[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive]
[Saturday, April 30, 2011]

Gary Kaminsky, Joe Kernen
seen on C-SPAN’s red-carpet
coverage of Correspondents dinner

Folks who like both inside-the-Beltway stuff, and/or celebrity sightings, might've been watching C-SPAN's coverage Saturday evening of the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, and probably saw Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel chatting up Jeremy Piven on the red carpet.

Viewers who looked closer would've noticed CNBC's Gary Kaminsky and Joe Kernen in the background, filing past the Emanuel contingent, each glancing toward the camera but kind of swept along in the rush of guests from the escalator around 7:27 Eastern time.

We tried to spy as many CNBCers as possible, but there were a lot of folks passing by and the C-SPAN cameras tended to focus on the rock stars and actors (and some guy named Trump).

For those who enjoy the tiniest bits of trivia, C-SPAN also showed dignitaries at a charity event earlier in the day, and top-level political honcho David Axelrod revealed his sport coat is by Joseph A. Bank — quite possibly the greatest endorsement the chain has ever received but probably doesn't know about (yet).

The dinner looked like a festive, grand evening — congrats to those who attended.

[Friday, April 29, 2011]

Kayla Tausche’s big moment

CNBC's Fast Money Halftime Report delivered breaking news on what might be an important marriage Friday, but it was Kayla Tausche, not Kate Middleton, stealing the show.

Tausche revealed that Conagra apparently sent Ralcorp a letter a couple months ago making an unsolicited bid, which might make Ralcorp in play though there are apparently no current talks with Conagra.

The news caught everyone a bit off-guard, with Patty Edwards speculating weakly that maybe if not ConAgra, Sara Lee might be interested, but Sara Lee's got its own issues, and beyond that she really didn't have an opinion, and then Jon Najarian echoed the same sentiment.

Hopefully for the royal couple, they got a lot of their gifts in silver

Rich Ilczyszyn, who likes to explain on Fast Money how during his last appearance he told people what to do, spoke about silver on Friday's Halftime Report and said, "If we get that 50 print, uh, and close above the 1980 highs, I think we go back up, uh, uh, making new, new highs in uncharted territory around 60."

But he then stressed how he recommended puts before some complicated mumbo jumbo about how he rolled into a more successful put situation than he had before.

Ilczyszyn said the "lackluster" Bernanke testimony didn't change anything about the money-metals trade.

Patty Edwards said "I love Philip Morris at these levels," and also mentioned Baker Hughes as well as the OIH. Jon Najarian said of RIMM, "I do think that a lot of folks are trapped by being long the stock."

Melissa, Patty do not express opinions on royal wedding

David Liu, CEO of The Knot, a business we can say we don't think we've ever heard of but maybe rings a bell as maybe turning up on Fast Money a while ago, offered an understatement of sorts on Friday's Halftime Report about the royal wedding, saying, "This has been a massive marketing event for the marketing industry as a whole."

He also handled Melissa Lee's typical are-you-for-sale question with this answer: "We're somewhat indifferent to whether or not we stay independent."

But Liu's most notable/dubious comment was his opening statement, when he told Lee, "Nice to see you Michelle."

"Melissa. But anyway ... I get that all the time," Lee said.

The transgression was more than just a royal dis, as it apparently strung out the interview just enough to prevent a "call the close" session, which Patty Edwards indicated via Twitter was preempted because of The Knot interview length.

Melissa was dressed in goddess-mode Friday, which got us excited that maybe Lee was going to round up Karen Finerman, Patty Edwards, Mandy, Erin Burnett, maybe Nicole Lapin and Courtney Reagan and Sue Herera, and have a lengthy chat about the royal wedding like we saw the ladies on CNN doing (not Erin Burnett, she hasn't left just yet), each admitting they had tears in their eyes ... but that didn't happen on the Fast Money Halftime Report.

Gary Kaminsky stumps
Joe Kernen

On a day in which Gary Kaminsky one-upped guest host Joe Kernen with a math quiz (David Faber possibly was taking the weekend off for the NFL Draft like many of us), MLP expert Seth Radow offered what's apparently a little-known bright spot in the world of oil exploration.

"Horizontal drilling, in fact, last year, 2010, was the first year in over 20 years that we saw an increase in oil production, domestically from land-based rigs here in the United States," Radow said. "That's an extraordinary statistic. Nobody knows that."

Radow cited 2 reasons why MLPs can continue to outperform, the first sounding a lot like the old math glitch of assuming what you're trying to prove is true: "significant outperformance for extended duration," and "earnings visibility for the group is extraordinary."

Gary Kaminsky asked Radow about the impact of a rising rate environment. "You should be more worried about fixed income instruments than MLPs," Radow assured, pointing to the "rising dividend stream" of MLPs and how you eventually get 12% yield with recent growth rates.

Joe Kernen then asked Gary Kaminsky about the rule of 72s and how long it would take the value to double at Radow's 7%-plus growth clip and whether Kaminsky ever pulled that off at Neuberger. Kaminsky countered by asking Kernen, "You know what a penny a day doubled for 30 days is?"

"I don't know," Kernen said, who wisely avoided a guess that might've sounded foolish, like $89,000 or something.

"I think it's $6.4 million," Kaminsky said, but then after the commercial said Rick Santelli calculated it to be $5.4 million.

Radow was a good pundit with good commentary, but came across a bit stiff and hunched at the Strategy table. Kernen asked him about playing the MLP sector. Radow said, "On the individual names, UBS doesn't really want me to get into that today," but then trumpeted SteelPath (MLPAX) and The Cushing MLP Fund (SCHAX).

Bubble talk hits Kernen
‘like a ton of bricks’

The Strategy Session opened Friday with Becky Quick in Omaha, but she didn't get a chance to talk about the royal wedding, which Kernen claimed was Saturday.

"I'm just so glad you called me young," Quick told Joe Kernen, adding she was "thrilled" to be on The Strategy Session.

Quick said David Sokol's departure will be the big topic at the Berkshire meeting, but that some people such as Mario Gabelli "didn't care about this at all."

Quick also referenced Berkshire's underperformance during the dot-com and housing bubble. Joe Kernen said moments later it "hit me over the head like a ton of bricks," that "the asset class that he was underperforming, uh, came down to meet him, a lot more than he went up to meet them."

Gary Kaminsky revealed the group will be together on Squawk Box Monday. Quick smiled and said, "That'll get me through the weekend."

Kate Kelly said Stevie Cohen is in the Mets mix, and that the minority stake offer is being sweetened to include a "piece of the SNY Network" and "possibly even more voting control."

[Thursday, April 28, 2011]

For maximum appeal, she could’ve asked Tim Seymour, ‘Should the Giants really trade up for Mike Pouncey?’

Melissa Lee was on the cusp of total cuteness Thursday when she began a late segment with, "Tonight the draft is on for the NFL," but that hint to listening to her possibly discuss her own player analysis faded immediately when Lee segued into tired business-mode with, "but will there even be a season?" and turned things over to Darren Rovell.

Rovell, who doesn't get nearly enough credit for the amount of sports scoops he breaks, actually claimed, "This has to be the most awkward day in NFL history" because of the lockout/non-lockout situation.

Yeah. Right. Sure. Whatever. People need not care about this in the slightest until August; fans who are preoccupied with this now need to get a life.

New Orleans Saints = morons

Yesterday this page asserted that late-1st, early-2nd trades are essentially automatic busts for the teams trading up, who are so excited to get maybe the 30th-ranked player in the draft that they can't wait to destroy value, and that somebody was bound to do it Thursday.

We've got a winner, in the form of the New Orleans Saints, who gave up next year's No. 1 for the right to move up from 56 to 28 and draft a player who is possibly the most well-known and heavily scouted player in the draft and thus did not go in the first 27 picks for some obviously good reason or another.

Another contender would be the Cleveland Browns, who first pulled off what looked like a promising deal when the Atlanta Falcons went berserk, only to botch it by giving up the 70th pick (a 3rd-rounder) for the right to move from 27 to 21 and take an already-old nose tackle who's only going to be a difference-maker in the kitchen.

We noted yesterday that it's generally hard to trade into the top 10 because those picks are coveted. We think Cleveland probably got the better of Atlanta's move up for the sheer amount of premium picks it gets, but note that the 6th pick is a primo selection who is by far a more elite prospect than anyone Cleveland is likely to see with any of its Atlanta picks (assuming of course the Falcons don't collapse in 2011).

We'll call the Jaguars-Redskins 10-16 switch a push, for now, but coughing up a 2nd-rounder to get the 3rd QB in the draft is immediately suspect.

While we spend the weekend evaluating whether Cameron Heyward can play 2-gap, we're reminded of the old theory that it doesn't really matter what needs and depth and strategies teams have; it only matters if the guys they're drafting are actually any good and if the guys already on the team are any good.

Najarian might
buy more RIMM Friday

Tim Seymour pronounced Research in Motion a "disaster" on Thursday's Fast Money and declared, "Valuation doesn't matter in this stock."

Pete Najarian disagreed, saying, "I own a little bit of RIMM right now" and that he might add to it on Friday.

Stephen Weiss grumbled at the notion of RIMM dropping low enough to be a takeover candidate, saying, "People are still waiting for Eastman Kodak to be taken over."

Colin Gillis said some people suggest MSFT could or should buy RIMM, including at a Florida investor conference which allows for "old folks home" jokes, but Gillis insisted "that's not gonna happen" because MSFT has a Nokia deal and RIMM is still too big.

Gillis complained about RIMM's expectations, saying, "The full-year number, just do the, do the reset, if you're gonna take 1-quarter reset, reset the entire year," while the camera caught Anthony Scaramucci noticeably, humorously, grimacing.

Najarian actually
bought Microsoft

Tim Seymour found himself fending off MSFT skeptic Melissa Lee a copule times on Thursday.

First Lee and Seymour got into an almost incomprehensible debate about PC forecasts and whether Intel is right or IDC is right and how that does or doesn't impact Microsoft.

Moments later, over a discussion about Windows 8 tablet something or other being the next stock catalyst that Windows 7 was not, despite the hype of some people, Lee complained, "Why should we believe it this time around?"

"Mel is dogging Mr. Softy right now," Seymour explained.

Colin Gillis defended Windows 7, saying, "We're in the heart of the refresh right now, you know, Windows 7 is the fastest-selling operating system in history."

Pete Najarian insisted "I think this is a value stock" and not something in between value and growth that's confusing managers despite assertions, somewhat clarified, from Anthony Scaramucci and Joe Terranova. "I actually bought Microsoft recently. Today, as a matter of fact," Najarian said.

Scaramucci joked, "It's not where money goes to die?" Najarian chuckled and said he doesn't always agree with his brother Jon and is actually with Scaramucci on PFE and pharmaceutical names, "I've pounded the table along with you."

Najarian returned to the MSFT theme, though, and indicated he's tired of hearing how terrible the stock has been for a decade. "I don't give a crap about 2001 ... I'm looking at Microsoft now," he said.

Kass: Rich getting richer,
poor getting poorer

Doug Kass was as down on the stock market Thursday as Akeem Ayers probably was on the NFL Draft (by the end of the first round).

"I'm taking the road less traveled," Kass said, explaining, "The rising market is making the rich people richer, uh, but rising costs of necessities are making the poor people poorer," which is actually a variation of a "Road House" line, for those taking this a bit too seriously.

Kass said gasoline has crossed the threshold that historically causes economic contraction. "Maybe it's different this time, but I don't think so," Kass said.

Silver: The precious metals equivalent to the Tennessee Titans’ first-round draft pick

Anthony Scaramucci warned on Fast Money Thursday in eloquent terms of diminishing industrial demand for silver, saying, "That's a Socratic way of saying there's no industrial use for silver ... be careful of a speculative bubble."

Guest Matt Hougan called silver a "bubble that might burst," largely because of ETF traffic. "Yesterday we saw about 160 million move into the double-inverse short silver ETF," Hougan said. Melissa Lee seemed concerned that the double-short ETF, the ZSL, might be illiquid, but Hougan assured, "it's very liquid, you can trade it very well." (And possibly end up in face-ripped-off land.)

Get Apple cloud site on video, increase Web traffic

Bill Wagenseller told Fast Money viewers Thursday how he happened to stumble onto a Web phenom by recording footage of a North Carolina real estate parcel that coincidentally happens to be the one where Apple is doing something or other.

"When I put it on YouTube, I thought, you know, maybe I'll get a few hits, and, within a week, I had like a hundred thousand viewing," Wagenseller said.

Stephen Weiss said he likes EMC as a cloud play and doesn't see AAPL as a "pedestrian" cloud play.

Daniel Fisher of MBF Clearing, which if we're not mistaken is coincidentally the firm of Mark B. Fisher, wasn't high on natural gas Thursday.

"I still see a lot of downside in this market," Fisher told Fast Money, saying, "I think $4 is a range we'll probably see again within the next month or so."

Jon Gates of OTR Global said, if we understand this segment correctly, he expects a Whole Foods slump because orders to suppliers are down. "The momentum has come off, uh, the top for some of these suppliers," Gates said.

Weiss buys AKAM

Stephen Weiss said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, "Either shorting the dollar is the easiest trade I've ever seen, or it's the best contrarian trade I've ever seen. I still think that the dollar is going to work its way higher, that there's no more negative news that can come out of it."

Weiss said in the oil space, "the sure bet are the service companies." But Jon Najarian said he likes the explorers, including Transocean whenever it suffers a setback, while Brian Kelly said refiners is his favorite space; "that's the place you wanna be."

Jon Najarian said he traded AKAM a little bit Thursday and that he was watching the $36.16 level, then $35, and he said buyers "might get a chance to pick it up a little cheaper on Friday into the weekend."

"I actually bought some more today," Weiss said, in another contrarian play, because "at this level there is value."

Brian Kelly said he'll hold EBAY for 6 months to a year. Jon Najarian acknowledged strength in the name but pointed to Near Field Communications as a threat to PayPal.

Guest Nicole Miller Regan spoke about Starbucks and coffee, but we couldn't really figure out what if anything we could hang a headline on; apparently she kind of likes SBUX. She did say, under pressure from Melissa Lee, that Cheesecake Factory and the casual diners would face dairy inflation concerns.

Heather Bellini spoke on the Fast Line about Microsoft and was asked what the catalyst will be which is basically the equivalent of people asking what the next big Kevin Costner hit is going to be and admitted, "I probably get that question every day. Multiple times." (Ouch. And you think you've got a tough job.)

Bellini said the next hopes for a catalyst are with the "Windows 8 beta tablet."

How to not add value,
courtesy of the NFL Draft

The CNBCfix NFL Draft Party is an utterly can't-miss event, just ask anyone who's ever attended (OK, maybe it's not), and with uncertainty surrounding even the No. 1 pick, tonight's confab figures to be a barnburner.

But by the time we get into the 20s, don't get so carried away with the booze that you lose sight of some astoundingly poor risk management on the part of NFL general managers.

We're not going to bother posting a statistical analysis — it's too much trouble just submitting a Round 1 mock, and this stuff is subjective anyway — but there is basically no doubt that the dumbest thing an NFL GM does is trade up into the late 1st or early 2nd round.

The problem is that they are sacrificing a decent-potential extra player — usually no worse than a 4th-rounder, and sometimes (gasp) next year's No. 1 — for a marginal move to land a player who has about the same probability of success as the lower pick they're giving up.

Yeah, we know it did actually work with Clay Matthews. It didn't exactly work for Tim Tebow, Toby Gerhart, Brady Quinn, or that 2004 Pittsburgh monstrosity, Ricardo Colclough, or basically anyone else we can think of.

Trading into the top 10 overall, on the other hand, can be considered a valiant move even if it doesn't always work, because of the strong chance that top 10 players become All-Pros. That's why most teams in the top 10 don't want to budge.

Consider trading up in the 2nd round to be like paying the same multiple for CSCO as for BIDU.

Basically it's just GMs outthinking themselves.

So China’s not perfect

On Thursday's Strategy Session, David Faber asked Kate Kelly why in the world, given the returns of a lot of IPOs since 2007, sovereign wealth funds don't hold off a bit and wait until the stocks trade for a while before plunging in.

Kelly, incredibly, told Faber that unlike for example Gary Kaminsky at Neuberger Berman, "They don't meet with their investment committee as regularly, so you kind of have to get to them in advance."

So in other words ... sovereign wealth funds don't meet often enough to make savvy investment decisions?

Kelly said Glencore has "lined up a series of cornerstone investors," and will take their shares public in London at the end of May after a road show (wonder if that helps Bob Greifeld's antitrust argument). Gary Kaminsky seized on Kelly's point that the Glencore shares will attract closet indexers because they're immediately going into the FTSE.

Kelly said even the purported great ones have a bust, "You even saw the Chinese invest in GM." Gary Kaminsky, though, seemed to defend the stakes the sovereign wealth funds such as Dubai took in Och Ziff, saying if someone gives Dubai a hard time about that Och Ziff investment in 2007, they'll just say, "Ask us about it in 2017; ask us about it in 2022."

Is there such a thing
as overdoing it?

GNC chief Joe Fortunato spoke with The Strategy Session on Thursday, and also with Darren Rovell, who asked a couple good questions, including one about GNC no longer playing up the weightlifting dudes in the front of the store, but instead the woman jock, and leaving the lifter stuff for the back.

"It's been done on purpose for the last 5 or 6 years," Fortunato said.

But Fortunato said something else that makes one think. "Our consumer is a higher-end, premium consumer, takes multiple products a day, is really into a health and wellness regimen," he said.

First of all, the last thing anyone with a CNBCfix-caliber gut should be doing is carping about healthy eating, so consider the source here.

Second, we can't help but wonder about what Coach Wooden called the 2nd most important word in the English language, "balance."

Everyone should try to be as healthy as possible. Does that mean everyone needs to be "really into" a regimen and "take multiple products a day"?

No. It means, stop getting loaded at every ballgame you attend, grab 1 less tub of Chunky Monkey the next time you're in the ice cream aisle, and — gak — actually try to walk around a little bit.

If you're already a good athlete, congrats, and you're already well ahead of that curve, but know that if you're 17 and shoveling that weight-gainer stuff to compete at tight end, there'll come a day when you'll wonder what the heck you were thinking.

Gary Kaminsky’s equivalent of the Patty Edwards mall walk

Gary Kaminsky revealed on Thursday's Strategy Session that, because of the Fed coverage preemption of Wednesday's Strategy Session, he went on a Big Apple shopping spree — although he was apparently only looking.

"I actually spent this time yesterday in mid-town Manhattan, something I haven't done in quite some time, and it's amazing to see what's happening in terms of foreigners coming to this country, at the retail level, to purchase things, given this dollar decline," Kaminsky said. "You can actually see retailers changing their marketing strategy to appeal to what they see as a way to continue to bring in those that are buying ... products at the dollar-discounted levels."

Fed event gave TSS crew rare midweek break

James Keenan spoke articulately on Thursday about high-yield, saying, "It's certainly not the opportunistic risk trade that you had over the last couple of years, but it's still an attractive part of a portfolio."

Keenan also said some forecasts are a little strong. "The expectations of 2012, 13 growth are probably gonna come back in again," he said.

David Faber noted, as we did, on Thursday that Keenan had to walk up to the Strategy Session table during his introduction. "Hey, we're doin' the walk again, made him walk. Nice walk," Faber congratulated Keenan.

Sometime between Tuesday's Strategy Session and Thursday's Strategy Session, David Faber got a haircut.

Thursday marked "Take Your Kids to Work Day" at CNBC — we can hardly believe it's already been a year since this last happened — and we make sure to note it here, because we actually got a healthy number of clicks about this last time. David Faber, Gary Kaminsky and Susan Krakower all brought in sons, who already "get it" and look as good on television as their parents. Melissa Lee beamed when William Kaminsky announced the beginning of the Fast Money Halftime Report.

[Wednesday, April 27, 2011]

‘What keeps him up
at night is deflation’

After 3 hours of special programming in what somehow became a Mega-CNBC event of Ben Bernanke taking some reporters' questions, perhaps the best analysis was summed up by Stifel Financial boss Ron Kruszewski on Wednesday's Fast Money, who asserted of Bernanke, "He didn't say anything," but then went on to deliver some eloquent commentary about Fed policy.

"What keeps him up at night is deflation," Kruszewski said, unfortunately using a dread cliche but still making a valid point, saying the Fed is trying to direct money to housing, but it's essentially going to food and energy inflation being felt by folks in Missouri at the gas pump.

Tim Seymour, whose effectiveness-per-word ratio on Wednesday was a little weak, made an equally eloquent point here, saying that people in Missouri and in the Plains in general have been doing as good as ever thanks to strong commodities, an argument Kruszewski acknowledged.

George Goncalves played the cards a little too close to the vest

On the other hand, Fast Money viewers had to wonder Wednesday why George Goncalves bothered to do an interview with the show.

Goncalves agreed with the consensus that nothing was really said but offered, "I think there was something for everyone today."

Melissa Lee asked Goncalves to explain where his firm, Nomura, was predicting the rate-rise will begin. Goncalves merely announced the information-dissemination schedule that Ben Bernanke offered up Wednesday. "It's definitely a ways off," Goncalves said.

Lee, frustrated, asked, "George I get that you're saying that there's a sequence, but how long is that sequence going to take?"

Goncalves again refused a direct answer, finally saying, "Once they stop reinvesting mortgages, then I'll start thinking about them actually tightening."

"I think you're more vague than Bernanke, George," Lee concluded, prompting chuckles from the panel including Karen Finerman, who declared, "It's Alan Greenspan."

Steve Grasso found
Bernanke ‘weird and wacky’

While Zachary Karabell has led the Fast Money pack for days in minimizing the significance of Ben Bernanke taking some reporters' questions, at least 1 Fast Money panelist seemed to think something important occurred Wednesday — and not really in a good way.

It happened after Tim Seymour did an early go-round on his own Fed analysis that was questioned by Steve Grasso.

"You didn't think it was weird and wacky that he said that gasoline prices were going to be coming in, coming and going down, that he thought it was transitory?" Grasso asked, saying Bernanke "turned into an analyst at that point. Remember when he said subprime was largely contained."

Grasso later cleverly put Mel Lee on the spot journalistically, asking, "What question would you have asked in that room that wasn't asked?"

"Huh," Lee said. "Um, you know, a lot of the questions were, in fact, asked. I would've asked him what tools did he think he had, at his disposal, to lower unemployment."

Grasso opined that some people wonder if the Fed shouldn't drop the full-employment mandate and just focus on price stability. But he said of Bernanke, "Pretty much he walked away by saying, I'm not really in control of either."

Why K-Fine gets nervous
about big-time M&A

Zach Karabell, in form Wednesday, said despite all the noise about the Fed, "There's really no hint that the liquidity spigot is gonna be fundamentally pulled back."

Karabell also correctly dissed another overhyped Fast Money thing, MSFT. "I would buy Microsoft if I were 20 years older and wanted to be in the market but, but didn't really want my stock to move very much," Karabell said.

Karen Finerman expressed a little bit of wariness of M&A when discussing the eBay-GSIC deal. "I always get a little bit afraid of very big deals because I think there's always integration risk that's underestimated by the acquirer," Finerman said.

Bank watcher Frederick Cannon said banking profits are going to be sluggish until loan growth expands, but there will be consolidation, and his top 3 targets are Regions Financial (RF), Synovus (SNV), Capital Source (CSE).

Oil expert Paul Sankey told Karen Finerman "there's 12 to 15 bucks of pure risk" in the oil market, which is one of the goofier concepts that people on CNBC talk about given that the "risk premium" has existed since, oh, 1956, or something like that, but at least Sankey said, "I don't see why it goes away though." He said the whisper is that XOM beats expectations.

[Tuesday, April 26, 2011]

Fast Money Halftime,
Strategy Session preempted

According to CNBC's schedule, it'll be all Fed from noon-3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. We'll try to catch up with whatever daytime commentary we hear; Melissa Lee is the first face shown on CNBC commercials for the coverage, as is David Faber, so there will probably be a Fast Money/Strategy Session angle sometime.

Tim Seymour calls
oil profits ‘disgusting’

Generally — like about 99% of the time — the people on Fast Money tend to express free-market, pro-business, pro-capitalism themes.

Evidently, there is such a thing as too much.

"It's actually disgusting, you know, what the oil industry is making," Tim Seymour complained on Tuesday.

But he hardly stopped there, going on to chide regular folks for not appreciating $4 gas.

"People have no idea in this country how cheap their gas already is," Seymour asserted. "A gas tax is not a bad thing."

So let's try and sort out this theory ... Americans should be grateful how little they pay for gasoline, and at the same time disgusted by how much money oil companies make ... and to square things away, they should pay even more money for their gasoline, not to the oil companies, but the government, so that eventually we'll be less reliant on it and find other things to power our cars and heat our homes.

Joe Terranova said it's good to be long Big Oil because there will be pressure on them to return profits to their shareholders. Karen Finerman, in one of her few comments this week, disagreed with a better point frankly, that the likelihood of huge profit headlines "just makes them want to spend more on exploration" or anything that reduced net income.

Ilczyszyn: Buy silver at $40

Rich Ilczyszyn, when he wasn't speaking endlessly about how he just advised everyone to be hedged against silver, told Fast Money on Tuesday that "I think we need another 10% correction to the downside," and suggested a new entry point.

"I think you try to get in, or add to your positions, around 40 this next dip. I think we're gonna get it tomorrow. I think the market's gonna go to 40 tomorrow, and we're gonna base a bit," he said.

Tim Seymour, when he wasn't decrying capitalism, spent the rest of the show doubting silver, insisting, "This feels a lot like the Hunt brothers, 1980."

Melissa Lee continues to fret about Ben Bernanke’s ability to answer questions

For whatever reason, Melissa Lee (in wow-factor sleeveless blue dress Tuesday) is convinced this week that the Fed chairman can't handle a press conference.

In past discussions, Lee said, Ben Bernanke has taken questions on "note cards," but Wednesday, it'll be "an audience of financial journalists who are physically present in the room," and what are the "chances that somebody's gonna press him"?

Hopefully, Ben will not be traumatized by the event. Joe Terranova even said Bernanke is going to put the stock market on autopilot and you better be along for the ride. "I think the biggest risk right now, in essence, is to be underinvested in the marketplace," Terranova said.

An office-decor battle
at BMO Capital office

Melissa Lee made a sweeping statement on Fast Money Tuesday about Tyler Mathisen's report on the PlayStation cyber breach. "A lot of these systems are not secure. They are not secure," Lee asserted.

JEC chief Craig Martin said coal is a trickier long-term option because of environmental concerns, but at the same time, "You can characterize the world as being awash in gas at the moment."

