Don't be confused by reports in the media that the start of the holiday selling season has been disappointing, Jim Cramer said on his

"RealMoney" radio show Monday.

The first stories have been "predictably negative," said Cramer, but he believes that sales and margins have been strong.

What's impressive is that strong sales are coming at a time when there are plenty of reasons for pessimism, such as gasoline and natural gas prices that are higher than last year, more competition from online retailing, a president who is "capable of making everyone feel bummed," much higher interest rates, post-hurricane "chaos," and a war in Iraq "people are tired of," said Cramer.

"If these are not reasons for reduced Christmas spending," Cramer doesn't know what is.

Cramer believes that more accurate headlines about the kickoff of the holiday-selling season would have been, "Shoppers astonished retailers with huge sales despite a litany of woes." Or, "With inventories lean going into the season and sales strong, margins could be higher than expected." Or even, "Stores jammed despite the gloom."

In a year in which Cramer said he expected holiday sales to be down as much as double-digits, he is seeing sales possibly

up

as much as double-digits. That means things are pretty good and maybe even getting better, he said.

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The Disciplined Trader

Retired Major League Baseball player and

RealMoney.com

contributor Lenny Dykstra joined Cramer to talk about Dykstra's weekly trading ideas. Dykstra said he bought

Centene

(CNC) - Get Report

Monday morning at $23.85 and would set a stop-loss or consider adding to his position at $21.82, Centene's 21-day moving average.

Dykstra also is watching

Quiksilver

(ZQK)

for a trade should the stock get near its 52-week low of $10.63. He wants to buy "strictly

because it's beaten up." Dykstra would look to buy just above $10.63. Cramer added that "sometimes you get the pessimism priced into the stock."

Quicksilver traded at $12.18 Monday afternoon.

Finally, Dykstra said he is a fan of

VeriSign

(VRSN) - Get Report

because of its large cash and cash-flow position and no debt. He believes that VeriSign should be trading higher than $22.14, where it traded Monday afternoon.

Cramer's Callers and Emailers

In response to a question about

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

, Cramer said a recent downgrade of Yahoo! was simply a result of the stock being up so much in a short period of time. There is nothing wrong with the business, he said. Pullbacks are normal when stocks have a run, and Cramer would be patient before buying.

Commenting on

Isonics

( NT), Cramer said the company hadn't been selling bomb-detection equipment long enough "to make believers out of us." The company has a poor track record in its core semiconductor manufacturing-related business.

Of

NitroMed

( NTMD), Cramer said short interest in the stock is 10 million shares out of a float of 20 million shares and total shares outstanding of 30 million. If anything, the high short interest makes him want to buy the stock if it goes down more. If subscriptions for the company's BiDil drug come in better than expected, the stock could go up dramatically, he said.

Cramer is not concerned about

BEA Systems'

( BEAS) planned stock offering and believes that the offering could be an opportunity to buy the stock. Cramer believes that the company is in the midst of a long-term upswing in aerospace and that the offering will make its balance sheet stronger.

Cramer isn't a fan of

Nortel

(NT)

, although he believes, long term, Nortel will be fine. Nevertheless, he would sell the stock and move on.

In response to a question about

True Religion Apparel

(TRLG)

, Cramer said the company is a "hot play" with terrific growth and is only trading at 16 times earnings. But, TRLG is a play on fashion, which is "very, very hard," he said.

There is an element of gambling in owning TRLG, and he prefers

Urban Outfitters

(URBN) - Get Report

because he believes that URBN will have a longer-term track record.

Finally, Cramer said

Allscripts Healthcare Solutions

(MDRX) - Get Report

had come down because the company is considering a stock offering. He "would not be shy about buying some right here." MDRX is a "very good company in a very good growth market."

At the time of publication, Cramer was long Yahoo!

James J. 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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