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Jim Cramer says Apple and General Electric 'embraced radical transparency'

Key Points
  • "It's easy to assume everyone in this business is totally cynical, but taking that approach kept you out of some monster gains in Apple and in GE," CNBC's Jim Cramer said.
  • "Some CEOs have earned the benefit of the doubt, and you should give it to them," the "Mad Money" host said.
  • Cramer broke down how Apple and General Electric execs changed their reporting habits and why the results are showing up in their stocks.
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Jim Cramer: Apple's new reporting metrics are working

CNBC's Jim Cramer said Wednesday that investors can miss out on gains when companies have "embraced radical transparency" and investors fail to see the truth for what it is.

"It's easy to assume everyone in this business is totally cynical, but taking that approach kept you out of some monster gains in Apple and in GE," the "Mad Money" host said. "Some CEOs have earned the benefit of the doubt, and you should give it to them."

Apple stock, he pointed out, tumbled 36% over the course of two months after executives updated their reporting metrics in late 2018. The company stopped breaking down the number of iPhone, Mac and iPad unit sales in its financial reports and weeks later announced that it saw weakness in its China business.

Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri at the time said these device shipment numbers were "not necessarily representative of the underlying strength of our business" and that Apple was moving in favor of presenting "qualitative commentary" of the category. Investors, however, worried that iPhone demand was drying up and that the company was attempting to soften the blow by changing its reporting habits.

On Tuesday, Apple revealed that iPhone revenue topped estimates by more than $4 billion in its most recent quarter. The iPhone 11 series launched in September and crushed demand prospects, including in the Chinese market. On top of that, Apple's wearables products — Apple Watch and AirPods — were also a big hit last quarter.

The hype helped carry the stock nearly 130% to its $324 close Wednesday from its lowest point a little more than a year ago, Cramer noted.

"Turns out Apple wasn't trying to be opaque at all when they changed the way they reported. The new pricing plans — starting at $35 a month for 24 months — they have made unit sales kind of a worthless metric," he said.

"The people who bet that one of the most transparent companies on Earth was trying to mislead us have missed out on a stunning move," he said. "They couldn't have been more wrong. I hope you listened to me when I told you to stick with it."

Industrial conglomerate General Electric shares popped 10% on an earnings beat in its fourth quarter. Under past leadership, the company made it difficult for investors to judge the financials of its struggling businesses, Cramer said. GE shares have not traded above $30 since August 2016, according to FactSet.

When CEO Larry Culp took over the reins of GE in 2018, he saw that the giant was in bad shape, and he was transparent with the public, the host said. Last August, GE was accused by a whistleblower of fraudulently hiding the extent of its accounting problems. Culp, however, wanted investors to trust his leadership and responded by buying back about $2 million worth of stock.

The stock bottomed under $8 in late August and has since surged more than 63% to $12.94 at the end of trading Wednesday.

"Culp was already working to right the ship, and sure enough the stock has roared since it bottomed last summer," Cramer said.

"The [quarter] results were excellent. More importantly they were easy to get your head around."

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Jim Cramer says Apple and General Electric 'embraced radical transparency'

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Apple.

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