In an uncertain market that can change with a simple blow of the wind, Jim Cramer finds that it always helps to identify an overarching theme to crack the code on what is working.
Following the customer seems to be one of the strongest money-making themes out there to Cramer. The huge bid from Salesforce for Demandware and the commentary from Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday told Cramer that it all comes down to knowing what the customer wants, sometimes even before they know it.
The theme of knowing one's customer isn't just isolated to one sector. This had the essence of something that could transcend not only retail but also technology and industrial stocks, Cramer said.
"Find something you like in the category. It will most likely be a winner," the "Mad Money" host said.
In fact, the bricks-and-mortar retailers most in touch with their customers are the dollar stores.
At a time when middle income families are stretched, these stores provide what they need. It was apparent from reading the conference call transcripts that management of the dollar stores knew exactly what the customer wanted.
"The Wall Street snobs who manage hedge funds simply don't get this … They don't get the nature of the strapped consumer because they aren't strapped themselves," Cramer said.
The initial public offering market finally showed some signs of life last year after being practically nonexistent for most of 2016. On Wednesday night alone five deals priced, but the one that caught Cramer's attention was US Foods Holding Corp, the second biggest IPO of 2016.
"This IPO renaissance is good news for the stock market in general because it means that private companies are no longer terrified of the public markets," the "Mad Money" host said.
Additionally, the fact that large companies like US Foods are going public is an even better sign. US Foods is the No. 2 food distributor in the country, behind Sysco Corp, and serves some 250,000 locations, mostly restaurants and hospitality companies.
However, just because the IPO made some investors money doesn't mean that the company is a worthwhile investment. To figure that out, Cramer turned to the books and did his homework.
"While US Foods has a decent story, there are just too many red flags here for me to consider the stock as a smart investment. It's possible the company's cost cutting efforts will bear fruit and bolster the earnings … but for now I think it's too soon to tell," Cramer said.
And sometimes when one is dealing with a growth story, Cramer says to leave it alone and just let it grow.
"Stop it with the cadence already. That's how I felt last night on the Zoe's Kitchen conference call, one of the best regional and national growth stories out there," Cramer said.
Zoe's is the fast growing restaurant chain known for its fresh Mediterranean cuisine. It opened 11 new locations this quarter, bringing the total store count to 174.
Given that the stock is up 32 percent for the year, Cramer understands that some investors may want to ring the register. However, if the stock gets hit, he recommended using it as a buying opportunity. There simply aren't many long-term growth stories in the business that have such strong management. He's not ready to abandon ship on this stock.
Those who follow Cramer regularly know that he loves industries that are dominated by two gigantic players, known as duopolies. In the home improvement space, Lowe's and Home Depot have cornered the market, and lately Cramer has witnessed a strange change in the industry.
For a long time, Home Depot was considered to be the undisputed best-of-breed company, and Lowe's has always been a close second. That domination changed this past earnings season when Lowe's wowed Wall Street.
"Suddenly Lowe's is the new golden boy, and Home Depot is more like the whipping boy," the "Mad Money" host said.
For the first time in several quarters, Lowe's had better total same-store sales, up 7.3 percent versus 6.5 percent for Home Depot. Additionally, Lowe's posted 40 percent earnings per share growth, more than double the 19 percent growth rate from Home Depot.
Following these earnings reports, Cramer's enthusiasm toward Lowe's grew and pulled away from Home Depot. It seemed to him that practically overnight, Wall Street has switched sides to focus on Lowe's, too.
Another company that has changed position recently is Palo Alto Networks, which went from being a market darling to Wall Street punching bag. Palo Alto is the cybersecurity company that Cramer has regarded as having some of the best technology in the business.
Yet, the stock is down 23 percent for the year, including a 12 percent decline on Friday after the company reported. Currently the stock trades at 50 times next year's earnings estimates, which may sound expensive to some, but Cramer reminded investors it's the cheapest the stock has been since the company came public in 2012.
Cramer still believes that the cybersecurity industry still has a lot of growth ahead of it, thus the stock could simply be in a buyable pullback. To learn more about the future of cybersecurity, Cramer spoke with Palo Alto Chairman and CEO Mark McLaughlin.
"I think it's a huge issue, and it's going to remain that way for a long time to come. I saw this morning that the Fed said they investigated over 50 breaches in the last four years. The director of National Intelligence not too long ago said cybersecurity was the No. 1 issue for the United States, full stop," McLaughlin said.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer gave his take on a few caller-favorite stocks:
CVS Health: "CVS is way too cheap. Some people were worried about one of their deals with a provider. This is ridiculous! You're talking about Larry Merlo [CEO], one of the great retail merchants! It's a buy."
Unit Corporation: "No, remember I said that in the mid $30s that oil was going to go to $50. It hit $50; it's come back down. I don't believe the OPEC meeting is going to give you that good of a solution. So, I am going to say no to that idea."