As investors rush to top-performing technology stocks in the peak of earnings season, Jim Cramer looked into their quarters to see what is driving them higher.
"It almost feels like there's a surge in money coming into the group, yet there isn't an ETF that is part of FANG. And the FANG acronym is just something I coined years ago when I was exasperated that these felt like the only stocks that consistently moved higher in a sluggish market," the "Mad Money" host said.
Facebook's stock has taken off ahead of its Wednesday earnings report, which worries Cramer because the social media giant tends to report artificially weak quarters because of such runs.
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"We've all lived through the supposedly disappointing Facebook quarters that weren't really disappointing at all ... yet the stock gets hammered anyway," Cramer said.
Cramer said that part of the reason for Facebook's perceived earnings weakness is CEO Mark Zuckerberg's philosophy: not only does he openly spend to get ahead, but he typically puts his app's users above its advertisers and investors.
"I'm always surprised that people consider this philosophy such a mystery," Cramer said. "When you ponder how much Facebook's stock moves up intra-quarter, you'd think that there would be some sort of reluctance to sell on the news."
Sometimes, when Facebook's stock ticks down after a report, it gets hit harder the following week because brokers that handle insider selling tip their hands to slow down buying.
"Given how much it's run, I wouldn't be all that surprised if you get a better buying opportunity than you're going to get tomorrow morning, even if the results are terrific," Cramer said, pointing to the stock's last two post-earnings moves.
Cramer loved Amazon's first quarter, but noted that its stock also sold off for a while after the report, as if sellers were expecting negative news to emerge.
"Amazon reported a fabulous quarter where it felt like the company couldn't hide its amazing profitability even if it wanted to," Cramer said. "It's a great sign about the profitability because Amazon's expanding like mad."
The "Mad Money" host particularly liked that Amazon's future is still in the hands of the company and not Wall Street analysts, adding that fellow FANG stock Netflix seems to share that attitude.
"On every conference call, there are these endless questions about competition and how Netflix could ultimately get slammed because of it," Cramer said in light of the company's first quarter report.
This quarter, when asked about challenges from HBO, CBS, Comcast and Amazon, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that the company's main competition was how much people sleep.
Though Netflix downplayed its key licensing deal with a subsidiary of Chinese search engine Baidu, calling it "modest in scope," its stock rallied off the news because the company tends to under-promise and over-deliver.
"There's another aspect that has Netflix's stock ramping endlessly: takeover talk," Cramer said, pointing to Apple's upcoming earnings report. "Let's put it this way: Apple's had ample time to consider buying Netflix to augment its service revenue stream — the key to having investors pay up for an otherwise hardware business model that's always viewed skeptically."
"The scuttlebutt says that Disney's ready to spin off ESPN and take in Netflix with a simplified structure, less levered to cord cutting. Last week's noisy layoffs at ESPN solidified the chatter," Cramer explained, insisting that talk of an acquisition is still nothing but a rumor.
After Alphabet's stock ran from $895 to $925 on its fabulous first quarter earnings report, Cramer argued it could have run even higher thanks to the growth it showed across the board.
The "Mad Money" host said that instead of being seen as reliant on advertising, Alphabet "finally got more credit for being an online store, a computer maker, a cellphone operating system, a carrier of a billion hours of programming a day that's waiting to be heavily monetized, an autonomous car leader, and a true rival to Amazon Web Services."
Wall Street is eagerly awaiting numbers from FAANG's latest addition, Apple. Its Tuesday report may give investors clues about the upcoming iPhone release and how the company might use its $250 billion in cash.
"All I care about is an expansion of the ecosystem that people pay for to be part of what I call 'the Apple club,'" Cramer said. "Any sign that the service revenue stream has the potential to be greater than a Fortune 50 company instead of a Fortune 100 company, which is what they use lately — putting it above the $28 billion level that is a Fortune 100 [company]— that would cause the stock to run after the earnings print."
All in all, the tech giants seem once again to be leading the market higher, and each company's earnings have thus far supported the trend.
"FANG's back, but this time it's F-A-A-N-G; and while the spelling is tortured, the story is anything but," Cramer said.
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