Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Inflation Relief (Final)

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- "Common sense prevailed today," Jim Cramer announced to the viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show Monday.

He said the market has been in denial that commodity cost inflation has finally been broken, but today, it finally realized that lower commodities is good news for stocks.

Cramer explained that ever since the crisis in 2008, the markets have been pounding consumer stocks and along with practically any stock that wasn't a producer of oil, metals or other commodities.

As the price of commodities rose and inflation kicked in, the central banks of Brazil, India and China all began to raise interest rates to stop the run up. But with the release of 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves, Cramer said the ugly head of inflation has finally been beaten, sending the price of everything from copper to nickel to wheat and corn lower.

Cramer said the problem is that here in the U.S., thanks to failed political policies since 2008, America hasn't seen this global trend. He said that the U.S. never had a building spurt caused by stimulus spending, nor did it see a rebound in housing. Thus here at home, our interest rates stayed at zero, which allowed U.S. stocks to head lower not on fundamentals, but on the bad news of other countries.

But Cramer said all of that is changing now, as companies from Ford ( F) to General Mills ( GIS), DuPont ( DD) to Caterpillar ( CAT), a stock which he owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS, have all headed higher.

Cramer said at this point in the business cycle, the estimates are too low and forecasts are expecting higher commodity prices. That means that company after company will deliver great numbers, as Nike ( NKE) did today.

Restaurants Rebound

Cramer said there are very few truisms on Wall Street, but one that still rings true is that when gas prices fall, the restaurants stocks do better. That's why he once again recommended Darden Restaurants ( DRI), purveyors of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, among others.

Cramer said Darden, with its model of 100% company-owned stores, is a screaming buy. He said while oil has declined 21% from its high, gasoline has only fallen 11% so far, leaving a lot more good news to come for the company.

Cramer called Darden a high-quality company that cut costs to fight commodity inflation and one that now will see its bottom line jump higher as those costs decline. He said when the Darden reports on Thursday, investors need to look for the company's outlook and not trade the stock based on earnings. Cramer said the outlook is all that matters.

Shares of Darden trade at just 12.7 times earnings, far lower than the industry average of 17 times earnings and even less than Darden's historical average of 13.1 times earnings. Cramer said with the estimates so low, now is a terrific time to get in on Darden.

Also on the honorable mention list was Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG), which is trading at a 52-week high, despite having just pushed through price increases throughout the Northeast. Cramer said this purveyor of "food with integrity" is a great investment in the trend toward healthy eating and Chipotle's stock has a lot more room to run.

Dividend Inequality

When it comes to tobacco stocks, Cramer said not all dividends are created equal. That's why he pinned all of the major players against one another to see if any of the tobacco names are still worth investing in.

Cramer explained that new warning labels for cigarettes in the U.S. will only hasten the decline of an already embattled group. Cigarette consumption is declining by 3% to 4% annually in the U.S., leaving the only growth markets overseas. That's why Cramer said he'd only recommend Phillip Morris International ( PM), which pays a 3.9% dividend but has no exposure to the U.S. market.

Cramer said that while smoking is in decline in the U.S., it's actually growing overseas, and with Phillip Morris gaining share in countries like China, this one stock is the only one where the dividend is safe.

Cramer said that long-time favorite Altria ( MO) is still a well-run company and one that's diversified into smokeless tobacco and beer, but that still doesn't make up for being the best house in what is increasingly a bad neighborhood.

Cramer has similar negative comments for Reynolds International ( RAI), Lorillard ( LO) and Vector Group ( VGR). Cramer said all of these stocks are primarily U.S.-based and while they pay higher dividends, those yields may not be sustainable for the long-term. He called the entire group "wasting assets."

Balanced Energy Approach

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Tom Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company ( SO), a utility located in the Southeast that delivers a 4.7% dividend yield.

Fanning started off by saying that Southern has delivered 10 times the return of the S&P 500 over the past few years, something he's very proud of. He said the South is a great place to live and do business and the region isn't hit as hard by recession as other parts of the country and it recovers quicker.

Fanning noted that his company's new $14 billion nuclear facility will employ 3,500 when complete, but the ripple effect will be closer to 35,000 new jobs. He said while nuclear projects are difficult to get off the ground, Southern has the scale, financial integrity and the experience to make the project a success.

When asked about the company's multitude of fuel sources, Fanning said Southern believes that a balanced portfolio is best. He said while natural gas is the up-and-coming fuel, that market suffers from a lack of pipeline infrastructure to get the gas from where it is to where in needs to be. He said price volatility is also an issue for natural gas, as the fuel has had a rocky past.

For renewable and alternative energy sources, Fanning noted that Southern is investing in the country's second largest solar facility and a large biomass facility but, he said, renewables will never displace major sources of energy. The reason? He said these facilities also can't be built where they need to be, close to consumption, and with transmission lines, the longer the distance the greater the risk.

Cramer called Southern a remarkable company and one that should be part of every portfolio.

Lightning Round

Cramer was bullish on Schlumberger ( SLB), Windstream ( WIN), Genesee & Wyoming ( GWR), Union Pacific ( UNP), Oracle ( ORCL), Covidien ( COV)and CSX ( CSX).

Cramer was bearish on Geron ( GERN)and Alaska Communications Systems ( ALSK).

Closing Comments

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer debunked two recent Ponzi scheme allegations, one regarding Nordic American Tanker ( NAT) using recently issued equity to fund its dividend, and the other alleging that the natural gas industry is inflating its reserve estimates to boost share prices.

Cramer said it's blatantly obvious to anyone who reads Nordic American's financials that its dividend is well-funded by its cash flow, and that the company's new issues of stock are being put toward buying more ships to further bolster its business. Cramer called the allegations to the contrary "totally bogus."

He said the author of a New York Times article on Sunday on the natural gas industry is clearly biased against the industry, as this is his seventh negative article on the industry in recent months. He said major oil companies around the globe are investing in American natural gas and it's impossible to think that every one of these smart people and companies has been duped by inflated numbers.

--Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.

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At the time of publication, Cramer was long Caterpillar.

Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of 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, 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 is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."

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