Did You Miss Profits in FedEx Today?

The media jumped the gun yet again on Thursday, Cramer said, reacting negatively to three key quarters that in fact offered hope for 2011.

FedEx and General Mills announced what on the surface looked like disappointing earnings, while Nucor pre-announced a loss for Q4 where the Street was expecting a small profit. Financial reporters read the headline numbers, ignoring the rest of the press release, and immediately wrote about the losses.

And, yes, earnings were off at these companies. But there were other numbers mixed in there, Cramer said, that were equally, if not more important.

For FedEx, it was the raised guidance, strong volume growth and lower expenses. General Mills posted strong volume growth as well, and CEO Ken Powell sounded more upbeat about commodity costs, which had been dragging on the company. Powell also said that 2011 shouldn’t be a problem, another important change of tone.

Then Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco spoke of an upward progression in utilization rates throughout the fourth quarter. He also predicted increased steel shipments on the horizon, another precursor of good earnings, and price increases for all steel-mill products over the past month to six weeks. Those increases are expected to have a “positive impact” during Q1, DiMicco said. Cramer agreed, saying that, for the steel industry, price increases are the most important indicator of a stock’s direction.

The “Mad Money” host urged viewers to take Thursday as a lesson. Don’t jump to conclusions based on a headline number. Take time to read the entire quarterly report. Dig through a conference call and look for signs of what’s to come, not what’s been. That way you can take advantage of the kinds of unwarranted dips we saw in these stocks today.

“Being a quick-draw trader lost you money,” Cramer said, “being patient and doing the homework, that's how you profited in FedEx, in General Mills and in Nucor.

When this story published, Cramer’s charitable trust owned Nucor.

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