[CNBCfix.com Fast Money Review Archive, December 2011]

2011: That’s a wrap

With another year in the bag for Fast Money as well as this site (how in the world did we do it), it's time to take a look back at the CNBC scene and recall the highs, and lows, of business media and stock-picking, not necessarily in that order.

We chose the best Fast Money, and Strategy Session, picks of the year (and saved that for the bottom of the list), as well as the worst ('cause we wouldn't be a real news site if we didn't), as well as a chronicle of every time Tim Seymour saying "The reality is" and most some maybe 1 or 2 of Dennis Gartman's gold pronouncements.

Quite frankly, there's a lot of subjectivity involved. We watch all the shows, but things get forgotten. Surely we've overlooked a monster call here, am embarrassing miss there. At some point, there's a "get a life" factor involved in this Web stuff.

Remind us in 2012, assuming Fast Money closes the year as a 2-hour franchise, not to attempt this again.

For starters, let's go with some pictures ...

Hottest-rising ...

... female CNBC star ...

... of 2011 is ...

... Seema Mody

This is hardly scientific. Rather, it's based on various network assignments, traffic patterns, Web interest and general presentation.

In a year in which Erin Burnett, Trish Regan and Melissa Francis exited, someone's going to have to fill the void, and while we don't quite see any of the 4 above rocketing to a host slot at Burnett-like speed, Seema Mody has already cornered some international fandom, has an exquisite look, is possibly the network's best-dressed, and is even a fan of the Oakland Raiders.

As always, so much of effective televisioning comes not just from knowledge or appearance, but whether a person has an "edge" (in every sense of the term) to stand out from the masses who'd love one of these positions.

The women of CNBC are a national — make that international — treasure; the future is theirs for the taking.

Memorable Fast Money
quotes of 2011

2011 marked not only the Arab Spring, but the dawn of a new era on CNBC, as a 4-letter word that begins with an "sh" became rather common, and Karen Finerman and Melissa Lee decided it's cool to say a certain "p" word.

From "Star Wars" to lingerie to the "ruralization" of China, topics discussed in the Fast Money sphere know no bounds.

Candidate for Worst Cliche of the Year — Tim Seymour: "The reality is..." (He finally got tired of it)

Borderline PC trouble I — Josh Brown, Jan. 25: "There's no such thing as a tech value stock. Some of these things look like they belong in a Lifetime movie, the beatings have been horrendous."

Borderline PC trouble II — Karen Finerman, owning HPQ, Jan. 19: "I'm used to it, it's an abusive relationship, yet I stay, I don't know."

Borderline PC trouble III — Dennis Gartman, Egypt demonstrations, Feb. 10: "The governor of Ohio gave his promises that they wouldn't fire on the students at Kent State in 1970."

Borderline PC trouble IV — Bob Brusca, Squawk Box, Oct. 27: "Look what happened to Steve Jobs. He pretended everything was OK and it wasn't."

Worst hate mail gripe — Joe Terranova, Jan. 5: "I didn't realize it's basically un-American to say that you don't want to be long gold, that you're actually shorting gold I'm actually getting, getting that feedback."

Second-worst (or possibly worst) hate mail gripe — Dennis Gartman, gold, Dec. 19: "I'm neutral, first of all let's get that clear, because I don't want the gold bugs coming back out of the woodwork and making threats as they were making last week."

Best reporting — Gary Kaminsky, SALT Conference, asking everyone if financial sector will continue to underperform: "Across the board they all said it will."

Best zinger — Patty Edwards to Scott Wapner, Nov. 8: "You know, Scott, with, with the charts not working, the viewers have the opportunity to just stare into your loving eyes."

Lowest of the clothing punchlines, but deserved — Joe Terranova, Jan. 5: "Timmy's shopping in Limited Brands, if you know what I mean."

Difference between CNBC and Fox Business — Charles Gasparino, January: "We have to take our jobs seriously because there's an importance to what we do. But we shouldn't always be taking ourselves so seriously all the time. That's the difference. We don't do that here."

As the world turns — Guy Adami, Feb. 24: "I have never seen a day like today until today."

Greifeld heard him — Gary Kaminsky, Feb. 15: "I can't believe, as we sit here today, that there won't be some other, some other entrant that will wanna look at this company."

First to say "Submerging markets" on Fast Money — Doug Kass, Feb. 11.

Underwear facts — Melissa Lee, citing Hanesbrands analyst Doug Thomas, Feb. 3: "Average consumer shops for underwear 2 times a year, and the average household spends $150 dollars a year on underwear."

Biggest discrepancy between what a panelist says and what the screen text says — Zachary Karabell, GSIC, March 28: "I did, but I did sell it, uh, between 24 and 25, and if I know the stock then went down to the high teens." Screen said "KARABELL: I EXITED THE STOCK WHEN IT PULLED BACK TO $19."

Doubts about the president — Patty Edwards, March 22: "I think he's stupid if he actually releases the oil. This is not an extraordinary time."

The I's of March — Jon Najarian, March 15: "I'm not making myself a hero, but I did take advantage of what the market gave me ... It was my single best day of the year."

Long-term forecast — Mark Fisher, oil, The Strategy Session, March 11: "How old are we. My bet is that crude oil is not gonna trade below 70 probably in the next 15, 20 years."

The Fed as revolutionaries — Steve Cortes, Jan. 31: "It's really about food inflation, right, and I think Bernanke could probably take credit now for 1 dictator down in Tunisia, perhaps another one (unintelligible) to go."

The empire strikes back — Tim Seymour, CSCO, March 8: "was actually Jedi mind-tricked into buying."

Glad they did something right — Tim Seymour, BAC, March 8: "The reality is, they, they basically stole Merrill Lynch."

Geopolitical glitch — Joe Terranova, March 2: "The ruralization of China ... from the urban society to the rural society ... moving the culture and spreading it out."

Unconvinced — Karen Finerman, March 2: "I still think it's urbanization ... I get what you're saying."

Bad capitalism — Tim Seymour, April 26: "It's actually disgusting, you know, what the oil industry is making."

Biggest resume mistake — Tim Seymour, April 25: "People are so concerned that Bernanke is like this schoolboy, who's never been up in front; this guy's a, a, a, Princeton professor, he's a, he's a, he's a, he's a Nobel Prize winner."

Change the subject, Judge — Karen Finerman, Guy Adami, Scott Wapner, April 5; "Gold, you see, Beeks explains, that it's a hedge for negative inflation, apparently it's quite a hedge for high inflation. I don't get it ... it's like religion, either you believe or you don't. I don't." "I believe. Religion that is. Yeah. We talked about that before." "You do not wanna go there."

Clock ticking — John Mauldin, April 4: "Japan is a bug in search of a windshield. The next 18 to 24 months, you're gonna see that country simply implode."

O. ver. ra. ted. — Dick Parsons, May 19: "On almost any basis, right, Vikram Pandit, who has worked basically for a buck a year for the last several years, has been one of the most if not the most, single most productive employee, in terms of, of unit pay for unit perform, uh, in America."

Most tiresome Brag Trade/resume credential — A. Gary Shilling, June 7: In 1981, "30-year Treasurys yielded 15 and a quarter percent."

A lot of people on TV do it — Steve Cortes, Larry Merlo's hair, July 27: "I couldn't help but notice that, did you see how much darker his mustache was than the hair on his head? Does he color his mustache? He gets those hair-coloring products from his CVS stores, uses 'em on the mustache."

No, you're definitely not — Money in Motion fox Rebecca Patterson, "gold gone wild" trade, July 22: "I feel like I should be in a bikini. Showering in gold or something, ah ha. I'm a little too old for that."

Self criticism — Joe LaVorgna, July 11: "I got it wrong across the board. I was a trifecta in wrongness. Payrolls were weak, unemployment went up, and earnings were flat. ... It was a disaster of a report."

A bit high on herself — Susan Lyne to David Faber, Gilt Groupe, The Strategy Session, July 8: "Very interesting membership base ... half of them are between 20 and 30, and they're in 1st or 2nd professional jobs, and they aspire to be you, or they aspire to be me."

We've noticed — Zach Karabell, Aug. 31: "If being a specialist at things stopped people from saying things on television, we'd have a lot of dead air time."

Overthinking it — Steve Cortes, taking possibly the best trade of the year and constantly getting out of it, identifying big whoosh, BAC short, Aug. 30: "I shorted it that day, I added to shorts here today again at 8 and a quarter ... I think BAC is very overvalued here."

Maybe they were on to something — Karen Finerman, questioning Business Insider article on BAC capital-raising, Aug. 23: "Very, very vague notion that that should be written down, doesn't say how much, doesn't say if that's written down already. I just thought, I agree with Stephen, I thought the piece was irresponsible, it puts Bank America (sic) in a very difficult situation, do you respond or not."

Worst idea by a host for a commercial transition — Pete Najarian to Scott Wapner, June 10: "Sh-----' me?"

Doubt it he really would've said that — Chris Whalen, July 19: "There was a point in time where Lloyd Blankfein could've stepped off and said, 'Look, I took the s---,' pardon my French, 'it's time for new leadership to move the firm forward,' but they didn't do it."

Can't really argue — Howard Lindzon, Dec. 7: "There is no positive reality. There's just made-up reality. Banking is a great business. Citibank is a sh---- business."

Twice — Harvey Golub, wrongly addressing David Faber, The Strategy Session, Aug. 11: "But Peter that's bullsh--. David I'm sorry, David. I don't know why I said Peter. I know a Peter Faber. ... It's bullsh--. I mean I know I'm not supposed to say it on the show, but you know that."

Twice — Melissa Lee, Dec. 20: "I'd be pissed- I mean if I were a shareholder, I'd be kinda pissed about this."

Once — Karen Finerman, Dec. 12: "If I were (a) MLM shareholder, I'd be kind of pissed that all of the premium gets to go to the Vulcan shareholders."

Again — Karen Finerman, Dec. 20: "Yeah, that shareholder base, they couldn't ask for a more pissed-off shareholder base than what they have right now."

Premature — Stephen Weiss, Aug. 1: "We are gonna double-dip, there's no question in my mind."

Candidate for most tiresome Fast Money cliche — Patty Edwards, Aug. 16: "The Nordstrom customer is the Costco customer."

Burrito bashing — Dan Nathan, CMG, Sept. 19: "This is Netflix, you know, circa 2 years ago, and it will end the same way."

Premature II — Christian Thwaites, Sept. 2: "The housing market has definitely bottomed, but is not getting any worse."

Best nickname — Judge Wapner, Nov. 16: "Disco Zeke."

Squirm — Stephen Weiss, Dec. 22: "I also like Dick's quite a bit."

Elitism — Michael Pachter to the Fast Money gang, Dec. 19: "You guys have access to streaming. You guys have access to On Demand on cable, and you don't think you know anybody who rents movies. And the truth is, your nanny rents movies, your, your driver rents movies, the guy who delivers stuff to your office rents movies, um, most of the clerical workers around you rent movies."

Best football calls — Joe Terranova said "Packers and the points," for the Super Bowl; Pete Najarian said, "The Packers? Sorry Steeler fans, they're gonna win." Patty Edwards said Jan. 7, "Short the Saints, long the Seahawks."

Worst football calls — Justin Tuck picking Patriots and Ravens to win in AFC Divisional playoffs; Patty Edwards celebrating the Baltimore Ravens' 35-7 win over Pittsburgh more than Seattle's own upset of Baltimore (#fairweatherfan).

Fast Money’s most contentious
moments of 2011

Normally, you think of people who regularly appear on television to discuss business as a genteel sort. Sometimes, folks get rubbed a bit the wrong way.

Quite frankly, there are a couple individuals who tend to dominate this category (and Gasparino's on the other network now), for better or for worse.

10. Guy Adami vs. Alkermes CEO Richard Pops, biotech price swings, Feb. 15 — "Your stock is so volatile." "Well, welcome to biotech."

9. Judge Wapner vs. David Rosenberg, the Fed, June 28 — "With your forecast, you're, you're basically saying that Ben Bernanke and, and, and his, and his, and his people on the Fed don't know what they're talking about. "Not at all ... Oh, give me a break."

8. Herb Greenberg vs. RedChip's Dave Gentry, Chinese stocks, The Strategy Session, Jan. 11 — "It's an investor relations firm that appears to be masquerading as a research firm ... they even have price targets." "Herb Greenberg is committing fallacies of hasty generalization, fallacies of guilt by association, and the major fallacy is a fallacy of omission."

7. Steve Cortes vs. David Riedel, Chinese command economy, June 14 — "It flies in the face of history; command economies do not work long-term." "There's no evidence anywhere except for some people who don't know anything about China that China's headed towards a hard landing ... they are managing that transition well."

6. Peter Schiff vs. Dennis Gartman, gold call of August, Dec. 7 — "I remember Dennis, you said the biggest bubble of our lifetime. On this show, back in August." "Oh that was August? I don't think so." "Yeah, you said it was the biggest bubble. Just go, go Google it. I remember talking about it when you said it." "I apologize for not having been there 15 years ago."

5. Scott Nations vs. Zach Karabell, MON, Aug. 29 — Products "don't do what they're supposed to do;" company's in a "ton of trouble." "You take that short, I'll take that long. I disagreed with you in the high 40s, I disagree with you in the high 60s, and we'll see if I disagree with you in the high 80s." "It's, it's, you know I hated when it was 70 and went down to 40."

4. Zach Karabell vs. David Riedel, Chinese consumer sentiment surveys, April 6 — "No consumer sentiment survey anywhere in the world has ever been shown to have any actual correlation between consumer behavior subsequent to the survey." "I don't know what surveys you're looking at, but I think you might want to spend a little more time on ours."

3. Steve Liesman vs. Steve Grasso, whether $75,000 constitutes "wealthy," June 29 — "75,000 or above, I know that's not wealthy for my buddies down on the trading floor down there, but it is relatively for the United States." "We came in with a debt level at 9 trillion. He added 4 trillion to it. Is he trying to solve that problem?"

2. Steve Liesman vs. Steve Grasso, whether Liesman speaks for all economists and Grasso speaks for all traders, Dec. 2 — "Do you speak for all the- Steve, Steve, wait a second, do you speak for all the traders Steve?" "Do you speak for all the economists?" "I'm not saying you're wrong. I think some of you guys should doubt it. I think some of you guys should believe it. I think you should have a great time. ... I just find it interesting that certain people with certain political points of view believe the numbers when they're negative and then when they're positive they don't believe those numbers anymore..." "No you just picked a fight with me. I'm asking you your opinion."

1. Simon Hobbs vs. Brian Kelly, circulating e-mails about Europe's problems, Aug. 12 — "You were swirling around yesterday with negative stories on, on gold from Alphaville, or I mean, you, you, you in a sense, you, you were part of this, this general belief, this general communication, BK, that there are questions, big questions to answer, on SocGen." "What I was sending to you was just simply, this is the information that's out there. As I said in that e-mail, you know, that's not my area of expertise when it gets to the gold forward rates and all of that. So, you know, this is what's out there; I, it, you know, it's just public information." "And BK, let me be very clear. Before the break I was not suggesting that you were in any way spreading false or scurrilous rumors, I was just suggesting that it was part of a swirl that was going on yesterday. In your case of course, it was more about well-documented trades, uh, through the Financial Times."

Fast Money worst calls of 2011

As always, this page roots for people to succeed. In an ideal world, there would be no bad calls, just an annual selection of all the fine ways people made money.

But we don't necessarily live in an ideal world, and quite frankly, many "money-making" recommendations on Fast Money in 2011 were ghastly abominations ... so many, in fact, far outnumbering by any reasonable standard the good picks, that it was a case of not what to include, but when to stop.

Hopefully you stayed away from these. But there's hope — most of the names appearing below also appear further below on the best picks of 2011 list. (The worst comes first, just so there's no letdown.)

For both lists — we finally settled on 20 picks for each — we gave preference to the regular panelists of Fast Money, but in many cases, guests' calls were so incredible, we had to include them also.

The clunkers:

20. Steve Grasso, Moammar Gadhafi's demise, Feb. 28 — "Is Gadhafi gonna pull a Hitler and eat a bullet, or is he gonna pull a 'Scarface' and burn everything while he's on the way out?" Answer: Neither.

19. Lee Cooperman, GM, TEVA, CVS, ETFC, MTG, RIG, May 13 — Even the greats get it wrong. A lot of people go to Vegas for fun. Coop unleashed a string of startling long positions for the on- location Fast Money gang, only one of which proved to be a 2011 winner.

18. Mark Mahaney, PCLN and AMZN, Nov. 8 — Priceline was "the most attractive name in our space; it's our No. 1 pick," He said No. 2 is Amazon.

17. Dr. Mark Schoenebaum, HGSI, April 19 — "Once we start to see numbers, the stock starts to work. I think the stock's over $30 in 6 months." Or, maybe in 6 years.

16. Guy Adami, AMRN, May 24 — "We were just in Vegas ... The $100 table is where biotech is ... $18 stock that could easily be 30." Or, less than HGSI.

15. Karen Finerman, NM, June 23 — "I don't think there's a lot of downside left, and I think you can get some very meaningful upside." Redefining the "slow money" trade.

14. Doug Kass, GS 2011 like BP 2010, May 13 — "The government issues are Goldman's oil spill. ... I'm partnering with Goldman's partners at book value. It still is the smartest guys in the room."

13. Karen Finerman, GM calls, March 4 — "We bought the GM, uh, the 30 LEAPs of 2012."

12. Guy Adami, silver, April 25 — "Everybody has been trying to fade this. You like to think everybody's in this trade? Nobody's in this trade. And I'm telling you that we're probably in the 4th or 5th inning." Actually, more like the 10th inning.

11. Heath Terry, NFLX, Jan. 27 — They're in the "3rd, maybe 4th inning in terms of the growth story here."

10. Karen Finerman, BAC, Jan. 26 — "I like Bank America (sic), I bought some more ... I think they can earn their way out of this."

9. Tim Seymour, HPQ, March 9 — "I think this is a stock you buy. With the HP chart, I actually see very good support here at 42 bucks."

8. Anthony Scaramucci hangs an $80 on HPQ, June 9 — "We have an $80 price target on this name ... Is that a Fast Fire?"

7. Sanjay Shrestha, FSLR, Nov. 16 — Insists assets worth $60 while the stock trades at $44.

6. Ara Hovnanian, housing, Jan. 18 — "I do think we are near a bottom. This, uh, is a generational opportunity, uh, we think, long-term in housing." Maybe for the next generation.

5. Thomas Lee, 1,400 S&P by Aug. 31, 1,475 S&P by year-end — "I think this is gonna be a pretty big rally over the summer, um, you know, something like 1,400 in the S&P by August 31."

4. Anthony Scaramucci, TEVA, Feb. 11 and April 25 — Once might've been overlooked; twice is pretty bad. "Great long-term prospects ... $75 price target on over the next 12 to 18 months. ... I deserve a little bit of Fast Fire for that. ... We still like this name ... We're reiterating a price target of $70 a share on TEVA."

3. Patty Edwards, GMCR, Oct. 14 — "Long term I think it's a phenomenal growth story," $112 GMCR price target from Longbow (closed $92 that day) is probably accurate.

2. Tavis McCourt, RIMM, Sept. 16 — $37 price target as follows: If things work out, the stock is worth $50, and if they don't, it's worth $15 to $20, so the $37 is a "median number" and the real price will be a "binary outcome in my mind."

1. Richard X. Bove, BAC, Sept. 21 and Oct. 21 — "In my view Bank of America is one of the cheapest stocks you could ever imagine ... screaming" buy.

Fast Money best calls of 2011

Please note, a few of these were made in December 2010, including a very important selection. If it's any trade that could be measured in 2011, it's eligible.

Honorable mention. Karen Finerman, USPS (no, it's not an actual stock), Feb. 14 — "If the U.S. Postal Service were a stock, I would short that."

20. Rich Ilczyszyn, WTI high of $115 already in, June 27 — "You've probably seen the high in oil, in WTI, at 115 for the remainder of the year."

19. Steve Grasso, LVS, July 20 — "You average about 20% to the upside in August." Even if buying early as Grasso did — which paid off big-time — it closed up for August regardless.

18. Steve Cortes, short LVS, Dec. 27, long LVS, March 25 — Initially a few weeks early, but rarely does a trader play both sides of a stock like a fiddle in such a short time.

17. Patty Edwards, WLT, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Oct. 13, Oct. 19 — The ultimate in getting something out of nothing. Initial call came on a Friday evening special broadcast; while the stock, overall, is a 2011 disaster, Edwards managed to recommend it 4 times over a few rocky months where, if you held a maximum of 3 weeks after each call, you were getting sizable return.

16. Dr. Mark Schoenebaum, BIIB, June 20 — Might "triple in the next 5 years ... That kind of earnings trajectory is unparalleled within large-cap biotech or large-cap pharmaceuticals."

15. Mike Khouw, sell NFLX calls, Aug. 16 — "Now it's looking like there are some headwinds." Maybe the most underrated of the bunch. While everyone on Fast Money sat on their hands (and continues to sit on their hands) with this one, Khouw actually offered a trade, with shares at $239. (Yes, we scoffed at the time.)

14. Steve Cortes, short AAPL, Nov. 8 — Calling a $410 "island top," a rare victory for anyone against a juggernaut stock and a signature trade of the year.

13. Jon Najarian, S&P will turn up at 1,136, Sept. 9/12 — The most precise call of the year. Najarian, on a huge Friday down day closing at 1,154, said if it gets to 1,136 Monday he'll buy; it did, closed Monday at 1,162.27.

12. Jeff Gundlach, long Treasurys after QE2 ends, April 14, Strategy Session — "Last time they stopped buying the bonds, interest rates fell by about a hundred and 60 basis points." More important for the bond crowd and Bill Gross watchers, but winner of Wall Street's No. 1 showdown of 2011.

11. Guy Adami, silver, Feb. 18 — "This thing could easily go parabolic." This was accurate, and early enough in the trade for big bucks.

10. Whitney Tilson, short JOE, May 3 — "We are short St. Joe, it's our largest short position."

9. Clayton Moran, SVVS, March 1 — Raise your hand if you remember Clayton Moran appearing on Fast Money. ""We think Savvis, SVVS, is the next cloud acquisition target, and we're buyers of Savvis," in low $30s.

8. Len Brecken, NFLX short, March 17 — Some may wonder why this isn't No. 1. Too much pain beforehand, too queasy on his actual profit (he said he was constantly changing his position) to rank any higher. "The math doesn't work," price under $70 within 12 months.

7. (co-winners) JJ Kinahan (DG) & Pete Najarian (DLTR), Feb. 16 — Early emphatic calls on possibly the sub-sector of the year. "People think that this is a space where something is definitely going to happen," Kinahan said. "That name's still cheap," Najarian said of DLTR.

6. Anthony Scaramucci, UNH, Jan. 11 — "We have a 48 to 50 dollar price target on it ... probably gonna be some near-term volatility to this name." Got there so fast, the only drawback was that those who continued to hold past summer gave back some of their monster gain.

5. Richard X. Bove, get 100% out of stocks, July 27 — "I definitely believe the sky is falling." One of the most dubious calls, but given the time frame, undeniably great timing.

4. Alexandra Lebenthal, Feb. 1, MLN — "Phenomenal buying opportunity" in munis. One of the most glorious charts of the year.

3. Anthony Scaramucci, V, Feb. 3 — "This is still a very cheap stock ... We see pricing power and P.E. expansion and a price target of something like $100 a share" in 12 to 18 months. A gargantuan return, of the best possible kind: Steadily up.

2. Gordon Johnson, bearish solar, starting Feb. 18 — In several Fast Money appearances, starting with basically calling a solar top in February and stressing on Oct. 21, "There's at least 30-40% more downside," forecast one of the greatest (and still largely under the radar) meltdowns of a sector this century; a tour de force.

1. Karen Finerman, GLNG, Dec. 13, 2010 — "I think there's still plenty of upside ... We are really starting to see day rates on LNG tankers starting to move." Finerman's high-risk pick for 2010, in which it was a decent success, became her top pick for 2011, with jaw-dropping results. The only drawback was Finerman saying April 6, "It is time to say goodbye."

Happy New Year ... and HAPPY TRADING!

[Friday, December 30, 2011]

Against the Herd not gaining traction everywhere

There's evidently such a thing as spending too much time in the Fast Money bubble.

This page has been under the impression the whole world is aware of Steve Cortes' submerging markets and cratering FXI for months.

Yet, MacNeil Curry, who predicted a "flattening of the Treasury curve" in 2012, claimed on Friday's Halftime Report that what "no one's really mentioning is the fact that, uh, that Chinese markets look increasingly, um, under pressure."

Guest host Brian Sullivan protested that indeed they have been talking about that subject … on Street Signs.

And somewhere, Zach Karabell is saying, "the Shanghai Composite is a different animal than the Chinese economy..."

And you thought steel was going to be the flavor of the month

Mike Murphy said at the opening of Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the housing stocks are going to continue to move in 2012.

However, later in the show, Murphy said of homebuilding shares that he "wouldn't be chasing them at these levels."

That came after Greg Zuckerman reported on biggies' interest in homebuilders and said "a lot of these guys in the last month or 2" have made a "big wager" in the stocks.

Jon Najarian claimed that people with sub-700 credit scores will begin to get mortgages, and "that's gonna move a lot of those homes."

Pete Najarian said he thinks HD is a good choice, about the 15th time Fast Money viewers have heard that recommendation this shortened week (more if they've read various panelists' Twitter accounts). Brian Sullivan mentioned Menard's as a shout-out to the Najarians and their Chicago presence.

Also in the category of Trades You've Heard A Million Times, MacNeil Curry said to sell the euro vs. the U.S. dollar, and that it could hit 1.25 in maybe a month or so, and that January tends to be the worst month for the euro while December tends to be the best.

Murphy, meanwhile, said he does agree with the Dow Golden Cross theory that's only happened 20 times and 13 of the 20 times the market was higher in 6 months, as reliable as the notion of Kim Carnes having the No. 1 hit in every year ending in "1."

Murphy said he's not a buyer of AT&T because he's lost confidence in management.

Um, which aisle for the
plain-pocket jeans?

Jon Najarian claimed on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that new JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson is, like Apple stores and unlike Sears stores, going to bring in "knowledgeable people" who can sell the products.

Najarian said there are rumors that JNJ is sniffing around Elan.

Gina Sanchez, in her first go-round with Pops & Drops, unfortunately looked every bit the newcomer, almost reciting a script about what Diamond Foods had done percentage-wise and why instead of just taking the handoff from the host and running with it.

Pete Najarian said there's "upside" to JPM and actually calls ANR a buy.

Brian Sullivan called Bob Pisani's mini-mini-documentary about gold mining and storage an "amazing piece." Pisani said, "I have a lot more respect for the mining industry."

Mike Murphy called the recently disclosed Hurd letters "interesting."

‘Green Acres,’ since 2007, actually a good career move for Wall Streeters

James Bower spoke with Brian Sullivan late on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report and hailed the great year for cattle and said farmers will remember 2011, but he's "becoming more concerned about the price of gasoline" as well as worldwide pork and chicken production, and his shop is "making some hedges at record prices."

Brian Sullivan suggested Jon Najarian would be getting a steak at Sullivan's (no relation) Steakhouse in Chicago.

Najarian, who probably won't be celebrating New Year's at Tempo Cafe, said corn at 5.80 was a steal, and if you missed it, tough.

Mike Murphy suggested TWI as an ag/mining play.

Gina Sanchez not enough
to save Call the Close

It wasn't just Transocean and Bank of America that had a lousy year. Consider the Fast Money Halftime Report's "Call the Close."

Pete Najarian on Friday made AAPL his "Call the Close."

Jon Najarian said a CP pullback was his "Call the Close."

Mike Murphy said buying U.S. in 2012 was his "Call the Close."

Impressively, newcomer Gina Sanchez actually got the concept down pat, predicting the S&P 500 would "close flat," but that's probably too little, too late.

Fast Money AAPL Report (cont’d): Company will have a lot of good products in 2012

It's a good thing 2011 is just about over, because the Fast Money franchise is basically totally out of material.

AAPL dividend and stock speculation was actually only the 3rd subject discussed on Friday's Halftime Report, with panel newcomer Gina Sanchez saying the company's products "should drive Apple up," and Mike Murphy predicting Apple TV will be a "monster."

Pete Najarian thinks the dividend might happen after the first quarter.

Michelle Meyer sighting

While this page spent Thursday homing in on a rather (cough, cough) lackluster version of Fast Money and the Fast Money Halftime Report, we missed the real lede of the day, which is that CNBC viewers got a belated Christmas present when Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Michelle Meyer, The World's Cutest Economist, showed up on Carl Quintanilla's Squawk on the Street.

Meyer pointed out that the data are showing "positive momentum," but "we're not yet convinced though" that it'll translate into robust U.S. growth next year, and thus Meyer remains "very cautious."

All well and good. But of course, the highlight of the interview was TWCE's sizzling orange sweater, with which Rick Santelli could not hope to compete.

[Thursday, December 29, 2011]

Morning in America,
Fast Money-style

If Fast Money decided to try a spinoff, "Fantasy Island" would be an apropos title.

Evidently the CNBC holiday party egg nog was a bit strong, given that we've heard so many loopy comments by Fast Money panelists in 3 days of a short week that we've basically forgotten the ones from Tuesday.

Here's how the gang this week sees 2012:

Stocks up 20% ... stocks will "eclipse" all-time highs ... movement towards a national energy policy ... commodities owners are winners if the world economy does great and winners if the world economy does poorly ... "grand compromise" engineered by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush on pro-growth governmental policies ... "loan demand is gonna recover" for banks ... "This is the dawn of the American decade I think starting next year."

Where are the cures for cancer, Middle East solution, and end to global warming?

Unbelievable. This page is suddenly chief defender of Whitney Tilson as Kayla Tausche continues inaccurate smear job

This is really getting old.

Somehow, with Judge Wapner taking the day off and everyone else asleep at the switch, this page finds itself alone in correcting Kayla Tausche's twice-in-a-day claim that Whitney Tilson lost 42% of his NFLX long since October.

At Halftime (see below), Tausche had trouble with every fact of the presentation, including claiming that Tilson went short the stock again in October.

On the 5 p.m. show, she claimed that Tilson this time wasn't short, after "announcing a long trade in October here on Fast Money, stock is down 42% since then."

We already pointed out (again, see below) that based on what Tilson told Judge Wapner, he bought the shares in October in the $70s, and that his loss as of Thursday would be somewhere from 6-11% (assuming he didn't unload some of it after October as it briefly crossed into the $90s.

Just to prove we're not nutty, we looked up a Wall Street Journal account of this trade, and indeed, Tilson told the Journal in an e-mail Oct. 25 that he "bought the stock this morning after it tumbled 35%."

It seems like even CNBC.com has figured this out, concluding in its online slideshow of Tausche's presentation that NFLX is down "7%" since Tilson's October call.

Tilson's a CNBC contributor, so there's not a lot of recourse here; it's actually sort of to the network's credit that it would zing one of its members. Hopefully Tilson's maintained a sense of humor about it. Certainly, one must be thinking, Kay ... la ... Let's make the best of the situation ... Before I finally go insane."

Further evidence that it’s
Momentum R Us
on Fast Money

Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was sort of divided between those who think just the home-improvement stores are doing well ... and those who think even the homebuilders have finally caught a bottom.

Josh Brown is in the former camp, saying, "There are no sellers in Home Depot. There are no sellers in Fastenal. Valspar looks incredible. Sherwin Williams, which is a lot bigger, is- is kinda gettin' into that, uh, wheelhouse," Brown said.

Stephen Weiss concurred and implied Insana and Jon Najarian would have a full head of hair if they could get a strand of hair for every time someone called a bottom in housing.

Ron Insana though claimed, without citing a recent WSJ article, that rents have gotten expensive enough that it's tipping people who have been renting toward buying. Brown insisted people can't get loans. Insana insisted he has "firsthand experience on this one." Stephen Weiss disagreed, saying it's now 30% down required.

Jon Najarian was mostly quiet during that discussion but later recommended ARE, BZH, KBH and RYL, though conceding some of them have already moved sharply.

