Jim Cramer is no stranger to earnings season on Wall Street, and he has five key takeaways for investors to maximize gains and minimize risk as companies deliver their reports.
"These are moments when the reports come fast and furious, one after another, with headlines blaring and pre-market trading all over the place, and are among the most challenging times for investors," the "Mad Money" host said.
Sometimes the answers are obvious, as was the case when Johnson & Johnson delivered a fantastic top and bottom line beat and reported strong sales of all of its new drugs.
"It was unassailable. JNJ's quarter was a true or false test. I'm checking true to the line that says 'JNJ was fabulous'," he said.
One key takeaway is that when a stock rallies going into earnings, it is important to remember that some investors are only in it for the quarter. That means they have the discipline to sell the stock no matter what when there is a gain — even if that happens before the actual earnings are reported.
"If you weren't dazed and confused, too, then you obviously weren't on the Netflix conference call," Cramer said.
Cramer has always said that it is essential for investors to listen to a company's conference call after earnings are released. Often it can provide clarity from management on how the company is really doing.
Unfortunately, the Netflix conference call was not fruitful for Cramer. The streaming company's shares fell more than 13 percent on Tuesday after it announced that it had missed subscriber numbers for the second quarter.
One powerful long-term trend on Cramer's radar was the amount of money that people spend on their pets. Many people are willing to spend fortunes to make sure their pets receive the best medical care and food possible.
When Cramer saw that the animated movie "The Secret Life of Pets" grossed more than $200 million in the box office in less than two weeks, he knew the pet care theme is multi-generational.
"There are a lot of ways you can make money from this smoking hot pet care theme," Cramer said.
Cramer recommended veterinary testing equipment maker IDEXX Laboratories, veterinary hospital VCA, food safety testing company Neogen and pet pharmacy player PedMed Express. However, his top play was VCA and IDEXX in the next market-wide pullback.
Stocks have rallied hard recently, but charts indicate that there is more room to run.
To gain further insight, Cramer consulted with technician Mark Sebastian. He is the founder of OptionPit.com, a colleague of Cramer's at RealMoney.com and an expert on the CBOE Volatility index, also known as the fear index.
Many investors use the VIX to measure a perceived volatility in the . In the heart of the Brexit sell-off, Sebastian advised Cramer that the market would come roaring back. He nailed the bounce on the morning of the exact day it occurred.
Sebastian made the call by comparing the S&P to the VIX. Normally he expects the VIX to fall when the S&P rallies. Three weeks ago, Sebastian noted that as the S&P continued its vicious decline, the VIX actually went down with it. That was a textbook sign to him that the sell-off was ending.
"He believes that the bull still has legs, at least for now. Why? Because everything is behaving normally," Cramer said.
A little over two weeks ago, the biggest break-up of all break-ups finally went into effect. Cramer views Danaher as one of the best run conglomerates in the world. It split itself up into two smaller businesses in order to be more easily understood and appealing to money managers on Wall Street.
Danaher spun off its industrial division as a new company called Fortive on July 2, while the company's life sciences, diagnostics, dental and environmental businesses remained under Danaher.
"Now that Danaher's break-up is in the rearview mirror, I'm sticking with my view that the new Danaher is the way to play it," Cramer said.
While the stock has rallied recently, he thinks it could still have room to run. He recommended waiting for its first earnings report that will be released on Monday. As for Fortive, he thinks it does have potential but it's not the kind of industrial that he would buy in the current environment.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer gave his take on a few caller favorite stocks:
Abiomed Inc: "I have always felt that those guys would get the takeover bid, but it went to St. Jude. It's probably a little too expensive, but they've got a great mouse trap. As does Edwards Life Sciences, which is too big to be acquired."
Harman International Industries: "This company got hurt by the strong dollar and I think it is actually very cheap at $5.5 billion. But I've got to tell you, I understand that the quarters have been rocky. Dinesh [CEO] has to deliver."