These CEOs are worth betting on: Cramer

21 CEOs worth betting on

In football, there's a high correlation between the effectiveness of the head coach and the team's success. After all, it's probably no coincidence that National Football League coaches Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, for example, seem to often make annual postseason appearances.

It's no different in business, Jim Cramer told CNBC on Wednesday.

The role of the CEO is integral to the success of a company and its stock, Cramer said. After research and having interviewed many top executives on "Mad Money," he crafted a list of those he considers the best CEOs, and, consequently, the stocks investors should consider for their portfolio.

"You take these people and you can bet on them and what they're doing through thick and thin because they've been so successful," Cramer told "Power Lunch." "They know how to do [business] strong, ethical, lean, profitable for all; this is what we're looking for in people."

Who's on the list?

Jim Cramer
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Robert Benmosche, American International Group: "He took a company that we all thought was going to go under—maybe the biggest black hole in the history of the United States Treasury—and he turns it into something that is profitable," Cramer said. "What a remarkable task by a man [of] sheer, sheer integrity, brawn, brains. You couldn't ask for more."

Alan Mulally, Ford Motor: After the 2007-09 financial crisis crushed the auto industry, he took action by fixing Ford's balance sheet, raising cash and reinventing its brand, Cramer said. Mulally was thought to be on the short list to succeed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but the Ford boss batted down that speculation. Even so, Cramer said the Street's excitement about the possibility makes Mulally "bankable," and it's likely Ford's stock could reach new highs.

(Read more: Mulally: Pleased to get past Microsoft speculation)

Marc Benioff, Thanks to his vision and insight, Benioff has outmatched competitors, like IBM, by focusing on cloud computing and social media, Cramer said.

Robert Iger, Walt Disney: Cramer credited Iger for building Disney brands, such as "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Star Wars," which include successful movie franchises, theme park rides and merchandise. "This was a company that many people had given up on," he said.

Dave Cote, Honeywell International: Cote took this conglomerate and transformed it by focusing on cutting costs and raising revenues, Cramer said.

Sandy Cutler, Eaton: Cutler has managed to make Eaton "the dominant electrical company in the world" and to reward shareholders by raising the dividend, Cramer said.

Chuck Bunch, PPG Industries: Cramer extolled Bunch for having the vision to see that commodity costs were weighing down the company, and the courage to cut expenses and turn things around.

Ron Shaich, Panera Bread: Shaich is a problem-solver who will address challenges and send the stock higher, Cramer said, though he would wait for a pullback before buying shares.

Indra Nooyi, : Cramer called Nooyi a "rigorous thinker" who had the foresight to increase her company's offering of "healthy" snacks.

Manny Chirico, PVH: Under Chirico's watch, PVH has assumed the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands, and generated "tremendous returns." Cramer would wait for a pullback from current levels before buying shares, though.

Sally Smith, Buffalo Wild Wings: The Street has been skeptical of her, but Smith really gets the consumer, Cramer said.

Patrick Doyle, : Doyle revamped Domino's pizza, and embraced technology and social media to spur sales, Cramer said.

Debra Cafaro, : Cafaro gets results, and Cramer thinks she is "perhaps the best of any real estate investment trust investor." This stock could be bought at current levels, he said.

Eric Wiseman, : The company includes North Face outerwear, and Wiseman wants to create a "coalition" of strong brands, Cramer said. In addition, he thinks the chief was right to reward shareholders by splitting its stock.

—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm. Follow him on Twitter @DrewSandholm.

Note: This story was updated Thursday, Jan. 23, to include more CEOs on Cramer's list.