[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, March 2012]
[Friday, March 30, 2012]

Either a refreshing trend has been identified, or too much ‘Mad Men’/‘Downton Abbey’ has been watched

We were just meandering through a reasonably informative Fast Money Halftime Report on Friday when Patty Edwards said something that nearly prompted a jump out of the chair.

"You have people needing to buy more dress shirts and ties," Edwards told Judge Wapner, in touting PVH (that's formerly Phillips-Van Heusen).

We can't imagine what the catalyst for this purported movement is (sigh; you're more likely to find shorts and sneakers and even the occasional basketball jersey at a nice restaurant than a jacket and tie), but let's just hope Patty is correct.

Anyway, Edwards gushed about the stock as Judge Wapner asked panelists for favorite picks and Mega Millions-type plays. Edwards said PVH's CEO had a "phenomenal interview with Cramer," and that there's "growth in Tommy Bahama ... growth in Calvin Klein ... you have people needing to buy more dress shirts and ties ... my price target on the stock is a hundred and eight."

We've had mixed results on Tommy Bahama, but at least some of it is worth the price.

Edwards also spoke of TAL, a play on the consumer with a 6% dividend, and TLB as a real lottery-type play. Steve Grasso, who lately has been adopting something of a pause that makes it seem like he is done with his point when he actually is not, mentioned AEO, said he has money with a retail-specific hedge fund that likes it, but "I didn't wanna be redundant and buy it."

May 25, 2011, Brian Kelly said an $80 pair of jeans has ‘less than a couple dollars of cotton’

Guest Adrienne Tennant told the Fast Money Halftime Report gang that she likes Gap, because "This is really a back-half story. I still think that there's more to come."

Patty Edwards hailed the management, saying, "From the financial side of things, you can't bet against 'em," but then failed to ask Tennant a bona fide question, only making a positive statement about the company's leadership and new product. "I agree with you," Tennant said.

Dennis Gartman, who like other males nowadays is resembling Patty Edwards' trend toward formality in wearing a jacket for the Halftime Report (though Gartman, to his credit, always has the jacket on Fast Money), claimed that falling cotton prices could help a name like the Gap. Tennant agreed "It is a tailwind," even though we recall previous episodes of Fast Money in which it was not considered much of a catalyst.

‘It’s been a bad 12 years’

Dennis Gartman launched Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report with something of a revelation: "I was short a little bit of Netflix at one time, uh, finally got out of the way of it."

Gartman said in general, he is "surprised how strong things have been" in the stock market. Steve Grasso said as long as the S&P stays over 1,400, stocks are the "best game in town."

Patty Edwards got a fairly early nod but had to use it on WHR, saying with a joke, "I don't think I'd be diving in there right now, not into that pool."

"Diving in. That's good Patty," cracked Zach Karabell, refreshingly back after a break.

Karabell chalked up enthusiasm in the market to a more-than-a-decade of pain. "It's been a bad 12 years," he said.

And Karabell took up the NFLX storyline, calling it a stock that trades in its own world, and "small potatoes relative to Comcast at all." He also said there's a question as to, "Does Best Buy go the way of Radio Shack."

Unfortunately this segment sounded a bit like that Payden & Rygel commercial

We figured guest Ian Hague would get to carry the emerging markets mantle on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, but sure enough Tim Seymour was allowed to dial in and dominate the conversation (but at least he didn't resurrect the Guy-Adami-sitting-in-the-fake-leather-chair-at-Best-Buy's-home-theater-department line again).

"Everybody knows that Russia's cheap," Seymour said, but he really thinks the best play is South Africa and the miners, specifically GFI, which he assured viewers is not like playing a momentum stock.

Hague, in very terse though polite commentary, mentioned the significance of India and Brazil as "extremely bullish for equities in emerging markets" while allowing, "of course there are hiccups."

One of his plays, perhaps his only play, was "Bank of Georgia," and you had to be surprised to learn that it is "the largest bank, uh, in the country of Georgia."

Dicker: Get GLOGged

Dan Dicker got a guest hit on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to recommend something that looks — and sounds — a lot like former Karen Finerman standout Golar:


Dicker said it's because of natural gas being the fuel of the future, and its falling price. He said GLOG does the freezing that allows shipping of nat gas overseas to more lucrative markets and that there's money to be made in the arbitrage of day rates.

Pointing to GLNG, Dicker asserted, "If you wait long enough Gaslog will do exactly the same thing."

Dicker told Steve Grasso he's skeptical of refiners; "I think they've run too far."

Things That Make Judge Go ‘Wow’

Dennis Gartman, in part using the argument that Dryships was so much more expensive 4 years ago than the $3 of today (which is what we heard about Exodus, PMC-Sierra, Flextronics, Nokia, etc., after 2000), is sticking by the shippers, saying, "They are not making new lows, they're holding, and they're going higher on better volume." He suggested people could own DRYS or DSX.

Gartman also revealed he's negative on Treasurys. "I've been short for a while ... I think there's a big trade that is taking place here."

He predicted it will be "par or worse in the yen over the course of the next 2 years." That prompted Judge Wapner to say "Wow," pointing out that others are expecting a bounce. Indeed, Gartman later found himself on the other side of Jens Nordvig's sell dollar/yen trade.

But first IBM must deal with the tricky female-CEO-and-Augusta thing

Zach Karabell, asked on Friday's Halftime for his favorite plays and Mega Millions-type selections (which was a dubious category, because there's a huge risk/reward difference between a $640 million lottery ticket and a stock under $5), mentioned PAY and BRCM, including when there are security-related dips, because "it's not like people are gonna have an alternative." His lottery pick was GTAT, which makes silicon wafers.

At that point Judge Wapner, making sure to cover the typical corporate policy of not doing sub-$500 million market caps (which some of the names recently are below but some are not) or whatever the level is, told viewers some of these lottery picks are smaller-caps "than perhaps we would normally mention on CNBC ... obviously do your own research."

So, don't send any hate mail to Englewood Cliffs if/when these picks go bust. (And, while we're at it, don't bother sending gripes when the China-geddon thesis doesn't quite pan out.)

Guest Brian Modoff mentioned the RIMM "ecosystem" and said it could have security value for some buyer, but then said as for the notion of MSFT buying, he's "not as inclined on that one," and that at CSCO they "tend to be more enterprise-focused," and who knows, maybe GOOG, ORCL or IBM might be interested.

Judge Wapner asked Dennis Gartman about the reference to "they" keeping gold down. "Who's the 'they'," Wapner asked. "Who knows who 'they' is," said Gartman, explaining it's just some boogeyman out there.

Jane Wells, in dazzling new hairstyle, delivered a hit on JAKK products, which included 2 of Patty Edwards' favorite hockey-game companions endorsing Pokemon. "They're so cute," Wells said.

Steve Grasso's Final Trade — in quite an erratic Final Trade episode — was ZAZA, "I own it," but then curiously he also spoke about BRK-B. Patty Edwards said "Lincoln Electric, go long," but the best was saved for last when Zach Karabell, apparently surprised or expecting a different set-up, delivered the funniest Final Trade in history, with a look straight out of a movie, recommending Vale, "anything under 23-ish."

[Thursday, March 29, 2012]

Online pinching of Best Buy called ‘one of the most overrated issues’

Just a day earlier, Michael Pachter told Fast Money that Best Buy would be on "life support" within 4 years.

But on Thursday's 5 p.m. show at the Nasdaq, BBY watcher David Strasser indicated the company is not on its last legs, but, let's say, more like Bob Hope at 65.

Strasser said BBY has more than a thousand stores, and "I think there's 200-plus that can go" or be downsized, but that it doesn't have to happen for a while.

More significantly, Mike Murphy asked about the threat of people using Best Buy as a showroom for their Amazon purchases. Strasser said, "For the most part I think it's one of the most overrated, um, issues, is this threat online."

Unfortunately, Tim Seymour took yesterday's Line of the Day (Guy Adami sitting in the fake leather chair in the BBY home theater section) and tried to repeat it in Adami's presence Thursday.

Another Fast Money trader walks into the DKS trap

Every so often, the Fast Money gang unintentionally entertains with fall-out-of-the-chair humor.

Such was the case on Thursday's 5 p.m. show, when the culprit — as has been the case before — was the symbol DKS.

"I like Dick's," said Joe Terranova. "I think it continues to go higher."

Guy Adami concurred, "DKS goes higher."

Mike Khouw suggested you could buy the June 50-55 call spread in DKS, paying $1.45 and collecting 35 cents.

‘The Apple for poor people’

Mel Lee, with striking new hairstyle on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, appeared skeptical from the start that IDT chief Howard Jonas was going to have anything useful to say.

Lee first tripped over "headquarter" (sic), then told Jonas, "give me the 30-second shpiel" (that's correct spelling for how she said it) about how the company grows.

"We're sort of the Apple for poor people," Jonas said, but after explaining how the business works, Lee still demanded to know if growth is just a matter of people buying more minutes. Jonas said more minutes help.

Joe Terranova asked Jonas how he gets more analysts to follow his stock, bluntly declaring "you need more." Jonas didn't seem too concerned about that, pointing out, "Citibank came to visit us today at our office."

We always say that, while we like to have fun with many things on Fast Money, we generally don't want to poke at a person's appearance, but we couldn't help but notice that Jonas, with decided bags under the eyes, looked a bit like the way Mark Wahlberg came out of that rigged substitute bout in "The Fighter."

What show was Colin Gillis watching?

Perhaps it's our fault for dozing through the Research in Motion portion (which was considerable) of Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Yet, when Colin Gillis said late that "we're still not as hog wild as some of your earliest guests were," we didn't have a clue who he was talking about.

Brian Blair asserted that RIMM has "no new products" coming to market for a while, and it's an "ugly year" for the company. Joe Terranova said, "I think RIMM goes below 10 bucks." Tim Seymour said the report sounds like "the last straw," though he did allow that the terminology he was hearing might prove a catalyst for a bounce.

Jon Fortt said "it's heartening to hear" Thorsten Heins say change was needed, but Fortt was hardly "hog wild."

Blair actually was visiting the set to make a case for caution with AAPL, suggesting iPad sales might disappoint. "There's inventory in the stores," Blair said, and there are signs that in China, "the factories aren't running at full capacity."

Tim Backshall should’ve just invented an AAPL price target

More and more it looks like cancelling The Strategy Session was a dubious decision, as CNBC continues to try and piece together remnants of the former lunchtime offering into the dry-as-the-Bonneville-Salt-Flats 2nd half hour of the daily 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Thursday it was Tim Backshall who got the nod, predicting "sort of a reversion to reality" in Europe and suggesting being long quality investment-grade bonds while avoiding high-yield.

The problem with these interviews is that The Strategy Session aimed to bring in respected observers/investors of the credit markets (many of whom were not inclined to deliver hip TV soundbites in demand on other shows) to paint thorough pictures of where the economy and business cycles might be headed. Fast Money, meanwhile, has proved impatient with said guests, listening to an opening statement or 2 and then requesting an actionable trade, almost an oil-and-water scenario highlighted by Jeff Kronthal's interest in "BBB structured products."

Guy Adami, meanwhile, said to keep an eye on Jarden (JAH).

Fast Money rewritten history

Mike Murphy on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money finally re-addressed that WHR short.

He admitted, "We shorted it a little too early."

Except, he said that was in the "high 60s."

In fact, on Feb. 1, Murphy revealed, "We're actually shorting the stock here."

That day it closed at $61.24 after peaking at $65.25.

Evidently, that's considered "high" 60s.

Murphy insisted Thursday the stock is due for a tumble; "earnings quality is not very good."

Bottom line, this has been an utterly terrible (not to mention head-scratching) trade, the equivalent of grabbing a rising knife, and Murphy would do best to admit that and move on.

Stock rises 25 cents,
trades ‘great’

Tim Seymour, meanwhile, maintained his own equally ridiculous (but not nearly as costly yet) fascination with FCX, grasping for the faintest hint of hope in telling viewers on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that "this stock traded great today," even though it rose a grand 0.67% on a day of mostly trading down.

Seymour asserted, "It's time to buy the EEM and sell the SPY."

Mike Murphy disagreed with something Keith McCullough said this week, that equity bulls need the VIX to plunge through 14. "You can buy based on fundamentals" regardless of the VIX, Murphy said.

Jane Wells was apparently sent to a Harley-Davidson dealer for the purposes of getting a picture of Jane on a motorcycle — "Don't I look like I was born to be wild" — but the hit proved to be mostly a bust featuring little more than the HOG chart.

Mike Khouw's Final Trade was long RNF. Tim Seymour, who enjoys grabbing daggers these days, said to buy MOS. Guy Adami said to take profits in RHT. Mike Murphy said to be long WNC. Joe Terranova said BPL, and threw in VZ and T.

Jim Suva uses flowery corp-speak to say a company isn’t making products that people want

It's been a while since Jim Suva graced Fast Money with his presence, but that's exactly what happened on Thursday's Halftime Report when the subject of Research in Motion's earnings report surfaced.

The problem for RIMM, Suva said, "comes down to simply innovation."

Judge Wapner then invoked the No. 1-ranked Fast Money cliche, saying "at the end of the day," isn't RIMM's problem really just AAPL?

Suva insisted it's about innovation, and if the company misses back-to-school demand (aren't the kiddies still in school right now?), it's look out below.

Steve Grasso said that trying to play this stock on earnings and other news for a quickie is "a losing endeavor."

Steve Cortes notes that someone on Fast Money disagrees with him

Newcomer Patrick Armstrong told Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that March has been a good time to be taking profits, and said he has been reducing gold positions but that if there's a big selloff, he would consider precious metals a buy based on the China floor.

He also said he's making money shorting the front month of natural gas, and that he recommends shorting U.S. small caps, which he called "very expensive."

Steve Cortes responded to that claiming, "Patrick and I could probably just face off; I take the opposite side of his entire portfolio," which to be honest didn't seem to be precisely the case but close enough, faulting Armstrong's interest in emerging market currencies and U.S. big caps with emerging markets exposure.

However, despite the fact Cortes is usually able to spin a pop-culture analogy at the drop of a hat and did so later with Johnny Fontaine, he failed to note the John Travolta/Nicolas Cage ramifications of a face-off.

An old shoplifting incident that has no relevance to anything creeps into the Fast Money conversation

Viewers of Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report got a treat when Courtney Reagan reported that Ralph Lauren is a successful brand that apparently sells $25,000 handbags (one of which was just stolen although the company took its time in reporting it) at its flagship store.

Stephanie Link discussed RL and curiously revealed "we're carefully buying it" (as opposed to "recklessly" buying shares of stock), a comment that caught not only our attention but Judge's too.

"What exactly do you mean" by "carefully," Wapner asked Link. Link said it's because the "stock has had a heckuva move," and it's a "volatile stock."

Other than Judge’s RIMM question, not a word about AAPL

Brian Kelly, who following the lead of Keith McCullough (and also Joe Terranova) showed up at the Englewood Cliffs set on Thursday's Halftime Report in a nice jacket, was somehow Fast Fired for a call made 3 months ago on MCP, telling viewers to get out of it.

"Clearly wrong on this," Kelly conceded Thursday, but he doesn't really want to mess with this name. Steve Grasso concurred with that; "I would rather stay away too."

Stephanie Link revealed she is short WAG, while Steve Cortes crowed, "I'm short Deutsche Bank."

Foxy Money in Motion panelist Amelia Bourdeau, who always looks good on television, said "there is some headline risk with euro," and that she'd sell euro/dollar at 1.3240. "I like this trade a lot," said Brian Kelly.

Stephanie Link's Final Trade was a too-long rendition of long IBM. Steve Grasso said MO preferably on dips, Steve Cortes said to consider long yen and if it works, taking profits in Toyota, and Brian Kelly said to buy XLF on weakness.

Guest Michael Harris said copper might break out this weekend based on the (2nd only to the jobs report) most overhyped trading stat, Chinese PMI.

Cortes: ‘Near-term, natural gas is incredibly oversold’

Stephen Weiss, whose pro-WLP calls last month delivered only weak to so-so results (but of course finally took off in the last 2 weeks), said it's time to take some off the trade because now it's wait-and-see time for the Supreme Court, the stock briefly caught fire, and "I just don't think it's that easy."

Steve Grasso said if only the mandate gets tossed, selling HMOs is the play, "and probably buying hospitals."

Brian Kelly suggested taking a look at DBB for precious metals. Steve Grasso said the companies such as the chemical names benefitting from plunging nat gas are looking a little "toppy." Stephanie Link said she's not sold on steel gaining as a nat gas play, but prefers DuPont to steel names.

Steve Cortes said the lesson of nat gas is to avoid solar, but "near-term, natural gas is incredibly oversold," and he even suggested you can play it via UNG.

[Wednesday, March 28, 2012]

Michael Pachter: Best Buy
‘on life support’ within 4 years

Michael Pachter, certainly one of the most electrifying (if that's not overstating it) of Fast Money's regular stable of guests, declared BBY on a long-term death watch on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show, saying, "I think the patient'll be on life support in probably 3 or 4 years."

His rationale was (stop if you haven't heard this already) that shoppers can use their mobile phones to price check items at Amazon and order from Amazon while still in the Best Buy store.

"That's exactly how I bought 2 of my televisions in my home," revealed Mel Lee, and where else would she put those televisions, in her car?

Pete Najarian asked Pachter what BBY should be doing in light of this assessment. Pachter didn't have a good answer but explained what it could have been doing years ago, which was downsizing.

"Woulda coulda shoulda," Lee taunted the company.

Tim Seymour had the best 1-liner of the day, saying "you can probably find Guy Adami" in one of the fake leather couches in the Best Buy home theater department.

Ron Insana misuses ‘ironies’

It was in the course of the Best Buy discussion on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that Ron Insana contributed something of a head-scratcher.

Insana said it's one of the "great ironies" that "all these big guys that drove out mom and pop shops around the country" are now being driven out of business by the Internet, on a faster scale.

First of all, there is no irony in that observation.

Second, who are all these "big guys" who did the category-killing who are now going out of business? Wal-Mart is the ultimate enemy of mom-and-pop, and Wal-Mart is definitely not going out of business. Home Depot is another, and Home Depot is not going out of business. Starbucks is probably even another, and Starbucks is not going out of business.

Obviously Border's is a popular answer. Couple things with that. Bookstores and book-selling — and God bless 'em, everyone loves the local independents — have been an extremely dubious business proposition since the beginnings of Gutenberg's press. They compete with a taxpayer/rich guy-supported behemoth that gives away the same product the bookstore sells, in every American city. Probably 95% of the inventory is limited audience, low volume, high-marginal costs subsidized by Stephen King, Andrew Morton and Steve Cortes Jim Cramer in an economic model that for most works really doesn't benefit either the writer or the publisher even when demand exists. Some with environmental concerns rightfully wonder why everyone needs their own copy of all that paper and why can't we share. A more realistically sellable product, magazines and newspapers, is easily handled by subscription and/or at drugstores, Wal-Mart, groceries, etc.

Blockbuster, yes, is a fading memory, but the culprit there is not just the Internet. There was Redbox, plus the gradually expanding cable TV On Demand options, and yes, as with books, that thing called a public library, and Blockbuster didn't go away nearly as fast as some of the mom-and-pops it uprooted.

Insana didn't mention newspapers or magazines, which have traditionally sound business models but certainly are getting blistered by the Internet, but BusinessWeek didn't drive local mom-and-pop business mags into Chapter 11 either.

So basically, it's hardly "all" the "big guys" that drove out the moms-and-pops that are receiving their comeuppance, but a very select few, in utterly horrid traditional business models (not the products that are horrid, just the economic model) that needed to go away anyway; the notion of driving to Blockbuster twice in 1985 to consummate the rental transaction of "Back to the Future" and thinking to one's self, "Gee whiz, I'll probably be making 2 car trips to do this again in 2025" never being very realistic.

Mark Mahaney uses terminology that would’ve raised eyebrows a year ago at this time

Pete Najarian apparently is a bit fed up with Ron Johnson Mania (and hasn't that taken a breather since 42?), mocking the notion on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that Johnson is supposedly the "greatest thing since sliced bread" who would "convert JCPenney into the greatest retailer ever," while in October 2010 he sold 150,000 shares of AAPL, and "it's now doubled since that time."

Tim Seymour went back to the earliest days of Fast Money Trade School (more like a Pre-Trade School) to say it's more important when insiders buy than sell, but what did you really learn from Brian Moynihan's purchases over the last couple years or Aubrey McClendon's map-collection make-good from CHK, other than, 1) the buyers don't really have a clue either, and 2) if they miss badly, the company just bails them out anyway.

Anyway, this set the stage for Mark Mahaney's call on PCLN. Mahaney said the insider sales are "probably not a red flag" but maybe a flag of some kind, and the stock is "still our No. 1 pick in this space.

Mahaney credited Google for having seen the mobile "tsunami" coming.

Mike Khouw suggested the May 670 puts in PCLN for $20.

Ron Insana is first we’ve heard of being long a FLAT position

Dennis Gartman was kept in buttoned-down form on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, mostly staying away from whether gold is going up or down (thank goodness) but saying he "wouldn't be surprised" if nat gas posts a 1 handle (although Mel Lee sure sounded like she'd be surprised).

Gartman, though, had an excellent pointed rebuttal to Tim Seymour's ridiculous FCX enthusiasm, questioning why not wait until it breaks out to 42 or so rather than grabbing the knife. Seymour responded, "We're value investors; we're not momentum buyers," while conceding the chart isn't good.

Seymour's Final Trade was to take profits in SBS. Ron Insana suggested being long FLAT (see, this wasn't a day where they ranked on the ETNs), Dennis Gartman said to be long tankers (because good golly, hasn't Genco been on a tear since he and Carter Worth recommended it in early February?) and Pete Najarian, whose MOS call was a bust for the 2nd time this year, suggested long JPM.

CEO seems to indicate that no matter what the economic conditions are, it’s a win-win

In a special treat for viewers, best-dressed CNBC superfox Seema Mody actually visited the Nasdaq in appealing beige V-cut sweater over brown skirt to tell Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money viewers, in a straightforward and fine summary, that if obesity-medication testing is ordered before approval, VVUS shares could take a 50% hit or more, according to Cowen.

As Tom Grunick might notice, Mody could stand to better emphasize a part of each sentence and tell a story rather than the more programmatic delivery, but no one's complaining here.

Mark Okada, in another round of The Strategy Session creeping into Fast Money, predicted "bank debt will outperform high-yield bonds for the remainder of the year," but then struggled to tell viewers (and the panel) how viewers can effectively play this, other than to mention closed-end funds. "Over 35% of high-yield bonds are trading at or above their call price," he said, in what was mostly a call against high-yield. He said rising rates are good for bank debt, bad for bonds.

Guest Michael Kneeland of United Rentals said his company rents lots of big equipment things. He said there are "pockets" of weakness, but also pockets of "industry." He told Mel Lee that he gets the in-a-bad-economy-do-people-rent-more question all the time, and that what they see is that when the economy gets bad, more people start renting, but when the economy improves, people don't stop renting, but rather it just plateaus.

Tim Seymour was unfazed by the hit to MOS; "I would buy this weakness." Pete Najarian said he has detected a lot of May 19, 21 calls being bought in GRPN.

Financial ‘elites’ make
$100,000-plus, have $50,000 in stocks

Steve Liesman delivered the CNBC All-America survey results on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, a feature that is most significant for its historic battles between Liesman and Steve Grasso as to what terminology constitutes "wealthy."

Liesman said Wednesday, with no Grasso in sight, "We call them our financial elites. More than a hundred thousand in income, more than 50- I think you guys at home think that's not a lot of money, for the whole country, it is a lot of money."

Liesman said gold's ranking (37%) as the best place to invest (ahead of real estate, which beat stocks) is partly due to the marketing out there. Brian Kelly said it sounds to him like a case of everyone already fully invested in gold, so "who else is gonna buy it."

Judge again requires extra effort to elicit China-related trade from Steve Cortes

Mindy Grossman of HSN (which we didn't even realize was an actual stock) guested on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report as fellow Telsey Advisory Group conference attendees enjoyed lunch and appeared to sip Starbucks drinks (but we don't know that for a fact). Judge Wapner pulled a Tim Russert, reading to Grossman comments she made about the challenges facing HSN months ago. Grossman, just as cute as conference host Dana Telsey and with Mary Thompson-esque hair (not quite that elite hair, but close), said, "we have had a complete transformation of our business across every area," while acknowledging QVC (which last made headlines that we're aware of for bouncing Jane Fonda last summer) is a lot bigger.

Joe Terranova, wearing a rare jacket to the Englewood Cliffs desk, said HSN is a consumer discretionary stock that you can look at and "wanna own in the 2nd quarter," which is sort of a recommendation and sort of not a recommendation.

Mike Murphy said Tyco (which is always on the verge of unlocking great value for shareholders) can climb into the $70s because of its "great underlying growth story." Brian Stutland said $70 is possible and he owns some.

Steve Cortes, who joked about writing a book about China, was asked for another actionable trade by Judge Wapner and said it's time to sell U.S. cyclicals and noted his CAT short. Cortes predicted global markets will "recouple" just like Dick Van Dyke did.

Brian Modoff said QCOM is "continuing to push the technology roadmap" and has upgrade to a $75 price target.

Joe Terranova chafed at a Twitterer's characterization of his bank-stock commentary. Steve Cortes revealed he's still short AAPL but against GOOG. Brian Kelly called Apple insider sales "much ado about nothing."

Steve Cortes' Final Trade was short silver, Brian Kelly said stay short Aussie dollar, Brian Stutland said long STX and Joe Terranova said he exited POT and TBT (which, like his opinion on Home Shopping Network, isn't much of a trade).

Judge to Richard X. Bove:
‘I think you’re doing a disservice to people with a brain’

Judge Wapner invited Dick Bove onto Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report purportedly to talk about banks ... but actually to deliver a tongue-lashing over the Dickster's complaints of media coverage of the Greg Smith letter.

Judge said that Bove claimed in a report that this was a "questionable op-ed comment" that prompted "every major news organization" to pound out stories about the possibly broken Goldman Sachs business model.

"On behalf of myself, my colleagues, and certainly the brand of CNBC, uh Dick, I would reject that out of hand," Judge told Bove, adding that "calling the op-ed questionable, uh, is questionable in and of itself."

Bove responded that the company of 33,300 people has a "low-level" or "mid-level" employee with a grudge, and "because the New York Times blows it out, every major news organization that I'm aware of, you know, makes it a major story," when in fact, "fundamental operations are getting stronger and stronger."

"I think you're doing a disservice though to people with a brain who actually have, can read a story for themselves, Dick," Judge said.

If it's possible, we've gotta agree with both. Judge is certainly right (though he didn't necessarily frame it in the right terms), this was a major financial news story that merited national coverage. But Bove is also correct that the substance of it is overrated (there's a few unhappy workers at Lululemon too though he didn't say that) and that the coverage actually provided a quick buying opportunity (though he didn't say that either).

Brian Kelly hanging on to banks

Joe Terranova on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, reflecting a recent Fast Money theme of hoping the Great Pullback of 2012 gets here in a hurry and then leaves equally fast, was trying to throw in the towel, recommending paring back in the banks, "gotta be taking risk-off right here."

Steve Cortes indicated that makes sense to him, pointing to how BAC on 3 attempts couldn't stay above 10, and that he's interested in shorting FII but hasn't done it yet. However, he did say later "I'm short Deutsche Bank."

Brian Kelly, though, said there's no reason to bail, saying he's still long XLF, KRE and MS, and that he bought XLF 16 calls to May.

Brian Stutland said "I'm still long JPMorgan" and noted that someone bought 25,000 11-12 call spreads in BAC.

Dick Bove, before running into Judge's outrage, acknowledged a trend of selling banks from May until October, but said the fundamentals are rip-roaring, that they haven't had this much capital as percentage of assets since 1938.

[Tuesday, March 27, 2012]

Our amateur best guess:
Once the uncertainty is gone in the summer, all of them will rally

Rarely is a Fast Money guest as straightforward and as helpful as Ana Gupte on Tuesday's 5 p.m. edition.

Gupte, fairly concisely we might add, explained the expectations for ObamaCare's Supreme Court challenge, what has been developing the last 2 days, and which stocks might be most affected by whatever the outcome is.

"It does appear that the individual mandate may be struck down," Gupte said, adding that WLP, CVH and AET have the most upside in the bull case, which is the mandate being tossed and certain provisions struck down.

Under the bear case, where the mandate is upheld, she expects a pullback, then a rally featuring UNH, HUM and CI.

Gupte told Guy Adami UNH has more room to go."My price target is very conservatively $65," Gupte said.

Stay away from financial instruments you almost certainly didn’t own anyway

The Fast Money gang is so desperate for the Great Market Pullback of 2012 to finally commence and get itself over with that the top of Tuesday's 5 p.m. show featured another guest explaining more things you don't want to own.

Tom Lydon's 5 "tape bombs" included GAZ, GMMB, PEK, PTM, GWO, or ETPs that for a variety of reasons you've heard numerous times are either not representative of what you think they are, are just simply cost you money over time.

Lydon did curiously note that one of them, GWO, has traded at a 19% discount, which could be a "buying opportunity."

For what it's worth, much later in the program, Keith McCullough noted "there's some serious risks in Spain," and suggested shorting the EWP.

A CEO insists this time, it’s gonna be different

Hot Topic chief Lisa Harper (no, we didn't even know what Hot Topic is) visited the Nasdaq Tuesday for a little go-round on "The Hunger Games" merchandise with the Fast Money gang in a clumsy discourse in which Harper spent most of her time referring to how "we really cannibalized the core" when "Twilight" came out several years ago, which she said won't happen to the now stabilized business in the wake of "Hunger Games."

