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Interpreting the Call

Cramer looks at the fallout from recent conference calls from Wal-Mart and Cisco.

Sometimes knowing what is boilerplate and what isn't boilerplate is the difference between wealth and poverty in stock trading.

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Yesterday, Wal-Mart reported a spectacular quarter but then, on its conference call, warned that it may not be able to keep up the pace in a slowing second half. The stock hiccuped right after that statement, giving back a point of its two-point gain.

People sold stock immediately and then discussed among themselves whether that cautious guidance wasn't just the same old routine. Sure enough, the market judged that it was and took the stock right back up. Great quarter, boilerplate guidance.

Cisco, however, always offers sobering guidance on its call.

This time, though, there was no such animal. Cisco blithely described the future. It didn't put a negative spin on it. It didn't offer the boilerplate. That, plus the split, of course, is rocketing the stock.

On every conference call, there is a language, a style, a culture. You can't make a judgment on a conference call without having the conference-call concordance.

Yesterday, the concordance said ignore Wal-Mart and pay attention to Cisco. And the concordance made you money.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund was long Cisco. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at