Melissa Lee mocked Ron Insana's reiterated claim that it's the Dawn of the American Decade, saying, "It sounds like it's some sort of PBS fireside chat show."

Dr. J gets points for quantity

For some reason, Fast Money is celebrating the end of 2011 with a completely haphazard, some might say slipshod, collection of Quicker than the Tickers and Fast Fires for 2011, and 2012 geopolitical predictions and stock calls.

Thursday at 5 p.m., Jon Najarian ran roughshod over his colleagues, actually first citing one that didn't work (WLT, paid $80, unloaded at $70 because he bought stock and didn't measure risk with options like he should've), before touting one that did (EP, because he noticed the out-of-the-money call buying).

But everyone on Thursday's panel got a crack at best and worst; Najarian was the one raining picks down for 2012, saying, "I'm all over Marathon Oil, Hess and uh, Sunoco," as well as rattling off a host of coal names, CNX, JRCC, MEE, ACI and PCX, plus rail plays in BRK-B, CP, CNI, and even touting RIMM as he had already this week.

Stephen Weiss explained how he nailed a good call in HK. Ron Insana said he correctly said early in 2011 to move from emerging markets to the U.S. Dan Dicker mentioned success with secondaries in the MLP space but lamented that he underestimated the headwind on RIG.

Flash: Apple plans new product next year

Dennis Gartman joined Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to say, "I think ag is going to be a winning trade next year," and that it's a "decade of America coming up."

Jim Strugger said the VIX is nearing the end of a 5.5-year cycle of higher volatility, predicting, "The shock that began in August of this year probably ended a couple weeks ago."

Guest Frederick Moran said all kinds of nice things about AMZN (although why it gets a hundred P.E., we're not really sure), and helped explain (for those viewers who somehow don't already know) that the Kindle Fire costs $200 vs. a $500 iPad and that it's Amazon's goal to "create a recurring revenue stream."

Mike Khouw said it was "not my worst trade of the year," but he blew it when he looked in early March to short AMZN and it actually "went a whole lot higher."

Jon Najarian hailed the presumed iPad HD/Siri interaction with the iPod TV by voice as "one of the killer apps of 2012. Just wanted to put that flag down in the, uh, in the sand."

For Final Trades of 2011, Josh Brown named COP, Mike Khouw said CVI, Dan Dicker said AAPL, Stephen Weiss said short euro KO, Ron Insana curiously suggested shorting the 10-year for a day, and Jon Najarian pointed to activity in TER.

Melissa Lee wore an attractive, sophisticated-looking watch.

Kayla Tausche botches presentation by turning Whitney Tilson trade completely upside down

Regular viewers of CNBC's Fast Money Halftime Report on Thursday had to wonder if they were in some kind of parallel universe.

Kayla Tausche delivered a segment on investing big shots who have made great calls and poor calls this year, and was doing well until a little stumble with T2 Partners.

"Whitney Tilson of course went short Netflix, Brian, here on the show in October," Tausche said. "It was on the rise, and uh, it's actually down 42% just since then."

Let's see — 0 for 3?

Tilson on Wednesday, Oct. 26, told Judge Scott Wapner he bought NFLX shares "yesterday," when the stock fell $40 from the previous close and ranged from $74.25 to $79.39.

It traded at $70 on Thursday, so Tausche's "down 42% just since then" is a little off, and Tilson, depending on where he actually bought, is down anywhere from 6-11% since then.

Except he's long, not short.

He was short up until February, when he famously bailed, citing a bunch of reasons why the stock might continue to go higher.

Jon Najarian didn't want to drop a hammer on Meredith Whitney, because, "She's a friend. So I- I'll say that I respect the heck out of her work. Um, but I will also say, she was wrong."

Dana Telsey’s back-ended
version of Black Friday suggests curious time frame

In a week of head-scratching commentary on the Fast Money Halftime Report (and it's a short week to boot), Dana Telsey only added fuel to the fire on Thursday.

"Holiday season was good," Telsey said, "and it all happened at the end. As a matter of fact, Monday, which we saw tons of traffic at (sic), wasn't even the busiest day of the year, it was Black Friday."

Um, OK, we're not Fields Medal winners here ... but isn't Black Friday generally considered the beginning, or near the beginning, of the holiday shopping season ... and thus, if that was the busiest day, it didn't all happen "at the end"?

Sigh. That's evidently why the pros get the big bucks on TV, and mopes write on the Internet.

We're fans of Brian Sullivan, but we gotta think, as with the Whitney Tilson botch, Judge Wapner would've set the record straight.

Stephen Weiss reaches to mock a guest’s defense of gold

Stephen Weiss pulled no punches Thursday when it came to evaluating John Hathaway's pro-gold argument on the Fast Money Halftime Report.

Guest host Brian Sullivan started it by telling Hathaway that being bullish gold here is a "brave" move. Hathaway, invoking a Brag Trade, said it was "even braver when we started in 1998 at the bottom of the market ... I don't think there's a lot of downside here."

After Hathaway signed off, Weiss questioned, in one of his 2 reaches of the day on gold, "Was that Dick Fuld on the line," saying Hathaway claimed that short sellers and the media were hurting gold, when actually Hathaway didn't really blame the media, he said that the media caring about gold indicates it's at a bottom.

Sullivan admitted, "John was a little testy today."

The tired and useless quarterly-end stock theory resurfaces

Few concepts have been more tiresome, and more irrelevant and non-profit-making, on Fast Money since the show's inception than quarterly-end stock positions, yet Stephen Weiss felt compelled on Thursday's Halftime Report to go to the well once again.

"As you come to the end of the year, who wants to show owning it if you're a fund because of the recent decline in the price of gold," Weiss said.

So basically, NFLX and RIMM and BAC and C should be zero, and DG should be infinity, because every money manager only wants to list winning stocks on quarterly/year-end statements.

But, as we know, that's not the case.

Jon Najarian said he could see a short-term pop in the GLD, that it might've had a washout, "it feels like that in gold today."

Rich Ilczyszyn admitted, "I was wrong at the top of the month" citing $1,700 and $1,670 support, and "it wiped me out of those positions. But since then it's been a great trading opportunity to get short."

Ilczyszyn also said there's money on the sidelines because of the MF Global meltdown.

But he chided Brian Sullivan for suggesting the top might be in. "If you're discounting gold and saying that the absolute top is in, you're wrong," Ilczyszyn said.

Mike Murphy insisted, "I think gold is going a lot lower."

Stephen Weiss, if he wasn't making all kinds of other notable comments Thursday would've had this one up the day's flagpole, claimed of China and India, "they are just collapsing economically."

Brian Sullivan sort of agreed with the central-bank-buying slowdown, asking, "Has anybody paid attention to Russia lately?"

Brian Kelly invoked Patty Edwards' favorite cliche/redundancy, "at this point in time."

Najarian: RIMM gets
bought, north of $22

Brian Sullivan on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report told good-looking Amelia Bourdeau that he expects euro-dollar parity in 2012.

Bourdeau said "Wow, that's aggressive!" But the weird thing was, we initially thought she actually said "Wow, that's a Grasso!" As in, some kind of prediction famously made earlier by Steve Grasso or Dick Grasso (yeah, it seems goofy, but that's how it sounded).

One of these days we'll figure out where Bourdeau is from and what that accent is all about.

Anyway, Bourdeau told Sullivan "I like your direction" but sees 1.18 as a more realistic level. Her trade is short euro vs. the Canadian dollar.

Stephen Weiss said of ISRG, "the biggest growth is actually behind them at this point."

Jon Najarian said Research in Motion's price is at 2004 levels but its sales are at 2009-10 levels and thus, "I think it gets bought ... I think the price is gonna be north of 22, on a takeover."

Najarian impressively did a real Call the Close, saying, "I like us to go higher into the bell," as well as recommending WFT. His co-panelists made no such call on the close, despite the segment title, but did tout TSM (Brian Kelly), IP (Mike Murphy) and FXA (Stephen Weiss).

Brian Sullivan bungled a transition after Larry Kudlow spoke, creating dead air. But Brian Kelly had maybe the least-serious observation of the day, saying, "We may actually get some kind of movement towards a national energy policy."

[Wednesday, December 28, 2011]

Jim Rogers tells Mel Lee
she should watch her own show rather than ask him for trading calls

A Jim Rogers interview is usually a pretty big deal, but on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, he really had nothing to add, negative on the whole world but sees commodities rising, yada yada yada.

Mel Lee asked for bright spots next year. "I'm not sure I'm optimistic about 2012 at all," Rogers said, but if he had to pick, it would be "agricultural commodities ... great place for the next 10, 20 years."

"I'm short emerging markets ... American technology ... European stocks," he said.

Rogers said gold could fall to $1,300 or $1,200, at which point he'd be buying, but, pressed for a trading tip from Melissa Lee, said, "I'm a terrible market timer, I'm a terrible trader, so you should watch your show, or CNBC, to get good prices," which of course, assumes that Dennis Gartman the people talking about gold on CNBC are giving good advice.

Greg Zuckerman said it's "not just Paulson" but George Soros, David Einhorn and Seth Klarman who bet on gold-digging in 2011; "they all made big bets on various miners ... and it's really blown up." Jeff Weiss said the GLD chart has a "warning" that the ETF has to do "repair work."

Fast Money meets its daily rehashed-tired-Apple-speculation quota

Melissa Lee asked AAPL watcher Shaw Wu on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money what kind of TV Apple is working on, whether a box or a TV "in and of itself."

Wu didn't really know, saying he's heard of a "fully integrated television set" as well as a "set-top box" for existing high-definition TVs.

Wu pointed out the company has $85 billion in net cash.

He has a $500 price target in part because he thinks the company may experience a "similar phenomenon" in video to what it found in digital music.

Then Wu closed with a Brag Trade, claiming, "We've been bullish on this stock for a while, I think since when it was like $40, or $30, over the last 7 years."

Pete Najarian, citing "ecosystems," said "stock's too cheap."

Anthony Scaramucci predicts
White House might not be done with boots on the ground in Middle East nations

Probably the most relevant of Anthony Scaramucci's 5 surprises for 2012 unveiled on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was that he sees a 20% U.S. stock rally on the basis of QE3.

Otherwise, Scaramucci forecast "fiscal unity" in Europe (why don't they start by all speaking the same language), and also added that "gold bugs are gonna be sprayed by U.S. dollar roach spray," that the Iranian government falls after President Obama threatens boots on the ground, and that Occupy Wall Street becomes a Broadway musical and wins a Tony (wonder who will play Gasparino?).

Given how correlated Scaramucci is to the Romney campaign, one has to think there's some kind of a dare there regarding Iran, you know, set the bar for the president high, and then in October, Mr. Romney can accuse him of not being tough enough when those boots on the ground actually aren't threatened.

But fair enough. Predictions are predictions. We think, by far, the least likely is Scaramucci's contention, similar to Doug Kass throwing Bill Clinton and George W. Bush into it, that Wyden-Ryan will lead to "entitlement reform."

Carter Worth undoubtedly
on holiday break

Jeff Weiss put together one of the more discombobulated chart exhibitions on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, saying the S&P successfully tested 1,210, 1,220, and "this gives the bulls the edge, even with today's decline."

But Weiss' presentation was choppy and confusing and he kept mentioning charts that weren't appearing. He said the Russell 2000 would do better once it gets back-to-back weekly closes in the mid-760s area.

Brian Kelly said, "I bought TLT today" and recommended KRE for Final Trade. Kelly also touted CMG, saying a breakout at $350 would be "very positive."

Sooner or later, the WSJ writes about everything Ron Insana says

Fast Money 5 p.m. guest Nick Pope on Wednesday spoke a lot about the well-worn reality of natural gas and lack of a policy on liquefield natural gas, but then he made our day.

Pope's top pick was Rosetta Resources, "I'm a big fan," because it has "one of the biggest growth profiles in the space." (Incredibly, this writer is long ROSE.)

Pete Najarian said ANR is "too cheap" and that someone will either buy it or it will go higher (when both could happen).

Stephen Weiss said "I like Humana, I like the whole space," regardless of ObamaCare. Pete Najarian said ISRG is "starting to get a little bit ahead of itself." Brian Stutland said to own Tesoro and look for small caps in Q1. Ron Insana claimed once again that a WSJ article is validating a call he made, this time the one a couple months ago on homebuilders. Anthony Scaramucci made SBUX his Final Trade.

Ron Insana seems to make scheduling request as Dan Dicker offers a differing recollection of rare earths talk

Guest Michael Gambardella joined Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to express his doubts, at least in the short run, of rare earths and Molycorp's pricing prospects.

Pete Najarian asked how Gambardella could be bearish on Molycorp but positive on Thompson Creek. Gambardella said they're "totally different" and that Thompson Creek deals in molybdenum.

But panelists' grasp of the subject matter got even more dubious when Ron Insana told Gambardella that rare earths amount to "one of the greatest single stock bubbles you've ever seen in your life ... no one's asked me about this the entire year I've been, uh, on the program, it's just, by virtue of scheduling ... until China cut export quotas on rare earths, with the exception of the ban that existed when I was a kid, no one talked about this topic, EVER, as far as I know."

That sounded good, until Dan Dicker indicated people actually have been talking about rare earths, claiming, "This is the most overhyped sector in commodities, has been forever."

So, while nobody was every talking about it, everyone was hyping it forever.

And, let's hope in 2012 people ask Insana about things he wants to talk about.

Judge Wapner apparently finds some of Steve Cortes’ opinions to be as strong as that SBUX coffee he recommends

Steve Cortes, who is making a living these days calling Iran's bluff, said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that he's back shorting oil, but he'll cash in the profits right away this time, because "last time I didn't trade it right."

Cortes even admitted at one point he's at risk of getting a "5 or $10 financial enema," but his trade was good enough for Stephen Schork, who hailed it later. "The sky is the limit" for crude if the Strait of Hormuz were actually disrupted, Schork said, but "it's simply not in their interest ... I'm bearish at this point."

But Cortes' commentary was a bit much for host Scott Judge Wapner when Cortes claimed emerging markets are basically submerging and "it is a world awash in risk," which brought a rare trading rebuttal from Wapner, who insisted there are people who see value in the EEM unlike Cortes.

Cortes said SBUX fits his ATF trade because "this is an addiction stock." Ron Insana asked Judge Wapner, "You get residuals?" from the coffee addiction documentary.

"I don't. But it plays like a thousand times," Wapner said.

Actually, as this page has noted before, Judge shouldn't get residuals from CNBC, but from La Familia Guzman, given that his decision to go there instead of a cushy location in Central America is undoubtedly the greatest marketing coup in Guzman's historia.

People in airports ‘all over the place’ congratulating Steve Cortes on utility stocks

While Judge Wapner was arguing on Wednesday's Halftime that other people see value in EEM that Steve Cortes doesn't, Cortes was actually scolding Ron Insana for not taking the ECB's move seriously enough.

Insana said the ECB expansion was affecting markets, but that it's "actually part of the solution."

Cortes said he was alarmed that Insana would deem that an "insignificant event" when it's actually an "incredibly risky situation" given that European banks are not parking money with each other.

Insana and Cortes though were more aligned when discussing whether they'd try the dogs of the Dow strategy. Cortes said buying the underperformer list is a case of "Do I wanna get shot or stabbed." Insana said dogs of the Dow is one of the "schemes" that maybe used to work "seasonally" before everybody figured out the arbitrage.

Cortes for once backpedaled a bit from utilities, saying the Joe Kennedy shoe-shine theory might be happening in what's become an "incredibly crowded" trade. "I'm starting to hear about utilities from everyone, from retail investors in airports all over the place."

Najarian: Facebook a ‘flip’

Pete Najarian and Ron Insana on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report seemed rather underwhelmed by the stock potential of Facebook, claiming they'd shun the shares after the IPO.

"It would be a trade and a flip, there's no doubt about it," Najarian said.

David Joyce said, surprise surprise, that Disney's "80% ownership of ESPN" is the big driver for the stock, and that there is also demand for cruise ships.

Ro Chopra said Cisco has been "making the right changes," is effectively cutting costs, and the proof is that in the last 6 months, Juniper is down 32% while CSCO is up 24%.

Greg Smith said the outlook for V and MA is great because "You just have this underlying secular growth." He said he slightly favors V because of less European exposure.

Steve Cortes said "I actually shorted transports yesterday" and named CSX and UNP.

Judge Wapner griped about pop culture, prompting Ron Insana to say, "You're short Justin Bieber? Talk to my kids."

Call the Close
is another bust

Once again, the Fast Money Halftime gang on Wednesday didn't come close to actually "Calling the Close."

But Dan Dicker managed to revive the Fast Money Ag Trade, saying AGU and MON might represent "deep value."

Steve Cortes said to short oil (not exactly an S&P 500 call there), Pete Najarian said to look at the XLF at $12.85 (not really a Dow-up-or-down pronouncement) and Ron Insana said to watch the 10-year note.

[Tuesday, December 27, 2011]

Financial things that make Melissa go ‘Wow’ (cont’d)

As something of a contrarian, Jon Najarian said on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that "I think Sears will get it together."

Anthony Scaramucci wasn't very impressed, saying SHLD is sort of an example of "very very smart people perhaps not being smart in every area of life," and then quickly saying he wouldn't be a retail expert himself.

Guest Brian Nagel said Home Depot and Lowe's figure to benefit most from Sears closings, but basically, in quite an observation, the biggest beneficiaries will be those with "proximity" to the shuttered Sears stores.

Mike Murphy said WHR was probably overly hit on this news, has a lot of growth overseas, and he expects a "nice rebound" maybe into the low 50s short-term and low 60s long-term.

Dr. J told Melissa Lee that in options, SHLD volatility "nearly doubled today ... a dramatic move out of that retailer today."

"Wow," Lee said.

Financial pundits tend to be universally optimistic for next year at the end of current year (cont’d)

Ron Insana claimed on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, "This is the dawn of the American decade I think starting next year."

(And we were hoping it was 2008 all over again — for football purposes only.)

Mike Murphy semi-agreed, saying the U.S. will "show what we're made of." Anthony Scaramucci added there's a "lot of reasons to be bullish," and "I love the market here."

Even Brian Kelly, who pegged himself as cautious, said stocks could be great for "3 months or so ... I would be very careful after that."

Ron Insana claimed the Wall Street Journal just reported U.S. outperform stats that validate his comment last year about there's no place like home.

Melissa: ‘TVs nowadays are practically being given away for free’

Mark McKechnie told the 5 p.m. Fast Money gang Tuesday he's looking for iPad 3 in Q1 and iPhone 5 mid-year.

But much of the conversation was about this newfangled TV set that no one really knows anything about, although McKechnie opined, "$1,000 would be a starting point for it."

Anthony Scaramucci tried to make a semi-startling call, claiming, "I think the stock is gonna be shaky next year."

Melissa Lee claimed "TVs nowadays are practically being given away for free." (As opposed to things that are "given away" in exchange for something.)

After Melissa Lee asked Jon Najarian whether options markets believe a dividend is "in store" for AAPL, Mike Khouw explained that a special dividend would not be priced into options, but a regular dividend would.

Guest Herman Leung said a lot of things about GOOG that were more of a backdrop about the online travel/review scene than actual stock call, but he did say, "It's unclear how the government is currently monitoring the limitations of, uh, Google." (As opposed to the clarity the Justice Department provided with a Friday night Christmas weekend posting about no longer opposing Internet non-sports betting.)

Nick Einhorn said that for IPOs to heat up, "We do need to see at least stability, um, from the European situation, but that tech issues will be the highlights, including Facebook in "more likely probably 2nd or 3rd" quarter, as well as Yelp and KAYAK software.

Be nice to your parents
around the holidays

In a not-surprising-but-still-eye-opening round of commentary on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, Brian Kelly said, "To me GE looks great," and Anthony Scaramucci called it a "very well-managed company."

Interesting standard for "very well-managed."

Stock half the price of just 5 years ago. Way below its price when current management took over a decade ago. Desperate for a Warren Buffett cash infusion in 2008.

Other than that, it's a "great, very well-managed company."

Guest Marty Mosby has a neutral $6.50 BAC target despite thinking it might need to raise $45 billion over a bunch of years. Ron Insana said people have "quantified" but not "qualified" BAC's exposure problems and asked Mosby to do so. Mosby said the Countrywide overhang is its most "potential stress."

Nevertheless, Insana was unconvinced on the call, shrugging, "If you look at residential real estate, and it's bottoming, why would you be provisioning more."

This segment courtesy of
Murray Slaughter

Art Hatfield spoke on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money and, given all the worldwide clocks on the wall behind him, you had to wonder when Ted Baxter was gonna show up.

Hatfield said, "The U.S. economy is pretty healthy" but that in the robust transport space, UTI Worldwide and Expeditors could be "hurt slightly."

Mel Lee went to lengths to differentiate between the "Zombie apocalypse" and "Mayan apocalypse."

For Final Trades, it was Jon Najarian with CP, Mike Khouw with SLB, Brian Kelly with TSM, Mike Murphy with ANF, Ron Insana with SBUX and Anthony Scaramucci with JNJ.

Brian Kelly claimed on the Fast Money Web Extra that Anthony Scaramucci buys all his cargo pants at Gap. Scaramucci tried to show the pants he was wearing and claimed they come with a men's girdle "called the BK Special." Mel Lee said Scaramucci was wearing "fancy cargo pants."

Doug Kass actually predicts
George W. Bush will save the economy

Man, stuff we keep hearing on Fast Money really makes us think this actually could be 2008 all over again (which really bodes well for the Super Bowl).

Judge Scott Wapner welcomed Doug Kass onto Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to congratulate Kass for "street cred" in calling a flat market in 2011 ... and noting that Kass is predicting the U.S. stock market "approaches" an all-time high in 2012.

But Kass didn't say "approaches," but "eclipse."

Why? Because Kass claims that Americans are "angry at our politicians' inertia" and that the public will "force" politicians to move on certain pro-growth policies, and that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will "engage" both parties in a "grand compromise."

As opposed to the obvious reality that nothing is happening because there's really nothing for government to do.

Kass said 2012 will finally be the year for banks because "loan demand is gonna recover" and a takeover spree will include a "bidding war for E-Trade."

What exactly does it take to get 4 stars from Morningstar?

Paul Swinand had to be wondering "why in the world did I just do this?" after appearing on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Scott Judge Wapner introduced Swinand as producing a "note" claiming SHLD shares are "undervalued" and demanded to know whether Swinand wrote it before or after Tuesday's announcement.

Evidently, the answer is "before," because Swinand said it was "about 2 weeks ago."

Yet, Swinand insisted "I still think Sears is undervalued" and is only facing a headwind in appliances.

Judge demanded a specific rating; Swinand explained Morningstar uses a star system and that SHLD is 4 stars out of 5. Judge said, "Let's be honest, you're gonna go back and you're gonna do more work," but that Swinand can't look at the Fast gang with a "straight face" and claim SHLD is a 4-star holding.

Actually, Swinand did just that, insisting, "if appliances turn around, they're gonna come roarin' back."

Patty Edwards bluntly told Swinand, "I guess I don't understand the undervalued on this ... the store experience is bad, the soft goods are bad ..."

Swinand indicated that doesn't matter; "Essentially Eddie's just viewing this I think as a wind-down of the real estate portfolio."

Stephen Weiss then waded into the perfectly fine line of questioning of "perspective" in terms of Swinand's star system. "It depends on the margin of safety," Swinand said, which prompted a follow-up from Weiss ("I understand that") about where Swinand rates TGT or COST (the company whose name celebrates something negative). Swinand said he gives JCP 3 stars.

Steve Cortes said SHLD is not a retail story but "real estate story," and the morning's news helps "connect the dots" to Case-Shiller.

Jon Najarian had the most articulate comments by far, pointing to WHR's chart as "virtually the same" as Sears this year (it's not, but it's similar) and noting that SHLD is facing fewer competitors nowadays and figures to rebound with appliances; "I think that turns around when housing does."

Judge Wapner let Swinand go with, "Let us know when you publish your new note, will ya?"

"Sure," Swinand said, unconvincingly.

Crying out for clarification

For the longest time, Judge Wapner barely allowed Patty Edwards any opportunity to speak on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

But in one of the rare times Judge turned to Patty, it was kinda like the Jackie Smith drop in Super Bowl 13.

Gambling guy Skip Bronson revisited the show to explain that the mystery Christmas-weekend-late-Friday-night Justice Department ruling (gee whiz, think the "fix" might actually be in when the government issues rules at such a time?) basically "gives the states the green light to move forward" in Internet gaming.

Judge made a terrible pun, "If you could 'game' this," asking Bronson how many states would benefit, but it was Jon Najarian who pointed out that it figures to be established operators such as WYNN who have most to gain.

That's when Edwards uncorked this head-scratcher: "One of the things that I think a lot of people don't realize, when you're looking at Internet in general, is, someone is willing to go into the store and also willing to shop online; you spend 4 times more" ... which we think means something like Costco shoppers who both visit stores and go online spend 4 times more than those just visiting stores, or maybe it's 4 times more than those just shopping online, which makes you wonder why Amazon doesn't start opening stores ... but we're not about to hazard a wager on this one.

Judge Wapner, Gene Munster
reveal Apple’s TV will get
‘a lot of scrutiny’

You know it's a slow day in the Fast Money franchise when Dennis Gartman talks gold Doug Kass issues his 4 reasons why stocks will go up/down for 6 months but maybe not 12 Colin Gillis talks about anything another AAPL-watcher speculates on a dividend.

And so Gene Munster dialed into the Fast Line on Tuesday's Halftime to point out he's been thinking for 3 years that the AAPL cash horde requires a dividend, and now it's pushing the point of "sanity" not to do it.

The only useful part of the discussion was Steve Cortes admitting he got a bit knocked off his AAPL high horse, revealing, "I'm flat Apple right now. Uh, I had a lot of paper profit unfortunately; I did not cover any. I ended up scratching my Apple trade. Above 400 as a short, I'm no longer interested," but asserting the law of large numbers will catch up with AAPL as it has other tech giants.

Steve Cortes making a habit recently of turning winners into losers

Shortly after admitting a missed opportunity in AAPL on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Steve Cortes told Judge Scott Wapner, "I hate commodities and for the most part I've been right, and, and, been bullish the dollar but I've been very wrong on crude oil right here-"

"Don't jinx yourself," Judge Wapner said.

But Cortes continued, "I had about $9 in the trade but I took none off; it was kind of like Apple, I was being too greedy and still came all the way back into a, a small loser."

Dollar General Industrial Average?

Patty Edwards on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report wasn't too bullish on the U.S. economy, saying, "The fact of the matter is, is Europe is going to be dragging us down."

Dan Dicker, in front of the "McNamara" jackets as always, said he's doing "a little reconnaissance" and sees OPEC promoting a supply squeeze, and that he looks to buy Brent on dips through 2012.

Jon Najarian said people with their heads cut off whining about a VIX jump should keep in mind where the VIX is at, a point he promised to bring up on the 5 p.m. show.

Stephen Weiss called Alcoa the "ultimate dog" and then mangled an abbreviation, saying it "should not be in the DGIA at all."

Patty Edwards had no interest in the dogs of the Dow, "Not buying a one of 'em," citing the "greater cockroach theory."

Willie Williams, who got a condescending "Willie, Willie, Willie" intro from Judge Scott Wapner but whose "note" was not as controverisal apparently as Paul Swinand's, said to buy the euro, up to 1.33.

Dennis Gartman said of gold, "My opinion is still exactly the same."

Dan Dicker for whatever reason said, "Happy New Year to everybody on the desk particularly Patty Edwards," which is fine, but when we try stuff like that we get raked over the coals John Denver-style.

Jon Najarian is only panelist to actually Call the Close

The mockery that is the Fast Money Halftime Report "Call the Close" persisted Tuesday when Steve Cortes said to "Sell China FXI" and Patty Edwards called the day's S&P by saying to buy AT&T.

Jon Najarian did manage to say, "I like the market and Emerson Electric, EMR," while Stephen Weiss merely predicted KO would hit "new highs."

Christmas & holiday wishes
from CNBCfix.com

This page makes a habit of chronicling the television ups & downs (of course, usually it's "ups") of the Fast Money and overall CNBC contingent.

At this time of year, we just wish everyone peace, health, wealth, happiness.

We have fun with Fast Money and its crew. (Sometimes, maybe too much. Other times, maybe not enough.) As always, we root for people to succeed. To show this site's appreciation, here are the CNBCfix.com CNBC et al. holiday wishes for 2012:

Joe Terranova — A best seller

Richard X. Bove — Lending

Steve Grasso — Republican landslides

Steve Cortes — Submerging markets

Stephen Weiss & Dennis Gartman — Demonstrable euro parity

Herb Greenberg — Air time

Patty Edwards — A Cup for the Canucks

Mike Khouw — Volatility

Zach Karabell — Secretary of State

Simon Hobbs — A real "solution"

Pete Najarian — McSomethings

Gary Kaminsky — Gang Green in XLVI

Karen Finerman — AAPL dividend

Steve Liesman — Gigs

Anthony Scaramucci & Lee Cooperman — Romney 2012 (Or, if that's a little too blunt, a kinder "tone" between Wall Street and Washington)

Jon Najarian — Institutional buyers

Melissa Lee — An Emmy

Jackie DeAngelis — Promotion

David Faber — A new show

Tim Seymour — Trading the Globe sponsors

Peter Schiff — GLD $300

Keith McCullough — Timestamps

Rich Ilczyszyn — Correct spellings

Judge Scott Wapner — La Familia Guzman royalties

Guy Adami — Outside reversals

Alexandra Lebenthal — Issuances

Darren Rovell — 200,000

Dan Dicker — Drilling

Jane Wells — Crushes

Brian Kelly — A nickname

Melissa Francis — Stardom

Joe Kernen — A 68

Maria Bartiromo — A spot on the ticket

Meredith Whitney — Accuracy

Gasparino — Viewers

Susan Krakower — Another hit

Mandy — Any. Thing. She. Wants.

[Friday, December 23, 2011]

Stephen Weiss ups the ante ahead of inevitable Saks showdown

Just a day ago, Stephen Weiss said "40% or more" of Saks sales come its NYC flagship store.

On Friday's exhibition-like Fast Money Halftime Report, Weiss cranked it up a notch, saying the company gets "almost 50% of their sales in New York at their flagship store," and so, looking for retailers to sell, "that's the one I'd pick on."

Of course, Patty Edwards has famously stated that it's only 25%, so we expect this discrepancy to come to a head at some point.

The point of seasonally adjusted numbers is to include a seasonal component

Honestly, we weren't expecting Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report to be a rip-roaring groundbreaker, but too bad Judge Wapner didn't pack at least a smidgen of drama into a mostly mailed-in show.

The clumsiness began when Judge started sputtering so many variations of the days income stats that Steve Liesman, who wasn't going to say anything new anyway, never got a chance to get going.

"It's not like the recovery hangs by a thread," Liesman said, before adding that the goal of seasonally adjusted numbers is to try to adjust for seasonality.

Judge tried weakly to re-ignite the Liesman-Grasso trader-belief-in-jobless-numbers feud, but both sides were in holiday mood and that attempt fizzled.

Fast Money thinks viewers haven’t heard enough speculation in 2011 about AAPL’s dividend potential in 2012 (cont’d)

Underscoring the underwhelming nature of Friday's Halftime Report, guest Jeff Fidacaro opined that Apple Inc. has "very strong growth ahead of them."

As for dividends, "the company's definitely now considering one," and it would be a "nice move" if they did it, he said.

Stephen Weiss revealed he actually hit it big recently with HPQ shares. "I bought them at the absolute bottom almost, one of the few times I've been able to do that," Weiss said. Jon Najarian said the goal for HPQ right now should be to "stop making mistakes."

Judge shops in department stores

Scott Judge Wapner made his own Fast Money observation on Friday's Halftime Report, saying he's been in department stores, and he sees "racks and racks and racks and racks of coats that they can't move."

Guest Paul Walsh, involved in some kind of weather "analytics," explained it's a "non-seasonal year" for retailers.

Edward Williams was the epitome of noncommittal regarding Electronic Arts, saying its "Star Wars" game can help them get people to pay monthly fees. But he said, not terribly surprisingly, GameStop has "quite a few headwinds against them" and needs a dividend, which Stephen Weiss noted seems to be the complaint against a lot of companies these days.

