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Earlier in the week, Ford stunned investors with some very concerning news. Jim Cramer thinks the message can not be ignored.
Digging into the weakness, Cramer said Ford actually "dropped three bombs at once: They said Europe had gotten bad, South America is now terrible and the United States is weaker than they thought."
Cramer believes the commentary is critical for investors because, "None of these (issues), I repeat, none of these (issues), were in the script a few months ago. In fact, when former CEO Alan Mulally left he made a point of telling me that he felt the worst was over in these areas and that they were all improving. "
Cramer says there are only two possible conclusions. Either Mulally knew about the woes and fibbed or the global economy has taken a sharp turn for the worse, in a short period of time.
"It's tough for me to think Mulally lied. He's always been straight with me. I think things got worse, fast. "
And if the business environment has gotten difficult for Ford, a company that Cramer says is extremely well run, he can only imagine what it means for other companies as earnings season gets underway.
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Therefore, "When the stock market opened higher Tuesday and it took up a lot of cyclical stocks that have businesses similar to Ford, I regarded the rally as an opportunity to lighten up."
In other words, Cramer sold stocks, on the premise that Ford's weakness may be a sign that dynamics are changing, and rapidly, at that.
"Darn it all, I wish I had seen it coming, but then again I don't think Ford saw it coming." Now, Cramer says, future stock decisions may need to change, based on the changing environment.
Proceed cautiously. Ford's estimate cuts may turn out to be the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
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