[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive — February 2013]
[Thursday, February 28, 2013]

Netflix of 2013 is up 103%

Guy Adami began his bull case for LNKD on Thursday's Fast Money admitting it's "probably stretched," but that Pepsi's using it on some level, and it's the "medium of choice" for corporate recruiting, and they "smoke earnings every quarter," and there's a new account "every 2 seconds," and then he really got to the point, "momentum is still behind this stock."

Jon Najarian, whose best argument would've been 3 words (Greater Fool Theory), said LinkedIn has "200 million users, allegedly," but only 43 million reportedly were used since August, and by the way its valuation vs. peers is high, so it "might be time to lighten up."

Adami scoffed that those are the "same arguments you could've made $60 ago," while he thinks the stock is only in its "4th or 5th inning."

Brian Kelly said LinkedIn is a "social media company that actually gets it," and "they can upsell," so he agrees with Adami.

Anthony Scaramucci conceded, "I've got myself in trouble by buying high fliers and buying into the momentum."

And then he made the most cockamamie point of the day if not year, contending, Najarian is going to be right, because "This is the Netflix of 2013."

Mike Khouw said the weekly 170 calls were being bought for $1.15, but LNKD is at "nosebleed valuations."

Melissa seems to be
rooting against Ackman

Mel Lee pointed out Carl Icahn's interest in the HLF board coupled with JCP's plunge and said there's "poetry in this" as it relates to Bill Ackman.

Guy Adami shrugged and said "trading is predatory at times."

Lee even brought up "The Nutcracker."

Jon Najarian then bungled the names he was talking about as being in the nutcracker, eventually clarifying that for Ackman, it's a "horrible position for him and his shareholders."

Anthony Scaramucci described Ackman as a "long-term locked up sort of a guy" and said it's a question of whether HLF is Avon, Tupperware, Amway, or a fraud. Scaramucci doesn't think so, because "I've got a very close personal relationship with Dan Loeb," and predicted Ackman "will start to fade this position" if it's wrong.

Mike Khouw said that in HLF, all the most active options were calls.

‘Hedge funds are basically all in’

Thomas Lee, who generally issues bullish calls on CNBC, said on Thursday's Fast Money he's cautious now because cyclicals have underperformed since January, gasoline's high, there's the payroll-tax holiday ending, sequestration, credit, Seth MacFarlane (that last one is a joke), etc.

But, Lee contends, we're still in a "secular bull market," he would just defer purchases, in part because (see, more reasons still, which is why he used the term "constellation" twice) hedge funds, which Lee calls the "incremental buyer" for the market, are nearly maxed out, and so you should "sell in front of that peak."

Anthony Scaramucci, skeptical, asked Lee how long this hedge-fund analysis has worked, and "why be a timer here."

Lee said it's a "tactical short-term call" and insisted "hedge funds are very predictive," and right now, "hedge funds are basically all in," so better to buy around 1,450, and try materials, industrials and discretionary.

Jon Najarian said he thinks 20 S&P handles lower is possible. Brian Kelly suggested retail investors, which JJ Kinahan says are now doing the right thing, might replace hedge funds now as the marginal buyer.

Guy Adami said "I think the market is headed to 1,550" but added that it "might be the high for the next year to 18 months."

Later in the program Adami was asked in a tweet to "specifically" outline this bear case. "The pillars of the market should be earnings, earnings growth, revenue and revenue growth. They're not. The pillars are an overly accommodative Federal Reserve," Adami said.

But why do they care
about cost basis?

JJ Kinahan visited with Thursday's Fast Money to provide some encouragement to those home gamers.

"The retail trader is a much smarter trader than they used to be ... on some levels they're almost what the professional trader was 20 years ago. They're realized, when you get in, you get in in portions," Kinahan said.

So, that's the difference between retail investors and pros — buying in portions.

(Just remember Dennis Gartman's Rule No. 1 of Trading is to never add to a losing position, it's trading's carcinogen, so make sure all of your portions are progressively higher.)

Kinahan said retail investors have been selling GS and KO and are buying BAC and (yes, this is what he said) AA.

Guy Adami said USB is about the only bank he likes, with BX, and said AA has been "grim death" for 5 years and probably will continue to be for a few more.

Brian Kelly makes Thursday’s close seem like the end of ‘Chinatown’

Actually it didn't really seem that bad, but Brian Kelly said on Thursday's Fast Money that stocks experienced an "awful close ... terrible, terrible close."

So, Kelly sees XLE as a buying opportunity.

Jon Najarian, who predicts a "little bit of a pullback" but nothing major, said in trading the VIX on Thursday he was "buying the 15s, selling the 18s."

Anthony Scaramucci said "I like Macy's," while Guy Adami's top trade was, "I think Blackstone still goes higher."

Adami called GPS "not a bad place to be," while Scaramucci likened it to M as a name that's "gonna work."

How will we stop North Korea?

Melissa Lee on Thursday's Fast Money told defense-stock watcher Brian Ruttenbur that the index hits new highs ahead of sequestration, and Ruttenbur admitted, "I can't figure that out."

He said the biggies, including LMT, GD, RTN, NOC and LLL, will take "around 15% or so on average hit to earnings," but that the "services guys" could lose up to 70%.

Ruttenbur said there will be a stream of bills through September that will blunt "half the impact" of sequestration this fiscal year.

Obviously Google’s M&A department really nailed that one

Julia Boorstin made a Fast Money appearance Thursday to report on the firing of Groupon chief Andrew Mason and declare the only real surprise "is that Mason wasn't fired earlier."

Jon Najarian said of the stock, "I don't think it gets back above 5 in a big hurry."

Melissa Lee complained the company took a wrong turn into selling goods. Brian Kelly observed that there's "no barrier to entry."

Anthony Scaramucci said that Andrew Mason should've written in his letter that he bungled the chance to sell the company to Google and experienced a "disastrous tenure."

Meanwhile, guest Doug Creutz said that for ZNGA to capitalize on Internet gambling, there's a "lot of issues that have to be resolved," but the New Jersey vote "probably is" a tailwind, though it's a "very competitive market."

Anthony Scaramucci said he wanted to ask Creutz if it makes sense to be long ZNGA and short the casinos, but Scaramucci seemed to doubt that himself.

Doc likes MNST

Guy Adami admitted on Thursday's Fast Money that he blew the IRM trade, but "I've been wrong before," and the stock wasn't hit so much, so stay with it.

Brian Kelly said to stay away from DF. Jon Najarian said ISRG's plunge occurred just before the close and it's still down heavily afterhours.

Anthony Scaramucci asserted that turnarounds such as at JCP "typically take 36 months," and "the downgrade to CCC+ is terrible," at some point it'll be time to buy, but not now.

Mike Khouw said BBRY may have a new tablet but that market is "getting a little bit saturated."

Brian Kelly said "I still like Disney here." Jon Najarian said he would like MNST on a washout (it seems hard to tell if that's what actually happened but he seems to think it did) and "I drink it every day on the set."

Brian Kelly said to take profits in CSX (but you only have profits if you're paying attention to your cost basis). Jon Najarian said of AAPL, "I would own it and own it at the 450 strike." Anthony Scaramucci said patient investors can make money in F, "I actually think it is on the rebound."

Mike Khouw's Final Trade was to sell HRL. Jon Najarian said buy CIM, Anthony Scaramucci said RLGY, Brian Kelly said long SCCO if Chinese PMI is good, and Guy Adami said YHOO.

Wish we could get paid to issue CEO letter grades on TV

In what has to be a primo gig, Jeff Sonnenfeld issued a letter grade on Thursday's Halftime Report for beleaguered JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson, declaring, "Overall we give him a generous D."

"This is not a dishonest person, this is not a malicious person. He's just way over his head," Sonnenfeld said, before even targeting a recent JCP mailer that he believes features "super-trendy risque fashions for youngsters that most high schools would ban."

Oh, and "he's stretching out his payables," said Sonnenfeld, making a fundamental and technical case at the same time.

Ackman's not infallible, Sonnenfeld added; "maybe he's made a bad call on this one."

Mike Murphy was the contrarian, saying everything Sonnenfeld mentioned, plus the stock's washout, "could be the bottom here, and there is nothing but upside for them."

Joe struggles to locate
an argument for GPS

Joe Terranova, whom some have accused of shopping at less than the Gap, revealed on Thursday's Halftime Report that he bought GPS shares in the morning, and will buy more if it sells off on earnings.

Terranova predicts "significant margin expansion" as part of Gap's "turnaround story."

Mike Murphy was unimpressed, saying the stock is "sitting right above the 200-day," and its "comps to last year are +4%," and if there's a glitch, it will test 30.

Terranova insisted he and Josh Brown don't care about the 200-day, and tried to get Murphy to show off his socks to viewers. Murphy said "Don't hit on me during the segment Joe," then continued arguing, "the comps get very hard right now."

Stephanie Link, whom most gents would like to take sock advice from ("stock" advice, not so sure), decided, "They both did a really good job," but "I think that the stock could pull back."

‘1-in-a-hundred-year event’

For all those bulls who think Barry Bannister isn't enough octane, try Steve Auth.

Auth gave Judge Wapner a 1,660 price target for the 2013 S&P and argued that it's basically an ongoing correction from Lehman Land, a case of "investors finally figuring out that 2008-2009 was a 5-standard deviation, 1-in-a-hundred-year event. And, they keep waiting for another big tail risk."

Auth said the market should trade at 17, 18 times given inflation and growth, and called the recent selloff and sequestration, et al. a "mild echo of August 2011."

But Auth didn't have a lot of specifics, saying "we wanna be in cyclical," and "we like China," as well as Brazil and Mexico.

Tip: Don’t ‘invest’ around
the jobs number

Josh Brown contended on Thursday's Halftime Report that "in the absence of major tail risk, the rally continues."

Mike Murphy basically agreed but pointed out that not everything is working; "it's a stock picker's market."

Joe Terranova wasn't so ebullient, saying stocks will "need some further evidence" to get to new highs. "I still think the market is in a little bit of a sideways spot," Terranova said.

Josh Brown brought up the jobs report, which prompted Steve Liesman to assure that you can't "invest" based on it. Brown challenged Liesman to define "trade" or "invest," and Liesman said, "If you trade on the jobs number, you're late to the party" (and wasn't that a productive conversation).

Mike Murphy said, correctly, "Up at these levels you have to believe that jobs are coming." Liesman said of the Fed, "There was a figurative easing yesterday."

So, anything they don’t like?

Thursday's Halftime Report crew, proving Pete Najarian isn't the only one pounding the table for banks, basically endorsed every possible financial.

Josh Brown said BRK-B (or BRK-A if you play in that neighborhood) is "hugely levered to the housing recovery," and Brown called the credit card names "outstanding."

Joe Terranova added "insurance companies as well," and even chipped in that there's "still an extreme desire to own corporate bonds."

Brown also made sure the regionals weren't given short shrift, saying the ones who wanted to be big capital markets players in 2007 have sold off those divisions. Stephanie Link said the stress test might be a catalyst for STI this time around.

Mike Murphy returned to old reliable, telling viewers JPM and C et al. are working.

Joe Terranova made sure Comerica wasn't forgotten, declaring a "nice recovery there" in Michigan.

Joe later trumpeted GS, advising viewers to be "using a stop below this week's low which is 146.71."

Futures Now was a bit dry (to say the least), with Anthony Grisanti saying some investors (not Steve Auth) think stocks are on sugar highs and "want the protection of the bonds," while Jim Iuorio said that, having to choose whether stocks or bonds lead the fall, "I think that stocks are gonna break first," because they're up 14% since mid-November.

Joe reads the Business Recycler

Joe Terranova offered a piece of trading advice to viewers on Thursday's Halftime Report, specifically regarding Goldman Sachs' suggestion that MNST could hit $90 in 2 years.

"You don't run out and buy a stock based on an analyst's note that says 2 years from now, the stock's going to 90," Terranova said.

Josh Brown scoffed at GRPN, saying "The business model doesn't work," and dubbing the fundamental story "almost nonexistent," which by the end of the day was also the CEO story.

Stephanie Link said she actually agrees with the Morgan Stanley downgrade of SKS and "I would focus more on Nordstom."

Steve Grasso, whose speech troubles caused Judge Wapner to suggest Grasso might want to demonstrate "broadcast breathing tips," told Wapner "I would be a buyer" of defense stocks, namely ATK and GD, which have "technically the best set-up right now."

But he cautioned, "Use tight stops on this," 64 for ATK and 67.75 for GD.

Stephanie Link reaffirmed she thinks BKS is "cheap." Mike Murphy said of NFLX, "a lot of signs point to it going even higher." Josh Brown said viewers could take a shot at NIHD but it's "really not my cup of tea."

Mike Murphy reiterated his buy call on TWI, the France-bashing company, because they "didn't reduce their guidance for the coming year," and now that there's been "3 days where it's digested this news," advised getting long the stock at 20 or 19.50 over this "one-time hiccup."

Murphy said "I think you can stay long or get long" of HAL. Josh Brown said TEVA has "found support at this 37 level before," and that if you're a "value investor" you could try it, "maybe it's a great buy."

Stephanie Link said "I would sell the strength" in BBRY.

Todd Gordon said to sell euro at 1.31.

Stephanie Link's Final Trade was AGCO. Joe Terranova predicted 1,525 gold. Mike Murphy of course said TWI and Josh Brown said SPLV.

Josh Brown called CBI "a name that you wanna own." Joe Terranova stumbled and bumbled through a compliment/dig for Judge Wapner, mentioning "bridge and tunnel" while pointing out a certain online mag that gets paid (largely) for writing their own Web pages about other news organizations' stories called Judge one of the best-dressed TV personalities (while barely even mentioning the leader of the pack by far, Seema Mody).

[Wednesday, February 27, 2013]

Tim and Jon actually try to get serious market-timing calls from Regis Philbin

Unfortunately, while being perhaps the panel's all-time favorite "Friend of the Show," Regis Philbin on Wednesday's Fast Money presided over a discussion of AAPL and Micron Technology that made not an ounce of sense and proved little more than gobbledygook.

Philbin, who got a round of applause from everyone at the Nasdaq when he was introduced, chortled to the panel that when he was last on the show and recommended MU shares, "I heard scoffing, and mocking laughter ... and it's climbed over 8."

And then he said it's "never been higher than it is today."

Philbin told Guy Adami that "guys like you" claimed AAPL would hit $1,000.

Apparently Philbin used to buy the shares at 500, and would sell at 600.

(Can't really do that anymore.)

Adami tried to at least say something that made sense, advising Philbin at this point, "I think you cut half your position," and then buy the shares below 400.

Philbin then asked, if it goes below 400, "Where does it go from there." Guy then squeezed in his favorite pop culture reference, saying it depends whether Apple is "Sony 1980."

It was bad enough that Tim Seymour tried to impress Philbin with irrelevant MU mumbo jumbo, but Jon Najarian made a bigger mistake of trying to ask Philbin a serious question about where he would take profits if AAPL does bounce back. Philbin mumbled something about reaching a "break-even" point, which prompted Karen Finerman — who's suddenly on the warpath on this subject — to cut in with a piece of advice.

"Your break-even's irrelevant, it doesn't matter what you paid for it," Finerman said, once again only telling half the story, calling the concept "absolute, totally irrelevant."

Tim offends Karen

Steve Grasso recently got the upper hand on Karen Finerman in a debate over MHP, but Tim Seymour is about to enjoy no such good fortune with his bungled case against COH on Wednesday's Fast Money.

Karen Finerman, who said she and Seymour both had their "Street Fight Jeans" on (which in Seymour's case is his JCPenney plain pockets), began with, "I'm always a value girl," and that investors "haven't seen this multiple in Coach in years."

Finerman asserted the "bench is deep" to make up for Lew Frankfort's eventual departure. She dismissed Wednesday's rumor of the company possibly being for sale, saying "I don't believe it at all," but nevertheless she looked up the company's defenses and finds it "somewhat vulnerable."

Seymour said, "It sounds like value's the call here," but that the company is actually "changing its focus."

Then, in a bone-headed reference, Seymour actually claimed, "It almost feels a lot like JCPenney."

But he admitted that he likes the 30% Asian component of Coach's sales, then stressed the company must "reinvent" itself in Asia. And he scoffed at the takeover talk; "They're too big to take out."

Finerman said, perhaps seriously, "I'm offended by the JCPenney reference actually," and asserted that high-end retailers have their ups and downs and this brand just needs a "tweak," and "they haven't ruined that business at all."

(This writer is long COH. The stock has sucked, but Karen's far more right than Seymour, who should've been making these arguments in 2012.)

Guy Adami said, "Coach is worth a look."

Karen thinks JCP’s payables
merit digging into

Karen Finerman said on Wednesday's Fast Money that the latest wrinkle into JCPenney's problems is that "they're stretching out their accounts payable," and it's "something really worth digging into," even though "it's not that they're late, I'm not saying anything like that."

Guy Adami claimed he's never understood Bill Ackman's JCP plan and said the stock should've been trading lower than it actually was.

Mike Khouw actually said that "ultimately Ron Johnson's strategy might be the right one," but the weekly 17.5 puts in JCP were most active.

Later in program, retail go-to gal with great hair, Stacey Widlitz, proclaimed, "Ron Johnson basically just admitted that he's made a mistake," and that by spurning discounts, he "lost a good chunk of their consumers." Completing this tour of offering absolutely nothing new, Widlitz said it's a "tough one" as to whether Johnson should stay on.

Karen Finerman trumpeted Macy's and said M or TGT is "very likely to be the beneficiary" of JCPenney's stumbles, another point that's not exactly new, and made M her Final Trade.

Karen, please sell
the stock and move on

Wednesday's Fast Money produced some curious dialogue about AAPL, starting with Karen Finerman's assessment of Tim Cook's job description.

"I don't think his job is truly to worry about where the stock's trading," Finerman said, questioning how the company defines "active" in terms of its approach to providing value to shareholders through its cash hoard; it's like "me buying a new desk."

Tim Seymour praised Cook, "I like the fact that he didn't kowtow to this today," but whether that was supposed to be a dig at Karen, we have no clue.

Later, investor Mark Mulholland, whose 25 fund apparently has devoted 17% of itself to AAPL, said he's been adding to the shares as they've fallen, but they "still have very, very high hopes."

Tim Seymour, in a blatant dis, said Mulholland seems to have 15% of the portfolio in AAPL, which is "way more than I would ever have in one name, but we run things differently," and asked what used to be a standard Fast Money question/critique of a guest who they think is holding a loser, when would Mulholland cut and run.

"I will take probably some tax losses," Mulholland said, because he thinks when a stock tanks the way AAPL has, it takes a year or year and a half to recover.

Despite this bungle, Mulholland apparently has a successful portfolio otherwise. Karen Finerman asked if there's much left in the MA tank. Mulholland indicated yes, it's "not really" long in the tooth, and "I still wanna own growth stocks."

We'll give Karen high marks for her performance Wednesday, but not an A, so the photo choice above is neutral.

No, sadly, Mel is not smiling about dancing at CNBCfix HQ

Guy Adami, who can deliver the same S&P target for weeks or months and then twist in the wind at the first sign of trouble as happened Feb. 20, when he talked up the possibility of an outside month to the downside, said on Wednesday's Fast Money that there's "potential in the S&P for an outside week higher," and that his target is still 1,550.

Tim Seymour first wrote off Italy as a "rear-view mirror event."

But moments later, he coupled Italy with sequestration as a market concern in trying to corner Keith McCullough into a mistake. "If you're really worried about Italy, sell Italy," McCullough said, at the end of the day.

Fresh off a trouncing of Dennis Gartman's embarrassing call Monday, McCullough flat-out declared, "I think we go higher ... at the end of the day," of course, and said Monday amounts to the "biggest head fake in the last 3 years."

In a veiled reference to Gartman, McCullough said there's people making "Nostradamus-like" predictions about how bad markets will get. However, he allowed, "We are very bearish on commodities," and fixed income.

Jon Najarian said "it's mathematics" that determined what happened with the VIX, and he thinks it "easily trades back into the 13s here."

Karen Finerman argued the bears have nothing left to squeeze out of sequestration; "I think that's priced in fully."

For various reasons (usually because she's talking whenever the camera's on her) it has often been difficult for this page to acquire impressive screen grabs of Melissa Lee, but all it took was her reference to Regis Philbin's appearance to ignite the camera (above) in her dynamite dress, which deserved an even greater look, so hence the photo below.

Why does ESPN need to advertise during the Super Bowl? Would people switch over to watch SportsCenter?

Sam Hamadeh visited the Nasdaq for Wednesday's Fast Money to talk about (geez, this seems like The Strategy Session discussions about that private company known as Facebook) the valuation of Twitter, which Hamadeh pegs at $8.6 billion.

That's pretty close, Hamadeh said, to the $8.5 billion its worth on the dreaded secondary markets, where "accredited investors" (i.e., rich folks) can purchase it for $18.50.

Hamadeh called the company a "low-cost, cash machine," then tried to make an RTM argument regarding ESPN showing ads updated with the score during the Super Bowl.

Buy the shares if you can, Hamadeh said; "we think it's a double in a year."

Hamadeh said Warby Parker is called the "Zappos of eyeglasses," but it's not true.

Jon Najarian offered CP as his top stock pick on Wednesday's Fast Money (that's assuming it carries more weight than his Final Trade, SWKS). Mike Khouw said someone cheaply played a 1x2 6.5/7 call spread in GRPN but it obviously didn't work.

Tim Seymour said, "We're actually buying calls for Vale," and made EWZ his Final Trade.

Guy Adami predicted strength in THC, "that stock should've been obliterated yesterday," but said "today's a great day to take profits" in KSU.

Adami noted that HRL "has absolutely gone parabolic," but he thinks GIS and CLX still work. Adami's Final Trade was MU (not a lot of conviction behind that one).

Whaddaya know? Less than 24 hours after Karen scoffs at an amateur who cares about his cost basis, a pro money manager reveals he cares about cost basis too

So, what does Karen have to say about this?

Judge Wapner welcomed AAPL shareholder Paul Meeks to Wednesday's Halftime Report to outline what he wants to hear from Tim Cook.

Meeks said he'd be disappointed if Cook doesn't at least "hint" at a strategy to hike the dividend. Meeks said that instead of David Einhorn's preferred plan, he prefers an increase in the common dividend and a 1-time special dividend, but regarding Einhorn's push, "if it does happen, I'd be supportive."

Judge Wapner, in a question he could equally ask of Karen Finerman, demanded Meeks explain, "Why is Einhorn the only one out there" pushing for a change in AAPL's capital allocation. Meeks said hedge fund managers are more inclined to "talk your book" while mutual fund long-only managers are "constrained legally" as to what they can say (we didn't know there was a legal ban on an investor requesting a higher dividend).

Meeks at one point indicated "as this company transitions from a growth stock to interesting value buyers," the dividend is critical, and asserted, "We need to have some kind of a capital allocation strategy revision and announcement."

Stephen Weiss asked an excellent question, pointing out that INTC and MSFT have robust dividends, and "they do nothing to drive the stock," and in fact Weiss thinks a higher dividend or buyback is "already in the shares; that's why it's not at 400," and so isn't it really a story of new products and if those products are a couple quarters away, why buy now? Meeks said a dividend hike would be "helpful" and that he'd buy the stock today if he had some "visibility" on those purported new products.

Meeks twice congratulated Judge for great questions, and once congratulated Weiss for his "great question."

Finally — testing Karen Finerman's recently revealed argument that cost basis is the last factor any stock owner should care about — Meeks told viewers, "This particular stock, in one of our funds, our average cost is $8.25."

We're expecting Karen at 5 p.m. to report, "There was a pro money manager on the Halftime Report today who's really got it ass-backwards."

Alison Deans likes emerging markets (but doesn’t reveal her cost basis)

Alison Deans, a veteran of Louis Rukeyser's "Wall $treet Week" (which makes her somewhat of a legend in TV stock-picking lore), visited with Wednesday's Halftime crew and said the market's resiliency this week has been "surprising," and "I remain positive."

Deans asserted that the "underpinnings from a macro perspective are very strong ... I like U.S. equities, I like emerging market equities."

She went on to cite "growth improving overseas," which got the attention of Stephen Weiss, who demanded, "Where do you see growth improving overseas."

Deans could only say that in China, it may not be what it recently was, but "I do think they have it under control," and that India and Brazil are "looking pretty constructive as well."

Don’t worry, we’re certainly kicking the can for longer than 6 months

Stephen Weiss flat-out admitted at the top of Wednesday's Halftime Report that "I didn't expect this kind of move" in stocks, and equally surprising was finding the "bond market trading down today."

Enis Taner, who has bumbled and stumbled through his last couple appearances, said he'd "prefer to see the bond market selling off today" to be more convinced of stocks.

Steve Liesman chipped in some Bernanke commentary, citing a "pretty dovish change" about some apparent softening of the notion the Fed has to unload these purchases.

Liesman then invented a "zone of concern" for Fed watchers, saying we're good with QE for "about 6 months" for sure, but from September on, there could be a (GASP!!!!!!!!!) "tapering of quantitative easing."

Pete Najarian rehashed CNBC's tiresome recent fixation on the VIX, saying players were rolling out of April call spreads after making a profit (gee whiz, that KINDA sounds like they're concerned about their cost basis and not so much as to whether the VIX will be higher or lower in April).

Jon Najarian denounced politicians in Washington who have been "fear-mongering" over what could happen under sequestration, calling it "ludicrous. It's not gonna impact us that way."

Time flies: Stephen Weiss
thinks 9 months have elapsed in 2013

Enis Taner, in one of the most tepid bull cases you'll see, started off his JCP table-pounder on Wednesday's Halftime Report by admitting, "I would not actually buy it ahead of the number."

But, Taner asserted, "The company has cleaned up their act," and the risk/reward in the high teens is favorable.

That's when Stephen Weiss played back to the future, telling viewers, "For the first 9 months of this year, sales were 3 billion," when they were 4 billion over the first 9 months of last year.

We figured, well they must've just concluded 9 months of their fiscal year. But according to the JCP investor relations Web site, the fiscal year ended in January.

Weiss, in his Gasparino tough-guy pose (above), continued undaunted, saying Ron Johnson's "only positive move" was selling his own shares at 41 in January 2012.

Taner said the personal attacks on Johnson are "fine and well," but the important thing is that cash flow is improving.

Weiss was incredulous; "they just took out a massive revolver."

Taner said Johnson is "buying times (sic)."

Weiss said "Times (sic) is gonna run out on him."

Pete Najarian sided with Weiss. "If Ron Johnson worked for Marissa Mayer, he'd already be fired," Najarian said.

Najarian: GS to 165

Stephen Weiss, in a borderline virtuoso (but not quite) peformance on Wednesday's Halftime, said Bank of America finally got around to upgrading GOOG because they can't be like Pete Najarian with the Buccaneers, they have to get off the sidelines.

Weiss said despite the recent strength in the name, "I would own the stock here." Jon Najarian said he doesn't own it but if he had to buy stocks right this moment, it's one he would buy, in other words he likes it, but "I don't think it's a screaming buy here at these levels."

Enis Taner said PCLN's results were impressive but it was its caution toward Europe that prevented a bigger pop.

Pete Najarian expressed bullishness toward banks; "I think Goldman Sachs could see 165 in the not-too-distant future."

Najarian: Look for FSLR at 23

Stephen Weiss said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that the most relevant news from JOY's report is that coal companies are going to run their businesses with more an emphasis on returns, so he likes that play better, though it's a "win-win."

Jon Najarian said FSLR was experiencing "death of a thousand cuts" and has "erased all of the quarterly gains that it had," and that he would look to get in around the 23 level.

Anthony Grisanti said he talked to gold traders, who believe Wednesday's move is "short-term profit-taking."

Rich Ilczyszyn said of gold, "this market was just purely oversold," but asserted "today's close is paramount" and that bulls need to see it over 1,620.

