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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There’s a battle going on out there, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers on Wednesday. The S&P 500 slid some 1.6%, despite crude oil prices dropping 4% to new lows just above $60 per barrel. But there is also some good news and that's where Cramer wanted to focus first.
U.S. consumers benefit from the decline of oil prices, giving them more disposable income they can spend at places such as Costco Wholesale (COST) and Restoration Hardware (RH) , among other places, he said. Considering that 70% of U.S. GDP is driven by consumer spending, falling oil prices should be good news for retailers.
On the bad news side, lower prices weigh on the energy companies, especially those with high levels of debt. If oil prices don’t rebound, these companies won’t be able to repay their debts, Cramer explained. Lower oil prices also hurt many emerging market governments and larger foreign companies like Petrobras (PBR) .
The bottom line: If oil prices fall significantly below $60 per barrel, the negative effects on certain companies and countries could outweigh the gains seen from higher consumer spending, at least in the short term, Cramer said.
Hidden Oil Exposure
With oil prices crashing, Cramer isn't crazy about investors having too high an exposure to oil. But that exposure can come in different forms.
For instance, BOK Financial (BOKF) , Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR) and Hancock Holding (HBHC) are all financial companies. But did you know they have exposure to the energy sector through lending? That’s right, all of these companies have exposure to oil prices, which will pull down the share prices when oil declines. There’s really no reason to own these stocks, Cramer said.
The valuations are not any cheaper than other financial stocks, which is why investors are better off in larger financial companies or even just the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) .
Junk bonds are another group that has exposure to oil prices. Energy stocks make up 16% of the junk bond market, so Cramer considers these funds to be too risky for investors and not worth the risk.
And while the general consensus is that airline stocks are the biggest beneficiary of falling oil prices, some discount lines, like Spirit Airlines (SAVE) , could receive competitive pressure from startup airlines that rely on older, less-fuel-efficient aircraft.
Since oil is so much cheaper, these startups can now afford to be in business. This could also weigh on Boeing (BA) , as fewer airline companies will feel the need to upgrade their aircraft to the more efficient models.
The bottom line: Be aware of the stocks that continue to get hit when oil prices go lower such as like Conn’s (CONN) or Tesla Motors (TSLA) because that relationship is likely to continue, Cramer said.
Bully for Biotechs
On days like today when the market falls it pays to remember there will always be good companies that get dragged lower with the bad even though there's always demand for these companies’ products.
For Cramer that means biotech companies.
Many of the small biotechs just wrapped up their presentations at the American Society of Hematology conference, he pointed out. The big winners from this conference are moving lower with the broader market, and that presents investors with a buying opportunity.
Let’s start with Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO) . Cramer said the company reported very impressive information and revealed that it will begin testing its anti-cancer therapies as early as next year. The stock is up a whopping 365% on the year.
Kite Pharma (KITE) is another winner, Cramer said. But investors should wait for the company’s secondary offering before getting long the stock. Also, if investors have a chance to get in on the Juno Therapeutics IPO, they should do so, he added.
The bottom line: Investors should take advantage of good companies that get dragged lower for no apparent reason. While you're at it, look at Celgene (CELG) because it owns stakes in many of the smaller biotechs, too, Cramer advised.
Executive Decision: Dr. Stanley Crooke
On the show’s “Executive Decision” segment, Cramer sat down with Dr. Stanley Crooke, the founder, chairman and CEO of Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) .
Crooke is excited about the company’s new drug, ISIS-FXIRx, which is used to treat blood clots within a blood vessel, without the patient bleeding to death during injury. In phase II studies, the treatment showed a seven-fold reduction in incidences of clots compared to standard treatment, he explained. This is a “tremendously exciting advance” and the “commercial potential is just enormous,” he added.
This drug could eventually be used by millions of people, although investors should realize that it’s for second-time clot and heart attack sufferers who would take the drug as a preventative over time. It’s not something that would be used on the spot of a heart attack, he said.
Cramer finds the company attractive, especially given its diverse portfolio of treatments. These treatments are “phenomenal” and the stock is going higher, he said.
Executive Decision: Richard Thompson
On the show’s second “Executive Decision” segment, Cramer met with Richard Thompson, CEO of Freshpet (FRPT) . The company makes minimally process food for animals that features all-natural ingredients. The stock climbed 6% on the back of what Cramer called “solid” first quarter results.
Freshpet’s product is refrigerated, which puts it in a “big niche,” Thompson said. The company’s focus is on making great products for pets. It does cost slightly more than traditional dog food but the idea is that more and more people want to do what’s right for their pet and pay up for the product.
Those embracing the health and wellness trend are the target customer, he added.
The company has a refrigerated manufacturing and distribution process that is hard to replicate. And while the company’s product is in 13,300 stores in the U.S., management sees kennels as a great potential customer. Europeans would also really like this product, Thompson said.
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-- Written by Bret Kenwell