Karen Finerman, in one of her rare, select comments this week, was spot-on when asking Andy Busch to explain what the heck it was he just said about Bernanke, while a guy in the background of Andy's BMO Capital Markets office tried unsuccessfully to straighten a baseball cap on the top of his thin computer monitor.

Finerman also demanded to know, after Tim Seymour hailed Morris Albert's "Feelings," "how did you know that," as if there's something wrong in knowing what singer sang what popular song.

Patty says $170 sounds good — but so does $300

Janney analyst Tony Wible was the latest to come on Fast Money and say that Netflix is a joke, for content-cost reasons you've heard umpteen times.

"These all sound Tony like reasons that could've been made 2 days ago before Netflix's earnings," said Melissa Lee, noting the stock just hit an all-time high and is it possible that it "turned on a dime?"

Wible said churn is up and subscriber acquisition costs are suddenly rising.

Anthony Scaramucci further questioned Wible as to the management being nimble, and is it possible they can adapt quickly to the new challenges Wible cites. Wible said that it's had advantages of scale, but "some of that starts to go away."

Patty Edwards, apparently tapping into the 25th anniversary of "Top Gun," which is being shown this weekend at some megaplexes, said she can believe Wible's $170 price target and that a momentum stock such as this can get there. "I think it is a danger zone," Edwards said.

But then Steve Grasso asked if a $300 price target wouldn't be equally reasonable. "Absolutely, it could go either way," Edwards conceded.

Melissa Lee asked Brian Kelly about one of her favorite new themes, looking at the chart without knowing the ticker symbol. Kelly said the company has a huge asset in its share price and can raise money that way for content; "that would be the bull case."

Anthony Scaramucci pointed to the 80 times earnings multiple and wondered, "Isn't this just a momentum play?" Kelly said if they actually had some "premium" movies, he'd "probably be back in" (presumably an account, not the stock).

Economist accuses media
of doing a lousy job

Joshua Shapiro is apparently afraid that the news media will screw up the nation's economy.

Shapiro said on Tuesday's Halftime Report he's not looking for a Bernanke stumble so much as a media stumble: "Are they gonna ask him tough questions, or are they gonna lob him softballs," which apparently will sink GDP or unleash inflation if they do.

But Shapiro's most telling comment was when Anthony Scaramucci asked him what he'd do as the Fed chair. "It's too early to raise rates but I think that you've gotta give markets some sense that, that you realize that what you're doing now is completely unsustainable," Shapiro said.

OK. So in other words, they're actually doing exactly what he'd be doing.

But he's concerned that will stop. So be careful.

So let's get Shapiro's point straight: The news media's job Wednesday is to force the Fed chairman to say exactly what Shapiro wants him to say, something like, "It's too early to raise rates, but 0-0.25% is not sustainable over a long period of time."

Got it.

Scaramucci earlier told Melissa Lee, "The Fed still believes in the virtuous circle, Melissa, you know, the whole idea of the wealth effect."

Steve Grasso, who looked like he was battling a hot NYSE floor, said "We can melt up a little bit further, but I expect a selloff tomorrow."

Brian Kelly said he thinks "longer-term rates will be lower for a longer period of time."

Jane Wells sighting

Fast Money Halftime Report viewers on Tuesday got a treat when Jane Wells delivered breaking news about Daniel McKeague winning the Aflac duck voice competition.

Anthony Scaramucci cracked, "You better tell Gary Kaminsky to be careful, he may replace him on Strategy Session."

Grasso: F can climb 5%

Ryder chief Gregory Swienton told the Fast Money Halftime Report there's "general improvement in freight demand," and "customers are feeling much more confident about their respective businesses."

Swienton also spoke with his hands, for whatever that's worth, and offered a redundancy when answering Anthony Scaramucci's question: "Sometimes we are a harbinger of what's coming."

Patty Edwards said Paccar had good results but she'd prefer "something like a Ryder" and also likes TAL International." Steve Grasso, wondering the extent of Melissa Lee's "automotive space" question, said "Ford is the true comeback story," and buyers can "still reap the benefits of a 5% increase in price from current levels right now."

Brian Kelly explained his successful silver call as, "I guess a broken clock's right twice a day on that one."

Raise your hand
if you picked Cummins

Just over the weekend, this page noted that Guy Adami recommended CAT and didn't recommend FFIV, and that both coincidentally were about the same share price.

So we tossed in 3 others around that $106-$108 level — CVX, CMI and JLL — and posed the question, which would be first to hit $115 and first to break $100.

To our surprise, the $115 winner is Cummins — and it only took less than a week.

We probably would've picked CAT. It should be noted that Adami's suggestion of CAT going up and FFIV going down has been spot-on.

Steve Liesman accuses
Gary Kaminsky of ‘really bad economics’

Gary Kaminsky opened Tuesday's Strategy Session comparing oil and quantitative easing on the chart wall, and colleague Steve Liesman was less than impressed.

"You should have a license to practice economics because you just practiced really bad economics," Liesman told Kaminsky, curiously in the middle of an interview with Mark Fisher. "Just because the price of oil was up during that period of time doesn't mean QE2 caused it. OK?"

"It's a coincident — I know economics, it's what we call a coincident indicator," Kaminsky countered.

"You made a very strong hint-" Liesman said.

"No no no-" Kaminsky said.

"... Mr. Borrowed Tie, of cause and effect, OK?" Liesman continued.

"I didn't do this," Fisher protested.

How does a policy
produce more oil?

Somebody forgot to tell Mark Fisher on Tuesday that on The Strategy Session, like the Phil Collins album, it's no jacket required.

Fisher, who's the subject of many colorful anecdotes in The Asylum and is also one of the best CNBC guests for his throwback frank, non-glib commentary, offered this prescription for lowering energy prices:

"Finally, everyone getting off their — you know what — and developing a national energy policy."

That's too easy of an answer and doesn't really amount to anything. There already is a policy and always has been; it's just not written down anywhere. Presumably what he's really saying is that we should be drilling in more places than we presently are, which is fine, although everyone always says "it'll take 10 years for that to have any impact on prices" and it's never clear for a long time how much recoverable oil actually exists in various discoveries.

David Faber asked Fisher what he thinks when "Obama says, 'We're gonna get you speculators' " for the rising price of oil. (Our favorite is monitoring gas stations for "gouging" but Faber didn't bring that up.)

"Well I know the blame doesn't really rest with, with energy traders and energy speculators," Fisher said. "In reality, what's — you take a popular topic, and then in a political environment you go ahead and have to blame somebody."

In other words, it's not the 1970s potato market.

"The fear of energy prices being higher tomorrow is what's driving buying today," Fisher said.

Gary Kaminsky asked Fisher what the price of oil would be if there were absolutely no speculators in it, or presumably just end users. "I don't think price would be too far from here," Fisher said.

And he said if there was no quantitative easing, the price would still be "relatively close to $100."

Fisher congratulated Steve Liesman with a decidedly backhand compliment. "Steve, I've watched you many times on TV, and I think you do a great job, and I know you're the Fed's cheerleader."

"I'm not the Fed's cheerleader," Liesman said, before conceding he "resembled" something of Fisher's follow-up remark that we didn't understand.

Fisher then called Liesman's analysis of speculators having to clear out of the market after the 30-day period as "not 100% right, but close enough." David Faber said, "That's our motto here."

[Monday, April 25, 2011]

Tim Seymour claims
Ben Bernanke won Nobel

Tim Seymour tends to talk a lot on Fast Money, and Monday's program illustrated the drawbacks of overcaffeination.

Seymour heard Melissa Lee and Steve Grasso discussing the Fed chief's press conference this week and couldn't believe the low expectations.

"People are so concerned that Bernanke is like this schoolboy, who's never been up in front; this guy's a, a, a, Princeton professor, he's a, he's a, he's a, he's a Nobel Prize winner," Seymour said.

Actually, he's not — unless someone sneaked him the Peace Prize.

Just to be sure that Paul Krugman and Milton Friedman really are the only Nobel economists we can name at a cocktail party (mayyyybe Joseph Stiglitz if we thought about it, and the Scholes guy), we checked the official list, and did not see Ben S. Bernanke on it, nor did we find any kind of Nobel award on Bernanke's Wikipedia page.

Nevertheless, we agree with the gist of Seymour's point.

Why Melissa Lee is so concerned about Bernanke getting dollar questions, we have no clue.

Steve Grasso countered, "I'm concerned that he thinks that he's the professor and he should be the student at this point. I think he's got a lot to learn, unfortunately, as anyone in that spot would have a lot to learn."

And Complaining About the Fed remains raison d'être No. 1 for CNBC.

Seymour: AMZN music model means people ‘don’t have to cheat’

John Stephenson on Friday's Fast Money said $60 silver sounds good, "I think you'll see that by the end of the year."

And if you want to crack yourself up, check out the faces Tim Seymour was making when Stephenson, on the Fast Line, pointed to negative real interest rates and consumers making nothing on savings accounts as continued drivers for commodities.

Stephenson recommended Gammon Gold (GRS), Minefinders (MFN) and Goldcorp (GG).

Brian Kelly at one point recommended taking profits in silver (before he too, standing at the chart in the TV studio Nasdaq's front window, made a goofy face). "If you've made the money, why not take some and put some to the side," Kelly said.

Elsewhere, Tim Seymour trumpeted Amazon, saying "Their cloud storage of music is a distribution, I think, game-changer," and "I think the record companies actually will applaud this because it means that people don't have to cheat, they can actually take their music, and put it anywhere."

Anthony Scaramucci once again made TEVA the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week but acknowledged he did that in February, at $51.20, and "I deserve a little bit of Fast Fire for that."

But, he said, "We still like this name ... We're reiterating a price target of $70 a share on TEVA."

Steve Grasso revealed he already played the stock for a quick pop on the MS drug news.

Karen Finerman was nearly quiet as a mouse.

Herb’s tweet
‘totally lit the thing up’

Monday's Fast Money brought an interesting debate between Herb Greenberg and Melissa Lee over whether Netflix's buyback is equivalent to a dividend.

Greenberg, who didn't look nearly as sharp as Lee in her maze-print black-and-gold dress but did offer the 2000s version of a reporter's Brag Trade, said the company's characterization of buying back shares being sort of like a dividend is what really got his attention.

"I put it out on my Twitter feed, totally lit the thing up," Greenberg crowed.

"That's an interesting comment Herb, but my first reaction to that is, it's not a dividend, so therefore why would it threaten its status as a growth company," Lee said.

"It was the reference that it is like a dividend," Greenberg said, saying people will think it's nuts to be buying their own shares at these levels.

Tim Seymour acknowledged that Netflix bear Len Brecken is probably doing cartwheels, even though the price action didn't seem cartwheel-worthy.

And, the reality is, it's about margins.

Steve Grasso warned, "It has made a lot of people poorer, this trade ... stay clear." Karen Finerman agreed, either long or short.

More details of Monday's Fast Money later.

NFLX analyst: ‘I have intellectual
honesty and integrity’

Pete Najarian on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report asked Netflix bear Michael Pachter if he's finally "enough wrong" that he'll lift his price target from $80 — a question that seemingly offended Pachter.

Pachter laid out his case and told Najarian, "The answer is no, I'm just, I have intellectual honesty and integrity, I am not willing to slap a 50 multiple on this thing just because it's a mo stock that's working."

Pachter defended his credentials, saying someone abandoned him over this stock and someone else abandoned him over a company he liked that blew up, and he'll take that record, and he's the only analyst outlining these kinds of Netflix cost concerns, and let's see what happens to the bulls' case of huge Germany and Italy subscriber growth.

"I'm really kind of baffled as to why's buying it at 250," Pachter said. "I just don't get who's the buyer here."

Now silver is officially king

Peter Schiff said on Monday's Halftime that "silver is gonna continue to gain on gold," forecasting that eventually he sees a "gold/silver ratio below 20."

Schiff didn't say that he should've been talking more about silver than gold in his Fast Money appearances over the last year, but he went to lengths to explain that silver as a percentage of his portfolio is up because it's outperforming gold. He also pointed to oil in terms of silver, saying, "Oil is at a record low. Gasoline has never been this cheap," and if you have a pre-1965 dime, it will buy you a gallon of gasoline.

Kelly: Consider TLT

Brian Kelly laid out sort of the Jeff Gundlach case in advance of whatever it is the Fed's doing this week, saying, "I think bonds look like they wanna go higher from here."

Kelly said, "Potentially if you wanna get risky, buy TLT," though he acknowledged he hasn't bought it himself and previously Fast Fired himself for the entire Q1 on his TLT/TBT trades.

Steve Grasso, back from a week off, noted "materials did pop 5% from last Monday's low" and maybe a lot of that trade is already cooked in, but also said, "People are pooh-poohing the idea about austerity."

Zachary Karabell made a joke that was decent but shouldn't have made Pete Najarian holler the way he did. "You know the Cold War is over but I feel like we've all become latter-day Pravda watchers and now we get the chance to parse what Ben Bernanke isn't actually saying for words about what he is actually saying," Karabell said.

"All this is gonna be shadows on a cave wall," Karabell continued, to Najarian chuckles. "It's gonna be an art of not saying anything."

Karabell said "I'm more in the BlackRock camp" as opposed to the Pimco philosophy on bonds and noted rates have been in a range for a long time.

Karabell said he doesn't quite understand why the market punishes a name like Barrick for branching out wisely into an accretive business and indicated he would actually be interested in Barrick because it's making an acquisition that's helpful.

Did we miss when they added a 5th quarter to the year?

Guest Todd Thomson told The Strategy Session on Monday that his version of Citigroup was a lot different than the recent version of Citigroup.

So much so, that according to Thomson's on-air math, his version got credit for a quarterly bonus.

"Again, when I was there, we were earning 5 to 6 billion dollars a quarter. So, you know, 25 to 30 billion dollars a year," Thomson said.

Todd Thomson implies Citi went south when Sandy Weill quit

David Faber on Monday didn't ask Todd Thomson how a company can make $5 billion a quarter and $30 billion for the year, but he did want to know as we did, "How much of that was true earnings?"

"I don't think that was the case when I was there, but certainly afterwards there was some periods of time where you had earnings that were generated that, you know, clearly in the end, they gave those earnings back in losses," Thomson said.

Faber, chuckling, then followed, "You don't believe during your period of time though ... it all started when you left, Todd, is that what, is that what I'm led to believe?"

"Well, I think we had risk control pretty, uh, under I think very tough control when I was there, uh, we had one of the best risk managers in the world, a guy named Sandy Weill, running the place, and uh, trust me, he was on every issue," Thomson said.

Faber lamented that Thomson didn't unload all his C shares at the peak. "Unfortunately for you, you didn't sell all of your stock. That's uh, that's unfortunate," Faber said.

Weill stepped down as CEO in 2003 and as chairman in April 2006. (This writer is long C.)

Thomson, according to the New York Times, was "ousted" from Citi in January 2007 amid whispers of liberal use of corporate jets, lavish spending, and a dubious office fish tank. In fact, a CNBC personality was caught in the controversy of Thomson's departure and told the New York Times in November 2007, “Something happened between Todd Thomson and Chuck Prince, and somehow I got wrapped up in it.”

That doesn’t sound good

Todd Thomson described on Monday's Strategy Session the state of banking in America this way:

"They're being very tough about what loans they're willing to make, and there's not a lot of demand."

Or in other words, there's not much business to begin with, and on top of that they're highly picky about who they're willing to do business with.

Or in still other words, banking isn't cloud computing.

Thomson still owns C shares

In a lengthy discussion Monday, Todd Thomson was clearly most comfortable — and most well-prepared for — discussing his belief that the best asset management these days is happening Off-Wall Street.

"Today if you want the best money managers in the world, I would argue they're sitting in hedge funds," Thomson said, pointing to the decline of the old wirehouse model.

Gary Kaminsky asked, if he invested with a firm like Thomson's, Dynasty, "What do I get as a client that I didn't get at the wirehouse?"

"Well, first of all, what you get is a fiduciary now, so somebody who has to be on your side of the table," Thomson said. "The second thing is it's a true open architecture system."

Overall, Thomson said banks have experienced a "relief rally" since the crisis, and "now it'll be down to the fundamentals."

He said "The wealth management area's been pretty interesting," and explained "I'm still a shareholder" in Citigroup. "There's some great franchises in that business."

A Strategy Session debate
hinges on a participle

Steve Liesman on Monday's Strategy Session likened the Fed's situation to taking a West Coast drive, something in fact a lot of people are thinking about right now.

"The policy of the Fed right now is to reinvest those securities," Liesman told Gary Kaminsky. "Think about like a drive out to California. You drive out to California; if they were to allow the balance sheet to run off it would be the equivalent of turning around and going home as soon as you got there."

Kaminsky followed, "Do economists think, with the record profits that companies are generating right now, do economists think it's a good policy to be reinvesting the proceeds?"

"I don't know-" Liesman offered, apparently not understanding the question.

"I mean, should the Fed, I mean, the economy's recovered. We're in a recovery," Kaminsky said.

"I think the economy's recovering, Gary, I think there's a lot of slack in the economy right now," Liesman said.

David Faber said at the end of Liesman's segment that he'd welcome Liesman on his left anytime. Liesman noted that Faber said "left," where the primo Strategy Session guests generally stand.

"Subconsciously ... Faber's a complicated person," Liesman joked.

"This is not Squawk Box, and I am not Joe Kernen," Faber cracked.

Gundlach stands behind
lower-rate forecast

Jeff Gundlach, who has made his case on The Strategy Session, told Barron's in an article this weekend that the government will tackle the deficit, and that the 10-year Treasury could yield under 3% after QE2.


If only this site knew how to do those Internet polls.

It would help show how difficult this stock-picking business is.

Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money spoke highly of Caterpillar, calling it a "great company, great stock, great run, and I think we're probably gonna take out that 1, I don't know, 110, 112 level next week."

Coincidentally, Adami also spoke about FFIV on Thursday's Halftime Report, saying, "My assessment would be, here's a place to be taking profits. This 112, 110, 112 level seems to be an area of resistance now, support back in January.

Put the 2 together, and it seems like a simple trade: Long CAT, short FFIV.

But we all know it's not that simple; that's why they call it risk.

Consider this field of stocks, per Yahoo finance, as of Thursday's close:

Caterpillar (CAT) — $109.42

F5 Networks (FFIV) — $106.87

Chevron (CVX) — $108.13

Cummins (CMI) — $108.94

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) — $107.72

Adami on Thursday wasn't asked to evaluate all 5. But he did go out of his way to mention CAT, which presumably means it would be his favorite of the bunch.

Given that, one might speculate that CVX and JLL will do well also, because despite being different industries, they have very similar 1-year charts to CAT.

FFIV and CMI have very different charts.

But here they all are, roughly the same price, having gotten there 1 way or another.

Adami's analysis of pure trading technicals is as sound as it gets.

But can he, or anyone else, say with any kind of certainty which of those 5 will be the first to reach $115 ... and which will be the first below $100?

Probably not.

Adami on silver:
‘Nobody’s in this trade’

Guy Adami continued pounding the table for a parabolic silver move on Thursday's Fast Money.

"There are about 5 people literally on the planet that have ever traded silver in this environment, and a couple of 'em (are) having dinner together," Adami said.

"Everybody has been trying to fade this. You like to think everybody's in this trade? Nobody's in this trade. And I'm telling you that we're probably in the 4th or 5th inning," he said.

Tim Seymour tried to compliment The Negotiator. "Well you've been in this trade-"

"I'm not one of those people by the way," Adami cut in.

"First of all, I think you have been on this trade, you've at least been pointing out the strength of silver, and, and I give you credit for that," Seymour said.

Simon Hobbs notices Tim Seymour isn’t really making a call

Tim Seymour went on to say a lot Thursday about silver without actually saying a whole lot.

Seymour pointed to a name like PAAS as being a "sideways trade" for 6 months while silver rises.

"So you're not telling me whether I should buy or sell," Hobbs finally broke in.

"Well I'm telling you that if I owned a silver miner or a silver producer, I'd say it's not necessarily a, a boomtown," Seymour said.

Joe Terranova called silver a classic case of buy high and selling higher. Hobbs said that if he buys stocks it's because he's projecting favorable financial results, but what would be the case for silver.

"You're looking at industrial uses, and you're looking at paper asset demands," was Terranova's answer.

Brian Kelly returned to his silver ETF shortfall theme, saying, "The story in silver is a simple supply-and-demand story."

Stephen Weiss admitted, "I actually bought it today for the first time," because he'd heard Guy Adami talk about it so much. Tim Seymour continued to push the silver ETF theme as opposed to the miners and told Hobbs that central banks are buying the SLV.

Adami said after a parabolic move, silver will have "one of these blowoff tops, then the trade is over."

He added, "I've heard people like Carlos Slim is buying silver. I know categorically that silver's being shifted to China every single day of the week."

Doug Kass’ 5-point argument fails to win over Tim Seymour

Simon Hobbs, guest-hosting a very spirited Fast Money on Thursday, refused to give Doug Kass his usual overly generous amount of time and demanded Kass "stop teasing us, Doug," with a spiel about how there are hated stocks in every industry, and just lay out the case for GM.

Kass said, "There's 5 reasons, quickly," and went on to rattle off things like pricing and incentive concerns are overblown, international exposure, revitalized balance sheet, etc.

Tim Seymour was shaking his head and grimacing the whole time, pointing strictly to the upcoming share conversion which he called a "huge overhang in the market."

Kass said, "In a bull market, supply is a positive."

"Not 25% of the market, you're talking 500 million shares Dougie," Seymour responded.

"But I think it's going to be absorbed readily," Kass replied.

"It's 1/3 of the shares outstanding," Seymour, like Atlas, shrugged.

Stephen Weiss called it the "same old GM."

Media watcher thinks NYT is bold for finally adding a pay meter

Simon Hobbs didn't seem terribly enthusiastic about media-company analyst Scott Singer's Fast Money gig on Thursday.

Singer gave an opening summary of how certain old-line media companies in his opinion are thinking new, but Hobbs was caught off-guard by how short the summary was and there was a moment of dead air.

So Hobbs handed off to the Fast Money panel, and Stephen Weiss proceeded to play skeptic with a curious description of Tribune Co.

"When you look at what Sam Zell tried to do with an old-line media company, and didn't take long for it to all unravel," Weiss began.

That phrasing omits a couple of important factors: Not much really "unraveled" except the ridiculous LBO (a subject more common on The Strategy Session), and any business "unraveling" was already long under way by the time Zell engineered the buyout.

What Zell did do was pay an obscenely high price for an asset that was struggling furiously at the time and lever it with a laughable amount of hedge fund and investment banking largesse that continues to be the subject of a court fight today as to whether the junior creditors can stick it — what's left of "it" — to the big boys.

Zell undoubtedly figured at the time that print media and the general advertising market might be bottoming, and there was some real estate potential. The papers are some of the most elite titles and are going to be among the last ones standing, plus there's TV. He was undoubtedly wrong about the value, but as for what he "tried to do" about the future of media, it's not clear his vision, whatever it may have been, ever got off the ground, other than a key deputy's embarrassing exit.

As an example of success, Singer told the panel, "I have to applaud the New York Times," crediting it for its paywall and online strategy that he says has allowed it to increase subscribers.

But Simon Hobbs challenged that, saying the stock is down for the year and that old-media advertising-fueled businesses in general have only bounced because advertising hit rock bottom in 2008-early 2009. Singer insisted "content is king."

Zachary Karabell speaks on this subject from time to time. The undeniable reality about today's media is, if you've built a business based on printing something on paper, you've got a serious headwind, and if you've traditionally relied on a fixed time schedule to deliver your product in an increasingly on-demand world, you've got another serious headwind.

If Singer is correct that the paywall will save the New York Times, then a lot of newspapers have made the wrong decision for a long time.

As if a deranged individual would pull a ‘House of Sand & Fog’ scenario over a Fast Money stock recommendation

Joe Terranova sort of disagreed with colleagues Thursday on a possible dollar rebound, saying, "Fundamentally, I just don't see it occurring."

Tim Seymour, in way too long of an opening commentary, said there will be trouble breaking 1,335 "if the dollar rallies here."

Terranova said "Call it what it is, we're monetizing our debt here."

Guest Dennis Davitt argued about how the VIX is relevant, saying, "The VIX is pretty much color-blind ... what we're seeing now, options are being used much more as a capital enhancement tool, and much less as a capital preservation tool. So people are overwriting positions much more than they ever have in the past."

Guy Adami said Intel is at the upper end of a "very well defined trading range."

Simon Hobbs turned the Scott Cohn glitch from the Rajaratnam trial sidewalk into a moment of comedy.

Simon Hobbs also called Stephen Weiss' touting of Microsoft not particularly convincing. "Sounds to me like a hope rather than a reasoned argument," and Weiss didn't really object.

Just about every day, you hear someone on Fast Money use weapon-related code-speak for "don't take this call of mine nearly as seriously as the ridiculous importance I'm giving it with this terminology," and Thursday it was Guy Adami's warning against shorting NFLX, saying, "Gun to my head, my sense is they come out with something."

Simon mispronounced it too

Simon Hobbs conducted a phone interview with dollar watcher Jens (pronounced "Yens") Nordvig, who says the tricky problem for the dollar now is that it used to be just the Fed and QE2, but in the last 3 months it's been weakening "for different reasons, and it's hard to say when those reasons will stop."

He said of central banks, "The dollar share of the new reserves being accumulated has gone down."

Tim Seymour felt compelled to interrupt Simon Hobbs afterwards with an apology, "I might've hit him with a Jens, as opposed to a Yens," Seymour said.

Clay Jones makes an interesting call on U.S. war policy

Rockwell Collins' Clay Jones, one of the greatest CEO guests in Fast Money history, gave a phone interview to Simon Hobbs on Thursday's Halftime Report and pronounced business as healthy, namely in commercial.

"We are looking at softening markets in defense and government, but we expected that to happen anyway," Jones acknowledged, saying business was still ahead of their expectations.

Simon Hobbs pressed Jones to explain the defense-spending situation, and this was Jones' response: "I think it's gonna go soft. I think we're looking at flat defense budgets worldwide, and most of those are gonna be the reduction of our troops deployed overseas and the costs to do that."

Jones has a far keener grasp of those details than this site.

Some wonder, however, if the real goal of the Iraq-Afghanistan campaigns is not so much to nation-build thriving democracies, but simply to be there forever, as a permanent thumb in the eye of bin Laden, in which case we're definitely well on our way to Mission Accomplished.

Jones said Rockwell Collins is a winner regardless. "The fewer new systems they buy, the more they're gonna upgrade the older systems, and that plays into our sweet spot," he said.

Steve Cortes said he's not a buyer of COL because of the "pace of insider selling" and that he prefers Boeing.