Jon Najarian said "I like TJX," and "I am still a believer in the TJ Maxx concept, but ..." it hasn't quite worked out this season like he thought it might. Brother Pete said "I also like Rosstores," but when it comes to TJX, "I think this name's too cheap."

Stephen Weiss said one issue for AAPL is that "nobody's standing still" among the competition, citing Samsung getting some Palm TV patent or whatever it was.

Weiss: KORS ‘very overpriced’

Enis Taner said of AAPL on Wednesday's Halftime Report, "I've tried to buy the dip a couple times in the last week, and I don't like the way the stock is acting."

But then, Taner contended that "the issue" is not the weekly chart, but that the iPad mini is cannibalizing iPad sales, and Samsung is biting into sales (so why was he trying to buy into the dip a couple times in the last week?).

Jon Najarian stressed that even if they're getting lower margin, the more Apple sells, the more the ecosystem kicks in.

CNBC's Sister Golden Hair said that in the wake of the Jersey online gambling vote, it makes "Atlantic City and its 12 casinos, all winners, at least in the near-term." Jon Najarian said "I like CZR, I like Boyd as well," and also mentioned Cantor Fitz as a play on Vegas books.

Enis Taner advised viewers to hold FB, it's range-bound from 25-30. Stephen Weiss said he "would not initiate a new position" in KORS because it's "very overpriced."

Pete Najarian's Final Trade was TRN. Jon Najarian said CHRW, Stephen Weiss said C and Enis Taner said TSLA.

[Tuesday, February 26, 2013]

Karen’s provocative strategy comment prompts a mental exercise

Karen Finerman, when she wasn't unfortunately whining about management of a stock she should've sold a year or two ago (that would be AAPL), issued a Trade School of sorts on Tuesday's Fast Money that really got us thinking. (And oh man, are we sorely in need of that around here.)

Karen was handling a Twitter query about Alcoa, in which the tweeter said "My Avg cost $12."

"This is a really interesting question. Comes up a lot," Karen said on Tuesday's show. "His cost is $12. That is absolutely irrelevant. That shouldn't have any place in his decision-making at all, and yet so many investors have that as the single most important piece of information when they make decisions, and it's just ass-backwards."

The first thing that comes to mind is that almost no one is more concerned about cost basis than the Fast Money pros who regularly issue Brag Trades about where they "got in" to a stock.

The second thing is that Fast Money panelists regularly consider information about stocks that is actually counterproductive to their decision-making. (Witness Paul Hickey, below, trying to bend gas prices into his VIX thesis on the same program.) (Or, witness how the Fast Money traders, who basically do just about everything based on charts and technicals, always try to toss in some fundamental rationale for what they're doing, as happened in the HPQ discussion yesterday, although impressively not the Pete Najarian side of it.)

But here's what Karen's point is really driving at:

1. Let's say Person A could wipe all of her stock purchases out of her memory, so that, at the end of the day, she looks at a list of names she owns, but she has no idea when she bought them or at what price.


2. Let's say Person B is fully aware of his purchase prices, and has his portfolio, with purchase price info and real-time stock movements, flash in front of his eyes all day long.

Which trader will make the better buy-sell-hold decisions over time?

If it's Person A, presumably trading on less emotion, then the merits of research and "doing your homework" certainly are called into question.

Karen's point has a problem with incompleteness. She doesn't attempt to define success for this AA holder; is it beating the S&P 500, is it making a better return than a Treasury bond, or is it simply not losing money? Is he someone who's looking for the biggest gain he can get in 1 month, or 5 years? Nor does she speculate as to whether this chap owns a hundred stocks, or just one, factors which would influence his decision.

Moreover, Karen's notion (expressed on Twitter) that the relevant question is, "Would u buy it today if you owned none? If not, there's your answr" (spellings sic), utterly disregards the critical boundaries of stock-picking — there are thousands of stocks in an endless real-time grab bag, stocks don't begin and end like basketball games do, winners and losers can alternate daily or hourly ... and so ... here's the important point ... the notion that any person can look up their entire portfolio at a given moment, say 30 stocks at 2 p.m., and reasonably conclude that those 30 stocks out of 5,000 are exactly the ones they or anyone else should be holding at that moment is ludicrous.

One wonders if Karen's cost basis was truly irrelevant when she made the decision a couple weeks ago (see below) to ditch one of her favorites, MHP.

This page does not disagree with the crux of Karen's point — that your cost basis has no bearing on where the stock is going.

But in the end, it's a poker game. To win, (despite what the movies always show us), you don't have to have a royal flush in every stock. You just have to have a better hand than the next player. That's the only way you can win. And the next player is your cost basis.

You’d think someone who’s on CNBC as often as Mike Farr wouldn’t have to keep glancing down at notes

Mandy, as sweet as a guest host gets on Fast Money, welcomed regular (that's putting it mildly) CNBC guest Mike Farr to offer some sequestration stock picks on Tuesday.

Farr said it "doesn't make sense to swing for the fences," then proceeded to trumpet PG and JNJ as ways to safeguard a core chunk of the portfolio.

Mandy then asked Keith McCullough to evaluate Farr's suggestions.

"I think he's got it backward. I mean sequestration, No. 1, is good for the dollar," McCullough said, the first of 2 times Wednesday when a Fast Money panelist accused someone else of thinking backwards, arguing once again that a rising dollar is good for stocks, and that "starting to fear-monger about sequestration, not useful in my mind."

Farr proceeded to cite CBO and Bernanke estimates as to how much sequestration will hurt, to which McCullough scoffed. "You cannot start your investment portfolio with where the government's estimates are, for God's sakes," McCullough said.

Patty’s not on the show, so no one’s available to argue the Costco gas-pump trade

For whatever reason, perhaps because the S&P, despite a roller-coaster series of days, never really crashed (at least not yet), CNBC has been trying to pound into viewers' heads how important the VIX suddenly is.

Guest Paul Hickey, who got to stand with Mandy, who was wearing that sizzling striped dress, at the front of the Nasdaq window, told Tuesday's Fast gang that "these spikes in the VIX have typically been- led to periods where the equity market has underperformed or even been down," and then asserted that the market apparently got ahead of itself, especially when $3.75 gas has produced downturns recently.

Dan Nathan congratulated Hickey for the analysis he released in the morning and pointed out that while spot VIX understandably fell Tuesday, the curve held steady.

‘Take a shot’ with COH

Dan Hates Everything Especially AAPL Nathan on Tuesday's Fast Money called PCLN a "high-valuation name" that is also high growth but warned, "it is priced for perfection."

Guest host Mandy Drury said she still prefers a human travel agent to booking online; "I like people to do stuff for me."

Guy Adami pointed out what looks like a great call in FSLR recently about sticking around a day or two and then pulling the ripcord; "you could have a monster volume day tomorrow in this stock without question," he said, and it's interesting around 27.

Mandy pressed Adami to make a call on PZZA as news was breaking about restated financials. Guy said it's OK, "worse has happened to me" than being put on the spot for this, but "it can't be particularly good" for this name and it's an "avoid" (that's correct, as a noun) for now.

Adami, who did most of the talking Tuesday, said CHD is still good, rightly claimed his DO Fast Fire "wasn't that horrible a call" (actually it was a winner), and deemed CLX a hold.

Guy also said he prefers HD to MAS, and made GIS his Final Trade.

Amelia Bourdeau, who made quite a tandem with Mandy, advised selling euro/kiwi at 1.5858.

Karen Finerman said she'd actually "take a shot" at COH at this price (for those seeking pain, apparently; this writer is long COH). Finerman's Final Trade was SPLS.

Keith McCullough said his play on interest rates is to "short the long-term bond market" via TLT. McCullough's Final Trade was BGG.

Mike Khouw's Final Trade was to cover BA puts, and Dan Hates Everything Especially AAPL Nathan said to add to SPX shorts.

Sell the stock, Karen!

Karen Finerman didn't talk about how awesome she looked in her sand-colored dress Tuesday on Fast Money but did talk about how much she dislikes the Apple board for sticking it to David Einhorn's useless waste-of-time cockamamie preferred stock notion. (OK she didn't say the last part about waste of time, etc.)

Finerman said that for those who doubt the merits of Einhorn's effort (hands going up here), "It does make a difference ... this company has a history of dismissing the shareholders' interest in what to do with the cash."

OK. Then don't own the stock.

Finerman insisted Einhorn has offered the type of frivolous endeavor that the 1% can do with their available time and money a "very creative and interesting plan."

Keith McCullough somehow agreed. "I think Einhorn's got a great idea, if they executed on half of it, this stock could rock 'n' roll," McCullough claimed.

Guy Adami, who totally gets it, pointed out that the company must've had gobs of investment banks look at things they could do, and they're not doing anything, so it's a question of "what do they see that the rest of us don't."

Adami said AAPL at 450 is no-man's land, and "I still think there's one more flush to the downside."

Mike Khouw said AAPL doesn't need to split to allow people to buy shares; they are introducing AAPL mini-options.

(Gosh we like Karen, but...) So here's the deal: If a person complains to you for at least 3 years running (possibly more) that someone or something that they have an interest in isn't doing what the person wants them to do ... wouldn't you tell that person to stop hoping and start moving on with his/her life?

Karen manages to get
Tom Stemberg to agree
with her SPLS call

Guy Adami on Tuesday's Fast Money said it's good to have Mandy aboard as guest host, then argued Home Depot is in the "sweet spot" of this economy/housing market and saluted Frank Blake.

Dan Hates Everything Especially AAPL Nathan admitted the performance of HD has been great, but "sales are only growing at single digits, low single digits for the next few years here," and the stock is "so overbought." But he said instead of trying to pick a top, just don't put any new money into it.

Mike Khouw said there were buyers of January 55 puts in HD, a "bearish tenor" for the stock.

Tom Stemberg credited Frank Blake for doing "just a fabulous job."

Stemberg said JCPenney's problems have left a "lot of scraps" for its competitors. Karen Finerman demanded Stemberg explain his comments about liking Ron Johnson's plan.

Stemberg contended that "Ron Johnson has done what in theory everybody in retailing ought to do: Get out of this high-low pricing mechanism which is incredibly expensive as well as inefficient for the consumer, try to bring unique products to the marketplace as he did at Apple, etc."

Or in other words, try to sell products as popular as Apple's that need not be discounted. Check.

Karen Finerman, struggling for validation of her recent pro-SPLS call, asked Stemberg, a Staples founder, to opine which he'd rather own among SPLS and the Office Depot-OfficeMax combo.

Not particularly surprisingly, Stemberg said, "I'd bet on" Staples for the long term.

Dennis Gartman still long gold in yen terms, might buy in euro terms

Dennis Gartman affirmed on Tuesday's Fast Money he is "absolutely, firmly, resolutely on the sidelines" of the stock market.

Gartman said he liked stocks until recently, but "I just don't like them now," and that after 3 days of triple-digit moves, they've "gone nowhere to the upside." (And, they've hardly gone anywhere to the downside, but who's counting when we're meshing facts into a thesis.)

Gartman said bonds and gold are the things to own now, not the euro or stocks. "It's a risk-off environment," Gartman said.

Keith McCullough, reiterating his previous contrarian view of Gartman based on the dollar making commodities lower, said it's a question of whether one sees a 2-3% correction, or something worse, and McCullough's in the former camp.

Gartman then made another argument, that "the bond market is doing very well" while he'd expect it to be doing poorly with this kind of stock action.

Dennis closed by assuring viewers "I'm still long of gold in yen terms," and said he might even start buying it in euro terms.

Nathan covers

Dan Hates Everything Especially AAPL Nathan admitted at the top of Tuesday's Fast Money, "I actually covered some shorts today."

Karen Finerman said she sold a little into TGT's gain.

Keith McCullough explained, "I did short Treasurys today, and I reshorted the yen as well."

Observing PHM's rise, McCullough said, "At the end of the day ... I think the housing stocks go higher."

Guy Adami offered a stock to buy at the top of show, touting IRM ahead of earnings. Adami also said CF needs to hold 190 and that he likes AGU better.

Karen Finerman said M, which Steve Weiss coincidentally just unloaded last week, is "cooking on all cylinders. Mike Khouw said analysts raised targets on COG. Dan Nathan said you may want to avoid TSN.

More from Tuesday's Fast Money later.

According to Fed chief, U.S. officially on the hook for $11 trillion

Halftime Report viewers were treated to about 10 minutes of Ben S. Bernanke testimony, including a most curious exchange with a senator demanding to know exactly what our national debt is that went utterly undiscussed by Judge Wapner later.

Steve Liesman said Bernanke delivered a "fairly robust defense of quantitative easing."

But rather than tackle Tuesday's markets, traders seemed more interested in yesterday. Joe Terranova said the comments made clear that QE is ongoing, "I don't think that changes at all," but then asserted, "The market right now is in a soft position," citing in part Monday's "dramatically" shifting momentum.

Mike Murphy disagreed, saying, "I don't think there was enough that came out yesterday that made people just have absolutely throw (sic) in the towel on things."

Jon Najarian pointed out gold has been hopping since Friday. Stephen Weiss said this is why you shouldn't own gold.

‘Is 400 the next target?’

Stephen Weiss apparently isn't buying that Tom DeMark bottom in AAPL, saying on Tuesday's Halftime Report, "You gotta wonder, is 400 the next target."

Joe Terranova cautioned that tech is close to being in the red for the year. Mike Murphy said "Tech isn't the place you wanna be currently," in fact it's financials, but that will turn eventually.

Jon Najarian said SanDisk is "doing pretty well." Stephen Weiss said he prefers a lot of tech valuations over consumer names that are at all-time highs.

Mr. New Land mentioned IBM positively and said "I think the trough is in for Intel, you can now own it."

Halftime Report’s broken record:
Mike Murphy trumpeting housing (even with Joe’s favorite name)

Mike Murphy (sigh) told Tuesday Halftime Report viewers that (big surprise) he likes the housing names.

Pointing out stocks are not even down 3% in this supposedly already tough week, Murphy again touted HD, and LOW, and even Joe Terranova favorite LPX and Stephanie Link favorite WY.

Murphy later said to stick with WHR as long as it stays above its 50-day.

Stephen Weiss said it's not an issue of a housing comeback but whether the valuations are too high. Dr. New Land endorsed HD and also endorsed AOS and AWI. Jon Najarian agreed conditions are good for HD and LOW.

Enis Taner dialed in, with a bad connection, to say he knows a lot of people who are "very nervous about the price action" and he thinks they were caught off-guard by the VIX spike. Jon Najarian reported that someone behind him sold 25,000 March 24 calls in the VIX. Najarian said the Italian election signals "higher gold" but not a higher VIX. Joe Terranova utterly refused to make a call on the VIX, saying Dr. J can do it better, a curious approach to take on a stock-picking program.

Dr. J buys KORS

Joe Terranova said he's looking for LTD capitulation to buy the shares this week and reiterated his belief in last week's buy, KORS, saying he "would look to add" to it.

Jon Najarian revealed, "I bought Kors today," and made it his Final Trade, based on (what else) unusual call-buying.

Joe said be careful with HFC and use a 49 level reference. Stephen Weiss he thinks THC goes higher, while Jon Najarian said you can wait to get into TSN.

Mike Murphy made the bull case for PCLN, saying it's not expensive despite its nominal price, has Kayak and has international exposure. It could move on earnings, Murphy said, and "I think it's to the upside."

Joe Terranova said PCLN's growth is "at the expense of margins," and it trades at a 15% premium to competitors TRIP and EXPE.

Murphy rebutted, "I think Europe has the upside" in this trade.

Stephen Weiss, who had prejudged the case, said he agrees with Joe and argued that airline consolidation means fewer deals, and also the international prospects are dicey.

Paul Richards suggested going long euro around 1.2980 or 1.30.

Joe Terranova reverted to an old favorite for his Final Trade, LQD. Mike Murphy said TWI, and Stephen Weiss said to short RIO.

[Monday, February 25, 2013]

Nobody brought up that Steve defeated Karen in MHP debate

Steve Grasso took on Pete Najarian on Monday's Fast Money in what was actually a constructive momentum-stock debate over HPQ.

"I think the stock can get to $24," Grasso said, arguing the Autonomy rebound isn't over and adding that the 3% yield and Android tablet are reasons to stay in it.

Najarian countered, "I do think the stock is overextended," after being up "50% in a quarter ... too much too fast."

Grasso butted in that acquisitions drove the stock down, and "you're not gonna see that again," and by the way the breakup value (which isn't happening for a long, long time) is $28.

Pete shrugged and said the same argument could be made for YHOO $30, but it trades around $20.

Tim Seymour said he sides with Najarian and that HPQ has "significant resistance" at 17.50.

Karen Finerman said, "I gotta go with Team Pete here ... it's not like they fixed the business."

But Karen didn't bring up her debate with Grasso a couple weeks ago on MHP, which Karen exited (possibly at prices higher than present) while predicting BP-style litigation, while Grasso argued — impressively correctly so far — that if the stock held $42, which it did, it was a buy.

Jon Hilsenrath found Tim Seymour’s speech on how the Fed sees its role funny

Maybe it was the 2 references to "Blue Horseshoe" or the utterly lunk-headed explanation to viewers.

But whatever smirking response Tim Seymour got from Jon Hilsenrath on Monday's Fast Money was deserved, as The Ambassador should've directed his gripes that the Fed is spooking the markets to the FOMC.

Hilsenrath said Ben S. Bernanke must express 3 things, that he will "keep his options open" (God forbid a Fed chief would tell lawmakers there are actually things he wouldn't do), show some "dissatisfaction on the economy front" (yes, like Judge Smails pretending he's angry about Danny Noonan's worn-grip lapse), and then speak to the "financial stability issue," and overall, has "gotta signal that he takes these issues seriously."

Seymour gave viewers some "Wall Street" 101 before embarking on a critique of Fed dissent that went on way too long as Hilsenrath started chuckling long before he was through and eventually scoffing at Tim's implication that the Fed is testing the stock market with trial balloons, "they're having an honest to goodness debate."

Seymour abruptly backpedaled and insisted he's not claiming that the Fed is getting together and saying, "Hey let's fly some balloons into the market."

Guest Anton Schutz said financials should be most affected by a Europe-related selloff but he still expects the capital-markets names to have a good year. Schutz said he wants to sell puts as volatility spikes but thinks it will spike more.

Speaking of volatility, Pete Najarian on Monday had to answer 2 or 3 times whether volatility still has any legs left. First Pete insisted the VIX is a "fantastic" indicator of something or other, then said more than once that as of the close Monday, he's not getting paid enough just yet to sell volatility.

Tim Seymour said if you want to play banks on a Europe slide, try DB, "there's a lot more to go here." The funny thing about that was that moments later, addressing the EWI, Seymour said, "I think today's move was ridiculous."

William Lauder agrees not to be on any other channel Monday

Guest host Mandy Drury welcomed William Lauder onto Monday's Fast Money as a "CNBC exclusive," which means Bill better not be synching up with Bloomberg for 24 hours or whatever the Rule No One Seems To Know About is.

Lauder said Europe is terrible in the south but gets much better the further north one goes. And he said Lauder does not have a short-term China strategy, rather, "We're thinking across multiple decades and generations."

In a great question, Karen Finerman, celebrating a birthday that went unmentioned, asked Lauder what the biggest factor in household wealth is. Lauder said employment is "No. 1" by far, and then spouse's employment No. 2, then maybe real estate, but stock market swings are not considered important here.

Lauder told Steve Grasso that his biggest competitors are generally Europe-based, names such as LVMH or L'Oreal, and that the bigger high-end U.S. names are in a "different sector than we are ... much more mass-oriented," whereas Lauder is a "prestige marketer of beauty."

John Rutledge’s typical China-investing advice dubbed ‘old playbook’ by whippersnapper

Eric Brock, a China investor riding high right now, told Monday's Fast Money they've "definitely got the cyclical story here, and now, I would argue that China's actually entered a sweet spot in terms of economic growth."

Guest host Amanda Drury, without referring to John Rutledge by name, asked Brock what he thinks of the strategy of playing China through non-Chinese material and infrastructure providers such as CAT.

Brock called that the "old playbook" and said it's "changing fairly rapidly;" if you keep doing that, expect to "see returns diminish."

Tim Seymour defended his recent bull calls on HMY and ABX and asserted, "Technically gold is way oversold," and said he likes HMY and GFI.

Pete pounds table for AMGN

Karen Finerman said on Monday's Fast Money that the BKS potential buyout news (for bricks-and-mortar only) is interesting, but those who want to play it have time to wait.

Finerman's Final Trade was WLP.

Scott Nations reported a big buyer of ZNGA March 3.50 calls for 28 cents. Steve Grasso, referring to the online gambling developments that prompted said buy, called CZR "too iffy for me" and said he prefers WYNN or LVS. Grasso said at CHK, "they need more asset sales," and he'd stay out of it, but wouldn't be short. His Final Trade was to be long GOOG.

Tim Seymour said there's no need to own JOY here but touted BIDU as a Final Trade.

Pete Najarian said AMGN "has plenty of legs to the upside" and made it his Final Trade.

Pete also pointed out, "Simon Hobbs went to school with James Bond." (And the Najarians went to high school with Prince. Or something like that.)

Simon Baker gives males watching Halftime Report tip on where to meet girls

Josh Brown said on Monday's Halftime Report that the bull case for LOW is "very very simple," that the fundamentals are just as great as for HD, the chart is great, and "it's only a matter of time" before the stock plays catch-up, and thus is a "screaming buy."

Simon Baker countered, "It's getting tired and it's fairly valued ... the easy money has been made," and in fact even argued the opposite of what Brown said, that people should be selling LOW and owning HD, "this is a No. 2 company."

Joe Terranova decided Baker "made the more compelling argument." Stephanie Link said "I favor Home Depot."

Josh Brown said the good thing for each company is that they're not threatened by Amazon. But he said that oblivious to Simon Baker's wisecrack, "A lot more women shop at Lowe's, for single guys it's a much place (sic)- better place to go than Home Depot."

Josh says Joe’s idea of shorting phonemakers is like checking into a funeral home

Joe Terranova on Monday's Halftime Report, perhaps trying to shift blame to another person who appears on Fast Money in case this one goes south, declared, "Along with Whitney Tilson I believe BlackBerry, and Nokia, they are both great short opportunities over the next couple of weeks."

Josh Brown, celebrating a birthday the same day as Karen Finerman, balked. "It's 30% short. This is like, this is like walking into a funeral home and signing up," Brown said.

Simon Baker said the daily 4% moves are too much in BBRY. "Who wants to touch that, it's crazy," Baker said.

Brian Marshall, in an extraordinary satellite delay from some tech conference, said the top takeaways there are that "the service providers are spending more on the networks," and that smartphone screens seem to be "migrating up" to a 5-6-inch "sweet spot."

Marshall said good and bad things about AAPL, complaining, "we need to get a refresh from them" on a larger iPhone screen, and that the ads are "a little bit dated," but "at the end of the day ... the stock is unbelievably cheap."

Simon Baker said, despite what Mr. New World thinks, he likes NOK. Mr. New World insisted that the momentum in the smartphone space is "over."

Stephanie Link said Marshall's comments back positions in (the ever popular dreadful) BRCM, plus QCOM and CSCO.

Joe says he’s ‘being more tactical’ than the Link-Cramer team

Keith McCullough dialed into Monday's Halftime Report to reaffirm his bull-market call that he started last week with Dennis Gartman (and presumably might not've reaffirmed so fast had he waited a couple of hours).

McCullough, correctly we believe, said that the Italian elections are "like scraps for bears," echoing Josh Brown's comments earlier in the show imploring viewers to not make a trade based on Italy.

McCullough cited Barack Obama's sequestration comments and claimed "everybody's bearish," which isn't true, but that he's bullish on the dollar.

Stephanie Link told Judge Wapner with pride (which might not've been part of the equation had she been talking about this later in the day), "We're buying Hartford today." Joe Terranova insisted "I'm being more tactical" than Stephanie even though he agrees the market will eventually bounce bank; "I don't wanna buy Bank of America today."

Link defended BKS in a bizarre Fast Fire recap on a day the stock was up. "I think the stock still holds a lot of value ... I'm gonna stick with it," Link said.

‘$20 print’ ahead for HPQ

Josh Brown said on Monday's Halftime Report that one reason he likes AMGN is because when stocks get to that level, "They typically go to a hundred."

Stephanie Link said you can buy YUM carefully in the low 60s, and that she prefers TKR over CMI.

Dr. New Land coined a new term regarding MJN, saying the stock moved on "management commentory (sic) today," and "I am long" with a 73.64 stop. Joe backed HPQ; "I think we get a $20 print here."

Josh Brown said HTZ "looks good." Jon Najarian dialed in to say someone already made big cash on LVS May 52.50 calls that were bought for $2.05. Najarian also detected very strong call-buying in ZNGA.

Some people actually think there’s a chance the Fed might end QE

Anthony Grisanti on Monday's Halftime Report said gold bugs want to hear that "QE is gonna continue," so we doubt they'll be disappointed. Jim Iuorio said he ideally, as with Miranda Kerr, would like to see "more of a bottom" in gold, but "I think it's goin' higher," perhaps to 1,620-1,625. Simon Baker said Goldman Sachs issued a note Monday advising people to avoid the gold ETF(s). Joe Terranova said "the investment demand is not there right now" for commodities.

Guest Jim Morrow didn't exactly pack a ton of pizzazz in his assessment of the dividend-payor landscape; "we're finding opportunities across the market," he said, noting he likes CSCO.

Morrow called investing in dividend ETFs a "dangerous strategy" because they tend to pick the top yielders, and that the practice actually "lends itself well to active management," and surely you would've been shocked if he had said otherwise.

Dr. New Land said "I'm looking for an opportunity in Limited Brands and TJX," and in fact many people are always looking for opportunities in Limited Brands (don't you dare go there). Dr.'s Final Trade was IGT.

Simon Baker said INTC "looks dead" in the short term. Baker indicated ADSK is alive and kickin', for his Final Trade.

Stephanie Link called LEN OK on a pullback; "I'd wait for it to come in," and made ORCL her Final Trade. Josh Brown observed that NFLX "has gotten into Amazon territory" and reaffirmed LOW as his Final Trade.

Dow down 216,
Pete snapping up Amazon

Perhaps Karen Finerman (who aside from stocks is hopefully enjoying a special day) best summarized Monday's market action on Fast Money:

"I thought it was pretty orderly and not so particularly eventful. That last half-hour though was fairly ugly," Finerman said.

Tim Seymour told the show's sexy guest host "It's the macro, Mandy," and then even quoted lyrics by Rush (which we once took heat, while we were in Patty Edwards iCloud speculation mode, for attributing to the iPod of another Fast Money panelist who it turns out likes Coldplay a lot better) (there's nothing wrong with Rush; they're not a particular favorite around here but there's nothing wrong with them) in claiming of Europe, "it's not fixed, it's not necessarily better."

Pete Najarian, reaching for bright spots, actually brought up Amazon's P.E. and said he put on some call spreads, but pointed out the financials started cracking before the whole market sank.

Steve Grasso said he was in a rush to go out and re-buy his Google lot in the morning, and "obviously I could've waited."

Hours earlier, Josh Brown on the Halftime Report asserted he was "actually really happy" to see the S&P down 5-6 points, because "this is the way you wanna pause ... we should not be able to rip through 5-year highs with such ease."

Simon Baker was practically cheery, telling viewers, "What's important is to buy these consolidated dips." Stephanie Link said "I agree exactly with what Simon just said," and revealed "we were buying housing last week," and then (gulp) buying financials Monday (which probably would've been cheaper had she/Cramer waited a few hours).

Even She of the Perfect Teeth Overseas Gemma Godfrey acknowledged the market as "attractive entry points."

