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All eyes will be on the Federal Reserve, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Friday as he laid out his game plan for this week's trading. If the Fed does nothing on Wednesday, the markets will soar. But if it starts hinting of another rate hike, look out below.
Cramer said he'll be watching TravelCenters of America (TA - Get Report) on Monday to hear if lower gasoline prices have helped consumers. He'll also be listening to 3D Systems (DDD - Get Report) , a company he profiled on March 9.
Next, on Tuesday, it's Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) reporting, along with Children's Place (PLCE - Get Report) and Oracle (ORCL - Get Report) . CBS (CBS - Get Report) will be holding an investor day. Cramer was bullish on Children's Place and CBS, but said Valeant has become a political hot button and Oracle has no catalyst.
Wednesday brings earnings from FedEx (FDX - Get Report) , Williams-Sonoma (WSM - Get Report) and Expedia (EXPE - Get Report) . Cramer said FedEx is cheap but vulnerable after a big run, while Williams-Sonoma needs to show it can turn itself around.
Ulta Transcends Short-Sellers
Short-sellers are just as prone to wishful thinking as those who are long a stock, Cramer told viewers as he took another look at Ulta Salon (ULTA - Get Report) , which has been roaring back from its Feb. 19 lows, including a powerful 17% gain Friday.
Cramer said the decline in Ulta started off as general market weakness but was accelerated by a negative research report that sent shares plummeting. The bear case was made in the report that Ulta had reached saturation in its store count and that same-store sales were about to decline.
But Cramer noted that when a retailer hits saturation it happens slowly, and that's not happening with Ulta. The company justified its expansion plans by noting its salon customers spend 2.5 times more in the stores than regular customers, but there are only a limited number of salon appointments available in every store.
As for those "declining" same-store sales, Ulta posted a 12.5% gain, not loss, in its most recent quarter, and that number is up from the growth the company saw last year.
Cramer concluded the bears have simply gotten Ulta all wrong and he continues to recommend the stock.
With earnings season now in the rear-view mirror, Cramer circled back to the restaurant and retail sectors to recap the winners. This truly is a stock picker's market, he said, and the winners were spectacular.
Starting in the retail space, Cramer said J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) shocked Wall Street with a 16-cent-a-share earnings beat. Home Depot (HD - Get Report) shocked as well with a 7.1% increase in same-store sales. Then there was Urban Outfitters (URBN - Get Report) , seemingly back from the dead as it shifts away from apparel and towards other hot categories like housewares.
Over in the restaurant group, Cramer commended Panera Bread (PNRA) , a stock he owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS, for a 3.6% increase in same-store sales thanks to its very successful renovation plan.
Also worth mentioning was Domino's Pizza (DPZ - Get Report) , which saw a 5-cent-a-share earnings beat, and Darden Restaurants (DRI - Get Report) , purveyors of Cramer fave Olive Garden. Cramer said Darden is the biggest beneficiary of cheaper gasoline, and it shows.
Stay Away From NRG
If you want to make money in the energy business, stay away from NRG Energy (NRG - Get Report) , Cramer warned viewers. Shares of NRG have fallen over 56% from their 2015 highs, and that might not be the end of the decline.
NRG had been a stellar performer in 2012, 2013 and into early 2014 because the company seemed to be doing everything right. NRG was investing in renewable energy and was growing its lucrative power distribution business. Investors cheered. But then energy prices began to decline, and what worked with oil at $100 a barrel no longer worked at $40 a barrel.
Despite having strong quarters in 2015, it didn't matter. Investors dumped shares of NRG with all of the other energy stocks. But then, late last year, management did an about-face, announcing that it would spin off its clean energy assets. This move only undermined investors' trust and led to another announcement, one that NRG's CEO was stepping down.
Cramer told viewers to steer clear of NRG and go with American Electric Power (AEP - Get Report) or ConEd (ED - Get Report) . If they really want solar energy, stick with First Solar (FSLR - Get Report) , which makes a ton of money.
No Huddle Offense
Much of the market's recent weakness stemmed from fears that failing oil companies would leave the banks that lent them money on the hook. But if Goldman is not worried, the rest of the market shouldn't be either.
Cramer said he's a buyer of Schlumberger (SLB - Get Report) for Action Alerts PLUS and he likes Occidental Petroleum as well. Investors may also want to consider Anadarko Petroleum (APC - Get Report) and Whiting Oil (WLL - Get Report) .
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