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The stock market sure feels better than it did at the beginning of the year, but is it actually better? That was the question Jim Cramer asked his Mad Money viewers Wednesday as he revisited his negativity checklist for an updated state of affairs.
First on Cramer's list was a change in tone from the Federal Reserve, something that happened over the weekend. Also on the list, some political certainty, which has also occurred as the presidential field continues to narrow. As for China cleaning up its act, Cramer gave China a half check for at least making some progress.
Other items on the list receiving check marks include a bottoming of commodities, stabilization of oil and an overall improvement in the geopolitical scene. As for those zombie companies Cramer was worried about, many of the most troubled oil companies have been able to raise money, allowing them to keep on living.
Cramer was not able to issue check marks for the strong dollar, which continues to rise, nor a strong initial public offering market, but he did acknowledge mergers and acquisitions are picking up.
Finally, Cramer noted that the so-called "peaks" in housing, autos, aerospace and cell phones don't appear to be as bad a feared and the markets overall are seeing expanded leadership.
Add it all up and there are now more items checked than unchecked, Cramer concluded, which means investors can buy the dips more aggressively and the rallies may soon be the real deal.
Executive Decision: Dave Cote
Cote made it clear that any potential tie-up has been put to rest and there are no ongoing discussions between the two companies. He said there had been back and forth talks for a few years.
Cote explained that while Honeywell is going great on its own, the two companies combined could do even better, with a solid core growth portfolio and over $3.5 billion in synergies.
Cramer also asked Cote about his recent stock sale. Cote said that despite what you may have read in the media, he sold less than 10% of his overall holdings, which today account for more than 60 times his annual salary. Cote said he holds all of his options for the full 10 years, then holds the shares for another year before selling them.
Cote, Part 2
Continuing his exclusive interview with Honeywell's David Cote, Cramer turned to the company's products and history of innovation.
Cote said software is a key focus for Honeywell. He said while companies in Silicon Valley focus on digital to digital communications, Honeywell must connect to the analog world. In that world, there is far less room for errors.
Cote was also bullish on Honeywell's recent acquisition of Elster, that he's very exciting for what Elster brings to Honeywell. Smart metering, he said, will only become more important over time. Cote also touted Honeywell's turbocharger business, saying that turbos will be a great business for a long time. He added that turbos are essentially mini jet engines, and Honeywell is the only turbo maker that also happens to make jet engines.
Executive Decision: Julia Stewart
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also spoke with Julia Stewart, chairman, president and CEO of DineEquity (DIN) , purveyors of the Applebee's and IHOP restaurant chains. Shares of DineEquity are up 9% so far in 2016.
Stewart reminded viewers that March 8 will be this year's national pancake day, IHOP's annual event to raise money for charity.
However, much of the conversation centered around Applebee's, where Stewart said she's seeing sales growth, but not enough sales growth. She hinted at big changes coming to the chain, both inside and outside the restaurants.
Stewart also talked about DineEquity's strong cash flow, which she said will continue to allow her company to repurchase shares and pay a dividend as well as take advantage of any strategic opportunities that may arise.
Cramer reiterated his recommendation of DineEquity.
Executive Decision: Doug Bauer
Bauer drew a correlation between the 15-year real estate boom from 1991 through 2006, which was powered by baby boomers, and the new cycle that he said is only just beginning and will be powered by millennials. That's why Tri Pointe is now focused on millennials, offering bold new contemporary designs with walkability to the urban centers that millennials crave.
When asked about weakness in the Houston area, Bauer said Houston only represents a small fraction of Tri Pointe's balance sheet and, to date, the company hasn't lost a dime in that market. He also commented on the tight labor market by noting that as oil jobs are declining, he expects many of those workers will migrate to construction.
Cramer said Tri Pointe shares, which trade near book value, are wildly undervalued.
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