Even though anti-competitive mergers tend to be bad for customers, they tend to stack the odds in Wall Street's favor, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Wednesday.
"I love the stocks of companies that have somehow found a way to legally give themselves a seemingly unfair advantage. That's the best kind of advantage," the "Mad Money" host said as stocks recovered from their post-Thanksgiving rout.
Consider the case of The Linde Group, an industrial giant formed when chemical-gas companies Linde AG and Praxair merged in October. The deal essentially made the industrial gas space an oligopoly, taking the number of major players from four down to three, Cramer said.
"What's good for an individual company may not be good for the broader economy, let alone the whole country or the entire world," he explained. "I think the Praxair-Linde tie-up is very good for the three largest companies that are now left in the industrial gas business, but I bet it will be sub-optimal for their customers over the long-haul."
If Cramer was a federal regulator, he may have even blocked the deal, he told viewers. But as a stock-picker, he chose to focus on the positives for investors.
"The new Linde is now the largest player in the secularly-growing industrial gas space, so it has the most to gain now that the group's gone from four major players down to three, and between the synergies and the buybacks, there's a whole lot to like here," Cramer said. "You know what? I'd be a buyer. I'd be a buyer right here right now."