[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, April 2010]
[Friday, April 30, 2010]

Adami: Goldman traders gave
Blankfein standing O

Where many others see gloom for mighty Goldman Sachs, Guy Adami sees potential glory.

"I think this might be a galvanizing moment for Goldman Sachs," Adami said on Friday's Fast Money, suggesting the firm might've gotten complacent after surviving the apocalypse of 2008/09. "Maybe they looked at this as an opportunity to sort of get back on track. I don't think Lloyd's going anywhere, as a matter of fact this week when he came back from one of the trading desks, he got about a 3-minute standing ovation."

K-Fine: Wait for the
Goldman settlement

It's been a long, long, long time since we heard it, but Pete Najarian resurrected one of the earliest Fast Money clichés on Friday.

"Everybody's been tryin' to pick the bottom on Goldman and they're getting exactly what bottom-pickers get, they're getting a handful of you know what, and that's not necessarily good," Najarian said.

(This site in fact was suggesting doing just that a few days ago, but obviously that one came back to dump on us.)

Nevertheless, Najarian said the heavy options activity was running "almost 3 to 1, calls vs. puts."

Karen Finerman said she's still not doing any bottom-fishing. "If this were to drive them into a settlement, that may be the time to buy Goldman Sachs," K-Fine said.

Kaminsky: ‘Civil war’ over GS

Gary Kaminsky on Friday's Fast Money explained the difficulties in providing ongoing analysis of the Goldman Sachs situation.

"Being in the Goldman sandbox this week, kinda feeling my face has been ripped off a number of times," Kaminsky said, "it's important for viewers to understand, in a situation like Goldman, you're gonna have a lot of different opinions, and it's not flip-flopping, this is a highly fluid situation, things are changing by the minute."

Kaminsky drew on his experiences at Lehman Brothers for perspective.

"There is a bit of a civil war here," he said. "On the fundamental side, the clients are continuing to be highly supportive of the business ... however, as you know, I've been- not only did I see the Lehman movie, I was in the Lehman movie, and so I know how these things play out, and I believe this week it was a very big distraction, and I think it will continue to be a distraction. ... What Carl Levin might not realize is that the more distractions there are ... this will be a negative for the market if this continues to be a distraction for Goldman."

Kaminsky told Melissa Lee he had been trading GS earlier in the week, but "I got stopped out here ... It's too fluid to have any position."

We've said from the beginning we don't think this gets a whole lot worse for GS because the White House doesn't want to sink the stock market. Each day, that opinion gets shakier. (Note: That doesn't mean we think they're guilty or innocent of anything; we don't know and it's beyond our scope.) We have to think Carl Levin is aware of the ramifications outlined by Gary Kaminsky, but at this point maybe they just don't care, rightly or wrongly.

One thing that has been far more implicit than explicit on Fast Money — do the panelists believe that Goldman Sachs deserve to be punished?

Guy Adami has said, in his typical way of slipping in an opinion while continuing on to a trade and avoiding an argument, he doesn't think Goldman broke the law. But Karen Finerman, Pete Najarian, Joe Terranova, Tim Seymour, Patty Edwards, Brian Kelly ... do you think, after what you heard on Tuesday, that Goldman is OK, or deserves to be punished?

Another good Fast Money
history lesson

Tim Seymour predicted Friday anyone interested in the Goldman bottom might be waiting a while.

He sees an "incredible amount of dead time" for the stock. "This is not gonna be a swift, uh, resolution," he said.

He also said to watch "the Goldman of Europe, Barclays ... these guys are under some investigation."

Guy Adami said GS has fallen through some more technical checkpoints and points to $135.25. "I think that's now where the stock is headed," he said.

We always like hearing about famous Wall Street stories as relayed by Fast Money traders. Karen Finerman said it's an interesting parallel between Warren Buffett's position in Salomon Brothers and his present position in Goldman Sachs, but she's not predicting he's going to be summoned to 200 West.

Send Melissa an e-mail,
tell her she looks great

Melissa Lee reminded viewers during a discussion with Dennis Gartman on Friday they can connect with Fast Money via the "send" button.

"You know Dennis, I say, I say out there to the readers that I do read all the e-mails, and I do read all the e-mails, and the e-mail that we frequently get is Dennis Gartman says to buy gold in other currencies," Lee said.

"It's very easy to do," Gartman said, before outlining a scenario that frankly didn't sound all that easy to us. He said to get long GLD — that part is easy — "then you can either go and sell short the FXE, but it's hard to borrow the FXE ... you can go over and sell the IMN euro futures ... if you do that, however, you have to watch your dollar positions ..."

If you do send Melissa an e-mail (fastmoney@cnbc.com), please be polite; don't go overboard.

Karen missed bottom in RIG

Karen Finerman, whose ruffled bright orange top Friday was very similar to her light red outfit Thursday, revealed she probably jumped into those RIG options a bit too early on Thursday.

"Now I have a much better sense exactly how much I can lose because I lost most of it today. However, I do think that it's overblown at this point," Finerman said. "I think we need to hear from RIG."

Tim Seymour agreed the hit to RIG was overdone, based partly on the reaction to David Axelrod's comments about Gulf drilling. Seymour said "More than 70% of their revenues come from outside the Gulf anyway." He also likes Diamond Offshore.

Dennis Gartman spoke of periphery effects. "You're gonna reduce the amount of feedstock, not just for oil, but the amount of feedstock that goes into livestock," he said. "You've already got the soybean meal market backwardated." (This writer is long BP.)

Charlie Munger, on life

Dennis Gartman said Friday to expect the European haggling to continue. "I don't think they'll come to any kind of settlement at all" over the weekend, he said.

The panel discussed whether governments would sell some gold over the Greece situation. Gartman said they don't have enough to sell, but the IMF would. He said not to hold him to these exact numbers, but he thinks it takes 85% of the votes in the IMF to agree to sell gold, and the U.S. has "26% of the votes" in the IMF, so don't expect any gold sales there.

Karen Finerman said of C, "I think it's actually getting interesting." (This writer is long C.)

Melissa Lee played a clip from Charlie Munger, who said, "Envy is a much more serious mischief-maker than greed," pointing out that people making $5 million aren't happy if they know the "dumb bastard down the street" is making $7 million.

We find it odd that even very smart people on Wall Street, many of them Ivy Leaguers, insist on applying semantics to finance. Greed, envy, whatever ... always searching for the perfect term to encapsulate human frailties, when it can't often be done via language. Always calling for free markets and little regulation so people can get ahead and pursue dreams, then blaming the "greed" if that gets a little out of control, etc. ... That's why we like math so much around here. Numbers are precise. Words are merely an approximation, an estimate, sometimes no better than those Palm revenue forecasts we heard about this week...

Melissa’s prevent defense
on Goldman Sachs

Melissa Lee looked dynamite Friday on the Fast Money Halftime Report, but unfortunately she spent too much time unnecessarily trying to avoid detonating any Goldman Sachs gossip.

Brian Stutland, pointing out the potential of market risk from one company's volatility, said, "Back in the day when Enron had issues and had a lot of corporate issues, we saw an extreme spike in volatility in 2002, and that could spill over into this marketplace."

"And let's be clear, we're not saying that Goldman Sachs is the next Enron or anything like that, we're not saying that..." Lee followed.

Probably good to be safe, but we think the point where Goldman is going to be irked about what people say about it on television has probably passed.

‘Difficult to quantify’

The thrust of the Halftime Report Friday was an interview S&P analyst Matthew Albrecht, who downgraded Goldman Sachs with a $140 target.

"The risks are really piling up here," he said. "The risks to Goldman are very acute, uh, uh relative to the rest of the industry."

Melissa Lee seemed overly concerned about any implication that Goldman's business might be suffering in this environment.

"I think it's difficult to quantify that at this point," said Albrecht, who said it's not the present earnings that concern him, but "It's a relationship and a reputation-based business ... I think that multiple is gonna come down."

Pressed later (again) by Lee to clarify whether he's seeing a hit to the business, Albrecht said again, "It's difficult for me to quantify that on a day-by-day basis."

Patty unloaded at $167

Melissa Lee asked Patty Edwards Friday if she's buying GS on weakness.

"You know, at some point it's going to attract me Melissa, but it is not oversold enough for me at this point," Patty said. "I owned it before, I sold it at 167, I'm feeling really good about that right now."

Steve Grasso said he's troubled because he's not seeing a rotation from Goldman Sachs into other banks, but rather an exit from the sector.

"I think what they're really saying is let's drop the financials now," Grasso said.

Todd Gordon praised Albrecht's work. "He fundamentally made a strong case and technically he's got the levels right," Gordon said. He said to "watch the 130 level in Goldman."

Grasso ready to bail

Steve Grasso, without naming a whole lot of specifics, said "You're really looking at some buying opportunities" in the oil-services field in the wake of the Gulf-disaster selloff.

Patty Edwards revealed, "We're actually holding ERF ... it's a chicken way to play it, but you know, I'll take 8 and a half percent."

Brian Stutland reported that a lot of people are playing BP through options.

Edwards recommended McDonald's, suggesting the Gulf disaster is another hit to more upscale dining. "Love the dividend, love the safety," she said.

Steve Grasso said, "I've been accused of not having a sell button on my computer ... I've found the sell button."

[Thursday, April 29, 2010]

How did Exxon shares do
after the Valdez disaster?

The Exxon Valdez disaster occurred March 24, 1989, which coincidentally was Good Friday.

We did a quick check of XOM's stock performance around that time, using Google finance and Yahoo finance historical prices.

Keep in mind Exxon was a slightly different company back then, well before the Mobil part, and Google and Yahoo differ on adjusted closing prices.

Both show minimal initial impact of the disaster on Exxon shares. After 2-3 weeks, the stock was down 6% from its March 24, 1989, price. But a month after the disaster, the shares had returned to their pre-spill level.

Kaminsky: Microsoft
should buy RIMM

Gary Kaminsky on Thursday delivered an example of what Fast Money should be all about.

Kaminsky said, "I think Microsoft should buy RIMM. I think it's a deal that should happen. I think it's a deal that makes sense for both."

For MSFT in particular, Kaminsky said, "You've got a negative arbitrage associated with all the cash you're holding."

However intriguing, the suggestion didn't win over Thursday's Fast Money gang.

Pete Najarian said such a transaction would be an "absolutely enormous bite," probably a $55-$60 billion deal.

Karen Finerman said "Microsoft hasn't been traditionally a great acquirer of anything."

Anthony Scaramucci concluded, "It's a creative idea but very unlikely."

Right idea, wrong target

Later on Thursday's Fast Money, analyst Maynard Um took up Gary Kaminsky's MSFT-RIMM suggestion and cited operating systems, saying it seems unlikely either company would be interested. Either Um was prepared in advance for this topic, or he impressively performed some very Fast Analysis, or both.

Karen Finerman said the real problem with Microsoft is its unwillingness to pay shareholders from its massive cash stockpile.

The gut reaction here is that Pete Najarian's correct, it's actually too big of a deal for MSFT at this stage but probably would've been the right deal 4 or 5 years ago.

But we think Kaminsky's suggestion is on the right path, that MSFT does indeed need a jolt of growth but would need to dial down in size from the scale of RIMM. If it doesn't do something, Brian Kelly's prophecy of the shifting software business model seems more relevant.

Carl Icahn still fighting
uphill battle on Fast Money

Guy Adami, perhaps unbeknownst to himself, said something remarkably relevant about the Carl Icahn-Lions Gate situation Thursday on Fast Money.

"He shoots against it and yet he wants to own it," Adami said. "I think Lions Gate should be a lot higher than it is now."

"Should be a lot higher than it is now."

So essentially, Adami agrees with Icahn. There is value here. For whatever reason, the share price doesn't reflect it. How can that be a reflection of anyone but management ... and an endorsement of anything but Icahn's activism?

We can't figure out the Fast Money skepticism for Icahn's buyout offer. He wants to buy a company. Is that wrong? He thinks management is underperforming. He wants to take control. He apparently was right about the MGM library. If his offer is too low, just reject it.

The reality is, the LGF brass seems to know intellectual property, and Icahn definitely knows share maximization. They need each other.

Tony Scaramucci said Thursday it's become a "war of words," and "I do think management's got the edge here, Carl," a point Pete Najarian agreed with. Karen Finerman said she doesn't think $7 will get it done for Icahn.

"I still think IMAX makes sense," said Guy Adami.

We're hoping that someday Icahn will endorse this Web site and its coverage of this matter, but honestly, the endorsement we covet most is from Gaga.

Scaramucci needs to mingle more with the folks at Denny’s

Anthony Scaramucci, who is pretty good at this TV thing and has brought some panache to Fast Money (er, whatever remaining panache Pete Najarian hadn't already brought himself), didn't have one of his better days Thursday.

Scaramucci actually said the general public was a little bit turned off by the U.S. Senate's Goldman Sachs steak fry.

"This could be a big opportunity in Goldman shares," Scaramucci said. He said he talked to people outside of Wall Street who watched the "public flogging" and "found it somewhat distasteful."

"You think anyone outside of Wall Street found that distasteful??!!?" bellowed Karen Finerman. "I think they loved it!"

Scaramucci pointed out he was sort of arguing the other side a day earlier with Gary Kaminsky, but comments he's heard since have changed his mind a little bit.

The Mooch is overthinking this one. Gotta agree with K-Fine here.

These guys are good

Sometimes we sit here watching the Fast Money crew and think, "Anyone could pick stocks as well as these guys." (For example, when Jon Najarian recommended AK Steel.)

And then, there are moments such as the one Karen Finerman exhibited Thursday that remind us, they're in another league.

Melissa Lee compared stock price movements of Goldman Sachs and Toyota on the day the executives were grilled in Congress and asked Finerman why she wasn't as eager to pull the trigger with GS as she was with TM.

With Toyota, the bad stuff seemed mostly already out, Karen said, but "With Goldman, I feel like there may be more to come."

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night that the U.S. attorney is conducting a criminal probe of Goldman over the SEC case — a typical step apparently after an SEC referral and one that often doesn't result in a case, but a previously unreported element of the situation that certainly boosts the stakes a bit.

The gut here is that GS escapes a criminal case, in part for the perceived damage it would inflict on the stock and the markets.

Karen in, Pete out

Karen Finerman put more of her intuition to the test Thursday on the oil-spill trade.

"We did buy BP calls and we did buy RIG calls today," Finerman said, saying the damage to the stocks probably outweighed the actual damage (economic, at least) from the Gulf oil spill. (This writer is long BP.)

But she conceded it's definitely too early to know if she's getting the better end of the deal.

Longtime BP bull Pete Najarian was more troubled. "They shook me out today," he said, around the $53.5, 54 price. "I wonder if this is an Exxon Valdez."

Why ideological rigidity
can suck

Few people we find ourselves agreeing with more than Lawrence Kudlow.

And not only is Michelle Caruso-Cabrera very nice to look at, we usually agree with her, too.

A couple years ago, those 2, among many others on CNBC, regularly pounded the table for an expansion of offshore drilling.

We agreed then, and probably still do now, even though we've never really bought the "dependence on foreign oil" shtick, given that so much of it is supplied by our friends in Canada and Mexico.

We're in the midst of a terrible tragedy in the Gulf. It has nothing to do with a drunk skipper. Coincidentally, it happens just a few weeks after Barack Obama pledges an expansion of drilling.

And it's only been a few weeks since a lot of coal miners died.

We try to be realists. Our world is an internal-combustion-engine world, and the ignition is oil, as well as other fossil fuels. It's not a perfect system. We get frustrated when the greenies don't seem to recognize that.

This tragedy in the Gulf is a reminder they've got a point, maybe a pretty good one.

Karen gives CEO a short squeeze

During a discussion of Redbox's results Thursday, Karen Finerman reported seeing some detail on her laptop computer about Coinstar's CEO being replaced.


Moments later, a smiling Melissa Lee reported that there was no such replacement; it was a misunderstanding.

And K-Fine grumbled, "Now that mope at CNBCfix.com is probably gonna post something about it."

(She didn't really grumble or say that, but, yep.)

Who knew hedge funds
could be so dull?

Anthony Scaramucci on Thursday recommended, shockingly as his hedge fund trade of the week, PFE.

First all he did was rattle off the basic facts. When we finally got the rationale, it was low P.E., high dividend, cash flow, and oh yeah, "David Einhorn, very large position."

Pete Najarian shook his head and said he's liked it for a long time for all of the reasons Scaramucci cited, but it just doesn't perform, he can't endorse this.

Adami piles on GS

Anthony Scaramucci said Thursday that if someone is going to buy Jefferies, it would quite possibly be a Canadian bank. He suggested Bank of Montreal would be a good suitor, though he emphasized there's no rumor about that; it's just his opinion.

Guy Adami touted Mohawk carpets and said he disagrees with Goldman Sachs' sell recommendation and $50 price target.

Brian Kelly, getting a few moments of commentary from the Prop Desk, said the European play is still to be short the euro, Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

He was asked what he knows that nobody else does. "The market is different than what the Greek leaders are saying," he said.

Pretty much the whole panel opened Thursday's Fast Money by acknowledging the greatness of the stock market. "The numbers don't lie," said Gary Kaminsky, who said there are too many broad gains to signal a steep correction here. "308 new highs on the New York Stock Exchange today."

Brian Stutland’s suggestion
not exactly a humdinger

Dendreon CEO Mitchell Gold was interviewed on Fast Money Thursday — curiously, remotely, by Bertha Coombs, who probably has appeared on Fast Money less than 3 times in her career.

Gold spoke of the approval of Provenge, for late-stage prostate cancer, as a "once in a generation" type of development, but we couldn't figure out what any of this means in business terms.

Pete Najarian tried to prod Gold to discuss potential partners, but that didn't really get anywhere.

Jeremy Zirin came on the Fast set to say very little beyond the notion stocks are fairly valued and GDP through the rest of the year might be more subdued than some people think.

Brian Stutland's option trade centered on the GLD. He said he'd buy the May 114 call for $2.15 and sell the May $116 call for $1.25. Despite the presence of Pete, there was no Najarian Reaction©.

Broadcom chief Scott McGregor said there are "a lot of secular trends" favoring his business. "I think Broadcom goes up," said Guy Adami.

Cool at the Nasdaq

Melissa Lee amped up the hair a bit Thursday. She notably softened up what had been just the sexy sleeveless aqua dress at Halftime with the black sweater at 5 p.m.

Score one for LGF

Anyone who understood what Carl Icahn was talking about Thursday on the Fast Money Halftime Report is much further along in this process than we are.

Melissa Lee asked Icahn about Lions Gate's impressive earnings. Referring to LGF Vice Chairman Michael R. Burns, Icahn said, "I certainly like Michael and, and, and he's a good guy and he's a consummate sales guy."

But then Icahn went on to say, "I don't really see that they said anything ... These earnings don't say anything."

He balked at the press release's assumptions for 2013 and the "obfuscation" around the numbers. "You have no idea whatsoever about what the amortization is and what the money is they spent for films," Icahn said.

One thing we understood, and agreed with Icahn, was when Melissa Lee said, "The last time you were on Fast Money Carl, you said nobody makes money in the TV business."

Icahn said that is taking his argument out of context. This is actually what Icahn said in March: "If you talk to the real pros, you don't make a lot of money on these TV productions. They all sound great. You make, you really make money from what you have, which ... is a good thing, the distribution business."

After the Halftime interview, Guy Adami said "Carl used some pretty strong words; I'm not sure he meant those words frankly ... I think he'll pay up again, I think it's worth a lot more than 7 bucks."

Fast Money loves GOOG

We were pleased to see a return visit to the Halftime Report from the Zekester, Zach Karabell.

Karabell, afforded about 20 seconds to speak after the Carl Icahn interview, praised the Hewlett-Packard offer for Palm, saying, "It's a good thing we won't be talking about Palm anymore on Fast Money."

Carter Worth, on the other hand, had the most interesting trade. Worth said the BIDU chart is now one of those unchecked vertical arrangements that can't sustain it. He suggested taking profits, and surprisingly, in our opinion, "We'd put the money into Google."

According to the disclosures at CNBC.com, a bunch of Fast Money pros own GOOG. Karen Finerman, Zach Karabell, Anthony Scaramucci & Skybridge all own the shares, and Pete Najarian is long the calls. That's one we just don't get. (This writer has no position in GOOG.)

[Wednesday, April 28, 2010]

Whitney Tilson sugarcoats bungled ending to PALM trade

You had to wonder if Whitney Tilson on Wednesday was experiencing a little bit of denial — perhaps in the short business it's called seller's remorse — over the surprise Palm deal.

"They fooled, uh, Hewlett-Packard into buying it," was Tilson's explanation for the sale.

It's probably not a good deal, Tilson suggested, because "2/3 of all acquisitions, uh, fail."

Tilson reassured viewers that his firm's long-term short in PALM wasn't just dumb luck, and congratulated his own ingenuity. "We were very clever getting in," he said, just not so clever getting out.

By the end of the segment, he was possibly even convincing himself that the stock, trading at $5.82 afterhours slightly above the HPQ bid price of $5.70, was ripe for another decline. "Heck, we might add to our short," he said.

Apparently, Mark Hurd
is Drew Pearson

Why was Whitney Tilson sounding a bit defensive Wednesday on Palm?

Perhaps because he spoke on the Fast Money Halftime Report on March 19, a day PALM closed at $4.00, and declared, "Even Superman couldn't do anything at this point." Then he went on to outline his curious 60/40/10 scenario, where there was a 60% chance someone would buy the PALM "carcass," a 40% chance it goes bankrupt, and a 10% chance of a Hail Mary being answered.

"My guess is somebody buys 'em, you know, the stock will fall to 50 cents or a buck and somebody might buy 'em for that price," Tilson said on March 19.

There's nothing wrong with being wrong. The issue is implying good trades are because of your own skill, and bad trades are because of others' chicanery.

The truth, we now know, is that on March 19, PALM was a massive buy, up 45% since. It took 3 weeks to take off, but the massive volume March 19 was a possible sign most of the selling was over (usually a Guy Adami indicator of a bounce). It may be a terrible business. Presumably, HPQ was interested because it's one of the select few names in a still-very-hot sector of technology, and even at $5.70, it's remarkably cheap, a point made repeatedly Wednesday on Fast Money.

Tilson obviously in March got carried away with the success of his short position and counted all the chickens before they were hatched.

Instead of acknowledging Wednesday, "I should've better realized at least one big company might pay a premium to get into the space" and "the volume March 19 was a possible sign of a short-term bottom" and "the fact it's trading above the HPQ offer price now is a sign there's maybe more interest in the space and the intellectual property component than people thought," he instead claimed 1) a company like HPQ was "fooled" into making the deal, 2) business acquisitions fail anyway, and 3) the stock looks shortable again.

Tilson was hardly alone in his skepticism March 19. Melissa Lee described PALM as being in a "death spiral."

Jim Goldman on the ball

Jim Goldman likely summarized the PALM deal better than anyone Wednesday on Fast Money, saying in terms of costs for Hewlett-Packard, "It's nothing ... The reward far outweighs the risk."

We don't know if the possible reward "far outweighs" the risk, but this could be a complete bust, and it really wouldn't matter.

Analyst Peter Misek didn't talk about shorting Palm but called the company "Just a joke, just a disaster." He said RIMM's new phone "just kicks ass." Guy Adami said RIMM might actually be a buy on the Palm news.

Melissa Lee, whose hair has been toned down from its record-setting performance of recent days but still ran Wednesday's show with a steady, cool hand, shrieked that HPQ might've overpaid, given Palm's revenues were coming in "42% below consensus!"

Lee wondered why Hewlett wouldn't just wait a little longer for the stock to be "crushed, I would guess, crushed," on Palm's deteriorating situation.

Guy Adami pointed out that HPQ might've planned this deal a while ago when PALM shares were much higher.

Karen Finerman observed 2 things; one of them being that PALM was trading above the deal price, and the other is that HPQ generally likes to be No. 1 in the businesses it enters, obviously not the case here.

Gary Kaminsky said the deal didn't make a whole lot of sense to him on the surface, but people will give Mark Hurd the benefit of the doubt for now.

Tim Seymour said, "I'd be buying Qualcomm here. It reinforces what these guys are doing."

Patty Edwards, delivering what we think were her only comments of the day from the Englewood Cliffs Prop Desk, said to look at NVDA, BBY and RSH.

