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Gap: The Ultimate Turnaround Stock

Investors can’t ignore retail if the Federal Reserve cuts rates, Cramer said on Mad Money tonight.

Sure, retail may be as hated as the brokers and the homebuilders right now, but some companies have great balance sheets and growth, they’re executing buybacks, and insiders are buying their own stock. So the situation for these stocks could change dramatically if the Fed decided to cut rates.

Even for a long-hated name like Gap.

“This is a company that has been so loathed, so hated, so incompetent for so long that I wasn’t entirely sure that I would ever have anything positive to say about GPS,” Cramer said.

But a lot has changed.

The balance sheet now is in great order: $2.7 billion in cash and investments, only $514 million in debt. Plus, a $1.5 billion buyback.

The new CEO, Glenn Murphy, was the top guy at Shoppers Drug Mart, the largest drugstore chain in Canada, and has 20 years in retail – just not clothing. And Cramer said that fresh perspective is exactly what Gap needed.

Robert Fisher, of the largest shareholder family, did a great job trimming the company’s fat, especially at the staff level, while he served as interim CEO, Cramer said. He also closed down Gap’s new Forth & Towne stores and helped turnaround Banana Republic.

The real driver of the stock, though, at least as far as Cramer is concerned, is the store’s focus on the late 20s/early 30s demographic. “I think that they’ll take the stock much, much higher,” he said, because that age group has been driven out of almost every other store.

Interestingly enough, despite a year of beating expectations, analysts still doubt Gap. Right now, there are nine “buys,” 13 “holds” and two “sells” on the stock. “You’d think they’d get more love,” Cramer said.

In the end, “Gap is a great turnaround story within a sector that’s turning,” he said. Investors should just be sure to research the stocks thoroughly and not jump in too early.

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