[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, December 2010]

The best, and worst,
Fast Money calls of 2010

Before a single stock trade is made in 2011, it's time to review the highlights and lowlights of 2010 stock-picking on Fast Money.

First, as with last year, a few caveats ... 1. it's not like we've kept an "official" account of absolutely every stock recommendation heard on the program. So we probably missed a few good ones and a few bad ones. 2. Even though the show is called Fast Money, we mostly ignored the short-term calls for these purposes, because making 3% overnight is nice, but not as much as, say, a double in 6 months. 3. We didn't bother with gold calls, because there's a new one every other day and it would be impossibly time-consuming to figure out who had the best one. 4. We considered just about anyone who appeared on the program (except for David Threlkeld's silly $1 copper), giving priority to the Fast Money regulars. 5. We didn't really consider the calls made in December for 2011, or some of the good ones that haven't fully come to fruition yet and might not ever (such as NEM to $70 or $80).

Before the picks, a sampling of notable moments we've stashed away for a while...

Most OVERTRADED stock (by far) — Research in Motion: Sift through the archives, and you can hardly go 2 days without someone on Fast Money talking about their current position in RIMM. Good grief, there's gotta be something else to day-trade, isn't there?

Most overuse of 1 word — Karen Finerman, on Amazon's valuation, Jan. 8: "I'm not a fan of Amazon, only in terms of valuation, that it's under pressure, it's off a little from a ridiculous level to a still ridiculous level, interestingly, when you do the math, it's still ridiculous, even though it came in some. I think that it's a great story but it has so much hype in the P.E. multiple it's ridiculous. It cannot continue to have a 57 multiple when it's growing as quick as it is. Eventually it will run out of things to sell and no longer will be able to have a 57 multiple. This is ridiculous, the valuation, so I, I agree, the pressure from the Kindle, there's all kinds of pressure, valuation is the main pressure. Ridiculous."

Most embarrassing retraction — Jon Najarian, Jan. 13, on reading the Huffington Post: "Hey guys, I saw a post on the Huffington Post of all places about Monsanto. The stock fell out of bed. But again, this isn't a reputable news site like CNBC, it's a blog post. So I faded it, bought the stock, the stock rallied all the way back up to unchanged, grabbed a cigar, and lit up. That's how I traded it; anybody wanna take the other side?" ... "Just wanted to say I got a little carried away by a comment I made about Huffington Post earlier in the show. Wanted to clarify — Huffington Post is a reputable news site that I read every day."

Best comeback — Karen Finerman riding Google from about $620 to $440 back to about $620: At the end of 2009, this was the only stock K-Fine could talk about. For a long time it proved to be a dog. But by November, a break-even.

Most colorful language — Tim Seymour, discussing a yuan rumor Jan. 28, quoted "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and used the term "dick": Crap was heard several times but really isn't a factor anymore. Underwear terminology in November might've made it, but we'd blush if we put it up.

Most disheartening absence — Michelle Meyer, The World's Cutest Economist, not seen on Fast Money in 2010: There could be several reasons why, but evidence points to Karen Finerman's "after-school job" quote of late 2009.

Most forgotten term — "Debbie Downer": After uttering this phrase every other episode in 2009, the Fast Money gang has essentially dropped it since mid-2010.

Best joke — Gary Kaminsky, Web Extra in February, on the SEC worker caught viewing porn: Said he was trying to download "Debbie Does Securitization."

2nd-best joke — Zachary Karabell, Aug. 26: "First of all the company's actually announcing that it's gonna be renamed 9PAR as of tomorrow morning."

Best out-of-the-box line — Tim Seymour, Aug. 24: "What would L. Ron Hubbard do here?"

Funniest line delivered seriously — Jon Najarian on DKS shares, May 17: "I am long Dick's."

Most ridiculous reach at a terror trade — Tim Seymour, Aug. 2: "A missile fell in Jordan today, killing somebody. Who knows if it was intended for Israel or not, but the point is, unrest in the Middle East."

Most ridiculous presidential comment in recent memory — Barack Obama, June 8, "Today" show: Said he's listening to all the experts on the BP spill "so I know whose ass to kick."

Most curious market analysis — Joe Terranova, Aug. 2: "The first trading day of the month is generally a referendum on the previous month's trading activity."

Most scurrilous Fast Money word — "Commando": A change from "cougar" of 2009.

Most ridiculous Strategy Session scoop — Kate Kelly, September, on "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps": "People are very concerned about the sequel in the sense that they think it actually may end up being yet another Wall Street bashing vehicle. One trader I was e-mailing with was invited to the premiere but said he didn't want to go because he feared being in Page Six."

Most outrageous claim of a great prediction — Barack Obama, CNBC town hall, Sept. 20: "I think it'd be useful to go back and look at the speeches that I've made, including a speech by the way I made back in 2007 on Wall Street, before Lehmans (sic) had gone under, in which I warned about a potential crisis, if we didn't start reforming practices on Wall Street."

Fast Money signal of maturing ag boom — Roger Neshem: When Neshem is on Fast Money, as he was Nov. 10 after probably a year or more away from the show, it's a sign of froth in agriculture, but please note, not necessarily a top.

Roundup of tax-rate calls:

Dan Greenhaus, Aug. 13: Extension for all but those making $200,000 individually, $250K MFJ.

Jeremy Zirin, Sept. 13: "Base-case scenario is that we see a 1-year extension of the current Bush tax cuts."

Dan Clifton, Sept. 20: "I do believe that we're gonna get an extension of all of the tax cuts at least into 2011."

Ed Mills, Oct. 1: "Most likely scenario is a short-term extension of all the tax cuts just to get out of town."

Andy Busch, Oct. 26: Doubts that any extension will happen in the lame-duck Congress

Most contentious debates

5. Charles Biderman vs. Zachary Karabell on money flows into foreign-listed funds, Aug. 26: "There's been 17 straight weeks of outflows from retail U.S. equity mutual funds." "Yeah but Charles, that data, you're missing the other half of that data, which is that flows into foreign-listed funds have been increasing and have been showing positive data-" "No that's not true. We've been, we've tracked that as well, we track thousands of mutual fund flows every day, and there has been some weeks where there have been inflows, but then again-" "Wait, wait, it can't be not true and true at the same time. There have been significant flows into foreign-listed equity funds, these are not debatable..."

4. Steve Grasso vs. Joe Terranova, selling gold after election if GOP sweeps: "Because there'd be less printing, there's a, there's a premise that there'd be less printing if there's more gridlock in Congress, less printing of money, so people would lighten up on their gold positions."

3. Whitney Tilson vs. Joe Terranova, whether BP got a good price on asset sales to Apache: "They got an incredible price for the $7 billion of assets they sold to Apache." "Take a look at a name like an Apache, which stole BP's assets." (Note: Not actually debated in person, but in long-running dual commentaries.)

2. Steve Grasso vs. Joe Terranova, whether hedge funds are the "strongest hands" to hold the GM IPO, Nov. 17: "You ever see the way hedge funds flip around these new issues? I mean, how can you say that a hedge fund is gonna be putting it into more solid hands than a retail investor?"

1. Gary Kaminsky vs. Steve Grasso, HPQ on the day of Mark Hurd's exit, Aug. 6: "Steve, Steve, you gotta consider the type of people that own this stock before you sort of jump out there and say that I think you might chip away at this on a Monday."

The Worst Fast Money Trades of 2010

10. Zachary Karabell, Aug. 26, on Cisco: "I am a buyer, I'm a holder, I'm an owner. I think this is an unbelievable entry point."

9. Carter Worth, May 12: "We think it's headed to 34, buy Cisco."

8. Joe Terranova, BHP bid for POT, Aug. 17: "I think the price that this gets done — and I think it does get done — is north of 150."

7. John Tabacco, Dow industrials (10,444.37), May 19: "2010 could be a replay of 2008 even for U.S. banks. ... I said a couple weeks ago I thought there would be 1,500 more points to the downside and I stick with that."

6. Gary Kaminsky, April 28: "Blankfein will not be the CEO of Goldman Sachs at the end of this year."

5. Karen Finerman, BAC LEAPs of 2011, Jan. 20: "So they're struck at 15, we bought 'em at, at just over 3. And, I really think this will be a great trade."

4. Patty Edwards, March 23: "I like RIMM here ($75) ... fundamentals tell me we've got a $95 stock on our hands."

3. Joe Terranova, Jan. 7: "If oil does not hit $100 this year, then I think the equities markets themselves will have a very, very bad year."

2. Peter Boockvar, Jan. 29: The stock market has peaked for the year.

1. Dennis Gartman, oil price, June 17: "I don't think we're gonna get past $100 again in my lifetime. I doubt we're gonna get past $100 again in my kids' lifetime. I doubt that seriously. I think there'll be new supplies of other things coming onstream. I think we're smart enough to be able to find new things." (Still intact, but...)

The Best Fast Money Trades of 2010

10. Tim Seymour, POT as his "low-risk" trade for 2010: The best of the December 2009 Fast Money picks; did nothing for 6 months, then was off to the races and indeed proved to be rather "low-risk."

9. Gene Munster, AAPL price target, June 7: "We think 330 is fair"

8. Tim Seymour on politics after Scott Brown election, Jan. 19: "You can't trade these things, because, the bottom line ... the reality is, this administration is gonna get some form of health care through."

7. Pete Najarian on BP, April 30, (around $53): "I wonder if this is an Exxon Valdez."

6. Carter Worth (to $40 short-term) and Pete Najarian (to $50 longer-term), DD, March 17: This dual call, and resulting stock action by year-end, couldn't have played out any more perfectly.

5. Anthony Scaramucci, Atlas Pipeline Partners, March 25: "This stock could double in the next 6 months."

4. Guy Adami, IMAX as a stock "for the next 10 years," Jan. 4: For some, it was the stock for 2010; couldn't possibly have capped the year any better.

3. Louis Navellier, BIDU, Feb. 22: "I think the stock could double this year easily." Would be candidate for pick of the year, had he returned to the show to talk about it more often.

2. Patty Edwards, Herbalife, March 2: A "2nd derivative" play because its revenues are mostly outside of Europe. "Stock's darn cheap." A monster performer that could've been No. 1 had Edwards merely trumpeted it more often.

And the drum roll ...

1. Whitney Tilson, June 8, long BP: The right call at the right time. "It's just too cheap. Truly one of the most profitable businesses on the planet. ... It's hard to imagine the headlines getting any worse."

[Friday, December 31, 2010]

Is it 2011 yet?

The entire official Fast Money gang — that's 5 traders, plus Melissa Lee — took the 5 p.m. New Year's Eve show off Friday, but if you think that's slacking, consider that Options Action couldn't even put together a show.

Scott Wapner, to his credit, ran a snappy operation. However, the black-tie format was appropriate, given that just about everything heard is a carbon copy of what viewers have gotten for the last 2 weeks.

Brian Kelly described himself as "one of the more bullish people" on the show after being bearish in the first half of 2009. "The economic numbers are getting much better," Kelly said.

Kelly said if the Fed keeps up its end of the deal, things will be good, but that's where Steve Cortes disagreed about the capabilities of Ben Bernanke. "He is not going to have carte blanche to do whatever he wants," Cortes said, saying he'll have Ron Paul and the Tea Party all over him.

One thing they agreed on: "I think it could be the Year of the U.S. dollar," Kelly said.

Boockvar: Buy Japan

If there was anything on Friday's Fast Money qualifying as a surprise, it would be Peter Boockvar touting Japanese stocks.

Boockvar said Japanese people are only invested 7% in equities, and "higher inflation around the world, commodity-led inflation, will eventually lead to a rush into Japanese equities."

Brian Kelly shrugged and said "I'd rather be short the yen."

Peter Schiff (yawn ... Zzzzz ... sigh ...) said there's all kinds of things that can go wrong in 2011, and "when 1 does, it'll be like dominoes." He said his op-ed was "No. 1 on WallStreetJournal.com."

Brian Kelly said he'd look more toward a name like Macy's than Visa or Mastercard.

JJ Kinahan, who speaks with about 1/20th the frequency of Tim Seymour, reported buying MOS all week.

Scott Wapner was so excited about low-wattage celebrity that he extensively trumpeted a canned phone call from "thee Carson Daly."

As opposed to thee Carson Palmer.

Jon Fortt tried to make a joke about the tuxedoes, wondering "who's James Bond," that wasn't particularly rib-tickling.

Cortes goes 1-1

Pete Najarian on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report mentioned seeing a lot of "unusual activity" in Las Vegas Sands, a stock that abruptly spiked on Friday despite the fact Steve Cortes is trumpeting his short.

"I liked yesterday's close better than I like this price right here," Cortes admitted, then asserted, for December, it's still "massively underperforming" and he thinks "heading outright lower."

Guest host Scott Wapner said "You short a lot of stuff, Cortes."


Yesterday, Cortes explained that he thinks Amazon's price action is signaling a decline, and that he's shorting the XRT, "which is largely Amazon."

We noted that Patty Edwards called XRT not the best way to short Amazon, but to just short the stock outright or pick RTH instead.


According to Yahoo finance, AMZN is about 12% of the RTH assets. Meanwhile, the SPYders' own Web site lists the top 10 holdings of the XRT ... and AMZN isn't even one of them.

So the question must be asked: What in the heck is Steve Cortes doing?

On the plus side, unlike LVS, the XRT was down Friday.

Najarian: Coal is cheap as long as China doesn’t fall apart

One person who wasn't gloomy on New Year's Eve was Pete Najarian, who is once again riding high on his typical coal names.

Walter, Alpha Natural, Cliffs "all seem to be very, very reasonably cheap if they can just sustain, if China doesn't just completely fall apart, but sustain, I think there's a lot more upside," Najarian said.

Najarian said he thinks the fundamentals he's seeing could push this rally well into January, provided we don't get $100 oil.

Brian Kelly said news that DisneyLand had to stop issuing tickets a couple days in a row because of excessive demand is telling about the strength of the consumer.

"Kinahan" is a great-sounding Irish name. It makes one think of a tough guy maybe with a well-placed elbow or 2 in the soybean pits, followed up by a raucous pint at the Shamrock on Kinzie Street afterwards.

Perhaps that's why Scott Wapner kept referring to JJ Kinahan as "Kinahan" on Friday's Halftime Report. Kinahan said he thinks "financials have to lead the way" for the next leg up in the stock market, an opinion that likely will find resistance from Zachary Karabell, though Kinahan stressed that big banks should do well but buyers have to be selective.

"I am short European banks," said Steve Cortes.

Right. The generals got shot.

Marc Chandler, who spoke to Scott Wapner on the Fast Line Friday and then hung up without saying goodbye, said he doesn't see a euro breakup, and that those who do (um, cough, "Gartman") "miscalculate or underestimate the political will involved," which sounds provocative except it's the same comment Jon Najarian made a day earlier.

Paul Bard was asked about Facebook's worth as a public stock and, sadly, offered one of the worst of all cliches, "that's the billion dollar question."

Bard, though, said not to expect a quickie. "We do think there's a very good chance they're gonna file for an IPO by year-end, so let's say 12-18 months."

Even Steve Cortes admitted that whatever money you made in December is real and not the equivalent of an NFL preseason game; "there's no Roger Maris asterisk" to collecting a large portion of your total return in 1 month. But, "what does concern me about the December rally is that tech was not leading," Cortes said.

The Strategy Session’s
Sexiest Moment of the Year

The Strategy Session, with Gary Kaminsky on vacation, for-profit education agitator Herb Greenberg apparently taking a holiday sabbatical, and Kate Kelly giving herself a few days' relief from developments in Goldman's prop trading metamorphosis, didn't quite go out with a bang on New Year's Eve.

But we've gotta give David Faber credit for putting together a Strategy Session highlight reel, even if it seemed to give unusual prominence to a run-of-the-mill comment by Howard Lutnick.

Incredibly, we did not notice in the highlight reel any sign of Gary Kaminsky plopping that pilot's cap on Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's head, which quite frankly was downright awwwwwwesome and likely our own official Strategy Session Moment of the Year. (Unless it was Daniel Snyder's "complete focus" on the Redskins' opener. That qualifies as our favorite Strategy Session comment, but there wasn't much visual about it.)

Hopefully over the weekend (and what a ghastly week it's been in the CNBCfix community, though it won't be quite as ghastly if the yinz handle the Browns on Sunday), we'll be able to take a crack at our own Strategy Session scorecard for 2010 and see if we can't give CNBC programming honcho Susan Krakower something to think about.

We’re still getting mileage out of Don Drapkin’s commentary

If you've read this site recently (of course you have), you'll recall that Don Drapkin came on The Strategy Session Dec. 21 and actually said, "I mean, everybody comes on and says, oh it's gonna be the greatest possible world."

On Friday — which happened to be New Year's Eve of all days, when most people tend to smile and even Steve Cortes likely runs with the pack — The Strategy Session was so hell-bent on portraying the "greatest possible world" that it lined up Peter Boockvar and Robert Shiller to basically tell you to stuff all your money in your mattress.

Boockvar warned again about higher interest rates and said we've got a "still very overleveraged economy."

Shiller, dumbfoundingly, actually predicted the 2020 level in the S&P 500, arriving at 1,430.

As for now, "I think it's too early to call a double-dip. But it's not too early to worry about it," Shiller said.

Finally optimists got something of a champion when Scott Rechler showed up and said that, while people who bought commercial realty from Q3 2009 to Q3 2010 in general made a lot of money, he still thinks there's strength in the CMBS market.

[Thursday, December 30, 2010]

Todd Gordon asks Steve Cortes if he’s ever put a 10-year yield chart over a chart of housing stocks

In the category of lending, Jon Najarian is going straight to the top.

"This will be a 1-term president, if he can't unthaw these banks," Najarian said on Thursday's Fast Money.

Part of this conversation revolved around Steve Cortes claiming (not that "the generals have been shot" and AAPL is done, but) that demand for bank loans didn't rise when rates dropped.

Patty Edwards, who said on the Halftime Report that there's a Fast Money guy who's unable to "settle" his housing transaction (you'd think they'd all just pay cash, but maybe that's not how it works), said on the 5 p.m. show she's got "anecdotal evidence" that the demand for bank loans is there, but the money isn't. "The problem is the banks are not lending to anyone unless they are super-overqualified," Edwards said.

Todd Gordon told Steve Cortes that when one puts a 10-year yield chart over housing stocks, they actually move together, at least for the last couple years. "Higher rates equals higher housing stocks," Gordon said.

Gordon reiterated a call that's promising for anyone long C or the XLF (this writer is long C), saying "this $5 looks ripe to fall" in Citi, and he thinks the XLF of "about 17, 17 and a half, 17.25" is also ready; "these levels are just waiting to be broken."

Patty hints Steve Cortes
is missing the mark on his
Amazon pessimism

Steve Cortes said Thursday he likes the fundamentals of Amazon but not the way it's trading. "I'm short XRT, which is largely Amazon," Cortes said.

Patty Edwards said, on the contrary, if she was interested in that play, she'd either be short Amazon or short the RTH, which she said is most closely weighted to Amazon.

In other words, the implication being, Cortes is going 0 for 2.

Jon Najarian said the retailer trade is to buy on Labor Day and sell on Black Friday.

Steve Cortes is not
short college football

Patty Edwards on Thursday reported that Gap co-founder Doris Fisher has recently unloaded 5 chunks of shares.

"That's a lot of stock to be selling in 1 big fell swoop," Edwards said.

Edwards said it could be a quiet signal the company might be putting itself up for sale, but she concedes that's just speculation on her part.

Brian Kelly and Simon Hobbs carried on a strange debate about Greece and China having a ripple effect and used the term "systemic" several times.

If that helps you make a trade, go for it.

Steve Cortes revealed, helpfully, "I'm short BCS, Barclays, not to be confused with the Bowl Championship Series."

Brian Kelly said the report about Borders Group delaying payments to publishers has a derivative element. "I'd watch out if I was in the Barnes&Noble as well," Kelly said.

Patty Edwards admitted Guy Adami has nailed this one. "They're basically libraries now; you don't pay for the library," Edwards said.

Hopefully your heart isn’t set on lower corporate tax rates

Henrietta Treyz of Height Analytics cited 3 reasons why there's less chance of the government reducing the corporate tax rate than the 2010 Washington Redskins winning the Super Bowl (but, you know, Daniel Snyder is still likely to be "completely focused" on this weekend's game).

Treyz said rate reduction talk is merely something that would be balanced against ending loopholes, and corporations would actually prefer to have the loopholes. She also said something about Barack Obama not wanting to get "ahead of the debate," and finally, a polarized Congress.

Fast Money — great way
to meet chicks

A couple days ago, someone tweeted Patty Edwards with a question about who the new "young guy" is on Fast Money and suggesting, um, a connection of sorts would be in the cards.

Edwards identified the panelist as Todd Gordon but tweeted that she didn't know about availability.

Peter Schiff predicts return
to glory years of 2007-08

Peter Schiff discussed on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal suggesting a 20% plunge in housing prices.

Or maybe that assessment by Simon Hobbs isn't quite right.

"I didn't say they would necessarily dive 20% this year," Schiff said, only that they're "20% above where the trend would be." And eventually they'll get back to the trend.

Steve Cortes called it an "excellent editorial; I really encourage our viewers to read it," but then Cortes said when bubbles crash they tend to overshoot on the downside, so "Isn't 20% actually being somewhat careful?"

Schiff said he agrees he thinks it probably will overshoot.

And he predicts this Dickensian scenario is in the cards for all those people buying iPads and shopping at Amazon: "I think a lot of Americans are gonna start taking on boarders ... they have to rent out, you know, their spare bedroom so they can afford to heat their house."

Patty Edwards said she agrees with Schiff largely on the inflation scenario, but "I think you might be a little more pessimistic than I would be."

Simon Hobbs told Schiff "I think you are overly pessimistic" because the cost of borrowing is lower, but nevertheless, "it's important that people read it."

Fast Money trader unable
to settle housing transaction

Patty Edwards revealed on Thursday's Halftime, "There's one of the guys on Fast Money who's trying to get a house settled, and he can't get things straightened out. If someone on this show can't do it, who can."

We have no idea who it is.

Donald Straszheim spoke, rather slowly in limited time, about a boom in Chinese environmental plays, but didn't really have enough trades for Simon Hobbs, and Steve Cortes was disappointed when Straszheim failed to make a negative call on Las Vegas Sands.

Barton Biggs: Sentiment doesn’t matter as much when it’s positive

Investing legend Barton "Don't call me Mr." Biggs spoke with David Faber on Thursday's Strategy Session and said, "As we go into next year, I feel pretty good about stocks."

Biggs said he's tempted to take off risk, but "I'm not gonna do it."

"I think stocks are pretty cheap," he said, and as for everyone supposedly being bullish, he said sentiment is important when everyone is negative, but "it's not particularly valuable at all when the markets get overbought."

Guest Will Landers, an expert on Brazil, said he's lightened up a bit on the gains but still likes the Brazilian market for 2011.

Guest Richard Abbe said he sees a lot of potential in oil services. "We're long oil, we're long a lot of the service companies," he said.

Guest host Jeffrey Gerson said housing could indeed be trouble again because of the costs that rising interest rates tack on to a mortgage.

David Faber spoke briefly about the Daily Mail speculation on BHP Billiton and Anadarko, which of course would be just what Anadarko needs, a low-ball offer from BHP. "It's total spec by the way on the part of the Daily Mail ... and they have a very checkered, you know, sort of history in terms of some of this stuff," Faber said.

[Wednesday, December 29, 2010]

Fast Money guest says his own appearance is contrarian sign

Brett Arends took part on Wednesday's Fast Money and not once, but twice, chuckled at how Fast Money producers apparently had to summon him because they couldn't find any other bears at this point in time, saying what does that tell you about sentiment.

Arends said he's not actually that bearish, but there are "a lot of things here that make me gloomy rather than cheerful."

Todd Gordon said mutual fund managers are nearly completely invested, so he has to agree with Arends.

Stephen Weiss said there is not overflowing sentiment right now, and that retail investors still aren't on board.

Steve Cortes said Simon Hobbs reminds him of C-3PO.

David Riedel unfazed by
Russian justice system

Just a day ago this page called for a Fast Money statement on whether Russia is taking outspoken businessmen as political prisoners.

Coincidentally, none other than David Riedel turned up on Wednesday's Fast Money and basically admitted that Vladimir Putin's sudden olive branch to foreign investors is basically a ploy "to counterbalance what they did the other day" to Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Despite the fact this sounds a lot more like Iran than a G-7 country, Riedel gushed about Mobile Telesystems and VimpelCom. "I think the government's kinda, probably gonna keep their hands off the telecom space," he said.

Yeah. Sure. Right.

Todd Gordon picks the trifecta

Dennis Gartman is and will remain one of our favorite and most relevant financial pundits, but thankfully CNBC gave him the day off from the desk Wednesday, because even the greatest advice can wear thin after a while, and we're not sure we could take a 3rd straight day of demonstrably bullish calls on Bank of Keokuk and wheat and all the stuff if you drop on your foot, it hurts, while the euro ultimately breaks in 2.

However, just as we were breathing a sigh of relief, Gartman actually turned up on the Fast Line, though it was primarily to talk about shrinking budgets on trading desks.

Meanwhile, Todd Gordon quite frankly is taking to this Fast Money desk job thing like a duck to water. Gordon said he sees "price action double-bottom on the 5-year Treasury, and price action double-bottom on the 30-year Treasury at 2 significant Fibonacci retracement levels."

Gordon predicted a big year ahead for stocks, bonds and the dollar.

The only problem with Gordon is that he tends to be a macro forex chartist guy, and like Gartman, he's likely to run out of things to talk about if he's on the Fast Money desk every day. Gordon said right now all the macro machinations have managed to put together the "perfect yield curve."

