The banks are the group that sets the tone for the entire earnings season, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday. Fortunately, the expectations for the banks are so low that they've got room to rally.
It will be JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report and Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Report reporting first. Cramer said JPMorgan is problematic given shares are up from their lows. The company tends to tell investors the good and the bad, making it impossible to predict how investors may react. Wells, on the other hand, trades at just nine times earnings with a 3.8% dividend yield. Cramer said he'd be a buyer of Wells, ahead of when the company find a new CEO.
Then on Monday, we'll hear earnings from Citigroup (C) - Get Report , Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report and Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report , along with Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Report . Cramer said Citi doesn't have the growth investors need and Goldman needs to put its Malaysian scandal behind it. Bank of America needs a big upside surprise to move shares higher, but Cramer said the company is unlikely to provide one.
Of all the banks, Cramer said Morgan Stanley has the most potential to surprise to the upside on earnings, which means it also has the most potential to rally higher.
Cramer and the AAP team are analyzing the banks' quarterly profit reports, starting with JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and more. Find out what they're telling their investment club members and get in on the conversation with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts Plus.
Bed Bath and Beyond Needs a Makeover
There's one reason why capitalism works, Cramer told viewers, accountability. When management repeatedly makes mistakes, shareholders can rise up and vote to replace the CEO. That's exactly what's happening at Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) - Get Report , which now has activist investors looking to replace not only the company's CEO, but also its entire board of directors.
When Bed Bath last reported, results were again disastrous, sending shares skidding another 8.7%. Since 2003, when Steve Temares took over as Bed Bath's CEO, shares have lost 58% of their value, while the S&P 500 has gained 342%.
On the company's conference call, analysts began to revolt, accusing management of having no strategy whatsoever for growth.
Cramer added that the company's stock buyback program has also been disastrous. Five years ago, Bed Bath had 204 million shares outstanding at $80 a share. Today it has just 132 million outstanding, but at a price of just $17 a share.
On the bright side, Cramer said Bed Bath has a solid balance sheet it could use to turn things around, but not with current management.
On Real Money, Cramer says major upheaval is needed at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Executive Decision: Macy's
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Jeff Gennette, chairman and CEO of Macy's (M) - Get Report , the iconic retailer that trades at just six times earnings with a 6.2% dividend yield.
Gennette said he's been hard at work transforming Macy's from a place of transactions to a place of experiences. Macy's is focused on fashion, celebration and community and that can be seen by their social engagement, events like the Macy's parade and their involvement in the communities they serve.
But before they could transform their stores, they first need to transform their balance sheet, Gennette said. They've been investing for growth, boosting their dividend and removing debt, all to help strengthen their financial position going forward.
Macy's has also been attracting new customers to its brand through concepts like Blue Mercury and Backstage, both of which are expanding into more locations across the country. Beauty is a must-win category for Macy's, Gennette noted, and they continue to take market share.
Finally, when asked about their team members, Gennette boasted that employee retention is up, turnover is down and employee satisfaction is at all-time highs for the company. When adding all of these factors together, Gennette said that Macy's has been able to change the trend on the "mall is dead" theme, proving that a winning strategy can still succeed in the market.
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Off the Tape: StockX
In his "Off The Tape" segment, Cramer spoke with Josh Luber, co-founder and CEO of the privately-held StockX, a marketplace for sneakers and streetwear that provides price discovery and a method for connecting buyers and sellers of rare items.
Luber explained that the first pair of shoes Kayne West designed with Adidas retailed for $200 a pair and had a very limited supply. Those sneakers now sell on StockX for $1,200. Before StockX however, no one really knew how many pairs were out there and what the true value of these sneakers really was.
The same applies for other streetwear, like watches, handbags and other apparel. Luber said StockX is all about supply and demand, offering the same bid and ask pricing system as the stock market, only now applied to hard-to-find items.
Learning from Amazon
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer told viewers he's always been a proponent of life-long learning. That's why he found Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report CEO Jeff Bezos' annual letter to shareholders so fascinating. In the letter, Bezos noted that sometimes you need to build things that no one is asking for, such as he did with Amazon Web Services. You must also be encouraged to wander and explore new things. Finally, you must always allow yourself to fail, so that you may learn and grow.
Cramer said he found all of these observations riveting and encouraged viewers to read this year's letter.
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in JPM, C, GS, PANW, AMZN.