Joe Terranova, perhaps most cautious of the group last week, most nailed it Monday, pointing out the pressure on the euro, "that's problematic," and asserting "this is the swing month" for the jobs report.

This page will have much more from Monday's Halftime Report and Fast Money later tonight.

Nothing but upside:
Karen’s birthday is Monday

Monday is Karen Finerman's birthday. (Which gives this page another chance to post one of those mesmerizing photos from our CNBC gallery.)

Hopefully Fast Money will celebrate by giving Karen the day off, or at least provide some cake and ice cream for a Final Trade.

‘Amour’: A ghastly night
at the theater

Most people who watch and/or appear on CNBC have an appreciation for the arts and will be intrigued to learn which motion picture will be deemed the "best" of 2012.

Incredibly, one of the 9 contenders for this award is a film titled "Amour," out of France, depicting (no spoilers) the struggles of a senior-citizen couple.

This page will not at all deny that there are powerful observations about life in this picture, truths that far too many of us have experienced.

There is no need to experience them in the form of a $10, 2-hour "entertainment" elective, simply to gratify even highly skilled filmmakers who can surely provide more rewarding works to inform.

Stay as far from this picture as possible, and have a wonderful weekend.

[Friday, February 22, 2013]

Halftime gang giggles away an hour, utterly dodges strong political point about ObamaCare

In a profoundly dull program, Friday's Halftime Report crew was served up a very provocative subject by Stephen Weiss, only to head for the hills as though they were going to get in trouble from NBC Uni or Comcast just for talking about it.

Weiss revealed, "I sold my Macy's Wednesday," and then told Scott Wapner, "I'm worried about retail guiding down because of ObamaCare."

Hmmm. If that happens, that would be a serious wrench that probably is not already in a lot of forecasting models of retail stocks.

Yet, Judge utterly recused everyone from such a discussion, instead harping on Weiss' sale of longtime favorite M and claiming "you're making a bigger statement here" about that one.

Wapner's observation was so long-winded that Weiss cracked, "I didn't quite slip that in, did I," which triggered howls from his colleagues despite not being notably funny.

Judge snapped after Weiss' rationale, "Blame my memory later."

Halftime Report dabbles in the KORS-COH competition about 5 times in one patently dull show

For whatever reason, Judge Wapner and Friday's Halftime Report producers decided that with an utter lack of things to talk about, nothing would be more fascinating than Coach.

Twice, Judge cited the Citi "All-World 50" list of stocks that — CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???? — actually included COH and not AAPL. (This writer is long COH, and yes, it sucks.)

Stephen Weiss opined, "Citi's clearly wrong. Coach hasn't been in style for quite some time. I mean my kids stopped buying that years ago, or wanting to buy it, we never bought it for 'em."

Oh, and how many pairs of Uggs do the kids have?

Moments later, Judge created dead air when exclaiming that the Citi list didn't include AAPL and getting no one to bite as to why.

"I think it's a headline Citi's trying to make," Stephen Weiss eventually mumbled.

Pete Najarian called Katy Huberty the "Peyton Manning of analysts."

CNBC still not exactly getting its money’s worth out of YHOO/Santoli partnership

One of the highlights of Friday's Halftime Report (assuming there are any, since it stopped featuring Patty Edwards) has come to be the tepid series of appearances by Michael Santoli, a big get behind CNBC's deal to feature some Yahoo personalities on-air.

The Santoli Formula® is usually just a suggestion that the market could mildly do the opposite of what it's done all week, plus a sector that not many others have spoken about.

Friday, Santoli correctly noted that the Fed comments were just the "excuse" the market was looking for to briefly stop playing the parabola.

Then he insisted that the real concern is really about the "weakening of the macro in the short term."

Meanwhile, Santoli identified media/entertainment stocks as the "underexplored" area of consumer discretionary.

Joe suggests 1,475 possible

Joe Terranova, in conventional, conservative business suit Friday, told the Halftime Report that stocks' bounce is "more of a technical recovery than anything else" and that the key S&P levels are 1,495 and then 1,475.

Terranova noted he said the other day he was selling mini-S&P futures, but he "covered those up yesterday afternoon."

Pete Najarian told Judge we may not be out of the woods; "I'm not so sure that it's over." Stephen Weiss correctly noted, "There's a bid below the market."

Jon Najarian made the free bowl of soup joke regarding his tie, then noted that VIX futures and cash VIX had plunged.

The baby-born routine

With no apparent ObamaCare ramifications, AIG became the subject of a battle on Friday's Halftime Report but mostly served as another way to ding Stephanie Link, who wasn't on the program.

Stephen Weiss had little behind his bull case than "tremendous momentum" and the fact it trades at "40% discount to book value," and management and shareholders purportedly being "directly aligned."

"I'm not concerned about hedge funds owning it," Weiss, claiming that when that happened with AAPL, it still had 40-50% more to go.

Bear Jon Najarian though argued that "crowded trades are dangerous trades at times," and that "the news has come out." He called it The Shawn Kemp Trade.

Joe Terranova mentioned AIG's dividend prospects and said "I'm gonna side with Stephen."

Someone gave Stephanie Link credit for saying the other day she likes Hartford better and would prefer that one to AIG. Stephen Weiss said Friday, "She rotated early," which caused some guffaws.

Another COH fan

Judge Wapner told guest Erin Gibbs on Friday's Halftime Report that the market has just endured "2 somewhat scary days."

"Scary" ... for who?

Gibbs, presumably referring to the Dow or the S&P 500, said "We're still expecting 10% growth for the year," and it was noted she likes ROST and the show's favorite stock, COH.

Gibbs also mentioned WFC and said KIM is "looking phenomenal."

But she said she's been "negative on Boeing for a while." And, she's negative on hospitals and "providers" based on Medicare cuts, they "can really get quite hurt."

Joe points into the camera as much as Bill Clinton used to

Joe Terranova, never one to shy away from HPQ commentary, said the no-breakup protests aren't necessarily to be believed. "I think that's on the table," he said, plus the DELL situation has people speculating, so there's a case to be made it can go north of 20.

Gesturing vividly, Terranova concluded, "The potential here is that it's actually underowned. Again, this is not a home run trade."

Pete Najarian seized on that terminology, asserting, "I think the home run's already been hit by this name." Joe quickly clarified, "It's not a home run."

Good luck trying to make any sense of what Herb said about HLF distributors

Judge Wapner, revisiting the latest Herbalife scoop on Friday's Halftime Report, brought in Herb Greenberg to say almost absolutely nothing about whether distributors control the company.

Later in the program, Stephen Weiss said "I just think you stay away" from HLF, and "It seems like the tide's turning negative." Mr. New World said a lot has happened in this name since December that you'd think would be bullish, and the stock is still down, so "that kind of leads me to believe this stock's goin' lower."

Pete Najarian said there's been "extreme buying out there" in LVS calls, the 50s and 52.50s.

Jon Najarian had to take a Fast Fire on COF and admitted he just wrote it off. "I don't want to turn this from a finger painting into a Rembrandt. In other words, it's a losing trade, I just dump it, and move on," Najarian assured.

Joe congratulates himself
on KORS purchase

Joe Terranova told Friday's Halftime Report that if you want to buy COG, "You wait for a pullback here to the low 50s."

Terranova advised viewers to "hold all the insurance company names," including PGR. Terranova scoffed at NEM's results; "This is all about a better tax rate ... this is tied to gold, which I believe goes to 15 and a quarter."

Joe revealed, on the heels of saying a couple days ago to wait for it to reach its 50s range, "I actually bought Kors today," saying this is "exactly where you wanna buy it."

Dr. New Land wasn't high on materials. "I would fade that strength," he said, making FLS his Final Trade.

Stephen Weiss said CL is about tapped out, we've seen "all the outperforms that you're gonna get from this name." Weiss said that if it's true that KKR has made a 75 bid for GDI, "I'd move to the sidelines." His Final Trade was AIG.

Pete Najarian backed AWAY; "I think you wanna add to this." But when it comes to ZNGA, "I think you have to stay away from this name," Pete said, adding that FB is a "show-me story" still. Najarian's Final Trade was CP.

Paul Richards said the euro faces "quite a binary outcome" over Italian elections and wants to go long dollar/yen at 92.80.

Jon Najarian said "I would hold 'em here" in ARUN, and those with "intestinal fortitude" could see it get over 30. But he would fold ANF, and he said he doesn't see the "big commitment" yet in CRUS. His Final Trade was VNO.

Jon Najarian called "Argo" a worthy best-picture winner if that's what the Oscars decide. "It's deserved, great flick," Najarian said.

[Thursday, February 21, 2013]

Marc Faber denies that his constant selloff/crash/recession calls have been wrong

Melissa Lee brought Marc Faber onto Thursday's Fast Money purportedly to warn about the possibility of a 1987-like crash ... only to have Faber stress about 2 or 3 times he's not really saying that.

"I don't think that's yet there," Faber said, while contending, "I think we have made an intermediate top" while bonds have become "extremely oversold."

"I welcome a correction here," Faber said, in which we could rebound and proceed higher. But if not, he said, a big crash could come in July or August.

Mel rattled off a series of bearish pronouncements Faber made last year that were never realized (at least to the extent of the troubles he suggested) and asked, "Why should viewers believe you at this point?"

Faber insisted there was a correction in March-April 2012 (if so, we don't really remember it), and in June (that one we remember, though it really started in May), and "September onwards."

He added that the "market has now become quite overbought," what with everybody saying sell bonds. After a clumsy exchange with Brian Kelly over how much of a 1987 parallel Faber is actually drawing, Faber said he "wouldn't necessarily" buy if a 10% correction happens.

Things That Make Melissa Go ‘Wow’ (cont’d)

Michael Burns, who usually appears on Fast Money when Lions Gate has a film to promote, said the Oscars are important for selling movie tickets because viewers "wanna have a rooting interest."

Burns anointed Jennifer Lawrence as "truly the goddess of Lions Gate" and then actually called Lawrence the "biggest female movie star in the world today."

"Wow," said Melissa Lee.

Burns said he doesn't have a horse in the best-picture race, but "I think it's "Argo's" to lose," and also mentioned "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook."

He predicted "Catching Fire" (that's Lions Gate's apparent next big hope, due in November, he said) "will do well."

He also referred to a superstar actress as "Shinley (sic) Woodley."

Things got bizarre though when Mel pointed out the surging stocks of media companies and noted LGF's market cap as appealing to a buyer. Burns decided to show the gang what he learned at Yahoo Finance, rattling off market caps of China Mobile, Google, Amazon, Disney, News Corp, etc., and then pointing out how many cellphones were sold and activated in the last year. (See, Carl Icahn usually just says, "You guys know I'm not gonna talk about that.")

Jon Najarian said he likes LGF and IMAX, but would take some profits in the latter.

David Faber sent to West Coast to chuckle about time zones

In a scattershot opening, Brian Kelly said atop Thursday's Fast Money that he likes the GLD with a 150 stop after gold's "really nice reversal today."

Jon Najarian said there were big trades in the GLD and SLV options.

Karen Finerman insisted the OfficeMax-Office Depot combo is "huge for Staples" but it wasn't clear if she bought more SPLS Thursday.

Brian Kelly said IBM's trade action gives him some concerns. Dan Hates Everything But Especially Apple Nathan said "at the end of the day" there was a "pretty orderly selloff here," but he still "took some of my QQQ short off today."

Nathan said the options buys in HNZ indicate "somebody's betting that the bids gonna go higher."

But Karen Finerman butted in, "Or that you see 2 dividends get paid here."

"Right. Right, right," said Melissa Lee.

Jon Najarian initially reported HPQ had "very strong activity" in the options before the promising afterhours report. He said he was "selling stock in the afterhours now."

Dan Hates Everything But Especially Apple Nathan scoffed that "at the end of the day," so much of the Nasdaq giants are levered to the PC supply chain.

But, Nathan allowed, "At some point, some of these stocks will be a buy," such as Intel.

David Faber buzzed in from the West Coast to 1) first share a moment of dead air with Melissa Lee while chuckling about which places in the country it was afternoon, and 2) buy into Meg Whitman's claim that HPQ is a "multi-year turnaround."

Najarian referred again to the options and said perhaps options buyers late in the day did know the positive news was coming, but then again, it was a trade into an earnings call, so "you do have some cover."

Flash: Barbara Corcoran says to buy real estate NOW before promoting her NBC show on Fast Money

Melissa Lee on Thursday's Fast Money welcomed Barbara Corcoran and got to the gist of the interview right away. "I feel like every time you come on, and we love having you on, but every time you come on, you say, 'You gotta do it now.' But why now?" Lee asked.

Corcoran said it's because prices are rising; homes are "12% more expensive now than they were a year ago."

Corcoran also suggested mortgage rates won't be low forever; "nobody knows if you have time" to get a 3% rate a while from now.

As for best investments in housing, "I would definitely buy a vacation home," Corcoran said, because that sector still hasn't turned the corner. And, in Brian Kelly's 2nd stumbling questioning of the day, said she'd take a risk on Phoenix or Florida markets that are suddenly reviving.

Karen Finerman mentioned her spectacular call of last autumn (one reason it was more spectacular than most on Fast Money is because no one else called it), RLGY, and reiterated that she had taken profits recently, but "I want to get back in."

Karen’s bullish WMT argument (as always) ends in a comparison with Amazon’s P.E.

Karen Finerman admitted on Thursday's Fast Money that "I am long AIG ... I still don't think it's expensive at all," even though hedge funds love it too.

Mike Khouw observed that AIG is a basket of financial assets, and "you're buying 'em at a discount," so if you're looking for a place to put money, "that seems like a pretty good one."

Finerman made the case for WMT based on "improving employment" and the fact that if the market stumbles, "this is a good defensive name," one of the very few she had in 2008 that was "in the green for the year."

And, WMT has a lot of non-U.S. growth as well.

Finerman concluded, "It's astounding to me" how it trades vs. AMZN.

Mike Khouw wasn't so enthusiastic about WMT's growth potential, citing the "law of large numbers."

Karen said of PAY, "We actually covered," but unlike Simon Baker, advised people to back off; "Something's off here; I wouldn't be jumping in," citing the reference to Venezuela.

Finerman said of GDI, "We'll probably trim the position tomorrow."

Mike Khouw detected a big buyer of January 2015 (that's correct) 18 puts in TSLA, a "pretty chunky bearish trade."

Dan Nathan hates everything but said XCO is starting to look appealing, "starting to dip my toe in the water." XCO was his Final Trade.

Karen Finerman said she's "still long" BAC and made SPLS her Final Trade.

Mike Khouw said of SWY, "This company is still cheap actually." His Final Trade was to buy strangles in the GLD.

Brian Kelly said he prefers JOY to CAT. Kelly's Final Trade was PPLT.

Jon Najarian said to wait and see if INTC breaks 20 and made HIG his Final Trade.

It sounded like Jon Fortt was calling NBC an "entertainment network" during his hacking report, but we think he meant it was the entertainment section of nbc.com.

Today’s Momentum Trade,
With Dennis Gartman

No one could outline a better example of playing stocks in the rear-view mirror than Dennis Gartman on Thursday's Halftime Report.

The S&P has fallen 28 points, so "I think this could be a very serious correction, at least 7%," Gartman told Judge Wapner.

But he insisted it has "very little to do with what the Fed had to say," but the indications of commodities.

"Cash is not a bad thing to hold," Gartman said, revealing he's "quietly a little bit net short."

But the telltale line came late, when Gartman admitted, "Market action will tell me whether I need to come back to the market or not."

So when it's going down, it'll keep going down, and when it goes up, it'll keep going up.

Sensing debate opportunity, Judge Wapner had Keith McCullough dial in to argue the opposite, pointing out that he finds a rising dollar and slumping commodities bullish (as in the '80s and '90s), and the fact everyone "freaked out ... That is in fact what gets me excited."

Gartman countered, using "harbinger" a couple of times, that "The argument that a, that a weak dollar, that a strong dollar begets, uh, stronger stock prices, has to argue in the face of, what's going on in Japan ... look at copper, look at steel, look at crude oil."

McCullough concluded, "Getting the Fed out of the way (which, actually, is not happening) is in fact the most bullish economic catalyst that this country has seen in half a decade."

Judge Wapner at least noted that McCullough tends to change his outlook even more often than Dennis Gartman. "We change our view every other minute," McCullough impressively admitted.

Stephanie watches Fed statements on her computer

Josh Brown asserted at the top of Thursday's Halftime Report that it's "kind of silly" to conclude that based on Wednesday, stocks are toast because the Fed is yanking the punch bowl, and Brown pointed out that stocks had "barely" retreated "after a straight-up 8% move" in 2013.

But Brown did suggest that there are other reasons you might sell, based on valuations, etc.

After Stephanie Link got a chance, Judge Wapner sensed an incomplete opinion here, demanding Brown explain whether Wednesday and Thursday are a "head fake" or not. Brown insisted he was saying a couple days ago that people can keep their longs but shouldn't put on new positions, then further muddled this ridiculous mess of a point by referring to "beneath the surface, leadership is narrowing"; "I think you and I agree more- more than maybe I came across."

Stephanie Link was on firm footing, saying, "The Fed kind of has to continue this stimulus program," and then curiously said "I think we're all gonna program our computers" for Ben Bernanke's Tuesday remarks at 10.

Link said she/Cramer added to WY and are buying TJX and CSCO.

Simon Baker said "You can't sit in cash" and suggested financials and homebuilders would be most sensitive to a pullback.

Jon Najarian said about 5 times that what the Fed suggested was "varying the pace," but allowed that the market plunge Wednesday "could've been a little overdone."

Been a long time since we’ve heard the decoupling argument

Rob Arnott visited with Thursday's Halftime crew to issue a stock trade that is actually a decade or so (assuming it pans out) in the making.

"Demography alone" is a headwind for U.S. stocks, Arnott said, citing the "productivity growth rate" of an older work force.

Skeptical panelists seized on Arnott's apparent contention that high-yield bonds and emerging market stocks and bonds will outperform sinking U.S. stocks.

"Firstly U.S. stocks provide a yield of less than 2%," Arnott told Simon Baker, who wondered about high-yield's correlation. But Judge said Arnott has "brought some heat" and demanded he "shine some light on people" as to what they should buy. Arnott emphasized emerging market stocks in a "spread trade" and insisted they would be "less vulnerable" if U.S. stocks fall.

Willie Williams advised selling euro at 1.33.

Baker: PAY ‘completely oversold’

Last year, finding anyone on Fast Money/Halftime to say a bad word about AIG was next to impossible.

Stephanie Link on Thursday's Halftime revealed, "We actually sold it," in part because everyone likes it now and "expectations are very high." Link said she thinks they can get a better price, and her eyes now are on Hartford instead.

But Simon Baker said that when hedge funds pile into something as they have AIG, it "hasn't been a bad trade at all." Josh Brown concurred and said "it seems closer to the beginning" of the AIG frenzy than the end.

Judge brought up PAY and tried to claim, "Karen Finerman has been all over this trade for, for probably a year or so," when in fact, readers of this page know that Karen in early March of last year was still suggesting a PAY long (albeit selling upside calls) and used to talk about PAY and Gemalto (or whatever the heck it is) before the bottom in PAY fell out (Gemalto has still done well).

Anyway, Wapner asked Josh Brown, who was notably enthusiastic about PAY through April of last year, to opine; Brown said people whol follow the name "think that there's something else going on," and "I would walk away" despite the big drop, which means Brown could be a bookend double-contrarian of this name should it happen to rise, which is what Simon Baker predicted for his "completely oversold" Final Trade.

‘Lot of support’ at 20 for CHK

Stephanie Link made a bull case for CHK on Thursday's Halftime but started out with stuff she apparently doesn't consider that important; "the reason I like it is because of the management change."

Josh Brown said all those arguments about new management and assets and nat gas amount to "hopes and wishes and dreams" and asserted, "It's really a terrible company ... you already got the pop on Aubrey McClendon."

However, in another example of how useless these "debates" are, Brown admitted there's a "lot of support right here at 20."

Link insisted it's a play on better management, and not a takeover.

Jon Najarian, who had prejudged the case, said he sides with Link because "I'm a bull on CHK," because of its assets and high-profile investors. Josh Brown implored Najarian, "Promise me you'll use a stop loss."

Jim Iuorio said crude is at the level where it "starts to run into support." Anthony Grisanti said "I'm looking at 92.67," then he said 92.50, then said if it gets through that it's 91, with upward resistance at 94.40, but "I do think we test $91."

Stephanie Link said she likes FLR and that it's one of those companies that as long as crude is above 70 or 75 will "continue to print money." Josh Brown mentioned CVX.

Oh JOY — buying something down $5 in barely 1 day

Jon Najarian insisted on Thursday's Halftime Report that a $1,000 price target is not a jinx for Google, "that is not the sell signal," but that the company's spending issue perhaps is.

Josh Brown took the $1,000 dialogue further. "It's not a sell signal but it's also not a buy signal," Brown said, but for now, "They're delivering what Apple didn't" when getting those 4-digit targets (which may or may not be the case).

Brown made GOOG his Final Trade. Stephanie Link asserted it's not about $1,000 price targets or spending, but "It's all about cost per click."

Brown scoffed at GRPN, up on "some kind of an upgrade," and when he saw it he wondered if someone's screen was upside down. The company is "losing like a million dollars a day," Brown said.

Simon Baker called HRL a potential takeout (see what the HNZ deal causes everyone to talk about). Jon Najarian said JOY has done a "round-trip" this week but "I still like the story."

Najarian noted VIX March 15 calls were hot, and insisted, "We are going into sequestration next Friday," with 18 as the upper boundary.

Najarian called APC "a buy at these levels" and made ADP (almost the same initials) his Final Trade. Simon Baker said he owns F. Josh Brown said GMCR is "sitting on major support" but to play it with an 8-9% stop. Stephanie Link said "on weakness, I'd be a buyer" of HD, and made CSCO her Final Trade.

[Wednesday, February 20, 2013]

It should go private instead; have Stephen Weiss’ pals claim it’s actually worth $20

Wednesday's Fast Money crew, which was basically in Laugh-a-lympics mode all afternoon, unfortunately didn't take seriously enough a provocative discussion on the fate of office-supply retailers.

Karen Finerman made the bull case for SPLS, arguing, "This is an industry that is so ripe for consolidation ... those other 2 are dying, even together."

Finerman said Staples could benefit from reduced pricing pressure, and still ranks as the No. 2 online retailer after the company that mails books to you.

But Dan Nathan, who always hates virtually everything, argued that paper is being used less and that Staples may seem cheap but earnings may not support it; "really hard to make a valuation case here."

Nathan further postulated that Amazon will "come after these guys in a big way," and it doesn't matter how many other "crappy" rivals merge or drop out, it's a declining business.

What is intriguing here is that, based on recent history, both sides could well be correct. Though Office Depot and OfficeMax are alive and well, there figure to be fewer of them. Best Buy actually proved to have a lot of gas in the tank after Circuit City's demise, and Barnes & Noble has enjoyed at least a few pops since Borders Group went under.

But those gains haven't been long-lasting by any means.

Tim Seymour sided with Nathan. "I think the opportunity for Staples was yesterday ... this entire industry is in secular decline," he said, arguing SPLS would "probably go lower."

Mel could’ve asked, will this stock end up being a laggard all ‘Winterlong’?

TOL chief Doug Yearley told Melissa Lee on Wednesday's Fast Money it was a "tough day to report," but that real investors know that Toll will put up "big numbers in the 2nd half of the year."

Mike Murphy wasn't around to gush about how awesome this story is and how many more legs it has left, so it was nothing but negativity from Wednesday's jaded panel, with Tim Seymour saying it's a "very good story" but priced above where you should own it, Guy Adami saying not to get in around $33.50, and Dan Nathan urging viewers to stay away from the whole sector, pointing to $4 gas.

Yearley, according to Barron's, is such a Neil Young fan that the last book he read was actually something written by Young.

Oh, give it a rest

The S&P 500 managed to lose a grand total of 18 points yesterday, and the weak hands on the Fast Money panel were immediately claiming falling skies.

"Toll Brothers is telling a bit of a story here," said Dan Nathan.

Guy Adami noted it was an "outside day," and "potentially an outside week," and potentially an outside month, and if so, he might dial down his 1,550/1,560 forecast (and while he's at it, while not proclaim a retest of the 2009 lows?).

Karen Finerman suggested that there's a bunch of people simply trading the Fed, and what would happen if all those people doing the "don't fight the Fed" routine suddenly decide that right now, given this silly report/analysis/whatever, they've got to "front-run the Fed."

We'd be among the first to say it if this market were actually shortable, but it's not, unless you happen to get notably lucky taking a stab at any random day. This is Barry Bannister Land, there is no explanation or correct answers needed for troubling questions; stocks are going up, try not to outthink it.

Thursday quite frankly is highly capable of wiping out Wednesday's loss and then some.

And if not Thursday, then Friday.

Tim Seymour gets it, saying "We went through this 6 weeks ago" with Fed remarks.

Guest Alec Young, who attended Where in the Hell is Grinnell College, said one reason stocks fell Wednesday is that it was "one of the most overbought markets in recent memory." Melissa Lee asked Young, "at this point in time," what to do. Young conceded he thinks "This is just gonna be a pullback."

Karen’s point that it would’ve been smart to sell a day earlier doesn’t go over well with Mel

Good grief, Melissa Lee's item count was out of control near the top of Wednesday's Fast Money.

Lee demanded about 45 stock calls from her panel, starting with how they would trade Wednesday's selloff. At one point Lee started to ask "Is now the time," which prompted Karen Finerman — the funniest person on Fast Money — to crack "I thought yesterday was the time," before realizing Lee was annoyed, and then backpedaling, "I think."

K-Fine said she'd like to get into M below 40. Dan Nathan made a roundabout case for CSCO or YHOO, Tim Seymour made utterly no sense in maybe recommending emerging markets and Guy Adami was straightforward in pitching LLY and CELG, the former also serving as his Final Trade (this is what happens when you demand 38 stock picks in one show from a panel that's already checked out and shopping Chess King online).

Mike Khouw capped this ridiculous merry-go-round by saying the EWJ provides "exposure to Brazil," and by the way he's thinking perhaps CAT here.

Moments later, the gang had to play fold or hold or whatever it is, with Tim Seymour declaring CL a fold, Guy Adami doing the same for potential double-top HON, and Dan Nathan, thinking he was supposed to make a Gettysburg address on U.S. economic conditions for burger joints, eventually apparently doing the same for WEN (when he wasn't talking about "Chipulte"). Mike Khouw said he would hold CSCO.

Doubtful anyone can explain the purpose of Jeff Korzenik’s interview

Apparently not satisfied with 15 go-rounds of hold or fold in which panelists don't answer anyway, Melissa Lee on Wednesday's Fast Money welcomed Jeff Korzenik to discuss the "reshoring" phenomenon of jobs coming back to America.

We doubt we'll see too many T-shirts being made in Mississippi, but Korzenik disagreed with Lee's contention that Foxconn supplies skilled labor that America doesn't have. "We think the skills gap is overblown," he said, finally suggesting that "anything that bends or melts metal" is a prime candidate to come back, such as aluminum companies.

Guy Adami flat-out dismissed the whole premise, saying, "I don't think it makes companies more investable," then mentioned one of our favorite terms: "Benign tape, the chemicals still work."

Amelia Bourdeau, who always gets a thumbs-up from this page on appearance, said to sell the pound at 1.5260, then (most importantly) promised she'd be on Friday's Money in Motion.

Adam doing high-fives
at Metropolitan Capital

Tim Seymour, sounding much like Fast Money/Halftime people sound regarding Apple, tackled gold on Wednesday's Fast Money and called it "way oversold" and argued the miners are "effectively at a double-bottom here." He said he likes HMY and ABX and made HMY his Final Trade (presumably because GFI is in the Penalty Box® after becoming one of the biggest embarrassments on Fast Money).

