The stocks that are currently carrying Wall Street higher will eventually be relegated to market laggards as the U.S. economy makes more progress in reopening, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.
“I’m betting the field will be spread out by the time we get to the homestretch, and many of the current winners will fall behind,” the “Mad Money” host said, adding that “right now the bulls are focused on the wrong problem. I think they’re confused.”
Industrials, banks, travel, retail and restaurant stocks — recovery plays — have led the way as investors rotate out of defensive and other stock picks that have performed well in the current recessionary environment, he said. Cramer’s assessment was made after the major averages all completed multiday gains.
“It’s not enough just to beat the virus, people. Every horse in that front pack also needs the economy to get so strong that we beat sky-high unemployment,” he said.
The Dow industrials rallied 500-plus points for the second-straight session, climbing 537 points, or 2.15%, to 25,548.27. The S&P 500 benchmark index moved 1.48% to 3,036.13, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.77% to 9,412.36, both finishing their third-straight positive sessions.
Investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy’s odds of quickly bouncing back, in what’s referred to as a V-shaped recovery, from a coronavirus shutdown much quicker than once thought. However, Cramer is warning that as the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak gets behind us, businesses still must still grapple with the unprecedented levels of unemployment.
Bullish investors are banking on a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed, the relaunch of businesses and pent-up consumer demand to quickly return. Liz Ann Sonders, the chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, is also warning that investors must think about the “ripple effects” from the pandemic.
Though businesses are open, they are under strict limitations, such as reduced seating capacity in restaurants, for the uncertain future as states reopen in stages. The stocks leading the market higher are dependent on a stronger economy, Cramer said.
“That’s why I’m betting on the stay-at-home tech stocks,” he said. “Even though we’ll be able to go back to work at the office, I think it will never be the same now these companies have seen how much money they can save with remote work.”
The host has been advocating that investors take on a barbell investment strategy in an uncertain market. The strategy is intended to give portfolios exposure to stocks that would benefit from an economic rebound and that benefit from the current environment, should coronavirus concerns continue to linger.
Cramer is betting that the economy will experience a slow recovery rather than a rapid one. He recommended the so-called FAANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet — as winning plays in a slow economy.
“This market’s ignoring what happens when the bountiful unemployment benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program run out over the summer, triggering a wave of small business bankruptcies,” Cramer said.
“Even though the mega-cap techs are in last place now, they’re the ones I’d bet [on] as people realize the economy looks a lot uglier once the stimulus goes away,” he added. “No, the FAANG stocks won’t win going away as usual, could be a photo finish, but they always own the homestretch.”
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet and Apple.