Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks? Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Wednesday that companies are doing it all the time and today, in particular, we saw of lot of them perform.
When what the last time AT&T (T) offered investors an upside surprise? They did it just last night, with an uptick in wireless subscribers that boosted shares by more than 5% in a single day. The company's tie-up with DirecTV is working, Cramer said, and the stock still yields 5%.
That doesn't mean that all companies can change, however. Cramer said that IBM (IBM) continues to struggle to change itself from an old tech company into a new tech company. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is also still struggling, after management reported that sales fell a sharp 5% after the latest round of health issues.
On Real Money, Cramer says look out for companies that you may have written off by rote. Get his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Citi
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup (C) , which just held its first investor day in nine years as the bank continues its recovery from the financial crisis and subsequent recession. Shares of Citigroup are up 163% over the past five years.
Corbat said that Citi has a long history and good bones and has been getting back to their roots of serving clients with great banking services. Citi has sold over $800 billion in non-core assets and has exited many non-core businesses to focus on its customers and on growth.
Citigroup plans on returning $20 billion a year for the next two years to shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividends and has the regulators' blessing to do so, Corbat said. Their earnings projections are built on capital returns, business performance and one rate hike a year from the Federal Reserve.
Citi is now the global leader in payments, Corbat said, moving money for the Fortune 5000 companies in 160 countries around the world. They're also the largest issuer of credit cards in the U.S. and a leader in digital payments. With operations in over 40 countries, Citi is uniquely positioned to take what works in one region and move it to the rest of the globe.
Corbat also spoke highly of his bank's recent partnership with Costco (COST) , calling the deal a great one for both companies.
Cramer asked the Citigroup CEO how he got through the dark days of the recession when his bank failed the government stress test not once, but twice.
Corbat said he's a 34-year veteran of the firm and is proud to lead his team. He said that many younger people are afraid to fail, but failing is how you learn. Corbat said he took responsibility for those failures, learned from them and investors can now see the results in his bank's performance.
Turning to the topic of technology, Corbat explained that with so many payments flowing through Citi every day, the company has huge opportunities to monetize the big data that they collect. Investments in technology will pave the way for the future, he said, which is why it's a great time to join the banking industry. Citi is finding great people that want to be part of that excitement.
Finally, when asked why he eschewed the executive suite for a cubicle with his team, Corbat said that he's a big believer in communication. Sitting with his team in an open space creates "constructive collisions," he said, and while some were skeptical at first, the team has seen the improvements firsthand.
Forecast for Polaris Industries
It's always sad when a once fabulous growth company loses its momentum, CC told viewers, but can a former darling return to glory? That might be the case with Polaris Industries (PII) , makers of ATVs and snowmobiles, a stock which peaked two years ago, but has since been cut in half.
Cramer said the decline at Polaris came down to one word: execution. The company delivered 19% growth in 2014, but saw that growth fall to just 5% in 2015 and -4% last year. It there was a problem to be had, Polaris was having it, Cramer said, as the company fought rising costs and inventories, a strong dollar, increased competition and mild winters for snowmobiles. But then there were the recalls, several of them in fact -- recalls that continue to this day.
Things appear to have turned a corner, however, after the company announced the painful shuttering of its Victory motorcycle brand. Polaris last delivered a five-cents-a share earnings beat with inventories down and sales on the rise. Management's commentary was also strong, predicting 12% to 14% growth.
But in the end, Cramer said Polaris is simply too risky to bet on, especially with so many recalls still plaguing its recovery efforts.
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer opined on the falling transports, as the airlines and the rails continue to roll over.
Case in point, Norfolk Southern (NSC) , which reported solid growth, but still saw shares fall 2%, as analysts focused on declining auto shipments. Union Pacific (UNP) didn't help matters with its lackluster commentary.
Cramer said the airlines have also landed with a thud this quarter, leaving only UPS (UPS) with a chance to save the group. Cramer reminded viewers that the transports equal commerce, so if they're slowing, so too is the economy.
Cramer and the AAP team say that Walgreens (WBA) could face a serious challenge from Amazon (AMZN) . Get in on the conversation and find out what they're telling their investment club members with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
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