Najarian skeptical
of privately traded shares

Lance Helfert had limited time to make his 3 stock picks for 2011, but actually did a pretty good job, touting Broadridge Financial ("great acquisition candidate for a State Street or FiServ"), Molson Coors, and Live Nation.

Jon Najarian commented on the earlier discussion The Strategy Session had about the private exchanges where Facebook is going gangbusters.

"This smells a little bad to me right now," Najarian said, saying the 2 primary private exchanges have produced "wildly divergent prices" for Facebook for the last month.

Kinahan: Buy MOS on dips

Rich Ilczyszyn spoke as others have done about the silver-gold ratio on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, and he said silver still looks good. "I think it has a lot more room to go," he said.

Todd Gordon, though, said it's not much off its 10-year correlation, and wondered if Ilczyszyn is predicting it will break out. Ilczyszyn said it could.

Stephen Weiss wasn't having any of it, saying, "I just see a classic bubble."

JJ Kinahan brought his bag of tricks back to the Halftime show and reported "I am long actually the TBT" and recommended people get into MOS on any pullback. Jon Najarian enthuastically backed that.

Hintz: More M&A in 2011

Despite the game efforts of David Faber, Charles Kantor, Brad Hintz, Greg Brogger and David Mussafer, Wednesday's Strategy Session was as dry as a martini.

Hintz said that BASEL can put the squeeze on bank trading profits, that people should ignore Q4 trading results, and to expect an M&A jump in 2011.

SharesPost President Greg Brogger said his private exchange is in "constant dialogue" with the SEC and that the goal is to make sure there's at least some information available on the shares being traded.

Faber asked a good question, whether it's good to be making trades with only some information. Brogger said private exchanges will never have the volume of the public exchanges. But of course, the buyers are better, he asserts, people not interesting in flipping after a 10-cent gain.

Kantor said the general market sentiment outlined by Faber — promising data, limited downside — sounds good to him, though he was heard to say something about "history repeats itself," which should make anyone skeptical.

[Tuesday, December 28, 2010]

Seymour needs to comment
on the Khodorkovsky verdict

Hopefully, Tim Seymour is having a wonderful holiday break.

When he returns, he needs to speak about the Russian court system.

Pete Najarian trumpeted strength in the RSX on Tuesday's Fast Money. He didn't mention that an apparent monstrosity of a trial is winding up, and that political prisoners are evidently being taken in Russia.

True, America's Favorite Industrial Park is also not exactly considered a friend of political freedom, but at least the trends in that country have been positive enough as to barely bring any scolding in Zachary Karabell's Superfusion.

Melissa Lee normally will preempt any hint of political conversation before it starts, but she's off this week.

CNBC viewers need to hear Seymour — who according to his bio has spent considerable time in Russia and is certainly an expert on the country's business practices — tell it like it is, and explain whether this is a country people who value freedom should want to do business with.

What is the black portion
of Mandy’s outfit?

OK. (Sigh.)

We're only tackling this topic because our traffic demands it.

Quite frankly, when Mandy Drury turns up on CNBC, this site tends to get extra queries.

And when Mandy Drury turns up on CNBC in unusually sexy outfits as she did Monday — and also jokes with Jane Wells about watching "T.J. Hooker" all the time "back in the day" — this site tends to get a lot of extra queries.

We'll just say, we know virtually nothing about fashion, and we can't explain Mandy's outfit; early in the day there was a sliver of black, then later in the day there was more black.

Market gets the message
from Anthony Scaramucci’s IM

Ingram Micro (IM) closed Tuesday down 7 cents, at $18.79.

By about 5:25 p.m. Eastern it was suddenly up a solid 4%, courtesy of Anthony Scaramucci's Hedge Fund Trade of the Week.

Scaramucci cited "a number of reasons" for liking the stock: "It has about $7.36 in cash or net negative debt. It's been profitable every quarter since it went public including the economic downturn, and we believe that management is going to deploy that $400 million into share repurchasing over the next year," he said.

If that didn't sound terribly exciting, note that Scaramucci also sees "potential upside from here is something 30-50% from current levels," later clarifying that time frame to 12-18 months.

Joe Terranova questioned if IM, at $3 billion market cap, is a potential takeover story. Scaramucci said he didn't want to go down that road, but yes the possibility exists, but he prefers owning it for other reasons.

Stocks that don’t yet exist are a buy after they exist

Joshua Brown of Fusion Analytics offered 3 strategies for 2011 (and won't you be so glad when January arrives and hopefully we won't have to deal with this segment anymore) on Tuesday's Fast Money, but his tactics for making an actual trade sounded murky at best.

First Brown predicted a lot of social media names going public, specifically Skype, LinkedIn and Twitter, and he said he'd be playing the bigger names. (Except it's hard to play them on that news before they go public, so do with that trade as you wish.)

Second, Brown suggested a "muni-geddon," pointing to a low number of credit default swaps and saying there's opportunity to play a "possibility of defaults."

Finally he said in commodities it's time to "separate the wheat from, say, the soybeans," but all it really amounted to was an ag call and an anti-Chinese-commodities call.

Maybe most interestingly, Brown defended natural gas. "If you think oil is gonna head to a hundred dollars ... you cannot tell me, supply aside, that nat gas is gonna sit here at multi-decade lows," he said.

Gartman: Too many ‘coulds’
in Boockvar’s thesis

Anyone watching Tuesday's Fast Money live must've thought they were watching a rerun.

Practically all the commentary was heard either earlier in the day on the Halftime Report, or on Monday's series of programs.

Peter Boockvar was given several minutes to restate his case that higher rates worldwide would put a ceiling on stocks. Dennis Gartman said, at the end, that it's a "could, could, could" type of trade, which is a "derivative" on reality. Boockvar rebutted that every trend is working until it isn't.

The panel also had a too-lengthy go-round on China's stock market and the copper story. Brian Kelly claimed again that if the copper supply in ETFs is filled out like the gold supply, "you have a shortage in copper, just on the ETFs," and don't have to worry about China, which just sounds like a really weak reason for being long copper. Todd Gordon on the other hand said there's still evidence of a "huge shortfall in copper supply."

Dennis Gartman yet again talked about an ultimate splitting of the euro.

Harte: Financials will
deliver in 2011

Jeff Harte told Fast Money viewers Tuesday "I think there's a lot of money to be made in financials in 2011," and he likes 3 names: C, BAC and GS. (This writer is long C.)

Harte called Citi the "safest place to be" and said BAC, while maybe the best long-term play, is still "kind of a show-me story."

Todd Gordon said Molycorp had a "monster reversal," and said "You've got room down to the October breakout point of about $40."

Pete Najarian said based on options, the Russia RSX looks like it has more room to run.

Scott Nations said he thinks fuel will be a killer for United-Continental and recommends buying the February 23 put for $1.40. Dennis Gartman added, "Of all the airlines that hedge, they are the worst."

Joe Terranova asserted, "I don't think any of us have been in a Sears recently."

Gartman owning gold
in dollar terms

In an uneventful Fast Money Halftime Report Tuesday, Dennis Gartman was making the most headlines.

Gartman revealed (after already revealing it in the Gartman Letter) that he's now owning gold in dollar terms. Patty Edwards said she owns gold, platinum and silver and said "gold and the metals are actually a reserve currency." Gartman said he's not young enough and doesn't have the guts to trade platinum and that Edwards is "courageous" for doing so.

Gartman said the spikes in molybdenum are bound to make the manufacturers of stainless steel somewhat "uncomfortable."

Gartman also said the cratering of home prices has a long-term beneficial effect on the economy. "Housing has ceased to be an investment. That's a great idea," Gartman said.

Gartman: Consumers start
cutting back at $4 gasoline

Dennis Gartman unveiled a chart on Tuesday's Halftime showing the consumer paying attention to gasoline at $3, making changes at $3.50 and cutting back at $4.

Patty Edwards though said the magic levels don't matter as much as the incremental grind up. "For every penny increase that we see in the price of gasoline, you have $600 million worth of consumable, or discretionary spending, that comes out of the economy," Edwards said.

On other matters, Edwards said 3-D televisions that don't require glasses figure to be a "blessing and a curse" for Best Buy, in that they're bound to draw traffic to the stores but may also keep people from buying existing models while they wait for 3-D.

Kathy Lien spoke about the euro/dollar trade having legs, but she spoke for so long without a break that it was all Simon Hobbs could do to slam on the brakes and cut her off.

Patty Edwards said the FXI is looking better but she's not fully bullish.

Joe Terranova said a lot of people are expecting a January pullback, but this could be the January that "defies the logic" and keeps going up.

Steve Cortes said he disagrees with that because investor sentiment, presumably Terranova-type sentiment, is "at very dangerous levels."

Cortes said he's not yet shorting the commodities momentum, but he's "interested in fighting it."

Guest doubts Berkowitz’s
stake in SHLD

One of the more entertaining analogies heard on The Strategy Session recently occurred Tuesday when Abhay Deshpande explained why Japanese stocks are such a bargain.

It's "as if we were buying used Toyota Camrys online for $10,000, the next morning we wake up and they deliver a $50,000 BMW to our driveway," Deshpande said.

Or, he said, it's like buying that same Camry and finding $13,000 in cash in the trunk. (In which case you'd probably find yourself targeted by narcotics gangs, or merely arrested.)

Joe La Ferla, sort of a stand-in again for Gary Kaminsky, praised Bruce Berkowitz. "If AIG is considered the stock of the year, then he certainly must be considered the fund manager of the year," La Ferla said, though he conceded that not everything in Berkowitz's portfolio seems like a sure thing. "Sears is the 1 holding that I do worry about," he said.

Jack Andrews was supposed to outline the tech trade but really said little more than to be cautious in the cloud computing space, saying there's been a "bit of a biforcation in the market this year" between the cloud names and the "old-school legacy technology companies."

Andrews defended owning Sirius, saying each new subscriber is high-margin and that the business is "really reaching an inflection point."

Andrew Kligerman talked about AIG but said little more than the government's handling of it is still uncertain. "Our price target is 53, and you've still got that government wild card," Kligerman said.

[Monday, December 27, 2010]

$150 oil, $5.25 copper, $50 silver

John Stephenson, an occasional Fast Money guest who is just crushed that people aren't paying gobs more money for oil, made 3 predictions for 2011, and while they repeat his previous comments on the show, they're certainly bold and interesting.

Stephenson said he sees silver at $50, oil at $150 and copper to $5.25, though the text on the screen said copper $5.50.

That oil call set the panel into a bit of a frenzy as to what $150 a barrel would do to the economy. Anthony Scaramucci asked Joe Terranova if that would mean recession. Terranova waffled, saying it would be a slog just to get there.

Dennis Gartman said, "150 5 years from now, we'll be fine; you take it to 150 6 months from now, we have an economic problem."

Joe Terranova did say that while $147 was peak oil in 2008, "Next time, it'll be the floor."

Mandy braves the cold weather, goes sleeveless

Doug Kass suggests ETFs
can make VIX irrelevant

Doug Kass tried to make a not-so rosy case for the 2011 stock market, only to run into a stiff headwind of disagreement on Monday's Fast Money.

Kass chalked up the current rally to "recession-fatigue" and said it seems like it could be "ephemeral."

Investors "should be really fearful that the foundation of growth is, as Gertrude Stein once said, 'less there there'," Kass said. "The secular headwinds are being ignored."

Jon Najarian wasn't buying that. "The headwinds are not gonna be nearly as strong as the economic stimulus is going to be helping the market," Dr. J said, though he argued that people in the metals space are going to be "shaken" a bit before the next buying opportunity.

Dennis Gartman said the bottom line is that the chart is moving lower left to upper right, it's a bull market, and "fading those sorts of trends usually, it usually hurts."

Thankfully and refreshingly, Gartman also complained about one of the most ridiculous contrarian arguments in any market, that the "volume" doesn't justify whatever's happening. "Volume should be thin, it's the end of the year," Gartman said.

Kass at one point asked Jon Najarian why the VIX even matters nowadays given all the ETFs, a question we don't quite understand. Najarian said of the VIX, "it's a price set by the actual market itself, not in any way manipulated by leveraged ETFs or anything else."

Anthony Scaramucci wasn't quite so negative on Kass' call, saying he expects some kind of pullback but balking about having to "speculate" when Simon Hobbs asked him the precise amount, which Scaramucci eventually said could be a "5% correction, something like that."

But near the end of the show — oops — Scaramucci botched Kass' name in making a potential call. "If Dennis Kass is wrong and there is a bull market next year, those 4 stocks, the dogs of the Dow, they will outperform the other 26 stocks in that index," Scaramucci said.

Kass said "I think the market moves sideways during 2011" and once again, apparently to trumpet this call as being unique rather than boring, explained that would be an "unusual occurrence" given trends going back 100 years.

Gartman: MSFT is a bank

Jon Najarian reported Monday on Fast Money, as he did at Halftime, on the Visa call-buying and his own position. "I was writing the 72.50s and 75s against it," he said.

Dennis Gartman gushed about Microsoft's gargantuan cash horde. "I wanna own banks. Microsoft isn't a high-tech company anymore. It's a bank," he said.

Gartman, during a segment in which Todd Gordon predicted further declines in the euro, said the Swiss central bank has been pumping cash trying to weaken the Swiss franc but to no avail. "They have lost tens of billions of dollars, worst trade I've ever seen," he said.

Jon Najarian downplayed the China rate hike early in the show, and given that it was barely mentioned for the rest of the show, it seems like he's right. "I don't think this is a big deal," he said.

"Just beware of central bankers that sound overconfident," countered Anthony Scaramucci.

Todd Gordon revealed "I got the 'Wall Street 2' movie for Christmas last night," which was undoubtedly given by someone with good intentions.

Car restrictions in China:
‘Frankly not a big deal’

Auto expert Maryann Keller did a fine job on Monday's Fast Money discussing Chinese auto registration limits and their effective on GM, but the fact she said "it's frankly not a big deal" is an indication the puzzling segment droned on longer than it should've.

Keller said she was scared to hear earlier guest John Stephenson predict $150 oil, but in terms of stocks, "I think Ford is probably the most interesting play."

Dennis Gartman paid Keller a nice tribute. "The smartest person in the automobile industry is Maryann Keller. It's an honor to be on the same show," Gartman said.

Nothing, it seems, can make Anthony Scaramucci dislike HRB

As if a Cisco burn wasn't enough, Anthony Scaramucci was put on the spot Monday by Simon Hobbs on his Dec. 8 call of H&R Block as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week.

The stock tumbled Monday after its partner HSBC was told to stop financing Block's Refund Anticipation Loans.

Scaramucci on Monday said hold on, "I did say that this could be a potential problem, that they wouldn't be able to do these refund rebates again."

Actually, he acknowledged on Dec. 8 Melissa Lee's point that there were fears the refund loans could either be scrapped or renegotiated at poorer terms, but that "we think that that fear is also overblown" because the company still produces more free cash than it's been getting credit for.

In Scaramucci's defense, it was Guy Adami who really dropped the stinkbomb, recommending it on Dec. 7 (closed $13.39 then) and then saying on the 8th it was still worth a shot (closed $12.57).

Whatever. "A lot of smart value guys own the name," Scaramucci said Monday.

Evidently, they got in a little too early.

Chart guys give Scaramucci’s
CSCO boost the bum’s rush

Piling on is 15 yards in the NFL, but on Fast Money it can be downright hilarious.

Anthony Scaramucci tried Monday to quietly tout the virtues of Cisco, only to run into a buzzsaw of chart skeptics in the form of Dennis Gartman and Todd Gordon, who combined to put on a rather good show.

"This is a very good stock to own for 2011," Scaramucci insisted.

"That's a bad-looking chart," Gartman and Gordon grumbled basically in unison, with Gordon trying to point to some $21 level.

"It's actually a pretty decent chart for value owners," Scaramucci said — whatever that means.

"Nortel had value at 40, and it had value at 30, and it had value at 20, and it had value at 10 ..." Gartman said.

"You can't really compare Cisco and Nortel right," Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci seemed to think capital allocation is the answer. "If they institute a dividend," Scaramucci said, "OK, you're gonna bring in a whole new group of mutual fund buyers, a whole new group of insititutional owners. That's gonna affect the chart."

Scaramucci eventually conceded he was outnumbered. "Karen, I miss ya Karen," he said.

Panelists tell Steve Cortes,
get that AAPL short &^*!#@!! outta here

Steve Cortes called in to Monday's Fast Money claiming that APPL is one of those stocks where the general's been shot and thus the Nasdaq can't keep going higher.

Or, put another way, AAPL is the "Atlas of the market," Cortes said, and "Atlas has started to shrug," in a "sideways" move while the Nasdaq rises, "historically that is unsustainable."

Simon Hobbs asked Jon Najarian if Cortes is right.

"Steve Cortes has been right about an awful lot of things," Najarian said, but "I think he's wrong on this one."

"This is when a lot of cool stuff starts to happen for Apple," Najarian said. "I think it's gonna be just lights out."

Anthony Scaramucci said Apple is working on holographic television, "that's 3-D television without the glasses," which will give us a chance to comment later about how (and Steve Cortes should note this since he likes divergences) Americans' ability to improve their TV screens is way out of whack with what should be their interest in watching them, but that's for a later time.

Dennis Gartman called Cortes his CNBC "godson" as well as the "smartest guy around," but basically laughed off this "general" call, asserting "they haven't shot it yet."

Gordon: Citigroup poised
to bust out of triple top

Todd Gordon said on Monday's Fast Money that Citigroup is approaching a triple top, "so 5 I think at this time goes." (This writer is long C.)

Anthony Scaramucci said it's more than just a technical story, though that's part of it. "Management team has executed over the last 24 months," Scaramucci said. "Look for the shares to reverse split, they'll probably do a 3-to-1, or a 4-to-1, get the stock price up to 20."

Dennis Gartman called C "the longest LEAP that you can get."

Bill Strazzullo, Katie Stockton,
Greg Troccoli, Dan Fitzpatrick,
Divine Dani Hughes...

So many market pros are taking this week off, the Fast Money Halftime Report had to give Jared Levy a call.

(If that sounds like a dis, it's not meant to be. Rather, it's a comment about how rarely Levy appears on the show these days.)

They could've brought back Jeff Tomasulo, but he'd just say something like, "I'm gonna wait and see what the SPYders do before making a move here."

Levy said he likes Goldman Sachs as a steady winner.

Steve Cortes is shorting
Las Vegas Sands

Guest host Simon Hobbs asked Dennis Gartman on Monday's Halftime Report if the China rate hike is going to slam the brakes on stocks.

"I really don't think so," Gartman said. "I think China has raised rates for a very real reason," or in other words, a good reason.

But Steve Cortes begged to differ. "I do think that this China news is material and it's very bearish," Cortes said. He said he's been short LVS at $50 and at $47.

Gartman also offered 3 trades for 2011, saying first "I wanna own ag in almost any way that I can own agriculture," he said, then trumpeting the stuff that hurts when you drop it on your foot, steel, coal, etc., then regional banks such as whatever might be in Keokuk, Iowa.

Basically, 3 things he's been saying for months if not more.

Gartman said he owned NFLX a while ago but hasn't owned it for 3 months, and he doesn't understand streaming.

Jon Najarian says CSCO underperformed the Barron’s Bounce

Jon Najarian said Monday on the Halftime Report that he owns CSCO and was glad to see the positive coverage in Barron's.

"I own Cisco and I've written calls against it, delighted by the article, was a little surprised it didn't get more of a boost given that it was the cover story," Najarian said.

And what should that tell us?

Patty Edwards wasn't so high on CSCO, but IBM, which she said is "even cheaper, and I think it's a stronger story."

Patty ‘ready to plunge into Target’

Patty Edwards on Monday's Halftime was gushing about a certain retailer with a bull's-eye.

"I am getting ready to plunge into Target," Edwards said, saying it's been kicking Wal-Mart's butt.

"I agree with ya 100% Patty," said Jon Najarian.

Edwards also recommended Syngenta.

Dr. J said there's a lot of interest in Visa call-buying, a couple months into 2011. "They'd like about 90 days to be right," Najarian said.

Simon Hobbs questioned if instead they fear a market pullback and that's why they're buying options several months out. We're not options experts, but if they actually fear that, why wouldn't they wait for the pullback to buy the stock or calls. Najarian said rather buyers think "it's already had its correction" and will recover by March.

Guest caller Aaron Rakers of Stifel called HPQ a "very attractive value play" and also recommended EMC and NTAP.

Last week Don Drapkin said ‘everybody comes on and says, oh it’s gonna be the greatest possible world’

Monday's Strategy Session looked more like Squawk on the Street, only without Erin Burnett.

David Faber turned up at the NYSE perch with Joe La Ferla in a production that unfortunately looked and felt much like an afterthought ... which is a kinder way of saying they seemed hell-bent on ruining your holiday cheer.

Continuing to counterpunch the claims of those (see Dec. 21 below) who say only bulls are seen on CNBC, the show brought in David Rosenberg (who predicted double-dip a year ago) to grumble about the housing market; "we're not getting any good numbers as far as sales or demand is concerned," he said.

Then Peter Boockvar, not the only guest to have a phone connection problem, said China's rate hike is just the beginning for the rest of the world, and "considering the enormous amount of bullishness for 2011," that's trouble, because "higher interest rates mean that stock prices don't have to necessarily go up."

Here's the thing about the bears/skeptics: Debt has been an issue for 30 years. It's going to be an issue for the next 30 years. It's likely going to be an issue on the day Justin Bieber retires. Complaining about debt is like saying the Patriots are going to lose because they don't have a running game. So if you're a bear and you have a fresh case, let's hear it; you may actually be right. If your case, like way too many, is merely that we're creating too much debt, you need to go back to the drawing board.

Whitney Tilson complains
about Business Insider headline

A week ago, The Business Insider wrote about Whitney Tilson's Netflix letter (the letter that prompted Reed Hastings' Seeking Alpha rebuttal).

The headline said, "Whitney Tilson Defends The Netflix Short That Is Killing His Portfolio."

At some point, Tilson responded: "Just because we have lost money on our Netflix short doesn't mean it's 'killing our portfolio.' We manage risk carefully and have a well-diversified short book. We're having a very good year and are beating the market despite being conservatively positioned all year."

Interesting. A "conservatively positioned" portfolio beating an S&P 500 that's up about 13% for the year.

Tilson also argues he is not seeking to sink the stock price by revealing his position.

"As for trying to impact the stock price, that was not our intention and we are not aware that our report had any effect on the stock," Tilson says.

K-Call: California likely
too big to fail

In a week as frenetic as any Santa Claus has had, we did manage to catch The Strategy Session every day.

But we didn't get much opportunity to check out Gary Kaminsky's K-Call, one of our favorite features in part because of the neat way that Melissa Lee will promote it by saying "Read more at CNBC.com on Gary's K-Call ... which is also known as Gary. Kaminsky's. Blog."

On Tuesday, Kaminsky argued against Meredith's math. Though this subject was well-covered on television this week, Kaminsky makes this provocative point in writing: "If Citigroup is too big to fail, logic would dictate that so too is the State of California."


What's even more frustrating than Too Big to Fail is people of authority insisting Too Big to Fail can be eliminated.

About the only antidote is rarity. Luckily, it just doesn't happen very often.

Kaminsky writes that comments like Whitney's are pegged for a certain audience, and that he actually sees opportunity in muni bonds. "Often times, its hard to hear the logic amid noises," Kaminsky concludes.

[Thursday, December 23, 2010]

Currency expert: China won’t let euro collapse

Boris Schlossberg was having such a good time talking about his top currency trades for 2011 on Thursday's Fast Money, he probably could've gone talking right into the commercial.

His first call was most provocative: long euro/short yen.

"I think the euro at this point is really an overdone trade," Schlossberg said, arguing China won't allow it to collapse and then be faced with only the dollar as a reserve, but then again what does that do for gold, but that's another discussion apparently.

The Zekemeister, Zachary Karabell, questioned how that might play out if China lets its currency rise. Schlossberg said China is unlikely to do that because it's too dependent on exports. Karabell made a point of disagreeing, saying the internal Chinese economy might require it.

Schlossberg also likes long U.S. dollar/short yen, and short Aussie vs. the Swiss franc.

Karen Finerman predicted, regarding the Airgas saga, "Air Products ends up dropping their bid." Dennis Gartman asked if that makes her a buyer and she said no, but that some of that theory may be priced in already.

Honestly, there's some arb money to be made there however it turns out, and this page should've been paying more attention to that situation, but there's only limited time for everything, and it's hard to pay attention to the lesser-followed M&A when you've got BHP Billiton of all people engineering a maneuver for Potash that did nothing but waste everyone's time and smack of downright buffoonery.

Karen Finerman explained to a Fast Mailer why she gushes about Jamie Dimon: "I just think he's hot."

Melissa Lee, in snappy cream-colored blouse but subdued overall pre-holiday look, wished a Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating, and announced, "I'm off next week."

ETF expert: Copper plays
bound to be a disaster

Fast Money guest Matt Hougan delivered one of the more interesting ETF commentaries Thursday that could've lasted double the time, easily.

Hougan's primary point is that the copper ETFs are going to be a bust. "First, they're gonna be too expensive" to store the metal, he said, citing "sky high" copper storage costs.

"Second, there's already a perfectly good alternative on the market, the JJC," he said. And finally, he doesn't see "huge investor demand for copper."

Hougan also trashed how institutions are setting up actively managed funds via ETFs, saying retail investors don't want that, "they're buying ETFs to manage money themselves."

We have no clue if the copper ETFs will be a hit. But it's an interesting point. Too bad Brian Kelly, who was just trumpeting the impact of ETF copper storage on the price of the metal a day ago, wasn't around to argue.