Taposh Bari said the good thing about Nike is there's likely to be "very little resistance" to price hikes. He said FINL figures to benefit from e-commerce.

‘GasLand’ failed
to put it over the top

Addison Armstrong observed on Friday's Halftime that natural gas is "knockin' on the door of a 2-handle."

Dan Dicker noted troubles of nat gas stocks and claimed that what the sector needs is "excitement" about all the drilling instead of "environmental blowback," and "that will drive the money into the natural gas space."

Steve Grasso said a natural gas trade is "probably about 6 months away."

Fast Money Ag Trade
is back

About the only thing that got anyone buzzing on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report was Jon Najarian explaining that weekly call-buying in MOS was hopping, and "there might be more" to come for the stock.

Money in Motion figure George Davis said the risk is that the markets return to the risk-off trade in the new year. He recommended long Canadian dollar vs. Swiss franc at 91.50, with a "target of 95 even." Brian Kelly disagreed, saying long U.S. dollar vs. CHF takes Canadian risk out, and Judge Wapner said he agreed with Kelly.

Tim Winter got distracted by background noise while making some interesting points about the business of AWK, which he said should bring an 8-10% total return with "relatively low risk."

Another non-Call the Close

Steve Grasso, on Friday's holiday-related Halftime, sort of made a Call the Close call but didn't really, saying "this market can drift higher, but this too shall fail."

Jon Najarian trumpeted BTU. Brian Kelly, one of the most egregious NON-Call-the-Closers, said he likes small-caps in the the U.S., or IWM. Dan Dicker touted Big Oil, XOM, CVX, COP. Stephen Weiss said, as expected, short euro.

[Thursday, December 22, 2011]

What in the world was Stephen Weiss thinking?

Guest Joe Feldman on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was sort of to viewers what Tom Hagen was to Vito Corleone after the attack on Sonny, the guy who tells them what everyone seems to know, i.e., the warm weather is an issue for retailers and their outdoor gear.

Feldman added, "I'm a big fan of Dick's Sporting Goods."

Incredibly, moments later, Stephen Weiss on the Prop Desk forgot to add "Sporting Goods" when saying, "I also like Dick's quite a bit," prompting some muffled howling by person(s) unknown, possibly even desk newcomer Keith McCoolah McCullough, as Guy Adami tried to keep Melissa Lee and others from cracking up by insisting the joke was about wearing winter coats.

Weiss also said of Saks, "40% or more of their sales just from New York," which is controversial to say the least, given that Patty Edwards has made a refrain of "25%" from NYC.

Keith McCullough asked Feldman what he thinks of the BBBY "bloodbath." It "means opportunity to me," Feldman said.

‘Finally’ — after the 1 day it closed 1 cent below

Pete Najarian said financials were taking the markets higher on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, including Bank of America "finally getting to move off of that $5 level."

Yes. What took it so long.

Guy Adami said if the market can just get over this 1,265 hump, it's off to 1,370.

Keith McCullough, who recently predicted the S&P 500 would be down for the year (that's under $1,257), said Thursday it's in a range from 1,207 to 1,269. McCullough said TLT has upside to $124.

Tim Seymour, who for some reason featured a bowl-type haircut Thursday, said the payroll-tax-cut deal (that frankly no one should've worried about and that that national media looks downright embarrassing for even bothering to cover) was nothing more than "political pragmatism."

John Paulson expert Greg Zuckerman said Paulson's had a bad year because "everything's going wrong for this guy."

Another emerging markets segment, another pro-Brazil call

Mark Mahaney made one of the greatest non-cases ever heard on Fast Money for NFLX to go nowhere, saying it's got 3 things it has to do, but he's neutral.

It was confusing enough that Mel Lee called Mahaney's price target as $84, and he basically started to acknowledge that, even though the screen said he lowered it from $94 to $80. Mahaney also said he thinks YHOO could get to $19 but selling the Asian asset halfheartedly is not a catalyst. He also said AKAM's gain on an unclear transaction "to me is a bit of a stretch."

Guest Les Funtleyder said he's keeping ISRG but he's shorting Amgen because it doesn't realize it's big pharma now.

Dan Dicker said that U.S. oil stockpiles are at 6-year lows, painting a bullish scenario. Keith McCullough questioned if the oil pits are prepared for a dollar DXY in the mid 80s in Q1. Dicker said there's been a little option buying, but "the market is acting far too well" under these conditions to be bearish.

Alex Panagiotidis nearly talked his way into a commercial break but said "I see a very volatile 2012" and likes the VIX long at 21.

Tim Seymour was asked for some more emerging calls, and this time CHL resurfaced, as it did with David Riedel recently. "Brazil's probably one of the cheapest places ... great time to own it," Seymour said, tossing in ITUB and BBD (no big surprises there).

JJ Kinahan stands tall
on Call the Close

As most of the Fast Money Halftime gang on Thursday continued to turn the Humpty Dumpty-ized Call the Close concept into a scrambled egg mess, JJ Kinahan demonstrated fundamentally sound technique.

Thursday's market, Kinahan said, figures to "continue higher."

That may not sound terribly exciting. But given Steve Grasso's hiding in utilities, 50% in cash now, waiting for the dust to settle, and Pete Najarian's buy TJX and Patty Edwards' buy Costco, it was as close to an actionable S&P 500 call as anyone was bound to get.

Question: Does naming a company ‘Costco’ really make a lot of sense?

Finding a company in Patty Edwards' neighborhood where she doesn't shop proved to be next to impossible on Thursday's Halftime Report.

Boeing apparently did the trick — unless Edwards flies her own jet to those hourlong Halftime Report launches and Petula Clark concerts. "Almost quite literally in my backyard," Edwards said, "The stock moves on orders, not necessarily on the delivers (sic)."

Edwards said she loves the VF Corp. brands, but "I don't like the chart right now." COST was her Call the "Close." And, regarding Bed, Bath & Beyond, "We've been buyin' a lotttttttt of stuff there," but a lot of people apparently are going to TGT or WMT instead for the convenience.

Which brings up a little thought about branding ...

Branding is important, as anyone noticing that Tim Seymour-like yuppies won't step into JCPenney or Sears knows. "Cost," while an "inherent" part of running a business or simply being a human being, is a negative word. To get almost anything (but not all thankfully), there's a "cost." The goal is to reduce or even eliminate the "cost."

Yet, here's a famous business whose name celebrates the term.

It's kind of like a pitching business calling itself "Earned Runs Co." Or an AARP entity calling itself "AgingCo." Or a tennis company calling itself "FaultCo."

Whatever. It seems to be working in spite of itself.

Liz Dunn lit up the panel with the assessment of "I think this holiday season is quite strong" and saying "biforcation."

Steve Grasso gave JJ Kinahan a hard time over his tie, which Kinahan said was a gift. "How do they spell Burberry?" Grasso asked, apparently implying a knockoff.

Flash: Fast Money panelist actually recommends against POT as buy-and-hold

Steve Grasso might've accomplished a Fast Money first on Thursday's Halftime Report, actually saying that POT requires a thick stomach to trade, and "I wouldn't be investing in this name for long-term." (Wonder what the "people have to eat" thesis-purveyors will think about that.)

Pete Najarian warned that $34 has been resistance for JPM. Patty Edwards, who like Zach Karabell is somehow compelled to say this umpteen times, said she's, "just not that excited about being in the banks at this point."

A day without Research in Motion. Yesssssssssss.

Guest Brian Marshall, on the Fast Line for Thursday's Halftime, said JNPR is "kinda like a coiled spring," and "We think VMWare's gonna have another great year."

Pete Najarian, perhaps in sort of a tribute, uttered Patty Edwards' favorite cliche, "I think at this point in time," suggesting CRM could finally be nibble-able here.

Srini Sundararajan, whose name prompted Judge Wapner to apologize in advance for bungling, said MU is up because "the stock has a good 2012, uh, looking forward," which has to be true, because at this point in time, you couldn't really have 2012 be looking backward.

Todd Gordon said he'd short euro against the Aussie dollar. Steve Grasso said when the risk comes out of CIE, the stock could go to $30.

Doesn’t the European Union have bigger things to deal with?

Zach Karabell seemed a bit cracked up when Judge Wapner contacted him Thursday on the Fast Line during the Fast Money Halftime Report, prompting Steve Grasso to joke, "Zach took the day off. He wrote another book today."

Or not joke.

Karabell had the strongest call of a mostly neutered panel, declaring, "I think we're gonna be significantly higher by mid-January. ... The herd mentality of hedge funds and investors remains unbelievably skeptical."

Judge then for some reason made Karabell repeat what he thinks about Oracle from a day earlier.

Bob Pisani, who said "European Union" several times with no hint of potential irony, said the "derivatives business" of NYSE/Deutsche Boerse is a source of consternation in Europe, but he said Duncan Niederauer already pinned the savings on it and undoing it would amount to undoing the whole deal. And doesn't he know that once Chuck Schumer met with Duncan and OKd the arrangement — WITH THE PROPER NEW NAME THAT DOESN'T SELL NEW YORK SHORT — this was a done deal?

Blogger reviews Against the Herd

Seeking Alpha contributor Brenda Jubin admits in her lede sentence "I don't" watch Fast Money, but nevertheless reviews Steve Cortes' Against the Herd, citing "well-reasoned" arguments and "sufficient" data and claiming "Cortes' writing is fine in small doses," but the use of pop culture images "starts to wear thin pretty quickly."

Edwards quoted by Reuters

Under the headline "Retailers' graveyard shift wins over shoppers, analysts," Reuters turned on Thursday to Patty Edwards, who points out, "If nothing else, staying open all night gets retailers media attention," and, "As long as the labor in the stores overnight is being used to stock shelves and such, it's not such a bad idea."

[Wednesday, December 21, 2011]

Melissa’s Christmas: ‘I’m not getting a Blue Box® either’

Guy Adami tried a weird dig at special panelist (and CNBC legend) Ron Insana on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, noting Insana's comment about observing that Tiffany and Coach look "busy" to him and that Mrs. Insana better be getting a Blue Box®.

That's when Melissa Lee cut in to say, "Well I'm not getting a Blue Box® either, so..."

Instantly we jumped to attention, wondering how we could pull this one off with a delivery, because 1) We want to get/stay on Mel's good side and 2) We want to do something nice, except 3) Mel's entourage at Englewood Cliffs might find it a bit freaky, so we better pass. (It's the thought that counts, or so they say.)

Guy Adami welcomed Insana's appearance on the Fast Money panel Wednesday as "royalty."

‘Benign tape’ sighting

Demonstrating instant capability of upgrading the subject matter of Fast Money, Ron Insana on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show invoked Say's Law in arguing that cloud computing supply is creating demand.

Guy Adami and Steve Grasso found themselves on the opposite ends of the ORCL situation, with Adami claiming, "I think it washed out today," and that at 24½ it's a "screaming buy," but only "if the tape cooperates." Grasso advised waiting 3 days to "confirm" the washout and let the stock "settle in."

Adami later came through with everyone's favorite Guy Adami cliche, pointing out that MU was "down 4½ percent today on a benign tape."

Guest Dan Berenbaum said NAND is a better profitability avenue for MU than DRAM, and told Stephen Weiss he thinks "better days are ahead for Broadcom stock."

Adami only said "benign" once, but "cooperates" twice, saying INTC is one to own if the tape "cooperates."

James Altucher’s AAPL price target is actually a lot crazier than Gene Munster’s

Gene Munster dialed in to Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to explain his $607 AAPL price target and predict "they're gonna do a 1-time dividend; who knows when that's gonna be."

Stephen Weiss said the stock needs multiple expansion to get to $607, and he doubts that will happen.

Melissa Lee, who apparently gets a lot of angry e-mails whenever she talks about AAPL and likes to complain on Fast Money about receiving these angry e-mails, said Apple's got a "terrific benchmark" (she probably meant to say just "bench"), but, "I know there are a lot of people out there who hate me because I point this out," but Steve Jobs was regarded as one of the greatest CEOs of all time and now he is deceased and the stock has crested since his death.

James Altucher, who occasionally is brought onto Fast Money to discuss his $1 trillion AAPL market-cap forecast, actually didn't speak about Apple on Wednesday but did talk about the private stock markets. He said the rule of 500 shareholders forcing a company to go public when it doesn't want to is under review in Congress to maybe be changed to 2,000, but "the gun's to their head right now, they have to go public," and that's what he hears happened with Zynga.

Guy Adami hailed Altucher's "Oscar Gamble" hair.

Meredith proof: Make one good call, get TV time rest of career no matter how bad the other calls are

Melissa Lee took up a couple of Meredith Whitney calls on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, first last year's muni thing and then this week's Jefferies thing.

Brian Kelly said Whitney could be right at some point about munis; "you could certainly see some defaults" if there's a double-dip recession.

Ron Insana flat-out declared, "Meredith I think has, has, with all due respect, in some instances gone beyond her core competency in some of this analysis."

Thankfully it's been a long time since we've heard one Fast Money panelist after another talking about how "cheap" JPMorgan is, and Todd Hagerman guested Wednesday with a pessimistic view, saying "it's really tough to find a catalyst," which isn't exactly a new theory, even though he's got a $36 price target and a neutral rating. Hagerman also told Steve Grasso the biggest risk to BAC is "potential Fed response from the upcoming, uh, capital review program in March."

Fast Money gang able to talk about mall shopping Wednesday without giggling over cross-dressing

Guy Adami, while once again indirectly pounding Chuck Grom's September call on WMT on the Fast Money Halftime Report, said on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show to consider going long a retailer he has admitted never visiting.

"Take a look at TJX and what those guys have been able to do," Adami said.

Darren Rovell did a segment on classic hot Christmas toys, and the conclusion has to be, there's nothing like that this year.

(Repeating) If it’s 2008 again, see you in Indianapolis, and invite the Cardinals

Guest Ray Stone, in a rather casual setting at the end of Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, said that the negative yield on 30-day T-bills is due to money market funds at year end having an "unusual appetite for Treasury bills."

Brian Kelly said at 9 to 1, "such a high bid-to-cover" seems to go beyond seasonality, like maybe an economic problem, but didn't really get anywhere with Stone.

Ron Insana said this isn't like 2008 when yields plunged; it's a "different phenomenon."

Bill Lefkowitz said to buy March 29 VIC calls for $3.40 and sell June 35 calls for $3.40 in a trade that offsets itself.

Guy Adami said of RHT, "I think it gets a little cheaper here," maybe $36.50 or $37. Stephen Weiss picked IBM over AMZN.

Scaramucci: Cloud stocks
are the next Netflixes

Anthony Scaramucci on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report had an interesting twist on the Oracle results — comparing cloud-computing stocks to NFLX.

(Which, actually, sounds a lot like Whitney Tilson's plan.)

"Look for rain, thunder and lightning in them clouds in 2012," said Scaramucci. "High P.E.s, gettin' shaken up here, they're gonna trade lower, think of Netflix in 2011, that's your future in these cloud stocks."

Meanwhile, Halftime newcomer Frank Zorrilla, who never got an intro from Judge Wapner though that's commonplace now with new panelists, recommended Digital River (DLR), a REIT. Zorrilla said, "It's another way to play cloud without buying some of these cloud stocks that are under pressure."

Scaramucci noted that Oracle has had only 2 underperforms in 26 quarters. Zach Karabell lamented, "I was long Oracle, so I'm really really loving life right about now," and that "I'm always wary of management blaming macro concerns" that maybe haven't been echoed by other companies, but he also suggested possible short-term European-induced order delays are not a long-term structural problem.

Pete Najarian questioned the merits of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Guest Ed Maguire said everyone was surprised by Oracle being weak across the board, but also noted in regard to servers etc., "customers wanna rent rather than buy, and that's a long-term trend."

Pairs trade for 2012:
Long banks, short cloud

Anthony Scaramucci said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that it's time for banks to rebound. "There's so much bad news embedded in these stocks, look for an inkling of good news to flip these things," Scaramucci said.

That view was sort of bolstered by Nishu Sood, whose name didn't give Judge Wapner any problems this time and who claimed "the bottom is in the rear-view mirror" for housing.

"God, how many times have we said that," Wapner said.

But Scaramucci seemed to think that's legit. "Housing is starting to bottom in most parts of the, of the country," Scaramucci said.

Frank Zorrilla advised, "Take any rally as an opportunity to sell the banks."

Courtney Reagan’s Macy’s segment somehow leads giggling panel into cross-dressing gags

Frank Zorrilla said something you don't often hear during Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, that Research in Motion is a "short-term buy."

Nevertheless, Colin Gillis warned, "It's very unlikely a company like Microsoft is gonna step in and acquire RIMM."

Gillis (Zzzzz) claimed, "Amazon is a momentum stock that's finally starting to crack." Gillis though hailed Android activation numbers as a reason to like GOOG and maintain a hold on AAPL.

Judge Wapner tried to turn NKE into an Ag Trade, saying on some level Nike isn't luxury; "we all need shoes." Anthony Scaramucci even confirmed, "It's like the Starbucks of apparel," or cheap luxury.

Pete Najarian said to keep eye on JAG (after it's already jumped). Dennis Gartman praised Europe's debt on debt; "I think this was a good, big kick of a, of a can that needed to be kicked down the road," and he came through with a "demonstrably" regarding the euro.

Guest Laura Martin, who referred to AOL's chief on a first-name basis, is a buy, noting "all of the cash flow of this company is getting invested in the display business." She said Patch is losing $150 million a year and should get "shut down or moderated," and she also said, "I don't think Tim cross-dresses," getting thanks from Judge who was going to apologize for the previous Fast Money conversation but then thanked Martin for taking part in the "humor part of the show."

Zach Karabell neatly Called the Close with "we're going higher," while his panel-mates merely Called Conditional Squawk Box, with Zorrilla touting VPHM at $28 breakout level, Pete Najarian trumpeting LLY and Anthony Scaramucci calling for an ORCL bounce.

Apparently a slow blogging day: Business Insider actually does a post on Halftime Report Pops & Drops Fortress teleprompter glitch

The Business Insider — one of those Web site operations with paid individuals — evidently took a break Wednesday from stories such as Google & Akamai to note that Judge Wapner and Anthony Scaramucci on the Fast Money Halftime Report weren't sure why they were supposed to talk about FIG ... and this is significant because, "It's interesting because this is the sort of thing broadcasters fear happening during a show — the teleprompter not working properly. But it's also something they have to prepare for so they can fly by the seat of their pants because it is live television after all and the show must go on."

For those who found high drama there.

[Tuesday, December 20, 2011]

‘Pissed’ becoming commonplace on Fast Money

A week ago (see below), we noted Karen Finerman said "pissed" on national television.

Melissa Lee apparently liked that so much, she said it twice on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Lee was speculating about the reaction of Research in Motion stockholders to the Reuters report on the Amazon rebuff.

"I'd be pissed- I mean if I were a shareholder, I'd be kinda pissed about this," Lee said.

"Yeah, that shareholder base, they couldn't ask for a more pissed-off shareholder base than what they have right now," Finerman chimed in.

Guy Adami then indicated it's a different word that might raise eyebrows — "Lehman," in the category of companies that told suitors to jump in a lake, including "Yahoo, and the other one that comes to mind, and people get offended by this, Lehman Brothers, who basically had a couple bids out there for them."

Joe Terranova said RIMM traded above $30 in the summer and then fell; "makes you wonder," but actually it didn't; it was below $30 much of the summer except that incredibly fluky August, in which Terranova was correct, it sure does make you wonder if anyone was aware of Amazon being interested ...

Rent a home from Melissa

Guy Adami said on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, the trick for the S&P is, "get it above 1,256 and hold."

Joe Terranova said, as he already had at Halftime, "This is a classic short squeeze." Karen Finerman wasn't highly impressed by a 300-point gain, saying it's "really just kind of reversed what happened last week."

Tim Seymour said stocks might be reacting to "sneaky QE out of Europe. Later, Brian Kelly dialed in to discuss a possible European "backdoor bazooka," which Kelly said "should be a net positive for risk here in the U.S."

Guy Adami and Melissa Lee chuckled about the term "backdoor bazooka," which sounds like a Snoop Dogg-type of term. But at least they weren't "pissed."

Lee at one point, referring to housing, said it's the "year of the landlord," and Adami followed, "which you are now one; I'll put that out for public domain."

Here’s one for Safra

Analyst Brent Thill on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money sounded like, instead of just listening to a company's conference call, he had emptied last week's paycheck on the Steelers +3 at San Francisco just as that Baltimore-San Diego game was coming into focus.

"We're definitely, uh, concerned," Thill said. "We're shaken."

"The voice gave it away," said a helpful Melissa Lee, who carried on throughout the show with Guy Adami about how troubled Thill sounded, while claiming, "We're not making fun of him. It is candid and refreshing to hear an analyst be so honest about their reaction to a report."

Guess too many analysts on Fast Money aren't particularly honest enough.

Thill should've listened to the Fast gang before sounding so gloomy. Guy Adami said Oracle might indeed be a buy on Wednesday if there's a "flush." Mike Murphy, who quietly is offering some of the most constructive Fast Money commentary, said flat-out, "I think it's a great opportunity to get in here."

Jon Fortt pointed out that Safra Catz "reads the daily financial news headlines," which you'd kind of hope that a president of a major technology company would do, but he didn't indicate if that includes CNBCfix Fast Money reviews.

Murphy: JEF can trade
‘a lot higher’

Unlike Brent Thill, analyst Robert Samuels was all smiles on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, saying "Overall just another great quarter from Nike," but it went unclear if that was "candid and refreshing" enough of an "honest" reaction for Mel Lee.

Stephen East spoke about 3 factors to consider with KB Homes, first that an other order surprise to the upside is possible, 2nd that it might be tough to hit management's aggressive margin targets, and 3rd that a capital raise is possible.

Guy Adami said, "Home Depot should still be on your radar screen."

Mike Murphy said, "I think Jefferies, uh, can trade a lot higher from here," though Tim Seymour warned there's risk to the downside, as rumor-mongers nearly took it down on no facts.

Karen Finerman did something different with her hair, while Melissa Lee had the mike planted in cute locale.

Charlie Babbitt made a joke

Stephen Schork did a nice job on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money outlining the gradually declining break-even forecasts for nat gas drilling, saying, based on September's record production, "clearly $4.20 is still not enough to destroy supply."

Joe Terranova then mentioned the Linda Ronstadt Trade (Blue Bayou), saying nat gas is unpredictable and a hurricane would drive it bonkers.

Guest Mike McCormack of Nomura said it figures that DISH and Sprint would benefit from an AT&T/T-Mobile breakup (Zzzz, that subject again), but that he doesn't think AT&T is interested in DISH's broadcast TV business, but he told Mel Lee "it's possible" DISH could be broken up.

Tim Biggam said he's taking a "guarded, bullish stance on the VIX."

Karen Finerman said after coming back from one commercial break while Guy Adami was talking, "Rain Man. Sorry. We've been interrupted by Rain Man."

Mike Murphy for the Final Trade hailed JOYG, saying Caterpillar bodes well. Mike Khouw mentioned CAG, Tim Seymour AA, Guy Adami KFT, Karen Finerman said to sell out-of-the-money calls on CBS (or else run the risk of being "pissed"), while Joe Terranova made the type of statement that's bound to find our year-end report about 12 months from now one way or another, "2012 will be the year of the great Treasury unwind."

Call the Close reduced to
Call Squawk Box

Scott Judge Wapner directed Steve Cortes to "Call the Close" at the end of Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report ... only to have Cortes Call The Cliche in another around-the-horn mockery of a dubious segment.

Cortes said for a closing "call" to look at Altria, for the dividend, because he loves the "ATF strategy."

Patty Edwards didn't exactly make an afternoon Dow/S&P forecast either, telling people who want "dividend and market participation" to buy Intel.

Mike Murphy, to his credit, came the closest, saying the "rally is for real" but stopping short of a closing call, instead telling people to buy Halliburton in the low $30s. Joe Terranova recommended AVB.

Brian Kelly took the prize for most irrelevant, however, instructing viewers to wait till "tomorrow morning" to see if the ECB will unleash a "backdoor bazooka" that will move markets higher.

‘You’re gonna bring in women; you’re gonna bring in older people’

Just a day after Michael Pachter implied the Fast Money gang was a bunch of out-of-touch elitists, he came back to Tuesday's Halftime Report to ... basically imply the same thing.

Defending Zynga, Pachter told Brian Kelly, "I'm sure you don't play these games. I do. They're engaging. They're interesting."

Pachter also seemed a little full of his own presence, saying that investors who have resisted the stock, "once they hear from guys like me" and a couple other analysts, will start buying the shares that he calls a "bargain" while predicting an "amazing December quarter."

"I think the underwriters let them down," Pachter said. "I think that they talked about the wrong metrics."

Kelly argued "there is no retention necessarily there" among game-players. Pachter claimed it's "a lot like penny slots ... you're gonna bring in women; you're gonna bring in older people. And it's not boring."

After asking Pachter to be on the show 2 straight days, Judge Wapner apparently found that a bad idea, telling Pachter that on Wednesday, "don't hang out by your phone."

Someone actually likes C

Jeff Harte, the Will Rogers of bank-stock picking, acknowledged "a lot of good things to like there" in the Jefferies report, but actually downplayed the stock based on tangible book valuation.

Judge Wapner tried to make his own call, asserting JEF was "overdone to the downside" in questioning Harte's $11 target, but Harte didn't budge other than to say the European exposure wasn't as bad as it was cracked up to be.

Incredibly, Harte claimed C — probably thinking about its next 1-for-10 — is his favorite pick of the big banks; "I think it remains underappreciated and underrespected, misunderstood on the Street." (This writer is actually long a little C, but it's not exactly a winning position.)

Judge barely makes panel earn their pay

You know there's that football cliche of how announcers like to gush praise at quarterbacks who "spread the ball around" to a bunch of different receivers.

Scott Judge Wapner used hardly any of his receivers on Tuesday's Halftime, and by the 40-minute mark, Patty Edwards and Mike Murphy had to wonder what they'd signed up for.

Oh well, at least they didn't talk about the football game Monday night.

Eventually Judge expanded the repertoire when Chipotle watcher Sara Senatore spoke about "a lot of pent-up demand" for burritos, and trumpeted the expansion potential, saying, "We don't see any indication that they aren't going to continue to give us that growth that they've given us."

Finally Judge, who warned that "so many" high-growth stocks "fall off a cliff" once they get "hit," called on Edwards, who used the precious time to merely bemoan the CMG valuation. Senatore responded with something of a geographical zinger, telling Edwards that hometown Starbucks for 14 years after its IPO traded with a P.E. "north of 30 the whole time."

Murphy incredibly said he really wanted to know, but didn't get the chance to ask Senatore, if a split is possible ... which improves the company how again??

Joe Terranova said, "I like the stock."

Camilla Sutton isn’t given last word against Steve Cortes

While Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime gang wasn't Calling the Close, they were all-stars at Calling the Morning.

"This is what a short squeeze is," said Joe Terranova.

"It is spring-loaded for a rally here," agreed Brian Kelly.

It's a "short-term pop coming here," said Patty Edwards.

Mike Murphy was most enthusiastic, saying, "I think the market has a lot of room to go here. I think the short covering continues."

Steve Cortes took the opportunity to knock Europe, saying this is the "William Bradford Trade of don't bet on Europe and don't bet on the promises," and that it's worked since 1620. "I am again shorting the euro currency," Cortes said.

Money in Motion personality Camilla Sutton acknowledged a "very difficult road ahead for euro," but ran into a buzz saw with her trade of short dollar against Canada when Cortes asserted he'd bet the other direction on that at 1.02, then went off on the most useless tangent on Barry Melrose that distracted Judge Wapner from giving Sutton equal time and a chance to rebut.

Christmas gifts from WMT

Despite the Dow's roar, Patty Edwards wasn't exactly Ms. Excitement in the category of stock trading on Tuesday's Halftime, explaining she was "nibbling along the sides" of T and INTC.

Ben Abramovitz, discussing what has already long since become a tired story, AT&T/T-Mobile, said AT&T is going to look at "where can we have cost-cutting measures," and said Sprint's not going to try to do a deal now.

Oracle watcher Rick Sherlund, dubbed an "excellent analyst" by Brian Kelly, who later went on to deliver his own interpretation of what Sherlund actually said, said "last quarter was unambiguously strong ... this quarter feels like a little more mixed," but he still has apparently the most lukewarm buy ever. Joe Terranova said the concern is licensing growth.

Patty Edwards finally got a chance late to deliver a thesis of sorts, saying "I'm long Target," which is "doing just fine," and that she expects WMT and AAPL to do fine as well, but "I'm a little bit less, I'm more suspect I guess of, uh, Best Buy." Edwards said in the final week of shopping, retailers who allow pickup of online purchases will do well.

[Monday, December 19, 2011]

Season’s greetings

Well, Monday was one to forget … having any kind of long BAC position actually turned out to be a far better move than watching a bunch of crumbs/clods/Jagovs mail in a football season in which the NFL Films-chosen theme will turn out to be "1 and Done in Denver" (any chance there's a provision in the rulebook for unclinching a playoff berth?).

The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday. Happy Hanukkah to all readers observing, and with that, a slightly early Merry Christmas that will get a follow-up this weekend, and hopefully a new year of happy trades in 2012.

Brian Kelly lends further credence to Michael Pachter’s elitist assessment of Fast Money

Guest Michael Pachter on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report indicated that Fast Money/Wall Street might be a little out of touch with the consumer tendencies of regular folks.

Then, on 5 p.m., Brian Kelly, unlike an average Joe, referred to himself in 3rd person, saying the Molycorp CEO's stock purchase is "not gonna get BK in there."

Actually it was Tim Seymour though who scored one for the little guy, after Melissa Lee said the "crack staff" at Englewood Cliffs had discovered the AT&T breakup fee may be tax-deductible.

"So the American people are paying for this," Seymour observed.

"Way to connect the dots," congratulated Guy Adami.

Seymour also connected on a different level, expressing praise for Tim Tebow and suggesting Tebow could've saved the AT&T deal; "my guess is he knows people."

Boring to a T

In a completely uninteresting breaking-news series regarding AT&T, the Fast Money gang heard from Craig Moffett, who noted S rising late and said, "The irony here is that Sprint probably would've been the biggest beneficiary of this deal happening."

Guy Adami said buying T on the selloff seems to be the lone trade from the news and that "in my opinion, somebody should probably lose their job over this." Tim Seymour said he doubts the breakup-fee "penalty is, is really gonna be the sticker shock we see."

Timothy Horan said, "The tower stocks look really good. I think for AT&T though, the worst is basically behind them."

It’s better than MagicJack

Twice a year, December and February, the PajamaGram people pay the CNBC salaries, flooding the network's commercial breaks with the hoodie-footie, which we'd love to get Mel Lee into, particularly the leopard design with tail for those with a "wild side;" that would be cute.

Lee, though, in straightforward sexy black V-neck top, was actually hinting at conspiracies, pointing to the BAC "close exactly at 5. It sort of raises my eyebrows at least."

Brian Kelly, when not in 3rd Person Mode was Mr. Understatement, saying, "Under 5 obviously is, is bad."

Douglas Sipkin said JEF has different issues than those sovereign bonds across the bonds it was able to unload rather easily. "I don't think Europe's really an issue for them."

Dennis Gartman says he got ‘threats’ over recent gold call

Dennis Gartman on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was adamant about parsing some terminology regarding gold.

"I'm neutral, first of all let's get that clear, because I don't want the gold bugs coming back out of the woodwork and making threats as they were making last week."

Hopefully the proper authorities were notified. This page would never take those things lightly, except when someone mentions a threat casually, almost as an afterthought, like a certain TV reporter claimed about Morgan Stanley, then well ...

Tim Seymour assured Gartman, "I got your back."

Gartman said "probably we're within $50 of the low in gold."

Guy Adami, for the first time in a while, asked about gold miners buying those hedges back and at what level would they start hedging again. Gartman didn't answer, merely saying what he would do, which is consider selling "5 or 10 or 15% of next year's production just to hedge some, just in case."

