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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- "Don't be fooled by the 'better-than-expected' game," Jim Cramer told the viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show Friday.

He said when it comes to judging a company's earnings report, the game is much more complex than most people realize.

Cramer said there are six key companies reporting their earnings next week. They include

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

,

Gap Stores

(GPS) - Get Report

and

TJX Stores

(TJX) - Get Report

in retail, and

Salesforce.com

(CRM) - Get Report

,

NetApp

(NTAP) - Get Report

and most notably,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

, in technology.

Cramer said there's an art, and a science, to determine whether any of these companies will deliver a true "better-than-expected" quarter, and whether the stocks will rocket higher, or get crushed, after they release their reports.

Cramer said most investors just look at the consensus estimates, which amounts to the average earnings expected from all of the analysts that cover a company.

But he said the consensus estimates are only part of the story. There's also a "high man," the analyst with the highest projected earnings. If a company fails to beat the high man's number, a stock could still get crushed, even if it beats the consensus.

To make matters worse, Cramer said there's also a "whisper" number, which is sometimes a number that's even higher than the high man. Cramer said in order for a company to truly deliver a "better-than-expected" quarter, it must blow through all of these estimates, forcing the company, and the high man, to raise their estimates.

If the key companies reporting next week fail to beat all of these numbers, the companies, and their respective sectors, could head lower.

>>Vote in Our Poll: Bull or Bear?

Know Your IPO

In this segment, Cramer said the IPO of network security firm Fortinet, which is set to trade next week under the ticker "FTNT" between $9 and $11 a share, is well worth a look.

Cramer said Fortinet is not a young, unseasoned company, but rather a great business with solid fundamentals and a stellar management team. The company's CEO, Ken Xie, was the founder of Netscan, which popped 48% when it came public, and was eventually sold to

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

for $4 billion.

Fortinet is the No. 1 player in "unified-threat management," a platform which provides companies with everything from antivirus and anti-spam protection to intrusion detection and data protection. The company provides a lower total cost of ownership for companies, and offers a subscription service for realtime monitoring of a company's network.

Cramer said this high margin business is worth between $13 to $19 a share based on its fundamentals, making it worth 30% to 90% more than the expected offering price. Cramer said he'd definitely be a buyer of this IPO.

Speculative Plays

"It pays to take a chance on a speculative company," Cramer told viewers, "as long as the company's fundamentals are in tact."

He said among the 21 companies he's mentioned for "Speculation Friday" over the last five-and-a-half months, all have beaten the major averages over the same time period.

Consider

AMD

(AMD) - Get Report

and

3Com

( COMS), two companies up a staggering 21% and 31% respectively in just one day.

Cramer last recommended AMD on May 19, and the stock surged 46% on yesterday's news of a large antitrust settlement. He recommended 3Com on Sept. 25, saying that the company was finally getting it's act together, a sentiment that was shared by

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

, who tendered a takeover bid for company.

Cramer said there are other speculative standouts as well, including

Starent Networks

(STAR) - Get Report

, which is up 80% since that stock's last recommendation.

Speculation makes investing fun and exciting, said Cramer. And for those who invested in these high-flying names, he said it's time to take profits, closing out positions in 3Com, and letting the rest ride.

Mad Mail

Cramer told a viewer that he's not worried about

China Unicom

(CHU) - Get Report

, a stock which he owns for his charitable trust,

Action Alerts PLUS.

Cramer told another viewer that

Kraft

( KFT) is not a good stock, and he'd wouldn't wait and would be a seller on Monday.

Cramer told a final viewer that unlike Kraft,

Walgreen's

(WAG)

is

a good stock, and he'd take a few profits, and let the rest ride.

Lightning Round

Cramer was bullish on

Devon Energy

(DVN) - Get Report

,

Apache

(APA) - Get Report

,

ConAgra Foods

(CAG) - Get Report

,

BP

(BP) - Get Report

,

Walgreens

(WAG)

and

Express Scripts

(ESRX)

.

He was bearish on

Churchill Downs

(CHDN) - Get Report

,

Chesapeake Energy

(CHK) - Get Report

,

Tyson Foods

(TSN) - Get Report

and

CVS Caremark

(CVS) - Get Report

.

To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Moneypage on CNBC

.

Want more Cramer? Check out Jim's rules and commandments forinvesting from his latest book by

clicking here.

For more of Cramer's insights during the Lightning Round, clickhere

.

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Express Scripts, BP, China Unicom.

Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for TheStreet.com, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of TheStreet.com or its affiliates, or CNBC, NBC UNIVERSAL or their parent company or affiliates. Mr. Cramer's opinions are based upon information he considers to be reliable, but neither TheStreet.com, nor CNBC, nor either of their affiliates and/or subsidiaries warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such. Mr. Cramer's statements are based on his opinions at the time statements are made, and are subject to change without notice. No part of Mr. Cramer's compensation from CNBC or TheStreet.com is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."

None of the information contained in "Mad Money" constitutes a recommendation by Mr. Cramer, TheStreet.com or CNBC that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You must make your own independent decisions regarding any security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy mentioned on the program. Mr. Cramer's past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance. Neither Mr. Cramer, nor TheStreet.com, nor CNBC guarantees any specific outcome or profit, and you should be aware of the real risk of loss in following any strategy or investments discussed on the program. The strategy or investments discussed may fluctuate in price or value and you may get back less than you invested. Before acting on any information contained in the program, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and strongly consider seeking advice from your own financial or investment adviser.

Some of the stocks mentioned by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are held in Mr. Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio. When that is the case, appropriate disclosure is made on the program and in the "Mad Money" recap available on TheStreet.com. The Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio contains all of Mr. Cramer's personal investments in publicly-traded equity securities only, and does not include any mutual fund holdings or other institutionally managed assets, private equity investments, or his holdings in TheStreet.com, Inc. Since March 2005, the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio has been held by a Trust, the realized profits from which have been pledged to charity. Mr. Cramer retains full investment discretion with respect to all securities contained in the Trust. Mr. Cramer is subject to certain trading restrictions, and must hold all securities in the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio for at least one month, and is not permitted to buy or sell any security he has spoken about on television or on his radio program for five days following the broadcast.