Cramer: Will Yum & SanDisk's turnaround plan work?

When a company has slow growth, Jim Cramer expects a CEO to whip into action and respond to the challenge with a turnaround plan. IBM, SanDisk, Wal-Mart and Yum Brands are four companies all facing the problem of slowing growth, and they have elected four very different ways to handle it.

That is why Cramer decided to evaluate each turnaround strategy, to find out if any of the companies stand a chance to get back into the high-growth game.

First up was IBM, which has two very different businesses: one with all the right fast-growing buzzwords like cloud, cognitive machine intelligence and big data manipulation; and another that is a slow-growing, old software and technology business.

The hope for IBM has been that the fast moving portion of the business would be able to accelerate faster than the declining legacy business. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be working, as the good part of IBM's business isn't growing fast enough.

"The buyback and dividend aren't enough to support the stock. So, everybody loses," the "Mad Money" host said. (Tweet this)

A KFC restaurant in Shanghai.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images
A KFC restaurant in Shanghai.

Next up was SanDisk, the low-end flash memory maker that has finally hit a wall after years of aggressive growth. SanDisk has now apparently decided to sell itself, perhaps to Western Digital. Cramer considered this an admirable way to reward shareholders after it repeatedly failed to deliver. The commodity flash memory group has just become too darned hard.

Then there is Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer and formerly a consistent grower. The company finally realized that it has gone too far in starving its infrastructure and workforce in order to keep prices low. CEO Doug McMillon decided to throw money at the problem and build out its infrastructure so it can compete with Amazon.

"I salute Wal-Mart's management, even though I am not sure if they can pull off the transformation simply because of the DNA of this quintessential bricks-and-mortar retailer," Cramer said.

Finally, there was Yum Brands, the parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. It has a high-growth business in China that has begun to waiver, and a low-growth business around the world that is decent and stable. The company announced that it will spinoff China, which has the potential to reward shareholders.

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Unfortunately, Cramer thinks Yum's current business in China is far from ideal, and he's not sure it's even worth speculating on the stock given what could be a long road.

So, while all of these strategies to deal with slowing growth are credible, Cramer found that only SanDisk had a quick payoff. The rest are for patient shareholders.

"In many ways, it is just better to go with the stocks of companies that never got to this difficult point in the first place," Cramer said.

After all, companies that don't require a turnaround could provide both short- and long-term performance in the long run.

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