Cortes: Silver getting ‘crazy’

Despite the presence of Steve Cortes, Guy Adami did most of the talking on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"I think Qualcomm is where you wanna be right now," Adami said, and he also made a call on FFIV, pointing to the floor in the last selloff and suggesting buyers look for a pullback into the high 90s.

Adami also said, "My sense is, you take profits here in YUM."

But when Adami again touted silver, The Contrarian jumped in, saying, "I am not a believer in silver at these levels ... I think it's starting to get really crazy" and becoming a retail fad.

Adami also said he likes HON over GE, but JJ Kinahan revealed "I'm actually long GE," simply because it's "more of a longer-term play."

Cortes also said "Apple is running into the resistance of the law of large numbers."

Cortes said the most significant part of the YUM report is that "China's inflation picture is really getting out of hand," and to play that, he'd "consider getting short FXI."

Guest Douglas Borthwick said he thinks China could give the renminbi a 6-7% lift through year-end.

Brian Kelly said "I bought Blue Coat Systems." Dan Dicker claimed victory over Goldman Sachs in oil forecasts, then made a bullish call on Superior Energy Services based on Gulf drilling.

‘The wind business has basically collapsed in the U.S.’

An interesting comment that maybe doesn't mesh too well with GE's green week was heard during Thursday's Strategy Session.

Guest Jeffrey Sprague, discussing GE stock, revealed, "The wind business has basically collapsed in the U.S."

This deserves a much-longer (and much more well-informed) post, but the bottom line is, despite all the noise from time to time about alternative energy supplies and however many times CNBC guests complain "America is/can be the Saudi Arabia of wind/natural gas/solar," none of them ever really seem to work, at least as a mass market option, and as usual we're still cranking up the coal and oil (just look at what those stocks have done).

Gary Kaminsky said the improved results from GE Capital are actually a bit of a curveball for investors, who want to know which direction the company is going. Sprague said, "The problem really isn't that GE Capital is strong. It's the fact that, that GE Industrial is not strong."

David Faber appears to think title of Buffett segment is too strong

David Faber and Gary Kaminsky on Thursday conducted a little round-table (or is that square-table?) discussion on Warren Buffett's famous 2008 investments — a discussion the show's screen text called "BUSTING THE BUFFETT MYTH."

Ouch. (Better not show that one to Becky Quick.)

Faber spoke about Jeff Immelt's comments Thursday about redeeming the Buffett stake in GE. "It made me look at this, you know, the Buffett, we can call it the myth, listen, I don't wanna get on Warren Buffett," Faber said.

But Faber pointed to a graphic that noted Goldman Sachs at $125.05 (closing price of 9/23/08) and GE at $24.50 (from 10/1/08) when Buffett made his big investments and questioned not the 10% return Buffett got, but the growth of those shares since then for people who might've been playing along, given how the market ultimately responded.

"You really, your opportunity costs, I mean the S&P is up since then. You would've been flat on these ... and one wonders whether Buffett would've been better with $8 billion given what was coming," Faber said.

Kaminsky said "he was able to buy these positions with that 10% coupon, with the distribution payment."

From 1 out of 10
to 4 out of 10

M&A expert Laurence Grafstein said (surprise, surprise) "the conditions are there for an upsurge in M&A," and agreed with David Faber there are more "bear hug letters" about corporate dealmaking; "that's not to say every letter is unwelcome," but a "desire to kind of force the pace a little bit of M&A."

Gary Kaminsky said "I hate to be Norm Negative," but either 8 or 9 out of 10 mergers don't add value, so how do people know that these companies aren't making deals just for the sake of buying something.

"That's an absolute (sic) legitimate question," Grafstein said. "That's what I spend my day doing," he said, making sure people are getting good prices and not overpaying. But he said it comes down to "capital allocation," without really answering the question.

Kaminsky told David Faber that, given what happened in 2008, he now thinks CEOs are savvier at acquisitions and "4 out of 10 will add value."

Grafstein said of the Obama administration, "We don't really have a clear view of their antitrust, uh, you know, sort of philosophy."

Elsewhere, Kaminsky said AAPL is in the "unique sweet spot" of growing revenue while maintaining margins.

Kate Kelly indicated Shakespeare should've been an early principal in Accenture, saying of James Gorman, "He spoke diplomatically, I mean he's a former McKinsey consultant, so he has a way with words."

[Wednesday, April 20, 2011]

If your stocks didn’t go up 20% afterhours Wednesday, it felt like a bad night

In an almost-all-AAPL-all-the-time version of Fast Money on Wednesday, the most curious comment heard was Joe Terranova's suddenly defensive assertion that if oil continues to rise, or just stays about as high as it is now, then the Apple "holiday gift of choice" won't be such a hot item; "I think people pull back on that."

Terranova either was looking for an argument, or feared he'd get one, immediately suggesting both Melissa Lee and Tim Seymour were going to disagree with him, but neither seemed the least bit interested.

Guy Adami denied it but he basically admitted defeat in his $285 price target, suggesting the bounce around $320 means AAPL is heading to an all-time high. Dr. J, Jon Najarian, said the quarter was great but the sandbagging for the next quarter was practically a "joke."

Louis Navellier, one of the best (if infrequent) Fast Money guests, also gushed about AAPL, saying "The analyst community thought the margins would contract, and they actually expanded ... this was a quiet quarter. I can't wait to see what's gonna come down the road."

He told the panel, "You can't stop this stock," and sees it "easily a hundred points higher a year from now."

Navellier also said he bought some FFIV during the quarter but only after absorbing the shellacking he experienced with the shares he already held (that's kind of a Dennis Gartman no-no, but not everyone trades like Dennis Gartman).

Stephen Weiss predicted a "recovery rally at some point" in the dollar, which drew a "falling knife, pick a bottom" rebuttal from Joe Terranova, who then backpedaled like nobody's business as soon as Weiss defended dollar-long as being a hedge against energy. "Fine. That, that, you know, I would agree with," Terranova said.

So being long dollar is catching a falling knife, unless you happen to have energy exposure, which Terranova always does.

For whatever mind-numbing reason, Fast Money felt compelled to bring Loren Loverde on in the intro to explain something about forecasting methods regarding Intel and other tech players that is either controversial or misunderstood.

Clean Harbors chief Alan McKim said "I think BP did an awesome job."

Patty Edwards, via Twitter, clarified her curious Halftime comment about being cautious "until we close over 1,235" as a mistake because she was looking at something right at that moment and meant to say 1,335.

Brian Kelly refers to
himself in 3rd person

Brian Kelly opened Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report saying "I covered my SMH this morning. The market spoke, and BK was wrong."

Kelly told Melissa Lee, in snappy maroon, that he's convinced the run-up is real. "I'm not tempted to put the short back on, just because the momentum is so strong," he said.

Steve Cortes said "I think Intel is worth buying" partly because of the dividend, but he said "I would not be buying into IBM" because he prefers Oracle instead.

Patty Edwards, on the other hand, said buying Intel here is like "trying to catch lightning in a bottle," and that she prefers a long-term success like IBM.

JJ Kinahan said the market had no confidence Intel would perform this way.

Then again, the other
37% of the time ...

Colin Gillis said Wednesday that Mac sales will be the "core driver" of Apple's quarter, and that television remains untapped territory.

Patty Edwards said she's long the shares, but "I'm not going to be adding to my positions unless we get above that 50-day moving average which is about 345."

Melissa Lee cited Birinyi research that, going back to 2003, the day after Apple reports no matter how it reports, 63% of the time "it closes, from open to close, lower."

Kelly likes ‘randomness’ of TV

Dennis Gartman said the dollar is suffering because "Our Fed is clearly lagging behind everybody else," which isn't really its fault, but it has a dual mandate that other nations don't have (namely, the employment thing) and thus is the "least austere."

Steve Cortes said finding a dollar bull "is about as hard as finding a hair on Telly Savalas' head." (That's really hard nowadays, given that Savalas has been deceased since 1994.)

Dennis Gartman agreed, saying "the boat is extremely crowded" and that an unexpected announcement could really spike the dollar.

JJ Kinahan said "I actually am short Freeport McMoran, added to the trade this morning."

Patty Edwards said in "Call the Close" that "I'm a little bit cautious until we close over 1,235," but we weren't exactly sure what she meant.

Brian Kelly said he doesn't have a TiVo because "I actually like the idea of not knowing what's on and that kind of randomness of TV." Melissa Lee dismissed that as a "waste of time, too."

Endowment boss tries to make clear his gold has done well but he’s not necessarily excited about it

Bruce Zimmerman, who previously spoke to The Strategy Session in Texas, did a remote chat Wednesday and mentioned the word "hedge" a couple times in explaining that the U. of Texas endowment continues to own gold as 5% of its portfolio because "we still consider it a hedge."

Our Layman's Dictionary suggests that the real definition of "hedge" is "something you don't expect to go up and only goes up if you're wrong."

In any case, it sure sounds safer for Zimmerman to say that than "we're speculating" or "Peter Schiff is right."

Zimmerman, a candid and entertaining guest regardless of one's thoughts on his portfolio, said the Texas investments are "diversified around the globe," and that, "We began buying gold in September of '09, at about $950, uh, an ounce; our average price is about 1,150."

Zimmerman insisted "We don't know what the future will hold," and "the concern is that we have excess monetary and fiscal stimulus." He also referred to the Fed chief as "Bernocki."

He said it's more efficient to take physical possession of the bullion "rather than continuously roll the futures contract."

Unfortunately, Zimmerman for some reason opened the conversation with kind of a lame pitch for Gov. Rick Perry's appeal to tech firms to come to Texas, which doesn't seem to have much to do with his endowment (but then again, Bill Lockyer didn't show up as scheduled a month ago, so maybe Texas' gain is his loss).

One thing we wondered about was the pie chart showing the allocation of the Texas endowment. It showed:

Hedge funds — 30.30%
Private investments — 22.40%
Equity — 21.80%
Fixed income — 14.40%
Natural resources — 8.10%
Real estate — 3%

We couldn't figure out which one of those categories gold falls into; presumably "natural resources" given that there's no "precious metals."

Karen Finerman wasn't around to ask Zimmerman how it's a hedge for inflation, a hedge for deflation, etc., all at the same time.

Maybe more remarkable is that while there was plenty of talk about the 5% in gold, there was no talk about the fund's 30.30% in hedge funds, the endowment's No. 1 investment, an industry that was thoroughly banged up by David Faber just a day earlier as not really being hedged, not really outperforming, and causing him to wonder for so long how it continues to draw capital.

‘Probably bet on
the prosecution’

Lawyer Ron Geffner, whether right or wrong, delivered some crisp commentary on the Rajaratnam case Wednesday on The Strategy Session, saying, "I'd probably bet on the prosecution at this stage."

He said if the government wins, it's a signal to others possibly in Rajaratnam's boat that "you better come and talk turkey with the government early."

He said to many, speed is what matters. "When the SEC comes a-knocking, you want them to come a-knocking, go through your stuff, and get out of there as quick as possible," Geffner said.

Scott Cohn, doing some live courthouse reporting, first said he wasn't going anywhere near a prediction, but then said "these tapes really add a whole new dimension to insider trading cases" and seemed to indicate the evidence against Raj is pretty compelling.

Gary Kaminsky said "a lot of traders were caught short" on Goldman Sachs' oil call last week and are now in a "perfect storm."

Kaminsky said if he were still managing money, he'd be looking at how much of Wednesday's rally is by "institutions that had been forced into equities as a result of what the Fed did last August. So I would be trimming back positions, I'd be somewhat more conservative than I was over the last several weeks."

David Faber said "I don't wanna pat myself on the back," but he did have a Tyco story last Friday afternoon that's just now being vindicated by the newswires. Gary Kaminsky gave him a small pat on the back regardless.

[Tuesday, April 19, 2011]

InTrade gives him 6.8% chance of winning Republican nomination

Zach Karabell on Tuesday's Fast Money explained what he thought of Donald Trump's suggested 25% tax on Chinese-made goods.

"You know, I would love it if Donald Trump would also then give everyone who shops at Wal-Mart a 25% coupon to cover the difference for how much those products are gonna go up when his plan goes into effect," Karabell said.

Tim Seymour also slammed the tariff idea in what became too much commentary, adding, "I love The Donald's spunk, and I think he makes a pretty good point" about what China should be doing for its own good.

Sure enough, in Beijing right now, there are probably people pointing to "The Apprentice" on TV and excitedly saying, "We should listen to this guy!"

Melissa Lee made an intriguing shrug when talk centered on Gary Busey.

Guy Adami actually played the political moderate while insisting it's not a political show, saying, "If a Democrat says something like that, it reeks of protectionism."

Nobody mentioned the horrific-looking tan Trump appeared to have on the NBC video clip.

A supermarket chain apparently thinks inflation would be a plus

Anthony Scaramucci, who offered Supervalu as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week on Tuesday, got an interesting query from Karen Finerman about inflation.

Scaramucci said the company actually said on its reporting call that it thinks "inflation would be better for them" because it has enacted "Wal-Mart cost controls" and can lower expenses even while food prices rise.

Scaramucci went to great lengths to point out how "this stock has actually been a disaster ... it's consistently on the 52-week low list."

But he said "Craig Herkert has come over from Wal-Mart," and the stock now has some strengths, including 3.3% dividend, strong cash flow that is paying down the debt, trading 6 times earnings, EBITDA ratio is 4.9 times EBITDA, and the stock has "very good long-term catalysts here finally."

He said Appaloosa, Adage and Millennium are among the owners.

Scaramucci stressed he was wearing a purple, not pink, shirt.

Worth: Financials ‘next’

Carter Worth explained Tuesday that recent market stagnation is not a serious problem and that many laggards are catching up — with the big one, financials, on the verge.

"Ultimately that's next," Worth said. So, "This is not the time to be, sort of, getting nervous, if you will."

Worth stood by his recent "so bad it's good" call on Cisco. "The judgment remains the same," Worth said, predicting a "relief rally."

HGSI ‘over $30 in 6 months’

Dr. Mark Schoenebaum visited the Fast Money set Tuesday, which gave viewers a chance to see the mopes on the street outside the Nasdaq, and like a good Chicago Cubs fan said "this could be the year," but for Amgen.

He said Q1 would be in line, then it'll be offering "long-term guidance for the first time in several years. I think it'll be above Street expectations," and finally that its new cancer drug will beat expectations.

Schoenebaum was basically bullish on HGSI, saying, "Once we start to see numbers, the stock starts to work. I think the stock's over $30 in 6 months." He praised Alexion chief Lenny Bell as "one of the finest human beings on the planet."

Once again, nobody in the industry is willing to call those clients ‘day traders’

TD Ameritrade boss Fred Tomczyk wasn't asked about Sam Waterston, who was in a movie about "The Great Gatsby," whose supposed inspirational mansion just got demolished, but Tomczyk did say he expects a "more range-bound market."

Karen Finerman, whose necklace, like all her necklaces and scarves, is likely good for a few Web queries to this page, asked Tomczyk, "What really drives your clients' trading?"

"Our clients, the more active ones, tend to be more contrarian," he said.

Guy Adami asked, given the Ameritrade and Schwab deals recently, if he could "connect the dots" on options being the growth market.

"Absolutely," Tomczyk said.

Adami: Avoid GOOG under $550

Guy Adami seemed a bit floored Tuesday by Intel's results; "the magnitude of the beat on the revenue side was probably the best they've had in some time," he said.

But nobody was that excited, as Tim Seymour said when they talk about record quarter and blowout, it's generally best to stay out of the stock.

Adami also said VMWare had "just a pretty staggering beat there." Joe Terranova touted JNPR, calling it "certainly a name that you put on your radar."

Guy Adami said GOOG is in no-man's land. "Frankly I don't think you buy it until it closes above 550," he said, but it might even go below $500.

Mike Khouw thinks AAPL
has already gone stale

Brian Marshall on Tuesday's Fast Money said AAPL is "extremely attractive here," and Carter Worth said, "We're buyers of Apple here going into earnings."

Karen Finerman disagreed with Mike Khouw's assessment of Apple's lack of new products, saying, "I still think the iPad is fairly new" and recommending the shares as her Final Trade.

Finerman said not to panic in GS; "I think Goldman is fine here."

Melissa Lee, as she's prone to do, referred to a "new record" in gold.

Guy Adami said it's hard to doubt IBM given that it's been a buying opportunity for 18-24 months. Tim Seymour, though, claimed "technically the stock's a little challenged here" in another description that went way too long.

Zachary Karabell revealed buying some $160 puts just to be on the safe side in IBM and said it's kind of hard to analyze the quarterly reports because "they are very good at managing earnings to Street expectations," but in general, it remains a great play on the global economy.

The camera briefly caught Karen Finerman unexpectedly sipping Starbucks while Jon Najarian was on the Fast Line talking about cloud computing. Karabell later said, "I wanna give a shout-out to Karen for the Starbucks product placement."

How does a duck say ‘wrong’?

Aflac chief Daniel Amos spoke on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report about Japan.

"We don't think we'll need to raise the premiums because of the disaster," Amos said. "We have studied Chernobyl and what has taken place there. We know that in 1985 when it hit, they did a projection that there would be over 4,000 people who would have cancer-related deaths due to Chernobyl. They only had in the 20-year, which was in 2005, they only had actually 40 deaths because of cancer that they could tie it back to."

But of course, if they really had studied it, he'd know it occurred in 1986, and the "20-year" would've actually been in 2006.

Once Melissa Lee asked Amos about duck-calling tryouts, Amos just couldn't stop quacking.

"We've narrowed it down to about 8 people" after having "12,500 people apply for it," Amos said, explaining "about 5% were professionals" as Melissa Lee kept trying to end the interview without success.

Cortes: Against the wind

Steve Cortes said on Tuesday's Halftime it's time to hit the brakes on auto stocks, if you haven't already.

Cortes said he's short Ford, but "I wish I was short GM ... there is just enormous overcapacity in the auto industry globally and here in America. These stocks trade about as badly as that song is, that Bob Seger song."

Cortes also said Toyota, which he liked as a bounce-back play on the Japan quake, is no good right now. "If anything, it looks like a short now," he said.

Patty Edwards said maybe GM is value and maybe it isn't, but "I'd rather be in other spots," citing a "phenomal report today out of Paccar ... all the discerning truckers are buying."

Probably be simpler to submit a limit order before the show, but then, where’s the drama

Steve Cortes announced on Tuesday's Halftime Report that Goldman Sachs was very much on his radar screen.

"If it's still trading in the 140s when our show is done, I'm gonna be at my computer screen clicking 'buy'," Cortes said.

Later in the program, the text on the screen, and Melissa Lee, revealed Cortes did just that.

Patty Edwards said she thinks the government is keeping an overhang on GS shares.

Brian Kelly said there's too much unrest in the Middle East; "you just can't short the oil market." Steve Cortes said oil is a "volatility play on the Middle East," but not a referendum on the dollar.

"In fact, I think the dollar's gonna do much better from here," Cortes said, saying the S&P debt report is a "nail in the coffin" for QE3, whose demise would help the dollar.

Brian Kelly revealed, "I'm short SMH." Craig Berger wasn't too intrigued by Intel ahead of earnings, saying, he's "telling investors to avoid the stock or not play it," but that he likes Marvell and Broadcom.

Simon Fludgate tries to agree with David Faber and defend the hedge fund industry at the same time

Maybe after a day or so of thinking about it, we'll figure out why Simon Fludgate visited The Strategy Session on Tuesday.

Fludgate essentially defended the hedge fund industry, while acknowledging some drawbacks, but really didn't have any specifics and gave the screen text writer little to say as hedge fund critic David Faber poured it on.

"I have a lot of friends who are hedge fund managers," said Faber, "but I have always been surprised at the ability of this industry to continue to attract capital."

Fludgate responded, "During the last 10 years, if you look at it, the hedge fund industry has outperformed the market."

But Faber — either craftily saving this for later, or just having forgot to bring it up at the time — asked Fludgate at the end of the interview what exactly that outperformance number is.

"I don't have that off the top of my head," Fludgate admitted. "They've definitely outperformed, I can tell you that," he assured viewers.

Fludgate acknowledged there are instances where investor's interests are not in alignment with the hedge fund. But he didn't get very specific. So Gary Kaminsky asked how an investor actually does get into alignment. The best Fludgate could offer was that "it's really about the performance fee" and apparently how some result in guys getting paid while investors are getting shellacked.

Faber complained that the title of the industry isn't really accurate, that there's "a lot of guys saying, you know, they were obviously hedged, when in fact so often they really are just long-only at the end of the day. So few can play the short side effectively."

Fludgate admitted that commodities can be costly in a hedge fund environment; "a hedge fund is not the right structure to get that exposure."

Later in the program Faber and Gary Kaminsky noted the amount of positive initiated coverage on HCA by Wall Street banks that were part of the offering. Faber warned viewers that banks will always be looking "for another offering. And another offering. That's where the money is on Wall Street. It certainly isn't with sell-side research. And that's why they may feel pressure, even if it is unspoken. I'm not saying anything bad."

‘Is this a stealth layoff that’s going on?’

Not only did David Faber have a camera problem at the beginning of Tuesday's Strategy Session — you know, looking into the camera that is not the one viewers are seeing — but when Kate Kelly turned up to discuss Goldman Sachs, her table spot was in the dark.

"When you deal with Goldman Sachs, you've gotta go into witness protection," Faber said.

Kelly first joked that maybe it's her "source" that's in the dark, then actually said, "Is this a stealth layoff that's going on?

It was a bit of a clumsy improv for Faber, Gary Kaminsky and Kelly (on that more relaxed Squawk Box set, for example, they'd spend 5 minutes tinkering with it), but this one was a bit of a toughie, and at least they avoided an embarrassing cut to commercial.

Kelly said David Viniar said the results of 2009 and 2010 aren't sustainable.

David Faber mockingly said, "They're just, they're very focused on their clients at Goldman Sachs. Very. Yes."

Toyota: Gas prices around $3.70 through year-end

Toyota North America chief Bob Carter told Phil LeBeau on Tuesday's Strategy Session that gasoline could "perhaps" reach $4.50 a gallon. "We see right now gas prices about 3.60, 3.70 on a national basis," Carter said. "We think it's gonna stabilize at that level, but not retract throughout the end of the year."

Carter told LeBeau Prius inventories have not hurt sales. "Our manufacturing plants are intact ... our Tier One supplier's in very good shape. But it comes down to the raw materials, and some of the disruptions there," he said.

For once, Strategy Session didn't encroach into the half hour of Fast Money, with Melissa Lee noting she was given the reins "at 12:29:37."

Squawk, meet Strategy

Gary Kaminsky spent early Tuesday morning on the Squawk Box set and didn't have to deal with Joe Kernen, but did give Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick a refresher on the QE2 views of Jeff Gundlach (quickly emerging as the best Strategy Session guest and potential CNBC host material), who said the conventional wisdom about Treasurys fading after QE ends is wrong.

That point brought a great question from Quintanilla that would've been a great question for Gundlach last week: "So the Bill Grosses of the world get burned?" (There's more than 1 Gross?)

Kaminsky adeptly avoided making a call on that one.

"Well, there is definitely, uh, there's 2 sides to this, there's no middle ground. You're either in Treasurys, or you're not in Treasurys, right," Kaminsky said. "Somebody will be wrong come July."

From bailing out
to just bailing

Becky Quick and Gary Kaminsky on Tuesday discussed the possible U.S. unloading of its GM stake, with Quick suggesting that if the government signals it's willing to take a loss, that could be a serious headwind on the stock.

Kaminsky said maybe the government doesn't want the shares, only viewed its help as a bridge loan, and has calculated a get-me-out-of-here-asap scenario it is comfortable with. "Maybe the loss you know is better than the loss you may not know," he said.

Had David Faber been present, someone could've asked, maybe the solution is for someone to take it private?

[Monday, April 18, 2011]

Tavis McCourt takes very little time to convince Brian Kelly

Rarely does a Fast Money panelist give up on an argument as quickly as Brian Kelly did with Research in Motion on Monday.

"The company has essentially, they've bet the company on the Playbook here," Kelly complained.

"I think it's a huge overstatement to say they've bet the company on the Playbook," McCourt said. "I think what they've bet the company on is the QNX operating system."

"Well I would agree with that," Kelly said. (Or apparently, in other words, the first thing he said was just practice.)

Karen Finerman asked McCourt a fabulous question: Is it better for RIMM if iPad sales are big, or small.

"Big, big, big, big," McCourt said. "Apple is creating this market; everybody else is riding their coattails."

Kelly did offer a bit of a Brag Trade later in the show, saying he's down to only a few calls in Molycorp; "I've taken a lot of profit."

Scaramucci: S&P might have enable some kind of legislation

Anthony Scaramucci said hedge funds seem to be taking risk off, though they remain impressed by the market's resiliency.

What's more, he said, "Some of the smart hedge fund managers view the S&P warning to actually give political air cover to the Congress."

Melissa Lee asked Scaramucci about the Mets. "Hard for me to confirm or deny it on television because I'll end up probably violating something that I've signed," Scaramucci joked.

Then he praised Lee for hosting the Brain Tumor Foundation dinner on May 4.

Scaramucci did confirm, "I would go door-to-door and ask people to sign up for Newsday as a kid."

Sean Egan was praised by Tim Seymour for being ahead of S&P on making bearish debt calls.

Gartman: Gold likely
to surpass $1,500 tonight

Tim Seymour rattled off so many facts, theories and observations about Monday's market in the first 5 minutes of Fast Money that you probably didn't absorb any of them, but he did say, "I think tomorrow has the makings actually to be an OK day."

"I was very surprised that we did not see the VIX end up with a bigger move than where it was today," said Karen Finerman, who revealed buying AAPL. Jon Najarian said he got in AAPL, but then got out of it.

Brian Kelly said the S&P move could be bullish for emerging markets.

Dennis Gartman called the S&P move an "impetus" for the government to act.

Gartman said of gold, "Are we gonna trade up through 1,500 tonight? In all likelihood, yes."

Karen Finerman said it's remarkable that BAC and C are both trading below tangible book.

Melissa Lee got the week off to a good start in sharp, curvy gray dress.

Karabell: ‘Who died
and made S&P god?’

Zachary Karabell and Jon Najarian offered contrasting views on the S&P paper chase on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"There are problems with the U.S. debt limit, which you could get from any Tea Party rally over the weekend," Karabell said. "So, I'm not particularly impressed by this."

He concluded, "Who died and made S&P god?"

Najarian, on the other hand, chided the White House for not taking it more seriously. "I think Melissa that Austan Goolsbee is more or less going down denial, and I don't mean the river in Egypt," Najarian said. "He praises Moody's for sticking with the president and this ludicrous amount of debt that we've accumulated."

