Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Forget About Washington

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We can be angry at Washington for not giving us a budget deal, or we can be more constructive and look for opportunities to make money.

Jim Cramer told "Mad Money" viewers Thursday he's choosing the latter because the markets are giving investors a number of ways to cash in big.

Let's face it, every time a politician steps in front of a podium the markets start plummeting, said Cramer. But that doesn't mean there aren't deals to be had -- company after company is kickstarting its growth via well-timed acquisitions.

Case in point: Intercontinental Exchange's ( ICE) purchase of NYSE Euronext ( NYX), an announcement that sent NYSE up 33% in a single day.

Cramer said these companies aren't waiting for Washington, they're doing what's right for shareholders. The same is true for Oracle ( ORCL), which just delivered a spectacular quarter Wednesday only to announce the acquisition of Eloqua ( ELOQ). Shares of Eloqua more than doubled in just the few months the company has been public.

Other recent deals include Gardner Denver ( GDI), a company that make air compressors for the oil and gas industry and Markel's ( MKL) purchase of Alterra ( ALTE) in the insurance sector.

Cramer said all these companies are putting money to work, growing their empires and are most certainly getting things done in a way that the politicians in Washington can only dream of.

Executive Decision

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Marty Mucci, president and CEO of Paychex ( PAYX), the payroll processor that delivered in-line earnings Wednesday while reaffirming its 2013 guidance. Shares of Paychex fell 1.9% in Thursday's trading on the news.

Mucci said Washington certainly doesn't help Paychex' business because consumer confidence is falling and new business formation is slowing. He said the uncertainty caused by the elections and now the fiscal cliff are causing businesses to delay hiring or opening new locations, all of which are bad for the economy.

Mucci said Paychex' business was also negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as banks still not lending to entrepreneurs. He noted that many entrepreneurs use home equity to get their businesses off the ground but many no longer have that equity.

Mucci was more upbeat, however, on his company's health insurance initiatives. He said that business grew by 20% last year. As health-care reforms kick in, Paychex has become the defacto expert on what businesses should do to stay compliant with the new laws.

When asked what Washington can do to help the economy, Mucci said simply, "Get it done." He said any budget deal will give businesses the certainty they need to start growing again.

Cramer said Paychex is a good business that's only getting better with the economy. In the meantime, the company's 4% yield pays investors to wait.

Helped by Diversification

In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Tim Main, outgoing president and CEO of contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit ( JBL), which delivered a five-cents-a-share earnings beat on higher than expected revenue. Shares of Jabil popped 7.4% on the news.

Main said Jabil was helped by its diversification into multiple industries. He said the company's materials and services businesses alone now account for 31% of sales, and those have nothing to do with Jabil's traditional electronics manufacturing segment.

Main was also candid about some challenges that his company faced in this most recent quarter, challenges that are now largely behind it and won't be repeating. He said gross margins are improving now that Jabil is moving forward.

Among his company's many segments, Main noted that TV set-top boxes were not as robust as usual for this time of year, but snark phone handsets, especially in the high-end, continue to be strong. He said that mobility is still in its early innings as new devices change how we interact with content and media.

Cramer thanked Main for his many years of service and said he looks forward talking to Jabil's new CEO in the upcoming quarter.

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Energy XXI ( EXXI), LyondellBasell Industries ( LYB), PPG Industries ( PPG), Linn Energy ( LINE), LinnCo ( LNCO), Jacobs Engineering ( JEC) and Exact Sciences ( EXAS).

Cramer was bearish on Tronox ( TROX), QR Energy ( QRE) and NXP Semiconductors ( NXPI).

The Recession and Ethan Allen

For his third and final "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer once again sat down with Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors ( ETH), a stock that's down five points from its highs along with the overall markets despite delivering a better-than-expected quarter.

Kathwari said the great recession hit Ethan Allen like a tsunami, with sales falling by over 40%. Since then the company has restructured itself and is now, just two years later, growing both gross margins and operating income. He said consumer confidence is an important factor for Ethan Allen, so the elections and now the fiscal cliff debate is having a delaying impact on sales.

Kathwari also took a moment to highlight some of Ethan Allen's unique accomplishments as his company celebrates its 80th anniversary. He said the company's Vermont facility will be burning zero oil this year because the plant is now converting its wood waste into electricity with a good old-fashioned steam engine.

Kathwari said it hasn't been easy being a U.S.-based manufacturer, but has survived by consolidating 30 plants to just six and growing into markets like China, where the company now exports its products made in New Jersey.

Cramer continued his recommendation of Ethan Allen.

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer once again praised ConAgra ( CAG), saying this is a food company that "just gets it." He said the company's 17% income growth and 8% revenue growth are just the beginning.

Cramer said that in addition to having growth that outpaces most other food companies and a 3.3% dividend yield, ConAgra is also playing into the hands of the healthy eating trend with its Healthy Choice line of products, and now the private-label trend with its acquisition of Ralcorp ( RAH). With input costs on the decline, Cramer said he only expects great things from ConAgra going forward.

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

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

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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in stocks mentioned.

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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