Harper did point out that the peak for this stuff usually happens a week before the movie opens.

Guy Adami ended up in a semi-spirited little go-round with Prettiest Hair on Cable Television (you know he wanted to call her that but didn't) Mary Thompson, who said at least one expert thinks in a rising-tide environment for banks, you want the junkiest ones with the most troubled exposure, because they've got the most upside.

Adami questioned if USB wasn't a good play, and complimented Thompson, saying, "She's got the gun-show going."

Tim Seymour questioned the notion of underwater homes in Florida, because "it's actually under sea level I believe."

McCullough: Bulls need VIX to breach 14

Every time Keith McCullough is on Fast Money, not only does he always bring an impressive jacket, he also totes along another reason why the S&P 500 is a short.

On Tuesday's 5 p.m. show, it was, "If the VIX doesn't, you know, basically crash through 14, you've got a serious problem being long anything on the equity side."

"Keith is exactly right," agreed Dan Nathan.

McCullough opened by flagging interest in the Russell 2000; "that's where people go at the end of the rally." Tim Seymour said, unlike in crisis moments such as last year, this is a "great place to be short the IWM."

Seymour later said "I like Vale here," as well as BVN, and then "even Freeport Mac" because of its gold exposure, while he recommended you could "short the GLD against it."

McCullough, though, didn't understand why people were dickering around with coal and nat-gas-related names, saying it's a simple situation nat gas in which people need to "come to Jesus on this stuff." He said of SWN, "that could easily go to 29."

Dan Nathan, so quiet on Tuesday's program that either he should get a refund, or the show shouldn't have to pay him for that hour, reported that someone bought 50,000 MSFT 45 calls for January 2014, for .775.

Mike Khouw suggested a "zero-cost collar" in BRCM, which means buying the May 36 puts for 90 cents and selling the May 42 calls 90 cents.

Tim Seymour's Final Trade was short DO. Guy Adami said TJX, Dan Nathan said (inaudible, we had to look it up) SPY puts, and Keith McCullough said long NKE.

Carl Icahn sends e-mail congratulating Lions Gate guys

He's an investor and a gentleman.

Noted LGF agitator Carl Icahn revealed on Tuesday's Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo that "you can't win 'em all," and that he sold too soon, and, "I sent those guys an e-mail congratulating them."

The only thing we'd quibble with is that e-mail nowadays is generic and requires virtually no effort and is the teenager way of doing even the most formal things (such as, say, seeking employment), so it would've been more meaningful to mail Michael Burns & Co. a handwritten note.

Judge aims to give viewers ‘real ideas,’ apparently not just a summary of pros’ accounts

Jeff Kilburg burst onto Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report scene not to talk about that 1.67% 10-year, but nat gas with a $1 handle.

"No reason for shorts to cover," Kilburg said, explaining that there's "a lot of activity in the $1.50 puts" as the commodity experiences an "absolute collapse."

Steve Cortes, ever The Contrarian, revealed he likes nat gas here for a trade; "I actually bought some this morning, uh, just below 2.20" because the notion of a $1 handle is "so unanimous." Then he asked Kilburg to sign on to that crowded trade theory, except Kilburg said it was crowded at $4.

Judge asked Cortes if he was playing the investment vehicle everyone on Fast Money hates, the UNG. "I wanna give people real ideas," Judge said. Cortes admitted, "I actually used the futures."

Pete Najarian halfheartedly said, "I'm in Conoco right now." Stephen Weiss hailed his steel/coal short. "Coal prices are gonna go much, much lower."

The Momentum-On Trade

Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report was so chock-full of Will Rogers stocks, viewers' heads must've been spinning wondering which ones to actually buy.

Whether it was CMG, TJX, AAPL, SBUX, YUM, PM or HD, traders basically called 'em all a buy.

There was at least one Contrarian, of course. Steve Cortes, likening himself to homeowners in Phoenix, revealed, "I'm short Apple; I'm long Google against it," but that the shares aren't just at an all-time high, but "all-time overbought."

Then, in probably its first airing on Fast Money, Cortes credited Stephen Weiss for how he "elucidated" the consensus view on AAPL, but that he just thinks it's too crowded.

Patty Edwards, for once given ample time to speak in the opening minutes, cheered PM, saying, "I think this one continues to go higher" as the rest of the world vies to be the Marlboro Man.

Edwards also conceded of CMG, (one that the HQ here exited a bit too early), "I was wrong about not buying it because of the multiple," but that she'd only rather get into it with options later.

Edwards was skeptical of one stock, COH, because of the "murse" — "I'm sorry, but my guy ain't carrying one," Edwards said.

Analyst: AXP worth $70

Guest Craig Maurer first assured Tuesday's Halftime Report gang, "categorically I do not carry a murse," then went on to tuck AXP into his satchel, saying it can "easily exceed that guidance" and that the "stock's worth at least $70 a share."

Stephen Weiss asked a good question about AXP's Continental Airlines account that Maurer dragged out for too long, while conceding "losing Continental was not fun," BAC actually is the biggest loser in this space.

Maurer said he likes AXP but for transactions, MA tops his list.

David George said he's had enough of BAC outperformance, now that's it's clearly ahead of Steve Cortes' Bradford Trade, telling panelists "at $10 it's a different risk/reward trade-off." He said a few months ago it was way underpriced but now there are regular earnings concerns as it's "just been one big sentiment shift."

Stephen Weiss tried to argue that the housing delta is what matters, whereas George said it's a rates delta.

Pete Najarian disagreed with George, saying, "I still think that BofA looks awfully cheap." Steve Cortes said as his Final Trade to take profits in banks, but that he's adding to his position in bonds.

Dr. J isn’t around to question the PFE trade

Steve Cortes, sort of a 1-liner machine on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, said the country is "dominated" now by people who eat dinner at 4:30 and fall asleep watching "Matlock" reruns, is evidently not discriminating in the health-care/pharma sector, saying "D. All of the above" for Pfizer and other names he likes.

Pete Najarian said he has owned PFE for a long time. Stephen Weiss said, contrary to some analysis, he doesn't see PFE breaking off the branded business from generics. Patty Edwards said she likes health care but is in BMY and not PFE.

Brian Kelly said he likes BID for several reasons; it's high-end retail, "really good free cash flow" and has a dividend to watch.

Pete Najarian was merely lukewarmly enthused (if that), saying it "seems like a buy," but Pete doesn't know it well enough, so "I would stay on the sidelines."

The Fast Money daily DIS or HD recommendation requirement is satisfied by HD

We generally only like to say happy things about the hair situation on CNBC, but Tuesday Fast Money Halftime Report guest Michael Widner, knowing he was going up against Judge Wapner and Stephen Weiss, probably could've benefitted from a little gel.

Widner explained that "frankly I think they're all overvalued" in the housing sector he covers; "the bottom is probably behind us but the recovery is very choppy."

He thinks Lennar is priced to perfection, but he said he has thought that all quarter. Pete Najarian asked what would make him finally sign on to this bull rampage. Widner said, "I mean geez," apparently nothing, complaining it's expensive on every metric.

Stephen Weiss flat-out questioned, "I don't know why he doesn't have a sell rating."

Patty Edwards, who revealed in cyberspace she's the only one in the office pool who has Kansas winning the NCAA title (although maybe the cute gal who mentions sorority living, spoon collecting and being a Seahawks fan on the Trutina Web site also has a chance; by the way the Trutina site is one of the better ones you'll see in the business, for one reason it's a white background (you'd be surprised how many flub that standard) and for another the profiles of the particulars are relaxed and down to earth but very professional, superior to the Shelter Harbor site, which on the surface doesn't look bad but features too-small type in which sloppy grammar extends to Brian Kelly's comma-needing bio "Mr. Kelly founded Brian Kelly Capital an investment advisory firm" and his co-founder's "He was also member of the ..." and spacing in "Capital,Mr." that almost sound like the writing was outsourced overseas), advised that in housing, "play it through Home Depot frankly."

Edwards, discussing the Safeway pension issue, cautioned that these things "can be a very big headwind."

Pete Najarian said Herb Greenberg probably loves the action in Apollo, but "at some point in time" Pete would step into the stock, just not now.

Stephen Weiss insisted he's right about steel; "I'm very happy being short that" as well as coal.

Willie Williams said he's buying dollar/swiss at .9025. Patty Edwards summarized DECK as, "I just don't like it."

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was to buy QCOM. Pete Najarian said once again of MOS, "it's goin' a lot higher." Patty Edwards, in what we think is a first, recommended a "half position" for a Final Trade, in PVH.

[Monday, March 26, 2012]

Brian Kelly compliments AIG, not realizing how high Jon Najarian’s bailout standards are

Melissa Lee on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money brought up a Jim Cramer interview with AIG's Robert Benmosche, who mentioned a $5 billion return on a $130 billion bailout, and asked Brian Kelly for his opinion.

"Although it's not a great return," Kelly said, it's "great news for America ... Well done, and well done, Ben Bernanke."

But before anyone could launch into high-fiving, Jon Najarian asserted that if he gave anyone $130 billion to invest at the very bottom, and the return they could come up with was $5 billion, "I'd call you a fool and a bad money manager."

"That would be the worst trade in history," Najarian said twice.

That prompted Kelly to clarify that, if he had produced said returns for his clients, "I'd be fired."

Guy Adami said the risk associated with it was "astronomical."

Joe Terranova said, all that aside, that if you look at the AIG chart, "It does look like it's poised to move to the upside."

The Fast Money daily recommendation of HD and/or DIS is satisfied in housing chat

Up until a couple weeks ago, you could barely go 15 minutes on Fast Money without someone hailing the bottoming of the housing market.

Diana Olick on Monday's 5 p.m. edition showed off her great bod doused that housing's-cured notion from several angles, claiming, "Let's face it, this market is running on investors buying foreclosures and short sales with cash. That's really what it is."

Cancellations of existing homes are high, mortgage rates are climbing, first-time homebuyers aren't jumping in, distressed sales dominate the Western part of the country, etc., Olick said.

Jon Najarian tried to argue that it's too early in the spring (March-April-May) to know for sure. Olick said the warmer winter might've front-loaded some purchases, which wouldn't be a good sign for spring.

Melissa Lee asked her panel to "connect the dots." Guy Adami said the trade in this space remains HD. Joe Terranova said AWI and MHK are housing-related plays worth a look.

Scott Nations said he can sleep at night in the homebuilder space by buying a June 22 call in the XHB for 85 cents. Jon Najarian recommended SCSS for sleeping well.

Guy Adami calls Peter Schiff
‘a polarizing figure’

Melissa Lee's notes for the Peter Schiff interview on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money apparently needed some work.

Lee told Schiff he supposedly thinks low rates are causing another housing bubble. Schiff said he doesn't think they're causing a housing bubble, but thwarting the recovery by masking inflation.

Schiff, who called Ben S. Bernanke "Public Enemy No. 1," said the appearance of stock prices going up is "a delusion created by the Fed." He added, "Inflation is a much bigger problem than the CPI numbers show," and said the Fed didn't ask banks to stress-test a plunge in Treasurys.

Mel Lee clumsily started to say "Peter's views are probably at the more extreme end-"

Guy Adami cut in, saying, "His points are spot on. Now Pete would admit he's a polarizing figure," and that nobody wants to hear them.

Dr. J said he disagrees with Schiff that we could have another 2008 or worse, but did concede that when the music stops in the Treasury market, those who piled in at the end, "They will hurt a lot."

The Great Pullback of 2012 — the watched pot that hasn’t boiled

Brian Kelly assessed Monday's stock market rally on the 5 p.m. edition of Fast Money with perhaps less than usual enthusiasm.

"The market went up because it is programmed" to do so, Kelly said, whenever Ben S. Bernanke makes such comments.

Joe Terranova called it a "classic window-dressing-type environment." Jon Najarian said he thinks there's a lot of chasing going on, though primarily by hedge funds as opposed to mutual funds.

Guy Adami mocked those who doubt the activity level, saying, "The volume argument, I mean I think we've sort of gotten past that."

Joe Terranova once again leads the league in item count

In a 5 p.m. Fast Money on Monday that was remarkably devoid of much banking (as well as AAPL) conversation, Joe Terranova noted that GS and MS have been hitting stride.

Brian Kelly concurred. "I actually bought Morgan Stanley today," Kelly said.

But Scott Nations noted one potential cloud on the horizon (and we don't mean Rackspace). "Bank of America did not close above 10 bucks," Nations said. Nevertheless, he added, "Last week everybody was a little sick to the stomach, you know, now everything is great."

Guy Adami wouldn't say "benign tape" on Monday, but he did say "bad tapes" and "strong tapes" in referring to how V and MA seem to always do well regardless.

Joe Terranova once again laid out a stream of stocks to think about — and of course the show is about getting a trade and so that would seem to be ideal, except when so many stocks appear interesting, it's kinda like that "team with 2 starting quarterbacks is a team with no starting quarterbacks" theory — starting with ORIT, CSTR, BWLD and LNG.

He would add that he's long IBM, likes EMC, and "at the end of the day," people have to look at earnings for the next catalyst.

He said OXY is the only name he is long in the oil space. Jon Najarian pointed to MPC as going gangbusters (although the chart guy showed MRO), and also named WLL and OAS.

Upgraded AAPL price targets are given the day off Monday

As the "Fast Money Portfolio" feature further melds the former Strategy Session into the current Fast Money, guest Sachin Shah on Monday's 5 p.m. edition said he likes Jaguar Mining (JAG) with quite a remarkable risk reward.

Shah sees maybe 40-50 cents of downside, but "potentially double digits if there is a deal."

Shah also said that in general, "special dividends are coming out fast and furious."

Brian Kelly at one point explained he has been doing analysis about companies generating a lot of free cash flow and has found about 10 plays in the future-dividend category. Scott Nations said a dividend boost in a name such as MCK wouldn't be nearly as surprising as a company like DELL going from 0% to something.

Money in Motion fox Rebecca Patterson, paying a visit to the set, recommended buying the Canadian dollar vs. the yen at 83.50.

Melissa Lee allowed guest Stacy Rasgon to deliver a treatise on the differences between cellular 4G and indoor wi-fi networks 5G, and we hardly absorbed for a moment what he said (but that's OK, because Mel indicated she wouldn't remember it either), but he apparently thinks Qualcomm (more into cellular) and Broadcom (more into wi-fi) both have room to grow, though we think he likes Qualcomm more.

Scott Nations' Final Trade was, qualified as in the wi-fi space, BRCM. Jon Najarian said HES, Guy Adami said HUN, Brian Kelly said RF, and Joe Terranova said POT.

Peter Schiff is scheduled to be on 5 p.m. show; wonder what he’ll say about gold

The biggest winner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report appeared to be gold.

Jon Najarian asserted that in the wake of Ben S. Bernanke's comments, "gold is the No. 1 pick."

Steve Grasso said, "You wanna be buying gold on all these dips."

Joe Terranova, meanwhile, was pointing to small caps, calling them a "great source of opportunity" and highlighting Coinstar.

Josh Brown said there's window-dressing going on, he's not convinced by the Russell and that he'd probably be lightening up by the end of the week.

Kate Kelly, citing speculators' crude positions, said some traders are talking about $200 Brent within 12 months. Joe Terranova said you can't use the terminology "crowded trade" in oil futures, and warned that HFT in oil trading is "not being discussed nearly enough."

Weiss: Fords similar
to Japanese cars

Guest James Marsh on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report called the $155 million for "Hunger Games" a "huge number," and says LGF is his favorite of his coverage universe.

Whereas DreamWorks is trying to catch lightning in a bottle in a sequel-capable search, LGF had done the equivalent of "hitting the lottery 4 times."

Stephen Weiss dialed in the Fast Line to recommend Ford, saying, "the quality of their cars is similar to what we always looked for in the Japanese cars."

Joe Terranova touted ORIT in what is likely its first-ever Fast Money mention.

Steve Grasso, though, was skeptical on banks; "I think you gotta lock in a lot of the profits in the financials." Grasso also said, "I'd rather be a shorter of the refiners."

Terranova pointed to EMC, which he said never gets mentioned on the show, which is basically true. He admitted, owning Léo Inc., that he "messed up on HPQ before earnings."

Jon Najarian reported in the options markets "several large prints in Micron," as well as people buying up the weeklies in MOS.

Mark Mahaney said AMZN margins are very close to troughing and that the Kindle Fire 2 is in a great space. Mahaney said a GOOG dividend is "unlikely near term," but he likes the stock, but cautioned, "Don't buy Google for Google+." Mahaney said Josh Brown asked a "great question" about how long there will exist a disparity between new Internet multiples and old ones but said it's a "multi-year trend" of coming down.

Yet again, Dennis Gartman owns gold in a currency that is underperforming

Dennis Gartman, dealing with a cold, dialed into the Fast Money Halftime Report on Monday to explain why he got back into gold. "It was apparent to me that the trend was still up ... I own gold in yen terms ... I kept my powder dry; I came back in."

Jon Najarian asked Gartman if GLD, which tends to be a buy below 160, will get into the mid-$160s. Gartman lamented that "making targets usually makes you look rather foolish" but, while coughing, would only say "the trend still is up."

"Sounds like you should own gold in Sudafed terms," said Steve Grasso.

Steve Grasso's Final Trade was GDX, Josh Brown said PAY, Dr. J said buy MOS calls, and Joe Terranova said ORLY.

[Friday, March 23, 2012]

Charles Schwab Corp. quick to assure it’s not relying on opinions of day-traders

Randy Frederick of Charles Schwab guested on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to discuss the results of Schwab's investor sentiment survey, only to admit, "I don't know what it means."

Frederick said one conclusion of the heightened bullishness is that the result is "based more on what the market has already done rather than what it may be about to do."

He said it could reflect savvy traders being shaken up by Greece-related shocks last summer/fall.

Patty Edwards had the question of the day, suggesting the survey might be more reflective of day-traders. Frederick was quick to dismiss that, saying first it's "not necessarily day-traders," then later "we're not talking primarily day-traders," then finally "definitely not day-traders," but rather experienced traders who make 36 trades a year and are "more sophisticated, who are probably watching CNBC every day," but admittedly it's not mom-and-pop types.

Patty Edwards implies today’s AAPL maybe isn’t a ‘quality’ stock

Every 2 years, you can get AAPL $50 cheaper than the previous close.

The Fast Money Halftime gang, trying to deal with breaking news of the BATS meltdown and AAPL Flash Crash, generally resorted to the old standbys ("high-frequency trading sucks" ... "this is why you need humans in the process") while NYSE floor reporter Bob Pisani tried to figure out what was going on.

"Somehow the system got overloaded," Pisani said, while Judge Wapner noted the "tremendous embarrassment" for BATS on IPO day.

Pisani said they were all trying to be fair in their commentary, but Steve Grasso revealed, "I actually don't have to be fair ... this is a reason why you want human beings in the line of sale here."

Pisani noted the now-famous AAPL print of $542.80; "that trade will be canceled of course."

That led to Patty Edwards uncorking this head-scratcher, "When you see something print so far down, be it Apple, be it BATS, um, you have to be looking more toward the quality stocks I think."

Judge questioned how a stock gets to be more high-quality than Apple. Edwards curiously responded, "it is high-quality, but it is high-quality that has run very very far." Stephen Weiss rejected the notion of this tainting AAPL in any way, calling it a "very very innocent bystander."

The daily Fast Money
DIS-or-HD recommendation goes Friday to HD

Dan Dicker, whose Mercbloc Web site actually describes Mercbloc as "Wealth Management Solutions" (and not hot oil-trading tips), guested on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to talk about wealth management oil's outlook, saying there are "supply shocks beginning to filter into the market," but that "the sanctions are really working" in Iran, which would presumably lower the odds of a military strike, and so he's "actually a little bit bearish here."

Joe Terranova said he covered his gold and silver shorts. Steve Grasso said there's no breakthrough anywhere in the U.S. debit situation, so buying gold dips is probably smart.

Guest Jack Micenko said KBH and other homebuilders are due for a fall; "considerable disconnect between where the stocks are currently valued across the industry and where, where housing recovery stands." He said KBH has specific problems, including "trying to preserve margin." (This writer is long KBH.)

Steve Grasso said the reaction of other homebuilders to KBH "makes me think that it is just a 1-off," or we would've seen more damage.

Patty Edwards said, "If I was going to be in the space at all I would be in Home Depot," partly because if people are rehabbing foreclosures, "that's $6,800 a house," which is an upgrade from Edwards' $5,700 cost on Dec. 29, 2009 and $5,200 level on April 26, 2010.

He initially said ‘3rd inning,’ then changed to 5th

Guest Gerard Cassidy said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the worst is over for FICC, that Q1 results will be "quite a bit better than the 4th quarter" but not like last year's Q1.

Cassidy told Joe Terranova that in the past you might've just picked GS or MS for a capital-markets recovery, but this time he would prefer JPM and C because they get capital markets plus credit recovery, which we're in the "5th inning" of.

Mike Murphy dialed in the Fast Line to say he covered that ridiculous WHR short "we're buying KKR today," because of the "great dividend" and potential for growth; you get "paid handomsely to be in this stock." Judge, as per his usual fascination, hailed what the stock did while Murphy spoke.

Patty Edwards, who despite chic new glam look in red leather jacket spent seemingly the entire program explaining how she's not in certain spaces but if she were, she'd buy so-and-so, said she gets what Murphy is thinking but "I personally am using BlackRock Kelso (BKCC)," whic is "more middle markets."

Patty finds a stock less buyable than LNKD

Joe Terranova took a moment on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to tout an under-the-radar coffee name, PEET, recommending buying it on a pullback.

Patty Edwards said (yep) she's not interested in the MWW space, but if she had to be, "I'd actually buy LinkedIn instead."

Patty warned that while CLNE does seem to be in the right place at the right time, there has been recent insider selling. Stephen Weiss said Navistar is a good play on the same concept.

Weiss said that in the wake of MU's selloff, "I took the opportunity to load up on SanDisk."

Ken Sena, who has an overweight on GOOG with a price target of $760, said Android needs a more convenient system for buying apps.

Judge took a moment to dig the JPM hire who claimed he got screwed by the misplaced decimal point in his salary offer. Steve Grasso couldn't resist a dig at the competition; "he's the guy who actually developed BATS' infrastructure."

George Davis said to buy the British pound vs. yen at 127.50, with a target of 137.

Patty Edwards' Final Trade was CBI (not tunnel, a week-old inside joke that never really got off the ground but somehow achieved show cachet). Joe Terranova said CHTR, Stephen Weiss said he's pressing his X short, and Steve Grasso said (yep, the BATS play) NYX.

[Thursday, March 22, 2012]

Thursday’s Fast Money star guest tells viewers not to trust his trades; ‘if I’m doing it, it’s probably the wrong timing’

Jim Rogers woke up early to be a guest on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, but any actual trades he had were still sound asleep.

Rogers said China's been trying to tame its property bubble for years, and if that happens, Chinese stocks will be a huge buy, and it'll be "good for China, it'll be good for the world."

He said, "Right now I'm short emerging markets stocks as a potential hedge."

Melissa Lee teased Rogers' hot new investment spot, Myanmar, over a commercial break, but Rogers explained that Americans aren't allowed to invest there, and so "there's nothing I can do right now except wait and watch and hope."

Rogers told Lee he has shorted long-term U.S. government bonds but said his timing isn't always perfect. He said if gold gets under $1,600, he'll buy some more, and he hopes he definitely would be buying around $1,200 or $1,300.

Anthony Scaramucci actually opened the program saying the Chinese government is supporting bankrupt companies to prevent job loss and unrest, and "I do think when this thing blows, it's gonna be very, very nasty."

We’ve gotta think if rates start surging, there will be much bigger concerns than Pitney Bowes

Doug Kass was given extraordinary latitude on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to explain his multiple winners/losers in a higher-rate scenario, and at some point he came full circle to the point we were hopelessly lost.

We found it curious that Kass said, "We're gonna see a flight to safety in bonds, and that will, that will be the major factor that contributes to a rate rise."

He said banks would be the biggest winners, but he'd avoid them, apparently because he doesn't think rates will rise because of a vigorous recovery, but actually those with large debt/equity ratios will be the biggest losers of rising rates.

Just to make sure we weren't going loopy, we found that the official CNBC.com summary of Kass' comments indicates he said what we think he said.

Herb Greenberg pointed out the debacle of the TVIX, which he said is happening because it's tied to VIX futures, not the VIX. Keith McCullough said the activity is a "bit of a canary in the coal mine."

McCullough: We’re due

Keith McCullough, skeptical of this market for a while, went to the well again on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, insisting "we're definitely due for a correction" and that 1,375 is the key level.

The graphic showed McCullough's positions as long XLU, short SPY, short XLI and XLY.

Guest Michael Harris, though, said that all the uptrends — 1-year, 3-month and 1-month — are intact and going the right direction (guess that's why they're called uptrends), and that there's support at 1,347.

McCullough asked Harris how that squares with "energy getting smoked," basic materials making a high on Feb. 3, and the fact the charts last year looked equally good at this time but "everybody got killed."

"I think you need to focus on energy," Harris said, explaining traders might not really want to go long crude here, but definitely don't want to be short.

Guy Adami said a "lot of people" are tempted to sell puts here, but he advised against it.

Joe LaVorgna said the only fear out of Europe now for U.S. stocks is a "systemic financial crisis," and as for China, "I would argue we've already decoupled."

Fast Money’s daily HD-or-DIS
recommendation is HD

Guy Adami said on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that he won't recommend shorting NKE but does think this is a good time to take profits.

Joe Terranova cited Foot Locker and Adidas as others that are working.

Adami conceded, when hailing Home Depot again, "Now you say I talk about it all the time" (unclear who he meant by "you"), but that it remains the place to be; "I believe we are in the sweet spot for Home Depot."

Keith McCullough refreshingly took the other side of Tim Seymour's tiresome pro-FCX that looks daily like a Mickey Gilley Trade (Here Comes the Hurt Again), recommending short FCX for his Final Trade. Guy Adami said CHD, Anthony Scaramucci said long JNJ and Joe Terranova said the little-mentioned HIBB.

Day 2 of the ‘generational’ opportunity to buy stocks

With apparently little to talk about, the Fast Money Halftime Report beat the China (non-)story to death on Thursday, even acknowledging as much when Pete Najarian said early, "I don't see the big concern over China at this point" and Brian Kelly asserted, "Buying opportunity — that's what this is."

Guest Stephen Roach said the rest of the world would love to have China's slower numbers. Kelly asked, using one of Fast Money's most popular redundancies, "Do they need to ease more at this point in time?" Roach assured the country has "plenty of firepower to spend if they need to."

Pete Najarian apparently lives near Roach, saying, "by the way, hi neighbor."

Steve Cortes dialed in the Fast Line and said, "To be frank I couldn't disagree more, uh, with what Stephen Roach is saying," pointing out the FXI is at its level of mid-2009 and rejecting the notion the U.S. can decouple. Judge Wapner said, "cutting to the chase," Cortes is adding to his Caterpillar short.

As if that weren't enough, longtime China bull John Rutledge — traditionally a Larry Kudlow guest, as Fast Money continues branching into other typical CNBC formats — also came on the program, with star billing, to lament that "Western investors decide that China is gonna crash and burn about once every 3 months, and then a number comes out and convinces them otherwise."

Rutledge said investing directly in Chinese stocks is too dicey, so, "I like to do it through bank shots," including materials and technology companies. He thinks RIO, BHP and FCX are interesting, and he likes Asia plays EWY, EPP and EWS.

Stephanie Link gushed about CMI, hoping it gets hit so she can buy it. Pete Najarian trumpeted SCCO.

Link said that financials in general are appealing now because "you don't have to worry about China," and mentioned Cooper and Ingersoll Rand, but it wasn't clear if she was calling them buys or calling them sells.

David Greenberg cites anecdotal evidence as to why his gasoline comment of a few years ago was spot-on

Guest David Greenberg said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report not to expect gasoline to plummet overnight because of the Keystone Pipeline; "this is going to take years to get done."

Helpfully, Greenberg said there's $10-$15 of risk premium in the price of crude.

Greenberg was asked when demand destruction will kick in. Greenberg said that's an interesting question, because "a few years ago" he said in a CNBC interview that it would happen at $4. Apparently confirming that, Greenberg revealed, "I've spoken to many people, that their plans are altered."

Steve Grasso said if WTI and Brent narrow it'll mark a peaking of the refiners.

Traders seem more excited about LGF than Evercore researcher does

Steve Grasso said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that no matter what you've heard about China, "Today's not the day to panic," and the key level is 1,370 in the S&P.

Guest Alan Gould said LGF is doing great but is simply overheating on "Hunger Games," the stock "got a little extended," Gould said, and over $15 there can't be much left.

Steve Grasso tried to get Gould to put LGF in the big leagues of Hollywood players, but Gould wasn't so effusive, saying, "not quite sure I'm gonna call them a major."

Brian Kelly called LGF "absolutely a buy on a pullback."

Todd Gordon, meanwhile, said "I wanna be long yen," and his trade is short Aussie/yen at 85.90.

Flash: PCLN doing well

While much (aside from Steve Cortes) of Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report was about reassuring viewers that China is OK, Andy Barish was doing the same regarding MCD's new CEO but seeing the stock in a "trading range" and saying it has felt some headwinds from Europe, and has "no real blockbuster products on the horizon."

Pete Najarian asked rhetorically that if the growth isn't in MCD, where will it be, and his suggested answer was SBUX. Steve Grasso touted DRI.

Jon Fortt commented on a Piper Jaffray analyst's call that PCLN could reach $1,000 in 2 years (talk about an earth-shattering view), saying the tailwinds are growing global Internet connectivity including with mobile devices, and a surging middle class in emerging markets.

