Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Profit While You Can

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What happens what you take housing away from the U.S. economy and don't replace it with something else? You get a market that looks a lot like today's, Jim Cramer said on "Mad Money" Wednesday after another big down day on Wall Street.

Cramer said housing may seem like only a small part of the economy on the surface, but in reality it is huge. That's exactly why the Federal Reserve has been targeting it with super-low interest rates. Housing means a great deal to a lot more than the likes of Home Depot ( HD) and everything that goes into its stores. Everything from banking to retail sales to construction and services are all affected.

When home prices are rising, homeowners feel wealthier, which in turn creates a virtuous circle of spending, appreciation and growth for the economy overall, Cramer explained. But all of that has been called into question over the past two weeks because the data are signaling housing has run too far, too fast.

Too far, too fast means the Fed's job is done, said Cramer, and that notion is sending interest rates higher, which already manifested itself in the form of slowing initial demand for mortgages. That would be fine if Washington was able to offer the economy other stimuli such as road projects or new pipelines to take advantage of our bountiful supply of natural gas. But so far Washington has been unable to agree on anything that might create jobs, which means when housing slows, so does the entire economy.

What's all this mean for investors? Cramer said investors can't afford to be greedy, they need to take profits where they can.

Executive Decision: Jonathan Bush

In the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Jonathan Bush, chairman, president and CEO of AthenaHealth ( ATHN), the health care cost-containment company that fell from $95 a share to $86 after it reported what investors saw as less-than-stellar quarterly results.

Bush wasted no time explaining that today there is no shopping around for the best deal when it comes to health care and consumers don't get to keep the savings if they opt to save the system money. But at Athena, the company is helping doctors do just that by making prices transparent so they can make referrals that not only meet their patients' needs, but also aren't gouging the system.

When asked about those "less than stellar results," Bush said that Athena's recent acquisition did come with some accounting "kinks," but he's not concerned about them going forward. He said the future remains very bright for the combined company.

Is new technology such as electronic medical records allowing doctors to spend more time with patients? Absolutely, Bush said. A cloud-based system like Athena's is always running in the background, helping doctors meet all their recordkeeping requirements so doctors can spend more time in front of patients and less time on paperwork.

Finally, when asked about his company's gross margins, another point of concern during the conference call, Bush explained Athena is always reinvesting in its business, so margins have historically taken one step backwards in order to take two steps forward, The company continually reinvents its platform to stay relevant.

Cramer said Athena is a high-growth, high-multiple stock, but it's also one that continues to deliver on its promises.

Off the Charts

In the "Off The Charts" segment, Cramer went head to head with colleague Tim Collins over whether now's the time to jump into high-yielding stocks like the utilities, the REITs and the consumer staple stocks. Cramer said with bond yields rising, these stocks have been falling knives -- but eventually their high yields will cushion their fall.

Collins noted that the daily chart of the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ( XLU) ETF shows the utilities have just completed a bearish head-and-shoulders pattern, but if they linger at current levels to consolidate they risk creating the right shoulder of a second, much larger, head-and-shoulders formation.

When looking at the iShares US Real Estate ( IYR) ETF, Collins noted this group also appears oversold when looking at the relative strength and the stochastics, but he doesn't trust the move and wouldn't risk trying to call a bottom. Pulling back to a weekly chart, Collins said it's clear there's a lot more room for this sector to fall.

The consumer staple stocks, as measured by the Consumer Staples Select Sector ( XLP) ETF shows that group also breaking down, but not yet reaching an oversold condition, said Collins.

So are there any stocks worth buying? Collins and Cramer agreed that stocks like Ventas ( VTR) and Federal Realty Trust ( FRT) are close to hitting key dividend yield support levels, as are Duke Energy ( DUK) and ConEd ( ED).

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on First Interstate Bancshares ( FIBK), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ( REGN), Celgene ( CELG), Biogen Idec ( BIIB), Ford Motor ( F) and National Grid ( NGG).

Cramer was bearish on 8x8 ( EGHT), Amgen ( AMGN) and Clean Energy Fuels ( CLNE).

Am I Diversified?

In the "Am I Diversified?" segment, Cramer spoke with callers and responded to tweets sent via Twitter to @JimCramer to see if investors' portfolios have what it takes for today's markets.

The first portfolio included: Bank of America ( BAC), Facebook ( FB), Toll Brothers ( TOL), Medical Property Trust ( MPW) and Winnebago ( WGO).

Cramer said while this portfolio has been hurt badly by the markets, it is diversified.

The second portfolio's top holdings included: Beam ( BEAM), Costco ( COST),Home Depot, Salesforce.com ( CRM) and KeyCorp ( KEY).

Cramer said Home Depot and Costco are too similar and this portfolio needs a health care stock like UnitedHealth ( UNH).

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer sounded off against the return of synthetic collateralized debt obligations, the financial instruments that were at the heart of the financial crisis in 2007. Cramer said these toxic pieces of paper are nothing more than junk that should be banned outright by our government before they once again spiral out of control.

There is nothing wrong with traditional mortgage-backed securities, said Cramer -- our modern mortgage market couldn't function without those. But Cramer said these synthetic instruments exist for the sole reason of allowing fund managers to lever up their portfolios by making risky bets on housing. If the government truly wants to stop "too big to fail," it needs to stop synthetic CDOs.

Making matters worse, Cramer explained this synthetic nonsense often carries huge fees, and thus huge commissions, which means they get sold to non-savvy investors who have no idea what they own and there is never any accountability for those who sell them.

Cramer told investors they need to remember that CDOs not only took down the companies that sold them, but also those that insured them, putting the global financial system at risk for years -- all so a few fund managers could take home larger bonuses.

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 COST, F, FB, and KEY.

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."

None of the information contained in "Mad Money" constitutes a recommendation by Mr. Cramer, TheStreet.com or CNBC that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You must make your own independent decisions regarding any security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy mentioned on the program. Mr. Cramer's past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance. Neither Mr. Cramer, nor TheStreet.com, nor CNBC guarantees any specific outcome or profit, and you should be aware of the real risk of loss in following any strategy or investments discussed on the program. The strategy or investments discussed may fluctuate in price or value and you may get back less than you invested. Before acting on any information contained in the program, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and strongly consider seeking advice from your own financial or investment adviser.

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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