The banks may still be viewed as public enemy No. 1 in Washington, D.C., Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Wednesday, but if they deliver on earnings later this week, they will be heroes on Wall Street. Cramer said today's congressional hearings were largely political theater, and won't have an effect on what matters most -- earnings.
Wall Street will be looking for four things when the major banks report on Friday. First, they want to see that the banks are still making money, even with an inverted yield curve. Second, they'll want to see that businesses are still expanding and our economy is not, as some have feared, headed toward a recession.
Next, investors will want those fears further put to rest by hearing that there has been no pickup in bad loans and defaults. Finally, Cramer said Wall Street wants to know that the consumer is alive and well and spending, something that he heard at the JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) retailer conference that kicked off Wednesday.
Cramer said he heard a lot of positive things at the start of the retail conference, and that leads him to believe that investors will be flocking to the cloud kings and the FAANG stocks, all of which rallied today, once they learn how strong the economy really is.
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Disney's Investor Day
Walt Disney Co. (DIS - Get Report) has a new Avengers movie and a new Star Wars movie set to release later this year, but Cramer said the company's biggest way will be Thursday when it hosts its annual investor day. That's why shares have been up 10 of the past 12 sessions as investors anticipate what he company may have to say.
Ever since 2015, shares of Disney have tried, and failed, to breach their highs. No matter how well the company does, investors continue to focus on one thing -- cord cutters -- and how declining cable subscribers could affect the 41% of the company that depends on them. But Cramer said the company's other 59%, which includes movies, theme parks and brand new streaming services, could more than offset those waning cable TV revenues.
Cramer said if Disney can deliver on their analyst meeting, painting an upbeat outlook, then shares could climb.
Executive Decision: Kohl's
Gass explained that Kohl's has two key initiatives to drive traffic to their stores and achieve operational excellence. Driving traffic starts by having a great portfolio of brands, including value-oriented private labels as well as coveted national brands. Operational excellence is achieved through great management and technology, which makes things like personalization possible.
Kohl's is also doubling down on their commitment to fitness and wellness, going so far as to downsize some of their locations to make room for fitness centers from Planet Fitness (PLNT - Get Report) . Fitness apparel, footwear and technology now account for 20% of sales, double that of just four years ago.
Gass also commented on Kohl's pilot program with Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) . She said Kohl's continues to provide customers with a convenient way to make returns for Amazon and Kohl's will soon begin selling select Amazon items, like Echo devices, in 200 locations.
Finally, Gass said that Kohl's continues to have a strong balance sheet, which leaves them in a great position to invest in their future.
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Executive Decision: Ollie's Bargain Outlet
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer also sat down with Mark Butler, president and CEO of Ollie's Bargain Outlet (OLLI - Get Report) , the off-price retailer that last delivered a penny-a-share earnings beat.
Butler said Ollie's Army, the company's loyalty program, now tops nine million members and those members typically buy 40% more than non-members and now account for 70% of the company's overall revenues. But even with that phenomenal tailwind, the company is only in 23 states, soon to be 25, which leaves a lot more room for growth. "We've got a long way to go," Butler said.
Butler also commented that Ollie's takes a measured approach to growth and isn't putting up stores like crazy. He said each location is well planned and pays for itself in an industry leading time frame of less than two years.
When asked about the consumer, Butler said bargains never go out of style, and Ollie's "goofy" approach keeps customers smiling and coming back for more.
More Technology, Fewer Employees
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said he finally figured out why our economy has seen a lid on wage growth. He said when it costs $18 an hour to hire a cashier, as it does in New York City these days, companies simply hire fewer of them.
Some companies, like the privately-held Iris Nova (featured on Monday's show), have even gone as far as opening stores with no cashiers at all, choosing the honor system instead.
Hiring fewer employees and relying more on technology is becoming a real trend, Cramer concluded, something that seems unlikely even just a few years ago.
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