Focus on earnings, not fiscal cliff

Ignore the risk-on, risk-off intellectual laziness, and don't let the obvious deter you from finding a haystack filled with needles.

By Jim Cramer Nov 7, 2012 10:23AM

thestreet LOGOKick Images, Photodisc, Getty ImagesDo we really have to start the fiscal cliff drumbeat immediately? Or can we just stipulate that at some point we will be down 1,000 Dow points, maybe more, before anyone acts to bridge it?


I want to approach the cliff discussion in three serial ways, the order that will define the stock market.


First, we had an election Tuesday night. It was definitive. There's no disputing Cleveland votes. There were no hanging chads in Florida. In fact, despite the big swath of red in your face, it wasn't even close. That's right, I repeat, it wasn't even close.

The way election coverage unfolds is per se close, but let's just imagine that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia closed at 7 p.m. and could tally instantly. We would have been in bed at 10 p.m. It's the way news is filtered that it seems so close. I wrote the lead story in the Harvard Crimson about how Mississippi put Carter over the top in the 1976 election. It seems silly right now. I mean, did Colorado put Obama over the top? Who cares? He went over the top by a wide electoral margin, and you may hate that we use electorals. But, as they say in sports, that's all she wrote.


Given that we have a resolution, we can't sniff at having a resolution. We are therefore better off than we were Tuesday, when there was plenty of news about how we wouldn't have any resolution.


Second, given that we have seen this tableau before, like the past four years, we can't presume that we are going to see a wholesale repeal of prices. What's the point? The Romney boomlet -- and that's what it was -- affected coal. It didn't even affect oil. There weren't a heck of a lot of stocks that ran in anticipation of a Romney surprise, even as the Romney people at CNBC seemed mighty surprised. And like Josey Wales in "The Outlaw" of the same name, they didn't want to believe the war was over and were still declaring victory.


Maybe they will sell their coal stocks Wednesday.


Third, the focus has to be on earnings, not fiscal cliff, because the fiscal cliff is that kind of binary, risk-on, risk-off garbage that people who don't want to do the homework on individual stocks get to throw out. How I wish I had that luxury, but I co-manage a charitable trust, have a lightening round and have prided myself not on saying "the National League will win the series" but on picking the team that does, because, ultimately, no one wagers on the National verses the American league, except people who are too lazy to find out who is playing.


So no legal challenge, no different regime and no risk-on, risk-off approach to the fiscal cliff.


All that said, after Tuesday night's Democratic victory -- and let's call it that -- the fact is that there are people who won't call it that. Many of those people are cliff walkers. I want to send them to Newport, R.I., where they can cliffwalk among the mansions, because a byproduct of what these people believe in is lower stock prices, and I favor higher stock prices.

It is undeniable that if we go over the fiscal cliff it is simply better to be short than long. I can name many more shorts than longs when we take the plunge, so I say "thanks for nothing" if these ideologues get the edge on the compromisers. If we are in a permanent state of battle, then we are in a permanent state of the need to have one foot out the door.


But let me draw you into a radical thesis. First, not every stock will be sent down by the cliff or at least stay down by the cliff. You going to eat fewer Kellogg's Frosted Flakes? You going to drink less beer? Are foreigners, the swing voters for many companies' earnings as diverse as Coca-Cola (KO) and Anheuser Busch going to sip less Coke and swill less Bud? I don't think so.

We can pick plenty of stocks to go with the moment. Don't trust this methodology just outlined? Then go buy some Carlsberg. Now, I like a good Carlsberg if I can find one, but the CEO this morning, when asked on Bloomberg whether he's worried about the fiscal cliff after his company reported a mighty quarter that moved the stock almost 4%, looked incredulous and said he doesn't sell a lot of Carlsberg in the U.S., but he is making huge inroads in Russia.


Maybe we should worry about a Russia fiscal cliff.




Again retreating to the nonbinary notion of the true market as opposed to the risk-on, risk-off intellectual laziness, who says we have to buy Huntington Ingalls (HII), perhaps the company most affected by the Cliff because it makes naval ships and we know that Obama could lump them in with bayonets and horses if the Pentagon's not careful.


Maybe it's Newport News-on, On Nerwport News-off, to focus directly on ship building.


Ah hah, you say, but won't taxes have to go up and we need to sell dividend stocks so we have dividend-risk-on, dividend-risk-off? I think that one look at the makeup of Congress tells you that we aren't going to see a radical revision in taxes, even as that's a way off the cliff.


Sequestration, as loathsome as it is, will impact the tax rate for dividends, as the Office of Management and Budget would be directed to take up the tax to ordinary rates. But given the fractured nature of Congress, I doubt they will let that happen.


So, let's play it out. We focus on fiscal cliff, then we close our eyes to the next set of earnings that come out. Oops, it is still earnings season, including retailers. It is difficult enough to parse out Sandy, now I have to parse out Sandy and then throw away the whole group anyway because it is high-growth-retail-on, high-growth-retail-off? We focus on fiscal cliff and we fail to look at the companies that have done so much to cut their exposure to Europe or to develop a business that doesn't even go near the national park, let alone the cliff itself. We focus on the fiscal cliff and forget the flood of stimulus that is driving China's markets higher?


