After an extraordinarily strong first quarter for the major averages, Jim Cramer says Wall Street is ready for some profit-taking.
"At the very least, we should probably give back some of these big gains, particularly the ones that to me seem artificial, meaning they were created by motivated buyers who moved the stocks themselves in order to enhance their first quarter performance," the " Mad Money " host said.
In the case of a selloff that retracts some of the Street's inflated gains, investors should turn to high quality stocks for safe plays in a decline.
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However, Cramer's top five names for the second quarter are all first-quarter winners, the top performers in the S&P 500 (^GSPC) that should continue their ascents barring any major crises along the way.
First up is NRG Energy (NRG), a utility giant that has managed to climb over 52 percent this year after a period of weakness. Cramer said the country's largest competitive energy provider is still revamping operations, and that it would not surprise him if the stock ticked up even more.
"Vertex has climbed up to $107 here, but ... [it] traded in the $140s back when the market first thought it had developed something good for cystic fibrosis before a setback, so I think this one has more room to run," Cramer said.
Third, Cramer tapped the contradictory Arconic (ARNC), formerly Alcoa, an aerospace and defense play that has been at the center of a proxy fight between activist investor Elliott Management and Arconic's own CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld.
"We own Arconic for my charitable trust, and I've told club members that it simply wouldn't be this high without that fight from Elliott, and that makes the stock a little fraught at these levels, even as it's down four bucks from its highs," Cramer said. "It's too cheap on the possibility of a takeover, ... but it's too expensive on earnings."
Fourth and most actionable is video game maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI), creator of the popular Call of Duty franchise and an integral name to own in the age of the stay-at-home economy.
"Of all the winners so far, I think this is the one that you can buy right here, right now, and then hopefully buy even more of on a pullback," Cramer said.
Cramer ended with Incyte (INCY), a pharmaceutical player that on Sunday announced it would combine one of its anti-cancer drugs with a Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) treatment for a clinical development program.
A similar deal between Incyte and Merck (MRK) has Wall Street rumoring a takeover, but Cramer isn't totally sold.
"I don't recommend a stock solely on the basis of takeover speculation," he said. "But takeover or no takeover, here's where I come down: I actually believe that Incyte sells for a lot less than its key drug franchise is worth, which is why I'm giving you my blessing to buy it into the profit-taking that I think is a natural next step in the wake of the stock's big run today."
Cramer insisted that he is not turning bearish, simply seeking the bargains that a near-term dip could provide.
"I am happy to wait for lower prices. But if we don't get them, you know what? Then that will mean I was too cautious. It's always a possibility, but after such a strong start to the year, please don't mind me if I want to get a little picky before I end up pulling the trigger," Cramer said.
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