Jim Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Don't Settle For Average

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Why settle for average when the markets are have so many ways to win? That was Jim Cramer's question to "Mad Money" viewers Thursday as he reviewed some of the market's biggest winners.

Cramer said that while many "experts" still advise just investing in index funds, today's market shows how a little homework can allow investors to do so much better.

Among the day's biggest winners were stocks such as Mylan (MYL), First Solar (FSLR) and Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF). Cramer said that all three of these stocks have terrific prospects and were easily "gettable" during last week's sell off.

Other big winners on the day included Best Buy (BBY), a stock investors could've spotted with a little homework, along with Kohls (KSS) and Sempra Energy (SRE).

Rounding out Cramer's favs were eBay (EBAY), which may bring out value by splitting itself up, Verizon (VZ), which is now a faster growing telco with a terrific 4.5% yield, and Whirlpool (WHR), the appliance maker that both Lowe's (LOW) and Home Depot (HD) told us should do well this quarter.

Don't settle for average, Cramer concluded. There are plenty of great companies with great stories to tell, if you know where to look.

Executive Decision: Aneel Bhusri and Mark Peek

For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Aneel Bhusri, chairman and co-CEO, and Mark Peek, CFO of Workday (WDAY), the cloud computing purveyor of human resource services that just reported a smaller-than-expected loss, a huge rise in revenue and a 50% increase in its customer base. Shares of Workday are up over 56% since Cramer last checked in back in November.

Bhusri said that every 10 to 15 years, a new architecture comes along to shake up the tech world. Today, that shift is to the cloud. He said with human resource regulations and requirements changing so rapidly, only the cloud can deliver a better interface at a lower cost.

Peek added that thanks to the company's subscription model, Workday has enough free cash flows to make careful investments into its platform and to grow the business.

When asked about the potential market opportunity, Bhusri noted that $40 billion is not out of the question. He said it's difficult to deliver the solutions that Workday can provide on older technology.

Cramer once again endorsed Workday as a leading cloud provider.

Executive Decision: Marc Benioff

In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com (CRM), a stock that's up 18% since Cramer last checked in, also back in November.

Benioff said Salesforce had another great quarter and another terrific year, as his company continues to innovate in our new mobile, social and cloud connected world.

Benioff touted his company's new Salesforce1 service as its newest innovation, one that allows everything Salesforce does to be done on a smartphone. He said it's clear that phones are the new computing platform, so it's only fitting that Salesforce runs perfectly in that environment

Salesforce also raised guidance for the year by $100 million and is now projecting $5.3 billion in revenue. Cramer said that when it comes to the cloud, Salesforce remains his goto name.

Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Cemex (CX), Precision Castparts (PCP), Boeing (BA), Illumina (ILMN) and Chevron (CVX).

Cramer was bearish on National Bank of Greece (NBG), Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and Sohu.com (SOHU).

Executive Decision: Frits Van Paasschen

In his third "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also sat down with Frits Van Paasschen, president and CEO of Starwood Hotels (HOT), which on Thursday announced a $2.60 a share special dividend for shareholders that will be paid out over the next four quarters. Shares of Starwood are just off their highs as a result.

Van Paasschen said Starwood is always looking at opportunities to return capital to shareholders, whether that be buybacks, dividends or special dividends. Over the past 10 years, Starwood has returned over $10 billion to shareholders through those three activities.

Can Starwood grow and still return cash to shareholders? Absolutely, said Van Paasschen.

When asked about its business, Van Paasschen said the U.S. business is doing well, with increased demand and no new supply coming online, meaning that rate increases flow right to the bottom line. Meanwhile, in China, the country continues to shift from rural to urban and from poor to the middle class.

Cramer said that Starwood's symbol is "HOT" for a reason.

No Huddle Offense

In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer opined on three troubled stocks: Best Buy (BBY), Sears (SHLD) and J.C. Penney (JCP).

Of the three, Cramer said Best Buy is the strongest because its turnaround was working just fine before the company hit a few tough months of sales.

J.C. Penney is harder to judge, Cramer said. It has now stabilized itself but still remains only a so-so retailer. Can it compete with well-run retailers? That remains to be seen. J.C. Penney is a trade, not an investment, Cramer concluded.

Then there's Sears, a company that despite many promises still hasn't turned itself around and has totally lost its way. The company is now selling its winner, Land's End, to fund its continued losing operations. That's not a winning strategy.

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 HD.

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