U.S.-China trade talks will color the stock market's action next week as earnings season winds down on Wall Street, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Friday as stocks dipped on lingering fears around the negotiations.
A Wall Street Journal report that the two countries haven't yet drafted their deal proposals pressured the major averages on Friday. The news came one day after President Donald Trump confirmed that he will not meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the March 2 deal deadline.
"We're now at the tail-end of earnings season," Cramer said. "It's been a blast, at least until this past week when we got some iffy news about trade. Sadly, I bet we'll be on the same hook next week. If we get good trade vibes, well, these [stocks] all go higher. [...] If we get bad trade vibes, well, guess what? Lower still."
With that backdrop in mind, the "Mad Money" host turned to his game plan for the week ahead:
Restaurant Brands: The Burger King and Popeye's parent kicks off the week's earnings wave on Monday morning with its quarterly results. Cramer saw the stock as having greater value than the stock of competitor McDonald's.
"It's got a 3.2 percent yield, it's incredibly well-run and it's got a superior growth trajectory," he said. "Let's hear what they have to say."
Norfolk Southern: An analyst meeting at Norfolk Southern could see the railroad operator unveil its own version of precision railroading, a train-scheduling system that aims to improve service while eliminating waste, Cramer said.
"Both CSX and Union Pacific have adopted ... precision railroading, and I bet Norfolk Southern will have something similar up its sleeve," he noted. "That should allow its stock to roar like the other rails."
"It's Under Armour's bad luck that they compete against one of the best-run businesses on earth," he said.
Molson Coors: The "Mad Money" host also didn't expect much from Molson Coors' quarterly results, though he did note that the beer brewer's report could affect pot stocks.
"I think the cannabis stocks could be in play because this company understands it may need to take a bigger plunge into the marijuana market than the tire-kicking it's done so far," he argued. "See, the Canadian cannabis stocks started to roll over this week after an incredible run, but the fact is they are really serving as beer replacement[s] in a lot of states."
Occidental Petroleum: Even though he called Occidental "one of the healthier ... oil companies" out there, with "fabulous" properties in Texas' oil-rich Permian Basin, Cramer preferred a different energy play.
"I like BP more if you want to own an oil because it has a higher, 5.8 percent yield," he said. "That's a full percentage point above [Occidental]. Believe me, with oil looking like it is going back to the $40s, you're going to need some yield protection."
Twilio: The action in shares of Twilio, a cloud-based communication enabler that works with the likes of Airbnb and Lyft, concerned Cramer ahead of the company's Tuesday earnings report.
"[Twilio] represents, I think, maybe the best growth stock in tech right now," he said, adding that he'd like to buy shares for his charitable trust. "But [...] the stock is running right up into what we call 'the print' — it gained more than 4 [basis] points today alone."
"I want this stock to be lower to buy, but I bet the quarter's a legit blowout like the last one," he added.
Activision Blizzard: Could this video game maker be capitalizing on the battle royale trend set by Fortnite like some of its peers? Cramer's eager to find out when Activision issues its quarterly results Tuesday evening.
"Activision's stock has lost nearly half of its value since October, but I think EA put a floor under the group today, which means this one might be worth speculating on," he said.
"I like the gold stocks here, as you know, even as the price of gold's been stalled as the dollar's been getting higher," he said. "I bet CEO Mark Bristow — yes, of Randgold fame — delivers a good quarter."
Cisco: Cramer was more concerned about Cisco's guidance than its quarterly results, which he figured would be "fine."
"I am concerned about the forecast because so many hedge fund managers own this one ... and they are a mighty hard group to please. We already own it for the charitable trust, but if you don't own any, I suggest now you've got to wait [and] see what happens," he said. "If Cisco pulls back, that might be your buying opportunity."
Coca-Cola: "I'm expecting still one more strong quarter from [Coca-Cola CEO] James Quincey" on Thursday, the "Mad Money" host said. "Only a strong dollar could impede what I expect will be mid-single-digit worldwide growth."
"You don't slam yourself again after that kind of guide-down. You get much more muted," he said. "However, Nvidia has major exposure in China and it's also got some gaming issues, so it's kind of caught up in a couple of negative themes right now."
Applied Materials: Cramer was less confident about Applied Materials' results.
"We know this semiconductor equipment maker has had its share of hardship of late," he acknowledged. "I don't expect a good number, but I do expect a more upbeat appraisal than what we've heard from them in the past."
PepsiCo: PepsiCo's Friday earnings report will see a big change from past quarters: former CEO Indra Nooyi will not be on the post-earnings conference call.
"I will miss Indra, who did such a fabulous job reinventing this company to stay current by offering good-tasting and good-for-you items, as well as great-for-you profits and dividends," Cramer lamented. "I think PEP will put up good numbers. [But] I want to hear how new CEO Ramon Laguarta handles himself before I make a judgment."
Deere: Cramer expects a strong report from this manufacturer, so much so that he recommended buying shares ahead of the quarterly results.
"Demand is very strong for farm equipment, and right now, that means Deere's stock is poised to go higher," he said. "Only the lack of a resolution in the trade talks with China keeps me from being even more aggressive."
Newell Brands: But "it's still too risky" to get into this consumer products stock ahead of the company's Friday earnings release, Cramer warned.
"CEO Mike Polk is earnest. He's been trying to de-lever ... from all the debt he took down to acquire Jarden. It's been a very tough road," he explained. "Given how many moving parts there are here and how much there is still for sale in the portfolio, I think it's still too risky to buy Newell ahead of the quarter, even though it's got that 4 percent yield. We're just going to listen."
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of BP and Cisco.