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Some earnings are better than expected, others are worse than expected, but there's also a third category of earnings, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday, and that's "not as bad as we thought."
Today brought examples of all three types of earnings releases, Cramer told viewers, with Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) serving up better-than-expected results and Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report) missing expectations. But then there were cases like Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY - Get Report) , which still promises too much, but didn't blow up as many had expected.
Both Cheesecake Factory (CAKE - Get Report) and Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) reported quarters that were nothing to write home about, yet Cheesecake shares shot up 5.8% to a new 52-week high. Wild Wings also soared 6%, on a 1.7% drop in same store sales.
In a tough market, sometimes good is good enough, Cramer concluded, especially when Wall Street expects the very worst.
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer welcomed back Frank Slootman, president and CEO of ServiceNow (NOW - Get Report) , the enterprise cloud software that just posted a two-cent-a-share earnings beat on a 37% rise in revenues with bullish guidance. Shares of ServiceNow rose 7.6% on the news.
Slootman explained that this quarter's strength stemmed from all of his company's segments and geographies performing well concurrently. He said ServiceNow continues to provide great value for its customers.
When asked how his company's software compares to a Workday (WDAY - Get Report) , Slootman said that Workday specializes in human resources, while ServiceNow's software crosses functional boundaries. ServiceNow, he said, processes the work that flows into HR, then forwards the needed changes into systems like Workday.
What kinds of companies are using ServiceNow? Slootman said many companies are looking to consolidate legacy systems and standardize on a modern platform to run their business, all while taking out costs in the process.
Cramer congratulated Slootman on another great quarter.
Re-rating Out-of-Favor Stocks
There are entire groups of stocks that the market had given up on, Cramer told viewers, but now they are starting to inch up.
It's called re-rating, Cramer explained, and it's when big-time money managers collectively decide that things aren't quite as bad as they had once feared.
Case in point, the banks. For more than a year, investors have been focused on one thing: interest rates. But now the smart money is focusing on another key metric: fees.
Given all of the IPOs, mergers, acquisitions -- and dare we say it, loan growth -- the banks are simply making more money than they did last year. Cramer said he likes Citigroup (C - Get Report) , an Action Alerts PLUS holding.
All of these names are inching their way higher, Cramer concluded, but if anything else goes right, these groups could explode to the upside.
Groupon's Social Skills
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Rich Williams, CEO of Groupon (GRPN - Get Report) , a stock that had been up 70% for the year before plummeting 22% today after the company reported earnings and announced the acquisition of rival LivingSocial.
Williams said that Groupon remains on track with its turnaround strategy and has seen four consecutive quarters of progress. "I'm a practical guy," Williams noted, saying that he never promised an instant recovery.
One of Groupon's objectives has been to simplify its operations, Williams explained, and that includes leaving markets where the company doesn't think it can win. But that doesn't mean that Groupon is not opportunistic when it comes to acquisitions like LivingSocial, where the company feels it can see a return on its investment in 12 to 18 months.
Groupon is also making a return to TV advertising, Williams said, and is seeing a great return on investment as customers rediscover what Groupon has to offer.
Cramer said that after a 22% haircut, the stock of Groupon is now "interesting."
Off The Tape
In his "Off The Tape" segment, Cramer sat down with Louis Beryl, co-founder and CEO of the privately-held Earnest, an online lender that has issued more than $1 billion in student and personal loans.
Beryl said that most online lenders have gotten themselves into trouble with sloppy underwriting, which is why Earnest looks at both the debts and the assets of borrowers to develop a more complete profile. Earnest is vertically integrated, Beryl noted, which means they both originate and service the loan, keeping a direct relationship with customers.
The average borrower saves $22,000, Beryl explained, thanks to low interest rates, while Earnest makes money by keeping costs low and minimizing risk.
Financial services are built on trust and innovation, which are two things Earnest has in spades. Thus far, no one has defaulted on an Earnest loan, Beryl said, except as the result of the death of the borrower.
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