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ConAgra CEO: The Branding Buddha?

Every portfolio needs some defense. As Cramer said earlier in Wednesday’s Mad Money, gold and its related stocks are a great place to start. But beyond the precious metal, there’s a different play that can also protect against the economy’s ups and downs. When the industrials are seeing order declines and consumers refuse to spend money on the latest tech gadget, Cramer often steers viewers toward the grocery store. After all, even in the worst of times people have to eat.

That’s one reason he likes ConAgra Foods right now. This company, whose brands include Healthy Choice, Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National and Peter Pan, among others, has been enjoying wider margins thanks to lower commodity costs, and it has been taking advantage of decreased advertising expenses to promote its brands. There’s even a private-label food division here to entice the dollar-conscious consumer – and isn’t everybody these days?

ConAgra also pays out a 3.8% dividend yield. Now, you might counter Cramer’s thesis with names like Kraft Foods or Heinz , both of which offer higher yields. Or maybe you point to Treehouse Foods , a private-label business that’s just a few cents from it's 52-week high. But CAG has an intangible going for it that makes it stand out: strong management.

CEO and President Gary Rodkin joined ConAgra from Pepsico where he served as CEO of PEP’s North America division. Cramer called Rodkin a “master of branding,” and credited him with rebuilding Peter Pan after its 2007 salmonella recall. The CEO put his expertise to work in promoting Healthy Choice Naturals to the right demo, and that, too, turned out to be a success. Cramer’s predicting that it’s only a matter of time before Rodkin’s leadership boosts CAG’s market value. In the meantime, investors get a great yield to pay them to wait.

“You may not be able to measure great management,” Cramer said, “but sooner or later it shows up in the share price.”

As always, though, Cramer likes to double check his theories by going straight to the source. So he invited CEO Rodkin onto Mad Money to discuss ConAgra and its potential. Watch the video for the full interview.

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