Cramer: The top Q1 performers indicate the market can run higher

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CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday said investors can get an idea of how the market could perform in the second quarter by understanding how the major averages rallied during the first quarter of the year.

The Nasdaq had the biggest gain — 16 percent — to open the year. The S&P 500 rallied 13.1 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 11 percent in the first quarter. The indexes all added more or less 1.2 percent during Monday’s session.

“I think the stock market benefited from a dearth of new supply” due to the government shutdown, its impact on IPOs and the high-volume of company stock buyback programs, the “Mad Money” host said. “I think this market can go higher as long as we don’t get overwhelmed with new supply from this wave of IPOs, because I think the valuations are still too low for so many stocks, like we see from the top five performers in the Dow.”

It was a “fabulous windfall for investors” until Friday, Cramer said, when Lyft went public at $72 a share and traded as high as $88. The share price fell to nearly $69 at Monday’s close.

“That action in Lyft is not a good sign for the stock market,” he said. “We’ve got a trillion dollars’ worth of private companies that are looking to have IPOs, and if their stocks act like Lyft’s and no new money comes into the market, the supply of new stock will crush the averages.”

Cramer took a look at the Dow’s highest-performing stocks in the first quarter to predict the future.

Exxon Mobil rose more than 18 percent in the first quarter. Cramer said that run made sense because crude is the only commodity that outperformed the market.

The sector, along with Exxon, plummeted in the fourth quarter when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell initially indicated that there would be multiple interest rate hikes in 2019. Powell has since reversed course and the policy setting committee now does not expect to hike rates this year and oil has risen back above $61.

“Oil rebounded, and the oil stocks rebounded with it. I think Exxon’s got more room to run because it traded at $86 before Fed Chief Jay Powell sucker-punched the economy in early October,” he said.

Apple‘s stock gained 20 percent in the first quarter after falling off the cliff from above $233 to below $143 during the fourth quarter. Cramer said the company is emphasizing its services businesses, which reported better-than-expected revenue in its latest earnings report, and had a solid month in January.

Apple revealed a list of new products a week ago that could be a plus for the services model, he said. The tech giant’s new Goldman Sachs-linked credit card could change its customers’ relationship to credit.

“The more I dig into this one, the more I like it. Apple’s always been great at changing the experience,” such as the iPhone’s impact on telecommunications, Cramer said. “I think it will matter more than Wall Street seems to believe because they don’t understand it’s about experience.”

United Technologies climbed 21 percent last quarter. The stock rebounded off the fourth-quarter sell-off in hopes of a trade deal between the U.S. and China, where Cramer said the company does a lot of business in elevators and aerospace.

United Technologies announced in November that it would break up into three new businesses: an aerospace company, elevator company Otis, and UTC Climate, Controls & Security.

“I think it’s a fabulous investment if you believe the Chinese trade talks will ultimately succeed,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite industrials, although these breakups take an awfully long time to complete.”

IBM‘s stock traded lower than $106 in the fourth quarter after falling from the $150 range in early October, wiping out nine years worth of gains, Cramer said. But it gained more than 27 percent in the first quarter of 2019 on a strong dividend, he said.

“I wish I could tell you that IBM’s being bolstered by its closing of its Red Hat acquisition as Red Hat recently reported a very good quarter recently, but the deal won’t close until the second half of the year,” Cramer said.

Cisco had the biggest gains in the first quarter at less than 25 percent, Cramer said.

Growth is accelerating, it is becoming more of a service and software company, the price of DRAM chips — an important input for the company — is falling, it’s a good 5G play, and has a nice balance sheet, the host said.

“Cisco is the perfect metaphor for what could go right in the second quarter,” Cramer said.

Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Apple, Goldman Sachs, and Cisco.

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