Cramer: First Niagara ‘Making All the Right Moves’

“You want a regional bank that’s doing everything right?” Cramer asked viewers on Monday. “Take a look at First Niagara because these guys are making all the right moves.”

Just what are those moves? Buying up weaker banks to extend its footprint into new markets. The once-sleepy Buffalo, N.Y.-based outfit, with just 114 branches, will boast 350 locations across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts when its acquisition of NewAlliance Bancshares closes in April.

It’s a time-tested strategy that Cramer saw work after the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s and ‘90s. Investors who bought a then-small New England bank called Fleet in 1988, when it started to acquire ailing banks, earned a return of 500 percent by the time Bank of America bought Fleet in 2004.

Cramer said First Niagara now looks a lot like Fleet did back then. The stock’s already up 18 percent since his last interview with CEO John Koelmel on Aug. 24, 2010, and the “Mad Money” host thinks more gains are on the way. Is he right? Watch the video to see Cramer’s interview with CEO Koelmel.

When this story published, Cramer's charitable trust owned Bank of America.

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    Jim Cramer is host of CNBC's "Mad Money" and co-anchor of the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

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