Karabell said, "People are gonna buy U.S. Treasurys regardless of what S&P does ... where are they gonna go, start buying Japanese bonds?"

He also said, "I don't think there are any safe havens in investing-land when people freak out. So, I mean, if you're really gonna look for safe havens, I think you should probably be in a mattress or at the beach." Melissa Lee was heard to be chuckling something about "the beach."

Another reason for amateurs to stay out of the currency market

We've complained before that one of the problems with spotlighting currency trades, as CNBC is doing with Money in Motion and regular Fast Money segments, is that this stuff gets confusing even when you know what you're talking about.

Witness Melissa Lee on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, after listening to Amelia Bourdeau explain why she'd go short euro/yen, asking Brian Kelly if he agreed with that, "would you go long euro/yen."

Kelly then said, "No, I would take the other side of it."

Lee then corrected herself, saying, "Sorry, I misspoke. Short euro/yen."

"I would be long euro, short the yen," Kelly said, and if you still remembered at that point what Bourdeau's trade was, you're sharp.

Charles Schwab, Northern Trust, Edward Burns’ swallowable pill camera, Mercedes-Benz get bonus ads

Amarin chief Joseph S. Zakrzewski visited the Fast Money Halftime Report set Monday for what figured to be an in-depth chat on triglyceride drugs — except that Zakrzewski's mike wasn't properly hooked up, so Melissa Lee cut to a commercial.

And a commercial, and another commercial, and eventually there was hardly any time left for Amarin, even though Zakrewski gave a very impressive, patient explanation of his company's cholesterol trials.

Zakrzewski said rival "Lovaza has a history of raising bad cholesterol, LDLC," whereas Amarin's therapy does not. "We actually saw a decrease in LDL cholesterol," he said.

Zakrewski acknowledged Amarin "could be" an acquisition target, but the company's focused on controlling its own destiny.

Chris Whalen: Congress got a bigger bailout than the banks

Chris Whalen on Monday's Halftime Report offered a twist on the anti-bailout refrain. "The biggest bailout of them all is the Fed bailing out the Congress and the Obama administration. Forget the banks," Whalen said.

He also said, "We have a big problem in Europe, my friends."

Debbie’s back

Melissa Lee on Monday said "Debbie Downer," the first time we've heard that term on Fast Money in many, many months.

Then Zach Karabell said it a few moments later.

Karabell, Riedel clashed
over Egypt in January

A couple weeks ago, David Riedel snapped at Zachary Karabell's skepticism of consumer sentiment surveys in Fast Money's most contentious debate of 2011.

Over the weekend, we detected a bit of a precedent that we'd forgotten about.

On Jan. 31, Riedel laid out a case for Egypt being a market overhang that Karabell questioned.

Riedel at the time outlined 3 scenarios, saying the least likely was that everything would quiet down, and more likely either an uncertain ElBaradei regime or police state would emerge.

Karabell questioned why any of those scenarios would have to be a market mover and likened it to the Philippines when Marcos quit. Riedel disagreed, saying the "Philippines doesn't have anything on this."

The FACE trade

Way back on Jan. 4, this page speculated about the ticker symbol Facebook would acquire if/when it goes public.

We noted then that FACE is already taken, by a company called Physicians Formula Holdings, which at the time was trading $3.65.

We speculated as to whether 1) there are dummies who actually would buy FACE thinking it is Facebook, or 2) there are smarties who actually would buy FACE thinking Facebook will pay them to go away, or something like what Walgreens did for drugstore.com.

As of this weekend, FACE was $4.73.

And that's after a sharp selloff from its March earnings report.

Why the strength in the stock? We couldn't find any news. This one's pretty small.

(This author does not own any shares in FACE. Yet.)

Kaminsky: Steep Alcoa selloff
has brought market trouble

Gary Kaminsky opened Monday's Strategy Session with an interesting, if troubling, stock market stat.

"Every time that Alcoa has been down more than 5% on an earnings release in the past decade — it's been 4 times that has taken place ... every single time the S&P 500 fell during earnings season, and the average decline was 5.1%," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky again urged viewers to "respect the technicals" and said S&P 1,296, "that's the number you wanna look at."

Faber: ‘I don’t know
what a banker’s worth’

A fairly quiet Strategy Sesssion Monday did manage to serve up another dose of David Faber's Wall Street skepticism.

Referring to reports of bankers leaving UBS, Faber mumbled, "We can all make an argument of course of what a banker is actually worth," then said to guest Doug Sipkin, "To my point, I don't know what a banker's worth, perhaps UBS is right" and they're not worth more than what they can pay.

Sipkin said regulation is making it harder for banks to cash in, and thus at UBS, "I think a lot of the talent is seeing the light, and the outlook for compensation is not good, and they're choosing to go elsewhere."

Gary Kaminsky said a lot of the old loyalties have faded away, and people are simply moving to whoever they can get the most money.

Another M&A expert says deals are just around the corner

Gregg Brown, a biotech specialist, said the same thing on Monday's Strategy Session that 100% of M&A experts say on The Strategy Session, that the M&A market is improving.

"I think it's inevitable," there will be some biotech deals, Brown said, though he said "the targets have to have some level of weakness."

He said making drugs simply costs money. "biotech companies are addicted to capital like crack addicts are to crack. ... It's an indispendable component of the industry," he said.

He said he likes HGSI, with its lupus treatment, ACOR, with its MS treatment, and FRX as possible takeover plays.

Presumably high-fives
at Goldman Sachs today

Mary Thompson broke into Gregg Brown's biotech segment Monday explaining that Warren Buffett got a $5.5 billion check from Goldman Sachs.

Gary Kaminsky pointed out that Buffett would've preferred to keep the coupon (you know, it brings in all that money ... "tick tick tick" ... every second, but greed is for the guys who we find out have been swimming naked when the tide goes out), and also that this deal was contingent upon some executive restrictions (you know, the "if I'm buying the horse I want the jockey too" thing) that could affect the top brass at GS.

Monday's selloff was deemed steep enough that The Strategy Session delayed Bob Pisani's usually show-opening report from the NYSE in favor of Gary Kaminsky's Alcoa analysis. David Faber, though, said he'd been hearing from portfolio managers that merely "we needed an excuse, we wanted to sell off."

Guest Joe Balestrino said "where else do you go" besides Treasurys, given that, for developed economies, "I don't think you wanna be in Europe, Japan ... and the emerging world's fighting inflation."

He complained that deficit problems are "a function that the children in Washington, D.C., they just can't play in the same sandbox."

Peter Boockvar said "the economy really was punk in the 1st quarter."

Caesars boss trumpeted online poker on Strategy Session 2 days before industry leveled

It's a good thing The Strategy Session caught up with Caesars boss Gary Loveman on Wednesday.

Because if the show had waited until Friday, Loveman's agenda would've been toast.

On Wednesday (see below), Loveman called for legalizing Internet poker playing in the U.S., saying, "Playing poker at home online is a completely different experience than coming to one of our full-service resort facilities."

On Friday, the feds practically wiped out the industry, at least temporarily.

We were hoping over the weekend to find a comment from Loveman, but so far have been unable, but a passage from the lede sentence of the Las Vegas Review-Journal says a lot: "could also end efforts by Nevada lawmakers to legalize the activity within the state."

We complained Wednesday that The Strategy Session spent too much time on the business prospects of this notion and what it would do to casino traffic, rather than questioning the societal benefit (this page has no position on that just yet) or legal considerations of operating it.

It now seems like it would've fabulous for someone to have asked Loveman how legit the current international operations (prior to Friday) actually were. (And then they could've asked, if it's legalized, isn't it likely that teenagers are bound to figure out how to do it somehow, but that angle really hasn't had a chance to surface yet.)

Gary Kaminsky did ask Loveman about the gray area between state and federal legalization, but that was essentially a legislative-mechanic query. David Faber had no interest in questioning either the merits or likelihood of legalization. We discovered — only in Friday's Vegas story — that experts have testified in Nevada that 1 in 4 online poker accounts already belongs to American citizens.

The New York Times coverage raises the issue of whether online gambling actually is illegal. The gut here feels that if Congress or the White House was going to bless it, we wouldn't have seen the news story we got Friday.

As soon as we find Loveman's reaction somewhere, we'll post.

Karabell is right — hopefully
CNBC producers will notice

Friday, we managed to catch Zachary Karabell on Larry Kudlow's show, in which Larry devoted a 10-minute segment to the old can-China-bring-inflation-to-a-soft-landing theme.

"Well, you know," Karabell said, a tiny bit chippy, "there has not been a single point in the past 9 years that I've been having these discussions, when that question doesn't lead off the discussion about China."

He's right.

This movie — or would it be a short film — has been playing continuously on CNBC, namely "Kudlow & Cramer," "Kudlow & Co." and "The Kudlow Report," for more than a decade, and we've all seen it before.

It has ceased to be interesting television.

Certainly, Kudlow and/or his producers can find more thought-provoking, fresher China topics to discuss.

Rarely does CNBC's old "On The Money" get mentioned. What's notable about "On The Money"? They tried this idea of having a trader roundtable once a week.

That idea was Fast Money, which now occupies an hour and a half of daily CNBC programming.

Today's "Kudlow Report," as well as Fast Money and The Strategy Session and perhaps Power Lunch, should constantly be looking for that next big thing and undoubtedly are. What individual, format or topic can be introduced that will ultimately be good enough for its own show, something that will get the TV world buzzing. "Parker/Spitzer," for example, maybe wasn't so good, but you know what, Spitzer actually is pretty good, on television, especially when he brings along his sidekick E.D. Hill, who wears beautiful sweaters, and CNN has got something going in prime time, maybe not American Idol 2, but something. As some folks like to say about stocks, you always want the next big idea, and if you're not getting better, you might be getting worse.

Rutledge: China thinks Greenspan, Bernanke busted U.S. economy

While Larry Kudlow questioned Friday whether China needs its own Ben Bernanke, guest John Rutledge made a rather eye-opening comment.

"Virtually all national policy decisions are made by consensus in China by more than 1 guy. They don't have a Bernanke. Not only do they not have one, they don't want one. Because they belive that the aggressive moves on monetary policy by Greenspan and Bernanke is what set up the boom and bust here that created the financial crisis," Rutledge said.

So, if that statement is literally true, then China actually believes renegade rate-tinkering by 2 bureaucrats sank the U.S. economy.

When in fact, what occurs here is the same situation Rutledge described in China: a massive government-Wall Street consensus of decision-making on rates and policy, only with a token figurehead of nominal authority whose popularity/credibility is directly proportional to the chart of the S&P 500.

If China actually believes otherwise, then Kudlow shouldn't have just devoted 10 minutes to talking about it ... but 10 programs.

Joe Battipaglia: Every game

This site became aware of the sad passing of Joe Battipaglia Thursday evening. After realizing a heavy amount of Internet interest, we rightly put as much news as we could find atop the home page and will continue to do so through the weekend.

According to Fox News, Battipaglia, 55, apparently suffered a heart attack.

Battipaglia was one of the nation's most prominent television stock-market pundits — ever — and clearly loved the dual challenges of forecasting and debate. What many may not know was that one of Battipaglia's sons was a standout tackle for the U.S. Naval Academy, and that during his 4 years on the team, the parents never missed a road game.

[Friday, April 15, 2011]

Dr. J: Google tumble
‘was a great day for me’

Jon Najarian explained on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report how he struck it rich in Google options.

"I like buying it on disasters like last night's report," Najarian said. "But that was pretty much telegraphed through both options trading that went on during the day yesterday — knock on wood, I was long some puts and uh, it was a great day for me — but I think also Melissa, the issue of Facebook and Twitter, causing them to ramp up their hires, and to hire those folks at higher rates ... at this level, to about $15 lower, I like buying Google, and then I think you trade out of it again."

Apparently he was so preoccupied about that score, he referenced earlier comments on Google expenses by "Guy," even though Guy wasn't on the show and the comments had come from Joe Terranova.

Terranova said of GOOG, "The question becomes, can that operating expense move lower ... I don't believe that it can," given the concerns it faces with Facebook and Apple.

Might not be an exciting stock, but we don’t see money dying

Perhaps Jon Najarian was so giddy about his GOOG score that he stayed too long — not in the trade, but braggadocio.

Anthony Scaramucci on Friday's Halftime Report said hedge funds are actually more into the stodgier tech names and shorting the cloud plays with sky-high valuations, although some of those cloud shorts haven't worked.

He said Google shares are "suffering from the wild card of Larry Page ... I think that they're worried that Larry's gonna run the thing from his gut."

But he said funds are looking to "value-based" names, including Cisco and Intel, to which he added, "Jon'll probably ... (say) that's where money goes to die."

"Oh no, not Google," Najarian crowed. "That's Pfizer."

Joe Terranova interrupted with one of the most bizarre compliments on the show in recent memory, especially given this was the lunchtime version, praising Scaramucci because, "at 5 o'clock, Anthony just gives us a much-needed stylistic presence."

Confused, as we were, Scaramucci asked, "Stylistic in what way, Joe?"

"In every way, my friend," Terranova said.

Scaramucci, like us, probably didn't know what the heck Terranova was talking about, but he continued with the money-goes-to-die theme, saying, "Let's go to the Pfizer chart before the show ends."

The show didn't, but this site did (above).

Moshe Orenbuch apparently doesn’t think much of Melissa Lee’s question

Moshe Orenbuch spoke on the Fast Line Friday, and after an early delay glitch, didn't exactly offer the most resounding endorsement of BAC, saying, "There's no real near-term catalyst, but we do think the stock affords good value."

So Melissa Lee asked, "Which stock ... reporting next week will offer us an upside surprise."

Orenbuch responded, "So, (chuckles), which stock reporting, can I say, which ones reporting last week ... we're not really looking for that much upside surprises coming."

Melissa Lee feels need to defend to Joe Terranova her question for guest

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough was apparently supposed to appear early on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to discuss his forecast of a possible oil spike to $150, but a technical glitch prompted Melissa Lee to assure viewers McCullough would be on later. "That wasn't just a TV tease, as we call it in the business," Lee said.

McCullough was on later, explaining oil could get to $150 because "We're seeing a heightening probability for a U.S. currency crisis."

He said the dollar is down about 15% since Geithner took over, and it could crash "abruptly and dangerously."

Melissa Lee in closing asked a good question, whether McCullough would rather be long oil or short dollar. "Same trade," McCullough said.

Lee then turned to Joe Terranova and explained that with Middle East concerns, it might not necessarily be the same trade.

Terranova said he still likes big oil. Jon Najarian singled out NOV and RIG, as well as Halliburton, Schlumberger, "all of 'em would be on my list."

Anthony Scaramucci revealed that with gold and silver, he'd been in the camp where "I thought it was a bubble," but after a hedge fund confab, he has changed his mind. "When you think of the macroeconomic tension in the world right now, there's a lot of fundamentals that suggest that gold and silver will continue to move up," he said.

Strategy Session joke 5 years in the making wasn’t worth the wait

Richard Medley, in what could best be described as a choppy segment that didn't really go anywhere, told The Strategy Session Friday that China can only conquer inflation by rediscovering "administration controls."

"They can't really use the tools that will work," Medley said, which are a "large renminbi revaluation" and rate hikes at an "appreciable pace."

Medley, who made his points too deliberately and wasn't pushed enough by David Faber (Gary Kaminsky was off, and guest Charles Kantor couldn't be expected to ride herd for television purposes), said the U.S. knows how to deal with inflation and can help, but, "The problem with hammering them ... even Schumer shut up for once in his lifetime," is that "this is still an old-fashioned regime, trained in Russia, and they don't trust too many moving parts."

So this could've been a good Street Fight with Guy Adami, who just said the other day on Fast Money that China is greater capitalists than America has ever been.

Instead, David Faber pointed out that Chinese officials note inflation's like a tiger, once it's out of the cage ... Medley just said that once they get the administrative controls in place — whatever those may be — they can do rate hikes.

If this were one of those early Strategy Session programs where Faber and Kaminsky discussed "What did we learn today," we'd have to suggest "not much."

Medley apparently felt good about his appearance, announcing at the end, "I haven't been here for 5 years. I didn't have a, uh, I didn't look good- well at a contract. Turned out that I had signed, signed over to be Steve Colbert for 5 years. It, it ended last night. Now he's on his own."

Medley could've been part of an interesting discussion. If he had just relaxed and allowed himself to be glib instead of rehearsing a clumsy joke that most people wouldn't get anyway, he would've been OK.

Faber: Hedge funds skeptical
of Nasdaq-ICE offer’s success

David Faber reported Friday on The Strategy Session that hedge funds are less than impressed by the Nasdaq-ICE NYSE offer.

Faber said Bob Greifeld, but not Jeff Sprecher, met with some funds, and the funds remain "less than convinced" that the deal will pass antitrust concerns.

Faber said the NYSE actually eyed a deal with the Nasdaq "roughly 1 year ago," but ended up "concluding there was simply no way the deal would be approved."

Faber also said that fewer hedge funds are taking up NYSE positions than Nasdaq would like.

Herb: Synergies lacking
in CVS Caremark

Herb Greenberg revisited on Friday's Strategy Session a topic he's covered before, whether CVS Caremark should actually be broken up, pointing to flattening cash flows and saying right now, investor Ralph Whitworth is "gettin' kind of antsy."

Charles Kantor though said nothing would happen at least until March of next year because before that, the company couldn't do "anything on a tax-efficient basis." Kantor predicted they'll "first try and fix it, and then if they can't, possibly spin it, at high levels of EBITDA."

Under 6%, for 30 years

"Yield Hunter" Dan Loughran spoke positively on Friday's Strategy Session about munis on the long end of the curve, saying one can get a 5.5%, 30-year nominal yield.

Later he mentioned a 5.7% opportunity.

David Faber wondered who'd want to get in a long-term bond with yields expected to rise. Loughran said in that case, you can play the durations, which "still look cheap compared to Treasurys."

Loughran also asserted, "It's not a fait accompli that long rates rise as the Fed starts to tighten."

Charles Kantor said he likes the stock market now. "I think people are fearful, and that's good, and there's a big margin of safety in equities." Kantor also said he looked over the list of top 20 Google holders, and "I could only find 1 shareholder that I may define as Fast Money."

[Thursday, April 14, 2011]

The Caddyshack Trade®

A couple of Fast Money interviews this week have spawned a new stock-market term.

It started when Melissa Lee asked Whitney Tilson Wednesday if he bought more BRK as he indicated he would when the Sokol-plunge occurred. (The answer was no, because "it's one of our largest positions.")

Thursday, it was Google watcher Ryan Jacob who was asked by Lee if he was buying on the selloff and/or whether he recommended it to others.

"I think it would be a good time to add. We can't add to it because it's already such a large position for us in the mutual fund. But I do think, at these prices, it's definitely a good opportunity," Jacob said.

It's hard for us to see any downside to that kind of recommendation.

The recommender is not buying at the depressed level because it's already a "large" position — which is another way of saying, he's not interested in the added risk.

But he thinks it's wise for you to hit the "buy" button while he continues to own the shares.

Like they say in that golf movie, "Looks good on you though."

Finding a unique angle is a good way of getting your research report recognized

Colin Gillis entertained the Fast Money gang Thursday by shipping Melissa Lee an e-mail claiming Larry Page only said 370 words during the Google earnings call.

Everyone laughed, and Guy Adami said of Gillis, "He's nuttier than a fruitcake."

But Melissa Lee seemed to think Gillis had a point about the 370 words, saying people have wanted to hear from Larry Page, but "that's not much to hang your hat on."

"Depends on what those words are," countered Karen Finerman. "Give the guy a little bit of time."

What’s Ken Lewis
doing these days?

Brian Kelly, who in recent months has come up with reasons that sound a bit too perfect to be accurate for being long aluminum and silver, offered a new take on gold on Thursday's Fast Money, pointing to the real rate of return in Chinese bank accounts turning negative.

Based on the last time that happened, 2007, Kelly said, it projects to gold reaching $2,200 an ounce.

Kelly explained, there's a "tremendous amount of demand for gold coming from China."

Karen Finerman didn't get a chance to ask, "Does that mean it's a hedge for inflation AND deflation at the same time???" But Guy Adami did get Kelly to reveal he commutes from Connecticut, and Adami played the traffic alert heard all day on the show.

Betsy Graseck said her price target for BAC is $22 (not seen since 2008) and for JPM is $61. (And, assuming those are reached, how much would AAPL and FCX and TOL move in that scenario?)

Emma Sugarman was given a couple moments at the end to say that hedge funds got a lot of cash in February and try to prepare for black swan events.

Even so, in that brown paneled dress, Melissa was uncorrectable

We're certain that while her panelists are talking, Melissa Lee is always getting an earful from a producer about what to talk about next, what to say to a guest, etc.

But try as we might to defend her characterization of Steve Grasso's views on the yield curve on Thursday's Halftime, we can't really call it anything but a big miss.

Grasso had asked Chris Mutascio a sort of lengthy question about issues some people have with the banks, specifically yield curve, even though, personally, "I'm not looking at flattening of the yield curve as one of them."

Mutascio responded, "There's a misperception out there, and I see a lot on this program where, certainly on CNBC, that the 10/2 being so wide is very good for the banks."

When Lee summed up the segment, she told Grasso, "You've been concerned about the flattening yield curve."

"You know, I never like correcting you, but I actually haven't been concerned with the flattening of the yield curve. BK has, and Cortes has," Grasso said, which is certainly true, and which readers of this page (see this page and last month's page) know, and which was fairly clear from Grasso's question to Mutascio.

Mutascio was asked for his top pick and said, "We actually like PNC an awful lot."

Curious product endorsement from Patty Edwards

Patty Edwards on Thursday's Halftime was skeptical of Research in Motion.

"Something doesn't smell right there right now," Edwards said. "I think there's a little bit more desperation going on than we're actually hearing about."

Steve Grasso cautiously said if RIMM closes above $53.23, traders "can nibble a little bit."

Herb Greenberg said he was stunned to realize just how poorly Dell has underperformed the S&P 500, but he does approve of Michael Dell's pay package.

Guy Adami said he still thinks silver is capable of going "parabolic." Patty Edwards explained she's been waiting; "I'm looking at adding more; I have not yet done it. I think I need more Maalox."

We wouldn’t bet against Jeff Gundlach, but this would definitely not be high on the Obama 2012 agenda

Jeff Gundlach played contrarian on Thursday's Strategy Session in a stunning forecast of possible "austerity" for the U.S. economy.

Gundlach said that once the Fed is done with QE2, Treasurys will actually strengthen.

"When the Fed is buying Treasurys, the market participants think of it as an inflationary policy, because it is," Gundlach said. "It's money-printing. And people in the bond market don't like to see blatantly inflationary policies."

He said people who automatically assume that the Fed being out of the Treasury market will hurt bonds haven't crunched the data. "The problem with that point of view is it doesn't respect the history that's actually happened," he said, adding later, "Last time they stopped buying the bonds, interest rates fell by about a hundred and 60 basis points."

One wonders if Gundlach is swayed by recent noise in Washington. "There is serious talk about attacking the budget deficit," he said, suggesting the U.S. might have to experience its own "austerity" measures. "Austerity is negative for the economy," he said.

Gundlach even outlined a simple solution for balancing the budget. "All you really need to do is to cut your standard of living by about 10% in the United States. It's not fun. But it's doable. And we need to do it soon, otherwise the compounding curve really does kick in," he said.

Gundlach sees June 30 as a "moment of truth" for the U.S. economy. "It feels like the moment when Rory McIlroy was headed to Amen Corner, you know, does, what does the kid really have here."

Gundlach also said there's a way to play the ratings agencies, who have gotten too conservative. "These days the ratings on some securities are ridiculously low," he said. "You see a huge price difference between a bond that's rated triple-B or higher, and a bond that's rated single-B or lower" that might have an identical ability to not default.

He told David Faber those securities would move "probably 15%" if rated as they should be.

Jeff Gundlach: ‘The gas company shut off my gas a month ago’

Jeff Gundlach made some strong points about the Treasury market on Thursday's Strategy Session, but he brought the humor to the Post-Strategy Session. (Note: We've discovered CNBC's new video system takes a long time to buffer and occasionally pauses ... maybe that's a reason to buy AKAM.)

Gundlach said that "the housing market never V-bottoms," and that he just read a report predicting lots of homebuilding in the "food chain of housing" in the 2nd half of 2011 that he found "delusional."

He also said taking out a home equity loan is the equivalent of "buying a new home without moving."

But his best comment was a personal anecdote.

"What's so great about home ownership anyway? It's incredibly expensive," he said. "You can paint your living room purple and no one can complain, and all that stuff.

"The gas company shut off my gas a month ago to change the meter. And they didn't tell me. And I walked downstairs, and the whole house smells like gas. And I called the gas company, the guy comes over and he says, 'Good thing you weren't on vacation; your house would've blown up.' And I said to myself, what's so great about home ownership? You know, just think of what the cost of that would be. Be much better to call the landlord, and say my apartment blew up, build me a new one."

Is Glencore the top
of the commodities rally?

Kate Kelly said Glencore is pricing a $9-$11 billion IPO in what will be a "very hot deal."

Gary Kaminsky pointed out that people will compare this to the Blackstone deal and the private equity. Kelly said "I don't know" if it's the top of the commodities market, but that Glencore owners are still locked in to holding their shares for a while.

But David Faber noted, "Blackstone partners, a lot of them were locked up," other than maybe Pete Peterson.

Gary Kaminsky told David Faber he follows technicals, only because, even if you're a fundamental manager, "You have to respect the technicals" because other buyers/programs are "pushing buttons simply based on these levels."

[Wednesday, April 13, 2011]

Courtney Reagan watches
‘12 Angry Men’ at NYU Stern

Every so often, we're able to catch up with CNBC Twitters (you never know when Nicole Lapin will post another showstopping supermodel-esque depiction of herself), and of course find ourselves drawn to the pop culture references — which this week includes Courtney Reagan's note that she's "Watching '12 angry men' with my classmates at NYU Stern for leadership class...popcorn machine and all!"

So, if we're doing our management-degree math correctly, Sidney Lumet dies; "12 Angry Men" becomes classroom-relevant.

Watching Henry Fonda quite simply makes one a better leader.

Sounds like CEOs should be able to deduct Netflix subscriptions.

Elsewhere, David Faber told Brian Steel the best steak in New York is made at Peter Luger. "I think it's the amount of butter," Faber says.

One drawback to Hain Celestial food is that the bags are pretty loud

Notably, Melissa Lee told C-SPAN's Brian Lamb last week that she enjoys doing documentaries because it "keeps me honest in terms of being a journalist."

Because occasionally on Fast Money, such as Wednesday afternoon, segments offer little journalism and more product-placement chuckle-fest.

