Does Cramer’s Auto Play Have Superior Acceleration?
"The auto market is clearly on fire," said Cramer. Signs are everywhere, according to the Mad Money host.
"A couple of days ago in the Washington Post there was a piece titled, "Auto Sales Saved The Economy in 2012," which noted that we likely sold 14.5 million new vehicles last year in this country, the highest number since the financial crisis."
Wednesday's Wall Street Journal touted that , "U.S. Auto Sales Forecast to Break 15 million in 2013," They suggested that the number of vehicles sold this year could be closer to 15.4 million.
CNBC's own Phil Lebeau said the number could be 15.3 to 15.5 million autos this year.
And Cramer thinks those impressive numbers may be the tip of the iceberg.
"Hurricane Sandy wrecked hundreds of thousands of cars that need to be replaced if their drivers want to be able to get to work. And we've still got a tremendous amount of pent-up demand in this country, as the average car on the road is about eleven years old."
All told, there a slew of reasons to feel bullish – but the Mad Money host also said he's inclined to play the thesis with one single stock - Ford.
1. Well Managed. "First of all, it's the best run auto company in America," said Cramer. The company likely sold 2.2 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, which makes Ford the first domestic auto company to get back to pre-recession sales levels.
"Also, Ford's U.S. business is in fantastic shape," Cramer added. Ford's operating profits in North America were at their highest levels since 2000 in the latest quarter.
And, "Ford has the best CEO in the business, Alan Mulally. In my view, he's already saved Ford. Remember, thanks to Mulally, Ford was the only one of the big three that didn't need to file for bankruptcy protection during the financial crisis," said Cramer.
2. Hot Cars. The Ford Focus was the best selling car on earth last year, and when you include the Fiesta and the F-Series pickup, Ford makes three of the top ten best-selling cars worldwide—nobody else has that many. Also, the company's expected to introduce 40 new vehicles in the U.S. this year, more than twice as many as they did last year.
3. Improved Consumer. "We know that home prices are on the rebound, when that happens consumers feel wealthier and they're more likely to spend on a new car," Cramer said. "Also, with the fiscal cliff a thing of the past, we don't need to worry about income taxes going up for 98% of Americans, something that might have crimped car sales."
4. Overseas Strategy. Two months ago, Ford indicated that it's aggressively cutting back on its European business. The company's already announced plans to cut 6,200 jobs in Europe this year, while closing a major assembly plant and two smaller factories, moves that should generate $500 million in annual savings by 2015. And if these cutbacks aren't enough, Ford has said they're willing to go further in order to become profitable in Europe by the middle of the decade.
"Ford has been more aggressive than any other auto maker when it comes to slashing costs in Europe, and that's a big reason why I like this stock more than GM," Cramer said.
Meanwhile, in China, their business is growing like a weed, said Cramer.
6. Borrowing Costs. "Back in April and May, Fitch and Moody's upgraded Ford's debt from junk to investment grade," said Cramer. "That gives Ford the ability to borrow much more cheaply."
7. Other. "Ford's raw costs are coming down and the company's deal with the United Auto Workers gives them stability on labor costs at least through 2015," said Cramer.
What's the bottom line?
"When you see headlines that say the U.S. auto business is booming, don't outsmart yourself. Stick with the obvious winner and buy some Ford," Cramer concluded.
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