Stephen Weiss: Gold bubble
‘is going to pop’

For whatever reason, Thursday was a day of gold fights on Fast Money.

But if you were looking for knockouts, you'll have to wait till Mandy Drury resurfaces on the program.

Dennis Gartman and Zachary Karabell conducted a "Street Fight" that didn't come anywhere close to what you'd see on "Road House" (see below), and then Stephen Weiss made a too-long presentation about gold being overcooked having something to do with the 1970s.

Weiss seemed so confident of his thesis, he even claimed at one point it's like a "cage match," and Gartman will need a good "cut man."

Finally, Weiss said, "To me the marginal buyer in gold has been the consumer ... gold is a bubble, that bubble is going to pop."

But then he admitted to Melissa Lee, "I'm not short gold." He said he's not going to try to catch the top but that there will be plenty of time to profit on the short side once it collapses.

Gartman actually agreed on the timing part, saying he missed the gold bottom (presumably meaning around Y2K) by 3 years, and that whenever it does pop, you'll have time to ride it down.

Interesting. Again, this page has no clue. But Weiss is arguing against a remarkable 10-year chart. If Weiss nails the exact year that a 10-year-strong trade folds, that's a helluva call.

Or, if he doesn't, an embarrassing bust.

Matt Hougan didn't address the commodity, but the ETF. "I think GLD is the most overpriced ETF on the market," Hougan said. "You can get the exact same exposure for half the fee in IAU. They both trade like water. It's a commodity for goodness sake."

Dennis Gartman basically agreed.

Scaramucci says Jobs ‘superstitious’ about product releases

Jon Najarian wasn't terribly swayed Thursday by a report out of Japan that Apple is going to speed up its next iPad for early 2011.

The Doctormeister said if they actually did that, it would be a sign they see serious competition from Samsung and/or Research in Motion. But "I don't see it coming out till April," Najarian said.

Anthony Scaramucci also was skeptical of an early release, saying he thinks Steve Jobs is "superstitious" and because he picked "April for the iPhone, April for the iPad," it's probably going to be April again.

If you’re interested in this item, consider yourself lucky

In a possible sign that this "top 3" series is getting a little bit out of hand, Fast Money on Thursday welcomed Emma Sugarman, to outline the top 3 trends in the hedge fund world in 2011.

Honestly, with all due respect to Sugarman ... unless you're in a certain sector of about 0.001 percent of the population, do you care?

In case you do, Sugarman's themes are 1) Everyone wants to be like George Soros, 2) Deal mania, and 3) No more Maseratis.

Karen Finerman asked if too many macro funds are chasing yesterday's trade. Sugarman said that convertible arbitrage funds got blasted in 2008, then were above previous highs in 2009.

Gartman: ‘Central banks are the buyers of gold’

Zach Karabell (and Karen Finerman) took on Dennis Gartman in a Fast Money "Street Fight" on Thursday over gold.

It's always interesting to hear these arguments, but no ground was broken here.

"I think gold is the ultimate fool's gold trade," Karabell said, citing 3 reasons why he dislikes it: That people buy it when the sky is falling (apparently it's not going to in 2011), equities are simply outrunning it, and "some of that trade comes to an end on the part of the central banks" in 2011.

Gartman's primary argument was the central bank buying, but he said, "What you're seeing is a distrust of fiat currencies." He said people mistakenly think gold is a "dollar trade" when it's actually a "currency trade."

Karen Finerman tried to trip up Gartman on the economy, saying if the economy is good, wouldn't that be a negative. Gartman said gold has performed under various economic conditions.

Gartman said, "At the margins, central banks are in fact the buyers of gold, and I think they have reduced the supply."

Dennis Gartman can’t resist
a Brag Trade

Even Dennis Gartman, a down-to-earth fellow on CNBC, is prone to a little crowing.

Melissa Lee, fresh off a beaming Halftime Report in which Gary Kaminsky gave her a holiday basket, asked Gartman what he thinks of the price action in oil.

"I made a few dollars actually. It was very nice. I'm long a lot of oil," Gartman said.

Apparently everyone else likes it too. Karen Finerman said "We have a position in Canadian oil sands." Anthony Scaramucci recommended BP, then cited 3 macro reasons for liking oil in general, the latter of which is cited so often as to not really be a reason: the dollar, GDP and "Middle East conflict overhang" involving Iran, as if anyone thinks Barack Obama is going to bomb Iran.

K-Fine: Hate to say it,
but here are 3 retail targets

Karen Finerman said Thursday on Fast Money she was reluctant to do so, but coughed up 3 possible takeover targets: Office Depot, Aeropostale and Avon, though she called Avon a "long shot, by a lot."

Jon Najarian trumpeted Zumiez and Quicksilver, given surfing champ Kelly Slater's unique ownership deal.

Dennis Gartman’s
top trading rules

Every year around this time, Dennis Gartman speaks about his rules of trading, which is such an impressively concise and understandable list that it never hurts to repeat them (even every day, to be honest).

On Thursday's Halftime Report, Gartman reminded "There's never just 1 cockroach" and as a result he suggests being short the euro, "short the euro against almost anything."

He also said to buy high and sell higher, and never add to losing trades.

Assuming it’s true, Target wins the iPad Derivative Strategy Award

Colin McGranahan made an interesting call on Target on Thursday's Halftime Report, saying "Everyone knows that the iPad is the same price everywhere."

Except, he said, that if you buy it at Target with your red card, you get 5% off.

McGranahan said that's already driven improvement at Target.

Guy Adami said to keep looking at gasoline, and even though there's been a major stock run, he likes Tesoro. "I think this stock has a lot of room on the upside," Adami said.

Jon Najarian recommended XOM or CVX.

Melissa Lee questioned the usefulness of Steve Cortes' China stock market chart divergence, saying the market there is inefficient anyway. Cortes said he only goes by solid trading data, not government stats. "I can't make money or trade on Chinese GDP," he said.

Jon Najarian said there's put activity in Exelon.

Guy Adami admitted he doesn't have a handle on how to trade the homebuilders, saying Hovnanian doesn't seem like a good short but doesn't seem like a good long either. Steve Cortes said he's waiting for a price signal from Masco to let him know whether to short homebuilders. Patty Edwards said "there's a greater cockroach theory" (before Dennis Gartman came on the show and also mentioned cockroaches) in which you wonder about the whole sector when new homes are so weak, and she like Adami prefers Home Depot.

Steve Cortes hints at
a Brag Trade

Guy Adami opened Thursday's Halftime Report not so much about Jo-Ann Stores (good grief, who wants to write about that) but saying retailers have been impressive and that shorting them has put people in face-ripped-off land.

Steve Cortes, in his green Jim Tressel-esque sweater, objected to the anti-short call, saying retailers have been great for the whole year but not since Black Friday, the day to short.

"It has worked very well in recent weeks; I know because I have the trade on and it's working quite well," Cortes said.

Melissa Lee asked Patty Edwards, in sparkling red, for a call similar to something like Jo-Ann and Patty flinched about takeover speculation, though she did warily mention Big Lots, "I think there's cash flow there. Do I have any insight beyond that? No."

Hopefully Dana Telsey has avoided John Kinnucan

Dana Telsey, cute as a button as always, made a maiden appearance Thursday on The Strategy Session — and happened to utter a 2-word term that has come under scrutiny recently.

"We have a channel-checking team that's out there the 3rd week of every month that's, has been doing it for almost 3 years now, and they're seeing strong traffic in the month of December," Telsey said.

As long as they're at the mall rather than Flextronics, it's probably OK.

Telsey was optimistic about specialty and basically all kinds of retailers. "I think what makes retailers attractive, they have very strong cash flows, they have very good brands," and they could experience higher margins going forward.

Apparently, good stock pickers and indexing both beat the bad stock pickers

Guest Mark Boyar figured to spice up what ended up a very crisp week on The Strategy Session, but his active-stock-picking segment sort of promised more than it delivered.

Boyar said "indexing obviously has worked very well for a decade, uh, unless you are a really really good stock picker. And there are a lot of good stock pickers out there."

Gary Kaminsky, bringing some swagger to the program with jeans, immediately seized on that, saying all the indexes have done is produce flatness for a decade as opposed to losses.

To be honest, we had no clue what Boyar even meant.

Likely sensing this was sounding goofy, Kaminsky quickly turned the focus to Cablevision, and why Boyar likes the stock. Boyar said the Dolan family is more shareholder-friendly than people realize, and after spinning off some assets, "they're trying to simplify what Cablevision is all about."

Kate Kelly admitted she'd never heard the term "closet indexer" until she met Gary Kaminsky. Kaminsky said you can spot the closet indexers by looking at the holdings in your fund and if 7 or 8, or 15 out of 20 of the top fund holdings are the big S&P names, you've got a closet indexer.

Kaminsky offered 3 views on investing going forward, saying organic growth is always best at delivering value rather than trying to play volatility, that dividends constitute a big part of long-term total return, and that he sees a secular shift to bonds and not a bubble market about to explode.

Kaminsky also said IPOs in general got a boost from a carmaker; "the GM deal was bigger than GM." And what's becoming a Strategy Session cliche, the possible Toys R Us offering, came up again, with Kaminsky noting at some point a decision has to be made, "You cannot just keep refiling."

Mandy running The Call
next week

Trish Regan announced at the end of The Call on Thursday that she's off for a week, and "Mandy's gonna hold down the fort."

[Wednesday, December 22, 2010]

Scaramucci to Ritholtz:
You’re brilliant, but wrong

Barry Ritholtz tried to make the case for Japan on Wednesday's Fast Money, but at least one panelist thinks something gets lost in the translation.

Ritholtz said nobody's really expecting much from it right now and prices are finally going to remain stable. Tim Seymour demanded Ritholtz explain just 1 thing Japan's got going for it and then unnecessarily rambled on about writing off bank loans. Ritholtz explained the bank loans but then answered Seymour's original question: "Just a tremendous, tremendous, industrial expertise. They're gonna retain the high-end engineering, intellectual property," Ritholtz said.

Anthony Scaramucci said Ritholtz is "such a smart guy" that Scaramucci will now have to look into this chutzpah, but on the other hand, he's seen this movie before, every 2 years someone trumpets Japan. "I just think it's a value trap," Scaramucci said.

Ritholtz said he likes Greece, but it's "essentially a nation of tax scofflaws that don't really make anything besides tourists and olive oil."

Karen Finerman astutely trips up expert’s Wells Fargo pick

Karen Finerman and Melissa Lee talked (sigh) again about hot Jamie Dimon, but in fact it was Mel's sexy boots and all-around chic black look that was the real hot topic for Fast Money viewers on Wednesday (we're wondering if they're going to talk her into starring in one of those Pajamagram commercials that run now and in February).

K-Fine held up her end of the bargain in snappy blue dress on top of shiny blouse.

Tim Seymour kick-started the bank conversation saying "this was not a 1-day move," and "the best thing that happend to financials was WikiLeaks."

Anthony Scaramucci said "2011 will be the year for bank stocks I think."

Karen Finerman though suggested it's not all rosy across the board; "I think Brian Moynihan's got his hands full."

Analyst Ed Groshans gushed about Wells Fargo, crowing that they kicked Countrywide and WaMu's butt.

That prompted K-Fine to needle Groshans with "Countrywide and WaMu aren't gone," but just absorbed by very powerful parent companies.

Groshans responded that his point is that Wells survived intact in 2008 whereas the others didn't, so that's a sign Wells has superior management and model.

Groshans recommended selling TCF.

Remember, Patty called NKE selloff a ‘gift’

Tim Seymour said Wednesday you can catch NKE in a few days. "I think 84's the level again," Seymour said.

Dennis Gartman delivered an excellent little Trade School on contango, and pointed to contango in Brent crude. "You're probably only getting started in a bull market," Gartman said.

That gave Tim Seymour an opportunity for his favorite expression, "the reality is, the inventory numbers today were unbelievably bullish," although Gartman didn't think they were quite as bullish as Seymour did.

Anthony Scaramucci got Fast-scorched for actually recommending Cisco a month ago, which really isn't so bad considering Zachary Karabell called $20 an "unbelievable entry point" a couple months ago (Mike Block was the one who nailed it as a value trap in August).

Nevertheless, as CSCO fans always are, Scaramucci said "I still like Cisco long-term," even though "the momentum's clearly out of this stock."

Bart Chilton repeatedly stresses need for ‘harmonized’ markets

There's a time and a place for everything.

CFTC regulator Bart Chilton is articulate and glib and opinionated enough that ordinarily, he would've headlined a boffo Fast Money segment.

Unfortunately, they couldn't have him on the same day as Terrence Duffy, whom he rebutted in absentia, or even worse, either one of the Najarian tag team that tends to view just about any kind of proposed trading restrictions (other than high-frequency trading) as an assault on the ideals that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams put together in the 1770s.

Chilton, addressing Duffy's contention on Fast Money a week ago that there's no academic studies indicating that position limits keep things from going haywire, scoffed Wednesday that "there are some academic studies at places like MIT, and Oxford, and Princeton and Rice."

Then Chilton called Melissa Lee "Michelle."

"I get that all the time, no problem," Lee said.

It's true. She does.

Chilton made an offhand comment about the Flash Crash, saying futures and equities markets weren't in synch and "the arbitraging there was what caused that cascading impact."

Tim Seymour gamely asked how Chilton could expect to deal with foreign exchanges which increasingly are part of the mix. What was most telling though in what proved to be a non-debate is that Chilton used the same term 4 times to describe his goal, a sign he's been rehearsing his TV talking points.

Slightly more exciting
than Pfizer

Anthony Scaramucci on Wednesday's Fast Money recommended Broadridge Financial as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week.

Scaramucci said BR has a "near-monopoly in the proxy business" for corporate dealings, and "it's in that value category."

Karen Finerman questioned if there's still any juice from the changes a couple years ago toward a more electronic proxy system. "I think the management team has gotten ahead of that," Scaramucci said, and he said they really don't have any competition and that someone, whether management or a buyer, will realize the full value of the company.

Nations: USO now about
half the price of a barrel

Brian Kelly on the Fast Money Halftime Report Wednesday indicated that ETFs are going to start fighting China for all the world's copper.

Copper enjoys "one of the most bullish fundamental stories behind it here," Kelly said, and then this humdinger on the ETFs: "If they have the same amount of copper in them as GLD did in the first 4 years, you will create a copper shortage just on the ETFs alone."

It's been rare that we get a chance to write about Scott Nations (only because we typically let the stuff from the Options Action guys slide), and Nations happens to be one of the better pundits in the Fast Money sphere, so it was refreshing to hear his take on the copper story and specifically the ETFs.

"I think the copper miners make a lot more sense," Nations said. "You have to pay for insurance and storage" in the ETFs, he added.

Nations also said that a while ago, a share of USO "equaled about the price of a barrel of oil and now it's about half of that, and largely because of contango."

Kelly argued that it's different with contango in oil.

Steve Cortes, in a remarkably quiet appearance, once again was down on nat gas, saying "there's not explosive upside anymore."

Steve Grasso said he pulled his chips off the table on X, but "I still believe in the story."

Cortes admits latest
BAC short was a bust

Steve Cortes admitted on Wednesday's Halftime Report that he lost money on his most recent BAC short, then tried to sugarcoat it by saying other tries have worked.

"I had to throw in the towel once it went above 13," Cortes conceded. "This attempt clearly did not work."

Steve Grasso admitted Wednesday that the whole MOT splitup has him a little bit perplexed.

"I'm a little confused as to which, which stock I should be buying," Grasso said.

Brian Kelly said, not particularly convincingly, he'd take "the mobility side" because of Android.

Scott Nations spoke about airlines and said "AMR and Southwest LUV are the 2 best names in this space."

Nations also spoke briefly about Office Depot, saying the call options are on fire after the filing about change in control.

Gary Mobley of Benchmark tried to explain the MSFT chip thing, but we really just couldn't get jazzed — in the slightest. "Microsoft is simply working with ARM on the mobile side," Mobley said.

Someone made a joke about toning shoes, and Melissa Lee, in quite frankly sexy black with rare beads and with new soft hairstyle, piled on by saying Steve Grasso wears them, "that's why he's so toned up, right Grasso?"

But then Grasso unexpectedly responded, "Well you would know," a comment that apparently caught Lee so off-guard she quickly begged off, "There's no upside to this conversation."

Meredith Whitney,
and ‘Money Never Sleeps’

Meredith Whitney's husband might be a wrestler, but it was The Strategy Session gang that was delivering the takedowns on Wednesday.

Ben Thompson returned to the set to rebut Whitney's rebuttal of his own analysis, specifically the "hundreds of billions" of dollars in munis that Meredith claims is going south.

"The reality is, you need major urban areas to collapse, in the next 12 months, for this to be true," Thompson said.

But he did credit Whitney for making noise, saying she has "created more sentivity" to the subject of municipal bonds.

Kate Kelly said she's talked to some insiders, who think "Meredith might be a little bit over her skis here."

We'll take the other side of Whitney's trade too, not because we have any clue about muni bonds (we don't), but because of general probabilities.

She's undoubtedly a fine analyst. Her Citi call can be chalked up, partly, to quality work. Most likely, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Being a Wall Street bank analyst in 2007 was the equivalent to a journalist being in Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963. Whitney could be considered more or less a reporter who picked up a phone and said "Looks like a guy's got a gun in the Book Depository," and then launched a business aimed at predicting every other assassination afterwards.

The notion that Whitney could once again be seeing something that virtually nobody else sees in such a widely observed market just defies belief.

Whitney should've just quit while ahead. What's sexy about analyzing banks anyway. Go out on top and launch a new career. Don't taint a phenomenal original with a preposterously bad sequel or if you do, at least wait about 23 years.

How is this gonna end? A couple years from now Whitney will visit with Maria Bartiromo — actually it may be Squawk Box because she won't be quite so elite anymore — and say something along the lines of "it didn't happen because all they did was just push these pension obligations further back," and/or "the federal government responded in unprecedented ways," and/or "the unions were forced to take concessions beyond what we could reasonably expect only because the rest of the economy is so bad they had no choice."

Isn’t it considered unlucky
to have 13 indicators?

Speaking of female analysts determined not to be 1-hit wonders, the real star guest of Wednesday's Strategy Session was actually Elaine Garzarelli.

Joe Kernen, smoothly and masterfully grabbing the reins from David Faber for a 2nd straight day, asked Garzarelli why now is such a purportedly great time to buy stocks.

"Well it's a good time because my 13 stock market indicators are at a bullish level. They're at 71%. And anything above 65% is bullish," Garzarelli said.

Kernen asked Garzarelli for investing tips. Garzarelli said she's a sector analyst and the first one she trumpeted was residential construction, but then she rattled off such a laundry list of ETFs almost across the board that we quickly lost track.

Mark Penna spoke about his business of lending money to the small-time operations that are shunned by banks. He predicted business will remain strong even as banks continue to recover, and that the average credit score of his customers is in the 720 range.

[Tuesday, December 21, 2010]

Jon Fortt more excited than anyone else at MSFT’s announcement

Jon Fortt delivered breaking news on Microsoft's ARM chips, which got Karen Finerman thinking it's bad news for Intel, and got us thinking, "What the heck if Jon Fortt talking about?"

Maybe over the weekend we'll catch up on some chip talk.

"I don't think this is a negotiating tactic," Fortt said.

Melissa Lee described Microsoft's recent performance as "powerhouse," her second dubious quip of the day (after the one about Amazon barely existing 10 years ago).

Carter Worth damned MSFT with faint praise. "Its rate of underperformance is abating," Worth said. "The worst is probably over."

Worth also did a presentation on Tiffany, Coach and Ralph Lauren, saying toppiness is occurring. "We're looking for 10% pullbacks in each of these," he said. He also pronounced the Canadian banks as fading, "There's rotation very much going on here."

Pete Najarian on the Fast Line reported that "everybody was asking about the XLF ... people continue to be very, very bullish."

Tim Seymour said "the reality is" at least twice, once when referring to leather and again when actually making a joke about Regis Philbin talking about insiders.

Andy Busch not quite on board with brevity being the soul of wit

We would've liked to give Andy Busch's ABBA-themed stock picks the top billing from Tuesday's Fast Money, but we didn't want to take a chance on his arguments lest they become our own personal Waterloo.

Busch quite simply couldn't stop talking, and we gradually couldn't figure out exactly what he was recommending, at least the thing about the debt ceiling negotiations and April/May pullback (selling the 5-year note was easy enough).

"I love everything Swedish right now," including the krona, Busch said.

CEO thanks Melissa Lee for improving his interviewing skills

Molycorp CEO Mark Smith apparently felt he had to make amends to Melissa Lee for a contradictory series of interviews recently ... or he was just sick of hearing about his Bloomberg flip-flop on CNBC.

Whatever. Smith on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report explained it to Lee, who wasn't smiling too much but had a happenin' hairstyle going with pinstriped blouse, this way: "Well, I got a lot smarter, No. 1, and I learned how to do interviews a lot better, and I thank you for that."

What was the discrepancy? Smith told Lee in October "we think there may be a form of a bubble occurring" in rare earths, and then a week later told Bloomberg "I don't believe that there is a bubble."

And people think Reed Hastings is off his rocker for writing a blog.

Smith said what's gone unreported is that "I apologized for making that error on the air, and I will continue to apologize for that."

Melissa: Amazon ‘barely existed’
10 years ago

Analyst Ben Schacter drew some curious parallels on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report between AMZN now and WMT of the 1990s, based on CAGR, also a hot cocktail party topic.

Schacter has a $205 price target on AMZN.

The really controversial comment in this dicussion was Melissa Lee's "10 years ago, Amazon barely existed."

Steve Cortes unfortunately sounds a bit flummoxed by the trades that everyone seems to be hitching a ride on, namely coal, copper, and other commodities. "Either China's a buy, or those commodities are a sale," Cortes grumbled.

Brian Kelly on the other hand said of commodities, "I think the story of 2011 is going to be non-Chinese demand."

Patty Edwards said she'll continue to ride ALK as long as there's no oil spike. Cortes said he thinks oil will be a problem. Paul Sankey said he likes COP, HOC and Frontier.

Cortes also said BAC is a loser. "It has paid to short this name against $13," he said. "I shorted against the S&P."

Patty Edwards said of NKE, "If you do get a selloff, it's a gift."

Is Drapkin watching CNBC,
or ‘The Partridge Family’?

Donald Drapkin, however astute he must be about the financial markets, absolutely drove us nuts with this absolutely erroneous cliche on Tuesday's Strategy Session.

"I'm not quite as bullish on next year as everybody else is. I mean, everybody comes on and says, oh it's gonna be the greatest possible world," Drapkin said.


The same day David Rosenberg guested on Squawk Box?

And wasn't Peter Schiff just on Fast Money a week ago ...?

What about Barry Ritholtz and Doug Kass this week?

Drapkin is like many people who like to fancy themselves successful contrarians who see only the things on television that they really want to see. In fact, so many people claim to be contrarians you wonder if contrarians are actually the conformists (and you wonder how 2/3 of all stocks move up with the S&P if the contrarians are always ahead of the game). Everybody's got Apple, and quite frankly if you're one of those who people who hasn't had Apple (lots of hands going up around here), you're a loser compared with those other non-contrarians. So Drapkin sounds receptive to a good 2011 but slightly reserved. What an extraordinary call.

What's the secret to Drapkin's success? "We go out. We identify a target. We do all our homework. And then we take that target to our investors and ask them if they want to invest in it," he said.

What it’s like to be named ‘Shelley,’ by Shelley Bergman

If not for Donald Drapkin, the most contentious moment of Tuesday's Strategy Session was going to be Shelley Bergman elbowing his way into a discussion about how he ended up with his first name.

Guest host Joe Kernen delivered one of the best under-the-radar zingers we've heard in a while, wondering in an aside how Shelley got a name like ... Bergman.

Bergman, who, if there's ever a movie about his life would undoubtedly be played by Alec Baldwin, basically sort of struck out when asked to explain his rationale for gushing about the private equity sector.

"By owning private equity firms ... investors can have the liquidity they need," Bergman said.

Sure, DRYS has plenty of liquidity too.

Gary Kaminsky tried to pin down Bergman on exactly how that liquidity works, but it ended up being a lot more Trade School from Kaminsky than believable investing thesis from Bergman.

Guest Thomas Lee told Kaminsky and Kernen that many money managers are underperforming indexes at high levels.

Herb Greenberg complained about the shell companies and shoddy standards behind some Chinese reverse mergers and even managed to knock down L&L shares a little bit while he spoke.

Joe Kernen said Elaine Garzarelli, whose greatest moment was 23 years ago, would be on Wednesday's Strategy Session and believes "now is the best time to buy stocks in over a decade."

[Monday, December 20, 2010]

Does Doug Kass’ gold call
have a prayer?

Doug Kass has made a few dubious predictions this month, but maybe none was more dubier (for lack of a better term) than Monday's call on a violent gold train wreck next year.

It's "dubier" not because we think he's wrong (we have no clue), but because he offered zero evidence.

So in other words, it's a random guess.

Gold, Kass said, will be "among the worst asset classes of the new year" and experience "unprecedented volatility."

He predicted it "plummets by more than $250 an ounce in a 4-week period" and "routinely moves 75 to $100 a day," finishing the year between $1,100 to 1,200.

So, why? One wonders how much e-mail, if any, CNBC might've gotten when Kass compared gold to the way people think about God and how you can't prove it when way or another and so it's just a matter of faith.

Tim Seymour wasted no time in demandig a catalyst. Kass said it produces no income stream and has no industrial value. (And that became news ... when ...?)

Seymour, on the other hand, insisted that central banks are in a race to buy it as part of the "we won't get fooled again trade," which could've prompted Kass to demand "who's next," but he didn't.

