Mad Money

Two stocks with eye-popping gains: Now what?

Cramer's March Madness: Intercept vs. Plug Power

(Click for video linked to a searchable transcript of this Mad Money segment)

Shortly after Q1 ends, pros such as Jim Cramer look at the top performing stocks to determine which, if any, are likely to continue their moves higher.

And, after poring over returns from two top performing Nasdaq stocks, Cramer was practically dizzy from the sudden altitude increase; the advances were jaw-dropping.

"Intercept, an emerging leader in liver disease therapies, started the year at $68 and finished the quarter at $329. That's a whopping gain of 383% year to date," Cramer said.

"Meanwhile, Plug Power, a provider of fuel cell systems for warehouse equipment, began the year at $1.55 and printed $7.10 by the end of the quarter. That's an eye-popping gain of over 390%," he added.

Hindsight, however, is 20/20. Jim Cramer is in the business of trying to determine what lies ahead. And he thinks the best way to determine if either company has more upside is to put them to the test.

Of course when Cramer says put them to the test, he means that literally. He thinks the best way to determine if either stock has more upside is to administer his proprietary growth test, detailed at length in his new book "Get Rich Carefully."

Following is a synopsis of that test as well as Cramer's insights on Intercept and Plug Power.

Joan Vicent Canto Roig | Vetta | Getty Images

Does the company have the potential for multi-year growth that we can actually put a value on?

"Right now all I can expect from Intercept is the approval for its key anti-cirrohosis drug, known as OCA," Cramer said.

"Plug Power has bookings of $32 million and a year end backlog of $50 million. I think there's plenty of interest in hydrogen fuel cells, and in California they are creating a hydrogen corridor with hydrogen stations along the way. Also, Walmart announced a deal with the company and I think others can, too.

Is the total addressable market big enough for the companies to sustain their growth?

"This is a tough one because Intercept is an orphan drug company so the total addressable market of patients isn't as important as the possible price the company can charge for its product," Cramer said. "Plug Power is constrained by its fork lift designation."

Does the company have the ability to stay competitive?

"I think that the potential orphan drug status for Intercept ends the competition. I do believe that Plug Power could have lots of competition," said Cramer.

Can the company return capital to shareholders over time, either through dividends or buybacks?

"No chance for either as they are both developmental companies," said Cramer.

Can they expand internationally?

"Plug Power is a domestic company. A company such as Intercept, with an orphan drug approval, will be able to sell that drug overseas unless it sells the licensing revenues and monetizes them," Cramer said.

Is the stock expensive?

"For Plug Power I used peer evaluation and found it was the most expensive of the four publicly traded companies in its sector," Cramer said. "Intercept was actually not that expensive when I considered the future revenue streams."

How is management?

"On this front, Intercept shines," said Cramer. CEO, co-founder and president Mark Pruzanski has 15 years in the life science business and has been a venture capitalist and the entrepreneur in residence at Oak Investment Partners. Andy Marsh, the CEO of Plug Power also has good bloodlines, and worked at Lucent Bell Labs. However, Marsh has often promised far more than he has delivered."

Does the company need broad macro-level economic growth to meet the numbers?

"Nope, both are experimental companies. Not an issue," Cramer said.

Can the company maintain or grow their gross margins?

"Plug Power I believe will always be in a dogfight over pricing but an orphan drug company is per se granted amazing margins," Cramer said.

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The Results

After looking at how each of the companies fared above, Cramer said, "I think that Intercept is a pretty darned interesting company and I would be tempted, after this exercise, to buy some deep in the money call options out until year end if I wanted to play it."

Looking at Plug Power, he said, "I don't care for the story. And knowing it has disappointed before, I would rather be a seller up here than a buyer because if Plug Power fails to deliver on new orders, the stock could fall sharply."

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