Our economy is on the verge of a depression if things don’t go well with COVID-19, Jim Cramer admitted to his Mad Money viewers Friday. He said it could be a brutal, but short-lived, V-shaped depression.
Cramer said Friday’s 4.4% unemployment rate data is just the beginning. Small businesses are applying en masse for government aid and it’s vital that our government keep everything in suspended animation until science gives us a treatment or vaccine.
His game plan for next week’s trading starts on Monday with the latest COVID-19 numbers, Cramer told viewers. He expects the numbers to be bad, but continued to recommend investors start buying stocks on the down days, because we don’t know exactly when the bottom will occur.
On Tuesday, we’ll get earnings from Levi Strauss (LEVI) – Get Report, but Cramer said it’s hard to sell jeans when every retailer in America is closed. The gloom will continue on Wednesday with the latest mortgage application figures. Cramer expected the housing market to collapse as people stay indoors.
On Thursday, we hear from WD-40 (WDFC) – Get Report and Cramer said he’d steer clear of this stock after short sellers published a scathing report on the company’s outlook.
There will be good news on Friday however, because the markets are closed for Good Friday.
Cramer and the AAP team are looking at everything from earnings and tariffs to the Federal Reserve. Find out what they’re telling their investment club members and get in on the conversation with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts Plus.
Executive Decision: Constellation Brands
In his first “Executive Decision” segment, Cramer spoke with Bill Newlands, president and CEO of Constellation Brands (STZ) – Get Report, the wine and spirits maker that on Friday posted a 42-cents-a-share earnings beat that included a 6% rise in sales. The company suspended its forward-looking guidance, however, as bars and restaurants are closed.
Newlands said that when times get tough, consumers turn to brands they trust, and Constellation has many of the brands that consumers prefer. He said there has been a sizable channel shift in recent weeks, as consumers switch from drinking at restaurants, which are now closed, to taking their beer and wine home.
When asked about inventory levels, Newlands said they have about 70 days of inventory on hand, but in many parts of the country, alcohol is considered essential, so their factories continue to operate and distribution remains strong.
Looking past the pandemic, Newlands was bullish on their spiked seltzer offerings, saying they were off to a strong start. He was also pleased with the performance of Modelo Especial, which is now the No. 4 brand in the U.S. Corona Premier also continues to outperform.
Newlands responded to why he’s chosen to suspend guidance by saying that while Constellation Brands has seen many recessions, no one has seen an environment like we’re in now. He said it would be irresponsible to issue guidance in such a fluid situation.
When it comes to investing, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, Cramer told viewers. Not every stock is a guaranteed winner.
Case in point, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) – Get Report, the perennial recession stock that everyone turns to during a downturn — but not this time. It turns out J&J also has a large knee replacement business and elective surgeries are on hold. Coca-Cola (KO) – Get Report is another go-to name during a recession, but skeptics note that many of its bottlers may be in trouble with the economy slowing down. Cramer said the risk is too great for a stock that trades at 21 times earnings. Other companies with confusing outlooks include AbbVie (ABBV) – Get Report, which acquired Allergan. Allergan’s focus has been with Botox and cosmetic surgeries, which are also on hold.
Then there’s United Technologies (UTX) – Get Report, which has seen its Otis elevators group suffer as China’s economy slowed from first the trade war, then COVID-19. Investors thought things were looking up after the company acquired Raytheon, but now both aerospace and HVAC are in trouble, leaving Otis as the company’s strongest division.
The only winner among the “good-and-bad” stocks was spice maker McCormick (MKC) – Get Report, which announced that it’s losing business as restaurants close, but gaining it back in spades as consumers do a lot more cooking at home and require more spices and hot sauce.
Executive Decision: Zebra Technologies
For his next interview, Cramer checked in with Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) – Get Report, the barcode and logistics company that helps items get to where they need to go.
Gustafsson said that Zebra is supplying and supporting many essential businesses in our country, both on the bricks-and-mortar side as well as in ecommerce. They’re seeing an uptick in the grocery industry as people are forced to stay home, and are helping operations all over the country scale up efficiently to meet demand.
When asked about our nation’s medical supplies, where it seems like we don’t know where anything is, Gustafsson said that Zebra has products and services to help with asset management and tracking as well as workflow systems to help move critical supplies where they need to go without losing track of them along the way. He noted their upcoming contract with the U.S. Postal Service, which is the company’s largest contract to date, as proof of how valuable Zebra’s technologies are.
On Real Money, Cramer keys in on the companies and CEOs he knows best. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
All In Seattle
In his last interview of the week, Cramer spoke with Steve Singh, Concur co-founder and managing director at Madrona Venture Group, one of the organizers of the All In Seattle coalition.
The coalition is supporting organizations throughout the Puget Sound area during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Singh said Seattle is making strides in its recovery and the local charities he’s involved with have raised over $30 million to help small businesses. He said small businesses make up a third of their economy and everyone needs to come together to help them.
Singh noted that the government can help, but they can’t do everything, which is why everyone needs to support their local businesses.