Mad Money

The James Bond Bumper Cam?

The National Highway Safety Administration could push through a major regulation change that would generate a significant amount of business for one specific auto-parts maker, Cramer said Friday.

The feds could mandate that all light vehicles sold in the US have a rear-camera display. While a decision isn’t expected until February 2011, a yea vote would be huge for Gentex .

“And you have to be in it way before that to make easy money,” Cramer said.

Mirror Effect?

There are three ways the mandate could play out: cameras that feed into navigation-device screens, back-up sensors and rear-camera displays in rearview mirrors. This last option, where small LCD monitors in the mirror engage when the car is in reverse, would account for about 60 percent of all applicable vehicles, and Gentex controls close to 80 percent of the market. The company could “make money hand-over-fist,” Cramer said, by simply incorporating these displays into its rearview mirrors.

And Gentex makes all kinds of mirrors. In fact, Cramer called the company the king of automatic-dimming rearview and side-view mirrors that reduce glare. There are other products in the stable, too – namely mirrors that have OnStar and HomeLink, tire-pressure monitoring, voice recognition, exterior temperature displays and LED turn signals – but it’s this auto-dimming that offers one of the company’s best growth opportunities. Gentex controls a market that management expects to grow from 18 percent of worldwide automotive production to 45 percent penetration.

Part of the downside risk here is the company’s exposure to Toyota , which accounts for 17% of sales. But Cramer thinks the 10,000 unit per week production decrease as a result of Japanese automaker’s recall woes could be made up by increasing sales to other customers like Ford .

Gentex maintains a pristine balance sheet with $353 million in cash and no debt, and earnings are expected to grow 79% in 2010 and another 21% in 2011. The stock, which offers a 2.2% dividend yield, is trading at 24 times this year’s numbers, though it historically has fetched a multiple between 25 and 30. That has Cramer thinking there’s plenty of room left for Gentex to run.

A final note: The company upped its first-quarter guidance on Jan. 28 based on numbers from auto market intelligence provider CSM’s December forecast. But CSM has updated its call since then, which is “a possible sign of an upside surprise to come” from Gentex, Cramer said.

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