Stephanie Link wasn't terribly excited about PCLN, saying she's skeptical of its emerging markets focus.

Guest Taposh Bari said the NKE story should continue after earnings, saying there is China risk but that currency headwinds are priced in. Pete Najarian said he'd like to buy, but it's "priced to perfection" and he wants a pullback.

Steve Grasso's Final Trade was AMZN, Brian Kelly said SMH, Stephanie Link said URI and Pete Najarian hailed BIDU.

[Wednesday, March 21, 2012]

Jeff Kronthal suggests
Goldman Sachs ‘generation’ outlook buried the lede

Somehow, when Fast Money isn't loading up on every other AAPL analyst to celebrate his/her updated price target, the show has managed to start bringing in some Wall Street A-listers who are actually known for their investment street cred rather than TV appearances and who once used to populate the Fast Money Halftime Report's lead-in, The Strategy Session.

There was Lee Cooperman, Howard Marks, Jeff Gundlach, Marvin Schwartz, Kyle Bass (there was also Herb Greenberg and that guy who Herb said was running a so-called analyst firm that was promoting some kind of Chinese reverse-mergers but that's neither here nor there), and others, and one regular happened to be Jeff Kronthal, who made on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show what had to be his first Fast Money appearance.

And, quite frankly, Kronthal's suggestions — that "loans have become very, very cheap to bonds," and "BBB structured products" including CLOs and CMBSes look appealing — may not exactly have been right up the typical Fast Money trader's alley.

Kronthal said the Goldman Sachs "generation" thesis makes a "very good argument long-term" for equities, but it's the "last page" of the report that he considers most important, a projected 2010-2019 annual growth rate of 4.3% globally. "I really struggle with that assumption," Kronthal said.

That 1 2 4-year chart of UNG
is quite a short

Josh Brown's book is sounding interesting, even if the topic covered on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money has been mentioned in bits and pieces on the show before.

Brown said the investing public has been "over-ETF'ed uh really for years now," and there's "a little bit of bewilderment," but basically he much prefers owning stocks over ETNs, which he said are based on the creditworthiness of the issuers as opposed to real assets.

Brown specifically denounced the UNG, calling it "uninvestable," and with others on the panel noting that anything involving rolling futures contracts isn't going to reflect the true value of the asset it's supposed to reflect and costs holders in the end, with fees that are found on "Page 180 of the prospectus."

Tim Seymour used the presentation as an opportunity to say, buy Freeport.

It’s a light show when one of the most prominent trades mentioned is selling an ANF upside call

Darren Rovell, already on top of the Tim Tebow/New Orleans Saints news (yep, suspending a general manager for 8 games really deals a blow to a team's chances of winning; wonder if the starting quarterback will be benched for 6 games), got another hit on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money when he was called upon to present the latest Starbucks venture, the Refreshers energy drink.

Rovell did show an interesting chart saying bottled water growth is low, beer is better, but energy drinks have significant growth rates. But he said Starbucks won't stick with a loser; "you're gonna know right away whether this works or not."

Guest Sara Senatore said for the launch to be successful it would be something like Via. She told Josh Brown that "Starbucks is accretive to the market" and would attract people who aren't already drinking what's available.

Paul Hickey visited the Nasdaq to talk about earnings revisions; the gist (we think) was that there have been more positive upgrades, but Hickey also noted, "only 9 days this year have we seen more upgrades than downgrades," so to be honest we don't really know what the heck he was talking about or why it matters to anything.

Mike Khouw said, unlike some others, he actually likes the idea of a Google dividend. Brian Kelly said what's weak about it is that the company's deciding "there are no other better investments out there."

Khouw said there's a "lot less volatility" now in XLF. He had a trade, though, in ANF, recommending people long the stock sell the May 55 call for $2.55.

Brian Kelly got to crow a bit about USG, noting the big recent gain but insisting, "all the fundamentals still hold."

Khouw's Final Trade was to sell ANF calls, a crutch used by Fast Money panelists when they don't have many ideas so they just repeat trades already suggested during the show. Tim Seymour at least veered away from FCX for a few moments to return to an old favorite, Vimpelcomm. Josh Brown said PAY, Brian Kelly said MHK, and Pete Najarian said BMC.

Guest: Keystone Pipeline is really about raising gas prices

Guest Phil Verleger unveiled an interesting analysis on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, saying that the Keystone pipeline is actually a Canadian plan to boost the price of Calgary oil borne by U.S. consumers up to $5 billion, and that the result will just be equal or higher gas prices in parts of the U.S. as exist now.

Given all day to talk with little interruption from Mel Lee, Verleger detailed a lot of facts (or suppositions) about U.S. oil infrastructure, but eventually Pete Najarian grew weary and asked for a trade based on this. Verleger said he's an economist, and the last thing anyone should do is take stock tips from him.

Tim Seymour actually claimed Exxon was "so far ahead" in buying XTO. Pete Najarian winced a bit and said he did like the deal but thinks they could've gotten it cheaper. (Our favorite is the Paul Sankey notion that XOM was really paying that much for the purpose of hiring some quality engineers.)

Tim Seymour said there's an opportunity in the Baker Hughes selloff.

More from Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money later.

Joe Terranova apparently has had enough of Steve Cortes’ economic worldview

It's the "generation" thing again.

You'd think Goldman Sachs would be above typical stock hucksterism (although then again, if you've been reading recent NYT op-eds, maybe not), but evidently no, as Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report opened with strategist Peter Oppenheimer's claim that prospects for equity returns are "as good as they have been in a generation."

That is a little more innocuous actually than the CNBC screen text, which said, "once in a generation to buy stocks."

You can buy stocks almost every weekday of the year, from 9:30 to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

"It can be a good call if equities continue to rise," said Joe Terranova, in something of an understatement.

Steve Cortes said it's all hogwash, that the historical performance of stocks is distorted by the massive 1982-2007 rally that wasn't even because of fundamentals, but "because of demographics," and that the bond rally is set to have a "resurgence," and by the way, equity proponents have tried to have it both ways with interest rates, they say stocks will go up because rates are low, then that stocks will go up because rates are rising.

Joe Terranova, weary of this bearish thesis, felt compelled to go on the offensive, asking Cortes how much longer he can play that "not credible" thesis.

Cortes demanded to know "which thesis" Terranova was talking about.

Terranova said it's the thesis that stock could "fall apart on a moment's notice." Cortes insisted he's not saying that, that he's been "very balanced" in his positions. Terranova asked do you buy the stock rally here or not. Cortes said he thinks you buy bonds now. Terranova asked if that means Cortes is out of equities. Cortes said no, "I'm both long and short of equities." Steve Grasso equities are the "better bet" here because you can get yield out of stocks and not just bonds. Brian Stutland said stocks' P.E. now looks "really good."

Cortes is certainly right about the 1982-2007 but he didn't go far enough. Demographics are only half the story; the other half is the onset of the 401(k), which suddenly locked millions of workers who don't know the difference between Joy Global and MF Global into playing the stock market, with automatic biweekly contributions that became money they essentially couldn't remove, contributed under basically one Wall Street/financial planning industry (unofficial) promise that you still hear today from many financial advisers, that the only risk is quitting too soon; as long as you keep your money in it long enough you'll come out ahead. Kinda like what would happen to Lululemon shares if, on top of the existing core marketplace, every Tim Seymour and Brian Kelly and JJ Kinahan in the country were suddenly compelled to drop by every other Friday and pick up some extra yogawear to invest in their future body-shaping.

Surely we’ll be hearing from Karen Finerman about the unbelievably cheap valuation

Rob Cihra delivered a refreshingly blunt and frank assessment of HPQ, which — and nobody bothered to mention this — actually sort of validates Léo Apotheker, who instead of being handed an Apple Computer circa 1999 probably was getting more like a Sperry/Burroughs 1986 (gotta love that Halftime reference on Monday), and also suggests that the furious pro-Meg rally last fall was totally bogus.

Anyway, Cihra said the PC/printer consolidation is "kind of a meaningless move," and at one point noted that if HPQ wants to be the next IBM, it hasn't really started with that transformation, whereas IBM got started at least a decade ago.

Steve Grasso, in a bit of a clumsy exchange involving Research in Motion, asked Cihra if there's a "lifeboat" for HPQ. Cihra said it could be considered a little bit like RIMM, one risk being that it's had so much market share that really the only place for it to go is down.

Cihra also said he doesn't dislike Dell as much as HPQ, but he thinks there are better plays.

Judge Wapner asked Joe Terranova about caving on his previous HPQ long. Hey, "I'm happy I got out," Terranova said.

Kilburg buys USO

10-year Treasury fan Jeff Kilburg didn't tackle that subject on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report but did say "Kudos to Dan Dicker" for his Iranian-oil remarks recently, and Kilburg explained that he "bought 2 units at 40.46" in the USO while he continues to be bullish.

Kate Kelly, in a slightly chancy new hairstyle (as chancy as Sue Herera's green top) (that's not to say they worked or didn't work; depends on your point of view) said that talk of an SPR release is sounding like "electionomics," which Kelly defined as "political talk without much depth to it."

Guest Richard Garchitorena said things are looking up for FCX because the Grasberg headwind is lifting; "those issues are behind them." Steve Cortes asked about FCX underperforming the S&P while copper is flat. "I think that's an interesting question," Garchitorena complimented, saying the correlation of FCX to copper went from .9 to .7 since Grasberg. Garchitorena said he also likes Reliant Steel.

Peter Nesvold spoke about FDX and UPS, though his most telling comment was at the end, on EXPD, saying that is "hands-down" his top pick while he only has holds on FDX and UPS. He said FDX experiences a 6-week lag in passing on fuel prices. He also said that TNT is a better purchase for UPS than FDX, and, displaying excellent aptitude with Fast Money cliches, added, "UPS struck a great deal."

Steve Grasso undid yesterday's Final Trade of CHK (we think that's a first) and said he actually prefers CRZO now.

‘Starbucks is in the business of selling coffee’

Steve Cortes said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that he likes being long GS while shorting DB, which he did Wednesday morning. He also said 2 favorite China shorts, YOKU and FXI, are now oversold.

He said, "I think JO is extremely oversold," but that SBUX has become "insanely overbought."

Herb Greenberg wasn't impressed by Green Mountain's lift, saying the SBUX deal has a "decaffeinated punch to it" and adding the qualifier, "Starbucks is in the business of selling coffee."

Basically, as for the economics of the deal, "we don't know," Greenberg said.

Brian Stutland recommended Google Flights; "that thing is awesome."

Steve Grasso said you can "still be a buyer of Lions Gate."

Brian Stutland's Final Trade was to buy TSO. Steve Grasso actually said FCX, and Steve Cortes actually said to buy UNG (take a look at that chart as a 4-year short). Joe Terranova said to short gold.

[Tuesday, March 20, 2012]

‘Benign’ tape doldrums

If Guy Adami hadn't come through with a "benign" tape at the top of Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, we're not sure what we could've hung a headline on. ("Michael Burns uses football analogy during basketball season to describe dystopian movie expectations.")

Basically the Fast Money gang is in wait-for-the-correction mode, with nobody (save for Pete Najarian on banks) really advising anyone to plunge into anything right now, unless it's Tim Seymour's curiouser-by-the-day treatment of FCX.

Guy Adami made the shocking statement Tuesday that Oracle is worth a look in a "benign" tape, although Tim Seymour countered that he sees no reason to rush in now, and Steve Grasso said he'd rather be in MSFT than ORCL.

Guy Adami did suggest that RHT could see a run-up into earnings. Tim Seymour said of HPQ, "This is value territory in the extreme sense."

Fed up with ‘Hunger Games’

Lions Gate chief Michael Burns, quite the friend of Fast Money (who at least can boast the accomplishment of apparently getting Carl Icahn off his back), visited the Nasdaq on Tuesday to mostly talk about Jon Hamm (although admittedly, Fast Money one-upped this site in comparing Hamm to Steve Grasso, a celebrity resemblance we hadn't considered before) but set the expectations for "Hunger Games" as low as possible. "I don't wanna be the guy that's on the 5-yard line spiking the football before he gets in the end zone," Burns said.

Basically if you haven't read the books (hands going up around here), you're already sick of hearing about this; if it's equivalent to "Avatar," that would be a push, and if it's more like Angie's "Salt" (that's another grad of the Karen Finerman/Peter Schiff high school), we're talking bust.

Jones Lang LaSalle chief Colin Dyer looked like he was auditioning for one of Michael Burns' movies, offering a series of expressions for the camera while making a fine, if somewhat generic, case for commercial real estate. "The U.S. market feels like a pretty good place to be investing," Dyer said.

Joseph Chen got a Skype-caliber feed in speaking with Melissa Lee, actually saying that the Chinese social media market is one of the most competitive in the world (and Steve Cortes thinks it's a centrally planned economy). Tim Seymour said, "I'd go with Sohu."

Steve Miller vs. Woody

JEF is one of those stocks that the Fast Money gang mostly missed; a stock that moved around violently last fall as rumors swirled, which meant it was either overpriced or underpriced, providing an ideal opportunity for a trade.

Unbeknownst to this site until Tuesday, the stock has been on fire since November (although that doesn't make it much different than BAC, but still...), but Guy Adami indicated on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to take the money and run. "I would stay away," after the run the stock's had, Adami said. "I'd be taking profits."

Greg Zuckerman said in a guest appearance that private equity will be looking to make deals, perhaps in the health-care space, but "it won't be just they who do deals."

Mike Khouw, with about 11 seconds to talk, recommended buying the May 77.50 put in UPS for $1.25.

Khouw's Final Trade was to catch the falling dagger in BTU. Tim Seymour (for the umpteenth time) said FCX (who knows, maybe 40 is within the realm of possibility). Guy Adami said BX, Steve Grasso said CHK and Brian Kelly said INTC.

Speaking of taking the money and run, we wondered if Steve Miller was indeed the creative genius who coined the phrase. Yes, he did write the song, in 1976, but no, it was the title of a Woody Allen mockumentary in 1969, actually the first film he directed, that we'd never heard of. Where the phrase originated before that, we don't know.

Sounded like ‘Shawn’ Wu

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, an excellent guest host, was nevertheless having a bit of trouble with the regulars on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report when it came to pronouncing the name of Shaw Wu.

Anyway, Wu didn't have a whole lot to offer except CNBC's Obligatory Analyst Interview About Apple's Price Target, citing 3 catalysts for his upgrade, the (yep) new iPad, the (check) iPhone 5, and then one you only hear about 1/3 of the time, "China Mobile."

Despite the company's huge success, "They still have very little share."

Just after this page questioned how pro traders would find AAPL, of all the stocks in the world, the best to short, Steve Cortes revealed Tuesday, "I am short it," at $595, that it's actually been kind of boring, but he did it "for technical reasons" and he does indeed think it "makes risk/reward sense here."

Josh Brown wasn't too impressed, saying, "Maybe he scalps 10 or 15 points," but the stock "has not given you a reason" to short it.

Brown, who like most Fast Money regulars got to tout his book and probably will do so for days, said the key to identifying a collapsing stock such as FSLR is to notice "when the buyers vanish at a point where they've typically come in."

The China Syndrome is still playing at Steve Cortes’ Regal Theater

Joy Global managed on Tuesday to fall smack into the middle of another staple of Fast Money Halftime Report Cliches — the China slowing/not slowing story.

It started with Josh Brown explaining, "We've been studiously avoiding anything that's got a heavy China bent," such as iron ore and coal, while Zach Karabell took the other side and suggested he and Brown "caucus" after the show. "Iron ore globally is gonna double in consumption by 2020," Karabell said.

"Zach you can buy them all cheaper this summer I promise," Brown insisted.

Patty Edwards rattled off consumer names that she said will still work, SBUX, MCD, YUM, PMI.

But then Steve Cortes, with "Hangover"-esque open collar, weighed in, insisting, "There is new news on China, and that is the fact that the data has deteriorated so significantly lately."

All of that set the stage for Mike Murphy to dial in the Fast Line and announce he has covered his useless WHR short to announce he just bought JOY "around" $75.30; "We saw the opportunity this morning and pounced on it."

Zach Karabell said he has been buying JOY as well. Josh Brown not surprisingly balked, saying the chart is breaking down, and so, "Why would I even look at these?"

Murphy told guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera he would be wrong if there's a "hard landing" in China. Steve Cortes reasserted, "I think we're in the early stages of the China unwind."

But Patty Edwards countered, citing WLT, "these stocks have reflected that already," and "it looks like it's been priced in at this point."

Later, Dan Dicker tried to put the final clamps on Cortes' thesis. "I don't buy the Chinese hard-landing theory," Dicker said, adding that he's inclined to pick up copper around 3.65 area. Dicker was asked to define "hard landing" and said it would be 2, 2½, but he doesn't see Cortes' theory, or the "Chanos Drop," materializing.

Steve Cortes does not think much of an ex-Goldman Sachs employee’s parting shot

No one was as bullish on banks on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report (in fact, the show was populated by 2 longtime skeptics, Zach Karabell and Patty Edwards) than Pete Najarian, who pointed to BAC's gains and said "I still think this trend is working to the upside in financials."

Najarian's Final Trade was that he's long C and long C calls.

Josh Brown says he wants to own only the elite banks, such as JPM, which is an early front-runner for Fast Money Call of the Year since Brown hung a $48 target on it just recently.

Steve Cortes actually made a long trade on this, taking a point by Ron Insana last week to a more successful conclusion, that not only was the anti-Goldman Sachs op-ed not a reason to sell the stock ... but might've been a buy. "I bought it last week in the fallout from that editorial. So I like being long Goldman Sachs and short disgruntled former ping-pong champions," Cortes crowed. Michelle Caruso-Cabrera chuckled, "I didn't know he played ping-pong."

Behind Jan Hatzius, Barclays traders practice their free-throw technique

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, in a standup interview (in a hallway) with Steve Liesman that was reminiscent of the early Strategy Session, declared, "The longer-term prospects for the country are, are very good."

In other words, no need to clamp down on that debt ceiling next time.

Jan Hatzius, who is not an unhappy Goldman Sachs employee, then told Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that "it's still a little more likely than not that you will get another round of, uh, of easing."

Zach Karabell asked Hatzius a tremendous question — whether there is a decided connection between low interest rates and corporate hiring. Hatzius said yes, somewhat tentatively, "I think so," that there is "a link between, uh, you know, easier financial conditions ... (and) economic activity."

Hatzius also elbowed ahead of Pete Najarian to answer Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's "awesome" question about Ben Bernanke.

Patty Edwards said she had "got into shorter-term bonds, taken some credit risk, that seems to be paying off at this point." (Edwards also suggested trying TAL instead of FRO "at this point," marking the 3rd time Tuesday she refreshingly only said "at this point" and did not add "in time"). Steve Cortes said, "I'm short the Australian dollar."

Evidently specialist activity at the NYSE was light Tuesday, or else the pros were just eager for the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

Fast Money viewers guaranteed to get a daily buy recommendation for either HD or DIS

Steve Cortes took a Fast Fire on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report for shorting homebuilders but insisted the "stocks are way ahead of themselves" and that single-family construction is lagging, as well as lumber being at a 6-week low.

Patty Edwards recommended HD. Zach Karabell said there's still going to be an "organic need to build new homes."

Patty Edwards wasn't high on TIF, saying, "all that glitters is not really gold," and that JWN is a "much cheaper stock."

Josh Brown said "Yum is the Facebook of selling fried chicken to Chinese people," which prompted chuckles from Pete Najarian.

Brown also revealed he "just put on a pretty sizable position in ConocoPhillips."

Pete Najarian refreshingly admitted his DRYS holding has been "very painful" (but at least he didn't fall for Dennis Gartman/Carter Worth recommending GNK at the peak).

Willie Williams said he would buy the dollar vs. the ZAR (that's the catchy name for the South African rand at 7.60.

Patty Edwards' Final Trade was buy KMP, Zach Karabell said to sell puts in OPEN, Steve Cortes said to sell autos, and Josh Brown said he was adding DEM, which is emerging markets with little China.

[Monday, March 19, 2012]

Did Kate Kelly actually think the Fast Money gang would cheer a BAC reverse split?

Kate Kelly, who seems like she's been gone since the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series (that was only a joke, but it has been a long time), burst back onto the CNBC scene on Monday in striking red frock, new hairstyle, and on the 5 p.m. Fast Money with an extremely (too) even-handed question about a purported BAC financial-monkeying discussion last year that we instantly knew wouldn't go anywhere with the Fast Money gang.

"I hate the 1-for-10 stock split," Karen Finerman flat-out declared.

Quite frankly, reverse splits are so ludicrous in this page's opinion that the government should even consider banning them, and the fact this was apparently even under discussion last year, well ...

Tim Seymour wondered why the company would feel compelled to confront capital-raising rumors when it just passed stress tests. Kelly said the company used to have an "insular" culture about the press but received a "baptism by fire" in the last couple years.

Mike Murphy said even though the stock has surged, "I think Bank of America still has some room to run here."

Melissa Lee asked Scott Nations what the options were saying about BAC, but Nations said with developments such as these, the options market can "get kinda mushy," which is the terminology we used to use during soap operas, or when Richard Dawson went down the line to all the ladies on "The Family Feud."

Nations instead later in the show recommended selling a Citigroup put spread, because options have gotten expensive, by collecting $1.45 for the April 37 and buying the April 34 for 50 cents.

Doug Kass picked some pennies off the tracks in front of the AAPL train

The only reason we can figure for certain people on the Fast Money desk to be shorting AAPL is that they love a good challenge.

Out of all the stocks in the universe, you'd have to think there are far more reasonable short plays.

Yet, Doug Kass didn't hesitate to crow on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money about getting lucky with such a play in Monday's action.

"I shorted the stock in premarket trading around 605," Kass said, and covered about 3/4 at 583, so he's "still short a small amount."

Kass tried to claim that the dividend is a "Microsoft redux," which is a joke, given that MSFT had already been hammered and people were desperate for the stock to reclaim its 2000 high while AAPL is setting a new all-time high every day.

Karen Finerman said her problem with AAPL is that it's become a "trading casino." Kass said the weekly options are the equivalent of day traders' Iomega back in the day.

The music man (or woman) chose The Allman Bros. for the day's tunes, but the featured selection was "Jessica," not "Melissa."

No one figured a way to mention ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’

Even an amateur has to assume, watching Fast Money multiple times, that Colin Gillis' job involves recommending when people should buy AAPL and several other stocks, and when not to buy them.

Given that Gillis has been embarrassingly wrong for the last hundred bucks or so on AAPL, and keeps appearing on Fast Money to discuss the subject, you have to wonder what exactly the purpose is of the Wall Street analyst community if it doesn't matter whether you're right or wrong.

"We are now concerned about the March quarter," Gillis said, and Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Tim Seymour asked about one of his favorite subjects, tech giants whining about cash repatriation, which Seymour called a "very, very political issue." Gillis agreed.

What’s more tiresome? Listening to Dennis Gartman owning gold in non-U.S.-dollar terms, or listening to Tim Seymour predict Samsung will be the next Apple?

Dennis Gartman on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money exhaled a big sigh of relief for his own account for being short yen against everything, which means once again he's getting ahead in all kinds of stuff that might actually be going down. "The yen is gonna consistently get weaker over time," Gartman said, adding warily of gold, "I'm still bullish," but fortunately he's long in yen terms.

We've got to give Dennis a break here, as we're approaching the time of year when he and his buddies (revealed in the early days of Fast Money around the time Eric Bolling was picking Berkshire over Apple in Dylan Ratigan's stock-picking NCAA Tournament) have their own weekend golf outing they call "The Meisters," one of the best amateur entertainment concepts we're aware of.

Tim Seymour asked Gartman when POT will catch fire, saying he (Seymour) still believes in the "long-term food trade." Gartman said the potash supply will be taken up by U.S. and Canadian farmers in a matter of months.

Seymour called MT his top steel pick. Guy Adami suggested happy days are here again for BTU; "finally think it reversed and is headed higher."

Keep your eye on the camera

Rob Kapito told Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money crew that it's a "new world of investing," and within that, "love the equity-dividend story."

Karen Finerman said, "It's Karen, let me ask you something," wondering if all that cash on the sidelines can find its way into REITs, which might be looking a little stretched. Kapito said it can, and that the valuations aren't stretched.

Tim Seymour, in a musical inside joke that Kapito didn't get, asked about the "revival" of the dollar but before finishing, turned his own question into a statement.

Amelia Bourdeau, who looks good on television and was in sprightly orange dress, recommends short Aussie vs. the Canadian dollar.

James Lee of CLSA sort of pounded the table for Facebook at least in global penetration, indicating that 45% of global Internet users will be using Facebook in 2015. Kate Kelly got an encore late in reporting that Facebook's banks are only going to get 1.1% in IPO fees.

Tim Seymour's Final Trade was FCX, Guy Adami said to short VLO, Karen Finerman said sell Frontline, while Mike Murphy tapped the already-once-tapped "revival" to suggest long POT.

Mike Murphy was getting the gaze more locked in on Monday's program but, evidenced by his comments on Sprint, continues to have a devil of a time in avoiding the camera, i.e., looking above, off to the sides, sometimes anywhere but.

Depends on what your definition of ‘more than’ is

Judge Wapner, on location at the Tavistock Cup in Florida for Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, introduced money manager Andrew Wellington (part of the complete series of guests evidently hand-picked by co-host Jeff Keswin) as someone who has "more than doubled your money since 2009."

Of course, it depends on what your exact measuring point is, but even the S&P 500 can boast that.

Wellington made partial waves in claiming that AAPL isn't good enough to crack his list of top 35 stocks to own, citing, of all things, Sperry and Burroughs (as well as Compaq and America Online).

Apple, Wellington said, is perhaps among the "hundred or 50 best stocks in the market," but he only wants 35, and "Apple just doesn't make the cut."

Meanwhile, one stock that does make that select list is DELL, which Wellington said "is, uh, greatly misunderstood."

Stephen Weiss tackled that one, insisting AAPL is "significantly less expensive than Dell."

The top name Wellington mentioned was Aflac (AFL), and, in an indication he doesn't have a red-hot catalyst, began by telling viewers "Aflac is an insurance company" that has the famous duck that he won't try to mimic.

Brian Kelly said, "I think that's probably a great pick here," although it's hardly a chart to get excited about, and Japan plays are never anything to get excited about (unless you count Dennis Gartman owning gold in yen terms and coming out ahead of those mopes who bought the miners in dollar terms).

Wellington was called the "Billy Beane of Investing" by Keswin, who revealed while talking so fast some remarks were unintelligible that they go back to college days, and that he brought Wellington in and that Wellington has the right temperament for the job. Wellington said his strategy is to "scan through the top 1,000 stocks that are in the market and try to find those stocks that the market is giving away for a great price, and hold them- do a lot of research, and hold onto 'em till they're proven right. When that happens, sell them, move on, and find something else to own."

Tim Cook, meet
Neville Chamberlain

Jeff Keswin on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report described Apple's dividend as a "policy of appeasement," and ultimately a "non-event."

But the most eye-opening commentary came from Joe Terranova, in a sign we're going back to the dreaded 2010 Wall Street Tax-Rate Fear-Mongering (it ended up being George Bush's rates), who lamented that AAPL didn't declare a big special dividend, because, "This time next year you got a dividend tax rate that's probably gonna go to ordinary income."

Toni Sacconaghi said the company's bread and butter is phones, where we're in the "very, very early innings." But Sacconaghi seemed to think the oligarchy of phone service providers are unlikely to join forces to pinch the iPhone just yet; "they can't live with it, or without it."

Stephen Weiss dismissed the (paltry) dividend as "just a sideshow."

For some, Sino Forest
was good for business

Jeremy Kroll's guest hit on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report turned into quite a testimonial from guest host Jeff Keswin, who asked Kroll a couple questions about the need for niche ratings agency/analysis (we're not quite sure actually) after Judge Wapner had frowned at the notion of the world needing another bond rating agency and saying "in and of itself" for the 2nd time.

Kroll, citing Madoff and Sino Forest, said "there is a need out there," and if only Hugh Culverhouse and/or John Paulson had called about that one (or, just listened to Herb Greenberg).

Kroll described research this way: "Before there was Google, and before there was, uh, Facebook, it was a very manual process."

Christopher Anand hailed the development he has put together in the Bahamas during after the Lehman Brothers crisis, as Judge called that "a feat in and of itself."

Steve Bodurtha of Citi private bank, who Judge says oversees $50 billion (either Bodurtha or his division) and thus, "we're talking about real money here," was supposedly going to mention an "offensive" portfolio and a "defensive" portfolio, but all he really ended up talking about was his recommendation of high-grade corporate bonds for the defenders (it was apparently multinationals for offense).

For himself, Keswin talked about buying real estate around the University of Chicago and becoming the "largest property owner in that area."

How does one view a breeze?

While Judge and his guests sat around a glorious first tee on Monday's Halftime, his overbooked threesome (that's a golf term) in Englewood Cliffs/N.Y. was basically spending the day in the clubhouse and should get a comp day somewhere along the line.

Brian Kelly at one point answered a question from Judge by saying, "For the last half-hour I've been looking at the breeze blowing there." Kelly's Final Trade was EXP.

Stephen Weiss said WLT is jumping because of steel, and "I'm getting crushed in my U.S. Steel short today," though that didn't stop him recommending viewers "press X short" for his Final Trade. Joe Terranova mentioned FXY puts.


Dennis Gartman, Carter Worth
deliver massive bust on GNK

"Pop had Genco; look what I got"Sonny Corleone

On the Feb. 9 edition of Fast Money, Carter Worth said Genco Shipping, closing that day at $9.02, has a "fairly well-defined bottoming-out formation ... we like it a lot," predicting holders can get "11, 12 out of it."

