Cramer on sell-off: ‘This is the panic people have been waiting for,’ but don’t buy stocks yet


Investors who were waiting for the market to sink so they could buy stocks at cheaper prices should stay on the sidelines a little longer, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Monday.

“This is the panic people have been waiting for,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street,” referring the worst selloff on Wall Street in months on Monday as concerns about China’s coronavirus intensifies.

“We’ve been saying over and over if we get an exogenous event that’s when you get the sell off, that’s when you have to buy,” the “Mad Money” host said. “I think it’s only timing when have to buy. … Give it a little break.”

Cramer said that Apple stock, under pressure Monday with the rest of the market, could hold the key to where Wall Street goes next. “I always said own it, don’t trade it,” he said. “Why not wait now if you don’t own it?”

Apple is set to report earnings after-the-bell on Tuesday. The most valuable U.S. company, with a nearly $1.4 trillion market cap, is expected to deliver fiscal first-quarter revenue of $88.4 billion and earnings of $4.54 per share, according to FactSet estimates.

Shares of Apple, even with Monday’s slide, were still up about 5.5% so far this year after soaring nearly 90% in 2019.

On Friday, stocks had their worst day of 2020, which had gotten off to a roaring start after last year’s near 29% gain for the S&P 500, the best annual performance for the index since 2013.

“I just don’t think today” is the day to buy broadly, Cramer advised Monday, saying the market could take a “second leg” down if the World Health Organization were to declare the coronavirus a global emergency.

The WHO has yet to make that determination, even with more than 2,900 confirmed cases of the fast-spreading virus in China and 81 deaths. More than a dozen countries outside of China, including the United States, reported cases. The U.S. confirmed its fifth case on Sunday.

The new strain of coronavirus, first identified in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province last month, brings back memories of SARS epidemic that rattled financial markets and the global economy in 2003.

On Friday, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC the outbreak of coronavirus looks more contagious but less severe than SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, which sickened nearly 8,100 worldwide and killed 774.

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