We've seen quite the bull market as of late, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Monday. But this week, the markets must navigate a gauntlet they might not be able to overcome.
The biggest of the big, bad events comes on Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve will make its latest decision on interest rates.
Overall, Cramer said, rising rates would be a good thing, giving a much needed boost to the banks. But he also warned that there will likely be a backlash of uninformed people proclaiming epic earnings slowdowns.
Some sectors, like the home builders, do indeed slow with rising interest rates and that will likely bring on analyst downgrades.
Then there are the consumer packaged-goods stocks, with their high dividend yields often used as bond market equivalents. These stocks will be under pressure with rising rates.
Cramer also worried about the longer-dated stocks, like the biotechs, which may see earnings dampened by inflation.
Cramer noted that health care will consume all of Congress' time, making tax reform and infrastructure plans a 2018-and-beyond affair. Stocks are priced for near-term relief and shareholders may find themselves disappointed.
Finally, Cramer said, Trump's continued talk of a border tax will hurt retail far more than it will help manufacturing. Retail is already fragile and the job losses could be substantial.
Meanwhile, on Real Money, Cramer says he wishes we could get past the blizzard and the Fed. Check out his strategies with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Bright Spots in Retail
It's a dark moment for brick-and-mortar retail, Cramer told viewers, which makes last week's successful IPO of J. Jill (JILL) , the women's apparel retailer with 275 locations across 43 states, so interesting.
Jill began as a catalog retailer and is now split about evenly between catalog (42% of sales) and physical locations
(58% of sales). The company is also evenly split between lifestyle shopping centers and traditional mall locations.
What makes Jill so noteworthy is the company's proprietary database of its customers. Thanks to targeted marketing efforts, the company's omni-channel customers spend three times as much and three times as often as its store-only customers. Even with that statistic, Jill was still able to deliver same-store sales that were up 11%.
As for the stock, Cramer said it's pricey at 25 times earnings. He's also not a fan of Jill's private equity partners who still own 50% of the company. He also called into question the company's plans to grow its store count at a time when so many retailers are closing locations.
Cramer said J. Jill is clearly doing something right and is a rarity in retail, much like Ulta Beauty (ULTA) , but he'd take a wait-and-see approach before starting a position.
Shares of Children's Place are up 15% since Cramer first featured the company in November 2016. The company was early in closing underperforming locations, starting in 2013, and has since embraced new products and new technology to avoid costly markdowns. Children's Place also has a new mobile shopping platform and is expanding internationally and into wholesale markets.
When it last reported, Children's Place delivered a huge 29-cents-a-share earnings beat with a 6.9% increase in same-store sales. Yet the stock is far from expensive, trading at less than 18 times earnings.
Foot Locker also has fabulous execution and is benefiting from the closure of Sports Authority and from a war among its suppliers. The company's children's locations are also "killing it," according to Cramer, and Foot Locker is also expanding in Europe. It trades at just 14 times earnings.
What do both companies have in common? Cramer said both cater to underserved categories and benefit from children's apparel, which is one type of merchandise that is still best purchased in-store.
Executive Decision: U.S. Concrete
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Bill Sandbrook, president and CEO of U.S. Concrete (USCR) , a stock that's up 40% since the election. U.S. Concrete just posted a 12-cents-a-share earnings beat on a 21% rise in revenues year-over-year.
Sandbrook started off by saying that things are good at U.S. Concrete and that has nothing to do with Trump or his proposed infrastructure bill -- legislation that likely won't have any meaningful impact until 2019.
Sandbrook said underlying building demand is strong in all four of his company's markets.
Sandbrook said that there are many complex projects in the technology industry that need high service levels that only U.S. Concrete can provide. He also called out Dallas as an area with an increasing backlog as his company struggles to find enough drivers for its fleet of trucks.
Whether it's roads, bridges, warehouses or airports, Cramer said, there's a lot being built in the U.S. and this is the company that benefits.
While Intel shares fell by 2% on the news, Cramer said the market's looking at the deal all wrong, as data and data processing is one of Intel's strengths and autonomous vehicles generate a TON of data.
Cramer's charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS owns both Alphabet for its Waymo division, and NXP Semiconductor (NXPI) to gain exposure to the driverless car. There's no doubt today that Intel will also be a major player in this exciting area.
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