Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Financial Innovation Kills Small Investors

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We've seen the enemy and it's not who you think it is. That's what Jim Cramer told his "Mad Money" viewers Monday as he railed against the true enemy of individual investors' net worth: financial innovation.

Cramer said he's a big fan of innovation in other areas such as technology, where Apple ( AAPL), a stock he owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS , reigns supreme, and also in health care, where countless new drugs save lives daily.

But when it comes to your money, Cramer said financial innovation and engineering is not our friend. Whether it was the financial meltdown of 2008, the flash crash of 2010 or most recently the meltdown of J.P. Morgan Chase ( JPM) and the botched Facebook ( FB) initial public offering, financial engineering has taught us one thing, said Cramer -- it destroys nest eggs and the reputation of the markets.

Cramer called the swamped computers and botched trades surrounding the Facebook IPO a big black eye for the Nasdaq, a market that prides itself on its technology. Then there's J.P. Morgan, the bank that speculated using instruments so complex that even those who created them didn't see the risks until the whole thing blew up.

Cramer said that individual investors are not important enough nor powerful enough to stop these "advances" in investing. The banks' pull in Washington will ensure that lawmakers never question these tactics thoroughly, he said, which is a shame for those little guys who continue to get hurt by them.

'Udderly' Delightful Dean

With U.S. markets continuing to be held hostage by the woes of Europe, Cramer said investors need to stick with stocks that offer domestic security. When it comes to domestic-oriented stocks, nothing is more domestic than Dean Foods ( DF), our country's largest purveyor of milk and dairy products.

According to Cramer, Dean Foods has transformed itself from an "udder" disaster to a world-class food company. It delivered a 10-cent-a-share earnings beat on a 5.4% pop in revenue, with increased operating margins to boot. Dean is also cleaning up its balance sheet and enjoying declining dairy costs, which are expected to drop by 20% in 2012.

Dean Foods also plays right into the "healthy eating" trend, with 31% of the company's products trending towards natural and organic offerings including low fat, soy and other healthy eating alternatives. In addition, Dean has hidden breakup potential, noted Cramer, with estimates that the sum of the company's parts would be worth 33% more than where shares currently trade.

Even with so much going right for the company, Cramer warned price still matters. With the stock up 11% from its earnings news, he said he wouldn't be a buyer here but would wait for a pullback below $13 a share. "It would be a mistake to buy Dean Foods up here," with shares just off their 52-week highs, concluded Cramer.

A Few Choice Words

Cramer had a few choice words for J.C. Penney ( JCP) CEO Ron Johnson after the company's horrific quarterly results. "Retail turnarounds aren't easy," said Cramer, and he offered up some timely advice for the ailing retail chain.

Cramer suggested Johnson take a page from the Pier 1 Imports ( PIR) playbook, as that company went from near bankruptcy in 2009 to a shining jewel in the retail world just three years later. Shares of Pier 1 were trading for just 10 cents a share in 2009, but today have returned a 15,930% gain since those near-death lows.

So how did Pier 1 turn itself around? The company started with better merchandise followed by better stores. Cramer said that Pier 1 first hired a slew of new buyers and quickly changed its merchandise mix from higher-priced furniture items to lower-cost items that customers actually wanted to buy. Then it revamped its stores, displaying those new items in a more user-friendly manner that made them more accessible to shoppers.

Pier 1 also stopped opening stores during its turnaround and closed all their underperforming locations. It cut costs by reducing its full-time headcount with less-expensive part-time workers. Finally, the company revitalized its website into a thriving e-commerce destination.

Cramer said Pier 1 is a terrific example of a turnaround done right. He said J.C. Penney must focus on what's in front of them and not make lofty promises they cannot keep.

Lightning Round

Here's what Cramer had to say about caller's stocks during the "Lightning Round":

Total SA ( TOT): "I think the yield is safe but I don't want to own it. It has no growth."

Opko Health ( OPK): "I'm still a believer. I would pick some up."

Sturm Ruger ( RGR): "This stock is down so much, I think you're right to pick some up here."

Polycom ( PLCM): "Stay away. There is nothing there. "

National Oilwell Varco ( NOV): "This is the best company in the industry. Do not sell it."

Annie's ( BNNY): "I'm going to say don't buy it since I like Hain Celestial Group ( HAIN), which is cheaper."

Executive Decision

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Ed Cohen, chairman and CEO of Atlas Energy ( ATLS), a stock that's up 43% so far this year despite falling oil and natural gas prices. Atlas is a master limited partnership with a 2.8% yield.

Cohen said the "reports of our demise are exaggerated," referring to the company's sale of many of its assets to Chevron ( CVX). He explained that Atlas' strategy is simple: Buy low and sell high. The proceeds from the sale to Chevron went directly to shareholders, said Cohen, while the company has rebuilt its assets on the cheap and is almost as strong and with as many reserves as before the divestiture.

When asked whether falling oil and gas prices hurt the company, as they have for so many others, Cohen said Atlas' hedging strategy protects it from many downsides risks so the company will make money in any environment. When asked to choose which of the company's investments is the most exciting, Cohen said all of Atlas' projects hold tremendous opportunities.

Cramer asked Cohen about the prospects of North American becoming energy independent over the next five years. Cohen said it's a "new ball game" in the oil and gas industry - not only can our continent become independent, it will likely become an energy exporter over the next few years.

Cramer remained bullish on the new Atlas Energy.

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer asked investors whether they'd rather own Eaton ( ETN), after the company's bid to acquire Cooper Industries ( CBE), or the newly minted Facebook ( FB), with its 900 million users and the hype to match.

Cramer said he would take an old-fashioned, metal-bending, electrical powerhouse over a social media play any day, depending on the price. Shares of Eaton have been hammered mercilessly as the company remains hostage to Europe and the business cycle, Cramer said. Facebook, on the other hand, is still trading between 15 and 16 times earnings, even after Monday's declines. That puts it ahead of companies such as Apple and Google ( GOOG), but short of the valuation given Amazon.com ( AMZN).

Cramer said value investors will be salivating over the value being created at Eaton, which is why that company is the better play for right now.

--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's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AAPL, JPM, ETN.

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