[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive — February 2015]
[Friday, February 27, 2015]

Mike Murphy evidently
went on hiatus Dec. 9

It's occurred to us recently that one of the recent regulars of the Halftime Report — Mike Murphy — is nowhere to be seen in 2015.

In fact, this page's archive indicates Murphy was last on the show Dec. 9.

A few weeks ago, Murphy tweeted someone that he has not quit "Fast" (sic likely meant Halftime Report) but is "just working on some other projects. Will keep posted."

This comment is going to be intentionally flip ... but true ... he's basically got better things to do.

So should we. But whatever. Which means while the panelists come and go, this page has outlasted yet another one.

We're still here because you are ... talkin' about stocks. Reviewing television. Trying to inform and entertain, guided by the standards and principals of daily newspapers established and honed over many decades.

What's significant about Dec. 9 is that it was also a day that CNBC angels Sara Eisen and Karen Finerman appeared on Fast Money together.

For a lift, here's what it looked like.

Is there anyone who does NOT claim that they saw a Nasdaq bubble prior to Y2K?

In what's quickly become an unbelievably tiresome, repetitive and mundane feature, Judge on Friday's Halftime Report summoned a former CNBCer, Tom Costello, to look back on the Nasdaq Composite of the late 1990s.

Costello told Judge his Spider Sense was tingling all along. "I kept thinking to myself, uh, this- this would seem unsustainable to me," Costello said, adding that he concluded "somebody has got the fix in on this thing."

Meanwhile, Carl Yankowski recommended everyone read a Boston Globe article on high-flying biotech stocks.

Fed is a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10

On Friday's Halftime Report, Sue Herera's "CNBC News Update" involved speculating about the color of a dress.

Oh yes. And Stephen Weiss tried to claim "I don't think you can market-time (sic) the market."

David Kudla said the momentum is "to the upside" and advised not fighting the tape.

Josh Brown said homebuilding names have the potential for a "tremendous breakout."

But Jon Najarian said he's "a little worried" about some of the home-building names whose outperformance was hailed by Brown.

Brown said those stocks are still cheap. Stephen Weiss played it down the middle, saying they trade at price-to-book but that they're not particularly attractive.

Rick Rieder said "we're running at a pretty good growth rate for GDP" and suggested it's "pretty clear" that the Fed wants to take its time.

Rieder said on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being hawkish, the Fed is at a 4.

In an on-location interview from some conference, Rob Manfred told CNBC's Eric Chemi that he wants to keep the "action flowing" during the slower parts of baseball games. (Hopefully, that means more hitters stepping out of the batter's box to re-velcro their batting gloves, and more pitchers throwing to first.)

Manfred declined to give Judge a comment on Josh Hamilton but Judge said he appreciated Manfred "entertaining" the questions anyway.

Stephen Weiss said if Ginni Rometty misses again, "she's out."

Doc seemed surprised that UBS downgraded BAC's price target all the way from 20 to 16 but said it's "interesting" in the low 15s.

Josh Brown halfheartedly indicated he might buy BAC below 16 and said you can own FDX but he prefers UPS.

Jim Lebenthal dialed in to chuckle about how he should've exited JCP earlier in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio.

Doc indicated he made a spectacular trade, knock on wood, a few weeks ago it's time to take some off the table in WNR.

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was OA. Josh Brown said ITB and Doc said GE.

Judge chided Josh apparently for thinking he was talking about something while the "mike's open" even though nothing was heard until Judge started talking.

[Thursday, February 26, 2015]

Jeff Katzenberg delivers facial to Steve Grasso, Karen Finerman

It's quite possibly the Worst Stock of the Century.

Hazmat suits were dished out on Wall Street Tuesday afternoon as financial pros geared up for the quarterly DreamWorks Animation call. (This writer is long DWA.)

Sure enough, the stock during Tuesday afterhours was pummeled down to 19 and barely change as Julia Boorstin reported the results ... and a couple of Fast Money traders skeptics of the stock chimed in.

Karen Finerman scoffed that as sale rumors have previously boosted the stock, "They are not selling it from a position of strength."

Steve Grasso insisted, "It's still a no-touch."

Yet, if either of these purported traders had actually recommended buying the moment the screen above Karen Finerman's shoulder showed a $19.21 price, buyers would've enjoyed a nearly 20% gain less than a day later when the shares nearly hit $23.

Obviously, Gekko was onto something: Don't get emotional about stocks.

Joe’s take on AAPL even less interesting than Andy Hargreaves’, says nothing about running out of rich people

Longtime viewers of the Halftime Report must be aware that in previous years, Dr. New World has experienced pitfalls in calling AAPL's price direction.

That didn't stop him from taking another whack at it Thursday, as Judge felt compelled to lead the program with Joe's ditching of AAPL from his Playbook Playoffs portfolio.

Judge 3 times said he was "shocked." (That's correct, 3 times.)

Joe quickly protested that it's not an indictment of AAPL; "for everyone that (sic should be 'who') is watching this show right now (as though it doesn't apply to those not watching it), OK, this is about a very tactical short-term type of trade."

Rather, he said, it's about "chasing beta," which he thinks will occur given that oil, in Joe's opinion, won't hover around 50 for long.

"Oil is either goin' to 60, or oil is gonna have an ominous fall through the lows that we had in January," Joe predicted.

But he sees the former as more likely than the latter, so he's adjusting his portfolio "to capture more oil exposure."

Jim Lebenthal applauded the move, stating, "I agree with everything he said."

Doc agreed with Joe's call and insisted, "I see some clouds on the horizon" for Apple.

Joe revealed he added RRC, NMBL and VXX to his portfolio.

No pop quiz (in which panelists tend to score 0%) from Courtney this time

Courtney Reagan on Thursday's Halftime Report reported on TJX's stumble.

That didn't stop Pete Najarian from endorsing the name (Drink).

Not surprisingly, so did brother Jon, transitioning from TJX-as-an-unsold-holiday-merchandise play to TJX-as-a-West-Coast-ports-unclogging play.

Pete Najarian said the March 95 calls in MCD were bought recently and caught fire the last couple days.

Jon Najarian said GRPN 8.50 weekly calls were active, and he jumped aboard.

Doc congratulated himself, "thank goodness," for selling RIG over 20 this year, and gloated about selling half of his ZIOP position at a big profit.

Kate Kelly previewed Herbalife's earnings and noted there are people on both sides of the story.

Jim Lebenthal said Budweiser is his favorite beer, and BUD is worth owning.

Jim picks Judge over Ginni

Jim Lebenthal on Thursday's Halftime praised Ginni Rometty's 45-minute "opening dialogue" delivered "very in command" without notes or a prompter.

(Evidently, she didn't talk about forex and sound like Matthew McConaughey in his Lincoln.)

Then, admitting he left the investor presentation "at about 45 minutes in" (which means, if we're doing the math right, all he saw was Ginni's 45-minute dialogue) to make the Halftime Report, Lebenthal suggested the stock, after pointing out it was up early, was down on the day because guidance was unchanged.

Pete Najarian claimed, "I think they've literally (sic) been floundering around for a long time," then questioned what would happen if Warren Buffett unloaded his IBM stake.

"His time frames are not what they once were," Pete said.

Pete sure looked enthusiastic about his Halftime Report gig Thursday

Gemma Godfrey, plagued by a significant satellite delay, was tapped on Thursday's Halftime to answer Judge's Favorite Question — what's the best geographical investment choice — amid the clip of Jim O'Neill's morning would-you-rather advice of Europe over U.S.

Godfrey suggested Europe has more upside than the U.S.

Doc said O'Neill is wrong because U.S. consumers are getting a greater benefit from falling gasoline than Europeans are.

Brian Stutland told Jackie DeAngelis that gasoline overshot a bit to the downside, which accounts for its recent strength, along with the cold winter and demand for heating oil. "But, "I'm not necessarily a buyer," Stutland said.

Jim Iuorio, in regular trading jacket but not necessarily the man-fur, said he thinks gasoline might be making a seasonal move higher and that there could be more upside.

Mr. New Land sounded a bit skeptical on DDD.

Pete Najarian trumpeted CRM and indicated "this is a stock that can continue to go higher," which one also can say about a few thousand other stocks.

Mark Hulbert, the latest in Judge's halfhearted is-the-Nasdaq-overvalued series, dialed in to tell Judge that the index is not overvalued compared to 1999 but stressed that that era was perhaps "the most overvaluation in U.S. history."

Pete Najarian was hilariously taken aback by Jim Lebenthal's claim that GILD is overvalued.

[Wednesday, February 25, 2015]

Camera shy: Karen celebrates
birthday off the air

Many folks heard about it at the end of Wednesday's Fast Money.

But if you read this site — congrats — you've known for a week that Karen Finerman would be enjoying a special birthday Wednesday.

Missy Lee explained Wednesday that Finerman was taking the day off to celebrate ... which makes us wonder why the show couldn't have had a celebration on Tuesday when Finerman was in, except that Karen was likely just being ultra-modest.

Nevertheless, Wednesday's show gave Mel a chance to show off chic new turquoise/black ensemble with striking hairstyle.

Doc, Josh knock a couple
out of the park

Around here, we like to say, the goal of this page is to inform and entertain — which coincidentally should be exactly the same goal of CNBC.

Wednesday on the Halftime Report, that's exactly what happened when Jon Najarian and Josh Brown, in a startlingly effective pair of unrelated one-liners, nearly had us falling out of the chair.

Doc revealed that the SODA conference call was so "terrible" that "you could just hear people hanging up."

Later, out of nowhere, Brown said Meg Whitman delivered a way-too-long assessment about forex on the HPQ call, "like Matthew McConaughey in his Lincoln, just like, rambling on, this monologue about currency."

Now that's what we're talkin' about.

‘I check my smartphone more than 150 times a day’

Gaurav Jain told Judge on Wednesday's Halftime that it's not like 1999 in the tech space, that we're all living on the Web now and many companies really are making big money.

As evidence, "I check my smartphone more than 150 times a day," Jain claimed.

Pressed, Jain conceded there's "a lot of froth" especially in later-stage financing.

Dana Telsey, perpetually cute, spoke on Wednesday's Halftime Report about retailer caution and didn't take long to bring up "omnichannel" (Drink).

Telsey affirmed her "buy" on JCP and her "sell" on COH.

Telsey said "I think there's opportunity on LULU" but that "it's gonna take a little time" for RL.

Josh Brown hung a $100 sometime-target on JWN.

Josh on fire

It was a virtual trifecta.

Or even a quadfecta (or whatever the heck is the term for 4-for-4).

Not only did Josh Brown celebrate a birthday Wednesday (we're not really sure what the blue muppet thing was for, except maybe that was Mr. New Land ribbing Brown for his anti-Goldman Sachs commentary recently) and uncork a great punch line ... he also made a blockbuster trade.

Brown revealed early in the Halftime Report that he bought SAM on the slide, only to see it up about $20 by the end of the program.

