The stock market may be stalled at current levels until investors can figure out what trade barriers President Trump has up his sleeve, while they also wait for Trump's tax and regulatory reforms to kick in.
That was Jim Cramer's assessment of the day's market action on Tuesday's episode of Mad Money. Cramer said the real question is whether Trump can make good on his promises of lower taxes, deregulation and repatriation of funds before burning bridges with Republicans on immigration and other issues.
Investors need to remember that when it comes to trade, Trump believes we're already in a trade war. And we're losing. That means Trump is willing to sacrifice the earnings of our tech and consumer packaged goods companies that sell into China, to restore a balance on manufacturing. Trump seems perfectly willing to break a few eggs to save the American omelette, Cramer said.
That's why Trump is so hard to gauge. At today's meeting with drug makers, Trump praised the industry's world-class innovation, while at the same time calling them greedy when it comes to drug pricing.
But as Apple (AAPL) showed us today, there are still great earnings stories in the market, Cramer added, which is why shares of the Action Alerts PLUS holding shot up 3.3% on an otherwise down day. How would a trade war with China affect Apple? No one really knows. That's why for now, the earnings are what really matters.
Off The Charts
In the "Off The Charts" segment, Cramer checked in with colleague Larry Williams over the chart of Coca-Cola (KO) , a stock for which Williams has discovered some interesting correlations. Readers may remember back in October of last year when Williams successfully called a correlation between Costco (COST) , an Action Alerts PLUS name, and the U.S. dollar.
Today, Williams looked at the weekly chart of Coke as compared to its historical seasonal patterns. He noted that Coke rallies every year twice, once beginning in February and again at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Correlations are never perfect, but Cramer said that buying Coke in February has historically put the odds in investors' favor.
The second correlation Williams discovered was between the price of the stock and the price of sugar, which makes sense since Coke uses over two million tons of sugar every year. But Williams noted that sugar is a leading indicator, by 70 days to be precise, which means that buying shares of Coke today should be a good bet, as sugar prices spiked higher 70 days ago.
Cramer admitted that he's a little skeptical of correlations like these, but said investors could do a lot worse than owning Coca-Cola, which is a high-quality company.
A Spoonful of Sugar?
Is the President's bark worse than his bite? Cramer said it sure seemed that way a Trump's meeting with drug makers today. The government is the largest buyer of drugs, yet Trump decided not to threaten the use of the government's bargaining power to force lower prices.
Instead, Trump simply said that he won't tolerate the astronomical prices of some drugs that have been making headlines recently.
In return, Trump said he'll work to streamline the FDA approval process for new drugs, which is one of the drug maker's biggest costs.
But even with the President's softer tone, Cramer said he'd use any strength to sell the drug stocks. There are periods when it's just not right to own certain sectors, he said, and while we've seen this trend in recent years for the banks, oils and industrials, it's now time to not own the drug stocks.
The same applies to retail, with the venerable Under Armour (UA) imploding today, down 23%, after a huge earnings miss and the resignation of its CFO.
Executive Decision: Arconic
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Arconic (ARNC) , the recent spinoff of Alcoa (AA) that Kleinfeld characterized as a "innovation and technology" company.
Kleinfeld said that Arconic is making good progress as an independent company, but still has more that they can do. He said while the expectations for aerospace remain "very high," there is still a lot of work to do, while autos are likely to remain steady and heavy-duty trucks are likely to see continued weakness.
When asked about the company's debts and remaining 19.9% stake in Alcoa, Kleinfeld explained that the stake was needed in order for the separation to happen, and Arconic will not normally have such high debt loads.
Finally, when responding to shareholders who have been critical of his leadership, Kleinfeld said he has created a lot of value with the spin off and any remaining issues will be fixed. He plans on working with shareholders to resolve any challenge.
Cramer said he's staying long Arconic for Action Alerts PLUS.
Cramer is telling his investment club members all about Arconic's (ARNC) earnings, what's going on with CEO Klaus Kleinfeld, and how they expect the company to perform in 2017. Get a free subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
Independent of the Trump Effect?
What if the industrial stocks don't need Donald Trump to be successful?
That certainly seems to be the case with Illinois Tool Works (ITW) , the conglomerate that makes products for everything from deep-sea oil rigs and aerospace parts to restaurant equipment.
Cramer said that since 2009, every pullback in shares of Illinois Tool Works has been a buying opportunity. The company last posted a two-cents-a-share earnings beat with 2% organic growth, but Cramer said the company has a lot more room to run.
Illinois Tool Works continues to focus on the 80/20 rule, Cramer explained, which is that 20% of your customers buy 80% of your products, so focus on keeping those companies happy.
Given that shares of Illinois Tool Works trade for only a slight premium to the S&P 500, Cramer said he'd use today's weakness in the stock as another buying opportunity.
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