While Yum! is a worldwide outfit, the growth is in China. So when the Chinese KFC division had a shortfall, the stock got clocked, Cramer said. Soon after, Yum! let it be known that its earnings would be slashed as it boosted its Chinese advertising. You had to buy the stock on that shortfall, said Cramer. Not long after, YUM's Chinese business began to turn and the stock headed right back up to its 52-week high. KFC's sales growth in China is more important to Yum!'s stock than the actual reported earnings of the entire chain.
As much as we'd like to keep things simple and just focus on the earnings per share, sometimes the truly important metrics can elude us if we don't keep our eyes on the ball, Cramer said. Anybody who waited for revenue growth to kick in missed the whole move since 2009.
Some so-called experts tell you to wait for revenue to roar, but they've kept you out of some of the best stocks out there, he warned. Earnings are not always all-important.
Let It Ride
Finally, Cramer said, if you have a core holding in your portfolio, a high-quality stock with terrific prospects that you want to own for the long haul, don't sell it at the first little gain or the first sign of turbulence.
If you really have conviction in a stock, you need to let it ride, Cramer said, because it is a core holding and want to own it through thick and thin. If you don't follow through with that, he said, it's almost always a big mistake.
The temptation to take a gain is palpable. It's a difficult task to keep a fabulous stock riding in your portfolio, because you never want to let a gain turn into a loss. If you own a stock and you think it could go up over the next few years, then by all means keep it, Cramer said. But all bets are off if the business starts to deteriorate.
What makes him so sure of this rule? Cramer said his trust rates stocks on a scale of 1 to 4 every week. Those rated 1 are, by and large, meant to be core positions, and he wants as many shares as he can get. However, looking back over the last five years he found it unnerving to see how many of these 1 stocks the trust sold because of short-term market turbulence, only for the stocks to continue roaring ahead.
A core position is what it says it is: something that's integral to your portfolio. It should not be so easily dislodged, he said. Resist the urge to sell your franchise players, no matter how tempting it may be.
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