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On the Line: Fortune Brands CEO Bruce Carbonari

With a portfolio consisting of everything from sinks to golf clubs to bourbon, Fortune Brandsis the quintessential pastiche play. And while the stock has worked as long as Cramer can remember, the last quarter was a disappointment thanks to Fortune’s exposure, through home and hardware brands, to the faltering housing market. Has the housing crisis made Fortune lose its pizzazz?

Fortune Brands CEO Bruce Carbonari told Cramer on Thursday’s show that while the housing market is “challenging” he sees it only as a correction and not a long-term fundamental change. He contended that Fortune has still outperformed even in the context of a tough housing market.

Carbonari said Fortune is spending money to deliver growth in its spirits division. Fortune is positioning itself globally and beginning to benefit from better pricing, he said.

Cramer remained on the fence after the interview. For all its diversification, Fortune Brands is still heavily levered to the housing market. So for Homegamers who believe the crisis will subside in the next six months, FO is a buy. Anyone who thinks it will continue for longer better sit on the sidelines on this trade, he said.


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