And, at the end of the program, Brown piled onto his skepticism of Gaurav Jain's tech optimism by cracking at Judge's observation of Nasdaq strength, "Well Scott, we look at our smartphones a lot of times during the day, so, it totally makes sense."

We thought it was going
to be Brian Williams

Prior to the final commercial break of Wednesday's Halftime Report, Judge told viewers to expect "a special surprise visitor — you won't believe who's gonna show up when we come back."

It turned out to be some blue muppet.

Janet apparently didn’t say anything about the newfound ‘consensus’ Doc’s hearing about the 10-basis-point hike

Oddly enough, a day earlier the Halftime Report was preempted by Janet Yellen's boring testimony, whereas Wednesday, when CNBC wasn't airing most of it live, Yellen's grilling from Tea Party House members was deemed interesting enough for Steve Liesman to interrupt the program and point out what was going on.

In an early stumble, Judge called on Steve Grasso from the NYSE, only to get utterly dead air for probably 10 seconds while the screen showed a CNBC graphic.

Eventually connected, Grasso said that if we break 2,120, you want to load up on stocks.

Josh Brown singled out the XLY/XLP ratio as an indication it's a "risk-on" tape.

Ed Yardeni said he's still bullish but thinks the market is crossing from rational exuberance into irrational exuberance.

"But it is what it is," Yardeni said. (That would get a (Drink) from some people but it's actually not heard that often on CNBC.)

Yardeni indicated Yellen will err on the side of caution; "she's still sprinkling the fairy dust," Yardeni said.

Jon Najarian predicted, "by end of year we're definitely gonna have a rate hike."

If MCC were there, she would grumble that they probably don’t deliver the stuff to her in ‘2 days’

Alibaba, a stock that sucks, was the subject of Judge's chat on Wednesday's Halftime with Bob Peck, who suggested that Dick's days are numbered with no real evidence Alibaba site tweaking that works well over time takes a while to implement and is washing out some of the short-term investors. (This writer is long BABA.)

But Peck expressed confidence in the stock as a longer-term holding, stating the purported government rift is a red herring, as is the pending lockup expiration.

Pete Najarian, who not too long ago was pounding the table relentlessly for $150 for this name but hasn't been heard addressing that number for a while, questioned Peck's assessment of Jack Ma's relationship with the humorless, stoic frenemies in Beijing.

"I'm not so sure it's as good as he says," Pete cautioned, adding it's something "I'm a little bit gray on."

Doc asked if the stock has been sliding because Jack Ma hasn't made a big acquisition. Peck said he doesn't think that's the "real reason" the shares are dogs.

Josh Brown questioned BABA's forward multiple given that it's a lot higher than what U.S. investors give Chinese companies now. Peck indicated it's not a typical Chinese operation and predicted investors "will actually get to know" the company.

Pete claims he ‘limited’ his risk by using options, then admits he stands to lose ‘virtually everything’ he put in the trade

Pete Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime Report affirmed that he put on a disastrous HPQ call spread, then claimed "at least I was limited to how much I can lose" before admitting that amount is "virtually everything that I put in the call spread."

Josh Brown said FSLR is "on fire."

Pete Najarian said he still likes airlines' upside.

Pete said he'd take a look at CHK because it presents opportunity.

Pushing the envelope, Judge asked Josh Brown if he's a client of Hair Club for Men and then cracked that Brown's hair doesn't "look like plugs."

Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis that crude supply will "start to draw" and that hedge funds keep adding. But Scott Nations predicted stagnant oil prices.

Brown's Final Trade was SAM. Doc said CZR and Pete said GE (snicker).

[Tuesday, February 24, 2015]

Karen goes sleeveless on eve
of Wednesday birthday

Pete "BABA's going to 150!!!!" Najarian on Tuesday's Fast Money finally acknowledged his BABA stumble, barely, explaining that he's not so confident in YHOO these days because of what its reverse benefactor has been doing. (This writer is long BABA.)

Karen Finerman called M's slide "way overdone" (Drink).

Melissa Lee said "beta" with air quotes, but we're tired of doing pictures of such shenanigans.

Jackie DeAngelis in dark brown leather was show’s only real highlight

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime Report told AAPL skeptic Andy Hargreaves, who calls the risk/reward neutral, "You've been wrong for the last 35% or so," but said he didn't really want to bring that up.

Hargreaves said he hasn't wavered because he thinks the stock has benefited from accelerated iPhone demand that is pulling ahead future orders, and from a "1-time step up in the share gain" from the larger-sized phone.

Josh Brown questioned why people like Hargreaves can't just accept that people will keep buying new iPhones.

"You've run out of rich people, I mean, just to be frank," Hargreaves said, but nobody questioned whether the Occupy folks realize this.

Judge suggested Hargreaves isn't paying enough attention to AAPL software. Hargreaves said "iPhone drives the profit train."

And that was as controversial as it got.

Joe missed opportunity to remind everyone he drives a GM car

About 15-20 minutes of Tuesday's Halftime Report were preempted by Janet Yellen's testimony to a Senate panel.

Yellen might as well have taken up the whole program, given that the show rightly didn't schedule any blockbusters because of the time uncertainties, and Yellen gave the panelists utterly nothing to talk about.

Steve Liesman told Judge, "It's clear what Yellen's saying here ... and this was a very bland report."

Jim Lebenthal said there was "no bad news" from Janet Yellen.

An extended conversation ensued about asset allocation, which country/continent is best to invest, etc.

Later, Phil LeBeau reported that Consumer Reports editors "could not say enough good things about Buick or the Regal."

Josh Brown said his buddy with a Yukon is controlling it with an iPhone, and "I've not even imagined that GM was up to that level of technological sophistication."

LeBeau said the new Impala is great but the previous one was a "joke."

Mr. New World called MU "fairly valued."

Josh Brown said of HPQ, "All of the good news is in the name." Yet, Pete Najarian said cloud-driven earnings will be the next catalyst for HPQ and made it his Final Trade.

Josh Brown's Final Trade was FLSR. Jim Lebenthal said GM and Joe said NTRS.

[Monday, February 23, 2015]

Karen’s birthday is Wednesday; Guy, Mel argue over who gets to host the party

CNBC superfox Karen Finerman warmed up for her pending big day by stating on Monday's Fast Money that she's not selling her AAPL stake, but "I feel a little bit like I missed" the run.

Finerman also said, "I'd rather own Wal-Mart" than TGT.

Reaching into her own cache of cliches, Finerman reaffirmed, "I like the IBB, the XBI (Drink) and the FBT."

Grandpa Dan Nathan grumbled that AAPL's next catalysts are due in April, a "long time" (sic) from now.

Grandpa Dan called DIS a "really tough chase" here.

Grandpa Dan also called MCD "structurally challenged" and actually claimed buying SHAK would move the needle.

Mel more than held her own with chic new green jacket.

Pete Najarian referred to "Mario Gabella" (sic).

Joe walking fine line on energy, suggests guest too enthusiastic days after knocking Buffett for not buying fear

Oil calls on CNBC are a dime a dozen.

(Even Dennis Gartman ... hard to believe ... makes them.)

So, we were happy to see Morgan Downey's $75-and-then-$100 forecast get the heave-ho from a rejuvenated Dr. New World on Monday's Halftime Report.

Downey told Judge that the reasons for oil's slide to $45 have all "been removed" from the market, thus a rebound to $75 by year end and $100 within 12 months is possible.

Downey claimed that supply has been reduced enough "that it's matched the decrease in demand."

Joe Terranova, finally getting his chance, implied he was in between the extremes of the oil trade, telling Downey that $100 could happen, "but let's get it to 70 first."

Downey told Joe that $100 is actually somehow not reliant on the Saudis not cutting production; Downey said there's enough production taken offline in the U.S. and Canada.

Joe questioned why, if oil surged again, the Saudis wouldn't just repeat what they did last fall.

"The Saudis have already succeeded," Downey said.

"There's no defaults," Joe shrugged.

"But there's a falloff in supply," Downey insisted.

One should never take trading advice from this page. But we ain't feelin' it. Oil bull calls in 2015 sound like when Roger McNamee was on Louis Rukeyser's show in late 2000 and 2001, marveling at the steep discounts in all of these high-flying tech names ...

Josh could try Saks/Lord & Taylor, make as much money as a real estate broker

Given that most of his static, early 2015 commentary has amounted to "staying long Apple is the toughest trade to make but I'm doing it," it was refreshing to hear Dr. New Land on Monday's Halftime Report pounce on not only oil watcher Morgan Downey but bank curmudgeon Josh Brown.

Pete Najarian, who always thinks GS "goes higher," said he's long some call spreads.

Joe backed the GS endorsement, citing Pete's "great points," then predicted GS would be "foraying" (sic clumsy usage) into asset management.

Stephen Weiss also touted GS, but Josh Brown spoiled the party stating he prefers the regionals.

Joe seized the opportunity. "Sounds like you got turned down coming out of college at Goldman Sachs. Sourpuss," Terranova told Brown.

"I didn't even bother," Brown shrugged. "I'm not Goldman material; I don't take orders."

But Joe risked a stumble in claiming Goldman Sachs has done a "tremendous job" of resuscitating its PR image, citing its Twitter account.

Brown scoffed that "all they're doing on Twitter is retweeting out PR articles about Habitat for Humanity."

Still waiting to hear more of that ‘building consensus’ on the Fed doing a 10-basis-point hike

Joe Terranova on Monday's Halftime Report predicted the market will "get through" Yellen's testimony.

Josh Brown said the market has "already voted" and is OK with a rate hike, whenever.

Steve Liesman said the market will be listening for "patience" and "mid-year" from Yellen.

Steve Weiss delivered the old saw about rates going up "for the right reasons" (Drink).

Larry Glazer predicted there won't be a "spring thaw" in stock-market volatility; rather, we might get the opposite.

Dom Chu rattled off the Nasdaq biggies (you already know who they are) that make up the "bulks (sic) of- of- of the gains" in the Nasdaq 100.

CNBC's Ari Levy pointed out that Uber couldn't exist without smartphones.

Pete Najarian trumpeted how ZIOP made a run just as he held the options despite not having any earnings; Pete revealed he "jumped back in" to the March 13 calls and plans to hold them for "a couple of weeks" (Drink). ZIOP was Pete's Final Trade.

Sue Herera mentioned getting a quarter from the Tooth Fairy back in the day.

Stephen Weiss made awesome forecast Friday on SLXP buyout, only to see stock fall Monday

Joe Terranova on Monday's Halftime Report decided to spar with Judge over whether there's a "good chance" Dick gets the boot in 2015 the outlook for Sugar Ray Leonard's NBC boxing venture in which viewers won't be seeing 1st-round knockouts whether Judge wanted to talk about Joe's slide into 2nd place in the Playbook Playoffs.

Pete Najarian repeated his tiresome grumbling that AXP is killing his Playbook Playoffs portfolio but he's not making any changes.

Josh Brown said BA will be a "battleground stock" for a while.

Joe said he would own $100 puts in DIS; it's the "right thing to do."

Pete Najarian said not to chase DG.

