NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Getting blown away by this restaurant move yesterday and today as major research firms up their ratings and say it is time to get in the group.
I am flabbergasted because if the consumer is really hurting, if the payroll tax mattered, if the delayed tax refunds mattered and if the higher gasoline prices mattered, these upgrades sure don't show it.
Yesterday, Raymond James said that, after a hiatus, it is time to buy Panera (PNRA). Today Goldman said that Panera and Brinker (EAT) -- think Chili's -- should be bought because the consumer is spending because of increased optimism, particularly among the high-income bracket in the country. The same Goldman research piece also says that Starbucks (SBUX) is more popular than ever and has a terrific more-likely-to-recommend ratio than any other restaurant chain.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Real Money on April 4. To see Jim Cramer's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.From what you read in the newspapers and the Internet and what you hear on television, these moves by these brokerage houses make no sense. How is it possible that we could have any confidence at all given all of the negative news? How can people be willing to spend $6 a throw at Panera for a signature panini or that Asian sesame chicken salad, or shell out 10 smackers for a dinner at Chili's or $5.01 on a triple venti cappuccino with skim, wet? How come they are not staying home? Isn't that what you do when things are tougher? How come they are not trading down to McDonald's (MCD), which, by the way, has some solid, more nutritional changes to its menu of late? Simple. It's because we are a richer country than people realize, particularly when our houses and our stock portfolios go up in value. Most people spend way too much time obsessing about a few dollars more to the tax man for all but the rich, and for the rich people a return to the old tax rates of the 1990s was supposed to be catastrophic. In reality, 98% of the people didn't have their taxes raised. Many of the remaining 2% have seen an increase in their chief asset, their home, that might actually make up for the increased taxes. Everyone, of course, feels better even knowing what their tax rates are, something that the fiscal cliff resolution finally gave us.
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