Longtime gold skeptic Guy Adami (remember when Barrick buying back the hedges was potentially going to signal a top) even conceded that the proof is in the price, even though he claims to basically agree with Kass.

Joe Terranova revealed "I'm short gold right now."

Maybe Kass should try his hand at football? The yinz might be interested in a Super Bowl forecast.

Barron’s consensus: The best
argument Ritholtz can make?

Barry Ritholtz dialed up the Fast Line on Monday to make a prediction that sounded potentially even more dubier than what Doug Kass phoned in.

Ritholtz said stocks have had a big ride since March 2009, and he thinks we might be "entering the final quarter of the rally."

Now, keep in mind that the first thing someone says is usually their top argument.

The first reason Ritholtz citing for believing we're near a top is the ... drum roll ... Barron's roundtable, "everybody was pretty bullish this past weekend."

Then he actually spoke of the "number of magazine covers, (that say) come on into equities, the water's fine."

Finally he said "More importantly than just the sentiment has been the money flows." But if it's really more important, why isn't that the first reason he cited?

And magazine covers?

What is this, 1978?

Joe LaVorgna, who was singled out by Guy Adami for having an "afro" hairstyle in his Fast Money portrait, said (not too surprisingly) he's bullish on U.S. stocks. "We definitely have an American theme," LaVorgna said, and it's a "bet on American stocks." He said Deutsche Bank strategists see a year-end target of 1,550, and "I think you also wanna bet on the U.S. dollar."

The "Grease" look never looked better than it did Monday on Melissa Lee, who donned black leather jacket and white top with oversized hoop earrings and kind of had the expression all day like "OK, this is a pretty good look."

Rich Greenfield predicts
setbacks for $7 popcorn

Rich Greenfield, who has made our All-Star team of Fast Money guests, is taking the other side of a media trade recently touted by Fast Money's own Simon Baker.

"We're short Regal; we think a $10 target price is pretty reasonable," Greenfield said for this reason: Early release is going to start putting movies in people's homes within 8 weeks.

Greenfield said a good play would be to short Regal and go long something like Disney or Viacom.

The only problem is that we've heard — for about 30-40 years probably — about the death of the theater, how everyone's going to watch movies on premium cable, then on VCRs, then on DVDs, and now Netflix streaming, etc.

And yet the megaplexes and their $5 Cokes and people using lighted cell phones and people gabbing with each other halfway through a film are all still here.

Greenfield, who unfortunately said "the reality is" twice during the broadcast, actually had a microphone glitch (it sounded like he was stepping on it) and had to take a query from Guy Adami on Dreamworks first, and likely in that response offered a better trade against DreamWorks.

In a "big call for 2011," Greenfield said, "The DVD is really in trouble." Consumers, he said, "simply don't need to own DVDs."

That's one that feels more believable.

Greenfield's purported topic of the day was Net Neutrality, and it sounds as though he might think the Drudge headlines on this subject are overdoing it. "The reality is," Greenfield said, is not that Google will buy up the fast lanes and everyone else will go slow, but that the parties involved "don't actually see a problem," and "there really isn't a reason for heavy regulation."

Greenfield expects a "much lighter touch" from the FCC than what some are saying, which he said is "exactly why you want to own cable stocks."

Worth: Visa, Mastercard
‘dead money at best’

Carter "Charter" Worth couldn't have been less enthusiastic about V and MA on Monday's Fast Money.

Sure, the stocks have been punished, but as for Visa, "does it have life to go up," Worth wondered aloud. Then answering his own question, said "it becomes dead money at best ... the prospects of a big bounce here are very low."

Tim Seymour though made a spirited case for the card players and disagreed with the earlier Halftime guest Chris Brendel that AXP is going to be a loser in the transition from credit to debit cards.

Guy Adami concurred with Seymour. "This selloff is overdone," Adami said.

Joe Terranova said the news of Groupon hiring an Amazon vet as CFO is "a clear signal that you're gonna see Groupon as an IPO."

Guy Adami said gasoline is quietly rising, and expect a "high 3-handle by early spring."

Carter Worth said "the current strength is real" in the market and he expects S&P 1,280 before a pullback. Tim Seymour said "the reality is" early in the program when discussing MercadoLibre, but only said it once, as opposed to Rich Greenfield.

Alex Hamilton recommended CACI, "the Wiki-Wacker," as his top security play, as well as Mantech and SRA.

Mike Khouw suggested selling a call spread in Blue Nile, a stock he considers a prime short candidate.

Bruce Silverman coined
‘Don’t leave home without it’

Analyst Chris Brendler, who said his favorite stock is actually the ICE, ignited a little Fast Money Halftime Report debate Monday when he dissed not V and MA, but American Express.

"The gap between debit and credit will be so large that I think credit cards will start losing share to debit cards," Brendler said.

He also called it "very unlikely" that AmEx would get into the debit card business.

Zachary Karabell said AmEx's very-high-end clientele wields a lot of power, and so he's not ready to "throw in this particular towel."

Jon Najarian revealed "I bought Visa." Brian Kelly inadvertently called Brendler "Brendan." No correction was made.

Steve Grasso has had enough moneymaking for now

Steve Grasso, white hot in December, maybe slowed the bull market when he announced on Monday's Halftime Report "I'm off next week" and said he feels a little profit-taking is in order.

"I sold my steel today, I sold my Motorola today. I trimmed my Citi position last week," Grasso said.

Zachary Karabell, echoing an earlier point by Gary Kaminsky on The Strategy Session, said the real eyebrow-raiser in regards to Reed Hastings posting a Seeking Alpha commentary at Whitney Tilson is that a CEO would take the time to do this at all.

"The fact of that is disturbing in and of itself," Karabell said, "because if he wasn't concerned, you don't waste the time responding."

Jon Najarian said Netflix has more important things — like iTunes and Amazon — to worry about than Whitney Tilson's short position.

We gotta agree, this one's bizarre. However, we can't go quite as far as the Fast gang. It may be, in fact, that Hastings really does feel good about his stock and is trying to stick it to Tilson (friendly or not-so-friendly) for some reason.

Put another way, in a best-case scenario, it could be considered similar to Desean Jackson's dance along the goal line on Sunday.

Karabell was a little cautious on AMZN, saying "I am not touching this stock at this valuation."

The Zekemeister made a good joke about what'll Moody's do next, downgrade Greece?

Melissa Lee referred to "underwear" when talking about Hanes.

Meredith Whitney,
and the ‘next shoe to fall’

Ben Thompson indicated on Monday's Strategy Session that "60 Minutes" might have a way of chasing, rather than breaking, a story.

"In all honesty, I'm a little perplexed that anybody is surprised to hear about muni credit issues at this point," Thompson said, even though he went out of his way to concede about the program, "by and large, it was very good." But Thompson said Meredith Whitney's default dollar amount doesn't add up. "I can't make the numbers work," Thompson said.

There are a couple reasons Whitney's muni warnings sound bogus. First is that it's the classic someone who made a great Wall Street call trying to go for an encore (think Nouriel Roubini), and that never happens, lightning doesn't strike twice. Second is that things on "60 Minutes" always sound worse than they really are.

Third is that we've been hearing about "the next shoe to drop" for a couple years and it just doesn't happen. People shorting those names in fact get killed. For a while it was going to be the commercial realty space, malls would go out of business, then it was the mall stores going bankrupt, etc. Basically everything did get hammered in 2008 and early 2009 and since then just about everything has gone up. Gary Kaminsky said if they're talking about "50-100" defaults, "that would be something like 30 times what you've seen" in historical muni rates.

And, obviously Harrisburg's incinerator does not represent 1/7th of the global economy.

Kaminsky also said there's a "disconnect" between sellers of bond funds and actually sellers of munis on Monday. At the end of the program, Kaminsky, citing Thompson and an upcoming K-Call, said it's possible this could be one of those times where you should be "backin' up the truck in munis."

Kaminsky: Hastings’ blog could
be watershed moment

Gary Kaminsky, discussing Reed Hastings' odd Seeking Alpha post to Whitney Tilson on Monday, said "it's one of those red flags" when companies start attacking short sellers.

"We may look back at this letter and say that was a pivotal time," Kaminsky said.

Kate Kelly seemed to open the door to a conversation about the merits of shorting, even though Hastings acknowledged in his post he thinks it's a fine business strategy. "A lot of people think it's grossly unfair," Kelly said, citing Einhorn and Lehman.

Guest Brad Miller said there's a lot of tech companies lining up for IPOs.

[Friday, December 17, 2010]

Viacom could be $50,
‘no problem’

A lackluster Fast Money episode on Friday really left hardly anything to write about.

The main course was supposed to be a street fight on rising interest rates between Karen Finerman and Brian Kelly.

But we couldn't really peg it to anything except a lot of maybes.

So then there was Research in Motion, which Joe Terranova thinks is shifting from mature market to developing market story and which tends to bring "erosion in terms of margins."

Guy Adami lamented that Colin Gillis (who had $95 on AMZN recently) was maybe too early on RIMM with his $36 price target. Adami agreed with Terranova that "If margins contract, the stock gets obliterated."

On another name, Karen Finerman said "So many bad things are priced in with this stock here (that) the bar is very low at HP."

David Bank was hardly given any time to outline a thesis on media stocks but was prodded to give some picks. He touted Viacom, which "could be a $50 stock, no problem," and Time Warner, which he said was the best trade.

Guy’s birthday Saturday;
Pete’s is Wednesday

Anthony Scaramucci rolled out his own 3 picks (or themes) for 2011, and ran into a Jon Najarian buzzsaw with his first offering. "We like Pfizer still, and we like Altria," Scaramucci said, but Najarian wondered why anyone would ever own Pfizer aside from maybe the dividend.

Scaramucci also recommended Novagold and Coach. Najarian said "I love Coach."

Karen Finerman said of Nike, one of the raging successes of 2010, "it's a little expensive," but Guy Adami countered "I think it still has room on the upside."

Karen Finerman said that "it does make sense" for Sara Lee to consider options possibly including a breakup.

Regis Philbin called Guy Adami to wish him a happy birthday. Philbin said to look at Micron Technology.

Grasso: D.C. responsibility could take hundreds off gold

Rich Ilczyszyn said on Friday's Halftime Report that a precious metals correction is in the works, and you might as well buy it. "I think this is a great opportunity to lighten up your load a little bit," Ilczyszyn said. "You're gonna get a correction; I like buying the dip."

Ilczyszyn said if gold gets through $1,313 it could possibly reach its moving-day average of $1,250, but he's skeptical it'll get that low.

Steve Grasso asked Ilczyszyn if a more fiscally responsible government, the "Washington Effect" is what he calls it, would provide a headwind to gold. Ilczyszyn agreed that would be a factor but suggested the dollar could tumble as well and provide a tailwind. Grasso said the confidence from something like the tax-cut deal "could take hundreds of dollars out of gold."

Joe Terranova praised Oracle, saying "the integration of Sun is the real story here" and "38, 39, that's not out of the question here."

Steve Grasso said "I'd be staying away from RIMM at this point."

Moshe Orenbuch said that amid all this hubbub over Visa and Mastercard fees, on day 1, there would be very little impact, and he considers the stock a buy at Friday's levels, as does Pete Najarian.

"I'm a big believer in owning a Netflix subscription, not so much the stock," said Patty Edwards.

Patty: Target eating
Wal-Mart’s lunch

Patty Edwards, who's in the running for Fast Money stock pick of the year, revealed a "naughty" and "nice" list of names for 2011 during Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Patty's "nice" picks include Coach, Tiffany, Target, Abercrombie, Nordstrom and Victoria's Secret parent The Limited.

On Patty's "naughty" list are Ann Taylor, bebe, Wal-Mart, Aeropostale, American Eagle and Talbots.

Pete Najarian reported heavy call-option buying in Macy's, saying this has happened "multiple times."

‘The next 10 years,
equities will be No. 1’

Jim McCaughan guested Friday on an unusually quiet Strategy Session, the kind that could've used a Ken Langone, and made this prediction about the next decade: "The next 10 years, I would suggest that equities will be No. 1, with U.S. and emerging market equities probably the best places to be," McCaughan said.

As for now, he said, "The funds that are seeing inflows are those in the growing economies of the emerging world ... that's where the balance of financial power is moving."

The show's star guest, however, was Larry Wieseneck, making his exclusive first television interview, and while there was nothing wrong with his commentary on IPOs and bond markets, we honestly could not find a kernel of juiciness to put into a review.

That actually made us curious how The Strategy Session's official Web site characterized the conversation with Wieseneck. Actually, it didn't characterize it at all. Perhaps the topics could've been spicier; does Wieseneck think WikiLeaks is a crime, who's going to win the Jets-Steelers game, etc.

For those in need of a quote, Wieseneck was asked by Gary Kaminsky to describe the Lehman meltdown and revival through Barclays. Wieseneck said things started to come together in 2009; "we were able to focus on the outside of the walls, on our clients."

So there you go.

Kate Kelly as emcee

David Faber was off for vacation and apparently will be gone all next week. Friday's Strategy Session suggested that maybe Faber's greatest contribution to the show is the intro. The transition from anonymous narrator to Kate Kelly was a bit awkward, and someone forgot to play the background music once the camera found Kelly.

And, because we can't resist evaluating these kinds of things, how exactly did Kelly do?

Kelly's introductions didn't sound particularly natural. Her opening statement was definitely too long. At times it felt like she was reading descriptions rather than just saying them. Her voice also tended to have sort of a 1-note feel; something we can hardly try to explain except that on Friday it didn't quite have that richness or swagger that the Maria Bartiromos and Melissa Francises and Erin Burnetts bring to the table.

Kelly looks good on television, delivers her reports with undeniable clarity and conveys that she likes what she's doing. She probably could've used a few sessions as the wingman before being asked to pilot the ship.

In fact, while Faber's gone they could put Mandy in at QB and split Kelly out to wide receiver and likely score some points.

Kelly reported briefly on hedge fund performance against stock averages this year, saying John Paulson's group seems to be winning across the board.

Jets getting 5.5

The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers quite possibly are the worst team to win a Super Bowl.

Some might consider that a dis. Actually we view it as a badge of honor, sort of a tribute to overachievement.

The defense led the league in a host of categories that season but it was not '02 Buccaneers (still hard to believe that one), '00 Ravens, '85 Bears or '74 Steelers caliber, not even close.

The offense struggled to score from mid-season on, though performed admirably in the playoffs.

The best criticism of that team relates to the schedule: They simply lost to all of the best teams they played. Indianapolis, Tennessee, the New York Giants, Philadelphia. They were good at beating one team: Baltimore. And adequate at beating another: San Diego.

In the playoffs, instead of getting 12-4 Indy and 13-3 Tennessee as they should've, guess who they got: Baltimore and (8-8) San Diego.

So, how did this team end up winning the Super Bowl? A great quarterback, and an emerging wide receiver who simply became maybe the best player in the NFL — yes, possibly better than Larry Fitzgerald — for the latter half of that season.

This weekend, Santonio Holmes returns to Pittsburgh. It shouldn't be this way. Holmes, quite frankly, bungled his way out of town. He still plays for a good team. Ironically, in a way, the Steelers need both Baltimore and the Jets to do well, because both are capable of beating the Patriots in January. But the Steelers still need this game. And the Jets are in a spiral. The spread is too generous here for an offense the caliber of the Steelers'. Take them to win, but not cover.

[Thursday, December 16, 2010]

What exactly are Mike Ryan’s
3 stock picks again?

Mike Ryan of UBS supposedly delivered 3 top trades for 2011. We really had no clue exactly what he was talking about, except that he sort of gave a speech promoting AAPL that took a while to get from cloud computing to AAPL, then moved on to ag commodity costs and said something about offsetting it but sounding like he was still maybe talking about AAPL and not being asked by Melissa Lee for any clarification.

Finally he said something moderately straightforward: "We do like the oil-service industry," he said, seeing "oil over $100 a barrel."

Terranova: Dollar headed
for 2008 low

Joe Terranova, using a grocery store analogy, offered his 3 top picks for 2011, which started with Apple, for no reason really other than valuation.

He said it'll wipe out XOM as top market cap and get to $400. "Aisle 4, that's the first place we're gonna go," he said.

Then Terranova said the dollar is toast, predicting it would "revisit the March 17, 2008, 40-year low, down at 70.69."

Finally he trumpeted oil, touting CVR, Canadian Natural Resources, Synovus and Complete Production Services.

It wasn't exactly 3 stock picks, which seems to be the goal of this exercise, and it was rather clumsy. But at least it made more sense than Mike Ryan's dissertation.

Analyst: V, MA selloff
‘probably a bit overdone’

UBS analyst Jason Kupferberg said the Durbin/MA/V news isn't so shocking, maybe a "10% haircut to earnings," and the selloff was "probably a bit overdone, but we did get 2 negatives surprises from the Fed today." He said with a "12-month" view, it's a buying opportunity and near historical valuation troughs.

Karen Finerman said she generally waits 2 or 3 days to buy a stock that has been "puking" up such as MA and V on Thursday. Tim Seymour though was bullish, calling it a 5-month-long regulatory process: "No way they're gonna eat all of this," he said.

Gartman: Gold could be $1,600 a year from now

Dennis Gartman spoke on Thursday's Fast Money about his bullish gold case, which pretty much comes down to the chart rising from the lower left to upper right. Gartman first cited "confusion as to monetary circumstances around the world" as his chief rationale.

Gartman said it's true that falling $60 sounds steep. But on percentage terms, it's not a big deal.

Tim Seymour said central banks aren't going to be caught hoarding currencies and ignoring gold any longer. "Gold is going higher, everybody recognizes that, I don't think you stop it," Seymour said.

Gartman said he could see gold "late next year at $1,600 an ounce."

Mark Mahaney: GOOG,
not RIMM, is the play

Fast Money had barely gotten under way on Thursday when Tim Seymour said "the reality is," in regards to Research in Motion.

"I think they're gonna lose ground anyway to Samsung, to HTC," Seymour said.

Melissa Lee, with a dazzling, chic-er twist on yesterday's hairstyle topping off purple V-neck, asked her panelists when RIMM is going to generate excitement.

"I think it is a daunting position to be in," Karen Finerman said, somberly, noting that these hot gadgets come and go; a few years ago it was RAZR, "that was the 'it,' you had to have it," Finerman said.

Simon Baker said it's "quite telling" that RIMM isn't going to report certain new subscriber numbers in the future.

Brian Kelly was mildly optimistic though, calling RIMM an "international play."

Mark Mahaney said GOOG is the smartphone trade.

Seymour: Possible ‘huge opportunity’ to get long V

Tim Seymour said Thursday on Fast Money the selloff for Visa based on steep fee-cut estimates could be a great time to buy.

"If this number is not right, this is a huge opportunity," Seymour said.

Seymour also said AXP is getting lumped in with this regulation and it makes no sense because AXP isn't into debit cards. "I think you buy this weakness today" in AXP, he said.

Brian Kelly criticized the government, saying "let the market set the price" for Mastercard's fees. But Kelly suggested staying away from V and MA for now because there's so many other stocks with clarity and why would you want to jump into these. (Maybe because the show is called Fast Money and there might be a great trade here?)

Karen Finerman said she's wary of the ORCL call because she's long HPQ and there might be some feistiness. But she says "the valuation discrepancy is gigantic" between HPQ and ORCL right now.

Steve Cortes: Traders wearing
fur coats on La Salle Street

Steve Cortes indicated on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that ag traders are overconfident.

"I think the ag trade is really overheated," Cortes said. "I know a ton of ag traders here in Chicago and I have to tell you they've had an incredible year. They are strutting around La Salle Street wearing their furs, showing them off, and they're just as bullish about next year. I will tell you that the unanimity is what really concerns me. It's very hard to find an agriculture bear. ... I'm actually short agriculture and long these consumer staples names."

They may be wearing fur coats, but according to Chicago Mercantile Exchange boss Terrence Duffy, they're actually getting screwed.

Duffy told Melissa Lee on the Halftime Report that the CFTC's proposed position limits are not effective against wild speculation and high prices. "There's been no academic studies to suggest they are. And there's been no government studies to suggest they are," Duffy said.

"We favor position limits when it comes in the deliverable spot month," he added.

Edwards: Late January might
be the time to buy AAPL

Steve Cortes is the king of contrarian plays. He might consider a contrarian play on longtime market pessimist Guy Adami's contention Thursday that "the market's in very safe territory right now."

"There's really no reason to fade this market right now," Adami said. "I don't believe it. Doesn't matter."

Adami and Cortes clashed a bit on AAPL. "I think the Nasdaq has lost its general, which is Apple," Cortes said.

Adami said a $420 price target, as JPMorgan suggests, would put the company around a $400 billion market cap, which seems hard to believe. At the same time, Adami said the current price doesn't feel like a peak, because it's hovered around the $320s for so long and peaks don't last that long in general.

Patty Edwards told Melissa Lee $420 seems reasonable, "Yeah, I can get to that price target," but at the same time, "I'm not sure today's the day I'd be looking to buy." Edwards in fact said, like Steve Grasso, that she thinks there might be a selloff coming in late January.

Cortes said "I'm short the retail names as well."

But Cortes does like ORCL. "I am certainly bullish on this company," he said. Heather Bellini also likes Oracle.

"I like the stock here; I also like it for 2011," said Bellini, who thinks Oracle more than the other tech giants is "playing offense," which is what you do when you've got Mark Hurd, certainly.

Adami: Insider trading cases
could trip up banks

Kate Kelly continued her Strategy Session report on the insider-trading case during Thursday's Halftime Report. Guy Adami asked if this is it, or just the tip of the iceberg.

"I believe it is the tip actually," Kelly said.

"The reality is," Adami said, "there has to be a certain point, more headline risk for certain financials."

Steven Rattner: ‘99.9% of people who work on Wall Street are honest’

Businessman of the world Steven Rattner paid a visit to The Strategy Session on Thursday and declared people aren't paying enough taxes.

"I think this tax bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation that I can remember being passed in a long time," Rattner said, calling it "kicking the can down the road" and "perpetuating a tax system that everybody knows doesn't work."

Not surprisingly, he didn't use the term that backers are using, "stimulus."

Rattner also said he thinks carried interest as a capital gain is unfair.

David Faber asked Rattner about Quadrangle and his issues with Andrew Cuomo. "I was willing to settle on reasonable terms," Rattner said. "Their demands were extreme. I don't believe that I broke New York law."

Rattner believes "99.9% of people who work on Wall Street are honest."

Presumably he means South,
not North

Las Vegas Sands honcho Michael Leven said the latest Macau ruling is not a problem; "We don't think it was very much of a setback."

Leven trumpeted the company's prospects in Singapore and said "We're looking very very hard at Japan," as well as seeking to build another Strip in Spain.

And without being directionally specific, he said LVS is "investigating Korea."

Leven told David Faber about half the board is interested in changing the company's name to get rid of "Las Vegas."

Kate Kelly said some of the insider-trading arrest chatter was about the then-super-secret iPad, called K48 or K84 (we think it's actually "K48.")

Gary Kaminsky said he's well-familiar with the contract manufacturing industry and that, by the nature of what they do, they have inside information on their customers all the time, and thus if production details are being leaked, "that's just inside information. That's not research," Kaminsky said.

[Wednesday, December 15, 2010]

Pete’s top trade for 2011:

Pete Najarian took his turn at-bat for 2011 stock picks on Wednesday's Fast Money, and actually chose 2 out-of-favor sectors.

His first pick, though, is the roaring chemicals, such as DuPont or Eastman. "I think that sector can still go up," Najarian said.

But then he pointed to DRYS, comparing its 2007-2008 move with FCX, and said a reversion is on the way. "I think 2011 the shippers actually have plenty of upside," he said.

Finally, Najarian said 2011 is gonna be the year when Carol Bartz puts it all together. "This stock's going higher" for a bunch of reasons, Najarian said.

Peter Schiff: ‘Spending money is not economic growth’

Peter Schiff managed to goad Tim Seymour and Brian Kelly into another worthless-dollar and worthless-bonds debate.

And there was absolutely nothing new in this conversation, except that it was amusing to see Mel Lee in new hairstyle frantically waving her hand to cut off whoever was talking.

Seymour said bond liquidity is merely extremely light right now, something like the 10-year trading at 1/5, 1/6 of normal volume.

Schiff though said "The bond vigilantes are coming out of their coma ... this little dollar rally will not last."

Schiff got into it with Kelly over whether economic growth is occurring. Kelly cited retailers and demanded Schiff explain where there's not economic growth. "Spending money is not economic growth," Schiff insisted.

Seymour demanded Schiff tell where China's gonna go if bond yields rise. Schiff didn't have a good answer for that specifically, but did actually make a decent observation that A. Gary Shilling has also made for months, "We've been in a bull market in bonds for 20 years. You think that's gonna go on forever?"

Schiff, as usual, at one point stressed, "I think the gold bull market is gonna kick into a higher gear."

Melissa Lee asked Schiff for stock picks. "I can give you ideas and themes," Schiff said.

Gee, thanks.

Colin Gillis, like Peter Schiff, rehashes an old theme

Anthony Scaramucci on Wednesday offered up ENZN as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week, saying it's "benefitting from royalty streams on a rheumatoid arthritis drug."

"We think this thing is worth something like 20 to $25," Scaramucci said. The stock was up sharply afterhours.

Tim Seymour and Pete Najarian had a quick little debate over Morgan Stanley. Pete said to get in now; Seymour said not to touch it till it approaches $25.

Dan Niles gave his 3 picks for 2011, which are VeriFone, eBay and Oracle. "You're better off being in more defensive, less-sexy tech," Niles said.

Melissa Lee asked about Oracle. Niles said "in Q1 they're gonna come out with their Fusion software launch," among other reasons to be long.

