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Retail: Cramer’s good, bad & ugly

If any sector requires the dexterity and agility of a gunslinger, it's retail. Before you pull the trigger, Jim Cramer has a few thoughts on where you might aim.

Clint Eastwood as "Blondie" and Eli Wallach as Tuco in the 1966 western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
Archive Photos | Getty Images
Clint Eastwood as "Blondie" and Eli Wallach as Tuco in the 1966 western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

The Good

Looking at recent winners, Cramer said Home Depot reported a "superb" quarter which included a 5.7 percent rise in quarterly sales as customers spent more on home repairs after a severe North American winter. "They are winning the hard goods war," Cramer noted. "Sales were so bountiful it is hard for me to see rival Lowe's doing a really poor job when it reports tomorrow."

Turning attention to Urban Outfitters, these results fall into the category of "the numbers have been so bad for so long that to any respite is fabulous news," Cramer said.

Meanwhile, gains in TJX after earnings, Cramer said, reflect a relief among investors that management has stemmed weakness from the last quarter. "That weakness now seems aberrant, which is why we get the justifiably large rally in the stock."

The Bad

Results from Wal-Mart failed to impress Cramer. Although Wal-Mart reported a 2.8 percent rise in quarterly revenues, the company lowered full year guidance. The "Mad Money" host cautions investors not to put too much emphasis on Wal-Mart as well as Target. "I have been adamant that both have lost their way; neither seem clever nor intriguing as places to go.

The Ugly

Cramer said that of all the earnings calls, he found commentary from Nordstrom most disturbing. He worries that as the company spends aggressively on technology, its website will cannibalize the brick and mortar stores. That could become a problem because personal service has been a hallmark of the Nordstrom experience.

Also, Cramer called Macy's a disappointing outlier, and he worries that as JCPenney recovers from its long standing woes, it could mean lost sales for Macy's.

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As Cramer so often says, identifying the stocks of individual companies with strong balance sheets, quality leadership, and good profit potential is his preferred way to invest. And that approach is particularly true in retail where stock specific issues often trump broader industry trends.

However, as you look at fundamentals and make your picks, Cramer also says, broadly it appears shoppers are spending again, and therefore money managers may spend too.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

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