Guy Adami suggested an analogy in closing with one of his favorite anecdotes that goes back to the original Fast Money days, complaining about Pfizer selling its consumer brands division to JNJ a few years ago for $16 billion. But he wasn't complaining Wednesday, saying, "In retrospect, they got it on the cheap."

Scaramucci: Goldman Sachs
bought its own stock

Probably because of the Palm story — which, if nothing else, is certainly one of the more fascinating stock market stories of recent weeks — Gary Kaminsky never really got the chance to follow up on his Halftime assertion that Lloyd Blankfein would be done as Goldman Sachs CEO by year-end.

Instead, Anthony Scaramucci made a very thought-provoking point. "I actually think Goldman was in there yesterday buying the stock," he said.

Wish we'd thought of that one yesterday.

It makes phenomenal sense. The day your own company is being grilled in Washington, go in and buy the beaten-down shares, to at least give the impression the firm is rallying at the best possible time.

And maybe the shares, as many on Fast Money have suggested, are simply bargains in the $150s anyway.

Scaramucci was one of the rare CNBCers who actually dished praise for the Senate hearings across the board. "Carl Levin? I want the guy's resume. I wanna hire him as a prop trader. I thought the guy looked fantastic yesterday," Scaramucci said.

"Anthony, Anthony, I can't believe what you're saying about Levin," said Gary Kaminsky, who said Levin's questions were written by about 100 staffers and weren't any good anyway because they focused on investment advisory services.

Scaramucci said the hearings were a "little bit like an exorcism." He added, "I do love riling Gary up."

Kaminsky said the smart money has been finding its way into GS. "I believe you've had smart money strategic buyers that have added to their positions here and intiated positions," he said.

Kaminsky said, upon the show's realization that Goldman Sachs was involved in the Palm-HPQ deal, Congress should realize Goldman serves its clients "damn well."

Kaminsky tells JetBlue CEO
he should nibble at USAir

Gary Kaminsky found an interested audience for his diminishing-airline-capacity thesis on Wednesday — none other than JBLU CEO Dave Barger.

Kaminsky asked if JetBlue might be considering nibbling at USAir in light of the Continental-United developments. Barger seemed to dismiss that, saying "The path forward is organic growth."

Kaminsky said "I'd encourage you to consider that." Barger thanked Kaminsky for the analysis.

Bud Fox couldn’t run
an airline, but maybe Gary ...

Gary Kaminsky's exchange Wednesday with Dave Barger got us thinking about something.

Are analysts actually better at running companies than CEOs are?

We think this would be a great question for the Freakonomics guys.

Analysts, it would seem, are motivated strictly by share price. That's what's supposed to motivate CEOs too, but they've got too many other concerns. They almost always think bigger is better, they hate to fire people, they're concerned about control and who reports to them, and they're concerned about their perks, transportation, speaking engagements, TV appearances, and in all likelihood they tend to chalk up share price movement to macro situations far beyond their control and sell this notion to their boards, which is probably why so few are replaced.

Too many times, we've seen analysts or pundits on CNBC articulate impressive strategies for companies, only to be shrugged off by the CEOs (one favorite was Rick Wagoner saying "there's risks to that too" when CNBC hosts would suggest he negotiate less generous contracts; perhaps he was right, but we can't envision worse risk than 1) going bankrupt, 2) getting fired by Barack Obama, 3) closing a bunch of your hard-working dealers, and 4) requiring billions of taxpayer handouts just to continue as a going concern). Surely Barger, a friend of Fast Money and an excellent guest, has already mulled what Kaminsky suggested, but at least he entertained the notion on-air.

Objectivity is a huge weapon. It doesn't mean we know a thing about programming television (we don't). It does allow mopes like us to evaluate what we see on Fast Money, point out what works and what doesn't, and move on without having to shield those opinions from any hurt feelings or bruised egos.

Carter Worth likes NEM

Carter Worth delivered a neat little segment heading into a Fast Money commercial Wednesday about Newmont Mining. He said the chart is in one of those poised-for-breakout modes.

"Presumption is, this stock is going to 70," Worth said.

Peter Boockvar, who scrapes up some negative news from somewhere every time he's on Fast Money to support his bearish thesis, said the Greece-PIIGS issues are very worrisome because a lot of Europe could be contracting and there could be a global growth slowdown.

Mike Khouw suggested managing risk in D.R. Horton by selling the June 14 calls. There weren't any Najarians around to deliver the Najarian Reaction© this time.

Dennis Gartman said the Fed meeting was "very boring," and he thinks it'll be a long time before they start tightening, probably not before year-end in his opinion.

Kaminsky: Blankfein
done by year-end

Gary Kaminsky apparently is warming up to the likelihood of Lloyd Blankfein's exit as CEO. (Should we say "exit," or "ouster"?)

"Blankfein will not be the CEO of Goldman Sachs at the end of this year," Kaminsky said on Wednesday's Halftime Report. "Lloyd has become too much of the story, so I believe they'll go back to an investment banking division CEO."

Kaminsky said on April 16 that a headline suggesting Blankfein wouldn't survive the SEC case "was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen," but Wednesday he did reiterate that the SEC case isn't the cause of Blankfein's eventual departure.

Melissa Lee struck a glamour pose as Kaminsky spoke on the Fast Line. Kaminsky promised a lot of in-depth discussion on GS on the 5 p.m. show.

Patty Edwards said she's not ready to plunge back into Goldman stock because "We don't know what's gonna happen there." She prefers Wells Fargo.

Jared Levy, on the other hand, said "Goldman will do what they do ... at the end of the day Goldman is cheap, relative to its earnings." He recommended a "subtle" way of playing it buy selling out-of-the-money puts.

Brian Kelly scoffed. "This is not gonna be the only case against Goldman," he said. "I'd be buying those puts from Jared all day long. I think the stock goes lower."

Melissa Lee said it takes 2 sides to make every trade, something Congress "perhaps" learned a day ago.

Brian Kelly is the European Debbie Downer, saying he would "continue to be short the euro," as well as the pound, Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

"I actually think it's a buying opportunity in Asia," said Mike Gurka.

Jared Levy noticed heavy buying of CTXS June 50 calls based on "chatter" about iPads and cloud computing.

[Tuesday, April 27, 2010]

David Faber needs a redo

We didn't really get any Fast Money on Tuesday, so we're settling for David Faber's interview with Lloyd Blankfein after testimony ended.

This interview, frankly, was a massive disappointment.

Faber does great work for CNBC. This one stank.

Faber wasted way too much of the little time available on explanatory questions, particularly his first:

Faber: "Thanks for of course, uh, being with us at this late hour. Um, a lot of different things said today, a lot of different analogies used, Uh, occasionally to that of a casino when referring to the synthetic CDO market. Um, I'd like you to comment on another one that came up a great deal with Senator Claire McCaskill, who referred to the Abacus transaction, uh, and Goldman's role in it as nothing more than a bookie. Do you buy that?"

Blankfein: "Well I don't think that's right..."

Can you believe it? Lloyd Blankfein doesn't buy that Goldman Sachs is a bookie!

Faber's questions were curiously technical and seemed discombobulated, as though he didn't have the time to address more relevant issues arising from the latter part of the testimony.

Here's a summary of each question (not verbatim):

Why do we even need a synthetic CDO market ... a derivative of a derivative of a derivative ... — Relevant, but no one knows what a synthetic CDO is, should've been asked near the end.

Do you wish you had never done it? — Fine, but see above.

What was the reason that drove the transactions? — Stop. Useless. They were trying to make money.

Couldn't people have found yield in some other area ... CMS and RMS ... — Double stop. Extending an already poor line of questioning.

Do you have a responsibility to tell a client about an adverse relationship? — Should've been the 1st question, a key point of contention with Levin.

Do you believe Goldman met its synthetic CDO disclosure obligations? — Good.

Why did this market need to exist, why did it need to happen ... at what point do you lose the trust of clients ... — Useless.

All of the other Goldman execs said no to bearing responsibility for the nation's financial crisis... — Not bad, but better things to ask about.

You believe there is some responsibility there — OK followup clarification.

Do you have a duty to act in the best interests of your clients? — Blankfein already had way too much practice Tuesday trying to answer that question.

Have you seen any erosion in your client base since the SEC case? — Way too obvious answer.

It has to be a concern... — Needless followup.

Do you have support of your board of directors? — Worth asking, and near the end.

Do you still believe "What's good for Goldman Sachs is good for America" — Not a bad kicker.

(Hands waving all over the place, unclear what he's following up on) Do these transactions help the broader economy or have nothing to do with broader economy? — If phrased much more concisely, would've been a decent question earlier.

You know what we always say, we'd suck if we had to do this on TV ourselves. But off the top of the head, these are things we would've asked Lloyd Blankfein ...

Was this hearing fair ... on what subject were the senators most off-base ... what was the best point made by the senators ... you did well on TV, why won't you come on TV more often ... why does Goldman Sachs seem to pride itself on being so aloof and austere ... do other banks deserve this type of grilling as much or more than yours does ... Can your stock be considered a buy as long as this SEC case hovers ... did the U.S. government in September and October 2008 do the right thing(s) ... In hindsight was it a bad idea to install a big bank CEO as Treasury Secretary ... has Barack Obama accomplished what you hoped of him ... do regular Americans who saw a bailout, then massive bonuses return in 2009, have a right to be angry with Goldman Sachs?

In the CNBC roundtable that followed the airing of Faber's interview, Tyler Mathisen concluded with "Today was our version of the NFL Draft, ladies & gentlemen."

Stuff you don’t get on TV

Fast Money viewers who missed having a show on Tuesday might enjoy a little entertainment fix from Patty Edwards' stay in New York.

According to her Twitter account, Patty endured some really bad chicken nachos and guacamole, noticed a pick-up artist who apparently was pretending to be Randy Jackson not having any success with the girls, and was frustrated by the lack of DVR on her hotel TV.

Goldman preempts Fast Money

Melissa Lee wore cute red and blue on Tuesday, but it largely went for naught as Fast Money was largely preempted by Lloyd Blankfein and the Goldman Sachs hearing.

Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova did manage to say the market was the story today, and Terranova even praised Goldman or whoever for arranging for Lloyd Blankfein to bat "cleanup" on the day's testimony.

Sen. Carl Levin used the term "sh---y" several times to describe certain Goldman views toward certain securities.

[Monday, April 26, 2010]

Another Options Action takedown from Team Najarian

After a few days of mostly unchallenged Options Action trades on Fast Money, Mike Khouw said Monday that investors who have enjoyed a good ride in Broadcom should consider selling the shares and buying the June 36 calls for $2 as a way to keep some skin in the game but without carrying serious risk.

The Najarian Reaction© came from Pete — who actually suggested viewers do the exact opposite.

"You could use now the volatility to actually sell some of that $2 premium that he's talking about there, and collect that, and maybe still hold on," Pete said, in the event the stock merely "pauses" without making a big move.

Khouw responded, "It still moves over 6% on average after names like Qualcomm report."

28% upside not enough
for ‘conviction buy’

We're just the amateurs.

But sometimes, the opinions (or lack thereof) of the Fast Money pros simply confound us.

We can't fathom touching GOOG right here except for maybe a short. (This writer has no position in GOOG.)

This company has — to say the least — major problems in China, regarded by many as the godsend to the corporate world's growth rate.

GOOG peaked, amazingly, the 1st day of the year. It's way off its all-time high. No one is talking about its phone. It's being suspiciously vague about the presence of its CEO on conference calls.

So anyway, given all that, we were not surprised to hear Melissa Lee announce Monday on Fast Money that Goldman Sachs removed GOOG from the Conviction Buy List.

We were surprised that GS somehow has given GOOG a $680, 6-month price target regardless.

And we were most surprised when Tim Seymour was heard to say, "But if you don't believe this Google story, you don't believe in the valuation story, then you don't believe anything that's been happening this earnings season..."

We certainly do believe the Google "story." The story is, this is a company with a lot of dubious headlines recently that apparently was viewed by many in China as a shruggable, generic product and seems unwilling/unable to "monetize" its pile of cash.

Seymour admitted the Goldman cut might hurt. "My initial take is it's gonna fall further," he said, and he advised, "let this trade through" before trying to gobble it up and be a hero.

Does GS’ future hinge
on a jilted wife?

Anthony Scaramucci made a static-filled call to the Fast Line on Monday to sound a few alarms about Goldman Sachs.

"Goldman is clearly losing in the court of public opinion," Scaramucci said, adding "they have whistleblower risk, an angry spouse, somebody in there, leaking another bad situation for Goldman."

"My pushback to Anthony is, what other type of spouses are there," asked Guy Adami.

Flash: Cloud over Goldman

Guy Adami seemed to think Monday that the Goldman Sachs case is some kind of Greek tragedy, but we don't mean the current situation in Greece, although that would be interesting actually if the IMF gave 200 West a bailout.

"I happen to believe they're innocent. I don't think they did anything wrong frankly," Adami said.

Nevertheless, he feels the innocent stock could be wrongly taken down to $150, "I think that's your bogey" ... and if it should fall below $147, the technicals get a lot worse.

Tim Seymour wondered, "Why would you invest in this name" when it's being bullied by Washington, or made a scapegoat, or might even be guilty of what the SEC has alleged.

Joe Terranova said of financial reform, "The Dodd version of this bill is extremely exchange-friendly."

Adami said any attempt at unwinding proprietary trading at Goldman Sachs would be "like trying to get a drop of water out of a bottle of wine."

Yes, Phibro was mentioned

Jeff Harte, on the Fast Money set Thursday, pounded the table for Citigroup. (This writer is long C.)

Harte said the stock is under-owned by institutions and that the sub-$5 price is not an issue. He said financials are an appealing sector, and among the names, "Citigroup is cheap; Citigroup has as strong a balance sheet as anyone out there including JPMorgan," and also has strong international exposure.

Guy Adami said the fact C "never closed above $5" in the last couple weeks is "pretty meaningful to me," and not in a good way.

Tim Seymour pointed out that Citi has had to unload lucrative divisions and that the government plan to unload shares represents only about 20% of its holdings. "I think the shares have a lot of pressure against them," he said.

Joe Terranova agreed with Harte. "I think that's the right trade right now ... basically the sleeper pick," he said. "Removing the Treasury's stake is the one element that gets you excited about this."

Pete Najarian, as always, said you could play it in options and protect yourself without huge risk by buying a 5 strike in just about any month. Tim Seymour rebutted that, saying those calls might be 8 cents or so, but it's only a $5 stock, and "on a percentage basis, it's not cheap."

Few takers (yet) for Kaminsky’s
Whirlpool-rate connection

Gary Kaminsky, on the Fast Line Monday, made an interesting extrapolation on the huge Whirlpool earnings.

Kaminsky said names like Whirlpool aren't just an indicator of the economy, they are the economy ... and the results WHR enjoyed Monday have to be interpreted as pressure on the Fed to tighten; thus investors should be in stocks that do well in rising-rate environments.

Melissa Lee made a very relevant point. Lee said rebates were a factor, and while the North American revenues were in line, the real Whirlpool surprise was in Latin America, and she asked Kaminsky if WHR earnings are really a good metric for U.S. interest rates.

"The global growth is what's gonna drive the U.S. economy," Kaminsky said.

Patty Edwards, bringing her West Coast Offense to Englewood Cliffs with a new 'do, also questioned Kaminsky's analysis on the grounds that a lot of sales could stem from foreclosures, which she said cost about $5,200 to rehab, and "eventually, that is going to go away."

Kaminsky shrugged and said, "You can't have this type of performance at a company like this without the conversation and the talk about higher rates."

Tim Seymour suggested taking the Brazilian angle. "CBD is a fantastic company," he said.

More good news for AAPL

Patty Edwards said Monday to look at the derivative trades on homebuilders rather than the builders themselves, many of whom have been enjoying a big run.

"I don't think that this can continue for that much longer," Edwards said. "So don't buy the homebuilders, look for something else in the same area," such as PCL or HD.

Edwards said the RSH earnings report was "good for RIMM, it's good for Apple."

Pete Najarian, who also touted RIMM, for its new operating system, at one point mentioned "Priceline, absolutely outrageous," in a good way.

Alkermes CEO Richard Pops gave fine details on Bydureon and other company issues and was a good guest, but we have no idea whether there was anything tradable from it, likely not.

Do these commercials work?

Recently, the CNBCfix community had another little chat about those Cisco Ellen Page commercials, which, aside from being a favorite topic of this page, are undoubtedly going to deliver record profits for CNBC this quarter.

There are only 3 commercials in the series we're aware of: Ellen at a city/police surveillance center, Ellen in a classroom videoconference, and Ellen in a doctor's office videoconference.

Most curious is the latter. What kind of doctor would expect to "treat" patients via videoconferencing across the Atlantic?

The consensus was that Cisco is really targeting law firms and multinationals but doesn't want Ellen to look like she's got legal trouble or appear "corporate" in any way.

Ellen's classroom visit is dubious for a bunch of reasons we tackled months ago. As with the doc's office, the presumed goal here is not logic, but for Cisco to 1) suggest a way for multinationals to connect with China without having to go there very often, and 2) put cute kids on TV.

The most straightforward, successful spot — if you're not alarmed by the privacy concerns — is obviously the police surveillance version, which will appeal to municipalities interested in broadening law enforcement while perhaps reducing head count at the same time. Noteworthy is the female cop at the desk, who is hot, but has a remarkably husky voice.

Grasso on the 5-year C plan

Steve Grasso and Zach Karabell said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report not to worry about the drop in Citigroup. (This writer is long C.)

Grasso said the shares could tick down to $4.25, but for him it's a 5-year holding, and "I would add on another pullback."

"Zeke" said he got long C with a 3 handle, and "purely as a trade and a beta, there's a lot of upside there."

Tim Seymour joked about "Government Sachs," then warned, "People are very concerned what's gonna happen here ... there's a heavy overhang here."

But Karabell said, "I bought more Goldman today at 152, or 153."

"I like to call him Fab Fab," said Melissa Lee of the Goldman guy at the center of this.

Dr. J’s 2 views on M&A

Jon Najarian grumbled that Hertz could buy Dollar Thrifty and see both stocks go up because of a "toothless regulator" in Washington that won't interfere with monopolies. "That's putting it lightly," he said, calling it good for the companies, but "not so good for you and me."

"It's not a priority of government right now to patrol monopolistic acquisitions," said Zach Karabell.

Brian Kelly said "I am long Texas Instruments," but is also buying puts and selling calls in case the stock doesn't meet the lofty "beat-and-raise scenario" the market is projecting.

Jon Najarian said there's a lot of smoke surrounding McAfee. "We saw big option trades hit in the first 10 minutes of trading," and "almost no puts." He said "Hewlett-Packard (is) the rumored takeover, potentially." Unlike complaining as he did with Hertz, Doc said he got long MFE.

Bad Doc

Did Jon Najarian recommend AK Steel on April 5? Yes, Jon Najarian recommended AK Steel on April 5. Was AK Steel the crappiest Fast Money stock pick of 2010? Yes, AK Steel on April 5 turned out to be (probably by far) the crappiest Fast Money stock pick of 2010. (Did this writer buy AK Steel? Yes, this writer bought AK Steel and still owns it.)

Incredibly, Tim Seymour agreed at that time with Dr. J's AKS "Pitch," which was based on iron ore price increases being good for U.S. steelmakers at the expense of European and Asian companies. Even 58% of Fast Money poll respondents agreed with Dr. J, despite the fact AKS proved to be a massive short just 2 days later.

Are we gonna forgive Dr. J? Yeah, we're gonna forgive Dr. J. We don't really have a choice.

Good Doc

Pete Najarian rightfully gets the Fast Money props for playing in the NFL.

This weekend, however, it's time to salute brother Jon.

At the conclusion of the NFL Draft, teams start calling and signing a handful of undrafted free agent college players to round out their rosters and provide training camp competition.

Jon Najarian has written that in 1981, he was one such player, joining the Chicago Bears for training camp while 2nd-round pick Mike Singletary briefly held out.

He didn't make the team, and quickly switched to the trading pits. But if you're able to get an NFL training camp invite, that's pretty damn good.

[Friday, April 23, 2010]

Steve Grasso reaches for every anti-print cliché in the book

Steve Grasso sounds like he's not exactly the type of guy who gets a charge out of "All the President's Men" whenever it's on cable TV.

Gary Kaminsky had merely made the sound point on Friday's Fast Money that, if there's an upturn in advertising, newspapers are the stocks you want to own, because "they have the greatest leverage to the local advertising market."

Grasso, referring to Kaminsky's nickname, responded, "Spike, when people say buy newspapers, you know what it makes me wanna do? Dive on a spike. It's a terrible play," he said.

So, even though names such as GCI and AHC are up about five-fold in a year, it's still a "terrible play" that makes him wanna "dive on a spike."

Grasso then curiously claimed "I agree with you on the mechanics of it," then went on to say that young readers are getting all their news on blogs (20 years ago, it was "young readers don't read newspapers) while concluding with a strange parallel to Nokia as a "high-beta" name that ultimately stunk, even though RIMM and MOT seem to be even more high-beta, and even though that angle would seem to disagree with Kaminsky on the "mechanics."

Brian Kelly said he thinks there's a huge development in advertising with laws allowing corporations to take out political ads and thus he likes Media General and Belo.

Kaminsky said newspaper competition has been winnowed and the industry is now healthier than a couple years ago. One element unmentioned on the show is that some newspaper stocks such as Gannett and Washington Post have a TV component, and that nearly all papers have been able to significantly cut costs (in many cases ratchet down union contracts) with minimal to no outcry given the condition of the industry, something the automakers were unwilling or unable to do until Chapter 11, if they even did it then.

Has AAPL crossed the line?

In Friday's Fast Money AAPL roundtable, Gary Kaminsky was pounding the table while Anthony Scaramucci claimed size does matter. (This writer is long AAPL.)

"At $250 billion of market cap, most of these stocks start to flatline. It's mean reversion," Scaramucci said.

"None of those companies when they hit that milestone were growing revenues at the type of rate that Apple is and is expected to continue to do," Kaminsky responded.

Joe Terranova said "This is an easy trade: stop yourself out below 250."

Steve Grasso agreed that "People are still chasing" AAPL.

Amazing what a 37% gain
can do for a rating

Chris Whalen reminded Fast Money panelists and viewers on Friday that he upgraded C. (This writer is long C.)

"It is a neutral; given where I was, I mean, this is a sea change," Whalen said.

On Jan. 19, Whalen maintained a "negative" rating on the stock, a day it closed at $3.54.

What Whalen might've said Friday instead was, "Given where I was, I mean, this is an embarrassing flip/make-up call over a stock I've totally botched."

Whalen predicted "Everything's gonna go up next week," and Goldman Sachs has a "better than 50/50 chance" of beating the SEC's case.

The buzz on RSH

Gary Kaminsky said a "very savvy analyst" explained to him that RadioShack has "a lot of long-term leases." People may think they can acquire it as a tangential real-estate play for its presence at malls, but in similar deals, "it does sometimes end up being less than people anticipated."

Scaramucci: Energy going up

Anthony Scaramucci predicted Friday that underperforming energy shares will draw buyers next week.

"This is a market that is trading on massive melt-up momentum," said Gary Kaminsky.

Joe Terranova reiterated that "The hardest trade to make is always the best trade, and right now the hardest trade to make is to stay with this rally right now."

Steve Grasso warned the stock market is around its pre-Lehman levels, and he said 12:30 is the time Melissa Lee has lunch every day. Kaminsky said, "As Clarence Beeks would say in one of the greatest movies of all time Steve, this is a different type of market."

Steve Grasso talked iron-ore specifics and said of X, "This stock should be bought; AK Steel should be sold."

Mahaney defends AMZN

On Friday's Halftime Report, Brian Kelly said "confusion" is the name of the game in Greece. "The end game here is a bailout ... we don't know how we're gonna get to that point," he said.

Steve Grasso said the Greece problem hasn't hurt the market for a while and what's ever going on now won't hurt either.

Mark Mahaney, not surprisingly, said "We think the long thesis is well-intact" at Amazon, and he likes the stock.

"I would buy some Amazon here," said Brian Kelly; he thinks the iPad is more of a "device killer" than a "Kindle killer."