At this point, that's like Doestoevsky's gambler focusing on red except it is red or blue. You are simply betting that the two parties hate each other and this was a dig-your-heels-in event, not an event that says "wow, if we go off to the far right we win a lot of elections." I get that we might have that situation, but that's why I default to trying to make money in individual stocks rather than the roulette table. Who knows, we might get a couple of double-zero takeovers by companies that don't care about sequestration and there are plenty that don't.


I guess my bottom line is that I am not going to let the obvious deter me from finding what some view as needles in a haystack and I view as a haystack filled with needles.


Jim Cramer's face


Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust and is long KO.  




More from

Nov 7, 2012 10:43PM
Cramer, YOUR guy won and now the market is cashing down around you.  But, it doesn't matter to you because YOUR guy won.



The longer this country waits to get the national debit under control the more painful it will be to do so.

There comes a time in such delays that paying off the debit becomes impossible and this country

will no longer exist as the U.S. of America.


Nov 7, 2012 8:13PM
Cramer, you are the same cat that predicted an Obama landslide by 440 electoral votes. Hope you are better at your A game!
Nov 7, 2012 6:42PM
read the first few lines of his t Rumps book....paraphrase...

"I started off in the early 60s with just a few hundred thousand from my dad"......!!!!! JUST !!!!

that says it all ...KING SIZE WANKER ....his dad was one of the biggest home developers in new york and this old wrinkled douche could not even give him credit ......

he used MULTIPLE BANKRUPTCIES and leveraged DEBT to keep his sinking ship afloat and he rails against both now ....

enjoy your irrelevance tRump you deserve it ...too bad the President is a nice guy as personally I think you should be tried for treason and incitement to riot...
Nov 7, 2012 6:30PM
Yeah, but a falling tide lowers all ships/stocks and with the empty suit in White House, the tide is definitely going out.  And it ain't going to come in again for a good long while.
Nov 7, 2012 5:44PM

The bottom line is that there were enough ignorant that voted for Obama and noe the USA has to suffer from bieng "dumb".


Nov 7, 2012 5:00PM

Why would you not take long term profits right now ?  Of course you should  !  -  even if you like the stock, buy it back tomorrow ?

Nov 7, 2012 4:03PM

Vox, hate just won!


*Hate for the rich, remember "VOTE FOR REVENGE"?

*Hate for freedoms.

*Hate for justice.

*Hate for common sense.


All prevailed last night.  This vet just lost all hope in America!  We fought for freedom overseas, and got tyranny shoved down our throats at home!

Nov 7, 2012 3:59PM

What stocks favor increased food stamps and welfare recipients?  WIth 30 Million illegals about to enter the rolls you have an opportunity to make millions off the leaches sucking the middle class dry!  Just do it overseas and avoid the taxes.......

Nov 7, 2012 3:51PM

Nice name calling incoherent rant.....


He sits here yelling "The sky is not falling!" as the market crshes on his head.....


STFU Cramer, you got your "guy" and now the world, not just America, is awestruck at our ignorance in re-electing the guy driving us off the cliff.......

Nov 7, 2012 3:44PM
Jim, I remember being told that the stock market is a LEADING indicator....the wall street guys don't believe Obama has it in him or cares to fix the fiscal problems we face. They veiw the future as bleak economic growth, high unemployment....higher taxes....they see us a Japan 10 years ago.
Nov 7, 2012 3:36PM
Democracy 1 - Hate  0 

FoMoYo ......

enjoy mg .....
Nov 7, 2012 2:44PM
Besides, most people will be moving massive amounts of money in their 401K's today.  Tomorrow should be real interesting day.   I think we could drop 350-550 easy...  Maybe more...

Nov 7, 2012 1:50PM
Jim Cramer is a frickn idiot and nothing more than a cheerleader.
Nov 7, 2012 1:48PM
Probably a good day to pick up some dividenders and /or beaten down bellweathers: T, VZ, INTC, CSCO, MSFT, AEP, DUK, PEP, KO, MCD, YUM, PFE, ABT.......Everything is on sale today and they pay you to own them. Contrary to popular belief global growth is not coming to an end.
Nov 7, 2012 1:34PM

Yes, let’s focus on the few companies left that are still making money; either with fewer employees or outsourcing or both. Do not worry about the fiscal cliff because is something imaginary; the government will push the limit from 16 trillion to 32 (and the market will be so happy that all the internal problems are solved) then 64 then 128, this is why they invented the computer binary system.  Right now the public debt is bigger than the GDP and the US Total debt is 59 trillion, almost 4 times bigger than the public one. Sorry but this one I do not get it; who made the other 43 trillion debts. For a reality check please visit and please be optimistic because the pessimistic said “It cannot be worse than now” and optimistic replied “Yes, it can”.

Nov 7, 2012 1:14PM

Wall Street will be wall street trying to vent and manipulate the market and play the government to go their way.


Time for the greedy people and corporations to wake up and embrace  the incoming reality. The middle class is taking a stand.


Nov 7, 2012 12:57PM
For those of you who don't know last night trump was calling for revolution and for  "us" to march on washington as romney was winning the "popular" vote and it was not fair he would not win the Presidency .....

I wonder if mr rump has ever read any history books as I don't think he would fare too well in a revolution  :) 
Nov 7, 2012 12:55PM
Thumbs up if you would like to kick the donald in his nads ........
Nov 7, 2012 12:50PM
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