Mad about Great Lakes Manufacturing

Looking to cash in on the tech revolution? Financial guru and host of CNBC's Mad Money Jim Cramer says forget about Apple and Sun Micro. "They're just refining luxuries."

Invest instead, he says, in future-oriented American manufacturing outfits and, more specifically, two Cleveland-based companies - Eaton and Parker Hannifin - that produce vital goods and have a level of growth and innovation levered to the global economy.

"These stocks have become not metal benders, but new technology stocks," Cramer said on last night's broadcast. "That's right. When you think tech you probably think of Texas Instruments or Cisco or National Semi. Gimme a break. What are those companies really doing? They trying to build a better gadget. Maybe make some chips for a flashier camera. Come on. That's old tech.

"The manufacturers, the companies like Eaton, that make things the world really needs, like technology that reduces carbon emissions or allows us to save energy, that's technology. These are real things, real necessities, that the rest of the world is buying because [America] makes them better and cheaper."

Cramer's analysis - and the profit performance of companies like Eaton and PH - is a breath of fresh air for Great Lakes industry. Not only is it welcome publicity for a sector shedding jobs, shuddering factories, and struggling to reorganize for global competition. But many prophets of Great Lakes 3.0 - including some analysis on this page - suggest that manufacturing won't lead to prosperity in a 21st century economy that rewards higher education and creativity.

But the reality, Cramer rightly reminds us, is that not everybody in the manufacturing business is a high school dropout. The Great Lakes sector, for instance, boasts some of the best research, development, and engineering expertise in the world. Focusing that talent on timely and strategic innovations - like technology under development at Parker Hannifin that cuts fuel consumption in delivery trucks by 50 percent - points the way to big pay offs.

“The Street’s just not bullish enough on this one," Cramer says. "Buy some Parker Hannifin.”