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    Cramer's lightning round: Vertex Energy is going higher

    Monday – Friday, 6:00 – 7:00 PM ET

    It’s that time again! “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer rings the lightning round bell, which means he’s giving his answers to callers’ stock questions at rapid speed.

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    Veru Inc: “The stock is up a great deal. … We caught it much lower.”

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    Biden invokes Defense Production Act to boost baby formula manufacturing to ease shortage

    President Joe Biden is requiring suppliers to direct ingredients used in baby formula to key manufacturers to help boost domestic production.
    Biden has also ordered the federal health and agriculture departments to use Defense Department aircraft to pick up infant formula from overseas.
    Parents have been struggling to buy formula for their infants since the closure of a key manufacturing facility in Michigan due to bacterial contamination.

    President Joe Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to increase baby formula manufacturing to ease a nationwide shortage caused by the closure of a key plant in Michigan.
    Biden is requiring suppliers to direct ingredients to baby formula manufacturers before any other companies who may have placed orders for those same goods. It wasn’t immediately clear which major suppliers are subject to the order.

    The Defense Production Act gives the president broad authority to require companies to prioritize the manufacture and allocation of goods in response to a crisis. The law was passed in 1950 during the Korean War.
    Biden has also directed the Health and Human Services Department and Department of Agriculture to use aircraft from the Defense Department to pick up infant formula from overseas that meets U.S. health and safety standards.
    Parents across the nation have struggled to find formula for their infants since Abbott Nutrition shuttered its plant in Sturgis, Michigan due to bacterial contamination. Abbott issued a recall in February of powdered formula brands made at the plant after four infants who consumed products made there fell ill with bacterial infections, two of whom died.
    The Justice Department, in a complaint filed Monday, said Abbott had introduced adulterated baby formula into the consumer market. Abbott maintains that there’s “no conclusive evidence” that its formula caused the infants to fall ill and die.
    Abbott reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to reopen the plant under conditions subject to enforcement by a federal court. Those conditions include hiring independent experts to ensure that the plant meets U.S. food safety standards.

    Abbott said it would take about two weeks to reopen the Michigan facility, subject to FDA approval, and up to eight weeks for products to arrive in stores across the country.
    The U.S. produces 98% of the baby formula American parents buy. Four manufacturers – Abbott, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestle USA and Perrigo – dominate the market. When one plant goes offline, the supply chain is easily disrupted.
    The FDA is increasing baby formula imports from other countries to help ease the shortage. To sell formula in the U.S., companies have to submit an application to the FDA, which the agency will review to make sure the products are safe and provide adequate nutrition.
    However, Democratic lawmakers said this week that the FDA does not have nearly enough inspectors to ensure imported formula is safe. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the FDA told her it has only nine inspectors to keep an eye on infant formula manufacturers.
    DeLauro introduced legislation this week that would provide the FDA with $28 million in emergency funding to beef up inspections, monitor the supply chain and root out fraud.

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    CDC now investigating 180 cases of kids with acute hepatitis of unknown cause

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 180 cases of children who suddenly developed hepatitis, an increase of 71 cases since the last update earlier this month.
    The agency said a vast majority of the cases are not recent, but have been found as it reviews data that goes back to October of last year.
    The CDC doesn’t know what caused the hepatitis cases, but said that adenovirus infection is a strong lead.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
    Tami Chappell | Reuters

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now investigating 180 cases of children who suddenly developed severe hepatitis across 36 states and territories, an increase of 71 cases since the public health agency’s last update earlier this month.
    The CDC, in a statement Wednesday, said the vast majority are not new cases of hepatitis. Rather, the number of patients under investigation have increased as the agency looks more closely at data that goes back to October of last year.

    Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is commonly caused by hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E. The cases the CDC is investigating are unusual because the children have not tested positive for those viruses and they have suffered severe symptoms, with 9% requiring liver transplants, which is rare.
    The CDC has found at least five deaths, although no fatalities have been reported since February. Adenovirus infection is being investigated as being the possible cause, with nearly half the kids testing positive for the pathogen. Adenovirus is a common virus that normally causes cold or flu-like symptoms. It is not a known cause of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children.
    The CDC also is conducting lab tests to see if the Covid virus might also be a possible cause, though the children in the initial cluster in Alabama did not have the coronavirus.
    The United Kingdom first alerted the World Health Organization to severe cases of hepatitis in kids last month. The U.K. Health Security Agency, in an update last week, said adenovirus is the most commonly detected virus in the samples tested there. The country has identified 176 cases as of May 10.
    The CDC said severe hepatitis in kids remains rare, but told parents to be on the look out for symptoms such as jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin or eyes.

    CNBC Health & Science

    Read CNBC’s latest global coverage of the Covid pandemic:

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    Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk to step down, interim chief to take over June 1

    Under Armour said its president and chief executive officer, Patrik Frisk, will be stepping down, effective June 1.
    Chief Operating Officer Colin Browne will serve as interim president and CEO.
    Frisk didn’t give a reason for his widely unexpected departure.

    Patrik Frisk, recently appointed Chief Executive Officer Of Under Armour, speaks at the 2020 Under Armour Human Performance Summit on January 14, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland.
    Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

    Under Armour said its president and chief executive officer, Patrik Frisk, will be stepping down, effective June 1, as the sportswear retailer searches for a replacement.
    In the interim, current Chief Operating Officer Colin Browne will serve as president and CEO, the company said Wednesday in a press release. Frisk is expected to remain with Under Armour as an advisor through Sept. 1.

    Frisk didn’t give a reason for his widely unexpected departure. He didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
    The former CEO of the footwear holding company Aldo Group joined Under Armour in 2017, and he took over as CEO from the company’s founder, Kevin Plank, in January 2020.
    Plank told CNBC in a phone interview Wednesday evening that this will allow the company to start a new chapter of growth, particularly by beefing up its e-commerce operations.
    “We believe that now we’re on our front foot,” he said. “And as we look at the future, we feel that this is the appropriate time for us to take a real growth perspective.” Plank later said: “We have the ability to be a much better digital company.”
    Plank added that he is not currently being considered for the CEO role.

    During his tenure, Frisk helped to drive Under Armour through a massive turnaround, which also happened to take place amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
    Frisk worked to limit the amount of discounting that Under Armour does with third-party retailers in an attempt to buoy profits. He also tried to make the brand appear more premium next to peers like Nike and Lululemon.
    But that hasn’t come without challenges. Just earlier this month, Under Armour said that global supply chain obstacles were still hurting its business as renewed Covid lockdowns in China put a dent in demand. It offered a disappointing outlook for fiscal 2023, which runs from April 1 through March 31 of next year.
    Under Armour said it will conduct both internal and external searches for its new CEO.
    “I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished as a team,” Frisk said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Together, we have done a tremendous amount of work to strengthen this iconic brand while significantly solidifying its operations.”
    The stock fell more than 3% in extended trading. Under Armour shares are down about 50% year to date.
    Read the full press release from Under Armour here.

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    Climate change has made India’s heat wave 100 times more likely, UK weather service says

    The blistering heat wave in northwest India and Pakistan was made over 100 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a new study from the United Kingdom’s Met Office.
    The analysis suggests that high temperatures that used to occur about every 300 years may now happen about every three years.
    The extreme temperatures, which began in March, have already set records in the region and have forced millions of people to rearrange how they can work and live.

    A farmer pours water on himself while working at a wheat farm in the Ludhiana district of Punjab, India, on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
    T. Narayan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    The blistering heat wave in northwest India and Pakistan was made over 100 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a new study published Wednesday by the United Kingdom’s national weather service.
    The extreme temperatures, which began in March, have already set records in the region and have forced millions of people to change how they work and live. India experienced its highest March temperatures and third-highest April temperatures in 122 years of records, and Pakistan has experienced its hottest April on record.