Mike Khouw admitted there was "substantial call-buying in Newmont," but he doesn't like the miners, because they "tend to fail to deliver."

Seymour said the afterhours news in STZ was already in the stock.

Dan Nathan, who, um, hasn't exactly shied away from Apple gloom and doom forecasts in the past, claimed, "The stock is dead money. It's making a new low very soon."

Mike Khouw said there was a big buyer of weekly 17.50 HPQ calls.

Phil LeBeau said there's a 5-month wait for Tesla's Model S. Karen Finerman said Tesla stock is "uninvestable," prompting Guy Adami to revisit their old GM debate and assert, "I'm still thinkin' GM goes lower." Melissa Lee said if your battery runs out of charge, "that's a problem with an electric car."

Finerman's Final Trade was FL. (That is, assuming it wasn't Finish Line. We get 'em confused.)

Adami predicted the defense sector "as a whole goes higher."

Adami told a hapless tweeter to "get out of half" of his newfound VLO long. He also made LLY his Final Trade.

Dan Nathan sputtered that GOOG is fine but NFLX is untradeable, and he'd be a seller of GS. Nathan's Final Trade — it's almost never a long — was to add to his QID short.

Mike Khouw's Final Trade was BA puts, which "look cheap."

Karen Finerman gave a shout-out to someone who enjoys the privilege of working with her, Adam Crocker, congratulating Crocker for his "excellent work" in nailing PAY's decline.

A gold bull is reduced to the Ben Graham weighing machine/voting machine slogan

Anthony Grisanti said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that silver's slide has little to do with the Fed, but "I think it's a lot of technicals," and people are selling every rally.

Rich Ilczyszyn though countered that "I think this thing might be a little bit overdone to the downside short term ... I would actually pare the shorts."

Guest Rick Rule later insisted there's no reason to bail on gold, "retrenchments are fairly frequent ... the fundamentals are excellent ... corrections are normal and healthy in a bull market."

Insisting the fundamentals are great, Rule suggested those who want to follow the market's voting machine are making a mistake.

Rule added, "I certainly like the platinum trade ... there are no substantial inventories of platinum and palladium ... and if you think your wife's ring is supply, you should ask her; you'll find out that it isn't."

Mike Murphy said the trend for gold and especially the miners is undeniable, "stay short" the miners, he said; "these should trend lower."

Pete Najarian said people were hopping on the JOY weekly 65 calls, which went from 44 cents to $3.

Gemma Godfrey thinks buyers aren’t holding stocks long enough to make bull case

Pete Najarian said atop Wednesday's Halftime Report that the market is providing "great pausing opportunities" for long equity players.

Mike Murphy concurred that pullbacks are great, and said M&A will drive markets higher.

Joe Terranova summed up stocks this way: "A lot of folks have just missed the rally and they're waiting for a pullback," Terranova said, but then noted "I'm short some mini-S&P futures," because the market is all about "where's the euro currency going."

Enis Taner, in an example of commentary twisting in the wind willy-nilly, said the markets suddenly have a "risk-off feel."

Judge Wapner brought in Gemma Godfrey, she of the perfect teeth overseas, who used Wednesday's selloff to deem the market shaky, citing "huge inflows into ETFs" and the notion "this isn't, um, high-conviction, stock-specific, long-term trading."

Dr. New World flat-out shrugged that the notion of whether there's conviction in the markets has "never really been one of the motivating factors for me."

Terranova further asserted that nothing is locked in now. "The average holding period is only 3 months now. This isn't 1960 when our fathers and our grandfathers held stocks for 3 years," he said.

Joe refuses to get roped into another AAPL-bottom call

Mike Murphy, in a bit of an overstatement, said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that the Foxconn hiring news "is the absolute last thing Apple needed."

Enis Taner, though, said he's tempted to get involved on the long side, "anywhere near 435 to 440 ... I just think we're close to running out of sellers."

Joe Terranova, who has played the daily guess-the-low-in-AAPL game often until recently, said "I'm out of Apple, I'm happy about it." Pete Najarian reiterated, "It's a 2nd-half story."

A housing-stock discussion somehow omits LPX and WY

Mike Murphy on Wednesday's Halftime Report once again made the same old case for TOL, "the backlogs, the orders," and calling Wednesday's selling a "great opportunity."

"We bought some TOL right at the open," Murphy said.

Enis Taner argued, "This is a housing recovery, but it's not a housing boom," and comparing it to the 2005-06 era, "It's actually much more expensive now."

Mr. New Land decided, "Mike made the more compelling argument," then utterly refused to take a stand, saying we'll really know who won after the stock trades for several days.

"I agree with Murph," said Pete Najarian, without hesitation.

DKS ‘can go a lot higher’

Pete Najarian said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that the opportunity in MON is coming, but not yet.

Najarian did back Dick's, saying, "I think this stock can go a lot higher." His Final Trade was GSK.

Enis Taner said JCP was up on short covering and wasn't so high on ODP; "I think the price action speaks for itself."

Taner said he likes SODA and made AMGN his Final Trade.

Guest Romit Shah claimed QCOM recently posted "arguably one of the best earnings reports in tech" (let's hope no one bothers to argue that) but that the stock "kind of languished." However, he sees it gaining share at Samsung, benefitting from royalty business and being spotlighted at the Barcelona trade show.

Cavium, Shah, said, "could make a good acquisition target."

Joe Terranova said INTC "really has secular problems" and predicted sub-20. Terranova noted X's bad day but said "take a look at Steel Dynamics."

Terranova welcomed the drop in KORS. "Sell away," he said, it needs to fill a gap back from 57.76 to 61, "that's where you wanna buy it," it's a "name you wanna own."

Dr. New Land said XOM will be a leading LNG player. He predicted JPM will go "north of 50" even as Enis Taner said to take JPM gains off the table. Terranova's Final Trade was BRK-B to 105.

Mike Murphy said RAIL is "one to keep an eye on." Murphy said he's out of his BA short, but advised viewers to "stay long" C and wait for the "massive unlocked amount of value." His Final Trade was TYC.

Kate Kelly said the news to her on the HLF call was that the company is simplifying its business model (translation: admitting its previous distinctions were either bogus or downright misleading). Bill Ackman complained to Judge Wapner that HLF failed to answer even "1 of our 284 questions."

[Tuesday, February 19, 2013]

Guy Adami: Ackman has
out-homeworked Carl

Most people on Fast Money have been afraid to take sides in the HLF showdown, other than to say seemingly every 5 minutes, "But you see, ACKMAN COULD STILL BE RIGHT AND STILL LOSE!!!!!"

Guy Adami threw such caution to the wind on Tuesday's Fast Money, while acknowledging that they love having Carl Icahn on the show.

"My sense is Bill Ackman's done 3 or 4 times the amount that Carl's done on this one," Adami said, so longer term, that's where he thinks the payoff is.

Guest: Price hike necessary
to get DELL deal done

Guest Keith Moore told Tuesday's Fast Money that this tiresome DELL story isn't over yet.

The Michael Dell group still needs so many votes, that the only way for this deal to get done "will be to raise the price," Moore predicted.

"It's got a ways to go," he said.

Karen Finerman said she finds the chances of another group making a competing bid for DELL "so so remote."

Guy Adami said "I don't see any compelling reason" to be in the stock.

How about a bull/bear case regarding Oscar Pistorius?

Tim Seymour on Tuesday's Fast Money told viewers that Best Buy's price match plan is a "reaffirmation that management knows what they're doing."

Guy Adami argued that it should've been done 3 years ago, and is a "good thought, won't work," but will cost the company in margins, and by the way the Schulze deal potential looks toast.

Josh Brown agreed with Adami. "It's too little, too late," Brown said.

Seymour's argument might work well in South African courts, who are basically being told with a straight face that there is nothing scarier than a supermodel entering a home.

Karen Finerman said the WMT news is bad news for WMT and JCP. She also said she sold upside calls against her GNC long.

‘A watch could be nice’

Someone forgot to give Kate Kelly advance notice of her live hit on Tuesday's Fast Money, but once Kelly got things straightened out, she suggested David Einhorn might be in for a "pyrrhic victory" (that's correct; we of course had to look it up) regarding his silly endeavor in which he wastes a court's and his own time and money pitching a company with $137 billion in cash to sell preferred stock; "sort of a win but potentially a loss," Kelly said.

Karen Finerman said "it does matter a little bit," not exactly a thundering endorsement.

Colin Gillis said he does expect Apple to increase the dividend but not to issue a new class of stock.

As for the innovation/new ideas department, Gillis said "A watch could be nice," and that "wearable computing" is a growth area.

"I think there's some upside here" in the stock, Gillis added.

But he cautioned about riding the GOOG train, pointing to "6 selloffs north of 10% in recent years, including the last 3 March quarters. So, he recommends EBAY.

Scott Nations detected a big buyer of March 820 calls in GOOG for $6.

Always good to be seen

Instead of informing viewers on Tuesday's Fast Money that they should be long gold in yen terms, Dennis Gartman merely said "I have my doubts" that gasoline can move much higher, though he wouldn't short it.

Then, experiencing some kind of time delay with Tim Seymour's interruption, Gartman let through an embarrassing pocket of dead air, after Seymour said, "They hit all the industrial metals today because China was out there saying they're worried about property prices."

"Good. They should," said Dennis, after seemingly 5 minutes.

Guy Adami patted himself on the back for PSX. "Here we are north of 65," he said, adding the refiners "don't seem to wanna stop." Tim Seymour complained that year over year, the UNG does not reflect the real move in nat gas, so "be really careful."

‘Japan is way overbought here’

Josh Brown, who did nearly all his talking Tuesday on the Halftime Report while serving as wallflower material on Fast Money, told the latter show his favorite trade is IEO, or if you want specific names, APA, APC, which are "the next refinery trade."

Brown liked this so much — or was so devoid of ideas — he made it his Final Trade too.

Guy Adami said ORCL is his top trade, while Karen Finerman suggested GOOG; "I'm not gonna sell it."

Tim Seymour contended, "Japan is way overbought here."

‘We’re gonna get a deal’

John Stoltzfus informed viewers of Tuesday's Fast Money that there will be "reh-TORE-ic" in Washington ahead of the sequestration, but predicted, "We're gonna get a deal."

Stoltzfus' market advice is to "expect volatility; embrace uncertainty."

And, "I'm still buying refiners by the way," he said, also mentioning JPM and KKR.

Guy Adami said he thinks the S&P has about 30 handles left to the upside.

That almost certainly was the Carpenters’ version of ‘Postman’

Guy Adami suggested on Tuesday's Fast Money that if you're long FSLR, give it another day to ride, then pull the ripcord.

Adami, who noted that Tim Seymour's Twitter account is co-optable, said he "wasn't impressed" with how BX traded, and said he wouldn't buy FDX. His Final Trade was YHOO.

Karen Finerman noted Brian Moynihan's raise but said "it doesn't really move the needle for me." Finerman's Final Trade was GM.

Josh Brown said if he were long SEE he'd "probably take profits."

Tim Seymour was humbled by one of his ongoing picks, GFI, saying they "missed on their numbers," but "I think it's overdone." Seymour said, "I like Monsanto here," and made WLT his Final Trade, which was almost mercifully drowned out by the "Please Mr. Postman" controversy.

Mel Lee overdid it on the lashes Tuesday.

Brown: 410 might be
‘max pain’ in AAPL

Judge Wapner on Tuesday's Halftime tapped some tried and true subject matter — AAPL shares vs. GOOG shares — and elicited a Joe Terranova/Doug Kass/Tim Seymour/Tom DeMark-style observation from Josh Brown.

Brown noted that around 700, AAPL started to run out of buyers, and at the other extreme, "We might've gotten to that point when we hit 410, 420 ... maybe a moment of max pain."

Stephen Weiss said that if you're investing in tech you must be in the big names such as GOOG, in fact, "you can't not be in it."

Enis Taner observed, "People in tech want growth."

Josh Brown combs his hair forward, calls this the most depressing bull market he has seen

Stephen Weiss said simply at the top of Tuesday's Halftime Report, "I think we go higher."

Josh Brown complained that nobody's happy; "I have never seen this depressing a bull market."

JJ Kinahan qualified his outlook. "If XLF can break over 18 at the same time the SPX continues higher, I think we can ride this a long way" and test 1,550, Kinahan said.

Enis Taner, who didn't have the most exhilarating performance, stammered that he wants to look for cheap stocks in this market.

Judge Wapner brought in Steve Liesman to opine on the Fed and the general economy and prompted Weiss to counter Liesman's more bearish suggestions that employers are going to start hiring again.

Josh Brown said he'd advise laying off the XLY.

JJ Kinahan said housing is lifting enthusiasm and that if stocks can just get high enough, they'll cement the rally. "Anywhere above 1,550, I think you start to see that optimism," Kinahan said.

Josh uses Joe’s patented term in WMT argument vs. Weiss

Stephen Weiss made a tepid (at best) bull case for WMT on Tuesday's Halftime Report, saying "I still like the consumer" and that this is "a call on international growth."

Josh Brown, who said even those with a "remedial" sense of looking at charts can see trouble here, scoffed at the stock's surge last year. "Turns out that was a false breakout. This thing is not ready to go. The risk is obviously to the downside," said Brown, who assigned the name to the "Penalty Box®."

Judge Wapner suggested Weiss wasn't taking seriously enough the leaked memo about WMT February sales. "The good news is, the memo's out there, so, so it can't be as bad as what the memo said," Weiss argued.

"Not true. Could be worse," Brown said.

JJ Kinahan said the "remedial" chart-reader argument resonates, and "I'm gonna have to go with Josh on this." Enis Taner also agreed with Brown.

‘Take your profits’ in BBY

Tuesday's Halftime Report gang indicated there's still a lot of momentum behind BAC.

The stock "really seems to be strong even on down days," said Josh Brown, so he'd be reluctant to sell. Stephen Weiss said "I still think it's cheap."

Meanwhile, Enis Taner said that while BBY is up this year, the "risk is still the same" as last year, and "I would take your profits."

Both JJ Kinahan and Stephen Weiss seemed uncertain as to how the DELL situation is going to end, though each helpfully noted that something exciting could happen.

Kinahan said he'd like to know if people on the wrong side of those HNZ options trades are going to get a break somehow.

Life is great when you're WY chief Dan Fulton, aside from having a meeting with Mark Zandi, "our internal metrics look really solid," and the company is "expecting a very strong year."

Curiously, Stephanie Link was not on the same show as the WY chief, which would be like inviting on the LPX chief (no, we don't know his/her name) on a day when Joe is off.

Fulton said the "foreclosure pipeline is getting rather thin."

HLF: ‘Sentiment on the calls’

Jeff Kilburg said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that supplies will come back into the gasoline market, eventually. Anthony Grisanti said it would take a major event to push gasoline to $5, but "4.20 to 4.50 I can see."

Josh Brown said the refiner trade is nearly done so get into the E&P names, such as APA, APC and DVN. But Enis Taner said that if gasoline gets to $4.50, the refiners will continue to do well.

JJ Kinahan said the options market is "betting on a big move" in HLF (probably because Carl said they're using the Internet to make sales in under-retail-ized parts of the world, and by the way multi-level marketing is here to stay), but without a decisive favorite at this point; "sentiment is on the calls." Stephen Weiss said, "I still wouldn't play it."

Andy Busch said he would buy the euro at 1.3325.

Stephen Weiss made a nonsensical remark about wearing a jacket for a Fast Fire and admitted regarding NFLX, "I was wrong" and it was "a huge miss," but insisted it's even worse risk/reward now; "I just wouldn't jump in here."

Josh Brown concurred, "It's all Greater Fool at this price."

Enis Taner argued against bottom-fishing in WFM; "I don't like this stock one bit." Josh Brown said you can't really buy YNDX with a "straight face." JJ Kinahan said that if you're going to try to pick a bottom in CLF, use options and "give yourself room to be wrong."

Stephen Weiss said of BRCM, "I think it's a hold."

Josh Brown's Final Trade was PFE. Enis Taner said DAL, JJ Kinahan said WAG and Stephen Weiss said ESRX.

[Friday, February 15, 2013]

HLF falls as Carl speaks

It turns out the most important comment of Carl Icahn's Halftime Report interview Friday actually came from Stephen Weiss.

"The stock traded off as he started to speak," Weiss said.

Despite making at least 2 rock-solid arguments against Bill Ackman's Herbalife thesis, Carl Icahn failed to make a credible bull case for HLF and in fact, the more he talked, the more embarrassingly weak his case got.

The most powerful argument of course would've been some announcement of a tender offer. Icahn, as he routinely tells CNBC hosts when asked this question, refused to divulge his plans, if any, on this subject, while at one point saying it's a "great company to take private." Scott Wapner did not ask the question quickly enough but, without another party to deal with this time, satisfactorily covered this ground.

Icahn at least twice referred to HLF as benefitting from a "paradigm shift" that indicates, in his words, "multi-level marketing is here to stay," and that an emphasis on obesity, plus Internet usage in countries with less-developed retail outlets, provide a floor for the business.

While constantly downplaying this battle against Ackman's position is personal, he repeatedly stressed how he thinks Ackman has bungled the situation and as such is equivalent to a contra-indicator as to where the stock will go, starting with announcing the short last year, "you keep it quiet, you don't want people to know it," and the fact it was at year-end; "this is an Ackman scheme."

Icahn's best 2 arguments were that the FTC is not going to shut down the company simply because Ackman has a position, and that the law firm Ackman cited hasn't concurred with his opinion.

The FTC, Icahn said, doesn't want to put people out of work, "that's not what they want to do ... to satisfy guys like Ackman," rather Ackman's theory "sort of insults them."

"He says Sullivan Cromwell is comfortable that HLF is a pyramid scheme. I doubt that, you know," Icahn said, adding that Sullivan & Cromwell's expertise has been in the antitrust area; "they're not the FTC lawyer that you would want here."

Ackman's arguments, Icahn insisted, are "completely amateurish," and "eventually the worst case, there'll be a settlement."

Initially Icahn told Wapner, "My bet might be longer Scott" than a quick flip; "Herbalife is a very undervalued situation ... we've done a helluva lot of research on this." But when asked by Wapner exactly what research he's done besides monitoring Sullivan & Cromwell statements, Icahn insisted, "that is not germane to the subject."

He admitted, "I don't like Ackman; everybody knows that. I don't respect him, everybody knows that." But he insisted it's about money. "The bigger the short position in a company, the more enticing it is.

Saying "I did not buy that stock in the 40s ... my average price is 36," Icahn contended, "The value is here ... I'm not gonna lie to you and say if Ackman gets squeezed I'll feel very sorry and go and cry and do penance."

In a bit of a botch, Wapner started to ask a good question about Icahn's reliance on options here but without an endgame as to what he might've been driving at. Icahn first indicated that he needs to start with options and get FTC clearance to convert it to stock; "we are getting clearance as we speak," he said, before admitting, "I don't even know what you're saying, Scott, what are you saying about the options, I- I don't even understand what you're saying."

Icahn insisted that owning a call and selling a put is equivalent to "simply buying the stock."

Ackman certainly must've been given the opportunity to also speak during the show, as happened Jan. 25, but whether Icahn laid out any ground rules for keeping Ackman out of the conversation we don't know; presumably CNBC reached out to Ackman and he declined to speak on air.

Despite the barrage of criticisms toward Ackman, Icahn seemed not interested in revisiting the previous showdown; "I don't wanna get back into that."

Icahn also notably was not heard swearing on Friday.

Yet the digs continued at the end of the half hour on Ackman's history. "I'm sure he was resolute about Target, I'm sure he was resolute about JCPenney. He's been resolute. He's that kind of guy," Icahn said. Wapner correctly asked Icahn if he has spoken to certain key individuals in the HLF saga and got real answers, basically nobody recently. Wapner also asked if Icahn has been in touch with private equity and got a half-answer: "You sound like you're the SEC and I'm in a deposition ... I don't think you need a private equity firm for this," Icahn said.

"This is not an ad hominem thing," Icahn concluded.

Herb Greenberg said later that it seemed to him like Icahn "toned it down a bunch" from his previous on-air battle with Ackman and "even complimented" Ackman in small ways.

CNBC's Gary Kaminsky said prior to the interview that he's heard there are only 2 million HLF shares on the Street available for borrowing, and that it's "dumb and stupid" to think Icahn's priority is geting Ackman rather than making money.

Halftime Report panelist Stephen Weiss said before the interviews, "I'm gonna have to go with Icahn and Loeb on this one frankly." Afterwards, while noting the shares slid during the program, Weiss affirmed, "I'm still going with him on this, I haven't heard from Sullivan & Cromwell, that's a great point."

Not exactly a whopper of a segment ahead of Carl Icahn

Pete Najarian made a bull case for Burger King on Friday's Halftime Report while critic Enis Taner seemed like he was out to lunch with a Big Mac.

Najarian said BKW is taking pages "right out of the McDonald's playbook," with "global expansion ... reimaging themselves," and adding "upscales" such as coffee.

Taner, who was supposed to be making pro-MCD comparisons, countered, "The problem is they haven't shown top-line growth."

Pete rebutted that "Burger King is on that trajectory that McDonald's does not have anymore," and "Burger King has far more upside momentum than McDonald's does."

Taner had to concede, "I think the growth opportunity in McDonald's is limited," prompting Judge to ask how he could like that stock. Taner indicated it's a more solid bet than BKW.

Stephen Weiss made the best, most concise point in favor of Najarian. "I like Burger King," Weiss said, basically because it had been "mismanaged," and now it's got "good management in there at this point."

Dr. J: ‘This’ continues in AAPL

Stephen Weiss said on Friday's Halftime Report that he just wanted to get to the Carl Icahn interview, but in the meantime, "I remain very positive on the market."

"I am positive," Pete Najarian agreed, saying the market has taken "just a bit of a pause," and that he likes financials and tech analog names.

Enis Taner cautioned that some stocks to him look overpriced.

In a half-hearted discussion of AAPL, Stephen Weiss refused to pick 13D sides, saying there's a "potpourri of players to follow." Jon Najarian said he's not in the name but that he thinks the stock enjoys an Einhorn put, and "I would say this continues."

The problem there is, what did Doc mean by "this"? The stock spent the morning above his previous 465 (or was it 462/463) level ... and at the end of the day found itself at 460.

Bunch of M&A coming down the pike, just don’t know where

Mike Santoli, the big CNBC Yahoo get for Friday's Halftime Report who is constantly nothing more than mildly contrarian and usually wrong and oblivious to the fact it's a Barry Bannister Market, said on Friday's Halftime there's a "pent-up demand for deals" and that M&A is "almost a necessary component" of hte market.

Santoli noted that the M&A sentiment is so positive right now, even stocks of the acquirers are going up. However, he stopped well short of predictions, saying, "I think the game of trying to figure out the next potential takeover target is kind of a loser's game."

Kate Kelly meanwhile said that SAC was hit up for $1.6 billion in redemptions, more than anticipated. Jon Najarian said it's a case of risky headlines; "a lot of folks just didn't want to deal with the hassle, and that's why they've exited." Stephen Weiss said just because they've filed for $1.6 billion doesn't mean they'll take all that out.

[Thursday, February 14, 2013]

Someone should let Ackman know he might want to dial into Friday’s Halftime Report

Apparently, they're on speaking terms.

It was just a few weeks ago that Carl Icahn swore on the air that he wouldn't do any more TV shows with Judge Wapner, but Judge dialed into Thursday's Fast Money to shock the world and report that "Carl Icahn's gonna come our show at noon tomorrow" to discuss his stake in HLF.

Judge said he talked to Icahn already Thursday and that Carl filed a 13D showing a 12.98% stake, or 14 million shares, and that Carl claims to have "done a great deal of research on this company" and insists that "Bill Ackman is completely off-base."

Karen Finerman was really blown away by this move, saying there could be a possible "recapitalization," which has the "potential to cause an enormous squeeze."

"You've gotta be very nervous if you're Ackman," Finerman said, offering a fictitious example that if Icahn or someone were to make a bid at $50, "one cannot short after they announce a partial tender," and so while Ackman's short may be secure, many others probably are not, and Ackman could get nailed even if he's really right about the company.

Melissa Lee called it a "fascinating Wall Street personality story." Judge Wapner, in an apparent admonition to Ackman, said that when you "pick a fight with Carl Icahn, a lot of times you come out on the wrong end of the stick," and this HLF battle is "real good insight sort of into the mind-set of a scrapper and a fighter."

Brian Kelly said the scary thing is that someone like Ackman could be totally right about a name like HLF, but this is an example of how "you still can be wrong" by the stock going up, and so with anything you buy, "you have to have some kind of exit plan."

Dan Nathan grumbled about early moves in HLF and said "somebody got the heads-up here." Karen Finerman said, "It could be Icahn himself buying stock." Finerman also noted that Dan Loeb filed a 13G, not a 13D, regarding HLF.

No, Karen is not dating
Jamie Dimon

(Sigh) Here we go again.

Every time Karen Finerman talks about Jamie Dimon on Fast Money, this page gets queries about "what's the deal with Karen Finerman and Jamie Dimon," which was the case on Thursday afternoon.

The deal is, Karen thinks Dimon is attractive, and likes to joke about being his "girlfriend" or how he's her "boyfriend." (Yes, Karen is married to someone else who is aware of this.)

Karen really doubled down on this tired theme Thursday, of course it being Valentine's Day (around here we'd be happy if just our stocks loved us but they don't), making the bull case for JPM, saying "the valuation here is not expensive" and "I think there's plenty of room to run here," in what's a "premier franchise for sure."

In other words, no catalyst, strictly P.E. call.

Dan Nathan, the bear, impressively pointed out, "This stock, in each of the last 5 years, has had drawdowns of at least 27% peak to trough ... you are buying this at a 5-year high."

Steve Grasso said "I'm gonna go with Karen on this," because to him it's like Goldman Sachs, which he now says is "heading to 180." Brian Kelly sided with Nathan; "you can't buy 'em" at this level.

Finerman apparently claimed on the Fast Money daytime conference call that Dimon sent her flowers, and people believed it.

Dave Barger utterly fails
to answer Karen’s good question

You had to know that, on a day (actually 2nd day) of a big deal in airlines, that Dave Barger would be on Fast Money to talk about how well-positioned JetBlue is.

Sure enough, the American-US Air deal represents "near-term and long-term opportunity for carriers like JetBlue," Barger said, adding, "at the end of the day, we're only 5% of the industry."

It sounded like Barger spent most of his time praising all the CEOs of his competitors (that probably comes in handy at the industry golf outings). Karen Finerman piped up, "Dave it's Karen let me ask you something," which was a good question, how can JBLU benefit from the integration obstacles that American will face.

Barger completely whiffed, merely saying his company's on an "independent path" with "organic growth" (maybe he likes Whole Foods as much as Simon Baker on the selloff).

Brian Kelly, giving the token buy signal to the guest CEO's company, said, "I actually think JetBlue does have the advantage here," but "stay away from the bigger names."

Nathan: AAPL to retest 435

Soon to be superseded by the HLF discussion, Melissa Lee said on Thursday's Fast Money that "Apple is increasingly emerging as a battleground stock out there."

But, referring to the Lee Cooperman and Dan Loeb positions, Brian Kelly cautioned, "I'd be a little careful about saying that these guys are going head to head," after all no one knows when they bought or sold.

Steve Grasso said people didn't want to sell AAPL ahead of the Goldman conference or ahead of its late February investor day. Dan Nathan though was unimpressed, saying, "I think the stock is gonna go retest that 435 level."

Guy Adami was not around to ask what happens when a company like Sony suddenly isn't so cool anymore. Tim Seymour, out shopping for Joe Fresh merchandise at JCP, wasn't around to mention how Samsung fits into this.

Barry Bannister Market (cont’d)

Savita Subramanian, cute with a capital "C," visited Thursday's Fast Money gang to expound on a lukewarm sentiment indicator.

