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Murky retail results send Cramer clear message

Looking at earnings and commentary from retailers ranging from Wal-Mart and Coach to Starbucks and Under Armour, Cramer realizes you may be ready to pull your hair out. At best, they have certainly sent the Street mixed messages.




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"We're seeing some of the most reliable of companies falter. TJX missed for the first time in ages," Cramer said. "Meanwhile Target, which used to be the standout, has become the benchmark for poor execution." Cramer also cited Wal-Mart, Dick's and Lowe's on his long list of underwhelming retailers.

However, he also noted that some retailers are doing relatively well, including Under Armour and Skechers. In fact, some unexpected names are also starting to execute quite impressively, with the beleaguered J.C. Penney, "posting a nice turn in positive comps," Cramer said.

Given that companies you might expect to do well are doing poorly and companies that you might expect to do poorly are doing well, you may be inclined to run in the other direction.

Cramer understands, but he also thinks the murky developments are sending a reasonably clear message to investors.

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"If you're going to invest in retail, you must have conviction," Cramer said. "You must view a company such as Nordstrom or Home Depot as a multi-year story, not a multi-day story."

That is, if you've done homework and you find a company that has good management, a strong competitive position, solid financials and significant opportunity, and you can invest for a year or more, then determine an attractive entry point and pull the trigger, strategically.

However, if you can't roll with the fits and starts vexing the sector, then Cramer thinks there are probably better places for your money.

If you don't have the time and patience to invest in a long-term theme, "then retail is probably a recipe to buy high and sell low. And that's something I never want to see you have to do."

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