Colin Gillis conducted a face-to-face debate with Brian Kelly over Research in Motion. The only problem is that, like Peter Schiff, this was warmed-over pizza. Gillis said he just thinks the stock has too many tailwinds on both high end (AAPL) and low-end (Android) and it's "dead in the water in the U.S. market share."

So then why has it been ripping? "All this is is the Playbook rally," Gillis insisted.

Pete nailed JOYG

Only a couple days ago (see below), Pete Najarian said on the Halftime Report, "Over the next couple of weeks I think Joy Global could definitely get towards 85, maybe even 90."

Bingo. Ahead of schedule.

Melissa sports unconventional look

Steve Cortes, while liking the broker banks and CME, was having nothing of the commercial banks on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"I actually stepped in yesterday and shorted BAC again," Cortes said.

Jon Najarian sounded bullish on the Kinect. "You can't overemphasize that there is a halo effect and a coolness aspect that Microsoft hasn't had," Najarian said.

Todd Gordon said MSFT has had a nice run, but warned viewers to "watch 28 and a quarter" because there'll be a "huge test there."

Melissa Lee had us doing double-takes with a decidedly Mandy-esque look, from hair straight back on the top to kaleidoscopic blouse. Once again, introducing Emily French, Lee struggled to pose a question before French launched into her commentary.

Sanderson Farms chief Joe Sanderson spoke with such a drawl, he barely got his commentary in by the end of the Halftime Report.

Brian Kelly said "2011 could be the year of the dollar."

90-year-old business execs viewed with skepticism

Larry Silverstein, star guest of Wednesday's quiet Strategy Session, said in New York City there's a "rapidly improving market both for office space and rental housing. It's also improving for condominiums as well."

Silverstein, whose voice is maybe a bit too deep for conventional television purposes and is compounded by regular "uhs," also said "We've got a bond market that is in a state of chaos."

Kimberly Scott, a Waddell & Reed money manager who's the latest on the program to discuss her great 2010, said she's been "pretty focused on the very high-visibility, long-runway growth stocks." Her picks for 2011 are Harman, BorgWarner and Varian. She reassured David Faber that 92-year-old Sidney Harman is no longer running Harman.

Bond expert Kevin Lockhart said, "In the high-yield market you wanna root for the economy improving."

Herb Greenberg made a last-minute appearance to crow about his early suspicions of Best Buy dating to August. "I don't think people went back and probably did the work to really try to figure out what they were really saying and that they were using levers to make the quarters." Gary Kaminsky asked if Greenberg meant the sell-side folks when he said "people." Greenberg said he doesn't read the sell-side stuff but that they probably knew what was happening.

[Tuesday, December 14, 2010]

Tim Seymour predicts POT
will reach $240 in 2011

Karen Finerman made some nice picks a day earlier for 2011, but they weren't nearly as bold as the predictions Tim Seymour put forward on Tuesday's Fast Money.

"I like Mosaic, I like Potash to go back to peak 2008 levels. That's right, 240 on Potash. You watch that," Seymour said.

And "all-purpose fertilizer" names weren't even his top pick.

Rather, that would be "emerging airlines," specifically GOL, CPA and TAM.

Seymour also predicted oceans of money flowing into emerging markets funds, calling the sector the biggest global equity overweight.

Mark Mahaney has
few reservations about
1 high-flying stock

Mark Mahaney did a nice little Fast Money chart presentation Tuesday in which he took on 3 well-known high-fliers of 2010.

Mahaney rejected NFLX, in part because streaming competition is "almost certainly coming this next year, and AKAM, partly because "they just lost the Netflix contract." He also rejected both, curiously, on P.E. concerns.

But OpenTable is a different story, Mahaney said. "We continue to like this stock into 2011," he said, citing projected growth of 10% of reservations to 50%.

Guy Adami was nearly incredulous here and pointed out that OpenTable also has a high P.E. and presumably could face competition.

Mahaney also said he likes GOOG, and has a $725 price target.

Ritholtz: Buy C on dips

It seemed like everyone on Fast Money Tuesday was making stock picks for 2011. Barry Ritholtz offered Citigroup, which he said has the best chart and tailwinds of the banks. (This writer is long C.)

Ritholtz said "long-term, we have a 5-and-a-half-dollar target on this," but he admitted he will sell the rips and buy the dips. Guy Adami asked if the present price, $4.70, constitutes a rip or dip. Ritholtz said he'd buy in at $4.60 or $4.65.

Ritholtz also recommends Suncor and Arch Coal.

Adami: Buy LVS under $42

Guy Adami wasn't enlisted Tuesday to pick 3 stocks for 2011, but he did roll the dice a little bit on a forecast for Las Vegas Sands, always an intriguing stock to watch.

"I think there's still some room on the downside," Adami said, suggesting buyers wait until $42 or $41.50. Brian Kelly said he likes it around $40, where it broke out in October.

Wedbush Securities' Sarah James said that Obamacare isn't dead and will be a long, drawn-out process. James didn't sound particularly effusive but offered a few stock picks, Centene, Molina and Humana.

Melissa Lee did a right-shoulder hair flip before the Final Trade segment.

Not only was Tim Seymour heard to say "the reality is" 4 times in the show's opening 20 minutes, but Joe Terranova essentially uttered it twice.

Tim Seymour seizes opportunity
to say ‘the reality is’ a bunch of times

Curiously, the Fast Money gang launched Tuesday's show with a hot debate on QE2.

Brian Kelly praised it, saying, "I think people have got this completely wrong."

Guy Adami said, "The only problem is the wealth effect that's being created is not the people they want the wealth effect created for."

Tim Seymour gave a speech about QE2 and bond deviations and how the retail data all fits into the big picture, but his most interesting thought was that the Fed wouldn't have done QE2 if it was anticipating the tax-cut deal that happened.

Barry Ritholtz agreed with Guy Adami, saying what the Fed has done is working but basically just for the wealthy; "the things that are holding this economy back aren't gonna be fixed by a low rate."

Tim Seymour asked Ritholtz what's wrong with a better stock market and demanded to know "what would you have done."

"My job is not to be a policy wonk," Ritholtz said. "My job is to look at all the inputs look at the stock market and say, what's gonna happen."

Stephen Weiss says confidence is getting better, and "Like it or not, putting money in lower-income people doesn't create jobs as readily as putting it in the affluent."

Ritholtz did offer an investing tip: "The third year in a president's term is always the best for equities," he said.

Guy Adami: Fair to ask if BBY is the next BKS

Melissa Lee on Monday's Fast Money repeated her provocative Halftime question (see below) about whether Best Buy is the next Barnes & Noble.

"Why not? I think it's a very fair question," said Guy Adami. "This was an unmitigated disaster."

He said it's not a BKS right now, but this is where it starts.

Tim Seymour said the margins at BBY are still OK. Brian Kelly said he bought WMT on the BBY news.

Melissa Lee went out of her way to say Wal-Mart sells underwear too.

Analyst makes Riverbed
sound like a can’t miss

Cloud computing analyst Daniel Ives spoke on the Fast Line on Tuesday's Halftime report and trumpeted "3 good plays" in the space, highlighted by Riverbed.

It's a "big M&A candidate, there's very few candidates out there and Riverbed's in the top of the pack," Ives said.

"If it dips below 30, I'd call that a gift," he added.

Ives also likes Blue Coat and Citrix.

Melissa Lee: Is Best Buy
the next Barnes & Noble?

Melissa Lee, in very provocative olive ensemble on Tuesday's Halftime, posed a question even more provocative than her outfit:

"Is Best Buy the next Barnes & Noble?"

Brian Kelly doesn't think so. "I suppose you could that make that argument, but it would take an awful long time," Kelly shrugged, saying Best Buy is once again facing real competition, this time from Wal-Mart and a few others. "Once Best Buy adjusts to this season, they should do much better," Kelly concluded.

Jon Najarian also said no to Lee's question, saying Best Buy gets a lot of volume from impulse buys, and more importantly, he actually bought some of the stock before going on air.

Patty Edwards said the problem with BBY is "they really succeed well when you have some sort of new technology." Edwards also said it's not a consumer problem, but a Best Buy issue. "Apparently they're buying clothes, instead of electronics at Best Buy," Edwards said. She still likes Corning regardless.

Joe Terranova said BBY's huge miss "tells me this stock has some problems for many, many weeks to come ... to me right now, Best Buy, no trade whatsoever."

Lee was nearly incredulous at Best Buy's visibility statement. "No visibility in the next several weeks?!!"

Jon Najarian said if you're an options player, start thinking about 2011. "December really is sort of amateur hour now," Najarian said.

Star fund manager thinks the Yankees outperformed

Star Lord Abbett fund manager Thomas O'Halloran, who has posted a 36% gain this year, said something interesting about high-multiple, high-momentum stocks on Tuesday's Strategy Session.

"If you were to put together the New York Yankees, would you expect that you could do it by paying a discount to the average Major League Baseball salary?" O'Halloran asked.

That's an interesting way of putting it.

If your goal, and ability, is simply to buy the best free agent players available every year, and to have the highest payroll in the league, then shouldn't the expectations be higher than ALCS loser?

O'Halloran implies that Yankee fans should be happy they made the playoffs, rather than disappointed that 1) they couldn't win the pennant, and 2) couldn't demonstrate that they were actually better than at least 4 other teams (Texas, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia) with far smaller payrolls.

Shouldn't fund managers be seeking stocks that are the biggest outperformers — such as the Texas Rangers, who won the pennant with barely 25% of the Yankees' payroll — rather than the highest P.E.s?

O'Halloran noted he hit it big with names such as Lululemon, Netflix and OpenTable. Those lofty P.E.s didn't scare him, he said, because "we did a very good job of protecting the downside." But how does he know that, given that in 2010 the stocks never had a downside?

Hints of Smarter Than the Street during an ETF conversation

Relative performance was the unstated bugaboo when Gary Kaminsky and David Faber brought in a couple ETF gurus on Tuesday's Strategy Session.

Kaminsky tried, a couple ways with Deborah Fuhr of BlackRock and Robert Holderith of EGShares, to ask if fees were the best reason to buy an ETF.

"The industry has done a very good job marketing that the ETF is the most efficient and cheapest way. Is that the ultimate thing that individuals should be thinking about," Kaminsky asked.

Fuhr deferred, saying what matters is "what is their financial goals."

But more than once, Kaminsky asked the guests, "Is that the right strategy?"

Fuhr may or may not have realized that Kaminsky was likely driving at the relative performance question; in other words, is it really an index type of industry that's merely courting buyers who want index returns, good or bad, but cheaper than what mutual funds cost.

If the answer is yes, then it can be inferred that someone with a flat-market thesis, or anyone looking to outperform the indexes, should park their money somewhere else.

Holderith dismissed the timeliness and disclosures of mutual funds as a non-starter, saying "who wants to buy something that you don't know what the value is until the end of the close of market. It makes no sense."

He added, "At the end of every day, all the holdings have to be posted on every ETF provider's Web site. No choice."

David Faber asked Fuhr if the ETF industry hasn't gotten ahead of itself, with booming numbers of growth that should probably give some people concerns.

"The industry is actually just 20 years old, so it isn't that new," Fuhr said, offering an odd contrast between "just" 20, and the fact it's not new. She said it's the size of "10% of the mutual fund industry in the U.S."

She also calls the ETF a "very democratic product" that is "not necessarily lowest, but very cost-efficient" and something that effectively provides exposure.

"It's easier to use an ETF to represent a view," she said.

Holderith defended the contents of his ETFs, saying they own shares in India or other emerging markets. "The ETF world has gotten complicated," he acknowledged, saying they're now being called ETPs. "Our products are not derivatives."

Kaminsky, though, asked Holderith as well if active equity managers can compete with ETFs over time and beat them. "I think 9 times out of 10 statistically they can," Holderith said.

Kate Kelly: Wall Street banks actually want in on government business

Kate Kelly reported on Tuesday's Strategy Session that the government's $10-$15 billion secondary offering of some AIG shares is targeted for March or April, and "the jockeying for position is already well under way," and is that a surprise that big banks are seeking to land a huge piece of business just 3 months beforehand?

David Faber pointed out the sale is "not just 1-time only," but that the government has a lot to unload, so any winners here will get a longer-term business stream.

Faber also added, "Bruce Berkowitz, that guy has done very well so far for his fund-holders at least" by holding AIG.

Gary Kaminsky noted that several 2010 dogs have been lighting it up in December, including Dean Foods, H&R Block and Apollo. Generally speaking, Kaminsky said, "You keep your winners and you sell your losers."

Ever wonder why ...

... the Obama administration seems to be all for states' rights in the category of marijuana, but not so much in the category of immigration?

So do we.

Unfortunately, Trish Regan's "Marijuana USA" doesn't tackle that angle, an observation among several we make in our review.

[Monday, December 13, 2010]

Guy Adami thought HPQ would be a ‘low-risk’ name in 2010

Monday's Fast Money brought the beginning of the panel's trades for 2011. Karen Finerman kicked things off.

But before we get into that, let's look at last year's calls for 2010.

On Dec. 23, 2009, the Fast Money panel of Guy Adami, Karen Finerman, Tim Seymour and Pete Najarian submitted a "low-risk" and "high-risk" pick for 2010.

Here they are, with adjusted closings prices from Dec. 31, 2009 and Monday, per Yahoo:

Adami: HPQ (low-risk) ($51.14 then, $41.65 now)
Adami: shorting RIMM (high-risk) ($67.54 then, $60.81 now)

Finerman: WMT (low-risk) ($52.25 then, $54.21 now)
Finerman: GLNG (high-risk) ($12.04 then, $14.21 now)

Seymour: POT (low-risk) ($108.12 then, $137.86 now)
Seymour: natural gas (high-risk) (6.399 then per CNBC.com chart, 4.41 now)

Najarian: JNJ (low-risk) ($62.22 then, $61.86 now)
Najarian: MDVN (high-risk) ($37.65 then, $12.83 now)

So, no one did this better than Karen Finerman. Tim Seymour called POT low-risk (which drew skepticism from K-Fine at the time) but somehow was right. Guy Adami's first pick proves no stock is truly "low risk." Pete Najarian's picks didn't exactly make anyone any money.

Karen goes for back-to-back
home run

Karen Finerman batted leadoff Monday in the Fast Money 2011 picks — and happened to re-pick a name you just read above.

Finerman's top call was GLNG, a trade she said has worked this year, but "I think there's still plenty of upside." She added, "We are really starting to see day rates on LNG tankers starting to move."

Finerman also touted Daimler and Dana Holding as a play on the truck/automotive space, plus GS and BX, "to take advantage of the M&A boom that I see happening in 2011."

Melissa’s mind goes off
on a tangent

Based on the way everyone at CNBC talks about him, you've gotta figure that Doug Kass is one of the network's most popular guests.

So, maybe we'll wince when pointing out that Kass isn't exactly the smoothest Fast Money pundit.

Continuing his series of 2011 predictions, Kass on Monday told the Fast Money gang that political tension in Washington is going to be a detriment to the stock market, then made what he said is a bold prediction (because it's apparently only happened 6 times), that this is "a market that basically ends up at the end of 2011 exactly where it ends up in 2010."

Kass opened his discussion defending the chances of a Hillary Clinton-Joe Biden switch, saying it's definitely doable.

None of that, plus his ongoing predictions of massive cybercrime, is dubious or bad. In fact, he has interesting thoughts.

The problem is that Kass speaks on television in paragraph form, and isn't particularly glib.

Often, though not Monday, panelists need to butt in several times during his commentary to ask him a question.

When Joe Terranova did just that on Monday — a simple query about whether the Fed is done — Kass first sounded like he was unsure how to answer, then got royally confused when it was pointed out that the question came from Terranova and not Stephen Weiss.

Melissa Lee was so taken by Kass' introductory comments that she interrupted the segment halfway through to say, "We are having a very serious discussion, but I cannot let this go any longer Doug: When did you shave your beard off? Totally throwing me for a loop."

The answer, Kass said, was months ago, because, he said, "My grandma Koufax always used to say, 'Look British, think Yiddish'."

Did Pete Najarian really call
Ford Field ‘retractable’?

Joe Terranova said Monday that the blizzard in Minnesota might've been just what natural gas needed to get going.

But he said nobody's going to get seriously enthusiastic about it until it crushes $6.

Nevertheless, "I'm still liking natural gas," Stephen Weiss said.

Pete Najarian talked about going to the Vikings game (good grief, whatever reason for? They're out of the playoffs and playing in Detroit) and touted bank stocks, saying he owns Citi (this writer is long C) because he thinks it's going to $5 but will get out of it when it nears that level.

Brian Kelly said banks have had such a good run, so "how can people be buying them up here."

Najarian said it's because "some of these names still look awfully cheap," and they'll be playing serious catchup "once there's a real dividend stream."

Brian Schactman
has a good day

Stephen Weiss isn't one to trade slashing soundbites just yet, but he is getting pretty good at articulating a bullish stock case on Fast Money.

Monday he singled out 3 not particularly well-known names in the sector of Web traffic, and no, none of them was Akamai. They were, in fact, Finisar, Oclaro and Infinera.

Weiss seemed to think the biggest home-run potential is in Infinera, which "has the next-generation technology in optical components" and could be taken out with a market cap that's palatable to many companies.

Unrelated, Guy Adami said, "I think there's a very good chance you see Netflix trade down to 170."

Brian Schactman, reporting apparently from some Molycorp mine, said the Street hasn't priced in all the value yet. Melissa Lee told Schactman he was "looking good in a hard hat," and any time Melissa Lee tells you you're "looking good," you've got it made.

Terranova ready
to short gold

Joe Terranova opened Monday's Fast Money saying "I probably go out and short gold again tomorrow afternoon."

Not surprisingly, Guy Adami said he too thought gold should've traded better than it did Monday.

David Riedel said he's going to stick with his burned China short.

Guy Adami pointed to the strength in one of his favorite names, WLT, and said it could be on someone's radar screen.

Guy Adami also singled out Cerner as perhaps one of those "sea change" companies in the health-care space that shouldn't get caught up in the "noise" of Obamacare.

Karabell: Ag working

Zach Karabell got extended time to float some stock picks Monday when he did a turn on the Final Call with Maria Bartiromo.

Karabell said not to worry about agriculture's impact on the developing world, and he recommended a basket of ag names including CF. "You've gotta keep repeating it: rising food inflation is a way of transferring wealth from rich urban industrial areas to poor agrarian areas without doing any macroeconomic policy," Karabell said.

Najarian: Look to buy
NFLX around $130

Pete Najarian on Monday's Halftime Report was pounding the table for JOYG.

"Over the next couple of weeks I think Joy Global could definitely get towards 85, maybe even 90," Najarian said.

Najarian also drew attention with a suggestion that people should think about getting into NFLX at $130.

Steve Grasso spoke about X and said traders are tripping over themselves to get that beta right now. (This writer is long X.)

Zachary Karabell said "it's a mistake to equivocate China interest rate hikes with U.S. interest rate hikes," while more notable offstage chatter was heard.

Gene Munster said that whether it's Amazon or the Amazon of South America (which sounds like a river), "you need to own e-commerce."

Brian Kelly spoke briefly about orange juice futures. Zach Karabell said that's a trade on "Anita Bryant LPs."

Ken Langone says
David Faber dyes his hair

Ken Langone served as ringmaster Monday of one of the stranger Strategy Session interviews yet.

Langone gave a spirited defense not only for Goldman Sachs but basically every Wall Street bank (he apparently owns stock in many of them), then gave David Faber a jolt when he said the banks "made mistakes."

"Make mistakes? They almost brought the entire financial system down," Faber objected.

"You know what, I'm right, you are a communist," Langone joked. "You do dye your hair."

"I do not dye my hair. That's ridiculous," Faber responded.

Just to show no hard feelings, Langone actually kissed Faber on the head at the end of his interview.

Something about the episode nearly cracked up Kate Kelly, who briefly started snickering when wrapping up her last point about Goldman Sachs.

The thing is, when one reaches a certain age (Langone is in the ballpark of 75), comments that for a younger person might sound "eccentric" or even "bizarre" actually are interpreted as "colorful" or "folksy."

So Langone will get a pass.

What happened to all the summer speculation that the SEC deal would force Lloyd Blankfein to move on?

Ken Langone spent much of his time on Monday's Strategy Session trumpeting Goldman Sachs.

At one point he said "this is not the Goldman Sachs show," and then went right back to the subject.

"I think Goldman doesn't need to make a lot of apologies," Langone said, then compared criticism of GS to how they felt at Ebbetts Field and the Polo Grounds about the Yankees back in the day. "Why should anybody feel some sense of guilt for having won?" Langone asked.

Gary Kaminsky said that while GS was playing defense in 2010, "Goldman will play offense again" next year.

Kaminsky: Bond yields in 2011
will retest 2010 lows

Gary Kaminsky on Monday noted that a year ago at this time, people were talking about the Fed tightening by mid-2010; "probably had 3 or 4 tightenings priced in."

So that aside, "one of my predictions is that we will retest low yields again on both the 5- and the 10-year" in 2011, Kaminsky said.

Gary Kaminsky said the notion that relatives of Bernie Madoff would sit around the dinner table for years and hear about the great, steady returns of the fund and never question how it's happening in rough years just defies belief. "It's ludicrous. It's bizarre," Kaminsky said.

Ken Langone cheered the judge who nailed the portion of Obamacare that requires purchasing of insurance. "The American people didn't want this law," Langone said.

Herb Greenberg gives a boost
to ex-colleague Bob Sellers

This weekend we caught up with a very provocative HuffPost column by Bob Sellers, a former CNBC anchor who evidently was recently fired as anchor at the NBC affiliate in Nashville.

Every graf in this column is interesting.

Sellers' chief beef seems to be that his boss is not the greatest person in the world, and that the boss told him not to take a job 3 months ago in D.C.

Sellers laments his new world of unemployment. He does find a bright spot though from a current CNBC face:

But occasionally you hear something that really does give you hope. One of the people who called was my former colleague at CNBC, Herb Greenberg. (For the record, Herb was in a book I published this year called Forbes Best Business Mistakes: How Today's Top Business Leaders Turned Missteps into Success.)

"I've got two words for you," he said. "Ray Kroc. He started McDonald's when he was in his fifties."

The horror of America's traditional media is actually part of the impetus of this site. We once put up a post about it. Tremendous journalists and media personalities, as well as people running printing presses and holding cameras, are fading away, because the business models no longer pay what they once did, and worse, continue going the wrong direction.

Sellers explains the fallout of job loss this way:

Initially you get emails, texts and phone calls. They're all supportive in describing what "idiots" your employer is — their words, not mine — and how you'll land on your feet because you've got so much talent. But the calls stop. The emails and texts lessen in frequency. And after the anger directed at the injustice of it all goes away, you're still left with finding your next job, the direction of your future. Will it be an idealistic "falling up" story where a door is opened after a window closes, or a now common tale of middle class Americans losing everything and ending up homeless?

... I have hope that things will turn out well. And I have fear as well, because the American Dream doesn't seem to be as likely as it was back in Ray Kroc's era. I just hope not to become part of the growing number of woeful stories that constitute the new American Nightmare.

What Sellers is describing is the drama of human expectations.

Mostly, we can deal with anything as long as we don't think we're getting screwed.

Occasionally this page attempts some armchair psychology. Sellers' article is crying out for it.

It's sort of an attack on the ex-boss. It's sort of despair over the perceived state of the economy. It's sort of a denunciation of the television business.

The last part is what sounds dubious.

Sellers was on CNBC probably about 10-12 years ago. Sellers did not have an edge. He was certainly a fine anchor. Whatever it takes to outperform on cable television, he didn't have. The guess here is that in Nashville, he simply was unable to move the needle. There's no shame in that. You don't have to watch "Broadcast News" to figure it out: Anchors get fired or reassigned all the time. Maybe one of the world's toughest jobs is evening news anchor at the No. 3 (or even No. 2) local station. You're fighting an uphill battle for marginal market share gains. If you don't produce enough results, they have no reason to keep you around; it makes sense to try somebody else.

Notice the order of the 3 reasons Sellers gives for his firing: "struggling economy" ... "changing industry (television)" ... "and let's be frank — managers looking for a scapegoat to save their own jobs."

How exactly is television "changing"? You've got 3 or 4 options at 5-6 or 10-11. You pick which one you like the best. Same industry really for 50-plus years.

Sellers' reference to "struggling economy" suggests his salary was more than they can now afford to pay for that position. Maybe they're going to go with 1 anchor. As of this writing, his former employer's Web site only lists 1 anchor for 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

As wretched as Sellers' departure sounds, he is missing something important: The notion that in television, we have a meritocracy. You don't get lifetime tenure. You have to deliver results that someone wants.

Media maybe can be more fair. It can't be socialism. Someone can't graduate from Yale School of Drama and demand Tom Cruise's next role because he worked hard and got an advanced degree. Cruise puts butts in the seats. If you put butts in the seats, you get Cruise's roles.

TV anchors are often local celebrities. We checked the Nashville Tennessean and couldn't find any articles on Sellers' departure. The outrage at this point seems limited to his own article.

We've remarked before on this page — no need to mention any other names here — that some people have ascended at CNBC. Others haven't. Those holiday-week shifts, guest-hosting gigs, breaking news reports matter. Either you make an impression or you don't.

Sellers, in describing his termination, omits a big-picture conclusion. His boss called him into his office to tell him the news, he evidently was surprised, and his boss' explanation was "That's just the way television is."

So he got it straight from the boss, with a truthful (if perhaps incomplete) rationale. A lot of people hear about it from another source first. Some people hear it from their boss, but in a phone call or e-mail or even at Starbucks.

