When is an earnings miss not really a miss? Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Tuesday that when a stock is inexpensive and totally unloved by Wall Street, even a miss can be seen as a good thing. But if expectations are too high, even a great quarter cannot save you from the wave of selling.
Case in point, 3M (MMM) - Get Report , which cut its forecast and widened its guidance range. Share immediately fell from $193 to $187 in a jarring move to the downside, Cramer said, but as cooler heads prevailed, shared ended the day up 1.9%. It turns out, 3M's loss was actually an upside surprise.
The same pattern was seen in Whirlpool (WHR) - Get Report , which slashed estimates, only to rally a stunning 9.6%, and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) - Get Report , which did not see the same weakness this quarter as rival Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report .
Given all of these positives, Cramer said the markets might actually close higher if Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell doesn't rattle investors with his public comments tomorrow.
Score a Touchdown with Cramer's Big Game Special: Get access to the best stock picks in Jim Cramer's investment portfolio by executing a two-minute drill on our Big Game Special on Action Alerts PLUS, Jim's VIP club for investors. Sign up now through Feb. 4 and receive 58% off of the normal subscription price. Now that's a real touchdown!
Off the Charts: Semiconductor Stocks
In the "Off The Charts" segment, Cramer checked in with colleague Carolyn Boroden to find out more about what's really going on with the semiconductor stocks.
Boroden looked at a daily chart of the VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) - Get Report , noting the ETFs bottom in late December and subsequent $16.54 rally. She indicated the Fibonacci timing cycles predicted this move higher, as the floor of support fell between $79 and $81.
Based on that bottom, Boroden felt there was real upside potential to $123 or even $135 a share for the ETF, but those moves were not a sure thing. She said the ETF must first clear ceilings of resistance at $97 and again at $101 a share, and must also get past new timing cycles, which are no longer in favor of the bulls.
Executive Decision: Nucor
In his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer checked back in with John Ferriola, chairman, president and CEO of Nucor (NUE) - Get Report , the steelmaker which just posted a 13-cents-a-share earnings beat, closing out a record year thanks to new tariffs on Chinese steel.
Ferriola said that thanks to the tariffs, which have finally created a level playing field, not only was Nucor able to have a record year, but many of their customers were as well. He said manufacturing in America overall continues to do well.
Despite shares being down by 15% over the past 12 months, Ferriola said Nucor remains committed to returning 40% of their earnings to shareholders via their dividend and stock buyback program.
Ferriola was also excited about his company's recently announced state-of-the-art steel mill, which will be located in the Midwest and will represent a $1.3 billion investment. He said without the level playing field, Nucor would have hesitated to make such as investment, but the U.S. steel industry is back in business.
Nvidia: From Darling to Despair
How does a stock like Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report go from market darling to most-hated semiconductor maker in the span of just four months? And after today's 4.6% decline, is the stock finally a buy? Cramer said not so fast.
Nvidia pre-announced a huge revenue miss and earnings guide-down, its second in just the past few months. Not only is the company being weakness in China, it's also working through a product transition and an inventory glut as both gaming and the data center appears to be slowing.
But unlike Caterpillar (CAT) - Get Report , which also reported a shortfall, Cramer said the trading in Nvidia yesterday just didn't add up. Too many investors jumped right in, he said, buying at the first sign of weakness, rather than letting the stock fully digest the magnitude of Nvidia's woes.
Impatience is never a good investing strategy, Cramer reminded viewers. Investors need to wait for a stock like Nvidia to fall to its 52-week lows before beginning to buy. In this case, the stock won't be safe for another $8 share lower, which is exactly where he predicted it will fall before beginning to bottom.
Over on Real Money, Cramer says wait to buy Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report . Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer reminded viewers that markets follow the laws of supply and demand. So it should come as no surprise that giving corporations big tax cuts and encouraging them to grow, while also limiting immigration, would result in a shortage of workers and higher wages.
But Cramer noted that this wage inflation is not the organic kind the Federal Reserve is tasked with fighting, it's government mandated. When you adjust for inflation however, the median income has been flat for years, so maybe it's time to give workers a break and let wages rise.
There are all sorts of other forces pushing prices lower, Cramer concluded, maybe we don't need to take a hard line on wages just yet.
Search Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" trading recommendations using our exclusive "Mad Money" Stock Screener.
To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.
To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here.
Watch today's show and all Cramer replays below
At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in AAPL, SLB.