Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Pros and Cons

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The markets are full of "cons," Jim Cramer told "Mad Money" viewers Thursday, but there are a few "pros" out there as well.

He said that while it may seem like everything that was good is now bad and everything that was bad is now worse, there are a few silver linings. Cramer reminded viewers that, historically, being optimistic has been a winning strategy, even if that optimism is being very challenged at the moment.

So what cons are the markets worried about? The most obvious is the fiscal cliff, something the markets were hoping would be solved with new leadership in Washington. But now that the president is still the president and Congress is likely still gridlocked, is there any hope? Cramer said the Republicans have to know they must strike a deal since not striking one has already cost them the White House.

Then there are disappointing earnings. Cramer said earnings are always a game of expectations and expectations are still too high given the environment. Take Starbucks ( SBUX). The company was trading in the low $50s when it reported over the summer, when expectations were too high. Shares immediately plummeted into the mid $40s.

This week, the company reported again and expectations were in line and shares rallied back into the low $50s. There's no reason to panic, said Cramer, prices just need to be readjusted.

Europe is another con against the market, said Cramer, but here, too, that's old news. Perhaps more important than a sagging Europe are hopes of a resurgent China, which might happen under new leadership in the coming year.

Hurricane Sandy put a damper on the markets as well, noted Cramer, but after the devastation comes rebuilding. Once people have their power turned back on and get back to work, things will start flowing again in the Northeast.

Cramer said the markets are clearly ratcheting down ahead of the fiscal cliff, but soon there will be capitulation, and that will be the time to buy, buy, buy.

Recession-Proof Abbott

Looking for a stock that's both recession-proof and doesn't have anything to do with the fiscal cliff? Cramer said investors need to consider Abbott Labs ( ABT), a stock he owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS , which has not one, but two catalysts helping to drive shares higher.

Cramer reminded viewers that back in October 2011, Abbott Labs announced it would be splitting itself into two companies as of Jan. 1, 2013. Shares have already posted a 21% return since that news, but Cramer said there's more to come now that the split is only 53 days away.

It may seem counter-intuitive that two companies would be worth more than one, said Cramer, but in fact, Abbott's pharma business and its diagnostic and medical devices business grow at different rates and therefore appeal to different investors.

He said the future Abbott Labs will have faster growth with a lower yield, while the new pharma company will have slower growth but a juicy 4% yield. Add those two companies together and they're worth $74 a share, said Cramer.

But Abbott also has a second catalyst, and that's positive data on it's Hepatitis C treatment. That news will be relayed at an upcoming conference and should also help send shares higher.

Cramer said with Abbott Labs trading at just 12.2 times earnings with a 9% growth rate, he'd be a buyer through the end of the year, especially since shares have come down eight points off their highs.

Executive Decision

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer once again spoke with Cheryl Bachelder, president and CEO of AFC Enterprises ( AFCE), purveyors of the Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen chain of quick-serve restaurants. Shares of AFC are up 85% for the year and 14% since Cramer last spoke with Bachelder in August.

Bachelder said that Popeye's new flavorful menu is bringing excitement to the stores and is part of the reason the company delivered a an earnings beat of 2 cents a share on a 6.3% rise in same-store sales. She said the company's fourth annual crawfish festival is once again being well received and is proving that seafood should remain a mainstay on the Popeye's menu.

Bachelder also noted Popeye's is increasingly becoming a national advertiser and is growing its footprint at 4% a year. The company is closing underperforming stores and opening new ones in different neighborhoods and recently purchased 29 former KFC locations out of bankruptcy. AFC is also currently about one-third complete in the remodeling of it's stores, something that will be completed at all locations in three years.

Cramer once again praised Bachelder for a remarkable turnaround and growth story. He continues to recommend the stock.

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on PPL Corp ( PPL) and American Capital Agency ( AGNC).

Cramer was bearish on Generac Holdings ( GNRC), ( CYOU), CYS Investments ( CYS) and Skyworks Solutions ( SWKS).

Taking a Schein to Doctors

In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Stanley Bergman, chairman and CEO of Henry Schein ( HSIC), a medical products supplier to doctors, dentists and veterinarians.

Bergman explained his company supplies doctors and dentists with everything from latex gloves to dental drills to flu vaccines. Prevention is a big component of Henry Schein, which is why the company has supplied 6.8 million doses of flu vaccines this year, helping to make this year's flu one of the mildest in recent memory.

Henry Schein is also active in acquisitions, said Bergman, who noted that his company does about 20 deals a year and currently has a full pipeline of deals in the works. Shein also has a thriving pet business, said Bergman, thanks in part to baby boomers increasingly turning to pets as companions.

Cramer reiterated his recommendation of Henry Schein, another recession-proof business he said will not be falling off the fiscal cliff in 2013.

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer told viewers what he thinks of Apple ( AAPL), an Action Alerts PLUS holding.

Cramer said Apple is among those companies he's dubbed the "FCS" or fiscal cliff stocks, stocks that just make too much sense to sell now ahead of what will most likely be higher capital gains tax rates next year. He said many feel it's better to pay the tax man $1 today than possibly $2 or $3 after Jan. 1.

Cramer said it would be greedy not to take something off the table now given Apple's big gains, which is why he's been taking profits in his trust of late. Once we get some clarity on the fiscal cliff, then we will know how to value Apple's growth, said Cramer. Until then, the tax man is in charge.

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-- 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 AAPL, ABT and SBUX.

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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