While the market continues to focus on whether the Dow Jones industrial average will hit 20,000, Jim Cramer would rather look at how conceivable it is for the Dow to keep running after it does.
Good news is that he does think it is possible.
"When you look at how far stocks would need to rally to get back to their all-time highs, you will find that many of these Dow names have been much higher in less fortuitous circumstances," the "Mad Money" host said.
Cramer boiled it down to 12 encouraging stocks that must advance more than 10 percent to get back to their old highs.
No. 1 is Wal-Mart, which would need to climb 32 percent to get back to where it was two years ago. With the strength of Amazon, Cramer recognized that this is a lot to ask and said he doesn't expect it to help the Dow get to 20,000.
No. 2 is American Express. The stock has 28 percent to run back to its 2014, and Cramer recommended buying it at current levels. All it would take is a multiple expansion now that the multiple is in favor.
No. 3 was IBM, which would have to mount a 26 percent gain to get back to its $216 high in 2013. Unfortunately, Cramer didn't think IBM will get back to a 15 price-to-earnings multiple up from its current 12.
"In truth, IBM should never have been as high as $216. Its earnings were inflated by buybacks and the price was hyped by hoopla surrounding Warren Buffett's anointment of the stock," Cramer said.
No. 4 was Nike, the most intriguing stock to Cramer. Nike would need its stock to advance 26 percent to reach old highs, and Cramer thinks if Donald Trump can lower the corporate tax rate, it could help move it higher. However, he wasn't confident that it can close the gap between $53 and $67.
No. 5 was Caterpillar, which also told investors it's not doing that well. It also would be the most hurt if Trump starts to play hardball with China, but it would also be a large beneficiary to a domestic infrastructure program. Cramer was willing to bet that the stock can creep towards its old level on positive commodity data and cost cuts from Trump.
"Frankly, that is just asking too much of these stocks," Cramer said.
No. 8 was Coca-Cola, and with a new CEO coming in, Cramer was willing to bet that the restructuring designed by outgoing CEO Muhtar Kent means the company will meet its numbers. However, he says the stock cannot be relied on to rally 14 percent to its former glory.
No. 9 was Apple, and Cramer thinks the stock is looking like it will break out soon. It must advance a little more than 13 percent, and Cramer is concerned that Apple hasn't augmented its service revenue stream and isn't using its massive cash hoard to make more acquisitions.
No. 10 was Cisco, which is still reeling from a downbeat quarter. Cramer wants Cisco to find a way to make it clear that its legacy business isn't hurting it as it transitions to more of a cloud play. He wasn't confident that the stock can rally 13 percent to its recent high.
No. 11 and 12 was Disney and United Technologies, which need to rally 12 and 10 percent respectively to get to all-time highs. Based on Disney's theme park attendance, movies and potential to be a beneficiary of a corporate tax cut, Cramer called this one an "up" stock
United Technologies will have a tough time gaining traction because of its recent strong run. If anything, Cramer expects the numbers to come down.
So, while Cramer only found a few stocks among the list that could get back to old highs, many of them reached such high levels in a worse environment. Perhaps they can do it again.