If we can't be Sellers' psychologist, we'll try to be his agent. The gut here is that he's put himself into a bit of a pickle. How does he get out of it. Did he ask any confidants whether he should've written this article? Future potential employers are going to see it and wonder, "if I hire this guy and it doesn't work out, am I gonna end up on HuffPost as the bad guy?"

We'd guess that Sellers would be the first to say, he doesn't need sympathy; he needs a job. Yet his article seems far more likely to deliver the former than the latter.

Most PR gurus would probably warn against publicizing one's own firing. Sellers is either overcome with frustration, or taking a calculated contrarian risk that knowledge of his plight — peppered with his accomplishments in almost résumé-like fashion — will draw feelers.

Sellers also isn't the king of optimism. He sees a "common tale of middle class Americans losing everything and ending up homeless."

And, he implies that his age is working against him.

Nevertheless, the answer to Sellers' future is right in his article. He was recently offered a job in D.C. He's a marketable commodity. He's got credentials that most TV anchors don't have. He'll get a call. His anecdote about Herb Greenberg says much: When you help out the people around you, they'll help you out. Not all of them. But enough.

[Friday, December 10, 2010]

Look at the 10-year chart, Karen

Karen Finerman on Friday's Fast Money once again confused the lack of an identifiable catalyst in gold as some sort of signal that it's going to go down.

"How can everything be a win-win for gold?" Finerman asked Brian Kelly.

It may be Kelly's fault, or any other gold bull's fault, that they can't identify why it's going up with any ironclad proof.

That doesn't mean gold is any more likely to go down.

It's kinda like looking over the Patriots' stats and not seeing 9-3 and thus concluding they're no good.

Kelly started this by saying "I actually bought some gold today on the weakness." Jon Najarian said if gold doesn't pop Monday or Tuesday, you probably want to avoid it for the last 2 weeks of the year.

Riedel: China surprise ahead

David Riedel, on Friday's Fast Money, offered a slightly different take than Dennis Gartman and Brian Kelly on China's inflation issues.

Riedel said domestic inflation, not imported inflation, is the problem and that currency adjustments won't help.

He said of an interest-rate hike, there's an "80% chance that it happens," and "I think you could see 50 basis points this time."

Unlike Dennis Gartman, he said "they need to do reserve requirements."

Riedel said he'd be short the FXI and get away from Chinese financials.

Brian Kelly on the other hand thinks much of that is already priced in, and the real problem is "they have a money-supply problem."

Edwards: Still too much ‘crap’
on bank balance sheets

Patty Edwards explained Friday on Fast Money that she's bearish financials because "It is all about this loan demand," and "there's still a lot of crap on those balance sheets frankly."

Karen Finerman pointed out that tech companies may have a stigma about initiating dividends, but banks are supposed to be doing it so it's a key metric for bank stocks.

Patty Edwards said she got out of Tenet because "It was a little bit overdone to the upside."

Melissa Lee, who changed hairstyles between shows Friday, agreed with Jon Najarian's contention that Melissa's Halftime Report comment Friday on her previous interview with Lanham Napier and skepticism of his answer is what blunted Rackspace this afternoon.

Jon Najarian said he bought Sandisk calls farther out because the December timeframe isn't long enough.

Melissa no longer
watches DVDs

Melissa Lee, with new va-va-voom hairstyle and oversized hoop earrings to complement hot royal blue top, revealed on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that her Netflix movie-watching habits are changing.

"I'm in that camp. I stream a lot of stuff. I'm going to go from the 2 to 1 because I don't watch DVDs anymore, in general," Lee said.

Lee spoke during an interview with Netflix critic Michael Pachter, who has a $78, 12-month price target because he doesn't see explosive earnings growth.

"Content costs are just going up faster than postage is going down," Pachter said. And, "I think Amazon's gonna rear its ugly head and start to take subscribers away from Netflix."

Was there bamboozling
going on with RAX?

Melissa Lee on Friday's Halftime seemed skeptical of the mystery gains in Rackspace.

"I asked the CEO directly if his company were up for sale," Lee said, referring to an October interview with Lanham Napier in which Napier said "our company is not for sale today."

(Note he said "today.")

Steve Grasso said the dividend was just icing for GE; "it's been setting up to break out." Grasso also praised Citigroup, his 5-year stock, saying "I think you can probably see a $5 number." (This writer is long C.)

Dennis Gartman said he thinks China is going about cooling in the wrong way, boosting reserve requirements, which Gartman called a blunt way of dealing with the situation, almost like hitting a recalcitrant mule with a 2x4.

Pete Najarian said he thinks the bad news with the Dreamliner is baked into BA shares.

Patty Edwards, in a fairly quiet show, said she'd prefer a bank such as Bank of Montreal, and rattled off a bunch of companies that like Green Mountain have ended guidance. "These things are not a good sign," Edwards said.

The most exciting part of the Halftime Report proved to be the end, when Melissa Lee teased to the "Lingerie Index" coming up on Power Lunch.

Kelly: Government might give insider-trading figures a little bit of the Aung San Suu Kyi treatment

Kate Kelly, on a Kaminsky-less Strategy Session Friday, reported that "people are bracing for indictments and arrests as early as next week" in the government's apparently sweeping insider-trading probe.

Kelly explained that the timing could be important here, because money isn't going to be an issue for most of the people, whoever they are, who get tripped up in this ... but holiday time with their families could be. Hence, even though these people presumably could easily make bail, Kelly suggested the government could hit them with a different type of leverage, detaining them around the holidays and not releasing them until they agree to cooperate.

"That is cold-hearted stuff," David Faber said.

Quite honestly — and keep in mind we're not lawyers here — we can't see how that really works.

How is it possible for the government to indefinitely detain people after they post bail?

What is this, Cuba?

We have little clue about the federal court system, but we do know state courts have holiday bond court to bond out the jokers who get drunk on New Year's Eve, etc.

Even if the feds don't, at a minimum, it seems like the worst the government can do to these people is haul them in on Christmas Eve and refuse to accept bail until the day after Christmas.

Except Kelly said people are "bracing" for the indictments next week.

Maybe it's a matter of the government believing that people who might've associated with "expert networks" from Oregon hubby-wife research boutiques are such a menace to society, they get no bail at all.

Whatever. Maybe instead of floating "cold-hearted" detention theories to Kelly or worrying about FBI agents interrupting afternoon wine-tastings, sources with interests in the investigation should actually — gasp — just do the right thing and tell the truth and let the legal system determine if there's been any crimes.

Does Herb think any IPO
is a legitimate company?

Herb Greenberg on Friday found another hot stock he's suspicious of, Youku, to trash, saying actually, "It ain't so hot" and proceeding to rattle off a tiny revenue number and a bunch of less-than-awe-inspiring financial data.

Except then he admitted that everyone used to think Priceline would just fade away, and look at it now.

David Faber reported it looks like "open warfare" on the Airgas board.

Jeff Kronthal, proving to be a reliable Strategy Session regular, said he thinks there's a "little room to go higher in yield" but that he's expecting some bullishness to return to bonds because of a still-somewhat-sluggish economy.

Build America Bonds program, still in limbo (update)

About a year ago, guest after guest on CNBC would tell you how all the "uncertainty" about health care and fin reg was such a big overhang on the financial markets, "Oh no, business can't possibly plan to do anything as long as we've got all this uncertainty."

Then after that stuff got settled in mid-2010, guest after guest on CNBC told you that there's just way too much "uncertainty" about the elections, whether Republicans will take control of Congress, etc.

Then after Election Day, we heard there was just way too much "uncertainty" about tax rates and whether dividend taxes would get jacked up, etc.

And now we're hearing about all the "uncertainty" with the Build America Bonds program, which The Strategy Session is keeping up duly informed about virtually every day.

We think Kate Kelly said something about a "2%" chance of an immediate extension, but to be honest we were kinda tuning it out.

Like Ben Bradlee says in "All the President's Men," when they pass it, then we'll write something on it.

[Thursday, December 9, 2010]

Fast Money gang bungles
the Netflix trade

One thing we've been impressed with since the inception of Fast Money is the panelists' ability to call a trade on breaking news while the show is occurring, highlighted by the unanimous "buy Apple" call on Steve Jobs' afterhours leave of absence one January day.

On Tuesday, we found it notable that the Fast Money response to the Netflix CFO departure, which sent the stock down $10, was basically negative.

We have no clue. We're not pros. There were great arguments for buying or selling right at that moment. We said then (see below), "What was interesting was that none of the 4 panelists called the stock a buy down $10," though Anthony Scaramucci did say overall it has great management.

You'd think 1 of the traders might've said, "A CFO departure is a dubious thing, but this is also a dynamic company right now on a huge bull run and this is maybe the best buy-in opportunity you'll get for a while. And of, by the way, the show is called Fast Money, that's what we're here for."


Of course, anyone who had bought it at $184 or below in Tuesday's afterhours had picked up a very healthy profit by Thursday p.m. (This writer has no position in NFLX.)

Guy Adami admitted Thursday, "We gotta see how it trades tomorrow ... right now, at $200, I clearly have no idea what to do."


John Stephenson: Silver
‘at least’ $50 before 2012

John Stephenson, who recently lamented on Fast Money that not enough speculators were buying up oil futures, insisted on Thursday's show that silver is going to close its historical divergence with gold.

"It's gonna be at least $50 by the end of next year," Stephenson said.

"At least. At least," Melissa Lee gushed for some reason, twice.

Stephenson said that going back to the 1970s, the gold/silver ratio "was 16-1; it's currently at 50-1," and he said under those '70s standards, silver should be $88, so his $50 target is "conservative."

Guy Adami rebutted that "maybe gold's due for a pullback," but admitted he could be wrong about that.

What's dubious about Stephenson's call is that the whole world is already aware of this ratio, so you're getting zero edge from it.

Taiwan Semiconductor: Worst
corporate branding of the decade

Melissa Lee and Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money conducted a highly dubious laughathon on Chinese IPOs that had so much chuckling and side commentary, you really had no idea what anyone was talking about, which was just as well.

Karen Finerman is awesome at poking fun at select company names, including Radio Shack ("if you were launching a tech retail shop now, would you really call it 'Radio Shack'?") and Dress Barn ("why in the world would anyone name a women's clothing shop a "barn").

Pressed for another one, maybe she would deliver a Strait answer.

Every now and then you see one of those names and symbols on the CNBC ticker that you hadn't seen for a while, and it suddenly grabs you in a way it hasn't before.

That's precisely what happened around here Thursday with the name Taiwan Semiconductor.

Consider that the past decade has been, among a few other things, the Age of China, the Superfusion era, etc.

And right at the moment, every IPO with a Chinese name is selling, um, considerably faster than those land parcels in "Glengarry, Glen Ross."

(Important note to our friends in Beijing, as well as the wonderful people of Taipei, who occasionally according to our Web data visit this page (not that we believe it) ... what follows is merely a marketing theory, and absolutely has nothing to do with any "One China"/independence, sovereignty, Security Council seats, Chen Shui-bian or Mao Zedong philosophies, of which we have no opinion. So please, no Google-like attacks.)

Ideally, someone in the upper echelon of TSM would've seen this coming about 8-10 years ago and proposed a bold idea to the board: "Hey, why don't we change the company name to 'Old China Semiconductor,' or 'New China Semiconductor,' or 'Greater China Semiconductor' or 'Real China Semiconductor,' or best of all, 'Eastern Macau Semiconductor.' Investors will eat that up."

But no.

"Taiwan." It just sounds so ... 1956.

NFL should schedule
1½ games a day

Breaking news is something that has to be dealt with, so it wasn't Fast Money's fault that Dave Morgan barely got the equivalent of a 30-second commercial to make his case for the future of television.

Morgan, though, was pretty glib in his limited time, saying "More people are watching more TV today than they ever have before," despite spending hours on the Web.

Morgan said the average person watches "4 and a half to 5 hours of TV a day."

And "Dancing With the Stars" doesn't even consume half of that.

Wonder if they saw this coming in the 1800s?

Michael Burns did not get another chance to slam Carl Icahn on Fast Money Thursday

Herb Greenberg saw a chance Thursday to weigh in on one of his recent targets, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which suddenly found its stock in free fall.

We quickly lost track of what they were talking about on Fast Money, something about old news of the company's disclosure issues that didn't really seem relevant to making a trade.

"It's one of those situations where clearly nobody knows what's going on and you're just playing Russian roulette at this point. You get out, and you move on," said Guy Adami.

In the middle, though, Karen Finerman, in sharp gray, gave a very intelligent explanation of why Airgas was trading down.

Stallone inducted into
Boxing Hall of Fame

One of the best pop-culture stories of the week — you know, with McDonald's/Starbucks menu/lawsuit articles the kind newspapers just love to put on Page 2 or 3 because it's not one of those courts or City Hall stories — was the Boxing Hall of Fame inducting Sylvester Stallone.

Which stokes a point we've been dying to bring up here for a while, since the last time the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did something silly.

Halls of Fame — every one of them — should be a 1-time deal only. There's one opening, 1 ceremony, and after that it's closed.

Because the inaugural class is the only one that matters, and in succeeding years the whole concept gets watered down to the point of just being plain stooopid.

The problem is there's a human incentive to put people in rather than keep them out, when exclusivity is what matters here.

The Oscars have the same problem. No way they should be awarded every year. If art is to be ranked at all, it should be for films that meet some kind of historic, subtle, anonymous voting criteria and not merely have to beat out "Adaptation" or "Sideways." Instead we get "American Beauty" and "Chicago," but no "Chinatown" or "Psycho."

Note that the original baseball inductees (which of course you already know), Ruth, Cobb, Johnson, Mathewson and Wagner, did not include Young, Speaker, Lajoie, McGraw or Mack.

The original hall of fame in the United States is the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College, dedicated 1901.

What’s going on with EK?

Jon Najarian, who had an impressive day on the Fast Money set identifying some hot stocks, said, in regards to EK Thursday, "There are no coincidences on Wall Street ... I've got calls written against the stock that I have."

Guy Adami said there's been chatter recently that KKR and Apollo might be interested in Kodak.

Najarian also singled out GT, "this one absolutely on fire."

And he said, retroactively, that WikiLeaks gave BAC speculators an opening. "WikiLeaks more or less, was holding down stocks like Bank America (sic)," he said. "That ended up being a great buying opportunity."

Stephen Weiss made the case for Allscripts, based on health-care systems that need those upgrades by 2013.

That’s our department

The opening of Thursday's Power Lunch saw this remarkably blatant little tribute to a couple of our CNBC favorites.

"I'm Tyler Mathisen along with the lovely Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Mandy Drury, catching our eye today, apart from my 2 co-anchors, mortgage rates have hit a 6-month high..."

Ritholtz: Something going on
with Kodak

Barry Ritholtz, refreshingly picked to join the actual Fast Money Halftime Report panel on Thursday, apparently was seeing his own buying in Eastman Kodak pay off.

Ritholtz said there's been a "liquidity smile" in the name, where there was some heavy activity a few weeks ago that got his team wondering what the news is or is going to be. Thursday, he speculated that maybe a big company sees some potential in the digital business, and that in any case for stock purposes, "the volume is quite substantial."

Perhaps John Kinnucan (see below) can once again tackle the concept of stocks rising significantly without any reported news.

Jon Najarian, on the Halftime Report panel that like The Strategy Session (see below) was dogged by offstage conversations at CNBC including some ridiculously loud shouting and laughing while Domino's Pizza chief Patrick Doyle was being interviewed, said he's seeing a "lot of action in BBT today." He said "there's a lot of speculation on this name," and "I think that this one could see a lot more upside."

Najarian said Compellent has been "up there in nosebleed territory" since the whole 3PAR fiasco, and as for options bidding on a high Dell offer, he's "not seeing that at all."

Steve Grasso touted steel. "Letter X, I'm long it," he said, adding that "1,228 has been a level that Guy and I have been talking about," which, if easily cleared, would put him on the "bull wagon."

Kaminsky: Lululemon continues
to ‘defy logic’

Strategy Session guest Anthony Orso on Thursday said the reports of the death of commercial real estate have been, uh, yeah, you know.

Gary Kaminsky asked Orso is CMBS financing, necessary for a recovery, is returning.

"The bond buyers are back," said Orso, in a remarkably effusive thesis, "so yes, CMBS is back."

Then Orso rolled out the football cliche, "We believe there's about $100 billion of commercial equity sitting on the sidelines."

David Faber jabbed Gary Kaminsky a bit about Kaminsky's arguments in early 2010 against Lululemon, which soared again Thursday.

"I just cannot believe the valuation," Kaminsky said, saying it has to "defy logic."

David Faber revealed, "I went in there, and I walked out because I can't afford any of the stuff in there."

Faber also said Kaminsky is taking Friday off, and it's quite possible the insider-trading probe will come to a head. Kaminsky said he doubts it will have much impact on markets because the scuttlebutt has already been out there for a while.

Too much noise at CNBC

The opening of Thursday's Strategy Session was plagued by some dudes at CNBC who apparently forgot Dalton's "Road House" Rule No. 2 ("Take it outside.")

A couple guys could be heard in the background having a just-loud-enough conversation to even distract Gary Kaminsky during a high-yield-issuance point.

We tried to hear what they were talking about, but it was too muffled and would've required Gene Hackman in "The Conversation" to piece together.

The theme of the actual program was that 2010 has been a tremendous year for high-yield issuance, and what will companies do with rates creeping up. George Goncalves said "The technicals should stay favorable for the corporate markets," and he thinks the "window will open up in the first half of the year again."

[Wednesday, December 8, 2010]

‘Refresh’ your memory of
Feb. 11, maybe find John Kinnucan’s ‘Company X’

Either John Kinnucan was asked to appear on The Strategy Session as a way of drawing attention to Kinnucan's blog post at CNBC.com, or the frontman for the world's collection of maligned channel-checkers simply decided that 96 hours off the air was too much.

So Kinnucan resurfaced on Wednesday's Strategy Session, delivering 1- or 2-sentence non-answers to questions from David Faber and Gary Kaminsky.

"I will say, everything I've read in the press, so far, as far as I know, is conjecture," Kinnucan said.

Faber asked Kinnucan if he's complying with the subpoena received by his firm. Apparently saying yes, Kinnucan made a strange joke about why he doesn't drink and drive, because "the paperwork will kill ya."

But it's what Kinnucan is saying in his CNBC blog post that really caught our attention.

Consider his lede paragraphs:

On an early morning last February I was talking with a hedge fund client when apropos of nothing much he let out, “Wow. Company "X" (ticker "XX" for this post) — was just in here, and they are totally pumped. They said RFP (Request For Proposal) activity was off the charts, and they think their telco business is going to explode later this year and next.”

At the time of our conversation (around 10am EST), "XX" was trading at about $50, essentially unchanged on the day — but not for long. Within an hour the stock was up $2, and ended the day near $54, up 8% on the day, increasing the value of the company by hundreds of millions of dollars, and the net worth of the management team participating in the dog and pony show (CEO, CFO, Investor Relations guy) by tens of millions.

Now, what say we roll a little dice, play a little Monopoly, and see if we can't deduce what squares Kinnucan is landing on with Annacott Ste- er, "Company X," even if there's no prize for winning, such as a phone call from Mandy Drury.

First, a company trading over $50 a share in February 2010 was rather uncommon.

When one searches for February closing prices of stocks presumably in Kinnucan's wheelhouse of Silicon Valley that also have a "telco" business, there aren't many that posted a $50 price tag ... and fewer still that rose about $4 in a day.

Except one, that we know of.

That particular stock opened on Feb. 11 at $49.85, marginally down from its $49.96 close a day earlier.

And on Feb. 11 closed the day at $53.71, which would be "near $54."

Up 7.5%.

(Unfortunately we weren't able to find a valid intraday chart of the stock on Feb. 11 to see if it matched the 10 a.m. description.)

That isn't proof of anything, of course. So we looked up the headline archives of the stock at Yahoo finance, and you'll note there's nothing at all for the week of Feb. 11.

More telling is sifting through the piles of entries on the Yahoo Message Board for this particular company and finding an entry posted 6:40 p.m. on Feb. 11 echoing others that day, titled "Look Folks - Somethings Up (sic) -- This stock don't go up over 7% on just I knew it was gonna go or bout time. Must be a buy out or something like that." (sic)

The last thing we wondered about is whether this company indeed has a "telco business." We kinda know what it does, but couldn't explain it to anyone.

According to the Company Profile description at Yahoo finance, "It primarily serves technology, telecommunications, financial services ..."

So there you go. Maybe you can connect the dots.

Just to "refresh," we don't know with any certainty what company Kinnucan is writing about. We're only taking a guess and laying it out for readers, our version of a journalist "channel check." Please be assured, we know absolutely nothing more about this subject than you know. (This writer has no position whatsoever, long or short, in the possible company in question. And he doesn't research stocks or do channel-checks, and most of the stocks he owns go down.)

It may also be that the name of the company in question isn't even relevant. Kinnucan chose to conceal it but leave a few clues. Maybe he wanted people to figure it out or maybe he didn't; maybe we did figure it out or maybe we didn't. The rest of his post contains some strong suggestions that investment banks are granted latitude that "expert networks" are not. We're not wading into any of that. (To further make clear there's no need for the FBI to show up while we're having a glass of wine, this page is not involved in expert networks or financial research. This page reviews TV shows. (And occasionally attempts to compliment women or dabble in pop culture.))

Kinnucan likely won't make the Barbara Walters special but is proving to be one of the more interesting Wall Street figures of 2010, and we'll continue to report on his commentary.

Pete Najarian actually
suggests a Brag Trade

Wednesday's Fast Money found Joe Terranova and Pete Najarian fairly enthusiastic about Citigroup. (This writer is long C.)

"I actually own Citi, I added to Citi in the last couple of days," Najarian said, but he said he bought puts because he doesn't want to be stopped out.

Terranova said he thinks the stock heads straight up to $5.

Karen Finerman, evidently sensing the appeal of Melissa Lee's smokin' pinstriped dress the other day, returned the favor with a highly chic pinstriped vesty look of her own on Wednesday and, in the course of the program, managed to mock one of her favorite targets by slightly changing her voice: "The gold bet is, I don't know what it is at this point, it's a combination of speculation, and uh, hedge against inflation, deflation, whatever it is."

Pete Najarian, generally not one to gloat, said Wednesday that "I loved copper a year and a half ago when everybody loved gold. I loved copper, and I watched it just skyrocket, but at $4, doesn't it seem like that's overheated?"

Karen Finerman asked Pete then if he'd be long gold and short copper? Pete essentially said (without specifically saying it) that he'd be staying away from both.

Anthony Scaramucci revealed H&R Block as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week, a "classic value name," saying he's not concerned about Refund Anticipation Loans, both the competition and the ability to make them. Guy Adami reaffirmed his bullish call on the name but unlike Scaramucci said he thinks there's takeover interest.

Steve Cortes said "My favorite movie is 'The Godfather' " in a clumsy attempt to draw parallels between Bonasera's "I believe in America" and his own pro-U.S., anti-China thesis. The reason he's negative on China, Cortes said, is "Chinese real estate and Chinese loans." The rest of the panel wasn't very sold.

Cortes: Gold might be
approaching double-top

Steve Cortes predicted on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that gold might see a "race for the exits" into year-end.

"The chart tells me that we potentially have a double top," Cortes said.

Steve Cortes also said bonds are "so insanely oversold" that "they look like the New York Jets did on Monday night."

(Side note from a longtime NFL observer: Nothing — or practically nothing — is more overrated than a single week in the NFL. The Patriots (remember that Cleveland game?) are not invincible, and the Jets are not the Detroit Lions.)

Steve Cortes wasn't done with his provocative commentary. "I think McDonald's backs my thesis, which is that the United States is strong, and the data is good, but the rest of the world is weak," Cortes said.

Brian Kelly said he thinks it could be a case that "Asia is weaker, not weak necessarily."

Jon Najarian spoke glowingly of the TBT. "I am still long of this," he said.

If you’re going to launch a company in China, you want Peggy Yu Yu running it

One of the most unlikely stellar Strategy Session guests has to be Peggy Yu Yu.

Yu Yu, we learned Wednesday, owns a big chunk of Dangdang, the red-hot Chinese IPO that is apparently something like "the Amazon of China." (And Gary Kaminsky is still wondering, what's The Strategy Session of China?)

Peggy, despite a somewhat thick accent, handled questions from the NYSE floor better than a lot of traders do, even an overly long attempt by Gary Kaminsky to launch a double-barreled think-piece about 1) whether Peggy thinks she got shafted by the banks for pricing the IPO too low and 2) what kind of investment teams she met with in the road show. (She said she's not disappointed, and that the general road show audience was "long only" funds.)

Her best answer to David Faber about the company's growth prospects was merely the "huge customer base" in China and its fast-growing consumer spending.

Peggy also said reliance on books and the emergence of ebooks is not a problem. "I look forward to the coming of electronic books," she said. She also explained, not too badly, the very complicated corporate structure involving the Cayman Islands and the ADR issuance.

Because of Peggy's rampant optimism and happiness, Gary Kaminsky couldn't resist concluding that she must be a banker's dream, happy that the first-day close nearly doubled the $16 IPO price and not at all suspicious that she might've gotten ripped off.

Jonathan Beinner of Goldman Sachs Asset Management gave a pretty good presentation about muni bonds, but no blockbusters there.

[Tuesday, December 7, 2010]

Fast Money gives Michael Burns unequal time

The extended Fast Money coverage of the increasingly wearisome Icahn-LGF battle is actually starting to stink a little bit.

Not only did Michael Burns do a Halftime Report interview Tuesday, he incredibly was summoned back for a follow-up on the regular Fast Money, so late in the program that Carl Icahn couldn't possibly have had a chance to rebut.

