Jim Cramer expects defensive stocks to be resilient as debt ceiling talks drag on

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With lawmakers in a stalemate about the debt ceiling, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Monday to put faith in defensive stocks like health care, discount stores, and natural gas.

Cramer looked to the 2011 debt ceiling crisis for guidance, noting that even though history seems to be repeating itself, it’s not as simple as finding what rallied after that deal was finalized.

“You don’t want losers that turn into winners at this point. You want winners that stayed winners right through the worst of the debt ceiling talks,” Cramer said. “If the talks break down this time, you can bet the focus will be on uncertainty, credit concerns and the possibility of a recession, just like we were worried about a recession in 2011.”

Cramer recommended Oneok, a natural gas pipeline company, which just announced a merger with Magellan Midstream Petroleum for $19 billion. Although Oneok was down more than 5% at Monday’s close in the wake of the merger, Cramer considers the deal a “match made in heaven.” He cited Oneok’s success in 2011 when shares performed well through the debt limit uncertainty.

In the way of consumer-focused defensive stocks, Cramer pointed to Chipotle as a safe bet. The restaurant chain recently reported a successful quarter and its stock did well in 2011.

“Chipotle trades erratically at times, but the best time to buy it is when you have the most current information and right now that information is fresher than an al pastor,” Cramer said.

He suggested keeping an eye on clothing discounters Ross Stores and TJX, both of which are set to release earnings reports later this week.

Cramer also recommended Biogen and Eli Lilly, pharmaceutical companies making significant headway with drugs to fight Alzheimer’s disease. But Cramer said he feels Eli Lilly has a slight edge because of its popular weight loss and diabetes medicine, Mounjaro, which he dubbed a “wonder drug.”

“I wish I were less skeptical of a theoretical debt ceiling deal falling apart or coming together less than perfectly,” Cramer said. “Take these current negotiations with what we know from the history of 2011 and you’ll be ready for whatever this moment throws at you. Odds are it won’t be good.”

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Disclaimer: The CNBC Investing Club Charitable Trust holds shares of TJX and Eli Lilly.

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