Cramer Remix: My prediction for Apple in 2018

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer dished out his take on whether Apple can continue to stay strong this year after its big run in 2017.
  • Cramer also checked in with two automotive retail stocks to see whether they make worthy buys.
  • In the lightning round, Cramer explained the slump in one food product maker's stock.

One controversial stock was at the top of Jim Cramer's mind as the CNBC host looked back on its annual gains on the first official trading day of 2018: Apple.

"Apple's about as hard to own right now as it's been at any point in the last couple of years," the "Mad Money" host acknowledged. "From all the negative comments of late, you'd think that Apple's stock must have lost people fortunes, but it actually finished last year up 46.1 percent."

But Cramer said that the weakness, caused in part by bearish chartists predicting a correction and in part by the smartphone maker's "battery gate" debacle, shouldn't continue this year.

"I bet the company's service revenue continues to grow — Apple still, after two years, isn't getting enough credit for that one," Cramer said. "While the stock may not be ready for a shortfall, we haven't heard enough negative things from worthwhile sources to make me want to give up on this one. No way."

Better yet, Apple's $269 billion cash hoard overseas could still be put to work as the new tax law implements bigger incentives for corporations to repatriate their cash, Cramer added.

"I'm sticking to my guns: you own Apple, you don't trade it," the "Mad Money" host concluded.

2017 and the Trump effect

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform legislation at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
President Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform legislation at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017.

As the first trading day of 2018 wrapped up on a rosy note for the averages, Cramer noticed a hint of discord in the market layout.

"I swear people are bored with what's going on with stocks," Cramer said. "Either they don't want to say anything good about the market because of politics, as the president has done a very good job of linking himself with the performance of the averages, or they're just prone to sleep."

Whatever the reason, the 54 percent of U.S. citizens who do own stocks should be entering the year on a high note, Cramer said.

With the S&P 500 having gained nearly 20 percent overall for 2017, investors have likely benefited from the monster rallies that rocketed nearly every sector higher, he said.

"That's what progress is all about. Is it related to President Trump's policies? Look, love him or hate him, the answer is yes," Cramer said. "The president has created a pro-growth environment and along with a new tax code that will take money from the government ... and give it to the corporations."

Off the charts: S&P and Dow in 2018

Revelers takes part in New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square on December 31, 2017 in New York.
Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images
Revelers takes part in New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square on December 31, 2017 in New York.

In light of the new year, Cramer wanted to zoom in on two of the market's top benchmarks to see how they'll fare in 2018: the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average.

So the "Mad Money" host recruited technician Bob Lang, the founder of ExplosiveOptions.net and one of the three minds behind TheStreet.com's Trifecta Stocks newsletter, to get an analytical take on the averages' action.

Cramer and Lang began with the weekly chart of the S&P. For the first time ever, the index did not have a single losing month in all of 2017, perhaps even more impressive than its nearly 20 percent annual gain.

"With so much momentum coming into this year, Lang thinks it would be a big mistake to get too bearish on this one," Cramer said.

A positive outlook for oil?

Oil workers in the Permian Basin outside Midland, Texas
Brittany Sowacke | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Oil workers in the Permian Basin outside Midland, Texas

With oil prices fresh off their strongest start to a calendar year since 2014, Cramer wanted to help investors pinpoint some of the energy sector's most lucrative areas.

"How do you play this fantastic run in oil, with the price of crude flying through $60 a barrel thanks to OPEC production cuts and increased demand from an accelerating global economy?" he said.

There was a time investors could pick almost any oil play and profit. But amid a glut of natural gas, Cramer said oil and gas companies with natural gas exposure become riskier investments.

Pure natural gas picks with holdings in the Pennsylvanian Marcellus shale or the Ohioan Utica shale like EQT or Chesapeake Energy, respectively, are even riskier, Cramer said.

But some stocks in the energy space outshine the rest. Here are Cramer's top picks.

Where auto retail stocks stand

After a wild 2017 for the stocks of CarMax and AutoNation, Cramer wanted to revisit the automotive retail space for potential investing ideas.

The group's biggest hurdle in 2017 was the "peak auto" thesis, which suggested that there was an oversupply of cars on the market and that demand (and, subsequently, prices) would inevitably fall.

As a result, both CarMax and AutoNation's stocks declined. CarMax even sustained its weakness through the summer's hurricanes, which destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars and gave the car sales business a boost.

"Where do we come down on these two used car giants? For starters, CarMax and AutoNation both look darned cheap, the kind of cheap that's hard to find in this market," Cramer said. "If you're looking for a value play, you have my blessing to pick up some CarMax right here, right now, which is the more consistent of the two, and it's pulled back nicely."

Lightning Round: Hold off on HAIN

In Cramer's lightning round, he rattled off his take on some callers' favorite stocks:

Hain Celestial: "It had some financial irregularities. They are now behind. The problem is a lot of people feel it's a takeover [target], and I don't think that Irwin Simon, who runs it, feels that way. So I would say, you know what? There are better fish to fry right now, but it's not as bad as when it had those financial problems."

Carnival Corp.: "The answer is buy, buy, buy! I'll tell you, they delivered an amazing quarter and didn't get enough credit."

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

Questions for Cramer?
Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Want to take a deep dive into Cramer's world? Hit him up!
Mad Money Twitter - Jim Cramer Twitter - Facebook - Instagram - Vine

Questions, comments, suggestions for the "Mad Money" website? madcap@cnbc.com