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Cramer speculates: Is the mall truly dead?

Is the American mall dead?

Well, it's complicated, said Jim Cramer.

For the past month, companies like Michael Kors and Urban Outfitters have claimed that the declining mall traffic has led them to report disappointing numbers.

If that is the case, then why do people keep going to mall-based stores like Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, two large chains owned by L Brands? They reported terrific numbers last Wednesday and didn't cry about slow mall traffic.

"There are two ways to explain this. Either people really have stopped going to the mall, and L Brands managed to triumph over these mall blues. Or the whole 'nobody goes to the mall anymore' alibi needs to be taken less seriously and L Brands is simply out-executing the other shopping-mall focused retailers," the "Mad Money" host said.




Pedestrians carrying shopping bags walk past a Victoria's Secret store in New York.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Pedestrians carrying shopping bags walk past a Victoria's Secret store in New York.

Cramer thinks it is a little of both. That is why he recommends that L Brands is worth owning. Even though the company has enjoyed a monster rally in the past few months and could be on the edge of peaking, Cramer thinks there could be some room to run here. That's because L Brands' traffic was up, even as overall mall traffic levels have been depressed.

"I think a lot of it comes down to execution, meaning L Brands, under the leadership of retail great Leslie Wexner, has been executing fabulously," Cramer said.

For example, L Brands officials recently spoke about the importance of shorter cycles in their business model. They are all about fast decision making in order to execute faster, which means they can react faster to a constantly changing environment.

Why is that important? Because with shorter lead times, the company can more quickly adjust the merchandise it buys to match the moment, which results in customers buying products at full price and less excess inventory gathering dust. Overstocked shelves are the bane of your existence when you are a retailer.

They are also raking in the dough in Canada, where they do $800 million in sales, and management thinks they can raise that figure to $1.5 billion.

Granted, Cramer knows that this stock is not cheap, considering that it is trading at 21 times next year's earnings estimates. However, don't overlook a good deal.

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"We are now going into the holidays, the perfect time of year for this company, and I bet the estimates for this quarter and perhaps next year as well, are simply too low. Which means the stock can continue to power higher," Cramer added.

With strong companies like L Brands at the top of its game, this is the time of year to keep your eyes open on retail. Just because there are fewer people shopping at the mall, don't assume that means the mall is dead. And it certainly does not mean every mall-based retailer is six feet under the ground, either.

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