Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Just What the Economy Needed

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Re-opening the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq may have restarted our financial economy today, but the real economy is about to spring to life as well.

Jim Cramer told "Mad Money" viewers Wednesday the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy may have been just what our ailing economy needed.

Make no mistake, losing one's home, business or worse is a horrible tragedy, said Cramer, but when it comes to the economy, nothing has the potential to get things moving like a widespread disaster.

Cramer said investors need to step back and look at the big picture: Tens of thousands of insurance policyholders are about to begin rebuilding, an event that will require tens of thousands of contractors buying billions of dollars in materials.

Cramer said with the damage from Sandy estimated between $30 billion and $50 billion, it's no wonder stocks like USG ( USG), Whirlpool ( WHR) and Sherwin-Williams ( SHW) were on the move higher today. In many places in the Northeast there simply won't be enough shovels available to get the work done.

But even bigger than the private sector is the federal government, said Cramer, as roads and other infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. Nothing puts an end to partisan politics and brings politicians together like people in need, as president Obama's visit to New Jersey proved today. Only the government is big enough to get these massive projects underway, Cramer said, and that's precisely what will be happening next.

Good Eaton

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Sandy Cutler, chairman and CEO of Eaton ( ETN), a stock Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS . Shares of Eaton have been trading higher due, in part, to the company's planned acquisition of Cooper Industries ( CBE).

Cutler said Eaton is anxious to help those in the Northeast begin rebuilding and expects many of Eaton's electrical products, from transformers and switches to home circuit breakers and surge protectors, will be a part of that rebuilding effort. Eaton currently derives 60% of its revenue from its electrical businesses.

Cutler also addressed some of the weakness the company saw during the quarter. He said the U.S. economy is downshifting as the fiscal cliff approaches. More and more businesses, he said, are trying to make the decision to buy or wait on their projects, which is why it's important for leaders to address this most important issue.

Turning to the building sector overall, Cutler said that Eaton is still seeing construction activity building. He said what started off as a nonresidential boom in commercial and retail buildings has now spread to residential construction. Cutler said our country is on track to return to 1.5 million housing starts a year, although it ail likely take a few years to get there.

Cramer said that with so much building ramping up, Eaton is the company investors need to own.

Executive Decision

In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Manny Chirico, CEO of PVH Corp ( PVH), on the heels of the company announcing it is acquiring Warnaco ( WRC), a licensee of its Calvin Klein brand, for $2.9 billion. Cramer suggested that PVH buy Warnaco when he last spoke with Chirico on Sept 6. Shares of PVH spiked 20% on the news.

Chirico said every acquisition involves a level of risk but when your company already knows the brand you're buying and already sells over $1 billion a year of that brand, the risks are considerably less. He said the combination of Calvin Klein jeans and apparel with Warnaco's licensed Calvin underwear will solidify the brand and allow PVH to do things it couldn't do with just a licensing agreement.

Asked about the 20% spike in PVH shares, Chirico said he expected the news to be perceived positively but did not anticipate such a strong reaction.

Turning to some of PVH's other success stories, Chirico said PVH loves strong niche brands, which is why the company's acquisition of Speedo was such a great fit. When it comes to swimwear, Speedo is "the" brand to beat, which is why that high-margin business continues to be strong.

Cramer said that he remained a big fan of PVH as it continues to grow and reward shareholders.

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Ethan Allen Interiors ( ETH), Marathon Petroleum ( MPC) and Annaly Capital ( NLY).

Cramer was bearish on La-Z-Boy ( LZB), Research In Motion ( RIMM), Cisco Systems ( CSCO), Nordic American Tanker ( NAT), Clean Energy Fuels ( CLNE) and F5 Networks ( FFIV).

Food for Thought

For his third "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with John Foraker, CEO of Annie's ( BNNY), a stock that's up 14% since Cramer recommended investors get in on the company's initial public offering earlier this year. Annie's just reported a penny-a-share earnings miss on better than expected sales with upbeat guidance.

Foraker admitted that Annie's could have done better in this most recent quarter if only it was able to keep more items on store shelves. He said his company has a great brand but certainly needs to execute better in order to meet growing customer demand.

Foraker also noted the Annie's brand is moving more mainstream, with over 7,000 stock-keeping units, or SKU, moving from the specialty health food aisle to more traditional placements inside many stores. Annie's pays slotting fees for these moves, but the company is happy to pay them as more and more customers are exposed to the brand.

Annie's is a driver of growth and profits for retailers, noted Foraker, as the health food consumer is well educated and is willing to spend more for the items they eat. He said that Annie's is all about building both nutrition and great taste into their products, without the use of genetically modified ingredients.

When asked about the company's new line of frozen pizza, Foraker said that while results are still early, pizza is now in 2,500 stores and is selling well. He said pizza will be the first of many extensions of the Annie's brand into the frozen food aisle.

Cramer said that Annie's, along with Hain Celestial ( HAIN), remains among his favorite healthy-eating stocks.

High and Dry

In an unusual fourth "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Steve Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlets ( SKT), a retail REIT with a 2.7% yield.

While there was lots of water at the company's outlets in the path of Hurricane Sandy, the damage has been minimal and only two of the Tanger's outlets are currently closed. Tanger said that doesn't expect any effect on earnings.

Tanger added that customers love, and even demand, bargains, which is why his company's outlets are in such demand. Tanger tenants typically don't sell items like books or electronics, which can easily be purchased online. He said they instead choose to sell fashion and other items that are better off purchased locally.

Tanger Outlets is a growth company, said Tanger, which is why the company has 10 projects currently under development. It currently has three centers in Canada, and Tanger expects 10 centers in that country over the next five to seven years.

As for the health of Tanger's tenants, he said his company receives sales reports from tenants on a monthly basis and sales have been robust. In the case of Coach ( COH), which struggled last quarter, Tanger said that company has a great management team that has already corrected the pricing policies that led to the declines.

Cramer continued his recommendation of Tanger Factory Outlets.

To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.

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

To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRutt or get updates on Facebook, ScottRuttDC
At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in ETN.

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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