But it wasn't like Lee wasn't trying. Hain Celestial chief Irwin Simon, always a nice guy, returned to the Fast studio with crinkling bags of potato chips that found eager takers in Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova (and presumably Guy Adami and Karen Finerman also). Lee immediately asked Simon about Carl Icahn.

"Melissa, last time I was on, it took 3 minutes for you to ask me that question. Now, 30 seconds, and you ask me that question," Simon chuckled, before explaining, "Carl bought stock in April. His investment is up over 60% ... I think he's a smart guy."

He also described the 2 Icahn board members as "helpful," an interesting choice of words.

Moments later, Lee asked Simon about rumors of Nestle takeover interest. "We haven't given her enough snacks," Simon chuckled.

Perhaps analysts on JPM call weren’t really plugged in

The last thing we wanted to do was report for a 2nd (or 3rd) time Wednesday on JPMorgan's results, but the 5 p.m. Fast Money forced our hand.

At least Guy Adami had something of a new angle, saying the company revealed it will only do buybacks when the "price is appropriate," which "says to me, they don't feel their stock is cheap."

Karen Finerman later said, "I sort of disagree with him there," presumably "him" meaning Jamie Dimon. "I like the buyback," saying it would be a good use of free cash.

Finerman, the Will Rogers of JPM holders, explained that "it was a very noisy quarter. Net-net, I didn't think it was terrible . .. I think it's very attractively priced here."

Tim Seymour flat-out declared, "I think these numbers were fantastic."

Stephen Weiss pointed out that he listened to the whole conference call, and "only 1 analyst asked about loan growth. I found that astounding."

A crowd could be heard in the audio around the 10-minute mark while Guy Adami told how Wells Fargo traded worse than JPMorgan and BAC.

There but for the grace of God, go ...

The home page of CNBCfix.com, like everyone else Wednesday, posts a link to the media story of the day, the Associated Press falling for a cleverly disguised hoax about General Electric.

This is normally one of those times when Internet upstarts tend to cackle about the mistakes/inaccuracies/point of view they detect from the established media, and how maybe it shouldn't be viewed so authoritatively.

This page won't go there. There's a rush to get the story out — always has been, long before the Web and the so-called (inaccurately) "24/7 news cycle" — and not only do mistakes happen, but a sophisticated scheme certainly has a good chance of getting picked up. Keep your head up, AP. If you've ever seen articles on other Web sites that seem remarkably explosive and have posted them on your own site as legitimate news, you're well aware of that little pang in the gut wondering "is this for real?" that occasionally strikes.

Tilson explains how he
makes gobs of money

Whitney Tilson couldn't resist telling Fast Money viewers Wednesday how he makes 20-fold returns on his investments.

"Last time, uh, Bill Ackman bought 25% of a company and went on the board, we ended up making 20 times our money, in General Growth Properties," Tilson smiled.

He said he's excited now about JCPenney given that Ackman and Steven Roth are in it. "We think there's a catalyst in place," Tilson said.

Karen Finerman asked how in the world he expects to make 20-fold returns this time (OK, that's not exactly how she put it) given that Penney is already regarded as having a good management and how many other catalysts can there be.

Tilson didn't have a great answer for that, but said, "I'm not convinced it's one of the best teams in retail," and added, the company owns "a lot of real estate."

Tilson also cautiously touted Seagate, in an interesting discussion, fully conceding it's a declining business, but "the demise of Seagate is sort of overblown in the market view."

Guy Adami strongly hinted that if he were playing this name, he'd be ready to pull the ripcord very quickly.

Said he would buy,
but then didn’t buy

Whitney Tilson on Wednesday did candidly point out that the ongoing news drip of Berkshire is a legitimate headwind, and if anything bad comes out about Buffett, that would be a problem.

But, he said, so far nothing has, before proceeding to offer some curiously contradictory commentary on BRK shares.

Melissa Lee asked Tilson if he indeed bought more stock as he indicated he might as the Sokol-related selloff occurred. Tilson said, "We didn't because it's one of our largest positions."

(Which only makes us wonder, if the stock is down 5%, then isn't that position smaller, and if you still believe totally in the story, why not take advantage of an artificial discount.)

Tilson also said the news about Sokol has gotten worse since then, but at the same time, totally praised the Lubrizol deal, saying the BRK "intrinsic value" is higher because of Lubrizol.

So Sokol's activities have artificially subtracted value from the company, but Tilson has not taken advantage of that even though the Lubrizol deal actually increased the real value of the company.

Hmmm ... this one doesn't sound like it's gonna be a 20-fold bagger.

Gillis: GOOG dead money

Colin Gillis, not quite as caffeinated as in other appearances, told Fast Money Wednesday that GOOG is dead money for a while, which is why he lowered his price target from $650 to $625.

The "revenue story is mostly known," he said, while doubts linger about Larry Page's "social initiatives" and general company expenses.

Tim Seymour wondered if that's all priced in and people "might want to be long," pointing to $575 calls and explaining to Melissa Lee the weekly ones expire the same time as the regular ones.

Gillis said the stock has "only been in a free fall" since Page took over, and it's better for the 2nd half of the year anyway. "The June quarter is always a difficult one for Google," he said.

Gillis said he prefers AAPL for growth and MSFT for value. He dodged Karen Finerman's question about potential antitrust headwinds on revenue, saying it's "growing at market rates" with a 14 times multiple.

Tim Seymour said of BIDU, "Anyone that's ever shorted this stock has gone out of business ... well, sort of."

Joe LaVorgna doesn’t have quite the same inflation rhetoric as Peter Schiff

Joe Terranova said Wednesday, "I actually bought some Visa today." Guy Adami said BX looks like it's tradable on the long side with a $17.50 stop.

Stephen Weiss had trouble getting synched up with Melissa Lee's cue, saying something about "The Fast Money" not realizing he was on the air, before touting AKAM. "The stock seems to have bottomed," he said pointing to the NCAA Tournament streaming. He also said he likes EMC.

Joe LaVorgna rattled off his GDP concerns and said, "We're probably still high ... relative to the rest of the Street."

And when it comes to inflation, LaVorgna basically said nobody knows for sure. "It depends who you talk to on the Fed," saying the people at the top downplay it, while "some of the presidents, and some of 'em are pretty sharp, say there is some risk."

Fast Money viewers Wednesday had their choice of gray between Melissa Lee's darker layered dress and Karen Finerman's lighter sweater. Finerman made a good crack, barely heard, about Tim Seymour's Final Trade sounding like a Green Mountain moment. Finerman also said the THC spat is one of the "nastiest" she's seen in M&A and recommends THC puts.

Terranova buys HOC

Joe Terranova trumpeted refiners Wednesday, saying, "I bought Holly Corp today," and pointed to inventories, "We haven't seen a drawdown like that since 1998."

Tim Seyour agreed, with a caveat: "These are not great businesses; the reality is, there's less of 'em," he said.

ETF expert Andrew McOrmond was given barely a minute at the end of the show to explain IXC is a "little bit more of the global play" than XLE, and IEZ, an oil equipment and services ETF, is different from OIH in that after the big names, it still has 40 more.

Texting Bill Gates

We couldn't decide Wednesday if Patty Edwards was serious or not.

Edwards actually said of John Chambers on the Fast Money Halftime Report, "He's gotta do something or he's out. But you know, Steve Ballmer's gotta do something or he's out."

Steve Ballmer has suddenly gotta do something ... or he's out?

Edwards said to "go for something like an Akamai," or Oracle.

Edwards also mentioned a combination Brag Trade/refreshing down-to-earth revelation on BIDU. "I bought it at 103, and I sold it at 119," she said.

Pete Najarian said, "The cloud space has been on fire since yesterday" (wow — on fire for barely more than 1 day), but Steve Grasso offered that CSCO "continues to be a sell on any spike you see higher, and you very rarely see those spikes."

Still ... haven’t found ...
what she’s looking for

AMT chief Jim Taiclet gave a decent, if fairly unspecific, description of what happens with his business when combinations such as the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile occur (first "amendments" that help AMT, then stabilization, then "very modest rolloff") and what kind of time lag might exist between renewals and 4G or whatever, but apparently he wasn't specific enough for Melissa Lee, who told him after a couple tries, "I'm not sure if I've got the time-frame answer that I was looking for."

Taiclet, in the revamped Halftime Report desk that seems to put the guest as far from Lee as Peter Finch sits from Ned Beatty in "Network," admitted that in a deal such as AT&T's, there's "churn off of some of the overlap sites," but "it's a small portion of the total business that we have each year."

Pete Najarian said he likes the REIT potential of AMT, but "I'm a little less intrigued" by the valuation.

We nominate Scowcroft

Dennis Gartman spoke at Halftime Wednesday about what he sees as a continuing oil gap, saying "the world needs Brent" because environmental agencies worldwide demand more diesel and lower sulfur.

Gartman also pointed to a "huge surplus of WTI in Cushing."

In one of those meaningless pop culture ways of thinking, the segment prompted us to wonder who the world's most famous "Brent" of all time is, and we had trouble with an answer, even though it's not an uncommon name.

We couldn't even recall a movie character with the name.

Pete Najarian said dividend yields are the issue for banks; "the problem is they're not back." Nevertheless, "I wouldn't short 'em," he said.

Steve Grasso pointed to JPM and said "I expect the whole space to be under pressure."

Brian Kelly said, "If anything, I would be short copper here."

Patty Edwards said she wants to be "far, far away" from the RIMM trade.

‘The level of collegiality’ from going private is evidently a major plus

David Faber's favorite subject tends to be companies that go private, and on Wednesday's Strategy Session, Caesars (or is it Harrah's) boss Gary Loveman — who seems like a nice guy and also a highly efficient PR pro — came prepared.

Loveman told Faber that the Harrah's LBO is/was a success partly because "the level of collegiality and input has been terrific."

Faber actually asked Loveman, "Has it been worth it for you," even though it's hard for this site to imagine that a CEO involved in a go-private transaction, which for a few high-ranking execs is basically like taking out a home-equity loan with minimal risk of foreclosure, wouldn't find it "worth it."

"I think it's been a terrific transition for the company," was Loveman's predictable answer.

Loveman explained that in analyzing an LBO, there are 2 angles, the leverage and the freedom of being non-public, and "you can modulate each of these."

"No one would've put 10 times leverage on the company, purposefully," Loveman said.

Faber returned to the subject, saying LBOs make the case for going private, then "at the end of the day the exit's always going public again. Doesn't that defeat the argument?"

"It doesn't defeat the argument in the interim," was Loveman's way of explaining that.

Evidently, if you’re at a casino, you’re too old

It should be noted that this site respects opponents of gambling and their argument. They're basically fighting a battle that began to be lost in the '70s, when states decided lotteries were a great idea and have been only expanding them since.

While there are indeed many stories of people with serious gambling problems who have been further enabled by the growing network, "many" is a relative term, and the general public just doesn't see a great detriment to society. Powerball and Mega Millions stories are regularly cheered and celebrated in the mainstream media, and the Kentucky Derby is a national event. (Nobody even questions now whether it improves society to have so many senior citizens taking charter gambling buses to the slot machines because they're bored, but whatever.)

This site isn't as libertarian as some others, but we sort of figure, if that's how grownups want to spend their money, then ...

Anyway, gaming CEOs, as would be expected, figure the more the merrier.

Gary Loveman asserted Wednesday that the nation needs legalized Internet poker, because it's a "very capital-efficient growth piece," and "playing poker at home online is a completely different experience than coming to one of our full-service resort facilities."

Gary Kaminsky said some experts think it would only hurt foot traffic in places like Vegas.

Loveman disagreed, pointing to U.K. results showing online poker is generally played by young men, and "young men are not a particularly important part of casino traffic." (Seriously? Has he seen "The Hangover"?)

We wonder what the pop culture historians will eventually say about the public demand for young men to sit in their living rooms anonymously wagering large amounts of money with online strangers as opposed to having some real actual buddies over for a friendly, "collegial" game, but that's another angle for another time.

Kaminsky asked Loveman if states can even authorize online gambling on their own. Loveman said the Wire Act suggests not, or at least difficulty, and so "We're advocates of this being legalized at the federal level. ... It may be illegal for a state to take this action," and "in poker, you need liquidity."

David Faber spent more than a moment getting Loveman to clarify that gaming/resort trends are making a "move toward 2007" and are not back to 2007 levels just yet (see, we already said Loveman is a crafty PR guy).

Loveman seemed to issue a personal invite to both Kaminsky and Faber to join The World Series of Poker. "I hope the 2 of you will play one of these days," he said.

A JPM earnings-results program would not be ready for prime time

Doug Braunstein, JPMorgan CFO and an extremely gracious Strategy Session guest, covered all the bases Wednesday, but just like his company, failed to set off any fireworks.

Quite frankly, JPM is just an enormous macro stat machine, and getting excited about it is like getting excited about the federal government.

Gary Kaminsky employed one of this site's favorite expressions, asking Braunstein if JPM is now finally able to play offense after a couple years of defense. (Remember, your goal in life should always be to play offense, save for a few very select situations.)

Braunstein's answer was so loaded in generics, it really ceased to mean anything. JPM has "lots of excess capital," he said, and thus, "We're building out our branch network, we're, we're building out our international global corporate bank, we're building out our commodities business, we're building out our Chase Private Client Business."

He spoke about charge-off improvements but admitted, "We're a long distance from a normalized environment," and there's still "ample room for that charge-off rate to decline."

That prompted the screen gremlins to post on the bottom this adverb blunder, "JPM'S BRAUNSTEIN: CHARGEOFF RATES ON ABSOLUTELY BASIS STILL HIGH," but at least that's not an obvious spell-check catch.

David Faber pointed out, "Jamie talks often, your CEO, about reserve releases." Braunstein said, "There are always ins and outs."

"Much of our growth opportunity is international," Braunstein said in a stunner.

David Faber initially called Braunstein the CEO, then corrected himself. "Perhaps 1 day, but not yet."

[Tuesday, April 12, 2011]

Oil expert apparently thinks general public doesn’t believe there’s speculation in crude

Isn't it interesting how commodity experts can be so polarizing.

Sometimes there's John Stephenson, who seems amazed that the world doesn't wake up and put a $200 price on a barrel of oil.

And other times, there is David Greenberg, who seems fully convinced that supply-and-demand concerns really don't have anything to do with anything.

Greenberg was the Fast Money guest Tuesday when Tim Seymour pointed out that Brent being down 5.8% in 2 days is a big move.

Exactly, said Greenberg, who then declared, "If that doesn't show everybody that this market is a speculative market, then nothing ever will."

Greenberg blamed the divergence between WTI and Brent on WTI position limits adopted after the 2008 spike to $147. "With the Brent market, there are no position limits," he said.

Greenberg — in a cliche we first recall (at least in recent times) being uttered by Lee Raymond during a Charlie Rose interview in 2003 or 2004, when he said the "real" price of crude free of speculation was about $30 a barrel — said Tuesday, "I feel that personally, 80 to 90 dollar crude oil would be about right if you took the major specs out."

And of course, those specs are going to be suddenly taken out immediately. Immediately.

"We've been talking about this for quite some time," Greenberg said.

He's certainly correct about that.

"Commodity speculation right now is absurd," said Tim Seymour. "And I'm a guy that believes in the supercycle."

Not much of a scoop

Cisco watcher Brian Modoff spoke about the usual issues and problems with CSCO (as if anyone needs to be reminded or should even be considering this stock as one worth playing), but curiously told Melissa Lee, "We actually got a copy of that internal memo from last week."

That doesn't seem too difficult, given that the entire text is posted on Cisco's Web site.

No more excuses

Time was when Fast Money panelists would scoff at market moves they didn't approve of — in either direction — by mocking the level of volume.

Perhaps chartist Jeff DeGraaf put that line of criticism to rest Tuesday.

"We've done a lot of work on volume, and we actually haven't been able to find or prove that volume matters," DeGraaf said.

DeGraaf also spoke about oil's outside reversal. "When you go out 6, 12 months from now, it actually sets up for a fairly negative call for, uh, for oil specifically," he said.

But DeGraaf insisted, "This is not a momentum market. This is a trend market," and he predicts the S&P will get a bounce around 1,300. He also said there's "opportunity" in gold miners.

Opening for Pawlenty

Chris Varvares of Macroeconomics said on Tuesday's Fast Money his sliding GDP forecast reduction from January to April's 1.5% is "one of the biggest downward moves in our tracking that I can recall."

Gerard Cassidy of RBC said that if JPMorgan could just report a loan-loss provision of $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion, "that's not reflected in the stock price in our opinion."

And if CSCO can just sell twice as many routers as the Street expects, that's probably not reflected in the stock either.

Gordon Johnson won the Street Fight with Brian Kelly over solar, arguing, "Solar cannot replace nuclear."

Pete Najarian called Tuesday "a monster day as far as options were concerned," which means he'll probably be compensated by his own company because it has "monster" in its title (as well as its subsidiaries, and we always forget which is which).

Adami: Tyco racing
north of $55

Commodities skeptic Tim Seymour said "I don't think this is a 1-day move," and then chided Guy Adami for crediting Rich Ilczyszyn for the 2nd day in a row and pronouncing Ilczyszyn's name correctly (hey, pronouncing it's a lot easier than spelling it).

Seymour talked up Melco again, just like Eric Bolling used to do back in the early day of Fast Money when it did nothing but go south, saying the Street consensus was for shares to hit $9.50, but "I think the stock's probably going higher than that."

Guy Adami insisted "I don't think the silver trade is over by any means," but that it would probably trade $2 to $2.50 lower.

Adami said he hates jumping in after a big move but said Tyco "feels like it wants to push north of 55."

Melissa Lee revealed that Fast Money would be broadcasting in May live at the Bellagio during the SALT conference, where the gang could do "on-the-ground research" on casinos.

Guy Adami, who recently wasn't allowed by Scott Wapner to talk about religion, said, "I'll teach all you folks how to play craps."

Dicker: ‘Tremendous downstream numbers’ coming in Big Oil

Oil trader Dan Dicker was nearly gushing on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report about what he sees as pullback opportunity in Big Oil.

Dicker, who likes CVX, COP and HES, said the Street is expecting refining margins looking like they have the last 12 to 14 quarters, but "they're gonna get tremendous downstream numbers" later this month.

He also said Goldman Sachs' analysis has chased out speculative short-term money, and "I think it's absolutely a buying opportunity." He said he doesn't think WTI will get below $101 or Brent below $115.

Brian Kelly said he sees $102 in WTI as a buying opportunity. Joe Terranova said "I'm holding on to my Exxonmobil, and recommends OXY on a pullback.

Only Jon Najarian was fairly pessimistics, saying of oil, "I think you buy it substantially lower than where it is right now," and predicting WTI would get below $100.

Stephen Weiss, making that mathematical fallacy similar to assuming something you're trying to prove is already true, said for people who want oil and oil names to go up, "an event like today is healthy."

Brian Kelly said "I'm short SMH" because he sees a correlation with a sinking S&P 500.

Silver Wheaton CEO Randy Smallwood proved, albeit by phone, a good interview, explaining, "Hedging isn't really part of Silver Wheaton's business plan." He sidestepped Melissa Lee's question about possible froth in the market as actually reflecting "a bear market in paper currencies."

Dr. J reads Atlas Shrugged

Amazon watcher Aaron Kessler conceded on Tuesday's Halftime that the new Kindle ad-related price cut is "very much a razor-blade type of (business) model" that Amazon is good at.

Jon Najarian said he's surprised that some people think this plan will boost Kindle sales. "$25 less, and I've gotta endure ads to get to reading Atlas Shrugged. I don't think I'm really into that," Najarian said.

Melissa Lee is still riding the wave from the C-SPAN interview, wearing red that was soooo impressive, she must be headed to Rao's after work Tuesday.

Why don’t governments raise taxes and put the proceeds in LULU and BIDU to get ahead?

In the latest of the continuing Strategy Session series of how America's endowments and pensions are handled, we got William Atwood on Tuesday, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Investment.

Atwood, to his credit, spoke frankly about the situation, and while we wouldn't expect him to write off his own professional assignment as a "joke," he outlined the Illinois pension situation quite well.

Basically, what happens with pensions, there's a lot of money that piles up there, so governments decide they have to actively manage it including by turning it over to private equity, and then during good times they can project outsized returns with which they can justify ridiculously un-conservative government spending levels.

Wouldn't they be better off letting it ride on a Netflix short squeeze?

Atwood explained that he is given an "aggressive return assumption, currently 7 and three quarters percent."

"7 and three quarters percent, I mean, come on, how can you really justify that?" said David Faber.

"We don't set the return assumption, we just manage to it," Atwood said. "And so the systems that establish the return assumption of 7 and three quarters percent ... in an inflationary environment, those asset classes should actually do OK."

Atwood said he would probably fall into the school of finding that "unreasonably optimistic." But if you think that's high, "the retirement systems, God bless 'em, uh, 6 months ago, reduced it, from 8 and a half percent to 7 and three quarters percent."

And then he got to the heart of the bogusness. "There's an inverse correlation. As you lower the return assumption, you increase the state's funding obliation," Atwood said.

So basically, when states' coffers are relatively full (ahem, not recently), they issue lower return assumptions, and when those coffers dwindle, to avoid putting more cash in them, they simply issue higher return assumptions.

"That is such garbage in, garbage out. These numbers should be closer to 5%. Then, Bill Atwood would be able to realistically asset-allocate," Gary Kaminsky complained, asking Atwood if he actually expects to make any money in fixed income. "We're trying to get paid as much as we can for a downside buffer," was Atwood's answer.

Perhaps even more dubious, though, was Atwood's point about increasing pay-out liquidity demands from the state, even though ideally he'd prefer an "infinite time horizon" where he'd be "operating under the assumption that we won't ever have to cash it out."

Instead, "that liquidity need has put a real strain on the portfolio," Atwood says, and forces him to "limit our exposure to really critical assets like real estate (7%) and private equity (5%)."

Or put another way, states are better off the more money they can put into private equity and real estate.

Sounds like a plan.

Criminal justice finds itself in Superfusion limbo

Carson Block, an expert and skeptic on Chinese reverse mergers, offered a startling opinion on Tuesday's Strategy Session that China bad guys prefer to export their schemes to the U.S. rather than tap into that burgeoning Chinese middle class that Zachary Karabell is always talking about.

"The Chinese government does not permit fraud, all right," Block said. "So if these guys were pulling the same thing in China, the punishment is, a bullet to the head."

"They really do it? They really execute people?" asked David Faber.

"Yeah, that's definitely happened," Block said, though he admitted in a backpedal from his previous statement that it's not actually a "mandatory sentence."

Block flat-out suggested that the Chinese authorities are far more aboveboard on reverse mergers than their U.S. counterparts. "Pigs do not fly in China. A lot of these promoters, you know, think that everybody is going to believe them when they make these ridiculous claims and assumptions."

Gary Kaminsky wondered why this isn't a "mainstream media event" in the U.S., and we've gotta wonder the same question. "You hear very, very little about it," he said.

CNBC guest admits watching another channel (Bloomberg)

Jim Millstein spoke briefly on Tuesday's Strategy Session about the debt ceiling and complained about remarks made not on The Strategy Session, but a rival network.

"This morning, uh, I was listening to another channel, and Grover Norquist, who's a favorite son of the right, was saying that the Treasury markets and the credit markets would take a default in stride. And that's just crazy. You can't believe that people would even say that," Millstein said.

Millstein said politicians shouldn't play around with the debt ceiling but didn't seem to fully embrace David Faber's query that maybe enough people in Washington believe what Norquist said that it could happen. "This would make the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy look like a walk in a park on a sunny day," Millstein said.

Gary Kaminsky pointed to charts showing the S&P actually going down with crude recently rather than making a divergence as many expected. Kaminsky also looked at whether retail investors are plunging into stocks. "I've heard crazy stories that people are buying stocks again on credit cards. I can't confirm that, deny or whatever. ... look at the margin vs. stock market capitalization," he said, showing it's around Y2K levels, but really not much different than levels of the last few years, from what we could tell.

In another CNBC midday sound glitch, somebody was heard calling out to "Jason" when David Faber went to Bob Pisani at the NYSE.

[Monday, April 11, 2011]

Gartman: White House has
‘done exactly the right thing’

Dennis Gartman revealed some political tendencies on Monday's Fast Money during a discussion about Chinese-U.S. currency issues.

"I hesitate to give the president kudos for anything," Gartman told Tim Seymour. "Uh, but they have done exactly the right thing. Uh, I wish they would be a little more quiet about it. I wish they would be less public and less vocal."

But Gartman said not to think Geithner and Obama are Masters of the Universe, but rather just "fortunate" figures in global finance, "rather than being the precursors of the events," and in fact are just "taken along with the winds of trade."

He prefers to get a little sleep before Worldwide Exchange

Joe Terranova curiously told Dennis Gartman Monday, "Rather than reading your comments at 2:30 this morning, I figured I'd get 'em right now" and asked for Gartman's thoughts on silver's price action Monday.

Now, let's consider that for a second.

1) Unless he's psychic, Gartman's comments at 2:30 a.m. would have included nothing about the price action that happened later Monday.

2) How does hearing Gartman's take at 5:30 p.m. help Terranova make a silver call at 2:30 a.m. when other interested readers are doing so?

Based on what he said, Terranova apparently figured that getting Gartman's silver comments at 5:30 p.m. would be equally as useful as getting both Gartman's 5:30 p.m. analysis and 2:30 a.m. analysis.

Which, if you do the math, means Terranova evidently didn't expect the 2:30 a.m. letter's comments to be particularly useful.

During the segment, Gartman even supremely complimented Terranova for identifying an "outside reversal day" in oil. "Joe is absolutely spot-on," Gartman said.

Gartman predicted that within years, China's "consumer-driven society" will be experiencing trade imbalances, and that there could be "serious weakness" in commodities over the next couple weeks. Guy Adami gave a shout-out to Rich Ilczyszyn, who wasn't on the show but made a "well done" call on crude going lower short-term.

Sounds great — for everyone with a 10-year mortgage

Tim Seymour predicted stability in mortgage rates on Monday's Fast Money, saying, "I don't think the 10-year or at least the 10-year mortgage rate, is goin' above 5% anytime soon. ... It can't."

Then Seymour delivered a bit of a message to the Peter Schiffs of the world (as if there's more than 1; maybe there is). "To reference at least a lot of people that come on this show that are a little overly sensational about the reality of the U.S. economy ... the Federal Reserve is following a very clear path here," Seymour said.

Had he just said it Friday, would’ve been a monster call; maybe still will be

Unfortunately, Barron's beat Anthony Scaramucci to the punch by 2 days.