Subramanian said the "average equity allocation that strategists are recommending" is a "very reliable contra-indicator" of where the market will go, and right now those strategists are sub-50%, or "underweight" stocks.

While that would seem a negative for the strategist industry if market tank just when they're most recommending stocks, Subramanian insisted, "It's not that, you know, we're all a bunch of idiots, hopefully," but something to do with herd mentality.

Fortunately for now, "We're not at a point where everybody is all in ... still more flows that are gonna come." She advised avoiding telecom and utilities and try the GDP-sensitive sectors like industrials, tech and energy.

Dan Nathan grumbled about Subramanian's "underweight" determination, saying everyone he hears is bullish, and "I think that stuff is completely mental."

Carl isn’t doing this
‘solely’ because of Bill

Ken Squire covered all the bases on his visit to the Nasdaq for Thursday's Fast Money, saying he respects both Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman but unfortunately made a comment that sounded like he might've been born yesterday.

"I doubt that, that Carl would do it solely because, uh, he wants to get back at Bill," Squire said.

Steve Grasso asked a great question, what to do with HLF right here right now, but botched the delivery by including a 2nd question, which is all that Squire sort of tried to answer while utterly dodging the first, saying he hasn't seen Icahn's stake, and "we'll see what the 13D says."

Squire recommends dineEquity (DIN), where Tim Seymour was probably eating Thursday's Valentine's Day dinner, because he says it's a well-run company and that Marcato is recommending a $6 special dividend. His other picks are AGU and MSI.

Nathan: ‘We’re gonna roll over pretty soon’

Brian Kelly said on Thursday's Fast Money that the interesting thing about the markets is that "bonds went up and stocks went up," and he said to buy TLT.

Steve Grasso said "2/3 of all stocks trade with the overall market," but the best he could do besides trumpeting GS is to say "I'm back in" GOOG.

Dan Nathan recommeded QID, saying, "There's no leadership here. I believe we're gonna roll over pretty soon," with a 5% selloff.

Karen Finerman revealed she "sold some Realogy today."

Valentine bungle: Fast Money traders express ‘courtship’ of stocks they admit they don’t want to buy

Thursday's Fast Money brought a really strange Valentine's feature, as traders held up hearts with illegible writing for television indicating stocks they claim to like but won't buy at these levels.

(Sorta like, "So and so would be really hot if she got some plastic surgery ...")

Brian Kelly said he's wooing the USO. Mike Khouw said F, but "I'd like to see it a little bit cheaper," by $1. Karen Finerman, who yesterday spoke of what a good company WTW is, now says she's not so sure, and "I don't know if I had beer goggles on." Dan Nathan said he'd buy QCOM but at 62, and Steve Grasso merely said "I'm waiting" for DDD (aren't we all).

Dan Nathan fascinated by
Brian Kelly’s hairy back

Brian Kelly said on Thursday's Fast Money that DXJ is "pretty extended" right now though it's good longer-term, "I think you take profit." But he stood pat on his BCS Fast Fire, saying, "I still don't like the name."

Kelly said if you're long CTL, "$31 might be support, look for a bounce off of that, and then I'd get out." (This writer is long CTL.) Kelly's Final Trade, we learned on a rather pointless Web Extra, was the USO he's so courting.

Karen Finerman said she "wouldn't chase" GNC today though she likes the company. Her Final Trade was "buy tickets to the Herbalife show."

Dan Nathan scoffed that nothing is moving the VIX these days; his Final Trade was a long put calendar in BBRY that required too much explanation.

Steve Grasso advised not being in BBY and made NSC his Final Trade.

Mike Khouw said of TRIP, "I certainly wouldn't chase it." He felt the same about WFM, even though some were buying February 90 calls for 40 cents; "I wouldn't buy it here."

Is there any chance that
Whitney Tilson is the secret successor to Warren Buffett?

Whitney Tilson, the designated Warren Buffett expert of the Fast Money/Halftime Report franchise, said he likes the HNZ deal (of course) and doesn't think it's overpriced because it's a pairing of Warren Buffett and the 3G guys from Brazil, the "world's best managers and the world's best cost-cutters."

This transaction "makes me slightly more bullish on Berkshire here," Tilson said.

Tilson said it's basically impossible to predict a Buffett purchase, and insisted he's got the credentials to come to that conclusion. "I've studied Buffett and Berkshire probably more closely than any person or company ever," Tilson said.

Dr. New World was more enthused, actually. "I believe Berkshire gets above a hundred bucks," he said, revealing, "I did buy Berkshire today." Also, Terranova added, "I own Mead Johnson," which he said could be a potential target, and SJM, which he thinks could have a $100 print.

Stephen Weiss said "Berkshire is a great play right here" but was more excited about airline consolidation, where I'd "much rather put my money."

Jon Najarian grumbled that "somebody bought a whole bunch of these" June 65 calls in HNZ ahead of the deal and managed to spread it around so it wasn't really discovered by folks like OptionMonster.

We don't think we've seen Tilson on CNBC, or at least heard him discuss Berkshire, since Warren Buffett curiously enlisted him to notify the N.Y. Post about what Warren thought of Gary Kaminsky's recent Berkshire commentary.

So NFLX was a big gain but no Brag Trade on that AAPL wash sale

Whitney Tilson took a moment to declare a Brag Trade in NFLX on Thursday's Halftime Report, telling Judge Wapner he was on the show months ago "sort of pounding the table on it," and given what's been happening, "I think the 20-bagger scenario over the next 10 years is more likely."

However, he finally admitted, with the recent rally, "I've sort of been trimming it back."

Tilson was down on NOK, predicting the "stock will continue to go down."

Tilson stressed that Lee Cooperman's AAPL information, like all the rest in 13Fs, is 45 days old. But Tilson himself said he cleared out his AAPL position, saying "I felt like I was sort of getting too emotional about it," and that he's waiting 30 days for the ever-popular Jon Najarian tax loss wash sale effect, and "I'm very tempted to buy it back."

Stephen Weiss said "it's a margin issue" at AAPL.

Simon Baker was really, really eager to buy some WFM shares

At the top of Thursday's Halftime Report, Simon Baker indicated his top trade would be WFM on the selloff.

Moments later, Baker reiterated, "Whole Foods is a great trade today."

Finally we got to the WFM feature, in which Baker made the bull case for the shares against Stephanie Link, who for once didn't have to square off with Steve Weiss.

Baker had no catalyst other than a 9% down day. It's a "great quality company," he said, that just isn't close enough to enough shoppers yet, with "massive opportunity overseas." (Fair enough; this writer has no position in WFM but has had exposure to this elite grocery space and it frankly sucks garbage, try not to get killed.)

Link pointed to valuation and said, "I think you could have multiple contraction in the near term."

Joe Terranova heartily backed Link and said he used to own the stock, but "I'm glad I don't own it today." Stephanie Weiss also was forced to admit, "I agree with Stephanie," and said while it is a good company, "buy it lower."

Joe recycles another one of his lines from a day earlier

Judge Wapner welcomed a new guest, Andres Garcia-Amaya, onto Thursday's Halftime, and proceeded to get about the most generic stock call possible.

"Versus the other options, equities still look cheap," Garcia-Amaya said, while conceding there's a "sense of complacency."

"I favor cyclical stocks over defensives," especially financials and materials, he added.

Stephen Weiss said "I still like the market," while Joe Terranova indirectly indicated that the Halftime Report only needs to air a couple times a week, reiterating that there's "a short squeeze on pessimism itself" and that he sees 1,495 as a key level (or perhaps the "essence" of a key level but he somehow didn't say "essence" this time).

Terranova hailed refiners, "stay with 'em, look to add," calling HFC the "best in class" refiner, while also trumpeting OIH, HAL and SLB.

Stephanie Link managed to rattle off CSCO, YUM, EMR, ETN and IR in the opening minutes. Simon Baker, when not bringing up WFM, mentioned CSCO and ERIC.

‘God damn it, I don’t know what happened today’

John Taylor sat in for a few moments with the Thursday Halftime Report crew and asserted "March is gonna be a really ugly month," before invoking the chic new activity on the Halftime Report: swearing.

"God damn it I don't know what happened today," Taylor said, and we're not really sure what he was referring to.

Taylor said it's a sign of trouble in Italy when a "completely weird, outlandish party" that is not Berlusconi's is in 2nd place, and "the Spanish situation continues to deteriorate."

He said he sold out of U.S. stocks a week ago and expected Valentine's Day to be around the high.

Taylor thinks the euro is "maybe done for the next month or so." He also predicted a halt in the yen; "I think that trade's done for a couple of months," it's just happened too fast but will be "cheaper in a month."

He advised people to "buy gold on March 31st."

He didn't think much of whatever Britain is doing or contemplating regarding the eurozone; "I just think those guys are outta their mind."

Taylor called Latin America the "best place" right now. Joe Terranova said he just moderated a panel with Dennis Gartman on it (shouldn't be too hard to predict what Dennis would say) and that Gartman forecasts yen 135.

The British can’t pronounce ‘Bezos’

Anthony Grisanti said on Thursday's Halftime that the selloff in bonds has "still got some legs to it," and Jim Iuorio concurred: "At the end of the day, it's in a well-defined trend, and yields seem to be heading higher. I have 2.18 as my point on the upside."

Simon Baker, who of course on Thursday had to refer to what shirt/tie combo he was wearing in his LNKD Fast Fire, insisted he doesn't like the stock any better now; "I just think it's too expensive."

Joe Terranova insisted the LinkedIn's "mobile strategy is killin' it right now." But Baker compared it to AMZN and said AMZN is the real buy, what with "Jeff Boozis (sic) running the company."

Baker did have the line of the day actually, saying TEVA is doing a generic of "Adderall today which will be good for Weiss," and he likes the stock. Baker's Final Trade was HSY.

Weiss said rather lukewarmly of LMT, "it's actually OK here" and said "I still love TBF" for his Final Trade; unlike Tony Crescenzi on bonds, "I'll say it's a bubble."

Joe Terranova said if you like silver, pick SLV and not SLW and better yet, choose platinum. Terranova's Final Trade was GS to 200.

Stephanie Link tackled COH and said, "I think at 48, you can actually take a look at it ... there is a good value here." (Fair enough, this writer has a position in COH, and that one sucks mightily, so be warned.)

Link's Final Trade was CBI, which prompted Judge Wapner to say, "I affectionately refer to as Chicago Bridge & Tunnel," which was a punch line with Patty Edwards, but Judge won't ask her to be on the show anymore despite the fact Patty actually regularly manages money for people.

[Wednesday, February 13, 2013]

Not even 2-and-20 outrage can stop her: Mel’s neon chic steals the show

It was a debate about the merits of hedge funds, and Anthony Scaramucci brought about as much firepower as the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish took to the BCS title game.

Gary Kaminsky joined the Moochmeister at the Nasdaq on Wednesday's Fast Money to debate whether hedge funds actually provide some kind of value-added to the standard mutual fund.

Scaramucci, a little punchy from the beginning for some reason, told Kaminsky, "You started out as my college roommate and now you look like my grandfather," before Kaminsky offered a pie chart of hedge-fund holdings that looked straight out of Vanguard.

"That is essentially closet indexing," Kaminsky crowed.

Scaramucci's first response was loopier than John McAfee; "they're also getting short a lot of stocks that are going up in an accommodative Fed environment," Scaramucci said.

But Kaminsky, armed with another S&P comparison since 2009, argued "they have not added any value."

Obviously wholly unprepared for this event, Scaramucci could only offer, "It's all interesting stuff, but you're taking a cursory, one-derivative look at the facts ... great hedge fund managers perform spectacularly well over long periods of time." (In other words, in case you didn't realize, he's defending his own business model.)

Kaminsky managed to squeeze in a "very simple" and even quoted favorable passages from Goodbye Gordon Gekko. Scaramucci said SkyBridge was up 21% last year.

Fortunately/unfortunately, the cameraman found something he really liked in this feature, which was Melissa Lee's sizzling brand new dress that wasn't fully appreciable behind the desk.

And you thought we were done hearing about Gasparino on Fast Money

He's still breaking stories for CNBC, even on Fox Business.

Charles Gasparino's name surfaced repeatedly on Wednesday's Fast Money, as producers smartly carried a live feed of Bill Ackman's latest conference speech in which Ackman this time lowered the boom on Herbalife for not living up to the answers the company stammered to give Fox Business' tough guy.

For whatever reason, the Fast Money gang ignored all that and instead focused on Ackman's JCPenney commentary, in which he said the stores are a "completely different experience" than 18 months ago, and that "Ron gets picked on more than any other CEO in America."

Karen Finerman, who we didn't even realize was on the program until about the 20th minute, said it's "somewhat disingenuous" for JCPenney to claim it's selling a private label offering for $15 that goes for $20 elsewhere, when, because it's private label, it isn't actually sold anywhere else, and so they're referring to an "equivalent good."

"We're long puts, short some stock and short some bonds ... nothing to me has really changed," Finerman said.

Tim Seymour said JCP simply can't "re-educate" its shoppers. "Aside from, you know, convincing Steve to go from Chess King to JCPenney's Joe Fresh."

NFLX: 200, ‘or a little north’

Guy Adami on Wednesday's Fast Money didn't sound that impressed with CSCO's results, even though the stock was creeping up. "I think there are better places to be," Adami said, suggesting if you're long, to take profits.

Steve Grasso noticed that John Chambers' commentary seemed to be a reaction to David Einhorn's complaints about AAPL; "now they're saying all these catchphrases." But unlike Adami, Grasso said the chart looks decent, "I think you're OK to dabble."

Guy Adami predicted NFLX will get "either to 200 or a little north thereof."

Mark Mahaney, squeezed by Ackman tape, called FB a "small buy here." Mike Khouw said there big buyers of FB 28.5 weeklies.

WFM back to 100 in ‘a month’

David Gottlieb visited with Wednesday's Fast Money to report, "Investors just are not being paid to own the long end of yield curves," and so he recommends the "short, intermediate part of the yield curve."

In the future, Gottlieb said, "I think we'll look back at this time and say clearly that rates are too low."

Guy Adami said WFM's afterhours slide is what happens to a high-multiple stock when there are setbacks, but "a month from now, we're gonna be talking about WFM at a hundred bucks." Steve Grasso shrugged, "I wouldn't be in the space right now."

Karen Finerman pointed to the selloff in WTW, "it's a great franchise," and hailing the company repeatedly, nevertheless cautioned, "I wouldn't jump in tomorrow."

Tim Seymour's top trade was to sell EWW (and yes he mentioned Cemex).

Seymour got kudos for his not-fully-appreciated AVP trade and Fast Fired for VLO, which he said has gotten more parabolic, and though people think it can go higher, "be careful."

Karen Finerman praised Seymour's recently professed lament of getting out of AVP and then wondering about re-buying; "it's really hard to sell something and then get back in," Finerman said.

Jane Wells reported that the milk market is udderly slumping. Tim Seymour's Final Trade was TRQ, Karen Finerman said EMC, Steve Grasso called URI the "ultimate infrastructure play," and Guy Adami gave Mel a Valentine's Day gift even though it wasn't Valentine's Day.

It sounds like he means refunds are late, not that ‘rebates’ are somehow down

Dennis Gartman argued on Wednesday's Halftime Report that tax refunds are taking notably longer this year, and there are a "great number of consumers" who "depend on those tax rebates (sic actually refunds are different than rebates)" for their shopping, that he advises selling the XRT and going long SPY.

Mike Murphy politely countered that what Gartman is talking about "isn't enough to slow down the retail trade here," and he likes TGT, WMT and others "on a stand-alone basis."

Jon Najarian, though, told Gartman, "I happen to agree with your call," but singling out gas prices as the headwind.

Gartman further muddied the waters when he sputtered that he wasn't going to prune individual retailers. "I'm not wise enough to choose Nordstroms (sic)," he said, before adding — and this is not the fact he asserted initially — "tax rebates have gone down ... it looks like a good trade."

‘Even see a 5% pullback’

Josh Brown said at the top of Wednesday's Halftime Report that this would be a good time for the market to stall, "could even see a 5% pullback."

Unlike Mike Murphy the other day with Stephen Weiss, Brown didn't perform the calculation for viewers, so we had to give it a shot ourselves, and basically come up with about 75 S&P points.

Mike Murphy suggested that things are actually so promising right now, even GE "found a way to unlock some value," so "you have to stay long this market."

Joe Terranova, using "essence" for the first time Wednesday, said, "This is right now in essence a short squeeze on pessimism, but he still wants "less exposure to beta-type names," advising being on the sidelines with CAT and CVX and asserting the euro can't continue to rise at the rate it has.

Jon Najarian said to stay with financials even though the market's had a good run.

How has Pete been correct when the 2nd half hasn’t happened yet?

It seemed only a matter of time on Wednesday's Halftime Report before "Dr." New World made a call on AAPL's daily direction, but in fact Joe Terranova merely indicated it's going nowhere for months.

"The growth investor has left the Apple story," Terranova said, adding that "Pete Najarian has correctly identified" it as a 2nd-half story.

Guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera aired a clip of an Italian honcho, Maximo Ibarra, dissing Apple. Josh Brown at least defended the company's lack of a blockbuster every 6 weeks, saying, "It's not like they're standing still."

Later in the program, it was revealed that Lee Cooperman has fully exited AAPL. "Excellent tactical move by a great money manager," announced Dr. New World, despite not having any idea of when these shares were sold, before later pointing out that for all those institutional investors looking to dump the stock, "this becomes the excuse."

Michelle Caramba-Cabrera is into the habit of asking colleagues their religion

Sam Zell's sour CNBC commentary Wednesday on housing, which was basically the same thing he told Gary Kaminsky a couple weeks ago at Tiger 21 that the Fast Money crew already digested, didn't go over well with Wednesday's Halftime gang.

"To say that the media is overhyping housing is dead wrong," said Mike Murphy, rattling off his favorite homebuilders. "These companies still have a lot of room to go," he said, arguing the only thing holding them back is valuation.

Sexy guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera asked Joe Terranova, "Are you an Italian Catholic," the type of thing that would've gotten MCC in hot water had it been a job interview instead of a stock-picking television program. Terranova insisted, "The media is not hyping the housing story," and reared back for an all-time favorite; "how about Louisiana Pacific."

David Rosenberg owes Joe royalties for stealing his lines

David Rosenberg, who still wants to be regarded as a sage and so thus has doctored his ongoing market thesis (even though none of the facts on the ground have changed since he saw the light about a year and a half ago) into one of those squishy "everything's-really-on-the-verge-of-disaster-but-stocks-are-going-higher-for-awhile" routines, told Wednesday's Halftime Report that "it's the central banks" that are driving markets, but that there's now a seminal moment in this trade, that being the Fed statement Dec. 12 about linking policy to 6.5% unemployment, which Rosenberg thinks could take "potentially 5 more years."

Rosenberg called high-yield "fully priced." Josh Brown rightly asked him why gold is underperforming in this scenario. Rosenberg could do little more than throw up his hands. "It's been a disappointment," he said, but still a "hedge against uncertainty ... when you have a risk-on trade like you've been having so far this year, gold is gonna be in the Penalty Box.®"

Jon Najarian said the gold bull case is exhausted, at least for now. "It's played out," Najarian said. "I think it got ahead of itself ... I think it trades sideways to down."

Mr. New Land said this seems "eerily similar to 2012" and that people such as Rosenberg in fact represent how there's not unanimous euphoria.

But what will Chambers’ ‘tone’ be?

Goodness only knows why, but somehow the Halftime Report producers on Wednesday enlisted Joe Terranova and Mike Murphy to argue over Cisco.

Joe said it's a "reversion back to where it was trading in 2010" (if only Research in Motion BBRY would do that) and a "secular story" and "it's all about SDN."

Mike shrugged, "Cisco's already moved 25% coming into this report tonight," and "I think the stock has to trade off a little bit."

Murphy even hauled out the oldest of anti-CSCO arguments, "if they don't put up a great quarter this time, Chambers is in trouble."

Terranova insisted, "I think they're gonna beat tonight."

Josh Brown was more enthusiastic than anyone and should've been the bull here. "I think Joe's gonna be right," Brown said, saying the market won't punish the shares much on bad news, and "this thing is a legitimate breakout ... not a ton of resistance."

But no one mentioned how many pairs of Uggs their kids have

Josh Lipton broke the news on Wednesday's Halftime Report that Lee Cooperman has stakes in FB, CROX and FCX.

"I think Facebook is undervalued here," said Mike Murphy, while Dr. New World chimed in, "I think it's an excellent trade to buy Facebook here below $28."

But just as quickly as Terranova could get the words out, Josh Brown cut in, "I wouldn't call it undervalued though."

Terranova summarized Cooperman's move as a "classic example" of someone likely moving out of AAPL into FB, that's the "trader instinct in me," which evidently proved correct later.

Josh Brown questioned the existence of CROX; "my kids won't even wear 'em anymore."

The essence of Joe’s commentary Wednesday was that he employed too many needless impressive-sounding words

Jon Najarian said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that he doesn't think the RAX fall is over midday; "I think it could go another 3 or 4 dollars lower."

Mike Murphy said GRPN is benefitting from a "continuation of the beta trade," and it "could have a little more upside."

Joe Terranova asked Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, "Do you know what a sold-out bull is?" Josh Brown answered, "The most bearish person alive." Terranova agreed and said, "That's in essence what I have been" in terms of Netflix, suggesting the stock is "positioned to go way above 200 and I can't bring myself to get back in."

Jon Najarian said NVDA is "about due for a breakout, and also made XLNX his Final Trade. Josh Brown said to "walk away on a short-term basis" from IBM.

‘All in with Ron Johnson’

Anthony Grisanti and Rich Ilczyszyn on Wednesday's Halftime Report forecast a frustrating season for drivers, with Grisanti explaining, "We don't have enough refinery capacity in the Northeast" and that gasoline "probably will go higher from here," while the Ilchmeister flat-out predicted "certainly a retest of all-time highs" this summer.

Kate Kelly reported on the mixed emotions SAC investors might feel, and "it'll be a big day tomorrow for all parties."

Andy Busch advised selling euro at 1.35.

Jon Najarian suggested the TLT is going lower. Joe Terranova said the call for $9 minimum wage may hurt MCD. Josh Brown said "at the end of the day," Venezuela's issues don't matter with MRK, but agreed with Joe Terranova that PFE is the one to own.

Referring to JCP financiers, Jon Najarian said "these guys are all in with Ron Johnson."

Mike Murphy said CLF "could be a kitchen-sink quarter," and that under 30 is a "very interesting entry point." Murphy advised owning WMT and made TYC his Final Trade.

Josh Brown said WLP was "downgraded by a firm I have never heard of," and for a Final Trade, said to "hold off on new longs here."

Jon Najarian groaned about Mexico's interest in HFT. "I wish they'd take all the high-frequency business down there," Najarian grumbled, saying it "ruins capital markets."

Joe Terranova's Final Trade was to take profits in MMM.

Guest supposedly opining about Comcast-GE uses deal to bash AAPL

At first it seemed like a reach, but then it actually made some sense.

Larry Haverty, discussing — er, let's be honest, dumping one of Porter Bibb's mountains of sugar on Comcast — the GE-NBC Universal sale on Tuesday's Fast Money, managed to sound like he'd plunged the whole account into AAPL about mid-September 2012.

"I'm almost in tears on why the folks in Cupertino don't figure this out and do something," Haverty said.

While the notion of AAPL, whose key players are tougher to get on television than Dick Fuld, buying a broadcast network and making the summer junkets for the fall lineups is certainly absurd, it's not absurd to realize, as Haverty perhaps was indicating, that it can buy practically whatever it wants, MA, SBUX, GS, GM, MO, you name it (and we're only half-joking about some of those) ... so why not give it a shot.

Steve Milunovich said there actually are catalysts for AAPL from here, maybe accelerated buybacks or hiked dividend, a low-end phone, China Mobile, etc., but "we need new products."

Haverty, meanwhile, said the Comcast-NBC purchase is an "enormously bullish message for the market ... it's a win-win situation." And he's OK with CMCSA's leverage; "the stock is still cheap."

Suppose there’s no chance the Justice Dept. can block this

It was borderline euphoria at the top of Tuesday's Fast Money as the panel welcomed future 100% boss Brian Roberts in for a victory-lap interview and proceeded to spend the program as unusually buttoned-down as the kiddies who realize the principal is sitting in on class for the day; no good/bad/ugly pictures or Tim Seymour jokes about Chess King or surrounding the trades this time.

The deal is "a win-win for both" Comcast and GE, Melissa Lee declared, backed by Karen Finerman, who said that both stocks being up is "not crazy."

Guy Adami claimed GE is "trying to be more like Honeywell," and "I still love Honeywell here." Brian Kelly said that between GE and CMCSA, he'd pick GE because it "hasn't moved as much as Comcast." Tim Seymour said Comcast perhaps deserves a higher multiple, "maybe it goes higher." Karen Finerman stressed that because there's already half ownership, "there's no integration risk" with this deal. Adami said DIS would be his pick in the broadcast space.

Roberts said he's "excited about the future prospects" of the business, and must've said 2 or 3 times that they were going to do this anyway. Karen Finerman asked about leverage. Roberts said, "This will delever, uh, us, into the 1½ to 2 times, uh, cash-flow range, over time."

Judge discusses night activities
with John Donahoe

Judge Wapner, on location at the Goldman Sachs tech conference, began his Tuesday Fast Money hit with EBAY's John Donahoe by asking if Donahoe's afraid of a Fortune cover jinx similar to the Sports Illustrated jinx.

"I pray every night that that's not the case," Donahoe said, hopefully in an overstatement.

Then Judge relayed his anecdote from the Halftime Report, that he handed his credit card to the taxi driver who, instead of giving Judge a receipt, told him it would be e-mailed by Square via the credit card, prompting Judge to ask Donahoe, "does that keep you up at night," apparently forgetting Donahoe already said he's up praying every night that he doesn't suffer a Fortune cover jinx.

"Innovation always keeps me up at night," Donahoe said.

As would be expected, this was a sunny, cheery interview, in which Donahoe breezily batted away concerns, stressing, "we monetize on mobile the same way we do on the Web." Guy Adami said the chart seems to be retracing its 2001-05 path, and "I'd be very careful" about getting in here.

At least John Roberts doesn’t have to issue the oath for a 5th time

Guest Chris Krueger didn't exactly break much new ground on Tuesday's Fast Money in predicting the night's State of the Union address.

It was to be "basically the sequel to the inaugural," Krueger said. (Does that mean Beyonce plans a song?)

Democrats will applaud much of it, and Republicans will criticize, Krueger helpfully said.

"It's much more, uh, rhetoric as opposed to reality," he added.

"I'm not gonna make any changes based on what he says tonight," Brian Kelly said.

Which will regain IPO price
first: FB, or BX?

Brian Kelly said on Tuesday's Fast Money that his top trade is "the market itself," meaning you can buy the SPY up to S&P 1,580 cash.

Karen Finerman said XLF (see, now we've got to deal with "top trades" and "Final Trades"; where is the "Medium Trades" or "In Between" trades?). Tim Seymour said long platinum against gold. Guy Adami said JACK, that the shorts will continue to lose.

Adami was more convincing with BX, saying it's testing 20 again, and this time seems like "3rd time's the charm."

Brian Kelly tackled the setback in CLF, one of those former names from the Pete Najarian stable (you know, the ones that are always going higher until they don't and then you never hear about them again, like PSX and BAC now), and said, "I take it as an iron ore story."

Mike Khouw detected big buyers of the January 25 calls for AVP 2014. Tim Seymour unleashed a confessional about how he sold it too early and wanted to fade it on a Barron's article but was compelled to get back in, because it "can be $20 higher."

Seymour went grasping again for PBR in his Final Trade. Guy Adami said CBI, Karen Finerman said GE and Brian Kelly said to sell YCS.

