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The inconsistency in this market is maddening, Jim Cramer proclaimed to his Mad Money viewers Thursday. Our economy needs a strong consumer to keep the bull market alive, Cramer continued. Depending who you ask, the consumer has been all over the map.
Ford (F) was among the latest companies to announce consumers are buying less, news that sent its shares down sharply by 8.1%. MasterCard (MA) echoed that call, reporting earnings slightly less than expected.
So which is it, strong or weak? Cramer said it's too hard to tell at the moment.
Executive Decision: Steve Tanger
Tanger said consumers need a bargain in tough times and they like a bargain in bad times, and that's exactly what his outlet centers offer. He said the typical outlet center has around 90 of the best brand-name stores offering merchandise ay 60% to 90% off department store prices.
Tanger touted his company's newest center in Columbus, Ohio, which backed up traffic on Interstate 71 for over six miles on opening weekend. He said about half of Tanger's 43 outlets are in major urban areas, like Columbus, while the other half are within driving distance to resort locations.
When asked about online competition from the likes of Amazon.com (AMZN) , Tanger said that when it comes to fashion items and apparel, people don't want to buy online. People want to try things on and shop with friends that can tell them how good they look.
Finally, when asked about occupancy rates, Tanger noted the company's top 10 tenants from 10 years ago are all out of business today, but Tanger was able to replace them with today's hottest brands at higher rents.
Cramer reiterated his buy on Tanger Factory Outlets.
Facebook Is Fabulous
It's amazing that Facebook was able to post $6.44 billion in sales this quarter, which represented accelerating revenue growth at a company that's already quite large to begin with. Better still, it costs Facebook next to nothing to attract and maintain its customers since the customers provide all of the content.
Facebook was also able to make a fabulous pivot from desktop to mobile and saw the importance of video in all of its offerings. Cramer said Facebook is simply the best way for global advertisers to reach their customers worldwide. That's why Cramer recommended using the current weakness in Facebook to buy, buy, buy as he thinks the stock is headed towards $160 a share.
Executive Decision: Andreas Fibig
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Andreas Fibig, chairman and CEO of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) , the 127-year-old company with over 3,000 customers in 152 countries around the globe.
Fibig said that tastes and smells are imprinted on us at an early age and play an important role throughout our lives. That's why IFF has performed over 500,000 consumer interviews to find out exactly what's popular, as preferences vary from country to country and region to region.
When it comes to our sense of taste, Fibig said that come tastes are in our DNA, while others are acquired over time.
When asked about the natural and organic trend, Fibig said it's not always black or white as to what's good for you and what's not. He said some natural things are not good for he body while other synthetic chemicals are perfectly safe.
Executive Decision: Nick Akins
In his third "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer checked in with Nick Akins, chairman, president and CEO of American Electric Power (AEP) , an Action Alerts PLUS holding.
Akins said a return to more normal weather patterns helped bolster this quarter's earnings, and AEP continues to see demand from residential and commercial customers improving. He said industrial and manufacturing remains slow, however, and the oil, gas and mining sectors in particular continue to decline.
AEP is still investing in its infrastructure, Akins added, and his company plans to triple its renewable energy generation over the next 20 years while also converting many of its coal plants to cleaner natural gas.
When asked about the effects of renewables and electric vehicles, Akins said AEP's diversity is its strength as his company has the largest transmission network in the country and can quickly get power where it needs to go.
Cramer said every diversified portfolio should have a utility, and the utility to pick is American Electric Power.
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