Died 2 years ago at 86

Gina Sanchez, an analyst benefitting from the Roubini mystique, downplayed serious waves from North Korea and in the process Brian Kelly's Hafltime thesis, saying, "Some of this is overdone, and we're not seeing a whole lot of reason to expect a lot of noise, um, during the succession."

Steve Cortes called North Korea flat-out "irrelevant" to global markets.

Cortes also rattled a new series of analogies, Bombay (that's the old name) to Baltimore, etc., drawing praise from (hoodie-footie-potential) Melissa Lee for his "alliteration."

Cortes then uncorked a downright strange '70s reach, saying the last hour of trading Monday was a "very ugly hour. Watching that made me feel like I was on a date with Bea Arthur. It was unsettling."

The panel took a moment to digest, then Guy Adami said "Maude," while Mel Lee insisted she knew that and knew about the "Golden Girls" as well.

But, Adami said, Arthur was a "very attractive woman in her ol- in her younger days."

Zynga not in the strongest hands

Lou Kerner on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money inadvertently brought memories of that notorious November 2010 Fast Money debate between Joe Terranova and Steve Grasso over the "strong hands" Terranova claimed the government was placing GM IPO shares in.

On Monday, Kerner said not only was Zynga priced kind of high, but it was given to buyers looking for quick trade.

Tim Seymour complained that these social media stocks are not value plays. Kerner said for several reasons, cloud, mobile, etc., "We're really I still think in the early innings of this incredible period of wealth creation."

Kerner said when private shares go public, there "tends to be on average about a 25 to 30% pop."

Willie Williams painted a rosier forecast for the euro short-term only, saying we're "starting to see European investors buy European sovereign debt ... I think there is a chance you see a rally in the euro." He recommends buying 1.30, with a stop just below 1.29 and target of 1.33.

Steve Cortes touted Supervalu for his Final Trade, while Scott Nations tried Clearwire, Tim Seymour liked Alcoa, Guy Adami mentioned GSK, BK mentioned TLT and Joe Terranova said to look at V.

BK admitted he's given up on MCP; "I haven't looked at it in probably 3 months."

Guy Adami gave Melissa Lee a bit of a hard time over the punnery used for the Mad Money teaser. "You wanna do this job? Have my seat," Lee countered.

Pete’s birthday is Thursday

Mel Lee noted at the end of Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that Guy Adami just celebrated his 48th birthday, which we should've flagged ahead of time but didn't.

Then again, given the party we were trying to put together for Mel in November that fizzled like the Packer offense Sunday, we were kind of backing off the birthday thing anyway.

Pete Najarian hits the 48 mark Thursday, which hopefully will be an absolutely phenomenal day.

Analyst accuses Fast Money gang of being elitists, out of touch with regular folks

It was one thing when superstar analyst Rich Greenfield politely pointed out to the Fast Money Halftime Report crowd on Monday that people on Wall Street may not understand the appeal of social media games.

It was quite another when Michael Pachter ramped that up to accuse the Fast Money traders of selling short their contingent of hired help.

"You guys have access to streaming. You guys have access to On Demand on cable, and you don't think you know anybody who rents movies," Pachter said. "And the truth is, your nanny rents movies, your, your driver rents movies, the guy who delivers stuff to your office rents movies, um, most of the clerical workers around you rent movies."

The only one to protest was Guy Adami, who said the "driver thing ... certainly isn't me."

And to think Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova accuse each other of shopping at Chess King and Merry Go Round ... when perhaps they should be badgering themselves over possibly having chauffeurs (like Steve Grasso always says, "perception is reality"). (Although, don't include lawn care for all; Seymour once revealed, "The Ambassador cuts his own grass.")

Anyway, Pachter said Netflix has lost 9 million DVD subscribers, which provides a bonanza for Coinstar. Guy Adami questioned how to deal with a stock that bounces all over. Pachter said at Coinstar, "they're very poor communicators" with the Street.

Zach Karabell said just because people rent movies on DVDs, it doesn't make it an appealing business. "There are people who still use dial-up for AOL," Karabell said.

Expert who likes Zynga admits games are a ‘way to waste time’

Rich Greenfield, one of the greatest Fast Money semi-recurring guests, was more diplomatic than Michael Pachter on Monday's Halftime Report, saying a stock like Zynga is being underrated because "I think, it's not always what we're into," and there's a mistake in "how people perceive the actual business itself" on Wall Street.

"This is really an entertainment company," Greenfield said, with users spending "over 37 minutes every single day ... 54 million people worldwide." As for cash, he said, "Farmville is monetizing at a far higher absolute level today than it was 18 months ago when it had far more overall users."

Nevertheless, he admitted, Zynga is kind of a "way to waste time and spend time."

Steve Grasso said the fact the stock was instantly below its IPO price is too scary for buyers; "no one wants to touch a stock like that." Greenfield pointed to Pandora as soaring and plummeting and that "the market doesn't always get it right on Day 1."

Guy Adami said Greenfield's opinion matters. "I would listen to Rich Greenfield on this one," he said.

Brian Kelly tries a bit too hard to trade current events

Brian Kelly on Monday's Halftime Report offered up one of the goofiest Fast Money trades we've heard in a long time, which is to sell rallies in Korea in the wake of Jong Il's death.

The transition figures to "introduce an element of uncertainty," Kelly said, and South Korea is reliant on exports, and so "I would not be buying on the dips."

Zach Karabell was polite but neatly shrugged off this concoction, saying it's a political story and not a stock market story and that the economic ramifications are not as "profound" as Kelly said (he could've added that a better way to trade the breaking news Sunday evening would've been to grab the Steelers at +3 tonight while the San Diego Chargers were closing out their first half against the Baltimore Ravens).

Kelly revealed, "I am short some European banks vs. being long some U.S. banks," and that "I did sell my Italian bonds" with a "nice profit in that," in case you thought he took a loss.

Fast Money trader raises another curiosity regarding Steve Cortes’ book

Dan Dicker said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that if stocks fall 5-10% in Q1 of 2012, "There's really only one place to go and that's Treasurys, and as we know, that one is really, really crowded."

The odd thing is, that Treasury trade is precisely where Steve Cortes suggests investors go in a book titled Against the Herd (emphasis on Against).

Treasurys presumably are OK for a crowd because Cortes refers to them as "riskless." But if everyone decides to unload them at the same time ...

Dicker, meanwhile, said gold has been taking a hit from decreasing inflation expectations, Europe and China developments, but don't get the wrong idea about its recent selloff. "That is not an enormous drop. It's much more like a, a, a dip in a secular bull market," Dicker said.

He also pointed to the 200-day moving average in gold that everyone finds fascinating and said, going back to the '70s, "that hasn't been a very good indicator at all.

Zach Karabell said it sounds like Dicker is including gold in "part of a suite of global commodities." Dicker either acknowledged or protested, "I think you have to look at it as a different classification than the base metals."

Fast Money producers still think there hasn’t been enough talk recently about possibility of an AAPL dividend months from now

Steve Grasso on Monday's Halftime said BAC is falling because "nobody's stepping in, in front of this freight train."

Guy Adami went a lot further, saying if you're buying banks, "I think you're making a catastrophic mistake."

Steve Grasso said the steel rally this year really started in late November and ran only through the first few days of December. Zach Karabell pointed out that AKS and X differ in finished product from SCHN's scrap model. "Schnitzer's much more sensitive to, really sudden shifts in Chinese demand in particular," Karabell said.

Karabell wasn't impressed by bullish Citi comments on CVC, saying, "I have a hard time getting to Cablevision ... I'd much rather be in a Comcast, which I am in, maybe even a Time Warner. Guy Adami took the other side, saying "Friday provided you with the perfect opportunity" and the stock could get back to "14½, 15." Karabell complained that that's like just buying a chart with "Stock A" at the top with no regard to fundamentals, which are untradeable in this market.

Greg Badishkanian said Mattel has hot products and that Hasbro may have to give retailers markdown cash that Mattel won't have to. Guy Adami said MAT seems to have a double top around $29.50 and that he would only buy around $26.50.

Rajesh Ghai said VMWare has been caught in a "downdraft" of its sector but is making "incremental traction" that is being overlooked. Steve Grasso said VMW's 50-day chart is a little "weak" and that he would wait to buy.

Somehow Fast Money producers thought it was necessary to have another "AAPL should do a dividend" conversation, bringing in Peter Misek to suggest there's a good chance for it in Q2 but that a stock split is "unlikely," even though Judge Wapner tried to claim people find $190 a much more appealing entry point (and getting to $300 really stopped BRK-A).

Zach Karabell was asked a Twitter question about the importance of rating agencies, analysts and politicians, and mentioned rating agencies and politicians, but not analysts.

Jeff Hirsch said this is the time for small caps to take charge, "they do that every year," and "mid-December they really take off," though they weren't doing much on Monday.

More trouble for Call the Close

Guy Adami on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report impressively tried to Call the Close.

Except, Adami claimed, "S&P feels like it wants to close right around here."

Further evidence that this assignment happens to be particularly vexing to traders, and why they mostly revert to a stock call, as Adami did with PFE Monday.

Shout-out: San Diego Chargers

The CNBCfix community figured Sunday night would come down to major fluctuations in the overnight gold market that get written up in Monday's Gartman Letter nitty-gritty nail-biting as the underdog San Diego Chargers attempted to salvage their season against the rampaging No. 1 seed-holding Baltimore Ravens.

Actually, no. And in fact, this one has to be chalked up as one of the greatest wins in Charger history.

As always, nothing is more overestimated than 1 given week in the NFL (except maybe that glorious Sunday when Tarvaris Jackson put on a show against Baltimore). Tim Tebow looks like a Flutie-like QB. There's a lot of potential but also a definite ceiling. Too many pundits are too extreme on this in both directions and will get even extremer after Sunday. The Patriot game was a lot closer than people think. A high-quality team should beat the Broncos. A team that doesn't take them seriously will get beat. Mile High in January is not where the Steelers/Ravens want to be starting a playoff run.

[Friday, December 16, 2011]

Herb was missed

Judge Wapner and the Fast Money honchos were so devoid of ideas for Friday's Halftime Report, they had to fill it up with RIMM and YHOO and even speculation about an AAPL dividend.

Hopefully, you tuned out.

Tavis McCourt indicated Research in Motion sucks, but the stock is so low that there's "too much risk in getting too negative in the stock here."

Judge was so desperate for any kind of spark, he tried to corner McCourt into making some kind of wannabe-buy call, but McCourt didn't bite.

Ken Sena came on to talk YHOO, saying whether you own it or not really depends on the investor, which is always a convincing call, and that "this is kind of a flier situation."

Judge for some reason complained that RIMM wasn't getting the same benefit of the doubt as YHOO, apparently oblivious to the notion that YHOO booted its CEO whereas RIMM's are almost as entrenched as Steve Ballmer, and that YHOO actually has an Asian asset people want.

Toni Sacconaghi, sounding as wide-eyed as if he were Moses just receiving the Ten Commandments, observed that "Apple is overowned by growth investors" but also "significantly underowned by value and yield funds," and that a dividend would help change that.

Steve Grasso said a dividend would probably be viewed as "a long-term negative" for the stock. JJ Kinahan, pressed by Judge Wapner, admitted, "I would buy the stock right here."

Dr. J finds approximately 2% trade worth gloating about on national TV

John Stephenson, who in the first half of 2011 used to come on Fast Money all the time and talk about $50 or $60 silver but doesn't do that anymore, predicted the retail investors are going to bail and eventually send gold "probably to the 1,200, 1,250 range over the next month or 2."

Which opened the door to a Brag Trade from Jon Najarian, who claimed, in a rear-view mirror anecdote providing zero value to the viewer, "That panic was a great opportunity down around 152 in the GLD, to buy. Which I did," and after it climbed to $155, "I'm outta that trade."

The real catalyst is that there was a TV show airing later with time to fill

We don't fault CNBC and Tim Seymour for trying, but every time there's an episode of Trading the Globe, it seems like no matter the facts on the ground, the emerging markets are always a buy.

(Because if they actually said, "don't buy this garbage, just look at the chart," it probably wouldn't make for a very successful TV show.)

Sure enough, David Riedel on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report said, "There is a lot of value there" in emerging markets, and what's "very good" for the equities is that those countries have political will and money.

Riedel called EEM "an easy place to look," because "all of these markets are gonna do very well." (Sure they are. Just look at the chart.)

While the CNBC screen gremlins spelled Riedel's EEM pick as "emerging makrets," Riedel also touted China Mobile (CHL) and AmBev (ABV).

CHL and ABV might actually be promising, based on the charts, which are decent but not overwhelming, but the only catalyst Riedel mentioned was CHL's cash horde and great management, which doesn't sound like a raging catalyst given the chart.

Riedel asserted that in China, "It's a slowdown, not a meltdown," and he told Jon Najarian that Sina's naming issue is a "big deal," and "I wouldn't go anywhere near it at this point."

Can the 10-year beat the euro to Bob Gibson’s magic number?

Jeff Kilburg, whose insistence that the 10-year yield is constantly grinding lower is sometimes tested but has generally been rewarded, said that what's driving it is that people are "losing patience over in Europe."

Pete Najarian, who, in a major surprise along with brother Jon, was not listed as having any positions on the trader disclosures Friday at CNBC.com (odd, because just 2 days earlier, Pete was listed as having 11 positions and Jon 10 — must've unloaded 'em all), asked Kilburg if the EUO isn't a good play here. Kilburg said 1.26 has been euro support and he thinks it's going there, so yes.

Greg Salvaggio, who had no disclosures but at least that was noted at CNBC.com, spoke about the yuan's gradual appreciation and said, "I think it lasts forever." His trade is to buy euro at 1.305.

When ‘Call the Close’
doesn’t mean ‘Call the Close’

It's come to our attention that this page is catching a little flak for being too hard on Dennis Gartman's biweekly gold calls Colin Gillis' greatest-of-all-time Research in Motion call Keith McCullough ... the definition of "Call the Close."

Evidently, the word "Close" is not supposed to have anything to do with it.

We dug into the early Halftime Report archives at CNBC.com and were reminded the show initially ended with a "Fast & Furious" segment where traders whipped through a series of pending earnings and other announcements.

Sometimes that closed the show; other times there was a "Call the Close," but the original Halftime was about 12 minutes (inside a 15-minute window) and often subject to press conferences, breaking news, interviews, etc., and often without a clear ending point.

We do recall that in the early going, there were often jokes about "it's unanimous," and waiting for the 4th panelist to concur was a source of dread. Undoubtedly, what happened is that producers became aware of 1 or more of 3 possibilities, those being, 1) it was a boring feature because everyone made the same call; 2) traders didn't want to be put on the spot for a binary daily call that probably often wasn't germane to their investing strategies; or 3) traders stunk at it, most of them botched it, and the feature was softened to avoid embarrassment.

Somehow the name was never changed (why not go back to "Fast & Furious"?), yet viewers are evidently now missing the point if they actually have the audacity to expect someone to perform the actual title of the feature.

Basically it's like Judge asking Steve Cortes in the 5th inning, "who's going to win, the Red Sox or Yankees," and having Cortes instead predict a home run by Albert Pujols.

This is an administrative failure, a sign the Fast Money franchise has succumbed to suburban sprawl.

On Friday, JJ Kinahan came the closest to an actual call, but extending it through year-end, saying the market figures to go higher because it's a dull market where sellers are tired.

Pete Najarian said DRI looks like a buy, while Steve Grasso said you can hide out in utilities, and Jon Najarian said watch CAT if it approaches $85, its Nov. 25 low, which is quite a "Call the Close."

Too bad they really didn’t have a bottle of scotch; they might’ve said something interesting

Jon Najarian said at the crowded NYSE table Friday where Scott Judge Wapner conducted the Fast Money Halftime Report that the MF Global problem is partly to blame for the lack of trading; "shame on that situation," Najarian said.

Judge Wapner later brought up FSLR and said it had a "crappy week." Dr. J said he'd consider buying at the "30ish level," though Pete Najarian was saying that analysts are desperate to get out of the solar/alternative energy space.

Pete Najarian said TJX should continue to be a winner; "I think you can still own this name."

[Thursday, December 15, 2011]

Morgan Stanley evidently vexed by more than just Europe

Julia Boorstin did a hit on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to point out Zynga might've priced itself a little bit below euphoria.

Boorstin said they could've priced at $12 without reissuing an S-1, and $10 is "not quite as high as Zynga could've issued the shares.

And, Boorstin pointed out that Morgan Stanley mutual funds have previously invested in the shares at $14 (ouch).

Stephanie Chang said a lot of social media names have stumbled after the IPO because of a risk-off mentality in the sector. But she said Zynga has many things to like. Stephen Weiss said "there's no investor loyalty" in a name like Zynga.


Guest warns about a possible bubble that hasn’t happened and might be years away

From the beginning, this page has rightly declared CNBC's Mary Thompson as the Prettiest Hair on Cable Television, even as Seema Mody has been bringing heightened competition.

However, CNBC contributor Stacey Widlitz, we discovered on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, has something going in this category also ... like big-time going on, as in, stylist's dream.

But while momentarily distracted by the hair, we were actually more intrigued by Widlitz's curious bubble warning about a stock that just IPO'd.

Widlitz said of KORS, "basically the stock is priced for perfection."

Karen Finerman said the CEO has strong credentials and she wouldn't expect him to miss right away and that there's likely "some amount of sandbagging."

So then Widlitz backpedaled slightly, agreeing, "their business is on fire ... What I'm suggesting is that, down the road, like you've seen with a trajectory like LULU, as these stocks, um the expectations are for these huge comps every quarter and for perfection, down the road you just really have to be careful."

This despite the fact LULU is hugely above IPO price and really isn't worse than a lot of highly regarded stocks the last couple months.

Finerman revealed that Metropolitan Capital got IPO shares "at the offer price" and did that old thing about how if-you-hold-it-it's-equivalent-to-buying-it-every-day. "I think it's OK here, um, we're gonna, if it trades down a little I would add," Finerman said, adding if it shot up about $4, she'd probably sell.

Back to the hair. Moviegoers hoping for some great flicks this award season are going to be massively disappointed. One such overrated bust is "The Descendants," a useless film put together by George Clooney in which (no spoilers, but stop reading now if you prefer utterly no details) half of the drama is rattled off in narration/speeches and seemingly all the exciting moments have already happened offscreen.

But something the film does boast is Shailene Woodley, who was only 19 for the filming so let's not get too carried away just yet ... but is, quite frankly ... perfect, in every physical category (George makes sure to include several pool/beach scenes), including hair ... and in the very near future is likely to be on the short list for World's Most Beautiful Woman.

For once, a day without a demonstrable gold call by Dennis Gartman

We're big fans of Dan Dicker. Yet, as often happens with a fresh new Fast Money guest, Dicker has fallen into a rut of saying basically the same thing in every appearance (not sure about oil but wouldn't short it, Transocean and Apache are trading soooo low, at some point they're screaming buys, etc.).

Thursday at 5 p.m. Dicker said that Brent's fall to $106 from its peak isn't a collapse, but actually resembles a "dip to buy in a secular bull market."

Dicker said SLB near $60 would be a "great great value play to have at that price," and that APA in the low $80s is also appealing.

‘All you have to do is watch my back — and each other’s — and take out the trash’

Joe Terranova received a Twitter question on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money in which he objected to the premise (XLE and OIH recently signaling oil in decline), and seemed to be highly cognizant of Dalton's 3rd rule at the Double Deuce for handling such a situation.

"How do you be gentle," or "be nice," Terranova asked his colleagues.

Nobody really had a good answer, as Terranova went on to shrug off the claim. Which is a good time for Dalton's reminder, "I want you to remember, that it’s a job, it’s nothing personal.”

And to think that a year ago, its biggest problem was the UAE complaining that the servers were in North America

There is quite frankly almost nothing on Fast Money this page loathes more than a Research in Motion conversation. So we'll get Thursday's mumbo jumbo out of the way quickly.

Greatest Super Genius of Tech Stock Calls of All Time Colin Gillis said on Thursday's 5 p.m. show, "This is just the beginning," and don't expect Microsoft to buy it; "that doesn't make any sense to us."

Guy Adami said it's "reprehensible" that RIMM management could've missed its revised target.

Karen Finerman complained, "it is ridiculously cheap. However, it continues to get even more and more ridiculously cheap."

Later, Jon Fortt said QNX is being delayed, and Mike Khouw said, "This seems like a death knell to me." Then Melissa Lee hailed RIMM creeping within a dollar of Gillis' All World price target of $13.

‘Geeky guys’ fall for Melissa

Michael Chertoff, who's got the obviously lucrative consulting business going since leaving government, joined Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to deliver one of the most sleep-inducing segments recently on the need for cybersecurity.

Congress, he said, is "dumbfounded at the amount of intellectual property that is being stolen from our country."

Guy Adami told Chertoff that Adami has never seen the cause of the Flash Crash reported and asked if it could've been cyberterror. Chertoff said he didn't know but that there are threats to things like that.

Joe Terranova recommended ITT and CACI, and later, MANI. Pete Najarian touted Symantec.

Guy Adami told Mel Lee, "You did a great documentary on just this topic." Karen Finerman reminded Lee that in that documentary she interviewed "kind of geeky guys ... they were so excited to be with Melissa."

Event booked probably 6-7 years ago seen as catalyst

Stephen Weiss trumpeted managed care for his Final Trade on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, followed by Guy Adami with ETR, Karen Finerman with COV and Pete Najarian with LLY ... before Jon Najarian, in that same (or similar) vest straight out of "The Sting," suddenly turned up at the end of the desk to tout Adobe, "love the earnings."

Melissa Lee called that a "Bonus. Final. Trade!" (As opposed to Halftime's Call the Close, in which just 1 of the panelists actually meeting the segment definition of Calling the Close is considered a bonus.)

Guest Taposh Bari said he likes NKE in 2012 with a $115 price target for 3 reasons, "price increases ... Summer Olympics ... NFL uniform deal."

How Steve Cortes’ book could give Patty Edwards a media boost

In the wake of Best Buy's meltdown Tuesday, Reuters writers Brad Dorfman and Jessica Wohl speed-dialed Patty Edwards for some thoughts on trends permeating the retail sector this holiday season.

"Almost everybody is on the free shipping kick," Edwards says in the article.

The only problem is that Edwards is only the 4th of 5 analysts cited, not reflective of her television-bolstered credentials.

The thing about quotes, they bring life to a news story. To get people to read something about ... (Zzzz) ... Best Buy's margins, writers are compelled to find some connection with pop culture — or some other kind of assessment that gets people's attention.

Notice the first quote in this article is, "I think Best Buy is the canary in the coal mine." Tired, overdone, not exactly Daniel Webster, certainly beatable.

If Steve Cortes, who has carved a cottage industry of such analogies, were asked to make that assessment, it would undoubtedly be something like, "Best Buy margins are like that closet fire O.J. discovered in 'The Towering Inferno'; once everyone realizes how bad it really is, even Steve McQueen won't be able to help."

And that's what you'd be reading at the beginning of that story.

So instead of the "free shipping kick," Patty should've said something like, "Free shipping hasn't been this important since Tom Hanks dropped off that package at the end of 'Cast Away'," and seen her name catapult to the top of that article.

Hopefully AP's Anne D'Innocenzio, who hasn't quoted Edwards since about Aug. 17, will pick up the phone again soon.

Greifeld might’ve given his own team credit for other team’s score

Steve Grasso is based at the NYSE, but thanks to No. 386, the Fast Money franchise on Thursday's Halftime Report found itself in its biggest landlord flap since Mr. Furley overheard Terri and Jack in the bathroom.

Judge Scott Wapner was interviewing Nasdaq chief Bob Greifeld about swiping Texas Instruments from the NYSE, which Greifeld claimed was one of "12 switches so far this year" in his favor.

Judge then impressively asked, how many has the Nasdaq lost. Greifeld incredibly claimed, "I don't know off the top of my head."

"In all seriousness, you really can't remember," Judge said.

Greifeld insisted he couldn't, but that "The large companies are coming to Nasdaq."

That's when Grasso burst into the conversation, claiming in the last 2 years, 28 companies have actually jumped from the Nasdaq to the NYSE, including Prosperity Bancshares this week.

No, Greifeld inisted, "We already have 12 this year." Grasso restated the question before Judge chippily cut in, saying he wasn't going to allow either side to "belabor that point," even though Judge himself was the one asking twice for the number of Nasdaq losses and still hadn't gotten it.

Dow Jones Newswires, citing listing consultant Patrick Healy, reports "There have been seven companies, with a combined market capitalization of $78 billion, that have moved to Nasdaq from the Big Board this year, according to Healy. By contrast, 12 companies have moved to the Big Board from Nasdaq. But they have a combined market capitalization of only $29 billion."

So either Greifeld is way short ... or there's somehow more wiggle room for interpretation in Nasdaq/NYSE listings/delistings than in Herb Greenberg's analyst pool of GMCR sales forecasts.

Analyst: Europe on the verge of realizing the joy of QE

We noted yesterday that it's been a while since Guy Adami brought up the "stairs up and the elevator down" refrain on commodities, but he made it 2-for-2 on Thursday's Halftime Report.

Nonetheless, in "months to come," Adami says $2,000 makes a lot of sense for gold.

Steve Cortes admitted, "I'm kicking myself that I haven't shorted it," even though his book doesn't recommend shorting it. "I don't think it's time to get in now though" on the short side, he said.

Guest Francisco Blanch predicted the euro falling to 1.25 but said once the ECB starts doing QE, "that's gonna start to support gold prices."

Zach Karabell questioned that, given the ECB's protestations that it will never do that. "I think they will have to do it," Blanch said.

Steve Cortes made his now-familiar comment that gold doesn't produce income like oil or property does, forgetting that AAPL and BRK don't either and it hasn't exactly stopped buyers.

Euro herd unfollowed

Steve Cortes, who in his book (um, you've heard about it) questions the slant of media with statements such as, "More than for any other purpose, I write this book hoping it will empower the reader to wisely discern the motivations of the media and Wall Street," led off Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report citing, of all things, a New York Times article on "open armed rebellion" in China that happens to fit his long-term thesis perfectly.

Zach Karabell told Cortes, if you think that's big, "have you been to a Jets game lately?" (Or actually, what about the Oakland Raiders ... or even the y'inz ...)

Cortes said he was adding to his oil short but is taking off his euro short, even though he still hates the euro.

Andy Busch said he would sell euros on the announcement of a downgrade of Germany/France.

For yield hunting, Zach Karabell said he "bought some JXI" and also mentioned JNK and HYG. Steve Grasso touted D and XLU, Steve Cortes for the umpteenth time said SO, while Guy Adami rattled off PFE, HD and MCD.

Good thing Judge didn’t unleash Herb on the actual number of companies leaving the Nasdaq for NYSE

Judge Wapner on Thursday's Halftime tried to explain this goofy undoing of the Mark Astrachan GMCR report (not sure if it's the company's fault, analyst's fault, or the government's fault) that really requires a news article that we're not going to bother to read (because we already tried one, and that didn't make any sense either).

Herb Greenberg, though, in newfound stand-up mode, declared, "This is absolutely absurd," questioning the original dissemination of the customs info, "did the company tell other analysts," and bemoaning, "Now we have less transparency just when this company needs more transparency."

Greenberg later got to ask Jim Sanderson of Detwiler Fenton if the soft pod is a difference-maker in this space. Sanderson said there are "more brands looking at that product line as an alternative to the K-cup."

Judge couldn't get Greenberg to really answer his question at the end of the segment, asking if an analysis that sales are affected by promotional issues isn't subjective.

Guy Adami never talks about Colin Gillis’ calls on AMZN

Guest Mark McKechnie said on Thursday's Halftime Report he's got $10 patent value in RIMM shares, plus a few dollars more, and the issue isn't so much this quarter; "I think February's gonna be likely worse."

Guy Adami tried to tell Judge Wapner that Colin Gillis is the greatest analyst since sliced bread on RIMM. Judge protested that a lot of other people saw this too. "Listen. I think Colin was the leader in this," Adami insisted.

FDX watcher David Ross said the upside is that the company reaffirmed guidance and didn't cut. Zach Karabell asked Ross if FDX is a sign that, despite Europe's problems, "the global economy probably isn't that bad." Steve Grasso called that an "amazing point."

[Wednesday, December 14, 2011]

Strazzullo: Gold could hit $1,100

Gold was the story on Wednesday, and who better than former Fast Money Halftime great Bill Strazzullo, who hasn't been heard from on Fast Money in ages, to stake his claim on the 5 p.m. show.

"The selling's not over by any stretch," Strazzullo said, saying if it climbs to $1,625 or $1,660, "you wanna sell any strength."

"Minimally, gold trades down to 1,400," and maybe as low as $1,100. Guy Adami asked if news of a central bank buyer would turn the market around. Strazzullo shrugged that off, saying, "Sellers are getting more aggressive."

Karen Finerman asked Strazzullo if he can tell the difference whether it's retail or institutional investors who are selling. Strazzullo indicated he really couldn't, but the bottom line is, a bunch of people got caught long at the peak in September.

Joe Terranova asked about crude. Strazzullo called that a "good question" and said $93 and $95.50 are the key leves, "kinda the last line in the sand" before a trip to the $80s.

Strazzullo, tapping into a typical market/Fast Money theme, after 3 down days indicating something like "next it'll go through this level, then it'll go through that level, and then you're lookin' at ...," claimed, "I don't think the bear market in uh, uh, equities is over, uh, not by any stretch," and rattled off 1,180 and 1,140-1,150.

Guy Adami nevertheless said on the show that "such and such central bank" will announce a gold buy in the near future, and that "should put a bottom to this."

Brian Kelly also was fairly optimistic, saying, "You might have another hundred dollars down of it," but buyers will ultimately be there. "The rest of the commodities do concern me a bit," Kelly said.

For the first time since maybe he finally hopped aboard the gold bandwagon a while back, Guy Adami that gold is something that takes the "stairs up, elevator down."

Does that mean the 9-point plan is a contrarian indicator?

Peter Misek wasn't too enthusiastic about Research in Motion on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, but Guy Adami delivered a bigger slam to Fast Money friend Lee Cooperman.

Misek said of RIMM's Thursday conference call, "I think it's gonna be a disaster."

Adami pointed to Nov. 10, when he said "a lot of folks" said to buy on the news of Lee Cooperman getting in. "I think a lot of us said that's probably not the right move," Adami said.

Apparent over-exuberance from last appearance adds restraint to Gordon Johnson’s FSLR celebration

You thought Gordon Johnson would be gloating about his FSLR call on Fast Money.

Instead, Johnson was backpedaling on his recent Fast Money claim that FSLR is a couple years away from being a bankruptcy candidate, "I think the timeline actually doesn't get accelerated ... I misspoke a bit. Their projects I think will help them stay in business for the next 2 years," Johnson told Melissa Lee.

But, he insisted, investors are losing confidence in First Solar's EPS guidance, and that the stock could get all the way down to $20 before he'd think about exiting the short. He told Guy Adami there's no beneficiary in the sector; "supply is way higher than demand."

Karen Finerman congratulated Johnson on an "amazing call."

Johnson said his 2 top short picks in the space are FSLR and the ever-popular Meyer Burger, whose symbol, Johnson said, is MBTN.SW.

Fast Money is merely a complement to panelists’ primary business

Dana Telsey chirped on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that Michael Kors looks like a bargain at $20 and is likely a buy up to $26-$28. "I think it is attractive," Telsey said. "They're still in the early innings of expanding the in-store shops in department stores, so there's more runway to go."

Karen Finerman said she agreed with practically everything Telsey was saying. "I'm trying to buy some on the, uh, offer, hope we get a nice allocation," Finerman said.

1,265 is such a distant memory

Tim Seymour, who a couple days ago was assuring viewers we've seen the lows for the year, on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was jumping on the worse-and-worse-and-worse bandwagon, predicting "89 on the dollar index, DXY, is where I think we go."

Later Seymour said, "1,186 is the level I would be most concerned about."

Joe Terranova said he got "bounced out of Caterpillar today," but not a disaster; "in essence it was a free trade, lost a little bit of money."

Jim Iuorio said the VIX isn't spiking because "they're not falling for the daily swings" anymore.

