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Game Plan: Cramer’s Stock Market Strategies for the Week Ahead

Mad Money Markets: A Reversal of Fortune?

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Earnings season kicks off in the week ahead and these quarterly reports could really make or break the bulls.

"We can't diminish the impact this jobs number could have on the stock market," cautioned Jim Cramer on Friday's broadcast. Not only did the nation create a paltry 88,000 new jobs, but it now faces tax increases and spending cuts imposed by the sequester. All told, Cramer thinks the market may be at a perilous crossroads. "April could be quite rocky," said Cramer.

It appears earnings season could make or break sentiment on the Street. Here's what Cramer will be watching as he attempts to navigate what could be a difficult 5 days.


Trouble could rear up as soon as Monday with the season's first earnings release. "After the close Alcoa reports and I sure wish it didn't," said Cramer. "Alcoa historically does not have a good first quarter. I am looking for a terrible number." In other words, earnings season will likely begin with a bust.

In addition, Cramer said there are macro events that could influence the market. "Earlier in the day we'll get Chinese inflation numbers," he said. That too could be troublesome because lately, "China's become part of the problem not the solution."

Also, reports industrial production. "Bulls will be looking for a robust number," Cramer explained. "If we get one, it would be viewed as a godsend by their market and our market too."

"And we get the equivalent of the Japanese Federal Reserve minutes," Cramer said. The Mad Money host thinks it will affirm Japan's commitment to aggressive monetary policy.

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On Tuesday Cramer said macro developments will be key. "We'll get the China Merchandise Trade Balance," he said. Cramer thinks it will show China's exports to Europe remain weak and that Japan is trying to flood the Chinese market with devalued goods. As ominous as those data points may sound, the S&P could gain. Cramer thinks the Street will interpret that kind of reading as a signal Beijing must stimulate more.

"We also have a telling analyst meeting from First Solar," Cramer said. "I think that right now, one of the biggest battles out there is the anti-job impact of environmental laws. First Solar will be the window into the soul of the battle."

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On Wednesday Cramer said the market could get an important though 'unofficial' economic tell. "That's earnings from Carmax," said Cramer. "Terrific March car sales could make the market feel as if the weak employment number is an aberration."

Also Cramer will be watching Bed Bath & Beyond. "We've had three weak numbers in a row from this company," Cramer said, however the Mad Money host thinks results show the company is stronger and more resilient than thought.


If you're a bear looking for a negative catalyst, Cramer thinks you'll find it on Thursday. "I expect initial unemployment claims to be horrendous," he said. "That's probably going to jar the market."

Also Cramer thinks Pier 1 may be worth watching if for no other reason than results could provide confirmation that the on-going renaissance in housing is a big picture theme for 2013.


Again, critical market information comes out Friday. "JPMorgan and Wells Fargo report and between the two of them we get just about everything we need to know about the state of banking," said Cramer. "Anything's possible and I hate to be a wet blanket, but I don't like either stock going into these earnings."

Also on Friday a single stock story comes into focus. "We have the Immunogen investor day," Cramer said. "I like this stock, and this group, in a time when growth is getting increasingly hard to come by."

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