Jim Cramer found that even an unfavorable film reference in a Barclays note on Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) was not enough to prevent the stock from soaring, one in a series of recent defeats for the bears.
"If you've seen the Matrix, you know Laurence Fishburne offers Keanu Reeves the choice between a red pill that lets him see the universe as it is, or a blue pill that lets him keep living in ignorant bliss — it's a great monologue," the " Mad Money " host explained. "Barclays says 'we think many investors have taken the blue pill while we remain stubbornly in the red pill camp.'"
But Barclays' "sell" call and $165 price target was trumped by Tesla's 40 percent run up year-to-date, and the automaker's $300 stock left the short-sellers behind when it announced strong production numbers earlier this week.
"Sure, [the analyst's] got the litany of negatives we all know and that go a long way to explaining why 26 percent of Tesla's float is sold short. The main thing you need to know, though, is that beauty's in the eye of the beholding buyer, and they aren't buying what Barclays is slinging," Cramer said.
More confusion was thrown into the market on Thursday as traditional retailers that are widely known to be struggling skyrocketed in an "anti-Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN)" retail rally that Cramer said was not a consumer-driven comeback .
"[It] was a classic relief rally, where certain stocks just came down too far too fast, and then we got numbers that weren't quite as bad as people had feared," the " Mad Money " host said.
The stocks of brick-and-mortar players like Kohl's (NYSE: KSS), Macy's (NYSE: M), L Brands (NYSE: LB), Target (NYSE: TGT), Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY), and Costco (NASDAQ: COST) all skyrocketed as earnings reports indicated that the retail environment is not as bad as analysts anticipated.
"When you're as negative as most portfolio managers had become on retail, it really doesn't take much to get the group raging," Cramer said.
Restaurant stocks are the talk of the Street in light of Panera Bread's (NASDAQ: PNRA) takeover by JAB Holdings , so Cramer turned to two food chains to illustrate the winners and losers of the casual dining market.
Both Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI), the parent of Olive Garden, and Brinker International (NYSE: EAT), the Chili's parent, rallied almost hand-in-hand in the second half of 2016. Once 2017 hit, however, their stocks went separate ways, with Darden rising almost 15 percent and Brinker sliding 14 percent year-to-date.
While Brinker has suffered a big earnings miss, declining same-store sales, slashed full-year guidance, and bad press, Darden reported a strong fourth quarter that included a bump up in same-store sales, improved 2017 earnings guidance, a new acquisition, and a strengthening to-go business, which was up 17 percent.
"It's very tough to invest in the restaurant industry right now, but that's why it's so important to remember why it's worth paying up for best of breed stocks like Darden, rather than going bargain hunting for companies that seem to be struggling like Brinker," Cramer said.
On Thursday, Cramer also spoke with the CEO Robert Sands of Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ), the fastest-growing consumer packaged goods company in the United States.
Sands said that not only is the giant alcohol distributor not very worried about a border tax on imports, but that the impressive growth trajectory of one of the company's Mexican beer brands, Pacifico, could make it Constellation's next big hit.
"All of a sudden, the growth on Pacifico has jumped up to high-double-digit growth, I think 20 percent in the fourth quarter, and we don't really see any end to it," Sands said. "We really do think that Pacifico is going to come right on the heels of Corona and then Modelo Especial as the most popular imports in the United States."
In Cramer's lightning round , he rattled off his take on several caller favorite stocks:
Twilio Inc. (NYSE: TWLO): "Okay, we can't care about where we bought it. We've got to care about where it's going, too. And I believe in [founder and CEO] Jeff Lawson and I believe in Twilio. I can't believe how bad the stock has been, though, and I understand."
Suburban Propane Partners (NYSE: SPH): "I like Suburban Industries in Summit [New Jersey], but Suburban Propane, no, I'm not a buyer. Why, why, why? Because the propane business is awful."
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