Cramer: Trading This Week’s Earnings

A host of key data is about to be released that will test Cramer’s top investing strategies, he said Friday. So all next week he’ll be analyzing the reports and listening to conference calls to reassess his theses, as well as watching for new opportunities. He urged viewers to do the same.

“An investor should never take anything for granted,” Cramer said. “You have to become your own strongest critic, constantly challenge your own ideas.”

Cramer’s belief in retail has been one of his biggest recent theses. The media has talked endlessly about a poor back-to-school shopping season, but the Mad Money host has disagreed. Best Buy’s earnings report on Tuesday, more than the retail sales numbers released the same day, will tell us whether or not he was right.

If Best Buy, seller of discretionary items like big-screen TVs and video games, does well, that may prove that the consumer, and in turn the economy, is continuing to improve. If not, Cramer said, “I’m going to have to rethink my retail thesis and perhaps be less bullish.” He’ll also be looking to see if Walmart is taking share from BBY, something that could hurt the company in the long run.

Other tests of consumer health are Carnival and Discover Financial , both of which report on Thursday. It doesn’t get much more discretionary than a cruise, and Discover would tell us if consumer credit-card woes will rear their ugly heads again.

Cramer’s other big thesis lately has been based on the mobile Web. He puts it on par with the mass adoption of the PC and the Internet. Cramer said he would reiterate his call on the industry if Adobe Systems , which powers a lot of top mobile sites like, reports good numbers on Tuesday.

Be wary of Palm , though. Cramer called its report, coming Thursday, a false tell because Palm is the “weakest player in [the] industry.” But a negative quarter would offer one benefit: It might cause a small sell-off in other companies, like Apple . Investors should use that as a chance to buy in.

Beyond these big trends, there were also a couple of other mark-your-calendar events that Cramer thought were important: earnings reports from Oracle and Kroger and the housing-starts number.

Kroger’s Tuesday report is more about Treehouse Foods and Ralcorp . Kroger has “the most thriving and robust private-label business in the country,” Cramer said, and good news from the company is good news for Treehouse and Ralcorp. Cramer would still be bullish on these trade-down plays if that were the case.

Finally, the housing-starts number on Thursday will be a sign of whether or not homebuilders think their inventories are low enough to start building again. Rather than buy the homebuilders, though, Cramer would instead buy Bank of America. The combination of reduced home prices and mortgage rates headed back to 5% --that’s what Cramer thinks – should entice buyers back into the market. And because BAC does the most mortgage lending, it makes for the most likely play.

“My game plan for next week is all about testing our bullish theses,” Cramer said. “Watch the data and listen to what these companies say on their conference calls to get ahead” of the game.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

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