Cramer: Home Depot got hit by bad weather and produced a windfall for investors

Real Estate

Home Depot‘s stock was shaken up for missing Wall Street estimates in the last quarter and it created a good opportunity for investors to buy, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Tuesday.

While the home improvement company came up short in earnings and revenue in its fourth quarter report before the bell and gave a weaker-than-expected forecast for the year, the “Mad Money” host highlighted its new $15 billion stock buyback and 32 percent dividend increase.

“If we’re talking about the average retailer in America, I’d say it is time to [sell]. A miss is a miss, but we’re not talking about the average retailer. We’re talking about the numbers we got this morning from Home Depot,” said Cramer, who pointed out that it could be considered among the best retailers alongside Costco.

“Home Depot is like a straight-A student that got a B-plus in the latest quarter and when you’re on the honor roll, Wall Street punishes you for anything less than perfection,” he added.

Cramer said he is giving Home Depot the benefit of the doubt because CEO Craig Menear blamed cold, snowy, and wet weather for its short comings, but non-weather related numbers were “terrific.”

“Wet weather delays projects and this is evident in our sales performance in the quarter,” Menear told investors on the earnings call. But “ex-weather, our business performed in line with our expectations.”

Shares of Home Depot have fallen less than 2 percent as of midday Tuesday. The stock price is down more than 1 percent over the past year but has climbed more than 8 percent in 2019.

Investors may be tempted to ditch the stock because broader housing numbers have been weak, Cramer said. Existing home sales last month dropped 8.5 percent compared to the year prior, reaching its lowest mark in more than three years. Home prices rose modestly, which could signal that momentum is easing in the housing market.

But Cramer called Home Depot, a stock he has covered for decades, a “cash machine,” citing that the company generated $13.3 billion in cash in fiscal 2018, put $24 billion in the business, paid $4.7 billion in dividends and $10 billion in buybacks.

“Do you honestly believe that this great company … with all of its knowledge about the housing market and the gross domestic product would step up its dividend and buyback so dramatically if they were really worried about these short-term fluctuations?” he asked.

Cramer said companies periodically can disappoint and still “hit it out of the park in the next quarter.” Remember, he said, gardening season is coming.

“Tomorrow I expect some downgrades from the sunshine soldiers and the summer patriots among the animals. I think that’s when you pounce,” he said. “I don’t know how long this opportunity will last. I do know that Home Depot’s going to use any weakness to buy its own stock back … That’s good enough for me.”

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