A few days later, Feb. 13, Dennis Gartman told the Fast gang he was bullish on shipping stocks because the stocks were moving ahead of the Dry Bulk Index; "don’t be surprised if you get a correction for a day or 2, but, I-I think these are stocks that you need to own for the, for the very longer term."

GNK closed at $9.37 that day.

It's at $6.80 now.

The day after Gartman spoke was apparently the blowoff top, with GNK climbing to $10.12 before tumbling to a $9.44 close.

And it's been "The Poseidon Adventure" ever since.

Gartman's other 2 reluctantly divulged picks on the 13th, DSX and DRYS, have fared better, DSX down slightly though it's been a decided loser since the call, while his afterthought of DRYS, purely on the strength of Friday, is now ahead.

[Friday, March 16, 2012]

Fast Money panelist notices
Josh Brown’s great JPM call

We were a little skeptical the other day on Fast Money when Josh Brown hinted that, assuming JPM breaks through 42, it would have "no trouble" getting to 48.

Only a fool is skeptical now, and if it gets there — or gets borderline close — in the near future, it's going on the year-end Fast Money best calls list, an early pace car.

Joe Terranova remembered Brown's prediction during Friday's Halftime Report, saying, "Josh Brown made a great call on JPMorgan."

Jon Najarian was asked about the XLF and he reiterated "love it," adding, "the tells have been there Judge." Patty Edwards still isn't really on board but said if she were it would have to be something like USB or JPM, but she does have positions in BMO and BKCC.

Dr. J might’ve been
channeling some cable viewings of ‘Point Break’

Joe Terranova said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to expect some gangbusters-like action in stocks before April.

"At the end of the day," Terranova said, fully on board with the preeminent Fast Money cliche, he sees a "lot of strength in this market over the next couple of weeks. I believe in the quarterly mark-up."

But then Joe had to figuratively butt heads with guest Jeff Palma, who wasn't wasn't so sure there's a big flow of cash from bonds to stocks right now and whether there's going to be a wall of money splashing into stocks at quarter-end.

"I don't think anyone's suggesting that it happens in 1 day, or, or, 1, uh, in essence, week," Terranova rebutted, although if it doesn't happen in 1 week, it probably needs to happen in 2 since that will end the quarter.

Jon Najarian was more measured than Terranova, warning people about picking the peak too late. "If you wait until the wave is right upon you, it crushes you," Najarian said. "You have to be moving ahead of this."

Patty Edwards revealed she likes industrials, and "we've gotten longer this week."

3½ vs. 1.67

Judge Wapner brought in a host of bond-yield predictions on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, with guest Jeff Palma suggesting 3 or 3½ could be the 10-year yield in 6-12 months.

George Goncalves later in the program said we're "still in the early innings" of damage to the bond market, and that we're "definitely going to 2.50."

Joe Terranova revealed he's long TBT.

Andy Busch recommended viewers "sell a rally in the British pound."

Palma was asked by Steve Grasso what he thinks about health-care stocks if parts of Obamacare are tossed by the Supreme Court. The "political issue is hard to call on this," Palma waffled, but he said hospitals would bounce if portions of the legislation are overturned.

Joe Terranova seriously boosts
Fast Money item count, names multiple stocks for nearly every trade discussed

Jonathan Geller, apparently known as the "Boy Genius," in an absolutely brilliant observation on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report called the new iPad "a great upgrade from the iPad 2."

Steve Grasso asked Geller if he is dissatisfied with anything in the new iPad. Geller acknowledged the "battery's 70% bigger," and thus, the "tablet's a tiny bit heavier."

Jon Najarian revealed he's a fan of Boy Genius. "Great stuff; I love your site," Najarian said.

Steve Grasso said TXN is one of these ongoing AAPL plays that doesn't get a whole lot of AAPL attention. Patty Edwards said she would "continue to add to" QCOM, which she thinks can hit "at least 85," and also mentioned AT&T, Synopsys and Verizon as AAPL plays.

Joe Terranova mentioned BRCM but was totally lukewarm, suggested trimming some CRUS, but was enthusiastic about NXPI, and also IACI (which we think is another one of those free-labor enterprises).

DIS — the perpetual Fast Money buy recommendation

Jeff Kilburg, in a brief soundbite of an appearance on the Fast Line on Friday's Halftime Report, said he "bought SLV this morning at 31.62," and predicts a $2 bounce.

Joe Terranova disagreed with that, saying "still think there's plenty of downside to go" in SLV.

Terranova, though, said he "bought some Potash today."

Jon Najarian said option activity in BTU "remains very active," partly because there are rumors of a large investor possibly considering a bid for the company.

Steve Grasso suggested people be long content names such as DIS and VIA.

AKS and ye shall receive
(but it might be more pain than pleasure)

Guest Richard Garchitorena tackled one of the more controversial stocks on Fast Money during Friday's Halftime Report, calling AKS a buy with a $12 target because "demand still remains very strong across the board."

Steve Grasso said the big AKS gains this week amount to a "knee-jerk reaction to chasing high-beta at this point."

Garchitorena said Reliant is actually his best steel play, while Joe Terranova promoted Steel Dynamics.

Jon Najarian's Final Trade was ELN, while Steve Grasso said ANR, Patty Edwards said MCD and Joe Terranova mentioned LPX. Judge Wapner promoted an upcoming CNBC appearance by Jeff Keswin, who Judge said has "never done television before."

That’s the best they can do?
‘Bush league’?

Dan Dicker on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report was once again called upon to critique crude ... bu the guys in the McNamara gathering behind him apparently were critiquing something else.

"Bush league!" was heard 4 or 5 times as Dicker wrapped up his report.

(Hopefully that wasn't a reference to Dicker's commentary or Judge's operation.)

Dicker said the word is that the White House unleashed the Britain-SPR rumor this week to see what might happen to the crude market, and the answer is "not really a whole lot."

Dicker mentioned Ensco a couple times. Steve Grasso asked if positive (snicker) headlines out of Iran would drop $15 from crude's price. "At least $15," Dicker agreed.

Patty Edwards still likes CBI, which Judge mispronounced as Chicago Bridge & Tunnel, which for some reason brought peals of laughter.

Jon Najarian at one point went out of his way to say "Apple Universe" rather than "Apple ecosystem," but rising CNBC superfox Seema Mody later used the term "ecosystem" in saying "there are a lot of bears out there saying the stock has moved too fast," making 3 arguments why it could suffer a setback, that if iPad sales don't meet targets, if there's a glitch, or supply-disruption frustration.

More from Friday's Halftime later.

Fast Money 3/15/2012

The shorthand basics from Thursday's 5 p.m.:

Tim Seymour: Thursday's markets and 1,400 S&P are neither buy nor sell signal ... options hangover possible in Monday-Tuesday stocks ... China "lull" in energy space likely "troughed" in Q1 ... likes FCX ... "we're buyers of the miners here" in gold, specifically GFI, ABX, AU but not NM, HMY ... corrected self to say Baltic Dry Index can be "red herring" (not "red flag") ... wonders when TIF-related "barbell" trade will change to middle-class ... "eBay's not cheap" but that PayPal is worth getting excited about ... Samsung winning the battle with AAPL ... Cisco bought NDS with "free money" offshore and it bothers him as a taxpayer when these companies lobby for repatriation holidays even though "John Chambers is a great guy," it's a "political pedestal of mine" ... agrees with Todd Gordon call to short dollar vs. Mexican peso ... makes ABX Final Trade.

Guy Adami: "Tops and bottoms in markets are equally hard to define ... and I haven't seen it yet" ... cited Potter Stewart in pornography analogy that he undoubtedly planned ahead during day ... "great job" by Brian Kelly in RF call ... markets might move out of higher-beta banks into the safer ones ... BTU had "outside day" with 2x volume, an interesting play with tight stop ... TIF would be "prime suspect" for private equity ... total waffle on EBAY, maybe long in the tooth maybe not ... ranks QCOM, AMT, BRCM in that order as AAPL derivatives ... doesn't own Samsung product ... CSCO chart technically "looks nice to me" ... CCL Final Trade.

Keith McCullough: Shorted SPYders at 1,388 Tuesday, at 1,401 Thursday ... options expiration and hot CPI are reasons for market to sell ... "2% downside from here in the S&P" ... "I'm tasked with not losing money when you have these kinds of blowoff tops" ... "You cannot understate the performance pressure in the hedge fund community" ... apparent dig at Karen Finerman's statement of BAC still at "very very significant discount" in saying "now we're starting to hear the storytelling, which is it's (banks in general) cheap even after it's gone up 35%" ... "Today we shorted Capital One" and AmEx Wednesday, R-squared is "very high," .81 ... R-squared "explains exactly what you need to know about why the stock is moving" ... In China "the hard landing thing is really hard to swallow" and wouldn't short Chinese equities here ... panel's best point of the day, to Brian Nagel, why not just downgrade TIF and then upgrade instead of calling long-term outperform and telling people it's going lower short-term ... noted KORS has same market cap as TIF ... wouldn't short TIF because decline in precious metals could help ... AAPL, "Everybody's got an opinion on this; I don't know what, I don't know what to do with it; I just watch it" ... asked Shaw Wu if he got a lot of calls on his enthusiasm for Cisco acquisition given its terrible day in stock performance ... dollar seems to be in the "middle of the Keynesian bubble," election will be good for dollar, why would Todd Gordon buy Mexican pesos ... short SPY Final Trade.

Karen Finerman: Doesn't know if stock rally is data-driven, or performance-chasing ... BAC still at "very very significant discount" ... R-squared is a "correlation," tells Keith McCullough "no it doesn't" measure everything you need to know about stocks in day's toughest dig after McCullough claimed "storytelling" in bullish bank calls ... industrials look attractive including CMI ... "absolutely turbo-charged earnings" for Frontline when day rates go higher, makes it a "hugely volatile stock," Fredriksen is "the greatest tanker trader ever ... he does everything right in a big way" ... asked Brian Nagel if he likes any luxury name better than TIF, got HD and LOW as answers but not luxury names ... Best Buy "stock's still cheap; it's just dangerous" ... PACB as Final Trade.

Mike Khouw: Skeptical of gold; "I'm inclined to go along with Carter here ... so many long hands in gold" ... colleague Kuni Chen reports coal prices could be strengthening ... BTU appealing for its lesser exposure to U.S. thermal coal, recommends selling June 30 put ... "starting to see more bearish sentiment" in AAPL options, "at the end of the day" company needs something new every 6 months.

Carter Worth: Consumer discretionary outperformance is "now unsustainable," is at relative strength all-time highs, too far above 150-day moving average ... gold is "terrible ... very poor relative strength," heading "considerably lower" to $1,500 ... FRO is a "shipper we like ... bottoming out."

Brian Nagel: Outperform on TIF but expects short-term pullback, "I don't think the business has improved dramatically" since the bad holiday; stock got ahead of itself, was "really the outlier" during holidays ... told Keith McCullough people have been looking past TIF's issues ... TIF is only luxury name he covers but likes HD, LOW.

Shaw Wu: Apple has gone "vertical," but look at the product cycle, expects a new iPhone in the fall, thinks stock will "continue to work," "the numbers keep on moving higher" ... CSCO acquisition is "more software ... higher margin ... accretive ... we actually like this move" ... told Keith McCullough "yeah, we did actually" get calls Thursday about CSCO's performance given the acquisition he likes, but doesn't focus on given day's stock performance, sees "good opportunity" to buy on pullback.

Todd Gordon: Likes Mexican peso because dollar could resume decline, would sell dollar vs. peso, says there is "political will" to keep the dollar low.

Gary Shenk: Greenlight taps into $800 million global market for music licensing, could be double that size, helps people get approvals quicker, has all 4 major labels Universal, Warner, Sony, EMI, representing more than 80% of music, signed on ... users can easily search for songs ... allows pricing tiers for student projects to commercials.

Judge Scott Wapner: Scoffs that Brian Nagel is "making a market with himself" in short-term caution, long-term outperform on TIF ... doesn't own a Samsung device.

AAPL called ‘really high-beta’
on Fast Money

For once, it wasn't Steve Cortes making the most eye-opening Apple comments.

Guest co-host John Taylor contributed some pretty good one-liners on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report (even if the brevity of some of his answers caught Judge Wapner off guard), but evidently he was planning on lunch at the BK (that's Burger King, not Brian Kelly) because one particular remark was a decided whopper.

AAPL, Taylor asserted, is a "really high-beta stock … if the market's going down, Apple will get crushed."

We checked both Google finance (1.25) and Yahoo finance (1.04) and found, regardless of which you believe, neither level really qualifies as "high-beta."

In fact, Toni Sacconaghi even pointed out that AAPL's outperformance tends to be "concentrated in very short periods."

This all got started when Steve Cortes revealed he "sold it at 595" in revisiting his AAPL short. "I haven't touched Apple for 3 months," he said, but he said he was overlaying the chart with Google late 2007 and found "it looks incredibly similar."

Sacconaghi said it's a different story than GOOG 2007; "I see a valuation that is very inexpensive … trading well under a market multiple … much lower multiple, cash percentage is even higher, and the end-market growth is even stronger." Cortes said that's true, but it was true a year ago, and there have been pockets of time for shorting AAPL. Sacconaghi acknowledged it tends to go long stretches without outperforming but said it's too hard for most people to pick the peaks and the valleys.

For what it's worth, in terms of track record, Cortes said, "I made a lot of money being short Apple in September and October."

Pete Najarian like Sacconaghi balked. "I have to take the opposite side of Cortes again," Pete said, saying AAPL is "not a comparable to Google," and just wait till the "floodgates open up into the China" market.

John Taylor did tell Judge Wapner that managing stocks rather than currency "seems like an easy life" but not in 2008.

John Taylor has got a bunch of ideas spring-loaded a month away

For whatever reason, guest co-host John Taylor was really fixated on the next 30 days on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Judge Wapner indicated Taylor is short the dollar and it's "painful," but Taylor said he'll only be short the next month, then he expects the dollar to do better.

Taylor said he could maybe see Brian Kelly's HYG call, but he "wouldn't want to own it for more than a month."

Taylor said the euro could be at 1.15, 1.18 by May, but from there he ventured into a year-end prediction, saying "something like 90 cents is not outrageous" depending on how far out you're talking.

Meanwhile for immediacy's sake, Brian Kelly said he's out of his long-gold call, it's been a "violent selloff" and that Kelly was "completely wrong, absolutely wrong." Adding more psychological pain to that one, Taylor told Kelly, "You should go back and buy that gold."

Mandy: ‘I wear H&M stuff’

Endlessly cute Dana Telsey made a guest appearance on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report to say ROST has been doing everything right, but the stock is down because "guidance going forward is a lower growth rate" and that the company has tougher comps, but it doesn't change the fact it's executing.

Steve Grasso asked about American Eagle Outfitters. Telsey opined that "it will be higher a year from now than it is today," but she expects the gain to happen in the 2nd half of the year.

Stephanie Link said she likes TJX and RL.

Mandy, handling the European close again, revealed, "I wear H&M stuff."

Mandy, who referred to him twice as "Scotty," also told Judge, "I would never show off Scotty."

Guest corrects one of the rare comments from Stephanie Link

Guest Brian Modoff painted a reasonably optimistic case for CSCO on Thursday's Halftime Report, calling the NDS transaction (now we're going to hear about "set-top" like we heard about "patents" a year ago) a "complementary deal for the company" as it's "trying to get more involved in the software side."

Stephanie Link was totally skeptical. "It doesn't really juice the growth rate," Link said, but Modoff disagreed, saying that at low double-digits, "It is higher than their growth rate." He said he's got a $24 price target. Link said she doesn't see any synergies.

Pete Najarian, in a brief remark while Judge tried to turn the 2nd half-hour of the program into a commercial fest, said BTU April 33 calls are hot.

Jane Wells said that, according to anonymous, honor-system ratings at Glassdoor.com, "turns out Lloyd Blankfein is incredibly popular among Goldman employees," with a 94% approval rating.

Clearly BAC is no longer beholden to the Bradford Level

With John Taylor in the guest-co-host seat, Judge Wapner on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report was compelled to open with some (Zzzzzzz) currency trading.

"The euro's best friend is Ben Bernanke," Taylor said, while Brian Kelly recommended short yen via FXY and to buy the Mexican peso.

And, "I would be buying Treasurys down here," Kelly said.

Steve Grasso, about as quiet Thursday as Rob Gronkowski in the Super Bowl, said that despite the gains and bullish sentiment, he's seeing "money coming out of the financials" and suggests people think about taking profits.

"I continue to be a buyer of the financials," Pete Najarian affirmed.

John Taylor said "some of the European banks are very interesting," but Steve Cortes suggested taking a look at shorting STD at $8.50. Cortes noted it's an election year and that "Bernanke is an incredibly political operator."

Cortes was skeptical of crude maintaining strength especially in the wake of Thursday's SPR-related reports. "I don't have any crude positions right here," Cortes said, but he argued that "Chinese demand for all things physical is receding so fast."

John Taylor's Final Trade was buy the Mexican peso. Pete Najarian said long BAC; Stephanie Link said long IR; Steve Grasso said to watch ANR with S&P over 1,400; Steve Cortes said sell AAPL and Brian Kelly said to sell FXS.

[Wednesday, March 14, 2012]

This page was wrong
on Guy Adami & Goldman

In assessing the Fast Money Halftime Report (see below) on Wednesday, we said that, regarding the Greg Smith Goldman Sachs article, "We expect the real condemnation of the op-ed to come from Guy Adami."

That was not the case.

In fact, Adami made an eloquent assessment of the column on 5 p.m.'s Fast Money.

"Here's a person that cares deeply enough about a firm that he's been at for over a decade to write something like that fully realizing what the ramifications of that will be," Adami said. "So, not unlike a Jerry Maguire moment. I don't think this is disgruntled employee at all. I think this is somebody that truly cares about the firm and the fact, and I would agree with him, I think the culture's nowhere near it was when I was there from '95 to 2001, and I think by definition you can't maintain a culture when you go from 6,000 people when, back in the mid-'90s, to thir- north of 30,000 now."

Adami did note that he didn't consider Smith's outrage over the emails particularly Goldman-specific; "there are always gonna people that put crazy things in emails," deeming that point a "bit of an outlier."

Guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera wasn't so sympathetic. "What are the ramifications? He was gonna quit," Caruso-Cabrera declared.

Karen Finerman, amid the hubbub of 2 or 3 people talking, questioned a couple times if Smith gets all of his vested stock if he hadn't resigned before the article appeared.

Ron Insana tried to come across analytically on the subject but conveyed his sentiments with 2 observations, one being that it's a "relatively unknown employee," and the second that "I would never trade the stock based on what he said," a fair point for this program but one that probably didn't need to be said.

Not knowing Smith or working with him, it's impossible to know if this is a completely even-handed assessment of Goldman Sachs, or the latest in a spree of complaints. The piece is thoughtfully written. However, he writes in generalities of greed and has almost no specifics. Also in listing his credentials, Smith most prominently notes he was one of 10 employees featured in a recruiting video, which anyone would guess has far more to do with appearing photogenic than necessarily being successful.

The key number is 5 digits — the 30,000 employees cited by Guy Adami (one of 2 times Wednesday, see below, a 5-digit number is significant). 1 voice among a sample size that large is irrelevant for virtually any purpose other than entertainment. In companies of even 50 people, you'll find serious disagreement as to whether this place is great, or this place sucks.

No matter how much gold falls, Dennis Gartman is always owning it in some currency that has fallen lower

A while ago we swore we would no longer cover Dennis Gartman on gold.

Somehow, here we go again.

Gartman admitted on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that there is "extraordinary weakness in gold in U.S. dollar terms," and that's why he owns it in yen. He predicted more selling to come, "probably more liquidation," because "nobody has liquidated their gold position. They've added to it as prices have weakened, that usually is not a good sign."

Gartman said it's not a doomsday hedge. "The concerns about a global meltdown are gone ... gold got preposter- preposterously overexpensive," he said.

Karen Finerman, noting that Gartman waffles in and out of bullish/bearish gold semantics (OK, she didn't put it quite that way, but we will) but has generally been bullish on gold for a long time, asked him what would change his mind about that.

Gartman first asserted, "I haven't been hurt at all in fact" by gold in 2012, then totally didn't answer Karen's fine question, but merely observed that other assets have been drawing the dollars.

Guy Adami pushed back against Gartman's assessment that gold's bullish case in any currency is an "old case," citing the continuing "race to zero" of fiat currencies. Apparently in a sign that Gartman has been stung by gold's activity, Gartman then on a steep tangent snapped, what about the gold bugs who "did it the wrong way by buying the miners, how does that trade feel?"

Adami wouldn't bite on that, saying, "You've been on the show often enough, you know we've always told folks, that, you know, if you wanna play it, play it with the GLD."

Mike Khouw suggesting buying the June 46 puts in GDX.

One thing we can't figure out, and we're not Rebbeca Patterson or anything like that, but if Gartman is always so proud of owning gold in various currencies, why doesn't he just skip the gold and trade currencies instead?

Buffalo Wild Wings CEO fails to answer Karen’s excellent question

When BWLD CEO Sally Smith was not hooping it up with a mostly compliant Fast Money gang on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show, Karen Finerman was asking a serious question about competition and headwinds — as to whether BWLD is most concerned about gas prices, the economy, or select rivals.

Smith didn't attempt an answer in the slightest, saying what her company studies is "how are our guests' tastes changing." And, unfortunately, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera didn't pursue this in the follow-up, but merely trumpeted college basketball.

Smith said the company had a goal of 1,000 stores by 2013, and "we will achieve that number." Pete Najarian hailed the company as having "huge growth possibilities."

Guy Adami actually mentioned Carol Vadnais, undoubtedly a first on Fast Money.

It could get to $62 right now, just needs a 1-for-2 split

And we had hoped that the stress tests were just a Tuesday thing.

Fast Money guest Gerard Cassidy on Wednesday said despite being flunked, "SunTrust and Citi are certainly stocks to look at," and that the overall condition of banks is going the right direction; "it's only going to get better as the economy improves."

In fact, Cassidy even made the case that the big banks "will get back to book value. So Citi, I mean ultimately could get to $62. I'm not suggesting that's in the next 6 months." But he said it could trade in the $40 range for 6-12 months.

Cassidy said the "mid-50s" is a "very fair target" for JPM.

Pete Najarian said that BAC option activity tells him "Bank of America's going through $9." Najarian also said that puts do look attractive in BAC, JPM and C, for protecting gains.

How Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
succeeds in television

This page occasionally cites "Broadcast News" to make a point about television. It is not a great movie (certainly not, with its wearisome, actually annoying love triangle that clearly doesn't work for any of the characters), but one that should be considered a "sum of the parts" production in which about a half-dozen scenes or sequences express some profound truths about television and media and are worth seeing multiple times.

One such moment is when William Hurt, the upstart, is advising the defiant, more experienced, smarter pro Albert Brooks how to read the evening news. (Of course, Brooks never really "gets" it, but that's beside the point.)

Hurt's advice includes sitting on the jacket to prevent a bunchy neck, not shifting the eyes while reading, and maybe most importantly, singling out a word or term from each sentence for emphasis in telling the story.

The latter is a specialty of Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who manages to bring life to every segment by posing questions that resonate as though the whole show revolves around that one question. Supreme confidence is evident here; she hones in on the responses that intrigue her and maintains an exquisite balance between letting the guests speak and butting in when inspired. That a contagious smile and beautiful figure are included in the package is just a bonus.

We said a day ago, Caruso-Cabrera is more interested in general capitalism than stock specifics, and so was Dylan Ratigan, which is why he no longer hosts Fast Money. Some media pundits regard Maria Bartiromo as the "glass ceiling" of CNBC advancement. Bartiromo is good, on so many levels that time doesn't allow here for a summary, but there are certain parts of the job some of her colleagues might actually do better. Caruso-Cabrera is far beyond a Chief International Correspondent (a title that should go to Seema Mody or Carolin Schober); CNBC is fortunate to have her.

Next thing you know, they’ll accuse this page of being a non-compliant ‘blog’

The most important word in Herb Greenberg's discussion of SharesPost's SEC fiasco was the dollar amount Greenberg mentioned in the intro.

An "$80,000" fine. (The screen text said $100,000, but whatever.)

This one — whatever the heck it was about — needed seriously more layman intro than what it got; we couldn't figure out what the blazes this company was doing or specifically what it does, didn't have the energy to read news articles on it, and so we'll have to take CEO Greg Brogger's word on it that the fine was over "technical legal issues" involving whether in 2010 it should be a broker-dealer or rely on 3rd parties.

"We've never had a customer complaint," Brogger said.

And given the Mark Fisher interview at Halftime, it seems there's a lot of this stuff going around.

If you were on the fence about Dow Theory, you’re still on the fence

Guy Adami said at the top of Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that he thinks it's actually "pretty bullish" that the S&P didn't retreat any further after Tuesday's rip-roaring day.

But Ron Insana disagreed with Adami's ongoing heading-toward-blowoff-top thesis, saying, "I don't think we're in the blowoff-top phase. That has markedly different characteristics than what we're doing right now," including low volatility and no retail participation.

Abigail Doolittle, with a variation on the new 'do, addressed the Dow Theory but with a waffling answer, saying if transports break out, great, and if they fall, look out. Karen Finerman asked Doolittle "what is considered a divergence." Doolittle said it depends on the technician, but probably for her it's 3-10%.

For his part, Ron Insana said the recent transport activity is insignificant, "unless it were to diverge dramatically," and until then doesn't indicate a "worrisome" problem.

And we thought it was an updated James Cameron treatment of the Denzel flick

Guest Rob Arnott on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money warned of "The 3-D Hurricane" — deficit, debt and demography.

Arnott indicated it's a reflationary world. "Hardly anyone realizes the next debt limit is gonna be hit within a handful of weeks after- or perhaps even before the election," he said.

Umm, actually, we'd put that another way ... hardly anyone believes that the debt limit will be an issue for a long time, given that the consensus believes it must go up, and the most steadfast opponents have already made their point and likely aren't interested in a redux.

Pete Najarian described FCX as "far too cheap," that is, assuming, "if you believe that the economic conditions are getting better."

Sounds like Abigail Doolittle’s case against AAPL is getting personal

It was just over Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that we suggested Steve Cortes is fighting a questionable battle in expressing "amazement" that Apple is going up (everyone seems to agree it's too fast to sustain for the long term, but nobody seems to think it's fundamentally overvalued), and here on the 5 p.m. edition, Abigail Doolittle also seemed unwilling to yield an inch on her recent opinion that Apple is likely to fall and fill in some gaps.

Doolittle said a couple times that the "parabolic move" in AAPL, by definition, "cannot last forever," although mathematically there's nothing to stop a parabola, but whatever. Once it breaks, "It is going to drop quickly back down," she said, with support levels around 552, 477 and 430.

Guy Adami told Doolittle, "I dig your work," but he disagrees, saying the stock is "growing into a valuation."

Adami said, as derivatives, to stay long QCOM, but he thinks BRCM is struggling to get above 38½. Ron Insana said, "I would be a little careful here."

Karen Finerman said Dan Loeb's letter isn't very rough by previous standards, but "The Yahoo board will have a real fight on its hands."

Shocker: A Fast Money panelist (besides Patty Edwards) actually (sort of) visits the companies he/she is buying and observes the product first-hand

Mike Khouw for his Final Trade on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money recommended June puts in the SPY. Ron Insana said people should be careful shorting bonds. Guy Adami wished his son a happy birthday and then touted POT. Karen Finerman said BP, and Pete Najarian mentioned LULU.

Karen Finerman, when she's inspired, has probably the best one-liners on Fast Money, but for some reason decided to go picking on Ron Insana, at one point saying, "you little salmon, going to swim upstream."

Later, Insana was explaining that with his wife, "I trust her shopping intuition implicitly," and she apparently is impressed enough by JCP to the point that "I bought a handful of shares."

"You're married to Peter Lynch," cracked Finerman.

Here we go again

(Whew) Douse this page with some water (again).

Turning on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, viewers were immediately hit with Michelle Caruso-Cabrera explaining, "my top is still on." (That's correct, she actually said that.)

If. Only ...

Much more from Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, surely including pairs trades, later.

Mark Fisher indicates CFTC has compliance issues of its own — regarding leakage

Stung by a CFTC suit against MBF, Mark Fisher stated his case to Judge Wapner.

And perhaps the most interesting part of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report interview — to those people who wonder about movements in stocks and options before government information is released — was Fisher's comment that, "We found out about the complaint the same time you did. Through the media."

Regarding the case, "What we have here is a bookkeeping error," Fisher said. "The reason why I came on was because I was concerned about a mischaracterization or perception issue where people thought this was anything like MF Global. The only thing MBF shares with MF Global is some initials."

Fisher told Wapner about the transactions in question. "During the financial crisis, we decided at MBF to move money out of the money-market funds, including the reserve fund, which broke the buck, and move it to the safest bank in the world, JPMorgan, in the safest instrument available, U.S. government bonds ... it was not used by MBF, it wasn't used by me, it was used by nobody other than this was where the customer money was domiciled. We believe that this money was segregated properly ... not a single penny was ever lost or even, even possibly could've been lost."

Judge followed, "But that doesn't diminish the fact Mark that the money was placed in a non-compliant account over at JPMorgan."

Fisher then asked himself a couple questions, saying, "Is there a bookkeeping error here? I guess so," but that the move was done for safety and resulted in an interest cut to MBF by over 2/3, and that MBF had wisely protected money by moving it out of Sentinel.

At one point, while explaining the importance of segregation letters, Fisher got interrupted by Mother Nature. "You could not get through a Nymex audit, oh it's starting to rain, without having, OK, segregation letters every time you went through an audit."

