Sentiment on Wall Street suggests that consumers are weak and therefore restaurant stocks should be avoided. Cramer doesn't think that's right.
Cramer's been taking a close look at earnings and after sifting through pages and pages of information says, "I think it becomes pretty clear that the conventional wisdom has got it wrong, and many of the quick serve names are worth buying, not selling, here."
They are Panera Bread, Domino's, Dunkin' Brands and Chipotle. Here's why:
Although results post by Panera were weaker than expected, Cramer thinks it would be a mistake to conclude weakness was due to a challenged consumer.
Cramer thinks the telling metric is the size of the average check at company-owned restaurants. "It grew by 4.3%," he said. "The weakness was due to transaction volume, which was down 0.4%. To me that says they're not getting people served and through the restaurant fast enough." (For example the lines may be so long that some people turn away.)
The good news for investors is that Panera (PNRA) is aware of the issue and actively working on resolving it.
"Therefore, I think that this pullback will ultimately turn out to be a buying opportunity Remember, Panera still has a powerful growth story-they're increasing their store base by 7% per year and the company's innovating with a lot of new products."
Domino's (DPZ) sold off after it reported earlier this week, which many investors took as a sign that the consumer is ailing.
"Hold up," Cramer exclaimed. " Domino's beat the Street's earnings estimates by a penny, its revenues were better than expected, its same store sales numbers were excellent, up 6.7% domestically and 5.8% overseas."
Cramer thinks the sell-off was driven by sentiment, only.
"I'm hearing there was a big seller of put options on the results, which may have colored the Street's reaction," Cramer said. "Long term I still very much believe in this company, which I consider a fabulous international growth story. "
Also Cramer thinks Domino's may be on the cutting edge of a trend involving the internet and mobile gadgets to sell more pizzas. That too, he thinks could drive shares substantially higher.
This is another case in which Cramer thinks the price actionwas misleading for investors. Shares of Dunkin Brands (DNKN) fell on Wednesday after the company issued a forecast that left investors underwhelmed.
However, Cramer reminded that Dunkin' beat estimates with same store sales rising 4% in the US with customers visiting more often and spending more per trip.
"The Dunkin's CEO just came on CNBC this morning and said he feels really good about the economy," Cramer said. Long-term that's what matters
Also, the Mad Money host sees Dunkin as a growth story and one that's in its early chapters.
"Remember, Dunkin is still a regional to national story, one that's only just begun to expand into California," he said. And this week, the company announced long-awaited deals for 45 new cafes in Southern California that will mark its official return to the nation's most populous state after more than a decade.
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In the case of Chipotle (CMG), Cramer thinks this is a company that had mojo, then lost it, and has now found it again.
When Chipotle reported results earlier in the month, Cramer said metrics were truly impressive. "The company delivered a 5.5% increase in same store sales and in an interview on Mad Money, CFO Jack Hartung painted a pretty darned bullish picture. As far as I'm concerned, Chipotle has got its groove back. This is, once again, a terrific growth story."
"Chipotle sells for 31 times earnings up here, but remember, the company has a rapid 20% growth rate, and I think they can deliver on that growth, which means the stock is worth owning," Cramer said
And looking at Chipotle for insights into the health of the consumer Cramer added, how can you conclude anything other than people are spending at Chipotle?
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