Jim Cramer often talks about identifying investable themes as a valuable tool for making money in the market.
By themes, Cramer means big picture trends that barring some unexpected catastrophe should remain intact for the long-term.
In turn, these themes should drive the stocks of related companies.
Now make no mistake, themes don't have to be positive, they can drive stocks lower just as easily as they can drive them higher. They simply provide a backdrop; a strong undercurrent, that should endure reliably for the next 12 months.
Following are 10 of Jim Cramer's top themes for 2014.
1. Aerospace remains ascendant. Cramer cited results from Alcoa and GE in support of this theme. "Both companies are telling us that the backlog of planes is huge, the central thesis here is that the customers are healthy," Cramer said.
2. Non-residential construction increases in the US. "We're hearing about this important theme from a host of banks that have already reported," Cramer noted. "United Technologies, with its huge heating, ventilation and air conditioning business as well as its Otis elevator segment, should be able to tell us much more tomorrow and possibly cinch the theme for 2014."
3. PCs sales stop declining. Cramer cited a string of Street upgrades in support of this theme. "It's also the thesis that's also buoying Hewlett Packard and it jives with what a newly-private, free-speaking Dell has been telling people behind the scenes," Cramer said
4. Big mergers and acquisitions lie ahead. "This year we already have a potential bidding war for Time Warner Cable and a cross-border deal for Jim Beam that's a reminder of a time when foreign companies wanted more exposure to a growing U.S. market," Cramer said. In turn, Cramer reminded that M&A is good for investment banks.
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5. Long-standing troubles with banks wind down, replaced with a rewarding focus on net interest margins. "For two years, as mortgages made a comeback, the bank stocks were duds, as analysts kept waiting for the far more lucrative net interest margin—what banks make on your deposits—to rise," Cramer explained. This was the quarter it finally happened. I think this trend is in its absolute infancy."
6. Europe shows growth. "We're hearing from Alcoa, General Motors, Ford, and GE that business has bottomed in Europe. Even nascent positive year-over-year comparisons could lead to major earnings leverage," Cramer said.
7. Telco spending, at home and in China, makes a comeback. "We've seen that in the burgeoning orders for Ciena and F5 Networks, and we've seen it coveted in the activist grab on Juniper, something I believe wouldn't be occurring if there hadn't been a change in the order rate," Cramer said.
8. Chemical companies leverage natural gas glut. "With the price of their main feedstock low, many are committing to projects in the Southeast," Cramer said. In turn, lower input costs could goose profits
9. Domestic oil finds put downward pressure on domestic oil prices. "Schlumberger's otherwise outstanding quarter confirmed this trend, as North American drilling was one of the dark spots for the period," Cramer said. In a case of what's good for Main Street is bad for Wall Street, domestic drillers could come under pressure.
10. The bizarre disappearance of the mall shopper. "The combination of the shocking shift to web shopping in the final days of this past holiday season, and the noticeable decline in shopping at the mall has been causing a plethora of retail shortfalls," Cramer said. It could bode poorly for retailers that have limited online presence.
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