Rare Fast Money moment: Panelist suggests holding off on Ag Trade; evidently people don’t have to eat as much as they usually do

Urs Dur, back on Fast Money again, has a $100 target for FDX and said he likes EXPD, SSW and GLNG.

Karen Finerman was practically throwing her hands up over the Andrea Jung ascension/demotion to executive chairman, calling that "so untenable."

Brian Kelly said of the 10-year, "it could go, you know, 1½%, it wouldn't surprise me at all."

Joe Terranova actually said MOS is too close to its 52-week low, so "wait till earnings."

Cortes: ‘Whole solar space frankly is a joke’

If Steve Cortes' take on gold Wednesday wasn't your cup of tea, you might find him more agreeable on the subject of solar stocks, where quite frankly he knocked one out of the park on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

FSLR Jeff Bencik was the guest, saying the problem in the solar space is that there are "many companies selling at cost" and "likely additional bankruptcies, uh, in the space." But, neatly pressed by Judge Wapner, Bencik conceded that First Solar is the "best house on a bad block" and figures to get "incrementally better."

Cortes then offered his familiar compare-nat-gas-chart-to-solar refrain but upped the rhetoric, saying, "I think the whole solar space frankly is a joke. I think it is a political machination. And if you believe at all that the GOP is gonna win the White House, these solar stocks are absolutely finished."

Without trying to sound too harsh, we've gotta agree with those first 2 sentences, and it's high time someone told it like it is. Solar's a fine idea but a vastly premature "industry." If or when it works on a broad scale — beyond Larry Hagman's house — great; until then it's just a pork program of pro-environmental politicians who submit about one report a year claiming if this happens and this happens and this happens and that happens, then we'll be able to light up every Starbucks in Seattle with solar power for the next 50 years, etc. As for Cortes' last sentence above, if the GOP debates have actually convinced Cortes of that, then Gingrich/Romney/Paul/Bachmann & Co. are more successful than we thought.

Fraud is ‘endemic,’ and some of the stocks are ‘worthless,’ but not ‘insinuating’ anything

Steve Cortes, seeing bubbles and busts everywhere on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, extended that notion to a select listing of China-based stocks rattled off by Judge Wapner that included BIDU, SINA, SOHU, FMCN, DANG, RENN, QIHU and YOKU.

"The bottom for some of them quite honestly is zero. ... Some of those stocks are absolutely worthless," Cortes said, adding that "Chinese fraud is endemic."

You always know when a Fast Money panelist has scared the lawyers into roaring into Judge Wapner's earpiece, as Judge followed Cortes' comments by assuring viewers that Cortes "in no way" is insinuating "any sort of fraud" in companies on that list. Cortes affirmed that and said he's merely talking "generically" about a "systemic Chinese problem."

Cortes did make a good point — one we haven't verified yet — that since Google got booted out of China, Google has outperformed Baidu.

Judge succumbed to the dreaded cliche with Lorillard, "smoke 'em if you got 'em." Steve Cortes said ATF is not just a government agency, but an investment strategy.

AAPL, BRK pay you nothing, part of that Greater Fool Theory of perception

3 days into his weeklong NYC promotion of his new book's months yearslong investment thesis, Steve Cortes is already declaring victory.

"Those who read Chapter 3 of my new book won't be surprised at this price action in gold," Cortes said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report. "Gold is based completely on perception ... gold pays you nothing. So you are relying 100% on the perception of its value. It's the Greater Fool Theory, leveraged ... I think it's going to 1,000 eventually. I think this is an absolute bubble."

So the dollar, evidently, is an awesome trade because there is no "perception" involved.

The good thing about a daily gold crash is that it brings Rich Ilczyszyn onto the Fast Money set, and despite Cortes' assertions, the Ilchmeister was "absolutely not" the least bit unfazed for his gold-possibly-$2,000-in-2012 call. "I think you're getting a little bit of a closure at year's end in some of the bigger books," Ilczyszyn said. "I think you can almost play the market, uh, from the long or the short side and make money short term, as I have."

Anthony Scaramucci though wasn't seeing much short-term hope, saying, "It's gonna trade lower now ... central banks are raising cash, uh, and they're selling gold."

Yes, this week, Dennis Gartman was right. Not that it helped people in his fund, which will probably unload at the bottom. Unfortunately we knew we'd get a Gartman reference Wednesday even if he wasn't on the show, and Judge Wapner delivered, referring to the difference between Gartman unloading his personal account vs. investment fund, saying it's "important to let everybody know ... the size of his fund out, uh, weighs the size of his personal portfolio by some 60 times."

Following the herd (cont’d)

Jens Nordvig spoke on one of those dreaded crackly phone connections on Wednesday's Halftime Report and managed to enunciate to Judge Wapner that he sees the euro at 1.25 by the "end of the first quarter."

Steve Cortes ramped that up a bit, saying, "If we have a poor auction this week, I think we'll see 1.20 as soon as next week." But then Cortes cautioned shorts, "this is not the spot to add."

Cortes also predicted, "I think crude gets back into the 80s."

Cortes: Below $370,
AAPL goes to $300

Mark Mahaney didn't exactly set the world on fire on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report explaining that he's got a "hold or neutral" rating on Groupon.

Mahaney said concerns about AMZN relate to margins, and controversy over the Kindle Fire (which Steve Grasso says on some level is an iPad killer).

"Google is our favorite stock here," Mahaney said.

Chris Caso also came on to report there's a "bit of a secular shift" away from PCs to smartphones and tablets, in case you weren't aware there's also been a "secular shift" away from disco.

Anthony Scaramucci and Steve Cortes both trumpeted Intel. Cortes said, "I am short Apple ... If we break 370, I think Apple goes to 300."

Of course, Immelt is on the list ... but the way it works, probably more likely to be on Sully’s

Herb Greenberg and Brian Sullivan on Wednesday's Halftime added another brick in the wall to their 5 best/worst CEO lists of 2011.

Herb's pick was Kodak's Antonio Perez, as No. 4, for the turnaround that's supposed to happen every year that doesn't, and some kind of lack of follow-up on printers.

Anthony Scaramucci questioned, "is he too salesy of a guy, was there too much overpromotion," bringing a semi-obnoxicous "obviously, obviously" chorus from Herb.

Sullivan on the other hand picked Angel Martinez, for keeping UGG hip at Deckers. Judge Wapner felt compelled to say twice there was a "line around the corner."

Call the Close gets less about ‘4 p.m. on Wall Street’ every day

Guest Mark Astrachan on Wednesday's Halftime made the case against Green Mountain in that he found brewer imports from China "declining, not just decelerating."

Jon Najarian said he would buy the stock only below $40. Astrachan said his fair value is in the $30s.

Pete Najarian said of Astrachan, "Everything he just said seems to scream Starbucks to me."

Astrachan also took up the uninteresting Andrea Jung maneuver, saying, "She's probably a part of the problem," but there are non-management "disadvantages" to the business. Pete Najarian said July $20 calls were hopping.

Pete Najarian correctly identified the theme of Call the Close, saying financials could bounce which means the market is "going higher." Steve Cortes said he was "adding to oil shorts." Anthony Scaramucci made it a "Call Brussels" segment, predicting euro up, but long-term trend lower.

[Tuesday, December 13, 2011]

Dennis Gartman outtrading ...

Dennis Gartman worked in a couple more "demonstrablys" on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, telling Melissa Lee that he unloaded the gold in his personal account because "The market was telling me that I needed to sell it, Mel."

Lee impressively asked why, if Gartman is unloading his personal stake, isn't he doing that for his investment accounts (plural). Gartman said, "Because I can only make changes in that investment account (singular) at the end of any month," so the Gartman scorecard is something like, 1-up, 1-down, except other people are presumably in the investment fund.

Lee, after some breaking news on Avon, explained to viewers that Gartman "actually sort of got into it" last week with Peter Schiff, who had chortled that Gartman had called gold the "biggest bubble of our lifetime" in August. (That wasn't quite what Gartman said, but it was close.)

Lee played the Aug. 24 Gartman clip, where he said, "This was in fact one of the great bubbles of our time."

Oddly enough, the screen text said "Gold reached a high of $1,923.70 on Sept. 6." Now we're not Fields Medal winners, but after careful contemplation, we've come to the conclusion that Sept. 6 is demonstrably about 2 weeks after Aug. 24.

So on Aug. 24, the "bubble" was in the past tense ... on Sept. 6, the former "bubble" was still higher.

Lee described this curious opinion as "actually a good call in the end."

Tim Seymour was downright congratulatory, claiming, "it was a great call."

But even Tuesday, Gartman was hardly calling it a success, saying of the present gold market, "Too many people own it, uh, and you probably need to take a few people out of the market, nothing more than that."

Diane Swonk is on first-name basis with Federal Reserve chairman

Mesirow Financial legend Diane Swonk, whose CNBC stomping ground generally tends to be Squawk Box, made a rare Fast Money appearance Tuesday on the 5 p.m. show and actually suggested that the Federal Reserve chairman might've had an ulterior motive for the quiet meeting.

"I think Ben got a nice birthday out of this ... he can actually have a quiet birthday dinner with his wife," Swonk said.

(As opposed to ... hiking rates 1.25 basis points, and then having Jimmy Pethokoukis types pounding on the walls of his home late into the evening?)

Swonk, in an appealing, chic, leopard outfit (rowr, rowr) that served notice to The World's Cutest Economist, Michelle Meyer, who isn't on Fast Money since Karen Finerman asked in November 2009 if this is an "after-school job" in the combination greatest/most tragic Fast Money episode ever, kinda like "Rocky," indicated she and/or the Fed have faith in a historical sample size of 2 that has as much relevance today as Shields & Yarnell, saying the central bank sees inflation below comfortable levels and has concerns about a liquidity trap and hopes to, in part, psychologically get money off the sidelines, because "that's what they learned from the Great Depression and from Japan."

When stocks go down, it’s always a non-fundamental fault

Tim Seymour and Karen Finerman sounded downright anguished on the 5 p.m. Fast Money that it was difficult to make money on the long side Tuesday.

The "machines" are running the market, Seymour said, and "There's nothing that you can do, uh, to pick stocks in markets like this."

Finerman grumbled that "fundamentals just don't matter."

Guy Adami said people have another range bottom to trade against. "I'm more inclined to buy here than sell," he said.

Joe Terranova listed MCD, IBM, PFE and AXP as names he likes and/or wants to own and that are winning.

Peter Schiff evidently wasn’t asked to spice things up

A parade of tired analysts on Tuesday really failed to set the 5 p.m. Fast Money on fire.

Paul Sankey said that because of Iran's shenanigans, "it feels very very risky down there right now" in the Persian Gulf oil scene. He said Brent will hit $115 next year, and he said, "Anyone who ever calls for 200 isn't thinking straight."

Brian Marshall said the Apple/Anobit rumor came from a respected publication, and "it actually makes a lot of sense."

Ed Aaron said of DMND, "We're essentially on the sidelines with this stock."

Still north of AMZN

Karen Finerman, who wasn't finding much at all to like in Tuesday's stock market action, seemed unimpressed by the Avon action that keeps Andrea Jung as chairman.

The company's problems are no "secret," Finerman said, and a dividend cut is probable. Guy Adami said hey, you've still got a good level — $16 — to trade against.

Mike Khouw said Best Buy is "pretty much in secular decline," hours after Anthony Chukumba told the Halftime contingent that the stock was "oversold." Guy ADami said there might be some short-term capitulation.

Tim Seymour said EEM is still oversold.

Karen Finerman had no idea why PLCM was up 4% at one point; "I really don't know why."

Jon Najarian told viewers what NTSB stands for.

Joe Terranova revealed, "I owe John Chambers an apology."

Guy Adami revealed vital statisticts. "I gotta get down to about 195, which is another 15, 16 pounds," Adami said. "I'm 6-foot-3 but Karen has longer legs than me."

Apparently, it can pay to be part of the herd

Steve Cortes has just released a book that warns against following the herd.

On Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Cortes stressed that he's short the euro because he thinks it's "absolutely heading into the 120s."

But later in the show, Amelia Bourdeau warned that the "market is heavily positioned short euro," and so be "careful," it's a crowded trade at least through year-end.

Sometimes, events on the ground don't work out quite so neatly with theory, as in "A Few Good Men," when Lt. Weinberg declares,"It's the difference between PAPER law, and TRIAL law."

Interesting comment about
the anti-war president

Steve Cortes on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report delivered a soundbite that Newt Gingrich should consider airing in some of the country's more liberal pockets.

"President Obama has shown us that he is certainly willing to be adventurous with the military," Cortes said.

Cortes said, regarding oil, "It is a very much in Iran's interest, right, to rattle the cage," but not to actually do anything. He said he's most bearish on oil because "China yesterday hit yet another new low for 2011" in Shanghai stocks; "that is terrible news for crude."

This got started when Dan Dicker reported that with Iran, "it's saber-rattling again," and that Tehran is warning of "some sort of military action." But Dicker said the market is polarized on where crude is headed, with people buying $125-$155 calls as well as $45-$55 puts.

Unfortunately, Judge Scott Wapner warned that Dennis Gartman is coming on at 5 p.m. to deliver another gold call. Steve Cortes explained he's very negative on gold in his book, but "I don't know that now is the time to sell it though." Patty Edwards said she has trimmed some gold positions, but "still long, intend to stay long."

Patty suggests retail proponents were ‘smoking opium’

Patty Edwards, not really given a whole lot of opportunity to speak Tuesday but at least introduced early in the Halftime Report, delivered a facial to those who were flooding her inbox with how great retail is this season, declaring, "It is just not a pretty scene when everyone was really smoking opium I guess," adding the numbers were "not all that inspiring frankly."

Edwards later suggested there's no reason to be in SHLD.

Brian Kelly said "You wanna be in names that go to the U.S. consumer." Steve Cortes said he's selling Holly Golightly.

Guest Anthony Chukumba said Best Buy, between margins and sales, is "sort of darned if you do, darned if you don't." But he thinks the stock is "oversold at current levels ... valuation's just dirt cheap."

Rare on-air rebuke
by Fast Money colleague

Stephen Weiss on Tuesday's Halftime Report started to deliver a cautionary note on MCD, pointing to the dollar, "I am worried ... YUM's different, they're more domestic, and they're China-"

"Ah ah ah ah ah," interrupted Patty Edwards, in kind of an annoying way. "No they are not more domestic. They're actually, almost the exact same percentage, um, their sales that are international."

Weiss said YUM is less involved in Europe than MCD, which Edwards agreed with.

Weiss also claimed "Darden is more like the JCPenney of retail." So why don't they hire an AAPL guy to serve red lobster?

Steve Cortes and Brian Kelly argued over whether lower food input costs (Cortes) are enough to offset possibly lower demand (Kelly).

Not exactly in irrational exuberance mode

Steve Liesman joined the Tuesday Halftime Report gang to say almost nothing interesting about the Federal Reserve, except that next year with the Fed funds rate, expect hints about getting a "very different number to trade off of."

Stephen Weiss complained, "They haven't gotten a GDP forecast right in how long?" Liesman responded, "As long as you've been short the euro."

Brian Kelly, who had to deal with the "3 Steves," wondered "does anybody really care" about such an "esoteric rate," and wouldn't it make more sense to "target the unemployment rate." Liesman said, "that's a whole can of worms."

Walter Pritchard
vs. Whitney Tilson

Guest Arvind Bhatia told Judge Wapner on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that he's not a Zynga bull because "we think that growth is slowing. We think that margins are under pressure," and that free cash flow is at a standstill.

"We're trying to be intellectually very honest ... this is not personal," Bhatia said, sounding a little like Michael Corleone.

Stephen Weiss pushed in a couple ways for Bhatia to reveal the mood toward the stock he's getting from potential investors. Bhatia wouldn't bite, saying, "People are still making up their mind."

Walter Pritchard painted a rosy picture for CRM, saying he expects billings to re-accelerate, profitability to be turning the corner in January, and a good pipeline for next year.

Brian Kelly said if you're in MBIA, "Take your profit and run."

Kelly correctly did a Call the Close, saying the highs are in for the day, but Patty Edwards (buy Costco), Steve Cortes (short crude) and Stephen Weiss (short euro) incorrectly did a Final Trade instead.

CNBC's Bill Griffeth had the chance to interview investing great Barton Biggs later in the afternoon. Biggs gave Griffeth a hard time about something Biggs had written on obesity, but Griffeth claimed, "He was just busting my chops."

[Monday, December 12, 2011]

Karen Finerman says kind of a bad word on national television

Karen Finerman was asked to analyze the increasingly hostile Martin Marietta/Vulcan situation and pointed out these companies have had a long time to discuss the arrangements of a partnership and that the pieces aren't exactly in place, so she'd sit this one out for now.

For example, Karen said, "If I were (a) MLM shareholder, I'd be kind of pissed that all of the premium gets to go to the Vulcan shareholders."

Anthony Scaramucci said the fact this is in play is "very very bullish" for the economy in general because it's an "infrastructure rebuild" story.

Melissa hits one out of the park

In early August, those "lows in for the year" calls are somewhat bold.

By mid-December, they don't pack quite the same punch.

Tim Seymour told viewers on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, "I think you have a, a real opportunity to at least seen (sic) the lows for the year today."

Seymour pronounced the European hangover "possibly over at least for the short term."

Guy Adami traders can now "trade against" the 1,227 level just as they've presumably been trading against the 1,265 level. Adami also referenced certain stocks such as MCD and YUM with his patented phrase, "benign tape, lousy tape, good tape," they're doing well.

Karen Finerman said of Monday's selloff, "I sort of found the whole thing a little bit ridiculous ... same news that was out Friday."

Melissa Lee took command of Monday's show from the start with quite possibly not just her top outfit of 2011 ... but maybe her top outfit in the history of Fast Money ... in a perfectly form-fitting emerald green dress with sleeves, and something different with the hair as well.

But did he mean Brent,
or WTI?

One oddity with Monday's market was the VIX, which experienced an "absolutely goofy" decline according to Scott Nations on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money. Nations suggested options traders were envisioning a safely range-bound environment and just started unloading volatility.

Tim Seymour gave a long-winded summary of the Brazilian and Russian investment scene, saying, "I love the Brazilian banks here," but that political tension is something to keep an eye on in Russia.

"I don't think Putin falls over, but I would be careful about Russian assets here," said Seymour, who recommended buying EEM as his Final Trade.

Somewhere along the way, he slipped in, "I think oil's at 130 next year."

Joe Terranova suggested DIS as a weak euro play.

With the herd, and
against the herd

A few of the topics on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money undoubtedly got loyal viewers thinking about the concepts they'd just been reading about in Steve Cortes' Against the Herd, which Judge Wapner reminded them to buy at Halftime.

Gold advocate James West repeated the typical refrain of gold bugs, namely that fiat currency always goes bust somewhere down the line, usually within 100 years, and that America and Europe are in "complete crisis breakdown" in regard to currencies.

Melissa Lee joked that West surely isn't going to tell viewers to sell gold. Guy Adami, though, asked if it's possible central banks could start unloading and other central banks would not be on the other side of the trade. West said the IMF in fact sold 400 tons to India. Adami pressed though that if West didn't agree that the gold market would take a pounding if word got out that central banks were only on the selling side. West insisted it wouldn't matter, "There's always gonna be a buyer for it."

Elsewhere in the program, chart expert MacNeil Curry said the euro could fall to 1.25 "before all is said and done," but his comments on the Aussie dollar (he suggests shorting it vs. Canada) were much more vigorous, pointing to what he sees as poor chart trends in Chinese stocks and in commodities.

Try a MET, but not the baseball-playing variety

Guest Chris Danely on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money said (Zzzzz) that people don't buy INTC for Q4 or Q1, but because it's "cheap." Guy Adami said he thinks the stock might have a little more downside.

Scott Nations recommended a MCD put spread, Anthony Scaramucci said PFE is "set up nicely for 2012," and Guy Adami took a stab with MET for a Final Trade. Karen Finerman said "Happy birthday to my big brother Mark."

Melissa Lee showed a picture of tomorrow's guest, Fred Mishkin, that probably resembled how Mishkin felt after seeing "Inside Job" for the first time.

According to Dow Jones newswires, mysterious GLW customer is likely LG Display

For reasons we've never really figured out, Corning for years has been a semi-trendy Fast Money name, presumably because there's always a new electronic device needing a screen ... and yet the stock never does a dang thing.

CFO Jim Flaws on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money had to explain a couple times how a Korean customer backed out of an order; the customer still put in a big order, "just not as much as what we hoped," Flaws said.

Nevertheless, Flaws said Black Friday results look good. Karen Finerman asked if the company has thought about a Dutch auction. Flaws said several people have suggested that recently, but it's not in the cards because the company thinks "the stock's undervalued" and will merely proceed with its $1.5 billion buyback plan.

Evidently Flaws also found the stock undervalued in August, when he bought 75,000 shares at roughly the same price it is now.

Joe Terranova was not very optimistic, saying the company has structural, not cyclical, issues. Guy Adami said the stock seems a bit range-bound but it's kind of at the "lower end of the range."

David Strasser came on the show later to talk about the place where many buy Corning products, Best Buy, and made it sound like merchandise is just flying off the shelves ... TVs ... "explosive" e-readers, "tablets are really big this year" ... video games ... give me a box of those naked lady tees, gimme 2 of those, gimme 6 of those ...

Herd mentality: CNBCfix.com
reviews Steve Cortes’ book

Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report nicely turned over the stage briefly to Steve Cortes for a brief discussion on Cortes' new book, Against the Herd.

Lo and behold, Cortes wound up Monday in a mini-debate with colleague Zach Karabell, whose Superfusion-esque arguments we found to be a little underaddressed in Cortes' book.

Cortes said his first chapter, about the looming Chinese implosion under its "tyrannical, censor-oriented government," is "to me the most important." But viewers who have heard much of that before may actually be more intrigued by Cortes' 5th chapter ... which sort of declares that if you bought any stocks Monday, you probably made a bad move.

Karabell said he wanted to congratulate Cortes on his "extremely eloquent" way of putting things. But that, "bottom line, they've got the money" in China, verified by Western analysis, to cast doubt on Cortes' conclusions.

Despite most of its forecasts, it's an enthusiastic, likable, fairly quick read that maybe doesn't get deep enough for some of the thought-provoking topics it presents. And we've gotta wonder, why, given his outlook, Cortes thinks it's important for Americans to learn other languages.

But for the whole review, you'll have to click here.

McCullough: S&P ending
year below 1,257

So, you wake up Monday, markets are a bummer, and then you catch a break on CNBC's Fast Money Halftime Report with a sighting of Keith McCoolah McCullough — rapidly surging as one of our favorite Fast Money personalities — straight from Hedgeye HQ to boot.

McCullough called for shorts to wait for "some kind of a bounce on the order of 20 points in the S&P, and then you come back and put 'em all back on again."

He said, if doing a pairs trade, he'd go long consumer stocks and short financials, basic materials and energy.

Keith, sort of the investment community's version of Charles Gasparino, veered into redundancy/cliche land, predicting, "We're not gonna see that level of 1,280 in the S&P before year-end. Now that's a call in and of itself." He also predicted, "I think the S&P's gonna be down for the year." (#timestamp)

Stephen Weiss said he could buy that consumer thesis but make it U.S.-based, like JWN.

Lessee ... Netflix, or Green Mountain, as the Marion Barber?

Judge Wapner on Monday's Halftime tried to pin Brian Kelly into a corner on some of Kelly's recent positions, but Kelly didn't fold, saying he still likes long euro vs. short Swiss franc, that he thinks U.S. stocks have a leg higher, but he did sell Italian bonds.

Budding author Steve Cortes starkly claimed the notion of a euro breakup being good for Germany as a "naive view," and that "I'm adding to euro currency shorts today," and reiterating later that he sees a euro shakeup as "potentially catastrophic."

Cortes also played Monday afternoon quarterback, claiming, "The U.S. dollar is the Tim Tebow of investments right now."

Zach Karabell said he still thinks stocks would rally if the Europe overhang lifts, but "clearly we're not there yet." Stephen Weiss said, "We don't need the euro to break up for the euro to continue to go lower."

Dennis Gartman is in
‘demonstrable’ mode again

Clearly, one of the first things the financial community needed Monday was another gold call from Dennis Gartman.

The Commodities King obliged, saying on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that gold can "very quickly" hit $1,500 or even $1,450 and is bound to hit those levels before $1,800.

Steve Grasso said he thinks gold buyers will actually step in around $1,600 or $1,625.

Gartman said "real damage is being done to the euro," and that as soon as "a month from now," the euro figures to be "demonstrably lower" (as opposed to secretly/artificially lower).

Craig Berger nicely tells Judge, ‘Told ya so’

Not only was Judge Scott Wapner on Monday's Halftime zinging Brian Kelly, he also saved a few jabs for Intel watcher Craig Berger, asking Berger if he too was caught by surprise by INTC's outlook on Monday.

"Actually, uh, you know, if you go back a couple months ago, I was wondering where Intel's been getting all this unit strength," Berger said, which was true (we think it basically was a Squawk Box appearance, but just as good), adding the stock had been moving on pre-Christmas production that's fading.

Steve Cortes said he's been long INTC, not working too well Monday, and asked Berger if he thinks it still outperforms its peers. "I actually don't," said Berger, who recommended buying other cyclically depressed chip firms instead.

Colin Gillis barged onto the show later to say Amazon now has the "No. 2 ecosystem," with the good news being that the Fire is going to sell 4 million units, the bad news being they're not making money on it. Judge Wapner reported complaints about the Fire from credible sources. Steve Grasso insisted, "It is a little bit of an iPad killer."

Rick Wagoner presumably
isn’t on the short list

Phil LeBeau did one of those automotive interviews during Monday's Halftime Report with Ford exec Mark Fields, who spent more time talking about his boss than his cars.

Fields said Mulally hasn't said anything about any kind of transition timing, and told Judge Wapner, "We do not have an external search under way."

After Fields' interview ended, Steve Grasso said he wanted to ask him about real nat gas vehicles, because "no one wants to buy the hybrid."

Brian Shactman turned up at a FedEx depot with Lazard's Urs Dur, which first made us wonder, is that the guy from "King of Queens" (no, that was a UPS-like unit, and he never wore a suit to work), and second, is FedEx so desperate for holiday help it's hiring analysts to shovel packages? (#unemployment reversal). Dur said FDX might beat by a penny or 2, and that guessing who wins between FDX and UPS is sort of like picking between Coke and Pepsi. Steve Cortes said FDX is "far more" exposed to non-U.S. risk than UPS, so if you want to be in the space — he doesn't — try UPS (and hope it delivers).

Herb Greenberg:
Stand-up guy

Herb Greenberg decided to do his Monday effort for the Fast Money Halftime Report the original Strategy Session way — chairless — which undoubtedly benefitted viewers in that there was no computer screen within reach for Herb to point to 12-point StockTwits font.

Greenberg bemoaned of NFLX, "it's a rumor stock now," and wondered, "Who buys this stuff on rumors?"

Zach Karabell joked that Greenberg sounds like he's starting a new Tea Party over Netflix rumors.

Simon Baker said he thinks ERTS will pop with Zynga, and that also "it looks like a great acquisition for Microsoft." Baker also likes ALXN and ABT.

Zach Karabell said he's inclined to put the brakes on Fastenal despite the notion of some that the top performers are the ones likely to keep going higher.

Steve Grasso Called the Close suggesting the S&P will tip lower than 1,228. Steve Cortes said long SVU, which isn't really Calling the Close, and Brian Kelly said the short-term bottom could happen if something like an S&P cut for Europe occurs, which isn't really Calling the Close either.

The most blunt Call the Close was Stephen Weiss contending, "Wnergy goes a lot lower here on demand falling off a cliff."

[Friday, December 9, 2011]

Michelle Meyer sighting
on Money in Motion

Money in Motion viewers got an early holiday treat Friday when Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Michelle Meyer, The World's Cutest Economist, took questions from the panel.

"We're getting closer to making progress in Europe, but we're not there yet," Meyer said.

Andy Busch asked if the Fed cutting rates on dollar swaps is a form of easing. Meyer said yes, in a way; "it has QE-like, uh, support for the economy."

Rebecca Patterson, who knocked Money in Motion male viewers' socks off months ago when suggesting showering in bikini in gold, asked Meyer if the Fed might lift its outlook. Meyer said it's likely to "keep that sentence about downside risks from what's happening over in Europe ... they're not quite ready to do a QE."

Note the photo above is not from Meyer's Friday appearance, but from an earlier interview at the Nasdaq, but it's so staggeringly cute that we couldn't resist.

For completeness/bookend sake, there's an image of Friday's segment below.

Melissa Lee said, "Wow. Wow," but not when Meyer talked; rather it was after Michelle Caruso-Cabrera outlined some Spain debt facts.

Obama 2012 slogan: We preserved thousands of outlets for you to get a mortgage?

With only a slight amount of enthusiasm from JJ Kinahan, the Fast Money Halftime gang on Friday was almost universally rejecting banks.

Kinahan said that GS around the $100 level, and JPM, "are still good buys for both shorter and longer term."

Steve Grasso said it's possible to day-trade the sector but a more reliable scenario is waiting for "the next shoe to drop."

Zach Karabell stressed his months- years-long disdain for the sector gives him a bit of pause given that everyone else seems to be in that camp also.

Patty Edwards had the most curious comment on banks, saying, "We need to keep 'em healthy from a political perspective." Indeed. So that the government preserves massive supply in an industry of presently almost pathetic demand, so that the truly strong ones will never really get ahead so that Citigroup can maintain just enough market share to pay off the taxpayers; or in other words, the banks are now automakers, circa 1979-2008.

Friday’s Halftime crew issues series of challenges to each other to affirm the best of Howard Cosell

Simon Hobbs introduced Steve Grasso on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report as, "You're a man who calls it as it is."

Moments later, when Hobbs called on Zach Karabell without fanfare, Karabell said, "Yeah, I mean, unlike Steve who calls it as he sees it, I, I, I try to just kind of go with the flow every day."

Later Hobbs said, "You always seem to be having an existential moment Zach." Karabell responded, "I'm very of the moment and of the greater scheme of things."

Much later, Grasso complained to Money in Motion star Willie Williams that too many people "dance around" a euro call. "I want somebody to come out and really call, call it as they see it," Grasso said, asking Williams if it's going to parity.

Williams may have called it like he sees it, but he danced better than the Puerto Rican champs in "Saturday Night Fever," first dodging the question by pointing out where the euro started the year and where it is now, then saying it's possible it "deteriorates," but carefully stressing, "there is some tail risk out there ... but I don't think that's the central case."

Patty Edwards told it like it is regarding Chipotle in Bellevue, but not on TV.

Listen to Steve Grasso,
rake it in

Steve Grasso was flirting with Brag Trade territory on Friday's Halftime Report, pointing out how he spoke on Wednesday about unloading his AKS and BAC positions, and even in Friday's rally, "They still just barely made it back to the points where I sold."

Later, he said that his MCD and DPZ recommendations from Wednesday actually went up during a rough Thursday.

As for future trades that might work, Grasso said Fusion-io is worth buying in the mid-$20s. But JJ Kinahan kind of turned Grasso's own MCD/DPZ logic against him, saying FIO isn't a stock that's been a winner and so you wanna wait till it's no longer a falling knife. Zach Karabell said he's in the Grasso camp on this one.

Karabell said BCSI is not a "harbinger of things to come (sic)" and that if you were in it, great, but there's no trade from here.

Karabell: ‘Stars are aligned’

While Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy continue to do all they can to give U.S. stock investors some year-end gains, some of the Fast Money Halftime gang on Friday was starting to sound like the coast is temporarily clear.

"I really believe we are gonna make this 1,300 attempt before the end of the year," said JJ Kinahan.

"We may have removed this from the headlines unless S&P acts before Christmas and downgrades European sovereign debt," Karabell said, later adding, "stars are aligned for the market to be doing well."

Patty Edwards said she'd be bullish on next week's market if there's no S&P downgrade, but "I think they're gonna downgrade."

Maybe a Super Soaker?

