Jim Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: The Fed Tapers? So What?

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Weren't the markets supposed to plummet when the Federal Reserve stopped its bond buying? That was the question Jim Cramer pondered on "Mad Money" Wednesday. Cramer said after all the panic and all the worry, it turns out the Fed knew what it was doing after all.

Cramer said the Fed has come a long way since his infamous "they know nothing" rant in 2007. Back then, Cramer said Fed Chair Ben Bernanke didn't see the gravity of the situation and didn't act quickly enough to prevent it. But ever since then Bernanke has been doing everything in his power to save the economy, Cramer admitted, and for that he deserves a "job well done."

The Fed's ultra-low interest rates allowed countless companies to refinance and fix their balance sheets, Cramer noted, while countless others were about to stay afloat where they otherwise wouldn't have. The Fed was able to compensate for Washington's inaction and budget wrangling and for the near-collapse in Europe, he added.

But despite all these successes, Cramer said that many people still misjudged Bernanke, a man who has not once taken any credit for saving us all from the brink of financial collapse. Bernanke was able to change on a dime, Cramer said, and for that, we all owe him a debt of thanks.

There's nothing left to stop this rally only reasons to buy, Cramer concluded,.

Break Up the Conglomerates

There's one surefire formula for value creation, Cramer told viewers, and that's breaking up huge conglomerates into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces.

Yes, the parts are indeed worth more than the whole for most companies and the analyst community tends to specialize in certain areas and simply cannot make heads or tails of a company that tries to do it all.

Cramer said this formula has been tested time and time again, from companies such as Abbott Labs (ABT) to Phillip Morris (PM), the latter having more than doubled its value since splitting of its domestic and international divisions.

There are four phases of gains during a breakup, Cramer explained. First, shares rise as investors speculate on a split. Then shares rise more after an announcement is actually made. Next, shares rise further still as the date of the split nears. There's a final pop after the split actually happens.

So which companies could be next? Cramer said the big pharma dinosaur Merck (MRK) is ripe to split because that company isn't getting any credit for its drug pipeline, nor its diabetes and vaccine divisions. Also on the list: Applied Materials (AMAT), the semiconductor equipment maker that also includes a solar panel and display technology component.

Cramer said that either of these stocks would unlock a ton of value if only they considered taking a play from the break-up handbook.

Yet More Stocking Stuffers

For his next "Stocking Stuffers" segment, Cramer added two more stocks to his holiday wish list, this time in the tech sector -- Ciena (CIEN) and Xilinx (XLNX), both of which Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS.

Cramer said the optical networking business has been boom or bust recently, but the industry is beginning a secular growth phase as wireless networks continue their arms race for more capacity and faster speeds. The moves toward more mobile video and cloud computing are only fueling this trend, and Ciena is preparing for that future with no less than 12 recent acquisitions.

Cramer said the company did stumble this month, delivering a two-cents-a-share earnings miss, which sent shares down a quick 7%. But with the bad news behind them, this stock is a buy, buy, buy.

Cramer was equally bullish on Xilinx, the provider of programmable logical chips that essentially has no competition. Cramer said this company had its stumble in October but is now trading at a discount to its peers. With the continued build out of 4G LTE wireless networks, Cramer said that Xilinx will prosper for quite some time to come.

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on The Blackstone Group (BX), Gamestop (GME), Opko Health (OPK), DaVita (DVA) and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP).

Cramer was bearish on Christopher & Banks (CBK) and Quest Diagnostics (DGX).

An Unhealthy General Mills

Investors always need to be on the lookout for long-term themes, Cramer reminded viewers, a notion that once again came to him after hearing the General Mills (GIS) conference call where the company blamed its earnings miss on a multitude of inconsequential factors.

Cramer said that, in reality, General Mills is suffering from a shift in the way Americans eat, a transition towards healthier eating being led by the millennials. He said that back when he was growing up, breakfast meant loading up on a box of General Mills cereal while vegetables came from a Green Giant can. But for Cramer's daughters, food has taken on a whole new meaning.

Cramer explained that his daughters long ago shunned McDonald's (MCD) for Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG)'s "food with integrity" along with anything made at Panera Bread (PNRA). That trend led them to Whole Foods Markets (WFM) to buy their groceries and a preference towards Hain Celestial's (HAIN) healthy products. There's no Coca-Cola (KO) at the Cramer house, he continued. Filtered water rules the day.

Cramer asked why General Mills just doesn't stop with its excuses and admit the truth: For a growth percentage of Americans, what the company offers is just no longer seen as healthy.

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer circled back to his interview with the Whole Foods Market (WFM) co-CEOs on last night's show and the topic of valuing employees.

Cramer said that over the years he's only come across four companies that strive to pay their employees more and treat them better and those are Whole Foods, Starbucks (SBUX), Chipotle Mexican Grill and Costco (COST). He said it's no wonder that all of these companies are leaders in their categories because they've all realized the true cost of high employee turnovers is a great one.

Paying more may seem counter-intuitive, he said, but in reality it costs more not to do it.

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

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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 CIEN and XLNX.

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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