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Cramer's game plan: Strong consumer spending could drive upside surprises

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer looks ahead to key stocks and events he'll watch as a slew of retail companies report earnings.
  • Home Depot, Macy's, Walmart and others are scheduled to report.

With the stock market locking in the largest weekly gain since March, CNBC's Jim Cramer wondered if newfound optimism around trade and U.S.-China relations could continue.

"To some degree, I think that's wishful thinking," the "Mad Money" host admitted on Friday. "But, hey, wishful thinking worked when it came to the unlikely progress between North and South Korea, so maybe this optimistic spin on trade makes more sense than the pessimistic one."

Cramer wasn't sure how investors' moods would change going into next week. But he knew what he would be watching, so with that in mind, he turned to his weekly game plan:

Monday: Mazor Robotics

Mazor Robotics, an Israeli company that manufactures robots that help doctors perform spine surgeries, will report earnings on Monday.

"I like to think of Mazor as the son of Cramer-fave Intuitive Surgical, ... which has had a multi-year move," Cramer said, reminding investors of his recent call that Mazor's stock has become too expensive.

"We should wait for it to come down," he said. "Let's see what they have to say."

Tuesday: Home Depot

Cramer has long been dazzled by the quarterly results from Home Depot, which will report earnings on Tuesday. With gardening season underway, Cramer expected a blowout.

"I bet Home Depot will have remarkable quarter, just stellar, thanks to tax reform, new construction, and the refurbishment of older stores," he said. "Its conference calls have been pure joy for ages, just fantastic expositions of what's doing well and how management views the state of the consumer."

Wednesday: Macy's, Take-Two Interactive Software, Cisco Systems

Macy's: Shares of Macy's were downgraded to "sell" from "hold" on Thursday due to potential sales weakness and the idea that profits from real estate sales were behind the company, but Cramer wouldn't bite.

"I think both of these views are actually wrong," he said. "Gennette still has plenty of optionality with real estate and he's just beginning his overhaul of the chain, with an emphasis on local neighborhoods and much more curated fashion."

Take-Two Interactive: Cramer expected continued strength from video game maker Take-Two, which will launch a new game in its Red Dead Redemption franchise later this year.

"I can't wait to hear that call," the "Mad Money" host said ahead of the earnings report.

Cisco: With CEO Chuck Robbins at the helm, Cisco has delivered consistently strong earnings reports thanks to its shift to software development and the internet of things, Cramer said.

"I hope [Robbins] talks about the recent $270 million acquisition of Accompany, ... a business intelligence play run by the brilliant Amy Chang," he said. "I cannot think of a better person to help Cisco reinvent itself as a trusted partner to its clients on a much deeper level than just hardware."

Thursday: Walmart, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom

Walmart: Calling Walmart's recent $16 billion investment in Indian e-commerce play Flipkart "one of the gutsiest moves this company has ever made," Cramer said the stock's weakness in response was "ridiculous."

"With China dominated by Alibaba and the U.S. the province of Amazon, Walmart needed to try to take a piece of the second-most-populous country on earth," he argued. "At this point, the stock is so low that I have to believe a weak [earnings] number will get ignored, and a number [that's] even just a little bit positive gets this stock moving higher again."

J.C. Penney: Shares of J.C. Penney have struggled to rally despite a widespread comeback in the retail sector. Cramer said that while any good earnings news could push the stock higher, J.C. Penney hasn't been able to deliver good enough news in recent years.

"The problem? This company has no real differentiating factor beyond being one of the homes of Sephora, the wildly popular cosmetics chain," Cramer explained. "People love to speculate on this one ... because it's less than a $3 stock. Ladies and gentlemen, listen up: two bucks and change doesn't make it cheap."

Nordstrom: The retail resurgence could make Nordstrom a lower risk stock, Cramer said ahead of the apparel company's earnings report.

"I expect they'll talk about how strong the spring will be," he said. "Remember, the Nordstrom family tried to take this company private at $50 a share, just a couple bucks higher than it is right now. I figure they must feel pretty confident about the chain's long-term prospects or they would never have considered that buyout."

Friday: Deere & Co, Campbell Soup

Deere: Cramer expects shares of agriculture equipment play Deere to rise after the company reports earnings on Friday.

"Deere's been a long-term winner as farmers around the world are pretty flush right now with cash and can afford to spend on new machinery," he explained.

Campbell Soup: But the "Mad Money" host warned that Campbell Soup, which also reports Friday, could face difficulties as part of the market's most beaten-down sector, consumer foods.

"The company's worked mightily to become more natural and organic, but its older products are still what define the business," Cramer said. "I know plenty of people who just hope Campbell will put itself up for sale."

Conclusions

"Here's the bottom line: we have lots of retailers reporting next week, and while we've seen a bunch of downgrades of the group lately, I think that the stronger consumer, courtesy of tax reform, could result in some fabulous upside surprises," Cramer concluded.

"Throw in the tech stocks that come next week, which I think are ready to roar, and we might have what we need for yet another bullish backdrop."

WATCH: Cramer's retail earnings game plan

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Amazon and Nordstrom.

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