The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all closed at record highs Tuesdays, but the market has not been easy for investors to navigate, TheStreet's Jim Cramer told his "Mad Money" viewers.
Why has the market been difficult? Cramer said investors have learned certain responses over the past decade that are no longer applicable. For instance, any mention of a rate hike from the Federal Reserve used to drive stocks down.
A rate hike used to be one of the biggest bullets Wall Street continuously tried to dodge. But that's no longer the case.
When the Fed talks about raising interest rates when business is bad, that's disastrous. But increasing rates when business is good validates that the economy is strong, Cramer reasoned, and the market loves validation.
The economy is hot enough to warrant several rate hikes this year, but it's not so hot that inflation is getting out of control.
Additionally, we have a pro-business president and that's helping give stocks a lift on the notion that the environment will be less regulatory and more business-friendly, he explained.
It's given technology, financial and industrial stocks a boost, with many of these stocks not boasting ridiculously high valuations. It's just another reason the market can continue higher even when so many people are doubting its record run.
Here's the bottom line: For a long time, we needed interest rates to stay lower for longer. But now we need them to rise because our economy has finally achieved some momentum, which has been validated by U.S. companies and their management teams, Cramer said.
Meanwhile, on Real Money, Cramer says that whether it's the Fed or a pro-business president, the current market environment calls for a wholesale shift in our thinking. Check out Cramer's strategies with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: T-Mobile
"Management matters," Jim Cramer said regarding stocks and their potential. So look no farther than T-Mobile (TMUS) , which continues to tell a "fabulous story." The company just reported earnings of 45 cents per share, easily topping estimates of 29 cents per share, while also beating on revenue expectations as sales grew more than 23% year-over-year.
The company added its most postpaid subscribers in four quarters and has a very low churn rate. So how do they do it?
CEO John Legere said it's simple: He engages his employees and engages his customers. He's not your typical button-down type of CEO either. The chief exec -- wearing a black leather jacket with pink zipper accents for today's show -- explained that being different is what's allowed his company to push back and win against the big boys.
AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) just want T-Mobile to disappear, but that's not something that's going to happen, Legere said. The industry needs to embrace change and T-Mobile's unlimited data plans have forced their hand. Verizon recently announced it too will offer an unlimited data plan to customers -- which is exactly what T-Mobile and Legere wanted.
"We are going to fix a broken, stupid arrogant industry," he said, pushing for even more change when it comes to new products and 5G. Legere also argued on the idea that phone carriers need to start acquiring content companies.
Legere raved about the company's Super Bowl commercials and how much of an impact they had on social media. He explained that T-Mobile doesn't have the big balance sheet that its competitors have, but that doesn't stop them going big when the time calls for it.
Executive Decision: Visa
For his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Al Kelly, CEO of Visa (V) . The company just reported a great quarter, Cramer said, and "remains one of the greatest secular growth stocks out there."
Kelly told Cramer that much of the global economies look pretty good, with the exception of Brazil. Kelly also said he believes the U.S. had its best holiday season in five years, with e-commerce leading the way.
Because Visa is such a global company -- now completely global following the closing of its Visa Europe acquisition in June 2016 -- it has its finger on the pulse of the world economy. There was notable strength in the U.S., Kelly said, as well as Mexico, Asia, Russia and Europe in the fourth quarter.
He also pointed to India as a strong country for growth. With a population topping 1 billion and the government's recent decision to remove the country's two largest-denomination currency bills, adoption of digital payments has really taken off.
That's great news for Visa, Kelly said. There's a big opportunity in India over the next decade and similar opportunities worldwide. As the Internet of Things and mobile payments themes continue to gain momentum, that will be good for Visa as well, he concluded.
Executive Decision: Flex
Shares of Flex (FLEX) have been on a tear, rising almost 30% in 2016 and already up another 13% in 2017. "What a winner," Cramer said of the stock, which trades at just 12 times next year's earnings. He sat down with CEO Mike McNamara to discuss the company's current business.
McNamara expressed excitement in a number of areas, particularly augmented and virtual reality. This industry is not a gimmick, he told viewers. Gaming is a big market, but so are the commercial applications for AR and VR.
When Cramer asked about the potential for these technologies to eliminate jobs, McNamara said that rather than replacing jobs it will simply change how we work. Plus, it will spur job growth in this new industry as people will be needed to design, code and manufacture these devices.
Outside of AR and VR, other segments have taken hold. Personalization -- such as on a pair of Nike (NKE) shoes -- is becoming more and more of a reality as companies begin to digitize their supply chain and manufacturing process.
How does this benefit Flex? Basically, companies already have the product or the technology, but they need it manufactured. By partnering with Flex, the company is able to use its innovative processes to ultimately bring those products to market.
McNamara also talked about the company's growing potential in self-driving cars and health care. These businesses now make up a much larger part of revenues, he added.
He was bearish on Nokia (NOK) .
On the show's "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer took a closer look at Amazon's (AMZN) new videoconferencing tool, Chime.
With its latest venture, it's going head-to-head with companies like Cisco (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) , but it's wrong to make short-sighted assumptions that Amazon will instantly crush these behemoths, Cramer said.
While Amazon is excellent at what it does, let's keep it in perspective. The e-commerce giant leased a fleet of planes to help maximize its delivery efficiency. That doesn't mean it's the end for FedEx (FDX) and UPS (UPS) , he reasoned.
Or how about Amazon's moves into auto parts? While the short-sighted traders drove down the price of auto part suppliers like AutoZone (AZO) or Advanced Auto Parts (AAP) , doesn't mean these companies are suddenly doomed. Admittedly yes, they could get pinched a little bit, but Cramer argued that the dips in these stocks are potential buying opportunities, not selling opportunities.
The fierce competition between supermarkets are the companies' biggest enemy, not Amazon, he added.
The bottom line is this: Amazon is great at what it does. But like in so many other scenarios, just because it has entered into a new space or industry does not spell the instant death of entrenched players, Cramer concluded.
Cramer and the AAP team are trimming a little Arconic (ARNC) and adding some Snap-On (SNA) . Find out what they are telling their investment club members with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
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