That didn't stop Scaramucci however from presenting Madison Square Garden as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week on Monday's Fast Money.

"Coincidentally it was written up in Barron's," Scaramucci said, before explaining MSG as having "intrinsic value of something like 44 to 45 dollars. Our price target is between 45 and 55."

Scaramucci said some viewers may be aware he has been evaluating sports teams' finances recently, and noted that MSG boasts the Knicks and Rangers, "both of which are on their balance sheet at about $500 million less than what we think they're currently worth."

He said Jana, Third Point and T2 are all involved.

Guy Adami, obviously referencing Melissa Lee's weekend C-SPAN interview (see below), said Lee was in the "Forensics Club of Harvard," which may or may not have come up in the interview; we can't remember. Lee shrugged, "There's nothing wrong with mathleticism."

Evidently, Guy is still getting AAPL hate e-mail

Joe Terranova seemed hell-bent Monday on making up some seriously lost ground in Fast Money word count, in the process relegating normally vocal Zachary Karabell to mostly quiet observer.

Terranova complained early about the emphasis on AA earnings, asking rhetorically whether anyone was actually expecting a "phenomenal beat."

Of course — who else — Tim Seymour spoke to that. "I take a little issue with what you're saying Joe," said Seymour, explaining he thinks people had "reasonably balanced" expectations."

Melissa Lee noted Karabell has been short AA, and Karabell said, "I wish I were more short."

Terranova moved on, referring to the oil reversal, and said of Canadian Natural Resources, "I got out of that today." He also managed to complain about Netflix's performance, saying (even though it was just in the $190s a month ago) it used to close on the highs, "now everyday it closes on the lows."

Guy Adami and Melissa Lee repeated banter from an earlier show about the AAPL chart showing the same line regardless of whether the ticker symbol is on it or not. "This is something that's headed lower," Adami said, and Lee — who in the wake of her triumphant C-SPAN interview changed hairstyles between the Halftime Report and regular show — again said symbol-less charts should be a segment on the show, to get an "objective" view on technicals.

In a signal Monday's show ran out of things to talk about, Zach Karabell was asked whether he'd describe the market in terms suggested by his colleagues, those being "temerity," "complacency" and "eviscerated." Karabell said no, none of those, but came up with this hum-dinger: "Measured stability."

(That would've been a good one for Brian Lamb to ask: "How do you reignite your program when one of your panelists defines the stock market, after a moment of anticipation, as 'measured stability'?")

Brian Sozzi said people "might see some cooling" in ANF short-term, but he likes it long-term.

Willie Williams (not the guy who made the potentially game-saving shoestring tackle for the Steelers in the 1995 AFC Championship Game that would've been better for everyone if the Colts had actually won) said he'd buy the Canadian dollar against the yen.

Fast gang evidently watched
Lee’s C-SPAN interview

Melissa Lee, fresh off an impressive C-SPAN interview aired over the weekend (see below), helmed the sharp new Fast Money Halftime set Monday in sharp gray vest while Zach Karabell, showing no residue from his recent David Riedel flap (see below), put together a 1-man comedy show.

Pete Najarian said the June 190 calls in BIDU are actually moving, and Lee asked Karabell if, as a reasonable and rational guy, he's caught the fever.

"I'm reasonable and rational on air," Karabell said, before explaining that every social media company that enters China "has tended to lose share to Chinese players like Baidu ... I don't know if it's such a good thing for Facebook."

Brian Kelly said if you like Baidu, fine, but "don't use the Facebook valuation or the Facebook story to get into it here."

Steve Grasso pointed to Peter Barnes' $50 silver hedge level and said "between 40 and 45 I think is where it tops out."

Zach Karabell, perhaps not making a joke for a change, said silver is a "continued weak-dollar concern" without the "armageddon" hysteria that gold has.

Linn Energy CEO Mark Ellis had a decent little interview with Lee and the Fast gang, except that at one point the CNBC sound gremlins struck again and there was so much background noise (someone bellowed "Excellent! How was the weekend?"), Lee's question could barely even be heard.

Brian Kelly joked about staying up to watch the Congress shutdown vote Sunday (a gag that probably shouldn't have run with "America the Beautiful" playing in the background, but whatever), and Melissa Lee said, "I know you had C-SPAN up in the Kelly household."

Analyst: Oil selloff nothing

Chris Motroni said oil is going to have "somewhat of a pullback," that there's $30 of risk premium, that he's looking for $120, and anyone who thinks crude will drop given the Middle East problems is wrong.

Zach Karabell pulled a Hollywood Square, answering "yes" when asked if oil will finish the year at $124, $112 or $90.

"I feel like I'm a teacher, and I've got a bunch of smartypants in my classroom," said Melissa Lee.

An apparent mistake
muddles the Tenet discussion

Maybe Tenet Healthcare is trying to win a Pulitzer.

David Faber put together what would've been an excellent explanation of the Tenet-CHS donnybrook on Monday's Strategy Session, except for 1 terribly confusing sentence that was never corrected (assuming, of course, it should've been corrected and we're not loopy).

Faber said Tenet's allegations are "frankly somewhat unbelievable" against a "suitor," but then said, "Tenet wants to pay $6 a share or offered a dollar in stock and $5 a share in cash to buy Community Health back late last year," when we think he meant just the opposite.

Gary Kaminsky reported, "Our great production staff could not get 1 person who follows this industry willing to come on and give us an assessment of, this is a company-specific issue, or whether this may result in a number of investigations industry-wide. Think you sort of get the sense there."

Faber said that adding to the allegations are, "It takes one to know one," because Tenet has had issues. "What we call this here certainly is hitting the nuclear option when you're trying to fight back against a potential unsolicited bid," Faber said.

Medical care — something this page has about zero expertise on, and we know virtually nothing about Tenet, Community Health or others — is undeniably ripe for chicanery. The payments come from 3rd parties. Much of the diagnosis is subjective, and anyone would have the incentive to push the envelope, similar to the way police departments can slightly tinker with precisely how they assess crimes and whether something really is a homicide or not.

Courtney Reagan, very pretty, more than held up her end of the show as Bob Pisani's fill-in on the NYSE floor.

Some sites say 90%,
others say 80%

We didn't expect Jarden boss Martin Franklin to unload a Woody Allen quote Monday on The Strategy Session, but he did.

"As Woody Allen said, 90% of success is showing up," Franklin said.

Actually, we've found numerous references on the Web to both 90% and a lower number, but there's no reference to either on Allen's WikiQuote page.

It's a great quote. No need to split hairs. Reference whichever one you like.

Franklin actually said his company did a China reversal. "We make Miken baseball bats, which are composite baseball bats. We moved our manufacturing from China back to Minnesota," he said. He said in China, "minimum wage went up between 12 and 20% — just in, in March alone."

As for the overall generic how's-the-economy question, Franklin said, "It's relatively good out there."

David Faber asked Franklin "out of left field" when he'll sell Jarden, to laughs from Gary Kaminsky. "I'm a servant to the shareholders. I'll do- you know I'm not one of those CEOs who sits and uh, just wants to hang onto his job," Franklin said.

Gary Kaminsky asked Kathleen Smith if Zipcar might be trying to "jam" an IPO out there. Smith indicated no, calling Zipcar a "very strong growth story."

Melissa Lee says Fast Money is for the ‘very active investor,’ she has an agent, and brainpower can help and hurt on Wall Street

If you're going to be interviewed on national television, you should be pulling for Brian Lamb to get the assignment.

Lamb is a longtime respected C-SPAN host who excels at the singles perhaps instead of swinging for the fences a bit too often (um, that would be Charlie Rose). Lamb got a crack at Melissa Lee last week in an interview that aired Sunday (and presumably will be viewable online at some point), and while there were a few things we'd probably do differently, it's an interesting hour of television and quite fair to Lee.

One of the things that occurred to this page while watching was how many of the questions we already knew the answer to (yeah, that's another signal we've got "issues" around here; you start hammering out a few daily comments about this Fast Money show, and years later you're being sucked into that tidal wave cesspool like those guys in "The Perfect Storm" and wondering what idiot's idea it was to launch this ship to sea.)

Anyway, the camera caught Lee from a slightly different angle (left side) than the straight-on look most viewers are accustomed to; not a problem for a seasoned TV pro in the slightest. There was also an occasional background shot that betrayed a little bit of body language; Lee seemed a bit stiff during the opening questions about her family background, which she answered earnestly, and later questions about GE-Comcast ownership of NBC Universal, but was most at ease defending/explaining the role of Fast Money and the benefits of the stock market in the middle.

Lamb allowed Lee to give too long an answer about dealing with layoffs while she was a management consultant at Mercer in Boston, a description that sounded something like what cute Anna Kendrick dealt with in the movie "Up in the Air," but otherwise Lamb covered a surprising amount of material.

One of the few things Lamb did not cover, but is of interest to this site, is what a public figure such as Lee thinks about the ... (what a ghastly term) ... "blogosphere." Maybe not so much the mopes such as this site, but YouTube.

Curiously, Lee indicated to Lamb more than once how much she liked working at the Harvard Crimson and in particular appreciated that she was there during a time of Internet emergence. Yet she hasn't, to our knowledge, plunged into the Web universe in the same way as other business media types such as one C. Gasparino (dang it, tried to go a whole item without mentioning him but couldn't), who obviously enjoys the fact he can be in the HuffPost and NYPost on the same day he's arguing with someone on TV about Meredith Whitney.

For those who wonder about the purpose of Fast Money, wonder no more. Lamb asked Lee how she would "envision" her audience, and "who are you talking to"?

Lee's answer was, "Primarily it's the very active investor, who's sort of the home-gamer, the person at home who's, who's trading for fun, but also some of the young professionals on Wall Street."

(Notice she avoided the term "day-trader." Assuming it still exists. Not sure that Fast Money, or any show, wants to claim that segment of audience.)

Lee offered her most dubious answers when describing her documentary work (Coca-Cola, porn, China) as a "hobby" and actually claimed "it keeps me honest in terms of a journal- being a journalist. I can do both things." (Does that mean Fast Money is not journalism? Is Fast Money journalism? Hmmmm, we'd never mulled that before.)

In any case, Lee said, "I love what I do. I can't think of anything better in the whole world to do."

Lamb addressed a subject plenty of viewers want to know about.

"All through this you're still single," he said.

"Oh yeah," Lee said.

Lamb pointed out that a lot of Lee's colleagues somehow keep a frenetic schedule while being married with kids.

"I think most of my colleagues have done that. Yes," Lee said, carefully and cautiously.

Lee explained she got a job at CNNfn as an "entry level job as a production assistant," then found the "Wild West of opportunities" at Bloomberg, which had little to no TV back in the day. Lamb asked if she had an agent. Not then, but "I have one now," Lee said.

Lee said, "When I wanted to go from Bloomberg to CNBC, I figured, if I wanna play in the big leagues, I gotta play like I am in the big leagues and have an agent." Apparently the drawback is, "The decision to part with 10% of your salary every year is a hard decision."

Lee said, "I live on the East Side of Manhattan," it takes 30-35 minutes to commute to Englewood Cliffs, and she normally arrives around 9:30 or 10 a.m. But well before that, "I usually start it from home, and I'm reading everything."

Lamb asked why they call the show Fast Money. Lee responded, "Because the time frame is not the buy-and-hold investor."

Lamb asked what's the difference between the stock market and Las Vegas.

"Las Vegas is simply odds," Lee said. "The stock market, you have to use market intelligence. You have to use your brain."

So Lamb asked Lee for evidence that using one's brain works. Lee's answer was a bit dubious. "The evidence can be seen across Wall Street. Some of the most successful hedge fund managers use their brains and they, they bet against subprime for instance and they made a killing ... (but) using your brain can also get you in a lot of trouble. ... You can come up with the wrong conclusion."

So, to use your brain or not use your brain, that's apparently a tough call.

Lee gave a terribly cliche-ic answer to which show she likes the most, using the children analogy, but finally offering, "I think Fast Money is the hardest ... you're really on your toes; a lot of it's unscripted." (Yeah, and you've also gotta listen to Steve Cortes' '70s analogies a couple times a week, and in general listen to Tim Seymour talk.)

Lee can't do stocks, she says. "We are not allowed to play the market ... we are allowed to invest in mutual funds and ETFs. But we are audited. And there's a strict standard here."

Lee told Lamb, in the most circumspect portion, that she has experienced "so far, nothing" of any impact from the Comcast takeover. She also told Lamb she has felt "no" impact of GE ownership, saying, "They don't influence our editorial decisions or how we cover the company."

Lee admitted political types appear on her shows "not very often at all." That's because, she said, "I try not, in fact, to have politicians on, because I find the conversation is, is very 1-way. They have an agenda. That's fine. Bring it to another station. Bring it to another show."

Lamb asked for her view of Washington. Lee called herself an "agnostic" observer of politics, and "Without making any sort of biased comments," believes that "increased regulation in general means restrictions for companies ... government's not necessarily bad or good or capitalistic or not. They do what they do." (Translation: Liberals and left-of-centers who watch C-SPAN, please don't lump me in with the Larry Kudlows and Eric Bollings and Charles Gasparinos of the world.)

Lee received a Bachelor of Arts, in government, from Harvard, in 1995, but the buildup to that is a bit murky. "I thought I could save the world by being a lawyer," Lee told Lamb, then later revealed, "When I entered Harvard, I thought I would be a doctor."

Maybe most telling, Lee explained, "I had and abandoned several dreams along the way," and that sounds like a poignant movie script or something to analyze, but good grief this entry is way too long already (and is only getting longer).

Lamb asked Lee to grade how well Harvard did at teaching her about government. "Oh wow, that's a good question," said Lee, but really it wasn't, because a person in Lee's position can't be expected to speak negatively of Harvard or probably any university (that's not saying she wanted to give a low grade, only saying that if she did want to give a low grade, she probably wouldn't). "I think Harvard is an amazing place," Lee said (sigh). "I think that they would get an A-minus," and the only "shortfall" from A+ "is on my part" (double sigh).

Lee told of her family's arrival in America, saying her paternal grandparents emigrated from southern China more than 100 hundred years ago, landing in Buffalo, where they ran a laundromat. "They were one of the few Chinese people in that whole town," Lee said. "My dad went to Columbia University ... sort of had the big dreams in the family," and enjoyed watching Cramer and Bartiromo on CNBC.

Lee said her mother's father relocated from China to Hong Kong when the communists came, giving her family history something in common with that of colleague Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who occasionally notes that her grandparents also fled communism, in Cuba.

She said her mother was a fashion designer, and her parents had a drugstore in Queens before opening a furniture, custom upholstery and drapery business.

Lamb asked how Lee got the "impetus" to study and get into Harvard. "There was no choice in the matter," Lee said. "There were no play dates. I didn't go on play dates." She said her sister went to Barnard and her brother to Columbia.

Lee revealed an early fascination with television and in particular, New York anchor Kaity Tong. "I wrote her a letter when I was 11," and ended up getting a photo.

Lee also said, "I loved calculus in high school," but in college, "my favorite course was the Harvard Crimson."

We noticed on the C-SPAN Web site a couple minor glitches in the description of Lee that would've been fixed by simple research. Lamb was mostly well-prepared but called one of Lee's programs "Money in Action." He also ran a pair of clips of Lee being late to the first show that was way too long and undeniably a sign that C-SPAN probably has a lot more time to fill than other networks.

Lamb also brought up Options Action, asking if buying options isn't just gambling. Lee had to give a decent but lengthy explanation of how options are priced that probably wouldn't register with the laymen, and indicated in a clumsy answer that it's not really gambling if you know what you're doing.

Lamb curiously asked when cable TV started putting lots of graphics and moving-cameras into the shows. "I don't know when it started," Lee said, but basically the answer is 9/11, when all the networks started running a news ticker and found people really could concentrate on everything at once.

Lamb asked about Lee's porn documentary. "Yes, it is a titillating topic. But it, it really represented some of the, the bigger problems going on in, in various other industries." (Um, so where's the newspaper/phone book documentary?) Lee said, "So far, the documentaries I have done have been my ideas."

Lamb asked, "Do you have a book in you," and evidently he's not the first. "I have been asked that question many times," Lee said, but apparently there's nothing in the works.

Lee revealed, "I think David Faber's book is fantastic," and that Andrew Ross Sorkin did a "very fine book," but interestingly, that was as long as the list got. Lee called Scott Wapner a "super-capable anchor."

Lee almost reacted in disbelief when Lamb asked if/how America will respond to the Great Recession. "I think America has a very, very, very bright future," she said.

[Friday, April 8, 2011]

David Rosenberg
is at it again

Melissa Lee showed a chart from David Rosenberg — who's been predicting ongoing gloom for the last 2 years — that purportedly indicates a "classic topping pattern" in the S&P 500.

Steve Grasso didn't disagree that the chart is not saying buy. "I'd rather wait for 1,300 or 1,355" to start buying, Grasso said.

Grasso and Zach Karabell basically took on Joe Terranova in drawing retail conclusions from the oil price.

Grasso said ANF, with its "international growth story," is an example how some retailers are surging in a "stock specific" environment.

Joe Terranova said all that matters to him is how AAPL has done with higher oil prices.

But Grasso argued, "You've seen the retail space move up," and Karabell said, "I totally agree with Steve," that specific names can work even while the outlook is cloudy.

Grasso offered a conclusion that would satisfy Karabell, "You can't short the space."

"I agree," Karabell said.

Flash: Congressman wants less reliance on China

Congressman Mike Coffman, in a curious segment, spoke to Melissa Lee about his rare earths procurement bill that is supposed to end the U.S. reliance on its unreliable trading partner, China.

"We're essentially procuring them through long-term contracts," Coffman said.

But Melissa Lee, in way too roundabout of a line of questioning that was nevertheless on target, eventually said "It doesn't seem like the math works out," because China has so much control over the rare earth supply as it exists. Coffman said he merely wants to get U.S. procurement going so we don't have to rely on them.

Steve Grasso said he likes diversified oil plays but doesn't know how high the price of crude is going. If you talk to traders, he said, it's "probably heading toward $120."

Money in Motion invades
Fast Money Halftime

Whatever short shrift Fast Money might be getting on Fridays as Options Action and Money in Motion muscle into the program schedule just got shrifter on Friday, when the 30-minute Halftime Report devoted a large amount of time to the currency trading that figured to be discussed later in the day.

Melissa Lee, speaking to Rebecca Patterson, offered an informational point for the uninformed. "A lot of people out there don't necessarily want to trade the futures, but what they don't know Rebecca, that you and I know very well, is that currencies can actually be used as a proxy for commodities."

Patterson speculated about the (incredibly boring developments in the) looming government shutdown. "I think you do see a bounce in the dollar if and when the government is able to keep, keep things going, keep the doors open," Patterson said, but the question is which currencies it will bounce against.

Zach Karabell, presciently, said at the beginning of the program, "Currency moves on a daily basis, as much as we talk about them, are probably best left to absolute currency traders because I'm not always sure exactly what's going on in the currency markets. I know I'm not supposed to admit that on-air, but it's, it's actually what I feel about currency."

"I feel we're in an AA meeting or something, admitting your problem Zach," said Lee.

"I'm actually short AA," Karabell later quipped, meaning the stock.

Strategy Session told that a lot of university endowment problems ‘were overstated’

First this page will note that Larry Kochard, the CEO of the University of Virginia's roughly $5 billion endowment, certainly comes across as an articulate individual and excellent choice to run any university program or any financial office.

We wish him well.

The skepticism of this page, however, for university & museum endowments is so far off the charts, your browser can't click high enough.

It's understood that universities deal in (very) large amounts of money, and it only makes sense to hire experts to manage it, as opposed to, say, asking the history prof to make a few stock picks on his way to a symposium.

The issue is why universities, of all places, who are really the kings of leverage in our society (just look at how much is owed by their students, many of whom don't have a promising job locked up upon graduation, while endowments grow), are more hell-bent on making money than actually educating people.

Consider this quote from university President Teresa A. Sullivan when Kochard's 2010 hiring was announced: "Endowment income and private gifts provide the extra margin that takes the University of Virginia from adequacy to excellence ..."

So the higher the endowment return, the smarter the students get. Evidently.

And how excellent was the "extra-margin"-enhanced education when the same endowment lost $1 billion, or 20%, in 2008, a time when "no one really knows what it's worth because, it turns out, more than half its investments lie in the little-understood worlds of hedge funds and something called "private equity." Did the students suddenly suck?

(David Faber, apparently with different research, told Kochard Friday, "Luckily not the University of Virginia but there were a number of notable endowments that invested in private equity.")

Not only that, but the guy Kochard replaced, Christopher Brightman, earned $2.5 million in 2008 for his 20%-loss performance (who said you don't get rich in higher education), which happened to be "nearly double what he was earning two years earlier when UVIMCO achieved significantly better results," and possibly even as much as (gasp) the basketball coach.

Kochard addressed the subject of general university endowment troubles — briefly — on The Strategy Session on Friday, but actually said "I think a lot of the problems that they had were overstated."

Really. $1 billion of state/student resources lost to a mysterious private-equity/hedge fund sinkhole in a pursuit of Gordon Gekko-like returns ... but it's "overstated."

David Faber also tends to be skeptical of the money-management industry. We figured we might be giving Faber a virtual high-five in this segment. He didn't come through as much as we hoped.

Kochard said at one point, "We're investing in long-short equity managers and we're investing in private equity managers. So there's a range of liquidity there."

"And a range of fees that you're paying as well," Faber did manage to say.

"And a range of fees," Kochard acknowledged, before explaining, "We do it in a way that the fees are reasonable, there's an incentive alignment between the manager and UVIMCO. Um, they haven't gotten too big, they've had a lot of experience. And when you look, when you separate the wheat from the chaff of all the investment managers out there ... there's a lot of chaff, and less wheat."

And, when they permanently separate $1 billion from a university's holdings because they're trying to be George Soros, there's a lot less wheat and a lot more chaff for the students (not as if the endowment was going to help them out on tuition anyway).

It's our obligation — actually it really isn't, but whatever — to note Kochard's assessment of the financial markets, given that was his purpose for being on the show Friday.

He said, "I think the biggest challenge right now is just the level of interest rates," adding, "equities are the best house in a bad neighborhood."

"The key risk is rising interest rates," Kochard said.

He said that given the prospect of higher rates down the road, his portfolio is "essentially all short duration," but that he's got "opportunistic" managers who are primed to "take advantage of the situation."

Kochard said his team is "investing in strategies that could be floating-rate debt," and that on the "commodities side," instead of futures and ETFs, he tends to "take more of a private approach" with a direct investment.

Gary Kaminsky asked Kochard to define the term "real asset."

Kochard said, "Something that's gonna provide some protection in an inflationary environment," and in this case, "natural resource related" and "real estate related," but all private.

So student education that figures to go from "adequacy to excellence" is hinging in part on real estate values. (Why not just let it ride on St. Joe?)

At least Kochard makes media appearances. This article notes that in 2009, Brightman "steadfastly declined to directly speak with Charlottesville reporters about the endowment funds he was managing."

Universities — beacons of enlightenment.

MLP expert likes WPZ, EPD

Master limited partnerships are a popular topic on The Strategy Session, and on Friday, David Faber tried to pin "Yield Hunter" Darren Horowitz on whether this could be an MLP top.

"Rates are going up," Faber said, "and they don't always do well in a rising-rate environment." Not only that, but there are "ETFs that are tracking indices that are tracking the MLPs. The space feels maybe like it's a bit overdone at this point."

Horowitz acknowledged, "In today's market I think that's the proper evaluation ... our thesis really isn't predicated on benchmarking current yields relative to historical precedent against the 10-year Treasury. Our thesis is more predicated on the expectations for those distributions to grow, over the long term."

In other words, he thinks you can find payouts that will grow faster than rates. "This is an asset class where you have excellent transparency in future growth," he said.

Horowitz mentioned 2 names: Williams Partners LP (WPZ), which he said has 6% distribution growth, and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD).

Kaminsky: Inflation rearing ugly head in personal travel

Gary Kaminsky offered a personal travel anecdote on Friday's Strategy Session to explain what's going on regarding inflation, saying he got an e-mail from a travel Web site that is going to "adjust" his invoice another 11-12% based on fuel surcharge.

"This is the real one, folks. This is what's happening," Kaminsky said. "If they don't pass this on, at this point, to me, they lose their margin. That- What does that mean? It means a profit warning. What does that mean? It means earnings are not gonna meet expectations. This is reality. I don't know what Bernanke's thinking. This is reality."

David Faber concluded, "Givin' us the reality there, man. He is Gary 'Reality' Kaminsky."

Kaminsky also said that as earnings calls approach, there's "a lot of garbage in, garbage out" because they're all looking backwards.

In fact, Kaminsky said, the elite pros will be watching 3 in particular: JPM, for "loan growth, credit quality," plus McDonald's, for oil impact on the consumer, and TXN, for the Japan impact.

"This is what those who allocate real money will be paying attention to," Kaminsky said.

[Thursday, April 7, 2011]

A day earlier, Fast Money
asked the wrong question

Melissa Lee, lookin' good in chic-y red & black on Thursday's Fast Money, revisited the Fast gang's interview with Netflix short Len Brecken a day earlier, and turned to Jon Najarian for a rebuttal.

"You pinged me yesterday," Lee told Najarian, and asked him to explain to viewers why he disagrees with Brecken's analysis.

"I just used his own math," Najarian said. "I mean, he said, if 80% of the United States became subscribers to Netflix, they still couldn't make money. And, uh, even at very conservative estimates that's almost a billion dollars a month, for Netflix, of the hundred million in broadband users ... to say that they could never earn back 1.6 billion, I think his math is a little fuzzy there."

It would've been interesting if someone on Fast Money — especially given that all 5 people on the set asked a question at some point — had made that argument to Brecken while he was actually on-air a day earlier instead of just questioning his decision to stay short.

Nobody did, but we reviewed Brecken's appearance for the actual quote cited by Najarian.

Brecken said, "In order for them to make back the money that they will invest, the off-balance-sheet obligations that, that are related to streaming content, they would have to penetrate 80% of the hundred million broadband customers. That's without competition. That's just them. To make that money back. All right, I'm not making up the math. ... on every 10 million subscribers, uh, they make about 120 million pretax."

But Brecken also pointed out that, in his opinion, the $1.6 billion is due within 1 to 3 years.

Presumably, Brecken is saying it would take a long time to reach the 80% threshold.

Evidently, the math dispute boils down to timing. We'll try to research this a bit further over the weekend.

Karen Finerman, meanwhile, suggested another reason why Brecken is overstating the problem — that Netflix is sitting on a huge asset, a high share price, that could be used for a stock offering to raise the $1.6 billion, and "that would solve the problem."

