But on the bear side, analysts noted Hillshire once had a rock-solid balance sheet with lots of cash but now not so much. Hillshire itself was thought to be a takeover target but those hopes have dwindled with the Pinnacle acquisition. Also, analysts were not impressed with the combined company, which will have many brands but most of them in low-growth categories.
Cramer said while he's siding with the bulls in this deal and likes the new Hillshire, there are better opportunities out there. He once again recommended B&G Foods (BGS), with its 4.2% yield, as one such opportunity and Whitewave Foods (WWAV), with its organic milk and non-dairy alternatives, as another.
Stocks may trade as commodities in today's market thanks to sector-based exchange-traded funds and futures, Cramer told viewers, but that doesn't mean a company's actions don't matter, especially when that company is in the middle of a successful turnaround. That's certainly the case with two such turnarounds, Rite-Aid (RAD) and J.C. Penney (JCP).
After alienating its customer base and losing nearly two-thirds of its value, many wondered whether J.C. Penney could survive 13 months ago. Yet, its new CEO pulled off the impossible, Cramer continued, and its share price proves it. After falling to a mere $5 a share, Penney can now be had for over $9 a share, and Cramer said that's just the beginning.
Cramer said Penney could be following in the footsteps of another spectacular turnaround, Rite-Aid. This stock traded for less than $1 some 18 months ago but has now seen a 453% gain over the past two years thanks to its remodeled stores with a wellness focus.
While Rite-Aid may be in the ninth inning of its turnaround, Cramer said Penney is only just getting started, which is why he thinks the stock will outperform its sector handily over the next few quarters.
Executive Decision: Chip Johnson
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Chip Johnson, president and CEO of Carrizo Oil & Gas (CRZO), the shale oil and gas producer that just posted a seven-cents-a-share earnings beat on a 27% rise in revenue. Shares of Carrizo are up 54% since Cramer got behind the company in September.
Johnson said Carrizo has been able to grow while strengthening its balance sheet thanks to the sale of some less assets and moved the proceeds to its high-growth areas.
Johnson had many positive things to say about the company's wells in the Utica shale, saying its condensate wells in the region have been excellent and will be fetching great prices for their output.