Stephen Weiss actually claims DELL could see $20 without a deal

Stephen Weiss announced on Tuesday that he had dinner with someone opposing the DELL buyout (not too hard to figure out who that was) — and apparently was still drinking his buddy's Kool-aid on the Halftime Report.

Weiss said he asked this acquaintance if he didn't fear the stock crashing to $8-9 if the deal is pulled, and the friend said "not at all," because the friend has "looked at the fundamentals."

So, Weiss said the stock could get "maybe to the $20 level without a deal, over time."

Luckily, Dan Niles, on hand with Judge Wapner in San Francisco, was paying attention, and correctly observed, "I would argue the stock could go down to 5, before it gets to 20."

From there, Weiss got nuttier, saying DELL has made $8 a share worth of acquisitions, and "they have not written any of them down."

"But that argument doesn't make any sense," Niles started to rebut, before Weiss cut him off to talk about the same tired DELL bull case for years, which goes something like hey, "they're getting into the enterprise business."

Jon Fortt cut in that "we could have a reverse Yahoo situation here."

Pete Najarian said it's noteworthy that DELL 14 calls in various months have been active since the deal came about. Mike Murphy argued that Michael Dell decided on a price a while ago, and "I think they're not gonna raise it."

Weiss and Niles also tangled, somewhat inadvertently, over telecoms, when Weiss touted VZ and T while Niles said he's really in favor of CSCO and JNPR and not VZ and T. Niles also touted ONNN.

Panel speculates as to the meaning of ‘peak’ in discussion of QCOM downgrade

The Dell clash wasn't the only time on Tuesday's Halftime that Stephen Weiss and Dan Niles disagreed.

Niles suggested BBRY is just a recent version of PALM. Weiss though said, "I don't see the comparison between BlackBerry and Palm ... I disagree emphatically about that comparison."

Niles said developers are producing iPhone apps, then Android apps, and if they've got time, Microsoft, because they're getting paid to do so, but not BlackBerry. "There's not enough interest in the platform," Niles said.

Weiss insisted that the new BlackBerry 10, "they have to have launched with 70,000 apps," and how much does that matter anyway, because "97 or 98% — I forget what the statistic is — of all apps have less than 20 downloads."

Weiss scoffed at JPM's downgrade of QCOM, his Final Trade. "That's a ludicrous report by JPMorgan," Weiss said.

Stephen Weiss is so preoccupied with Mike Murphy’s calculation of a 50% gain, he won’t let him finish

Dan Niles said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that tech stocks "should be lagging," pointing to Apple's recent disappointing quarters, though he allowed that HPQ, one of the crummy names doing well recently, is at least poised to take advantage of Dell's debt load.

Pete Najarian assured that choosing winners in the tech space "certainly is very name-specific."

Niles said EBAY is helping other merchants get on the Web, and the difference between EBAY and AMZN valuation is startling enough that he has a "negative position on Amazon at this point."

Niles also said he recently got short NFLX, saying some quarters are good but many have been terrible, and the question is, "which one's the noise, and which one's the trend."

Stephen Weiss said he prefers LNKD to FB because in LNKD, "we know what the strategy is," while Facebook is "more faddish than LinkedIn." Mike Murphy countered that FB has "too much negative news baked in" and predicted that FB is more likely to post a 50% return than LNKD is to get to 250.

Bill Gurley said the transition for LNKD to mobile is "seamless for them" but it and FB have the "global network effect," and he actually likes both; "you never short a leader." Pete Najarian said he'd pick FB. Gurley also touted Nextdoor and Uber.

Long AAPL, short GOOG

Mike Murphy said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that the BCS bounce (not the one Alabama got by playing Notre Dame) will be short-lived; "what you wanna do here is fade this move ... I'd be a seller."

Rather, Murphy said of the run in XLF, "I think Goldman's a great way to play it," and also likes BAC. Pete Najarian hailed both C and BAC, the latter being his Final Trade and has active 12 calls.

Pete said regionals will continue to work. Stephen Weiss prefers TBF to TBT, because TBT is double-levered and "you don't recover fully with the move."

Pete Najarian said, "I actually prefer Pepsi over Coke right now." Dan Niles, expressing doubts about the Motorola deal, said he's long AAPL and short GOOG. Mike Murphy said you can "start to get long here" in DECK. Murphy's Final Trade was MTW.

[Monday, February 11, 2013]

Flash: Dennis Gartman recommends viewers own gold in yen terms

Dennis Gartman told Monday's Fast Money, "I think gold is in very serious trouble right here. In dollar terms. I'm, I'm still bullish of gold in yen terms, you've heard this story before."

Indeed, we have.

Tim Seymour questioned if one can play gold in platinum/palladium terms. Gartman said yes, that would work. (But he wasn't asked if one can play gold in Jack in the Box terms.)

Gartman happened to be at the same locale as Joe Terranova and Jon Najarian, who offered 3 ETF options for playing beta: DRN, AMJ and XLV.

Tim Seymour rightly cautioned that these are volatile, and "this is a great way to lose money." Pete Najarian and Steve Grasso rightly cautioned against trying to hold these; "you have to use this as a trade," Najarian said.

He almost managed to get through it without mentioning Kansas City Southern

Monday's Fast Money CSX debate was notable (that's a stretch) only for what was not said.

Pete Najarian, the bull, argued that coal is bottoming or already has bottomed, and "this stock does have some room to the upside."

Guy Adami countered that the coal-bottoming argument is being heard but "I'm not so sure yet," and meanwhile in recent charts, other rail names have outperformed, and viewers waited for the inevitable KSU mention and almost didn't get it but after the chart was shown, they did.

Tim Seymour sided with Pete. "It's cheap. You own it." Steve Grasso though said coal is the highest-margin product for the rails, and this one is iffy. "I'm not so sure," Grasso said.

Brent ‘almost certainly gonna be lower 5 years from now’

Guest Ed Morse, repeating, frankly, what everyone says about oil these days on CNBC, said we're finding a lot more sources now, and that $90 floor in Brent will become a ceiling; it's "almost certainly gonna be lower 5 years from now."

As for this year, Morse predicted crude would be $10 lower by December.

Steve Grasso revealed, "I'm long PXD." Pete Najarian said the options market is signaling even more gains in refiners; "I think these names are going higher." Guy Adami couldn't go 1 show without mentioning KSU and couldn't go 1 show without mentioning PSX either, despite its "benign day."

Brian Marshall says mythical characterization of what kind of stock AAPL is makes him cry

Brian Marshall woke up this site when he claimed on Monday's Fast Money that the $300 lopoff in Apple's share price "woke up a lot of eyes in Cupertino."

How do you wake up an eye?

Marshall said that for AAPL brass to issue a press release on allocating capital is a "Herculean thing for them," and he thinks "we're gonna get a bump to what they already said."

Pete Najarian scoffed at the notion of johnny come lately investors demanding cash payouts. "I think they should spend that money on innovation through ac- acquisition," such as Intel's venture capital fund, Najarian contended.

Tim Seymour disagreed. "Intel's thrown a lot of good money after bad," Seymour said.

Seymour ventured into what's typically Joe Terranova or Doug Kass Land, predicting AAPL tests 510. Pete Najarian noted the P.E. comparison between AAPL and GOOG and thundered, "This is absolutely ludicrous to me."

Marshall was asked if AAPL's reign as a growth stock is over. "It brings a tear to my eye to say so," Marshall said, but yes.

Steve Grasso’s on the show; get ready to hear people a bunch of people say ‘surround the trade’

Steve Grasso said on Monday's Fast Money that people are "making too much of" Eric Schmidt's GOOG stock sale, and "I think you buy this thing on dips."

Grasso apparently was suggesting Facebook is in a range when he said you can "frame this at 32-24."

Guy Adami said "Yahoo still works here," at least on a benign tape.

Mike Khouw said, perhaps surprisingly, that the most active DELL options were buyers of the April and May 14 calls. Tim Seymour said BIDU seems stuck in a 90-110 range, and "I'd wait till 90."

Don’t hang up on AOL just yet

Guy Adami said right away on Monday's Fast Money that his top trade is PSX KSU DNKN, which he said has "big short interest."

Adami said "I'm not so sure you fade this" move in AOL, to buy DIS if it pulls back, to pick HD over MAS ("I don't think you wanna be chasing it here"), and made THC his Final Trade.

Pete Najarian trumpeted MDT, "I think the stock gets through 50." Pete said he wouldn't be surprised if TSLA buyers use the pullback to get in, and revealed he owns upside calls in BAC. His Final Trade was CP.

Tim Seymour said "take a shot as a trade" in PBR, and said of WEN, "I would fade that move." He said he'd take profits in ERJ and made TCK his Final Trade.

Steve Grasso suggested avoiding CZR. "Sometimes the best trade is no trade at all," Grasso said. He predicted GS would get to 178 or 179 and made HPQ his Final Trade.

Amelia Bourdeau, who looked good and this time rattled off her trade quickly enough that Mel couldn't pester her to finish, said to short the euro at 1.34.

Stephanie Link doesn’t care what Ron Johnson does day-to-day, says he can turn around JCP on 4 days a week

Most people would think that turning around a flailing behemoth like JCPenney would require a massive commitment from the top.

Stephanie Link on Monday's Halftime Report practically indicated that just showing up for such an endeavor could be a borderline part-time gig.

"I don't really care where Ron Johnson actually works or what he's doing on a day-to-day basis," Link said; the issue is "can he get traffic going."

Judge Wapner pressed that the "stock is in the tank."

Link somehow responded, "In this day and age, you can do a lot through kind of the virtual networks and that kind of thing."

Simon Baker, not expressing as much disbelief as this commentary merited, argued that "at the end of the day," it's about leadership. "Jeff Bozoos (sic) won't be working 3 days from his Seattle home. He'd be in there, showing up."

"I don't buy- I think if he's there 4 days, that's- that could be enough," Link incredibly said.

Judge oversells Monday’s program in the opening minute

Judge Wapner at the opening of Monday's Halftime Report introduced guest Tom Barrack, thanked him for coming "even with the snow," and told viewers they were going to hear "the greatest trade of the past 20 years."

Barrack said, "Well, I don't know that it's the greatest trade, but it's- it's- it's a good trade."

The trade is "foreclosed single family housing," which benefits from those who Barrack said have had their "credit impended (sic)," which as Judge eventually pointed out is buying foreclosed homes and renting them out.

Josh Brown pointed out, "The average individual can't really put this trade on," but he suggested the home improvement names will continue to work.

Brian Kelly though said "I would be taking profits on these" names.

Stephanie Link said, "We've liked Weyerhaueser for a very long time" but doesn't own it in the Cramer fund. "We also own Home Depot" and ADT.

Barrack, invoking a term Joe Terranova said he was going to trademark, said banks have "gotten out of the Penalty Box®."

Josh Brown says if AAPL was a 40-something stock, nobody would care about 40-vs.-50, ignoring that it’s the biggest market cap

Josh Brown, asked on Monday's Halftime Report to opine on the Apple watch, first implored his colleagues to "not scoff at it so easily," only to take heat from Judge Wapner about not opining on share direction enthusiastically enough.

"It's just not that exciting anymore ... I couldn't tell you if it, if it revisits, uh, 400 or 500 first," Brown said.

Judge interrupted that AAPL bulls "sure as hell" hope it hits 500 first.

"I would assume that we have seen as bad as it gets unless the next quarterly report is even a bigger disappointment than the other one," Brown said.

Brown said those who mock the concept of an iWatch should note the company has taken "rather mundane" products such as computers and telephones and turned them into something big, and there's rumblings they might do a "TV remote."

Guest Tom Barrack said he loves his iPhone, "although it's difficult to type."

How does a pair of shoes, a T-shirt and a 3-wood constitute continuous ‘innovation’?

In another dull debate, Simon Baker on Monday's Halftime Report made the case for NKE.

It's got a "multiyear product line ahead of it" and potential in China and "women's apparel" (though he had a hard time saying that), Baker said.

Brian Kelly said that's "already been priced into the stock."

Baker insisted, "They continue, continue to come out with innovation."

Kelly insisted that the company is subject to discretionary spending headwinds.

Stephanie Link, wholly prejudging the case and apparently not paying attention to the actual arguments made, didn't call a winner but said China inventories are better and margins are important and those are the things to watch.

Josh Brown said if the stock gets above 55, it signals a "major" breakout; "there are no sellers there ... there's something much bigger happening with Nike."

Adam Parker insists his 2012 portfolio outperformed despite bungling S&P call all year

Judge Wapner told Adam Parker on Monday's Halftime Report that "people are getting used to Parker the naysayer."

"I think the market is ahead of the fundamentals," Parker spent 5 minutes insisting, before concluding that last year, "My portfolio substantially outperformed."

Bob Pisani spoke briefly with Jack Brennan, who wants to make clear that ETFs are great but people have to know what they're dealing with.

Judge Wapner brought up the "punch bowl" again with Tom Barrack. Barrack said "we've converted private losses to public losses," and "don't bet against the Fed" in housing, after cryptically saying it's not an issue of demographics; "I have a 30-year-old at home; he's not leaving the house."

Jon Fortt used the term "adult supervision" in the Eric Schmidt story. Simon Baker said Schmidt's stock sale is overblown; "I think we're reading too much into it."

Kelly: Try EPV

Josh Brown said on Monday's Halftime Report he likes M, but give it a "tad bit of patience" at this level. If it should break out over 42, there are "no sellers above that level," Brown contended.

Brian Kelly suggested you're better off buying Carl Icahn's IEP than following him into various companies because he can get out before you know it.

Kelly said he loves VLO but advised taking a third of profits here. He said he's out of UNG.

Simon Baker said he likes CAT. Stephanie Link likes AIG, but, "expectations are really high, wait for a dip."

Link's Final Trade was FB. Josh Brown said XLV, Simon Baker said GT and Brian Kelly said EPV.

[Friday, February 8, 2013]

Almost 500 days since
last 10% correction

Stephen Weiss, the most bullish of Friday's Halftime Report crew, said any pullback in stocks will be "very very healthy" and that there's "lots more upside" to this market.

Brian Kelly indicated we'll go higher but with a top; "probably in the last leg here" that will end around 1,580, Kelly said.

Weiss predicted a "monstrous job number" will come out. Kelly countered, "A monstrous jobs number would be terrible for the market."

Josh Brown got on the bad side of Steve Liesman by insisting there's no correlation between GDP and the direction of stocks. Liesman said that will lower the "99% agreement" that he usually shares (not) with the Halftime gang because the GDP is important, "a lot of people buy and sell based on it."

Brown then tried a mix of clarifying/remaining defiant, saying people do need to be aware of it, but last year GDP fell and stocks went up, so "don't time buys and sells" with it.

Gemma Godfrey, she of the perfect teeth in London, said there are "potholes" in Europe that could cause stumbles, but referring to U.S. markets noted, "It's approaching 500 days since we've seen a, uh, 10%-plus correction in markets."

Perhaps there are a few he doesn’t like so much

This page has said this week that the once-interesting bull-bear stock debates on the Halftime Report (and now on regular Fast Money) have become as desirable as the next Hootie & the Blowfish album (OK that's not exactly the way we put it the first time), but Jon Najarian's case on Friday's Halftime against Goldman Sachs might be the wackiest we've heard yet.

"I think the world of most Goldman traders," Najarian first assured everyone, but then he stressed that "O'Neill is stepping down," before suggesting that compensation concerns might be fertile ground for hedge fund competition.

Stephen Weiss, the bull, said the company has the "strongest culture on Wall Street" and rightly mocked the ridiculous O'Neill argument, saying "you've never felt the departure of an exec" at Goldman because of the deep bench.

Josh Brown correctly decided Weiss won. "This is the right environment for Goldman ... I think this stock goes higher," Brown said.

What? You mean coal stocks
aren’t going to the moon?

Veteran Fast Money reviewers recall that one of Eric Bolling's favorite cliches was to gush about the "14-YEAR SUPERCYCLE" in commodities that, at that point, was only 6 or 7 years in progress.

As if 2008 wasn't enough of a damper on that notion, Kate Kelly visited with Friday's Halftime Report to declare, "I think the commodities boom as we have known it at least from the late 2000s may well be dead or be dying."

Josh Brown made it simple, saying at any given time, some commodities work and others don't, but you can't just own the CRB across the board.

"You gotta pick your spots," Kelly agreed.

"It's not a monolithic trade anymore," Brown added.

Stephen Weiss actually made one of the most tiresome of all-time Fast Money cases, "the world needs to eat," and differentiated between metals and grains. Brian Kelly agreed with the distinctions and said the GSCI is weighted toward oil and said, "Still love the grains though," and made POT his Final Trade.

Wonder who will be the lucky ones to buy AAPL at Carter Worth’s 525 or 550

Josh Brown on Friday's Halftime Report accepted congrats for pushing LNKD, suggesting it makes up for his NFLX skepticism, and even hung a lofty number that could leapfrog NFLX.

Some are saying "best-case scenario in the 200s" for LNKD, said Brown, who said for his Final Trade to buy the dips in this name.

Jon Najarian, who just a couple days ago refused to take a stand on the name but said the options market was betting it wouldn't go north of 130, on Friday called LinkedIn a "great place for people to mine data." Brown agreed; "they basically own the recruitment market," he said, and it's a "very unique story."

Stephen Weiss noted that despite LNKD's surge, "Facebook is not up."

Steve Grasso said AAPL appears to have a temporary floor as the annual investor meeting looms. "You're not gonna sell the stock ahead of that meeting," Grasso said. He said that "Apple's run directly hurt Amazon," something he predicted would happen last week, which is sort of indicated by the most recent charts but not a clear-cut slam dunk.

‘Possibly survival of the company’ at risk in MHP case

Josh Brown reported on Friday's Halftime Report that dial-up is now the bread and butter for AOL, and "this stock looks interesting."

Brian Kelly tackled what used to be a Common Pete Najarian Momentum Trade, DLTR (you know, MCD, TJX SBUX, INTC, WLT, the stuff that's always going higher until it isn't), and said it's "probably a bit oversold here."

Speaking of MCD, Kelly halfheartedly said it's "probably worth a trade here on the long side," while Jon Najarian said he'd rather try to buy it at 90 than 95, but the "weak hands have been washed out already."

Stephen Weiss took a crack at one of Pete's (who wasn't on the show Friday) current such momentum trades, PSX, and allowed, "My guess is it keeps going," but he thinks there are better plays in the space, which he didn't mention.

Jon Najarian said "luckily" CSTR didn't fall any lower, and "right now I'm just short puts."

Stephen Weiss opined on the week's most controversial stock, MHP, which was the subject of the most significant Fast Money bull-bear debate this week. Weiss said, curiously, that BP was a case where "you could quantify hopefully" the ultimate damage, but this time you're talking about "basically possibly survival of the company," and he advised staying away.

By the end of the day Friday, MHP had held the 42 level Steve Grasso had argued against Karen Finerman.

Michael Santoli’s Halftime niche:
Mild contrarian on Fridays

For viewers out there wondering if Dell might (snicker) become the subject of a bidding war, Stephen Weiss said on Friday's Halftime Report that "for a fundamental investor, it's not worth playing at this point in time."

Josh Brown said GNRC is interesting because he lives on Long Island and since Sandy, half the guys he knows have something on order from this company. Stephen Weiss added CNX to the conversation of the overall "cold weather play that's goin' on."

Boris Schlossberg actually claimed the dollar/yen is "very much due for a correction" and said he'd sell dollar/yen at 92.

Mike Santoli, given his regular time allotment on Friday's Halftime Report while Patty Edwards gets none, pointed to the selloff in junk bonds as cause for concern, with his usual backpedal, "I'm not an alarmist about this," but it's "one of these things to watch."

Jon Najarian protested a sorta-Fast Fire on INTC, saying he was selling out of the money calls and collecting premium and "I'm break-even on the trade here."

Najarian said he might buy NUAN on Tuesday after observing his 3-day rule. Stephen Weiss said waiting for EMC stock to perform is "almost like watching hair grow on Doc's head." Brian Kelly said CRM has "come a long way," but if you've got a profit in it, "I would absolutely be taking it." Josh Brown enthusiastically spoke about Z, "this is a winner ... serial surpriser to the upside," and could even be a takeover target.

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was buy QCOM, while Jon Najarian said AVGO, based on March 35 calls.

[Thursday, February 7, 2013]

Brian Kelly somehow waits until the end of the program to say there’s a ‘bubble’ in the stock market

We're well aware that some on Fast Money/Halftime are skeptical of the Dow's rise to 14,000.

But we hadn't heard anyone on the show call Dow 14,000 a "bubble" until Brian Kelly did just that on Thursday's Fast Money, except he did it not even with the mild intensity of Doug Kass the other day, but practically as a careless afterthought.

Responding to a tweet from "Mr. Corleone" and speculating it might be his "daughter's wedding," Kelly said yes — "this is a bubble in the market."

He qualified, "it doesn't mean that we're not gonna get another leg higher."

Evidently, bubbles are what happens when people are advised to "buy everything that's not nailed down."

Just yesterday Fast Money was talking about AAPL $200

Jon Najarian and Karen Finerman, of all people, revealed at the top of Thursday's Fast Money that they're looking at AAPL Joe Terranova-style.

Finerman said she added AAPL calls, while Najarian predicted the near-term floor is in if it holds 465, "then I think the stock does go a lot higher," though he conceded that regarding the capital allocation, there has been a "bunch of problems with Apple not addressing this in 2012." (And we thought it was just those people taking gains, NOT LOSSES, BUT GAINS THAT AREN'T SUBJECT TO WASH SALES, at year-end, and then people TAKING LOSSES in 2013.)

Karen Finerman later addressed the CNBC Subject of the Day, Einhorn's activism, which happens to be a favorite subject of Karen's in general. Finerman noted Einhorn is trying to get all of the proxy issues split for separate votes, and "we think he will win on that point" because the company needs a majority of all shareholder votes to defeat that.

It's become a "referendum on, will the board ignore shareholders or not," Finerman said, calling it a "board that seems to be derelict in their duties of allocating capital."

Sallie Krawcheck watches alumni basketball, says media should talk more about all those people fired by banks

Sallie Krawcheck, in not the smoothest, most free-flowing dialogue on Thursday's Fast Money (but at least she was there, unlike Chuck Prince, who like Dick Fuld doesn't have the brass to come on television and simply tell Americans honestly what happened), unfortunately doesn't seem to get it when it comes to the stability of America's banks.

She called it "pretty unlikely" that banks are going to be broken up. But she said the country really needs to be having a discussion, but isn't, about "reducing the risk" of banks.

Krawcheck actually suggested banks might not even have enough capital today, apparently ignoring the precedent that at the first sign of trouble, we can be confident that C will get $10 billion cash and probably up to a $300 billion backstop in some kind of end-around guarantees.

Evidently taking a dig at the gender of most of those at the top, Krawcheck said there are a lot of "wonderful, esteemed, very accomplished gentlemen" who have been spouting off in the last couple years about Glass-Stegall, but it's really like an "alumni basketball game" in which people watch the players but don't care what the score is.

Krawcheck indirectly chided the media and CNBC itself. "They've been firing tens of thousands of people and somehow we seem to miss this, and the tragedy there," Krawcheck said.

A big January for banks isn't unusual, Krawcheck said. "What we're seeing here is not atypical; we just need the market to keep going."

Guy Adami said he sees "serious headwinds on the horizon" for banks, but he still likes RJF. Brian Kelly suggested a short of BCS. Karen Finerman later told a tweeter with 2014 $10 calls in BAC that he could sell $15 calls to get income.

Mario Gabelli is dubbed
‘The New Warren Buffett’

In one of the stranger choices for a bull-bear debate, Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money made a weak case for GIS, citing operating margins, international growth, and the fact it's cheaper than Kellogg.

Brian Kelly countered that K already reported margin pressure, and argued that revenue growth in Europe is unsustainable.

Jon Najarian sighed and said that if the consumer really is "strapped" by the payroll tax restoration, then it hurts a lower-end product, so "I guess I'm gonna side with the bear." Brian Stutland said Kelly's purported victory will be "short-lived," because there are big buyers of the April 43 calls, and that "the new Warren Buffett," Mario Gabelli, likes the cereal space.

Prestige Brands chief Matt Mannelly, who visited the Nasdaq to show off some digestive products, assured Melissa Lee that his company will be "very aggressive and disciplined in the M&A market."

Brian Kelly said "the stock's been on fire," but also suggested CVS, and even JACK for the "digestive stuff."

Guy Adami, revisiting an old Fast Money cliche, repeated the one about how PFE got "fleeced" by JNJ on the consumer brands sale, and asserted that PBH "still goes higher."

Doc: CSTR to 60 by June

Jon Najarian revealed on Thursday's Fast Money that he's bullish on CSTR. "I'm short puts in this name," Najarian said, contending, "I think the stock's back to 60 by June."

Najarian doubted the post office's Saturday shutdown would ding Netflix; "I don't think it hurts 'em at all."

Guy Adami said ORLY has maybe run up "a little too much," and his favorite in the space, "tangentially," is AN.

Jane Wells, briefly interrupted by Phil LeBeau and Boeing, reported that there are going to be more mobile devices than people. "I have 2 devices," Melissa Lee revealed. Brian Kelly said the best plays on this trend are QCOM and ARMH, while Jon Najarian added MRVL.

TJX ‘pushes towards 50’

Guy Adami said on Thursday's Fast Money that if you're chasing LNKD now, "you're late in the game here."

Adami reiterated he likes CELG, and LMT is the "most interesting" of defense names. His Final Trade was BBRY.

Karen Finerman said she's "staying long" in M but "wouldn't chase." Finerman's Final Trade was AAPL.

Jon Najarian said he likes TJX this time of year, and "bet it pushes towards 50" within 30-60 days. Najarian's Final Trade was PDH, based on June 17.50 calls.

Brian Kelly said the short yen trade is basically a no-brainer but right now it's a "little extended." In the most half-hearted recommendation in some time, Kelly addressed his previous VZ call and said, "Against 45 you could probably try to short this." Kelly's Final Trade was PM, a longtime Patty Edwards favorite (but she never gets invited on the show to talk about that or anything else anymore).

A question was raised as to whether Melissa Lee ever had a Barbie. "I'm sure you didn't," Karen Finerman was overheard saying.

Rarely do we salivate at CNBCfix HQ when we see something on CNBC, but the golf course behind Jon Fortt on Thursday was an exception. Fortt, doing a segment on Internet advertising and privacy, cracked that he'll be "retargeting quite a few golf balls" in the afternoon, then clarified he doesn't think he's a good golfer. Jon Najarian actually claimed "privacy's gonna be a bigger and bigger issue," when all evidence to the contrary since the mid-'90s suggests it's actually going to be "smaller and smaller."

Twitter ‘obviously could help them monetize’

Seeking to capitalize on a CNBC story the way some are trying to capitalize on AAPL's cash pile, Judge Wapner on Thursday's Halftime Report asked his panel about the "David vs. Goliath, literally" fracas involving Einhorn and Apple.

Josh Brown merely said Einhorn is getting in the "vanguard" of those grumbling about Apple's capital allocation and added that institutional investors don't care about the proxies, "they throw these things out in the garbage."

Guest Walter Piecyk reiterated skepticism about the stock, pointing to the headwinds on EPS growth. "Maybe what they should be doing with that cash is reinvesting to try and get growth back," Piecyk said, allowing that AAPL is a "cheap stock" on many metrics, but "they face a margin issue" and have "saturated a market where operators have subsidized phones."

Piecyk eventually said that Twitter "obviously could help them monetize."

Jon Najarian said Einhorn's case is enough to make some wonder if there's an "Einhorn put" in the stock. But he questioned, "Is Apple being more like Microsoft," and called the preferred-stock flap "a bad PR move."

"I like Nokia," said Simon Baker.

LNKD ‘wants 150 technically’

Josh Brown on Thursday's Halftime Report made a spirited bull case for LNKD, only to run into a strangely chippy Simon Baker.

