it.

Just wait.

There's nothing

so

compelling right now that it must be bought. Which is why I find it so mystifying to see that so many managers hear the whistle and think that the train's pulling out of the station.

My take: There's another, safer one right behind it. Wait for that one.

Could be cheaper.

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Cisco, Deere, Foster Wheeler, General Electric, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard and Pepsi.

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Cisco, Deere, Foster Wheeler, General Electric, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard and Pepsi. Jim Cramer is co-founder and chairman of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for

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