    The U.K. Met Office study estimated how climate change was increasing the chances of such heat events, using the region’s record-breaking heat event in April and May of 2010 as a benchmark.
    Without accounting for climate change, the probability of exceeding a heat event like the one that occurred in 2010 would only be expected once every 312 years, according to the study. But accounting for the current effects of climate change, such record-breaking temperatures are now expected every 3.1 years. By the end of the century, the chances could increase to every 1.15 years, the study cautioned.
    “Spells of heat have always been a feature of the region’s pre-monsoon climate during April and May,” said Nikos Christidis, the lead researcher of the study. “However, our study shows that climate change is driving the heat intensity of these spells.”

    Air-coolers for sale in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, April 30, 2022. India is experiencing a heat wave, with the countrys average temperature reaching almost 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) in March, the highest on record for the month since authorities started collecting the data in 1901.
    Anindito Mukherjee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    In India, the average maximum temperature in April was 35.30 degrees Celsius (95.5 degrees Fahrenheit), or just behind the 35.42 degrees Celsius (95.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2010 and 35.32 degrees Celsius (95.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2016, according to the Indian government.
    The average maximum temperature in March was 33.10 degrees Celsius (91.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest average maximum in the past 122 years and slightly higher than the previous record seen in March 2010.

    Temperatures also are reaching well above average this month. In recent days, temperatures in parts of India have reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), while parts of Pakistan reached 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit) last Sunday.
    The heat wave has eased since then, but maximum temperatures are likely to hit 50 degrees Celsius again in some areas, said Paul Hutcheon of the Met Office’s Global Guidance Unit.
    Scientists will have to wait until the end of the month, when all the temperature records for April and May have been collated, to see whether this year’s heat wave will exceed the levels experienced in 2010.

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    Jim Cramer says investors should eye these two lithium stocks

    Monday – Friday, 6:00 – 7:00 PM ET

    CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday offered investors two lithium stocks he believes should be on their shopping lists.
    “I’m only endorsing Albemarle and Livent for a trade. I like lithium here and I think these two have more upside because they’ve been kept down by the bad stock market,” the “Mad Money” host said.

    CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday offered investors two lithium stocks he believes should be on their shopping lists.
    “Lithium is everywhere, people – it just takes at least eighteen months to get production going, and that’s about how long it’s been since prices started soaring. We’ve already got these smaller players getting ready to come online later this year. … Of course, once more people get in, the business will get worse,” the “Mad Money” host said.

    “I’m only endorsing Albemarle and Livent for a trade. I like lithium here and I think these two have more upside because they’ve been kept down by the bad stock market, but you have to be ready and willing to ring the register on the way up, because this boom certainly won’t last forever,” he later added.
    Cramer said that he likes the two stocks considering how resilient they’ve been, even as the market has been roiled by a series of economic and geopolitical factors in recent weeks including inflation, the Russia-Ukraine war, Covid lockdowns in China and more.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 3.57% on Wednesday while the S&P 500 slid 4.04%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 4.73%. 
    Shares of Albemarle dropped 1.36% while Livent stock decreased 2.13%.
    Cramer also pointed out that both companies reported earnings beats in their latest quarters and raised their full-year forecasts. 

    “If you want to play the sky-high price of lithium, I say don’t overthink it. The easiest thing to do is buy Livent or Albemarle because we already know they’re doing great, and despite these recent moves, the stocks aren’t all that expensive based on the new earnings forecast,” he said.
    As for players in the lithium industry that investors should stay away from, Cramer said not to go near Standard Lithium, noting that it is “being bombarded” with short-selling.
    Sign up now for the CNBC Investing Club to follow Jim Cramer’s every move in the market.
    Disclaimer

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    Fed’s Powell must ‘slay these seven dragons’ for market to recover, Cramer says

    Monday – Friday, 6:00 – 7:00 PM ET

    CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday went through a list of economic problems that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell needs to address to tamp down inflation and in turn help the stock market rebound.
    “If Powell can slay these seven dragons, then making money in the stock market will come easy again. Until then, though, expect more horrific days like today,” the “Mad Money” host said.

    CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday went through a list of economic problems that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell needs to address to tamp down inflation and in turn help the stock market rebound.
    “Right now, Powell’s losing on too many fronts, which means he has to get more aggressive about raising interest rates to cool things down. … Powell does have a daunting task, though,” the “Mad Money” host said.

    There “is a huge schedule of things. … I’ve only listed the most obvious seven. If Powell can slay these seven dragons, then making money in the stock market will come easy again. Until then, though, expect more horrific days like today. No gain without pain, and this time there’s a lot of it,” he later added.
    Here is the list:

    Housing: “I think mortgage rates must go to 7% or 8% before it’s just too expensive and new homes start coming down in price. … Powell has a lot of wood to chop to get rates that high, but he must do so,” Cramer said.
    Autos: “Powell has to choke demand for cars and the best way to do that is to raise interest rates. … We need a glut of cars to solve this intractable problem. Then the semiconductor makers can catch their breaths,” Cramer said.
    Labor: “The more companies that decide they can’t afford to hire people here, the less we need to worry about a wage-price spiral,” he said.
    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Cramer said that while Powell does not have control over its outcome or duration, the war is causing commodities prices, including oil and grains, to skyrocket.
    High freight costs: Either a slowdown in commerce or an increase in the number of drivers will help on this front, Cramer said.
    Airfares: Plane tickets need to get so expensive that people travel less and in turn spend less, he said.
    Consumer savings glut: People need to spend their pandemic savings so that they are motivated to go back to work, according to the host.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 3.57% on Wednesday while the S&P 500 dropped 4.04%, both marking their biggest losses since June 2020. The Dow closed at its lowest level since March of last year. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 4.73%. 
    Cramer noted that declines in the stock market suggest consumers will spend less, while a glut of inventory at retail giants point to price markdowns. These factors could help slow down the economy, but Powell still has an arduous road ahead to bring down inflation, he said.
    “Remember, consumers saving money will help break inflation, while more spending just accelerates it. … Less consumer spending makes Jay Powell’s job a lot easier,” Cramer said.

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    Kohl's says two top executives are leaving, as company seeks buyer

    Kohl’s said Wednesday that it is losing two of its top executives, as the retailer searches for a potential buyer amid pressure from activists to sell the business.
    Doug Howe, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer, is departing immediately, the retailer said in a securities filing. Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer, is expected to depart June 1.
    “A search for the replacements is already underway,” Kohl’s said.

    Vehicles sit parked in front of a Kohl’s department store in Ashland, Ky.
    Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

    Kohl’s said Wednesday that it is losing two of its top executives, as the retailer searches for a potential buyer amid pressure from activists to sell the business.
    Doug Howe, Kohl’s chief merchandising officer, is departing immediately, the retailer said in a securities filing. Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer, is expected to depart June 1.

    Kohl’s shares fell more than 4% in extended trading.
    The company said Howe and Revelle were leaving to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
    “A search for the replacements is already underway,” Kohl’s said. “In the meantime, we have a deep bench of marketing and merchandising talent that will ensure the continued execution of our strategies.”
    The filing comes the night before Kohl’s is set to report its fiscal first-quarter earnings ahead of the market open on Thursday.
    The report will be widely watched, for a number of reasons. For one, Kohl’s has been facing ample pressure from activist investors in recent months to overhaul its board of directors and to find a new buyer.

    Just last week, Kohl’s shareholders voted to reelect the company’s current slate of 13 board directors, trumping Macellum Advisors’ proposal for a new slate of people. But Macellum responded that it will still be holding Kohl’s accountable for its decisions in the months ahead. Chiefly, the activist firm wants the retailer to find a new buyer, arguing that current Kohl’s Chief Executive Officer Michelle Gass hasn’t done enough to grow sales.
    Kohl’s has been working with bankers at Goldman Sachs to evaluate bids. Earlier this year, it rejected a proposal from Starboard-backed Acacia Research, at $64 per share, that was deemed to be too low. 
    Kohl’s shares closed Wednesday down 11% at $43.13.

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