Patty Edwards set part of the tone for Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report when Simon Hobbs reported detecting on Patty's Twitter account the previous night a "water pistol" analogy to Europe's fix. (Question: How could Hobbs even find something like that through the hockey chaff, the Loungo or Boingo thing or whatever it is...)

Edwards on Friday's show said, "We wanted a bazooka, we didn't get a bazooka ... frankly I don't like the way the market's setting up."

Later Michelle Caruso-Cabrera agreed; "In the end I think a water pistol."

As did Jeff Kilburg, though he called it a "squirt gun."

Never try selling a car
to George Soros

Fast Money's John Paulson correspondent, Greg Zuckerman, guested on Friday's Halftime to explain, without a whole lot of analysis, that George Soros bought some of the stuff Jon Corzine had been invested in.

"There was a fire sale involved here," Zuckerman said, adding that other titans "got a chance to buy this stuff and passed on it."

Zuckerman said it matures by the end of next year.

(Remember when John McCain complained that Jimmy Cayne sold his Bear Stearns stake for $11 instead of $10?)

Zach Karabell caught on to the fact that prominent pundits might be kind of slick in how they say things such as Soros' dire predictions for Europe. "You have to be very careful about what a lot of people say in public vs. what they end up doing in private," Karabell said.

Simon Hobbs also referred to Jim Chanos, "who of course is short China." Karabell rightfully asked, "I still don't know exactly how you short China."

Patty Edwards said, "You know, I actually agree more with Zach than I do with Jim Chanos," pointing to names like YUM that are popular in China and are only getting more opportunity there. "I wanna play the consumer plays," Edwards said.

All those ads for Tom Cruise’s next release are paying off

Steve Grasso on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report indicated he wasn't too impressed with the appearance of the drone that Iran has been showing off.

"I hate to talk, you know, too 'Mission: Impossible'-esque here. But we don't know if it was a plant. We don't know if this was an old, if this was an old drone. We don't know if we're spying on the Iranians and they're playing right into our hand here," Grasso said.

Well, he's got a point, but if true, that's one clever scheme.

Grasso said "AVAV is the only direct drone play." Zach Karabell concurred that cuts to defense will involve the big hitters and not the new technology or cyber names.

Patty gave up on BRK

Here's one that's rankled for a while.

Whitney Tilson said back on Nov. 14 that the "intrinsic value" of Berkshire Hathaway is "$172,000 per A share."

So retail viewers are told that a behemoth stock that hasn't done anything in 4 years and has never topped $150,000 is really worth 52% more than what it's been trading at based on some sort of market science that Tilson's aware of but nobody else in the market is.

Guest Meyer Shields said on Friday's Halftime that he reiterated a hold in BRK because "we've been getting more interest in the name" and yet he sees concerns over the succession plan and a lower multiple going forward.

Shields said Berkshire has at least 2 bright spots; "Geico's a phenomenal company" (even though the Neanderthal ads have never made any sense) and the rail division is good.

Patty Edwards said, incredibly, she's "staying away" from this $172,000 stock disguised as a $116,000er, saying she bought in 2009 but sold in March because "I didn't like the way things were going."

The Costco shopper is
also the Nordstrom shopper (and probably the Starbucks shopper)

The Fast Money traders are prone to mock certain analyst calls, but not often with the terminology Patty Edwards unfurled at the poor Susquehanna analyst who gave COST a $65 price target.

"I don't know what the guy's smoking," said Edwards. "Thank you for the buying opportunity."

Edwards also addressed this ridiculous chip thing that we think nobody but Fast Money cares about, the Diamond Foods-Pringles thing, saying, "if I wanna own Pringles at this point in time, I would go with buying Procter & Gamble."

Patty said she doesn't like the "trading motion" in EL in the last month.

Nothing about that 1.67% 10-year

In the category of telling it like it is, well, let's just say Jeff Kilburg on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report didn't exactly pass the test.

Matter of fact, we have no clue what Kilburg was talking about, reporting from the "highly emotional" S&P 500 pit and suggesting that how the Fed communicates could bring "transparency" that will "provide certainty ... take away that volatility ... you're gonna see businesses hire."

Or, maybe we'll just see businesses hire when there's actually more demand for their products than they can presently meet.

Willie Williams said Friday that Thursday's Europe moves of lowering rates and reserve requirements were a bigger deal than Friday's, in which there are "still questions of enforcement." He recommends selling CHF vs. the Mexican peso.

Steve Grasso said he'd like to sell defibrillators to a coughing Zach Karabell. Simon Hobbs ended Call the Close by saying "Power Lunch" was signing off.

Positives from Friday’s
Fast Money Halftime Report

Nobody offered a Program for America.

Nobody congratulated Dennis Gartman for hitting the gold call "out of the park" or being "so good" on gold.

Research in Motion wasn't discussed.

AAPL didn't get mentioned.

Microsoft was not mentioned.

Nobody swore (at least with the microphone on).

Dick Bove took the day off.

No "B.K." references to himself in 3rd person, and no "Beeksies."

Nobody recommended POT.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was on.

[Thursday, December 8, 2011]

Dan Dicker foils Stephen Weiss’ goal of keeping Lee Cooperman’s conversation secret

Dan Dicker earned a prized "Road House" line on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

As in, He's good. He's real good.

We're writing not so much of Dicker's pro-RIG call, but his super-quick assessment of Stephen Weiss' friends.

Weiss said, "I talked to one of the largest shareholders, a friend of mine, and he hired his own legal team" to assess the risks to Transocean.

"Is that Lee Cooperman? Is it?" Dicker cut in. "Because he's a big holder so I would think he would do the diligence."

Weiss acknowledged it is, and said Cooperman is "extremely comfortable with the potential liability."

Dicker said the counter-argument to Goldman Sachs' claim that Transocean has to spend money on its own rigs is that, "the secondary that they did at the lows, 40, 50, put them in the cash position to do that" while avoiding a junk offering.

Dicker said a judge has made indications he will "indemnify them entirely from Macondo," and if that happens, it's the "best value" in the space. He also said "I own Seadrill" but wasn't as enthusiastic on that one.

Mel Lee joked about XOM's 30-year outlook on energy promoting natural gas and how it's like Macy's issuing a report saying Macy's is a great place to shop.

Congress manages to spend a day accomplishing nothing (cont’d)

Lawyer Ron Geffner took up the MF Global disaster on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money in impressively even-handed way, pointing out valid reasons why the money isn't coming back to customers so fast.

Jon Najarian said, as he had on the Halftime Report, that this is big trouble for customers who need their money back. Geffner said it'd be bad for a trustee to start dishing out cash, "only to find out the calculations wrong or the information was wrong and people were overpaid ... once you hand money to somebody it's really hard to get it back."

Najarian made an equally good point, that many of these customer have statements saying in "black and white" what their balance is. Geffner though said the problem is that still, "We don't have all the factual information."

Both are right, and unfortunately, as Lehman and Madoff have shown, even though MF isn't Lehman or Madoff, figuring out who's due what is a monstrous job.

Joe Terranova asked Geffner if it's a true statement that "if Jon Corzine doesn't necessarily know, he certainly knows who the person is that does know." Geffner said he would "wholeheartedly agree" with that statement.

Corzine, Geffner said, is "between a hard place and a worse place ... this has got all the workings of a lawyer's fantasy." He called the testimony "premature" and said "this is pure theatrics."

In the category of When The Media Gets a Bit Full of Itself, Melissa Lee aired footage of Jon Corzine walking down a hallway, part of the time with Kayla Tausche behind him. Eventually Melissa got a chance to debrief Kayla, who pointed out Corzine's use of the word "intend" in numerous instances.

Grasso unloaded BAC
at just the right time

Gerard Cassidy told Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that the reasons behind Thursday's selloff particularly hammering the banks "all came from Europe," and that once this blows over, it could be a "great opportunity for Citi and JPMorgan to take market share."

But then he acknowledged, under a good Karen Finerman question, that if the stress tests recommend capital-raising for European banks but also show them strong enough, there could be global capital drawn to the European banks instead.

Finerman said she's holding JPM and waiting for it to eventually rise, explaining that the Europe thing has always been about whether they'll OK a plan, and she halfheartedly suggested it looks like, "at the end of the day they will."

Stephen Weiss said stress tests are like open-book tests he took in school and he "never failed one of 'em," so you have to throw them out.

Steve Grasso expertly on Wednesday explained how he unloaded his BAC because he thought the pop was over and it was near the top of its present range.

The y’inz are playing tonight

Bonnie Herzog on Thursday's Fast Money called the cigarette price hike "something we were anticipating" and that it will follow-through to earnings; the industry "needs pricing to offset the ongoing declining volume."

Guy Adami asked if there's still upside to LO and suggested it shrugged off menthol concerns. Herzog said she's neutral and that actually there is a big menthol ruling ahead "that could come any day." Herzog said she likes Reynolds in the U.S. but PM is "by far" her favorite global pick.

Joe Terranova gushed about Church & Dwight, saying "this is one of the best-looking charts." Guy Adami and Mel Lee did their usualy Church & Dwight dance, but Adami cautioned, "We have a lot of young people who watch this."

It's possible the Cleveland Browns will be smoked Thursday evening.

A setback for Tom Lee’s
1,350-by-year-end forecast

Joe Terranova gets credit for pulling no punches on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money in describing the reality of the day's stock market in stark terms.

"It was a lousy day. It was an ugly day. It was a day in which obviously I lost money, a lot of people lost money," Terranova said.

Guy Adami said, "Now I think you trade against that 1,225 level."

Stephen Weiss rattled off a bunch of problematic news from Europe but said the clincher was that there "wasn't a unified opinion" on rates.

Terranova said it's all laying the groundwork for euro exits next year. "You're going to see the Portugals and the Greece (sic) go bye-bye," Terranova said.

Weiss said "it's a long runway before something gets done here."

Jon Najarian said he was recently in London, saw a bunch of people at Harrod's, and was impressed by the "enthusiasm for their economy."

Alec Baldwin airplane story really starting to get old

Jon Najarian said on Thursday's Fast Money that he's a big fan of LVS. "This one's got a double-bottom I believe at about the 37.50 level," Najarian said, recommending people could start to buy around the $40 level, using options. "I love this stock," he said.

Mike Khouw agreed options are the way to play it.

Michael Ives said he likes Riverbed in this newfangled tech-buying consolidation that's been happening that we haven't cared much about, calling it a "pure play in a fast-growing market." He also said NUAN is "front and center" with mobile and has a "lion's share" in speech.

Jon Najarian in Final Trade said KR January calls, Mike Khouw said FCX calls, Stephen Weiss said VZ for the dividend, Guy Adami said HD, Karen Finerman said PLCM, and Joe Terranova said that even though coal is terrible, try CNX.

Mike Khouw emphatically mocked buying in AMR, which has indeed been a curiuos subject, and said it's too pricey to short; "this stock is absolutely toast .... this stock is worth zero. Zero."

Leave it to Karen Finerman to offer maybe the most likely rationale, that shorts are covering now to lock in a 2011 trade.

Stephen Weiss pointed to GGP as one case where it worked, then tried to joke the buyers are the "Alec Baldwin Family Trust," but no one laughed.

Joe makes a statement you just know Karen was dying to challenge

Joe Terranova, at the very end of Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, claimed "gold works better in a deflationary environment," and if you're thinking inflation going forward, "go with oil."

And we know Karen Finerman would've loved to take a crack at that, but with the show running short on time, she evidently decided there wasn't enough opportunity.

Finerman did speak optimistically of the Michael Kors IPO. "This one was very well-attended, I, you know, I think there's gonna be a lot of interest here," Finerman said.

MF Global disaster hits home for Fast Money panel

On this page we like to take cracks at the ups and downs of Fast Money trader life.

But the MF Global meltdown, for its account holders and related parties, is no laughing matter.

Most startling on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report was Steve Cortes' revelation that "I am in the middle of this mess. Uh, I have money frozen there, and it seems almost everyone I know in Chicago in the business has money frozen there, or is out of a job ... a massive bummer for our entire business."

As far as recovery, Cortes explained, "We should expect relatively soon about half of our money," but the prospects of the rest, he said, are a "flip of a coin, and it won't be for a long, long time."

Nevertheless, Cortes was able to joke about Jon Corzine. "Of course I wanna wring his neck, uh, although he is a very big guy, he'd be tough to take on."

Jon Najarian was not optimistic about the lost funds. "Unfortunately I think the money's been lost in trades. I don't think the money's been stolen," Najarian said. "I think very few of the people actually watching understand that uh, the complexity of how monies (sic) move around with commodities firms."

Najarian echoed Cortes' comments on the proliferation. "Dozens and dozens of best friends of mine are not able to trade ... friends of Rick Santelli's and so forth," Najarian said.

100% MF payback suggestion might be overly optimistic

Judge Scott Wapner brought on a couple lawyers on Thursday's Halftime, one of whom painted a rosier picture for MF Global's cash than Steve Cortes had.

Tim Butler said 66% is on the way. "I think they're gonna get a big portion of their money back very soon ... probably as soon as next week," he said, adding it'll take longer to get to 100%.

Cortes joked that he hoped to get something soon, or his kids will be getting "vouchers" for Christmas. But Cortes said, "My understanding is, there is no chance that we get to 100 because the legal fees are so significant for the trustee that the top end is roughly 80%." Butler said it's hoped that the customers will get paid back as unsecured creditors if there's enough funds left over after the bankruptcy.

Thomas Ajamie said on the one hand, Jon Corzine is unlikely to stay silent; "I think he has to say something ... I think he's worried about his public image," but that it's "absolutely inexcusable" that he doesn't know where the money is, and on the other hand, if Ajamie were advising Corzine, he'd tell Corzine to take the Fifth.

David Greenberg said through a creaky phone connection that Corzine's "I don't know" claim "just doesn't float in this day and age."

Jon Najarian said "Terry Duffy and the folks at the CME are gonna be just glued to the screens."

Panel once again falls for Dennis Gartman’s logically unbeatable gold rationale

It seems like within the Fast Money sphere, Dennis Gartman can do no wrong on gold. (That "one of the great bubbles of our time" thing notwithstanding.)

Guy Adami said on Thursday's Halftime Report, contrary to Gartman's suggestion of scaling back just a bit (you know, the one Gartman said was mischaracterized by the wires), "I still think gold should be well north of 2,000 at sometime next year, and that every selloff is a buying opportunity.

Patty Edwards said she's in "Guy's camp" and even said, "I hate to go against Dennis because he has been so good," but ... "I'm long gold, I have been long gold."

Of course, nobody bothered to mention how neatly Gartman's most latest position is to defend; if it goes up he can say "oh I'm still long of course," and if it goes down he can say "see, I told everyone it was time to start trimming" (we've gotta think of angles like that).

Steve Cortes said he's not short gold but "I'm cheering against gold" because he's long dollar, and sees 1.33 as a key breaking point for the euro.

Brian Kelly: ‘I would not count the Eurozone out one bit’

Brian Kelly was making the Europe folks on Thursday sound like the Green Bay Packers.

Kelly dialed into the Fast Money Halftime Report to say of his long euro/long Italian bonds/long U.S. stocks position going into the weekend, he's "not rethinking it at all. I mean, I would not count the Eurozone out one bit."

Yeah. Who could possibly count those guys out.

Jon Najarian agreed with Judge Wapner that maybe the markets had overpriced in anticipation of the Europe meetings. "They got ahead of themselves pretty good."

Zach Karabell revealed, "To be honest, I'm doing almost nothing this week. I think Brian's entirely right," while allowing, "It's not like we're gonna be 'Hosanna, Hosanna,' everything is settled in the EU zone." But Karabell predicted the "market freakout about what's going on in the EU zone is likely to dissipate."

On the other side was Steve Cortes, who said, "I do think the U.S. is relatively strong ... I think Europe is absolutely on the edge of a cliff ... I think they will continue to disappoint."

Patty Edwards, back in glam outfit in the Halftime West Coast hot seat after an early-week absence, said MCD is fine, but cautioned, "don't be trying to pick up the stuff that is, from a valuation percentage, looks, uh, real cheap here."

Guy Adami said 1,265 has been important, "for whatever reason the market shuns it," and to wait to see how it deals with 1,225. "This is sort of no-man's land now for stocks," he said.

Apple bulls’ most recent argument continues to be that Steve Jobs will still move the needle from the grave

Judge Wapner asked on Thursday's Halftime Report if, in the wake of the IBM deal, "are companies now just throwing darts at the wall?"

Zach Karabell said it's not a needle-mover for IBM, and "at some point in the next year we're gonna stop talking about this thing called cloud computing" as we enter a "multi-dispersed world of computing."

Patty Edwards said it's like the pharma industry, where big-cap tech is just letting the little guys invent new things, and then buying them, and that investors might do best with a basket of upstarts.

Edwards said "Apple is going to do just fine" and "you have to be there" because that book has rumors of some kind of Steve Jobs "it" factor product in the works. Even though recently, Edwards said, "they've really been hammered I think by the Amazon Kindle sales" and there's been a perception (fueled by Steve Grasso a day ago in fact) that "everybody's lunch getting eaten over at Apple." But Edwards said it's a "huge market in terms of the tablets."

Steve Cortes said he's short AAPL and thinks that's a good play under $400, and that he's long INTC.

Herb bends the original parameters for his StockTwits feature to let the Fast gang know he called a company

Herb Greenberg — whose Fast Money Halftime hits have been spotty at best — claimed on Thursday that Tesla was being talked about on Twitter.

Imagine that. A stock down 9% being tweeted about.

But Greenberg said the shocking element was that it was due to an analyst downgrade.

Jon Najarian said the Morgan Stanley $70 target was "ludicrous" and that it's "still ludicrous" at the revised $44.

Zach Karabell joked that someone he works with said "one of their customers dropped out, so now they have 3."

Greenberg then spent time telling viewers what people have not been tweeting about, Coinstar, saying "I checked with Verizon" and that they say they constantly talk to all kinds of vendors.

F still manages better day than TSLA

Patty Edwards said of Ford, "I think you could go long the stock here," after Phil LeBeau opened Thursday's Halftime talking about the 5-cent dividend, even though the stock didn't exactly rally.

Zach Karabell wasn't giving himself a ton of credit in saying, "One of the few things I feel I've been right about over the past 4 or 5 months" has been to be short or out of the investment banks or anything in the "Wall Street speculative realm," and that banks are in a situation much like tech stocks circa late-2001 through 2003.

Guy Adami pointed to GS and big banks in general and said "I think the downtrend is still very much intact."

Patty Edwards defended Costco for not passing along price hikes to consumers, they order diapers well in advance of suspected increases and "choose not to" raise prices ... "if you look at where they really make their money, it's on the membership fee," Edwards said.

Edwards hailed JWN's outperformance Thursday but admitted, consistent with an earlier statement, "I'm out of the stock right now though."

Halftime gang still doesn’t get the difference between Call the Close and Final Trade

Judge Wapner at the end of Thursday's Halftime as always asked the traders to Call the Close ... and they responded with a bunch of stock/commodity picks instead.

"TLT 120 by Christmas," said Steve Cortes, not a huge leap given it's $119 right now.

Patty Edwards said "buy Costco," Zach Karabell said CTRP without comment, Guy Adami said to buy gold on weakness, and Jon Najarian threw in the kitchen sink, saying, "energy and corn," plus Halliburton and Goldman Sachs.

Pete Najarian knocked one out of the park a day earlier in his Dollar Tree call, a rare winner Thursday.

[Wednesday, December 7, 2011]

Peter Schiff comes oh so close to gettting CNBCfix.com mentioned during Fast Money

Sometimes, taking notes on Fast Money comes in spectacularly handy.

Peter Schiff near the end of Wednesday's 5 p.m. unleashed a doozy at Dennis Gartman regarding gold.

"I remember Dennis, you said the biggest bubble of our lifetime," Schiff said. "On this show, back in August."

"Oh that was August? I don't think so," Gartman said.

"Yeah, you said it was the biggest bubble," Schiff said, followed by this unbeatable line: "Just go, go Google it. I remember talking about it when you said it."

Gartman shrugged but concluded the session, rather testily, indicating he's been in gold for a while (curiously saying 6-7 months, then several years), and "I apologize for not having been there 15 years ago."

Quite frankly, Schiff is almost 100% right.

Except Gartman didn't say, "the biggest bubble of our lifetime."

He said, "This was in fact one of the great bubbles of our time."

It's all there on our Fast Money August 2011 Archive page.

It was Aug. 24, the same day Gartman argued with Guy Adami over whether central banks ever do unload their gold, and a day when Steve Cortes also explained the crush he had on his cute 3rd-grade teacher and said, "I think the public was sold a very false, supposed safe harbor in gold."

Oddly enough, a week earlier (Aug. 17), Gartman was asked if gold was in a bubble and replied, "I suspect not yet."

Frankly, when you comb through the series of comments, it just gets worse and worse in terms of, um, any kind of consistency whatsoever, so we're just gonna stop there.

So, you can see why, even well before Schiff spoke Wednesday, we were highly skeptical of Steve Cortes' Wednesday Halftime comment (see below) that "Dennis Gartman is certainly somebody who has absolutely hit the gold call out of the park."

As for Schiff possibly directing some page views here (oh man, guests arriving, gotta clean up this place a bit), it's not often that someone on Fast Money requests something, and we've already got it. Never didn't have it. And so we can invoke this page's new slogan, which given the fascination here for "A Few Good Men" we definitely should've come up with on our own (and quite possibly would've), but Steve Cortes impressively beat us to the punch recently regarding his AAPL status ... This is one of those times when, to the Fast Money gang and viewers, we say, "You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall." Like Jessep, we don't want money, and we don't want medals. We're not even asking for a little courtesy, although maybe a few laughs. (Unlike Jessep, we don't order code reds by any means but wish everyone a good night's sleep.) We're here because you are. Talking stocks. Fighting for every click. And people like Demi Moore will hopefully profess, "They stand on a wall and say, 'Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch'."

Tim Seymour defines kicking the can down the road as a ‘bridge’

Before Peter Schiff tried upending Dennis Gartman on gold on Wednesday's Fast Money, he had to slug it out with Tim Seymour over central bank bailouts.

"The ECB should do nothing. That's exactly what the Fed should've done. Unfortunately they didn't," Schiff said, adding, "A monetary bailout is just a coward's way to default."

Tim Seymour, back to using the term "bridge" again, demanded to know how else Italy would get the time to restructure before a crippling financial meltdown.

"It's never a bridge," Schiff said. "It becomes a permanent means of not having to do anything."

We're stopping right there for a moment.

On that point, Schiff is right. However, he doesn't take it far enough. The issue is that TARP is now the legal precedent for dealing with any future banking crisis that goes like this: All the administration has to do is determine there's some kind of systemic risk, and start pumping money into Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, regardless of whatever expectations Congress had when authorizing whatever particular pool of money is being used.

That doesn't necessarily scare us, but it's a very strong indication the U.S. government will be forever diluting our economic medicine to the point we're always going to have a bit of a hangover and never really cured.

Probably if MF Global had been just a bit bigger, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley would've started getting wire transfers a couple weeks ago, just in case.

But back to the program. Schiff insisted to Seymour, "They're not all gonna default ... Italy doesn't have to default." Brian Kelly argued Rome is only as safe as the yield. "At 9 or 10%, Italy's insolvent."

Joe Terranova said that in Europe, "You have to address bond vigilantes."

Dennis Gartman, before the whole gold flap, chided Schiff's notion of economic fixes, saying "We tried that in 1933 if I remember and it didn't work out all that well," and it's disappointing that smart folks such as Gartman cling to irrelevant sample sizes of 1, you know, like Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers evaluating the offense for this week's game and deciding, "We tried that forward pass thing in 1933, and it didn't work very well (at least until Don Hutson came along), so let's not do that again, and by the way that team corporate stock sale also didn't get that great of a reception, so let's not do any more of those either..."

We should note this page does not endorse Schiff's economic views or his frequently difficult temperament on Fast Money. But by his own personal standards, in his catalog of appearances, Wednesday was a tour de force.

John Bollinger evidently doesn’t watch Fast Money as often as CNBCfix does

John Bollinger is supposedly the Bollinger Band guy, but his bull case as presented on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money sounded like the typical Steve Cortes sentiment argument.

Bollinger said he's constructive on stocks because "few other people are." He told Melissa Lee, "shows like yours, we get very little bullish opinion here," which is flat-out false, but whatever.

Bollinger wasn't done with the eye-openers, claiming right now is the "best part of the presidential cycle to own stocks" (and whatever happened to that awesome 3rd-year-of-a-presidency thing?). He said there's a Dow Theory buy signal, and "I get in on any pullbacks here."

Sounds like ego was on the menu for the Morgan Stanley party, and other things that make Melissa go ‘Wow’ (cont’d)

Melissa Lee on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money took a garbled Fast Line call from John Carney, who everyone on the Web knows runs "one of our microsites on CNBC.com." (It's the NetNet thing.)

Carney was covering the Morgan Stanley send-off party for John Mack and told Lee he was "right outside the party."

Carney said Mack was feted by James Gorman for "standing up to the Treasury of the secretary, Hank Paulson, to Tim Geithner and to Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve, and saying he would not sell Morgan Stanley for pennies on the dollar."

Carney said there was even a (gosh!) video in which "there were people praising this move ... as the right thing to do."

"Wow. That's, that's interesting," Lee said.

Yeah and if we can get that Victoria’s Secret crew to read this page and ship their e-mails, we’ll be well-positioned too

Brian Kelly said on Wednesday's Fast Money that the banks have been beaten up, might be seeing some "alleviation" in Europe as well as housing improvements, and so, "if you can get all those things start to move, and the economy starts to turn, then these banks are well-positioned for that, and I like 'em here."

Kelly, with help of a top Patty Edwards cliche/redundancy, indicated that this will finally be the big solution, because "Europe doesn't have much of a choice at this point in time."

Kelly later called JPM a "great place to play" in advance of the Europe meeting this week and Fed meeting next week.

Dennis Gartman apparently prefers NCSU football to the NFL

Fast Money Friend Patrick Doyle told the 5 p.m. show that online ordering is a big hit and said he could somehow quantify savings from using human beings to take phone orders but wouldn't reveal it because of competitors.

He also said 10% of Domino's orders come from people just walking into the stores. (Note to self: Gotta make a decision on that one sometime. A Domino's location isn't really a "restaurant," but it's not a "store" either.)

"The consumer is moving along a little bit," Doyle said.

Melissa Lee called Darden a "different part of the food chain if you will."

Dennis Gartman said he doesn't order pizza for football on Sunday because "North Carolina State doesn't play on Sunday."

North Carolina State's greatest football product is not Philip Rivers, by the way, but Bill Cowher ... who could in fact be teaming up with Philip Rivers in 2012 ...

Tim Seymour’s coughing fit partly upstages Michael Graham’s Fast Money appearance

Guest Michael Graham told Melissa Lee and the crew on Wednesday's Fast Money that for Amazon, "the margins have been very low," and that type of build-out spending is "gonna continue" for a while, and so, "It's gonna be a rocky road here for the next year."

Unfortunately, something — probably a TV monitor — caught Graham's eye during his whole interview, in which he was constantly staring at something to his upper left.

Meanwhile, Tim Seymour experienced an annoying cough attack and was eventually heard to say "I'm all right," though we didn't hear anyone saying "get well for Peter Schiff."

Mike Murphy asked the question we're getting at least twice a day now on NFLX, which is whether GOOG or AMZN or AAPL or MSFT will buy it. "I wouldn't necessarily think that's a high probability," Graham said.

Coincidentally, later on, Murphy ended up being the one starting up at his upper left at the Nasdaq when touting TWI, saying of its $32 high, "we think it gets back there pretty quickly" and also using the phrase "each and every month."

Dennis Gartman said to Joe Terranova of IBM, "Nobody wants to buy it ... do you know any of your buds who own it? No." But they should be, Gartman said.

Mel’s only batting about .500 recently in having the notes match what the guest is actually saying

David Greenberg visited the Nasdaq for Wednesday's Fast Money to talk MF Global.

Melissa Lee asked Greenberg, "What did go wrong other than the fact that Jon Corzine didn't listen to his risk manager?"

Greenberg said, "Well actually the risk manager from what I understand was just said (sic), 'JC said, get it done'."

Dennis Gartman complained that the SIPC came in and said they didn't realize there's an equal number of longs and shorts in the futures market.

"That was incredible," Greenberg said, pointing out there's a stock end and a commodity end.

0.7% = ‘pretty deep’

Tim Seymour was practically gushing optimism (when he wasn't coughing) on Wednesday's Fast Money, saying "We have not packed it in till the end of the year" and he thinks there are legs in the market still for 2011.

Dennis Gartman said of Europe, "They're gonna kick the can 1 more good time down the road."

Joe Terranova was bullish, saying, "The upside is where you will see this market over the next week or so." But, curiously, he later offered this vision of the Eurozone: "I think you're gonna see Portugal, I think you're gonna see Greece, many of these countries are gonna exit."

Jeff Palma said his team has a "pretty deep recession forecast" in Europe, or a 0.7% decline (which wouldn't impress Zach Karabell much, see below). He said he'd overweight U.S. and emerging markets while underweighting Japan and Europe, and that in Europe, they will have to "loosen up the longer-term funding for the banks," and isn't that just what the world needs, more cheap money for banks.

Dennis Gartman complains
about the media

Dennis Gartman on Wednesday's Fast Money — well before running into Peter Schiff — explained that "Today I swapped a little bit of my gold for, for equities ... a quarter of it."

But then he complained how that was being characterized. "The wires were carrying the idea, 'Gartman sells gold.' No, I just got rid of a little. I'm a, I'm a little less long than I was," he said.

The fact that "idea" they were carrying was true, notwithstanding.

We did searches on Google and Bing (to show diversity) for "Gartman sells gold" in the last 30 days and got no results, by the way.

Gartman said, as the WSJ caught up with an AP story over the weekend, that MF Global is indeed a problem for farmers who can't get their money out. Tim Seymour wondered if that wasn't (stop if you've heard this before) a buying opportunity for POT.

"We all know what's going on with the demographic story, the better protein, the better foods," Seymour said. "Isn't this a chance to buy weakness ... ferts and the underlying crops."

Gartman didn't bring up this time how great the farmers in Keokuk are doing, and we haven't heard Steve Cortes talk recently about the Maseratis in Moline.

Howard Lindzon calls Citigroup
‘sh----’ on live television

Chris Kotowski learned the hard way on Wednesday that he'll have to bring the "Pulp Fiction" vocabulary to his next Fast Money Halftime Report street fight.

Kotowski's thesis was that since 2007, banks have overshot in both directions and are undervalued now as part of the market's "self-fulfilling prophecy." Years ago, Kotowski said, "The market didn't adjust to the negative reality. And now it's not adjusting to the positive reality."

"There is no positive reality. There's just made-up reality," Lindzon said, before going on to add, "Banking is a great business. Citibank is a sh---- business."

"Banking is a cyclical business," Kotowski calmly concluded.

Kotowski earlier said the job cuts at Citigroup are a "fairly modest trim," and that banks in general, on a "price to book value basis, they're trading now where they were in, in, in March of 2009."

Judge Wapner acknowledged Lindzon's unconventional TV terminology and Pete Najarian chuckled heartily, not surprisingly, given that Judge prompted Pete to say "sh-----' me" a couple months ago, and isn't it curious how Judge's version of the Halftime Report has produced 2 episodes of swearing in a few months, whereas Mel Lee's tenure was spotless in that regard.

Steve Grasso makes
startling iPad forecast

Steve Grasso indicated on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that one of the nation's most popular gifts has already been superseded.

"I bought the Kindle Fire," Grasso said. "And everyone talks about it not being an iPad killer. And I think the longer in the tooth it gets, it's gonna be an iPad killer. I don't pick up my iPad anymore."

Grasso asked Steve Cortes, who is an AAPL bear because of "the law of large numbers at this point," if he likes a pairs trade of long AMZN/short AAPL. Cortes said yes, except he doesn't want to get long AMZN until it crosses past a $200 resistance.

Gene Munster said the $5 brick-and-mortar rebates are "yet another clever promotion that Amazon's doing." Howard Lindzon, without swearing, said online shipping still isn't quite fast enough; "I want stuff the next hour; I want Amazon to meet me on the way back to my car." Munster said, "same-day delivery is coming."

