When we look back at this quarter, will we realize that this was the one when the incumbents took it all? Is that one of the themes, or the theme so far?
On Tuesday, we got reports from Chipotle (CMG) and its one-time parent, McDonald's (MCD) . The former seemed lackluster, confused with a scent of hope about the idea that maybe one day things could return to normal. But right now, you are thinking that 2% sales increases with potentially cheaper food costs could bring in the bodies and make the stores worth more.
The latter was all about blowing the numbers out, new technology, and, yes, to use the term that the affable but heavy-weight CEO Steve Easterbrook likes, good mojo.
It was almost as if Chipotle was the hidebound, troubled, figure-it-out-as-we-go-along kind of company levered to one new dish, the queso, while McDonald's was all about execution and value, the twin themes of higher stock prices.
Put simply, McDonald's put on a clinic about how energized the team is domestically and worldwide where the best of the best in all of the labs around the globe are being put to use to grow the business, especially any new technology, like mobile and order pay. It's playing offence. Chipotle is almost 100% defense, with nary an interception in sight.
I felt the same way about Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) . For a couple of years now, AMD's been making strides in all of the hot areas: data center, gaming, high-end computing and cryptocurrency. But strides are not the same as making a ton of money. In fact, one analyst after another was unimpressed with the results of AMD and expected the company to be much further along, given how many think its technological prowess is mighty improved.
We don't hear from Intel (INTC) until Thursday, but when we do we will get a sense that the incumbent has its act together a lot more than AMD, and that you will see much less pricing pressure and much more business taken. Action Alerts PLUS charity portfolio holding Nvidia (NVDA) gets whacked on the news of the moderating cryptocurrency demand that Dr. Lisa Su talked about on the quarter. Nvidia's got a small part of its business devoted to cryptocurrency. Nvidia's got the most sophisticated gaming chips -- AMD is in XBOX and Sony, but Nvidia is in the red-hot Switch from Nintendo.
I think that like Chipotle, the upstart simply isn't as good as Intel or Nvidia, which is a company that is always on the verge of turning around and the speculators pay up for it. Intel and Nvidia have seen their stocks up huge. We don't know how much of that is data center and stronger PC for Intel -- AMD confirmed as much -- and crypto currency for Nvidia, but I think that any takeaway from AMD that hurts those two companies may be sorely misplaced, because I believe AMD is being beaten by them.
Finally, there's AMD versus IBM (IBM) . We have cogent comments on the AMD call about the moderating of one of the great secular trends, secure blockchain technology. IBM? It's one of that company's principal drivers?
Who is right?
If it's this quarter so far, then the answer is the incumbent all the way, even if the incumbent at one point was considered, old, ossified and put out to pasture one time too many.
Join Jim Cramer, CNBC's Jon Najarian and Other Experts Oct. 28 in New York
Jim Cramer will host CNBC's Jon Najarian, TD Ameritrade's JJ Kinahan, famed analytics expert Marc Chaikin and other market mavens on Oct. 28 in New York City to share successful strategies for active investors.
You can join them as they discuss how smart investors can make the most of options trading, futures contracts, fundamental and quantitative analysis and great ETFs to buy right now. Participants will also get a chance to meet Jim and other panelists and take photos.
When: Saturday, Oct. 28, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: The Harvard Club of New York, 35 West 44th St., New York, N.Y.
Cost: $250 per person.
Click here for the full conference agenda or to reserve your seat now.