This page, which could hardly care less which side wins this battle, acknowledges that in the court of public investing opinion (as if that matters), Icahn has not made a convincing case for running the company, other than the possible notion that other shareholders might just consider it dead money and view his offer as the best they're gonna get for a while.

Yet in the court of Fast Money scheduling, Burns apparently can do no wrong, despite helping oversee a company with a disastrous 5-year stock chart.

Burns used his last-minute segment on Fast Money Tuesday to rebut Icahn's lunchtime point about distribution rather than producing films. "You can't depend on picking up movies at festivals. You have to have your own pipeline," Burns said.

There are 2 questions Melissa Lee should've asked Burns but failed to do so over 2 appearances. Burns keeps railing about Icahn flip-flopping. How come nobody asked Burns why Icahn really wants this company? Surely Burns has a thought on that. What is it about this company that Icahn seems so adamant about gaining control of? Guy Adami barely even came close, asking Burns why Icahn doesn't acknowledge how great Burns' team is. And nobody bothered to ask Burns what in the last 5 years gives investors confidence that the stock under Burns' team can do better than Icahn.

To win the PR battle, Icahn apparently will have to dig into the holiday stocking and one-up Burns' remarkable made-for-television Mad Men gift to Melissa Lee, who was asked by Anthony Scaramucci if it's "battery-operated."

The ‘Big Sis’ trade

Some people think Americans' right to privacy is under serious attack.

Money manager Nick Calamos apparently thinks the more snooping, the merrier.

Calamos on Tuesday's Fast Money recommended 3 stocks, Oracle, Autonomy and Altera. It was the Autonomy reference that got our attention.

"They can look into your e-mails and any presentations you have, anything that's digital," Calamos said. "And, uh, in this world of surveillance and, and compliance and concerns like that, it's a great software product that businesses need, the SEC uses it, Homeland Security uses it."

And our government is outraged by WikiLeaks?

Evidently, Melissa didn’t buy that smokin’ pinstriped dress at TLB

Not only were we entertained by Patty Edwards' description Tuesday of Talbots as being among the "missy" stores, but we nearly fell out of the chair at Brian Kelly's straightforward candor on the 5 p.m. show's Pops & Drops.

"Talbots taken out to the woodshed today," Kelly said. "They're gonna have to really kick some butt here over the next couple weeks to meet the projections."

Melissa Lee couldn't resist repeating her Halftime dig. "They said traffic was strong but sales were weak. Which means people went in and they didn't want to buy a single thing," Lee said.

Scaramucci goes
to bat for Ben

Perhaps because Peter Boockvar was such an excellent listener, Fast Money put together a pretty good Fed debate Tuesday.

Boockvar, as would be expected, says he fears the Fed, despite being OK with the fiscal deal being cut. "QE2, since the day it started, has been a complete failure," Boockvar said, saying the goal was to keep interest rates low when in fact they've risen.

"I think you're a great guy, and I think what you're saying, some of it makes sense, but it's a little bit too academic for me," said Anthony Scaramucci, who cited 2 defenses for the Fed's approach to the "specter of deflation."

Scaramucci said capacity utilitzation is at 76%, while inflation doesn't happen until it's into the high 80s, and "M3 is at 75% of what it was in 2007."

Boockvar, who unlike Peter Schiff allowed Scaramucci to complete his argument without interruption, countered that the problem is "commodity-based," citing "China's demand for oil" as well as the prices for cotton and soft commodities.

Joe Terranova wasn't buying it, saying CRB data isn't as high as in 2008. Boockvar said on an absolute basis the CRB is very close to its all-time high. And that's a little bit too far into the deep end of the commodity trading pool.

Seems there was some sort of misunderstanding

Brian Kelly did an elaborate chart display that really didn't need charts actually in order to say he likes the options market and Fibonacci showing the same type of range for stocks, from 1,280 to 1,306 (Fibonacci) or 1,309 (options).

Kelly referred to the odds of a 1 standard deviation and a 1.5 standard deviation as making him comfortable with the options-indicated range, and he said he'd love to get back into stocks around 1,200 if possible.

Scott Nations, though, sort of rebutted that, calling a 1.0 deviation "relatively rare" and a 1.5 "really rare."

"This is not a target," Nations said.

If any of that helps you trade better, more power to you.

Brian Kelly also said he got out of Citigroup temporarily. Joe Terranova said it's now an "easy trade," you can put in a $4.50 or $4.52 stop.

It may seem like this page likes pop culture, and of course it does, but the Fast Money gang really likes its pop culture, evidenced by the Fast Fire on Tim Seymour Tuesday for claiming there were 2 Mr. Ropers in "Three's Company."

The extended yukking included this observation from Anthony Scaramucci: "Richie Cunningham actually had a, uh, older brother for the first season."

Traders don’t see NFLX selloff
as buying opportunity

Melissa Lee opened Tuesday's Fast Money with a report on the sudden departure of Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy ... and what was interesting was that none of the 4 panelists called the stock a buy down $10.

"Clearly the momentum has changed," said Joe Terranova.

Guy Adami reiterated his recent bearish turn in the stock, pointing again to the $209 recent intraday high.

Anthony Scaramucci said the stock's got a "heady" valuation but that the company has a "great, forward-thinking management team."

Gary Kaminsky’s book addresses subject of CFO departures

Maybe one reason the Fast Money gang wasn't jumping aboard Netflix Tuesday was because of a sentiment expressed by Gary Kaminsky in his recent book, Smarter Than the Street.

Kaminsky writes in Chapter 6, "An automatic red flag, if there ever was one — and this comes from my earliest days in the business — is the departure of a CFO ... typically, warning bells should go off ... The thing to look for is how that person leaves..."

Herb Greenberg reported on Barry McCarthy's stock sales for the last 12 months. "It's the timing" that's questionable about this exit, Greenberg said, saying the company's at an "inflection point." Greenberg said McCarthy is well-known for stressing the importance of making the numbers.

So there you go.

For bulls looking
for ammunition ...

Anthony Scaramucci revealed Tuesday he had lunch with Elaine Garzarelli and a few others, who think the market is 20% undervalued.

Melissa demands Icahn deliver
a 3-point plan

A while ago, this Lionsgate-Icahn struggle was interesting stuff.

That's not so much the case anymore.

But Melissa Lee, in sizzling pinstriped dress, tried her best Tuesday to fan some flames, particularly when she got Carl Icahn on the Fast Line.

Lee twice asked Icahn 3 things he would do with control of Lionsgate, after Michael Burns appeared in studio (see below). Icahn first said of Burns, "What's his plan, to keep losing us more money," then cited his success in casinos and energy, and then finally said for a small studio such as Lionsgate, "What you should be doing is distribution" and "cut the heck out of your SG&A."

Lee then produced some fairly damning numbers, at least on the surface, provided by Burns, that in the last decade once Icahn gains board seats, his companies have produced 31% median stock decline and 82% median decline ex-biopharma.

"These numbers are completely slanted," Icahn bellowed, saying Motorola did something like dropping from $9 to $3. "The day I get on the board doesn't mean it's gonna turn around that day," he said.

Icahn generally repeated the same gripes he's been making pretty much for the entire year, including the extra LGF stock float.

Perhaps because one was in the studio and one was merely on the phone, Lee seemed to go easier on Burns and didn't harangue him for share price.

Nevertheless, Icahn hasn't really made a good public case, and his keen interest in this company seems weirder and weirder.

Michael Burns: Carl Icahn
‘is the king of flip-flops’

Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns returned to the Fast Money Halftime set, one of his favorite venues, on Tuesday to extend his p.r. campaign against Carl Icahn, insisting again that Icahn doesn't have a plan.

"To try to figure out what Carl actually is saying in regards to MGM, or for that matter anything to do with us, is almost impossible because he flip-flops back and forth," Burns said, citing Icahn's analogy of "2 one-legged men in a race."

"He is the king of flip-flops," Burns asserted.

"We don't want him to do to us what he did to Blockbuster," Burns said.

Edwards: ‘Missy’ space
in a slump

Melissa Lee on Tuesday's Halftime Report asked Patty Edwards to "connect the dots" on Talbots' problem of getting people into the stores but not having them buy very much, apparently.

"I'm not that impressed with the merchandise they've had in there," Edwards said. "That being said, I'm seeing this across that whole 'missy' space," including Ann Taylor, Chico's and Coldwater Creek, Edwards said.

IAC Interactive chief: Facebook
ads so effective, price is rising

IAC Interactive CEO Greg Blatt, whose company runs Match.com, said on Tuesday's Strategy Session that advertising on Facebook has been so useful, it's starting to get maybe uncomfortably pricey.

"It's no longer a bargain-basement play," Blatt said.

But then Blatt even downplayed how much effect Facebook has on dating, saying "It's not where people go to do it ... When people want to date, they go on a dating site."

Blatt didn't seem too amped up about Ask.com. But he was gushing about the the company's ability to "monetize through search" such products as emoticons, Webfetti, Virtual Worlds, which people use "to decorate their home page ... populate their e-mails."

Hmmm ... sometimes we wonder if we're wasting time with some of the things we do on this site, but given what other folks are evidently doing on the Web ...

Blatt had a curious description of his broader outlook. "We certainly look at the world in, in 2 ways, which is there are businesses, and sort of the areas adjacent to our businesses, and then there's everything else."

Businesses, areas adjacent to business, and "everything else."

Can't argue with that.

Kaminsky: Possible C reverse split is something to think about

Gary Kaminsky on Tuesday reminded Strategy Session viewers that Citigroup got shareholder approval for a reverse split, and now that the government is finally unloading it all, it's possible a reverse could happen. (This writer is long C.)

Why would that matter? Kaminsky said it could allow some institutions to get into it that abide by no-stock-below-$5 rules. Although, we've heard Citi bulls on Fast Money for the last year predicting that would be the self-sustaining catalyst for the stock, that everyone would keep driving it up to $5 so that it would really take off, and ... um, hasn't really happened.

Judah S. Kraushaar of Roaring Brook Capital (that's quite a name) guested on TSS Tuesday and spoke about the value of being nimble (i.e. small) in the hedge-fund world, predicting even if his fund grew substantially, it'd still be small enough to enjoy the benefits of nimbleness.

Kraushaar said he generally looks for low-P.E. names, at least in non-banking areas, and defended the goal of making a nice profit. "There's healthy greed in the industry, I mean, it's not all bad greed," he said.

Kaminsky: Studies show many hedge funds can’t beat Treasurys

Kate Kelly reported on some hedge fund results for 2010, prompting Gary Kaminsky to cite what he said are studies from Emory and Harvard business schools over the last 2 decades.

"Many of these hedge funds over that 20-year period don't even add value vs. the risk-free, 10-year Treasury, net of fees," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky said he's not going to use the term "melt-up" anymore because it's been used a lot and doesn't adequately describe what's happening, according to a viewer e-mail. "You can't melt up. It has to be a boil-up," Kaminsky said.

Herb Greenberg is long
a gold ETF

Herb Greenberg, who recently delivered some thought-provoking reports on The Strategy Session titled "Can an ETF collapse?," made an interesting revelation on The Call with Trish, Melissa and Larry on Tuesday.

Greenberg explored which of 3 popular gold ETFs should gold investors buy, comparing fees and liquidity and where the bullion is stored. "Individuals are probably better off with the iShares Comex Gold Trust, known as the IAU, or the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares, more commonly referred to as the SGOL," Greenberg said, saying institutions are likely best with the GLD.

But then this: "Now full disclosure: I own the IAU and have for 4 or 5 years, though I started peeling some off in the 90s and still hold a little for good luck," Greenberg said.

At first that didn't make an ounce of sense, selling something in the "90s" that trades around $13 that he's only owned for 4 or 5 years.

But then Greenberg referred to a 10-for-1 split in the IAU, which would account for how he sold some of it in the "90s."

Whether the remainder has actually brought him any good luck remains a mystery.

[Monday, December 6, 2010]

Doug Kass: Biden & Hillary will swap in less than 6 months

Monday's Fast Money will go down as possibly being the show's most politically tinged episode yet, at least since Charles Gasparino wandered onto the set and called someone "borderline socialist."

Melissa Lee at one point tried to explain Barack Obama's nebulous (at best) tax-rate arguments as a desire to help out "hard-working Americans," which brought immediate scoffing from Guy Adami and a remarkably defensive rebuttal from Lee.

But Doug Kass took the cake, predicting as part of his series of surprises a Democrat ticket switch and implying it would be a tremendous move for the Democratic Party.

"The second surprise tonight is that Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton switch jobs by mid-year 2011, actually in less than 6 months, well before the 2012 presidential election, and fearful of a, of Democratic mandate, similar to 2008, the Democratic tsunami, the market falls 3 to 4% that day," Kass said.

Dennis Gartman would have none of it. "I gotta think you're absolutely wrong," Gartman said. "I think Hillary Clinton, and this is hard for me to say, has done an absolutely great job as secretary of state," and wouldn't want to give up that little domain, Gartman said.

Really. What exactly has she accomplished as secretary of state?

Ah, forget it. It's not a political show.

Doug Kass thinks Microsoft
actually still needs Yahoo

Doug Kass said on Monday's Fast Money that Microsoft is finally going to accomplish something — buying Yahoo.

"My first surprise tonight is that, uh, Microsoft is gonna launch a tender offer for Yahoo and ultimately gain control of the company at $24 a share," Kass said.

Notably, Melissa Lee did not liken it, as she did with the Barnes & Noble and Borders scuttlebutt, to tying 2 rocks together and hoping they float.

Kass even pronounced it a win-win.

"I'm actually long both Yahoo and Microsoft," Kass said. "Very few people expect this to occur ... a deal could be extremely profitable and advantageous for Microsoft. It would give them critical mass in the Internet and immediately give them exposure to a very rapidly growing Chinese market."

Seymour nearly ready to declare victory over Obamacare

The politics on Monday's Fast Money didn't end with Doug Kass.

John Harwood delivered an update on the big tax-cut compromise in the works that will (surprise, surprise) extend the present tax rates at least another couple years.

That prompted Tim Seymour to suggest the capitulation is just beginning.

"It tells you that the new Republican influence, um, means that, you know, these games of political chicken are ones that actually the Democrats are starting to cave on," Seymour said.

Then, referring to "turning over health care," Seymour added, "I think it gives you ammunition to believe, uh, that a lot of these things could go."

Great moments in scarf history: Debbie Harry

Last week the Fast Money gang shared some yuks over November video of Karen Finerman that showed K-Fine in the same sizzling scarf-turtleneck outfit that she happened to be wearing on that day's Fast Money.

We've noted before that this site has gotten at least one inquiry wanting to know who the designer is for Karen's orange scarf (not the one she was wearing last week). (Those kinds of things get us excited. They shouldn't. But keep in mind this is a low-budget site.)

The most mesmerizing scarf anyone under 50 has seen is undoubtedly Debbie Harry's prop during an early video performance of "Heart of Glass."

This was one of those rare rock images to go viral pre-MTV, actually in the debut of the syndicated "Solid Gold" show and whatever weekend music shows existed at the time and picked it up.

Pop culture is usually incalculable. While "Heart of Glass," though unfortunately now well-worn into our minds for decades, is undeniably one of the greatest pop/rock/disco hits ever performed, probably not many would've guessed at the time that a woman twirling around saying "Oooh oooh ... wuh-huh" would still be remembered by, quite frankly everyone, 30 years later.

The YouTube video of "Heart of Glass" is right here. (We'd just embed it atop this entry, except there's probably a copyright concern, except if anything should be considered "fair use," it should be Debbie Harry twirling a scarf.)

How does Melissa Lee get away with saying ‘much more Fast Money coming up’ at the 57-minute mark?

Analyst Anthony Polini of Raymond James said Citigroup is a buy. "It's our top pick. It's not only a strong buy, it's our No. 1 pick," he said. (This writer is long C.)

Polini figures the government is putting in a floor. "Certainly you wanna buy where this deal's priced," he said.

"We have an official target price of 5 and a half," he added.

Tim Seymour questioned what Citi has left and what its model is after unloading some prized assets. Polini shrugged that off. "I mean I'm more worried about JPMorgan running after it and trying to pick up market share off of Citi," Polini said.

It evidently doesn’t take much to shock Melissa

Melissa Lee on Monday introduced author Vitaliy Katsenelson, who Lee said has made the "pretty shocking" prediction that the stock market will be flat and range-bound for the next decade.

"Pretty shocking," sure ... except it's the same prediction Gary Kaminsky already made in Smarter Than the Street ... in which Lee's own testimonial is quoted on the back cover.

Basically Lee, compressed for time, got Katsenelson to say this prediction is based on historical data.

We learned through a quick search on Amazon that Katsenelson's next book is out this month, hence his appearance on Fast Money ... and we also learned he previously unveiled a book subtitled "making money in range-bound" markets in ... September 2007 ... (that's correct, September 2007).

Anyway, Katsenelson (we thought with a name like that he might hail from Sverige, but it's actually Russia) recommended 2 stocks on Fast Money, one of them LLL, because it's "double defensive" and a "non-cyclical company," and also MDT, because "5 years from now we'll be using more pacemakers not less."

‘’Cause I’m the tax man.
Yeah-ah, I’m the tax man...’

Guy Adami said on Monday's Fast Money that a dog like H&R Block might be worth a look.

"There has been chatter that maybe private equity's snooping around here," Adami said. "I've heard the name John Paulson mentioned. I'm not spreading rumors. I have heard that though."

Dennis Gartman couldn't believe Adami or anyone else would want Block or other names on the 52-week low list. "How far down is down? It's just bad trading technique," Gartman said.

Brian Kelly made a riveting argument for FCX — as long as it drops a whole couple dollars to his preferred $105 entry point. "For the first time since 1995, this is on a yearly basis, consumption of refined copper is going to be greater than the production of refined copper," Kelly said.

Joe Terranova made what seems like a very good observation, saying the minute we get a copper ETF, it will put FCX under pressure.

Gartman: Silver has hit
market’s ‘obscene’ number

Dennis Gartman took up silver, from the panel on Monday's Fast Money, and said "I was shocked that we were able to get to $30 today. I used to call this the obscene number," Gartman said, referring to the number that you'd think the market wouldn't ever get to.

Gartman said he'd be "very, very reticent" to buy silver here; don't sell it, he said, but "don't be a buyer at $30."

Guy Adami though said technicals suggests "There's probably more in store" for the price of silver. Tim Seymour said he thinks a lot of people are getting "squeezed higher." Joe Terranova seconded the squeeze theory.

Karabell: Big Pharma
‘almost broken’

Zachary Karabell didn't turn up on Monday's Halftime Report, but did make his presence felt in a Pfizer-big pharma call on the Fast Money Final Call on Maria Bartiromo's show.

The Zekester said it might be possible to find a worse dividend play than PFE, but he called big pharma a "problematic industry" with high sales and R&D costs, and "I personally find this is almost a broken business model."

Melissa skeptical of Ackman’s next chapter

Rather than leave all of the commentary for the traders, Melissa Lee jumped in Monday to the Bill Ackman Borders Group thing on the Fast Money Halftime Report.

"It seems like you're tying 2 rocks together hoping they will float," Lee said.

Brian Kelly said the Fast Money gang has been all over the silver story since August.

Steve Grasso said he likes BTU. Jon Najarian said he likes the whole space including Massey.

Jon Najarian said there's hot options activity in Manitowoc and Nicor.

Steve Grasso revealed he has sold Altria Group.

Brian Kelly said a consortium of buyers could be interested in Molycorp because it's a U.S. entity.

Laurie Brlas, CFO of CLF, didn't really give the Fast Money Halftime gang any hints about a new deal, but said "We certainly do wanna grow our metallurgical coal position," and that despite a foray into chrome, the company is "most likely to see us sticking with iron ore and coal."

Herb dares institutions
to buy Chinese IPOs

On a rather unexplosive Strategy Session Monday, viewers heard from Bruce Flatt, "the Warren Buffett of Canada," who quietly stated and restated that his firm, Brookfield, merely looks not for the quick buck but "restructurings" that lead to nice solid long-term growth.

"We never wanna lose money," Flatt said. "We're compound investors ... very, very difficult when you lose and get a zero, to keep compounding wealth."

David Faber actually waited until the end of the dialogue to ask Flatt "What are you seeing" in the economy. Flatt said ... drum roll, surprise ... that things started looking up in March 2009, and while it's not a "consistent" move up, things are gradually getting better.

Herb Greenberg again successfully pointed out how a lot of Chinese IPOs seem rather frivolous. The new ones in the pipeline are Dangdang and Youku, which may or may not be good, but history is what it is. Greenberg said just because hedge funds who are initial investors are behind these, "that's not some Good Housekeeping seal of approval."

Gary Kaminsky made a good joke, that all these Chinese companies are billed as "the (so-and-so) of China." Kaminsky asked, "What is The Strategy Session of China?"

Gary Kaminsky proved he has his priorities in order with a late plug for the New York Jets in tonight's big game. Honestly, we're really split on this one but have a gut feeling it'll be the Jets. The truth is we're kinda wiped out and still recovering from Football Night in America on Sunday.

Just prior to the opening of The Strategy Session, Larry Kudlow said he wished Scott Pelley had asked Ben Bernanke "deeper questions," and said the Fed chief "came close to disinforming people."

Policy, football-style

Longtime readers (yeah, there's at least a few) of this page know that one of our favorite econ-government topics is people's fascination with policy.

Quite frankly you hear this often dubious line of thought from CNBC guests (and certain hosts with — hint — hyphenated last names) all day, people claiming life would be so much better if only the people were smart enough to make some adjustments to the system.

It happens in pro football too.

Consider this assessment of the Ravens' Sunday night loss by Baltimore beat writer Mike Preston, who doesn't seem to find the team at any kind of talent deficit with other top clubs but in the span of 2 paragraphs claims Ravens coaches 1) "have to cut Flacco loose and let this offense go," and 2) "made a mistake by not allowing kicker Billy Cundiff to attempt a 47-yard field goal in the closing minute."

So the coaches have equal players to the other top teams and should turn over more of the game to the QB that they're somehow preventing from playing great ... except for the times they should realize he's about to bounce-pass a 4th-and-2 toss to a wide-open receiver with the game on the line, and instead summon the kicker for a 47-yard try into the wind.

Obviously, the coaches blew it.

[Friday, December 3, 2010]

Translation: Your FCX,
coal plays are safe

David Riedel's stint on Friday's Fast Money seemed to promise more than it delivered.

Riedel stressed — a couple of times — that he's not making a call on the Chinese economy, only Chinese stocks ... which he said are due for turbulence.

Basically for this reason: "Concern about inflation in China is the highest level it's been since December- since beginning of '08," Riedel said.

Tim Seymour wasn't buying it, but whatever. Riedel suggested shorting FXI and HOGS.

Karen’s outfit rotation:
Once every 31 days

Earlier (see below) we pointed out that Steve Grasso only has a few bucks to go before his ANF trade becomes downright legendary.

Guy Adami said on Friday's Fast Money you might wanna take the money and run. "I think the shorts have finally gotten squeezed out of that name," Adami said.

Patty Edwards, a prolific Twitterer, handled the tweet portion of Friday's Fast Money and said "Eeveryone wanted to talk about Netflix." Edwards, though, isn't buying. "I think it's moved way too far."

Edwards also said she's "holding on and adding to platinum."

Karen Finerman, wearing that lovely scarf that incredibly resurfaced in a clip about her truck recommendation from Nov. 2, tried to trip up Tim Seymour into an overextended-commentary logical contradiction Friday, but didn't quite succeed.

"I think it was a data move on the dollar," Seymour said.

"You didn't think it was a flight to quality as things got uneasy in Europe?" Finerman countered.

"I think it was both," Seymour said, escaping trouble.

Seymour also called longtime favorite VimpelComm "dead money."

How ’bout Dallas Cowboys
going 3-8?

Anthony Scaramucci commented Friday on Fast Money about Kate Kelly's Strategy Session report on hedge funds offering doomsday-like investment scenarios.

"I personally do not like it, uh, because basically what it is, it's like a 'heads I win, tails I win.' sort of thing," Scaramucci said. "You carve out 150, 200 million for your doomsday scenario, then you run your regular book the other way."

He concluded, "It's a little bit too gimmicky for me."

Karen Finerman asked specifically what kind of doomsday these doomsday strategies are preparing for. Scaramucci said basically all the usual suspects: A "European domino effect," dollar collapsing, a Jim Chanos Chinese prophecy come true, etc.

2008 was a great year,
in one respect

Please note this page has at least a few readers in the great city of Baltimore.

Last thing we'd want to do is make any of those readers go away. (Seriously.)

So hopefully none will take it personally that this page is very much in favor of the yinz kicking the over-the-hill Ravens, a bunch of plodding clods who need to get on with their life's work, out of first place in the AFC North on Sunday Night Football (and what kind of value-added does Faith Hill and her presumed healthy contract really add to those broadcasts anyway; is that something Comcast should be paying a premium for?).

Quite frankly, the Steelers and Mike Tomlin are on the hot seat, still unconvincing to an informed fan base that expects far more than that smells-worse-than-a-landfill performance they put up against New England a few weeks ago.

All the Steelers have to do is play like they did in the first 3 games, without star QB, and they will beat Baltimore.

But whether that happens is about as predictable as whether Netflix goes up or down on Monday.

The Vegas line is Ravens by 3. Given that home field doesn't seem like much of a factor in this series, that's a rather imposing spread.

Bottom line? Pittsburgh fans may dislike the Ravens. But they respect them. May the better team win.

Pete’s chemical-induced
portfolio is ripping

One of the things that's kinda exciting on Fast Money is when Pete Najarian sorta gets into that bull market groove.

