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Cramer: Earnings Only ‘A Piece of the Puzzle’

Friday, 2 Nov 2012 | 6:48 PM ET

With all the information coming out of earnings season, there are a few things smart investors will want to keep in mind, "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer said Friday.

"Other than for those who are shorting or going long stocks ahead of the quarter, these earnings reports need context to make you money," he said. "They are a piece of the puzzle, a part of the mosaic — but they are only one of many important parts of what predicts where stocks will go in the intermediate term."

Earnings reports, Cramer added, are no longer as indicative of where stocks will go as they once were.

"First, I assess them from their predictive value for the year," he said.

Picking Apart An Earnings Report
Getting the most information out of a company's earnings reports, with Mad Money host Jim Cramer.

Cramer explained that he watches to see what Wall Street analysts do with their estimates after the companies report.

Next, it's important to look at revenues, rather than just earnings.

"Why is that important? Because the company can't change its sales line," Cramer said.

Meanwhile, companies can game earnings by buying back shares.

Finally, Cramer suggested looking at the price-to-earnings growth ratio to figure out a stock's trajectory.

"If a company's growing at 20 percent, and the price-to-earnings multiple of a stock price … is 20 or less, hey you know what, you probably have a big bargain on your hands," he said.

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