Describing a quintessential momentum trade, Brown said LNKD is "literally on a rampage, a financial rampage," so why bet against it, though he allowed that you can "flip a coin" as to whether it goes up on Thursday's earnings.

"Are you even a LinkedIn member," chided Baker, a good way of making his point. "It's a good Internet stock," Baker said, but it's expensive and he thinks there are better places to go.

Brown said it's an issue of "what the next 2-3 years are," and most importantly, "it looks like it wants 150 technically."

Jon Najarian refused to opine but said they are selling the 130, 135 and 140 calls.

‘Perfect time’ for a pause

Josh Brown said on Thursday's Halftime Report that February is historically the 2nd-worst month for stocks, and so if there's a pause/pullback, it's a "perfect time to get it."

Simon Baker said stocks were down Thursday on Europe fears, but people also have been looking for "any kind of excuse to take some money off the table."

Stephanie Link said to consinder yourself free to "go after Cummins, go after UTX, go after Ingersoll Rand."

Jon Najarian said a 14 VIX is not high by any measure, but there is still sequestration approaching; however if there's "benign" rhetoric, the VIX could float back down to 12. Josh Brown said there's already "wide consensus" about sequestration hitting, so it shouldn't shock the markets.

Who had any idea the NTSB chief was so good-looking?

Josh Brown grumbled on Thursday's Halftime Report that buying names with controversy such as BA is "not my game," though he could understand it being a "knee-jerk contrarian" response.

Stephanie Link said she'd prefer to get BA in the "low 70s," but prefers UTX; "I think that stock could go to a hundred easily." Link also mentioned PCP and said the suppliers are play.

Brown, invoking the Karen Finerman/Steve Grasso example of a day earlier, likened the 787 battery to Macondo (not even close); "you think about BP during the oil spill." Jon Najarian pointed out that when the stock has fallen to 73, it's had "nothing but buyers" defending it.

‘TJ hasn’t done
anything since July’

Stephanie Link mentioned on Thursday's Halftime Report a former Pete Najarian name we haven't heard much about recently, TJX, as well as ROST, while conceding "TJ hasn't done anything since July."

(See, Pete tends to get hooked on these momentum names, and so you hear about them for months, Dollar Tree, TJX, Starbucks, right now it's PSX, which seem to keep working until they don't, and then you never hear him talk about them anymore.)

Kimberly Greenberger said January strength in retail appears to be fading and "we're not convinced it's going to last," and called the expiration of the payroll tax holiday the "most significant tax increase" of the year (but didn't mention, as this page has contended, that it'll probably be the first thing the government rolls back and pats itself on the back for if GDP is below expectations and unemployment rises).

Greenberger likes KORS, URBN and LTD. "We're very constructive on Michael Kors," she said, while contending that jewelry issues may work against TIF. Greenberger said TJX, ROST and M could work with a more challenged consumer.

Simon Baker congratulated Judge for wearing "great suits from TJ Maxx."

‘There is no way they’re gonna lose much more than a billion dollars’

Jim Iuorio, who referred to Anthony Grisanti as "Rich," told Thursday's Halftime Report that gold is "setting up for a big move," which he thinks will be higher.

The "yen has been pummeled," as there's a "little bit of a mistrust of fiat currencies," Iuorio said, viewing strength above 1,682.85 as the "signal" of a gold breakout.

Guest Dan Fuss told Judge Wapner, "Bonds really don't bubble, but they do get pricey." He said rates could rise gradually for "probably a couple decades," with intermittent cycles.

Todd Gordon said now's the time to sell the euro, at 1.3420, with a target 1.3220.

Kate Kelly reported that, in part because of loyalty to SAC and in part because of rules limiting the firm's withdrawals to no more than 25% per quarter, "There is no way they're gonna lose much more than a billion dollars and maybe even considerably less."

Simon Baker said the "easy money's been made in Yahoo," and said of ALL, "buy it, we like it." Baker's Final Trade was COH (which seems to have a lot of fans recently though the stock sucks). (This writer is long COH.)

Josh Brown said CBG reflects robust commercial real estate activity. Brown said he'd stick with TGT and made JNJ his Final Trade.

Stephanie Link said 2-year comps are accelerating at ORLY. Link said she likes KEY, but "I would like it a little bit lower ... if it falls to 9 or below, you buy it." Her Final Trade was YUM.

Jon Najarian said if you want to buy AKAM, "I think you get a chance again to reload," but wait, based on his 3-day rule (which he sure didn't follow with STZ recently). Najarian said he'd wait to buy TXN around 32, and his Final Trade was NOV, based on May 85 calls.

Bob Pisani said price wars are heating up in ETF-land; "Schwab is likely the broadest announcement yet of free commissions."

[Wednesday, February 6, 2013]

Karen always says cost basis doesn’t matter, but ...

Certainly one of the most intriguing Fast Money stock decisions of 2013 was revealed Wednesday when previous MHP bull Karen Finerman said, "Yesterday and today, we sold it."

Finerman explained, "I'm so sad" to have unloaded this name, with all of its attributes, but now it's suddenly on "the other side of enormous litigation," which promises a "barrage of embarrassing discovery with no end in sight ... who knows what the liability could be. I feel like we are in Day 3 of Macondo."

Finerman was making the bear case against Steve Grasso, who said the key is the $42 level, but with 3-day confirmation of that holding, "you can dabble here."

Grasso too pointed to BP, calling this the "same thing," even though it's not. Finerman cut in, "They lost $90 billion of value."

Grasso concluded, "Right now, it's worth a flier."

This is not Macondo and not BP, we are no longer leaking overrated MBSes, and there is not going to be $90 billion coming off. However, there's ample reason to wonder if this stock may slide into the 30-handle land before the bounce occurs. Tough call, but no huge risk buying here (said the amateurs).

The gut here is that Karen's pure opinion as to the stock's direction was distorted by what was happening to her enthusiastic long position, and she's got this trade in reverse. Having no more time for the pain, she's stretching to invent reasons to sell. She stressed on Monday's show she hadn't had enough time to evaluate the then-breaking news and told viewers to "hold" MHP for her Final Trade, when she should've actually decided that day, sold when she was holding and now could've been buying back when she was selling.

Or, as Guy Adami would say, it sounds like classic capitulation.

Tim Seymour backed Grasso. "I'd be a fundamental buyer," Seymour said, verifying, "I don't think we're Russia ... I'm gonna give Steve the victory."

Reuters gets unbelievable mileage out of a bogus headline

Melissa Lee invited Bethany McLean onto Wednesday's Fast Money basically to chat about a completely bogus headline designed to get attention. (And, it worked.)

Then again, it's refreshing to see journalists, and not just stock analysts, succeed at this.

Bethany McLean had to admit to Lee that despite her headline, which featured a number that didn't appear in the article, "I don't think 200 is necessarily the right number," but this issue is whether AAPL is a value trap.

"It's hard to believe it's gonna go to that level," McLean further admitted, but insisted the switch from growth to value investors is a "messy transition."

Had Melissa actually read the article, beginning with the ridiculous lede "According to the numbers, Apple’s battered stock is one of the best bargains of all time," she would've realized McLean had nothing here, and instead of weakly trying to burnish McLean's credentials by noting her scrutiny of Enron (which has nothing to do with anything unless you think Apple is rewiring California's power grid), would've simply asked McLean, "Just what the heck are you doing here again?"

Guy Adami, referring to AAPL and not ENE, said the "path of least resistance is still a little bit lower in the name." Tim Seymour, as is his custom, said, "I think you can make a pretty good argument on both sides of this." Karen Finerman protested McLean's assessment a bit; "this has not had a growth multiple for quite some time."

Steve Grasso said he owns AAPL, "I'm still long it" as well as AMZN and GOOG.

Doug Kass is getting that
‘summer of 1987 feeling’

Doug Kass on Wednesday's Fast Money said he agrees with Byron Wien's call for a correction hours earlier on the Halftime Report.

"Secular challenges are unprecedented," Kass said, and "ultimately fundamentals rule stock prices ... I think that we face an earnings cliff ahead."

He told Guy Adami, "I think the fair market value of the S&P is, uh, Guy, roughly 80 or 90 points lower."

Kass told Melissa Lee "I would raise cash" because he's getting that "summer of 1987 feeling," which at least is better than Brian Kelly's 1937 feeling of 2012. "We're headed for a sharp fall," Kass said, advising viewers be in cash or short stocks.

Tim Seymour said Kass notably didn't say to get into bonds.

Adami is sort of spelled A-k-a-m-a-i

Item count was once again high on the Fast Money agenda Wednesday, as Melissa Lee ordered her panel to cough up more stock picks in the first 15 minutes than viewers could possibly shake a stick at.

Guy Adami opened with TRN; "I think it continues higher." Karen Finerman said she sold upside calls in FNP. Steve Grasso said GS is "poised to make a move to 173," and Tim Seymour revealed, "We are long EEM" and short MXWO.

Adami said DIS' price action was not great, and advised re-evaluating CHRW after an expected selloff Thursday.

But Adami said "this is a big move" in AKAM, and to think about getting long at the end of Thursday. He said 200 wouldn't surprise in NFLX, "I think it's still pretty interesting," and also called CLX a "hold."

Tim Seymour said "people like the valuation" of WYN, and that MMM has strength from buybacks, "I think the stock can go higher." But he said to try TSN at 22, "this stock is very extended."

Steve Grasso urged caution either way with GME; "I would not be long this name." Grasso called AGU "a little bit too pricey right here ... wait for it to hold 115.31." Opining on VLO, as he does about every day, he said, "I would fold Valero around these levels," but would want to buy if it confirms 46.31.

Mike Khouw said "I would definitely fold" GNRC and hold JNJ, and he said AFL tumbled on a weak forecast.

Karen Finerman said she was "sad" to have sold CMI at 106. Finerman said she sold some DIS and said of RL, "I would reluctantly fold 'em."

Finerman noted the annoying amount of inside jokes and observed, "This segment's really working, isn't it."

Mel fails to ask the Yelp guy about the free-labor business model

Yelp chief Jeremy Stoppelman, making a "first on CNBC" appearance Wednesday on Fast Money, told Melissa Lee that 25% of ads are now showing on mobile, and "it can actually be location-targeted."

Stoppelman said competitors are in this space and Facebook is trying Graph because there is "so much money in local."

And if S&P could've just convinced regular Joes at home to devote a couple hours of their day to reviewing bond issues for no compensation, just think of the trouble McGraw Hill could've avoided from the federal ...

Tim Seymour endorsed the company. "Yelp is made for mobile," Seymour said.

Jason Ader refused to answer questions about LVS' potential as a REIT and told Mel she should ask Sheldon Adelson when he gets to New York. Instead, Ader was happy to compare how many shares of IGT his group owns to the management's holdings and argued, "You could have a double or triple in this stock if it was back on track."

Tim Seymour said "42 and a quarter looks interesting" for GMCR. Mike Khouw said a big buyer grabbed February 105 puts in FDX for 85 cents. Guy Adami said "to me there's no reason to pull the ripcord yet" in PSX. Adami admitted he was "very surprised by the move" in GS and suggested "something's going on," but he can't say buy it here. Steve Grasso reiterated he "would still be long" GS because he thinks it's going to 173.

Amelia Bourdeau said "it's only a matter of time" before dollar/yen hits 95, and she would buy at 93.50. "I'm targeting 95.50," Bourdeau said.

Mike Khouw's Final Trade was to sell PG. Tim Seymour said to get in PBR after the dividend announcement. Guy Adami said long BDX and Karen Finerman said to sell FNP. Steve Grasso dropped his GS price $3 from earlier in the show, saying "stay on board" because it's going to 170.

Dr. J: Stigma of JCPenney is preventing DELL from existing as a public company

Jon Najarian uttered the most thought-provoking comment of the day on Wednesday's Halftime Report:

"I don't think Dell survives if it stays as a publicly traded company," Najarian asserted.

Judge Wapner immediately challenged that, asking, "What can they really do as a private company that they can't do in the public spotlight?"

Actually, both are right. But more on that in a moment.

Najarian's reponse was that "they have to meet quarterly numbers under U.S. law ... that's what's killin' 'em," because when they have an idea, "they can't make the spend," or people will think "they're doing basically a JCPenney here."

Unfortunately that rationale was bogus.

Judge questioned how people who might've owned DELL for 7 years would view this. The correct answer to that question is "a lot better than the $5 it would be worth sometime in 2013," but everyone whiffed on that; it took Stephen Weiss to point out, "it's not where you got in."

Dr. J said everyone on the panel believes this company will be public again, maybe not right away, but "2 or 3 years down the line."

Pete Najarian said people have been buying the April 14 calls, "51,000 now on the open interest," just on the chance the price might go up.

Wapner is correct in that the privatization is bogus. But Jon Najarian was also right about DELL's existence as a public company. Gradually, barring a miracle, the shares would be headed to Nokia-land, or perhaps even Gateway land, and Michael Dell would be faced with the embarrassment of being bought out by Meg Whitman.

This deal is happening now because there's still 1) enough meat on the bone for the buyers to get something instant at $13 a share, and 2) interested lenders, such as MSFT, who wonder if 3 years from now this could be AAPL 2002 or IBM 1993 and thus worth a flier.

Joe Terranova, whose expert long position on this name in December has set the pace for Call of the Year in 2013, told Judge Wapner he wasn't going to gloat about getting out of it; "believe me I've got more losers than winners," but no need to be in it; "I wouldn't take that risk," presumably the risk that Steven Ballmer wakes up and wonders what the heck he's doing.

Wien: ‘Gold doesn’t do well when stocks are doing well’

Byron Wien told Wednesday's Halftime Report that the 2013 stock market has been "much stronger than I thought it would be," but the real mechanics of the fiscal-cliff deal don't justify it.

"We only took temporary action," Wien said. "I still think we're gonna have a correction," he told Judge Wapner, in part because "everybody you have on the program thinks the market's going higher." (Not true: Witness Gina Martin Adams.)

Wien said "earnings expectations are rolling over," prompting his sub-$100 S&P earnings target. His most curious comment came in a discussion of his top picks, which include agriculture commodities, tech, and gold. "Gold ought to do well," Wien said. "Gold doesn't do well when stocks are doing well." That's not what the chart we looked at seemed to verify, but whatever.

He added, "I'm a believer in Apple," but admitted he hasn't "dipped in yet."

Weiss: Apple needs ‘completely new product portfolio’

Talk about what have you done for me lately.

Stephen Weiss, addressing AAPL's woes on Wednesday's Halftime Report, declared, "What they need is a completely new product portfolio coming out."

Judge Wapner expressed incredulity, asking Weiss if the company's just supposed to "snap their fingers" and unleash new product lines.

Weiss insisted that Tim Cook promised a "pipeline," so where's the pipeline.

Judge brought on Glen Yeung, one of the 3 Citi analysts covering AAPL who tends to do all the talking for the trio, who said the potential of a dividend increase is indeed a real reason to buy the stock, but "I'm not sure exactly what's spiking it today."

Weiss: ‘Momentum’s there’ in GMCR

Stephen Weiss and Jon Najarian put together such a feeble, half-hearted GMCR debate on Wednesday's Halftime Report, it really doesn't merit mentioning.

Weiss claimed "they're in for a good quarter tonight ... momentum's there," and much of it stems from the new CEO.

Najarian argued the CEO has been priced in; "it's outperformed because of it," and he doesn't pay any attention to rumors about joining the S&P 500, and by the way K-Cup sales are down.

Joe Terranova said the stock to him reflects his newfound kryptonite, high beta, and it's "too much risk in my opinion."

Just think, Mike Fries could’ve celebrated his 50th by buying DELL

Dennis Gartman told Halftime Report viewers Wednesday that he thinks the Nikkei is going higher and it's a fine bet for 5 years, but not so much for 5 days; "I wouldn't chase it today."

Gartman said 150 yen to the dollar isn't such a big deal when considering back in the '70s he saw it traded 265 yen/dollar. "I think it's easily done," he said.

Joe Terranova advised remaining long TM.

Panelists took a crack at 52-week highs, otherwise known as the Momentum Trade Special for those who don't detect enough momentum trades on the Halftime Report, Fast Money and Mad Money. Pete Najarian predicted JPM would hit 50 "before you can blink" and said NFLX has "200 written all over it." Stephen Weiss likes GS and PG. Jon Najarian said "I like FedEx a lot." Joe Terranova mentioned DIS and GS.

Pete Najarian said EL works, and Stephen Weiss said "I would continue to buy" Ralph Lauren. Jon Najarian revealed he "bought a very small position" (which he said is a "couple thousand shares) in COH below 50 (this writer is long COH).

Anthony Grisanti said platinum's strength signals "there is strength in the auto industry" as well as aircraft and jewelry. When things are good for both metals, it "usually outperforms gold."

Stephen Weiss said FCX has rebounded since that oil announcement but he prefers SCCO. Jon Najarian said "I think Yahoo's got more room to run." Pete Najarian hailed GIS, "I think this name goes higher."

Liberty Global chief Mike Fries spoke with David Faber about his Virgin buy and quite frankly said all the right things, including that John Malone is excited about this. Fries revealed it's his 50th birthday, and it's a good day, though "I'd rather be receiving 23 billion than spending it."

Pete Najarian's Final Trade was PSX. Jon Najarian said HUN, pointing to May 20 calls. Stephen Weiss said SWC, Joe Terranova said MJN and Dennis Gartman said he was (yes ... indeed) "buying gold in yen terms."

Weiss unable to short
Ron Johnson interview

Stephen Weiss said on Wednesday's Halftime Report he was disappointed in the lack of positive reaction to Ron Johnson's JCP update.

"I counted on him popping the stock when he talks so I can go in and short it afterwards," Weiss said.

"It's still going down to 10 bucks," Weiss said.

More from Wednesday's Halftime Report later.

[Tuesday, February 5, 2013]

The Ackman-Icahn showdown:
Judge (and Max) made it happen

If you happen to read Charles Gasparino's Twitter account (and who can afford not to, otherwise you won't know which tweeters that have no followers and nobody listens to are being assigned to trailer parks), or even just listened to Carl Icahn's own declarations, you learned that CNBC producer Max Meyers put together the Icahn-Ackman showdown on the Jan. 25 Halftime Report.

This page can report that the first big get in this duel was scored by Scott Wapner, who pursued Bill Ackman's response after Carl Icahn spoke to Bloomberg's Trish Regan on Jan. 24.

Ackman agreed to speak to Wapner on the next day's Halftime Report, a startling coup for what's typically a stock-picking show. Presumably it was Meyers' idea to make the pitch for Icahn, though we're not entirely certain how that came down, and business-world viewers got to witness the glory of a healthy competition.

Big-time hustle, by a crew that wasn't just content with one good interview.

In AAPL discussion, Tim Seymour gets off to a good start on his quota of 2 Samsung references per show

CNBC's Fast Money/Halftime franchise can't go more than 3 hours without a series of AAPL calls, so viewers of Tuesday's Fast Money didn't have to wait long for Brian Kelly to suggest, "Apple is probably good for a trade here."

Tim Seymour, who just a couple weeks ago was, at the end of the day (and beginning and middle), talking about AAPL 550, said, "I would rather be long Apple against the S&P here," and also long against Samsung, which is "totally a reversion-to-the-mean trade."

Guy Adami claimed that he's been saying "all along" that QCOM is better than AAPL, and he's not excited about Apple; "I'd rather buy it on a breakout."

Dan Nathan, who complains about some angle related to Apple every time he's on the show, declared, "These guys have a product problem."

Dan Niles, attempting the type of bottom-picking that Joe Terranova will surely be doing again by Thursday, said he's been buying AAPL at the "450ish level," under the theory that "maybe it's gotten washed out here."

Anthony Scaramucci sounded like he was going to call AAPL overbought, pointing out again that hedge funds are still loaded up on it, only to sort of make the opposite call: "I would not be a seller of Apple here, not at these levels."

Tim Seymour handled a late tweet about whether Warren Buffett would step in and buy AAPL shares. "No way," Seymour said.

Tim Seymour uses Dan Niles to meet the Samsung quota

Fast Money's stock debates, which a couple months ago were fresh and useful and now are just stale and trite and inside-joke havens, pitted Guy Adami (bull) on Tuesday vs. Dan Nathan (bear) on Research in Motion BBRY.

Adami's pathetic argument was that it has a "tremendous balance sheet," might license software, and who knows, could even do what DELL did.

Dan Nathan twice ripped on day traders and said "I think the stock has problems in the high teens."

After a minute or two of wasted time, Melissa Lee brought in Dan Niles, who explained, "I don't see how you can't be a bear longer-term" on this name.

Niles contended that, "Last year you could argue tech overperformed given the fundamentals," and that this year it's "working off some of the excess optimism." Niles said CSCO and JNPR "should see a big resurgence this year," and he also likes semiconductors, particularly ONNN.

Tim Seymour (yes) asked Niles if Samsung doesn't look like a better play here than AAPL. Niles said that's a good point but he prefers QCOM. Dan Nathan called QCOM "the best growth play in all of tech."

Adami: MHP buyable at 42

In some of the few rare refreshingly useful moments of Tuesday's Fast Money, panelists (largely Guy Adami) actually opined seriously on several stocks on the move.

Guy Adami said hopefully you've owned HPQ but avoid chasing; "don't buy it now north of 17." Brian Kelly said he'd wait also to buy on a pullback.

Adami's advice for CMG, which was up afterhours when he spoke, was to "let the froth happen tomorrow, then I'd sell into it." Tim Seymour said definitely be selling at 325.

Tackling DIS, Brian Kelly said not only would he "not be buying tomorrow," but in fact advised viewers to "look for a reversal day tomorrow." Tim Seymour said the chart is awfully torrid of late and that he agrees with Kelly.

Mike Khouw said there was a notably big buyer of May 42.50 puts in MHP, a sign it might still be headed lower. Guy Adami mocked the government's case; "it's a frivolous lawsuit ... there's nothing there," and suggested viewers could get long at 42. No panelist has been as interested in this name as Karen Finerman, but Finerman was not on Tuesday's show.

For what it's worth, Dan Nathan scoffed at the Dell buyout (which is going to let the company focus on a turnaround without the "pressures" of Wall Street demands), saying, "At the end of the day, I mean, this company doesn't have a shot of ever becoming cool again."

Nathan: Watch S&P triple-top

Tuesday's Fast Money crew sounded skeptical throughout about the ongoing strength of the rally, none more than Dan Nathan, who saved his triple-top thesis for the end of the day.

Nathan said this is about the 3rd time the S&P 500 has approached 1,600, and if you think this will be the time it experiences an "epic breakout," then "you got another thing coming here."

"I bought some SDS," Nathan revealed at the top of the show, and suggested and getting long SPY puts as his Final Trade.

Guest Larry McDonald made a chart case for the world having typically a 10-year period of normalization after financial shocks, and much of it went over our head (assuming it made much sense at all) before McDonald was forced to summarize: "The macro picture's creeping back in ... I would sell this rally," McDonald said.

Tim Seymour agreed and said "I would be very cautious here."

Anthony Scaramucci, meanwhile, said he put together a confab at SkyBridge in the morning and found that hedge fund people are expecting Dow 15,000 at some point, possibly even Dow 15,500, and that BAC, HIG and AIG are expected to be among the driver.

At the end of the day, Tim Seymour met the Samsung-reference quota

Guy Adami's top trade at the beginning of Tuesday's Fast Money was LLY, "I think Lilly goes higher from here." Brian Kelly suggested PPLT, while Tim Seymour said to sell France and sell Germany.

Adami called CHD a hold and explained to Melissa Lee, "That's all it takes, 38 minutes, for some." (And if you have no idea what they were talking about, you're much better off.) Tim Seymour called YUM a hold and said "this is a place to buy," though he qualified that by, at the end of the day, saying you don't have to buy today.

Seymour said people who want to get long PBR have a shot, "you wait till 16 bucks." And, "at the end of the day, you short FXI," as a Final Trade.

Brian Kelly had to admit he bungled his more-overthought-than-Joe's-AAPL-calls pick of shorting ADM a day ago but said, "I think you still stay short" and use Tuesday's high as a stop.

"That's what you call graceful self-flagellation," said Melissa Lee.

Kelly said he'd take TLT over TBT and made short DB his Final Trade.

Guy Adami said of DO, "I still like the name overall," and it might be a buy at 72. Adami said if you want a coal play, take KSU over ACI. His Final Trade was CERN.

Dan Nathan said the EA CEO bought $500,000 worth of stock (oh joy).

It wasn’t quite ‘the best short out there,’ at least for 1 day

Josh Brown said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that he'd "hesitate" to buy YUM until it retests 60.59, and advised that "the best thing you can do with this thing is stalk it if you really wanna be long it."

Brown insisted to Judge Wapner that YUM is suffering from the "law of large numbers" from opening so many China stores.

Yet, Mike Murphy said, "I think it's a good entry point."

Murphy, however, saw no reason to buy PNRA.

Josh Brown took the other side of Brian Kelly's top short from a day ago and backed ADM: "I think the breakout could have legs here, I like it," Brown said.

Joe will probably try again in the 420s

Judge Wapner, apparently seeing some kind of story here, opened his Halftime Report Tuesday by pushing panelists to make another daily AAPL call.

Generally one who will opine on the subject while constantly protesting that he shouldn't, Joe Terranova assured, "I'm not gonna confuse the viewers any more than I probably have," but then said the stock "needs to elevate above 465."

Josh Brown said AAPL is worth somewhere in the "mid-400s," prompting Judge to cite Bill Parcells, a faulty analogy.

Jon Najarian said he has to see it hold 462/464 for 24 hours to get interested. Mike Murphy allowed that "Apple right now is broken" but said if you're buying as an investment, it's a "screaming buy."

Aswath Damodaran, who has been a reliably decent guest, told Wapner, "I think it's worth a lot more than 450," but didn't sound too enthusiastic about buying. "There were too many crazy people around," Damodaran said, arguing it was "priced for no growth and compressed margins already."

One wonders what might happen if everything goes wrong

The line of the day Tuesday had to come from Mike Murphy on the Halftime Report.

Quoting Lloyd Blankfein, Murphy said, "He thinks the biggest risk in the market right now is that if everything goes right."

Now, that is some risk.

In fact, it's right up there with Brian Kelly's contention last autumn that the biggest risk to the stress tests is an improving economy.

Murphy's comments occurred while Steven DeSanctis was trumpeting small caps; "we actually think they go, um, higher from here," perhaps 20% in 2013. DeSanctis said he likes technology and health care but is underweight staples and utilities. Joe Terranova recommended TER, WNR and NSR.

What’s the risk to everything going right with the homebuilders?

Mike Murphy, who regularly touted the housing stocks in 2012, isn't done with them.

"I think homebuilders in general are a great place to be," Murphy said on Tuesday's Halftime Report, saying the time to be negative on them was 2005.

Murphy offered some bullish stats before Josh Brown cut him off to say, "All of that is in the market ... you've already been paid for that."

But Murphy insisted TOL has "2,600 homes in backlog."

Brown concluded, "The risk/reward here is lousy," and that the stock has had a huge upside surprise in 4 of the last 5 quarters, and "the market has caught up to that."

Jon Najarian tried waffling. "I think that this is a great company," Najarian said, now making inroads into luxury condos, but "I tend to agree with Josh."

Grasso: F, GM buyable

Steve Grasso, making another one of his floor appearances on Tuesday's Halftime Report, said both F and GM are setting up to be bought, with key levels being the 50-day (27.54 for GM and 12.59 for F).

"We're nearing the end" of Ford's Europe troubles, Grasso said, while GM is still facing the "magic number of 33."

Mike Murphy said he agrees and singled out F, "They're gonna surprise to the upside."

Joe Terranova gave the "tickle simber" for TM, as well as BMW and TTM as his favorites in the sector. Jon Najarian said HMC.

