CNBC's Jim Cramer on Wednesday separated the wheat from the chaff in the market and opined on the best- and worst-performing stocks through the first quarter of 2020.
"You can learn a lot about a market by looking at its winners and losers," the "Mad Money" host said one day after the market ended its worst first-quarter output in history.
Since advancing about 5% from the start of the year to the Feb. 19 close of 3,386.15, the S&P 500 within four weeks fell more than 1,190 points — deep in a bear market. On Tuesday the index ended a volatile three-month period down almost 20%, near January 2019 levels.
Investors were reacting to news that the fast-spreading coronavirus had reached U.S. shores and of its potential impact on the global economy.
"In the end, I think the winners from the first quarter keep winning as long as the pandemic rages, and the losers [will] keep losing," Cramer said.
Below are his comments on the top- and bottom-performing stocks of the quarter:
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals surged 30%, according to Factset.
"I think Regeneron has the best hope for fighting the pandemic," Cramer said, noting their efforts to find a treatment and vaccine for COVID-19.
Citrix Systems rallied 28%.
"Citrix is a seasoned company, part of my barbell list from last night, and while it already vaulted ... I think it's actually got more room to run," Cramer said.
Digital Realty Trust gained 17%.
"With everyone using the cloud to work from home, the data center is on fire," Cramer said. "I like it here with a 3.3% yield, but I'd like it a little more on a pullback."
Netflix matured 16%.
"What matters is that they can raise prices dramatically, if they really want to [because] everyone accepted we're starved for entertainment," he said.
Gilead Sciences moved 16%.
Gilead is working on an antiviral to stop the coronavirus, but Cramer said, "I'd rather just buy Regeneron."
Apache plummeted nearly 84%, according to Factset.
"Apache used to be a terrific international energy company, then they sold off their far-flung properties and made a huge bet on the wrong part of the Permian Basin," Cramer said.
Norwegian Cruise Line declined 81%.
Royal Caribbean dropped almost 76%.
"Cruises are totally off limits until people get over the industry's unique exposure to COVID-19," Cramer said.
Marathon Oil sank nearly 76%.
Noble Energy declined almost 75%.