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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Four times a year the markets get earnings fever, Jim Cramer told his "Mad Money" TV show viewers Friday. But investors need to read beyond the headlines because it's the expectations, not the earnings, that really matter.
Cramer would be a buyer of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), a stock he owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS, on any weakness, but not IBM (IBM), which, despite its low expectations, needs to tell investors how bad things really are.
Wednesday brings earnings from Coach (COH), Norfolk Southern (NSC), United Technologies (UTX), Netflix (NFLX) and eBay (EBAY). Cramer said to be careful with Coach, Norfolk, eBay and Netflix but be a buyer of United Tech, which has already tempered the enthusiasm.
Then, on Thursday, it's Lockheed Martin (LMT), a stock that's been amazing, McDonald's (MCD), Microsoft (MSFT) and Starbucks (SBUX) reporting. Cramer said he prefers Wendy's (WEN) over McDonald's but likes Microsoft on the possibility of a new CEO from outside the company, and Starbucks for the long term.
Finally, on Friday, it's Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), Honeywell (HON) and Kimberly-Clark (KMB) reporting. Cramer is a fan of Bristol, Honeywell and Kimberly but suggested using call options as a way to test the waters with Stanley Black & Decker, a company that couldn't possibly have as bad a quarter as it did last quarter.
Executive Decision: Strauss Zelnick
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two Interactive (TTWO), the $1.5 billion video game maker with such titles as Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock and NBA 2K.
Zelnick said he's not overly worried about Take-Two's share price because the company has already bought $280 million worth of its own shares at what it believes to be a terrific price. "We're voting with our capital," he continued.
When asked whether sales at retailer GameStop (GME) should be an indicator of how Take-Two is selling, Zelnick noted that typically 30% of sales are digitally delivered, and since GameStop typically deals in a lot of older titles it's more of a trailing indicator than a leading one.
Turning to the record-setting launch of the latest Grand Theft Auto late last year, Zelnick said sales were helped by high average selling prices. But 29 million customers in six weeks proves the popularity of the franchise.
Cramer said the Grand Theft Auto franchise alone is worth more than Take-Two's current stock price, not to mention all of its other terrific titles.
The markets are being invaded by robots, Cramer told viewers, with smart companies such as Google (GOOG), an Action Alerts PLUS holding, and Amazon.com (AMZN) both snapping up robotics firms for their warehouses and future projects. So where does that leave iRobot (IRBT), the only publicly traded pure-play robot maker?
Cramer noted that iRobot shares soared 85% last year and has sold over 10 million robots in 45 countries around the globe. iRobot currently derives 90% of its sales from consumer robots, like its famous Roomba vacuum, but still maintains 10% of sales of defense and security robot systems.
With new Roomba models coming, along with a promising video-conferencing robot in development with Cisco (CSCO) and sales beginning in China, Cramer said there are things to like about iRobot. The company has lots of patents, little competition and the best brand recognition.
iRobot last reported a two-cents-a-share earnings beat on lighter than expected revenue and lower guidance, but Cramer said the company does have $5 a share in cash, which puts its multiple at a respectable 27 times earnings for a growth rate in the high-teens.
While iRobot is not a revolution, Cramer concluded the company is worth buying as a speculation.
Why are corporate breakups so wildly profitable? Cramer dove into the history behind Beam (BEAM), which was just recently acquired by Japan's Suntory for a 20% premium, to show investors how it works.
Cramer noted that while some investors lamented Beam's poor performance last year, the stock has now delivered a 92% return over the past two years since it was spun off from the old Fortune Brands, far better than the markets overall.
And what of the Fortune Brands split that made it all possible? Cramer recalled that Fortune was a conglomerate that comprised cabinets, faucets, gold clubs and liquor before it announced its breakup in December 2010, when its market cap was $13 billion.
After spinning off its gold business for a clean $1 billion, the remaining Fortune Brands Home Security (FBHS) and Beam are now worth a combined $24 billion, for a total of $25 billion, more than double that of the original entity.
Looking at the stock prices, the new Fortune Brands is up 278% since the split, which, when combined with Beam's 92%, gives investors triple their money in just two years.
Why do breakups work? Because Wall Street hates conglomerates and much prefers pure-play companies that are easy to analyze and sponsor, Cramer said.
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer sounded off on the negativity surrounding Twitter (TWTR), a stock that still has nine analyst sell ratings but only eight buy ratings.
Cramer said the skepticism surrounding Twitter is unheard of, which is why a lone upgrade today was so refreshing. In that report, the analyst noted that Twitter's opportunity and potential far exceeds traditional metrics, a sentiment Cramer has shared for quite some time. He called Twitter the most disruptive of all the social media plays as well as one that ties in great with television, something advertisers can get behind.
The good news is that with so many "sells" on the stock, there's still plenty of room for upgrades because Twitter will prove the analysts wrong, one by one.
To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.
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-- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt