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Is there a mutiny at the Federal Reserve? It sure seems that way, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday after several Fed governors broke ranks and said publicly the Fed isn't moving fast enough raising interest rates. That dissension sent shock waves through the stock market since just a week ago Chief Janet Yellen & Co. took fears of an imminent hike off the table.
That's why Cramer said his game plan for this week all hinges on Friday's nonfarm payroll numbers. A strong number will reinforce the rate hike dialog, forcing the markets to give back much of its recent gains.
Next, on Tuesday, Cramer will be watching home builder Lennar (LEN) , which even if the company does manage a blowout quarter won't matter given the interest rate fears. There's also Restoration Hardware (RH) reporting and an analyst meeting at 3M (MMM) . Cramer said Restoration Hardware needs to prove it can turn the ship around, but 3M can be owned right here, right now.
Wednesday brings earnings from Lululemon Athletica (LULU) and Micron Technologies (MU) . Cramer said he's nervous about Lulu and expects Micron to post terrible results. He recommended Intel (INTC) as an alternative.
Then, on Thursday, Nasdaq (NDAQ) will host an analyst day. But with no new initial public offerings coming to market, Cramer said he expects bad news.
Finally, on Friday, in addition to the all-critical labor report, BlackBerry (BBRY) will be reporting. Cramer said at some point, BlackBerry will have to become valuable given its cash hoard, but we haven't seen that point yet.
Buying Into KB Home?
Even before it reported earnings, Cramer said KB was the most notorious boom or bust homebuilder. Shares rallied from $14 in 2001 to over $85 by 2005 before plunging to just $5 during the depths of the recession in 2009, then rising to $25 before sliding back to $14 before Thursday trading.
In its report, KB had strong growth in California, mainly in Silicon Valley, where the company saw deliveries up 23%. But elsewhere in the country housing is cooling, especially in Houston, which is levered to the fate of oil prices. KB is also facing rising labor and commodity costs.
That is what makes last week's rogue Fed comments so worrisome, Cramer said. Some members of the Fed seem OK with the prospect of a national rate hike to curb what is only a California issue.
Cramer said that in a vacuum KB is a natural takeover target, especially given that it trades below its book value of $19.22 a share. The company has been aggressively buying back its own shares, 9% in total, because of this low valuation.
So on one hand, KB is worth owning, Cramer concluded. On the other hand, an inconsistent Fed is raising a lot of questions.
Cramer's Elite 8, Part 2
Rounding out his "Elite Eight" list of the top CEOs in the market, Cramer offered up the final four candidates to make his list.
First is 3M's (MMM) Inge Thulin, who took the reins in 2012 and has so far helped the stock gain 87%. Thulin has been turning around 3M, making the company less complicated through a series of smart acquisitions, divestitures and restructuring efforts.
The remaining three companies were all holdings in Cramer's charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS. The first is Pepsico (PEP) , whose CEO, Indra Nooyi, has been at the helm for 10 years. Cramer said Nooyi has be doing a fantastic job making Pepsi snacks healthier and taking the company worldwide.
Next on the list was Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz, who returned in 2008 to help foster a 534% gain in the stock, returning the company back into growth mode while making himself the human face of capitalism.
Finally, Cramer praised Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg for rallying shares 197% since the company's IPO. Cramer said Zuckerberg has made a series of smart acquisitions and now owns the online identity of billions of consumers worldwide.
Executive Decision: Tom Ennis
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Tom Ennis, president and CEO of Amplify Snack Brands (BETR) , which came public in August 2015 at $18, only to fall 36% by the end of the year. Shares of Amplify have been on the move in 2016, however, thanks to strong earnings three weeks ago.
Ennis said that Amplify is tapping into the two biggest food trends out there, snacking and eating healthy. He said the combination of those two has been "magic." Healthy does not necessarily need to be low in fat, Ennis noted, but it must have clean, simple ingredients and consumers will manage their calories.
When asked about growth, Ennis said Amplify started with just one store but with the sales data from that one store was able to grow into a second and a third and beyond. He said retailers love Amplify as much as their customers because the product flies off the shelves.
Cramer said Amplify is among the cheapest packaged goods companies out there.
Off the Tape
In his "Off the Tape" segment, Cramer sat down with Ryan Feit, co-founder and CEO of the privately held SeedInvest, a crowdsourcing service that could become the future of how startups get funding.
Feit said SeedInvest's platform is now live and accepting investments in its first offering, Virtuix, a virtual reality startup. Investors can invest as little as $1,000 and will receive quarterly reports just as they do with publicly traded stocks.
Cramer also welcomed Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix, to the show. Goetgeluk said Virtuix is a hardware company offering its first product, the Omni, for $699. It is currently building both accessories and software for the Omni, which is compatible with many existing virtual reality headsets and games.
In addition to the gaming aspects of VR, both men said exercise and fitness will be a big opportunity.
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