“We have more blowups in high-growth stocks, more disappointment in tech, more sadness in health care, and they’re offset by just a fantastic pair of rallies in Procter & Gamble and PayPal,” the “Mad Money” host said.
And strong earnings reports aren’t the only things working in investors’ favor, Cramer said.
“It’s the companies that can’t be crushed by the Fed or by the trade war with China. And, in fairness, that is a shrinking group,” he said. “My watchword remains the same: if a company has any of its fortunes tied to China or the Fed, then its stock is going to be guilty until it is proven innocent, and even then, I wouldn’t expect the jury to acquit.”
With that in mind, Cramer turned to his packed game plan for the week ahead:
“It’s going to be a really tough act to follow,” he said. “The consumer packaged goods stocks have been tough to own, but Procter gives people hope. Let’s see if Kimberly-Clark can keep hope alive.”
“That’s flooded the toy market with excess inventory, so I doubt the company will be able to trounce the numbers yet, but if they can’t do it this quarter, you know what? They’re going to do it next quarter,” Cramer said. “I like the stock of Hasbro here, although I’d like it even more if it sells off.”
3M: Tuesday morning marks “the toughest couple of hours in earnings season,” and Cramer is most worried about the report from 3M, the manufacturer of Scotch tape and a host of other consumer, industrial and health-related goods.
On Thursday, Cramer noted that he was considering trimming his charitable trust’s position in 3M ahead of the quarter.
“Unless the company announces some significant changes to its worldwide portfolio, I figure it’s going to guide down again thanks to the weakness in autos,” he said. “It is a shame: 3M’s stock is now down more than 60 points and it still hasn’t been able to attract any substantial buyers.”
Verizon: Cramer expected “another stellar quarter” from telecommunications giant Verizon.
“It’s funny, the stock’s just a buck off its 52-week-high because the story is all domestic with tremendous strength in wireless and a good yield,” he said. “If Verizon comes in at all Monday, just go buy it, please.”
The only thing missing is the Chinese government’s approval, which has been “elusive” amid the United States and China’s dispute over their trade relationship, Cramer said.
“However, let me put a worrisome thought right into your head right now: Today Honeywell, which is further along in its restructuring, reported what I can only say was a monster good quarter, […] but … someone talked about tariffs on the call and then, boom, next thing you know, the stock is actually down,” Cramer said.
“It’s mighty hard to trust the industrials because of China, and the Fed’s not exactly making it easy, either,” he continued. “Since United Technologies has some housing exposure and some Chinese exposure, [I’ll] pass.”
Caterpillar: Another China-linked industrial, Caterpillar, will issue its earnings report.
“Caterpillar should be terrific, but I doubt anyone will really care,” Cramer said. “Linked to China? Slowing. Linked to construction in this country? Slowing. Linked to mining? Eh.”
McDonald’s: McDonald’s, however, could emulate Procter & Gamble’s “coiled spring” effect when the fast-food chain’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, talks about a return to growth in the U.S. market, Cramer said.
Boeing: The deluge of earnings continues Wednesday with a report from aerospace colossus Boeing. Business is so strong at the aircraft maker that even negatives related to China “can’t derail this story,” Cramer said.
“I bet they’ll talk about the burgeoning service business, which, like with Apple, has terrific margins,” he said. “And not to mention, of course, they have an insanely large backlog.”
“I think they’re going to regale us with the greatness of their faster-growing media division, but I’m concerned that we’ll also hear about that worrisome balance sheet that’s caused the stock to lag dramatically behind Verizon,” he warned.
“This morning Morgan Stanley booted Ford off of its buy list, talking about all the dreams that didn’t pan out. When I see a downgrade that close to when it reports, … I think it’s going to be a doozy of a quarter,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that this stock really acts almost as badly as it did during the Great Recession. I hope the Fed listens to Ford’s conference call so they can just see how weak some parts of this economy really are.”
Microsoft: Expecting “a blowout number” from Microsoft’s upcoming earnings report, Cramer said he’d keep an eye on the company’s results for Azure, its cloud business that competes with Amazon Web Services.
“Visa’s always a buy on any weakness leading up to earnings,” he added. “Take a look at the chart — you’ll know what I’m talking about.”
AMD: Chipmaker AMD also reports earnings, but shares have rallied so dramatically this year that Cramer worried about how high the bar was set.
“That said, those expectations are being reset rapidly, as AMD’s down more than 30 percent from its highs, including a hideous 11 percent decline [Friday],” he said. “I think you should certainly wait, if you don’t have any, to buy it.”
“So far, the stock’s been true to its form,” Cramer noted. “The last two times Comcast has done big mergers, the stock initially reacted poorly — goes down about 7 percent — before rallying to crush the averages when people finally understood how good the deals were for shareholders. I think the decline’s over. It did the 7 percent thing; now it’s ready to run.”
“I don’t know if you should even buy them ahead of their quarters,” he said. “Their stocks have come down, but if they miss, you’re going to get an excellent opportunity to buy two of the finest growth stocks of our lifetime at substantially lower levels. I don’t see much risk in taking a wait-and-see approach.”
Cramer was concerned about Colgate’s fate after Procter & Gamble’s earnings win.
“For all we know, Procter & Gamble didn’t just accelerate sales, it took market share from Colgate, which used to be more nimble and much more savvy in the emerging markets,” he said. “I think the risk-reward will be muddled now that the stock’s jumped a bit in sympathy with Procter.”
With earnings season now in full swing, the windfall of reports still won’t be enough to cloud the overarching pressures of trade with China and interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, Cramer warned.
“I’m calling today a reprieve from the dreary grind, but we’ll be right back at it with a truly dicey earnings season when we reconvene next week,” he said Friday.
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of PayPal, 3M, Honeywell, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Comcast and Alphabet. Additionally, Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.
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