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(Corrects article from 7:54 p.m. EST Thursday to say NeuVax is now in Phase III testing.)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- No sector matters to the markets more than retail, Jim Cramer said on "Mad Money" Thursday. Everyone can relate to retail, and that means when retails stumbles the markets take notice.
That was the case today when Best Buy (BBY) delivered disappointing same-store sales and the markets reacted by sending shares down by 29%. Best Buy suffered from being over-loved, said Cramer, as analyst after analyst upgraded the stock on its turnaround plans, leaving no one today to keep buying.
The same happened to GameStop (GME), Cramer noted. That stock rocketed higher last year on analyst after analyst commenting on the same facts over and over. When GameStop stumbled, the stock was crushed.
Ever since late last year the consensus has been that consumers are strong. They were not buying apparel but they were buying hard goods from Home Deopt (HD) and Williams-Sonona (WSM). But with today's news, that thesis is now in question. Are consumers cutting back? Are they buying online instead? Or are they just snowed in by bad weather?
Those questions will be answered when Amazon.com (AMZN) reports, said Cramer. If Amazon's sales are strong, showing a continued secular shift towards online shopping, then shares of Amazon will be grossly unvalued.
Executive Decision: Todd Davis
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Todd Davis, co-founder, chairman and CEO of LifeLock (LOCK), the identity-theft protection company with 2.9 million subscribers. Shares of LifeLock are up 18% since Cramer last checked in back in November and trade at 43 times earnings with a 26% growth rate.
Davis said that incidents like the recent data breach at Target (TGT) prove the criminals know where the sensitive data are being kept and they've got the skills to go get them. But unlike Target, which notified customers after data had been taken, LifeLock is actually able to alert customers before the data are used to open new accounts and steal your identify.
Davis said no one else offers the technology and the ability to see as many transactions as his company can. LifeLock partners with credit card issuers, wireless companies and more, all in an effort to let customers see what's going on in real time.
LifeLock also works to help train law enforcement about identify theft. Thanks to its recent acquisition of Lemon Wallet, LifeLock now offers customers a secure digital backup of their sensitive information.
Cramer said that while LifeLock cannot prevent data breaches like the one at Target, it does offer customers a lot of value and peace of mind.
Kicking off a new weekly series entitled "Cramer's Playbook," Cramer set out to reverse the trend of failing to teach financial literacy in America. His first lesson: Who should be investing in the stock market.
Cramer reiterated that he's a huge fan of the stock market for wealth creation, but that doesn't mean that stocks are for everyone. He said there are two important prerequisites that all investors must have before they invest. It's pointless to invest in stocks without a solid financial foundation.
So what are the two "must-haves" before you invest in stocks? Cramer said the first is paying off all your high-interest debt such as credit cards. With average interest hovering around 15%, Cramer said credit cards will gobble up your money a lot faster than the markets' ability to replace it. Having low-interest debt, like student loans and mortgages, is OK, but your credit cards and other high-interest debt may be paid in full.
Cramer's next must-have before investing in stocks: health insurance. He said that far too many people end up in financial ruin after unexpected medical bills ravage their lives. With Obamacare, there's no excuse not to have health insurance, Cramer said, and it's something everyone needs before they dive into stocks.
Executive Decision: Mark Ahn
For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Dr. Mark Ahn, president and CEO of Galena Biopharma (GALE), a smaller, speculative biotech company that's showing a lot of promise with its NeuVax anti-cancer treatment currently in Phase III testing. Shares of Galana are up over 233% since November.
Ahn said Galena has seen exciting and promising results from its studies so far, which have shown either a delay or prevention of cancer recurrence. He said the company has a multi-billion dollar opportunity in front of it, both for breast cancer as well as gastric cancer and as a standalone and combination treatment with other drugs.
When asked about delays in getting the Phase III stuff off the ground, Ahn said it takes time to set up the 130 hospitals in 15 countries that will be testing the drug, but the study will be fully enrolled by mid-year.
Ahn also responded to critics' charge Galena is ignoring the fact that NeuVax may not help, and may even harm, some patients. He said that it's totally appropriate for any new drug to have its skeptics, and NeuVax, like every drug, has a segment of patients for which it's most effective and others where it's not effective. In Phase II testing, he continued, NeuVax saw 0% cancer recurrence and that's what it is now testing in Phase III.
Cramer said there is a lot of research, both pro and con, regarding Galena and investors need to do their homework and be informed.
No Huddle Offense
Cramer said that there's no denying that Bank of America is a hated story for many, but no one could have handled the disaster that was the Countrywide acquisition. As the bank recovers, yes, it doesn't yet pay a dividend, but that decision it up to regulators, not the bank.
Some skeptics call for a breakup of Bank of America, but Cramer said that the bank is in good shape with its current structure. Still others cite the ailing mortgage market as another reason to avoid the stock. But Cramer said mortgages are a commodity and rising net interest margins are what matters most.
All in all, Cramer said these negatives just don't hold water, and there's a lot to like about this most-hated of banks.
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-- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt