Could the fate of the economy be foretold in one surprise earnings report? Jim Cramer as much as said so during his "Mad Money" segment on Friday, when he predicted that the results of

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

, the largest home-improvement retailer, which will be released on Tuesday, may well be a bellweather for the strength of the rest of the economy.

Cramer said he is specifically looking to the company's performance in Florida and California, two of the hardest his areas of the country, to see signs of economic stabilization. "It would signal the economy will be OK," he said during the segment. "However if sales in these states are softening, the recovery may not be upon us."

Strong home improvement sales could trigger a turnaround not only in the housing sector, he said, but also in retail and restaurants, and spread from there.

Shares of the company were up 5% to $25.55 in pre-market trading.

Rival

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

already posted better-than-expected earnings on Monday and raised its full-year guidance. The retailer reported first-quarter earnings of $476 million, or 32 cents a share, below a year earlier, but above the views of analysts as it said it gained market share and experienced margin growth.

"First-quarter results exceed both our expectations and consensus, with the results nicely addressing all the key points that have caused Lowe's stock performance to trail Home Depot's over the past quarter," Christopher Horvers, analyst at J.P. Morgan wrote in a note on Monday. "As a result, we expect some of the relative valuation gap between the two to compress."

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.