Sometimes it all comes together and we get a bullish news cycle, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday. Today was one of those days.
On the macro side, interest rates ticked higher and Europe had a good day. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also made comments that tax reforms could be coming sooner rather than later.
But for guys like Cramer, the day was bullish because of the micro news, the individual companies that are making it happen. American Express (AXP) surprised Wall Street with better-than-expected results that sent shares up 5.9%. That was mirrored by strong results from both Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) , the go-to venues for online advertising.
But then there was good news from rail transport company CSX (CSX ) , which saw growth in every one of its business lines. Foot Locker (FL) also surprised to the upside, sending shares up a quick 5.3%. Cramer fave and Action Alerts PLUS holding KeyCorp (KEY) also delivered, as did paint maker Sherwin-Williams (SHW) .
Executive Decision: Snap-On
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Nick Pinchuk, chairman, president and CEO of Snap-On (SNA) , the makers of high-end tools, shares of which soared 5.7% Thursday after the company reported a three-cents-a-share earnings beat on 4.1% organic growth.
Snap-On was recently visited by President Trump, and Pinchuk noted this was the first time a president has visited the company in its 97 years. He said Trump was interested in learning more about American manufacturing and American workers and Snap-On has both in spades, with its 11 facilities throughout the U.S. and 11,500 employees worldwide.
Pinchuk said of their strong quarter that sales of diagnostic products continue to drive growth. The company's thermal imager, for example, can help mechanics diagnose problems in a fraction of the time. Snap-On is also excelling through customization, debuting hundreds of new SKUs for a host of industries so that everyone that needs a tool can get exactly what they need.
Cramer said the Snap-On story isn't over yet. In fact, it's just getting started.
Last week, Sherwin-Williams announced that as part of the deal, it would be selling the North American wood coatings business of Valspar to the little known Axalta Coatings (AXTA) for $420 million. Yet since then, Axalta shares have barely budged, which Cramer said is a big mistake.
When companies are attempting to merge they often have to divest assets at fire sale prices to appease regulators. That's the case with the wood coatings division, which Sherwin-Williams is offering up for just nine times earnings when similar deals would typically fetch 13 to 15 times earnings.
Cramer said that Axalta is a buy on this news, both because the deal will be instantly accretive to earnings but also because it helps the company diversify away from autos and more into the red-hot housing market. Cramer was also still bullish on Sherwin-Williams, which he said will still benefit from the Valspar acquisition, even without the coatings business.
Analyst's Viewpoint: Retail
In a special interview, Cramer sat down with Matthew Boss, the managing director of department and specialty stores at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) . Cramer doesn't typically interview analysts on "Mad Money" but said he was making an exception for Boss, who's bucking conventional wisdom and saying that now's the time to buy, not sell, the retailers.
Boss said that he's seeing material improvements in some of the retail sector for March and April and that strength seems to have legs. Everyone knows that the U.S. is over-stored, he said, but the industry is taking the right steps, with more than 4,000 store closures announced over just the past 18 months.
That doesn't mean that every retailer will recover, however. Boss said consumers are still looking for convenience, value and innovation -- and that's just what the athletic and off-price stores are offering.
Don't forget, disruption in retail is a friend to the discounters, which buy distressed merchandise on the cheap.
Boss continued by saying that JPMorgan has special tools that no one else has. The company uses orbital satellites to count cars in store parking lots to determine where retail traffic actually is, not where other analysts think it is.
Among the winners, Boss singled out TJX Stores (TJX) , Burlington Stores (BURL) , Dollar Tree (DLTR) and Oillie's Outlet (OLLI) . Other notables included Foot Locker and even Gap Stores (GPS) , where Boss said that Old Navy is beginning to solidify.
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer pondered the notion of whether activist investors have hit their limit in making real change. Some recent activist stories, he said, seem to point otherwise.
Case in point, the fight for Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) , a stock that's done nothing for four years. Cramer noted that shares rose 6% on the challenge by Marcato Capital.
Then there is Jana Partners' fight to reinvigorate Whole Foods Market (WFM) . Recent rumors have speculated that perhaps Kroger (KR) could be a buyer of the company, creating real win for shareholders.
Finally, there's the crazy story behind Elliot Management fight for changes at Arconic (ARNC) , an Action Alerts PLUS holding. Cramer said with CEO Klaus Kleinfeld ousted, he's winning to give the new team a chance to make things right.
Cramer and the AAP team view the strength of corporations as most important in proving that stocks can handle current valuations. Find out what they're telling their investment club members about Arconic, Apple (AAPL) and Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP) . Get a free trial subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
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