Eric Chemi pointed out that Mayweather-Pacquiao is a lucrative event. Judge even mentioned "pent-up demand" (Drink).

Stephen Weiss, doubling down on one of the most bizarre outcomes of a Final Trade call ever — touting SLXP Friday as a buyout candidate — again offered SLXP, stating it'll either get a higher bid or a $160, which seems too much of the dreaded "layup." Joe said NEM and Josh said DE (Drink).

[Friday, February 20, 2015]

Mario Gabelli not stoked
by ‘Better Call Saul’

Mario Gabelli, star guest of Friday's Halftime Report, brought some much-needed life to Judge's operation by going places where Judge rarely goes — interesting places — and free-lancing an opinion on "Better Call Saul."

"I gotta get more into it," Gabelli said, not sounding terribly impressed.

But back in the real Halftime Report world, addressing Judge's Favorite Question of All Time, Gabelli said he's "leaning in part" toward Japan as the best place to invest.

Gabelli's top 3 picks are AN, DISCA, RHP.

Judge’s producer comes up with a ‘Party like it’s 1999?’ headline

Mike Rothenberg, a guest on Friday's Halftime Report, defended Instagram's $33 billion valuation because "those trends will continue."

But because Rothenberg didn't give a very inspired quote regarding that subject or Henry Blodget's I-guarantee-there'll-be-another-tech-bubble essay that landed Henry a CNBC hit, Judge quickly cut off Rothenberg and moved on to the panel.

Stephen Weiss knocked the brilliant piece of prose written by Blodget; "He's not saying anything that we all don't know."

If NBC had the Oscars, Judge would be interviewing movie stars; Brad Cooper, Reese Witherspoon, etc.

Jon Najarian on Friday's Halftime Report said he'd "merge" what he does in his spare time with the Playbook Playoffs challenge and add RKUS to his portfolio.

Judge brought up sound effects when for some reason asking about Josh Brown's portfolio pick, SIRO. Mario Gabelli seized the opportunity to trumpet PDCO.

Mario Gabelli halfheartedly endorsed DE but lamented that ag cycles aren't as predictable as auto cycles.

Doc said "trust me," you'll be able to buy WMT at 80. Stephen Weiss said he prefers M (Drink).

Pete Najarian said someone made "huge money" with a WMB 47-49 call spread.

Doc said EQT March 90 calls were active.

Jack O'Callahan shared some Miracle on Ice stories; of course it was part of a cross-promotion for an NBC program.

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was SLXP. Josh Brown said DE, Doc said RKUS and Pete Najarian said AMAT.

[Thursday, February 19, 2015]

Saks/Lord & Taylor honcho tells Judge employees make almost same money as ‘real estate brokers’

Jerry Storch joined Thursday's Halftime Report to applaud WMT for its minimum-wage hike that shows "real leadership."

Storch wouldn't tell Judge how much Saks and Lord & Taylor workers make, except that they make "vastly more than minimum wage" and are "almost like uh, real estate brokers in terms of what they can earn."

Judge stressed that 5 of the worst 10 S&P 500 stocks year to date are retailers. Jim Lebenthal, who said he's "perplexed" that TIF isn't doing well, said it's been a "bifurcated" (Drink) retail market. Pete Najarian pounded the table for athletic apparel and FL.

Doc congratulates analyst for a ‘buy’ call he doesn’t agree with

Dorothy Lakner, who has a $44 target on COH, said on Thursday's Halftime Report that the turnaround seems to be gaining steam as the company has made a "distinct improvement" in its new spring collection.

Jon Najarian addressed Lakner as if he were going to ask a question but merely said he likes her call because it's about better merchandise and not a consumer-with-extra-gasoline-money story.

Stephen Weiss, on the other hand, grumbled, "I don't buy it," because it's all about making a brand "cool," which is "very uncertain."

Doc, backpedaling like Pete Carroll at the goal line, stated that he doesn't really like the stock at 40 but does believe in the brand turnaround.

Jim Lebenthal questioned whether "Fashion Week press" translates into that much additional traffic for a brand this size.

Lakner said she's not aware of a COH impact from the West Coast port stalemate.

Lakner also said she's got a buy on KORS but that COH is at an "inflection point."

Joe implies Buffett
should take his own advice

On Thursday's Halftime Report, Mr. New Land was asked to call in to discuss one of his favorite stocks, no not LPX or TCBI or PANW EOG (Drinks all around), stating the price action has been happy and it's also perhaps in a good spot to pick up lesser rivals.

"I would've bought more OG- uh, EOG this morning," Joe told Judge, then adding DVN, PXD, CXO.

Joe then went on the offensive, pointing out that the fear-trumping-greed in energy is a "classic environment" for Warren Buffett, so "I don't understand why he's getting out of energy," pronouncing himself "amazed" at the revelations in Berkshire's 13F.

Jim Lebenthal stressed that Buffett is already tied to the Bakken via Burlington Northern, then scorned $40 or $20 crude oil forecasts as "classic momentum trading."

Lebenthal at one point said he thinks the bottom for oil is in, that it goes to 60, and that the slide from 65 to 45 "had the feeling to me of a margin call."

Lebenthal said it's "absolutely" a good place to get into some larger integrateds and refiners but didn't actually name any.

Pete Najarian said there's oil volatility "each and every (sic redundant) (Drink) day."

Quick — name the product being advertised in this insufferable commercial

Bypassing Dick Costolo for a change, Judge on Thursday's Halftime asked his panel if Marissa Mayer deserves to be on the CEO Hot Seat.

Doc said Marissa has done a good job of "not making bad investments ... with the exception perhaps of Katie Couric."

Stephen Weiss and Pete Najarian then referred to "those commercials," which we think are those suddenly incredibly wretchedly overplayed clips of Couric and Bryant Gumbel wondering what the Internet is in the early 1990s.

Weiss contended that "about half" the funds that he talks to that own YHOO own it on the belief it will be sold or merged with something.

Weiss shrugged that the stock hasn't been moved by anything besides BABA. Judge reiterated his previous point that the stock still went from $12 to $50 during Mayer's short tenure. Pete Najarian chimed in that Jerry Yang deserves that credit.

Weiss says he wants to take advantage of volatility, mentions CSCO and AAPL

Heidi Richardson sat in with Thursday's Halftime panel and said she really likes "mature" U.S. tech companies.

In not his first ambiguous comments of the day, Doc sounded like he was suggesting you might want to get more specific by owning semiconductors only to say you don't want to be in the "right church, wrong pew" by picking a subsector that doesn't work.

Stephen Weiss said you'll get a better return by picking volatile stocks that are providing a "great entry point." Weiss said he likes CSCO and INTC and AAPL.

Pete Najarian endorsed SUNE over SCTY.

Jim Lebenthal said PCLN's move is an indication "travel is up."

Nothing this time about the Fed doing a 10-basis-point hike

In not the strongest argument of the day, Pete Najarian on Thursday's Halftime Report made a bull case for DE because Warren Buffett just plunged in, and unlike tech, it's a space "he seems to know very well." (Which means, based on what viewers heard on Thursday's show, some of Buffett's moves are right to be followed and some are wrong to be followed.)

But Jim Lebenthal countered that while DE is a "great long-term holding," the short-term headwinds are too stiff.

Doc likes DE, but Steve Weiss said "I don't think it's cheap."

Doc said he took off half his BSX calls of a day earlier because it already doubled. #somuchforthe"2weeks"thing

Pete Najarian said the KO May 44 calls were hot Thursday.

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis that bond yields could go lower; Brian Stutland agreed with Iuorio that the rate hike might be later this year.

Judge was impressed that Stutland was wearing a sweater but didn't ask Iuorio about the man-fur that Judge knows nothing about.

Doc said HRL is "doing almost everything right."

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade again was OA. Jim Lebenthal said BP, Doc said TWTR and Pete Najarian offered KO.

[Wednesday, February 18, 2015]

Intriguing visuals on Fast Money

OK, it's kind of like Karen Finerman Celebration Week around here (see below) despite the fact we promise we're not trying to overdo it.

On Wednesday's Fast Money, the cameraman happened to catch Karen multiple times in front of a Denny's logo, omg, if that didn't get pulses racing ... table for 2, approximately 11:30 p.m., Grand Slam, talking stocks, Hollywood, those things in Finerman's Rules about how women should- don't even think about bringing up that subject around here ... heaven-heaven-heaven-heaven-heaven.

Meanwhile, Guy Adami revealed on Wednesday's Fast Money he still hasn't figured out that John Deere has been known as Deere & Co. for decades.

Doc suggests ‘consensus building’ that Fed will hike by 10 basis points

Mike Block observed at the top of Wednesday's Halftime Report that concerns about forex and a "June liftoff" from the Fed are not stopping the market.

Nevertheless, Judge suggested stocks might not like it if the Fed does get going this summer and observed that some of the data has been "squirrelly."

In one of the stranger comments we've heard recently, Jon Najarian revealed he was hanging out with "a number of fixed-income guys" last week (that's not the strange part) and learned "there's a consensus building" that "maybe" the Fed might only move 10 basis points (that's the strange part).

But Mike Santoli said it would be "incredibly bearish" to him if the Fed decided we could only handle 10 points.

Pete Najarian said CRUS is making new 52-week highs "almost every single (sic redundant) day" (at least it wasn't "almost each and every day" (Drink)) but cautioned that oil could still drag down the market, especially if it gets a 2-handle.

Doc tried to explain, while Judge butted in and talked over him about the specific Dow move, that the move in the oil VIX is much more significant, and then Doc knocked the Citi analysts' oil-doomsday calls, "none of that playing out."

Doesn’t someone have to be last?

Josh Brown said on Wednesday's Halftime Report he finds it "really amazing" that the Nasdaq is the last index to take out its old high.

Mike Santoli interestingly pointed out that around the turn of the century, the Nasdaq hardly spent any time over 4,000, let alone 5,000.

Mike Block uncorked a curious theory and term we hadn't heard before while pointing out that unlike in 2000, "we have a guy named Bill Dudley now" (that's correct, not the Pro Football Hall of Famer (sic not "NFL Hall of Famer" like Judge tends to say) Bullet Bill Dudley who played for the Steelers in the 1940s when he wasn't being shipped to the Pacific Theater (and you think today's world is stressful)).

Block said we're approaching the 1-year anniversary of when Dudley (the banker one) called biotechs and social media overvalued, and questioned if that will happen again if the Nasdaq continues churning higher.

"I'm lookin' for some of these stocks to get Dudleyed," Block said, getting a pat on the back from Pete Najarian.

"You don't have to have a mania to have a market top," said Mike Santoli.

CCAR-driven ‘euphoria’

This page has long pointed out we can't handle CNBC lists of things longer than 3 and sometimes not even that many, so it was refreshing to hear Judge picking up the baton on Wednesday's Halftime Report.

Mike Block grumbled that banks are rising because of the perception of "price to book — they're cheap," and there's also "a lot of financial engineering" going on.