‘Stay long the euro’

Rich Ilczyszyn said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that Vanguard funds reported "record inflow," presumably into its stock funds, which would keep the 10-year yield "certainly back above 2%," but he cautioned that there could be a return to Treasury safety if stocks turn around.

Anthony Grisanti said there's "immediate resistance at that 2.02%" in the 10-year.

Jon Najarian said someone was selling the 120 puts in TLT and buying the 116 puts.

CNBC's Sister Golden Hair reported that analyst Shelly Antoniewicz said January is normally a robust month for fund inflows and so it's too early to tell if the great rotation is under way.

Paul Richards told Judge Wapner, "I think you stay long the euro," and would buy at 1.3525.

Doc trades MHP twice in morning

Mike Murphy said on Tuesday's Halftime Report there was "huge activity" in JCP options as a hedge fund created a furor over a bond default flap. "I don't think there's any grounds for default," Murphy said. Jon Najarian concurred that they were "aggressively accumulating" the JCP options.

Joe Terranova said to buy the $5 puts in ACI; "this is a horrible coal name." Terranova clarified yesterday's prediction of a 60 print in DIS, "I mean on the balance of 2013," and honestly we couldn't believe he actually meant it would happen Tuesday so we didn't flag it, but year-end isn't exactly a bold call. "Lot of tailwinds for Disney," Mr. New Land said.

Terranova said if you're long LULU, "you hold the stock," and keep "65 as your stop-loss point." But he's not in it because he doesn't like high-beta now. Terranova said APC "probably gets above 85," and he made LNKD his Final Trade.

Mike Murphy said EL reported luxury divisions up, a positive for the overall economy. Murphy said UNH benefits from demographics and could run above 60. His Final Trade, no surprise, was TOL.

Jon Najarian revealed he was dabbling heavily in MHP in the morning; "I bought it and sold it a couple times today." Najarian advised NFLX watchers, "I think you wait to reload on this one in the 150s." He predicted temp hires will push MAN and RHI higher, and his Final Trade was February 34 calls in GPS.

Josh Brown said of AVB, "technically it looks broken." Brown's Final Trade was IEO.

[Monday, February 4, 2013]

Bartels: The February-March retail play works every time (except in 2011)

Mary Ann Bartels assured viewers of Monday's Fast Money that "the bull run can continue" in stocks, but February is a prime month for a pullback. Bartels isn't convinced yet of the great rotation out of bonds but says, "This week we'll know whether or not we're actually in a correction."

But regardless of how the market goes, Bartels said this is the time for retail stocks. "Typically the months of February and March are the best back-to-back months for retail," Bartels said.

Steve Grasso correctly pointed out of retail, as so many generally do on Fast Money, that "it's not trading as a bloc." He suggested TGT and maybe KSS.

Grasso said he expected a bounce in high-end retailers but it hasn't happened in TIF, so "I would stay away," adding that COH has been worse technically. (This writer is long COH.) Grasso said he wouldn't take a position in DECK in either direction.

Karen Finerman reiterated, "We are short JCPenney," and now short the bonds too; "I don't see anything good happening here."

Karen: Buy C

Karen Finerman said on Monday's Fast Money that C is the best bank on her radar screen.

(Sigh ... we should probably note right here, because this page will get hits over this stuff, for those unfamiliar with Fast Money, that Karen regularly speaks fondly of Jamie Dimon as her "boyfriend"; they aren't actually dating, it's just a running gag on the show.)

Karen said C "is the better play" than JPM right now based on valuation, the price to tangible book.

Brian Kelly said, on the other hand, he's "worried about the financials," that they have been able to offer a "veritable buffet," but with rates rising it could be a situation where people buy more of a product as the price increases. (And, to be honest, it wasn't really clear in his extended commentary whether Kelly was making a bull or bear case for banks.)

Finerman said demand for loans could go up with the rising rates.

Meanwhile, guest Tom Shapiro of GTIS said it's a great time to buy housing, as prices are low but a lot of people can't get loans, but many are aware of this opportunity. Shapiro said his firm has been financing a lot of the homebuilders, and he told Karen Finerman they buy their properties not through brokers in general, but "literally at the courthouse steps," and "we actually have no leverage at this point."

Shapiro said if the economy and housing rebounds, these homes will be great investments, but if not, people will rent them and they will produce income, so it's "kind of win either way," although he admitted the downside of having to manage the homes.

"I'm out of XHB," said Brian Kelly, who suggested viewers exit the other popular housing stocks as well.

Dennis Gartman delivers unexpected dose of optimism for 2015

Dennis Gartman said on Monday's Fast Money that European banks are experiencing "positive slopes to yield curves," which means they're in a good place, though Brian Kelly asked Gartman if he doesn't fear a credit crunch in Europe.

Gartman said no, because "things will be better 2 years from now than they are right now." Gartman said if he had to choose, he'd rather be a buyer than seller now of European banks.

Brian Kelly made TLT his Final Trade and said Gartman likes that one now. Karen Finerman said what happened to MHP was "one of my least favorite feelings" and said for her Final Trade to "hold" MHP, which isn't much of a trade. Steve Grasso wondered about the timing of the pending S&P litigation; "is this a warning to all the other rating agencies?"

The FB bear arguer admits it will probably go up from here

Pete Najarian said on Monday's Fast Money that "obviously it's very difficult" to make a bull case for FB, but because of mobile, and because of "plenty of cash sitting on the balance sheet," he thinks it can go higher.

Steve Grasso countered that analysts aren't impressed by Facebook's average daily users and said "they need a real search engine ... valuation is terrible."

However, Grasso admitted that "$28 is the technical bounce," and the only reason it might go up in the near future.

Najarian said FB has only fallen back from $32 because it has run so fast in the last few months. Grasso said if that's true, why hasn't GOOG done the same.

Najarian was Fast Fired later for his recent call that GOOG would "easily" fall back toward 700 and said "I wish I'd a listened to Grasso." Grasso said even with Monday's pullback "I would still look to add," but with 725 as support.

Brian Kelly said, "I'd be a bull on Facebook."

Pete Najarian warned about getting mixed up with DELL. "Stay away, don't get near this name," Najarian said.

Karen struggles to take a decisive stand on YUM

Brian Kelly said on Monday's Fast Money that "this definitely is a PR problem" for YUM in China, and "I do not think it's a buying opportunity here either."

Karen Finerman was hesitant on the shares but said, "I actually think they will be able to get past it." Pete Najarian, who apparently has lost the recent YUM debate with Josh Brown that we thought he'd won, said "I believe this is an image problem right now."

Brian Stutland reported a bearish trade in CMG, a big buyer of February 300 puts who sold February 260 puts, and cautioned viewers to be careful with this name.

Pete Najarian said MCD longs need to get off near 100.

ADM ‘best short out there’

Pete Najarian said on Monday's Fast Money that his top trade is UPS, though he'd do it with options at this point.

Brian Kelly identified ADM as one heading the opposite way; "I think it's the best short out there."

Karen Finerman said she did little, as is usually the case, but trimmed TKR. Finerman cautioned against FNP; "at this valuation I would not step in."

Steve Grasso called it "important" that the S&P slipped below 1,496 and revealed he's long GOOG, AMZN and AAPL. Grasso said to "fold" VLO, "I don't think you should be a buyer" at these levels, and said he's waiting for a dip in WYNN and sees resistance at 130. Grasso's Final Trade was MO.

Brian Kelly said TSN has gone "straight up," and he would fold it. Kelly suggested taking profits in NFLX, though "above 175 you might get that breakout."

Pete Najarian said he still likes NFLX but suggests using only options at this level. Najarian said you can hold FDX and made KFN his Final Trade. Just like brother Jon, Pete noted someone got lucky with APKT options last week.

Barry Bannister reaffirms
1,600 call on Fast Money

Recently a staple of the Halftime Report, Barry Bannister opted to give Monday's Fast Money crew a jolt of his bull-market stiff-arm.

Bannister (that picture above is from an older appearance; we didn't feel like doing a new one) told Melissa Lee his 1,600 S&P target didn't happen in 2012 like he expected but he does see it in the first half of 2013; "it's P.E. expansion on the more cyclical parts of the economy."

Bannister conceded that at 1,600, he'd have to re-evaluate if the high would be in. "The Fed is running red hot," he said, but allowed, until then, "we would buy on these dips."

Steve Grasso, like so many potential tacklers of a fleet running back in the open field who flail and miss, asked an utterly incomprehensible question about utilities that didn't specify what kind of trend he thinks they're in (sharply up since January, but notably down since summer and autumn) and why they might be in/return to favor. Barry made it simple and said they went up when the fiscal cliff deal kept dividend tax rates lower than some feared.

Brian Kelly tried to ask why a bond selloff would be good. Barry stomped on that one, saying a "little bit of reflation is confidence," and even if yields rise it doesn't negate the 3-decade strength in bonds. "3% is just top of trend," Bannister said.

Bannister said he likes financials, energy and tech.

Karen Finerman said she didn't see the hit coming to one of her favorite recent picks, MHP, and can't recommend it right at the moment with only a couple of hours to digest the news.

More from Monday's Fast Money later.

Terranova: No settlement
in BUD case

Stephen Weiss on Monday's Halftime Report took the bull case toward the Beer Wars.

BUD is a buy, Weiss argued, because "they will come to an agreement with the Justice Department," and can still do buybacks if not.

Joe Terranova acknowledged "I like that strategy" but said the problem is, "I don't think there's gonna be a settlement here ... the protracted legal fight is your problem here," which makes you wonder how he can like Weiss' strategy at the same time.

In fact, with the Modelo potential erased, the stock "could fall back to 80," Terranova said.

Weiss insisted BUD is a "good growth story."

Stephanie Link decided, "I actually side with Joe," because the litigation will "take a while."

Mahaney: FB won’t see $38 in a year

Mark Mahaney, whose career issue last year hasn't derailed his CNBC opportunities, told Monday's Halftime Report that he can see GOOG at 890 because the "series of these overhangs" have been lifting.

As he says every time, "That YouTube asset is a highly valuable asset." And, Mahaney argued that "people underappreciate" Google's strength in the cloud.

The commentary got more interesting when Mahaney, who said he has a buy on FB, nevertheless called it "highly unlikely" the stock can see 38 in 12 months and that it would have to take "dramatic new revenue opportunities" to get there so fast.

Stephen Weiss objected to Mahaney's sunny forecast for the monetization of mobile.

"I can't wait to get on the phone and call Mark Zuckerberg and congratulate him for figuring out mobile," Weiss said.

Joe Terranova grumbled about YHOO. "I don't believe their mobile strategy is well-defined" and said the reason the stock has gone up is "the buyback story." Weiss argued that "Marissa Mayers" (sic) is the real deal, the stock has a floor, and "I think you can still own it."

He’ll just be saying he took another look at it Thursday at $430 and got long calls

Joe Terranova admitted on Monday's Halftime Report that Pete Najarian was indicating to him last week that "'you are way overtrading the Apple story right now' and looking at this weekend, I am."

Which has never stopped Terranova before, and probably won't this week either.

Terranova said, in the wake of Monday's market haircut, viewers must ask "how much beta exposure do I actually have and I think you wanna reduce the exposure to beta right now."

Terranova said the euro, not the 10-year, is the key market indicator now.

What in the world does the TD Ameritrade index measure and what is it supposedly signaling now?

In one of the murkiest, most useless features in recent memory, Judge Wapner brought on Steve Quirk of TD Ameritrade for a chat on Monday's Halftime Report about Ameritrade's Investor Movement Index.

Now, what in the world is the Investor Movement Index and what does it do? We haven't the foggiest idea, and Judge made zero effort to explain.

Oh, except Wapner said it "measures what investors are actually doing."

Which presumably is better than measuring what they're not doing, but still gets us nowhere.

Quirk said the index posted a "downtick to 4.71 from 4.94" in January. Based on the tone of the conversation, it sounds like the whole exercise was to suggest Ameritrade accountholders are more cautious than perhaps expected, seeking "stocks with a lower beta."

Meanwhile, guest Jeremy Zirin had few such reservations, saying "we're overweight the tech sector" and pointed out how tech is really doing great on the old "equal-weighted basis."

"I think we're headed higher" than his 1,540 target, Zirin said, arguing cyclicals are cheap compared with defensives.

Joe Terranova noted that "no one mentions energy," including Zirin. Joe said to look at OXY, HES, HAL and HOS (just try not to get HOSed).

Stephen Weiss said he expects stocks to take a 2-3% breather, and "I'm not selling anything" and in fact would add to bank weakness. "Nothing's really changed since last week," Weiss said.

Simon Baker also said he sees a 2-3% pullback (lessee, if we can multiply correctly, that means 30-45 points on the S&P) but finds this market "very, very buyable."

Stephanie Link said to look at ACN and IBM and revealed, "We were actually buying Cisco today."

Seema Mody, who hasn't been on television often enough recently, reported on the declines of various tech giants.

Gold bears starting to flex their muscles

Tom Kendall of Credit Suisse, given about 45 seconds to make a point at the end of Monday's Halftime Report, suggested gold may have topped last fall, and argued that as an inflation play, "there's no sign of inflation in the developed world" for at least another 1-2 years.

Simon Baker said WMT was downgraded "purely on a valuation call." Joe Terranova said he'd pick PFE over MRK, that Pfizer "appears to be where the money is now." Stephanie Link called CVX a "good long-term story." Stephen Weiss said "I'll be buying more BBRY," because "the phone is selling well."

Jon Najarian complained that APKT February and March calls seemed hot last week ahead of the announcement Monday, and "I'm very suspicious." Meanwhile, as to stuff that might actually help viewers on Monday, Najarian identified a "really big trade in the TLT ... started buying the 116 puts in March."

Stephanie Link's Final Trade was CBI. Joe Terranova hung a 60 on DIS. Stephen Weiss said TBF, and Simon Baker said BSFT.

[Friday, February 1, 2013]

Is Kyle Bass beginning
to throw in the towel?

On Friday's Halftime Report, Judge Wapner referenced Kyle Bass' comments to Gary Kaminsky at the Tiger 21 conference in Palm Beach.

Bass has been something of a CNBC prize since David Faber featured him in 2009 in his excellent documentary "House of Cards" as someone (who at the time apparently wasn't a big shot) who saw the housing collapse coming and figured out how to profit immensely from it.

Evidently not at the level of John Paulson financially, Bass has nonetheless garnered significant acclaim — like, fortunately or unfortunately, Meredith Whitney and Nouriel Roubini and Marc Faber (we could say Peter Schiff but most people tune that out) — as a doom prophet, particularly among the hedge fund crowd, for a series of headline-getting post-2008 pronouncements suggesting the worst is still yet to come.

He — and they — may well be right, and it's worth noting that Bass, unlike Whitney and Roubini, demonstrably put his own financial fortunes on the line with his landmark call.

Yet, we've come to realize that, based on his remarks aired on CNBC, Bass post-2008 has been better at giving speeches than making economic calls.

Most notably, Bass told Gary Kaminsky Friday that Dow 14,000 "makes sense to me," because with the monetary base growing, "I think stocks continue to go higher."

That's quite a departure from what Bass told Kaminsky and David Faber on The Strategy Session, CNBC's last really new show that this page once reviewed, on Aug. 17, 2010, when he offered, "Given my outlook on the world, I don't know how you can be long stocks. I don't know how."

The S&P 500 that date closed at 1,092.54.

(Which means, we're up 38% in 2½ years.)

On Friday Bass, invoking what we'll dub The Peter Schiff Defense Mechanism®, downplayed his stocks-higher call by suggesting coming inflation will easily negate it.

"One of the best-performing equity markets in the last decade's been Zimbabwe. But your entire equity portfolio right now buys you 3 eggs," Bass said, for those who regularly liken the United States to Zimbabwe.

But it wasn't just the U.S. stock market that Bass addressed on Aug. 17, 2010. He explained the problem of Japan's aging population to David Faber and, while stressing "It's going to take time," appeared to suggest it was a great time to start shorting Japanese government bonds. "The pricing of that asset using the Black-Scholes model is the best it's ever been. So you have this huge convex moment that you can put enormous positions on in Japanese interest rates very cheaply," Bass said.

Yet, while we can barely compute a QB's completion percentage, it seems as though the Japanese 10-year yield today is well below its level of August 2010.

We noted after a Bass appearance on CNBC in February 2011 that he seemed frustrated by Japan's resilience and suggested the debt cave-in of Japan/world will occur in the "next few years."

One thing Bass has clearly mastered since 2008 is the hedge fund speaking circuit, where tangential (at best) evidence of his point is delivered in anecdotes, such as the one Bass relayed to Gary Kaminsky on Friday about how Juncker initially denied there was a Greece bailout meeting and then admitting he had to lie about not being there.

Previously, viewers have heard about adult diapers outselling baby diapers in Japan, and Bass' speech to a group of students and CFAs in which he asked how many knew that Greece has sovereign debt issues and every hand went up, but then asked, "Who in here can tell me what their on-balance-sheet cost of financing is? Not 1 hand in 500 was raised."

Bass' financial advice was obviously geared to the 0.2% at Tiger. "You need to own productive assets," Bass said, such as apartment complexes, oil wells, or a "global business."

The most significant thing Bass said by far is that "stocks continue to go higher." There seems nothing on the immediate horizon to whack the S&P 500. But when the staunchest bears start to unwind a years-old thesis, you've gotta wonder if we're in the late innings.

Tony Crescenzi not quite
as certain right now about
Bond Bubble Babble

Who woulda thunk it — a Pimco exec on CNBC.

And once we realized Tony Crescenzi would be speaking on Friday's Halftime Report, we knew we'd be hearing about Joe Terranova's favorite reading, "Bond Bubble Babble," that famous article from 2010 that somehow is deemed relevant today.

But curiously, unlike in his last Halftime visit, Crescenzi backpedaled a bit on this subject. "2½ years ago on CNBC's website I posted a note called 'Bond Bubble Babble'. I might add a question mark to that now," Crescenzi admitted. "I call this perhaps the Great De-hibernation."

But Crescenzi argued that "unlike let's say pets.com" around Y2K, corporations have money to pay bondholders, so it's not a bubble similar to tech stocks.

Stephen Weiss pointed out how he asked Bonnie Baha a day ago if we've ever had a situation of rates this low for this long and she didn't really answer it, because "there is no answer to it ... the bond market is a bubble. The risk is horrendous, the risk/reward to bonds."

Apparently Weiss' commentary, which was worthwhile in this case actually, was too long for Judge, who grumbled about Weiss making an "interesting dissertation." That cracked up the panel and prompted Weiss to interrupt Judge's next question to Crescenzi, asking, "How many lines do you go through before you came up with that."

"Weiss. All right," snapped Wapner.

Crescenzi initially tried to argue that at Pimco "we've talked a lot about reflation ... we see that environment largely sticking," that Pimco itself is avoiding bonds beyond 10 years, and that stocks are still a bit dubious, the "financial market performance is kindering- (sic) continuing to diverge from economic performance."

Weiss concluded that in the bond market, "people will lose money, and they'll run." Crescenzi rebutted, "Well you can say that that risk exists for the stock market too."

Jon Najarian declared that of the new money fueling stocks, there is "pretty significant evidence that is is coming out of bonds," and also that it "came out of the people that chased gold."

Pete gets asked to make an AAPL call every day

It was just on Jan. 14 that Joe Terranova refreshingly admitted he had "expended way too much mental capital" on picking the daily direction of AAPL.

So much for New Year's resolutions. Mr. New Land on Friday's Halftime Report revealed that the stock "looks like it's found a little bit of a near-term bottom ... I'm adding to Apple right now, doing it a little bit through the options market."

So, mental capital that could've gone to LPX or TCBI is once again allocated to a stock analyzed by hundreds of thousands of people.

Perhaps Joe is simply "reacting" to the pesky man on the street who recognizes him, as Pete Najarian insisted AAPL is "still gonna be a 2nd half story," and "I continue to stay away. Every week somebody comes up to to me, every day people ask me, when's the time to get into Apple. The time isn't yet."

Tom DeMark, who famously tried to forecast AAPL a couple weeks ago around the same time Joe was swearing off analyzing the daily move, returned to the show Friday and was, according to Judge Wapner, "a little early obviously in, in, in the, the call on the, the bottom for Apple."

"Well let me give you some perspective," DeMark said, first reiterating his apparent Sept. 21 sell call that has zero relevance today in which "there were a lot of disbelievers."

As for the bottom being in, "I think now it will be," DeMark said, with a new batch of mumbo jumbo about how "the most number of consecutive down days has been 3," and arguing that he stressed on Jan. 15 that an "additional down close would probably bottom it."

"It would not be outrageous to expect possibly a gap up on Monday," DeMark said, or even an "island reversal."

Meanwhile, "the bond market produced a buy signal 2 days ago," DeMark said, and Shanghai has already made half the move he projected so he might be getting close to a sell call there. But he admitted the S&P 500 has "definitely exceeded our level" of 1492.73.

Joe’s clothing decision:
Thumbs up, or thumbs down?

Joe Terranova said on Friday's Halftime Report he's tired of thinking about stocks.

"I don't even wanna think anymore; I just wanna react," Terranova said, and he's reacting to financials, "adding to my Goldman Sachs position," and even "willing to allocate more money into Apple."

Pete Najarian seconded the banks. "How about JPMorgan," Najarian suggested, predicting "this stock is gonna actually hit $52 a share."

Judge asked the panel what they need to see to believe in an extended bull run. "I don't need to see anything," Terranova said, saying it's reminiscent of January-February 2012.

Stephen Weiss said his trade is long TBF, or "being short the bond market."

Jon Najarian said his trade is CRR. "This is a fracking play Judge," Najarian said, adding, in an attempt to be cool, "Since Max Meyers said I could say whatever I want, I'm gonna say whatever I want ... I think this one's off to the races."

Normally this page only delivers fashion commentary on female CNBC stars/guests, and frankly we wish their male counterparts would occasionally try not Tim Seymour's plain-pocket JCPenney jeans, but something along the lines of Lindsey Nelson, Craig Sager or Al Czervik. Friday, we noted, it's not often the Fast gang all appears in suits, and we couldn't help but wonder if Mr. New World was attempting some kind of untraditional earth-tone look. Might've worked, might've not; honestly we don't have a clue but we'll consult with those who do.

Judge is aware Brag Trades
occur on Halftime Report

Steve Grasso visited with Friday's Halftime Report gang pointing out "this is going back to December of '07 levels" in the S&P of 1,510, and basically as for stepping stones, "it's 15 and a quarter, then you go right back to those old highs, 1,576."

Grasso revealed he's into AMZN, AAPL and GOOG, "yes I bought all 3 ... I actually bought Google this morning," he said, like Tom DeMark first pointing out the Brag Trade and then telling viewers, "somebody just yelled 'shut up' on the side of me, think I'm bragging," but as for GOOG catalysts, "next one is the EU settlement."

Judge Wapner chuckled about the brag heckling and said, "Rumor has it that happens from time to time on the show." Jon Najarian said he hopes the GOOG longs enjoy the ride.

Mike Santoli, a guy whose year-end bearishness/caution was about as daffy as Jon Najarian's, admitted "Clearly I've been kind of overthinking it" regarding a pullback, but he sees homebuilders as ripe, because they're "not particularly great businesses through a cycle" and that the XHB, still well below the highs of the heyday, might be like Juniper, where some of the peak losses are recovered but not all. Santoli also said transports make "a lot of sense as underperforming for a while."

Pete: NFLX to $200

Pete Najarian made a curious the bull call for NFLX on Friday's Halftime Report, beginning by stressing this is something to be played only with call spreads before ending up with a nice round number target.

"They've got scale, they've got original content," and the Disney deal, Pete said, as well as refinancing debt, so "this is a company that's doing things right." He thinks it "actually hits 200 in a very short time period."

Stephen Weiss rebutted, "I think Bernie Madoff could refinance his bail at this point, the credit market's so ripe," and argued "the valuation is extreme under any measure except on a price to sales."

Jon Najarian revealed, "I dropped HBO and went for Netflix ... I gotta go with Weiss on the bear case." But Jon Najarian said to "buy this one on the dips" in the 140 or 150 range.

Weiss said Jon is the "older brother, wiser brother."

The most often-missed Halftime/Fast Money call of 2012: Gold to $2,000

Friday's Halftime Report featured an appearance from gold bug Eric Sprott, who spoke with Judge Wapner at last year's SALT Conference in May, who was asked by Gary Kaminsky in Palm Beach what's going on with gold.

"I'm gonna sound very conspiratoil (sic) with my answer," Sprott said, before delving into central banks stores and supplies of gold that went way over our pay grade. Bottom line, "We don't know what gold they have," Sprott said.

Our interpretation of that is that Sprott is not calling for a gold spike right now.

Judge Wapner told Sprott that Credit Suisse apparently sees gold toppy or even over. Sprott countered, "We have money printing, we have bank runs," and other catalysts.

Sprott, wearing late-1970s glasses, said if you look at the U.S. Mint Web site, you'd see people are buying 50 times as much silver as gold, and "there's only 3 times as much silver to buy."

Judge also revealed Kyle Bass' remarks earlier in the day to Kaminsky regarding HLF, as Bass said, "I would never bet against Dan Loeb." Stephen Weiss said Loeb didn't just buy HLF willy-nilly, but "hedged it with the short in another company," and "I'd stay on the sidelines" with this one. Joe Terranova, in not the greatest pearl of wisdom of all time, said if HLF keeps sliding, "maybe that's an indication" people will no longer take the other side of Ackman.

We'll have more about Kyle Bass' commentary later.

Joe’s DELL position is early leader for Call of the Year

Joe Terranova on Friday's Halftime Report revealed he's out of his exceptional DELL buy stemming from Dec. 3. "I did exit that position today at 14 bucks finally," Terranova said.

Terranova called HPQ valuation "full." Stephen Weiss said "HP to me is always going to be a value trap."

Kayla Tausche reported on how the banks are still a long way from their 2007 glory days (when Chuck Prince was in charge), and noted Dick Bove has called for a 14-year bull run. Joe Terranova said "it's a return to normalized earnings" ahead of expectations that has fueled the run, while Jon Najarian singled out rebuilt balance sheets and a "return of trading." Terranova said "I like the regional banks," including RF.

Stephen Weiss endorsed further gains in THC, "the hospital space will continue to benefit." Jon Najarian said he likes big post-2009 winner WYN.

Boris Schlossberg advised selling euro at 1.3750.

Pete Najarian's Final Trade was Allstate. Joe Terranova said Oracle, Stephen Weiss said Paccar and Jon Najarian said Teradyne July 17 calls (though the screen said 16 calls).

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Fast Money cliches

CNBCfix capsules:
Movie of the week

♦ Bonnie and Clyde
♦ Rain Man
♦ The Paper Chase
♦ The Cooler
♦ Giant & There Will Be Blood
♦ Return of the Jedi
♦ Rocky II
♦ The Last Picture Show & Friday Night Lights
♦ She's Out of My League
♦ Con Air

Movie review:
‘Wall Street’

Gordon Gekko:
The Michael Corleone
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CNBC/cable TV
star bios

♦ Jim Cramer
♦ Charles Gasparino
♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Karen Finerman
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Zachary Karabell
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ Nicole Lapin
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
♦ Bertha Coombs
♦ Mary Thompson
♦ Trish Regan
♦ Melissa Francis
♦ Dennis Kneale
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♦ Monica Crowley
♦ Bill O'Reilly
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♦ Kimberly Guilfoyle
♦ Martha MacCallum
♦ Courtney Friel
♦ Uma Pemmaraju
♦ Joe Scarborough
♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
♦ Donald Luskin
♦ Herb Greenberg
♦ Robert Reich
♦ Steve Moore
♦ Vince Farrell
♦ Joe LaVorgna
♦ A. Gary Shilling
♦ Joe Battipaglia
♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett