Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Handicapping a Long Shot (Final)

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- "Find your inner speculator," Jim Cramer told his "Mad Money" TV show viewers Thursday, as he dedicated his first segment to the art of the calculated long-shot.

Cramer told viewers that he's always preached diversification, staying in a mix of stocks to minimize their downside risk. But Cramer said that he also always preaches speculation, picking one stock with huge upside potential to help keep investors engaged in the markets and excited about investing. One of those speculative picks paid off big today, he said, which is why he encourages investors to "stay in the game."

That speculative winner was that of Vivus ( VVUS), a fledgling drug maker that today received approval for the first weight-loss drug to be approved in over 13 years. The news, a surprise to many, sent shares of Vivus up over 78% today. But was Vivus really a long-shot that no one saw coming?

Cramer said that while many on Wall Street viewed Vivus as a loser with plenty of risk, those who did the homework on the company saw a different story. He said with the obesity epidemic in the U.S. growing rapidly, the FDA was under pressure to give doctors something to combat the problem. This was not the case 13 years ago when the last weight loss drug, phen-phen, was approved.

Cramer called investing in Vivus a calculated long-shot, not a wild speculation. He said the stock's story should be a lesson to all investors that sometimes betting big pays off big. He said investors need to stay with the tried and true stocks, those like IBM ( IBM) and Procter & Gamble ( PG), both of which enjoyed small rallies today, but having a speculative stock like Vivus makes investing all the more enjoyable.

Earnings Redemption

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com ( CRM), a stock that came under fire when it last reported in November, but also one that was able to redeem itself today with a three-cent-a-share earnings beat on a 38% rise in revenues year over year.

Benioff explained that companies today need to become social enterprises, communicating better with both customers and their own employees. He said that Salesforce.com is a transformational company, helping customers use social, mobile and cloud technologies to that end.

As usual, Benioff reiterated that traditional software solutions from the likes of Oracle ( ORCL) and Microsoft ( MSFT) require big outlays of cash to install, upgrade and maintain. Cloud computing, on the other hand, requires less cost and allows companies to grow faster with less risk.

Benioff said he's never been more excited about his company's prospects, especially given that Salesforce is now the second largest provider of enterprise software, cloud or otherwise.

Cramer said that Salesforce.com continues to deliver and he continued to recommend the stock.

Opportunities Abound

In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Matt Roberts, president and CEO of OpenTable ( OPEN), a momentum stock that fell out of favor in late-2011 but has since been crawling back to life, up 45% from its November lows.

Roberts said he sees tremendous growth opportunities for OpenTable as only 12% of all restaurant reservations are currently being made online. He said while it make take awhile to knock on the doors of every restaurant, once the company has entered a market, it becomes easier for them to make those sales and bring new restaurants on board.

Roberts dispelled a few myths about OpenTable, starting with the notion that higher gas prices slow the company's growth. Roberts said that they've seen no correlation between gas prices and their ability to sign on new restaurants.

Second, Roberts said that Google ( GOOG) is a partner, not a competitor, with OpenTable after the Google's purchase of Zagat last year. Roberts went on further to note that OpenTable has been great momentum from Europe, especially in the UK, despite the fact that many expected weakness in the region.

When asked about the company's failed "daily deal" product, Spotlight, Roberts said that the product simply didn't resonate with their diners. The initiative didn't suffer at the hands of rivals like Groupon ( GRPN), he said.

Cramer said that OpenTable's market cap is too small given the size of the opportunities the company has yet to address. He once again recommended owning the stock.

In the Doghouse

In the Thursday "Sell Block" segment, Cramer said that sometimes the pros don't know it all. That's especially true for the truckload of Wall Street analysts that cover Consol Energy ( CNX), he said, a company that current has 25 buy recommendations, four holds and not a single sell recommendation.

Cramer explained that Consol Energy has major headwinds, coal and natural gas, the two commodities this company is in the unfortunate position of producing. He said with a glut of natural gas in this country, many industry experts are now calling for the fuel to fall an additional 50 cents from its already historic lows. Meanwhile coal is facing a slowdown of international demand and the return of Australian production, as well as increased competition from of all things, natural gas.

With natural gas at its current levels, Cramer said that gas has now become a serious competitor to coal for energy production. And with the current administration in Washington waging war against dirty coal, there is plenty of incentive for utilities to invest in natural gas going forward.

Cramer said that Wall Street analysts are looking at Consol as the best of the bunch, which it is, when compared to other coal players. But, he noted, the smarter analysis is to look at the commodities it produces rather than how well it's able to produce them. Cramer said with coal and natural gas both in the doghouse, Consol Energy should be there as well.

Lightning Round

Cramer was bullish on Threshold Pharmaceuticals ( THLD), American Capital Agency ( AGNC) and Annaly Capital ( NLY).

Cramer was bearish on Weatherford International ( WFT), AstraZeneca ( AZN) and Quiksilver ( ZQK).

Faltering Giant

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said the vultures are circling Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), one of the biggest losers of the day. He said the tech industry is filled with once great companies that have faltered and Hewlett may be next in line.

Cramer said that Hewlett's previous management made a slew of terrible decisions, from stock buybacks at inflated prices to acquisitions that made no sense. Now, he said, the company has drained its resources, leaving it vulnerable.

Hewlett's new CEO, Meg Whitman, has a mixed track record of success, said Cramer, and her comments today offered no real vision or cost-cutting initiatives. Furthermore, Hewlett is under-invested in its core businesses and may not have the resources to mount a turnaround. Whitman has no track record of innovation either, he noted.

He advised investors to steer clear of Hewlett and invest in their rivals, as HP is now too big for a takeover, too complex to be broken up and too drained to advance under its own power.

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

To contact the writer of this article, click here: Scott Rutt.

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At the time of publication, Cramer was not long any stock mentioned.

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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Some of the stocks mentioned by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are held in Mr. Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio. When that is the case, appropriate disclosure is made on the program and in the "Mad Money" recap available on TheStreet.com. The Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio contains all of Mr. Cramer's personal investments in publicly-traded equity securities only, and does not include any mutual fund holdings or other institutionally managed assets, private equity investments, or his holdings in TheStreet.com, Inc. Since March 2005, the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio has been held by a Trust, the realized profits from which have been pledged to charity. Mr. Cramer retains full investment discretion with respect to all securities contained in the Trust. Mr. Cramer is subject to certain trading restrictions, and must hold all securities in the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio for at least one month, and is not permitted to buy or sell any security he has spoken about on television or on his radio program for five days following the broadcast.

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