Even the most troubled companies out there can turn themselves around, but first they need to know how. That is why Jim Cramer set his sights on IBM, the old-line technology company that has been stuck in a brutal downtrend in the past two years.
"Mainly, IBM has spent its money buying back an insane amount of stock. They should consider changing the name to International Buyback Machines," the "Mad Money" host said.
Cramer thinks there is a more positive and constructive approach that IBM can take to turn things around. In order for that to happen, management needs to put its money to work more intelligently. If IBM's business is declining, then buying back stock isn't going to fix anything.
"While IBM has made a huge string of acquisitions, I think that they haven't thought big enough," Cramer said. (Tweet This)
After these last few years of disappointment, Cramer thinks it is time for IBM to become more aggressive. That means increasing the 29 percent of its business dedicated to big data, cloud and cognitive analytics up to the 40 to 50 percent range. Then the stock would be able to fly without any need for buybacks.
The main issue with IBM, in Cramer's perspective, is that it has become a growth-challenged enterprise. Smaller competitors have been able to chip away at the company's market share as the company struggles to turn the ship around.
So, while sales have been on the decline, IBM still does very well at generating an enormous amount of cash. The problem is that it doesn't know what to do with the cash.
That is why Cramer decided to provide IBM CEO Virginia Rometty with his shopping list of five tech companies that IBM should acquire in order to get its mojo back.
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The first is Box, the newly public, cloud-based Web storage company with a $1.57 billion market cap. The company might be small, but it is a dominant player in the cloud with a platform that works across most devices. Cramer thinks Box being a part of IBM could be good for Box, too, as it would allow it to get into the more profitable enterprise business, which IBM already enjoys. Box and IBM just announced a big partnership at the end of September, so why not just bring Box in house?
The next company is Cyberark, as Cramer thinks IBM should be eager to get into the rapidly growing cybersecurity space. Cyberark is a $1.3 billion Israel-based cybersecurity company that has carved a niche for itself by protecting privileged accounts.
In fact, Cramer thinks cybersecurity should be a crucial focus for IBM. That is why he recommended another deal with Imperva, another cyber-leader that has a focus on protecting business-critical data and applications. It is a $2.3 billion company with magnificent accelerating revenue growth, up 48 percent in the last quarter.
"Given how its stock has been roaring I think this is a case where IBM should move soon before the stock goes even higher. I'd do this one tomorrow," Cramer said.
The last deal on Cramer's shopping list is for a big data analytics company like $3 billion Qlik Technologies or $6.9 billion Tableau Software. These two competitors have been taking market share from IBM in the analytics space, which is why Cramer says IBM should take a "if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em" approach.
"Memo to IBM: the bulk of your business is in a decline, and you can't solve that problem with buybacks, but you can fix things by buying other companies," Cramer said. (Tweet This)
IBM has a history of reinventing itself. That is why Cramer thinks it can still reinvent, it's just a matter of making a few smart acquisitions.