Mad Money

Applied Materials' Sunny Side

Cramer's Solar Flare

One of the best ways to make money in a stock is to buy it right before the company undergoes dramatic change. That’s what’s going on in Applied Materials, Cramer said on Tuesday's show, and Wall Street hasn’t realized it yet.

You think of AMAT , if you think of it at all, as the largest semiconductor equipment maker – basically, the biggest player in a loathed business. Semiconductors are typically bad stocks to own in a recession and, on top of that, the business itself is in its own cyclical downturn. But AMAT is different. AMAT has solar.

The company’s burgeoning solar business looks to Cramer like it has the potential to eclipse its core business, similarly to how Cypress Semi’s investment in Sunpower quickly became the reason to buy CY.

But why buy AMAT instead of any old solar stock and get rid of the semi exposure altogether? Because AMAT has experience where others don’t, Cramer said. Semis and solar panels both require silicon, and AMAT already has tremendous expertise in that arena, so it’s got a leg up when the business really starts humming. Furthermore, AMAT isn’t relegating itself to producing solar panels for houses – it’s bringing the game to the industrial level with plans to mass produce panels for huge solar factories. Think of it as the Henry Ford of the solar world, Cramer said. And if the Democrats quit their infighting long enough to win the general election, that’s likely to be more good news since both Obama and Clinton talk about subsidizing companies like AMAT to produce solar power.

The company is basically using its old semi business as a way to bankroll its new solar initiative, so it can’t really fail. As far as Cramer can tell, this interest in solar technology is not just a flirtation. It’s for real. Even CEO Mike Splinter said that solar is “the greatest opportunity the company has had in many years.”

So while the Street sees the stock as a semiconductor equipment maker with a side business in solar, with an according valuation, Cramer sees it differently. He would take advantage of the low estimates and the building momentum and get into AMAT now, while it’s just getting warmed up.

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