As Block tried to list his 3rd catalyst in the banking rally, CCAR results from the Fed March 11, Judge interrupted (something he did often Wednesday), asserting, "You know what happens when you make a list, people tend to forget even the 3rd or 4th thing."

But Block pointed out that's why CNBC has graphics.

Anyway, Block finally concluded, "I think it's gonna be hard for banks to make money."

Josh Brown insisted that the KRE is in an uptrend and called the sector "primed to explode."

Pete Najarian balked at Block's theory by stating the good news isn't as priced in as Block seems to think.

Block said he wants to sell into the "euphoria" in the wake of CCAR, which seems a back-door way of calling them ownable into the 2nd week of March.

Panelist hands Judge a facial about ridiculous campaign to oust CEO who has only boosted value since IPO barely a year ago

It needed to be said on the show, and someone finally said it.

After Julia Boorstin, stunning, reported Evan Williams' support of Dick Costolo during Wednesday's Halftime Report, Josh Brown observed that Williams' comments were about the "constant drumbeat to fire Costolo" despite just 1 year as a public company in a fairly new business model.

As far as we've been able to tell, the only "constant drumbeat" is Judge's endless reference solely to Bob Peck's watered-down prediction (name another person who has come on the show and made such a prediction) that there's a "good chance" Dick won't be around in 2016 and oh by the way Ross Levinsohn, who wants TWTR to go buy YHOO, would be a great replacement because he knows all those people on Madison Avenue.

Dick is funny, Dick gets it, and Dick isn't going anywhere.

Meanwhile, Kate Kelly reported on quarterly hedge fund peformance and pointed out that energy is "decidedly out of favor."

Kelly said Warren Buffett has a "formidably large position" in IBM, which Judge called "incredibly interesting." Not addressing that directly, Kelly also noted Buffett had to sell COP while it slid after buying at a "near-term peak," so "sometimes he gets it wrong."

Scott Nations said bond shorts are getting "brave." Brian Stutland said the Fed minutes are "really critical" and called 1.9% a "far cry from ever happening" and suggested that crossing 2.2% would ignite a surge higher.

Even though Simon mentioned Marriott, Judge never mentioned he did a documentary of the company in which he sat in the laundry chute

In a kinda bizarre, this-is-the-only-time-we-can-do-this type of interruption of Wednesday's Halftime Report, Simon Hobbs, who seemed like he was running an altogether different show, heard from Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta that selling the Waldorf Manhattan block at 32 times earnings and buying at 13 times earnings feels "really good."

Nassetta suggested a dividend and buybacks are in order.

Hobbs, running out of time, said he'll leave it "hanging in the air" as to whether Hilton would do a REIT.

Doc said he loves HLT.

Doc bought some options after he saw someone else buying them and plans to hold them for ...

Superfox Sara Eisen, from the Boca Raton conference (that image is actually from her Fast Money hit with Luckiest-Man-of-the-Day Gregg Engles), took part in Wednesday's Halftime Report, airing clips of a chat with Irene Rosenfeld and pointing out Rosenfeld was "negative" on the "cautious consumer."

Josh Brown said he's a seller of MDLZ because he's not bullish on the "packaged food" space.

Mike Block said all anyone cares about at that conference is margins, then he referred to "Irene herself" on a first-name basis.

Jon Najarian said BSX March 17 calls were hot. Doc said ... drum roll ... you know what's coming ... he'll be in these calls for "2 weeks" (Drink).

Judge, gradually unleashing a thriving sense of humor, read a promo for the Invest Like a Monster conference in Vegas and then referred to the "incredible commercials" of the Najarians with a nice visual flourish.

Josh Brown's Final Trade was to sell ANGI. Doc said NEE, Pete said CDW and Mike Block said to sell Russia because he doesn't trust Putin.

[Tuesday, February 17, 2015]

Mark your calendar: Karen’s
birthday is next week

Look at that gorrrrrrjus (and still very young) and undeniably brilliant woman.

Next week — Wednesday to be specific — she's going to be celebrating a birthday, and we're fully expecting the Fast Money crew to bring in da funk for this special day, that means full party mode.

Karen Finerman said on Tuesday's Fast Money that she still likes SDRL.

Guy Adami was called a JACK "evangelist."

Guy Adami doesn't know that "John Deere" has actually been called "Deere & Company" for decades.

Halftime Report crew utterly inept at Courtney Reagan’s retail pop quiz

Well, that was kinda embarrassing.

Courtney Reagan, who looks dynamite, made an appearance on Tuesday's Halftime Report apparently, like Andy Hiller with George W. Bush in 1999*, for the purposes of stumping Scott Wapner's Halftime Report with fairly simple questions about retail conglomerates.

Nili Gilbert was unable to list a single brand of Wolverine Worldwide, including Wolverine.

Pete Najarian claimed to know that, but Reagan also stumped Dr. New Land and Stephanie Link with a request for a single Iconix brand.

In a double bungle, Joe wrongly guessed that Columbia is a division of VF Corp.

Reagan warned the panel that she'll be doing more of this. "You didn't do so well this time," Courtney said.

(*Governor George Bush was heard to say, "The new prime minister of India is ... uh, no.")

Another CNBC apostrophe glitch; this one gets corrected during segment

On Tuesday's Halftime Report, Barclays' pretty Joan Payson — yes, same name as the original owner of the New York Mets (that would be in 1962) — was called by Judge to account for — the horror — a SELL rating on M.

Payson said department stores "are coming under pressure from a number of different areas from a market-share standpoint."

Given a large degree of latitude to make her point, Payson suggested a couple times, in a somewhat monotonous though thorough analysis, that mighty Macy's is facing "margin-dilutive" headwinds.

Payson said JWN's assumed sale of its credit portfolio is already priced in, which partly accounts for her "sell" rating on that name.

Stephanie Link sounded more sympathetic toward Payson's sell-JWN call than Payson's sell-M call, citing everyone's favorite CNBC term of 2015 at the end of the day, "omnichannel" (Drink).

Nili Gilbert said the "negative fundamentals" of JCP are still intact.

Around here, we're big fans of fonts, typography, etc., losers so we take particular interest when we catch for at least the 2nd time another unconverted apostrophe on CNBC's still relatively new graphics configuration; usually this is a sign that a "true" apostrophe requires not just a quote mark signal but some combination, like CTRL-quote mark, etc., and someone forgot the CTRL, but then realized it moments later.

‘Further out into the future’

You'd think with a 3-day weekend, Judge would bring plenty of pizzazz.

Tuesday's Halftime Report started off on a whimper, with Pete Najarian opining on tech valuations and calling them appealing.

Dr. New World reaffirmed he thinks "it's '14 all over again ... I think February sets up to be very strong," because people "are still on the sidelines."

Stephanie Link allowed that some pockets in tech are "bubble-like." Link endorsed RHT and CRM and IMPV.

Nili Gilbert said she prefers "proven" tech companies, not concepts.

Joe said CSCO's "turn" happened a few quarters ago and endorsed ADI, AKAM and ADBE.

Pete Najarian claimed Jeff Bezos "wants to build something further out into the future."

Joe said he wouldn't short AMZN, saying the technicals have "strengthened" (translation: the momentum is simply going up instead of down).

‘Rates are an important factor for REITs’

Hessam Nadji affirmed on Tuesday's Halftime Report that "rates are an important factor for REITs in particular" — for those who doubted such a notion — and said demand for REITs in general is strong.

Nadji trumpeted EXL, DDR and REG.

Nili Gilbert said rather than REITs, she likes HD and LOW, taking the Guy Adami approach that rates figure to go lower (no, she didn't say "camp").

Gilbert said she's negative on HOT, it's still trading expensively.

They may not be paying attention to Greece, but what about those post-Cold War commanders who might bump subs with Russia ...

Mr. New World contended on Tuesday's Halftime Report that he doesn't think the market's paying attention to Greece and rightly so; "I think there's a resolution."

CNBC's go-to person on Greece, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, summoned from Post 9 at the NYSE, did not mockingly note the brand (probably because she didn't want a pop quiz from Courtney Reagan) of the Greek finance minister's scarf but did tell Judge that previous talks have fallen through late, and "any extension will do right now."

Stephanie Link said to "be careful" with RIG.

Pete Najarian said it's time to trim GT gains.

Joe Terranova called AXP dead money until March 11 investor day; he said COF is the "trade of the moment" because people think it's getting the COST business (no, not the gas pumps that bring SO many more new customers when gas prices rise but apparently don't lose any customers when gas sinks).

Everyone on Tuesday's Halftime Report was well-dressed (above), which didn't stop Judge from a wisecrack about how it's Fashion Week, but you wouldn't know it "by some of the outfits around here."

No word on whether Jim Iuorio was wearing the ‘man-fur’

Jim Iuorio, in his trader jacket that he wears all the time, told Jackie DeAngelis on Tuesday's Halftime Report he'd rather buy than sell crude. Jeff Kilburg though said he wants to be short crude.

Nili Gilbert said she likes STX because it's been beaten down on PC concerns despite having a "pristine" balance sheet.

Gilbert said WIRE has been hit as copper has underperformed, but she likes it.

Stephanie Link now works for TIAA-CREF.

Dom Chu referred to Appaloosa as "David Tepper's shop" multiple times.

Stephanie Link's Final Trade was LOW. Joe Terranova said ICE, Pete Najarian said JNJ and Nili Gilbert offered CVLT.

[Friday, February 13, 2015]

MCC tells Marc Lore about 4 times that his stuff won’t arrive in 2 days

We'd be smiling like that too if we were seated across from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

Jet founder Marc Lore visited with Friday's Halftime Report crew and told MCC that for a $50 annual membership, shoppers at his site can buy anything online for the lowest price, what he says is a 10-15% discount.

Lore said the "secret sauce" is his ability to steer consumers toward "more economically efficient orders" which are not only cheaper but arrive faster.

Stephen Weiss asked how many members Lore needs to be profitable. Lore said he can "get to scale" with about 5 million members.

If perhaps just on enthusiasm, Lore seems as good of a candidate as any to try to topple Amazon.

However, his brief descriptions of some kind of algorithms to guide $50-a-year users to the most "efficient" orders seems a daunting project even if one has the Amazon infrastructure.

Surely if there's success, Lore will be back.

When we’re not calculating how many hundreds of thousands of dollars Bill Gates was theoretically earning at age 7 ...

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, gorgeous, beamed from ear to ear for the duration of Friday's Halftime Report.

Yet, Josh Brown on Friday's Halftime Report refused to play along with MCC's opening game, unwilling to pick a single country as the best place to invest, but rather "the whole world."

Jim Lebenthal said the U.S. is No. 1 and Europe is No. 2. (Why we bothered recording this dialogue, we're not really sure.)

Keith Banks said he likes energy, technology, health care and financials.

Stephen Weiss and Sarat Sethi agreed airlines look good.

After a strange segment in which net worth of famous males was divided by the total number of days they've been alive, Caruso-Cabrera told viewers, "I don't like inherited wealth. Who wants to date a guy who inherited- I want a self-made man."

