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Cramer: Teen Retailers Face Tough Challenges

Thursday, 2 Aug 2012 | 6:55 PM ET
Jim Cramer
CNBC
Jim Cramer

Teen retailers often have just as tough a time predicting adolescent trends as their parents do, “Mad Money” host Jim Cramersaid Thursday.

“Have you ever, ever been able to figure out what they want from minute to minute, let alone month to month? I sure haven’t,” he said.

For this reason, Cramer said that companies whose bottom lines are tied to teenage tastes are tough to game.

“I’m constantly being bombarded by people saying isn’t this the month Abercrombie & Fitch will turn around? Or isn’t True Religion down enough? Isn’t this the moment for Aeropostale?” he said.

The short answer is no.

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For companies such as Aeropostale and Abercrombie, whose problems are acerbated by European weakness, there is no sure thing when it comes to predicting what teenagers will want to wear next season.

Instead, Cramer suggested retail plays in companies who know their customer base well.

“Hence why we should be gravitating toward stocks like Macy’s and Gap, or Ross Stores and Costco, which understand their customers down to a T, or even a T-shirt, and aren’t dice-rolling a fickle teen consumer from month to month,” he said.

For more risk and more potential reward, try Amazon, which benefits from not having to stock up on inventory.

You want more risk with more reward? Then you can go to Amazon, which doesn’t even need to know what customers want because it has no inventory to begin with.

Cramer pointed out that J. Crew went private after not getting the recognition it deserved from Wall Street for its innovation.

Some businesses, he added, were simply unknowable.

“Suffice it to say, teen retail is about is inscrutable as it gets,” he said. “I have no idea if the weakness for Abercrombie and Aeropostale is going to continue or if this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. The problem is, neither does management. If the people running these companies can’t understand them, you can’t fathom them either. Don’t even bother to try. Trust me, I have a teenager.”

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