Don't Assume – You Know What They Say

This market continues to decline, companies continue to struggle because the people in the corner office never thought things would get this bad, Cramer said during Tuesday’s Mad Money.

CEOs, regardless of their industry, created business plans based on certain assumptions they held about the market, but it turns out they were dead wrong. Look at Procter & Gamble. Management there never anticipated the drop in oil prices, which has a direct effect on raw costs, leaving P&G to wait until next year to feel the positive effects. The company never expected the U.S. dollar to be as strong either, which hurts profits brought in from overseas. And Procter is a strong company, so imagine how lesser firms are faring.

The same goes for life insurers like Hartford, Prudential, Lincoln National, MetLife and Principal Financial, all of which were downgraded by Goldman Sachs Tuesday. None of these companies expected stocks to take the dip they did, so now they lack the cash needed to pay off the stock-based annuities they’ve issued. Goldman said to expect a round of capital raising. And these insurers bet big on commercial real estate, another industry in trouble, so the assumption there were wrong as well.

Oil companies never thought oil would drop to $50 a barrel. Tyson Foods never figured commodity costs would skyrocket. Nobody expected the sudden slowdown in China. One thing people did expect, though, is a rise in consumer spending thanks to declining gas prices, but, of course, that assumption was wrong, too. That’s why J.C. Penny’s plummeted to $19 from $51 and Saks to $4 from $23.

And this isn’t even taking into account the two biggest assumptions: that housing prices would never drop and unemployment wouldn’t see double digits. We haven’t reached 10% yet, but the unemployment rate is spiking closer tot that mark. And everyone knows the housing market’s story over the past couple of years.

Everyone got it wrong, Cramer said. So wrong that stocks look cheap. But don’t be fooled. Share prices are low because companies are doing so poorly.

The one reason to be positive is that commodities have come down in price, and that’s good news for virtually everyone outside of the commodities business. We just haven’t seen the upside yet. Until we do, though, expect more down 176-point days. That’s probably the one assumption you can count on.

Jim’s charitable trust owns Procter & Gamble.

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