"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Pardon the literary reference, but that's probably what people will say when they look back on this "increasingly Dickensian era," Cramer said.
Unlike fast-growing countries, like Brazil, China and India, the U.S.'s middle class is evaporating. In turn, the rich are spending more while everyone else is pinching pennies, he explained. As a tip of the hat to Charles Dickens, Cramer called it "A Tale of Two Cities."
However disturbing this trend may be, it's Cramer's job to help make you some money. Click ahead to see how he suggests doing so.
By Drew Sandholm
Posted 21 June 2011
To save money, people are buying generic brand products. In this space, Cramer likes Perrigo PRGO, which enjoys a 70 percent share in the over-the-counter generic drug market. Cramer said the company has become an expert at making smart acquisitions, has been building a strong international presence and recently reported a strong quarter. Although its stock is currently trading off its 52-week high, Cramer thinks it still has more upside.
Cramer also likes Treehouse Foods THS. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company makes a variety of house brand products. It recently reported a disappointing quarter, but most of the miss came from higher freight and fuel expenses, Cramer said. He thinks its underlying trends are strong. It happened to report 4 percent organic revenue growth and has been able to raise prices without losing customers.
While generic brand companies are working in this environment, Cramer would stay away from traditional defensive plays, including Clorox CLX, Colgate CL and Procter & Gamble PG. Consumers just aren't buying these marquee brands when they can get similar products for less money. In turn, the traditional defensive plays are struggling.
Just as people are looking to save money with house brand products, they are hoping to cut costs by doing their own car repairs.
In this space, Cramer likes AutoZone AZO. With 4,200 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, it is the leading auto parts retailer in the USA. The company recently reported its 19th consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth and its 10th straight quarter of more than 20 percent earnings-per-share gains. Cramer likes that the company has been remodeling its stores to attract new customers. It's also looking to expand into Mexico and hopes to get into Brazil soon, too. The company has been good about returning value to shareholders by buying back stock. It's a $12 billion company that has repurchased $9.9 billion worth of its own stock since 1998.
For those turned off by AutoZone's triple-digit share price, Cramer recommends O'Reilly Automotive ORLY. It has roughly 3,420 stores with more on the way. Meanwhile, its existing stores have become more efficient. Cramer expects its same-store sales to continue to improve.
People are also looking to save money by shopping at dollar stores, Cramer said. Family Dollar FDO is aggressively taking share from bigger retailers, like Target TGT and Walmart WMT. The second largest dollar store in the U.S., it has nearly 7,000 locations. While it continues to open new locations, it's also remodeling its current stores, which should lead to increased same-store sales.
Although low-end consumers are struggling, Cramer said the luxury consumer is "spending like there's no tomorrow." High-end shoppers aren't greatly affected by inflation, giving high-end retailers pricing power, where they can pass the higher costs onto the consumer. The best way to play the high-end consumer is through Saks SKS, Cramer said. The New York City-based department store operator is selling as much high-end products as it can, which Cramer called the "right formula." It seems to be working, as the company posted a 20.2 percent increase in same-store sales in May. Cramer thinks this stock is "chronically undervalued."