Might as well pencil in $147

Oil trader David Greenberg didn't offer much optimism on Thursday's Fast Money for those who'd like to see crude lower.

"The speculators are just taking control of this market and it's just out of control," Greenberg said.

Joe Terranova asked Greenberg for clarity.

"You and I go back a few Gulf Wars ago," Greenberg said. "You never saw a spike like this," explaining the problem is an ocean of money flooding in, and "the market's too small to handle it," and thus it's "algorithms" that are moving the market.

Greenberg claimed the realistic price of oil minus speculation would be about $20-$25 lower, because "there is no disruption of oil right now."

All of which might be highly believable, but in a case of perhaps too much of a good thing, Greenberg's point ran a bit off the rails when he suggested that position limits, which he said nobody talks about, would help curb the speculation. Brian Kelly asked if that wouldn't just send the money elsewhere into less official holdings. Greenberg said basically everyone trades at the Nymex or the ICE. So Kelly asked if those people wouldn't be motivated to move holdings elsewhere. Greenberg conceded that would be an unknown.

Another groundbreaking
segment with Peter Schiff

Apparently Peter Schiff is good for ratings, because Fast Money keeps bringing him back to make the same point under some new ginned-up headline.

Schiff even objected Thursday to the lack of introduction by Melissa Lee about how he expected to get a question about bears throwing in the towel, when "the bulls have gotta throw in the towel because the bulls have been wrong for 11 years."

Joe Terranova told Schiff he's never in all these appearances heard him discuss oil, and would like to know his opinion. "It's gonna keep going higher," Schiff said. "It's not going to stop."

Brian Kelly asked Schiff about his prediction of the Dow and gold someday being 1 to 1. "I don't know where they're gonna meet," Schiff admitted, saying it could be at 20,000, but he thinks it'll probably be lower because the U.S. paper currency is becoming "counterfeit stuff."

Melissa Lee got a chance to re-ask Schiff her original question, where does he like to invest if he doesn't like U.S. stocks, and Schiff said Australia.

Good to know he’s not
just blowing it off

Mary (Prettiest Hair on Cable Television) Thompson reported during Fast Money Thursday on Jamie Dimon's annual letter to shareholders, and Thompson explained, "He spends a great deal of time on this."

Karen Finerman assured viewers, "I will read that, that letter with great interest though, for a lot of reasons."

Joe Terranova said "Victoria's Secret is driving Limited Brands," prompting Karen Finerman to quip, "You always seem to like that one, Joe."

Instead of taking that and running with it, Terranova insisted on finishing his retailer point, adding, "and I think Costco" is one to like.

Brian Kelly said he likes EWP, "I think it's got an awful lot of room to go." Kelly also said, "There is a short squeeze going on in silver."

Kelly also, after giving himself a first quarter Fast Fire for playing the TBT and TLT several times without making money, recommended viewers buy TBT as his Final Trade.

Karen sells PLCE

Karen Finerman said on Thursday's Fast Money that she's surprised about the XRT strength but revealed, "we actually sold some Children's Place ... I don't know where the wall is, but we're a lot closer to it" than when oil was $20 lower.

Pete Najarian said the banks are starting to participate. Brian Kelly said it looks like his high-oil thesis is in trouble, that S&P 1,333 continues to be a bouncing point, but that he thinks ultimately something's gonna give, and he expects a "big move" in 1 direction or another.

Pete Najarian, like brother Jon at Halftime, stressed that $4 gasoline is only happening in select parts of the country, and so we haven't seen yet what happens when the whole country gets it for a sustained time.

Pete Najarian said "I remain on the coal trade."

More on Thursday's Fast Money later.

Cortes: NEM bad way to play precious metals

Steve Cortes notably said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that for those people interested in playing precious metals, "I think Newmont is one of the worst ways to play it," and pressed to defend "worst" by Melissa Lee, he said NEM has been underperforming other miners while gold has risen.

But Cortes likely raised more eyebrows with a curious point about the oil surge being a net positive for the wealthy, who can make more money on XOM than they're putting into the gas pump at every fillup, and the wealthy and the retailers who cater to them will continue to do well as long as there's QE.

Andy Busch thinks Halftime viewers kept notes from 2 weeks ago’s Money in Motion

Melissa Lee asked Andy Busch on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report if Busch agreed with Brian Kelly's short-yen thesis, only to have Busch curiously sort of chide Lee for not referencing their other program in which this came up long ago.

"On Money in Motion we covered this a couple weeks ago," Busch said, saying he agrees with Kelly and referring to the 81 level.

Jon Najarian said once the quake reports came out Thursday, "People scrambled for exactly the same stocks they went for as this, uh, happened last time," namely Toyota and CCJ.

Brian Kelly said he's avoiding nuclear for now but "I even like natural gas." Shockingly, he added, "A lot of the losses in Japan will have to be covered by the government."

Retailers ‘knocking the cover off the ball’

Debbie Weinswig said Thursday at Halftime that the retailer beats aren't just on easy comps, but "significantly more than that."

"Retailers across the board are knocking the cover off the ball," Weinswig said.

After playing a clip of Steve Grasso from March accurately referring to retailers' year-over-year comps in relation to a later Easter, Lee said that's "1 handsome man."

Unfortunately, Grasso later admitted he owns a little, long-term position in CSCO.

Faber gives guests
a little jab in the ribs

David Faber and Gary Kaminsky enjoyed some nice, extensive interviews with Mark Okada and Leon Kalvaria on Thursday, but that didn't mean Faber wasn't prone to a little verbal jousting, which even drew a small amount of protest to his questioning.

Faber told Okada, of Highland Capital, "You guys went through some tough times a few years ago. It didn't go that well."

"You guys, it's like we're all alone. I think everyone had a tough time," Okada responded.

"They did. They did," Faber backpedaled, though he also made a not-quite-fully-convinced reference to maybe it's a great time to "start a leveraged loan fund."

Near the end, when Kalvaria mentioned the Anheuser Busch-InBev deal (you know, the one that according to Sen. Claire McCaskill was a decided threat to America's business sovereignty, up until the point the offer price was raised $5 and then no longer became a threat to America's business sovereignty), the perma-skeptic Faber grumbled, "He's always bringing up his greatest highlights."

Memories can be long
on Wall Street

Mark Okada on Thursday basically defended the Fed and whatever it does, saying, "They've been pretty good about telling you what they're gonna do."

Okada said it's a path from "Great recession" to "Great reflation" to "Great rotation."

But he told Gary Kaminsky we're near the end of the middle chapter. "I think we're kind of done with this reflationary move," he said.

Okada, taking a page from Tim Seymour's book, said "The reality is" twice on the show plus once on the Web extra. He also explained on the Web extra that he doubted others' calls for a double dip.

Leon Kalvaria, coming down on 1 side of Greg Fleming's Strategy Session assertion last week that people have both long memories and short memories, said too many CEOs, boards and CFOs remember when they couldn't roll their own paper, and "They will never go back and repeat it," so they will "continue to see people accessing the (capital) market" and perhaps "stretch out their duration."

The graphics gremlins misspelled "Empahsis" on the screen.

A shout-out to ‘Mooch’

Gary Kaminsky noted on Thursday's Strategy Session that there's a bit of a negative double-standard for companies and currency risk.

"Corporations are typically not rewarded if they do a good job hedging," Kaminsky said, because it's viewed as a non-recurring benefit to the bottom line, but when they fail ... look out.

Kaminsky then pointed to Dell in 1992, when he said the company nearly went bust because of how it was handling foreign currencies, only to be helped out by Goldman Sachs and Anthony Scaramucci. "This is a story that I will never forget," Kaminsky said.

What was curious about this story is that, on the Dell chart around 1992, Kaminsky had written "MOOCH" — which tripped up Scott Wapner this week (see below) on Fast Money. But we're guessing Gary's got the OK for that one.

"He gets paid every time we mention his name," shrugged David Faber, and presumably that includes when it's just "Mooch."

[Wednesday, April 6, 2011]

Len Brecken — one of the gutsiest Fast Money guests

Shorting Netflix can be risky television.

Len Brecken on Wednesday underwent the most serious Fast Money grilling basically since Karen Finerman led the gang in asking Michelle Meyer if she was working an "after-school job."

Melissa Lee didn't waste any time asking Brecken for philosophies, demanding to know right off the bat how much he's in the hole.

"When do you break even on this thing?" Lee asked.

"You wanna know my cost basis?" Brecken responded, surprised.

"Yeah," Lee said.

"Uh, it changes a little bit, because I'm, uh, I trade a little around my position quite a bit, but it's probably around $170," Brecken said.

Lee repeated "170" and then turned it over to Karen Finerman, who asked at what point Brecken will throw in the towel.

Brecken, who thinks he's got a Dr. John Trade® going that everyone experiences from time to time, thought that was a dubious question and eventually, calmly, explained, "What the Street and investors still have not understood is that the money this company is investing in its business, specifically in the content streaming, is so enormous, it's probably somewhere north of 1.6 billion now, that they will never be able to basically earn a return to get it back."

But no one was interested in that, because Joe Terranova and Tim Seymour somehow felt compelled to pile on and ask exactly the same question as Karen Finerman.

"I, I feel like I'm on, on the stand, to, uh ..." Brecken stammered.

Finally, Guy Adami sort of broke the ice, saying, "Len I admire you," but then Adami said he thought Brecken believes the stock is going to $50, which Brecken disagreed with and cut in to say, "When all is said and done, this stock is going way below 50."

Adami waved that off, indicating that wasn't the gist of his question, and it wasn't — instead the question was a bid of chiding over whether options would be a better way to hedge this type of prediction.

"That is a very valid strategy. Absolutely," Brecken acknowledged.

Brecken reiterated that in his opinion, Netflix can't get nearly enough subscribers to realistically make it work.

Traders still didn't care. Tim Seymour shrugged off the full-court press with, "It's just a risk-management question." Joe Terranova played the I Feel Your Pain card, explaining, "1997 I told a lot of traders that worked with me in crude oil that oil was going to 70 bucks. In 1998 it went to 10."

Riedel to Karabell: ‘I don’t know what surveys you’re looking at’

The Len Brecken interview wasn't the only fireworks on Wednesday's Fast Money.

The clash between David Riedel and Zachary Karabell vaulted to the top of the list for Most Contentious Fast Money Debate of the Year practically as soon as this happened.

Riedel, on the Fast Money set with a chart, explained what he sees as trouble in China based on consumer inflation expectations.

Lee immediately turned to Karabell, on the Prop Desk, who was obviously well aware of the segment and was prepared to make a counterargument.

"No consumer sentiment survey anywhere in the world has ever been shown to have any actual correlation between consumer behavior subsequent to the survey," Karabell said, arguing that food inflation was actually good for rural Chinese and asking Riedel his opinion on that angle.

Riedel, keeping during Karabell's remarks a spectacular poker face that betrayed nothing about the response to come, ignored Karabell's question but said, "We found a .7 correlation between what we see people saying they're gonna do, and what actually transpires. Auto sales, for example, when we see a decline in auto sales intentions over the next 3 months, we see a .7 correlation with people's behavior. So, I don't know what surveys you're looking at, but I think you might want to spend a little more time on ours."

That brought a couple of "whoa!"s from Guy Adami and either Tim Seymour or Joe Terranova. Karabell countered, "I, I'm, I'm, This is a long argument, but auto sales are a big-ticket item, and that's a very particular part of that story," but then Seymour, apparently sensing trouble here, jumped in with a different question for Riedel that went over much better.

There may or may not have been a winner — please note we're not declaring one here — but Riedel might've gotten the last laugh when the Zekester botched his turn at Skyworks on Pops & Drops.

Guy Adami evidently gets bummed out by Fast Money hate mail

Sparring partners Karen Finerman and Tim Seymour bantered Wednesday as to whether the AAPL rebalancing act is already priced into the stock, or not, but Guy Adami couldn't resist mentioning again what's now become a daily refrain — don't hate me for pointing out Apple's slump.

"Save the hate mail real quick," Adami said, before pointing out that the AAPL chart has had "lower highs and lower lows since the middle of February," and regardless of what stock ticker symbol is up there, "you would say that's a negative chart pattern."

But, "You say that, and people throw darts at ya," Adami whined.

Mel Lee, in va-va-voom navy V-neck, said that's a great idea, to show stock charts without listing the symbol and make people guess. (And then Fast Money will have come full circle since Dylan Ratigan's earliest shows.)

Karen repeats Melissa’s lines
from the Halftime Report

Evidently, Karen Finerman keeps tabs on the lunchtime version of Fast Money in which she never actually appears. (Remember in the early days of the Halftime Report and they had a regular trader call in for 3 minutes each time and usually the cell connection was terrible?)

Finerman, in a verrrrry smooth gray, said on the 5 p.m. show about Cisco, "Well that's the first thing, admitting that there's a problem."

"Exactly!" chirped Mel Lee, who used the same line hours earlier (see below).

Tim Seymour then proceeded to say of John Chambers, "He's still got a bazooka in his pocket too."

"Really," said Guy Adami, who was having a blast with everything he heard on the show Wednesday (but apparently wasn't looking forward to checking the inbox).

"That's what they say," Seymour said, prompting a laugh from Lee.

Now we know why the disclosures at CNBC.com can be a bit lacking

Joe Terranova was asked Wednesday about his outlook on tech shares.

"I think all I have left in technology is a small Akamai position, that's it," Terranova said.

"I think"?

K-Fine’s jackpot

Karen Finerman said Wednesday she's getting out of one of her favorite names and a spectacular call — Golar.

"It is time to say goodbye," Finerman said, because "all of their capacity — almost all — is already booked, it's already locked in."

Guy Adami agreed it's a prudent move to lighten up here.

Terranova: Netflix reversal
is sign of trouble

The Fast Money gang found itself split early Wednesday on market direction.

In one camp were Zachary Karabell, who said "We have a lot of room to go here," and "I think we have more positive momentum than not," and Karen Finerman, who almost gleefully noted a rotation from high-beta into sluggish megacaps.

But Joe Terranova, with Guy Adami's blessing, pointed to Valero, Netflix and Caterpillar as leading the way with key reversals, and Terranova asserted the market hit a wall when oil reached $109.

Tim Seymour seemed to lean toward the market-higher scenario.

Optimer CEO Pedro Lichtinger proved an enthusiastic and informative guest when discussing possibilities in the wake of his deal with Cubist for co-marketing Dificid.

Fast Money put together kind of a goofy "Tradquil" spoof of Guy Adami's cold.

Najarian: People starting
to believe in John Chambers

Pete Najarian actually claimed on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that reaction to John Chambers' comments is a sign "they're starting to believe in what he's talking about."

Melissa Lee declared, "The first step is admitting that you've got a problem right," and then asked Stephen Weiss if the Chambers letter changes his view on the stock.

Weiss said CSCO is too big to suddenly kick-start, but curiously said, "If he does do something, it really ratchets up the pressure on Intel and Microsoft, the other big, ugly techs."

Dennis Gartman said "I think this will probably however be the last ECB rate (sic) without the Fed moving on its own" and that the spread between the 2 will peak. Callaway Golf CEO George Fellows was very respectful about his Japan business, saying it's really a question of how much of an emotional shock the country has taken in terms of how much they will golf.

Steve Cortes once
had Farrah poster

Steve Cortes revealed on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that "the last time silver was at these prices ... I still lived with my parents then, and I had a Farrah Fawcett poster on my wall."

Ah. Just like the guy in "Saturday Night Fever."

"How is that different than today, Cortes?" asked Brian Kelly.

Gasparino finds Fredo
comparison ‘pretty funny’

Joe Saluzzi and Sal Arnuk, 2 recent guests of Fast Money, have put together a "Godfather-esque" parody of Charles Gasparino's role in reporting on the Nasdaq-NYSE dealings at The Business Insider.

We know about this, only because Gasparino himself tweeted about it, actually calling it a "pretty funny folo-up to my scoop earlier in the week," even though, with all due respect to Saluzzi and Arnuk, it was a bit predictable and weak.

(Note to self: Start writing Gasparino parodies into famous scripts. Check.)

Well, in his defense, he’s got other things on his mind

Herb Greenberg on Wednesday's Strategy Session delivered an update on Chinese reverse mergers in a short segment that was actually just a tease to his CNBC.com article.

But 2 funny things occurred in this report.

One was the hilarious shot of the "bell-ringing" by Chinese Media Express at the Nasdaq.

Another was when Greenberg reported that Melissa Lee asked Bob Greifeld about reverse mergers (it's true, she did), and all Greifeld gave was a "mumbo jumbo answer."

Greenberg had a later blog post Wednesday about Netflix that was actually more interesting.

Guest struggles to sell Gary Kaminsky on market-due-to-bounce-back thesis

Hank Smith told The Strategy Session on Wednesday that we're experiencing a "secular bull market" that "could last for a decade" — sort of to the chagrin of Gary Kaminsky.

Smith said March 2009 was a "generational bottom," and even nowadays, "there are walls of worry. We are climbing those."

The biggest difference between now and 10 years ago, he said, is "Valuations are extremely attractive."

Kaminsky then turned to host David Faber and said, "I have not seen 1 person come on the network, have you David, that, there has not been 1 person who said, they're concerned about equities, everybody wants to be overweight U.S. equities." (Actually, Kyle Bass did, but that was back in August, before — oops — a massive stock rally, and when Bass returned in February he had soft-pedaled that position, so we're not sure if that counts.)

(But to be honest, Doug Kass has also made the "not high on equities" argument a few times recently on Fast Money, albeit he only sees flatness and not a crash.)

Anyway, Smith said to believe the actions, not words. "They're bullish in terms of verbiage, but in terms of what they're doing, they're only beginning to exhibit signs of bullishness," he said.

Smith also asserted, "We've never had a 20-year period of negative returns," and, "We've only had 4 10-year periods of negative returns."

Kaminsky remained unconvinced of the bound-to-bounce-back notion. "To simply say that we will revert to the mean because we've reverted to the mean in the past, is not necessarily the most, um, the most, the most definitive way" to view the market, Kaminsky said.

We've probably been watching too many CNBC Charles Schwab commercials, but we've come to the conclusion that the only definitive way to invest is in a "practical, let's-make-this-happen kind of way."

Apparently, ratings agencies are inclined to give high marks

Deepak Narula, whose hedge fund apparently jacked one out of the park last year with 53% return, spoke about the securitization market and said "The easy money has been made in 2009 ... and in 2010 too," but nevertheless, "they still look attractive on a relative basis."

Gary Kaminsky asked, "What should the role of the ratings agencies be?"

Narula responded without really answering, saying "incentives" are the problem, and that the agencies had been "rather aggressive" in the past.

"Rather aggressive, you're being very polite," said perma-skeptic David Faber.

Narula said the agencies may be doing OK now, but only in a limited market; the real test is when securitization picks up again.

David Faber caught Gary Kaminsky over-BlackBerrying after a commercial break, reminding Kaminsky "show's on," to Kaminsky's chuckles. (See, it's a multimedia world now and Gary could've actually told Faber that he's doing the show a favor in terms of exposure.)

The cameraman goofed with Mary (Prettiest Hair on Cable Television) Thompson, who delivered a Strategy Session report on the Fed's Maiden Lane II plans but at such an inexplicably low camera angle that her head was barely above the text on the screen, until a last-second lift when the report was basically over.

[Tuesday, April 5, 2011]

What’s the trade?

As further proof that Fast Money is "not a political show," Eamon Javers delivered a nearly 2-minute, 49-second report Tuesday explaining how the Tea Party-linked FreedomWorks is trying to oust Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, and Scott Wapner didn't ask any of the panelists to comment.

Because none of them has a political opinion.

While he’s at it, Scott Wapner could stop calling everyone ‘man’

Fast Money's Tuesday chat with Anthony Scaramucci ended with Scott Wapner saying, "Mooch, it's always a pleasure to talk to you, man."

That brought a snicker from Guy Adami.

"He doesn't like the Mooch thing," Adami informed Wapner.

"He doesn't?" Wapner asked.

"He's grown, he's warmed up to it," Adami said. "But that's why he- see he paused there when you said..."

That exchange caused a gulp around here, as we're certain this page at least once or twice referred to the "Moochmeister." (We only meant it as a compliment. And only after someone on Fast Money referred to "Mooch.")

It's a bump in the road for Wapner, who's mostly doing a bang-up job in the Fast Money guest-host chair but could stand to dial down the colloquial way he addresses people.

Scaramucci: NKE
could eventually see $100

The real reason for Anthony Scaramucci's presence on Tuesday's Fast Money was not to be handed a nickname by Scott Wapner, but to deliver another Hedge Fund Trade of the Week.

Tuesday, it was NKE. Scaramucci said, "Over the last 5 years, Nike has had a free cash flow yield of over 19%," and that the stock "could trade to a $100 price target."

He listed Oak Hill, Adage, Citadel, Caxton, Chilton and Soros as being owners.

Scott Wapner praised an earlier excellent Scaramucci call on HRB. "I'm sticking by the trade, but I'm a little superstitious, I'm afraid lightning's gonna strike now Scott," Scaramucci joked.

A futures-trade suggestion
on a stock-trading show

Rich Ilczyszyn said Tuesday on Fast Money that "Speculators own and have oil to the equivalent of the strategic reserve," and so, "I think oil's got a real good case to sell off a bit here."

But when Joe Terranova asked him how he'd play that, Ilczyszyn offered a strategy that probably 95% (or more) of Fast Money viewers can't/won't employ.

"I'm a futures guy, and I think you get more bang for your buck in the futures," Ilczyszyn said, saying he'd recommend people "buy cheap June options."

No shortage of sellers

Karen Finerman first brought religion into the gold discussion, then offered an eye-opening comparison of Google to Microsoft (in antitrust terms) ... and then hardly said a word the rest of Tuesday's Fast Money.

Except for when Cisco came up, when Finerman said, "I think the company is just too big to have any real threat from activism."

The only thing more shocking than seeing the text on the screen that said JJ Kinahan owns CSCO was his comment that "Actually, I would buy more here."

Uncharacteristic hyperbole
from Karen Finerman

Jon Najarian reported Tuesday that American Superconductor was taking a hit because it relies on "1 big customer" that didn't come through.

American Superconductor, Najarian said, is ready for prime time, but "their customers are not ready for prime time yet."

Karen Finerman, in one of her few comments on the day, said "Stay away. It's not a falling knife, it's an avalanche."

Nostalgia by the slice

JJ Kinahan, who got a couple good turns at-bat on the Prop Desk Tuesday, said "I would be a buyer of Monsanto," and also reported on a trade in DHI in which someone "took profits on the April 12 puts" and used that to buy May 11 puts in expectation of a slide.

Fed watcher Bill O'Donnell said "I think they'll stay on the gas pedal."

Joe Terranova revealed, "When I was 15 years old I worked at Sbarros (sic) for a total of 3 hours. That's all I need to say."

Faith-based Fast Money

Only very rarely has Fast Money broached the subject of religion.

Karen Finerman brought it up Tuesday.

Finerman said "Gold, you see, Beeks explains, that it's a hedge for negative inflation, apparently it's quite a hedge for high inflation. I don't get it ... it's like religion, either you believe or you don't. I don't."

Guy Adami said, "I believe. Religion that is. Yeah. We talked about that before."

"You do not wanna go there," said guest host Scott Wapner.

Adami didn't. Instead, he said he thinks silver can continue to outperform gold. JJ Kinahan said there's a "large buyer of the May 138 puts" in the GLD apparently making a play on a big move in either direction.

Brian Kelly conceded, curiously, that the gold/silver trade involves "circular logic."

Kelly said of the SLV, "I'll be selling in the mid-40s."

Karen Finerman, when not defining religion, amusingly said sarcastically of gold, "No we'll never, ever, ever run out of steam ever."

Karen exits GOOG

Guy Adami told Scott Wapner Tuesday "investing is completely different than trading."

Moments later, Wapner said, "Playing a semantics game with me now?"

Adami insisted, "No, well no, investing and trading, it's not semantics; they're 2 entirely different things."

Adami, whose voice was cracking, also made a reference to "benign tapes" while discussing Honeywell.

Karen Finerman astonishingly said she sold the GOOG shares in her personal account, citing FTC concerns as an "enormous black cloud that will hang over their heads for a long time."

Cortes: Be long Tesla

Steve Cortes evidently elected himself designated talker on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, finding no topic on which he couldn't submit an opinion.

Maybe the most interesting was his bullish outlook on Tesla, after analyst Adam Jonas actually verified a $70 price target to Scott Wapner.

"How in the world is Tesla gonna get to that. Can't it get to 30 first?" Wapner asked.

Jonas said it's based on an expansion into mainstream sales given higher oil costs. Cortes said Tesla is not a business play really but a political play, it's shaking all the right hands in Washington, and "I think you have to be long."

Steve Cortes said

Lessee, is there anything to talk about regarding Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that doesn't include "Steve Cortes said."

Brian Kelly did express concerns about copper, saying "I would be suspect of the end demand in China" and that copper is being used in China as financial leverage.

Then Steve Cortes said it's actually "really reminiscent of what U.S. homeowners were doing" in terms of financing purchases with home equity, and added, "I think the dollar is deeply oversold."

During a brief lumber discussion in which "HOVANIAN" was misspelled on the screen, Kelly said, "The price of houses has to go down till you get that market-clearing price."

Steve Cortes said basically the same thing, but when pressed on Japan's massive rebuilding, said it's only the lumber companies that have rallied, not lumber itself.

Steve Cortes said the chips aren't his favorite area for M&A, but biotech is. "I think that is the space that is ripe for takeovers," he said.

Steve Cortes said he doesn't like C because of the yield curve (this writer is long C).

Steve Cortes said "I think Apple's underperformance is a problem not just for Apple but for tech broadly," then pointed to another megatech name. "On a very boring day today, Google is down sharply, in the last 6 weeks, it is down about 10%," he said.

Patty Edwards, in glam look but barely able to get in a word (although she at least said more than Joe Terranova), said, "I wanna own things that are too heavy to lift, or come out of the ground. That puts me in gold."

And presumably, not in GOOG.

CNBC passes the Cisco
watchdog test

There's a cottage industry of media ethics watchdogs, many of them at universities or think tanks, who from time to time will carp about various business arrangements (or appearances of) by members of the mainstream media as potential ethical breaches.

This is, in fact, a trap that sites such as this can fall into, an obsession with trumpeting the slightest things that are out of whack (this page originally used to get hung up when the online Fast Money panelist disclosures contradicted or didn't match what was said on TV; then after considering that A) positions could be unloaded right before or after the show and B) the disclosures go up maybe an hour after the show ends and might refer only to what traders held right at that moment and C) the folks at CNBC.com who have to type this in every day at the end of their shift might make a mistake here and there and D) ultimately, the online disclosures for a given day don't mean squat unless they're updated 24/7 in real-time which they're not, we quickly stopped caring).

