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Cramer reviews the drivers behind the 10 top-performing stocks since Trump's election

Key Points
  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer gave his take on where the gains came from in the market's top 10 winning stocks since the 2016 election.
  • While the market has rallied since Trump was elected, Cramer was hesitant to credit the president for the gains.
  • Instead, most of the top gainers, from Nvidia to PayPal, had secular winds at their backs, he said.
Drivers behind 10 top-performing stocks since Trump's election

Plenty of investors are wondering whether President Donald Trump is to thank for the stock market's monster rally since his election in 2016. But CNBC's Jim Cramer had some other ideas.

True, the index is up 21 percent since Trump's election. But the Japanese Nikkei has rallied 33 percent, the German DAX is up nearly 28 percent, the South Korean Kospi has gained 27 percent and the Hong Kong Hang Seng ran 26 percent over the same period.

"None of those moves are about Trump," the "Mad Money" host said. "The truth is, when you've got a synchronized global economic expansion, stocks tend to roar higher the world over, often regardless of the politics or style or even substance of the leader[s]."

But rather than pressuring major steel producers like China and South Korea to stop dumping (keeping costs artificially low to suppress competition), Trump has adopted a different strategy.

"The president has been a terrific salesman for our international companies, best in my lifetime for certain. [He's a] very commercial president, often making it clear that if foreign countries want to appease him, they need to buy and build American," Cramer said. "I think he's had some success getting foreign companies to do business here, to open more plants here, although he's been less effective at his stated objective of narrowing our trade deficits."

Narrowing trade imbalances will be key to mitigating the United States' growing deficit, which the Congressional Budget Office predicted would take on an additional $1.7 trillion if the latest version of the House Republican tax plan was passed.

But Cramer said that a lack of details on the plan paired with a fragmented Congress could lead to prolonged debate and few results.

"My prediction? I think tax reform will go the way of 'repeal and replace.' Why? Because a major tax overhaul is really complicated, it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot more friendship than they have down there in Washington," Cramer said. "Reagan got it done in 1986, but it didn't happen overnight, it took two years, it had to happen in a bipartisan way and both sides had to like each other so that there could be some give."

That said, Cramer found that much of the stock market has embraced a White House with more bark than bite and few negative surprises. So the "Mad Money" host reviewed the 10 top-performing stocks since Nov. 8, 2016 to see if the gains could be traced back to Trump.

1. Nvidia

Having rallied 194 percent since Election Day, semiconductor maker Nvidia has its hands in the red-hot areas of autonomous driving, bitcoin mining, gaming and artificial intelligence, Cramer said ahead of its Thursday earnings report.

"For the record, we've told club members of the club that if they don't already own Nvidia, please wait, because it could easily sell off on even the slightest imperfection in tomorrow's results," he said.

2. Align Technology

Align Technology, which makes clear-braces solution Invisalign, has run up over 185 percent since the election.

"Align is pure selfie generation stuff, and I blame the iPhone for the need to look better on Instagram," Cramer said.

3. Micron

Next up is Micron, a chipmaker specializing in in DRAM and flash memory chips. Cramer said massive demand from the data center space has driven the stock's 153 percent gain.

"This one's all about the internet of things, not about politics," he said.

4. NRG Energy

With shares up 144 percent since the election, Cramer said that NRG Energy is "a replace and repair job. New management came in to make NRG more of a traditional utility with a better balance sheet and less of a save-the-world orientation."

5. Lam Research

Lam Research makes the machines that produce semiconductor chips, and naturally, its order book is booming as the demand for high-performing chips ticks up.

"Like Micron, there are many people who believe this pace is impossible to sustain — they think Lam will flood the market with too much supply of machines, but that no longer seems likely," Cramer said. "Hence the stock's 113 percent move."

6. United Rentals

Cramer said that United Rentals has a Trump bias, "if you believe that deregulation plays a role in the psyche of those who rent heavy equipment."

But the "Mad Money" host was more convinced that this summer's hurricanes drove the stock's 96 percent gain since the election.

7. Applied Materials

Cramer said that Applied Materials, a Lam Research competitor, should thank the industry it's in for its 93 percent gain.

8. Boeing

While the president's calls for more defense spending and "relentless pursuit of overseas orders" have contributed to the 87 percent gain in Boeing's stock, one of the aircraft maker's largest orders from Iran was "certainly not Trump's doing," Cramer said.

9. PayPal

Cramer attributed PayPal's 80 percent gain since the election to its CEO, Dan Schulman, and the company's millennial-facing payment systems.

10. CBOE Global Markets

Finally, up over 78 percent since Trump's election, CBOE Global Markets' predictable growth stemmed from the strength in financial technology, Cramer said.

"But it's really a play on management's ingenuity," he added.

Final Thoughts

"Now, there's a long list of other stocks that have done well, but after looking them over ... I can tell you that very few have anything to do with Washington or politics or Trump or Congress. In fact, most others in the top 30 have a tech theme to them," Cramer said. "Bottom line? While our stock market's been good, so [have] the rest of the world's markets. President Trump has certainly created a benign environment for business, but I think the real heroes here are the CEOs who have driven their stocks higher by just being smart and executing right."

WATCH: Cramer pushes back on the idea of the 'Trump rally'

Cramer reviews the drivers behind the 10 top-performing stocks since Trump's election

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Nvidia.

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