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Company balance sheets get a lot more important in 'tough times,' Jim Cramer says

Key Points
  • "In times of crisis, I always start with the balance sheet," because in "tough times, the balance sheet suddenly gets a lot more focus," CNBC's Jim Cramer said.
  • Companies in the airline, cruise line and oil industries have "huge fixed costs" and many have "way too much debt," the "Mad Money" host said.
  • These companies' "balance sheets are going to crush them" without a breakthrough in stopping the coronavirus spread.
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During tough times, company balance sheets are a lot more important, says Jim Cramer

CNBC's Jim Cramer on Tuesday said it's a critical time for investors to factor a company's debt load into their investment decisions.

"In times of crisis, I always start with the balance sheet," the "Mad Money" host said, adding in "tough times, the balance sheet suddenly gets a lot more focus."

He pointed out that the airline, cruise line and oil industries are of the most concern. For example, United Airlines said domestic demand is depleting, and health officials advised against taking cruises. Less travel business translates to less demand for oil.

"Each [company] has huge fixed costs. Many have way too much debt," Cramer said. "Some have no real rainy-day funds."

Less revenue will make it tougher for businesses to meet their debt obligations, Cramer pointed out. While there's a chance that the airlines could receive a bailout from the government, the cruise and oil industries are not as lucky, he said.

"If we get a vaccine, if we get a cure for the virus, then everything bounces back. All is forgiven," Cramer said. "That's why I want the government to put itself on a war footing to stop this outbreak. Without that, though, the cruise lines, airlines and oils — well, let's just say their balance sheets are going to crush them. I hope they catch a break."

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Jim Cramer: Balance sheets get 'a lot more focus' in 'tough times'

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