Cramer: This punching-bag stock worth owning?

Cramer: This punching-bag stock worth owning?

The beginning of 2016 tore down stocks and turned some of them into total punching bags. That is why Jim Cramer decided to look through them and figure out what could be worth owning right now and what should be avoided at all costs.

Supervalu is the supermarket chain with 3,425 locations and a stock that has been on a total roller coaster. The stock hit $50 before the Great Recession, and fell down to $1 in the fall of 2012. At that point, many investors were worried about the company's viability.

Over the next few years, Supervalu became one of the hottest turnaround stories in the market and peaked in April of 2015 at $12. The stock hit a wall in the second half of the year, and finished down 30 percent for 2015. Since then, it has dropped another 30 percent since the beginning of the year.

"Once again, it feels like SVU stands for special victims unit," the "Mad Money" host said.

Supervalu worth the value?

There is absolutely no confidence that the company can grow going forward and it seems to be challenged versus other players in the supermarket space.
Jim Cramer
A Cub Foods store is seen through a grocery shopping cart
Tim Boyle | Getty Images

So what made this stock fall apart, and can it get back on track?

Cramer initially attributed the rebound of the stock to it being a troubled company that got its act together. Before the Great Recession hit, Supervalu made a foolish acquisition when it purchased Albertsons along with other investors, led by private equity firm Cerberus.

This decision turned out to be disastrous once the financial crisis hit, which was how the stock declined by 97 percent from 2007 to 2012.

The turn started in July 2012, when Supervalu ousted its old CEO and brought in Wayne Sales, who was tasked with getting the company back on track. In 2013, the company sold its remaining portfolio of Albertsons stores to Cerberus. This allowed it to reduce its debt load to $3 billion from $6.5 billion.

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With the company out of hot water, Supervalu restructured itself into three different segments: a wholesale food unit called Independent Business, discount retail chain called Save-A-Lot, and a regular retail operation under Cub Foods, Hornback's, Shop N' Save, Shoppers and Banners.

The progress of the turn was slow at first, but by February 2014, it was clear that gross margins were improving dramatically. Everything turned back around when Supervalu reported a solid quarter in April 2015 but with a slight revenue miss.

At that point, the stock had more than quadrupled in the past two and a half years, so shareholders were eager to ring the register, sensing that the big run could be over.

The next few months were terrible for stocks, and then the company missed on both the top and bottom lines in October 2015 and the company announced the retirement of its CEO Sam Duncan.

Mark Gross is slated to take over as the new CEO, and he has a long history of experience in the grocery space. Additionally, the stock is very cheap at just 6.6 times earnings.

"However, there is absolutely no confidence that the company can grow going forward, and it seems to be challenged versus other players in the supermarket space," Cramer said.

Ultimately, Cramer thinks the key to a turnaround is that a company must get better if it wants the stock to go higher. That kind of improvement is very difficult, and the turnaround from the dead seems to be over for it. He found no reason to own the stock besides the fact that it is cheap, and that is just not enough.

Instead, Cramer recommended going with best-of-breed Kroger, which he thinks is a much better company.

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