Munster said Amazon doesn't break out Kindle Fire stats but he estimates it's "a little less than 5% of total sales."

Herb eager to grasp for anything that would somehow validate a 2012 prediction in the first week of December 2011

Judge Scott Wapner proved on Wednesday's Halftime Report he's got low standards for "interesting," saying that a retailer picking up a domestic doyenne's line that was previously sold at KMart is "an interesting move from Ron Johnson right out of the gates."

Pete Najarian expressed his own skepticism with his form of rhetorical questioning, wondering if having "in-store Martha Stewart" will really attract shoppers.

Guest Chuck Grom said it's "tough to bet against Ron Johnson" but that JCP is probably a 3-5-years story.

Later Herb Greenberg burst onto the scene trumpeting victory before the first quarter gun has gone off, claiming, "This plays right into that prediction I had, which was that JCPenney next year is gonna become a very hot stock," even though, "You don't see it right now in the name."

Steve Cortes said he was giving Ron Johnson the "benefit of the doubt."

Cortes though said for retailers in general, "I am betting on disappointment into Christmas," and that WMT is his favorite stock.

Pete Najarian expressed a rare argument with someone, saying, "I'm fading that Wal-Mart call all the way right now."

The notion that Jane Wells could be old enough to have a son in the military is downright unbelievable

Alexandra Lebenthal — that's one on our list for a Hollywood lookalike — spoke on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report about munis (what else) but sadly with one of the most worthless of all cliches, "What a difference a year makes."

Lebenthal, who looked to be dressed warm enough for a sub-zero pheasant hunt (but she is a society kingpin so we're going to defer to her judgments over ours in the category of trend-setting attire), was asked by Steve Grasso if there's "any light at the end of the tunnel" for Meredith Whitney's own call, kind of a curious phrasing that prompted Lebenthal to rephrase to ensure she had the question right.

"I really cannot see a scenario" where Meredith will prove correct, Lebenthal said.

Lebenthal said muni issuance has been increasing recently and been "absorbed very well by the market."

Jane Wells brought the Canoga Park Westfield Mall to a standstill in an utterly showstopping purple top/black skirt combo, even if the assignment — polling regular-Joe shoppers about Apple's post-Steve-Jobs potential (or, the alternate title as they used to say on Rocky & Bullwinkle, Is Tim Cook Clueless), seemed dubious.

(OK, the mall wasn't actually open ... but she would've stopped traffic.)

Wells said women are more optimistic for AAPL than men are. One guy she interviewed said there's a Sony store, and it "seemed a little cheaper," an angle the Fast Money gang has yet to explore.

Steve Cortes does not hide his interest in pop culture in new investing book

It's not just a TV thing.

CNBCfix.com has just learned that, in his new book, Against the Herd, Steve Cortes waits all the way until Page 7 before mentioning The Jeffersons the Bradfords the Corleone Family.

Further updates as developments warrant.

Grasso unloads BAC sub-$6

Steve Grasso and Steve Cortes were pillars of skepticism of some sort when evaluating markets on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Grasso said shooting past 1,300 S&P is possible, but there's also a chance shorts could be waiting for the end of the Europe meeting. "We've had plan after plan, with no solution after no solution," Grasso said.

He also decided that $6 was too lofty a goal for BAC, telling viewers, "I sold my Bank today," figuring this pop is as good as it's gonna get. "I also sold my AK Steel as well."

Grasso said if you're going to get long, get long the things that have worked, such as MCD or DPZ. "Buying the laggards, that theme has not worked," Grasso said.

Steve Cortes meanwhile was reaffirming being short euro and European banks going into the big meeting; "I think the bad news continues to actually mount."

Cortes said Europe is like a "Charlie Brown and Lucy" situation, even though Judge Wapner cautioned Cortes on his DB short, "You're at risk of a, of a headline runover on- on that call."

Meanwhile, Pete Najarian like Patty Edwards' old standby, Gordon Lightfoot was seeing the Summer Side of Life. "I continue to look at this data and see nothing but positives coming out almost daily Judge," Najarian said.

Fast Money gang practically forces us to unearth Dennis Gartman’s gold-calling history

Chuck Grom made the case for another one of those "dollar" retailers, DG, on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

If not for the secondary offering, Grom said, "We think the stock probably would've been up closer to 42, 43 bucks today." (And don't we wish. This writer is long DG.)

Pete Najarian said he likes the sector but particularly Dollar Tree.

Judge Wapner and crew basically bungled the whole Dennis-Gartman-on-gold thing Wednesday, with Wapner first playing a clip from this week and overstating Gartman's move, then clarifying what he said "yesterday, er, earlier in the show. Dennis Gartman is not getting out of gold, uh, he's just trimming his position in gold."

Later Steve Cortes was heard to say "Dennis Gartman is certainly somebody who has absolutely hit the gold call out of the park."

Actually no. Against all these foreign currencies which few U.S. viewers can buy gold in as Gartman says he does, he's probably been doing consistently well for years, and Gartman has been correct in his years-long "chart's going from lower left to upper right" call; the problem is when there's a major technical move in a day or 2, a "demonstrable" change in the trend that just as easily might change back, that's when Dennis' punditry gets a little short-circuited, and suddenly as with 1-2 months ago, it's "gold is NOT a safe haven. A safe haven does NOT move 3% in a day," and it's something you want to avoid, even though a month later it might be higher.

We could go back and look up the various short-term calls this summer and fall and probably find lackluster results, but as Wesley says during the "Road House" climax, "just don't have the time."

Steve Grasso said in the energy space, "You wanna reduce your nat gas exposure. You wanna get more oily exposure." Pete Najarian called V "still a buy."

[Tuesday, December 6, 2011]

Note to Moody’s: Might want to rate the air being sold by the Green Bay Packers

Fast Money summoned Darren Rovell on Tuesday to handle a topic that didn't get nearly enough scrutiny, with Pete Najarian's feeble shoulder-tackle-like question best described as a blown coverage. (Like, the kind when the offense is backed up to its 1-yard line, and you give them a 99-yard TD.)

Rovell had been interviewing Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy, a former NFL player, whose franchise is in the process of selling "shares" to the public.

Rovell pointed out at the beginning, "Shares cost $250 each, they have no value, can't be resold; in other words the Packers are printing money."

Murphy didn't really disagree but told Rovell, "To the shareholders and to our fans, it's meaningful. I think."

As loopy as this entire scheme is, there are actually some semi-serious issues here. You'd think Fast Money would be interested in those. Like, if Wall Street was so bad for selling "junk" mortgages to financial pros, where does selling this to football fans rank? Why can't the other 31 NFL teams sell confetti to deepen their pockets? How in the world can this subject be regarded as a legitimate business endeavor on business television? And if this junk is actually selling, what does that say about our purported "worst economy since the Great Depression"?

Eventually Rovell let Pete Najarian uncork a question, and it was a doozy: "Any other projects that are coming down the pike, as far as that you're looking forward, and if so, what sort of time frame would we be looking at, for the folks who'd like to get involved in the Packers maybe on the next go-round."

In other words, the Packers are selling pieces of paper ... or at least trying to do so right now ... and Najarian doesn't question that, but wonders how soon they'll be selling more paper.

Murphy chuckled and said there's still time to cough up $250 on the current offer.

Curiously — and what coincident timing, given one of the subjects on Tuesday's Halftime Report (below) — you're actually making a better decision buying lottery tickets than this "stock."

Mel gets off on the wrong foot with Carl Icahn

Melissa Lee had barely kicked off Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money when she ran smack into a tape dispute with investing legend Carl Icahn.

CMC, according to Lee, on the day Icahn revealed his offer "didn't trade anywhere near what the offer price was."

"That's not quite correct," Icahn said, saying it went from about "11½" to about "14½" ... "it did trade as if it was believed that it would go through."

Lee responded, "OK. Over time, yes, I agree with you Carl, it did."

Icahn insisted, "Well, I don't even think it was over time, it traded that day."

He's more right than she is, although it might depend on one's definition of "believe."

The stock closed Nov. 25 at $11.45. On Nov. 28, it traded 12 million shares, reached $14.26, but closed at $14.17.

However, that is a bit below the $15 offer, and for 4 straight days afterward, it closed with a 13 handle.

Lee shouldn't have said "anywhere near," but could've said something like, "for a week afterwards, the stock was still trading more than 5% below the offer price," which would've forced Icahn to address the real issue and not argue numbers.

Later, with Icahn disconnected, Lee said it was a "decent-size percentage away" from the actual offer, with Karen Finerman agreeing it was a "discount."

Perhaps a bit discombobulated, Lee moments later phrased a question to Icahn about Romney having a plurality of billionaire supporters, saying, "you being one of them" and asking who Icahn supports. Obviously the latter part of that question clarified that Lee was referring to Icahn as a billionaire and not a Romney supporter, but Icahn rightly clarified that clumsy wording for himself.

Carl Icahn says Obama
‘scares government’

Every now and then we hear something on CNBC that we think, "that can't be what the person just said."

Such an instance occurred on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, when Melissa Lee asked Carl Icahn to reveal which presidential candidate he supports, and Icahn said, "I'm not a great fan of Obama and that's known ... he scares government."

Hmmmm ... "scares business" or "scares Wall Street," that we'd expect. "Scares government?" What the heck does that mean? CDC bureaucrats threatening to quit?

Rewinding the tape a few times, it still sounds like "scares government," and in fact that's what the notoriously unreliable closed captioning said too.

Icahn also chided Republicans for "all this blaming of Bernanke," likening the 2008-09 economy to a morphine addict who's about to die unless he gets more morphine.

The breaks billionaires get

Karen Finerman welcomed Carl Icahn on Tuesday's Fast Money, saying, "I do still love you, but ..." she was none too happy with the outcome of his CLX offer.

Icahn chuckled that the problem was that "the shareholders really didn't want it."

Finerman ultimately asked Icahn, "What motivates you?" Icahn responded, "That's a good question. Maybe we can have a drink and you can tell me?" And to think we were hoping this site — with full knowledge of Mr. Lawrence Golub — would get that opportunity someday. (To have a drink with Karen, that is.) (Although we wouldn't turn down Mr. Carl Icahn either.)

Icahn said, with maybe not as much conviction as one would like, that regarding CMC, there's a "lot of support for it." Steve Grasso said, "You wanna sell whatever pop there is in the Icahn pop."

Icahn also said at one point that Navistar and Oshkosh have synergies and would make a good merger.

Melissa: Smile machine

It was a couple weeks ago when this page reluctantly noted that the Fast Money cameras were regularly catching Melissa Lee in an alarming number of frowns and scowls.

Tuesday, after several days off, Lee returned to the 5 p.m. set, and was practically beaming for the full hour.

If we were looking to take a glamour shot off a screen grab, we'd have oodles of options to choose from.

It's great to see Melissa so chipper, and we hope the trend continues.

More things that make Melissa go ‘Wow’ (cont’d)

Quick-speaking Tim Freeman visited the Nasdaq on Tuesday to make a pitch for stock market upside on Fast Money.

In the process, Mel Lee's notes were wrong again, as Lee told Freeman he sees upside risk to volatility, while Freeman said actually he sees upside risk in the market.

It's a "very uninvestable market," Freeman said, explaining money managers are even apologizing to analysts that their single-stock recommendations are useless now.

Freeman recommends buying S&P 1,300 calls, because "we could see 1,300, 13 and a quarter pretty quickly," and if so, "You're looking at about a doulbe on those calls."

"Wow," said Lee. "Talk about Santa Claus rally in the next few weeks then."

Reed Hastings needs to figure out how to sell $250 shares of air

Guest Andy Hargreaves didn't unleash any blockbusters when discussing the Verizon streaming competition with Netflix on Tuesday's Fast Money.

Hargreaves said NFLX has enough cash now, "if subscriber base doesn't deteriorate."

He took issue with Joe Terranova's contention that NFLX is merely buyable as a takeover target and for no other reason, saying instead it's a "pretty attractive consumer service; for 8 bucks a month you get a whole lot." He said companies that might be interested "at the right price" would be MSFT and AMZN and potentially AAPL and GOOG.

Hargreaves said subscribers can pair NFLX with Verizon's material and get a "pretty nice package."

Guest Mike Walkley meanwhile said the iPhone is bringing "enormous share gains for Apple" at the expense of (you guessed it) Research in Motion, as well as HTC.

Karen Finerman asked Walkley about RIMM, saying, it was "just so unbelievably cheap, I had to buy some on Friday." Walkley said "the fundamentals are really deteriorating" and that it's a "sum of the parts" story.

GE needs to update that antiquated logo

Guest Steven Winoker was practically pounding the table for one of the worst megacaps of all time, GE in the 2000s, largely on expectation of a higher dividend, and isn't it curious how CNBC, unlike with Comcast, doesn't bother with something close to "parent company of the network" anymore even though GE still owns 49% of NBC Universal.

Winoker said GE Capital is "experiencing really a resurgence in things like pricing and margin." Brian Kelly asked how much that will contribute to 2012, got an answer of about 65 cents, and gave a goofily satisfied nod.

Steve Grasso asked whether GE is an industrial or financial. Winoker called it an "industrial company that happens to have a very very large financial services arm attached to it."

Actually GE is neither an industrial nor a financial story, but a Montana story, and just recently a Starr and Fouts story, and can only hope to regularly be a Jefferson Street Joe Gilliam story.

Steve Grasso’s abridged version of 20 questions with Mel Lee on nat gas fizzles

Todd Gordon said on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, "The euro I think is still weak .. I wanna be short the euro, against a long Australian dollar," somewhere around 1.3200.

Pete Najarian said that for the VIX, "somebody is putting on a big bet that the volatility between now and then, not necessarily going to 55, but going a lot higher than it is right now."

Steve Grasso tried to get Melissa Lee guessing on why nat gas play CRK was up, but Mel didn't catch on quickly enough, until Grasso said it's the company's oil acreage expansion.

"They're getting oilier," Lee confirmed.

Grasso said he's "enamored with drones lately" and likes AVAV. Karen Finerman recommended Quadra, in Toronto, as a risk-arb play. Pete Najarian called TIE's upside "outstanding." Joe Terranova said IBM has a date with $200.

‘It’s 4 o’clock on the Wynn casino floor, do you know where your money is?’

Unfortunately we had to spend so much time on Todd Wagner's plan for America (see below) that we can't devote that much space to Richard "Skip" Bronson's interview on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report calling legalized online gambling "imminent; there's no question."

Bronson had some interesting facts, saying 43 states have a state lottery (we figured it was all 50 by now, noting of course that 4 "states" are technically commonwealths), and that the first was New Hampshire in 1964.

Bronson also said "there are 23 states that have full casino gambling now."

Wagner agreed that online legalization is in the cards, saying it'll either be unregulated and untaxed or regulated and taxed.

This is the type of thing that should be creeping into plans of Lee Cooperman and Todd Wagner. Surely, while people do like these things, there is such a thing as going too far. States have been using gambling as a crutch for decades to fund unaffordable programs. The gut here is that people generally like lotteries, like playing cards, like betting on football; it's a free country. How much of a government program does it have to be?

If we have the Jim Rogers-type meltdown in 2013, they'll be putting slots at McDonald's to make up the shortfalls in "education" budgets.

Bronson's comments about states eyeing this revenue are undoubtedly correct, and shouldn't there be some concern about our governments pushing this envelope to fund programs and systems that may not be sustainable by encouraging people — often the elderly, by the way, if you ever visit the slot section of a casino — to gamble more of their money?

Joe Terranova had the line of the day, saying, "It sounds like Vegas is gonna look like the New York Stock Exchange; that's the consequence of it."

Here we go again

Lee Cooperman has started a (troublesome) trend.

Todd Wagner on Tuesday was the latest rich guy to outline what ails America on Judge Scott Wapner's Fast Money Halftime Report, making us wonder, when are others going to get equal time; where's the Andy Busch Prescription for America, the Patty Edwards (who wasn't on Tuesay's show, throwing our daily Halftime expectations out of kilter) Fix America Now Program, the Keith McCoolah McCullough Reinventing America for the 2010s Agenda, etc....

First, from the very little we know, Wagner does seem like a super guy. "I don't forget every day how lucky I am," he told Judge Wapner, but he's tired of "the far left and the far right kind of owning the conversation ... we need to have some compromise."

So here are Wagner's 4 short-term improvements for America:

1. Either raise taxes on mega-rich, or have each hire 10 people and generate 2.4M new jobs

2. $1 per day "proud to be an American tax" for 50% of people not paying federal income tax

3. Raise the age on Medicare gradually

4. Remove mega-rich from Social Security and Medicare

Wagner described these points, starting with 1, saying of Warren Buffett's op-ed on higher taxes for super-rich, "I have no problem with that," because it helps "starting the rhetoric (he pronounced it "ri-TORE-ic") of these conversations."

Most dubious though is the latter half of Point 1. Wagner said take the 240,000 mega-rich, "force them to hire 10 people," and "all of a sudden you've created 2.4 million new jobs."

Yes. And they will be personal assistants, grass-mowers, valets, personal assistants, in a freaky sort of limited command economy representative of how Soviet Russia moved people around for the sake of saying they were employed.

Regarding hitting up the non-taxpaying crew for $1 a day, Wagner said, "I think it's not a good thing to have that percentage of a population not paying into a system that they enjoy the benefits of."

He said (not exactly a new notion) that life expectancy has increased greatly since Medicare was enacted.

Later Wagner outlined 2 long-term goals, which are:

1. Term limits for elected officials

2. Reform the education system

Wagner said the supercommittee bolsters point 1 there, that "we have to change behavior." Then he cited 7/10 high school graduation rates and said a country needs to "intertwine your education policy with your economic policy," and that it takes things like "longer days ... every other Saturday ... month in the summer." And then he said South Korea is a place where they take education so seriously, kids plan their afternoons around extra studying.

OK (sigh) ... we don't this page to come across jagbaggy or anything, but ...

We can say basically the same thing we said about Lee Cooperman's plan ... nothing innovative here at all ... does not identify a problem(s) ... partly involves sloganeering ... overall kind of a "just-don't-get-into-too-much-more-debt" theme ... Zzzzzz.

Mark Fisher put it much more bluntly, but the bottom line is if you think government is underperforming, instead of issuing papers, why not run for office and actually try to change it.

We know what's wrong with the Steelers defense. The corners don't function well in the jam, and we're sick and tired of these linemen playing off the line of scrimmage in read-and-react mode. Until we're willing to coach linebackers at a Division III school unpaid and work our way up to the y'inz in a decade or so, it's understood, we don't have any capacity to change those things. Thus, issuing 6-point plans on CNBC would seem a bit much.

Wagner also said he voted for Obama, but won't vote for him this time. He revealed that there's a script in the works with George Clooney for a film "dealing with the early parts of the TARP bailout," and for that, we won't hesitate to say the last thing the world needs is another Wall Street bailout movie.

Halftime Report apparently has so much free time, it can repeat previous episodes

Lou Kerner turned up on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Todd Wagner-fest to say Facebook at 20 times EBITDA makes total sense at $100 billion, and we're thinking, didn't we just hear this a couple weeks ago?

Lou Kerner said Groupon went public too early and was priced for perfection.

Pete Najarian admitted, "Unfortunately for me, I-I-I-I was a believer in Groupon a little bit too early, and the stock has plummeted since that time."

Wagner said, regarding LNKD, that there's a big challenge in going from startup to public company, "it is a very different world."

Joe Terranova on Tuesday was the first forward-thinker we've heard recently on Facebook, starting to up that low $100 billion estimate, saying at "100 and a quarter, I could see it."

Pete, Steve Cortes
practically shut out

Not only was Patty Edwards not on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, but Pete Najarian and Steve Cortes barely got called on by movie-star-crossed Judge Wapner.

Cortes said, "I am short the euro currency," saying the ECB is "their very last backstop" and that it's a "myth" that Germany can be strong without its neighbors, which it exports to.

Cortes also invoked Pinky Tuscadero. We get that one, although we don't recall her hook on "Happy Days" and so were clueless about Cortes' description of getting squeezed between cards. The actress, Roz Kelly, is 68 now, and despite a name like "Tuscadero," according to her Wikipedia page, is actually "half Irish and half Jewish." (Leather Tuscadero was played by Suzi Quatro, who is Italian-Hungarian and the aunt of Sherilyn Fenn.)

"I get all of your references dude, geez," Judge Wapner told Cortes. "The United States is Pinky Tuscadero right now," Cortes said.

Cortes said he doesn't like Darden, but "I do like restaurant stocks in general though," because the DBA hit a "new low for the year today ... food costs are coming down dramatically." He also mentioned MCD, Tyson and grocery stores.

Pete at one point as Judge tried to abruptly cut off Todd Wagner's short-term agenda got to highlight activity in HL.

Joe Terranova warned that by shorting the euro, you're "shorting the proxy for the Deutsche Mark."

StockTwits takes a break

Goodness only knows why, but Judge Wapner opted to drain a bunch of important first-10-minutes time of Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report with general conclusions from Todd Wagner and others about Yahoo.

"They've gotta get their mojo back," Wagner said.

Wagner also said, however, "Don't give up the ship on Netflix yet." Tony Wible, long-running analyst critic of NFLX, insisted "The streaming's just not a very profitable business ... rising cost of the content combined with people's inability or unwillingness to pay for it is really where they're in a tough bind." He said the expectation of "usage-based billing" for Web consumers is another headwind.

Pete Najarian managed to say, "I still think Microsoft's got plenty of upside."

Wagner said nice things about Lions Gate and how he's chummy with the fellows but noted it's a "mid-market entertainment company," and the question is, "Where do you go from there."

Judge Wapner started to tell about an interesting theater/studio dispute over "Tower Heist" but stopped far short of providing adequate details.

Herb Greenberg, after Monday's bust, was given the day off. In his place, Bob Pisani complained about what 10% circuit breakers were doing for AMR trading; "it doesn't make any sense for low-priced stocks."

[Monday, December 5, 2011]

Tim Seymour has to ask pretty new CNBC star about ‘blocking and tackling’

Natali Morris, introduced by Judge Scott Wapner on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money as a CNBC technology contributor, started off a bit choppy but gained momentum.

Morris was talking about something to do with Microsoft's progress with the Xbox (never had one) and said it "means that they won't move market share in this, in this industry," with "they" apparently referring to Apple.

But Morris conceded it requires "several subscriptions" for an MSFT who wants to try and replace the cable TV experience.

Tim Seymour asked Morris if this is really a "needle-mover" for MSFT and worth caring about aside from the "blocking and tackling of the business services division."

Morris then kicked a field goal of points — 3 of them — as to how it will help MSFT, that it makes the Xbox more appealing, could boost Xbox live subscriptions which are $5 a month, and could possibly even move the Windows phone though she's not so certain of that.

Guy Adami said of MSFT, "I would add more if it got down to 24 and a half." Joe Terranova said, "Apple TV is coming."

Morris has a Web site, very nice but maybe not as exciting as Keith McCoolah's McCullough's Old Wall St/Timestamp Twitter, which indicates Morris was formerly "Natali Del Conte" and that, ugh, she's a part-time mommy blogger.

Tim Seymour is asked
for the meaning of life

"It's all about good folks, good food."

Hope Marci was laughing with Judge Wapner and Tim Seymour, and if not, runs over ’em next time on the show

In the category of proving to be "more than up to the challenge," Marci Ryvicker — a very pretty cable analyst — ran right through the Fast Money secondary on Monday like she was born to do this type of thing.

Ryvicker rattled off opinions on virtually everything, even the stuff she doesn't cover such as DIS (everybody else's consensus is for a positive 2013 story), calling DISH "probably our top pick" and a "$30 core stock," plus $16 of spectrum value. Judge Wapner pressed whether AT&T would be a suitor; Ryvicker said, "I think that's the most logical choice."

She called TWC a "very cheap stock" that could see "potentially a raise in the dividend ... accelerated buybacks."

Ryvicker shot down Stephen Weiss' suggestion that TWC would be a target of VZ like nobody's business. "I don't think Verizon would go after Time Warner Cable," Ryvicker flatly asserted.

Judge Wapner showed one of the worst charts of all time, Cablevision, asking if there's any hope. Ryvicker said "I do think the stock is very cheap ... I just don't know what the upside is from here."

Concluding, Judge told Tim Seymour, "Marci's just tellin' it like it is." Seymour said, "You'd expect nothing less from Marci." Somehow, that triggered a laughing fit for Judge, who turned over the Options Action segment to Scott Nations while cracking up.

Terranova doesn’t really answer his Twitter question

The 5 p.m. Fast Money crew found something they mostly all agreed on Monday.

"This news by the S&P is garbage," said Tim Seymour.

Stephen Weiss said S&P is "completely clueless" and likened its record of identifying problems as a top big-league hitter unable to hit a Nerf fastball. "Useless agency," Weiss said.

Scott Nations quibbled with S&P's statuses for various banks, saying the truth is that, according to the options market, "Deutsche Bank is by far the riskiest bank worldwide."

Tim Seymour said that for another S&P thing the market cares about — the 500 level — the "3rd time may be the charm" with the 1,265 test, suggesting a breakout is imminent. "I think we're gonna do it.

He also said "Tom DeMarks (sic), major major" technical strategist is calling for a higher market.

Joe Terranova said if the 10-year yield tops 2.25%, not only will Jeff Kilburg look like a bozo, but "you're gonna see a little bit of an end-of-year reallocation." Terranova said as far as a broad stock call, "I'll see ya in January."

But at the end of the show, Terranova got a Twitter question asking for a call on stocks through year-end. Terranova said "a lot depends on what happens in Europe" and then tried to twist it into a question about next month being important, after the King holiday when earnings come out.

Guest apparently senses Judge putting pressure on his MCD call

MCDs as far as we know has been rather non-controversial, just grinding its way up, yet apparently Judge Wapner is suspicious that analyst Bryan Elliott's "outperform" is a sign of calling the top.

"Maybe I'm being irresponsible but I don't think so," said Elliott, sounding a bit taken aback from the intro but really just offering "brand" as his prime rationale and saying MCD does face risks of a global slowdown but always seems to execute.

Elliott did say, however, he rates CMG an underperform because of "valuation risk."

Ray Wang, who wished Judge 'good morning' from London, almost sounded like he was whispering into his mike after touting Netsuite as a possible Oracle target, in a segment that really went nowhere fast and thankfully ended quickly.

No matter what’s going on, never enough to stay away from the stock

Tim Seymour on the 5 p.m. Fast Money Monday took the baton on the POT theme from Zach Karabell at Halftime.

Except while Karabell blamed the stock's decline on "inside baseball" regarding the rupee, Seymour had a different explanation, that India has been "jawboning down prices."

Of course, either way, it always or usually ends in a buy recommendation, and Seymour mentioned POT and even Israel's ICL if you can get it.

Joe Terranova said he likes CF if it gets above $150.

Tim Seymour actually makes his Russia election comments with a straight face

Dennis Gartman said on Monday's Fast Money that there's been a move from gold into stocks, and "this may continue for a while."

Gartman told Tim Seymour he's "toying with the idea of owning platinum, being short of gold ... I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet."

Dan Dicker said what you've been hearing for 10 years, "It's tough to be short crude here ... headline risk ..."

Joe Terranova trumpeted Noble and Canadian oil names including SU, usually strong but a horrible chart this year, after Dicker trumpeted RIG again (also horrible chart this year).

Judge Wapner at 5 p.m. was just as confused about Taleo's rise as he was at Halftime (see below), saying it went up "18, 19%" (actually 19.84%).

Joe Terranova made the obligatory mall joke of Tim Seymour wearing LULU, while Seymour said Terranova wears Merry Go Round, while Judge Wapner even got into the act with Chess King.

Tim Seymour, asked to explain the voting in Russia, actually called it a "broadening democracy base, and people actually have a voice."

Judge aims to prevent Herb from embarrassingly revealing he wasn’t watching first 35 minutes of show; should’ve taken the whole afternoon off

Herb Greenberg delivered a total bust on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, first saying Taleo is a company "we don't usually talk a lot about," bringing protestations from Judge Scott Wapner, who interrupted to say "we did it earlier."

Judge Wapner said Taleo was up 14%. Herb Greenberg said Taleo was up 19%. The screen text said Taleo was up 18%.

Greenberg then tried to get the cameraman to show his illegible "StockTwits stream here," only to point out there's hardly been anything on TLEO since early November, when call-buying was happening.

"What seems obvious isn't, until it is," Greenberg said profoundly.

The train wreck only gained momentum when Greenberg claimed of Netflix, "I had that, that thing last week where I said one day it may be acquired by Facebook," and so now we're down to "may" and "one day," rather than "is acquired" under this 2012 prediction: "With its stock having plummeted, Netflix (lock, stock and off-balance sheet content costs) is acquired by (drumroll!) Facebook, on whose board Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sits."

Greenberg then asked if a question about Netflix from Brian Kelly actually came from "Pete" — who wasn't even on Monday's show.

Judge Wapner revealed about Netflix, "I'm a subscriber."

JJ Kinahan mentioned TLEO but then said KNXA "certainly has some upside right now."

A 26-day market call from JPMorgan

We've been wondering basically since September how so many people could be so certain about only the upcoming 3 2 1 month(s) and never saying a word about the month after, as though it's some kind of all-bets-are-off scenario.

Finally we're getting to the point where people on Fast Money are broaching that subject, including Zachary Karabell, who on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report queried Thomas Lee, who had 1,475 in May, about his 1,350 S&P year-end prediction (and if you're not skeptical about JPMorgan strategists calling 3 weeks of European do-or-die activity, more power to you).

"What does that do though to January," Karabell asked.

"Uh, you know, I mean, I-I think it's, it's kinda early- uh, you know, we haven't done our, sort of, 2012, uh outlook yet," Lee said (tip: it's getting late), though eventually explaining he doesn't see a scenario where the market "suddenly turns negative."

In fact, he said, "You know, you look at January and start to think about elections."

Nobody was doing that in November?

"Elections on balance I think are positive outcome for stocks in 2012," Lee added.

Lee said his May forecast was off because he underestimated "how long and extended this European crisis would become." He doesn't think his current target is difficult; "I think a hundred points is pretty achieavable actually."

Karabell apparently is on board with that, saying in Call the Close, "This market barring any weird euro news is gonna go higher for quite a while."

This time, Merkozy really really really did solve everything

Just 10 days ago (that would be the Friday after Thanksgiving, to be precise), the "November Rain" chatter on Fast Money was back in vogue and people were really taking seriously the results of the worst Thanksgiving week for stocks in basically forever.

Now, people apparently can't buy stock fast enough.

"We really were on a precipice" last week, said Zach Karabell, but now, "This is the rally we should've been having."

Steve Grasso said now that the S&P has crossed the 1,265-ish mark, "I do think that bodes well for the bulls," and the next stages are 1,275 and 1,295.

JJ Kinahan, citing Gary Kaminsky's report earlier, said bond activity in Europe is showing confidence and suggests the crisis "is a little bit solved." Just before Halftime, Kaminsky closed Squawk on the Street pointing to muni bond funds, MLPs and IBM as pockets of strength through global swings.

Meanwhile, euro breakup not 100% off the table

Judge Wapner neatly tapped Wellesley beauty Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (in striking red) to introduce the Jens Nordvig session on Monday's Halftime Report by explaining Nordvig's thesis about various European countries' impact on the euro in the event of a euro breakup (not a shocker, Germany around 1.36; Greece at 0.57).

Nordvig said he's not forecasting a euro breakup, it's not the "central case" because of continental efforts to address the problem, but it's a "risk scenario we have to consider very seriously."

The problem, Nordvig said, is "the damage has already been done on the growth side."

Zach Karabell said a 0.6 recession, or even if it's 1.0, is "not a particularly grave recession by any historical basis." Nordvig said the problem is it's "home-grown."

Nordvig said the euro might be a good sell at 1.38 and could fall to 1.33 though he's had a year-end target of 1.30.

Good thing C did that 1 for 10; all those fund managers who couldn’t buy it under $5 just pour into it these days

Brian Kelly and JJ Kinahan conducted one of the lamest bank arguments in recent memory during Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Kelly said he's looking at the U.S. regional banks for a greater pop, whereas Kinahan suggested a rotation from smaller banks into the bigger ones, arguing that's the bigger pop and that the smaller ones are merely going to get a "trickle-down effect."

