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Cramer: Thank Wal-Mart and Cisco's CEOs for their upside earnings surprises

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer gave kudos to the CEOs of Wal-Mart and Cisco for their turnaround stories after better-than-expected earnings reports.
  • Cramer shouted out Wal-Mart's Doug McMillon for taking on Amazon, and Cisco's Chuck Robbins for going all in on the cloud.

CNBC's Jim Cramer didn't want to be so quick as to write off Thursday's rally to the House of Representatives passing its first iteration of tax reform.

Instead, the "Mad Money" host argued that much of the rally resulted from the performance of two stocks, Cisco and Wal-Mart, "which pleasantly surprised us with their numbers. These are both turnaround stories, people. Nothing proves the worth of a CEO like executing a turnaround."

Since Doug McMillon took on the role of Wal-Mart CEO four years ago, he has revamped the retail colossus to become one of Amazon's few formidable competitors.

"First thing he did, though, was drop a bomb: McMillon told us he'd spend as much as possible to take on Amazon, something that seemed fanciful at the time," Cramer said.

To Wall Street's dismay, McMillon lowered profit expectations while creating value and incentives for employees to provide better service and remain in Wal-Mart's workforce. Last year, he acquired Jet.com, which has only just started to really boost sales.

On Thursday, shares of Wal-Mart roared to an all-time high after the retailer reported a massive earnings beat with better-than-expected same-store sales numbers and 50 percent growth in online purchases.

"I can't tell you how unusual it is to see a large capitalization stock — Wal-Mart's now worth almost $300 billion — jumping $9.79, almost 11 percent in a single day," Cramer said. "But when you consider how much time and thought and effort McMillon put into this resurgence, all you can do is say, 'Congratulations, Mr. McMillon, for your visionary efforts.'"

Also worthy of congratulation is Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, the "Mad Money" host said. Before Robbins took the helm, Cisco's revenue growth had ground to a halt.

When Robbins became CEO in 2015, he almost immediately went all in on the cloud, making strategic acquisitions to get Cisco's hands in the security systems and analytics areas.

Cramer added that Robbins was always frank with his shareholders, warning them two quarters ago that his changes would take time to pay off.

Sure enough, when the company reported on Thursday, shares of Cisco rallied roughly 6 percent on better-than-expected earnings and the possibility of 3 percent revenue growth next quarter.

"Must be taking share, right? And taking names, too," Cramer said. "Cisco may once again become a must-buy for businesses trying to build out their internet presence."

And with its cloud and security revenue lines gaining momentum and a large cash hoard under its belt, the $178 billion company could bring more bounty still to shareholders, Cramer said.

"Here's the bottom line: A successful turn requires the person at the top to truly change the company's culture while motivating the entire remaining workforce," the "Mad Money" host said. "These turns can occur, as Cisco's Chuck Robbins and Walmart's Doug McMillon showed us today. And when you find these stories, they are incredibly lucrative long term, as long as you can get into them right and stay in them for the long haul."

WATCH: Cramer hand-picks some CEO-led company turnarounds

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