The true test of a first-rate market is its ability to hold two opposing rallies at the same time. That was Jim Cramer's take on the current state of the stock market, as he told his Mad Money viewers Thursday that this market is producing the most unlikely of rallies, and its animal spirits are roaring.
For example, everyone knows that oil and airlines don't mix. Fuel is the airlines' biggest expense, so when oil is rallying, the airlines are hurting. But that's not true in this market, where Delta Air Lines (DAL) shot up 4.7%, sending the rest of the group along with it. At the same time, Chevron (CVX) popped 3% on its strong earnings, sparking a rally in Apache (APA) , Anadarko Petroleum (APC) , Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) and many others.
The bears are still proclaiming that the next quarter-point interest-rate hike will destroy the economy, yet the homebuilders, one of the most interest rate sensitive groups, were soaring.
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Executive Decision: Denny's
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with John Miller, president and CEO of the value-oriented diner chain, Denny's (DENN) , which has 1,700 locations nationwide. Denny's just posted strong results that included a 2.2% rise in same-store sales.
Miller said Denny's is loved by millennials, especially with their Denny's On-Demand service which allows for online ordering and delivery. Much to his surprise, the most delivered items were not Grand Slam breakfasts, but rather burgers and milkshakes.
Among Denny's growth initiatives is the re-imaging of their locations to include a warmer feel that's less like a cafeteria and more like a restaurant, Miller said. Currently 67% of their system has been converted to the new look with great success.
Denny's also remains committed their shareholders, with increased share repurchases, and their franchisees and employees, where the chain is known for taking good care of their people. Denny's has plans to keep expanding their footprint, including in college campuses and areas like New York City.
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Bank Earnings: What to Focus on
Earnings season officially begins when the bank stocks start reporting this week and investors should expect a ton of one-time charges, Cramer told viewers, but that won't be what's most important.
Cramer explained that the earnings of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) , Wells Fargo (WFC) and PNC Financial (PNC) will be ugly this quarter, because banks typically carry unrecognized losses to offset their gains. With tax rates falling from 35% to 21% starting in 2018, banks will be encouraged to use their losses now.
Cramer said he also expects trading volumes to be down this quarter. But he's not worried, because retail sales were strong, indicating that the consumer is still alive and well.
Investors should be focused on three things, Cramer said, the net interest margins, loan growth and buybacks and dividends.
Bank of America (BAC) and the regional banks have the most to gain from interest rates. Loan growth will have likely slowed for all banks this quarter, so be prepared. As for dividends and buybacks, Cramer said he expects lower taxes and loosening regulations to cause a big boost in both.
Off the Tape: Away
In his "Off The Tape" segment, Cramer sat down with Steph Korey, co-founder and CEO of the privately-held Away, the luggage maker with a direct-to-consumer model.
Korey explained that Away was born out of necessity, as all other luggage makers were simply making luggage, but Away wanted to make products that supported the way people travel. She said all of Away's items allow travelers to fit more inside, while remaining ultra-light, and offer features like the ability to charge up your devices at your next layover.
Away even offers specialty colors, like Millennial Pink, which sold out in record time and had a wait list of 20,000 before becoming a permanent offering.
Korey said Away advertises primarily on social media, and travel fits in perfectly with services like Instagram.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Floor & Decor (FND) , Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) , Universal Display (OLED) , ZAGG (ZAGG) , Chegg (CHGG) , Core Labs (CLB) , Schlumberger (SLB) , Cedar Fair (FUN) , First Solar (FSLR) and Newmark Group (NMRK) .
Cramer was bearish on LG Display Co. (LPL) .
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer pondered the return of retail, given the 5% bump in same-store sales at Kohl's (KSS) and the 5.8% rise at Children's Place (PLCE) , just to name a few. Has something changed?
After talking to many retail execs this week, Cramer said there's a much more positive backdrop. Retailers are seeing millennials forming new households, online strategies are beginning to take hold and loyalty programs are working. The surviving retailers are enjoying these spoils and more, he said, which makes retail investable, but only on weakness given their recent monster run.
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