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The markets took Friday's weak employment number pretty well, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers. Fears the Federal Reserve will need to immediately raise interest rates were quelled. That means this week's game plan continues to focus on a weaker U.S. dollar.
Cramer said he'll be watching German factory orders on Monday because a strong Germany translates into a stronger euro and a weaker dollar. Also on Monday, United Natural Foods (UNFI) reports earnings. This is a stock that makes Cramer want to buy WhiteWave Foods (WWAV) . WhiteWave is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.
Next, on Tuesday, craft store Michaels (MIK) reports. Cramer thinks this company could transcend the retail funk. He is also bullish on Dave & Busters (PLAY) and Ralph Lauren (RL) , which holds an investor day Tuesday.
Wednesday brings earnings from Restoration Hardware (RH) , Brown Forman (BFB) and Lululemon Athletica (LULU) . Cramer suggested using call options to limit the downside on Restoration Hardware, but prefers Constellation Brands (STZ) over Brown Forman. He said to buy Lulu on any weakness.
For Thursday, Cramer suggested buying J.M. Smucker (SJM) but avoiding Mattress Firm (MFRM) , which has become over-extended. He will also be listening to Brinker (EAT) to see if the surge at McDonald's (MCD) is taking a bite out of that restaurant chain.
On Friday, Cramer returns to Germany, which releases its consumer price index. Once again, he's looking for a strong Germany to spread into a strong Europe and rising European interest rates that will send the U.S. dollar lower.
Take Whole Foods Over Sprouts
Shares of Whole Foods are up 20% in 2016, while Sprouts has seen its shares tumble by 12%. Cramer said those moves are warranted, as the weakness in Sprouts doesn't seem to be a one-time stumble.
The problem with Sprouts is simply competition, Cramer explained. As more grocery stores and others such as Walmart (WMT) carry more organic items, Sprouts will have a tougher time generating explosive growth.
Sprouts also made a dangerous decision to partner with Amazon (AMZN) in select markets. Cramer said while the deal allows Amazon Prime members to buy from Sprouts, it also puts Sprouts in direct competition with Amazon, which also sells organic items, often for less. The arrangement can only hurt Sprouts' margins over the long term.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods' new "365" stores mark the beginning of a comeback that features more private-label offerings with higher gross margins. The new, smaller-format locations bring new customers into the Whole Foods family.
Cramer said Whole Foods is a buy at current levels but he can't say the same for Sprouts.
Dollar Tree vs. Dollar General
The dollar stores were transformed into a duopoly after Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar last year. Since last July, shares of Dollar Tree are up 14%, with Dollar General rising 17%.
After some initial weakness and downgrades last fall, the dollar stores returned with a vengeance after both companies reported terrific results last week. The reason? Cramer said the dollar stores don't need to worry about an "omni-channel experience," they can just focus on giving customers what they want. That's why the dollar stores keep taking share from the likes of Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) . Target is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.
Cramer said while he still likes both companies, Dollar Tree remains a play on the synergies it can squeeze out of the acquisition, while Dollar General remains the consistent earner that is not only cheaper but affords less risk.
How Does Ulta Do It?
How does beauty and cosmetic retailer Ulta Salon (ULTA) continue to outperform quarter after quarter? The company just reported a monster 16-cents-a-share earnings bet with 39% earnings growth and a 15% rise in same-store sales. Ulta also bought back one million shares of its own stock and raised guidance. Shares of Ulta are up 28% this year at new all-time highs.
Ulta CEO Mary Dillon attributed the terrific results to strength in cosmetics, fewer promotions and a growing e-commerce platform that is bringing new customers into stores. The company also boasts 19.4 million members in its loyalty program.
Cramer said it's clear that Ulta knows what its customers want and has perfected the precision execution needed to give it to them. The stock is expensive, he admitted, trading at 31 times earnings. But if Ulta doesn't deserve the premium, Cramer concluded, who does?
No Huddle Offense
In his "No Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer said he doesn't like to be baffled, but today's labor report was just plain maddening. Jobs were clearly lost this month, but the Labor Department seems to have no idea where or why.
Cramer said the lack of depth and accuracy in these labor numbers is unacceptable given how many economic decisions are based on them.
Today's report cited a sharp rise in part-time employment, for example, but offered no context as to why. Was it the rising minimum wage? Productivity gains? New technology displacing workers?
What's with all of these revisions, huge revisions, to previous reports? In today's artificially intelligent world, surely the Labor Department can track who's working, who's not and why, Cramer said.
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