Cramer offers 'cloud prince' Coupa Software as an attractive apolitical investment

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer zooms in on cloud provider Coupa Software in his search for strong secular stocks.
  • Cramer tells investors to wait for the company's Monday earnings report before buying shares of Coupa.

In times of volatility in the stock market, CNBC's Jim Cramer looks for secular investments that tend to remain unaffected by global turmoil.

That's why the "Mad Money" host came up with the "cloud kings," a group of stocks including Adobe and Salesforce that has seen huge gains in 2018 despite the market's swings.

"When the averages got slammed [on Thursday], most of these cloud stocks barely got dinged," Cramer said. "Some of them, like Adobe, even managed to churn higher. But it's not like the kings are the only way to play this powerful secular growth trend."

So, on Friday, Cramer decided to zoom in on Coupa Software, a cloud provider that helps companies manage their spending and spot cost-saving opportunities.

Shares of Coupa have gained over 87 percent since Cramer recommended the stock in April 2017, rallying 16 percent just since Cramer's interview with the CEO in May 2018.

"Coupa may be too small to be a cloud king — it's a $3 billion company — but it's certainly a cloud prince," the "Mad Money" host said.

Market cap aside, Coupa's platform manages more than $680 billion worth of spending across all of its clients. The company has helped businesses save some $23 billion.

And while Coupa's market cap — notably smaller than that of the smallest cloud king, Splunk — makes its stock fairly speculative, Cramer liked Coupa's growth prospects enough to recommend it — though not without a few caveats.

"The most attractive thing about Coupa for me is that it's a cloud prince and not a cloud king," Cramer said. "Of course, the flip side of this kind of story is that it's very, very pricey."

Because Coupa is not yet profitable, the stock's valuation is based on sales. On that metric — which values Coupa at 13 times this year's sales and almost 11 times next year's sales — the stock is more expensive than almost all of the cloud kings, Cramer said.

But Coupa's Monday earnings report could turn things around, the "Mad Money" host said.

"If Coupa can continue beating the numbers and raising its guidance, forcing the analysts to boost their estimates, then it can absolutely maintain this kind of valuation because the stock will turn out to be a lot cheaper in retrospect," he explained.

"The thing is you need to understand that if you're buying it here, that's exactly what you're betting on: substantially better-than-expected revenues."

Coupa's last earnings report encapsulated this problem: shares of the cloud play rallied over 10 percent ahead of the quarter, only to lose 3 percent after the report and spend weeks trading sideways.

All things considered, Cramer preached caution ahead of Coupa's report, warning that it would make sense for the rallying stock to decline after earnings.

But he still found Coupa's story to be intact: the company is disrupting the way businesses handle their finances and faces a huge market opportunity in the largely un-digitized world of expense management.

"Here's the bottom line: I want you to be ready for Coupa to get hit when it reports on Monday," Cramer said. "If it ends up roaring higher, well, then blame me for being a moron and keeping you out of a monster move. But if it gets dinged on great numbers again, that's when you want to pounce. There's a lot to love about this cloud prince, but what worries me at these levels is the risk-reward is not acceptable."

WATCH: Cramer anoints Coupa Software a 'cloud prince'

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