So while media watchdogs often have a point, and many deserve credit for their diligence, this site avoids getting into that very much, because 1) it's boring, 2) it amounts to (unimpressive) intellectual material for professors and uninteresting cocktail parties, and 3) most media consumers couldn't care less.

And so not surprisingly, in a quick round of Googling, we found virtually nothing on CNBC's partnership with Cisco since July 2010, when the deal was written up in AdAge.com as possibly "blurring the lines of journalism ethics."

The article says, "The pact shows the lengths to which marketers will go as they attempt to creep into what is perhaps the last TV genre to keep them at bay: news programming.”

As far as Fast Money, The Strategy Session and Squawk Box are concerned, we haven't seen jack in terms of blurring.

A couple people — we won't mention names — did tout the stock on Fast Money last year with a $34 price expectation and having an "unbelievable" entry point last August.

But those were undoubtedly independent stock calls, and most think it's been a dog and have said so. Tim Seymour claimed he got "Jedi mind-tricked" into buying CSCO shares. Guy Adami, Stephen Weiss and Steve Grasso have led the skeptics on Fast Money. Gary Kaminsky has questioned, both on Tuesday's Strategy Session and more sharply in a recent Twitter tweet, how Barron's ranks John Chambers as one of the top CEOs in the nation.

Maybe the Cisco-CNBC deal was dubious. The nice thing is that news and reality have a way of overcoming things.

Nice guy, swell fellow,
but ...

Speaking of Cisco, Rob Cox claimed on Tuesday's Strategy Session that the buzzards are starting to circle.

"I've been working on this for a couple of weeks and what we've come to determine is that Cisco is ripe for some sort of activist assault," Cox said, citing flawed strategies and "great mission creep at the company," as well as, what kinda floored us, $70 billion in buybacks (or put another way, $70 billion spent on a bad investment — and you thought Tim Armstrong was overdoing it on the Huffington Post).

Gary Kaminsky, who praised the friendliness of John Chambers, asked Cox, "is it going to involve a change of CEO." Cox didn't go that far, but said that to satisfy an agitator, Chambers is "gonna have to repudiate a lot of his strategy."

David Faber asked/stressed whether Cox was just "positing" a possibility and not necessarily that certain people are ready to act right now.

"I think it's a little bit of both," Cox said, saying some heavy hitters are indeed checking the books.

Mutual fund industry
suddenly catches fire

In an action-packed Strategy Session Tuesday, Gary Kaminsky and David Faber brought up a trend we're certain to see more of: Money managers touting their "10-year" performance.

The truth is that arbitrary lines in the sand (in fairness, the industry has to have some fixed criteria) are useless ways of measuring money managers' performance, but a lot of regular joes don't get that.

Kaminsky cited, as only one example of a prominent fund, the Fidelity Blue Chip Growth and how its 10-year performance has suddenly improved the farther we get from 2000.

"As we move away David from the tech bubble, we continue to get better 10-year performance," Kaminsky said.

He noted that just a year ago, the 10-year return was awful, but now is hugely helped by what happened or didn't happen in 2001. Faber pointed out that the bottom happened in 2002 and thus there will be a lot of acceleration to that point which will help the firms advertise.

"This is exactly what they're doing in the marketing meetings at these firms right now, trying to convince you of the 10-year number and sell it hard," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky and Faber also spoke about the weighting of AAPL in Nasdaq images, saying it has something to do with the QQQQ, "because of certain IRS regulations in terms of diversification," but it's too complicated for a half-hour TV show, so "don't ask us to try to explain it."

David Faber barely able to get a word in edgewise

And we thought no one on CNBC could out-talk Tim Seymour.

Andrew O'Brien of JPMorgan was undeniably chipper about his Strategy Session appearance Tuesday — so chipper that either he was double-parked, or had just written David Faber's script.

O'Brien anticipated everything Faber asked him with "right," "yep" or "correct" after each half-sentence before plowing into his high-octane answers.

He spoke about JPMorgan's successful handling of the AT&T loan. "Highly rated, A rated, you got a short-term maturity," he said, that was "quickly syndicated to a group of about 12 banks."

He told Faber there's been "a lot of inflows into the leveraged loan market," with the benefits of, "you're at the top of the capital structure, you're typically secured."

He conceded there's been maybe a "relaxation of covenants," but said "the equity checks and the leverage is still lower than what we (were) seeing at the peak in '07."

Gary Kaminsky asked who the buyers are of these types of leveraged loans, and O'Brien said institutional accounts.

O'Brien would do great if he just slowed down a bit. Like those NFL running backs who don't wait long enough for the hole to open. We're not experts (hardly) on his field of expertise, and chances are, this one flew over the heads of a lot of viewers.

Allocation rarely sounded
this exciting

Unlike Andrew O'Brien, RBC's Shari Mason seemed to think fewer words were better on Tuesday's Strategy Session.

Mason was given maybe a couple minutes at the end of Tuesday's show to ... drum roll ... conquer the nation's pension shortfall problems. "2 colleagues of mine, and my team have developed, um, a very innovative approach that we call adaptive asset allocation, and it's really quite different than the traditional strategic allocation," Mason said.

Apparently, it has something to do with people evaluating and re-evaluating their pension prospects to be ready for certain eventualities. "We revisit this every 6 to 12 months," Mason said.

Gary Kaminsky asked, and clarified, that Mason is not viewing allocation in terms of the markets being up or down, but on a person's own individual needs.

"That's absolutely correct," Mason said.

David Faber said there'd be more in the Web extra.

[Monday, April 4, 2011]

John Stephenson: Silver
may hit $60 by year-end

Commodities bull John Stephenson declared on Monday's Fast Money that "Silver's the investment of the decade."

"I think you're gonna see 45 by the end of the summer and possibly 60 an ounce by the end of the year," Stephenson told guest host Scott Wapner.

Joe Terranova put on the interviewer hat and asked Stephenson about the potential for position limits, and then proceeded to get notably irked when Stephenson merely brushed off the question to explain how cheap silver is to oil.

"John, John, that part of it I clearly know, but in the 2nd quarter, my, my, my question really is, do you think we'll see those speculative limits placed on commodities such as silver?" Terranova cut in.

"I think you might see some of it, but uh I don't (sic) think over the long haul the fundamentals will trump it and I do believe it goes higher," Stephenson said.

Tim Seymour pointed to sovereign funds seeing gold as not only their tool for "diversification" but also as much more reasonably valued than silver. Thus, as for silver, "That sounds like a bubble to me," Seymour said. Stephenson (obviously) disagreed.

Stephenson recommended Pan American Silver, Silver Standard, Silver Wheaton and SLV.

Author: Japan will ‘implode’
within 18-24 months

Endgame author John Mauldin spoke on sovereign debt Monday on Fast Money and quickly showed he's got the show's cliches down pat. "The reality is, Greece will default at some point," Mauldin said.

He added, "I'm rooting for Europe to kick the can down the road. The longer they go, the less of a problem it becomes."

But Mauldin had a more alarming forecast for Japan. "Japan is a bug in search of a windshield. The next 18 to 24 months, you're gonna see that country simply implode," Mauldin said.

Karen Finerman asked him how to play that. "The yen is going into the tank. I'd be long gold, short the yen," Mauldin said.

Scott Wapner sets off
the sonar sound

Joe LaVorgna spoke on Monday's Fast Money to advance a speech by Ben Bernanke Monday night that no one seemed to care much about (even though Scott Wapner protested at Halftime he'd definitely be paying attention).

But LaVorgna did unleash an inadvertent near-squirm by some of the panelists when Scott Wapner tried to get a little too funny.

LaVorgna was heard to say "cacophanous," which prompted Tim Seymour to declare, "he's a wordsmith."

"Did you grab your dictionary?" Wapner asked either Guy Adami or Tim Seymour, and note what it sounds like when you first hear only the first syllable of the last word of that sentence.

Whoa, Adami said. "I'm blushing," Seymour said, before the bad-joke sonar-like horn went off.

As for useful stuff, LaVorgna said of Bernanke, "I think he wants to wait to see what the next batch of data look like," and "we think the Fed will move in December" by 25 basis points.

Terranova: TXN bid
is ‘home run’ for NSM

Guy Adami said Monday that TXN picked a good time to make an offer for National Semi, "they're probably buyin' em at the right time.

Adami said Linear and Maxim (not the one in the 7-Eleven mag rack) are the names to look at, in particular Linear because there's short squeeze potential.

Joe Terranova was more effusive. "This is a home run for National," Terranova said. "They're basically getting their lunch eaten by Texas Instruments ... I think TXN is probably overpaying."

"I'm gonna stay short SMH," said Brian Kelly.

Gartman Jaguar gets 28 mpg

Dennis Gartman joined the Fast Money gang Monday and initially revealed his first car was a 1966 Plymouth Valiant that got 7 mpg, now "my Jaguar gets 28 miles to the gallon."

Gartman said it's "probably still some distance in the future" before commodity prices put a serious hurt on the economy, and that oil is contained if it only creeps up a few dollars and doesn't experience a short-term megashock.

Guy Adami said Pete Najarian was sending in real-time photos of the gasoline price at Art's Mobil, well north of $4 a gallon. Art, said Adami, is a "huge fan of the show."

Gartman pointed to strength in Chinese cotton, courtesy of the Chinese government. "They're paying ... well above the price that farmers had been earning in China for a while," he said. "Why is China paying a premium to its farmers?" Gartman asked. He surmises that it's because they need to produce enough to meet mill demand.

Brian Kelly said that while others were more optimistic about an improving bank picture, "I'm short the XLF." Joe Terranova insisted, "We're making a mistake here by lumping all financials together as one."

‘Benign tape’

On Monday's Fast Money, which opened with extensive discussion of the Texas Instruments-National Semiconductor deal and Scott Wapner's grumbling that Craig Berger wasn't giving him "an actual name" for the next deal, Guy Adami mentioned one stock he thinks will work — Oracle — and another he thinks is not — Intel — in his favorite stock market situation: "A benign tape."

PF Chang’s, from $50 to $51

Nobody was less impressed with analyst Mark Kalinowski's upgrade on PF Chang's and Cheesecake Factory Monday than Fast Money Halftime Report guest host Scott Wapner.

Wapner asked Kalinowski what's behind the call.

"Our industry sources are saying that for the first 3 weeks of March, casual dining sector sales trends have improved," Kalinowski said.

"That's it? I mean, but, what about the fact that both these stocks have underperformed ... and let me also add there doesn't seem to be a lot of conviction behind your call here, your price target's taken up by a buck," Wapner countered.

Kalinowski said those names fell behind in Q1 and now are "relatively more attractive."

Steve Grasso told Wapner, "Mark needs a little bit of ointment for the lashing you just gave him."

Scott Wapner insists he keeps tabs on the Fed

Steve Grasso unleashed a rather impressive pop culture reference on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying Zach Karabell spends Monday evenings waching "Too Close for Comfort" reruns.

"It's a big night at the Karabell household," Karabell grinned.

The show was an underrated keeper by Ted Knight, one of the greatest sitcom stars who had a hit with his 2 hot daughters in "Comfort."

But that wasn't all from Grasso, who managed to raise Scott Wapner's dander by joking that Wapner will be "glued to the television set at that point" when Ben Bernanke speaks Monday night.

"I'll certainly be paying attention to what he has to say, I'll tell you that," Wapner said, bristling at the notion he's ignoring Fed issues, albeit cracking a smile.

Karabell said the speech is "gonna mess up a lot of those Final Four parties." Then, slightly more controversially, said "The commodity trade is, is on fire, not because of monetary policy, not because of dollar strength, but because of global demand."

(And to think, we heard people on CNBC saying a few weeks ago that Ben Bernanke toppled the North African governments because of his dollar/food inflation plan.)

Anthony Scaramucci, in a rare turn as panelist, said the government is "certainly putting pressure in markets now like they've never done before."

Scaramucci said he expects "bullish jawboning tonight, uh, by the chair" of the Fed.

Scott Wapner suggests Colin Gillis misses the big picture with Google

Colin Gillis said on Monday's Halftime that Larry Page has "gotta refocus the company" as he takes the wheel at Google.

Gillis concluded, "Google's a better 2nd-half stock than a 1st-half stock."

But Gillis also ran into the crosshairs of Scott Wapner, who claimed Gillis was not giving proper "credence" to the possible threat to Google posed by Facebook. Gillis said he wasn't trying to "minimize" the Facebook presence.

Zachary Karabell offered a rarity for himself, something of a Brag Trade. "I started buying Baidu in the 110s when it pulled back a lot ... BIDU clearly has more wind in its sails."

Worth: S&P up to 1,360

Carter Worth said on Monday's Halftime things are looking good for stocks. "The reference point is the top from which you sold off," Worth said. "The presumption is that the S&P itself is headed that way ... as high as 1,360."

Steve Grasso said "My clients have not been active in the airline sector ... too much unknown."

Grasso also said MU is a great trading vehicle. "If this stock falls below 11, look out below."

Pete Najarian said the BX May 18 calls are hopping. Najarian also spoke briefly about Teck Resources — a phenomenal recent call on his part in the wake of Japan's troubles.

M&A regulatory expert: Nasdaq bid for NYSE looks ‘troublesome’

David Faber asked M&A regulatory expert Stephen Axinn about the Nasdaq offer for NYSE on Monday's Strategy Session.

"There are several markets that that merger will implicate, that I think are very troublesome," Axinn said, not just the 100% control of the U.S. listings market, but presence in "equity options market as well," and "simple trading of equity securities."

Axinn could've mentioned, but didn't, the highly unlikely notion of an afterthought bid bent on ousting Duncan Niederauer who has already paired up with Deutsche Boerse in a Chuck Schumer-blessed partnership with apparently a huge number of jobs having to go to meet $740 million cost-savings targets succeeding, presumably because that part is beyond the scope of his professional expertise (but well within the "common-sense test" of any mope who's been paying attention).

Axinn did offer some good commentary about the antitrust process caring essentially about competition and little else, and how antitrust is only one angle of the regulatory scheme, but he didn't really answer Gary Kaminsky's more big-picture question about the feelings of some people that antitrust laws are outdated and in this case they should just let the shareholders decide.

Axinn did provide an axiom, saying, "When you've seen 1 antitrust deal, you've seen 1 antitrust deal."

Hard to argue with that.

NFL lockout: An extended
test of post-9/11 America

Strategy Session guest Sal Galatioto, a sports-team-ownership kind of insider, was asked Monday if the 2011 NFL season is toast.

Insisting he had no inside information, Galatioto predicted, "Reasonable people will reach a reasonable deal before they infringe on the coming season."

The pop culture historians have been silent on this topic for a while. Measuring a national mood is tricky. Undeniably, Americans have felt differently about their own disputes, and sense of duty, since 9/11. Fire Departments began putting flags in the back of their engines. NFL teams put flag decals on their helmets. Major League Baseball, whose work stoppages until that point were as commonplace as balls and strikes, was compelled to reach a labor agreement in 2002 in a remarkable "do it for 9/11" truce that has only flourished to this day. National politics, despite the ridiculous laments of many in the endless cottage industry of political punditry, is more civilized and genteel than ever.

Most likely, it's people realizing in the wake of catastrophe all the good things we've got.

Someday, unfortunately, things will get rough again on any number of levels, economy, social, national policy, and pop culture will resemble the mid-1970s, and no institutions will be exempt from controversy or trauma.

That day isn't here yet. We agree with Galatioto. America won't let the NFL slip.

Galatioto said there are some NFL minority purchases in the works, but "I can't talk about them because I'm involved in a couple of them."

Faber: Why would anyone buy a minority stake in the Mets?

Kate Kelly reported Monday that "6 to 8" bidders are expected to seek a minority stake in the New York Mets, which left David Faber in a small amount of disbelief.

"I don't get why anybody would buy a minority stake in the Mets. I just don't get it. Without a path to control," Faber said.

So guest Sal Galatioto, who's capable of representing these kinds of individuals, tried to explain. "Great brand, they have New York City going for them," Galatioto said. "They may have to throw in parts of SNY, they may have to sell the entire thing, it's too early to tell right now."

Galatioto also said that for a buyer, more than any other business, a pro sports team brings "visibility ... people tend to pay more than they would for the run-of-the-mill, grouping of assets."

Galatioto also pointed to the "scarcity value" of a franchise, saying there's only 1 National League team in New York City. (Yeah, but there's only 1 in Pittsburgh, too.)

He told Gary Kaminsky the Mets' on-field performance in 2011 won't affect a sale; "I don't think it has anything to do with it."

Kate Kelly said there are some "heavy hitter" interested in an "outright purchase" of the Mets, but "that's really not on the table right now."

If Sokol really was planning to quit, he made sure he went out with a bang

Gary Kaminsky finally got a chance Monday to take up the David Sokol-Berkshire situation. Kaminsky began with "The bottom line is simple" — only to quickly indicate it's anything but.

"If David Sokol is meeting with bankers to look at potential targets, as a representative as they thought from what I understand, as a representative of Berkshire Hathaway, and then makes an investment in his own personal account, after making that meeting or having that meeting, and deciding that's a good investment, there's no, uh, money management institution that I'm familiar with that wouldn't make that trade later on if it decided to make an investment as an institution," Kaminsky said. "That trade is canceled, in many institutions, the proceeds of that trade would be donated to charity."

Kaminsky continued, "I don't know of any institution where, you can buy something in your personal account, and then later on the institution participates in that same security, here at a higher price, and that you as an employee are able to benefit."

He said it's not an issue about Sokol, but "This speaks more in my opinion to what goes on at Berkshire. Is it an investment company?"

Teresa’s ready to go on the air, apparently

Just as Bob Pisani was talking up Monday's stock market activity on The Strategy Session, the show picked up a stray phone connection in which viewers heard, "Hi Teresa are you there?" "I sure am."

Peter Boockvar told The Strategy Session MOnday, "As long as Ben Bernanke though is running the Fed, the possibilities of QE3, 4, 5, 6 is always there, and the mentality of- that they can fix our problems."

[Friday, April 1, 2011]

Najarian: Will CME
make 3rd NYSE bid?

The Fast Money Halftime Report, rather than turning first to Steve Grasso, spent barely a minute asking Pete Najarian about the exchange situation.

Najarian said what's intriguing to him is "where is the CME at this point," and that people are wondering, "is there going to be a 3rd" bid for the NYSE.

Najarian said there will continue to be stock and option activity, presumably in the NYSE but maybe others, as people speculate on whether another bid will happen or (ding ding ding) Deutsche Boerse raises its bid.

Joe Saluzzi said he'd prefer a Nasdaq-NYSE deal over a Deutsche Boerse deal for pro-American reasons, but that even this offer "doesn't really do anything for individual investors."

Steve Grasso spoke during Saluzzi's segment, saying investors only care about the value the deal is bringing them, "they don't care about whether it's a German company or whether it's a company in the United States."

Saluzzi said he's not commenting on deal price but pointed to hacking at Nasdaq as this stuff being serious business, but cited the "fragmentation" of the exchanges continuing and not really benefitting individual investors. He said he doesn't see a big monopoly concern with Nasdaq-NYSE.

Brian Kelly said he's buying CBOE calls.

Grasso: Aaaaapril, come she will

Elsewhere Friday, Pete Najarian said on the Halftime Report that the VIX has been so low, "I'm shocked every day when I walk in."

Steve Grasso said, "I think April should be a rather good month for the markets," adding "1,343 must hold" in the S&P.

Grasso said to stay away from Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, then incredibly said someday he'll actually get his "face ripped off" on a gangbusters move by CSCO.

Patty Edwards said Ford is superior to GM, because "I think they went through and they cleaned up what needed to be cleaned up. I don't think GM did."

Edwards said that for whatever growth/inflation is occurring, the Fed shouldn't ignore the other end of the spectrum such as housing prices. "You have to be very careful where you pick your spots," Edwards cautioned.

Pete Najarian was shown in a T-shirt that has lots of nicknames (many derogatory and politically correct infringing so we won't list them here), but Brian Kelly had a great crack about a comparison to the Village People.

Sprecher: Acquiring NYSE
is ‘social goal’ of Greifeld

In the category of "We've seen this movie before," this feels a little like "Die Hard III."

Bob Greifeld and Jeff Sprecher — just as Sprecher did with the CBOT — managed to tack on a few bucks to the ultimate Deutsche Boerse bill for gobbling up the NYSE on Friday with a proposal that feels about as realistic as the one Sandra Bullock made to Ryan Reynolds in that movie last year and has about as much chance of succeeding as Virginia Commonwealth winning the NCAA championship.

Sprecher was the only one of the 2 principals who made it to The Strategy Session to explain why this deal works.

Incredibly, one argument he made was that buying the NYSE is a "social goal" of Greifeld.

"I don't mean to sound cynical," Sprecher said of the Deutsche Boerse plan, "but, to a certain degree they're saying, we need to leave the cash equity business and move to the more lucrative derivatives business."

Greifeld, according to Sprecher, is saying, "No let's fix the U.S. cash equities business," because it's an "important social goal for me to do that."

Faber doubts he has ever seen 2 separate stocks used in competing bid

Co-host Gary Kaminsky would've been in his wheelhouse with Friday's news, but David Faber alone put together one of his best shows of The Strategy Session with some spirited questions for Jeff Sprecher.

Most significantly, Faber questioned the bizarre arrangement of an acquisition made with 2 sets of shares, either a windfall or headache for the risk-arb folks.

"I have to tell you Jeff, in covering M&A for many, many years, I don't know that I've ever seen 2 separate stocks being used in an over-the-top bid," Faber said.

Sprecher said it's based on a "sum-of-the-parts" approach that will better unlock value somehow.

Faber also asked Sprecher about the apparently unfinalized financing arrangement. "We do have financing in place. We just simply haven't signed the financing commitment letters," Sprecher said.

Sprecher at one point said "that's the proposal we decided to open with," and Faber noted the word "open," saying what happens if the NYSE people look at it and say it's not good enough.

"We do think it's superior," Sprecher said, explaining they'd be "internalizing some of the outsource businesses and also by moving technology onto common platforms."

Faber questioned regulators' view of the U.S. listings business falling under 1 company and whether the government would have to revamp its regulatory divisions as a result. Sprecher said "There's no opportunity to use monopoly power in the U.S. listings business without the consent of government."

Sprecher made a reference to this deal making all the parties involved a stronger global player. Faber said if you talk to NYSE and Deutsche Boerse, "They would say ... the same thing, that's the reason we're doing this deal, is because of globalization."

Sprecher & Greifeld suddenly realized ‘Oh my gosh, we’re the better partners’

David Faber opened his interview Friday with Jeff Sprecher by asking, "Why are you doing this?"

First, here's Sprecher's answer: "Well, the New York Stock Exchange management and board decided that, uh, they needed to find additional scale and to take costs out of their business to be competitive, and obviously came up with a deal with the Deutsche Boerse."

Sprecher said he and Greifeld realized, "Oh my gosh, if they really need scale, and if they really need to take costs out, we're probably the better partners."

The real answer is that they don't — for regulatory or culture or whatever type of reasons — fully believe in this bid or they would've done it a while back, before Deutsche Boerse made an offer, and they're only doing it now 1) as a way of challenging their future competition, 2) serving notice that anything could be in play including something they more realistically want, 3) a CYA of sorts for historians who won't be able to write that they sat on their hands if the Deutsche Boerse plan seriously hurts them, and 4) a public declaration to the regulators and government that they see serious issues for their own businesses if the Deutsche Boerse deal goes through.

Bottom line? Chuck Schumer was silent Friday, and has essentially already backed the Deutsche Boerse deal provided the new name doesn't offend him, so this is only going to drain a little more from Deutsche Boerse into the pockets of NYSE shareholders.

Pisani: NYSE floor doesn’t like this

One person offering sharp commentary about the proposed exchange deal Friday was floor reporter Bob Pisani, who outlined his impression of how the deal would close the Nasdaq location and turn the NYSE floor into a "TV studio" as the Nasdaq serves now.

"That's hardly keeping the floor open," Pisani lamented, though he told David Faber, "I thought Jeff did a terrific job there David."

Pisani told Faber that the NYSE floor traders surrounding him are "skeptical" of the proposed $740 million cost savings.

"That is a big number," Faber said, and it's so big, we wonder if the cost savings would amount to firing everyone so that a computer with the title "Nasdaq/NYSE/Euronext" would be handling all of America's stock trades.

Sprecher is an impressive business leader and TV spokesman, and he was rightly credited with initiative for trying to wedge into the CBOT and CME deal at the last minute. But then, as now, his bid looked inferior in part because if it was truly better, he would've come up with it first, and he accomplished little more than to give CBOT honchos extra bargaining leverage that Terrence A. Duffy still managed to overcome in a geographical poker game that was basically decided years ago when platform sharing occurred.

Gasparino, by the way, claimed on Twitter the Nasdaq-ICE offer was first reported on Fox Business.

Thomas Lee: April looks better for small caps

Thomas Lee, who has made several good calls on The Strategy Session about chase for performance, was on the set Friday and reported "15% of active managers are trailing their benchmark by about 250 basis points."

Lee said there might be a market shift in April, that "Growth and small caps actually perform better."

He predicts a "1,370 S&P level by June."

Steve Liesman spoke briefly about his interview with Jeffrey Lacker about possible competing visions within the Fed about rate hikes.

Back to CNBCfix home

CNBCfix.com home

Fast Money’s
great moments
of 2010

A call on BP looks particularly good

Fast Money review

FM archive: Mar. 2011
FM archive: Feb. 2011
FM archive: Jan. 2011
FM archive: Dec. 2010
FM archive: Nov. 2010
FM archive: Oct. 2010
FM archive: Sept. 2010
FM archive: Aug. 2010
FM archive: July 2010
FM archive: June 2010
FM archive: May 2010
FM archive: Apr. 2010
FM archive: Mar. 2010
FM archive: Feb. 2010
FM archive: Jan. 2010
FM archive: Dec. 2009
FM archive: Nov. 2009
FM archive: Oct. 2009
FM archive: Sept. 2009
FM archive: Aug. 2009
FM archive: July 2009
FM archive: June 2009
FM archive: May 2009
FM archive: April 2009
FM archive: Mar. 2009
FM Viewers Guide
Fast Money cliches

CNBCfix capsules:
Movie of the week

♦ Bonnie and Clyde
♦ Rain Man
♦ The Paper Chase
♦ The Cooler
♦ Giant & There Will Be Blood
♦ Return of the Jedi
♦ Rocky II
♦ The Last Picture Show & Friday Night Lights
♦ She's Out of My League
♦ Con Air

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