Fisher called the CFTC case a "tremendous waste of resources and time" and wouldn't answer Wapner's question about what he plans to do, saying, "Over time, we'll see how it pans out." He also refused to officially point the finger at either JPM or anyone at his firm, saying, "I don't really want to say who I hold responsible." After a commercial break, Judge said a JPMorgan spokesperson responded with, "JPMorgan is not a party to this lawsuit."

Judge at the end served something of an alley-oop, telling Fisher some will perceive the CFTC case as, "this is MF makeup." Fisher said that MBF actually had "$12 million tied up in MF Global" and suffered from that one itself.

Technical compliance of customer accounts is in the very deep end of the Fast Money pool and beyond the noggin here. The gut here, based on the story and Fisher's willingness to do an immediate TV appearance, is that the allegation is a warning shot regarding MF Global, a compliance breach occurred, it's already fairly old, will get quietly settled, probably not a big deal. Here's the BusinessWeek story to judge for yourself.

Fast Money dismisses
anti-Goldman Sachs op-ed

While some people are up in arms about the Goldman Sachs op-ed, the Fast Money gang, as we kind of expected, regarded it as about as important as the Pro Bowl.

Guest Jamie Cox, a money manager wrongly introduced by Judge Wapner as an analyst, insisted on Wednesday's Halftime Report that GS is a different company than it was 10 years ago, and the "op-ed is sort of indicative of that."

Stephen Weiss was having none of it. "You're talking about 1 employee, we don't know what his frame of reference was," Weiss said, saying Greg Smith might've experienced a "very tough bonus cycle" and got "schmeistered" (we'll check the spelling on that later). "I'm not making any determination," Weiss assured.

Steve Cortes said he noticed the "very sharp reversal today" in GS, and "I'm much more concerned about the price action in the stock than some editorial from a disgruntled employee."

We expect the real condemnation of the op-ed to come from Guy Adami, assuming he's on the 5 p.m. version.

Judge indicates he doesn’t care about the sizes of Fast Money traders’ positions

Stephen Weiss once again on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report sort of flirted with the "heckuva job, Brownie" territory when he said Citigroup has a "management issue," but as for BAC, "I think Moynihan's done a great job."

Weiss stressed that his BAC holding is a "relatively a small position," and that's when Judge Wapner disappointed all serious watchers who care about serious TV stock commentary by saying, "I don't care what size the position is." (Sure, because the usefulness of Weiss' opinion on the stock has nothing to do with whether he's got 1,000 shares or 100,000, or whether it's his personal account or clients' account, which by the way Patty Edwards gets the gold star for distinguishing on the official recap Wednesday.)

All Jeff Kilburg could say about banks was that JPM is a "hot stock." Patty Edwards did the gun thing with USB, but said she's not a fan of banks; "My discipline is revenue-driven earnings growth and I don't see where you get that."

Guest Jamie Cox said "JPMorgan's the standout" but that STI is the best of the 4 failures. And we're starting to get back into the Steve-Grasso-BAC-C-Ownership-Rationale territory, with Cox saying that if you hold C you'll be "glad" you owned it "2 to 3 years out."

Judge at one point turned to Steve Cortes with a taunt, telling Cortes he must have "treadmarks on your back" given the ongoing market rally. Cortes tried to play it as a win, saying, "in equities I'm very small net-long."

But Cortes warned that he believes in Dow Theory and that "transports have woefully underperformed," and not only that, "this break in gold I think is very, very material."

Much later, Stephen Weiss said not to fear buying stocks at VIX 14-15 because "the VIX doesn't mean what it used to mean," and in a dig at Cortes added, "I'm throwing out Dow Theory completely." Cortes conveniently tried to stress that the Dow Theory is conveniently also tied to FCX, which was experiencing a down day. The screen at one point said one of Cortes' trades is to "short" gold, although he makes clear in Against the Herd he doesn't recommend shorting it, just avoiding it, and he didn't say he's short on TV, only that it's "far too crowded" and he is pessimistic on it. Jeff Kilburg still made long GLD his Final Trade.

Jeff Kilburg insists he’s got the 10-year right where he wants it

The fact that Mark Fisher was also willing and able — and Fast Money was willing and able also — to talk about oil as well as the CFTC on Wednesday's Halftime is another sign of the gravity (or lack) of the CFTC case, but basically in terms of oil, Fisher basically just said he's no expert on the Middle East and that crude has got a floor around the $95 level, and recommended just selling the 90/95 puts.

Jeff Kilburg told Judge Wapner he'll be correct on the 10-year retest all-time yield low, saying, "I think it's just coming into my wheelhouse ... I am backing up the truck," and citing the 2.28% level of resistance.

Stephen Weiss questioned that when people are looking at Europe and wondering why they don't buy higher-yielding Spain instead, and that the "bubble's bursting."

"At the end of the day, it's the Fed's balance sheet," Kilburg insisted, at another point touting TLT while Weiss said, as Doug Kass did a day ago, he likes the short-bond trades.

Steve Cortes still finds himself in ‘amazement’ that AAPL goes up

Jon Najarian briefly buzzed into Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to say the real action in AAPL is in short-term options. "Most people seem to be into these weeklies," which are "just an amazing thing to watch," he said, pointing to the calls that cost $6 on Monday that are now worth $35.

Guest Michael Walkley predicted AAPL's tablet share will grow from 51% to 61%, and price targets are rising because "checks keep coming back so strong ... we still see lots of catalysts coming."

Steve Cortes, who briefly had a good short call on this stock late last year but lately seems thunderstruck that 1) an enormously popular brand and 2) an enormously hot-selling product line could result in a stock actually going higher without even an outrageous valuation.

It's "amazement, skeptical amazement," Cortes said, of the "endless love" for Apple.

Walkley said Apple's success has hurt Nokia (not exactly a news flash, and that Best Buy has also lost some share).

Patty Edwards, whose role was so limited again Wednesday that she should ask Judge Wapner for a refund (but then again, more time to deal with that Porsche Jagov who parked the car too close), recommended PM at one point, and halfheartedly said of CBS, "I think this one really does look interesting," before offering the Constant (with HD and the Ag Trade) Fast Money Buy, DIS.

CBS watcher (in more ways than one) David Bank said the company has a "huge 2013 coming" despite expectations to the contrary, partly thanks to OTT (over-the-top of cable box revenue streams, such as Netflix stuff, thanks to Judge for seeking definition) and because "The Good Wife" will be syndicating (we'll make sure to buy the first season to come out. Bank said CBS is no longer just a general ad-market story, but a "content monetization story."

"I love Diageo," said Steve Cortes.

[Tuesday, March 13, 2012]

Karen finally wakes up
53 minutes into the program

Evidently Karen Finerman isn't fully on board with that time change thing yet.

Finerman saved her best — or basically saved everything — for the very end of Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, when she unloaded on this couple-days-worth-of-news-and-something-for-Gasparino-to-opine-about waste of time called the bank stress tests.

"I think the whole thing is a joke," Finerman said, explaining that in 2009, "people thought that was a joke as well," which is true, this site noted that at the time, but that actually it was important in 2009 because it was the government saying, "Here is our plan to save Citi" and issuing a "game plan for every bank out there of the biggest ones."

This time, Finerman said, "it's not relevant, that's the point ... giant waste of time."

Steve Liesman then delivered breaking news, at the end of which he said he was "very surprised to hear," and almost sounded like he was taking personal offense, that Karen was calling the tests a "joke."

But guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera deftly jumped in to tell Liesman, that's not what she said, she said 2009 tests mattered but this year's is a joke.

"This one is harder, Karen. This one's harder than in 2009," Liesman asserted.

Finerman protested, "Remember what was happening in the world at the time."

Keith McCullough announced he agreed with Finerman.

It can’t be ‘Nobody.’
Clearly, somebody does

While Keith McCullough was all aboard with Karen's Finerman's assessment of the stress tests on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, the 2 weren't exactly on the same page in an earlier discussion about Ben Bernanke.

McCullough was arguing that there's a "storytelling exercise" in the banks that has dropped the VIX to 14-15, which has previously marked a good time to be selling, especially the banks.

Guy Adami said while he thinks stocks may have a little higher before the blowoff, he unleashed redundancy in saying McCullough is probably right about the VIX as a "harbinger of bad things to come."

McCullough then added, "Nobody believes Ben Bernanke. Nobody believes the U.S. growth recovery," and that it's possible with China slowing, and he even put forth a patented veteran Fast Money move, saying "at the end of the day."

That's when Karen jumped in, saying she didn't understand McCullough's point about Bernanke, something as to whether he was incapable of making a difference. McCullough responded that with tops coming in 2008, 2010 and 2011 (those brought the dreaded "yeah yeah yeah" from Karen), if you were buying then, "every single time you've been burned."

Furthermore, McCullough said, he's opposed to the notion of always "having to do something" and would prefer to just build cash at a time like this.

Doug Kass gets tangled up in a curious sell banks/sell bonds thesis

Doug Kass joined the 5 p.m. Fast Money gang Tuesday and first said he was "inclined to sell" the XLF.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera then told a personal parable about not buying the long end of the curve in the bond market. Kass then acknowledged he was talking to a pro, saying, "I know you cut your teeth on the bond market Michelle."

While the screen listed Kass' arguments against bonds, he said they are "gonna be considered a return-free asset class that's very risky."

Brian Kelly sensed something wasn't right here between Kass' selling of the XLF and calling for a bond short, saying a steeper curve would be good for banks and demanding Doug "connect the dots."

Kass cited Keith McCullough and said the "increasing economic ambiguity" will weigh on banks even as yields figure to rise.

And, he said the government's failure to address the deficit "could come back and haunt the bond market," but if it does, that's not Fast Money, that's Chicago-Cubs-winning-a-World-Series-time-frame Money.

Stephen Weiss nailed DMND

He hasn't crowed much since the first day, but he could.

Stephen Weiss had to buck an avalanche of Fast Money/Herb Greenberg doubters on Feb. 9 after buying DMND on the plunge.

The shares bottomed at $21.44 that day, climbed, essentially retested that low a couple days later, and since then have produced a robust gain.

We noted at the time, Weiss for his rationale didn't cite a temporary overreaction to the price, but first faulted analysts, then insisted the walnut business would still be there. Then a day or 2 later he admitted to Greenberg that despite those assertions, he already exited the stock a winner. He hit a home run, but had he merely called it what he apparently presumed it to be — a trade, in a temporarily seriously mispriced stock due for a sharp bounce — he would get the Grand Slam, with extra syrup.

Josh Brown’s JPM-to-$48 prediction looking feasible

Banks unfortunately got the lion's share of Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, with Guy Adami saying at the top that "officially" the bank rally now looks long in the tooth as he prepares for the long-awaited "blowoff top."

Keith McCullough said that what Jamie Dimon did to the Fed by doing an early announcement is like saying "Nanu Mr. Bernanke, I run your show," and McCullough added, "I think that that's what creates your blowoff top."

Adami had to tell Michelle Caruso-Cabrera that "blowoff top" is merely "jargon we throw around." Giving the rally a longer leash than McCullough, Adami said a couple times he sees "another 25, 30 left" in the S&P.

Karen Finerman revealed, "I had to sell a little bit of JPMorgan into this rally."

Brian Kelly suggested looking at RF in this environment.

Guest Fred Cannon said he actually likes C once it gets past the test and the "noise."

Brian Stutland said that "a blowoff top doesn't occur in just 1 day," and that he suggests selling 44 JPM calls against a long position as the way to play the rally, as well as picking up MetLife on a selloff.

Stutland pointed out that someone on Tuesday sold 16,000 April 38 calls in Citigroup, which would "definitely be a bearish bet on Citigroup" and a sign of a top. Keith McCullough grumbled, "That's just dirty. I mean somebody buying those at 38, I mean somebody always knows something."

Scott Nations, who just made a nice call on JPM, said he likes the announced buybacks more than the dividend (conceding Karen Finerman's good point about the price perhaps getting out of reach of the buybacks), and "I would stay long the stock."


Go. Figure.

Longtime viewers of Fast Money know that one of the chores of being on the panel is the task of staring into the camera while the guest on the Fast Line talks, and trying not to look like either a wiseacre, or doofus.

Instead, you can be Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, and utterly own the camera.

We should point out, it practically goes without saying that everyone at CNBC looks good on television ... or they wouldn't be on TV.

Sometimes, whether right moment, right mood, change of pace, etc., the camera catches the right person at the right time, and clearly that was the case during MCC's jaunt on Tuesday, perhaps because, as she put it twice, she was happy not to talk about Europe, as the Pride of Wellesley brought a certain joie de vivre of a 20-something.

Specific stock calls aren't Caruso-Cabrera's forte, and over time that would be a show headwind, but she more than compensated Tuesday with spirited exchanges over the banks and bonds.

She insisted to Guy Adami, "I have, I have" been in Home Depot, for light bulbs.

At times, the camera also caught Karen Finerman in striking poses, but there's only so much time and effort to expend on screen grabs.

Just what the 99% want to hear

Guest Mike Kirby spoke about the potential of REITs and upscale malls on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, saying, "We see the home ownership rate continuing to decline for a couple more years or so," from 66% to ultimately a bottom around 64%, and so for the "next couple years," he expects there to be "great rental demand."

His picks include TCO, ELS, EXR, because we're actually in an environment where the "rich get richer," and "good malls get better." (And is that what explains Sears Holdings?)

Guest Jens Nordvig said that for years, the dollar has been weaker in the risk-on rallies, but in the last month the dollar has been rallying with risk assets. "The dollar can get a bit further boost," Nordvig believes.

Keith McCullough then cited a lack of correlation with commodities over several time frames and questioned how Nordvig is drawing his correlations. Nordvig said commodities have been affected by global issues but he's specifically referring to "risk assets related to U.S. growth."

McCullough's Final Trade was to "short the S&P 500." Guy Adami said TKR. Karen Finerman said to sell the upside calls in CMI, and Brian Kelly reiterated RF.

MCC lights up Fast Money

Basically nothing gets us more excited about Fast Money than a Keith McCullough appearance.

But even that can be trumped when sizzling Michelle Caruso-Cabrera makes a rare guest-hosting excursion.

MCC was already knocking socks off on Monday morning's Squawk Box in smokin' blue-black ensemble (we tried to get a screen grab, but the colors didn't come through very well) and easily maintained a competitive edge in Tuesday's navy dress. (Sorry that Steve Liesman happens to be frowning; it was just the best image we could get on short notice.)

Much more from Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money later.

Dan Dicker tells viewers
to write their congressmen

Seems like everyone on Fast Money cites last August as proof the government doesn't work.

Dan Dicker evidently thinks it does, exhorting viewers on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to contact representatives to push through a natural gas measure the viewers probably know little about.

Crude/nat gas is now at a "45-1 differential," Dicker said, saying "people should start calling their congressmen" to get pending natural-gas legislation attached to a highway funding bill.

Dicker was gushing about several nat gas names, mentioning Encana, Sandridge, Devon, Ultra Petroleum, Cabot. "These are the stocks that are going to triple over the next 3 years when natural gas gets some excitement behind it which it absolutely must do," he said.

Josh Brown recommended FCG as a way to play the sector and avoid single-stock risk.

Stephen Weiss said "I like Cheasapeake" but offered a Machiavellian theory, that maybe the industry is deliberately keeping prices low to get D.C. to act.

Jon Najarian spoke enthusiastically about CLNE, but Josh Brown warned that CLNE is capable of a capital-raising surprise. Simon Baker said he's "overweight energy but not in the natural gas," and actually likes a Patty Edwards favorite, CBI.

Dicker concluded, "Tell the politicians to get something right."

Dr. J gets a Fast Fire break

Judge Wapner, after singling out Jon Najarian recently for a couple Fast Fires, finally unleashed one on somebody else, hectoring Stephen Weiss on Tuesday's Halftime Report over one we'd forgotten about, HK.

(That was the Floyd Wilson interview (see February archive) where Wilson looked like this interview was the last thing he needed that day, said Ronald Reagan would get his vote, and practically ignored all the gushing from the crew of Fast Money admirers.)

Anyway, Judge told Weiss that he got "annihilated" since recommending HK that day, or at least "killed."

Weiss' defense was curious, to say the least: "You know on Fast Money, everybody saw the wisdom of Floyd Wilson that I saw, went out and bought it, since then it's come down."

But Weiss insisted Wilson's got the magic touch. "Give him some time," Weiss said, predicting "at least a double, more likely a triple, or a 4-bagger" and revealing he bought more last week.

Impressively skeptical, Judge said Wilson might be 3-for-3 in past value-creating projects, but "Who knows if there's gonna be a 4-for-4."

Why CNBC should take CNBCfix.com’s idea for an all-AAPL show seriously (cont’d)

Judge Wapner opened Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report with nothing more exciting than Peter Misek's AAPL target.

"699. Come on, man, why not 7. I mean, what's up with that," Judge said.

"We call it a Wal-Mart special," Misek said. Basically, "We think the Street numbers are too low."

Of course the dividend question came up. "We think, the 2nd half of this year," it'll happen, Misek said, because the company will have a "ridiculous amount of money" (and when have you ever heard that before?).

Misek insisted that "the iPhone 5's a much bigger deal" than the dividend in terms of affecting the stock price.

He asserted, and we're not really sure how anyone actually knows this even though many people claim this, that Steve Jobs figured out the TV thing. "We absolutely think Steve agonized over this, developed the user interface, really got it all sorted out before, uh, before he passed," Misek said.

Judge for some reason sounded a curious 12-month cautionary note to Stephen Weiss, citing "tremendous risk" in having 2 major product announcements in the "same calendar year. ... Chances of a misstep on 1 of them, as unlikely as it may sound, goes up, does it not?"

"Yes and no," said Weiss, who could've just said "what the heck difference does 'calendar year' make, but adding, "I'm just not hearing that."

‘The prescription should match the description’

Steve Liesman was using big words that rhyme while suggesting on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the world may have to get used to no QE3.

Liesman said if we got steady 2½-3% growth and 200,000 jobs, in exchange for no QE3, "I'd take that trade," and that he thinks that scenario isn't far from reality.

Simon Baker said don't expect anything from the Fed now on QE3; "the real news is gonna come out in June." Josh Brown said there are only "2 groups of people" who think a "premature QE3" is needed, and those are gold and silver investors.

Steve Liesman said there's going to be a "meeting before the meeting," so Baker's assessment is likely on target.

Steve Liesman and Judge Wapner credited producer John Melloy for an excellent graphic, the QE3 license plate on the Bernanke car, though Liesman cracked it's either a "shout-out or a shout-down."

So much for that notion
about ‘stocks lead’

In low-key fashion, LSI chief Abhi Talwalkar delivered a bit of a facial to the Wall Street analyst community on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"I always told my employees, uh, Wall Street's gonna be last to recognize a turnaround ... we're just getting started," Talwalkar assured Judge Wapner, who noted this year's stock price.

"Business is good," Talwalkar said, saying LSI is focused on the world's "data deluge problem."

Stephen Weiss asked if LSI didn't used to be more of a commodity company. Talwalkar said yes, but "the company's very different today" after 11 acquisitions and 3 divestitures. Talwalkar also made the obligatory reference to Thailand floods, saying the "recovery's going well" and he sees a "snapback in the drive industry."

It’s rare this century when you can say someone missed the MSFT story

Jon Najarian started saying some interesting things about MSFT and the Xbox on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report and ran headlong into skepticism from Josh Brown.

Najarian said the reach now of the Xbox, as well as Apple's presumed penetration, is what's prompting people such as Paul Otellini to dabble in the TV space.

"I'm not buying the New Dawn for Microsoft story," Brown said.

"That means you've been missing it! That means you've been missing it Josh!" Najarian crowed.

Brown said he's still been long the Q's, but Najarian said that hasn't climbed as much as MSFT.

Brown wasn't sold. "I don't know that they have anything new that's screeching hot," he said.

Guest Vijay Rakesh said Intel's set-top move "looks like a tougher space ... probably lower margins than the PC segment."

Stephen Weiss said he'd be surprised if Jim Beam got bought now. Josh Brown said MCP is the name in the rare-earths space, but it's really more about Chinese-related supply than demand.

Jon Najarian pointed to spot VIX spreads and said it'll be "perhaps not days but not much more than weeks before we see a much higher VIX."

Judge Wapner for some reason crammed Jim Iuorio and Money in Motion fox Rebecca Patterson into the end of the program, with Iuorio touting the XLV at $36.60, and Patterson saying to buy the Mexican peso while selling the dollar.

Simon Baker, who did a fine job presumably pinch-hitting for Patty Edwards, who disappointingly was a scratch Tuesday (perhaps because of that Porsche jagbag parking too close to her car), offered GNC as a Final Trade, sounding like he said "veetamins." Josh Brown continued to push BRK-B, Jon Najarian said he's into WSM calls, and Stephen Weiss said LSI (that was a toughie to expect).

[Monday, March 12, 2012]

CNBC ongoing miss: How come Maria Bartiromo, or anyone else, can’t land an interview with Dick Fuld?

Chris Whalen, whose assessment of the bank stress tests was labeled a "joke" by Judge Wapner (who undoubtedly remembers a week ago reading Dennis Gartman's actual notes and ending up in a verbal donnybrook) at the top of his visit on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, said the tests are just being done to justify the dividend and capital issues already made; "all of a sudden now we're concerned about consumers," he scoffed.

Whalen asserted that in bank supervision and a mandate to take care of the economy, "It's just very clear to me that the Fed doesn't get it," and that the rankings themselves are bogus, because among the big banks WFC should be the best and C should be the outlier, so there's "something wrong with the methodology," but admittedly those ranks represent the deep end of banking knowledge as far as we're concerned.

Whalen said he doesn't want the big 6 yet, but indicated he does like USB, BBT, FITB and KEY. Pressed why he wouldn't jump into WFC now, Whalen said "we're not done yet" with the series of below-the-general-public-and-this-site's radar of litigation that went over our heads.

Scott Nations, meanwhile, was happy to chalk up the pending stress tests as another catalyst for JPM, as well as the April 9 earnings release, which you can catch by buying the April 41 call for $1. "I wanna get bullish in JPMorgan," Nations said, without buying the stock.

CEO brings tiny aircraft to interview, but Judge is more serious than he bargains for

You can tell Melissa Lee had the day off from Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money (obviously seeing Judge Scott Wapner sitting in the chair, plus his previous announcement at Halftime, was a solid clue) if for no other reason than a CEO was interviewed, and he wasn't asked about being bought out.

It was only in summarizing the chat that Joe Terranova said one reason to be long AVAV is because it has "the potential to be bought."

Meanwhile, the questions Timothy Conver fielded from Judge Wapner, in a crisp guest-host performance on a day with little to talk about, were still pretty good, with Judge at one point questioning the administrative timing issue affecting Q3 results. Conver explained the company had a "procedure with the government" that resulted in an "administrative delay" in which purchases slid 3 days into Q4.

Also, Judge expressed deep skepticism toward the concept of drones being a low-cost, low-maintenance option for the military, saying that if they're flying for 24 hours, there's gotta be "hundreds of support staff" dealing with that. Conver said there are an "array of sizes and applications of unmanned airplanes."

Judge wondered about risks to the drone business, citing the incident in Iran. Conver said that from a safety perspective, the machines are "quite benign," the first time we've heard "benign" on Fast Money in weeks given that Guy Adami isn't describing the tape that way anymore.

Joe Terranova implies Craig Berger could use a dose of The Brady Bunch’s ‘Sunshine Day’

Craig Berger guested on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to talk about Intel's venture into set-top TV boxes, and given Berger's enthusiasm, you would've thought Judge was asking him to chart a course to victory for Newt Gingrich.

Berger called the move "pretty challenging" and a "tough slog" for INTC.

Judge asked whether this is like Cisco making set-top boxes, or whether it's a revolutionary threat to all kinds of televised media purveyors, the cable companies, dishes, "hell, Netflix."

Berger said it's outside Intel's core competency, that Intel is reacting to headwinds in the PC market, and basically in an "Amityville Horror" reference throwing "a lot of spaghetti at the wall so to speak and, and, we'll have to see what sticks," (although the movie turned the spaghetti into something oozing from the walls, but that's Hollywood).

Jon Najarian said that rather than try to pick winners among the hyper-competitive distribution systems, look instead to the content providers.

Joe Terranova, though, sounded almost taken aback, demanding to know, "Why is it necessarily a bad thing?" Terranova said there's value in play here and "it seems to make total sense." Karen Finerman said she agreed with Najarian, but Joe has a valid point here.

Television 10 years from now for most people may not feature a cable or dish. For now, its superior advantage is assuring (mostly) uninterrupted delivery.

Karen isn’t practicing
Buy High, Sell Higher

Alexandra Lebenthal, regularly winning the Best-Dressed CNBC Contributor contest hands-down, visited the Nasdaq for Monday's 5 p.m. show to basically tell viewers that Puerto Rican bonds are tax-exempt in all states.

Beyond that, not much to reveal. Lebenthal said Puerto Rico has "a different economic situation" than U.S. states, but it's "not like investing in a 3rd-world country."

Jon Najarian said he's owned them, and recently if you sold you took your lumps (but thankfully he held on — remember what he thinks about those people watching on TV who sold on that 200-point Dow drop last week), then asked a question about Ambac and MBIA that went over our heads.

Guy Adami mentioned CIE in a chat with Paul Sankey, but said of refiners, "my sense is I would avoid these names," even though CIE "still might be worth a look."

Karen Finerman said she sold some BMW and Daimler because it's "just wise to take a little bit of money off the table."

Amelia Bourdeau, who always looks good on television, recommends buying U.S. dollar vs. the yen at 82.20.

Jon Najarian's Final Trade (caught on the Web Extra, in which Judge talked about stuff happening at the end of the show), was MRVL. Guy Adami said HD, Karen Finerman said PACD and Joe Terranova said BX.

Judge near the end of the actual TV program revealed, "I haven't been inside an Urban Outfitters in probably 20 years. I don't know if that says me- more about me than it does them, but that's just the facts."

"They don't sell Armani there," said Jon Najarian.

AOL-Time Warner,
meet ExxonMobil-XTO

Judge Wapner, guest-hosting for Melissa Lee on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, brought up what was a disliked deal at the beginning but gradually is creeping closer to the Top-10-Worst-Of-All-Time lists: the XOM purchase of XTO.

Judge told guest Paul Sankey that "it's fair to say" that XOM hasn't "reaped the rewards" of what it paid. Sankey played nice, saying if you refer to it as an R&D move (because XOM apparently couldn't afford to hire some smart engineers previously), then XOM "got what they wanted," but admitted that "from the point of view of the price, it's frankly, it's been a disaster."

More from Monday's Fast Money later.

Bove: BAC to $13 by year-end

Dick Bove refrained from any headline-grabbing calls on bank stocks during his appearance on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

But he did reiterate of BAC, "I'm still a big believer it's gonna get to 13 by the end of the year, so yeah, I'd buy it."

Bove predicted JPM "should move up maybe 5, 10% this year." He said NTRS, STT and BK (not Brian Kelly, but BNY-Mellon or whatever it is) will "meaningfully" experience dividend hikes, that GS and MS will get the same clearance, while BAC, JPM and C will see "moderate increases."

Bove said not to expect huge hikes in any names, other than maybe C with its minuscule level. "The guideline probably is 30% payouts," Bove said.

Pete Najarian told Brian Kelly that there is "still significant upside" if he gets into April-dated XLF options. Anthony Scaramucci said he likes, in order, WFC, C, then JPM.

But he didn’t include the Buffett anecdote about what the smart guy buys in the beginning, the dumb guy buys in the end

Guest JC O'Hara, who might've been making his first Fast Money appearance (though we're not sure, he might've been on before), was doing the if-then thing for WFC on Monday's Halftime, saying the stock could jump from $32 to $34, and then, "once we hit 34, I mean this stock is looking to run," perhaps to $44, which he said is "very exciting."

He wasn't too enthusiastic about C, only saying Thursday could be a catalyst to somehow retest its 2011 highs.

Meanwhile, O'Hara said "I'm a buyer of short-term weakness in gold," then asserted "all the stars are aligning" for a short-term move lower in gold before a bounce.

Anthony Scaramucci said gold is tough for himself to call because it's one of those "Greater Fool Theory things," and relayed the Warren Buffett analysis of the cube of gold worth all of those XOMs and farmland but which would you rather have (and all of the world's artwork piled on top of itself could probably take out Lululemon, but why would anyone want to buy a Rembrandt instead of LULU?).

Jon Najarian acknowledged he's got a big backyard and it's filled with GDX and GDXJ.

Pepsi conversation strictly about financial monkeying, nothing about great new products (if any)

Bill Schmitz was talking on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report about the issues facing PEP and even suggested the bizarre possibility of a company known as Pepsi spinning off its beverage division known as Pepsi.

Praising the new corporate move, Schmitz said, "They cut a ton of advertising spending," which is sort of the fuel for soft drinks. He pointed out that the snack division is a huge part of the revenue and would be "value-enhancing" if spun off.

Anthony Scaramucci praised Schmitz for great analysis but said he totally disagrees with the spinoff notion because of the synergies. "Lou Gerstner would never break up a company like this," Scaramucci said.

Pete Najarian said he owns PEP and has "owned it for a long time" and would consider adding here. Brother Jon concurred in a way, "I would not sell shares here."

Can ‘John Carter’
outgross ‘The Artist’?

Guest Tony Wible told Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that DIS is not as hurt by IPTV ads (we had to look that stuff up) and should benefit from "mispricing of these digital deals" in a "trade-off analysis."

Pete Najarian cautioned that $4 gasoline could hurt Disney theme parks but that ESPN is cooking at this time of year.

Anthony Scaramucci warned that "John Carter" could be more than just a box-office joke. "A couple of bombs like that, you get into reverse earnings momentum," Scaramucci said.

