This column was originally published on RealMoney on April 19 at 9:19 a.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers. For more information about subscribing to RealMoney, please click here.
Too hard right now. That's why earnings season can get so overwhelming.
as good as it looks?
as bad as it looks?
really all that strong?
The New York Times
stank out loud but the company couldn't have been more upbeat.
looked OK, said business was exceedingly strong.
looked light on volume, high on selling price (a la
what Tero wrote) and simply not so hot, but the stock's running. More work needed.
weak, but guidance is better. How the heck can that happen?
The problem with every one of these quarters is that the releases all read exactly the same: better than expected, or record earnings, or really fabulous growth.
Not one of these companies ever says anything disappointing, even when the quarterly results are
disappointing. The disinformation about, say,
was extraordinary. The
release, the interviews, were all exceedingly upbeat. I sat through a Sue Decker interview on
that was extremely bullish and totally wrong. I read through a
release and conference call and they are
about how they did? Meanwhile, United Tech is subdued about its performance even as it looked fabulous to me. UnitedHealth squawks how great things are but the growth is anemic.
Washington Mutual's quarter and release were totally emblematic of what makes the moment so difficult,. Here's a company that had no business being upbeat, given the hideous subprime exposure. But it was. And the quarter wasn't a disaster. Yet the stock performed better, on a percentage basis, than any I follow.
CSX had declines in most major businesses but the costs were so under control it didn't matter. Again, a close textual analysis needed to be performed to see what people
All of these reports take hours and hours to figure out. You can't just look at the consensus and look at the number and draw any conclusions. You can't even listen to the questions and answers and make a judgment, as anyone who listened to the United Tech call knows -- that went quite poorly during the Q&A.
So, you can't make solid judgments. They don't hold up to scrutiny. They are too on-the-fly vs. the typical non-earnings period thinking.
I counsel taking a breath and focusing only on the clear blowouts:
and American Standard, for instance, and then hope that the market takes them down so you can get in them closer to where they were
they had game-changing quarters.
Really more of a jumble of short-covering, futures take-up and a sense that things are simply not as bad as expectations would have indicated. And you can abandon stocks that miss the guidance from the fourth quarter. They are as truly bad as the ones that blow away, sizably, the guidance set at the same time.
If you feel overwhelmed right now, you are. Which is why I always say that earnings season is the
time to make money.
At the time of publication, Cramer was long UnitedHealth Group, Yahoo! and Altria.
Jim Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for
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