Cramer Credits MMM

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By James Cramer

It wasn't all mindless. There was a reason for it, a spark, an Archduke Ferdinand assassination for all of the subsequent upside chaos:

MMM's

outstanding earnings report.

If ever there were a company that resembled the dominant multinational industrial powerhouse that the U.S. has become, it is Triple M. Through sheer innovation and awesome leadership, this company has insinuated itself into the fabric of every nation's economy. Now that

General Electric

has become more financial than industrial, MMM is the benchmark, the manufacturing gold standard for the

S&P 500

.

So when MMM did the number and then some Tuesday, that was the head's up that maybe future S&P earnings can justify the market's P/E ratio.

To put it simply, MMM had something for every portfolio manager: Even though it was hurt by the strong U.S. dollar, the currency impact was minor enough to spare any subsequent number cuts; wage pressures were nil; costs were in line. No runaway inflation story here.

A magnificent contribution from Latin America gave hope to us Brazil/Argentina-philes that the South American engine can pick up some of the slack from the endangered Asian tigers. (We saw glimmers of this in

Ford

,

Whirlpool

and

Cat Tractor's

earnings -- almost enough to prove the hypothesis.)

And the restructuring gambit still works. Last year MMM spun off some businesses -- Imation -- it didn't think fit with its core concentration. The spinoff helped the parent immensely and contributed mightily to the rosy outlook.

That said, did I have it? Nah. Too busy doing work on it to own it. But it did earn a space on my "A" monitor, a space formerly occupied by the brain-dead entity known as

Novell

.

James Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of

The Street.

While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback, emailed to

Jjcramerco@aol.com.