Jim Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Why I'm Skeptical but Not Pessimistic


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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- "Call me a skeptic but not a pessimist," Jim Cramer said on  Mad Money Monday. Cramer said there's still too many good things happening in the markets not to be a buyer into weakness, and the downsides can be managed.

Clearly, the markets are fretting over the continued decline in oil prices. Cramer reminded viewers there are only 16 states that are energy producers while the remaining 34 states are users of energy and benefit from lower oil prices.

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The markets are hitting the railroad stocks hard, with Norfolk Southern (NSC) sliding 5% on the day, but Cramer noted that oil makes up only 3% of railroad cargo. Then there are the industrials such as General Electric (GE) , down 1.7%. Cramer said that selloff may also be overdone to the downside.

While it's true some oil drillers did get it wrong when it comes to the price of oil and deserve to head lower, Cramer said the vast majority are run well and can still make money with $40-a-barrel oil. As for the rest of the economy, cheaper gasoline equates to a tax cut that benefits restaurants, retailers and a host of other sectors.

So where does Cramer's skepticism come from? He said the markets still have yet to price in the effects of lower oil on countries like Russia and Nigeria. If the tiny country of Cyprus could send the markets reeling, problems in these larger countries could be worrisome. In the case of Venezuela, Cramer said a revolution would be a good thing as no government there could possible be as bad as the one currently in place.

But with Europe and China having no coherent plans for recovery, Cramer said he's sticking with domestically focused stocks like health care and biotechs along with travel and leisure names.

Executive Decision: Gary Evans

For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Gary Evans, chairman and CEO of Magnum Hunter (MHR) , the oil and gas driller that's seen its shares fall 45% so far this year as the price of crude has deteriorated.

Evans said the bloodbath for the oil stocks is affecting everyone, whether they drill for oil or natural gas. "All companies are being treated the same," regardless of how well they're being run, he continued.

In the case of Magnum, the company has been selling off is Bakken assets to focus solely on the Marcellus and Utica shale regions where they're "in the heart" of the fields with extremely low finding costs. Evans noted the Bakken assets sold for $700 million are now worth only $200 million, so clearly Magnum made the right move to the right places.

How low can oil prices go? Evans said OPEC's decision seems more aimed at Russia and Iran than the U.S., but Magnum Hunter is planning for lower prices to stick around for another 12 to 18 months. Fortunately, the company still makes money, even at these lower prices, Evans said.

Cramer said Evans has never dodged a tough question about his company or the industry.

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Who Won on Black Friday?

The results are in, and last weekend's kickoff to the holiday shopping season was terrific or horrific depending on whom you ask.

Cramer said that while the National Retail Federation decried the "Black Friday" results as disappointing, other metrics provided by ComScore (SCOR) and ChannelAdvisor (ECOM) both saw sharp increases in shopping activity. So who's right?

With the smoke clearing, Cramer said he's siding with the actual numbers provided by ComScore and ChanelAdvisor and not the statistical "sampling" offered up by the retail federation. Spending habits are changing, he noted, and the means by which we measure online shopping just aren't keeping pace.

Both L Brands (LB) and Costco (COST) are hitting it out of the park, Cramer said, while Macy's (M) and Target (TGT) indicated things were looking up for the holidays. Add those data points and ComScore and ChannelAdvisor and it looks like the National Retail Federation is missing something.

Executive Decision: Robert Greenberg and David Weinberg

In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down on location with Robert Greenberg, chairman and CEO, and David Weinberg, COO and CFO of Skechers USA (SKX) , the shoemaker that's up 15% since Cramer last checked in back in July, yet still trades at just 17 times earnings.

Greenberg said the growth at Skechers is only just getting started, given that the population of the world overseas far exceeds that of the U.S. alone. Weinberg confirmed the trend, noting that the strength they've seen in October and November has carried on into the Black Friday weekend. Wherever the pair of executives looks -- China, Europe or South America -- they saw sizable growth potential.

When asked about their successes, the pair noted that it takes two things -- great products and an image around those products that makes people want to try them. Skechers seemingly has the winning combination, with a large presence in social media and a stable of well known celebrities and sports figures endorsing their products.

Greenberg said Skechers now has 19 divisions and every one is performing very well, which is why Cramer continues his recommendation of the stock.

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Lightning Round

In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on United Rentals (URI) .

Cramer was bearish on Windstream (WIN) , Corrections Corp of America (CXW) and Koppers Holdings (KOP) .

Executive Decision: Tim Taft

In another "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer down with Tim Taft, president and CEO of Fiesta Restaurant Group (FRGI) , the casual dining chain that last delivered a 2-cents-a-share earnings beat on robust same-store sales at both its Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana locations. Shares of Fiesta are up a quick 18% since Cramer last checked in just four months ago.

Taft said Fiesta's expansion plans start in Texas, a state big enough that the company could double in size. Once Texas is complete, Taft said they will begin looking in other areas of the country.

Among the many factors helping the Fiesta Group succeed are two remodeling efforts, one at Taco Cabana that will be completed in mid-2015 and another at Pollo Tropical, which will just get started in 2015. Taft noted that lower gas prices are also helping to fuel their growth.

Perhaps the only negative Taft cited was chicken prices going into 2015. He said that while costs are expected to rise, they still have pricing power to raise prices to offset those rising costs.

Cramer said that he's always liked the Fiesta Restaurant Group and now he likes them a little more.

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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

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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in stocks mentioned.

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