Wible, based on Judge's own interpretation of his comments, seemed to be arguing both positives and negatives for NFLX, saying it "might be seeing a slowdown in sub growth" and questioning any deals with cable companies.

If you’re not in a hedge fund, you might be coming out ahead

The Fast Money Halftime was as narrow on market opinion Monday as the Dow range, with Pete Najarian indicating the VIX is showing a "level of comfort" in the market.

Anthony Scaramucci said we've still got the "Federal Reserve trampoline," which will "act as a buffer for the markets," even though he sees the encroachment of "regressive inflation" for some consumers (although, that doesn't really affect the ones in Courtney Reagan's "Luxury Boom" who are buying man-bags).

Scaramucci said this is a good environment for hedge funds because "equities are up and correlations on stocks are down," but with the S&P outperforming many hedge funds so far this year, some people will wonder why they don't just buy the S&P ETF instead.

Brian Kelly warned that we have to watch Spain, and that Europe needs a "growth strategy" or else we'll be talking "deep recession."

Judge’s Fast Fire grudge

Judge Wapner for whatever reason on Monday's Halftime Report threw the book at Jon Najarian (again), giving Dr. J the last 2 official Fast Fires, this time not about taking profits in BAC, but for recommending Pandora a week ago (which, unfortunately, actually really did merit a Fast Fire). Najarian took his lumps, saying it's "basically a binary bet" to play in that space, and "this was a loser, and, uh, I licked my wounds and moved on."

Pete Najarian invoked the "sales per square foot" theme in TIF and said there are option bets for more upside. Brian Kelly made the weakest case possible for natural-gas auto plays, saying it "eventually will" come to fruition. Anthony Scaramucci said IBM "should continue to do well."

Tim Seymour for some reason felt compelled to dial in the Fast Line and argue Samsung is kicking Apple's butt in China, "more successful" with a broader price range and more partnerships. Samsung, Seymour said, is the headwind against AAPL $1 trillion.

Pete Najarian said he'd rather be elsewhere than DELL.

But that was before Pandora

Judge Wapner hailed Jon Najarian and Pete Najarian on Monday's Halftime Report for Trademonster's No. 1 options-site ranking from Barron's. (We can't figure out what the difference is between Trademonster.com and Optionmonster.com, but congrats are in order.)

Brian Kelly's Final Trade was MHK. Dr. J said WDC, Pete Najarian said TIF and Anthony Scaramucci said PFE.

‘Gran Torino’ ranked higher
than ‘The Deer Hunter’

One popular benchmark of the best films ever made is the the Top 250 list at the Internet Movie Database, which happens to be an Amazon.com property (another one of those free labor things).

The rankings are clearly skewed to more recent films and an electorate that tends to own computers and probably disproportionately boasts ages that begin with "2." However, maybe that's not really a "skewed" outcome, but an accurate revelation that, for example, "High Noon" isn't as relevant now as in 1952.

Anyway, checking it the other day, we were surprised to learn that "Gran Torino" is actually regarded as the 112th greatest movie ever made, ahead of more celebrated names such as "Gone With the Wind," "The Deer Hunter," "Scarface," "The Wizard of Oz," "Ben-Hur," "The Graduate," and even "The Artist" and "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire," which would indicate the Oscars really got it wrong.

Then again, "Inception" is deemed the 13th-greatest film ever made.

Like we always say, you get what you pay for.

[Friday, March 9, 2012]

Michelle Meyer guests
on Money in Motion

We were just pointing out a day ago that The World's Cutest Economist, Michelle Meyer, doesn't make appearances on Fast Money anymore.

But that's not the case with Money in Motion, where TWCE surfaced Friday.

"The Fed's in wait-and-see mode," Meyer said. "For some reason a lot of market participants are expecting imminent QE3, which I don't think will happen."

Meyer said any kind of QE3 would be more likely later in the year. She dismissed the notion that the Fed might make any moves with the election in mind. Ben S. Bernanke "doesn't seem like a political, political person," Meyer said.

Jon Najarian makes fun of amateurs who sold on Tuesday

In a rare, almost borderline bizarre, assessment of unknown Fast Money viewers, Jon Najarian on Friday's Halftime Report chided anyone who took the 200-point selloff this week as a reason to unload.

"Shame on you. That's why, uh, I guess that's why you're watching rather than trading," Najarian said.

Meanwhile, thanks for tuning in (apparently).

Zach Karabell said, "I've been buying into this," and that it's a market where you want to have "arrows in the quiver, dry powder."

Steve Grasso concurred, "The high-beta trade is on."

Patty Edwards said she was buying a couple tech companies Friday, including Synopsys, but more importantly to Judge Wapner revealed, "I went longer on gold ... we will be holding up until 2,200 or higher."

Jon Najarian said the GDX and GDXJ found life starting on Tuesday; "take a look at the moves those have made."

Najarian: Thursday put-buying in GMCR ‘will draw a little scrutiny’

Evidently options in SBUX and GMCR started hopping Thursday afternoon before the big Starbucks announcement, and evidently Jon Najarian wasn't one of the buyers.

Najarian said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that people were aggressively buying SBUX 49 calls, but there was really a "huge volume" in GMCR 60 puts that skyrocketed in value overnight.

"I'm sure some of that will draw a little scrutiny from the regulators," Najarian predicted.

And, given the speed with which these regulators work, if there's any sort of regulatory action on this ultimately (snicker), we'll probably be hearing about it in 2016.

Anyway, Judge Wapner tried to make the case that this is no death knell for GMCR, saying, "at the end of of the day," the Starbucks dispenser is "an espresso machine."

Guest Keith Siegner agreed "the lines are a little gray" and that it's not necessarily a direct competitor to GMCR.

But Siegner doesn't cover GMCR (Judge said he'd leave that to the traders, but he never did), and so he spoke about the apparently unlimited potential of Starbucks questioned by Zach Karabell, offering an interesting new wrinkle that hasn't been discussed, that SBUX has "underexecuted" on a massive global tea market.

For SBUX stock, "I think it's tough to bet against it," Siegner said. "Plenty of reasons to stay in this."

Official Dennis Gartman Position
on Equities: ‘Dead-solid neutral’

Obviously hoping to dodge another semantic (bleep)storm with Dennis Gartman's equity position, Judge Wapner introduced Gartman on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report by carefully stating, "I'm quoting from your note today ... We took in (sic) the sidelines last Thursday; we remain there."

Gartman didn't object this time, acknowledging, "I'm comfortable sitting on the sidelines right now." He said the truth about the jobs report is that "today's number was really quite a good number," but nevertheless, on stocks, "I am dead-solid neutral."

Gartman said of gold, "I'm avoiding it in dollar terms," but he's enjoying all the perks of owning it in yen terms, in which he is "violently bullish" because gold is "demonstrably stronger" in yen terms than dollar terms.

Zach Karabell pointed out that equities have outperformed gold since October, so why isn't Gartman favoring equities now. "That's exactly what I did do" months ago, Gartman said, assuring he swapped from gold into equities. "I was there with you."

Gartman concluded by hailing coal stocks; "they are very inexpensive and I think all of the downside truly has been washed out of the coal market."

Patty Edwards said her preferred choice is gold, but she would take WLT or CBI in the commodity-related space.

Zach Karabell’s steadfast view on JCP apparently winning over Scott Wapner

Zach Karabell on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report once again defended his topsy-turvy, albeit bold, short on JCP.

Apparently Judge Wapner is convinced, telling Karabell the stock was popping when he first spoke about it, but given recent performance, "I think your thesis may be actually coming true."

Karabell said the Apple guys are skilled people you would want to try a turnaround, but it's "far too much to ask for an ailing franchise."

On this one we'd have to disagree, even though he's likely correct on fundamentals, there just seems to be an ocean of dollars wanting to buy into this regardless of the numbers for a while.

Patty Edwards said she prefers KSS over JCP in that particular retail space, but prefers the higher end over both.

Edwards also crowed about HLF. "The hits just keep on coming ... I will be owning for quite a while."

Steve Grasso said he's tempted to get in AKS, but he'll probably wait a bit.

Brown: JPM to $48

Steve Liesman visited the Friday Fast Money Halftime set and pointed out that because of ADP numbers, Fridays are no longer the days to trade the jobs number because "more of the pop is coming on Wednesday."

Zach Karabell suggested that tavern jobs aren't going to blow out inflation. "Temp work, orderlies, and uh, you know, lower-level health-care services, and food services and bartending" are not the recipe for "oh my God, we've gotta put a lid on this economy" type of policy, he said.

Josh Brown dialed in the Fast Line to say morally he hates the big banks, but he's not a priest or rabbi; so he bought JPM, because "We think it has no trouble getting to 48."

Zach Karabell was just as steadfast about the banks as he is JCP, saying banks might go up, but he doesn't like it on a "relative trade" because if they go up, other sectors will do much better, and that banking "is not where economic growth is gonna be."

Jon Najarian said options buyers have targeted April 16s in the XLF.

Multiples go up
when margins go down

Tobias Levkovich on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report offered one of the most lukewarm forecasts in some time, saying, "Some of the bite in Europe is still to come ... some of the more aggressive areas of the market probably are due for a pullback statistically."

He also argued that "good job numbers hurt margins."

Levkovich assured that "we're looking for 1,425 on the S&P," and reached that conclusion when a lot of people were not willing to go that high, and then did viewers the benefit of defining what an "inverse relationship" is when discussing multiples and margins.

‘Reduce’ = have less, not more

Guest Romit Shah, who kept his soundbites brief on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, wasn't enthusiastic about TXN, saying, "TI's just aligned with the wrong handset and tablet manufacturers," and that the disappointing part is that the analog portion of the business didn't pick up the slack.

Shah told Judge Wapner, "I have a reduce" on the shares. Judge demanded to know what that means. "That's a sell," Shah said, with a $28 target. He added, "We really like Broadcom and we really like Avago."

Camilla Sutton said she would buy Aussie, short yen.

Judge finally delivered in the last 1 minute his overcooked tease about Barack Obama speaking, preempting the Final Trades. We were going to guess that Patty Edwards was going to say HLF and Steve Grasso would say "stay long as long we're above 1,363," but in fact Edwards expressed on Twitter her Final Trade would've been SNPS and Grasso said nothing.

[Thursday, March 8, 2012]

Carter Worth: ‘Some of the best newsletters’ pick stocks from astrology charts

Every now and then you hear something on Fast Money that makes you think, "Why in the world don't I just throw darts at a board?"

That occurred on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, when Carter Worth admitted, "There are lot of people who, uh, pick their stocks from astrology charts, some of the best newsletters."

Tim Seymour told Melissa Lee he is Taurus and explained that he studied the stars a bit in meteorology class (see, in Scarsdale, they cover everything). Guy Adami complained that Adami was taking calculus, AP courses but not meteorology.

Anyway, Worth and the Fast Money gang didn't seem too preoccupied with solar flares, but Worth did opine on several of the market's biggest movers since the March 2009 bottom. Of WYN, he said, "We would fade it." He recommended "stay long or get long" with GNW, said CBS is due for a "breakout-type move" to $34/$35, and will give DF the "benefit of the doubt" that it's going higher.

Tim Seymour calls apparent
daily bottom in GMCR

It's one of the best Fast Money calls in recent memory.

But you had to act super-fast, or it was gone.

Tim Seymour said at the top of Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, as the GMCR ticker flashed with a 40 handle, "Green Mountain at 33 times earnings suddenly is in value territory ... this is a case where I think people are overblown."

Melissa Lee, in a rather difficult question, pressed Seymour for an on-the-spot explanation of why GMCR was suddenly undervalued, to satisfy any Herb Greenberg issues. Seymour didn't have a good answer — he said everyone seems to think the whole world is going to buy nothing but Starbucks and that's not true — but that actually enhances what had to be nothing more than a great trading in-the-moment gut call, something the show has taught viewers quite well.

Guy Adami said the play actually seems to be DNKN, and that if it declares a dividend it could be "off to the races."

Is that a ‘win-Wynn,’ or ‘Wynn-win’?

Jane Wells delivered breaking news from Vegas on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money regarding this WYNN board battle that quite frankly we don't think is very interesting.

Wells described it as a "win-Wynn" because Wynn only had to submit 2 pages of material to Okada. (But if she had been doing Carter Worth's segment on the best performers since the March 2009 bottom, would it have been "win-WYNN-WYN"?)

Analyst Harry Curtis made the Fast crew chuckle by saying, "If I were a betting man," he would think Okada won't last on the board. But he said far more important to shareholders is the "revocation of the 20% of Okada's shares." Then he said "at the end of the day," which means he fully gets the Fast Money gig, he expects a settlement.

Curtis said Vegas has upside, and MGM is well-positioned for that and for developments in online gambling. Curtis wasn't as enthusiastic as Steve Grasso was about LVS gaining a foothold in Spain, calling it most likely a blip because it's only a "fly-in" market.

Guy Adami said he couldn't recommend LVS here, unlike Grasso (who made it his Final Trade), saying there is "too much froth right now."

Next month, maybe Joe LaVorgna

It used to be that Fast Money often brought Michelle Meyer in to talk about upcoming jobs reports, but that doesn't happen anymore, and so Paul Hickey got the nod on Thursday's 5 p.m. show, saying 210 is "easily doable," but that he could envision a market with a strong open, then selloff.

He told what was probably a skeptical panel that it's not so much the jobless number but the direction, and "it's great news for Obama" if the trend continues in the path it's heading.

Julia Boorstin this time from the Montgomery tech conference didn't make the Fast gang cringe with a report about mobile devices being the hot trend, but relayed comments from Steve Case, who refused to tell her which startup companies he was meeting with but said he's looking for startups that can "really go mainstream," such as Living Social or Zipcar, which didn't exactly get the greatest ring of endorsement in the Halftime Report.

Gotta admit, Scott Nations’ variation sounds more useful than Brian Kelly’s S&P protection trade

Brian Kelly thought he was sounding responsible and forward-thinking on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money when he explained the joy of buying weekly S&P 137 puts, for 20 cents, to protect the portfolio amid the jobs report, when the pride of Shawnee Mission South, Scott Nations, crashed the party.

Mel Lee asked Nations what he thought of Kelly's goal of cheap protection. Nations agreed it's cheap, but "it's because he's not getting very much real protection." Nations said he would actually rather sell the weekly, which costs more per day, and buy the longer-dated to put on a calendar spread.

Tim Seymour indicated he can see both sides.

Nations' actual trade of the day was for YUM owners; he suggested buying the July 55/65 put spread for $2.15.

Guy Adami said he thinks, like Pete Najarian on the Halftime Report, that the selloff in MCD is just another opportunity to get long, but that there could be a couple more dollars on the downside.

Steve Grasso said that people wanting to short BAC should wait until next week. Grasso also recommended taking profits in semiconductors. "I've been seeing a lot of shorts coming into the, uh, semi space," he said.

Grasso: POT ‘dead money’

Scott Black guested on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to rattle off a host of pharmaceutical and ag trades, the highlight probably being TEVA. "This stock is a joke," Black said, but he meant it in a good way in terms of its "ludicrous" valuation.

But Black also touted MYL and WPI.

Then Black turned to the original Fast Money staple, the Ag Play, citing 2 reasons that are about as old as Kirk Kerkorian fairly well-known among the investment community for a number of years now, that population growth will take the world from 7 billion to 9.5 billion people, and that "people are movin' up the food chain." So he likes DE, POT and AGU.

Brian Kelly agreed, saying it's "simple math" that the world has so many people and constrained corn supply.

Steve Grasso though said "Potash seems like dead money" (and we noticed, its chart tends to match FCX pretty well) and that he likes AGU better.

Tim Seymour's Final Trade, as a matter of fact, was FCX, while Guy Adami said to buy CCL if it dips on its report. Brian Kelly said XRT (whose 2nd-biggest holding per Yahoo finance is NFLX).

Melissa turns heads with ruffled top

A while ago, this page complained that Melissa Lee doesn't take enough chances with her choice of attire.

(Note: That does not mean we're dissatisfied with how Mel dresses; quite the contrary.)

Thursday Lee set the tone for 5 p.m. Fast Money with a bold ensemble, although unfortunately Mel didn't talk about Spanx; in fact the CNBC.com archive lists very few references to this startling company and its attractive billionaire owner, although Jane Wells has come through a couple times with blog items, and you know you like it when Jane Wells opines on Spanx.

Judge & Stephen Weiss fail to clarify whether Weiss bought SBUX or GMCR

The Fast Money Halftime gang on Thursday put together an interesting go-round on MCD, although guest Andy Barish was probably given a bit too much time to speak in generalities.

It started when Steve Cortes drew chortles among his colleagues by comparing MCD and COH, of all brands, and saying, "I know it's a very different price point," which didn't stop Pete's chuckling and Judge's snarky comeback, before stressing the impact of Asia.

Stephanie Link, though, said China GDP going from 8 to 7.5 is "not that big of a deal ... not that big of a surprise," and maybe presents upside.

Then Barish came on and cited MCD as having some Europe problems from the "austerity programs" in France and general wariness in Germany, as well as a "pretty bad winter" in Europe.

He did say there's a new product, "Chicken McBites," but that it's "kinda range-bound here" and he has a $95 hold target.

Pete Najarian was practically beside himself, commandeering Stephanie Link's turn to talk and defend the stock and saying, "I'd say this is an absolute buy."

Steve Cortes invoked Milli Vanilli in following up on Barish's curious weather reference, saying he doesn't trust "Blame it on the rain."

Stephen Weiss argued that MCD can't continue the growth it's enjoyed. Stephanie Link argued it's still got favorable metrics and then proved she's fully on board with the Fast Money team, saying, "at the end of the day."

Weiss said if MCD continues to succeed, it will accomplish what "nobody else has been able to do in the history of restaurants."

Link responded, "Well I don't think people thought that this stock was gonna be the best stock in the restaurant group last year either."

Judge Wapner asked Stephen Weiss about SBUX and GMCR. Weiss said he bought, apparently Starbucks, but "sold three-quarters of it already" and what he's still got is "playing with the house's money."

Whitney Tilson is not asked about CRM performance

Judge Wapner kicked off Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report by entertaining Whitney Tilson's latest in Tilson's "cheap" portfolio — HHC, or Howard Hughes.

"We're betting on the overall portfolio of real estate assets" and the management, Tilson said, though his rationale for owning didn't include a lot of short-term catalysts. "We think book value is very conservatively stated," he said, and it'll be "worth a lot more" than it is now.

Tilson also credited CEO David Weinreb for vesting himself with long-term incentives; "he really put a ton of his own skin in the game."

Stephanie Link, who slightly resembles the Spanx gal Sara Blakely (we just like talking about the Spanx gal), questioned how to value the assets. Tilson's answer was that the company's South Street Seaport (try saying that fast 5 times) is on the books at $3-$5 million, and the company "would not sell today if someone were to offer them $100 million for it."

(Note that this article on Tilson's remarks calls it "Sea Side Shreveport," and then goes on to quote a much different sentence than what Tilson actually said, unless it's referring to a written statement of some kind, but that's not indicated, so we're thinking this is auto-transcript run amok.) (You see, on the Web, you get what you pay for.)

Pete Najarian said the thing about Tilson and Warren Buffett, "they're talking about multiple years" in the housing sector, whereas "a guy like me" views long-term horizon as "2 months."

Tilson said NFLX might've pulled back on the iPad announcement because of a rumor NFLX would pay Apple 30% of revenues for iPad-related sales, but "I can promise it's nothing close to that."

Terry Bradshaw is from Shreveport, which isn't exactly "sea side."

Cortes: Warren Buffett wrong on housing for 2 years

Despite Whitney Tilson's book-value euphoria, the Fast Money Halftime gang on Thursday wasn't totally sold on real estate.

"We wouldn't buy the builders, they are extended," said Stephanie Link, who instead touted Weyerhaeuser.

Stephen Weiss asserted that "housing's clearly ahead of itself ... housing stocks, they're just overvalued .. they've way too much assumed a recovery."

Steve Cortes was downright bearish. "I am short the homebuilders, on spread, against the S&P, betting on underperformance," Cortes said, saying he got short XHB. "Warren Buffett has been bullish wrongly on housing for 2 years ... I think housing goes lower from here." However, he admitted he liked the trade better a couple days ago.

Brian Stutland said he bought PFF on Thursday. Pete Najarian trumpeted April 33 call-buying in WFC.

Cortes: AAPL is ‘supporting the entire market’

It's hard to imagine anyone underestimating AAPL, but Toni Sacconaghi indicated that's precisely what's happening regarding the aggressiveness of the new iPad rollout that's a week earlier and in more countries than before.

"Our bias is for numbers to go up," Sacconaghi said.

Sacconaghi said the Kindle Fire will probably go to a 10-inch tablet, and "I don't expect the 399, uh, iPad to be a big volume seller." But he insisted AAPL is "really attractively valued."

Pete Najarian hailed TXN and chips as an AAPL derivative. Steve Cortes invoked recent movies (actually about a year ago) in arguing "it is really Atlas supporting the entire market ... should Atlas shrug, I think the whole market could really be in trouble."

Stephanie Link unimpressed by Mike Murphy’s new long

Mike Murphy dialed into the Fast Line on Thursday's Halftime Report not to discuss his dubious WHR short but to explain his recent buy in Navistar.

Murphy said there's a "big catalyst" in pending EPA certification of new engines. "At 10 times, you have a $50 number."

Stephanie Link wasn't buying that. NAV "continuously disappoints; they lower guidance a lot," she said, and there are "better places to put your money."

Murphy said Wabco has too much European exposure and that he does indeed like Cummins more, but he is playing NAV as a trade.

Brian Stutland, who spoke just as 2 chaps at the CBOE behind him were evidently celebrating some blockbuster call/put spread with a bear hug, said, "Down here I think you take a shot and you own this stock."

Judge wasn’t impressed by conference headline of Julia Boorstin

Julie Boorstin, who looked good, reported on-location from the Montgomery venture capital conference (apparently Sharon Epperson's oil execs ran out of things to talk about) and said she's been told that "mobile will be the biggest trend of the next 5 years."

"Wow what a shock," shrugged Judge Wapner.

Pete Najarian chuckled but defended the report of Boorstin, who has had trouble in the past with the sophistication/expectation of the Fast Money panel/audience in some of the general-interest-more-like-Power-Lunch-material hits she delivers, saying, "but she's in the middle of it."

Which makes you wonder, if that's the most profound thing they're talking about at the conference, whether these people with startup ideas are going to find many takers.

Fast Money played what's probably Version 7 of "After Midnight" while briefly discussing the Fender IPO. Steve Cortes said it's not really up his alley, "My alley's more like the Zac Brown Band, 'Chicken-Fried'." That brought smiles from Pete Najarian, who thundered, "We finally agree on something!"

That tripped up Judge into referring to a Greek debt "swat." Willie Williams recommended selling Aussie/yen. Judge Wapner revealed he was "sick the last 2 days" but refreshingly seemed hale and chipper on Thursday. Stephen Weiss though chided Wapner's memory on JPM, saying, "I did buy it ... they are really picking the pockets of distressed sellers on good assets."

Steve Cortes' Final Trade was sell GRPN, which he called "Group-off." Brian Stutland touted UM, Stephen Weiss said long TBF (what happened to WLP? This writer is long WLP unfortunately). Stephanie Link said LRCX, and Pete Najarian hailed WFC.

Jackie DeAngelis
summarizes Spanx

Christine Tan set the table on Worldwide Exchange Thursday morning, and Jackie DeAngelis hit one out of the park regarding Sara Blakely's rise to the Forbes billionaires list.

"People aren't going to admit that they're wearing Spanx but we know that they are, clearly," DeAngelis said.

We don't really have a clue what the stuff is, but it's entertaining when CNBC women discuss it.

[Wednesday, March 7, 2012]

So basically the stock-market amateurs are outperforming the pros

Doug Kass told Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money gang that he succeeded in picking a few pennies off the tracks in front of the AAPL train briefly shorting AAPL, with Mel Lee explaining that Kass had "impeccable timing" to short at $546.10 and cover at $528.

Kass said his rationale is that the stock is "becoming a borderline mania," and that when he goes to cocktail parties in Palm Beach, "Every non-investment professional owns only 1 stock, and that's Apple."

As Col. Kurtz would say, "the horror."

Kass said there nevertheless remains a risk in getting run over by AAPL, so his play is to short QQQ.

Kass said the 200-point Dow drop Tuesday is the "first shot across the bow" in a market pullback, of which there are "6 basic issues ..."

Edward Cohen’s commentary bolsters Doug Kass’ argument elsewhere on Fast Money

Actually the best evidence that Doug Kass is correct on AAPL came from Atlas Energy chief Edward Cohen, who told Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money gang that "We're the Apple, in a way, of the energy business because we have a different model."

When a CEO of a (very) convoluted energy partnership triumvirate starts referring to his company as the premium-priced gadget maker of his sector, then we've got euphoria overflow.

Cohen explained that the parent (for lack of a better word) company, Atlas Energy (ATLS), gets "50% of all upside that we produce for those investors" in the other partnerships, APL and soon-to-be ARP, which Cohen described as better than the 2 and 20 from a hedge fund. "We really have a different model," he said, painting a win-win scenario in natural gas apparently no matter what the price is.

Guy Adami said he goes back to Mark Fisher at SALT and would probably have to recommend KMP. Pete Najarian on the other hand said, "You get that sense that Dr. Cohen is very much like a Warren Buffett." Tim Seymour said he prefers just APL, for the pipeline business.

Doesn’t RIMM have a tablet?

Guy Adami said on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that if you're long AAPL, consider $516 as your floor, but "I think it's still fine" at present level.

Pete Najarian gushed, "Everybody gets ticked off about this expression, but the ecosystem, it really is an ecosystem."

Mel Lee then welcomed Jonathan Geller, perhaps the most casually dressed Fast Money Nasdaq visitor in show history, to also gush about everything in the iPad announcement, including the fact there was no letdown. "I think there's a lot of momentum for the iPad," Geller said, adding that the $399 price level is a big deal.

Lee questioned if Geller is just an Apple fan who likes everything and can't view the company with a critical eye. "I am a big Apple fan," Geller admitted, but then somewhat embarrassingly revealed, "I've been a BlackBerry fan for a number of years."

Tim Seymour challenged Geller on the notion of the iPad lacking competition because Seymour's a big fan of Samsung. "I'm a little lost on there," Seymour said.

Geller said it might seem like a competitor to Seymour because he uses one and likes it, but "not in terms of sales."

So the valuation might only be $150 billion, not $175 billion

Julia Boorstin, updating Fast Money viewers Wednesday on the latest Facebook filing that basically just listed everyone who's cashing in on the IPO, reported that the company is now saying that "5-6% of their users could be duplicate accounts."

The Fast Money gang seemed to agree that this is potentially troubling — no one bothered to wonder how in the world anyone could truly know how many Facebook or Twitter accounts exist without taking the companies' word for it — but no one seemed to think it was terribly important, with Dan Nathan pointing out this is a business model in somewhat uncharted territory.

Guy Adami, grasping for AAPL derivative plays (give him credit for doing that, because basically no one else was), said BRCM is looking at 38½ resistance short-term and to wait for it to clear that level before buying, but as for QCOM, "to me Qualcomm you stay long above 61."

Dan Nathan indicated that Amazon is thinking long-term with tablets and not doing badly. "When you go to the beach, you don't see people reading their book on their $700 iPad. But you see a lot of Kindles," Nathan said. (This writer is long AMZN.)

Melissa’s evidently thinking about renting out her car

Mike Khouw introduced his LULU options strangle trade by explaining, "My wife goes there all the time and can't get enough of this stuff," which triggered endless inside-joke chuckling by the Fast Money gang Wednesday.

Khouw recommended that if you own LULU, consider selling a strangle, the April 60 puts for $1.60 and the 75 calls for $1.75.

We can't figure out why DoubleLine founder Philip Barach guested with the Fast gang Wednesday. He said bond investors need to take "overt steps" to beat inflation, and he hailed a "low-duration bond fund" as a way to do it. He also told Tim Seymour he's not interested in Spain or Italy debt.

Guy Adami at one point made a "cogent" reference and called it "preposterous" to chase CCI on the S&P 500 news.

Guest Shelby Clark explained one of the more intriguing business ideas of late, Relay Rides, in which car owners rent out their vehicles. Clark told Melissa Lee that the "average car owner right now makes about $250 a month," but there's a range of income levels.

Guy Adami asked about Relay Rides parallels to Zipcar. Clark curiously said his business aims to be "collaborative, er, er, complementary, I'm sorry," but the big difference is that his business doesn't have to manage its own fleet.

Tim Seymour's Final Trade was long DE. Guy Adami said CBI, Dan Nathan's mike wasn't working but we think he said take profits in AAPL, and Pete Najarian concluded, "ConocoPhillips, going higher."

Shell CEO says natural gas prices will remain ‘lowish’

Sharon Epperson on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report had another good get from Ceraweek, this time Royal Dutch Shell chief Peter Voser.

Voser said it's "very difficult to say" what gas prices will be this summer but insisted U.S. consumers are paying a "competitive" price.

Joe Terranova asked Voser if he's interested in acquiring a mid-continent refiner. Voser indicated no, that he's not in "acquiring phase" right now.

Terranova later rattled off WNR, HFC and CVI as names that are interesting. Brian Kelly said he likes NAV as the play on clean-engine driving.

Steve Cortes said he is "kicking myself" for not being short FSLR, which he called a "political construct" and not a business. Cortes said he's viewing the divergence between transports and coals as a signal to "broadly market short."

Abigail Doolittle got a little redundant in saying of copper, "This could be a harbinger of more poor things to come for the risk rally ahead."

