Mad Money

Game Plan for the Week of March 12

It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for Cramer’s Game Plan for next week. Here are some simple marching orders for all you Home Gamers. If Cramer is right, you could make some mad moolah.

First up, financials. By Friday of next week, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers all will have reported. That means that by then analyst downgrades would have done all the damage they’re going to do. Expect these three companies to be in pain – at least for the near term. The bright side of this scenario is that these downgrades will leave the three brokerages trading at ridiculously low price-to-earnings multiples. Watch for bargain buy-in prices when that happens.

But if these stocks don’t come in, be patient. Cramer’s feeling about them is that the bears, who are more focused on New Century Financial -- a company with a $171 million market cap -- than the other $34 trillion in market capitalization that is the U.S. equity markets, have to push the brokers down. They don’t even have to sell the brokers to do it. They can do it easily next week by pushing down on the exchange-traded funds that contain the big three, like the Dow Jones broker index, the IAI, or the SPDR-Financial, XLF, and making the bulls panic, turning the market into a veritable Pamplona. That’s where your chance is.

Even if Goldman, Lehman or Bear report great numbers, the strategy stays the same. That’s because stocks react to who shoots first and not how good the numbers are. And right now the bears have to shoot first in order to color the earnings. This is what’s called “painting the tape” in the business, and the bears will paint the tape bright red – as in sell. After they do this, after the push down, after the analysts come in with their number cuts and downgrades, Cramer bets you’ll be able to buy some of the best-managed companies around at some amazing valuations.

Other than that, watch J.Crew, which reports Tuesday after the close. This is a company that was on a roll but has been held back by the digestion of a big secondary offering that was priced at $37.81, which Cramer thinks did more to hurt the company than help it. But a strong quarter will take out that price, and the company wouldn’t have done this deal at the end of January if they thought things had taken a header. 

Keep in mind, if you decide to get into J. Crew ahead of the quarter, there’s always some risk involved in a trade like that. But given the almost two-point decline in the stock, Cramer says it’s immunized from too much downside.

Bottom Line: Wait for Goldman, Lehman and Bear to report and take a beating, then buy them after they’ve come down. If you’re impatient, buying J. Crew ahead of its earnings on Tuesday makes a good trade.

Questions? Comments?