Josh Brown said he's OK with self-made males, but Stephen Weiss said he prefers females, prompting MCC to make sure nobody was making a bad joke.

Unfortunately Morgan had her back to the camera for nearly the entire interview

Brunswick chief Dusty McCoy, who enjoyed the pleasure of a boat ride with CNBC's Morgan Brennan on Friday's Halftime Report, said the top end of the boat market is "red hot."

Michelle told Brennan, "You look great out there Morgan."

Stephen Weiss predicted SLXP goes higher and will be acquired.

Josh Brown said to avoid ZNGA.

Jim Lebenthal said it's safe to own AXP.

Jim Lebenthal said he added WGO to his Playbook Playoff portfolio and ditched TRMB.

MCC took care of the obligatory NBC Uni promotion by taking a call from "SNL" alum Tim Meadows.

MCC related how, when she started in the business, Ron Insana used to talk about the interest-rate-sensitive utility index. Steve Weiss got in a good one, questioning if there was electricity when Caruso-Cabrera got started in the business.

Sarat Sethi's Final Trade was SYSS. Josh Brown said FSLR, Jim Lebenthal said SJT and Stephen Weiss offered AAL.

[Thursday, February 12, 2015]

Happy birthday, Judge

We've gotta put this one on the calendar, because we keep missing it every year.

Friday (Feb. 13) is Judge's birthday, evidenced by the very brief celebration on Thursday's Halftime (it was explained that Judge will be off Friday; hence the festivities Thursday).

Yes, we should've had it in advance. Should've run it up the flagpole. Didn't. It happens.

Judge on Thursday's program wouldn't reveal his age. Already doing a bang-up job, he's still got practically his whole life ahead of him.

This page, for better or worse, will continue to point out the highs and lows of the Halftime Report, try to inform, try to entertain.

Much more often than not, Judge is overachieving.

(Keep in mind a very special Fast Money birthday coming up on the 25th.)

Crowded trade isn’t working, unless you listened to the AAPL conversation minutes later

Mr. New World, off for a few days, roared back to the Halftime Report Thursday suggesting the stock market is a "repeat of 2014."

Stephanie Link said the earnings season started "wishy-washy" but got better.

Josh Brown said the "crowded trade's not working" and the stocks nobody wants to own are doing the best.

Later in the program, Steve DeSanctis told Judge he has had a "cautious stance" on small caps for a while, because valuations are stretched and volatility is high.

DeSanctis said midcaps might even be the most overpriced.

Stephanie Link said she's puzzled because small caps don't have dollar risk and do have exposure to the U.S. economy. DeSanctis suggested the dollar represents more of a risk-off trade, which isn't so great for small-caps.

OMG, Ray Dalio sold

Another day, another AAPL cheerleading party on the Halftime Report.

Stephanie Link curiously suggested on Thursday that if the "iWatch" (sic) can go from 5% of an addressable market to 13-15%, "your numbers are going much higher."

Pete Najarian and Joe Terranova both tried to assure that Ray Dalio is still bullish on Apple. "He still thinks that Apple's stock is going higher," Joe said.

Joe said that 75-80% of AAPL's cash is sitting overseas. (Surprisingly, no one predicted this will be the year Congress works together on tax reform to create a cash-repatriation holiday.)

Josh Brown said "there's no new information" in Carl's latest AAPL letter.

This time, nobody wasted any soundbites rehashing why Harry Wilson wants on the GM board

Cathie Wood, impressively dressed to the 9's, breezed through the Tesla bull case on Thursday's Halftime Report with no hint of hesitation.

Wood contended the market is underestimating the battery technology; "no one's gonna be able to catch them."

Wood acknowledged to Judge she calls Tesla "the Apple of autos."

Stephanie Link rattled off the world's automotive giants and told Wood they have "a lot better R&D" and can be highly competitive.

Wood rebutted, "The R&D departments we think have missed this one ... This is the old guard and the new guard ... Tesla is at least 3 years ahead of them."

Josh Brown said that analyzing Tesla's space is not the same thing as analyzing pizza parlors.

Phil LeBeau said Elon Musk "gets a little bit of a pass" from TSLA bulls because of the battery technology he has met lofty goals before. (LeBeau also threw in an "at the end of the day.")

Ross Levinsohn seems to have a new big idea every month

Josh Brown on Thursday's Halftime twice said CSCO hasn't even taken out its 2007 highs.

Judge, noting that everyone on the panel seems bullish on CSCO, wondered if buyers of this name are getting too "giddy."

Jeff Kilburg said he'd be a buyer of the 10-year.

Josh Brown lamented removing EXPE on Friday from his Playbook Playoffs portfolio and then protested he didn't know it was going to make a big deal days later.

Mr. New World said he added Ruckus (RKUS) to the Playbook portfolio and then ditched it after it failed to beat earnings.

Stephanie Link called AXP's slide an "overreaction" and said she's a buyer.

Joe said to avoid PNRA, but Stephanie made it her Final Trade.

Pete Najarian, who had a quiet show by his own lofty standards, said to stay away from WFM at current prices.

Joe's Final Trade was long CSCO. Josh said TNET, and Pete said DVN.

At one point, Judge brought in TWTR CEO In Waiting Ross Levinsohn, who had little to say besides the notion Jon Stewart is a valuable media commodity.

Levinsohn said that other than Lorne Michaels, Stewart is "the most, uh, important figure in satire, in comedy," and Levinsohn sees Stewart's potential for a "direct to consumer, over the top opportunity."

Not only was this notion iffy, but Judge completely ignored the subject of TWTR, Levinsohn's goofy plan for TWTR to buy YHOO, and Dick Costolo's job security. On most days, that would be the lede headline on this page.

But because we're celebrating Judge's birthday and he did have a sensational suit-tie combo, we're gonna let it go.

Did ‘bungled attempt’
sink Brian Williams?

In the media circles in which we're allowed to gather, we've been hearing a similar refrain about Brian Williams for more than a week: Hope it's not really that bad, seems like a good guy, no schadenfreude here ...

Indeed. We certainly don't know Williams. The N.Y. Post has quoted some folks as calling him pompous, but most accounts we've seen suggest an affable fellow who appreciates his stature with the public.

This site critiques media. We try to tell it like it is. There's an obligation to report the minuses as well as the pluses. Unfortunately, the minuses tend to be more newsworthy.

Thus, thousands of news outlets who have never published or distributed a word about Brian Williams and the many excellent broadcasts he has undoubtedly put together or people he went to bat for are presently running his troubles up the flagpole.

There's no question, what was communicated by Williams is simply bizarre.

It's fair to say that, given the extreme standards of his position (among other things, it would be interesting to know if he's barred from investing in single stocks), dismissal is not unreasonable for such statements, maybe even necessary.

NBC has essentially dealt him such a fate, as it's absurd to think he's going to come roaring back in 6 months without being the butt of nighttime talk shows and editorial cartoonists.

No one should take any satisfaction in that, and likely very few are.

The world is much better off when people succeed, not fail.

In the critical moments — those days since the Jan. 30 broadcast — could Williams have prevented this outcome? There are few things we like analyzing more than a prepared statement.

Here's how Williams apologized last week on "NBC Nightly News":

"This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not. I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now my apology."

Hmmmm ... "bungled attempt" ... sounds a bit like trivializing the situation. Something like, "I made a grievous mistake the other night and I'm sorry" would resonate better.

"I did not" serve ... not really relevant to the controversy.

"I hope they know" ... translation: Some people are taking this too far.

In his Facebook response to veterans' criticism, Williams apparently cited the "fog of memory" as the cause of this problem and actually wrote: "Nobody's trying to steal anyone's valor." ... Uh oh ... sort of blaming the critics.

Then, there is the Deborah Turness memo, which includes these passages:

"Our review, which is being led by Richard Esposito working closely with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing, but I think it is important to take you through our thought process in coming to this decision." (Translation: "ongoing" = there may be more stuff we don't know about, but there's enough to act now. Too many words in the last clause; obviously it's important to explain how you arrived at the decision or you wouldn't be issuing a memo.)

"While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian's position." (Translation: The cause of the punishment is the Jan. 30 broadcast. For those who think that's too harsh, he's done this before. Notice we're calling him "Brian" rather than "Brian Williams" or just "Williams," a sign we don't hate him.)

"Steve Burke, Pat Fili and I came to this decision together." (Translation: No one here wants to touch this thing and no single corporate individual is going to be scrutinized for this.)

"We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization." (Translation: We were otherwise fine with him, but he left us no choice, and he's not the only big fish we've got in the sea.)

Then there is Steve Burke's message:

"This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts." (Serious grammar issues here, missing comma, past-present tense.)

"By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian's life's work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone's trust." (Translation: He did this to himself. We had no choice. He's not a bad guy. We don't want his career to end this way. Someone should make him an offer. It doesn't have to be (and almost surely won't be) us. In case we slide in the ratings during our 6 months of auditions and there's still buzz around Brian, we reserve the right to bring him back.)

[Wednesday, February 11, 2015]

Goldman Sachs commodities watcher dips oil forecast to 35

Oil calls are a dime a dozen, but the crisp commodities interview that Kate Kelly and Judge put together on Wednesday's Halftime was a cut above.

Kelly landed another Goldman Sachs get, commodities research chief Jeff Currie, who delivered an interesting and convincing thesis that oil's slide is not done.

Currie said fundamentals are weak and that rig-count reductions aren't enough to stabilize the oil price; "this market has got (sic) ahead of itself."

Stephen Weiss said the rig-count reduction applies more to newer rigs, some of which haven't even produced anything yet, and that the more productive assets haven't been shut down, which is why the supply keeps coming. Currie agreed.

Currie said his 6-month oil forecast is 35-40. Kelly said she hadn't heard the 35 before.

Currie said he advocates a copper short because with energy down, "we have to see downward pressure in cost deflation in copper," plus there's the dollar's strength, plus weak Chinese property demand and growing Chilean inventories.

Currie also said commodity investors are hampered by a 15% negative carry.

Later in the show, Stephen Weiss said he thinks oil's bias is still downward.

Doc bragged again about his 22% gain in RIG and said it's more interesting now on a pullback, but he might wait for 17.50.

Stephen Weiss challenged Josh Brown's assertion that "there is no correlation" between oil's price and the S&P 500; things were kind of left unsettled.

Judge was right; they should’ve ignored GM and just talked Tesla

On Wednesday's Halftime Report, Judge told Phil LeBeau, who was in Chicago, that while there were things to talk about with both GM and TSLA, they'd already had a lot of GM previously and "sort of exhausted that yesterday," so what's the deal with Tesla.

But LeBeau insisted on starting off with his chat with Harry Wilson, who bemoaned the lack of "clear metrics" for repaying GM investors.

Shifting to the other subject, LeBeau said that if TSLA only sold 120 cars in China in January, "that's unacceptable."

Josh Brown said the momentum players have been bailing on TSLA. Doc said there'll be a chance to buy it under 200 and perhaps in the 180s.

