Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: March 31

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The markets surged Tuesday higher despite a dire forecast from depressionists that we would be down big, Jim Cramer told viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show.

Cramer said the markets are still on fire, from the banks to tech, oil and beyond. The evidence, he said, is all around us. In banking, both Bank of New York ( BK) and State Street ( STT) surged higher, as Cramer predicted, on the news of new accounting rules.

In technology, there was strength in lots of names, including Cramer favorite and Action Alerts PLUS name, Qualcomm ( QCOM), which rose $1, or 2.75%, in today's trading.

Cramer said there was also good news from Cisco ( CSCO), up 2.8%, as well as Apple ( AAPL), Google ( GOOG) and IBM ( IBM).

Oil futures enjoyed the best gain in eight months, said Cramer, and that propelled stocks like Occidental Petroleum ( OXY), Chevron ( CVX), another stock which he owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS and Exxon-Mobil ( XOM).

Bottom line: Cramer wishes the doomsayers were correct and the market did pull back even more today so that he could buy in at even lower prices. "March didn't go out as a lamb; it went out as a bull," he asserted.

A Rare Breed

"Some banks will actually be winners," Cramer told viewers. He said we've been here before, back in the 1980's, at the end of the S&L crisis. Back then, as now, investors wrote off all banks, only to miss out as new, bigger, better and stronger banks emerged from the rubble, he said.

BankingMyWay

Investors forget that as bad banks fail, good banks pick up their assets on the cheap and grow like crazy, he said.

According to Cramer, that's likely to be the case with FirstMerit Corp ( FMER) of Akron, Ohio. FirstMerit is the fourth largest bank in Ohio, with $11.1 billion in assets. The company is poised for such growth, as its competition falters.

He said FirstMerit's competition has been devastated, with banks like Huntington Bancshares ( HBAN), PNC Bank ( PNC) and Keycorp ( KEY) performing poorly.

He said FirstMerit remains a superior performer, with a charge-off loan ratio of just .68%. The company's return on assets is 1.13%, compared to the industry average of just .23%.

Cramer said with the Cleveland housing market not hit as hard as the rest of the country, FirstMerit should be one of the first banks to recover. The company has already expressed interest in FDIC assisted takeovers.

Off the Charts

In this segment, Cramer went head to head with colleague Rick Bensignor over the chart of Caterpillar ( CAT), a stock which Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS .

Bensignor said Caterpillar is a buy between $24 and $26 a share, as the charts indicate a reverse head-and-shoulders pattern, indicating the stock is likely to break out to the upside.

But Cramer, the fundamentalist, said Caterpillar is a buy for completely different reasons. Cramer said Caterpillar is down 67% from its highs and is universally unliked by Wall Street, with 14 analysts rating it a hold, three sell and only six a buy. The company missed its quarter by 17 cents and slashed its guidance.

So why like the stock? Cramer said Caterpillar is the perfect stock to own ahead of the recovery. With housing, along with the return of the economy, down sharply, demand for Caterpillar's products can only increase from here. Demand will be high for Cat's products, both here in the U.S., and in China, as the economy strengthens, he said.

Crab Anyone?

In a special appearance, Cramer welcomed captains Colburn and Hansen from The Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch" to find out how the two fisherman find themselves on the front line of the economic downturn.

Colburn and Hansen made it pretty clear that as the economy softens, people eat less seafood. They said that demand for King Crab, the pair's trademark catch, has seen a 28% price cut so far this season. Their only recourse: sell less crab.

Colburn said it's likely the pair will make dramatically less this year or could possible go the entire season without a profit. But they added in tough times, fishermen often reinvest in their businesses and prepare for the next wave of demand.

Lightning Round

Cramer was bullish on Visa ( V), Pepsico ( PEP), Home Depot ( HD), Lockheed Martin ( LMT) and Walt Disney ( DIS).

Check out the latest edition of "Cramer's Take on Top-Searched Stocks" on Stockpickr.

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At the time of publication, Cramer was long Pepisco, Qualcomm, Chevron, Caterpillar.

Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for TheStreet.com, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of TheStreet.com or its affiliates, or CNBC, NBC UNIVERSAL or their parent company or affiliates. Mr. Cramer's opinions are based upon information he considers to be reliable, but neither TheStreet.com, nor CNBC, nor either of their affiliates and/or subsidiaries warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such. Mr. Cramer's statements are based on his opinions at the time statements are made, and are subject to change without notice. No part of Mr. Cramer's compensation from CNBC or TheStreet.com is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."

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