Cramer: Be careful what you say – even red-hot earnings can’t hold up in this sell-off

  • CNBC's Jim Cramer says CEOs need to be careful. Even the red-hot earnings can't hold up if they say the wrong thing.
  • Thirty stocks in the S&P 500 closed lower on Tuesday.
  • Cramer says it was a matter of company representatives saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Wall Street analysts are anticipating a red-hot earnings season. But on Tuesday, 30 stocks in the S&P 500closed more than five percent lower, many in the tech and industrial sectors.

"I can't escape the feeling that this was a bit of a self-inflicted wound," CNBC's Jim Cramer said on "Mad Money" Tuesday.

Cramer said even the best stocks can't tame investor fears in an era of uncertainty.

"We had three separate companies this morning say the wrong thing and it obliterated their stocks," he said. "Frankly, I bet every one of these execs wishes they could take back their statements, but there are no do-overs in this game."

Those wrong things included Caterpillar's Chief Financial Officer Bradley Halverson who, during a conference call, said "the outlook assumes that first quarter adjusted profit per share will be the high watermark for the year."

Cramer said the statement sent a wave of fear among market watchers who saw the stock as good as it could get.

"The stock plummeted like a piano off the Empire State Building, ultimately closing down 6 percent," Cramer said.

3M wasn't much better, when out-going CEO Inge Thulin lowered the high end of its full year earnings per share forecast.

"The only thing worse than calling the top, as Caterpillar did, is to say that things are actually a tad weaker," Cramer said.

Even the defense contractor Lockheed Martin, what Cramer said is one of the most dependable stocks, took a blow today when it said its cash flow forecast wouldn't rise along with the earnings. The stock tumbled 6 percent.

But the good news, Cramer said, is the sell-offs could be a buying opportunity.

"This breakdown was so incoherent, so random, so ferocious and so thoughtless that it's created a ton of bargains in all of the chaos," he said. "I just don't think many people feel like looking for them after today's carnage."

WATCH: Cramer talks market turmoil amid sell-off

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