Mad Money

Cramer lists 15 sectors unaffected by Trump's tariffs on China

Key Points
  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer finds new winners in a market thrown into a frenzy by uncertainty over the Trump administration's trade policy.
  • Most stocks in these 15 sectors are likely to bounce after a sell-off on trade-related issues, Cramer says.
15 sectors unaffected by Trump's tariffs

Even as stocks recovered on Monday after a tariff-related sell-off, CNBC's Jim Cramer knew investors would still be hesitant about adding to their portfolios amid all the uncertainty with China.

But rather than accepting the idea that every stock in the market is doomed, Cramer looked for stock groups that have managed to weather the Trump administration's trade policy turmoil.

"I've got 15 sectors that have been staggeringly unaffected by these tensions," the "Mad Money" host said. "In a market that increasingly trades on President Trump's trade policy, these 15 groups have become consistent winners. No one's talking about them. Some of them may surprise you."

1. Telecom

Cramer's first sector was telecom, particularly the stocks of Verizon, AT&T and even smaller players like CenturyLink. He attributed the rise in Verizon shares to a combination of lower interest rates, domestic exposure and defensive investors going after dividends in a more volatile environment.

"ATT's been acting better despite the antitrust trial over their purchase of Time Warner," Cramer continued. "Even CenturyLink is looking up, and ... it's got a sky-high 12.5 percent yield," which is usually a "red flag" for the "Mad Money"' host.

2. Mall-based retailers and apparel makers

While some market-watchers have argued that tariffs will hit apparel stocks especially hard because so many of their products are sourced in China, Cramer had a different perspective.

He contended that most major apparel makers can quickly move away from sourcing in China, adding that Chinese policymakers would likely avoid putting tariffs on apparel.

"What about retaliatory tariffs on big-name American brands with a lot of Chinese exposure like Nike? Well, the buyers sure don't seem scared. It's one of the best-performing stocks in the Dow," the "Mad Money" host said.

Those aren't the only retail names standing strong: shares of apparel makers VF Corp., PVH, Tapestry, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren; retailers Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters; department stores Macy's, Dillard's, Ross Stores, Burlington and TJX; big-box retailers Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart and Costco; and the dollar stores are all climbing, Cramer said.

3. Cloud kings

Shares of the Cramer-fave "cloud kings" like Adobe, Red Hat, Splunk and performed strongly ahead of Friday's sell-off, suggesting their ability to withstand pressure on the broader tech sector.

4. Cell Towers

Cramer noticed that the stocks of cell tower operators American Tower, Crown Castle, and SBA Communications also held their ground during Friday's selling.

"Their stocks are worth buying into any major marketwide sell-off," he said. "While some of them have international exposure, like American, the demand for bandwidth is so great that it trumps any trade war fears."

5. Health insurers and hospitals

To Cramer, health care enterprises Centene and UnitedHealth Group "stand out like beacons whenever the market gets hit."

"They're totally domestic and I think their numbers are too low," Cramer said. "[On the] hospital side, Tenet and HCA ... look fabulous. They've got nothing to do with China. Let the market knock them down and then pick some up into weakness."

6. Domestic oil stocks

Even though Cramer doesn't care for oil stocks anymore, four domestic names stood out to him as the sector's best investments: Marathon Oil, Hess, Pioneer Natural Resources and Anadarko.

But as for the oil sector as a whole, "too many younger portfolio managers who believe the future's electric regard this industry as the equivalent of big tobacco," Cramer warned.

7. Oil refiners

With no exposure to China and healthy returns from the oil-rich Permian Basin, refinery plays Marathon Petroleum, Valero and HollyFrontier are tariff-resistant, Cramer said.

"I think you can buy them right now, but a Chinese-induced downturn would be even better," the "Mad Money" host said.

8. Real estate investment trusts

With rates no longer surging higher, Cramer has noticed REITs' stocks starting to benefit from a natural bias as investors search for domestic-based names to buy.

"When the Chinese trade issues surfaced and rates started going lower, [it made] these high-yielders more attractive," Cramer said.

9. Utilities

The stocks of utility companies that have no ties to the struggling master limited partnerships also seem to be weathering the tariff storm, Cramer said, pointing to shares of ConEd, American Electric Power, CMS and NRG Energy.

10. Restaurants

Cramer has watched a turn in the restaurant stocks happen over the last few weeks, with Cheesecake Factory and Brinker recovering, Chipotle bottoming and Sonic climbing higher.

"Despite the worries about labor and commodity costs, the domestic restaurants are one of the best places to be," he said.

11. Brokers

Shares of E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have also been on the rise, Cramer said, noting that stocks like these tend to trade up after interest rate hikes.

12. Cybersecurity providers

"The cybersecurity stocks are natural hedges against China, North Korea and Russia, the big three state sponsors of cyberterrorism," Cramer said.

The "Mad Money" host recommended Fortinet, Proofpoint and Palto Alto Networks.

13. Business operators

Shares of business-facing companies like Robert Half, Insperity, Automatic Data Processing and Paychex have also held fast in the face of rising U.S.-China tensions, Cramer said.

"My favorite, though, another one that just exploded today, is Cintas. It's the uniform rental play," he said.

14. Homebuilders

Ever since Lennar's management said on their quarterly conference call that job prospects are strong, shares of the homebuilders, most of which are U.S.-based, have been soaring.

15. Defense

The defense stocks made up Cramer's final tariff-resistant group, particularly Raytheon, which he called "the best pure play on rising geopolitical tensions," Harris and Northrop Grumman.


Cramer found a host of other stock groups — consumer packaged goods, insurers and financial technology stocks, to name a few — that had mixed results amid the geopolitical tension.

But "the vast majority of stocks in these 15 sectors simply don't stay down after they're hit by waves of China-related selling or anything negative about President Trump," he said. "These all are under-owned sectors. They all go down big every time we get a large sell-off. But unlike so many other companies, ... they'll be going down for no fundamental reason, which is why you can rationally buy them into weakness like we had in the last hour of today's trading."

WATCH: Cramer's list of 15 tariff-resistant sectors

Cramer lists 15 sectors unaffected by Trump's tariffs on China

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Goldman Sachs, UnitedHealth Group and Raytheon.

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