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If not for the plunge in Apple's stock on Thursday, Wall Street would've been laser-focused on the monumental tie-up between biotechnology giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene, CNBC's Jim Cramer said.
But the $74 billion deal isn't just important because of its enormous price tag, the "Mad Money" host said. It also offers a read on a space that might be reaching its limits and is due for a "long-awaited" wave of consolidation, he said.
"The fact is, there are simply too many drug companies out there that can be more valuable to potential acquirers than they are to the stock market itself," Cramer explained, pointing to the numerous companies that have whittled down their drugmaking franchises to cover only one illness or produce just one type of medication.
"[The deal] shows you how Bristol-Myers needed more than just Opdivo," its leading cancer treatment, he said. "The company needs a suite of anti-cancer products and pipelines. With Celgene, maybe it finally has the diversification that it's been looking for."
To read more about the Bristol-Myers-Celgene deal, click here.
Investors should opt for stocks that do well during recessions as economic issues converge to put serious pressure on U.S. markets, Cramer said Thursday as the major indexes tanked.
The closed 660 points lower as shares of Apple, which Wednesday night, dragged on the broader market. The and indexes fell 2.47 and 3 percent, respectively.
But Apple wasn't the root cause of Thursday's pain, he argued. Instead, he said the iPhone maker's shortfall was a "byproduct" of interest rate agenda for 2019, which the central bank would include two rate hikes.
"As a stock-picker, I have to say that [Fed Chair Jerome] Powell's made it a little more difficult to make money," said the "Mad Money" host, adding that the Fed's resilience in the face of an economic slowdown could seriously damage stocks.
Because of the Fed's actions, certain investments that should be good bets here simply aren't, he warned.
"So, what do you do? Well, you buy the stocks of companies that do well in a recession — even though I don't think we're going into one — that are also bolstered by lower raw costs," Cramer said, specifically highlighting , and . "They're the safety stocks. That's what's worth owning."
Click here to read more.
The best and worst stocks of 2018's final quarter — a that saw the major averages erase their gains for the year — offer key insight into how investors should position their portfolios in 2019, Cramer says.
The stock market turned treacherous in late 2018 as concerns about global growth, rising interest rates and U.S.-China trade took hold on Wall Street. The action, often characterized by dramatic, several-hundred-point swings, led the major indexes to log their worst annual performances since the financial crisis.
But after reviewing the biggest winners and losers for Q4, Cramer found some pockets of opportunity that investors can use to their advantage in the new year.
Click here for his favorite picks for 2019.
The health-care industry is swimming upstream when it comes to unemployment, says the CEO of hospital staffer .
While the headline U.S. unemployment rate in 2018, signaling powerful hiring trends, the health-care space has been a pocket of pain when it comes to hiring, Susan Salka, the president and CEO of AMN, told CNBC on Thursday.
"We have a lot of things driving our industry, certainly starting with an aging population, which drives utilization of health care," Salka said in a Thursday interview with Cramer. "But it also creates shortages within the health-care workforce."
"We have really severe shortages within nursing, physician, allied, and even within leadership," she said on "Mad Money." So we're really seeing those two things come together right at the worst time, probably, for health care, but that's where AMN comes in."
Click here to watch and read more about her full interview.
In Cramer's lightning round, he flew through his responses to callers' stock questions:
: "Let's understand: there's a lot of derision about me on Twitter, which I don't mind one bit, but the problem is what I was saying was that the only one of the cannabis stocks that I think really has the war chest that can do well is Canopy because of with . That did not say, 'Go buy, buy, buy, buy Canopy,' I'm just saying that's the one. And if you want to have a well-capitalized play on cannabis, it's going to be Canopy. There. "
: "Much more natural gas than the others. Natural gas has collapsed in price, so I'm going to have to say hard pass. No thanks."
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Apple.