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Everything Bad Is Good for You?

Tuesday, 8 Apr 2008 | 7:09 PM ET
Cramer: Bullish on UST
Tobacco is the ultimate secular growth play because its customers are addicts, with Mad Money host Jim Cramer.

Investing in so-called vice stocks might carry with it a moral dilemma for some investors, but there’s hard proof that while smoking and drinking may be bad for your health – they’re great for your portfolio.

That even holds true for downturns, such as the one we’re in now, too. People don’t stop smoking just because their homes' value is dropping. (“Addicts are just less economically sensitive when they need a fix,” Cramer said.) If anything, they smoke more.

For this reason, Cramer recommended tobacco companies – many of which offer high yields that work nicely in this low growth, low interest rate environment – for times like these. The sector had been lagging, but it’s starting to make up some ground. All except one in the group, that is – UST . That may not last for long, though, if Cramer’s predictions come true.

UST actually makes smokeless tobacco – think chaw or snus – and analyst concern over competition in the space from Reynolds American and Altria has kept the stock down. But some research in a key southern U.S. market that showed these two companies aren’t making the inroads originally thought seems to contradict that idea. Once Wall Street takes note, the stock should recover.

There’s also the chance Altria could end up buying UST, Cramer said. Apparently, Carolina Group and Reynold American’s smokeless tobacco products are outperforming those of Altria. So acquiring UST might be the best way to keep pace.

Either way, you have two reasons to own UST: as one of Cramer’s “catch-up” plays or on the likelihood it gets bought out. The 4.7% yield should make the wait a bit easier.

Jim’s charitable trust owns Altria.

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

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