Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Europe Continues to Overhang U.S. Stocks

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Take away Europe and we've got a pretty darn good market, Jim Cramer told "Mad Money" viewers Tuesday as he recapped the good and the bad elements of the markets.

The U.S. economy continues to be aided by falling gasoline prices, Cramer said, and everything from restaurants to retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY) and Wal-Mart ( WMT) are being helped by lower gasoline prices. There's also a turn in housing underway, he noted, which is also starting to build momentum.

But then there's Europe, the daily struggle between countries that can't seem to agree on anything. Cramer said the Germans will eventually have no choice but to aid the faltering nations, but every day they delay is another day where the markets flounder. From the industrials -- like Boeing ( BA) and Eaton ( ETN), two stocks which Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS -- to the prices of commodities like oil and aluminum, Europe is in control.

Cramer said that in this market, good news is fleeting while bad news lingers. That's why on days when it looks like the Germans will lend a helping hand, the markets rally. There are. of course. also problems here at home, he added, but even the likes of Facebook ( FB) and J.P. Morgan Chase ( JPM) aren't enough to hold down U.S. stocks by themselves.

"It's a big game of Euro chicken," Cramer concluded, and until someone in Europe blinks it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Executive Decision

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer once again spoke with Mike Thaman, chairman and CEO of Owens Corning ( OC), a company that derives 64% of its revenue from housing-related products but a stock that's been lagging the overall housing sector.

Thaman said he remains confident in his business because the company is seeing strength in its roofing and insulation businesses as housing recovers. He said while the decline in oil prices hasn't helped reduce asphalt prices, a key ingredient in Owens' roofing products, falling oil prices will eventually soften inflation.

As for the elephant in the room, Europe, Thaman said that initially the company felt it would take Europe three years to recover from its 2008-2009 crisis. However,with recent events, he now feels that another three years will be needed. That's why Owens is taking action and slashing costs where it can to accommodate soft demand for the longer term.

Turning to the U.S. housing market, Thaman said he's encouraged by rising rent prices, but is not yet seeing enough demand to warrant a return of the company's dividend. He said that Owens maintains an investment-grade balance sheet, but the company wants to see improvement in all of its businesses before reinstating that dividend.

Cramer told viewers to make their decision wisely when considering investing in Owens Corning. He said the stock is cheap, but may not be the best way to play the recovery in housing with weakness in Europe still looming.

Management Matters

"Management matters," Cramer told viewers, as he highlighted the turnaround in Gap Stores ( GPS), an apparel chain that lost its way for over a decade but also one that's been resurrected by its new CEO Glenn Murphy.

Cramer said that Murphy, who took the reigns at Gap in 2007, has done the exact opposite of J.C. Penney ( JCP) CEO Ron Johnson in his efforts to turn around the company. First, Murphy told shareholders that it would take a long time to turn around Gap, which it did. He also set no expectations for shareholders.

However, after years of a bottoms-up turnaround that involved asking the customers what they wanted and delivering on those needs, Gap's success is undeniable, said Cramer, which explains why shares of Gap are up 49% so far this year.

In its quest to provide customers with new merchandise they actually want to buy, Gap saw same store sales up 4% last quarter, the first time in years the company saw all three of its U.S. divisions grow. Gap also has no exposure to Europe, added Cramer, but it does have an expanding business in China.

While Cramer said he's worried about the balance sheet at J.C. Penney, he has no such worries at Gap, a company where the turn has only just begun.

Lightning Round

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

Advance Auto Parts ( AAP): "No, I don't want you to touch that. Go with AutoZone ( AZO)"

Michael Kors ( KORS): "I have enough problems, I don't need Kors. I like PVH ( PVH)."

Pilgrim's Pride ( PPC): "I like Pilgrim's Pride because their costs are coming down."

Windstream ( WIN): "That was a real nasty quarter. I'm not recommending in anymore."

Gaining Share in Gas

For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Peter McCausland, president and CEO of Airgas ( ARG), the man who single-handedly rebuffed a hostile takeover bid from rival Air Products ( APD) at a substantially lower valuation.

McCausland said that he will be turning over the CEO role to a competent executive, but will remain as executive chairman and be actively involved in Airgas' strategy.

When asked about that strategy, McCausland noted that Airgas only has 25% of the U.S. market for gases, but nearly 50% of the market is controlled by 900 independent providers. He said as the economy improves, those providers will become prime acquisition targets for the company.

Finally, when asked whether Airgas would consider converting its fleet of trucks to run on natural gas, McCausland said that after a failed attempt in the 1990s, Airgas is once again looking at liquified natural gas as a fuel option. He said that LNG is similar to the nitrogen the company is already familiar with, and the logistics of that business is also similar.

Cramer commended McCausland for his great service in bringing out value for shareholders and recommended Airgas.

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer sounded off against the Wall Street machine that snookered the public into buying the botched Facebook initial public offering, which has plummeted 24% since its debut.

Cramer said that the public will never know what the bankers at Morgan Stanley ( MS) knew or told their largest clients ahead of the IPO, nor will the public know why the Nasdaq decided to begin trading the stock when glitches were known.

But there are three things that we do know, said Cramer. First, the public got taken for a ride. Second, nothing will happen to those responsible. Third, the government could care less.

Cramer said the lesson from the Facebook IPO is "buyer beware."

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

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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in BA, ETN and JPM.

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