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Jim Cramer has finally reached the point where he can clearly see that the main force behind the market's bear phase is not just earnings. Investors are worried about credit, specifically pertaining to high-yield bonds.
"If your company needs debt in order to grow, then your stock is being punished, and there is not much that can be done except to watch the carnage, wait it out, or just take a loss," the "Mad Money" host said.
Cramer cited the case of XPO Logistics, the trucking company that visited "Mad Money" on Friday. CEO Bradley Jacobs confirmed that while the company is doing well, the stock is hurting.
The reason? It's because XPO is a roll-up company. That means it is a vehicle used by the CEO to buy other companies to grow or dominate an industry. XPO recently announced the purchase of Con-way, a giant trucking company, for $2.72 billion. This deal was right on the back of another large acquisition by XPO; it purchased European logistics company Norbert Dentressangle earlier in the year.
And while XPO has the borrowing capacity to make both acquisitions without much stress, the market has punished the stock brutally; it's down 47 percent for the year.
Cramer marveled that a deal that would have been applauded by investors a year ago is now hated, simply because times have changed. So, the stock was pulverized.
However, Cramer can see the other side of the risk coin when he looked at Olin, which is buying Dow Chemical's commodity chemical business. It had to borrow at a rate of 9.75 percent last Friday in order to obtain the money to finance the deal. This interest rate was insanely high, in Cramer's opinion. In fact, it is unrealistic for most companies to pay without risking default. So, in this case, the decline in serial acquirer stocks does make sense to Cramer.
"I think if a company's future growth is going to rely on acquisitions and those acquisitions need debt, you have to accept that the window for cheap debt for these kinds of roll-ups is closing," Cramer said. (Tweet this)
Read more from Mad Money with Jim Cramer
Ultimately, Cramer thinks that if XPO can manage to cut costs and get the most out of its two most recent acquisitions, then the stock will rebound like crazy.
For now, XPO is stock in the vortex of the most hated group on Wall Street. Investors want as little risk as possible, and unfortunately these debit-financed deals are being viewed as toxic.
One day they will not be viewed as toxic, but that day is not here yet.