Seriously. When Pete catches fire — or put another way, when stocks Pete tends to follow catch fire — you can see a jaw-dropping amount of money being made in an unbelievably short period of time.

For example, Texas Instruments, a stock we generally regard as Intel-caliber ... buy it in August, and you've got about 3 years' worth of gains. Same for DuPont, though July was really the entry-point there. He's been trumpeting the gold miners though cooling a bit this week. He hasn't mentioned his usual favorite, the coal stocks, as much as in previous years, but those have delivered moonshots since July also.

While it looks easy when you see the chart, of course, it isn't. U.S. Steel for example used to move upward like the coal names, then suddenly didn't. If you catch some of these names just after they're peaking, you're not taking Guy Adami's elevator down, you're taking the bungee cord.

Najarian on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report said there's still strength in the SMH and its components even after the big run, seeing "naked buying, up to the upside" in the options. (Always gotta like naked buying.)

Where Pete has been quiet for more than a year now is the biotech sector, where he once rattled off one pending FDA ruling after another and pounded the table for TEVA, now he has very little to say about the sector, including TEVA, which this year has not really been going the direction you want a stock to go.

As far as Friday, it's worth noting that Pete didn't seem as enthusiastic about the steel sector as Steve Grasso.

CEO caught off guard by Steve Grasso’s dividend question

Steve Grasso, whose recent ANF call possibly — possibly — could shock the Fast Money world and go down as the trade of the year if it can just climb $4 more in 3 weeks, put Paychex CEO Martin Mucci on the spot on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, asking Mucci if he'd consider a dividend cut if the economy stumbled and unemployment got worse.

"It's certainly a board decision," was Mucci's initial response. "We're very satisfied with where the dividend is," he added.

Melissa Lee, sort of returning to Oscar-night hairstyle but with a more casual element Friday, pointed out the PAYX dividend is 4.5%.

Grasso said that's why he asked the question. "I just wanted to see where his first blush was there," Grasso said.

The real answer we'd infer from Mucci is yes, a cut would be considered. At a minimum, it appears such an option is not exactly off the table.

Give LaVorgna a mulligan

Joe LaVorgna's analysis of the monthly jobs report is kind of like a golfer who simply writes down his score for each hole before teeing off and then contorts his game to match.

If the number is good, it vindicates what he's saying, and if the number's bad, it's just an anomaly and cause for buying the dips that will probably be adjusted once the real facts come in.

LaVorgna's a stand-up guy though, so he put in a call to the Fast Line Friday and sort of admitted defeat, but only temporary. "We still like buying equities on dips," he said.

Unfortunately, he also said if more purported anomalies keep happening (in other words being wrong about Labor Department reports), he might have to "re-evaluate" the models, which is basically what Elaine Garzarelli has been doing ever since that call in '87, as well as what some guys do every February when the new SI Swimsuit Issue rolls around (wonder who'll get the cover and a 30-minute visit to CNBC studios in 2011).

We were hoping for a few more fireworks out of Patty Edwards Friday other than just being asked about Regis hair salon by Melissa Lee because Lee deemed it a girl question. (OK, maybe she didn't, but she seemed awfully quick to deny it.)

Edwards made a good joke. "The stock, pardon the pun, took a haircut." But she said it's sort of a private equity type of thing, and "I think that there's probably something to the smoke that we're seeing."

Edwards doesn't often make oil forecasts but Melissa Lee asked her about that too, evidently to dispel doubts about only giving Patty haircut companies to talk about. Patty said oil seems to be bullish not just on emerging markets but "partly the fact that the dollar seems to be falling again."

Short seller: Netflix ‘really
struggling to survive’

Noted short seller Manuel Asensio isn't very impressed by NFLX.

"They're never gonna make what the analysts are saying they're gonna make in 2013," he said on Friday's Strategy Session. "It's a complete fiction."

Despite the fact the stock has surged — or perhaps because of it — since Asensio got short in August, he says he's got it exactly where he wants it, even claiming "Now they're really struggling to survive."

The more he talked, the more riled up Asensio got. Gary Kaminsky struggled to squeeze in a few questions, including, what's the difference between Asensio's analysis and the sell-side analysis that is presumably looking at the same data. "The disconnect is in the credibility and deference they give to management. And the stories that they weave," Asensio scoffed.

"This business has absolutely nothing proprietary," Asensio asserted.

Dunno. Clearly seems like a stock that's gotten way ahead of itself. But shorting this sucker seems like face-ripped-off land.

David Stockman: ‘It is purely a day trader’s market’

All the Strategy Session needed to do Friday was air some clips of "Diff'rent Strokes" (or perhaps "Silver Spoons"), and it would've felt like the '80s all over again.

David Stockman overwhelmed the program with a denunciation of American job creation, trade deficit, the Fed, outsourcing and debt.

"The trend that we've been in is a lot worse than people think," Stockman said. "The jobs that they count every month that people get excited about are really part-time jobs."

Gary Kaminsky questioned why the stock market, a forward-looking mechanism, has basically been going up for 18 months. Stockman then incorrectly described the last year and a half of Wall Street, saying, "I think it is purely a day trader's market. One day it's manic, the next day it's depressing," which hasn't really been true since about October 2008.

Stockman ultimately insisted, "I'm not trying to paint gloom here."

So what then, exactly, was his point?

"I would say own gold," Stockman said.

[Thursday, December 2, 2010]

Hedge Fund Trade of the Week gives stock 8% afterhours boost

The only thing it took to get obscure retailer Kirkland clicking on Thursday was Anthony Scaramucci's Hedge Fund Trade of the Week on Fast Money.

The stock closed flat on the day at $12.

Once Scaramucci recommended it shortly after 5:30, it soared 8%.

Scaramucci described it as a "low-cost home decor retail store primarily in the Sun Belt."

He said "it has $3.75 in cash," and "this is a great turnaround story" with "negative net debt."

Bottom line? "The target price on this thing is something like $23 a share," he said.

Scaramucci said he visited a KIRK store in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, and Brian Kelly asked the most important question: Was it busy. "The store was pretty busy," Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci initially tried to give Tim Seymour a hard time — which Seymour didn't figure out at first — over Seymour's description of a "hot hedge fund" trade.

Cortes: Toyota cars
are better than Fords

Steve Cortes agreed with Tim Seymour on Thursday that Toyota is going to do well in the U.S. car market.

But he didn't share Seymour's enthusiasm for U.S. automakers.

Cortes called Toyota a currency-restrained trade that now is easing. "I love Toyota, I own Toyota as of today, Cortes said. "I think Ford and GM are a bit overhyped."

He said of TM, "I would buy more above $80."

Seymour asked Cortes, if he likes TM so much, why he wouldn't like Ford just as well, which may actually be cheaper on valuation.

"I don't think they make nearly as good a car," said Cortes, who pronounced Toyota as the world's best car maker. Cortes also called GM barely profitable.

Seymour shrugged. He said "the U.S. market is storming back."

Maybe moneymakers,
but not Oscar winners

Simon Baker made a pretty good presentation Thursday about movie chains CNK and RGC (notably, he did not mention IMAX).

He's particularly excited about "Narnia," "Tron," "Yogi Bear" — "these 3-D films can really charge a premium," Baker said. "The comps are so low in terms of expectations."

Guy Adami joked that Baker resembles Will Ferrell.

Jon Najarian gave equal time Thursday to a Fast Money Twitterer who claimed we're going to have a really bad double-dip in 2011. "I don't think it's backed up by fact," Najarian said.

But Najarian said "It's easy to grin when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat."

He also said he thinks FDX breaks $100, maybe not until early 2011.

What’s Melissa’s passion?

The Fast Money gang on Thursday traded chuckles over everyone's recent "Trade Your Passion" entries, with Melissa Lee reminding viewers what they all were.

But nowhere have we heard what Melissa's passions are.

Is that supposed to be off-limits, just because Melissa is not a trader?

Yeah, we know. Jon Hamm. We get it.

But when you pick 6 names, aren’t most of them bound to be wrong?

MKM analyst Patrick McKeever explained on Fast Money Thursday that he likes a pool of retail names as possible takeover targets.

Those are, according to the Fast Money graphic, Citi Trends, Big Lots, 99 Cents Only, Fred's, Cato and Collective Brands.

McKeever said "this is among 15 different names that I cover," so basically he thinks half his field is available, but he only projects those with "enterprise value of less than $5 billion" because bigger deals aren't getting done.

He predicted those first 3 names could fetch a premium of 45% because they've been beaten down.

McKeever's lackluster presentation though was amplified when Guy Adami asked him a good question about JCPenney, only to have McKeever say he can't talk about it because he covers Kohl's instead and then go on to talk about Kohl's.

Seymour thinks Kelly is
worrying about nothing

Tim Seymour found Brian Kelly's economic concerns a little head-scratching Thursday.

"I'm still concerned about the cost of labor," Kelly said.

"Well how can there be cost of labor if there, if there's unemployment rate at 9.6%," Seymour said.

"The cost of labor has gone up over the recession," Kelly said. "Average hourly earnings have gone up."

Guy Adami at one point noted confusion between Kelly's initials and a stock symbol. "We tend to talk quickly on the show, that's one of the criticisms we get from time to time," Adami admitted.

Rich Ilczyszyn ventures
into Brag Trade territory

Rich Ilczyszyn on Thursday's Fast Money explained that he apparently called everyone's bluff on oil.

"I didn't trade the news. I traded the chart," Ilczyszyn said. "Buy the dip, take a trip," he clucked. "$80 is your support area in oil."

Melissa Lee passed along a rumor reported by the WSJ that a single buyer has just hoarded "1% of the world's total consumption of copper this year."

"I've heard those rumors. I can't substantiate 'em," Ilczyszyn said.

Joe Terranova said earlier, "The next 2 weeks in oil historically are very bullish 2 weeks."

Grasso looks to have hit
a home run

Steve Grasso might have forecast the wrong end of his S&P range on Tuesday.

But he jacked one out of the park this week in specialty retail.

Grasso said on Monday's Halftime Report that Abercrombie & Fitch, then around $49-$50, could hit $60 if it's given the same premium as J. Crew.

Thursday, stunningly, it got halfway there.

LaVorgna: ‘Equity market
is very cheap’

Joe LaVorgna, who makes a habit of predicting improving job growth once a month on Fast Money, said Thursday that everything is going in the right direction for stocks.

"I would say the equity market is very cheap, large-cap equities are very cheap," LaVorgna said, suggesting people should be buying on Friday's Labor Department number, unless it's really horrible, and in which case you should buy that on the dip.

"We're looking for 9-4 on the rate," LaVorgna said.

Patty in her wheelhouse

Patty Edwards wasn't on the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday but did manage to do the Final Call with Simon Hobbs, who asked her if her recent predictions on Fast Money are gonna work.

"I do think that I've got it right," Edwards said, reassuringly.

Edwards said retailers got a break from the early holiday, "Hanukkah did have something to do with it," and that she would stick "pretty much with the high end."

"I like Nordstrom still," and "I still like Costco at this point," Edwards said.

What's really impressive, but didn't come up on this segment, is that Edwards during her Black Friday mall walk tweeted for Fast Money about noticeable activity at Victoria's Secret and JCPenney, whose companies both posted 52-week highs on Thursday.

Fast Money pessimists exchange props despite missing a huge move

Ongoing bear Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report used selective memory to congratulate Steve Grasso's S&P call.

"Kudos to No. 386 down there, that's Steve Grasso to you and me, who nailed this level in the S&P, this 1,173 level," Adami said.

It's quite true that Grasso for a couple weeks has been speaking of the importance of holding 1,173/1,172.

It's also true that Tuesday — 2 days ago — he said on Fast Money, "I think we do touch down to 1,150," just before 2 days of massive bullish action.

Actually, the great call of the week belongs to Brian Kelly, who on that same Tuesday shrugged off the technical bearish predictions of Tim Seymour (1,155) Steve Grasso (1,150) and Guy Adami ("more extreme than 1,150") in suggesting a sustained bull market.

On the bright side, Grasso specifically mentioned Thursday that Mandy Drury asked him a question a day earlier about being surprised about the rally.

Anytime one is spoken to by Mandy, it has to be considered a good day.

Cortes first made out
in a Regal theater

Steve Cortes couldn't resist a Brag Trade on BAC on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"I made 4% on that stock in basically 24 hours with the assistance of Goldman Sachs," Cortes said.

But now he's out, skeptical of the long-term strength of banks.

Cortes also predicted "I think Las Vegas Sands is rolling a 7 out here" and that it's going to suffer from his ongoing China-collapse forecast.

But Cortes did get Mel Lee to crack up with what figures to be the funniest line of the day, praising RGC because "the first time I made out with a girl was in a Regal cinema."

"That's TMI, Cortes," said Lee.

"It was 2 months ago," Cortes followed.

Debbie Weinswig said there was a lot of broad strength in retailers, but "the high end was not as strong as expected."

Jon Najarian said he sees the NFLX selloff "as a buying opportunity."

Najarian said the sky's the limit for stocks right now. "Our good friend Dougie Kass is gonna be dead wrong; we have not seen anywhere near the highs for the year yet," Najarian said.

Inferred from Ken Moelis:
Maybe regulators are overrated

Ken Moelis, the star Strategy Session guest Thursday during the show's foray into the New York Stock Exchange, wasn't leaking any big M&A scoops, but did suggest that maybe the business world has a way of correcting itself.

"I continue to believe that firms like mine, whether or not they formally implemented Glass-Steagall, I think it's informally happening," Moelis said. "You are seeing the split-up of various functionalities of the supermarkets into specialty stores."

Moelis: Vegas still
in the overbuilt phase

Ken Moelis on Thursday said improving clarity in business and politics should make the M&A climate decent in 2011, thanks to a football analogy, which of course we can't pass up.

"Policy and some of the unknown unknowns can only move between the 40-yard lines. It's gonna be very narrow as to the risks that are unassessable," Moelis said.

Rather humorously, David Faber teased to the Moelis segment prior to a commercial, saying they would explore "where the next deals are in the sector," which coincidentally or not was followed by a frown from Moelis, who ended up not even really hinting where those next deals are going to be.

Moelis took up one of Gary Kaminsky's favorite subjects, about 9 out of 10 acquisitions failing, and said a big reason is "price is always more important than people think." Moelis said if you're ahead of the curve, you can make it work, but "You miss the wave, it's over."

Moelis said Vegas simply got ahead of itself with the "numerator problem," that it used to get a new $2 billion facility a year, then a few years ago it brought on $28 billion in construction in the span of 2 years. But he said Macau looks like Vegas from a few decades ago.

Speaking of football, David Faber and Gary Kaminsky opened this special Strategy Session at the NYSE by taking a page out of the Bob Pisani-Maria Bartiromo-Dylan Ratigan playbook and hobnobbing on the floor, which brought an early glitch when Faber mentioned he'd have to remember to point the big microphone at the subject, which prompted a double "Hi David"/"Hi Ralph" during the Ralph Whitworth introduction.

Happy Hanukkah

The beginning of Hanukkah caught us a little bit off-guard. So much so, we missed it by a half-day. Happy holidays to all.

John Kinnucan was once fired for bragging about flipping Netscape for $220,000 profit

John Kinnucan, recent guest of The Strategy Session who has raised eyebrows by discussing a visit to his house by FBI agents in the insider-trading probe, apparently is something of a self-made stock-trading story.

At least, that's what he says in this impressive account of Kinnucan's background by Bloomberg reporter Anthony Effinger.

Kinnucan says he has a degree in geophysics from the University of Alaska, and later moved to Portland and started trading his own money, claiming “I was right 90% of the time.” He then got a meeting with Crabbe Huson Group co-founder Jim Crabbe, persuaded him to buy out-of-favor IBM, was kept on as a consultant and eventually named co-manager of the Crabbe Huson Special Fund in June 1994.

Apparently, as the story goes, he knew nothing but success, posting a 12% return for 1994 thanks to successful short timing, growing assets from $60 million to $800 million and earning the nickname "Nuke" from his colleagues.

But barely a year into this success, Kinnucan was quoted on the Netscape IPO in Bloomberg stories as saying it “probably sets a new point on the scale of egregiously overpriced merchandise” and that he flipped the shares he received for a $220,000 profit. "The attitude of the investment banks is that these are the payback to their best institutional or mutual-fund clients, like us or Fidelity Investments,” he also said. “It’s a little game of mutual back-scratching.”

That got him fired by Crabbe. A year later, he tried running a hedge fund for 2 years, but it didn't work and closed. Afterwards he joined the company Brad Peery Inc. but left within a year.

So somehow, Kinnucan was gold from '92-'95, then couldn't hold a job in tech investing in the white-hot late '90s.

Obviously, Kinnucan has put himself in an interesting position. The aftermath of all of this might actually be very good for him, or very bad.

However it turns out, he's bound to be one of the most notable catches of The Strategy Session.

[Wednesday, December 1, 2010]

Gartman: You’re ‘foolish’ to sell

Dennis Gartman told a slightly skeptical Melissa Lee and Karen Finerman on Wednesday's Fast Money that "even if you get nothing from the ECB," you better be long this market.

"Anybody who wants to stand up and take the other side of this trade, wants to sell into this rally, is foolish," Gartman said. "It is one of the strongest performances we have seen in a very long period of time. I'm a tape-watcher. That's a strong tape. You can't sell into this thing right now. It probably wants to go higher."

Kaminsky: Money managers will
swap bad sectors for good

There's only about 1 reason we'd ever want to try our hand at live television, which is basically to show up on the Fast Money set for about 10 seconds to "connect the dots" for Melissa Lee (especially when Lee looks like she did Wednesday with hair slightly back).

Gary Kaminsky on Wednesday got just such an opportunity.

Kaminsky, in sharp slacks, visited the Fast Money set to continue a point about performance-chasing he made earlier on The Strategy Session.

Kaminsky zipped through a couple graphics that unfortunately weren't shown in the proper order, or had the right info, while pointing out the relative underperformance was big in August, narrowed in October, but grew 50% in November.

Karen Finerman questioned why they could lose so much ground in November, a flat month for the S&P 500. In fact, Finerman's suggestion — that they put risk on after the robust 1st week — actually sounded smoother than Kaminsky's, which was, "you had the spike up, you went down, then you went back up." Or as he otherwise put it, "bad timing."

That's when Lee, in her Oscar-night hairstyle, said "connect the dots for us."

"Connect the dots," Kaminsky repeated. He said mutual funds will be "aggressively, aggressively trying to catch up to the new market" going into year-end, and "they will have to sell losing sectors to try to catch up and play the momentum game" in search of "beta-capture."

But he conceded he'll have to bring in more data from Lee to know exactly which sectors the underperformance and beta exist.

Kaminsky opened his appearance joking about Steve Cortes' pants, which were later revealed to be "Caddyshack"-style, for the Veracruz Christmas party Wednesday night.

Terranova can’t believe
price of FCX $100 puts

Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Fast Money continued his Halftime slam of China, trumpeting more in a dubious series of recent trades that basically no one else is taking, saying rates haven't risen fast enough to keep up with growth. "A command economy achieving a soft landing to me is very unlikely," Cortes said, knocking the typical Chinese growth/energy plays. "I'm also short the rails." But he admitted getting stopped out on his short-XLE trade.

Stephen Weiss laid out a pretty good case for coal based on low stockpiles, singling out ANR and MEE, which he said has a 10-20% upside but only a 10% ("probably less") downside. Dennis Gartman agreed with Weiss' sector assessment, saying he hates to disagree with Cortes, but "the case for coal is very compelling."

Joe Terranova made an aggressive case for FCX, citing what he called the cheapness of $100 puts (though he never did answer Melissa Lee's question about what time expiration he's finding them so cheap). Pete Najarian touted gold as well as copper and said uh-unh, the name is Teck Resources, for the beta. "I actually prefer it over Freeport right now," Najarian said.

There was a spirited, unresolved debate over whether it hurts to drop coal on your foot.

Karen Finerman said despite Wednesday's gain, there is still "extreme value" in MSFT. "Still I think extremely undervalued," she said.

Joe Terranova said he thought the GOOG tape was "absolutely horrible today."

Guy Adami said "I'd be taking profits in Netflix," and added he finds BAC unimpressive.

Karen Finerman may not realize how much she’s onto something

Karen Finerman and Stephen Weiss on Wednesday waded into what's quickly becoming one of our favorite Fast Money topics.

Gold — and people unable to explain why it goes higher.

"Gold has been the fear trade. We can't have it both ways," Weiss said. "I'd be a seller of gold."

Except later on, he admitted he's not short gold.

Karen Finerman scoffed that "Gold is good in any scenario, no matter what ... deflation, inflation, good economy, bad economy, you name it."

Yes. Does she realize the point she is making?

"Every investment like that runs its course," Weiss tried to reassure.

And what course would that be? One of the greatest 10-year charts you've ever seen.

Something that's clear on Fast Money is that traders, perhaps unlike the general public, want to actually have some sort of fundamental proof before believing a chart.

That assumes that in the case of their long investments, they know exactly why they go up and down.

As for gold rising, like Finerman, we don't have the foggiest idea either. (This writer is not long any gold stocks or ETFs.) We just know that 1) it's been in demand for basically every human generation, and 2) the 10-year chart is unbelievable ... probably, other than Apple or maybe a few others, the best investment of the previous decade ... and that experts not seeming to understand why it's going up seem to have no bearing on whether it does go up, but only proving Guy Adami's warnings on the subject completely wrong since the inception of Fast Money. (And oh yeah, 3) it's never going to miss on an earnings report.)

Weiss told Finerman that while skeptical, he's not short gold. "There's a very good statement right there," said Dennis Gartman. "He's not short it."

Put that ‘more extreme than 1,150’ plunge on hold

Guy Adami's reaction to the stock market rally Wednesday was "I still think the market heads lower at some point."

Cortes: ‘No chance’ Congress will give Europe a bailout

As he's often prone to do, Steve Cortes managed to find a cloud in every silver lining of the stock market on Wednesday's Halftime Report.

"I think this is the chance to add to European risk shorts," Cortes said, predicting euro problems as "terminal" and suggesting "no chance" for angry U.S. lawmakers in a new somewhat-Republican Congress to extend a bailout to Europe.

Cortes said China bulls should be careful what they wish for, that the PMI number "may have been too strong" and that inflation is coming. "My biggest position right now is short the Australian dollar," he said.

On the plus side, "I think it's time to buy Bank of America right now," said Cortes, citing the "yield curve."

Brian Kelly said he "would be short the euro." Peter Boockvar said regarding a possible U.S. bailout to the EU, "politically it's going to be very difficult to do."

Strategy Session guest:
Facebook worth $50 billion

Strategy Session guest Barry Silbert spoke Wednesday about a subject that quite frankly has been underreported on CNBC.

Silbert is founder and CEO of SecondMarket, which is an exchange of sorts for shares of hot companies that are not publicly traded.

This type of under-the-radar exchange is important because that's where the 400-pound gorilla in the Web space, Facebook, is purportedly valued.

Silbert claimed Wednesday that, even though he normally doesn't reveal market-cap extrapoloations from transactions, Facebook is now worth $50 billion.

Others listed by the show include:

Twitter — $4 billion
Zynga — $6 billion
Groupon — $1.35 billion

Gary Kaminsky asked an important question: If one buys shares via SecondMarket, is it possible to turn around and sell those shares a week later.

"The rules limit how quickly they can actually sell it, but it's still only a few months," Silbert said.

But then Silbert tapped into a well-worn stock-market marketing fallacy when he made a passioned argument against being publicly traded. "We don't want to be the CEO of a public company where our investors, when they buy our stock, are gonna hold onto it for 9 months or 6 months," he said. (Not to mention the 6 minutes that savvy GM IPO recipients used.)

So on the one hand, if you want to buy shares his way, don't be scared, you can unload in a few months ... but on the other hand he doesn't want anything to do with people who are only gonna hold 6 or 9 months.

That's the same type of curious logic the government applies to your tax return, insinuating there's something noble about holding a stock certificate for longer than 12 months, as though someone holding a stock forever or selling it to their neighbor a week after buying it has any impact on company performance.

Silbert tried to funnel typical supply-demand logic into an argument for his own exchange, saying that with Groupon, for example, a lot of people have wanted to buy it but there haven't been that many shares available. That's obviously because people who own the shares think it'll be worth more later, the same concept that makes publicly traded NFLX cost $200 a few months after costing $100.

It almost seems like Silbert's company has achieved, or is striving to achieve, the goal of being an exchange that only deals in stocks that actually go up.

Regardless, entities like Silbert's are likely very useful for startup employees and early investors, who may need money for whatever reason and an effective way to sell their shares (although, if you're a boss of one of these operations and you see a co-founder unloading, that's, uh, probably not a good sign).

Silbert said companies go public for 4 reasons: 1) liquidity, 2) to raise capital, 3) to have a currency, and 4) for "branding."

The 4th sounds bogus. But the first 3 are pretty good reasons to be public, Silbert's protestations to the contrary.

Kaminsky: Chase for performance might be on again

Elsewhere on Wednesday's Strategy Session, Gary Kaminsky said the stock market's big jump of September-October "could repeat itself right here" because the closet indexers are in chasing mode.

"Relative underperformance actually went from 12% of the funds tracked to 18%, a 50% jump in terms of the numbers," Kaminsky said of a study showing the extent of funds that are lagging, or what Kaminsky said is known as "negative attribution analysis."

Kaminsky also scoffed at some of the details from the Fed's report on emergency loans in autumn of 2008, calling it "Garbage in, garbage out," and predicted that institutions that might've really needed the money back then will now say they didn't.

"Many institutions are gonna say today something different than they would've said in 2008, which is that we took it because we were encouraged to take it," Kaminsky said.

Steve Liesman pointed out that not only was the Fed assisting U.S. banks, but "also liquefying the world."

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