Abigail Doolittle
does ‘hot’ yoga

We gotta be careful not to say anything snarky about Abigail Doolittle — she'll kick our butt.

Doolittle explained on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that "I do Bikram yoga, which is quite a workout."

We checked it out on Wikipedia and learned that "Bikram yoga" (not to be confused with Vikram Pandit) was founded by Bikram Choudhury; the classes are 90 minutes and involve a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, and most significantly, are practiced in a room of 105 degrees.

Anyway, Doolittle said the chart doesn't look so great for LULU, although it might take some time, but she sees a 10-20% decline in the near-term. Joe Terranova said he owned it much of last year but "got out of it way too soon."

Abigail Doolittle:
Expect ‘chunky drop down’

And a guy who didn't play football last season interrupts Fast Money with the announcement of his release ...

Joe Terranova said at the top of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the "rebound" in stocks is a sign investors "really weren't too concerned" with yesterday's smackdown.

In an interesting bit of alternating, Abigail Doolittle said merely "I think this is a reprieve," and just like a day earlier said the Russell 2000 looks poised to keep dropping and will take the broader market on a "chunky drop down."

But then Brian Kelly revealed, "I bought the Russell 2000 today," so somebody's going to be wrong here.

Steve Cortes eventually piped up that the story isn't the Russell 2000 but China, which had "really a fulcrum moment" in its data revelations this week because it needs double-digit growth to maintain the rural-to-cities migration.

Hmmm ... everyone's been talking about the pending correction, but the stuff always seems to get bought, even early August and October actually, so we'll say that Doolittle is wrong.

Terranova said he's long OXY, "added to Goldman Sachs," and cut in half his gold & silver short.

Brian Sullivan explained, "I'm a Chargers fan," but didn't opine as to whether Norv Turner should be the coach.

Wonder if Brian Kelly or Steve Grasso have tried ‘hot yoga’

For those thinking NFLX might have another trick up its sleeve, Vasily Karasyov made sure to douse the notion on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Karasyov dismissed reports of Reed Hastings in "talks" with cable companies as possibly just being the usual talks that all these people do all the time. "It's not like Netflix needs additional distribution," Karasyov said. "I just don't see the economics working."

Joe Terranova said he wouldn't buy NFLX at present levels, but maybe it gets interesting around $90 or $95.

Steve Cortes, who indicated he's happy to praise the CNBC parent company, said "the cable companies are really still the ones in the driver seat."

But nothing about the dividend

Jon Fortt said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the goal of Apple's next iPad is to make the Kindle Fire look like a toy.

Gene Munster, also on location, said the touch screen is a possible wild card.

Abigail Doolittle said if there is a disappointment in the stock, it could crater in a hurry; "there's a huge gap at 477, another one at 430."

Steve Cortes, referring to Brian Sullivan's news hit on MolsonCoors selling alcoholic iced tea in Canada, had the best line of the day, saying that if they did a drinking game every time "Apple ecosystem" is heard on CNBC, "we could get an entire fraternity drunk."

Doolittle: BAC headed to $7

Brian Kelly utterly dismissed any notion of dabbling in Pandora on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying he "absolutely would not buy it here ... once they break, they break."

Interestingly, Steve Cortes, who last June 15 said Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy gave "about the most sanguine, obtuse interview that I can think of on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange," wasn't asked to opine here.

Nor did Cortes opine about his recent BAC short. Abigail Doolittle, who yakked so much the show was actually able to put the clamps on The Contrarian, said the gain in BAC was just a short term pop and that the stock is heading to "right around $7 or so."

Doolittle also said to take profits in KFT.

Steve Grasso, who wasn't a panelist but got to speak briefly from the floor, got the Shields & Yarnell treatment when the sound briefly didn't work and viewers heard offhand chatter from Sharon Epperson. Grasso eventually said he bought LVS Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (almost an Appollonia reference in "The Godfather" but not quite) because "they're underestimating" Chinese casino-market growth, but he cautioned he's only "dabbling in it; I'm keeping it on a very short leash though."

Jane Wells is spending all day at the Brown Forman distillery in Kentucky and reported that bourbon, recently uncool, is back. Steve Cortes hailed the ATF trade but said "I'm not in any of them right now." Mary Thompson at the NYSE matched Wells' sizzling black dress, but Mary unfortunately said "What a difference a day makes" in assessing Wednesday's stock market.

Abigail Doolittle said the VIX looks poised to rise, with a "rounding bottom pattern."

Brian Kelly's Final Trade is SMH. Steve Cortes said to sell GRPN, Abigail Doolittle said to short gold and silver, and Joe Terranova said to get long TM, which confused Brian Sullivan who thought Terranova was indicating a short despite clearly saying "tailwind."

[Tuesday, March 6, 2012]

Amazon chat includes nothing about state tax-collection issues, a sign Wall Street doesn’t care

Melissa Lee on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money introduced Mark Mahaney's in-the-flesh presentation on Amazon with the understatement of the day: "Amazon shares did seem to be performing better than the markets in today's session." (Which given that the stock was up a half-percent on a day the Dow was down 200 was probably an accurate statement.)

Mahaney said 2 things have been a headwind on AMZN, although they sounded like kind of the same thing, or at least 1A and 1B; that Amazon is locked in a "product war" with Apple, and that AAPL is sucking the cash out of consumer electronics.

Mahaney said AMZN will survive the next iPad, and that "Amazon's going after the female tablet market," or the types of devices that fit in purses. Karen Finerman asked Mahaney about one of her favorite subjects, the AMZN multiple (which to be honest, we don't understand either how a 15-year-old company gets a 100 P.E.). Mahaney said the multiple is so high because the company is a "huge cash-flow machine." He also said it's at the "trough" of its investment cycle, which is about the time you should want to own it.

Abigail Doolittle shows off
chic new hairstyle

Partly because she's expressed bearishness recently, but mostly because she has a striking new hairstyle that ranks as one of the biggest changes in the history of CNBC hairstyles, Fast Money turned to Abigail Doolittle on Tuesday's 5 p.m. show to make sense of Tueday's selloff.

The S&P has dropped into the top part of its 2-year range, Doolittle said, and "this signals that the S&P really could decline further."

Perhaps most significantly, Doolittle pointed out that the Russell 2000 fell back through its 50-day, and this might be the most important indicator of where stocks are going.

The news wasn't any better on the XLB. "That chart is really turning pretty bearish," Doolittle said, and "may actually be ahead of the Russell 2000."

Jon Najarian delivers more proof that CNBC might as well do its own AAPL show

In another sign CNBC struggles to quench its own perceived thirst for Apple things to talk about, Jon Najarian on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money compared returns in AAPL since 2002 vs. the returns on a house, gasoline, gold and college tuition.

If you didn't already know that AAPL has outperformed housing this century, you probably aren't equipped to watch Fast Money. (And while $228,000 in AAPL stock in 2002 might be worth $9.9 million today, we don't know that Countrywide was ever handing out AAPL loans.)

Najarian chided those johnny-come-latelys who are playing the stock for a quick buck, saying, "This is an adult ride." Tim Seymour said there are a "lot of mo-mo guys in this stock." Karen Finerman agreed with that; "it is a momentum stock," Finerman said.

Abigail Doolittle cautioned that if the stock gets below $500, ultimately it could reach $400, but stressed a couple times, "its near-term trend however is up."

Tim Seymour to Barack Obama: ‘It’s way too premature to be patting yourself on the back’

Melissa Lee likes to say Fast Money is "not a political show," but she was forced to yield on that issue on Tuesday's 5 p.m. edition that previewed Super Tuesday with Eamon Javers.

Karen Finerman pointed out that stocks would likely be in trouble if Romney odds were getting better, a down-the-middle assessment. But Dr. J agreed and poured on the Eric Bolling-esque partisanship, saying, "Eamon nailed it as well ... the president is way out over his skis" in citing improvement in unemployment. "I don't think that the boots on the ground ... are seeing any part of that economy that the president's describing as so gangbusters," Najarian said.

Then the show alternated back to down-the-middle Ron Insana, who said there are more high-tech manufacturing jobs than applicants, "my bet is the unemployment rate is below 8% by November, which helps the president," and that stocks do best all-time with a Democratic president and Republican Congress.

Then it was back to partisanship, with Tim Seymour saying, "It's 90% about the economy," and scolding the president; "it's way too premature to be patting yourself on the back" while underemployment is still high.

Insana then wanted everyone to know he was only making an observation and not a political statement. When Tim Seymour suggested Insana could do that, Insana said, "You know, I'd probably lean towards Romney."

Somehow, the obligatory HD buy recommendation didn’t happen here

Melissa Lee on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money welcomed Geoffrey Jacobs to explain how he's been buying foreclosures, mainly in Phoenix, for long-term appreciation ... without ever really explaining whether it's been a good idea so far.

Jacobs said it's "obviously a growth play," but what he didn't realize when he started buying a couple years ago was "how good the rental market was gonna be."

Lee suggested rehab costs $6,800 per foreclosed home. Jacobs called that number "pretty much right on the money."

"It's Karen, let me ask you," chirped Karen Finerman, who said it sounds like a great idea to do this in bulk, but how much competition for these properties is there. Jacobs said he was alone for a while, but "clearly there is a lot of talk of big money, um, coming into a lot of these markets."

Ron Insana said he's been to Phoenix a bunch of times, "there are over 3 million people there" (actually 1.4 million in the city and 4 million in the metro area), and asked Jacobs how many cents on the dollar a mom-and-pop investor can buy a house for. Jacobs launched into a long "answer" that didn't answer anything, but he said it's "a fraction of replacement cost" with a "built-in Day 1 arbitrage."

Jon Najarian concluded by congratulating Jacobs for being in a "fantastic area."

Low-beta: The one place the Fast Money gang can’t recommend WLT

Nobody seemed too agitated about Tuesday's stock market meltdown, except for Mel Lee, who complained that, given the reasons cited, it didn't happen already on Monday.

Jon Najarian said there are some "birthing pains" this week (then unfortunately referred to little kids kinda like Grandpa on "The Waltons" would, as "young 'uns") with Greece, Apple, jobless report, etc.

Karen Finerman said Tuesday's selloff didn't seem "panic-stricken." Tim Seymour said, "This will be a stock-picker's market," and that a 3-5% pullback would be "healthy."

"I bought gold stocks," in the way of GFI calls, Seymour said.

Mike Khouw said met coal prices might possibly be near the "bottom end of the range," and he recommends selling the July 32 CNX puts.

Panelists for some reason rattled off favorites in the "low-beta" space. For Karen Finerman, that's CVS, MAT and TGT, with TGT maybe having the most upside from here. Jon Najarian said he got pinched from both dad and brother to come up with DVA and TJX, and tossed in ORLY. Ron Insana merely offered PM, while Tim Seymour said PM and LO.

Ron Insana’s Final Trade:
Do nothing

Jon Najarian on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money actually admitted a losing trade in Pandora, although at least he didn't recommend buying the 15/17 call spread as Scott Nations did a day earlier.

"Luckily I have a call spread here," Najarian explained, which "mitigated my losses."

Ron Insana scoffed at the notion of even playing this one. "Individuals shouldn't even go here ... I think they're all fad stocks ... too dangerous for individuals to touch," Insana said.

Mel Lee ran a clip of Samsung's Tim Baxter saying Smart TV is a part of the TV growth cycle, and that, for reasons we can't fathom, 3-D will grow from 3 million to 6 million.

Karen Finerman said that as an AAPL shareholder, "I'm not afraid of this Samsung product," and several agreed that in today's electronics, being first in isn't necessarily great.

Mike Khouw's Final Trade was CNX, while Tim Seymour said PM, Karen Finerman said owning PAY while selling April 50 calls. Jon Najarian pointed to heavy put-buying in VPHM.

When ‘around the clock’
means ‘basically not at all’

When a company tells a CNBC pundit "please don't misread this," it's gotcha confirmed.

Herb Greenberg, in one of his savviest moments, explained on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Herbalife has posted some great results, and so, "What is not to like." Well, Herb found the company says "one thing to Wall Street, and another thing in their SEC filings."

Herb said he saw HLF CEO Michael Johnson on Mad Money and played a clip where Johnson said, "We're doing research around the clock."

Herb said the SEC filing says the company's R&D spending is "not material," and that even though R&D in the food sector is generally not high, it's a case of the company saying one thing to investors and another thing in the legalese, and by the way, 29% of the revenue is from a 32-year-old product.

But Herb said the company responded with a message, "Please don't misread this to say that we are not doing extensive work that would commonly be considered R&D in our industry."

So, let's mull ... they're advising Herb not to "misread" the filing, and they're insisting the filing does not say that they do not do "extensive" work.

Brian Sullivan called Herb's report a "great point" and promised more on Street Signs.

Longtime HLF champion Patty Edwards said she has "owned for a very long time" and that the company is really about "providing more of a sales model ... it's about a better delivery system. New products are going to just be a little bit of paint on the pig."

Patty: Start buying AMZN if you haven’t already

We were waiting for someone to take the bait on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, and sure enough it was Simon Baker, the first (and apparently the only) panelist to call the selloff "healthy."

Baker said the S&P could fall to maybe 1,300, but it will just give people who have been waiting for this on light volume a chance to get back in; "all around, a healthy thing."

Patty Edwards actually greeted the stock plunge with relief, citing AAPL as not representing the whole market. "I've seen this market getting narrower and narrower ... I thought I was living in some sort of a bizarro world, where you know, things were just not making sense because it was going so far so fast," Edwards said, predicting "a little bit more to go."

Edwards' most provocative call was on AMZN, saying, "if you don't own it now, I'd be getting back in." She also recommended JNK if looking for yield.

Wonder if anyone on Fast Money was calling WLT a buy in the $130s

If you've watched CNBC since March 2009, you've heard everybody and his/her brother/sister explain how they knew the bottom was in, but Paul Forward on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report took it to another level in suggesting history might repeat itself.

Consol's Buchanan mine is the largest met coal mine in the U.S., Forward said, and it was last idled in March 2009. "Last time around, that was the bottom of the market," he said, saying of the current move, "that's exactly what this market needed was some producer discipline."

(And just think about the outrage if Saudi Arabia bestowed some "discipline" on its oil pumping.)

Pete Najarian asked Forward what he thinks about longtime Fast Money favorite WLT, borrowing Patty Edwards' favorite term (that we don't think Patty actually said Tuesday), "at this point in time." Forward said it "needs to execute in 2012" and a price in the mid-$60s would be "pretty reasonable."

Forward told Jon Najarian it's not just about idling production, but the coal companies have "gotta work through inventories ... gonna take time."

As Forward spoke, someone bored at Stifel Nicolaus kept tossing a ball in the air.

Simon Baker said he likes UNP as the coal play.

Brian Sullivan can’t figure out why anyone wants Treasurys

Jon Najarian said on Tuesday's Halftime that a lot of option traders are selling put spreads in the GDXJ and buying call spreads in the GDX. "They may be early," but they see a rebound, Najarian said.

Jeff Kilburg assured guest host Brian Sullivan that gold will hit its all-time inflation-adjusted high when the QE3 drip bag is "tapped," and yada yada yada we're going to retest the 1945 low of 1.67%.

Brian Sullivan went over the top in decrying Treasury returns in a low-inflation environment, suggesting he could actually freeze some cans of Campbell's soup and sell them 2 years later. Jon Najarian responded that you can make money trading Treasurys by buying with yields over 2% and selling 1.90, 1.85.

Kilburg said of silver, "I think it's a buying opportunity."

CNBC's often-underrated Sharon Epperson conducted a rare Halftime interview with Pemex CEO Juan Jose Suarez Coppel (probably the only CEO we can think of who goes by 4 names); Sharon looked good although the interview didn't break much ground, with Epperson and Coppel explaining that Pemex proven reserves increased last year, and that it exports 80-85% to the U.S. and doesn't have pipeline issues.

Traders weren't the least bit interested in Pemex, but Simon Baker touted DO, Patty Edwards rather lukewarmly mentioned SLB and KMP, and Jon Najarian and Pete Najarian equally lukewarmly mentioned HFC and COP, respectively.

Ralph Lauren (‘lorrin’) was born
Ralph Lifshitz

Jon Fortt did a Windows 8 report on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report and, aside from correcting Brian Sullivan with the appealing notion that Windows 8 isn't the only Microsoft product in a long time to get high reviews, said that a $400 iPad 2 would hurt Windows 8 tablets.

The panel then launched into AAPL derivative trades, with Pete Najarian suggesting OVTI, Jon Najarian saying NXPI, Patty Edwards suggesting AT&T and Simon Baker calling for ZAGG, a name he seemingly brought up 4 or 5 times Tuesday but maybe it was only 2.

In a bizarre little go-round on luxury goods, Jon Najarian questioned if Ralph Lauren's last name is pronounced "Luh-wren" or "lorrin" and was told by Brian Sullivan it's "lorrin," and then Sullivan adding, "It's not his real name," and Najarian concurring, "I know."

We always figured it was. But according to Wikipedia, it's not.

Brian Sullivan said a CNBC producer was just in Macau and the place was "out of control busy." (But was anyone there importing coal?) Simon Baker congratulated Sullivan; "that's the kind of on-site research I like to see you guys doing."

Karabell: ‘Misinterpretation’
surrounds Chinese data

It's too bad there isn't a Strategy Session for John Blackledge to visit, because his suggestion that MWW may be a go-private candidate would've found a bit more skepticism than it did on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Blackledge said the company has "most of the characteristics required," and the issue is whether they have math that works; "we think they actually do."

Guest host Brian Sullivan unleashed a heap of confusion by misunderstanding Blackledge's 30% premium/$10 price thesis as meaning a $30 price, then beating the multiple question to death in kind of know-it-all fashion. (And, he poured gasoline on the know-it-all-ness when later rattling off possible sentences for Allen Stanford's convictions.)

Basically, we can't see how the company is suddenly worth 30% more just to no longer publicly trade its stock, and we didn't hear a word from Blackledge or anyone else about how it becomes a more successful company this way, but that's the taking-private market for you. Pete Najarian said he's "not seeing any activity at the 10s," which implies nobody thinks it'll go for more than that, but there is activity at lower strikes.

Zach Karabell first had to deal with a "jet lag" joke before his limited time defending China was cut short by the Stanford verdict report from (Prettiest Hair in Cable Television) Mary Thompson. Karabell said, "I'm still bullish on China. I think that there's a misinterpretation of a lot of the data and the news flow," and when briefly pressed by Sullivan as to what the "misinterpretation" is (he can't blame Steve Cortes; he hasn't been on this week), Karabell started to say "it's not new," and that was it.

Patty Edwards' Final Trade was COST, but the problem was her intro to that Final Trade, which was not understandable and not picked up by the cc either. Simon Baker said (you guessed it) ZAGG, Jon Najarian said EA, and Pete Najarian (he foreshadowed it earlier) said WLT.

TV report: Costco gasoline is
6 cents cheaper than competitors

For those following the Fast Money High-Gas-Prices-Good-For-Costco Trade as much as we are, here's a Florida TV report examining the benefits of joining a wholesale club specifically to save on gasoline.

"When prices tend to go up dramatically, we definitely show an increase in our traffic," the Costco manager is quoted as saying. (Notice he does not say they have "definitely" shown a traffic increase right now, nor does he define "dramatically.")

The report notes that a basic annual Costco membership at this store costs $55, so if your goal is strictly gasoline savings, you're talking 880 gallons to break even.

[Monday, March 5, 2012]

Fast Money volatility segment trashes sponsor’s product

Gotta admit, this one took some guts.

Normally the Fast Money "Volatility Playbook" feature, which (ding ding ding) has its own sponsor, involves an options expert predicting the next move in the VIX.

On Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, Matt Hougan utterly trashed the volatility ETFs and ETNs.

"These products essentially always lose value," Hougan said, explaining they "dictate essentially the pricing of outdated volatility." (He likes "essentially.")

Scott Nations said "Matt is preaching to the choir," and asserted, "we've been really tough on a lot of these products," but took a more measured approach, asking Hougan if his beef is volatility as an asset in general or the construction of these products.

Hougan said basically both; "they're terrible products as an asset class," claiming VXX is down 94% in 2 years ago. The big problem, he said, is this is a "tiny niche market" and so these products "own the entire market ... whole dog here," not just the tail, in an "artificial market playing on itself."

"Don't touch 'em with a 10-foot pole," Hougan concluded.

After breaking news from Scott Cohn on the Allen Stanford deliberations, Fast Money cut to a commercial break, in which the announcer's voice and a logo duly noted, "The Volatility Playbook is sponsored by ProShares, home of the nation's only VIX futures ETFs."

Taking the biggest pounding was the VXX, in Hougan's commentary, while TVIX and its year-to-date troubles were listed prominently in the screen text, by our count for about 27 seconds. Neither is a ProShares product. However, ProShares' VIXY, sans performance data, was listed (above), for a grand total of 2 seconds with no ytd returns.

Pouring it on at the end, Scott Nations' Final Trade was to say "all of these VIX-based products stink," though he said a "good volatility product" would be great for investors.

Is Karen Finerman suggesting government needs another energy subsidy?

Poor Melissa Lee might've been a bit overcaffeinated for Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

In a couple of circumstances, Mel's questioning was a little amped up, overly wordy and hand-gesture-y, even to the point of coining new terms. (But, at least she didn't have to ask Dennis Gartman whether he's long or net neutral.)

Lee welcomed Southwestern Energy chief Steve Mueller to discuss the potential of natural-gas-powered vehicles, and started with the sticky situation of gas station availability.

There are actually 950 stations, Mueller said, but "only 400 of those are actually open to the public."

"Only 400 are open to the public," Lee repeated.

But then Mel unleashed an unintentionally hilarious question/observation, asking if the stations will come to the cars or vice versa or neither; "it's sort of like the chicker (sic) or the egg."

Karen Finerman came through with her usual intro, "It's Karen Finerman, let me ask you," she said to Mueller, asking if there's a plan for government subsidies to make the idea "viable" with a "critical mass" of stations (which basically means, offset your gas-pump savings with a higher tax bill). The answer didn't sound promising; Mueller first said it's only at the state level at this point, 8 states having legislation, with 33 more considering, and that there are some federal subsidies up for renewal.

Guy Adami for some reason asked forgiveness for his question, wondering if existing cars can or should be converted to CNG. Mueller said it "takes a certain kind of engine," and with a certified engine it is "very simple to do."

Mueller added that between gasoline and CNG, there is "no difference at all on the mileage," that engines last longer because they're cleaner, and so you get the "full benefit" of the price-per-gallon disparity.

Guy Adami said "I love the story" but still prefers MRO to SWN, based on valuation and dividend. Tim Seymour said that relative its past p.e. ratios, SWN is "cheap." Brian Kelly said Navistar is the immediate play, already converting trucks, or CLNE.

Just what Texas taxpayers need: Hearing about how great the returns in the teacher pension fund are

One of the specialties of The Strategy Session was a series of interviews with managers of public pension funds and university endowments that proved illuminating to both investing pros and regular joes.

On Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, Steve LeBlanc of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas discussed the joy of investing in private equity and beating the market.

"We're long-term, we're liquid, and we're large," LeBlanc said, adding, "Not only do we outperform in 1 year, we outperformed in 5 years and 10 years," which was basically a tedious restating of numbers already shown on the screen.

LeBlanc explained, "we need to hit an 8% actuary return," and said "we can make these long-term bets with our partners in private equity."

Tim Seymour said, "The entire pension and endowment world, moving more into alternatives, I think is genius," and then questioned LeBlanc about "intransparency" and "illiquidity" of private equity investments. LeBlanc said it's about "picking our partners," and that "we don't need liquidity."

Guy Adami asked LeBlanc if his fund takes physical delivery of commodities. LeBlanc said the constitution of the fund prevents it.

LeBlanc described his real estate strategy as "buy locally, borrow globally," which happens to sound like Greece economics in general.

LeBlanc said "the decade of financial engineering is over," and that "Europe may be mispriced," although he's not sure of that but has put together a task force to study that.

And if that 8% ever doesn't get met, don't worry, there's a bailout somewhere.


Viewers interested again
in Karen’s scarf(ves)

This time, we're prepared.

Last week (left), Karen Finerman was seen on Fast Money wearing her orange scarf that has drawn previous inquiries to this site — and did so again last week, we came to realize.

On Monday's 5 p.m. program, Karen had a different scarf (right).

Honestly, wish we could help out the Googlers and passersby with designer, price, etc., but we're clueless on these things, and our last posted appeal (a while ago) for Karen, Melissa, Patty Edwards, Amelia Bourdeau, Alexandra Lebenthal, etc., to occasionally describe some of their special outfits and where they shop, etc., was met with complete indifference, so that's what we get for trying.

On a significant China data day, Steve Cortes is not on Fast Money to comment

Tim Seymour was given the honors at the top of Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money and said it's true that a lot of Chinese commodity consumption in recent years is "front-loaded," and that there's "not gonna be a Keynesian style approach to stimulus here."

The line of dialogue quickly grew dry, as it did on the Halftime Report (but at least these guys didn't have to figure out if Dennis Gartman is long stocks or net neutral), but eventually the gang turned to YUM, with longtime fan Karen Finerman explaining she "couldn't initiate a new position right here" because it's just gotten too expensive. Guy Adami said it's "still a fantastic story" but to look for a pullback in the low $60s.

Brian Kelly said he sold the EWA and EWI, and opined that the "Australian dollar could be vulnerable here and I sold that short as well."

Money in Motion's Amelia Bourdeau, who looks good on television, said to sell Aussie/kiwi with a targeted move to 127.50.

Guy Adami not particularly enthusiastic about one of his holdings

Guy Adami got a chance on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to speak about a stock he owns — for years, actually (if you believe the official Fast Money disclosures online).

Adami said the 30½ level in BTU is the level to trade against, and if it should break through, "this has a $25 handle written all over it."

Adami said TSO is a name you can maybe "lean into" on the short side, and know that it presents Tuesday at a refining conference at 10:30 a.m. Scott Nations said it's one thing when gasoline is rising on demand, but when it's over supply disruptions, "that's a completely different story."

Brian Kelly said he wanted to short the KOL ETF so badly, but he was unable to get anyone to lend him the shares.

It’s about time for the 2017 update

Karen Finerman reiterated on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that her effusive Feb. 23 commentary on BID is intact despite a slump. "I think the story is no different to me" than the last time she spoke about it, she said.

Karen Finerman told Melissa Lee that it's one thing for a company such as MWW to say it's exploring strategic alternatives, but "interesting" to take it to a "much higher level" of retaining someone to examine it.

Finerman said of IBM, the company that's been telling Fast Money for a couple years how much money it will make in 2015, "I wouldn't be short it for sure but I'm out." Guy Adami said the company is rewarded for its "visibility."

Scott Nations suggested taking a P — er, buying the March 15/17 call spread in Pandora, which costs 60 cents but, like Brangelina, paying 30% of the width of the spread represents a "great relationship."

The deep end of the Ivy League basketball pool

In a rare Fast Money move, Tim Seymour voted against a fertilizer play on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

The CF chart "does actually scare me," Seymour said, saying he doesn't need this stock now, even though it is a "fantastic company."

Brian Kelly recommended that if you buy WYNN, buy 1/3 of it here and wait for the rest.

Tim Seymour recommended GFI for his Final Trade. Guy Adami said PCP, Karen Finerman said to sell PLCE, and Brian Kelly said to be long QQQ calls.

Guy Adami was courtside to announce the Harvard/Columbia game (talk about March Madness), which evidently was such a hot ticket that a dozen people were scalping tickets. "Great job by the Crimson," Adami said, and perhaps at some point in the 2nd half he was identifying levels for Columbia to trade against.

Guy Adami and Melissa Lee briefly debated terminology regarding "ripped off," which Lee pointed out could mean "copied" as well as "stolen."

Joe’s Wikipedia page doesn’t mention Buy High, Sell Higher

Joe Terranova's Wikipedia page needs some help.

For whatever reason, we were checking it out the other day and realized, among other things, it makes no mention of Buy High, Sell Higher.

And oh yeah, as you can see in the intro, Fast Money is described as a "highly rated evening program."

And someone needs to put an "a" between the "is" and "financial" in the lede paragraph. (Unless, that is, they're trying to say that Joe is the essence of and the all-encompassing financial TV personality.)

Much of it appears to be copy-paste from Joe's bio at CNBC.com.

See, remember this page's point last week about the free labor on Wikipedia? You get what you pay for.

Mark Matson: If you can’t give stocks a 10-year commitment, get out

Everyone has an opinion on getting ahead in the stock market.

Mark Matson, given the delightful opportunity to discuss equities on Monday's Street Signs with Mandy Drury, assessed the stock market this way: "Only random or unknowable new information changes prices. So, you know, to sit here and try to predict over the next 10 minutes or 10 days where this is going, is useless for investors. If you're not gonna be in equities for 10 years, and ... rebalance with fixed income on highs and lows, you shouldn't be in the market at all."

Dennis Gartman determined to unconvince Judge that he’s long stocks

Sometimes listening to Dennis Gartman update his positions can be downright exasperating.

Judge Wapner must've felt the same way on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report when trying to figure out if Gartman is indeed long stocks and instead getting a terminology parsing that was as helpful as the old "depends on what the meaning of is is."

Judge apparently thought, reading off Gartman's morning "note," that Gartman is "still very long stocks." But Gartman said "I'm not long of stocks, I'm actually neutral of stocks," and then clarified: "I was net long equities until last week. I am absolutely net-neutral."

Gartman said he is long shipping companies and long tankers. But "I'm short in beta-form S&Ps," he said, stressing, "I am short S&P futures."

Fair enough. But note that the official CNBC recap (shown above) says "Gartman is long S&P 500 Index."

And by the time you've read this, the position could well be long, short, neutral or anything.

Gartman opined on energy, saying he thinks "the spread between nat gas and crude oil is going to narrow over time," but he hasn't put the trade on yet, though he is "thinking seriously" about it.

It also depends on what the meaning of ‘challenged’ is

While Dennis Gartman was redefining "neutral" on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Joe Terranova was inadvertently conveying mixed messages about the commodity space.

Terranova said the issue is, "what commodities are fundamentally challenged. The tape today, oil is telling you that." He mentioned HOS and USO and said "oil continues to march higher."

So, the impression is that Terranova is referring to commodities in which supply is a challenge, and thus prices might have a lot of support.

Except then he mentioned steel and coal, and cited "fundamental challenges in those names. You have to look at your positions and your holdings and question yourself." And that sounded like it's the steel and coal stocks that have the fundamental challenges, not the commodities.

But then Terranova indicated that PCX was once a popular takeover notion and now trades at "6 and a quarter," and after the lowered Citi rating on CF, he would "take the other side of that."

Stephen Weiss said on the Fast Line that in steel, "I added to my short today," saying he was "shortering" U.S. Steel now as well as Mittal.

"I'm actually in agreement with him again," admitted Steve Grasso, who said if he did have to pick a favorite in the space, it would be AKS.

Grasso said it's "too early" for nat gas equities and if he were going to play the space he'd stick with the pure commodity. Grasso also credited Abigail Doolittle for nailing the FCX trade (which looks like a major bungle for Tim Seymour).

Joe Terranova not opposed to trying the AAPL short again

A couple weeks ago, Joe Terranova suggested it was one of those rare moments when AAPL is shortable.

Apparently, that moment continues, as Terranova said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that "my move is to short Apple" and "the next big move is to the downside here," although he indicated he doesn't have that trade on right now.

Terranova also said people long CRUS should pare back.

Judge’s attempt to elicit a possible ‘Rocky III’ moment at the beach goes unrealized

Benjamin Schachter told Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that there's no reason to get in YHOO until the plan is clear. "You should not get ahead of this," Schachter said, saying there's a big headwind in search, "by far their most profitable business," but it isn't translating to mobile.

"We still like Google very much," Schachter said.

Judge asked Schachter if he's "afraid" to issue a sell rating because of Asian assets. Schachter didn't answer the question but only said there's no reason he could put a buy on it.

Jon Najarian said people will bail from some existing social media stocks when FBK starts trading. Joe Terranova said of social media, "They're all guilty until they're proven innocent."

Terranova chided low price targets for IBM on the Street. "The analysts have gotten this completely wrong," Terranova said.

Tim Seymour wasn’t on to talk about Chess King and plain-pocket jeans

Courtney Reagan, promoting a nighttime feature on luxury shopping, told the Fast Money Halftime Report crew that the "man-bag" is catching on (although it looked like all the clips were from Beijing, where Steve Cortes says they don't quite have their priorities in order), and pointed to the stellar yearly performance of COH.

Obviously the Fast Money gang couldn't wait to tear into this one, and Steve Grasso was first, saying, "It's not a man-bag, it's a tote."

"It's a satchel," corrected Jon Najarian.

Joe Terranova said "love Coach," then also rattled off Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, PVH, KORS." Jon Najarian stressed that compared to COH, Ralph Lauren is "double that, 2X."

Sounds like Michael Harris should check out those Costco gas pumps

Guest Michael Harris began his appearance on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report being asked by Judge Wapner where oil is going, only to spend nearly all of his time telling viewer what has already been happening in the oil space.

Eventually, this leads to crude getting to "bigger technical points" at 113 or 115, according to Harris, who lamented that it cost $97 to fill up his SUV and that we're approaching the level it'll take 2 credit-card swipes to put more than $100 of gasoline on the bill.

Meanwhile, guest Itay Michaeli said that automaker "valuations are still very very cheap," particularly because the pension underfunding is no longer as bad as before. But he said biofuel cars depend on consumer interest; "the key question is can GM get real retail demand."

Michaeli said the automakers have more upside now than the suppliers because the suppliers don't have any new magic efficiency-creating parts now. Josh Brown said the biofuel car plays are CLNE and WPRT, the latter a pick that Joe Terranova praised. Steve Grasso said 2-3 years on that thesis for the automakers is too long; he prefers BWA.

Harris was skeptical on natural gas, saying "just in a matter of days here, we could take out the lows again."

Just what Japan needs: Gambling at casino resorts instead of buying government bonds

Guest Joel Simkins, unlike Power Lunch guest Mark Matson (above), said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that not all the gains are priced into LVS yet; "probably an upward bias to numbers yet to come."

Simkins said Japan is probably going to be the next big gambling story, though we've heard that since before the 2008 crash. Most of the Fast gang was hesitant to buy LVS or WYNN until there's a deeper pullback, but Steve Grasso said "I'd be buying Las Vegas right here."

Jon Najarian made clear at the top of the program that "I don't really believe what China says" and only pays attention to its data pronouncements for "moments in time."

Joe Terranova said he remains short silver and gold. Steve Grasso said key levels are 1,354, 1,352, and maybe 1,333, but to make sure the dips are bought. Josh Brown used the term "ameliorate" in describing data's effect on stocks.

Jon Najarian said there has been a lot of unusual put sales in KERX, and "the stock could go a lot higher." Josh Brown meanwhile was down on FSLR; "I would be shorting this stock with 3 hands."

Steve Grasso made MO his Final Trade. Josh Brown said RAX and recommended "accumulate." Joe Terranova said MCD, and Jon Najarian said P.

[Friday, March 2, 2012]

Think you’d never be caught working for free? Actually, you probably are

Guest Max Wolff took up the subject of Yelp on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Only briefly, Wolff touched on the most important element of the Internet Age; sadly, Judge Wapner failed like most CNBC programs to pursue it.

A huge — huge — part of the success of Internet entrepreneurism, and the Internet in general, is based on the curious notion of people willing to provide free labor that ultimately makes the 1% in Silicon Valley fabulously rich.

Wolff referred to the costs of Yelp for its premier product and noted, "They're paying those people absolutely nothing for the reviews, which is certainly appealing."


Imagine where NFLX would be (probably the first $1 trillion company) if studios didn't charge for the rights to distribute their movies, and if the customers gladly picked up the postage for mailing back the DVS.

Imagine how much money CNBC/NBC Uni/Comcast would be making if they didn't actually have to pay people to come in the office and produce TV content, but in fact Jane Wells, Joe Kernen, Mandy Drury, Seema Mody and David Faber and their camera/producer crews regularly put in 14-hour days on their own time just because they enjoy the process.

One of the reasons AMZN trades at a 100 multiple, and its CEO was once Time Person of the Year, is because its customers are happy to provide free labor, posting product reviews that draw eyeballs and clicks and often succeed at luring waffling browsers to make a purchase. (That of course is on top of knowing its customers' addresses, phone numbers and credit cards, exactly when they are browsing the site, exactly what products they're researching, how much time they're spending on the site, precise spending amounts, whether they've responded to promotional e-mail, with basically zero ongoing public privacy concerns, etc.)

Google certainly benefits from this public willingness, but its product is decidedly utilitarian; you're getting as much as you're giving. The biggest winners unquestionably are Facebook and Twitter and Wikipedia (those 800-million pages didn't build themselves on their own, or with David Einhorn/John Paulson/Roger McNamee capital).

Anyway, Wolff said he can't get behind Yelp at this first-day valuation, that it's likely to pull back because it's trading at something like the high-end expectation of 10 times next year's revenue.

Meanwhile, it's a stock fully dependent on the willingness of non-employees to provide it with free labor.

Way before the Internet, Mark Twain was one of the greatest observers of the human condition. There's a little bit of the Tom Sawyer fence-painting thing in all of us.

You’d think it would’ve been Dennis Gartman’s Final Trade Tuesday of long gold, selling crude

Maybe about once a month, for some reason, Fast Money decides to give someone a Fast Fire (isn't that interesting how it originally was a weekly feature for every panelist), and somehow Jon Najarian proved to be the victim on Friday's Halftime Report.

Najarian's transgression was to have told viewers to take profits in BAC on Feb. 2. (Which makes you wonder where Steve Cortes' borderline short fits into all this.)

Guest Taposh Bari said the Jeremy Lin story couldn't have worked out better for Nike and that it's an "extremely commercial, marketable opportunity." Bari told Judge Wapner that Adidas makes NBA jerseys. Nevertheless, he dubbed his $115 NKE price target as "pretty conservative."

Judge asked why Bari had to wait in line (with, we would add, the mopes with all the backward baseball caps) at the Nike store for the Fuelband, and couldn't the company set him up. "I couldn't accept it if they did," Bari reassured.

Steve Grasso asked out of the blue, in one of the better clothing zingers recently, "Is there anyone taking credit for manufacturing Joe Terranova's shirt today?" Patty Edwards said she owns it (NKE, not Joe's shirt), and "I would add to it."

Pete’s call of MOS is a bust

For whatever bizarre reason, Jon Najarian got hit with a Fast Fire on Friday's Halftime for having the audacity to suggest taking profits Feb. 2 in BAC.

Yet, it was Brother Pete Najarian who thundered, almost arrogantly (which is definitely not Pete's style actually) in an eye-opening declaration back on Feb. 22 that MOS is "gonna go a lot higher" for his Fast Money Final Trade.

The stock by Friday is actually down a buck and a half from Pete's call, but we'll be nice and call it flat.

Add XRT to the pile of investment vehicles that should’ve just gone all-in on AAPL

We pointed out yesterday that Steve Cortes wasn't around to confront Jing Ulrich over the Chinese birthrate, and nor was Cortes around on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to revive that "I shorted the XRT because of Amazon" trade once questioned by Patty Edwards.

Edwards handled a viewer Tweet on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report questioning the distinction between the XRT and RTH. Edwards said the XRT is an "equally weighted index" generally featuring "middle-of-the-mall stocks, your specialty stores," whereas the RTH is cap-weighted, with a big slug of WMT and a lot of big-box retailers.

No doubt about the 2nd assessment, but according to Yahoo finance, XRT actually boasts Netflix as its No. 2 holding, and counts PCLN, which isn't quite a mall store either, as No. 10. (Winn-Dixie is No. 1).

And Ron Johnson ranks No. 4.

Anyway, Edwards said choosing between XRT and RTH depends on what your goals are, and she likes the potential of the big boxes better now.

Edwards also said of Big Lots, "I think you can actually stay away from it," a statement that is undeniably true.

Fast Money Halftime gang
goes on warpath against semantics

Judge Wapner conducted a curious discussion on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report about nominally high-priced stocks including AAPL, AZO, PCLN and CMG in which the panelists were far more fascinated by presentation than whether the stocks are going up or down.

Joe Terranova first said that none of those high-fliers has "made the mistake of splitting the stock," an intriguing point that was never pursued that goes the opposite direction of the usual (accurate) Fast Money split complaints (it doesn't mean a thing and thus isn't worth doing) by implying a higher nominal price actually makes investors want to artificially buy more of it.

Jon Najarian then claimed, "They're miscasting that phrase, the law of large numbers. That's not what the law of large numbers is. The law of large numbers is in fact, the larger the sample, the more accurate the sample is," before Judge redirected the conversation.

Patty Edwards first said that regarding the large numbers, the truth about those stocks is that they're not there yet, and even kicked in a minor Brag Trade, saying "I was up 200%" in AutoZone a while back and still sold it too early.

But then Edwards clarified her own understanding of the law of large numbers as meaning, "How much more of an addressable market is there," and then even tossed in an "at this point in time" when pointing out that AAPL is unsaturated everywhere except the iPad.

Joe Terranova noted he's been short GOOG as it's been creeping up but said it's a good one to hedge. Jon Najarian said "Larry" is too extended at GOOG and that the company is chasing too many things.

Jane Wells introduces ‘gazetted’ as a verb to the Fast Money lexicon

Fast Money Halftime Report viewers got an unexpected treat at the top of Friday's show when Jane Wells, in kind of a semi-plaid ensemble, explained how the WYNN 8K got pulled and that it could or could not mean the Cotai plan is a go, but apparently what we do know is that it wasn't "gazetted" as the filing claimed.

No surprise, Jon Najarian said there was unusual activity in WYNN options.

Steve Grasso made by far the most pertinent comment, not about what might've happened hours earlier, but whether the stock is a buy after apparently giving up 2% from the retraction that might not really be much of a retraction but a delay. Joe Terranova, who made a great Final Trade call yesterday on the stock, indicated yes, "I think there's more to go."

Grasso suggested being in LVS as well for the global gambling exposure, even though it might have a "spooky" chart.

Jeff Kilburg still fighting the tape, but not with the ND helmet this time

Jeff Kilburg on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report said (stop if you've heard this before) oil's poised to go higher, "we are very susceptible to the headline risk" and now it's a "pinball" game in which "104 is a substantial floor." And, with just one headline from Iran, we could take out $114.82.

Kilburg warned against an off-to-the-races mentality, saying "QE3 is not off the table."

Steve Grasso stumbled over "indicative" (once as "in-di-KAY-tive") in pinning down Kilburg as to when equities will break down vs. bonds, if ever. Kilburg reiterated, "I think we are long overdue for an equity correction."

Coal: How the mighty have fallen

In the early days of this site — spring/summer 2008 — nothing was as white-hot as coal.

Basically PCX was like LULU, WLT was like CMG, BTU was like DLTR, etc.

And yet, just look at an ANR chart, and then you'll know exactly why Steve Grasso on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report was suggesting people continue to stay away from that name and other coal names because he expects them to get "beaten up further" as natural gas continues to plummet.

Judge Wapner asked Joe Terranova for "1" energy name, then said "a couple," only to have Terranova respond with 3: SU, HOS, OXY.

Terranova also pointed to enduring strength in PXD, CXO and APA; PXD being a long-running great call even if it's flattened out for a couple of weeks.

Judge gave Patty Edwards the 3rd degree for some reason on ALK, asking if she's not in it now because of oil. Edwards said she's almost tempted to short airlines at the same time as being long oil, but regarding ALK, she's only got so much space in the portfolio and just doesn't happen to own it right now.

The Money in Motion promo did not feature Rebecca Patterson or Amelia Bourdeau, so viewers had to be content with Marc Chandler's buy dollar/Swiss call.

Despite an oil spike, Brian Kelly says nothing about that 4-8% jump in savings rate

Brian Kelly, strangely using the type of terminology you generally only hear from the DEA, said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that USG is "a name I've trafficked in before" and that he's interested in it now based on housing rehab potential, it's "more concentrated on exactly the renovation area" and "all about gypsum board."

Judge Wapner wondered if HD and LOW weren't equally good if not better plays on that angle. Kelly said this is purely housing rehab, whereas you could get "dinged" by HD if people stop buying mowers.

Abigail Doolittle said materials look a little vulnerable and the XLB "appears right now to be a double top."

Doolittle said she could see a 5-10% decline.

Doolittle said trouble is "also showing up in the chart of copper," and in particular FCX, where "this chart actually looks very vulnerable" because of a "bearish descending triangle."

Doolittle said FCX could sink to 35 "pretty quickly."

Jon Najarian questioned Doolittle's copper assessment as recent bull Tim Seymour probably would. Doolittle insisted the trade is a "bearish pattern."

Joe Terranova said FCX has been regarded as a copper ETF, but now there's CPER, which is "more of a better, pure play on copper" that could be affecting buying in FCX.

Terranova said being short silver is the right call now and it's not a buying opportunity off of the Wednesday selloff as Judge suggested. "Think about who's trapped," Terranova said, saying it's the longs, not shorts.

Steve Liesman did another one of those "Here's how Russia's the same/different than when I lived here" features, with that horrid satellite delay, and visited the Yandex offices, where chieftain Andrey Sebrant said the company's outdoing Google in Russia because of "better programmers who pack it all together." Joe Terranova said "obviously Google Chrome is a problem for them" and that the stock could have an overhang of a possible secondary.

[Thursday, March 1, 2012]

Brian Kelly gives himself credit for avoiding a bigger loss

Melissa Lee probably could've chosen to talk about "The Artist" at the top of Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money and generated more enthusiasm than she did for her chosen topic, something about a Saudi Arabia pipeline that quickly disappeared from the show after about 2 minutes.

It's a lightly traded oil market afterhours and who knows if we'll ever know what was going on, said Joe Terranova.

"Nobody seemed to care," said Brian Kelly.

Tim Seymour tried to apply some gravity to the situation; "The reality is that the world cannot hold onto $130 oil and be OK," and suggested it's "amazing" that some forecasters are issuing "euphoric" S&P 500 targets with this level of oil factored in.

Joe Terranova said, "I'm still short gold, I'm still short silver futures," which provoked a waffling reaction from Guy Adami that Terranova is probably correct in the "short term" but that in a few months, gold (and silver "tangentially") is going to be "significantly higher" than now. (Thankfully, he didn't assess whether it's a John Paulson-related selloff).

Brian Kelly said he "thankfully" sold gold yesterday when it was only down about 20. Joe Terranova said the plunge in gold and silver is "actually good for equities," getting away from that safe-haven mentality, in a point that a lot of people on Fast Money who don't think of gold as a safe haven anymore would probably disagree with.

What everyone really wants to know from Jing Ulrich is whether Steve Cortes is a genius ... or Steve Cortes is, um, maybe mistaken

Sometimes the Fast Money scheduler doesn't always get the guests and the panelists in sync.

Witness Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, in which celebrated China watcher Jing Ulrich spoke mostly positively about the country's ability to manage growth to a panel that seemed mostly eager to gobble it all up, while famous China critic Steve Cortes was off in cyberspace coincidentally questioning the country's 2030 population trend.

Ulrich acknowledged Chinese slowing, but predicted that in the "2nd half of 2012, uh, the growth pace will recover."

She told Tim Seymour that the government's "tools" for stimulating will essentially be "incremental, small steps," and that there is less petroleum risk in China because the government controls oil prices.

Tim Seymour gushed about copper for some reason, saying Chinese demand persists, "whether they're stockpiling it, I don't care," and calling that "fantastic news" for FCX, one of his recent regular calls. Brian Kelly suggested viewers — apparently either long or short — could try the CAF instead of the FXI, although when we overlaid the charts, it's basically the same, except CAF has underperformed recently.

Guy Adami indicates that rejection doesn’t have to be a dead-end

Jeff Weiss, a slightly more colorful technical analyst than "the presumption is" Carter Worth, drew zigzags up and down the Fast Money set on Thursday's 5 p.m. show to basically say, like Guy Adami has been saying for days/weeks, this market's got higher to go.

Weiss said the Nasdaq rally really began in the 2 days after Thanksgiving. Citing ex-mentor Newton Zinder, Weiss claimed, "It looks like we may have more unfinished business left on the upside here," maybe the "1,425 area."

Tim Seymour said he agreed on 1,340 being support but demanded to know how Weiss and "Newt Zoolander" can be sure it's a bull market. Weiss said it's a bull market in part because the utility averages have busted out and because "so many stocks" have unfilled upside gaps in late November, and because of the positive outside weeks between Hanukkah and Christmas.

Melissa Lee spent some time tackling Laszlo Birinyi's 1,700 S&P forecast. Joe Terranova said it seems a "little bit of a stretch," and the panel also talked about UBS' 1,475 year-end call. Brian Kelly said these are the things you hear "when you get near the tops." Even so, Kelly said, "I bought XLF today; I bought KRE."

Jim Iuorio said he thinks the "real bargains are in the calls," and recommended the SPY April 140/144 call spread, saying it's laying out $1.15 to potentially collect $4 for a profit of $2.85, which would be "incredibly cheap for that kind of exposure."

Guy Adami, mentioning Shirley Muldowney's tire treads, described his EF Hutton experience this way: "I interviewed for the training program; I didn't get the job."

A Fast Money capitalist claims New Jerseyans will be ‘gouged’ at the gas pump

Jeff Klinefelter said Gap stores are benefitting from a "rising tide" of more confident shoppers (at least, ones who haven't been scared into filling up their tanks exclusively at Costco, where they're more likely to go inside and buy something), and as a matter of fact, "their product is definitely getting better. No doubt about it."

Guy Adami asked Klinefelter if JCP is a buy on this week's pullback. "Absolutely," Klinefelter said, adding, rather curiously, that he also thinks Kohl's can succeed too because he likes the "moderate channel" of retailers now.

Mike Khouw suggested that people long JCP could sell May 40 JCP calls to collect some premium.

Tim Seymour came through with a plain-pockets-jeans reference, saying, "Tan, plain-pocket jean, um, obviously boot cut," then questioning the future impact of "$6 a gallon" for people getting "gouged in Guy's home state of New Jersey." Adami celebrated a "205 print today" on the bathroom scale.

Count Joe Terranova among the many who will probably take a pass on Tim Seymour’s Asia Minor trade

While Steve Liesman is off in Russia, Tim Seymour just returned from Turkey and a couple of times suggested viewers could benefit from being local Turkish stocks in "local markets," something gobs of viewers are undoubtedly going to be doing.

Seymour said he likes Fiat and noted the TUR is "heavy banking weighted." But he said in the local markets, you can get 8-12% dividend yields in industrials.

Joe Terranova cracked, "What's the ticker symbol for Butterball? Because that's how I get my turkey exposure." Brian Kelly said he bought EWZ.

Fast Money's closing minutes were marked by a welcome appearance from CNBC's Mary Thompson, who delivered a fantasy of sorts in showing clips of her interview with Bob Iger, in which Iger indicated gas prices so far haven't hurt park bookings but frankly was a little too-cool, or perhaps even a tiny bit smug.

(This site crowned Mary the Prettiest Hair on Cable Television, but as we've acknowledged recently, when you get best-dressed CNBC superfox Seema Mody turning sideways in front of the Heat Map during updates on biotech and Nasdaq stocks, it's basically 1A and 1B.)

Guy Adami correctly noted, "Mary looked very glamourous."

Ron Insana would say,
this is a fad stock

Rich Greenfield, a longtime superstar Fast Money guest, discussed the latest news from Zynga on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money in a segment that left us utterly clueless. (Perhaps if we actually had ever played a Zynga game, we might have had a chance.)

Evidently, according to the New York Times article we had to read, Zynga is going to match up players who don't know each other in a new platform at Zynga.com. Which might be a weaning from Facebook, or might actually strengthen its ties to Facebook, depending on what you want to believe.

"I think this is a meaningful opportunity for Zynga," Greenfield said, saying it's a smart move to be controlling a platform, and that ZNGA "could see significant upside" by profiting for the first time from other games.

Mike Khouw recommended that if you must play ZNGA, use calls.

Tim Seymour's Final Trade was GM. Guy Adami recommended NRG, Brian Kelly said FCX and Joe Terranova said WYNN has higher to go.

When was the last time a Fast Money panelist actually entered a JCPenney store?

Herb Greenberg, summoned much earlier than usual on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, ran into a plain-pocket-jeans quagmire over JCP that he never quite extricated himself from, unsure about everything really as to whether this turnaround is working or what his point Thursday was supposed to be.

Herb said he's been hearing that JCP might've lost some sales to competitors in February, but we won't know for sure because "smartly Penney's has stopped disclosing monthly sales data."

Judge Wapner then challenged Herb about his prediction in December about JCP being "one of the best-performing stocks this year." Herb demanded, "don't put words in my mouth." Judge said he wasn't putting words in his mouth, just "asking you merely a question."

Herb said, "I predicted JCPenney would be one of the hottest retail names this year."

Judge said "now you're trying to work within what you said earlier." Actually, what Herb predicted was "the perception of becoming the hottest and possibly hippest mass merchant and retail turnaround since the last (albeit, short-lived) J.C. Penney turnaround in the mid-2000s."

So, Judge was overstating it. But it got worse for Greenberg when Greenberg argued that JCP last did great while Macy's was in turnaround mode, and then Stephen Weiss stuck it to him by applying the same logic to Weiss' own current trade in which he said "I put on a JCPenney short. It's not a criticism of Ron Johnson ... I also bought Macy's ... I also shorted Kohl's, and I bought Nordstrom."

"I'll look at it back in the 20s," Weiss said of JCP.

Judge Wapner said, "Nobody doubts Ron Johnson's skills as a retailer, but maybe some people were drinking the Kool-aid a little too soon and thinking it tasted like Dom Perignon."

Nobody bothered to ask Liz Dunn this time, who twice appeared recently on Fast Money with the stock in the $40s hailing more potential based on 2013 forecasts that mostly include cost cuts and not sales gains.

Steve Grasso said he actually agrees with Weiss this time and he'd rather be long M and short JCP right now. Pete Najarian said "JCPenney is the Hewlett Packard of the retail."

Get ready to see lines at those Costco gas pumps

The gasoline-impact story is a dubious CNBC cliche, but Pete Najarian boldly waded into that territory on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report by flat-out declaring: "We all know one thing and we've learned this from the past (as opposed to learning from the future): When you get to $4 gasoline ... that's when it becomes a problem."

"I think TJX can go higher. I took it off today however," Najarian said.

Guest Brian Tunick said things have gotten so bad for GPS, they might actually be getting good. "They've given market share away to almost every retailer you can think of so the bar is very low there ... little bit of a buzz there," he said. He also said things look great for Coach's handbag and accessory business.

Newcomer Stephanie Link, a pretty woman whose perhaps most impressive feature is a lovely smile and who was dubbed "a good get for the show" by Dan Dicker, said unlike Pete she'd be buying TJX here; Pete said he loves the stock but just had to take a little off.

Steve Grasso wasn't impressed by anyone picking a winner. "As long as we stay above that 1,370 level in the S&P, you could pretty much get a chimpanzee to throw a dart at a dartboard and buy anything because this market's going to 1,400," Grasso said.

Dan Niles said he has an investment in NFLX but isn’t bullish on the stock ‘at all’

Dan Niles, whose observations on the tech sector tend to be more closely watched than many others', told Judge Wapner on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that MSFT has been bolstered by its dividend, and that it's been an awful underperformer that now has a strong product cycle coming out. "The beta release that they had yesterday looked pretty strong," Niles said.

But Niles wasn't sure Windows will bring a surge to DELL or HPQ. In fact, he predicted a "stall in front of that," citing in part the ever-popular floods in Thailand, and saying, "I'm not a fan of the hardware-oriented companies right now."

Niles made a couple references to Elpida going belly-up, which will drive up DRAM prices and so he likes MU "a lot," and "we also own SanDisk." He said MU can keep going because "it was way below book value."

Stephen Weiss revealed, "I'm an investor in Dan's hedge fund." Pete Najarian trumpeted a Brag Trade, claiming he (pro-INTC) and Niles (anti-INTC) argued over Intel at the SALT conference last May.

Meanwhile, Dr. J’s $22-$24 takeout prediction looks more and more dubious

This page was just pointing out recently that (thankfully) Fast Money doesn't talk much about RIMM anymore, but that streak was broken on Thursday's Halftime Report when Peter Misek explained his price target drop from $15 to $12.

Misek said he thinks there's either gonna be a negative preannouncement, or channel-stuffing that will sink the upcoming quarter. Bottom line, "Greater than 50/50 shot here that we've got a bad February."

Stephen Weiss said he disagreed with Misek that the Canadian government would block a non-Canadian takeover. But Weiss said he's not in the name; "I'm not involved now ... way too much momentum" going the wrong way, he said.

Pete Najarian admitted his $15 RIMM calls are almost worthless, but "it's always worth a shot."

Steve Grasso pulls no punches in Stephanie Link’s inaugural appearance

Mike Murphy, who didn't address that WHR short but did dial into the Fast Line on Thursday's Halftime Report, said he likes JCI's growth in all 3 segments and says the stock has "a lot of upside here," perhaps to the high $40s.

Steve Grasso showed there'd be no kid gloves for the rookie while questioning Stephanie Link's "late-cycle (housing) play" in backing/owning the stock, saying that a BWA or DAN is "more of a proven bet" on the auto sector rather than JCI, which is just 2/3 autos and 1/3 HVAC. "That is true," Link admitted, but JCI has a "discounted valuation pretty significantly." Grasso warned about JCI breaking the 200-day.

An owner of AAPL who is not a stock pro thinks it can get to $1,000

Apparently unswayed by Dennis Gartman's knee-jerk response a day ago, Dan Dicker, aside from hailing Fast Money's addition of Stephanie Link on Thursday's Halftime, said gold actually looks good.

This could be "a moment you could actually buy this stuff ... opportunity here," Dicker said.

Steve Grasso agreed, saying he'd be a buyer of gold, silver and refiners such as HFC and WNR.

Dicker said COP is a trade on how it's going to divest its refining.

Grasso said, referring back to a call last year favoring F over GM, he still thinks there's a "massive overhang" with GM and still prefers Ford. But he indicated the next game-changer in the sector is the natural-gas play, which he thinks Ford will be out front on, but meanwhile he prefers BWA or DAN instead.

Stephen Weiss said the story with GS is not the trading desk anymore, but it's exposure to reviving capital markets.

Steve Liesman took the Trading the Globe mantle from Tim Seymour amid "Dr. Zhivago" music and a monstrous satellite delay, saying someone told him that previously persistent corruption in Russia is "off the charts now." Stephen Weiss said "I wouldn't be in Russia" but prefers Vietnam.

Pete Najarian said if Steve Wozniak is correct that AAPL can go to $1,000, it would stem from 3 reasons: China distribution, iPad 3, and iPhone 5. (What? No dividend or TV?)

Stephen Weiss said he's been continuing to short AAPL puts.

MacNeil Curry said to sell the euro vs. the pound as part of a "euro-stalling trade." Steve Grasso's Final Trade was FIO or if too nervous, then MO. Stephen Weiss said long TBF (apparently WLP is not so sexy anymore), Pete Najarian said JOY and Stephanie Link said CBE.

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