As earnings reports reveal companies struggling in consumer-oriented areas like traditional retail, Jim Cramer says one growing group of consumers is causing the shift: millennials.
"These millennials, frankly, might as well be aliens. Clever, tricky aliens who just aren't bound by any of the traditional ways that most people in charge believe in," the "Mad Money" host said.
Jeffrey Gennette, the company's new CEO, elaborated on the first-quarter declines in a conference call, saying "the rapid adoption of technology" was uprooting shopping trends.
"The rapid adoption of technology refers to the smartphone and how it empowers millennial consumers, who don't want to waste their time shopping, to do a lot of homework before they go to the mall," Cramer explained. "They pick up their iPhone, they go to Google or Amazon, they compare and they contrast, and then they either go right to the store that might be having a sale and nowhere else in that mall, or they just buy from Amazon if they're too busy or they don't have a car, and yes, many of these kids don't drive — they've got Uber."
Despite these burgeoning trends, Zebra Technologies CEO Anders Gustafsson said that his technology company, which helps clients like retailers and health care providers improve productivity, is still blossoming after some transformational acquisitions.
"Retail, overall retail – e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail – has been a strong vertical for us," Gustafsson told Cramer on Thursday. "We can help [a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer] very much transform to become an omni-channel company."
Gustafsson said that while traditional retailers are trying to improve their inventory accuracy, which results in higher and larger revenues, lower inventory, and better cash flow, money is still pouring into manufacturing- and e-commerce-related industries.
"We see a lot of investments in the warehouse part of manufacturing, the deliveries from manufacturing, lots of investments to make those as efficient as they can be," the CEO said.
For years, Cramer tried not to get tied down by one statistic that, for many, determines the value of a retailer's stock: same-store sales growth.
"Periodically I'll say, you know what, that outfit's so good, I'll simply overlook that their same-store sales are faltering. In fact, that chain is so well-run, I'll waive my rules and focus on other metrics, ones that are more touchy-feely — a real good shopping experience — or about items on the come, like affinity programs or new ways to order online," the "Mad Money" host said.
But every time Cramer ignored his discipline and focused on other factors, he was wrong.
"In the end, our strategy ... in investing is Warren's strategy. And my returns have been higher in the last eight years than Warren's returns. So I think it's better if he leaves us with what we know how to do well," Polman told Cramer on Thursday.
Polman said Unilever denied the offer because of the difference in the companies' models. Unilever's tells a growth story, but the CEO said he was not as convinced by Kraft Heinz's.
Finally, Cramer spoke with Susan Salka, the president and CEO of AMN Healthcare, a staffing company that serves hospitals, clinics, and other care providers with recruitment and workforce resources.
Salka said her industry is seeing a profound decline in the number of clinicians entering the workforce, and said the health care hiring space is at the brink of a key turning point.
"The economy has been a really important part of our growth over the last four or five years, but also the aging population. With so many more people hitting that magic 65, there's a greater demand in utilization. And then amidst that, we have a shortage of clinicians. In fact, we are at the beginning of what's expected to be one of the worst shortages of nurses, physicians, allied professionals and leaders within health care," she told Cramer on Thursday.
The CEO said that although her company is investing millions of dollars in recruiting for its clients, several different factors are contributing to the impending shortage.
"The aging of the clinical population is a huge issue. Over half of nurses are 50 or older. It's even more for physicians. So many of them are hitting retirement age," Salka said. "At the same time, we have bottlenecks in the education system. In fact, the aging of the faculty in nursing schools is one of the biggest issues that's preventing us from getting more nurses through the educational pipeline. And on the physician side, there aren't enough residency programs in order to be able to create that future workforce."
In Cramer's lightning round, he rattled off his take on some caller favorite stocks, including:
ConocoPhillips: "I'm not going to get rid of it here. I saw a downgrade of that, too. I mean, I've got to tell you, I think that stock is stuck in the middle of a range, but I don't want to do that trade again. Just own it."
Viavi Solutions Inc.: "It's network-servicing-enabled. If you want to do that, I'd maybe look at analytics and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, H-P-E. I think that's one that my charitable trust owns, much less volatile, and I think it's a good situation. And it hit a 52-week high today."
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