Josh Brown made a joke about Jack Ma buying only 120 Teslas in January, but Pete Najarian said nothing about his BABA-to-150 call. (This writer is long BABA.)

Should GOOG take AAPL’s cue, declare 7-for-1 split?

This page sort of started warning a couple weeks ago after Carl Icahn's call to Judge that AAPL enthusiasm might be bubbling over.

Wednesday's Halftime Report bolstered that notion, as every possible cautious note was overridden.

Stephen Weiss said there's a "legitimate concern" about who the marginal buyer of the stock is. But Weiss pronounced AAPL "a market stock" that will do better than the market.

Judge brought up Carl's notion of a "de facto short squeeze."

Weiss also endorsed the shares because of low expectations for the "iWatch" (sic).

Doc said he "famously" expects the "iWatch" (sic) will be a bust.

Josh Brown made an interesting point, stating "it might be a little bit goofy" but that the split might've kickstarted the rally; it seems there might be AAPL buyers who had "sticker shock" with the nominal price in the $600s.

Judge said that when he sees a story about AAPL and solar, "I literally (sic unneeded emphasis) think of Google."

MCC digs Greek socialist attire

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who looked great herself, on Wednesday's Halftime Report observed that the Greek finance minister whom she interviewed recently arrived in Brussels well-dressed, "as a socialist in his Burberry scarf."

Paul Richards uncorked an "at the end of the day," stating Greece really only has to negotiate with Angela Merkel, who is more preoccupied with Ukraine right now.

Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis that a couple pending cold waves are boosting natural gas. Jeff Kilburg said there's a "lid" on nat gas because of supply.

Late in the show, Herb Greenberg took a classy victory lap on downgrading PIR, stating that by sifting through past earnings calls he realized, "It's like they're making this up as they're going along."

Herb said the CFO is "set up as the fall guy."

Herb said he was in a Pier One in La Jolla the other day and saw they had a "clearance there on Thanksgiving turkeys."

Josh: Dial down on AOL

Pete Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime Report said someone was buying February WMB 47 calls and selling the 49s; WMB was his Final Trade.

Pete said RAD is going higher.

Jon Najarian hailed Dan Niles' bullishness on LGF.

Stephen Weiss said GNW had "more of a relief quarter."

Josh Brown said that if you haven't exited AOL, do it now.

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was an uncommon name, OA. Josh Brown said TWTR and Jon Najarian said WBA.

[Tuesday, February 10, 2015]

Jeff Sonnenfeld never explained what Don Thompson did to make things ‘a lot worse’

(Sigh) Viewers deeeee-serve a break today ...

Tuesday's Halftime Report again took up the troubles at McDonald's — a fine subject — only to rehash the old saw about the food not being nutritious in a health-conscious world.

This time it was Yale's Jeff Sonnenfeld taking the bait, describing the Don Thompson Era at MCD this way: "He's inherited a bad hand, and he made it a lot worse."

Now, how, exactly, did Don Thompson make this bad hand "worse"? Did he undercook the hotcakes & sausage?

Apparently as evidence, Sonnenfeld claimed, "Of course, uh, since 2011, we've heard awful things about the, the quality of the burgers in there."

Sonnenfeld specified that the company shouted from the "mountaintops" that it didn't have pink slime, then had to admit it did.

But according to what we looked up, this admission occurred in January 2012.

Also according to what we looked up, Jim Skinner — who used to get rave reviews from Guy Adami every other night — was CEO until July 2012.

So there's that.

Sonnenfeld also asserted the chain has "image problems" and implied that somehow a Big Mac today isn't like a Big Mac of the Jim Skinner Era; "quality of the food, it's not the same."

Sonnenfeld also actually claimed, citing some "famous" Harvard elite whom we've never heard of so he can't be that famous, that nutritionists "used to actually recommend, as a rare treat, McDonald's."

Furthermore — we're not making any of this up, and never do — Sonnenfeld seems to think it's difficult for MCD customers to follow a menu. "You look at price issues; it's very confusing," he said.

He was also heard to reference "the shrieking irony (sic that's exactly what it sounded like) of, of In-N-Out Burger and, uh, Shake Shack."

Sonnenfeld is actually an interesting and thoughtful CNBC contributor.

This particular effort demonstrated shoddy (if any) preparation, and even worse, a lost opportunity given his misplaced observation about another individual, Judge's favorite punching bag, Dick Costolo.

Sonnenfeld praised Dick for "taking ownership of the problems" and then suggested, "communicating beyond that is his challenge but I think CNBC can help him."

Right point, wrong guy.

Dick is an affable comic who is good on television who doesn't even have to be good on television in order to succeed at this particular gig.

Meanwhile, the McDonald's mascot is a clown; it's a company that sells Happy Meals.

Yet its current CEO, rather than being a jocular salesman, proved about as approachable as Jeff Bezos.

Reported on this site (and likely nowhere else), we did a search of Don Thompson video interview clips at CNBC.com and came up with zero.

Obviously, he's a serious guy.

Now, he's seriously gone.

Kate Kelly gives Sorkin cover for anyone actually claiming offense from his article

Kate Kelly, who looked great, reported on Tuesday's Halftime Report that a group of hedge funds are backing Harry Wilson's nomination to the GM board, agreeing with Judge there's "symbolic value" in this move.

Stephanie Link questioned if there's a "sense of urgency" on the part of GM activists.

Josh Brown irked us when he suggested that activists (that would be Carl) targeting AAPL is a sign that of those running a public company, "nobody should be on the golf course right now."

Former WSJ writer Kelly opined on Andrew Ross Sorkin's article on female CEOs being activist targets: "I thought it was a very good piece, actually."

Those annual CNBC interviews with SI models are so deep; ‘I had no idea I was going to be the cover ...’

Stephanie Link on Tuesday's Halftime Report jumped aboard the Mike Mayo bandwagon, adding MS to her Playbook Playoffs portfolio while ditching MA.

Josh Brown, who said he added SBUX (his Final Trade) and discarded EXPE, admitted he was "a little thrown" by the dude in the clip kicking the robot dog.

Doc said "knock on wood," including RIG in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio "was a winner," but now he's swapping it out for ALLY.

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis that oil's in a "bottoming process." Brian Stutland said "we might be in a bottoming process" but warned of further volatility.

Doc said MPEL February 26 calls were hot.

Judge’s lede is not our lede

Lori Calvasina, who likes energy, was the star guest of Tuesday's Halftime (unless you count Jeff Sonnenfeld) and said "the only way you can really make money in this business is to be contrarian, to take on those controversial calls."

Really? And here we thought the momentum investing of Fast Money/Halftime Report was the way to go.

Calvasina said her valuation model of the energy space is "hitting 30-year lows."

She also said she doesn't like restaurant stocks, retail and transportation stocks.

Pete Najarian contended that even $75 oil is great for airlines. Calvasina insisted that the smaller-cap transports, "where the airlines are hiding out," is overvalued.

Calvasina contended that bank negativity is already priced in.

Judge said the show made Calvasina's call "the lead" (or, as we spell it in the business to avoid confusion, "the lede") because it's "provocative" and "controversial."

Happy birthday, Stephanie Link

Pete Najarian on Tuesday's Halftime Report hailed KO because "they're trying to be more diversified." Josh Brown said, "Technically it doesn't look terrible" but asserted that making investments in tea companies "really is gonna move the needle fundamentally."

Stephanie Link called the KO risk/reward "attractive."

Dan Niles dialed in to say investing "is all about risk and reward," then picked FB over TWTR because of the multiple difference.

Niles acknowledged he bought LGF after it lowered numbers and predicted further consolidation in the space. (But he didn't say if that N.Y. Post critic's bad "Hunger Games" review that made Michael Burns wonder what movie he was watching played a role in his decision.)

Niles said he's investing in RingCentral (RNG) because of a trend of clunky corporate phone-call systems transitioning to the Web.

Judge wished happy birthday to Link and Cramer.

Stephanie Link's Final Trade was UNH. Doc said MPEL and Pete Najarian said KKR.

It's already more than a day old (as we finally post this), but Tuesday morning, we heard Seema Mody on Worldwide Exchange claim that "Microsoft and Samsung are buying (sic) the hatchet." (They're not actually purchasing a hatchet; it's called misreading the prompter.)

Then, she said "Microsong" (sic).

[Monday, February 9, 2015]

Halftime Report preempted so President Barack Obama can assess 2018 World Cup

No one bothered to ask Angela Merkel, the Tom Hanks of world leaders who is kind of a linchpin to sanctions everywhere because Vlad likes her too and wants to be chummy, whether there's a "good chance" that Dick Costolo won't be Twitter CEO in 2016.

But, the White House press conference did provide some interesting material Monday for Halftime Report viewers who enjoy interesting questions such as whether the U.S. leader and German leader are doing a good cop/bad cop routine with Russia. (Note stiffness in the photo above during one of the questions.)

At one point it looked like a gent who was asking a question was Gasparino — but we're sure they won't let him in there, so naturally it turned out to be a fellow from Deutschland.

For some reason, it looked like Judge had actually put together a 3-man crew for what amounted to less than a minute of work. Jon Najarian curiously said people will focus on Ukraine instead of Greece, until the end of the month.

Mike Block was afforded a whole 20 seconds and actually squeezed in a stock call, contending, "I think the thing that we learned here Scott is you can't stop Vladimir Putin. Obama doesn't want to know what comes after him. So, I'd be shorting Russian stocks here," predicting the Russian leader is "gonna become a klepto" who won't "respect the jurisprudence."

Pete Najarian was spotted on the set but was shut out.

Pete’s massive bust: BABA to 150

In November of last year, Dan Nathan sort of established himself in the Fast Money/Halftime space as the head BABA cheerleader, stating several times he expected the stock to "close on the highs of the year" (not necessarily verbatim) or something like that. (This writer is long BABA.)

(We think that actually meant trading around a 52-week high on Dec. 31, but the show never clarified. Nor did that actually happen.)

Just like the closing relay of "The Battle of the Network Stars," Pete Najarian took the BABA baton from December into 2015 and multiple times, with the stock trading above $100, hung a $150 target on the name.

Except now, the stock's a lot closer to 50 than 150.

So not surprisingly, we haven't heard the 150 refrain for a while.

[Friday, February 6, 2015]

Guest prides himself in not joining the Dump-Dick bandwagon

TWTR skeptic Scott Devitt tangled with Josh Brown on Friday's Halftime Report over whether mighty GOOG is setting up to make a big-ticket purchase.

Brown seems to think it might be.

But Devitt sounded as though he found the notion inconceivable given the partnership. "Why would Google do a deal with this company if it was interested in buying it? Why would it do a deal prior to having interest in acquiring?" Devitt asked, leading to a moment of dead air.

"That happens all the time, doesn't it?" Brown said.

"(Chuckles) OK. So you increase the valuation of the company and then buy it?" Devitt responded.

Devitt also called Dick Costolo a "highly capable executive" and proclaimed, "Unlike many others that are out there, I was never calling for Dick's head."