"You guys are being awfully nice to each other," said Zach Karabell, who was still pessimistic on banks' ability to generate organic growth.

Steve Liesman tried to stress that central banks can't always overreach in ways their skeptics claim, saying that apparently, "It would violate the German constitution and the EU treaty, such as it currently exists, for the ECB to go in and buy all of these bonds."

$20somethings: In a battle of MSFT vs. CNBC’s parent, MSFT actually sort of wins

Judge Scott Wapner claimed on Monday's Halftime that he wanted to "let everybody know of course, uh, they obviously already do, but just in case they forgot, Comcast in fact is our, is our parent company."

Everybody knows?? Walk into a McDonald's and ask "who's CNBC's parent company?" and see how many of 50 people say CMCSA.

Guest Christopher King says Comcast and cable companies benefit from the Verizon Wireless deal because it's $3.6 billion in assets that weren't being used.

King also said that the AT&T/T-Mobile apparent blockage "really leaves Clearwire out there with Sprint."

The Fast crew had plenty of fun with the "Focker" tweet question but even more fun with the subject of agriculture, with Zach Karabell pegging POT's recent decline as "inside baseball" regarding the rupee, and "I don't think it's a change in agricultural demand going forward," and, while Karabell did not give a stock recommendation, when has the sky ever not been shining on Potash on Fast Money?

Both Karabell and Steve Grasso dumped ice-cold water on JJ Kinahan's enthusiasm for MSFT, with Grasso insisting, "You gotta be selling every rally until it closes above 27 and a half."

Ken Sena said LNKD lockup expirations around February aren't so bad and thus the stock looks better; "not going to be a lot of selling at that point."

Pat McKeever said at Dollar General, "the margin dynamic is shifting, more negative."

Judge said Todd Wagner would join Halftime for the full hour Tuesday.

Lee Cooperman’s
9-point plan for America

On Wednesday, this page reported on Leon Cooperman's Open Letter to President Obama and Cooperman's phone interview with Scott Wapner.

During that interview, Cooperman said that, "tongue in cheek," he told investors a few months ago he was considered exiting Omega Advisors and running for president, and he outlined a 9-point program for the United States, and he actually got a good reception, so he's sharing it.

This is Lee Cooperman's 9-point plan, as stated on Fast Money:

1. "Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, provide every returning soldier with a free 4-year college education"

2. "Set up a peacetime WPA effort to channel a portion of the savings into rebuilding the U.S. infrastructure"

3. "Unleash a domestic energy industry to develop domestic energy supplies and reserves"

4. "Government spending should be limited to a growth rate at least 1% below the level of nominal GDP growth"

5. "Freeze entitlements and raise the Social Security retirement age to 70, with the exception of those that work in hard labor"

6. "A 10% income tax surcharge for 3 years on those that earn over $500,000 per year"

7. "A 5% VAT tax to get at the underground economy and deal with the deficit"

8. "Tackle health care in a serious way"

9. "Reinstating the uptick rule for short sales, ban or curtail high-frequency trading, and limit credit default swap trading to those that own the underlying bonds"

Now, one of the reasons we didn't post the whole thing that day is because there's a lot of stuff there (took a bit of time to transcribe), but also, quite frankly, it's more than 9 points. (See Points 1 and 9, toss in the 2-part goals of 5 and 7, and we're really talking about a 14-point plan, or Vegas' idea of this weekend's Rams-49ers game.)

Also, there's just a lot of thought-provoking stuff in there that needs to be thunk about before issuing willy-nilly reflections.

So, upon contemplation ... the first reaction that comes to mind is that this agenda is mostly similar to Democratic Party goals, though not exclusively, yet Cooperman says he is supporting Mitt Romney.

Points 3 and 8 seem little more than complaints that gas and health care cost too much.

Point 8 is really not an idea at all.

Point 9 seems to be that the stock market isn't high enough.

Point 7 is no guarantee that the funds raised will be applied toward the deficit.

This plan lacks any statement on TARP/bailouts, terrorism, immigration and climate change.

Notice in Point 2 the term "infrastructure" is used ... "infrastructure" is one of those impressive-sounding buzzwords, usually dubbed an "investment," often used by Democratic politicians (or "America's falling behind" authors such as Thomas Friedman) to support a tax-and-spend agenda. Infrastructure dollars actually are often allocated for the worst reasons (political clout and contractual scheduling) rather than independently (as closely as the term can be achieved) verified need. Infrastructure probably in many ways represents overspending given the roads and bridges in many remote locations that serve few but must be maintained, as well as easements to subdivisions from the housing boom that maybe aren't supportable. Many wealthy communities endure average-to-lousy roads because they correctly decide their dollars are better spent elsewhere. Nothing makes economic activity more inefficient than road construction. In exchange we get a smoother ride when the work is not being done. Infrastructure is an operating cost of society. Build a road; pay for it forever at costs that outstrip inflation. To describe infrastructure as an "investment" (which Mr. Cooperman did not) is like parents of a newborn saying they are "investing" in diapers.

Were Point 2 specific, it would be valid. In other words just tell us where precisely America needs to build an airport, bridge or incinerator (hopefully not Harrisburg). Used alone, "infrastructure" is sloganeering at its worst; irrelevant.

Despite the mostly benign outline here, little of this could actually pass Congress.

Conclusion: A not-very-intense agenda basically suggesting 1) end the war, 2) soak the rich a tiny bit more in areas they're willing to be soaked so they no longer have to worry about a 50% carried interest rate in 2013; and 3) don't get too much more into debt. And unfortunately, (taking a deep pause and hoping that if Mr. Cooperman — we don't want to sound flip in this posting with "the Coopmeister" — opts to run, his team won't unleash attack ads on this site), there is absolutely nothing innovative in the slightest about this agenda, no ideas or vision of what America should be like in 2020 and 2030, nothing about the greater speed that America and its friends need in learning, medical research, computing and communications, and at the same time getting government largely out of people's way so they can connect faster with each other in more efficient ways and hopefully with a greater respect for each other than ever before.

Maybe by primary season, Mr. Cooperman can update with 10-18 on the 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Ask CNBCfix.com

You know how Melissa Lee and the Fast Money gang occasionally like to answer viewer questions via Twitter (it used to be videophone and once included Gene Simmons).

Well, this site decided to do its own similar public service.

The helpful people at Google, as well as host providers, offer constructive feedback for Web sites about the top terms Googlers use in landing on the site.

Nowadays this site (snicker) is getting enough traffic (somehow) that we couldn't possibly keep track of it all, and most top terms as you'd guess are standard CNBC-related, but at the beginning of the month we notice the first ones to roll in, and once in a while there's an amusing hit in question format. So, perhaps we can shed some light on some actual early December queries in case any of these folks (gulp) are coming back (all spellings are by the searcher but we think the aggregators convert apostrophes to spaces):

"trader on half time report who argues with everyone" — Gut feeling here is that it has to be The Contrarian, Steve Cortes, but it could also be Stephen Weiss, or maybe even Steve Grasso (not because we necessarily believe such an individual exists, but because a viewer could get that impression from various episodes this week). We're going to declare it's not Amelia Bourdeau or Pete Najarian.

"brian kelly said don t confuse economics with market" — Seems fair enough at least in the short term; nothing very objectionable there, not sure why prompted a search.

"does carl quintanilla speak spanish" — We know Michelle Caruso-Cabrera does hits for NBC's Spanish-speaking outlets (and does them very, very well), but don't know about "the Q."

"does courtney reagan still have an accent" — Hmmm. Ohioan all the way up through college. Is there an Ohio accent we've missed?

"what famous person does diane swonk look like" — Never pondered that one before.

"gasparino s head" — Um, clueless. Can't help ya there. (The crazy things they must talk about on Fox Business.)

"on the halftime report what is the name of the spokesman they call judge" — Our favorite of the pack. "Spokesman"? (Note: For those actually wondering, the answer can be found in many places on this page, but we don't want to insult the intelligence of this page's regular readers by stating it here.)

[Friday, December 2, 2011]

‘I think you should have a great time’: Steve Liesman denies picking a fight with Steve Grasso while Josh Brown indicates Grasso is indeed speaking for more or less all traders

Steve Liesman said there are 2 employment indicators you can pick from, and boy did that open a hornet's nest on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

It's an "interesting discrepancy," Liesman said, explaining, "You Fast Money guys can figure out which horse you wanna ride here ... there's the household employment report which is rising at about 317,000 workers per month, then we've got the payroll report, which is 143,000. There are some economists who are saying that bigger number, that household report, is the one to ride because it could be leading here ... pretty big discrepancy."

That prompted what initially sounded like a fairly innocuous statement from Steve Grasso.

"Most traders as you know were naysayers to a large extent when it comes to this payroll data. Obviously we see that no sitting president has ever been re-elected with unemployment above 7%. So for us it feels like we're just dressing up the window. You know, I ... it's just a trading, trading point, and obviously the market giving a little bit back, still focused on Europe, but I think it's a big issue."

There wasn't really a question there, as Liesman observed.

"Well ... I, I, I don't know what the big issue is. That you don't believe the data?" Liesman said.

"We don't believe the d- we don't believe the data. That's, that's the point. People falling off the-" Grasso said.

"Do you speak for all the- Steve, Steve, wait a second, do you speak for all the traders Steve?" Liesman challenged.

"Do you, do you-" Grasso said.

"That's a pretty common, that's a pretty common viewpoint," offered Josh Brown.

"Do you speak for all the economists?" Grasso challenged Liesman.

"I'm giving you, I'm giving you 2 different points of view Steve. I'm telling you what some economists say on the one hand, one on the other hand. But you on the other hand are speaking for all the traders. That's great," Liesman said.

"No you just picked a fight with me. I'm asking you your opinion," Grasso said, although, to be honest, he didn't really ask Liesman's opinion, he merely made a statement that traders don't believe it.

"I didn't pick a fight," Liesman insisted.

"Why are traders wrong when we doubt these numbers. You just picked a fight now you can finish it. Go ahead," No. 386 said.

"I'm not saying you're wrong. I think some of you guys should doubt it. I think some of you guys should believe it. I think you should have a great time. I'm telling you there's 2 different types of numbers that are out there, and some economists I'm saying are saying 'go for the bigger ones,' because they have recently been leading indicators, OK. I just find it interesting that certain people with certain political points of view believe the numbers when they're negative and then when they're positive they don't believe those numbers anymore," Liesman said.

At that point Judge cut in very Mel Lee-like, saying, "I'm gonna end it there because I do not want this to devolve into some, uh, uh, ill-suited political discussion which is not certainly meant to be."

Judge implies stock market is undervaluing banks

Flying slightly under the radar of the speaking-for-all-traders/economists conversation on Friday's Halftime was Steve Liesman's point that Philly Fed chief Charles Plosser has "been right to be optimistic."

Moments later, Josh Brown said, "I don't know what Plosser's looking at. I mean nothing screams health like a sector that's down 24% in 1 quarter."

That for some reason brought Judge Scott Wapner rushing to a Fed defense and implicit market's-undervalued theory. "I would only say JB that, that, perception, uh, and reality are a couple of different things, right. The banks could be in much better position, and by all accounts they certainly appear to be in better positions. Whether the market wants to believe-"

Brown rebutted, "We still don't know how they're gonna earn money, a greater amount of money, next year than they've done this year."

Pete Najarian said people are scared of establishing positions in banks; they've risen recently but "most of the option activity has been very very short-term."

Liesman, despite some of the arguments, was taking a neutral stance on certain parts of the jobs issue, saying "I like the revisions" and the 120 number, but we're "still looking for a bottom when it comes to government jobs," and as for sentiment, "headlines don't do nearly as good as jobs do."

Straightforward question: Does the picture on the left of this image seem obnoxious?

One of the joys (sarcasm intended) of watching the Fast Money Halftime Report these days is getting the New York Times all-digital commercial twice in the last half hour.

Remember how, in the last few years, NYT ads used to feature those insufferable yuppies talking about "the breadth, the depth, the insight," etc.

The issue in the current ad is the choice of picture of the president.

Obviously there is a long history of great journalism at the New York Times as well as a long history of various political viewpoints, and unlike Steve Liesman and Steve Grasso, we're not going to pick a fight with anyone here.

We'll just ask, is there anything about this photo that cries out "poor me," a vision of a determined, thoughtful, conscientious, reflective person leading us through this storm of it's all the fault of opposition-party-led inertia troubled times.

In other words, maybe exactly the picture an Obama 2012 campaign bundler would choose.

Or maybe those people would argue, showing him in the rain conveys exactly the opposite, he's in trouble, it's not like they're showing him smiling in the sun, Morning in America, and that the Times is being realistic to the detriment of its own leanings.

(Isn't it handy that they label it "Politics;" people might've thought it was "Sports.")

Keep in mind the ad's accompanying musical tone is pleasant and affirming.

Guess it comes down to whether you think this is a flattering photo, or not.

We've always enjoyed art appreciation and believed it doesn't get taught enough in school.

Herb also called for a
(Zzzz) Best Buy restructuring

In the category of overlevered, Herb Greenberg is somehow getting about 100 times as much CNBC mileage out of his JCP prediction as warranted, and if he comes on Monday's shows and talks about it again, we're turning to Gasparino on Fox (or "Brady Bunch" on one of the cable channels).

But Greenberg led off on Friday's Halftime explaining that his Facebook-buying-Netflix item got more traction on Twitter than any other of his forecasts, a "silly prediction" that, if it's really moving NFLX, tells you more about the market in a bad way, Greenberg said.

And we're not sure if this site should be chagrined for ignoring that element in our home-page roundup of various CNBC 2012 calls, given that 1) it wasn't even 1 of his 5 titled predictions (rather the title was "hard times for Netflix" and 2) it was only embedded in his 5th prediction, so we weren't even sure he actually believed it and wondered if it was actually satire.

By contrast, nobody said anything about Gary Kaminsky's contention that the 10-year hits 1% in 2012, and that GPS is bought out by J. Crew.

Greenberg eventually got to JCP on Friday as the "hottest and hippest retailer." Everyone's eyes rolled, and rightly so, but we got word that Patty Edwards is if nothing else defending the potential of such a call on Twitter, so take it for what you will.

Judge puts Vic Alboini in his place regarding Mount Rushmore of activist investors

We swore we weren't going to write anymore about Vic Alboini low-budget agitation campaign with Research in Motion, but we had to make some mention to Judge Wapner's assessment of Alboini's entourage.

"Honestly, with respect," Wapner told Alboini, "you're not a Bill Ackman, you're not a Carl Icahn."

Alboini said it's not about him personally or his firm, that he's talking to a director, 3 shareholders have spoken "directly" to the company, and there have been news articles that quoted 3 members of his group, "albeit anonymously."

Alboini also said he doesn't want to be Icahn, but a "congenial Canadian."

Alboini explained that he's got 17 shareholders pushing for change and that the stock should be north of $30.

Judge at one point said RIMM shares are "close to zero," then clarified to say they're going "towards zero."

Pete Najarian said time is the issue for management and investors; "how long can they be this patient ... they have shown us nothing."

Colin Gillis said the struggle is to "pry current management's hands off this wheel." He said the company's still too big for a buyout and can't see anyone paying $9 billion for it and that it's "yesterday's phone."

Josh Brown said RIMM "has to get worse before it gets better." JJ Kinahan said the problem is that its bread-and-butter is corporate which is being invaded by the iPhone.

Maybe next year at this time, RIMM will replace JCP as Herb Greenberg's hottest pick for 2013.

Rich Ilczyszyn suggests viewers should be reading his Twitter account on weekends

Rich Ilczyszyn, flourishing in the wake of MF Global, joined the Friday Fast Money gang to predict gold hitting "18, 19, $2,000 an ounce probably, uh, happening next year."

Ilczyszyn did offer something of a Brag Trade, asserting that on Twitter late Sunday night, he told people to start getting long around $1,700, and "my price target was 1,730. Real quickly, we pierced that."

So we looked it up, and discovered it actually was a personal recommendation for "Tom" without a full explanation of what it was (OK, admittedly when you hear "Seventeen hundred" you probably automatically think gold, but it's not like it said, "Hey everybody, buy gold at $1,700 and sell at $1,730"), phrased this way: "Hey Tom.Just looking at a chart, get long here w/ stop below last weeks low..look for 1730ish"

So, a fine call, but not quite as prominent as Herb Greenberg's hot-JCP forecast.

The Ilchmeister said copper could breakout past 3.60 or 3.70; "there's a massive short position in the market." JJ Kinahan said NEM has been in a rough patch but could strengthen into year-end.

We’re not aware of any opportunistic health care deals since Guy Adami’s favorite, JNJ acquiring PFE’s consumer products division in 2006

We have no idea why Judge Wapner considered PFE an exciting subject for Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, but he brought on glam Pfizer watcher Catherine Arnold to explain "the pipeline has some very interesting assets" and that there are a "multitude of dynamics going on with Pfizer."

Arnold gave JJ Kinahan's question about the industry turning more to acquisitions for growth than organic products short shrift. "This industry cannot rely on only its own efforts," Arnold said, and companies have "gotta be opportunistic," but it'll continue to be a combination of internal growth and acquisition.

Always a little disappointing when the Money in Motion panelist is not Rebecca Patterson or Amelia Bourdeau (or even Andy Busch)

Currency trader George Davis said on Friday's Fast Money not to get over-euphoric about the euro; "I still think you have to be on the defensive." He recommends a long euro/Swiss position.

Josh Brown said he's long Vodaphone and that in the wake of concerns about a smaller dividend from Verizon Wireless, "I would be a buyer on that weakness."

JJ Kinahan said "I do like Starbucks" but that it might have a little bit of a pullback. Steve Grasso on the other hand said it's the type of stock around a 52-week high that goes higher, saying (correctly) $44.70 is the top and "I believe it goes higher than that." Grasso also cracked he needs a double espresso because "I gotta get ready for Liesman again."

Fadel Gheit said Valero's selloff was overdone in part because the pipeline issue won't happen that quickly. He said the Brent-WTI spread isn't going back to $2 anytime soon.

Steve Grasso said the MLP group is "not gonna lose its luster," and that, given Congress' inaction, it's "safe to get back in the MLPs." Pete Najarian said on Call the Close that COP is worth a look.

[Thursday, December 1, 2011]

Tim Cook, meet Phil Bengston

Brian Sullivan found Brian White's $666 AAPL price target on Thursday's Fast Money amusing, but Guy Adami quickly pointed out how that's an old subject on Fast Money before Sullivan could get sidetracked. White said AAPL had a "shockingly weak" month of October, but he cited Wintek's results as "foreshadowing some positive data points out of the supply chain over the next week."

Brian Stutland said he recommends selling $390, $400 AAPL calls. "I don't see a tremendous amount of upside in AAPL," Stutland said, calling it a "slower-growth story going forward."

They always say ‘do your homework,’ and yet Guy Adami touts names such as TJMaxx and Jack In the Box while admitting he’s never been in either one

We're just clueless amateurs on the subject of retailing (we just learned a few weeks ago there are stores at malls called Pink, and we didn't know until Thursday's Halftime from Patty Edwards that there are stores called Aerie, and talk about a blush factor if you visit the Aerie Web site in the vicinity of females) ... but one thing we're quite certain of is that nothing holds back a retailer more than a toxic brand, and so why in the world have Sears and JCPenney not changed their names?

Yet, that's precisely what Herb Greenberg thinks is in store for JCPenney, even if he really only got into it online and just briefly mentioned the transition to "JCP" on Thursday's Fast Money, when he said, "I think JCPenney is gonna become one of the really hot retail stocks" in 2012, because Ron Johnson is going to cement his legacy by "really shaking up mainstream department store retailing." (Or, by leading the league in rushing attempts in 1972, or solidifying the Steelers' J.T. Thomas-driven cornerback concerns in 1978.)

Undoubtedly, Sears and JCPenney have done countless studies that have convinced brass that there's still a bunch of shoppers that they're afraid of losing "who identify with those names," even though they'll never get the Tim Seymours of the world in a place called "JCPenney" or "Sears" or even "JCP."

Talk about a credit bubble in 2008. There are so many department-store-sized sellers of cheap clothing stuff and middle-market clothing stuff from China, there aren't going to be any heroes in this space for basically forever, until the whole world goes Amazon and then gets sick of that.

Guy Adami even was hailing TJMaxx ("I don't think I've ever set foot in one"), and Karen Finerman made TGT her Final Trade for a not-so-final seemingly 18th time in a month.

Dan Nathan told Tim Seymour that LULU rose because the shorts had to cover after such a steep opening drop, which makes a LULU long think there's not much conviction on the short side (this writer is long LULU).

How do we play the no-longer-in-the-3rd-year-of-a-presidency angle next month?

Tim Seymour said on Thursday's Fast Money that people should be paying attention to European bond rallies. "Guys are getting destroyed here," Seymour said.

But Guy Adami was skeptical that there's much conviction in the late November rally. "We could easily give back a third of that tomorrow" if the numbers Friday aren't good, Adami said.

"I agree with Guy," said Karen Finerman, in sizzling new fuchsia dress that must've cost an estimated forty-eight hundred dollars.

VIX watcher Tim Biggam said there's a European premium of "15% or so" in the VIX. Biggam's trade — misunderstood by guest host Brian Sullivan, who kept thinking Biggam was sounding bullish — of selling out of the money puts and calls on the VIX was another quiet suggestion of "range-bound," a term that hasn't gotten much play this week while seemingly meriting it.

Steve Cortes disagreed with Tim Seymour that China can adequately control its economy. The "Gepetto" notion, Cortes said, "is not historically, by any means sound." Seymour recommended for Final Trade going long EEM vs. the SPY.

Why AMZN has 99 P.E. (cont’d)

Guest David Strasser painted a more positive picture of Barnes & Noble's Nook potential than the Fast Money gang wanted to hear on Thursday, with Karen Finerman demanding to know how quickly the company has to caterpillar/butterfly itself out of bricks and mortar.

"They have to do it quick," Strasser conceded. But he said the Nook is "gonna drive significant earnings" in 2012 and 2013.

Brian Sullivan said "I'm rootin' for 'em" because he likes to check out books in a bookstore. But Dan Nathan scoffed at the permanence of Nook market share, stressing, "There's a lot of serious competition here."

‘Frack-central’ in U.S. if Republican wins White House

Guest host Brian Sullivan on Thursday's Fast Money showed a clip from Wednesday's Mark Fisher comments on natural gas getting near a ridiculous bottom and asked Dan Dicker to agree or disagree. "I don't know about that," Dicker said, but seasonally, nat gas does tend to jump "right around now."

Steve Cortes asked Dicker if the notion of endless gas drilling under a Republican administration is accurate. "I agree, it, it's frack-central in the United States if the Republicans win," Dicker said.

Dicker said historically, Fisher's right, natural gas is well off its oil correlation, but longer term he doesn't really see it getting above $5.50 or $6.

Brian Sullivan and Dicker sparred briefly on APA. "There's a lot of headline risk on Apache around Egypt," Sullivan contended, while Dicker, who first rattled off all the low prices you could've bought APA for 6 weeks ago and then sold at 103 and of course you could've bought the S&P last Friday and sold it 80 points higher in days too, and you could've bought the Powerball ticket Saturday ... said to remember that Apache has "20 billion barrels of assets that they own" and that given oil prices, that's a valuable company.

Dan Nathan sick of pundits constantly saying buy on the dip

Steve Cortes, hailing an all-SEC championship game in college football (what's really neat is the team winning the regular season showdown is punished by having to win an extra game to clinch a spot in the title game though it would probably get that anyway with a loss), said on Thursday's Fast Money that he likes SO, for its "domesticity" and "dividend."

Cortes said the possibility of a rail strike is a sign "workers do not have very much leverage right here."

Dan Nathan, in a point seemingly the polar opposite of James Altucher's contention that the media has a responsibility to "create" psychology that he believes should be favorable, said, "I take issue with the financial media and all these people out there who just defend, defend, defend, and they wanna buy on every dip, and like the last 5 years will show you, that that's not a great plan."

Guy Adami is going to the well again with YHOO, according to his Final Trade.

Tim Seymour implies that Steve Cortes was implying that the Fast gang was claiming Europe’s solved

Steve Cortes, on the 5 p.m. Fast Money Prop Desk for a change, painted a grim picture of Europe, analogizing it with football, saying this week's celebration was like a 4th-quarter touchdown when trailing 40-0 and pointing to Santander as an ongoing sign of Europe trouble.

"To by any means declare that the European sys- uh, problems are solved I think is incredibly premature."

"Nobody's declaring that," said Tim Seymour.

"Who's saying they're solved," Brian Sullivan said.

"Spanish bond yields are back to June levels," Seymour asserted, adding that Italy is a "wealthy country" that "can turn it around if they decide to do it."

More on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money later.

Keith McCullough challenges Brian Kelly over whether this is 2008 (and if it is, get those Super Bowl tickets ready for Indy and invite the Cardinals)

CNBC contributor Keith McCullough, who is evidently polarizing enough in the Twittersphere to inspire parody including a funny name, stepped right into the Fast Money Halftime set on Thursday and came out swinging — specifically, at Brian Kelly.

Kelly said China's in an easing mode, and to "ignore the PMI for right now."

McCullough said when China relaxed reserve requirements in 2008, it was "not a buy signal."

"This is not 2008," Kelly said.

"Well that's a debate that we should have," McCullough said, claiming no one knows how Europe will play out.

But, Kelly said, this time, "Everybody knows what the story is ... we now know what the endgame is .. the ECB, the Federal Reserve and every other central bank in the world comes in and saves the day."

McCullough goaded, "I think, you know Brian, I think you might be the only person who might say that ... I think that that is probably the bravest thing that anybody could possibly say at this stage."

Kelly said the Fed showed Wednesday that "Europe is not going to implode," and then prompted a debate when saying "so it was a credit event, not a liquidity event."

Stephen Weiss basically sided with McCullough, saying, "We've seen this movie before." On China, Weiss said, citing Jim Chanos' fact-finding, "There is no doubt, it's a property bubble."

Keith McCullough said on Sept. 17, 2008, the central bank triggered an 8½% 2-day move in stocks, and then everyone lost money afterwards. McCullough predicted an S&P range of 1,203 to 1,270, while Steve Grasso hilariously (ignored by Judge Wapner) Called the Close with a sign saying "Lower."

Patty: ‘We’re not done’

It was curious on Thursday's Halftime Report, a day after Dennis Gartman and Jon Najarian were advising to get out of the way of the train, that really no one save for possibly Brian Kelly was hailing this market as an actual buy.

Stephen Weiss said "the risk to the market going lower is a lot greater than the risk to it going higher," and that Spain continues to have "astronomical rates that are unsustainable."

Patty Edwards agreed. "I'm in the same camp as Stephen Weiss. I do not like this market for all the reasons he mentioned ... yesterday was just staving off a Lehman-type thing ... we're not done."

Judge Wapner tried to defend the bull case, insisting that the tiny selloff Thursday was "not any kind that you'd perhaps expect after a 500-point move." But Steve Grasso sounded unconvinced and indicated no one has visibility in this market; "a lot of people were caught basically on their heels yesterday with that move."

Keith McCullough played the Guy Adami card, asserting, "Tomorrow's gonna decide the game for the week."

Patty says retail forecast
has been validated

It's not often the Fast Money crew speaks of prophecies fulfilled, but that's precisely what Patty Edwards was indicating on Thursday's Halftime Report.

"This is playing out exactly how I thought it would," Edwards said, of the retail pie not growing much bigger but simply a battle of market share.

"The high-end consumer does seem to be doing well. I think Kohl's is getting its lunch eaten actually by our friends over at Macy's," Edwards said, adding, "Amazon is taking share from Apple."

Steve Grasso acknowledged, while the iPad isn't going to be toppled by the Kindle Fire, the latter device is "very convenient."

Keith McCullough said "Tiffany looks like a disaster" and that AAPL and AMZN charts are "both broken."

A day after locomotive talk, Fast Money gang fails to jump aboard the LULU train

One truism we've come to realize from the stock market is something along the lines of, whatever you think Lululemon should be trading at, tack on about 20%.

And so we couldn't help but notice that Thursday's Fast Money Halftime gang completely missed the boat on this one where Guy Adami would not have.

LULU opened horribly ... and proceeded to make Wednesday-like returns on Thursday for anyone who bought after that opening and saw the gargantuan volume indicating sellers were flushed out. (This writer is long LULU but only after the Fast Money Halftime Report aired, by which time the train had mostly left the station.)

Meanwhile, Judge Wapner was hours late, asking analyst Adrienne Tennant if the stock was suddenly a raging buy given the volume at opening if the revenue miss or soaring inventory was a bigger deal.

"Probably the inventory at this point," said Tennant, who eventually concluded the stock is "fairly valued in my mind," begging the question, fairly valued when??? ... 9:30 a.m., or 1 p.m.?

Maybe the Fast Money gang was so impotent on this subject because, like us, they heard Tennant 1) on the one hand say inventories had skyrocketed and 2) on the other hand say there wasn't enough inventory for a year-end sale and wonder, what the heck is going on here?

Flash: Euro is ‘subject
to headline risk’

Amelia Bourdeau, one of the beauties of the Money in Motion stable, said on Thursday's Halftime Report that the euro is "always subject to headline risk" but "probably has some top side left in it." Her trade is long Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar.

Kayla Tausche reported from a conference in which probably zero YHOO news is being made that things are really up in the air about what'll happen to Yahoo. Patty Edwards, who on Thursday was given a marginal opportunity to speak but let's not get carried away and suggest Judge gave her the floor (Patty didn't even get to Call the Close), said of YHOO, "I would want nothing to do with it."

Craig Berger said he likes Broadcom for Bluetooth Wi-Fi connectivity and its high-growth, high-margin networking. Stephen Weiss said he owns it. Patty Edwards asked why Broadcom and not QCOM. Berger said because everyone hates BRCM while "Qualcomm is a love fest."

We’re gonna be hearing about steel for weeks

Judge Wapner congratulated Steve Grasso on Thursday's Halftime with "obviously a great call" on Monday on the steels.

Except, Stephen Weiss noted, as this page did yesterday, that the call was clearly for December.

Grasso said "I'm still long AK Steel" but acknowledged that the jump Tuesday was not sector-related but China-related.

As Grasso, and this page, noted, if you got in early (just like with Grasso's LVS in June/July), it was indeed awesome, and the sector might be a gain in December regardless, but after an 18% rise in the last 2 days of November, if you weren't selling Wednesday, you might be on the wrong end of greedy. Grasso said there might be a spike in the 2nd half of December.

"I'm not short anything right now," Weiss said.

McCullough out-Herbs Greenberg, apparently on just a gut feeling

Keith McCullough displayed such swagger on Thursday's Halftime, he had no trouble wading into even Herb Greenberg's segment while admitting he knew little about the stock Herb was talking about, CARB, which Greenberg said quietly is facing "lots of pricing pressure" despite enthusiasm for the sector.

"This looks suspect Herb," McCullough said. "At the end of the day, somebody always knows something ... it looks dicey."

Greenberg's daily update on GMCR involved his detection of Green Mountain brewers for sale on Overstock.com and not getting a phone call back. McCoolah McCullough said "this stock is fundamentally broken" to anyone with "any analytical ability" and that 48 or 47 is a likely pullback area.

Judge Wapner picks up
Melissa’s ‘Wow’

Bank watcher David Hilder on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime called the S&P downgrade "fairly minor ... It looks to me like the stocks are incredibly cheap."

Keith McCullough practically scoffed, asserting, "Valuation is not a catalyst."

Judge Scott Wapner asked Hilder for his favorite pick among banks. "It would be Bank of America," Hilder said.

"Wow. Why do you like that one," Wapner asked.

Hilder cited tangible book value, as well as, "it is certainly well capitalized and well reserved," though that doesn't explain why they gave practically free money to Warren Buffett, announced tens of thousands of layoffs and sold a profitable Chinese unit.

Jason Gere said PG has new potential because of emerging markets, but he didn't address whether a can full of crushed Pringles is worse than a tray full of broken Fudge Stripes.

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