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Cramer's game plan: Take this earnings onslaught day by day

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer flags the top stocks and events to keep an eye on this week.
  • In an irrationally fluctuating market, Cramer sifts through the onslaught of earnings for the most telling reports.
  • The various reports and responses will cause each weekday to stand on its own, Cramer says.

During one of the most jam-packed weeks of earnings season, Jim Cramer expects the stock market's fluctuations to continue as companies' quarterly results roll in.

"The distortions caused by all these earnings coming at once are immense, so, if you're listening to me, CFOs and CEOs, please, you need to rethink when you report. You can do it earlier, you can do it later, anything but this week. You're not going to get the right prices for your stock," the "Mad Money" host said.

With nearly 200 of the S&P 500's companies set to report, here are the stocks and events Cramer will keep an eye on this week:

Tuesday: Industrials, Restaurants, Semiconductors

Industrials: Caterpillar, 3M and United Technologies will report earnings before the bell, and consensus expects better-than-anticipated results. Cramer's top pick is 3M, but his advice for all three was the same:

"[High expectations have] caused these stocks to ramp going into earnings, so if you want to buy them — and I totally get that you might want to, because they're great American companies— I suggest waiting until the end of the conference calls before you pull the trigger. Trading off the headlines is just way too risky this week."

Restaurants: McDonald's will report in the morning, and Cramer has noticed investors wondering how CEO Steve Easterbrook's initiatives can keep driving the fast food chain's stock up.

"I think the wonder continues, though, with better-than-expected numbers, a weaker dollar and some customer relations improvement that could continue to propel this stock," Cramer said.

Representing the best and the worst of publicly-traded fast food stocks, Domino's and Chipotle will also report earnings on Tuesday. Chipotle issues its quarterly results following a string of unfavorable incidents at its restaurants that once again made consumers question the brand.

"Remember, Domino's has consistently beaten numbers while Chipotle's consistently failed to beat. I don't think it's going to be any different this time," Cramer said.

Semiconductors: Despite Advanced Micro Devices' business in video game chips and chips for mining cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Cramer expects its stock to pull back after it reports.

"AMD doesn't seem to be able to tell a great story and we typically get sell-offs after it reports. So if you want to own AMD, may I suggest that you wait?" the "Mad Money" host said.

Wednesday: Facebook, Lam Research, Federal Reserve

Facebook: The social media giant will announce its second-quarter results, and Cramer will watch for whether the company seems concerned or confident with its advertising load and whether ads hurt the user experience.

"When management doesn't exhibit concern, the stock rallies. When they seem worried, we freak out. It goes down. The benefit here is that this might be a breakout quarter for video, giving Facebook a very good platform to accept non-intrusive ads," Cramer said. "I like the story, but this stock's run to the point where it could get hammered if they fret at all about this ad load issue."

Lam Research: Cramer expects this semiconductor equipment maker to issue one of earnings season's strongest reports.

"Lam's delivered upside surprise after upside surprise ever since it acquired Novellus and I don't think this time will be any different," he said.

The Fed: Amid the tidal wave of earnings, the Federal Open Market Committee will hold a meeting in which Cramer thinks there will be discussion on how the central bank will sell its multi-trillion-dollar bond holdings.

"I think it's vital they sell these long-term bonds before they give us any more rate hikes," Cramer said. "Why? Because these could slowly drive up longer term interest rates in a natural fashion, which would be good for the banks. And boy, do they need it, because their stocks continue to be drubbed even as their quarters weren't that weak. Hold onto your bank stocks. Look for this day to be a good one for the financials."

Thursday: Southwest Air, Dow Chemical, Starbucks, Amazon

Southwest Air: Cramer hopes this airline, considered the best of its cohort by many investors including Warren Buffett, manages to lift the rest of the struggling group with its earnings report.

Dow Chemical: Cramer considers Dow's stock a buy both before and after its report, which may be one of its last as an independent company ahead of its long-awaited merger with DuPont.

Starbucks: A newly controversial name, Starbucks has taken a hit ever since it introduced mobile pay, which had a negative effect on the coffee chain's same-store sales in the United States.

"The hope here is simple: that Starbucks has solved their throughput problem and gotten same-store sales back to a palatable range of 4 to 5 percent in this country instead of something lower that will cause the stock to get hammered to the mid-$50s," Cramer said.

Amazon: The e-commerce giant will report earnings after the bell, and investors want a litmus test on Amazon Web Services as well as the overall retail sector. Amazon's stock has been rallying ever since this year's record-breaking Prime Day, so Cramer expects a strong report.

Friday: Exxon Mobil, Chevron

The "Mad Money" host hopes Exxon Mobil and Chevron's earnings will give the market a lasting take on the state of the hard-pressed energy sector, particularly with their full-year forecasts.

"Will the market go higher through this thicket? I think each day will be a trend unto itself, some days will cancel out other days, but overall, the bottom line is that I suspect the ton of the internationally oriented companies that report will benefit from stronger markets, a weak dollar, and they will carry the day for the bulls," Cramer concluded.

Watch the full segment: Cramer's earnings-filled game plan

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares in Facebook, Southwest Airlines, Dow Chemical and Starbucks.

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