"What the problem is- is- is- The problem is the stock and the valuation that it carries given what's actually happening in the business today," Devitt said.

Meanwhile, when not suggesting a new $1-a-year plan (see below) to rid the Twittersphere of hecklers, which Gasparino won't do anyway because it'd lop off about 75% 90% of his followers, Jason Calacanis told Judge he hopes TWTR's quarter silences the critics, suggesting the company is releasing product at an "epic pace."

Calacanis said Twitter is a "complex product" but can become mass-market.

He predicted TWTR becomes a "house of apps."

Josh Brown, who evidently was more impressed by Calacanis than Devitt, said "the Jason stuff" was a "bombshell."

Jon Najarian rightly called Calacanis' $1-a-year verification idea a "2-edged sword" because the fake accounts on Twitter won't get verified, which will decrease the reported amount of users or at least the verified ones.

Alex Gauna is an analyst but he sounded a lot like GPRO’s CEO

And you thought Carl Icahn was excited about AAPL.

Sounding like a kid on Christmas day, GPRO defender Alex Gauna said on Friday's Halftime Report that as the stock has fallen, "JMP Securities likes it more."

Gushing about every angle of the company, Gauna said we're at the "same place" as early 2014 when GoPro's guidance was conservative.

"This story is just getting started," Gauna asserted.

Stephen Weiss waffled and equivocated as to whether this company has staying power. Judge insisted it's no flash in the pan.

Jim Lebenthal told Judge he's "sorry," but "there's no moat to competition" for GPRO, so "I think this will come and go."

Game effort from Doc
despite scratchy throat

He's always got a new stat you've never heard of.

Josh Brown on Friday's Halftime Report pointed out something about the SPY/TLT ratio making its "most risk-on move" since October 2011 and suggested the "mania" is probably not in stocks but bonds.

Steve Liesman said he disagrees with the traders who were downplaying the labor report in that "this was not 1 data point. This was several data points."

Jim Lebenthal said volatility has been a show topic for weeks but there are enough reasons to be "fully invested" in stocks.

Ben Willis said to keep an eye on the Russell, which should benefit from lower gasoline.

Jon Najarian said energy is recovering but he's more interested in retail; "I'm not gonna be doubling down on energy."

Doc hailed DIS as a "great pick" by Josh Brown.

Set up for a ‘Brady Bunch’ reference, and it doesn’t really happen

Judge on Friday's Halftime Report tried in vain to convince Josh Brown that Greece can get "messy."

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, in striking red, told the gang that Greece's new leaders, who apparently weren't around several years ago when MCC reported from Athens about all those protesters flashing lasers, came back from their European tour "empty-handed" because ... this sounds kind of funny actually ... "they don't have the leverage that they thought they did."

Jim Lebenthal said he's impressed by the assets of MSG.

Josh Brown predicted "probably more good stuff to come" at CME.

Brown referred to LNKD as "the middle child of the social media names that always makes honor roll and nobody notices" but failed to follow through with the pop culture ramifications of that analogy.

Stephen Weiss questioned why anyone would pay for Pandora's premium services and doubted it's a takeover target.

Hardeep Walia told the gang that "home improvement is on a tear." Walia also said the low-oil Motif, played through new cars, is hot, as is Fortress America.

Jim Lebenthal said he dropped Marathon for Citigroup in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio.

Dr. New Land apparently is already ditching PXD but he wasn't on the show to explain why.

Guest suggests TWTR will charge $1 a year to eliminate the trolls

It was one of the most intriguing TWTR discussions of all time (and not just because the guest turned up impressively in a track suit).

Jason Calacanis said on Friday's Halftime Report that Twitter users will be able to check a box to filter out non-verified Twitter users, as Judge said there are enough "credible people and quality people" complaining about Twitter trolling as to make it an issue.

Stephen Weiss questioned if that wouldn't hurt Twitter advertising with fewer people being verified and tried to butt in to Calacanis' comments.

Calacanis explained, "Anybody is gonna be able to verify themselves for a dollar a year. ... When they do that, let me finish, when they do that, when they pay that dollar per year, they're gonna have to put their credit card in. I think 10, 20% of people will do this. Then you'll see a Twitter with, uh, tens of millions of credit cards in their accounts, that they can go then use to do other things like buy subscriptions to the New York Times, or buy a Netflix subscription."

Calacanis added, "So when they do that verified step, it's gonna start looking a lot more like Facebook. Of course, nobody knows that. I know it, because I have a lot of inside information on the company."

Judge said he was already hearing from "several people" on Twitter who had heard Calacanis' remarks and had already concluded that if this happens, "I'll just leave it that day."

Calacanis interjected that this program would be optional, not mandatory.

Honestly, it seems like a reach; for example, Gasparino invoking this feature would eliminate 75% of his followers.

Even if it happens as Calacanis suggests, we can't figure out why someone would subscribe to NYT or Netflix through their Twitter account rather than just going to nytimes.com or netflix.com.

But, it's interesting.

More from Friday's Halftime, including Calacanis' other remarks and Scott Devitt's skepticism of the stock, coming later.

[Thursday, February 5, 2015]

Here to stay.

Much of Thursday's Halftime Report was devoted to a thoughtful discussion of the CME's open-outcry futures pits.

This page is well aware of these trends, and in fact from time to time has questioned the relevance of the NYSE's sparsely populated floor that seems to be more TV studio than trading pit.

What isn't in question is the relevance of what a trading pit stands for. The public, even the more liberal-minded, views this entity with esteem. It's one reason the popularity of "Wall Street" resonates. They may not know the difference between stockbrokers, traders, fund managers and account executives, but they see that image above and they see energy, meritocracy, risk-taking, hustle, a combustion of commerce, and they respect that. They like that, and these guys aren't going anywhere.

To the open-outcry pros: Thanks for being part of American history; hopefully many will continue

Jackie DeAngelis, who wore a long face on Thursday by television standards, said on the Halftime Report that CME is closing most open-outcry pits because volumes of the human version have declined to 1% of the overall trading.

"It's a sad day for a lot of these guys," DeAngelis said.

DeAngelis revealed, "Anecdotally, I will tell you this: When I started here at the Nymex, they did give me a hard time. But it's been great building a rapport with these guys. Sometimes they actually ask me what I think is gonna happen."

Anthony Grisanti said the open-outcry traders are "some of the most generous guys you'd ever want to see" but acknowledged they've been well-aware of the technological trends.

"They've learned to adjust," Grisanti said.

Jon Najarian said that options "still trade exclusively" on open outcry at CBOE, and the future of this platform will be closely watched.

DeAngelis said options pros tell her that they're "safe for now" but are "worried."

Once again, Judge doesn’t ask anyone about the buy-Yahoo plan of TWTR’s CEO In Waiting

Given that Thursday was TWTR earnings day, it was actually sort of justifiable for Scott Wapner to bring up the status of the CEO.

As expected, Judge played the only 1-trick pony he's got on this subject, which is the clip of Bob Peck stating there's a "good chance" (whether "good" in this case means 75% or 25% is up to the imagination; Judge has never asked) Dick isn't calling the shots in 2016. (Judge didn't play the clip of Peck's Favorite Anointed Successor announcing his cockamamie idea for turning the company around and asked anyone, if this is deemed the answer, how ousting Dick makes an ounce of sense.)

This quarter, Judge said, "I think unquestionably is the most important earnings report uh in their young life."

Which it is — until the next quarter.

Jon Najarian bluntly asserted, "Obviously Dick's job is on the line here ... if this is not a good report, I don't believe he survives a month in- at Twitter."

Rich Greenfield said the fundamental, yet-to-be-resolved issue at TWTR is, "Can Twitter really substantially grow users," eventually adding an "at the end of the day" (Drink).

Pete Najarian said Dick has been "very angry" about the "trolls" disturbing people on his service.

Judge said he "can't wait" for Dick's Friday interview on Squawk on the Street.

Stephen Weiss speculated that because Costolo scheduled a CNBC interview Friday, it "means that he has good news."

Dana tells Judge to stuff it (more or less) regarding KORS

CNBC's Courtney Reagan (above), a bombshell, didn't exactly have a bombshell for Thursday's Halftime Report in explaining that in the retail space, "The stronger the brand is, the better the message gets to the consumer."

Stephen Weiss brought up an old Patty Edwards favorite, the Costco gas pump trade the thing about how you can't (ever) just buy retail across the board, stating the space is "very, very brand-specific," and "I don't think you can say retail all is good" (Drink).

Dana Telsey said LULU is "on the upswing" and singled out LB and M (Drink) as names with momentum.

Judge tried to prod Telsey into backpedaling on KORS, but, "I'm comfortable with my buy rating," Telsey insisted.

Courtney Reagan assured, "I don't think that Kors is going away; I just think that the growth is slowing."

Funny how no one is asked whether Comcast’s purchase of NBC Uni was a good deal for Comcast, good deal for GE, or both/neither

Rich Greenfield, a longtime star (if recently infrequent) guest on the Fast Money/Halftime franchise, turned up on Thursday's Halftime and refreshingly admitted "we were dead wrong" about BTIG's view that the government would embrace the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.

"Our gut is, this deal actually is gonna get blocked," Greenfield said.

Meanwhile, Julia Boorstin said Tom Staggs got a "huge promotion" at DIS. Greenfield said the theme park business has been "exploding" under Staggs.

Boorstin reported that Amy Pascal is finally out at Sony Pictures.

Jon Najarian said EXPE has a tax-withholding issue.

Running out of time
for that $56 SHAK

Stephen Weiss on Thursday's Halftime Report affirmed his bullishness on stocks, suggesting there's really no other place to go.

Anthony Grisanti said everyone in the oil space is no longer a seller; there are buyers who think we've found a bottom.

Jon Najarian said a 12% move is priced into GPRO options.

Steve Weiss said YELP's chart is lot like that of GPRO, but he's not getting in front of these names.

BNP Paribas N. America CEO Jean-Yves Fillion, a "firm believer" in the EU, told Judge "the bank has no exposure to Greece."

Doc cited unusual activity in HSP recently.

Sue Herera did the Power Lunch tease and referred to Judge's program as "the Fast Money Halftime Report" (PgDn a few times to see why this matters).

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was HTZ. Jon Najarian said HRB and Pete said MRK.

[Wednesday, February 4, 2015]

Tyler Mathisen labels
Judge’s program ‘half-assed’

It had to be one of those sneaky TV inside jokes.

If not, it was a remarkably blunt critique that many, unfortunately — especially given the undeniable tale of the daytime Nielsens that are now being discarded — would agree with.

Concluding his Power Lunch teaser during Wednesday's Halftime Report, CNBC's Tyler Mathisen told viewers, "Now back to Scott and the Half-Assed Report."

They moved upstairs but hauled no ideas or innovation up the steps

In what passes for intellectual commentary these days on "Fast Money," Melissa Lee asked panelists Wednesday if YUM is a "piece of crap, or not piece of crap," and actually said "piece of crap" about 5 or 6 times and got Karen Finerman to say it once.

