NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Jim Cramer took to his crystal ball again at The Deal Economy 2014 conference, predicting an active M&A environment next year, highlighted by social media stalwarts Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR).
TheStreet founder and host of CNBC's "Mad Money" made takeover predictions across a variety of business sectors during an address at The Deal's annual forecasting event held at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Dec. 5. (The Deal is a business unit of TheStreet. Cramer is a board member of TheStreet.)
Beginning with social media, Cramer cited the continuing rise in demand for smartphones and mobile applications and how companies need to utilize this technology in their corporate strategies.
"You need a strategy that captures the strength of those devices," Cramer said.
Cramer predicted that Salesforce.com Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., and San Francisco-based Yelp Inc. can get looked at by major players such as Facebook, Twitter or even Yahoo! (YHOO).
On the food and beverage side, Cramer predicted that Lake Success, N.Y.-based Hain Celestial Group (HAIN) can be taken over by a major cereal maker such as General Mills (GIS) or Kellogg (K). Cereal sales have been slumping as consumers opt for healthier snacks such as Greek yogurt and granola bars, resulting in major players to look for new growth channels. According to Cramer, Hain's stock has been up over 40% over the last year.
In the energy sector, Cramer thinks Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) of Irving, Texas, is a buyout candidate. Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield claims the company has the biggest oil field outside of Saudi Arabia. If that proves to be true next year, Pioneer will most likely receive buyer interest, Cramer said.
Cramer also likes Houston-based EOG Resources (EOG) as a takeover candidate, with chairman Mark Papa set to retire at the end of the year.
Regarding Microsoft's (MSFT) CEO search, Cramer said the software conglomerate needs to bring in an executive who can get the company to refocus on its core assets. He said Ford Motor (F) CEO Alan Mulally, who has been reported as one of the candidates to replace Steven Ballmer, is the right man for the job.
"Microsoft needs to bring in someone who will decide what can be kept and what should be spunoff and I think Alan is the guy to do that," Cramer said.
Cramer returned to one of his predictions from last year: Johnson & Johnson JNJ. Cramer said the company remains a breakup candidate, a scenario he forecast last year. The company could be moving in that direction, having sold its McNeil PPC's feminine hygiene brands to Energizer Holdings Inc. for $185 million in cash in July.
-- Written by Demitri Diakantonis