Investors looking for a stock with a floor in it should consider Kelly's recommendation of AWI.

[Thursday, April 22, 2010]

Stock market draft

Now that the 1st round of the NFL Draft is in the history books — and what a wild evening that was; we're barely recovered enough to get our Fast Money bearings — it's occurred to us that an NFL-style draft would be an interesting way of judging the stock market.

(Yes, our Jimmy Clausen forecast from a couple days ago was a massive bust. No excuses. That a player so heavily analyzed at the most coveted position and widely believed to be a top-half-of-the-1st-round pick is still team-less as of Friday morning is not a good sign of his NFL prospects, we're afraid.)

What if 32 investors were conducting a stock market draft, based on the information available at Thursday's close, under the theory that the chosen stocks could be held anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 years?

We found this to be a more useful exercise than the Fast Money Madness, and here's how we think the selections would go (not necessarily how they should go)...

1. Apple — The closest thing to a sure thing. (This writer is long AAPL.)

2. Citigroup — Strictly on the rationale that, sometime in the next 12 months, it will almost certainly reach $6, and it's not outside the realm of possibility it could be 12 days rather than 12 months. (This writer is long C.)

3. Visa — The only risk here is that it's come awfully far in a hurry, but cashless long-term trends in its favor.

4. Bank of America — Much like Citigroup, not as volatile. We'll defer to Karen Finerman, who insists this is a massively profitable operation just waiting for normalized earnings to happen.

5. IMAX — Seems like nothing can slow it down.

6. Hewlett-Packard — The chart and strength are too good, the equivalent of landing a 10-year left tackle.

7. Simon Property Group — Perhaps the gains in this sector have only just begun.

8. Baidu — This is the explosive edge pass-rusher who maybe isn't quite as polished as scouts would want to see in the top 10 and could be overvalued. Every day's new headwind in Google seems like a boost here.

9. Priceline — Chart seems too good to be true, but it's been a massive buy since 2006.

10. Goldman Sachs — Sometimes there may be a character issue here and there, but nobody doubts these guys can play.

11. McDonald's — Might have a little froth in it by now, but an undeniable Hall of Famer.

12. L-3 Communications — There's always a taker for a top defense play.

13. Hovnanian — The first major reach, as a high-beta play on housing upside.

14. TJX — In February, like many prospects at the combine, really started to take off.

15. GLD — Upside may be limited, but seems to have inflation-fear support permanently entrenched.

16. Nike — Pre-eminent sports retailer just seems unstoppable.

17. Chevron — This is around the time when reaches are taken, so a steady oil giant is an appealing call.

18. Ford — On such a great ride, is no longer really a boom or bust pick.

19. Teva — Pete Najarian has talked about it for so long, we had to stick it somewhere.

20. Monsanto — Only because everyone in the world seems to think it should be higher.

21. Freeport McMoRan — Not just the copper ETF, but the leading play on the global growth story.

22. Clorox — A Gary Kaminsky favorite that not only boasts a healthy business, but takeover potential.

23. Cisco — Ellen Page commercials are too omnipresent to ignore.

24. Berkshire Hathaway — Since the end of 2007, not really the sexiest name, but Warren Buffett will always find a taker.

25. Lions Gate — Not every Carl Icahn venture works out, but there's some intellectual property value here.

26. Yum Brands — The rest of the world — particularly emerging markets with gobs of growth potential — seems to like American fast food.

27. Research in Motion — The junior who might've been the No. 1 pick in the draft is now the senior with a so-so year. Some think that's an aberration.

28. Humana — Someone will gamble that there's something for these HMO companies in the health-care overhaul.

29. Alpha Natural Resources — Cliffs is almost a cliche, while ANR packs a healthy punch.

30. DryShips — A (very) high-beta play on the global growth story.

31. SunTrust Banks — Someone will take it on the perennial theory it gets bought.

32. Blackstone — A return to deal-making seems likely.

Gartman: Expect nothing

Dennis Gartman on Thursday weighed in on the president's speech and the prospect for steep financial regulation.

"I think what we're gonna end up getting is absolutely nothing," Gartman said, though conceding there might be something about margin requirements.

We agree. This is virtually all smoke, no fire. Gartman said he hopes the Volcker Rule doesn't happen.

Hilary Kramer: GS to $210
within 12 months

Another day on Fast Money, another discussion of whether Goldman Sachs is going to be hurt by the SEC case.

Melissa Lee quoted chartist John Roque as seeing "tons of resistance" in GS and predicting it will tumble all the way to $100.

Hilary Kramer, who always looks good, showed up on the Fast Money set to tout GS, saying there may be turbulence now, but within 12 months, it seems like $210 is a no-brainer. Kramer said it "trades at 1.3 times book" when it should normally be 1.6 times, and as far as lightness in the latest quarter, M&A, she said, is "always a 4th-quarter event."

Guy Adami said he didn't really disagree with any of that, but for those with a short-term or 1-month horizon, it looks to him like "stock wants to go to $150."

Erin Burnett, in her Stop Trading segment with Jim Cramer, referred to Lloyd Blankfein's "memorable" quote about "God's work."

AMZN all the way to $125?

We've been amused recently at some of Jon Najarian's Kindle skepticism, which sort of bubbled over Thursday on Fast Money.

"They've got the gravestone carved out for it," said Dr. J, pointing to the iPad as the killer and shrugging off Amazon's apparent commentary that Kindle sales were strong, suggesting this is the last quarter we'll hear that statement.

Guy Adami said "it's easy to see Amazon down to 125 on this tape," and Joe Terranova, who a day ago was suggesting the stock to trade north of $150, later predicted selling pressure would indeed push it down that far.

A sundae sounds really good

Gary Kaminsky evidently was doing a little too much celebrating during CNBC's Bring Your Child to Work Day.

Kaminsky said on Fast Money, dialing in on the Fast Line, "I'm still suffering from the ice cream sundaes" that Melissa Lee said were supposed to be for the kids.

Kaminsky then went on to offer some concrete proof that this rally, or ongoing upward trend, is fairly secure despite Karen Finerman's concern that some stocks have lofty expectations built in. Kaminsky cited "451 new highs" and an overall "rotation into those companies that are exceeding. That's a very healthy thing."

Moreover, Kaminsky said in 20 years in the business, he's never seen a massive correction with those kinds of new highs. "It does not flip that fast," he said.

QCOM and the Q’s

Guy Adami and Joe Terranova also on Thursday tag-teamed QCOM, a stock which we haven't been impressed by for about, oh, at least 3 years, largely because it hasn't done much of anything, and if anything the surprise is that it semi-regularly comes up on Fast Money.

In the midst of a Thursday selloff, Adami complained that management was "communicating with the Street very poorly."

Terranova said he got into it last quarter, but this time, "No way, no thanks."

Jon Najarian agreed with Adami's contention that the volume Thursday might actually signal a buy, that all the panic selling is now out of it.

Brian Stutland delivered the options trade of the day, suggesting a put spread in the June QQQ for those who want to protect their positions. He said he'd sell the June 47 for 45 cents and buying the 50 at $1.25. As always, we watched for the Najarian Reaction©, but Pete wasn't on the set and Dr. J, on the Prop Desk, never commented on this one. So it was Karen Finerman who questioned if the June decision was a good one because it's not going to reach full value. Stutland said it's a good way to collect a healthy premium and minimize risk.

Movie, overrated.
Stock, maybe not.

"Zeke" Karabell offered the green trade of the day Thursday, recommending Autodesk.

"They had a small role in helping James Cameron make 'Avatar'," Karabell said, which was a smart lead-in, because that's what got our attention. Beyond that, he said the company makes "incredible 3-D modeling systems called Autocad," and it's hoping or expected to be a factor in the hundred new airports in China.

Karen Finerman said not to expect WMT to ever catch fire. "It's inflammable, Wal-Mart," she said.

Fast Money dining habits

Joe Terranova explained Thursday that the camaraderie on Fast Money lingers well after the Final Trades are issued.

Terranova said that he and Pete Najarian grabbed a bite to eat after Wednesday's show. "I got a steak, Petey got a salad."

We forget Terranova's point — something about how he should've taken Petey's advice — because we couldn't get past that notion of Pete having a salad for dinner.

Nasdaq boss Bob Greifeld, the Fast Money "landlord," made another appearance on the show essentially just to keep tabs and talk process more than anything, but Melissa Lee did ask him to "connect the dots" about whether new endeavors can offset the loss of share in equities. Greifeld said he disagrees with the assessment of loss of share in equities.

Panelists get some help

Despite Gary Kaminsky's troubles with the sundaes, Bring Your Child to Work day at CNBC looked like a delightful idea Thursday. Kaminsky, Karen Finerman and Guy Adami all brought kids to the show Thursday, including a cute-as-a-button girl named Mary who nearly stole the show from Melissa Lee during the Final Trade.

Jim Goldman also introduced his son Jeb, prompting Karen Finerman to suggest in one of her funnier lines recently, "New from CNBC this fall, '1 and a Half Men'."

Eric Bolling's son once recommended GameStop on Fast Money, but that was a while ago.

Karen in the Halftime house

Karen Finerman, on Thursday making not only a very rare (perhaps first) appearance on the Fast Money Halftime Report but also, startlingly, turning up on the actual set, wasn't terribly blown away by President Obama's speech.

It "seemed like it was lacking somewhat in teeth. I would've thought that he would've come out with something more aggressive," Finerman said. "There wasn't any bombshell in here."

Dennis Gartman said the speech was "as populist as he would like to be able to make it." And Gartman isn't a big fan of this event.

"I don't like it because it means more government intervention, and I think that that over the long run is not a good thing," Gartman said.

Being unpopular is no crime

Guy Adami on the Halftime Report made this observation about a certain SEC case: "Frankly I don't think Goldman broke the law at all."

Adami said people just don't like Goldman Sachs, but "if that was a crime, there's a lot of people be in jail," he said.

He predicted a little more to fall for the stock. "I think you're headed down to 150," he said.

Steve Grasso said that "any selloff we've had based on Greece has rallied right back."

Jim Iuorio, who's been a little skeptical of the stock market, said he doesn't think this is a V-shaped recovery and so he prefers "middle of the road" names like Kohl's, Target. He also said American Express is in the "sweet spot of financials."

Karen Finerman said of AMZN, "I don't get it."

We're a bit skeptical of the recent re-emphasis at CNBC.com on marijuana, called "Marijuana & Money." Are we opposed to any extensive series featuring Trish Regan? No, we are unequivocally not opposed to any series featuring Trish Regan. Rather, what more could be said about this subject that people don't already know?

[Wednesday, April 21, 2010]

Scaramucci: SEC brass
watches Fast Money

Recently it seems like, even if there's other stuff going on in the stock market, the Fast Money gang just can't get enough of Goldman Sachs.

(We wish they would start talking about the NFL Draft, as there's really only one more opportunity to do so, and perhaps put together a Fast Money Mock, but looks like not gonna happen.)

Melissa Lee managed to fill up a serious chunk of Wednesday's program with the (umm, highly expected) "breaking news" of Mary Schapiro announcing the GS case is not politically motivated.

Gary Kaminsky asked aloud, if it's not politically motivated, why issue a statement?

Anthony Scaramucci offered his own rationale: "I actually think shows like Fast Money are inside the melon now of the SEC and, and they're watching you guys, and watching shows like this and they feel they have to respond."

Scaramucci said he went to law school with people who work for the SEC, and as far as he's concerned, the case against Goldman is not politically motivated at least as to the "sinkage."

Kaminsky said, "This is a weak case and I think the SEC looks very weak."

Obviously, the SEC is watching Fast Money; otherwise why is Peter Schiff getting calls from the regulators every time he names a stock on-air?

Praise for Paulson PR

If Anthony Scaramucci wasn't so good at stock investing, he would probably consider a career in crisis management.

Scaramucci praised John Paulson for holding explanatory conference calls with clients. "I do think it will stem some of the redemptions," he said.

But on the other end, he said, there is "Tiger Woods, ostrich, head in the sand, didn't work for him," and Goldman Sachs, for example, never bothered to respond after Lloyd Blankfein was quoted (jokingly or not) as saying the firm does "God's work."

By the way, one can enter any McDonald's in this country or abroad and ask the folks there 1) who Lloyd Blankfein is, and 2) which firm is associated with the "God's work" quote, and you'll find 3) virtually zero affirmative answers to either question, but that doesn't stop people on financial television and the Wall Street blogosphere from finding this person and remark somehow endlessly significant.

Scaramucci said he might've only learned one thing in law school, which doesn't say a whole lot for Harvard (but we think he was joking), and it's to "avoid lawsuits."

Good debut for Scott Page,
but needs to expound

Scott Page came on the set Wednesday and seemed like a relaxed, ideal guest with an interesting update to share — that Wall Street is hiring, even in mortgage securities.

The problem was, in spite of a good question jointly asked by Gary Kaminsky and Melissa Lee as to when this hiring would show up in the bottom line, Page essentially repeated the same refrain about 3 or 4 times, that after 2 years of no hiring, "All of a sudden you're seeing a frenzy."

Khouw given green light

While analysts featured by Melissa Lee were generally bullish on the upcoming AMZN earnings, Joe Terranova was exuberant. "Look for the stock to go north of 150 clearly off these earnings," Terranova said.

Mike Khouw suggested playing Microsoft earnings semi-bullishly by selling the MSFT June 34 call for 20 cents and buying the MSFT June 32 call for 70 cents.

As always, we here aren't really interested in the options trade, only in the Najarian Reaction©.

Turns out, only Joe Terranova got to ask Khouw a question, over holding the trade into June, and Melissa Lee called on Pete to speak about GLW instead.

If you’ve never heard
of Regulation FD ...

Rarely have we noticed Melissa Lee wearing a repeat outfit. Wednesday, we're pretty sure that happened with her vertical-looking pinstriped vest.

Melissa also displayed undoubtedly the best hair on CNBC Wednesday, certainly not a split end in the mix.

The camera was catching Melissa all day, first, rather awkwardly, in the opening when Gary Kaminsky said the eBay earnings "should've been a pre-release" and Lee abruptly stared into the camera and asked "Why?" Later, she got even with the camera gods with a pose at the beginning of the Pops & Drops' UTX chatter.

Kaminsky said, regarding those EBAY earnings and the need for pre-announcement, "Reg FD was supposed to prevent that," meaning the serious miss that was below estimates, but later Kaminsky and Lee clarified that eBay could interpret Reg FD as referring to full-year estimates, which were basically intact.

Asked to compare eBay and Apple, Kaminsky said, "It's a tale of 2 cities, a tale of 2 stocks."

A green trade, at least
in one respect

Ryder boss Gregory Swienton graciously joined Fast Money for a brief chat Wednesday and accepted congrats on the quarter and resulting stock jump, even though Tim Seymour suggested much of the improvement is from cost-cutting and asked about the top line.

Swienton said structuring is very important, but as for top line, he said "transactional" and "contractual" revenues are picking up.

Tim Seymour suggests
the unthinkable

There was a brief discussion of FCX on Fast Money Wednesday, and then Tim Seymour really dropped a bombshell — he thinks you can now short CLF because of iron ore headwinds.

Pete Najarian scoffed all over the Nasdaq Marketsite at Brian Kelly's recommendation to look at Sprint, because it's ahead in 4G. "Just wait," Kelly insisted.

Pete also found himself at odds with commentary from Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova, insisting the market dogs such as eBay and Qualcomm were select names and not representatives of an underperforming business climate.

Anthony Scaramucci said his hedge fund trade is CIT, because it has new management and presently is "trading below book value" when it's normally been at 1.2 to 1.5.

[Tuesday, April 20, 2010]

Kaminsky: GS clients rally
against ‘witch hunt’

David Faber and Gary Kaminsky combined to tell a positive story for Goldman Sachs on Tuesday's Fast Money.

Faber, who very rarely has been on Fast Money but is now assuming the Wall Street scoopster role formerly of Charles Gasparino, reported, "I am not hearing of any great defections in terms of business lines, uh, from Goldman."

Kaminsky said that inside 200 West, "It's really been business as usual since Friday," and some premier clients are apparently even going out of their way to assure their support for GS against this "witch hunt."

Anthony Scaramucci, however, warned against putting this one in the W column just yet. "This is a case that had been blown out of proportion due to Goldman's poor public relations," Scaramucci insisted.

He said what Kaminsky is hearing is just "bankers talking," and if the firm doesn't improve its PR, it'll face a lower multiple.

Scaramucci quoted Goldman honcho John Weinberg, apparently his mentor, as saying, "Some people grow, other people swell."

Words to think about.

Congrats, Gary

Melissa Lee announced at the beginning of Tuesday's Fast Money that Gary Kaminsky "is now a contributing editor for CNBC."

Lee to Gartman: Nope

Dennis Gartman, who likes to say "there's never just 1 cockroach" but didn't say that on Tuesday, actually compared the Goldman Sachs situation to asbestos or cigarette litigation.

Gartman said lawyers will be eager to sue, and a litigation avalanche "takes focus from management and puts it elsewhere." He warned "this could drag on" for a long time.

Melissa Lee practically scoffed at the attention point, declaring "We all multitask" and certainly Goldman Sachs people can do 2 things at once. Then she questioned how Goldman's case could be lumped in with physically harmful products sold to the general public.

Gartman said it's still litigation, that's the point.

Melissa lets Gary have it too

Joe Terranova on Tuesday once again declared the Goldman Sachs case "is nothing more than Chicago politics."

On that, Dennis Gartman agrees. "I don't doubt for a moment that this was politically motivated," Gartman said, citing the Friday morning announcement and the politically split vote to pursue the case.

Gary Kaminsky explained why he labeled a headline about Lloyd Blankfein's status on Friday as "stupid," but he wasn't totally precise about whether Lloyd is gonna stay or gonna go.

Kaminsky said that only a survivor type is going to reach CEO as a lawyer from the J. Aron wing, and like all the other transitions, when Blankfein is ready for the next chapter, Goldman Sachs will eventually determine an orderly succession.

Melissa Lee virtually scoffed, saying that's just a bunch of "semantics," and even if Blankfein's nudged aside nicely, it means he's still being forced out.

Anthony Scaramucci made the most interesting comment on this point, saying the covenant Warren Buffett received in Berkshire's 2008 $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs is at least partly insistent on Blankfein staying.

Indeed, we found a passage on this in Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail (that's correct, not in The Sellout), but Sorkin describes the condition as this: "Goldman's top four officers could not sell more than 10 percent of their Goldman shares until 2011, or until Buffett sold his own, even if they left the firm."

Sorkin wrote that Buffett's rationale is, "If I'm buying the horse, I'm buying the jockey too."

(One reason people don't feel sorry for Goldman Sachs: Sorkin wrote that 1 Goldman exec in particular, Jon Winkelried, found Buffett's condition to be a problem, because even though Winkelried was "debt-free" and had earned $53.1 million in 2006 and $71.5 million in 2007, most of it was in stock and he was "quickly running out of cash" because he operated a horse farm in Colorado, requiring Blankfein to personally assure him "the firm would help him find a way out of his financial troubles" to reach agreement on the Buffett offer.)

(We're sure someone else in history who was debt-free must've experienced "financial troubles" a year after earning $71 million, but we can't think of him off the top of the head.)

Kaminsky said if you're interested in Goldman Sachs as an investment, now is a time people will look back on as a chance to have gotten in. "I think 6 months from now you won't even hear anything about this," he said.

Sweet signs on Street Signs

Pete Najarian did a segment on green energy (you know, it's green week around NBC Universal these days) wearing one of those T-shirts that has spawned a bunch of nicknames, none of them particularly flattering.

Joe Terranova said Najarian looked like a member of the Village People. Anthony Scaramucci said Pete should be Mr. January in some sort of calendar. Melissa Lee, who couldn't get through the segment without cracking up and whose cool, steady guidance of Tuesday's show waned in the latter half-hour, said no, make that June.

Sensing the uproar, Pete ramrodded through a few stock plays on whatever it was he was talking about, those being Itron, Exelon and GE.

We couldn't get too excited about Pete's T because we were in buckled-knee shell shock all afternoon over Erin Burnett's smoldering long-sleeved, cream colored ensemble with generous collar.

Stunner: AAPL shares up

About the only time on Tuesday the Fast Money crew wasn't talking about Goldman Sachs, it was talking about Apple Inc. (This writer is long AAPL.)

Gary Kaminsky, insisting he was not a "cheerleader," said the company was clicking on everything, and the next revenue stream "in my opinion is direct search. They're goin' after Google, they're goin' after Yahoo," he said, pursuing "disintermediation in direct search."

Kaminsky admitted, "I actually ordered one of these iPad 3Gs."

As Kaminsky and others spoke, the shares were trading around $260. Anthony Scaramucci predicted they would open less than that on Wednesday; "it will trade down."

Scaramucci said it's a fine long-term holding with a great future, but if you're a trader, "You have to be worried about the near-term" because the stock is "priced to perfection." (We think off-camera Patty Edwards was inadvertently heard on the West Coast Prop Desk disagreeing with that "priced to perfection" part, but can't be sure.)

Joe Terranova said that if the stock pulls back Wednesday morning from its Tuesday afterhours levels, try to get in at $250.

Pete sticks to a thesis

Pete Najarian continues to make the most confounding case for Apple, saying it's all about the Mac sales, and that's what he was focused on in the earnings report.

Pete reported that Mac sales were "a little bit better" than the previous year but "in line" with "aggressive" forecasts.

Whatever we're supposed to take from that, we're not sure.

Patty Edwards suggested Best Buy and Altera as Apple-coattail plays that maybe don't have the same lofty expectations built in.

Anthony Scaramucci said one problem with a market cap of Apple's size is that it becomes harder for a company to move the needle. Gary Kaminsky said this situation is different. "I'm gonna disagree with the Mooch here," he said, pointing to Apple's combination of existing hot products and potential for new ones.

Melissa Lee claimed "Cash is a big reason why Karen's in the stock," and that may be right, but we've never really understood why that's a reason to be in a stock, unless maybe it's a bank in autumn of 2008.

Fast Money doubt over
another Options Action trade

Fast Money traders Tuesday didn't see any glaring shorts on the heels of Apple's earnings. Pete Najarian used the tired "plenty of room for everyone" argument in defense of RIMM.

Anthony Scaramucci said, "On an EPS basis Nokia is a slightly higher multiple than Apple right now."

Joe Terranova said "I'm adding to my position" in Citigroup. (This writer is long C.)

In what's becoming a daily rite, an Options Actions trader Tuesday suggested an options trade on Fast Money only to have one of the Najarians say something like "I agree with everything about this trade, but..."

Scott Nations' idea Tuesday was to sell the June $22 XLK put for 20 cents and buy the June $24 XLK put for 75 cents.

Pete Najarian said it sounds good, but ... he thinks that 20 cent premium is too low and he wouldn't bother with that, just buy the $24 put.

Douglas Sipkin, an expert on Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was basically stone-faced even as Gary Kaminsky complimented him for knowing his stuff on Lehman. Sipkin came on the show to answer the question of whether Morgan Stanley is GS without the litigation risk. Sipkin said no, because GS is so dominant in fixed income, and more importantly, is in a "much better position to return capital to shareholders."

Trading the NFL Draft

CNBCfix.com may stink at picking stocks, but when it comes to the mock NFL Draft, we bat 1.000.

(OK, maybe not 1.000, but pretty damn good.)

Thursday night's the night. Don't even get us started on the end of the Saturday tradition. (Fortunately it starts a couple hours after Fast Money, but honestly, we're unlikely to do much about Fast during that 90-minute window, and once the Draft starts, Thursday's Fast is quickly going to fade out of our rearview mirror, so hopefully nothing terribly exciting will happen on that day's show.)

The first 3 picks, barring any trades which are still highly possible, will be Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy.

The draft really begins at Washington's pick 4, which we don't think will be Iowa's Bryan Bulaga but is likely to be either Russell Okung or Trent Williams.

Eric Berry seems a lock at No. 7 to Cleveland. Many mocks have Jimmy Clausen pegged to Buffalo at No. 9, but this site believes Clausen goes higher than that. Teams choosing 6-14 all could use a new QB.

We predict Bradford will be an injury-plagued bust. We don't think Tebow can play in the NFL.

Cortes: GS trade turned into
‘a very little winner’

Steve Cortes said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that he actually profited on a long Goldman Sachs trade vs. the market last week.

"I had this trade on, I was long the brokers against the market," he said. "I had a very big winner that turned into a very little winner, uh and took profits and I am out."

Cortes on March 10 indicated he was out of GS, saying he still liked the stock and thesis but was taking profits because it was momentarily extended. He also touted GS on April 8 and April 13, saying on the 8th he liked GS and "sold short the sector."

According to Google and Yahoo finance, the cheapest GS could've been bought after March 10 was $169. On Friday, GS plunged from $181 to $169 in 4 minutes. It spent the next 10 minutes hovering above $170, briefly creeping up to $174. After that, it's been sub-$170 since.

The other element to the trade, "long the brokers against the market," wasn't exactly helping him out, at least since April 8 or April 13 when he recommended it. On April 8 the S&P 500 was 1,186.44; after Friday's meltdown it was 1,192.13. So he might've been claiming a "very big winner" if he'd bought GS around $170 and ridden it to $185 last week, but offset against the market he was shorting, doesn't seem like it could've been that big of a winner.

For Cortes to make a "little winner" out of this trade, he would've had to unload somewhere in the $170s above his buy price in a matter of minutes Friday as Goldman Sachs fell off a cliff. Like Rocco Lampone says, "Difficult. Not impossible." And they call Joe Terranova The Liquidator.

Patty: Careful with MCD

Patty Edwards on Tuesday's Halftime managed to do her best to play down a stock she owns.

"We own McDonald's, I am a fan of McDonald's but I am a little bit cautious about this chart," Edwards said. "This chart is making me a little bit leery I guess."

Edwards also said, "I love Big Blue, but that being said, we own Coke."

Pete Najarian said, "You gotta like IBM here."

Mike Gurka said the coal story will continue, but Steve Cortes pointed to U.S. Steel's bounce and called it "not that material, given the last couple of weeks."

Gurka said you could play Citi with options straddles, but the stock is "not gonna start jumping out, uh, for me on a direction, which is north."

Analyst Yair Reiner has a $285 price target on Apple, but he said any supply bottleneck is merely a June-July issue of "2 weeks worth of timing, and not a fundamental one."

[Monday, April 19, 2010]

Gartman: Goldman Sachs has
the cockroach problem

Dennis Gartman said Monday on Fast Money not to expect Goldman Sachs to slither out of this one so quickly.

"I think that this is something that doesn't go away for a long period of time," Gartman said. "There's never just 1 cockroach ... this is not going away tomorrow."

Told that Brad Hintz predicts, at worst, a very manageable hit to the GS bottom line from the SEC charge, Gartman said the problem isn't the actual earnings, but the "psychology."

"Bankers have a very bad name," he said.

Gartman said if he was hired to dish out PR advice to Lloyd Blankfein, it would be, "Just be straightforward." Watergate proved, he said, "it's the cover-up that gets you."

Despite his pessimism over the Goldman Sachs case, Gartman wearily said this is a bull market, and "I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the market moves to new highs."

Sheet? We don’t have a sheet

The honchos at Fast Money, if/when they expand the Halftime show to a half-hour, should consider the fact that Brad Hintz is apparently a big draw.

"When I see his, his name on, on the sheet, I go and turn the TV on," Dennis Gartman said Monday, admiringly.

Guy Adami dares the SEC to come up with a better one

It's not like the Fast Money gang regularly engages in the practice of defending Goldman Sachs (actually, they usually do), but when they do, it can sort of come across like the understatement of the month.

"I don't share the outrage," shrugged Guy Adami on Monday. "Goldman Sachs is just being Goldman Sachs.

"If this is the best the SEC can come up with after however long they've investigated, it's pretty flimsy," Adami said, crediting an old Georgetown buddy for cluing him in to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

Even so, Adami thinks the SEC case is a headwind. "I don't think this is over," he said. "Technically it was a monster reversal on Friday."

Karen Finerman stressed that there are still many unknowns surrounding the Goldman situation; it's impossible to know if the bad publicity will quietly fade away as it did with Halliburton.

No wonder people don’t
understand him

Good to know we're not alone. Someone on Fast Money finally asked Monday what Lloyd Blankfein is actually saying in that unintelligible satire clip Melissa Lee likes to show.

Lee explained Blankfein is saying "Who dare challenge Goldman Sachs?" as some sort of play on Darth Vader.

(Guess "What is thy bidding?" would be too magnanimous in this context.)

The graphic shows Blankfein at 85 Broad Street, Goldman Sachs' old address, which Gary Kaminsky reminded Melissa Lee on Friday.

When it gets warm,
Pete wears shorts

The toughest call on Monday's Fast Money was not picking a stock, but choosing between Karen Finerman's sprightly horizontal stripes and Mel Lee's elegant purple frock with deep belt.

We'll declare both the winner and move on.

The angles from the Fast Money set more than ever show off Pete Najarian's flip flops, a subject that will probably draw some more hits to this page, but we're tired of acknowledging. (There is no Fast Money dress code, to our knowledge.)

Guy Adami revealed, "I'm 6-3, 220."

Guest Lawrence McDonald seemed to have a case of bed hair, but then again the show needs a little of that from time to time. We think another guest, Stephen Gandel, might've had a spot on the tie.

Melissa Lee, who uncharacteristically cracked up over an off-camera gag while asking a question about one of Mike Khouw's option trades, was cute as a button displaying that Hasbro toy My Little Pony, but our Pavlovian response to pony gifts has been decidedly negative since those faulty ally bank commercials hit the scene.

Flash: Successful people
defend their livelihood

Stephen Gandel of Time was calling for some serious regulation of hedge funds Monday on Fast Money, and Tim Seymour was having none of it.

"What we need is, we need a regular reporting of trades," Gandel said, basically launching into a speech before Melissa Lee had even asked him a question. "There needs to be some central clearing-house at the SEC that says, 'This is what these hedge funds are doing'."

"They don't have enough people though; you're talking about every trade a hedge fund does," Seymour protested. "The real issue here was the regulation for the people that were producing these securities."

Gandel insisted that hedge funds created demand for credit swaps and other instruments. "They might be next in terms of criminal investigations," he warned.

"I don't see how hedge funds were culpable in, in the collapse," Karen Finerman said, more quizzically than anything.

"They were feeding these new products," Gandel said.

Seymour concluded, "He's right that the derivatives market has gotten out of control. But this is, this is independent of hedge funds."

And then there’s
this iTunes thing ...

Pete Najarian on Monday once again made what we consider one of the most confounding regular points heard on Fast Money.

"The Macs. That's where they're gonna make their money," Pete said, speaking of course of AAPL. (This writer is long AAPL.)

Apple is a fine company, but the reason it's the stock of the past decade is because people are willing to pay a premium for its digital music.

Tim Seymour said LPL, Samsung are names you "have to own if you love Apple."

Peter Misek of Canaccord Adams said he's got a $300 target on AAPL and sees "great catalysts ahead for the iPhone."

Karen Finerman said of the AAPL earnings, "There's always the sandbag that comes after."

No need to go there

Fast Money traders spent a decent part of their day discussing the ultra-boring report from IBM, which Jim Goldman described as not too cold, not too hot.

Goldman said some people may find Big Blue's gross margins "a little squeamish."

Brian Kelly said "My trade off of this is Rackspace, RAX."

Then, while Karen Finerman was noticeably smirking, Melissa Lee confirmed "OK, likes RAX."

Cue ‘In the Air Tonight’

Lehman Brothers expert Lawrence McDonald gave Fast Money perhaps the ultimate tribute on Monday.

"First of all it's great to be on my favorite program of finance. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," McDonald said.

Unfortunately McDonald really provided no reason for popping champagne corks. Matter of factly, he said, "No question, the SEC is coming back at Lehman Brothers," and that he believes Deutsche Bank and UBS are "2 likely candidates for more inquiry."

Movie of the week: ‘Rocky II,’
featuring ‘smeel mainly’

Jon Najarian, Steve Grasso and Melissa Lee revived the "Rocky" brand about a week ago on Fast Money.

"Rocky II," wrongly maligned by many, is notable for 2 reasons.

One is that it's the greatest workout video of all time, once Adrian tells Rock to "Win!" (Not the first "Win" that should've been cut, when she's recoiling and smiling, but the second "Win!" that she says with conviction.)

The other is that it possesses one of the most under-the-radar hilarious movie scenes in history, when Rocky tries to shoot a commercial with John Pleshette.

In all likelihood you've seen the film more than once and remember the scene, but never realized how side-splitting it actually is.

Rocky says, "In the morning, I splash it on, and it makes me smeel mainly-"

Pleshette interrupts, "Smeel mainly? Uh, cut. Smell manly. Can you read that Rock?"

It'd be easy, and correct, to just credit Pleshette for an unforgettable character, but Stallone, who has always been underrated, meets the very high bar in the way he bumbles and stumbles over every line of the ad during the series of takes, further revealing a certain pride that fuels his remarkable resiliency.

We found the clip on YouTube here.

Najarian: Coal not done

Pete Najarian said Monday not to count the coal names out.

"They really started to react rather nicely" midday, he said. "I don't believe this commodity trade is completely over."

Mike Khouw offered a "time-value play" for options traders. He would sell the YHOO May 18 put for 80 cents and buy the YHOO June 18 put for $1, which brought only mild skepticism from Pete Najarian.

Karabell: I ‘certainly’
bought Goldman Sachs

Zach Karabell made a point Monday on the Fast Money Halftime Report that was off-the-charts good.

"I certainly bought some Goldman," he said, pointing to the big drop Friday. "It's worth the risk ... all this does is trigger a small technical correction that a lot of people have been waiting for, and then we pile on a thesis when indeed that's more what's going on."

Steve Grasso agreed that people will buy GS on the overdone theory, but he said they're wary of "holding onto it for more than a day or 2."

Jon Najarian sort of agreed and disagreed with Karabell, saying GS is nevertheless a reason that people are selling. "I believe it is actually, that catalyst, because they don't ring bells at the top, or bottom," he said. "They're taking stuff off right here."

Najarian said it doesn't look good for the ratings agencies. "I think these guys are in a world of hurt here, both MHP and MCO," he said.

"Looks like a downward slide can continue" in those names, said Steve Grasso.

Tim Seymour suggested viewers "look at Travelers" as a way to play the prospect of intensified financial regulatory reform with Glass-Stegall ramifications.

Amylin CEO Daniel Bradbury said "We're looking forward to launching Bydureon later this year." The CNBC graphics gremlin spelled it "PHAMACEUTICALS" on the text at the bottom of the screen.

Jon Najarian said he likes Amylin, but probably a dollar cheaper than its 21-and-change level.

Fast Money Halftime Report
expanding to 30 minutes

According to the New York Post on Sunday, CNBC is going to cut Power Lunch down to 1 hour ... and apparently divide that leftover hour between David Faber and 30 minutes of the "Fast Money Halftime Report."

The current Halftime Report, not including a commercial break, runs about 10 or 11 minutes.

That got the speculation around here buzzing. (Or, put another way, just sitting around here wondering what this means ...)

1. Hopefully more cash for Melissa Lee.
2. (Or) possibly a Halftime-only host to split the burden?
3. More panelists, more panelist pay.
4. Perhaps a core Halftime panelist group separate from the official 5 Fast cast.
5. Re: above, possible need to put the Halftime bunch in the same studio set.

Bigger picture ... could this be laying the groundwork to transform the 5 p.m. Fast Money into a midday show?

And what is going to happen with Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Dennis Kneale?

(Sigh.) Obviously we should be thrilled that the CNBC show of choice here is getting an expansion.

But how the heck are we going to be able to track 90 minutes of live TV daily?

Dunno. We'll try.

Mike Huckman teaches spin class

Remember a couple months ago on Fast Money when Tim Seymour chided Scott Redler for recommending spin class, sending traffic to this site and forcing us to look up what spin class actually is?

Turns out, CNBC's own (soon to depart) Mike Huckman is a highly regarded $30-a-week spin teacher in Millburn, N.J. "He’s about as good as it gets," says one impressed class member. (Reporter Susan Todd also tracked down Huckman's age. It's 48.)

WSJ blogger Katherine Hobson asked Huckman for his top spin music and got these titles:

"In the Air Tonight," Phil Collins
"Lose Yourself," Eminem
"Can You Feel It," The Jacksons
"I Gotta Feeling," Black Eyed Peas
"Millennium," Robbie Williams
"Million Dollar Bill (remix)," Whitney Houston
"Unspeakable Joy," Kim English
"Proud (The Biggest Loser theme song)," Heather Small
"Black and Gold," Sam Sparro
"Beggin’," Madcon

Kaminsky: Goldman execs might actually be ‘pretty pleased’

It was all Goldman Sachs, all the time on CNBC Friday, and it was Gary Kaminsky who raised the most interesting point on Fast Money.

"Let me just kinda say this. That, this is a serious matter. However, if we give it some sort of perspective here," he said, "I gotta believe that a lot of people within Goldman were actually pretty pleased today," realizing that "This was the best case that they could present against a 31-year-old VP." He said he thinks the buzz around the company was that this is "really not a strong case."

Kaminsky said "Securitization was financial heroin. I said that a year and a half ago." He said the SEC choosing not to target someone from the John Paulson side of this deal "did not make sense."

Kaminsky also clarified a statement from Melissa Lee about GS' headquarters. "Not 85 Broad anymore, because they've, they've actually moved," he said.

Whew! Luckily it wasn’t
our headline

Gary Kaminsky also reported on Friday's Fast Money he had seen a headline about Lloyd Blankfein perhaps not surviving this as Goldman Sachs CEO, and "I thought that was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen," cementing Kaminsky's reputation as one of the people you most want to be around when big news breaks and you can ask "Gary, what the heck is going on here?"

"I think Lloyd is fine, frankly," chipped in Guy Adami, and "I don't think anybody is going anywhere in the upper echelon of Goldman Sachs."

Kaminsky predicted minimal impact on the markets, except for the government's sale of its stake in Citi, which he said could be dogged by "ambulance-chasing attorneys."

"You're gonna find dozens more of crappy securitizations put together by every one of the banks, and this one — there's gonna be ones that were much worse than this," Kaminsky said.

Karen: More to come

Karen Finerman explained her approach Friday to Goldman Sachs this way:

"Well my initial reaction when I saw the stock $25 down, I thought you know what, this seems ridiculous," Finerman said. "I bought stock and then, I thought about it a little bit more, and I sold it. And the thinking was this: It cannot be coincidence that this is coming out now when there is the prospect of financial reform ... the possibility of it having real teeth has gone up dramatically. ... I think the news and the spin gets worse before it gets better."

Finerman said GS will be filing a 10Q shortly and she's curious if the company will call this a "material" event.

Finerman said risk-takers could give options a shot right now, but she's leery of that.

"If you really got guts or some other anatomy, selling the put would be the way to go," she said. "I don't love that trade because, you know, when it those- when you get, when you get put that stock, you very often don't feel so comfortable buying that stock at that price ... I feel like there's another shoe to drop."

Gasparino playing catch-up

Once we saw the Goldman Sachs news Friday, we did some Web searching to see if Charles Gasparino, who remains our favorite Wall Street-stock market-cable TV reporter despite his jump to Fox Business Network, had the scoop here.


Nothing on the Twitter account, and his first piece on the FBN Web site didn't go up till mid-afternoon.

Gasparino said on-air Friday that the idea of the SEC suit being the fault of one rogue employee was "bull----."

He also chuckled, "I just tried calling Goldman Sachs' media department. I got voicemail.”

Gasparino wrote in his afternoon piece that "senior executives inside Goldman Sachs say they were caught completely off guard."

Evidently, Charlie sorta was too.

Even pros aren’t perfect

Joe Terranova said Friday on Fast Money that at one point, "I held a Goldman Sachs short position — not that I held on to that."

Indeed, Thursday disclosures at CNBC.com showed no short position in GS for Terranova.

When in doubt, dump GOOG

Forget about "2nd derivative" trades. Joe Terranova on Fast Money Friday was reaching about as far as a certain search giant's space program. Terranova said "Basically, some will call it Chicago politics" that the SEC went after Goldman Sachs in an apparent pursuit of heavy-handed regulation.

As a result, "The first thing I did was sell my Google, which I didn't want to sell, and sell a bunch of other things," Terranova said.

"I don't think this is a one-day event," he added, asking rhetorically, "How does Asia react" on Sunday?

"This really has nothing to do with Google," Karen Finerman said.

"I actually bought Google down probably about 7%," countered Tim Seymour, saying it was an "insane amount of volume."

Seymour said that hedge fund investors are jittery types, especially nowadays, and when negative rumblings about someone like John Paulson hit the surface, it's "often a ticket to a redemption" that could mean people like Paulson have to unload some positions, and everyone knows Paulson is big into the GLD as well as C. (This writer is long C.)

Adami vindicated, for a day

Guy Adami said Friday he'd been waiting for the "exogenous event" that could put a top in the market, and perhaps Friday was it. He said it's very hard to think about being long now given the banks are stalling around their level of the October highs.

"Technically today was a lousy day," he said.

Brian Kelly, sort of along the lines of Karen Finerman, thinks the GS problem is just the beginning. "This is the first case, it's not the best case. I think there's more to this," Kelly said. "There is going to be more out there, it doesn't just start with one." He said he's willing to short Moody's, and Melissa Lee asked to "connect the dots."

Brad Hintz though said, "It doesn't seem like this is going to be an end-of-the-world for Goldman Sachs," citing among other things different standards between being an underwriter and a placement agent.

Hintz added, "It really looks like the Street's going to lose the derivatives fight; a lot of the business is going to shift over to the exchanges."

Surprise: Lawyer outraged

Anyone could've predicted Jacob Zamansky's reaction to the GS charges Friday.

"I consider this a game-changer," Zamansky said. "The e-mails remind me of Henry Blodget at Merrill Lynch ... what the heart of this case is, is Goldman's conflict of interest."

He said also, "It's a game-changer for the SEC."

Gary Kaminsky disagreed. "The buyers of these products were well-aware that these were how these, um, products were constructed," and it's different than when Blodget was involved in stock recommendations to the public.

Our opinion

We're complete amateurs here, and keep in mind that anyone making a trade based on a CNBCfix recommendation is like the "fool and his money" example. Usually.

We have no clue what GS might do in the next week or 2. That depends on the company's PR and the anger level of the folks in D.C. who have shown they're capable of eliciting even silly 14-hour car rides instead of plane flights to capital hearings from executives they don't particularly like.

But the idea of a market top on this "exogenous event" is bogus.

If we were portfolio managers, we'd be scooping up all kinds of stocks on Friday. (But we're not, so we weren't.)

The government's political stake in a healthy stock market is huge. For that, the market needs the banks to go higher (our opinion contrary to Zachary Karabell); Cliffs Natural Resources and Lionsgate can't do it alone.

So in all likelihood this is the ultimate bailout penalty the government has crafted for GS, and the gut reaction here is that this should be viewed like the "finality" of the health care deal for the HMOs.

We never want to disagree with Karen Finerman, or even Brian Kelly, but there's likely no other shoes to drop. There's no "real teeth" in any of this pending reform.

Yesterday (see below) one of those people practically joked on-air about how people think Apple lied about Steve Jobs and suggested Google might be leaning that direction with its explanation of Eric Schmidt's absence from conference calls.

Nobody cares about corporate chicanery. The government cares a little bit that many people are still rightfully angry about banking machinations and bailout help of the last couple years. It cares a lot more about people's 401(k) statements come October 2010, or October 2012, and anyone who thinks it's going to allow the SEC to impair that with a series of possibly non-airtight cases against extremely specific bank products is wrong. This will blow over, and fast.

A nod to the show

This is a weird entry, but we're intrigued by these things.

Doing TV, especially live TV, is no cakewalk. It'd be a joke if the CNBCfix community tried to recommend a stock on TV, or even just tried to say there was "absolutely phenomenal" activity in the options markets.

Nevertheless, people tend to notice the most superficial things about television appearance, and we sorta figure it's our duty to point them out — even when we disagree.

One visitor to this site wondered if the people on Fast Money always "nod into the camera" when it's on them. Well, if they're not speaking, then yes, they often do. We'd guess it's just sort of an acknowledgment that they understand what the speaker is saying. You'll notice that the rare times when the camera goes around each trader and they just sit there with no expression, it looks kind of silly; hence Guy Adami is famous to Regis Philbin for making those faces that are emotion-neutral. This is where TV technicals are way beyond the scope/knowledge of this page, and this is just amateur-guessing hour. These things remind of us "The Candidate," when Peter Boyle before a debate tells Robert Redford not to stare up into the stage lights "because you'll look like an idiot."

Melissa Lee's opening iPad-chart thing does seem like a bit of a reach at hipness.

Cutest voice on CNBC
belongs to Trish Regan

We're always big fans of CNBC legend Maria Bartiromo. (Is it OK to call her a "legend," or would she consider that an insult?)

However, we think we're even bigger fans of the 4 p.m. Eastern time Closing Bell lead-in to Fast Money featuring Trish Regan, who on Friday wore canary yellow.

Patty: I sold

The one thing you get with the Fast Money Halftime Report is a different set of traders to talk about the same things that the 5 p.m. traders talk about.

Inexplicably, Melissa Lee went around the horn before asking a panelist who actually traded Goldman on Friday, Patty Edwards, what she did.

"I had Goldman Sachs, I've been talking about that, I sold on the news," Edwards said. "I just did not want to be anywhere near it."

Lee asked if Edwards is willing to "cherry-pick" stocks amid the selloff. "You know, call me chicken, but no, I'm not," Edwards said. "I would rather go with some of the, the financials that are not involved in that stuff."

Edwards said an area like the bond insurers, where risk is being transferred, is a "very interesting place to look at."

Kaminsky: 4 things to know

Melissa Lee boldly asked Gary Kaminsky at Halftime, after Goldman, who's next? "I have no idea Melissa," said Kaminsky.

Kaminsky went on to offer 4 points: "What is this all about," he wondered aloud. "This sort of started with a whistleblower," he said, and there are probably other whistleblowers, and in terms of how long it will last, it reminds him of the "IPO spinning situations of late 2000, 2001." He said in terms of stock impact beyond GS, Citibank "was a major player; the monetization, the government selling the stake probably gets delayed here," but the global recovery, "that's gonna continue despite this."

Christopher Whalen came on the Halftime Report to talk about a series of uninteresting subjects such as Rule 144A, but then he made this point, that "credit derivatives are not like an interest-rate swap, they're more of an option-type product, and you have not seen Chicago willing to go in and compete with the banks."

Steve Grasso said WMT is a safe haven if people bolt financials.

10:41 was time to sell

The beginning of Friday's Halftime Report was essentially a public service announcement for buying options.

Speaking of Goldman Sachs, Jon Najarian said, "If you had some protection you wouldn't have had to buy it when the hurricane was hittin'." Joe Terranova agreed.

Steve Grasso, who Lee said was "catchin' your breath" after making some trades, said at "10:42 roughly ... they blanket-sold the whole entire market," which he likened to throwing out the baby with the bath water.

"I think the gloves are comin' off at this point" in Washington, Grasso nevertheless warned.

Terranova said "Asia has not felt this yet, so Sunday night is gonna be a difficult night in Asia." He recommended buying the FXY.

And, "I am surprised that gold is not down a lot more," Terranova said.

Melissa Lee at one point said "Let's connect the dots here." Jon Najarian offered some editorial commentary, that mortgage investments "were gamed by the rating agencies that pushed them up to triple-A when they really shouldn't have been. My opinion of course."

He said the mention of John Paulson in this case is "what's so disconcerting," but "I think this might be a Goldman-specific problem."

Steve Cortes: 1 for 2

Thursday on Fast Money, Steve Cortes was bearish on C, bullish on GS:

"I thought it was very bad price action in Citi," he said. "I much prefer the brokers here MS and GS."

[Thursday, April 15, 2010]

Long way since Enron

Karen Finerman on Fast Money Thursday was discussing Google's curious method of announcing that Eric Schmidt won't be taking part in any more earnings conference calls when she said this:

"Investors can't help but think, you know what, we've had Apple lie to us before and saying that Jobs is fine."

Apple ... "lie to us."

This subject came up last year on Fast Money when Jobs' hiatus was announced. We have no idea if there was any actual "lying" on the part of Apple and aren't passing judgment. (This writer is long AAPL.)

But Thursday, a Fast Money panelist said investors believe Apple lied to them.

Recently, an investigation of Lehman Brothers wrapped up. There was significant interest over whether Lehman executives misled investors. There is zero interest over whether Apple misled anyone.

In fact, Finerman was indirectly suggesting — this is our inference, not a specific point she made — that even though there is a "deserved skepticism" to Google's Schmidt announcement, investors might be better off just ignoring it and buying the dip: "Here I think it's attractive ... This is a stumble, it's noise, they could've handled it better, but..."

Finerman, according to CNBC.com disclosures, is long both AAPL and GOOG.

Finerman previously on the show has scolded Chesapeake Energy and its CEO, Aubrey McClendon, for what she considered a ridiculous, unmerited pay package. She has also spoken of taking activist positions in companies plagued by underperforming management.

Regarding Google on Thursday, she rattled off company side projects that have irritated investors, acknowledged the China-exit penalty, complained about the lack of a significant dividend and agreed with others that the company's handling of Schmidt's presence on the conference calls was poor.

Apparently, some dubious management is OK, and other dubious management isn't.

Given the throwaway reference to Apple, it's probably safe to conclude that, despite Sarbanes-Oxley, the world actually regards the comments from publicly traded companies as the equivalent of a TV commercial, the market being the ultimate caveat emptor.

Why people might be skeptical

The Associated Press reports on the conference call exchange Thursday between an analyst and Google's CFO, Patrick Pichette:

QUESTION: Any other particular comments you could make around Eric not being on the call and anything else that we should read into that?

ANSWER: Eric is everywhere. Eric is in every public ... I mean I have seen him in Abu Dhabi and then fly across to (Washington) D.C. the next day. He is everywhere. So the fact that we just decided to streamline our process just for earnings does not mean that Eric is not available, and he is clearly leading as spokesperson for the strategy of the company. So he's very transparent and everywhere. So on that point it was just simply an issue of kind of streamlining and making more focus on financial results for this call.

Or maybe he just wasn't interested in any China questions.

Jim Goldman: ‘Bizarre’

Jim Goldman on Thursday discussed the "format change" to Google's conference call and said "The company says not to read anything into this."

Pete Najarian wondered why Google would not pre-announce Eric Schmidt's absence from the call. Goldman concluded, "It is a bizarre decision on the part of Google."

Fight the tape, maybe

Tim Seymour, who seemed frustrated Thursday over the GOOG afterhours selloff, insisted that even though Google's China situation "gets worse and worse by the day, they're not out of China ... the reality is, they haven't kick-, they haven't been kicked out."

Karen Finerman said Google is experiencing a "rightful penalty on China," but "I think that's already reflected in the valuation though."

Pete Najarian said the spending that GOOG is doing may disappoint investors but is good for names like INTC, CSCO and AKAM.

Analyst Colin Gillis said GOOG is range-bound and is "having a tough time" breaking out of that range.

Joe Terranova said "Most of us on the desk are long Google." Terranova and Seymour both said they would buy it during its afterhours drop. Seymour said $580 is the key, but it wasn't clear if he meant buy as much as possible below $580, which it already was when he said it, or perhaps not to buy it until it returns to $580.

Anthony Scaramucci offered this: "I would just be wary about the whole Schmidt thing, I think it could be overblown. Uh, if he thought this was super-important to the stock, he'd find a way to be on the call."

Steve Cortes made a brief appearance on Fast on Thursday, and the way Melissa Lee introduced him, we thought we'd hear more about Google. Instead, Cortes said he really didn't have anything to say about Google, but was able to repeat the same comments he's made about Europe in the last week or two. "Risk is very expensive," he said.

Hang in there, Carl

Melissa Lee reported Thursday that Carl Icahn has upped his bid for Lionsgate to $7.

Apparently Fast Money was unable to get a quick reaction from LGF vice chairman Michael R. Burns, so Lee replayed some clips from the famous Burns-Icahn on-air showdown in March.

Karen Finerman said that if Burns wanted a true poison pill he could've bought MGM's library because then Icahn would no longer be interested. She said Icahn's previous offer clearly wasn't working, and "I don't think 7 really works either" because Icahn is essentially bidding against himself.

Hilary in 2010

Hilary Kramer is attractive, as visitors to this site have suggested.

Thursday on Fast Money, Kramer suggested that perhaps the S&P 500 chart is not so attractive.

"Right now we're at a very critical and dangerous point in the S&P 500," Kramer said. "We have had a retrenchment to 62% of those October 2007 highs ... and 62% in traditional technical analysis is a very important resistance point."

"A lot of people have been burned here thinking this is the end of the ride," said Tim Seymour, who asked for a specific call.

"I'm looking for a 7 to 10% pullback," Kramer said.

Kramer touted the owner of Applebee's and IHOP. "What I love about Dinequity is they always beat on the earnings," she said. "I'm looking for $55 on the stock price once they report earnings there."

Kramer would add, "VMW, I love this company, this is one to own going into earnings," which are April 20. "I am looking for $62 to $65 a share once they report earnings on Tuesday.

Pete Najarian and Tim Seymour questioned the VMW valuation. Kramer said because of technicals and cloud computing, it's a buy.

Another stock that drew
valuation questions

Anthony Scaramucci said Thursday his hedge fund trade of the week is from Jonathan Urfrig of U Capital, a firm Skybridge has invested in, we discovered via the Internet.

The trade is Carmike Cinema. Scaramucci said it has a protective "moat" from being in rural areas. "Moreover, 3-D movies are the latest sensation; I do believe this is a fad that's gonna stick," said Scaramucci, who said 25% of CKEC's screens are 3-D.

He said he has a 12- to 18-month price target of "something like 23, 23 and a half."

Tim Seymour asked 2 good questions, whether the valuation is stretched and to buy on a pullback, and whether it's a popular name or just a pick from one manager. Scaramucci said the cash-generation justifies the price, and "the stock is owned by some small-cap hedge fund managers ... the true gigantic hedge funds have not yet piled in."

45 P.E. went unmentioned

It seems only fitting that Joseph Carrabba, CEO of Cliffs Natural Resources, the greatest Fast Money stock of 2010, would join the show for a brief chat.

Melissa Lee on Thursday asked Carrabba if "elasticity" was finally going to get the best of surging iron ore and metallurgical coal prices. Carrabba said there is concern, but steel is rebounding, supporting the prices.

"It's a pretty bullish picture," he told Pete Najarian.

Tim Seymour asked about rumors that China is merely stockpiling resources and building bridges to nowhere. "I really don't know why you would stockpile when you're still paying a spot price to Indian producers of over $160 a ton," Carrabba said. "Demand is there ... support seems to be there for these prices."

Carrabba's stock may be hot, but we're still hitching our CEO star to Clay Jones.

About the only time you didn't want to own CLF in 2010 was a 2-week stretch in mid-January.

Cortes aces current events

Brian Stutland said Thursday "eBay options are very cheap right now." He said he is looking to buy the May 26 put for 75 cents.

Melissa Lee said if Guy Adami were present Thursday, he would say "I prefer Honeywell" to GE.

"I do not like GE," said Steve Cortes. "There is a cloud hanging over Europe, and I don't mean the literal one from volcanic ash."

Tim Seymour said he finds "analysts late to the party" on iron ore.

Joe Terranova called AMD "a complete sale."

C vindicates Grasso

Steve Grasso said on the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday that the coast looks to be clear for the market. "We're headed toward those pre-Lehman levels," he said, and investors are "throwing in the towel on the short side."

Grasso said he still owns C and is owning it for the long term. (This writer is long C.)

JJ Kinahan said C longs are hoping to ride it above $5, when new investors might be able to come on board.

Guy Adami said "I still would rather be in Honeywell" than GE, a "better-run company frankly."

Melissa Lee noted GE is "getting rid of non-core assets."

Guy Adami mentioned the ongoing strength of one of his favorites, WLT, but "I would be leery to get in to a new initiation here" on the coal names.

"We like Plains Exploration," said Eugene Profit.

Colin Gillis came on the Halftime Report and spoke about a "good Google" and a "bad Google." He said "shares have traded down in the June quarter for 4 years in a row."

Yahoo, he said, is "the only name that we have a buy on."

Steve Grasso said "I would definitely be wary of it," and that what he's seeing now are fund managers chasing high-beta.

[Wednesday, April 14, 2010]

More proof ‘The Pitch’
needs only 3 seconds

Tim Seymour made "The Pitch" Wednesday on Fast Money to short CSX.

"It's a valuation call," he said. "We're only 1% away from resistance that was set in 2008 ... it's gotten ahead of itself."

Does this commentary make
an ounce of sense to you?

Mike Gurka spoke Wednesday on Fast Money purportedly about China's GDP.

We stress the word "purportedly."

Because we listened to this once and had absolutely no clue what Gurka was talking about.

And because we're gluttons for Fast Money punishment, we rewound the tape (about 14 times, because Gurka talks fast) to put together a transcript.

If you understand half of this, you're either a pro, or insane:

"The whole component here is that, you know what, we were supposed to price in earnings here in the United States and we're up 3 digits in the Dow. Same thing, we could have a 12 handle on GDP and all of a sudden what's the market gonna do, listen, 2 things, Singapore's dollar revalued, and all of a sudden we're starting to talk about non-deliverable forwards here in China, 21-basis-point-move already, we're expecting that to happen, but you know what, retail sales up 18% month to month, industrial production up 18% month to month, and more importantly, car sales quarter to quarter is up 76%. The real story for me was Korea. Korea, all of a sudden they got a sovereign debt, or sovereign credit rating upgrade and of course their unemployment, it doesn't happen on the world too often, 4.4 down to 3%, 3.7%. That's important. What I think right now at least, what we're starting to anticipate here is that China is gonna start hitting the brakes, but it's not gonna stop the train, and that actually is gonna be very positive for us because we're expecting that, that yuan to be revalued, and all of a sudden I think that trickles into the Asian markets and back into the United States."

Steve Cortes gives us a chance
to talk about a movie

Wednesday on Fast Money, Steve Cortes declared, "I am leaving Las Vegas."

We'll get to that in a moment.

Cortes was making an interesting point about casino stocks. "I'm outright short LVS," he said, and here's why. He said casinos are "very closely correlated" with the HGX housing index. Casinos have surged. The HGX hasn't.

Tim Seymour asked if Macau wasn't a big driver that would be independent of U.S. housing stats. Cortes responded with a question, "Why are Chinese stocks in general lagging behind" if there is so much consumer growth there.

"Leaving Las Vegas" is a devastatingly powerful film, by Mike Figgis. Most people wrongly assume it is about Nicolas Cage's character Ben Sanderson.

It is really about Elisabeth Shue's Sera, who ultimately realizes difficult truths about whether people can change, and the frustration — if not projection — in attempting to help them do so.

A conversation
crying out for K-Fine

Melissa Lee put GOOG to the "360" test on Fast Money Wednesday, and the verdict was mixed.

Youssef Squali loves the stock. Carter Worth sees "poor relative strength, stay away." Jon Najarian talked about volatility moves after earnings; the pattern seems to be GOOG's post-earnings selloffs are steeper than the gains from post-earnings buy-ups.

Joe Terranova and Brian Kelly combined to push GOOG over the top.

"Usually the hardest trade is the best trade," said Terranova, which sounded rather curious to us. (How is one trade any "harder" than another?) "The upside surprise is actually I think the trade right here."

"The trade I'm putting on is long Google," Kelly said. "Google has information, and that's what's valuable." He said both GOOG and AAPL have data they can sell to advertisers, sort of a paradigm shift from software makers such as Microsoft.

GOOG, in this site's opinion, is quite possibly the most interesting stock in the world at this time. It prints money, but it's bailing from China.

It could be Microsoft circa 1989, or Yahoo circa 1999.

The feeling here is that there are more reasons to be negative on the stock than positive. It's hard to believe Google has not yet peaked in its relevance. It's hard to believe it can make its Adwords any more profitable. The stock is still a healthy distance from its all-time high of late 2007.

And, like Microsoft a decade ago, it doesn't know what to do with the money it makes.

"It's got a lot of cash on hand, what does it do with it?" Melissa Lee asked skeptically on Wednesday.

We're hoping Karen Finerman will do another lengthy segment one of these days as to why she likes the stock so much, and why she considers it to have such high barriers to entry.

Pete Najarian advised viewers to look at YHOO. "They really are starting to click," he said.

In-N-Out is still king

Guy Adami on Wednesday again singled out JACK as a stock he still likes.

"I'd like to go, I mean if I could find one, I'd go," he said.

Pete Najarian said Jack in the Box is "mostly West Coast." (Evidently Adami didn't look it up during his famous trip to Vegas with Dr. J in August 2009.)

According to the corporate Web site, Jack in the Box has 2,200 locations in 18 states, covering the entire West and Southwest stretching from Louisiana to Washington. It's only in 4 states east of the Mississippi River, the closest to Adami probably being North Carolina.

Analyst Mark Kalinowski said he upped his target for MCD to $75 because of robust same-store sales growth, though he conceded that in Asia, he doesn't expect 10% same-store sales growth forever.

Brian Kelly said don't bother trying to choose among McDonald's, Burger King or others. "I think the way you play this is Sysco, SYY," he said.

Gartman gains 1% at a time

Joe Terranova said Wednesday, "What we are entering now is the giddy phase of this rally. But the giddy phase of this rally can last way longer than you can position yourself on the short side."

Tim Seymour said "'Giddy' is Miley Cyrus territory."

Dennis Gartman concurred with Terranova but suggested being careful.

"This thing wants to go up, but don't get as aggressively long as everybody wants to be," he said, even though "this is an economy where everything is starting to hit."

Gartman said applying logic isn't always helpful.

"The thing that I've learned in 35 years of doing this" (we think it's 36 now and that he's rounding) is that bull markets can take off and last longer than people would ever think, he said.

Gartman went on to explain his long positions are up 3% while his short positions go up 2%. He said one thing he notices is that "cabs are busy, the airlines are busy, hotels are busy," and even in Akron, Ohio, he saw the cabs run out.

Najarian: GS isn’t perfect

Just a few weeks ago, Tim Seymour was accepting high-fives for calling POT as it hit $125.

Now that it's $108, he's still pounding the table, even if Goldman Sachs isn't.

"Potash inventories globally are very, very tight," he said. "I'm very bullish on the second half of the year ... The stock technically at 105 is a place you jump in every time."

Joe Terranova on the other hand said Goldman Sachs dumping on the name actually might've done people a "favor" by recommending they get out of it.

"This is a pretty late call," said Pete Najarian, who questioned Goldman Sachs' skill at analyzing fertilizer names. Terranova said it might be a late call, or it might not be.

’Nuff said

Sometimes, getting technical on TV can be a problem.

Melissa Lee's explanation of how Intel trades post-earnings was so cumbersome, we weren't the least bit surprised when she clarified the data later in the show.

Viewers actually did hear something interesting about The World's Most Boring Stock, INTC, when Guy Adami briefly explained why he actually owns it.

"I love the story long-term," Adami said.

Adami noted something we should've pointed out days ago, that his call on RIMM earnings recently was spot-on.

Mike Khouw said having GE report earnings on an options Friday "is the purest play you're ever gonna get in the options market." He said you can buy the GE $19 April put for 15 cents.

Brian Kelly said he likes GT, SEE and PTV.

Melissa Lee referred to Gary Kaminsky as a "friend of the show of course."

Kelly: MSFT fading

Brian Kelly raised a very thought-provoking point on the Halftime Report Wednesday about Microsoft.

"Their business model to me just doesn't work anymore. Software is now free. And Microsoft's trying to charge for it," he said. "Why do I need to buy Microsoft Office when I can use Google docs?"

Jared Levy said he would counter that, but sort of ended up halfway on the same side. "I agree with you, the software element is changing," Levy acknowledged, but because of business demands for productivity and the presence of Windows 7, "I think they will do well" this quarter.

Joe Terranova pronounced YHOO as "underowned."

Scaramucci goes shopping

Joe Terranova said on Wednesday's Halftime, "I never play stocks under $5 but I actually bought some in-the-money, uh, the $4 May calls in Citi."

Things sounded even better for C bulls (this writer is long C) once Anthony Scaramucci came on to discuss Skybridge's purchase of Citi's hedge fund of funds unit. "We think it's a crown jewel," said Scaramucci, and "we understand why Citi needed to sell it."

Melissa Lee said it looks like Skybridge was the only bidder, so if it's such a crown jewel, where were the other buyers? "We got the opportunity to be the exclusive people," Scaramucci said, but he insisted there were "3 or 4 other parties" who were involved in the bidding, not the most convincing answer.

Scaramucci said of C, "I actually think the stock is gonna trade a lot higher."

Dining out

Brian Kelly said Wednesday the usual big banks weren't sexy enough for him this time. "I've gone way out on the risk factor and I've bought Fannie and Freddie Mac," he said. "Their loan losses are actually lower than JPMorgan and Bank of America."

Patty Edwards sighed and said, "You know, I own JPMorgan, I own Goldman Sachs ... there is no way I'm going in there with you on that one."

Jared Levy said the way to play BAC Friday is to collar it.

Edwards said "I am all over McDonald's, not as interested in Yum."

Brian Kelly said he'd probably "need some pharmaceuticals" if he were to eat the KFC Double Down sandwich.

[Tuesday, April 13, 2010]


Sorry, but we just couldn't get into Tuesday's Fast Money and its extended commentary about the world's most boring stock, Intel.

It took 20 minutes for anything interesting to happen, and that came courtesy of Gary Kaminsky, who outlined 3 comments you might hear from company execs on earnings calls that are actually "red flags."

First, he said, "It's ridiculous when companies say that they're 'cautiously optimistic' for the rest of 2010." He also said to watch waffling about dividend hikes, "it's about time that they give specific information." He said the third thing to watch is when execs say they're "concerned about 2010 because of higher interest rates, that's a, that's a warning sign."

We remember early in the Fast Money era when Dylan Ratigan quoted a homebuilder exec as saying the economic environment "sucks — his words, not mine."

For those wondering ...

Jim Goldman listened to the Intel conference call Tuesday and reported on Fast Money that Intel was planning to hire at a faster pace than any time in the last few years.

Melissa Lee though asked if "to connect the dots" on this trade, should people assume the market has already priced in the anticipated hiring.

Pete Najarian said in the revenue numbers, INTC was "absolutely outstanding."

Guy Adami said the report is "hauntingly similar to last quarter" at least in its trading reaction, and in his opinion, "TXN makes a lot of sense."

Melissa Lee pointed out there are 20 new tablets to be released in June, all fertile ground for Intel. Pete Najarian spoke briefly about AAPL with what we think is about the only cockamamie argument he regularly makes, that AAPL's growth is "going to be the Mac" and not based on all these other things, like, you know, digital music that everyone's willing to pay a premium for that has set up everything the company's done since about 2001. (This writer is long AAPL.)

The Pitch: Too much windup

There's an old saw in football about how a team with purportedly 2 starting quarterbacks is really a team with no starting quarterbacks.

The same can loosely be applied to "The Pitch" series on Fast Money.

If it takes more than 1 reason to buy a stock, then there's really no reason to buy the stock.

For example, Gary Kaminsky on Tuesday recommended DPZ on solid grounds — strictly because of the CEO's comments on the show that Kaminsky interpreted as signaling lower-than-forecast input costs and thus an upside earnings surprise.

In "The Pitch," traders get 30 seconds to make a call when they really should only need 3.

Tuesday was Pete Najarian's turn. He picked "multinational Novartis," with these reasons: "Sales are up 11% ... China, 36% growth last year. ... This is a company that's absolutely everywhere. They're in the generics, they're in the vaccines, they're in the big pharma area, and they're in the personal products. ... PE ... around 11 on the 2010, and the 3% dividend yield ..."

If Obama raises taxes,
will markets plunge?

Anyone who happened to catch Ben Thompson's brief appearance on Fast Money Tuesday night is undoubtedly wondering, how did that interview manage to make it into an online review of the show?

Thompson, of Samson Capital Advisors, only said that munis are an important portfolio "anchor" for anyone who pays taxes, but he didn't even get to talk about his suggestions, which seemed rather generic: TFI, MUB, VWSTX, VWLTX.

This is what perked up our ears: Thompson mentioned that with the Bush tax cuts sunsetting, "tax-exempt investments are gonna become more valuable."

Countless people on CNBC will tell you that taxes are doomed to go higher. Thompson's point is hardly new, and certainly the markets already know about the sunset provisions and have already priced stocks and munis under the assumption of Clinton-era taxation levels.

Or have they?

Melissa Lee likely misspoke when she said, according to Samson's analysis, "A 4% tax-free return is the equivalent of making 6% after taxes;" literally we think 4% tax-free would be the equivalent of making 4% after taxes.

Thompson, we discovered, has a B.A. in economics from Colorado College, also attended by David Malpass.

Wow. An entire Fast Money without mention of CLF

Tim Seymour said of BIDU, "Valuation-wise, this looks a little scary to me."

But Guy Adami said next year BIDU is projected to earn close to $14.50, and "a 45 forward multiple is not crazy if you believe that can happen."

Seymour said, "I wanna be in China Mobile, I wanna be in China Unicom."

Congrats, Leslie

Karen Finerman said JPM's earnings report will be "all about the provision."

Sounds exciting.

Don Fandetti of Citi said American Express is his top pick. "We raised the target to 51 today," he said, saying "global spending is picking up" and it's a brand that's "leveraged to the high-end consumer." Karen Finerman questioned if the consumer is improving, wouldn't it be better to jump into a lower-end name that maybe has yet to burst.

Guy Adami reported that "Karen's a new aunt again, her sister Leslie had a baby."

Melissa Lee likes suits

Gary Kaminsky repeated Tuesday that the "fear of being underinvested" is the biggest fear driving the market.

But before he said that, he startled Mel Lee and briefly knocked her off her game by appearing in a jacket on the Prop Desk. "Oh, you're looking all formal Gary, you got the suit on," Lee said.

Tim Seymour argued that the fear of being underinvested is really no different for portfolio managers now than it was in January, but nothing was settled.

Seymour also referred to "the ferts" in the ag space, but Guy Adami wouldn't make a joke.

"I like GE here," Seymour said.

She said it 3 times

Karen Finerman said YUM is "not pound-the-table cheap like it was" during a "360" segment that really wasn't any more interesting than the Intel chatter.

Melissa Lee was so excited about the KFC Double Down sandwich that she noted "The patty is the bun!" multiple times.

Scott Nations suggested a put spread on MCD, buying the May 67.5 and selling the 62.5.

"Scott, you had me at McRib," Lee said.

Karen Finerman was sleeveless Tuesday.

Buy the banks, or don’t

You'd find it easier to name all the Johnsons in "Blazing Saddles" than to actually procure a trade from the Fast Money gang during the Halftime Report on Tuesday.

Patty Edwards did offer, "We're in JPMorgan, we're also in Goldman Sachs." But Steve Cortes reiterated an earlier position that he'd be in only the brokers like GS and MS because of "lingering issue of home equity loan exposure" for the others.

But Pete Najarian said of those brokers, "The one issue you face there is the regulators."

Zach Karabell suggested maybe investors should skip the banks entirely; they might be just last year's trade, and this year "It's not really where I think the focus ought to be."

Najarian admits: INTC boring

With little in the way of trades, of course there was volatility talk. Zach Karabell managed to spice up the conversation just a bit. "The VIX right now is kind of like, uh, Madeline Kahn in 'Blazing Saddles,' it's tired, it's kaput," he said.

"This number is so incredibly low," said Patty Edwards, that it means "people are either being really really really stupid," which she doubts, or "maybe that this market is climbing a wall of worry."

"We haven't seen the violent moves in quite some time," said Pete Najarian.

Pete Najarian finally conceded something this site has pointed out for years, that Intel is a "dull, kind of a plodding along type of stock" that maybe isn't for everyone. Nevertheless, "I do believe they're the bellwether," he said.

Steve Cortes said he wouldn't bother with playing Intel directly. "I would veer toward AMAT and toward TXN," he said, though Zach Karabell cautioned that AMAT, while interesting, isn't in the same space as Intel.

Guy Adami reminds again
he was in Vegas Aug. 3

Guy Adami said JPMorgan gambling analyst Joe Greff is "playing the role of Mongo" in his recent upgrades of casino names, and "I think frankly he's playing at the $100 table right now." Adami said it's hard to justify the LVS valuation, but "the tape doesn't lie."

Pete Najarian said people can buy options on CSX if they want to.

Najarian also said he's seeing the "May 65 calls get very active" in PG of all names.

Patty Edwards did eventually volunteer a stock pick: Nvidia. "I think this is the place to go" in the 3-D space, she said.

[Monday, April 12, 2010]

More K-Fine ‘boyfriend’ chatter

Karen Finerman on Monday's Fast Money again was making "boyfriend" references, which means this site is sure to get an inquiry or 2 about Karen's "boyfriend."

Monday, Karen was talking about Jamie Dimon, and she said, "He doesn't know he's my boyfriend."

Karen or others on the show jokingly refer to Dimon or Carl Icahn as Karen's "boyfriend," simply because she admires their business acumen. Karen is married to someone else.

Melissa Lee, who never hints at boyfriend references on Fast Money and who looked good in plum dress Monday, played a clip from analyst Moshe Orenbuch talking about his $54 price target for JPM in a segment titled "Fast Money 360" (presumably they've negotiated rights to that term with Anderson Cooper, or at least dropped the degree ° symbol).

Orenbuch called JPM "My favorite stock heading into earnings," though Finerman said expectations are "maybe a little bit too high" ahead of the report.

Later, during/after a discussion of appearance that we think included Pete Najarian on some level, Finerman said, "Don't forget Moshe, he's handsome."

Gary Kaminsky said he was jealous. "I'm feeling very left out out there," he said from the Prop Desk.

"You're cute too," said Finerman, something basically any guy wants to hear from K-Fine.

Kaminsky complimented Pete Najarian's new look. "Pete, that's an awesome tan," he said.

Melissa Lee joked at the beginning of the show how she and Pete Najarian and Guy Adami were all on vacation last week but didn't want to start any "rumors."

Mike Huckman bails
on TV news industry

On the same day it was announced that CNBC's impressive pharma reporter Mike Huckman is leaving the network for a — gasp — PR job after 10 years, Huckman showed up on the Fast Money set, where Melissa Lee asked him absolutely nothing about this eye-opening career switch.

Instead, viewers heard about diet and erectile dysfunction drugs.

Huckman is an excellent reporter, no question. And he's got a sense of humor. We pay attention to what's said about CNBCers around the Web. Huckman is respected. This type of move by someone of his stature seems unusual, although maybe it's not.

What's mildly alarming is that this is the type of move regularly being made by print journalists in the last couple of years. Obviously CNBC is not hurting. By no means is this a suggestion that TV business news is going the way of daily newspapers, or radio or local TV, in which many on-air personalities and their supporting casts are taking pay cuts everywhere.

In all likelihood, Huckman is getting more pay and perhaps less travel, something veterans (though not all) usually prefer. He told TVNewser, which unfortunately couldn't say how old Huckman is, the new gig is an "exciting second act."

Hopefully, those are the reasons for bolting. We wish Huck the best. We've decided we're not going to worry about the state of TV journalism until Charlie Gasparino goes PR.

Pretty much a coin flip

Melissa Lee said Monday on Fast Money that 72 million Americans are either obese or overweight, and that there have been no diet prescription drugs since the 1990s.

"Of course you all remember Fen-phen, taken off the market in 1997," said Mike Huckman. Well now, there are 3 drugmakers who will be filing for FDA approval of diet drugs in the near-future, which could bring "fat profits," Huckman said.

Those names are VVUS, ARNA and OREX. "The first one goes before an FDA advisory committee in mid-July, and that's Vivus," Huckman said.

Melissa Lee suggested these are just "binary" trades in which the stocks hinge massively on the outcome of these FDA decisions.

Huckman had perhaps a more interesting angle, saying Vivus has a new ED drug in the works that "takes effect after 15 minutes, and it's faster out of the body."

The Fast Money gang couldn't help but guffaw and point to Pete Najarian. We know how the ladies like to giggle over the Cialis bathtubs, but Melissa Lee quickly put a lid on this one.

Mike Khouw had a biotech options trade, buying the September 90 call in IBB for $5.45.

No tip this time

Domino's Pizza CEO Patrick Doyle reappeared on Fast Money Monday to "Set the Record Straight" (we continue to think that's a lousy name for a CEO interview feature).

Doyle set the record straight on absolutely nothing except for how readily he could cheerlead for his company.

Melissa Lee suggested the jury is still out on the pizza recipe, but Doyle said it "definitely is not" and that everyone loves it.

At least Doyle didn't call in a delivery this time for the Fast Money crew interviewing him (see, that can be one of the assignments you get when you enter Mike Huckman's new world).

Doyle said "commodity costs have stayed very consistent with what they were," and DPZ's inputs are "slightly better than where we expected to be."

Lee asked if there's any chance of buying California Pizza Kitchen. "No, absolutely not," Doyle said.

Joe Terranova said if you're buying DPZ shares, "I think you're buying the international story."

"I still like JACK," said Guy Adami. "And don't forget about YUM," said Pete Najarian.

Hmmm ... if YUM goes up on strong demand, will that also prod the FDA to grant quicker approval to those diet drugs that Mike Huckman talks about?

Dennis Gartman said, "You gotta like the restaurants because input costs are in fact declining everywhere."

Gary Kaminsky, who asked about the ingredient costs, said Doyle's answers sounded like the costs are probably less than the company's forecasts and thus there could be an upside earnings surprise.

Whitney Tilson possibly wrong?

The Fast Money crew played a little bit of Scorecard on Monday with a PALM prediction by Whitney Tilson from March 19.

Tilson at that time said it was "crystal clear" to his firm a year earlier that Palm had no room in the smartphone market and that he began shorting it in 2009, although he said he wouldn't ride that short to zero.

"Think he said a dollar fifty," said Joe Terranova Monday, but actually, this is what Tilson said: "My guess is somebody buys 'em, you know, the stock will fall to 50 cents or a buck and somebody might buy 'em for that price."

Though the stock closed north of $6 Monday, the Fast crew collectively was shrugging. Melissa Lee wondered if it might be a "take-under" candidate, and Guy Adami said the shorts are probably reloading at this level, a curious comment from someone who likes to say "Stocks don't lie, people do."

Gary Kaminsky said it's a "dangerous situation" when companies hire banks or advisers to explore sales or strategic opportunities because the banks are the only winners with a guarantee of getting paid.

Roger dodger

We didn't think Fast Money would have to resort to this, but Melissa Lee actually made an on-air appeal for Roger McNamee to grant the show an interview.

Roger McNamee might've been the worst panelist in the history of "Louis Rukeyser's Wall $treet Week." (We think he's a good guy, just a lousy stock pundit.) McNamee started appearing on that show in the very late '90s and couldn't recommend tech stocks fast enough. All of them were going to change the world, particularly Flextronics. In 1999 he was probably right about everything. Shortly after, it was obvious he was just another momentum trader who happened to be immersed in perhaps the biggest crash-and-burn sector in history.

Now he's immersed in PALM.

What could Lee possibly be recruiting McNamee for? He should be the one calling them, insisting on rebutting Whitney Tilson and all the other skeptics out there. Unless the stock is just a dog, like so many others he touted in the last decade.

Gary’s in good shape

A lot of Fast Money viewers undoubtedly miss good stuff on the Web Extra. Monday, Melissa Lee showed clips of Gary Kaminsky competing Sunday in the Nautica South Beach Triathlon in Florida.

"Natalie Morales, she's an animal, she won the whole thing," Kaminsky said. "Pictures are somewhat deceiving; I think I looked a lot better than I felt."

Morales is a 37-year-old mother of 2. The triathlon included celebs Eliza Dushku, Rick Fox, Ali Vincent, Andy Baldwin and Stacy Kiebler (yeah, we'd never heard of some of these "celebs" either). The event was a half-mile ocean swim, 19-mile bike ride and 4-mile run, benefitting St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Gary Kaminsky says
‘crap’ on TV

Gary Kaminsky spoke briefly on Fast Money Monday about Aeroflex, set to launch an IPO as ARX that was delayed a while ago by the nation's financial crisis.

"Goldman actually stood up to the plate, helped this company through the crisis," Kaminsky said, saying it's "in the right space at the right time."

"This is the sign of healthy M&A," he added.

But he used the segment to take a dig at 2 names he doesn't like. "Here's which 2 stocks continue to really trade like crap — Verizon and AT&T," he said.

Melissa Lee said "The Pitch" has "taken America by storm." Monday it was Guy Adami's turn. He touted NUAN, a speech-recognition name. "Huge industry ... chance that these suckers get bought out," were among the arguments.

What happened in Vegas
is some stocks went up

Karen Finerman said one reason Mirant and RRI could be doing a merger of equals is because sometimes in these cases, one of them feels like it might get taken out on its own.

Gary Kaminsky said the Sinopec deal with COP over the Canadian tar sands is another indication there's profit up there in Alberta. "The Chinese have been all over that place," he said.

Dennis Gartman had the misfortune of being assigned the Alcoa conference call. "It's actually quite a boring conference call," he said, though he did a good job of rattling off the various topics that came up.

Guy Adami mentioned again that he and Jon Najarian were in Vegas last August, which apparently was a bellwether trip for the casino-stock sector given how often they talk about it.

Boockvar tries again

Peter Boockvar, who seems to be a regular Fast Money pundit only so the show will have someone to say bad things about the market, described the ongoing stock rally "more as a mean-reversion" than something based on real growth. "Interest rates hold the key to equity performance in 2010," he said.

Pete Najarian said "It looks to me like people are getting a bit overconfident," citing, of course, the VIX as proof.

"I'm bearish but I won't fight it," said Guy Adami. "It's an underperformance rally," said Joe Terranova.

Gary Kaminsky — whose name on those CNBC.com Fast Money pages is spelled incorrectly more often than it's spelled correctly (Kamninsky, Kaminksy, etc.), said he is not expecting a "sell the news" reaction from the markets this earnings season.

Why not CLF $125?

This page was only joking in February when, after Cliffs Natural Resources rebounded sharply from a late-January wipeout, it suggested the stock might as well go to $80 in a month.

Steve Grasso Monday was incredibly thinking much bigger than that.

"If iron ore contracts fall the way they have planned, we're looking at maybe par, or par 105 pricing," Grasso said Monday on the Halftime Report.

Jon Najarian backed that effusively, citing again his "quarterly pricing" theme that prompted him to tout AKS last week.

Tim Seymour said the Citi upgrades to the coal/iron ore seem a little late to the party, but "Be very careful being short here."

"You wanna be smart at a cocktail party, just say metallurgical coal," said Zach Karabell.

C’mon, Creed!

Jon Najarian said April options in PALM are for "chumps." That led Steve Grasso for some reason to ask Dr. J if he would "officially pity the fool" who would buy them.

(If we get started on "Rocky III" or "Rocky II" references, we'll never stop.)

(Melissa Lee scored serious points by instantly recognizing this exchange as a Mr. T reference.)

"Zeke" Karabell described PALM as the "complete casino stock right now."

Dr. J said "overseas demand" is fueling chatter around MTW. Karabell said he's owned the stock for a while, it's a long ways from its high, but "at these levels I think it's incredibly attractive."

Many people think of Best Buy as a place to blow some cash on a 3-D television set while being sold some dubious Geek Squad warranty. Karabell though called it a "well-run, innovative and creative company" that is working on "home solutions for energy."

Melissa Lee looked just fine in her return from vacation.

Adami on the biggest
mistake in trading

This one's a couple weeks old, but it just came to our attention this weekend and is worth sharing.

Guy Adami granted a short interview to wallstcheatsheet.com (gotta like that name), saying, "The most common mistake novice as well as seasoned traders make is the inability to cut a losing position. Accepting that you are wrong and getting out of a bad trade is the hardest thing to do."

He adds, "As a trader you should be able to be 'right' 2 out of 5 times and make money."

Jeff Macke comments
about TV gigs

Former Fast Money great Jeff Macke has made another point at minyanville.com about one of his least favorite subjects, climate change.

"The idea of man-made global climate change is crap. I’m calling balderdash on the entire industry of climate change. We might as well be funding the society of alchemy. Humans have no idea why or how the climate on Earth changes," Macke writes.

Macke also writes, "I used to do television where you never, ever, admit you’re making stuff up."

The things one can hear
at Denny’s

Wonderful little tavern engagement Saturday evening within the CNBCfix community, producing this debate: Whether Google will be worth a darn 5 years from now.

The antagonist pointed out that BIDU was apparently beating GOOG in China before the apparent exit, that it seems to have a lot of legal and copyright issues, that it really doesn't seem much different than bing or yahoo (they all pretty much start with the wikipedia page on any given entry), that making as much money as easily as Google has draws competition and scrutiny. The rebuttal mostly consisted of eye-rolling, but with the contention of brand loyalty that today's youngsters won't soon abandon. (Probably the best argument, which wasn't made, was that Karen Finerman gushes about the stock.)

[Friday, April 9, 2010]

Karen pounds the table

A week's worth of quality Fast Money went out quietly Friday; the most raging unspoken issue on the 5 p.m. show was whether Joe Terranova and Steve Grasso were wearing the same shirt.

Topping the news was the remarkable bullishness of Karen Finerman, one who is never prone to irrational exuberance.

"I think we're early on in the activity for M&A stuff," Karen said, questioning why Steve Grasso and Tim Seymour would care about speculating further in the ag space when other deals are already happening that can be played.

"How about one where there's actual fire?" Karen said. "We did buy Casey today ... I didn't get enough of the price that I wanted."

She also said she still likes Alcon. (This writer is long ACL.)

Grasso said from what he's seeing/hearing, "Mosaic is the play" in the ag space.

Joe Terranova said it's possible to work the United-USAir talks by shorting LCC. Brian Kelly said BX and MS are the names for playing M&A. Gary Kaminsky called in and agreed that this is a good market for M&A; "I don't feel that this is frothy."

"If Guy were here," said Finerman, he'd be touting Greenhill and Lazard.

Karen shows how to play
a little Options Action

Karen Finerman wasn't just optimistic about M&A on Friday. She also made "The Pitch" for Best Buy.

Finerman cited "3-D plasma TVs" as a catalyst, even though "I wouldn't personally buy one." She said it's the company shares she would buy, and "bought some as recently as today."

And she's still a big proponent of the banks.

"I actually added today with Bank America (sic), April options, which only have a week left to run; the 18s, uh, were only 12 cents over the stock," Finerman said. "I think that's a lot of volatility to buy for not a lot of money."

Brian Kelly talked about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for bigger risk appetites while Tim Seymour winced. "I'm in both of those," Kelly said.

‘They found what was under the car, Tony. Now our friend has got security up the ...’

Tim Seymour said Friday "I'm a little worried about the refiners," but he believes the big integrateds are playing catch-up, and he owns BP. "BP, XOM, COP, those are your best names," he said. (This writer is long BP.)

David Reidel on the Fast Line seemed floored that anyone is pro-Europe right now. "I can't believe that people are getting suckered into this rally," he said. "I'd be short the EZU."

Joe Terranova said Teradyne, MRVL and Lam Research are the "Intel plays" he would make, not Intel itself.

Joe Terranova asked Simon Hobbs about "Scarface" and drew an analogy to the "suitcase with cash."

K-Fine had to bolt

Anyone who followed Jon Najarian's advice this week to get long AKS (this writer is long AKS) probably isn't too happy with Steve Grasso's opinion Friday: "What you wanna be shorting is AK Steel now," Grasso said.

Tim Seymour reiterated that steel is in a pullback and buyers should wait to try it again after maybe another 10%.

Dr. J and Seymour were in some kind of agreement on Alcoa, based on the trading action this week leading up to earnings. "My bet right now is it trades up, actually," said Najarian, who recommended getting in if it does go lower Monday.

"I'm actually positioned long the stock," Seymour said on the Web Extra, which was notable in that K-Fine disappeared, but Dr. J mysteriously showed up.

Jim Iuorio finds this market bogus

We've said for a couple days that Simon Hobbs has been having a great week on Fast Money.

Friday was his first stumble, during a Halftime Report that took about 8 minutes to get to anything relevant.

Todd Gordon said "Technical resistance at $70.15 will be huge" for XOM. Zach Karabell followed with analysis: "I think Exxon may long-term be a more interesting short than it is a long."

Otherwise, viewers heard Jim Iuorio arguing halfheartedly about why this should purportedly be a bear market, saying he doesn't mind being lonely but does mind losing money.

Karabell objected to the notion that everyone's taking out home equity loans to plunk into Schwab accounts. "This is not a particularly bullish market," Karabell said. "There's not what I would call a lot of conviction."

"We're looking at forward earnings at 14 times," concurred Steve Grasso.

"By pure inflation and interest-rate levels, that is a very modest multiple," Karabell said.

Iuorio questioned Zach Karabell's disdain for the gold trade, pointing out it's had a good run. "It seems to me no matter which way you turn, gold and silver seems to be the good bet," he said, adding that for investors like Karabell who have spurned gold, "Some money's been left on the table."

"Jim, how long have you been bearish on the market though?" countered Grasso.

We're just the amateurs, but we can't imagine a much better ongoing stock-market scenario than a government that's fully involved in propping up crumbling sectors that have almost undoubtedly seen the worst for a long time.

Jon Najarian said it's time to take profits in PALM. "I would say take a decent chunk off," he said, because options players have made a fortune in a week.

"I'm thinking that the Najarians are behind the Palm trade" because they've nailed it so well, Karabell said wryly.

[Thursday, April 8, 2010]

Robert Prechter’s
curious recollection

Notable bear Robert Prechter made this comment Thursday on Fast Money:

"I was on CNBC in early March of '09 saying this is a bottom, when we projected 10,000 on the Dow."


We did a search for "Prechter" for video at CNBC.com. That delivered 8 clips, dating back to Feb. 27, 2009, when Prechter spoke with Maria Bartiromo on Closing Bell.

There were no clips from March, April or May of 2009.

The quote is, "I was on CNBC in early March of '09."

Not a problem, presumably he meant Feb. 27, which was practically March, right around the market bottom.

What exactly did Prechter tell Maria Bartiromo on Feb. 27, 2009, when the Dow closed at 7,062.93?

Prechter: "I think there's a lot more bear market to go but it's certainly getting a bit crowded on the bear side so, uh, last Monday, I decided we'd been in a short position for a long time, I recommended people get out of it. I mean 800 points is a long way down to ride."

Prechter: "I hope to put out a buy signal one of these days but I think it's a couple years off."

Bartiromo: "So you think the bottom is a couple of years- the buy signal is a couple of years off."

Prechter: "Yeah, for the stock market. ... We've got a ways to go."

He also told Bartiromo: "I think the U.S. dollar's in a bull market."

We looked up a handy chart of the .DXY courtesy of the good people at marketwatch.com.

In fact, on Feb. 27, 2009, the .DXY was 88.01.

The 2-year high occurred a week later, March 6, 2009, at 88.55.

After that, steeply downhill for 9 months to 74.86, and anything but a bull market.

Then, there was this information displayed by Closing Bell producers at the bottom of the screen while Prechter spoke:



No mention of Dow 10,000.

On June 29, which according to the CNBC.com search results was Prechter's next CNBC appearance, Prechter told Larry Kudlow, "The market when it was bottoming back in late February, early March, we were looking for the biggest rally since the high. We've gotten it..."


In "late February," you were "looking for the biggest rally since the high" (whatever that means).

But you didn't bother to mention that viewpoint on-air with Maria Bartiromo in a 6-minute conversation.

We all live in the present. So let's go back to what Prechter said Thursday: "I was on CNBC in early March of '09 saying this is a bottom, when we projected 10,000 on the Dow."

Obviously, 1 of 2 things happened:

1. Prechter did appear on CNBC in early March of 2009, in video that is now mysteriously missing from CNBC.com, saying just the opposite of what he told Bartiromo days earlier, that the stock market was in fact at a "bottom" and headed to Dow 10,000, not something that was "a couple years" from being a buy.

2. Prechter was never on CNBC in early March 2009, never called the market a "bottom" at that time or around that time on CNBC, never forecast Dow 10,000 on CNBC until late June 2009 at the earliest, but merely changed his forecasts after the market started to rally, and is now making it up off the top of his head to disguise what has been an utterly horrible prediction on both stocks and the dollar for 13 months straight.

We have no qualms with anyone being right or wrong, long or short.

We just prefer that, instead of trying to convince viewers that they've been right all the time, they simply tell the truth about what their positions really are/were.

Jon Najarian demands
a scorecard

Dr. J was practically beside himself Thursday over Robert Prechter's lack of specifics.

Prechter was telling guest host Simon Hobbs that this is the 3rd-greatest market to short in our lifetime, the other times being 2000 and 2007 (or 2005 if you're in to real estate).

"There is no reason from a technical point of view to be invested in stocks right now," said Prechter, who totally dodged Hobbs' question about what to short, instead merely saying most people watching "financial television" aren't short sellers.

"Where is that level, Robert," asked Jon Najarian.

"It's gonna be a lot lower," Prechter said.

"Give us a target," Najarian insisted, eventually throwing his hands in the air.

"We're extremely overbought, losing upside momentum," said Prechter, who singled out dividend yields as one indicator.

Tim Seymour actually agreed with Prechter on some "exhaustion points," saying there are some overbought indicators, but disagreed on the dividend issue, pointing out the huge amounts of corporate cash.

Steve Grasso and Joe Terranova seemed to think Prechter's thesis is hogwash. "Cash is gonna get devoured by inflation," said Grasso. "We would need a fundamental catalyst to take us down," Terranova asserted.

We found the lack of specifics as bogus as Dr. J did, so we dug up Prechter's Fast Money remarks on Nov. 23:

"I think we're in for uh, a very large decline in 2010," he said. "I think it's going to be at least as big as what we saw in '08. So I really recommend that people get as safe as they possibly can with their money. This is not a good time to be invested."

Note that last sentence. S&P 500 was 1,106.24 on that day; 1,186.43 Thursday, or 7% higher in nearly 6 months.

What's more, Prechter said "at least as big as what we saw in '08." Actually, the 2008 market peaked on the first day at 1,447 and bottomed (based on daily closes according to Yahoo finance) at 752 on Nov. 20 — a 48% drop. So if Prechter is standing by that — and he didn't repeat that statement Thursday — we're looking at the low 600s in the S&P 500 within 8 months.

Dr. J explained his frustration: "In 2 months is he gonna come back on the show and say 'See I told ya, the market was down 50 points the day after I said it'?"

Reading a book was never
this controversial

It wasn't just Robert Prechter causing Jon Najarian disbelief on Thursday.

Joe Terranova said on Fast Money the markets have decided the iPad is not the Kindle killer.

"It is absolutely the Kindle killer!" Dr. J said. "The fact that they're going into Target stores is a bad sign for the Kindle," he added, suggesting that makes it look like a "joke device."

"I absolutely agree," said Patty Edwards of the Target angle. "That's taking it way downstream."

Steve Grasso was less convinced, even though he's long AAPL. "The iPad is a computer without a top, it's gonna break," he claimed.

Scaramucci: Short WMT

Anthony Scaramucci has brought in a little funk to Fast Money recently — OK, maybe "funk" is overstating it — so it was good to see him back Thursday.

This time, his trade was a rather controversial short of WMT.

"What the smartest hedge funds do is they look at the residual reversal," Scaramucci explained, meaning upward stocks that will fall if expectations are not met.

He said a rising yuan for Wal-Mart would "crimp their operating margins." He said "we're short a collection of retail stocks" based on the "exuberant expectations," and specifically in WMT, he said "we think there'll be a 10 or 15% correction."

Patty Edwards countered that "Wal-Mart denominates their contracts in dollars for the most part," which Simon Hobbs called a "killer argument."

Unfazed, Scaramucci insisted, "Most of the labor costs are denominated in yuan. If you want me to bring in the stats, I'll happily do that."

Tim Seymour said a yuan float is "basically a tax cut" for people in that part of the world.

Brett Favre turned 1

Anthony Scaramucci returned later Thursday for a stint at-bat on "The Pitch." The pitch was actually Intel, even though Scaramucci said "Wal-Mart."

He cited a 10-10-70 theory, which kinda sounds like someone's birthday. In fact, he said it means INTC has $10 billion in free net cash flow, $10 billion of net cash on balance sheet, and 70% of sales are non-U.S.

"I agree with Anthony," said Steve Grasso. "Wal-Mart's goin' higher."

Once again (sigh), we'll point out we don't understand how observing a bunch of cash on a company's balance sheet has ever made a stock go higher, but Fast Money seems to think it's important.

Cortes: GS, MS vs. the field

We often consider his positions foolish, but there are few people we like hearing from on Fast Money more than Steve Cortes.

Cortes on Thursday touted GS and MS, or the broker sector, saying "I think that underperformance is gonna end." He said he "sold short the sector" and recommended buying 1 or both of those specific names against it.

He said there's a "lot more M&A" now, and "stocks of exchanges are starting to rally very nicely ... that is typically a leading indicator" of business activity.

Fast Money’s most
enthusiastic guest yet

All-glammed-up Hilary Kramer returned as promised Thursday with a couple more stock picks.

On the market, she said, "We're due for a 7 to 10% pullback, maybe even this month Simon."

That said, EVR "easily could go to $40 per share." She also likes GEOY, a "national security, anti-terrorism" play that "could easily be a takeover target."

Given that, the bar
for VMW must be low

Heather Bellini made a call on the Fast Line Thursday to vouch for MSFT and VMW. MSFT dominated the talk.

"We've got a 12-month price target of $38," Bellini said. Joe Terranova, the only panelist who wasn't sounding like MSFT is the greatest stock since sliced bread, asked a great question, what would be the catalyst this time, given that Windows 7 has been around a while. "I think in general people are underestimating PC shipments," Bellini said, and "deferreds are gonna be better this quarter."

Brian Stutland delivered the Options Action trade on MSFT, selling the July 32 call for 60 cents.

But one wonders why, given that Dr. J ran circles around that a moment later.

Najarian said he would buy the January 2011 30 call and sell the January 2011 35 call; "you can do that for less than a buck, and then you've got a 4-to-1 risk/reward option."

Hipsters call it decoupling

Luciano Siracusano, who always seems on Fast Money like he could use a can of Red Bull, said the best way to play India is "just to own the equity market."

Basically these Trading the Globe interviews aren't bad and the guests are solid, but the feature amounts to a Tim Seymour vehicle for rattling off the typical emerging market names; on Thursday it was INFY and TTM, but not IBN, for those wondering.

Simon Hobbs asked another relevant question, whether a U.S. market drop as some on Fast Money have suggested would disproportionately slam foreign stocks. Seymour said he thinks that's an "old-school thought."

Fast Money trader
balks at capitalism

Pep Boys CEO Michael Odell didn't have much time on Thursday's Fast Money to set the record straight (we didn't know the record wasn't straight), so viewers heard little more than typical corporate cliché-speak. "We are way underpenetrated" on market share or something, he said.

Odell said national miles driven is a key sign for his business and conceded that rising gas prices could negatively affect that.

Jon Najarian made a curious point that "Yahoo is benefitting from Google leaving China."

Steve Grasso actually said of NOK, "I think the stock longer-term is a buy." He also said in the Web Extra that BKC is a buy.

Joe Terranova said to look at American Express. He could've said "Don't leave home without it," but he didn't. Tim Seymour said "I don't like the way TJX traded today" and that Thursday was a "great chance to get out." Seymour spoke briefly about gambling and said Macau is the place, "I would rather own the names there," but we kinda thought the names that dominate Macau are the same names that dominate Vegas.

Simon Hobbs reported that 2/3 of poll respondents agree with Dennis Gartman's contention Wednesday that gold is a buy.

We have to say, Simon Hobbs is getting pretty good at this thing. His navigation of the Prechter, Scaramucci, Bellini and Siracusano segments Thursday was essentially flawless.

Jon Najarian called the airline add-on fees "obscene."

Patty blogs at CNBC.com

Patty Edwards, guest-blogging for CNBC.com on the retail sector Thursday, mentions "Woodstock" and "drink the Kool-aid."

It's chock-full of data but a lot of background for a blog post; we noted this sentence, "At least one strategist has recently suggested that the smart trade is to buy the high end retailers and short those on the lower end of the income spectrum such as Wal-Mart and Family Dollar. All I can say is do so at your own peril." (Psst: We think that strategist in question might be Mr. Steve Cortes.)

Gurka: Take a look at TX

Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, not a bad show, was irreparably dinged when Simon Hobbs opened the proceedings with "Greece is the word."

But by the end there was a small amount of redemption, as viewers finally got a couple of trades from Mike Gurka.

Gurka said there's a "glut for yield" in South American steel and that Ternium (TX) is a name to watch. "I think that continues," he said.

(We just checked the chart, and it is one nice chart.)

Gurka also said HSBC is on his radar screen.

Jon Najarian reported "takeover rumors" in OSK, where there is "big institutional buying" Thursday. "I'm long the name," he said.

Grasso: People don’t believe it

Unfortunately too much of Thursday's Halftime Report was spent haggling over whether the market can continue to go higher, even though nobody was really predicting any kind of significant pullback.

Carter Worth was a bit professorial, suggesting there will either be an "important intermediate advance" or a giveback, but to advance, "there has to be a set-up" such as a selloff or flatness. "The set-up is not proceeding intermediate strength," he said, codespeak that we think means the market can't burst higher because it has only been trickling higher.

"When you have consolidation, there's always this mechanism of coiling," said Mike Gurka.

Steve Grasso said S&P 1,150 is "the level that my clients are keying in on" and that as long as we're above that, we're OK.

"Most people don't believe in this rally," Grasso said. "I think the market can still go higher."

Brian Kelly said Europe's problem actually feels like "a green light for U.S. investors" and now the U.S. seems like a "pretty good place to invest." For those wanting a little risk, he said, consider National Bank of Greece.

Carter Worth was bored by talk of Morgan Stanley. "It's not an exciting pattern," he said, calling the stock "fair money or dead money."

Worth said the market's reaction to retail numbers is "a thing of beauty ... there's wisdom in share price."

[Wednesday, April 7, 2010]

Buy newspapers?

Gary Kaminsky spoke very briefly about newspapers Wednesday on Fast Money.

"You had a lot of capacity come out, a lot of mom and pop operations are gone. A lot of newspapers folded. You've had no new capital going into the industry and those that are survivors are finding new revenue streams," Kaminsky said.

Unfortunately, we have to disagree with a couple of those points. Not all, just a couple.

Not much capacity has come out. Not many papers have folded. Some have folded, but the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer (print only) are the only ones most people have heard of.

Probably very few newspapers have qualified as "mom and pop" operations for a while. The ones that do are likely small monopolies, the only paper in a 1-paper town who haven't been facing daily competition anyway and are holding up much better than debt-laden big-city dailies.

The phrase "finding new revenue streams" is maybe half correct. They've found new revenue — by selling real estate and archive assets in 1-time deals — but struggled mightily to find streams of new revenue, unless you count the trickle of found money they continue to pick up via Web advertising by posting articles paid for by print advertising and subscriptions.

Kaminsky said the iPad represents one of the "new ways to deliver what is proprietary information."

A better point would be this: Utterly forced to downsize, newspapers have found a lot of fat in recent years, expenses that were far more about ego with minimal impact on journalism or profit. They've cut a lot of editorial boards and weekend editors, stopped sending 5 staffers to the Super Bowl, stopped sponsoring pricey events and stopped paying for 5 wire services that produce the same material.

And they've made bigger decisions, most notably outsourcing home delivery and in some cases printing in many competitive markets. Relying on one's competitor to deliver your product is certainly a dubious business strategy, but it seems to be working.

The stock outlook is thus: if the print advertising market ever bottoms, the surviving companies are extremely lean.

Even though Barrick
bought back those hedges ...

One has to think the Fast Money brass didn't tell Dennis Gartman he'd be doing "The Pitch" on Wednesday or else he probably would've declined a seat at the table.

Gartman asked rhetorically, Why buy GLD? "Because of diversification," was his answer, a rationale Tim Seymour has also cited for buying gold.

The most appealing element of Wednesday's Fast Money was Karen Finerman rolling out her light, springy wardrobe. Karen asked Gartman, "Does it concern you how popular a retail trade this is?"

Gartman said no, "I don't see that much enthusiasm" as in the early 1980s and that TV commercials suggest there's more interest in selling gold than buying. He also said the central banks are the real movers in this market to watch.

Guest host Simon Hobbs revealed that 61% of poll respondents were voting against Gary Kaminsky's pitch of OZM Tuesday. "Stock was up 4% today right?" Kaminsky shrugged.

Dennis Gartman rekindles
memories of ‘War Games’

American Tower CEO Jim Taiclet came on Fast Money Wednesday purportedly to "set the record straight," but the only thing that was set straight was the corporate cliché book.

Gary Kaminsky asked bluntly whether AMT relied more on Verizon or AT&T, and Taiclet would only say "We're participating very widely" and that India & Brazil are his company's top international growth markets.

Jon Najarian offered a 2nd derivative play, CSCO. "I love AMT, I also love Cisco," Najarian said.

Tim Seymour said American Tower should really be called "Global Tower."

Dennis Gartman said he finally got a BlackBerry, and his associates are convinced he's going to launch missiles against Russia because he's got one. He whined that he wants to buy an iPhone, but "We don't have good coverage in Southeast Virginia."

Dr. J had a better quarter
in PALM than PALM did

Remember a couple weeks ago when PALM was crashing and folks like Whitney Tilson came on Fast Money chortling about how it was headed to $1?

Now, the word "covering" may re-enter the Palm lexicon.

Jon Najarian repeated Wednesday on Fast Money his Halftime report of hopping PALM options based at least partly on rumors that Lenovo is interested.

Or, "Maybe Bono himself ... is stepping in to buy them," Najarian said.

Dr. J said options are the way to play PALM now, he's long call spreads in August, and happily pointed out he stands to triple his money if the shares trade above $6.

Can an airline be
too big to fail?

New York Times ace Andrew Ross Sorkin had a quick chat with Fast Money Wednesday on the NYT scoop about United and USAir.

Sorkin said the airlines are "knee-deep in talks." Gary Kaminsky asked which company would be the acquirer, or "surviving" entity. Sorkin said that's a good question, that USAir might turn out to be the official buyer, but UAUA CEO Glenn Tilton would run the combined airline.

Kaminsky said such a deal would be a step toward "taking capacity out" of the space. Based on the details available, we're not sure how that is necessarily the case, though it figures they wouldn't do it if there weren't route restructurings that could be profitable.

Kaminsky also noted that the margin on Spirit Airlines' $45 carry-on bag fee represents "100%."

Jon Najarian agreed it's a bullish move for the industry and noted he flies every week and virtually never sees an empty seat on his American Airlines flights.

"Taking 2 awful airlines and I'm gonna make an even worse airline out of 'em," scoffed Dennis Gartman.

Simon Hobbs noted that Andrew Ross Sorkin is "omnipresent on CNBC."

He means a low-cost purchase,
not what Tony Kornheiser
said about Hannah Storm

Debbie Weinswig, who recently has only taken part on Fast Money on the Fast Line rather than an actual appearance, which is too bad because she looked good last time, said "I think we'll see some very nice updates from retailers tomorrow."

Weinswig said JWN is her top pick, with a $50 price target that wowed Simon Hobbs, because it's getting more "aggressive" in fashion.

So is Lady Gaga, but there's not a way to play that one as far as we know.

Karen Finerman said she bought American Eagle Outfitters Wednesday.

Gary Kaminsky said that in a rising interest-rate environment, retail is the best sector.

Mike Khouw suggested taking a "cheap shot" on TGT by buying the $57.50 May call for 60 cents, even though others Wednesday were buying the April $55s. He conceded the price might've been closer to 50 cents by the end of the day.

Time for Dennis to tee off

Peter Boockvar, determined to crush this market one way or another, predicted Wednesday on Fast Money that it will be rising rates that will "stop this market cold."

He said, "It's not gonna be the Fed, it's gonna be the market."

Simon Hobbs complained that Boockvar apparently hadn't noticed the graphic yesterday that stocks have done well as rates have risen.

Dennis Gartman agreed with that. "I'm the old guy here, I lived through the 1970s," he said, and there were some great markets in the late '70s and also during rising-rate environments in the 1980s.

Gartman said a couple years ago on Fast Money that every year during Masters weekend, he plays a golf tournament with his buddies called The Meisters.

It got Mariel Hemingway
an Oscar nomination

Not only did Jon Najarian's "pitch" for AK Steel barely work for a day before pulling a U-turn, Tim Seymour kicked it to the curb Wednesday, suggesting its drop was more than a 1-day thing and that he just put a short on for X. "Get out of the steels for now," Seymour said.

China analyst Richard Kang said to "definitely get into commodities," though we think he only really talked about one Chinese company that regular joes can't really invest in. Tim Seymour said he likes the underperforming oil companies in China.

Ben Fulton of Invesco PowerShares was relegated to the Web Extra Wednesday (they rarely do that to a guest), apparently because of the airline-merger breaking news. Fulton talked about small caps outperforming for 3 years after recession and spreads in the ETFs. (Yeah, not a thriller, probably one reason it was left to Web Extra.)

Tim Seymour claimed the 10-year experienced its "best auction in 16 years."

Karen Finerman said VNO's fall Wednesday is just a make-up for Tuesday. "I think this is a victim of gravity," Finerman said.

Simon Hobbs, we gotta admit, is going gangbusters this week. We're big fans of effort around here. (Coach Wooden used to say, "Never confuse activity for achievement," but in general, whenever you're doing something, you're improving; you'll figure out what you need to do. And a flute with no holes is not a flute.) Hobbs has been barreling into every segment with beginner's enthusiasm but often a pro's touch. We've also noticed he really likes saying "Manhattan."

We think it’s 36 now

Leading into a discussion on volatility, Dennis Gartman said Wednesday on Fast Money that he likes quiet markets. "I'm an old guy, been around here doing this 35 years," Gartman said.

So it was up to Tim Seymour and Jon Najarian to do the sparring.

"The problem is, people have been too complacent here," Seymour said, questioning if volatility's so cheap, then why wouldn't volatility be higher.

Dr. J said people are indeed protecting with put-buying, which is "5-fold percentage points above where it was this time last week."

"The story is real simple: The melt-up continues," said Gary Kaminsky, who added, "Despite today's auction, rates are going up."

"You have to own Panera," said Dennis Gartman, who also said "Darden, you have to own Darden."

Simon Hobbs asked how long DRI could rise. "Write this down: Until it stops," Gartman said.

M&A: Better than Hobbs thinks

Simon Hobbs said Wednesday on Fast Money, "I don't see multi-billion M&A deals."

Karen Finerman, in spring dress on a warm April day, barged right in with several names: Millipore, Smith International, Alcon...

"It's not crazy; it's a healthy environment," said Gary Kaminsky, who nevertheless referenced the TXU deal, which he said is "still a financial disaster."

Karen Finerman said there's enough M&A now to show "financial markets are open for corporate America." She said that if Guy Adami were present, he would recommend Greenhill and Lazard.

Sounds like a winner

Gary Kaminsky asked Jon Najarian Wednesday how someone should play the burst in Palm.

Dr. J was happy to explain the options maneuver he had put on.

"If I'm right and this stock trades over 6 before August, I will triple my money in this trade," Najarian said.

More details of Wednesday's Fast Money to come.

Simon Hobbs covering
all the bases

We miss Mel Lee. Does Simon Hobbs look like Mel Lee? No, Simon Hobbs does not look like Mel Lee. Even so, Hobbs is impressively bringing his A game.

Hobbs showed a little homework potential when he delved into Zachary Karabell's WSJ op-ed barely halfway into Wednesday's wide-ranging and interesting Fast Money Halftime Report.

"Zach, I was uh, impressed to read your, uh, your op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, 'Dow 11,000 is only the beginning'," Hobbs said, "until I got to the final paragraph, that says, 'none of the reasons why markets are likely to move up depend on a strong U.S. economy or robust growth in Europe.' There are 800 million people in Europe and the United States, 55% of global GDP. Are you sure?"

"Am I sure?" Karabell responded. "You know, If I were 100% sure, I would be somewhere else right now. Um, but I am sure that global companies have been able to detach from their national economies and that too many people still look to macro data for too much guidance about how companies are gonna do."

Hobbs didn't argue, and neither will we.

Suddenly, everyone’s buying PALM

Jon Najarian said Wednesday, "In the first 90 minutes of trade, Palm just exploded on a rumor that Lenovo was taking a look at 'em."

Joe Terranova said there might be some legs to this, crediting an earlier call with Dr. J for this insight. "A lot of people are short Palm, so this probably is not a 1-day event," Terranova said.

Realistically, a de Gaulle signature on transit papers in 1942 wouldn’t have meant anything

Simon Hobbs noted Wednesday that there is something of a breakthrough on U.S.-Chinese yuan-floating discussions.

"So the headline should be, 'I'm shocked that there is gambling in Casablanca'," scoffed Zach Karabell. "I mean, this has been the most telegraphed move known to humankind."

Karabell said this development is as "broadly irrelevant" to making a Fast Money trade as the trade deficit is.

That sounded correct. But not to Brian Kelly, who said, "I would disagree ... China's becoming an easier place to invest." Not "easy," just "easier."

Brian Kelly hadn’t really
thought this one out

Joe Terranova said Wednesday "Yeah, absolutely" he was buying gold. "It looks like gold is breaking out again."

Jon Najarian offered a bunch of if-thens and maybe-wases regarding the Greece situation and the bond auction. "Gold could have another 70, 80 bucks in it" based on those factors even though it trades independent of Greece, he said.

Simon Hobbs introduced the show as "Greece now, a real problem." Hobbs asked Brian Kelly if it's such a global flight to safety, why aren't they buying dollar-denominated oil today as well.

Kelly said oil's been going up, but "Just today they decided to switch to gold," not the most convincing point he's ever made."

"I think gold's the fear trade. It's always the fear trade," said Zach Karabell, who thinks Wednessday's activity is merely a "short-lived phenomenon."

"I hate to disagree with Zach, but I have to here," said Joe Terranova.

Thanks, Doc

Monday on Fast Money, Jon Najarian touted AKS in "The Pitch."

Tuesday, Dr. J crowed that it was working. We were impressed. (This writer is long AKS.)

Wednesday, it was El Stinko, shown on the bottom of the CNBC screen as one of the dreaded "S&P 500 LAGGARDS TODAY."

Karabell op-ed in WSJ

Zachary Karabell writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the stock market can continue to climb because companies are not dependent on traditional factors such as U.S. unemployment (according to the headline, "they can make profits even when national economies sputter"), and there remains money on the sidelines seeking better than Treasury-caliber returns.

Note I: If you don't subscribe to WSJ.com, clicking the link above will probably give you just the first 2 teaser paragraphs. To read it all without subscribing, just search for it in Google.

Note II: It's a fine article, and we don't want to get into nit-picking here. But we're critics, and there's a semi-famous journalism slogan, "Make every word count." The first 9 words of the 2nd paragraph are totally unnecessary and should've been nixed by the WSJ copy desk. Change the 11th word to "point," not "pointing," and we're all set to go.

[Tuesday, April 6, 2010]

Is it possible to buy stocks
in food pantries?

Ultra-contrarian Steve Cortes said something on Tuesday's Fast Money that might've been enough to make viewers fall out of their chairs.

"I'm saying that the low-end consumer is going to be so pinched, that they're not even going to shop at Wal-Mart," he said.

So pinched ... they can't even afford Wal-Mart?

That came in response to a question from Karen Finerman, who said of WMT, "they offer bar none the best value out there."

William Floyd, a Florida State fullback and the San Francisco 49ers' first-round pick in 1994, was nicknamed "Bar None" by his teammates after his agent declared Floyd was the "best fullback in the draft, bar none."

Table scraps for some,
Dom Perignon for the rest

There are polarized economies, and then there are the Steve Cortes polarized economies.

Cortes said Tuesday, against a thesis of the poor being unable to afford Wal-Mart, "I think the high end is the place to hide."

Jon Najarian said he didn't really disagree with Cortes' prediction of 4.5% in the 10-year, only on Cortes' accelerated time frame. "We probably don't get there till 2011," Najarian said.

"I think it's gonna be a bit more dangerous than your view," Cortes said.

Suspense is over

Regis Philbin came on the Fast Line Tuesday to announce the winner of Fast Money Madness.

"And the winner is ... Apple," Philbin said to a drum roll. Which evidently was not going out on a limb. "I think it's a realistic winner," Philbin added. (This writer is long AAPL.)

He wondered, "What have you guys done with Guy Adami?"

The contest announcement was so anticlimactic, the show had to fill time by promoting Philbin's lineup tomorrow. He said he's got Tina Fey. Fey is funny but not nearly as pretty as Sarah Palin.

Closest thing to a guarantee
from Karen

Dick Bove, who has spent, what, 4 or 5 decades on Wall Street, made this remarkable assessment Tuesday: "I still believe Goldman Sachs is one of the best companies, if not the best company, that I've ever analyzed."

He said going into bank earnings, he not only likes GS, but C and BK as well. (This writer is long C.)

Joe Terranova asked for a pairs trade. "If I bought Citi, I would sell Wells Fargo," Bove said, adding he would play GS against MS and BK against NTRS.

Scott Nations seemed halfway giddy about making money on Goldman Sachs by selling the May $170 put for $4.85. Jon Najarian saw fit to disagree, he said, only because volatility is cheap. We interpret that to mean sellers are not getting enough for that $170 put.

Karen Finerman gushed about BAC twice Tuesday, including at the end of the show when Regis Philbin came on.

"Hold onto it for the long term, you will make money," Karen insisted. "I will hold it for a long time."

The next option to creep
into your 401(k)

Analyst Douglas Sipkin made ETFs sound like a darn good idea — and really made us wonder what all the excitement over mutual funds in the '90s was about when we were probably getting ripped off. (Yes, that's what Jack Bogle always used to say too...)

"It's a negative trend for the asset-management industry," Sipkin said. "I think Legg Mason's probably the best way to play this on the negative side."

Jon Najarian said one reason ETFs are appealing is because you can get your money in there and out of there in a hurry, unlike with many asset managers, and he even lumped in Citadel's Kenneth Griffin with the latter. (We wish we had 1/10th of Griffin's net worth — or was that 1/1 millionth?)

Gary Kaminsky asked Sipkin if BlackRock wouldn't be a positive beneficiary of the ETF boom because of its iShares acquisition. Sipkin agreed BlackRock is the long-term winner but said the issue there is that Vanguard is also getting into the space with competitive pricing.

Kaminsky later touted OZM in "The Pitch," which we've noticed is quickly becoming a redundant segment where panelists merely restate opinions on stocks they've already touted. Kaminsky reminded that OZM has a "shareholder-friendly corporate structure ... asset growth ... very high operating leverage ... (and) Dan Och is a guy who knows how to make money."

Karen Finerman also complimented OZM. Jon Najarian pointed out that his pick in "The Pitch" Monday, AKS, was a winner Tuesday. (This writer is long AKS.)

Simon Hobbs said Tuesday that "The Pitch" segment is "sweeping the nation."

Craftiest way yet of saying
‘parent company of this network’

Russia expert Ian Hague spoke Tuesday on Fast Money but offered little besides Russia = oil. "The entire Russian economy depends on global commodity prices," he said.

Karen Finerman asked if U.S. investors, instead of trying to play oil's rise through Russia, should just buy the USO instead. Hague said sure, but "There are other companies that are extremely undervalued" in Russia. But Simon Hobbs said enough of this, we're done, so who knows what those companies are. (Probably VimpelComm or something like that.)

Finerman said it's time to ignore the dollar when analyzing oil. "I think that correlation has now been broken somewhat, or maybe even entirely ... so I wouldn't have that trade on anymore," Karen said.

Jon Najarian took part in a brief discussion on solar names. We would hope Karen Finerman would pose the same question as she did with Ian Hague, which is, if solar is a play on rising oil, why not just buy the USO instead, but she didn't. Jon Najarian, however, conceded that the solar trade is not yet a "mature" one, even for a conglomerate like General Electric, "who writes checks to me and to everybody here on this desk."

Joe Terranova said one of Regis Philbin's holdings, Hess, is a name to watch. Gary Kaminsky touted SU as the best pure play on rising oil. Kaminsky also said he saw Russian yacht buyers on vacation who were opening the wallets like it was 2007. "These guys are spending money like oil is going to 150," Kaminsky said.

Karen the party-pooper

Gary Kaminsky tackled a curious market conundrum these days, how airlines can be going up in the face of rising oil.

"This is an industry that doesn't have irrational capacity" anymore, Kaminsky said. "You wanna own these stocks ...they will pass on the higher expenses."

Joe Terranova insisted, "Don't get out of oil." Karen Finerman asked Joe what every 1% move in oil would do to airlines. Terranova dodged the question somewhat and said $90 is the real problem.

Brian Kelly took the middle ground and said "I agree with both of these guys." Kelly argued that if the planes are full, look at the hotels and car rental names. Karen Finerman wondered how car rental names would do with higher gas prices, but Kelly didn't have time or inclination to argue.

Profit by the slice

Karen Finerman said Tuesday even she's bowled over by the gains in REITs. "These are monumental moves," she said. "I think this space is getting ahead of itself."

Joe Terranova said people waiting for the "other shoe" to drop in commercial real estate are getting more of a slipper.

Brian Kelly suggested a delivery of DPZ, saying "love the chart." (But how can people afford Domino's if, according to Steve Cortes, they can't afford Wal-Mart?)

Gary Kaminsky once again touted AMT (the cell tower company, not the tax hit increasingly encroaching on the middle class) as a play on the AT&T spending buildout. Jon Najarian said in that regard, he likes CSCO.

Jon Najarian said the market for commodities and anything else is based on supply and demand and not so much greed and fear; "those other factors kick in when we don't have supply and demand in equilibrium," he said.

He also said he's a "slightly handsomer version" of Pete Najarian.

Simon Hobbs pronounced Birinyi as "Biriani."

Another Verizon fan

Eugene Profit added a bit more fuel to the Fast Money Verizon fire (actually it's not much more than a spark at this point) on Tuesday's Halftime Report.

"I like Verizon quite a bit," Profit said, citing the CDMA iPhone expectations and putting himself in the same camp as Jon Najarian but at odds with Gary Kaminsky.

Overall, though, "I think it's easier to find shorts than longs," Profit said. He said he owns some large banks but is "willing to sit and wait here" before buying more.

JJ Kinahan said he thinks the market will ride up to 1,202, but that it'll be a "bit range-bound here for the summer."

Jon Najarian repeated his call on AKS, saying what's going on in the steel industry, including its quarterly pricing, is great for America.

Najarian also said consensus is now forming that the iPad might overrun the Kindle, and Amazon is smartly figuring out how to profit from the iPad, which accounts for the AMZN jump Tuesday.

Joe Terranova said to "look at mortgage insurers," which are outpacing the market.

[Monday, April 5, 2010]

Hardly a raging endorsement
for natural gas

SandRidge CEO Tom Ward took some phone questions from Fast Money near the end of Monday's show about his deal to buy Arena Resources.

Ward was asked 2 questions specifically by guest host Simon Hobbs and Joe Terranova, whether natural gas is a dead end now and whether the Obama administration is de-emphasizing it.

Ward said the deal is not an indictment of nat gas, but he wants the company to be more diversified. He said the government is not a factor, but rather it's the presence of integrated oil companies buying into the nat gas space. "We wanted to be more balanced going into the future for oil," Ward said.

Lessons from Dennis Gartman

Dennis Gartman wasn't on Monday's Fast Money. But nevertheless his presence was felt.

Simon Hobbs reported that Apple and Berkshire Hathaway are the 2 finalists in this year's Fast Money Madness contest.

We're virtually 100% certain that those 2 names, coincidentally enough, were the finalists in the first Fast Money Madness, in 2007. We remember Eric Bolling saying something like "Ah, it's gotta be Berkshire!"

Honestly, we can't remember who won.

AAPL of course was the better pick. It traded under $100 at the time. Imagine having 2 and a half times the money you had then, AFTER the meltdown of 2008, without making a trade.

BRK-A wasn't a loser either. At the moment, you'd be up more than 10% over 3 years if you'd plunged all your cash into it in March 2007 and never made a trade since.

Any skeptic of course will say, "it's much easier to trade a rear-view mirror." Indeed.

Refiners were red hot back then and have never recovered from their free fall. The leading casino giants, WYNN and LVS, were also cocktail-party talk then, when they were north of $100. Goldman Sachs was north of $200 in early 2007. GE actually was a $30 stock back in the day.

Dennis Gartman likes to say, "Keep it simple." Apple and Berkshire were hardly secrets in 2007. Nor were highly admired companies such as Amazon, HPQ, Research in Motion, YUM, Wal-Mart, McDonald's ... all of them up over 3 years, some very impressively, as if the incredible 2008 meltdown never happened. Sometimes, maybe we overthink these things. (This writer is long AAPL, but unfortunately not all the way back to March 2007.)

Hilary Kramer looks good

Hilary Kramer made what we think is probably her first Fast Money appearance Monday, dressed glamourously to the hilt, sexy shoes, etc.

Evidently guest host Simon Hobbs' overcaffeination was contagious, as Kramer proceeded to figuratively pound the table with both hands on SPMD and DNDN.

SPMD, she said, "used to be known as Idearc." She said, "They are super-undervalued .... easily it's 25% upside."

Karen Finerman was having nothing of this Yellow Pages-connected company, calling stocks such as this a "melting ice cube," and we don't think she meant the fat guy in "Boyz N the Hood" who avenges Ricky's slaying.

Kramer would add, "I believe Dendreon is a triple in the next 18 months."

Perhaps the best part was that Simon Hobbs said Kramer would be "back with 2 more trades later in the week."

Kramer talked a bit too much with her hands, but passion for the job is important.

The Brazilian broken record

Will Landers, we've come to realize through limited appearances on Fast Money and Tim Seymour's Trading the Globe, is an excellent pundit on BRIC markets.

The problem is that when Landers, or any BRIC expert, comes on CNBC to talk emerging markets, it's always a buy recommendation for something.

So when Simon Hobbs introduced Landers Monday, one could quickly assume we'd be hearing bullish calls for EWZ, PBR, ITUB, CZZ, ERJ, etc. Landers didn't disappoint, suggesting ITUB as well as a commercial realty play, Cyrela Brazil Realty.

Landers also mentioned the worst possible cliché that we'll be hearing for the next 6 years, that Brazil has the World Cup and Olympics on the way.

The alternative on the slam-dunk trades would be Tim Seymour's suggestion of Ivanhoe Mines, which Simon Hobbs found rather dubious.

"I'm supposed to trade a stock in Mongolia on the possibility that the yuan might revalue. That's pretty tenuous," Hobbs declared.

Seymour shrugged it off and pronounced IVN a great company.

Flash: Karen’s a success

Simon Hobbs waded into his apparent weeklong Fast Money guest hosting gig with bulldog-like tenacity, leaving any innocent bystanders unapologetically with scars.

"I'm gonna have what you're having," pharma ace Mike Huckman told Hobbs, before spending a great deal of time touting Celgene in a recommendation that amounted to "Stuff can happen."

Mike Khouw offered an options trade on a top pick of Jon Najarian Monday, IGT. Khouw said he'd buy the July $21 call for 75 cents and sell the July $23 call for 25 cents. Dr. J endorsed it and said something about possibly tripling your money.

Gary Kaminsky opened Monday's show on the phone running roughshod over anyone throwing roadblocks into his melt-up thesis, which prompted Najarian to tread carefully on what has become one of the most debated stocks on Fast Money, VZ. "I don't wanna argue with Gary Kaminsky," said Dr. J, but "I do like Verizon a lot here." Kaminsky contends FIOS sucks and the market has long priced in a VZ connection with AAPL.

Tim Seymour actually said "Kudos to Geithner, he's a smart guy," in reference to the Treasury secretary's apparent under-the-radar handling of Chinese currency concerns. Later Seymour said, "MPEL is the name to buy out there because it's the most levered" in the gambling space.

Simon Hobbs introduced Karen Finerman's credentials at the opening of Monday's show with this statement: "Karen, you run a successful operation..."

Movie(s) of the week:
‘The Last Picture Show’
and ‘Friday Night Lights’

Contrary to the impression Hollywood often leaves, small towns are not bastions of depression.

If you don't like it, move. Surprisingly, that notion rarely crosses the minds of the characters in "The Last Picture Show" and "Friday Night Lights," two Texas stories told decades apart.

On the surface, each should be objectionable. The suggestion in "Show" is that the environment is the problem, it's bleak, rendering the characters incapable of thinking their way out of discontent and spurring them to foolhardy romantic liaisons. "Lights" would have you believe that people struggling to make a living are way too preoccupied with a silly game.

Both are masterworks. "Show," by Peter Bogdanovich, has a timeless, b&w sincerity to it that betrays no hint of being made in 1971. "Lights," by Peter Berg and Josh Tate, boasts Billy Bob Thornton in a role so spectacularly played, it might rightly be said that he belongs in the NFL, not on a prep sideline.

Characters in each film will strike many as pitiable. Meanwhile, the world's pre-eminent billionaire golfer is delivering apology after apology for having too much sex with women who could only be considered a step down from the gals in "Show." Human struggle with life's priorities and despair is universal. The people of "Show" and "Lights" are not disadvantaged, disenfranchised nor shortchanged. They require neither sympathy nor scorn to appreciate, just the acknowledgment we're all in this together.

Simon Hobbs calls melt-up theory ‘absolute la-la land’

Simon Hobbs, who said he is guesting for Melissa Lee this week, immediately brought Gary Kaminsky in to Monday's Fast Money.

Kaminsky said the market rally is on.

"The risk of not being in stocks outweighs everything," Kaminsky said. "Yes, this will continue."

Hobbs broke in. "This is absolute la-la land," he said. "Most people don't sit at home having to be fully invested in the market. It's utter nonsense!"

Kaminsky responded, "The guy who is sitting at home who has kept money on the sidelines doesn't care about what's happening in the equity market." He said sustained interest rates are the only fear on the horizon for derailing the rally. "That's the only thing I see," he said.

Tim Seymour sort of agreed with Gary but really agreed with Karen Finerman, who said data is showing signs of strength and that's what's moving stocks.

"I don't agree with anything Tim is saying," Kaminsky said.

Patty Edwards, Karen Finerman
compare retail notes

Jon Najarian said he's regularly getting "pinged" from traders claiming oil's rise is just a "fear trade."

Addressing those pingers, Najarian said, "You guys, you are exactly wrong," claiming it's "demand-driven."

Joe Terranova said he deals with these trades all day and that it's big, quality institutional buyers jumping in.

Patty Edwards, on the West Coast Prop Desk, repeated a trade from last week, saying, "You can go short some of the ETFs for retail ... and then go long some of the better operators." Patty and Karen Finerman agreed on several names except J. Crew, and maybe not so much on Saks, which Karen kind of likes while Patty favors Nordstrom.

Misek: 20% more on AAPL

We were hoping to see Gene Munster talk AAPL Monday on Fast Money, but he apparently was booked.

AAPL bulls nevertheless heard good news from Peter Misek of Canaccord Adams, discussing the iPad. (This writer is long AAPL.)

"I think this is the beginning of a big trend," Misek said. "This thing's a lot quicker to pull out of your bag, a lot lighter."

Simon Hobbs asked the money question. "I think, uh, Apple, is uh, 20% return right here," Misek said. "Thursday is another big event."

Karabell, Najarian suggest
not buying Apple here

These days it's hard to step into the shoes of Melissa Lee on Fast Money.

Simon Hobbs though ran a crisp Halftime Report Monday that was right on point.

Traders were notably indifferent to the big Apple iPad launch. (This writer is long AAPL.) Zach Karabell, who said he owns AAPL, said "I am not adding Apple at 237."

Jon Najarian went a step further, saying he agreed, "Don't jump in like Zach says at 237," but that he would wait for more data on the apps and 3G rollout at the end of the month.

Those to us kind of sound like mild sell calls given that both seem to think you'll be able to buy it lower — please note, neither one said to sell, it's just an inference we're making. (You know what they say in poker: If you're not raising, you're folding.)

Karabell’s right

Zach Karabell and Jon Najarian, however, were less in agreement Monday on the impact of rising oil on discretionary spending. Jon Najarian said if crude continues to climb, investors should watch Starbucks and "a lot of disposable income stocks" for weakness.

Guest host Simon Hobbs said to Karabell, "I can see you dying to get in here," even though Karabell didn't look at all like he was dying to get in there. Karabell said oil is a concern more for the pinched consumer, but "I don't actually think it's gonna cut in to that kind of middle to upper end."

We have to side 100% with Karabell, who was saying this before this site was ... gas prices are not going to stop the typical Starbucks/Apple/Amazon/Barnes&Noble/Google/Panera Bread/Superfusion/Tiffany/N.Y. Times consumer from loading up on the stuff he regularly loads up on. Some of (but not all) the Denny's consumers, the Hardee's consumers, the Jack in the Box consumers, the KMart consumers, yes, oil is an obstacle.

Jeff Tomasulo suggested UPS and FDX are the names to watch if oil hits $90, which seems more technical-driven than anything, he said. "Fundamentally, there's been a build 2 weeks in a row."

Flash: Greed in market

Jeff Tomasulo said Monday you can't fight the tape, even if it's sideways. "Right now we have psychology, we have greed in the market. People want this market to go higher," Tomasulo said.

So there's "greed in the market" ... because people want it to go higher.

Jon Najarian said options trades are telling him that "people are looking for sideways action" for a few weeks in stocks. Zach Karabell doesn't expect a plunge in the market. "It doesn't feel like it's getting away from itself," he said.

Tim Seymour said "The breakout in commodities is undeniable," and asked about Alcoa, he said it's mostly determined by the price of aluminum, and "we're seeing aluminum prices move higher."

Karabell said Alcoa is in a "really difficult spot" because it is a high-cost producer battling lower-cost producers. "I would just stay away from this name," he said.

Joe Terranova said investors in CREE have a "free trade" on the long side and that he wouldn't short it at this point.

Karabell touted SLB, saying with crude rising, dollars will have to start coming in to oil exploration and "at $65 you've got really nice upside."

Jon Najarian talked about the rumors-noses thing and when Tim Seymour questioned if that's the right term, said "I'm making it PG-rated."

[Thursday, April 1, 2010]

Our best on the holidays

As many observe a holiday this week and Sunday, time again for CNBCfix.com to thank its visitors and wish all a happy, peaceful weekend.

There may be no Fast Money on Friday, but we'll try to run a few posts up the flagpole over the weekend, maybe even look up a few of a last week's Web Extras we might've missed.

March visits to this page shattered February's record. It's enough to keep us from quitting. We're here because you are. We talk about stocks, we talk about business, we talk about TV stars, and we do it because we like talking about stocks, talking about business and talking about TV stars.

Be safe, and come back again soon.

Call RIMM the next PALM, and kiss your chance of Melissa Lee visiting your site goodbye

Melissa Lee made a curious little remark Thursday on Fast Money.

It happened after Carter Worth said after his bullish RIMM call: "There are bloggers out today saying RIMM is the next Palm."

Lee followed, "Hmmmph! That's, that's why I don't read those blogs."

The interpretations for that quip are probably limitless.

First, note Lee didn't say "all blogs," just "those blogs." Which begs the question, how does she know which ones are saying RIMM is the next Palm if she's not reading them? But that's a Catch-22 that's probably beyond the scope of this commentary.

Second, one wonders why Lee volunteered this information in the first place. It's not like Worth was asking her a question. It sounded like a point she's been dying to get across. Is she really saying "I'm above blog-reading," or could it be some kind of facial along the lines of "you guys are nuts" toward someone who dissed the show?

Third, CNBCfix.com considers itself a "Web site," rather than a "blog," so we think we're exempt on this one, unless Lee lumps us all in under the same umbrella.

And if she does, what can we do to change that? Write more about her stunning outfits such as the gray dress she modeled Thursday that might be the new Hottest Outfit of the Year? Compliment the combination brains-beauty lacking any hint of Harvard ego? Point out how she's rallied from sluggish takeover of Fast Money to CableFAX award-winning host whose rare absences from Fast are regarded as a major setback for the show?

Every now and then a real CNBCer actually does check this site out. We think that's kinda cool.

She already made the pitch,
it was a strike

Patty Edwards on Thursday made "The Pitch" for Herbalife.

Patty made several compelling points for HLF.

What she modestly didn't say was that she actually recommended this stock on-air March 2, when it closed at $42.00. Thursday, it closed at $47.66.

Guy Adami was on board with it. The only beef we have with this name is that it is based in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, but apparently run out of L.A. (interesting how the issue of company headquarters and location is not one of the 15 FAQ's on the company's Web site), something we're kind of skeptical of, and we think anyone (such as Tim Seymour) who complains about corporate effective tax rates should be wary of also...

Melissa asks Patty
a great question

Patty Edwards admitted she found it hard to believe she was saying this, but in discussing the jobs report, she said retail has run so well, "You gotta look at shorting one of the big indexes like the XRT or the RTH," maybe against a name like JCG or JWN.

Melissa Lee — did we say she's in a groove? — asked a tremendous question: Why would people tomorrow suddenly feel negatively about shopping?

"Oil prices, and no jobs," Patty stammered, in about the only unconvincing remark we've heard from her this year.

Lee graciously we let it go. We don't doubt that there's probably a good argument the XRT or RTH might be toppy. But the idea that the jobs report would mark a reversal in retail, we just don't see. The attention given to the jobs report on CNBC is quite frankly a joke. So the people who are the market are all getting the same data at the same time but nevertheless are suggesting ways to beat the market (which consists of themselves) beforehand with no concrete knowledge about the actual number. Wouldn't it just be simpler to recommend lottery tickets?

Oddly, Karen Finerman either misunderstood Patty's point, or was speaking 100% independently of Patty's point. K-Fine said JCG was a name she was interested in shorting about $15 ago and maybe now's the time. Of course Patty didn't recommend a JCG short but sort of the opposite. But Karen indicated she wasn't big on shorting the sector because operators are in much better shape than during the last downturn.

Patty Edwards in the
mainstream media

Reuters put together a lengthy article on M&A in the retail sector and turned to, among other people, Patty Edwards, who said, "I think there could be a fair number of marriages among the little people but the big boys are just going to be focusing on business as is now normal." (Article had some redundancies and extra words and could use tighter editing; also it reaffirms the notion that Craig Johnson is the first number on speed dial for retail reporters.)

A sector where armageddon
really isn’t off the table

Tavis McCourt made a phone call to Fast Money Thursday to discuss the iPad.

He said one of the beneficiaries of it might actually be the newspaper industry.

If only.

The newspaper industry is utterly awash in conversation, and has been for several years, about its own prospects for survival. We post some of those headlines on our home page, but if we were to post every mainstream media article on this subject, 1) it would take 24 hours a day, and 2) absolutely no one would read this site.

It's safe to say by now, if charging for news actually worked, everyone would be doing it. Virtually nobody does.

What bothers us most about the newspaper-demise dialogue is that newspapers are regarded as collections of "investigative reporting" and little else. If that were true, they all would've gone out of business decades ago.

People don't buy newspapers for the "investigative reporting." They buy them for the organized collection of stuff that matters to people.

That means a little info on Jerusalem, a little more on Obama's bill-signing, still more on the state income-tax hike, a lengthy piece on the testy city council meeting, a page of obituaries, a section of high school sports results.

Don't forget the TV grid, the comics, the (still-remaining) classifieds, the insert ads for the grocery stores, home improvement chains, Wal-Mart, etc., the crossword puzzle, the school honor roll, the births and deaths, the burglary roundup, the pancake fundraiser announcements, the guaranteed 6 a.m. delivery.

No Web device can come close to approximating that. It would take hours for some person to find a fraction of that information about their community on the Web. A well-run local newspaper is a tremendous product. Immense value and immense organization to consumers for a small price. That hasn't changed. What's changed is the massive amount of other ways of spending one's leisure time offered by the Web instead of reading a newspaper.

McCourt's suggestion is profoundly naive, though he's hardly the only one to say it. If anything, the iPad is just another excuse to read the Drudge Report while letting the subscription to the town Chronicle lapse.

We’ll refrain from saying
‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’ ...
or ‘Love in an elevator’

Pete Najarian briefly touted solar plays Thursday on Fast Money, saying "that's where people are missing the boat."

Tim Seymour said "Dream On," which brought a little dig from Karen Finerman, who wore huge earrings we hadn't seen since "Network" and also smiled beautifully when either Guy Adami or Tim Seymour mentioned "Sweet Emotion" on a Fast Money day devoted to Aerosmith references. (The Web Extra featured Steve Millerisms, but Patty Edwards didn't play along on Ann Taylor; maybe if she took a jet airliner to Englewood Cliffs, she could dance, dance, dance with the gang.)

Joe LaVorgna predicted job gains of 350,000 and said he didn't understand why other analysts weren't higher, and thinks people will be "pleasantly surprised" with the number.

Brian Kelly was the only one in the Fast Money gang raining on a potentially good number Thursday, insisting it would trigger rate-hike concerns.

Jeff Rubin made a bullish case for oil, saying "We'll probably take out the $147 high sometime next year," and nobody really disagreed with that.

Carter Worth, who touted RIMM on its "well-defined wedge" (we've said that about a few people from time to time), also said ABT is making a traditionally predictive bounce off its 150-day moving average.

Brian Stutland had an options trade on AAPL, saying he would buy the May $230 call and sell the May $250 call.

Zach Karabell wasn't on the 5 p.m. show, but he was inadvertently a part of it, as Tim Seymour recalled one of his comments from Halftime about the global growth story. "Somebody said they don't like golf analogies on this — I love golf analogies," Seymour said.

The jobs report,
and the Jobs report

Zachary Karabell made a welcome return to the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday and talked about one of our favorite themes — he was on to it before this site was, we must admit — that there is the Labor Department report coming out showing how rough the broad economy is, and meanwhile there are going to be gobs of people dabbling in the $499 iPad about the same time. (He didn't make a prediction on that, but that's likely the way it's gonna go.)

Melissa Lee actually said of AAPL, "This stock just keeps cratering higher." (This writer is long AAPL.)

Todd Gordon says he could only buy on a pullback, so there's nothing he can do about AAPL right now except watch.

Tim Seymour is maintaining and even updating his P.E. numbers for CLF that raised so many eyebrows yesterday. "Cliffs at 43 times this year and you know, maybe down to 18 times next year," he said.

But Seymour said that while the stocks may be a little frothy, the global growth story is good and China just teed off right down the fairway.

In fact, "this could be a par 3 more than a par 4," said Mike Gurka.

"I am a believer in the global growth story," Karabell agreed, but "I'm not sure I'm a believer in golf as a good metaphor for the global growth story." Nevertheless, he said a name like VALE has run but hasn't run to the levels it did in '06, '07, '08.

Todd Gordon suggested viewers "be long the Australian dollar" and a 2nd derivative play.

Eric Tracy upgraded Finish Line and Foot Locker on their "strengthening product cycle." He said Nike is the biggest beneficiary as a "lateral call" on the sector.

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Fast Money cliches

Why we don’t
review Mad Money

Movie review:
‘Wall Street’

Gordon Gekko:
The Michael Corleone
of Wall Street

CNBC/cable TV
star bios

♦ Jim Cramer
♦ Charles Gasparino
♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Karen Finerman
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Zachary Karabell
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ Nicole Lapin
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
♦ Bertha Coombs
♦ Mary Thompson
♦ Trish Regan
♦ Melissa Francis
♦ Dennis Kneale
♦ Rebecca Jarvis
♦ Darren Rovell
♦ Carl Quintanilla
♦ Diana Olick
♦ Dylan Ratigan
♦ Eric Bolling
♦ Anderson Cooper
♦ Neil Cavuto
♦ Liz Claman
♦ Monica Crowley
♦ Bill O'Reilly
♦ Rachel Maddow
♦ Susie Gharib
♦ Jane Skinner
♦ Kimberly Guilfoyle
♦ Martha MacCallum
♦ Courtney Friel
♦ Uma Pemmaraju
♦ Joe Scarborough
♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
♦ Donald Luskin
♦ Herb Greenberg
♦ Robert Reich
♦ Steve Moore
♦ Vince Farrell
♦ Joe LaVorgna
♦ A. Gary Shilling
♦ Joe Battipaglia
♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett