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Sometimes when it comes to the overall direction of the market, the stocks that really matter are under-the-radar. That is why Jim Cramer decided to highlight the stocks he is following to shed light on what is really happening in the economy.
"These building block characters, these stalwarts of the U.S. economy, are all flashing green," the "Mad Money " host said.
One stock is International Paper, a company reinventing itself with technology. Cramer considers this company to be a tremendous barometer of commerce; linerboard is a commodity that goes up in price when there is more shipping, and down when there is less. Thus, he uses the stock as a predictor for commodity pricing.
"The more International Paper rallies, the better you should feel about the U.S. economy, as almost 75 percent of the company's business is domestic," Cramer said.
With both oil inventories falling and natural gas running hot, Cramer was taken aback by the staggering moves in energy in the past few months. Suddenly oil is trading above $50 and gas is approaching $2.50.
Do they make sense?
"Yes, even as this new level of pricing is more bullish than I thought possible, and I was a pretty lonely bull back when oil traded in the $30s," the "Mad Money " host said.
Ultimately, the fuel rally makes sense to Cramer, as higher demand and falling supply is generating better pricing.
"Watch the rig count, though. That is what stands between $50 and $60 oil, and right here all of these reach stocks need crude to rally to the upper extreme to justify their moves," Cramer said.
Meanwhile, Cramer was also concerned with what the heck happened to Foot Locker's stock. Ever since 2016 began, the stock has dramatically lagged the S&P 500, down 15 percent for the year.
Foot Locker's stock was hit hard when the company reported suboptimal results in May. It has traded sideways ever since.
"One bad quarter does not a downfall make. I am not saying that Foot Locker will bounce back the next time it reports — it might take a bit longer than that — but I do think the stock is insanely cheap down here," Cramer said.
For those who are willing to embrace patience as a long term investor, Cramer found this stock could be a steal.
Another quarter that Cramer found intriguing was HP, the slow-growth maker of printers and personal computers that broke off of Hewlett Packard in October.
Ordinarily Cramer wouldn't be magnetized by a legacy hardware business, but when HP reported a few weeks ago, the stock surged 7 percent in response.
"Judging by the action in the stock, you would think that HP shot the lights out, delivering a really good quarter," Cramer said.
But was it actually good?
When Cramer listened to the conference call, he found that HP told a much more conflicted story. Based on the fundamentals, Cramer determined that HP did not report a good quarter. The company is actually in secular decline, and it is unclear how it plans to turn things around.
Sometimes Cramer likes to go off the tape to look at privately held companies that could be a disruptor for their industry and lead the way for publicly held companies.
Back to the Roots is a private company founded by Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez. With no knowledge of the food industry, they founded the company in a frat house in 2009 and decided to change what goes into food and the way we think about it.
At first, they sold grow-your-own mushroom kits and have since expanded to sell food at the grocery store, including organic non-GMO breakfast cereal.
Back to the Roots is on a mission to "undo food" and take food out of a lab, to create trust and transparency behind the process. This allows consumers know what is in the food and going into their body.
"I think everyone is realizing that the pendulum has swung too far. We have been disconnected from our food, and it's got to come back and it's almost like we are entering this third wave about radical transparency," Arora said.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer gave his take on a few caller favorite stocks:
Calpine: "I don't like the power generation business. It's just too up and down. That's why I like AEP, and my charitable trust owns that one."
Synergy Pharmaceuticals: "It's down a lot, I'm not recommending any of the speculatives right now. I'm just not, they are losing people too much money. Why don't you just buy a Celgene? Celgene is doing quite well."