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Cramer's game plan: In the year's biggest earnings week, don't chase stocks

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer urges investors to wait for pullbacks to employ their buying strategy ahead of a busy earnings week.
  • After General Electric reported a dismal quarter but the stock didn't get pummeled, Cramer felt encouraged by the market's stability.
  • With a slew of industrial and consumer names slated to report, Cramer warns against chasing the heat.

CNBC's Jim Cramer is expecting big things for next week's earnings reports.

"We are coming in hot going into the biggest earnings week of the year, and the stakes have been ratcheted up so dramatically that we better get some darned good numbers from these companies," the "Mad Money" host said.

After General Electric issued a dismal earnings report and its stock's losses were reversed by frank, hard-line talk from its new CEO, John Flannery, Cramer was encouraged by the market's action.

"I always feel emboldened when we get a real doozy of an earnings report like we did from General Electric and the stock in question comes out the other side unscathed," Cramer said.

With that in mind, and with Washington hiking expectations around tax reform, Cramer turned to the stocks and events he'll keep an eye on during a busy week for the markets:

Monday: Arconic, Kimberly-Clark

Arconic: This will be a pivotal earnings report for Arconic, Alcoa's former engineered products arm, because the company still doesn't have a permanent CEO after Klaus Kleinfeld was ousted.

"If we got one or it put itself up for sale, either way, I think Arconic's stock can fly," Cramer said. "But, what the heck, it's time something happened."

Kimberly-Clark: Weaker-than-expected earnings reports from competing consumer products companies Unilever and Procter & Gamble have cast a shadow on Kimberly-Clark's prospects ahead of the Cottonelle maker's Monday earnings report, Cramer said.

Tuesday: Industrials, McDonald's, Chipotle

Industrials: Tuesday will be critical in determining the strength of the industrial cohort, with earnings reports from General Motors, United Technologies, Caterpillar, 3M and Stanley Black & Decker.

Cramer expects all of them to deliver strong results, particularly given the post-hurricane cleanup projects in Texas and Florida and the boon from a weaker dollar.

"Now, you have to keep in mind that the moves in these stocks ahead of earnings have been pretty mind-blowing, so don't freak out if the stocks can't get more lift after they report. That especially goes for Caterpillar, which has been nothing short of phenomenal," he said.

"But please be aware: if these stocks come in ahead of the quarter, that will most likely prove to be a buying opportunity, not unlike [Thursday's] much-pilloried session," Cramer added.

McDonald's: The ubiquitous fast-food chain will report earnings on Tuesday, and with a red-hot stock, Cramer will be keeping an eye out for any potential weakness.

Chipotle: Cramer would be wary of Chipotle's stock. The company reports earnings after the close, and the "Mad Money" host does not think it has bottomed yet after recent negative publicity.

Wednesday: Boeing, Coca-Cola, Visa

Boeing: Cramer isn't sure how Boeing, the strongest Dow stock, can possibly outdo itself when the company reports earnings on Wednesday.

"This thing's been a beast and the company might tell an even better story about defense spending, but if you aren't in Boeing yet, I have to tell you, you're going to have to wait until it comes down because you've missed it," he said.

Coca-Cola: "Another test of this consumer product curse" will come with Coca-Cola's earnings report, which Cramer worries might not provide enough needle-movers to be optimistic.

Visa: As a part of the payment processing cohort, which Cramer believes to be the hottest part of the financial sector, Visa is likely to deliver a strong earnings report, he said.

Thursday: Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel

Thursday evening will mark an exciting moment for Cramer: "a virtual world series of tech."

Alphabet should issue a strong report on good monetization of its YouTube platform; Amazon may outline more of its Whole Foods strategy; Microsoft will offer a litmus test on growth in data centers; and Intel, whose shares have already moved a lot, should tell a positive story about self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, Cramer said.

Friday: Oils, Merck, Colgate-Palmolive

Oils: When the market didn't embrace Schlumberger's stock after what Cramer saw as a fine quarter, his expectations dropped for oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron ahead of their earnings reports.

"As long as crude is trapped at $50 a barrel, which it is, there's no long-side trade developing," he said.

Merck: Pharmaceutical player Merck will also issue its earnings report, but Cramer said it can't hold a candle to rival AbbVie.

Colgate-Palmolive: There's buzz of a takeover for Colgate-Palmolive, so Cramer expects a possible upside surprise to the consumer goods company's earnings report.

Final Thoughts

"Yep, big menu, big plays, truly a rapid-fire week. So here's the bottom line: Remember, the bias is to buy, not sell, but only if you can get these high-quality stocks unchanged to lower," Cramer said. "Chasing here after this big run? No thanks. Wait for a day like [Thursday] and then do some buying."

WATCH: Cramer's game plan for a huge earnings week

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of General Electric, Alphabet and Schlumberger.

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