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Cramer preps for a major Costco comeback

While Costco has been a solid long-term performer, Jim Cramer couldn't deny that until recently, 2016 was a terrible year for the stock.

However, since the election the stock has been on fire, rallying nearly $20, and Cramer thinks the rally is just getting started.

"Costco seems poised for a major turnaround in its same-store sales, and when you throw in the potential for higher membership fees and a possible special dividend, this stock gets too attractive to ignore," the "Mad Money" host said.

Costco's stock peaked at $169 in August, but then went into a downward spiral, hitting $142 before the election. Cramer attributed this to the general negative broader retail environment, but some of it was also company specific.

Investors were worried about a slowdown in same-store sales, thanks to gasoline deflation, and Costco's credit card transition to Visa from American Express.

However, if President-elect Donald Trump can pass the tax reform on his agenda, then Cramer thinks Costco's 34 percent tax rate could go a lot lower.





Employees load a customers purchases into a shopping cart at a Costco store in East Peoria, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employees load a customers purchases into a shopping cart at a Costco store in East Peoria, Illinois.
"Costco seems poised for a major turnaround in its same-store sales, and when you throw in the potential for higher membership fees and a possible special dividend, this stock gets too attractive to ignore." -Jim Cramer

What really got investors excited though, was that Costco's switch to Visa has finally started to pay off, and put all those credit card concerns to rest when the retailer confirmed that 85 percent of accounts had transferred over and were activated.

"Frankly, if you are a retailer and you can only accept one kind of credit card, it is much better to be on Visa's network than on American Express," Cramer said.

Costco also had a serious issue with deflation, especially for gasoline because it has so many gasoline locations. When oil and gas get too cheap, Costco doesn't make as much money.

That is why Wall Street loved it when management confirmed that the deflationary overhang could be subsiding, which means the company's same-store sales could begin to accelerate again.

Additionally, Costco will soon annualize the elimination of tobacco products from its stores last spring. In the spring, Cramer expects Costco to be up against easier comparisons and the hit from not selling cigarettes will stop popping up in the numbers.

Between annualizing the removal of cigarettes and getting rid of gasoline deflation, Cramer sees major positives ahead.

"Even without these two positives, Costco is suddenly doing very, very well," Cramer said.

On its most recent conference call, management indicated that same-store sales were very strong in the beginning of December after a rocky month in November.

So, the fact that the company could raise its membership fees in the first half of 2017 and pay a special dividend are just icing on the cake for Costco. And that is why Cramer thinks Costco's big comeback is just in the beginning stages.


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