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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With the Alibaba ( BABA) initial public offering finally behind us, Jim Cramer said on Mad Money Friday it's back to regularly scheduled programming. That's why Cramer's game plan for next week's trading is once again focusing on individual corporate earnings.
On Monday, Cramer said he'll be watching the earnings from AutoZone (AZO) , which will likely see a selloff after it reports followed by a rally. He told viewers to buy that dip. Also on Monday, Ascena Retail (ASNA) , a stock Cramer thinks might surprise to the upside.
Tuesday brings earnings from Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and Carnival Cruises (CCL) . Cramer said that Bed Bath is likely to keep heading nowhere but Carnival may not be done going higher if it posts a decent number.
Finally, on Friday, it's the embattled BlackBerry (BBRY) in the spotlight. Cramer said he sees this once-dominant phone maker in a long-term decline, which is why he is urging investors who may want to speculate on BlackBerry to be careful.
Should Staples Buy Office Depot?
There's one sure-fire way to keep the market heading higher, Cramer told viewers --consolidation. After suggesting last week that GNC (GNC) should buy its rival, Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) , Cramer offered up another retail merger that would be a huge win for shareholders: Staples (SPLS) buying Office Depot (ODP) .
Cramer said a combined Staples and Office Depot would see huge synergies and cost savings. How do we know that? Because shares of Office Depot have doubled in the two years since it gobbled up rival Office Max, and a deal with Staples would be even bigger.
Savvy investors may recall that Staples made a previous attempt to buy Office Depot in 1997 and at the time, was shot down by government regulators. But Cramer noted that a lot has changed since 1997, and with so many office supplies being purchased online from Amazon.com (AMZN) and others a deal would likely be approved.
So how much could the combined company save? Cramer said both chains are already closing stores in order to grow, but he sees another 1,000 locations that could be closed. Add those savings to a reduction in corporate overhead and increased purchasing power and Cramer said the combined company could see $1 billion in savings.
Mild-Mannered Mega-Millionaire Ma
"I believe in the company and I believe in the man," Cramer told viewers about his conversation with Alibaba (BABA) CEO Jack Ma just before the opening bell on Wall Street.
Cramer said he was prepared to be a skeptic, as so many others have been, comparing Alibaba to the failed Facebook (FB) IPO or the dot-bomb crisis of 2001. But after a few minutes of talking with Ma, Cramer said he realized that this this man, now the richest man in China, was very mild-mannered and with humility to spare.
When asked about his role model growing up, Ma responded with the most unlikely answer of Forrest Gump, the fictional character who, despite a learning disability, was able to accomplish remarkable things by staying true to himself.
Cramer said Alibaba now reminds him of the early days of Wal-Mart (WMT) , with Ma focused on grow and profits but also on his customers and employees.
Shares of Alibaba now trade at 37 times earnings. That's a discount to Facebook, a stock Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS, and certainly to the 140 times multiple of Twitter (TWTR) , another Action Alerts holding.
Cramer said there will likely be sellers on Monday, and if shares of Alibaba were to dip to the mid or low $80s he'd still be a buyer.
Executive Decision: Alex Smith
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Alex Smith, president and CEO of Pier 1 Imports (PIR) , which disappointed Wall Street this week with earnings that missed on both the top and bottom lines, sending shares down by 14%.
Smith characterized the quarter, and his company's lowered guidance, as a "bumpy patch" for Pier 1, saying that he's confident in the holiday merchandise selection and the enhancements the company is making to its Web site.
While Smith noted that Pier 1 is looking at the possibility of closing some locations in markets that have multiple locations, he was most excited about his company's omni-channel strategy. He said that nearly 25% of online sales originate from kiosks within Pier 1 locations, and some 33% of online customers pickup their merchandise in stores.
Cramer was skeptical, however, saying that Pier 1's online experience lacks the discovery experience of its stores, leading to fewer items being purchased overall. He fell short of recommending the stock on its recent weakness.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Yahoo! (YHOO) , Textron (TXT) , Goldman Sachs (GS) , Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) , Steel Dynamics (STLD) , Nucor (NUE) , Nokia (NOK) , First Niagara Financial (FNFG) , NextEra Energy (NEE) and Dominion Resources (D) .
No Huddle Offense
Cramer said that Oracle, an Action Alerts holding, is among the last of the legacy, non-cloud software providers, while Concur represents the new breed of cloud-based software-as-a-service companies. He said Oracle didn't see the cloud revolution coming, but SAP is smart to embrace the trend by buying Concur.
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-- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
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