Cramer: Investors should take analyst downgrades of GE, Boeing seriously

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Investors should take note of the downgrades analysts made on a collection of stocks, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Monday.

Analysts made their calls on General Electric, Boeing, and Clorox, among others, which could signal what’s to come, he said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed nearly 84 points on the day, while the S&P 500 rose 0.1% to extend a seven-day winning streak and the Nasdaq moved up 0.2%.

Because the market has had an “incredible” run, many of these downgrades seem to be warranted and action oriented, Cramer said.

“You know my mantra: bulls make money, bears make money, but hogs … they get slaughtered,” the “Mad Money” host said. “I don’t want to be too greedy and that rule has never gotten me in trouble, so we need to take these calls seriously. We always should focus on downgrades. They can be very meaningful.”

J.P. Morgan’s Steve Tusa, who Cramer called one of his favorite analysts, reduced General Electric from hold to sell and cut his price target from $6 to $5. Tusa thinks investors have been too bullish on the stock and that a lot could go wrong in a potential recession, Cramer noted. Additionally, the bank’s top analyst worries that optimism about CEO Larry Culp could overshadow the company’s structural issues in the power and health care segments.

Cramer was not convinced, however, by Tusa’s thinking that GE is not taking its aviation cash flow into full account in order to paint a better picture.

“Short term, I think Tusa could be right about this stock,” Cramer said. “But if Culp can engineer another brilliant sale like he did by offloading the life sciences business to Danaher, his old employer, for $21.4 billion, you might want to be a buyer … Long term, I’m betting on Culp.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch demoted Boeing from buy to hold and the price target from $480 to $420. The bank’s analyst said that fallout from the airplane manufacturer’s 737 Max 8 has been worse than initially thought. That roll out for a software fix for the plane, which could take up to nine months — three months longer than first projected. Boeing also projected that production cuts would harm earnings and cash flow.

Boeing’s top selling airplane was involved in two fatal plane crashes in October and March. Cramer pointed out that the bank’s analysis projected that the company’s troubles could drop earnings to $11.80 per share, 26% less than a year ago.

“I am a big Boeing supporter, but this downgrade has gravitas and with the stock still up 16% year-to-date, I think ringing the register here does make sense,” Cramer said.

Boeing’s issues have put pressure on other stocks, including carriers like Southwest Airlines that have a 737 Max fleet. But Cramer suggested that airline stocks with less exposure to 737 Max issues, including American Airlines and United Continental, could be worth buying.

J.P. Morgan also downgraded Clorox, a company that Cramer said has been well run by CEO Benno Dorer, from hold to sell. The analyst cut the earnings per share outlook from $6.34 to $6.26, which Cramer noted was below Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $6.32 per share.

Cramer said Clorox’s stock has already fallen from $167 to $153.

“[If] the stock goes down any lower, I think that it can report an earnings disappointment like J.P. Morgan’s looking for and the stock might just barely blink,” he said.

Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Danaher.

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