But, the cameraman found Mel in an excellent moment in new outfit.

Karen too, albeit posed

Karen Finerman on Wednesday's Fast Money admitted her first reaction to RL's slide was that this has to be overdone.

Except she dug down into the numbers and quickly found — barely looking at it actually — that the change in margin forecast is "enormous, enormous."

Finerman said it's either serious sandbagging, or "something is off there."

Karen settled on "tragedy" as the correct term for GM's ignition problem.

Guest calls himself ‘unwavered’

Tony Dwyer, whose main role on the Halftime Report is topping Barry Bannister's S&P 500 forecasts (which have become a moot point since Barry started curbing his enthusiasm), said Wednesday that the stock market is merely experiencing minor hiccups.

"We're callin' it no-man's land," Dwyer said.

"I am very bullish," he added, before crowning himself with a curious term, "and unwavered for the year though."

"We love the homebuilding-related area," Dwyer added.

Meanwhile, Paul Meeks said he tries to buy his favorite stocks on dips.

Meeks defended SNDK, suggesting its "high-class problem" is a lack of supply and said he "probably" would buy it right now.

Pete Najarian questioned why Meeks made DAL his top airline. Meeks didn't answer with many specifics, stating he owns DAL and the Patty Edwards Staple, ALK, and likes DAL on the expectation of low fuel.

Meeks said MDVN has a drug that's doing "very well" for "post-chemo prostate cancer treatment."

Jim Lebenthal congratulated DAL for its refinery purchase (Drink).

Doc backed SNDK. Doc said he's "neutral" on MSFT (of course he's not neutral on slamming Heather Bellini's pathetic ratings over the years, but he didn't say that this time).

Joe’s colleagues about as good as the Washington Generals at stock-picking contests

Steve Grasso on Wednesday's Halftime Report uncorked a "Humble Brag" with a chart purportedly showing where he told everyone to sell WLL and CLR in November and suggested that if they actually like oil (snicker), these are beta names to buy.

Jim Lebenthal reaffirmed he sees crude going back to 60 and stated that big overall job losses from oil's slide haven't happened.

Mr. New Land, who is impressively in the 2015 Playbook Playoffs running roughshod yet again over his bumbling colleagues, who can't figure this contest out, dialed in to defend his PXD gambit and shrugged at the numerous oil predictions.

"Listen, you know, a lot of guys have opinions, there's a lot of research, there's a lot of analysts," Terranova said. "Markets don't make reservations, they don't allow you to eat at 8 p.m."

After that bit of commentary, Joe suggested oil was due to bounce after everyone supposedly starting predicting 35; "seems to make sense to me that it's never gonna get to 35."

Joe said the Street is "uncharacterlistically (sic) misinterpreting" the headwinds in energy as being "apocalyptic" for TCBI.

They did kinda ‘get’ against it but we suspect the correct term was ‘bet’

The Nardashians, who wrote an "entire" book about options that you can get for "free" (plus shipping and handling) if you order on one of their TV commercials, squared off on Wednesday's Halftime Report on CMG ... and impressively unlike most people on these programs pronounced the name of the company fairly well.

Pete suggested that given the dip, CMG's weak news is "all factored in" and that there's "a lot of different reasons" to buy, starting with "pricing power."

Doc suggested the comps are too tough and there's too much insider selling.

Pete likened the stock to SBUX and said the company can keep raising prices and people will still buy it.

"These guys are just like Starbucks in every way," said Josh Brown.

Elsewhere, Doc said he's seeing more put-buying in GNW.

Judge goes a day without bringing up Dick Costolo’s job security

There's never a time on Halftime/Fast Money when CELG and GILD aren't table-pounding buys.

Judge on Wednesday's Halftime asked Dr. Yaron Werber if Celgene is a better pick than Gilead.

Werber didn't answer the question, merely stating CELG is a "nice safe one" and "less choppy."

Werber also invoked an "at the end of the day" (Drink) when endorsing AMGN.

Jim Lebenthal asked himself the question, "Wouldn't I want to own the pharma that's moving up the pricing curve instead of the biotechs, which have already the high prices and probably have pressure to come down?"

Pete Najarian called MRK a buy. Jim Lebenthal said of M (Drink), "I think you're supposed to own it."

Judge avoids Russia despite flare-up in Ukraine, nothing about Jim Lebenthal’s notion of untested post-Cold War commanders bumping subs

In a not-particularly-deep assessment on Wednesday's Halftime Report, Jeff Kilburg quoted his former coach Lou Holtz in predicting continued dollar strength.

Scott Nations insisted to Jackie DeAngelis, who again for some reason was caught early by the camera but was in gorrrjus burgundy, that a strong dollar is "kryptonite" for commodities.

Jim Lebenthal grumbled that the spike in cable stocks was "pretty outsized and unnecessary" and predicted that the catalyst here would have congressional Republicans "up in arm (sic), arms."

Josh Brown celebrated his low-90s-to-100 trajectory of DIS but actually mentioned "Avengers" as a catalyst (it was a humdrum film the first time around; this isn't exactly going to be "The Godfather, Part II").

Jim Lebenthal crowed about GM and predicted a buyback. Josh Brown said, "at the end of the day" (Drink), he doesn't think the stock is going anywhere.

Josh Brown said WYNN has "one of the worst-looking charts there is right now" and said if it breaks 140, it's "toast," then he tried to dissuade Doc from buying the dip.

Brown said if you love ACHN, "congratulations," you can buy it a lot cheaper now. Pete Najarian pulled a Tim Seymour and said to "keep an eye" on CHL.

Jim Lebenthal's Final Trade was BP. Josh Brown said DIS, Doc said CL and Pete said GT.

[Tuesday, February 3, 2015]

Judge still won’t address
the buy-YHOO plan of
TWTR’s CEO In Waiting

Barely a day goes by on the Fast Money Halftime Report in which Scott Wapner doesn't bring up TWTR, and its CEO's job security.

Rob Sanderson, who has hung a $61 target on the stock, was Tuesday's guest and cited "a lot of enthusiasm for the top-line story."

Sanderson asserted, "This is the year where we start to see product improvements, uh, turn the trajectory of user growth."

Judge brought up the obligatory what-happens-to-Dick question, but this time didn't quote Bob Peck's "good chance" of an ouster in 2015.

Sanderson responded, "His future lives and dies by whether he can turn the, uh, user-growth trajectory."

Josh Brown said he added to TWTR and with the quarter coming, "I think I win either way," suggesting a bad quarter would cause a "management shake-up." Brown made the stock his Final Trade.

(Sigh) You’ll be seeing ‘Party like it’s 1999?’ headlines on CNBC for the next 25 years

Tuesday's Halftime Report, which had a few bright spots, stumbled out of the gate with a half-hearted discussion about oil.

Jim Lebenthal sounded a lot more impressed by the rig-count tally than Dan Dicker did a day ago, stating it "maybe takes us to $60" in WTI.

Jon Najarian curiously said he agreed with Lebenthal but said he only expects the oil price to "stabilize between 45 and 55."

Josh Brown bragged about buying XLE in December when oil stocks stopped going down with the price of crude.

Mike Scialla told Judge "the right ingredients" are present for a rebound in oil; he likes SM, WLL and NBL.

Jeff Kilburg told Jackie DeAngelis, who seemingly was caught a bit early by the camera, his favorite recommendation again (Drink), that buying gold is a "good call." Jim Iuorio said if it settles below 1,255, "then I think it's a short- to medium-term sell."

Can’t figure out whether the Vanguard guy is bullish or bearish

In a clumsy interview on Tuesday's Halftime Report, Vanguard's Joe Davis told Judge he has become "guarded" on stocks because "our return expectations have come down largely as valuations have become more stretched."

However, despite the same question being asked at several angles, we couldn't figure out exactly what Davis is calling for.

Pete Najarian said ODP and SPLS calls have been surging but some people may start heading for the exits, thinking the stocks are close to topping out.

CNBC Transportation Reporter Phil LeBeau told the gang that "Jeep is rolling right now," and demand for smaller cars is slipping.

Jim Lebenthal said he's expecting a TGT-like rise out of GM. Josh Brown though suggested Lebenthal is "spinning his wheels" and that positive sales reports are being "presented without context."

"This stock's going nowhere," Brown insisted.

Doc says he’s going to look ahead, not back, after Fast Fire

Unfortunately, it looks like Scott Wapner unleashed his "boneheaded calls" feature (see below) a day early. (That's OK it didn't apply to panelist picks anyway.)

On Tuesday's Halftime, Judge pointed out that Jon Najarian had SSYS in his 2015 Playbook Playoffs portfolio.

"And you thought the energy names were bad," Judge said.

"No, I thought the energy names were good," said Najarian, and here's why that disagreement occurred; Doc said at year-end he thought energy names were good, which is what he meant Tuesday, but Judge was pointing out that Doc since early January has been lamenting how bad those energy names actually were.

Echoing the most tiresome joke of the day/week, Doc said including SSYS in his portfolio "was a worse call than Pete Carroll's."

Josh Brown said he's adding SIRO to his Playbook portfolio.

Josh Lipton presented a couple arguments as to whether the tech startup space is in another bubble; not surprisingly the Andreessen Horowitz guy doesn't think so and stresses these are "real businesses" that are getting funding.

Hinge founder Justin McLeod says he thinks lofty valuations for private tech names such as Uber are not "insane" and likened his company and Tinder to Facebook and MySpace.

Jim Lebenthal's Final Trade was MPC. Pete Najarian offered DB and Doc offered FEYE.

[Monday, February 2, 2015]

Mike Block needed better slogan for CMG for his Halftime Report appearance

On a quiet day on Wall Street, David Albrycht suggested on Monday's Halftime Report that AAPL is issuing bonds for a special dividend or buyback, and "I'm not really too excited about it."

However, regarding NFLX's billion-dollar offering, "we're actually in the deal already," Albrycht said.

His range for the 10-year is "1½ to 2%."

Perhaps becoming the first person in program history besides Alexandra Lebenthal to discuss Puerto Rican bonds, Albrycht described the territory as "the size of Rhode Island, the population of Kentucky, the economic power of Mississippi with the debt of New York."

Meanwhile, Judge revealed that Joe Terranova, who wasn't on Monday's program, dumped MCK in favor of PXD for his 2015 Playbook Playoffs portfolio, while Josh Brown ditched R for technical, non-emotional reasons and insisted "I don't regret it one bit."

Mike Block, whose appearances on the program actually stretch back years but apparently was summoned Monday as part of Judge's new format of keeping the regulars to a minimum, called CMG the "poster child for U.S. growth" and also, curiously, the "poster child for, um, you know, where is that, lower gas prices, where is it goin' (sic grammar)."

However, Block was not heard to say "at the end of the day."

Pete Najarian’s averaging down of LOCO gets a pass

Trying to stay in step with pop culture, Judge asked his panel on Monday's Halftime Report to identify all-time boneheaded trades. (Evidently, those from panelists themselves were exempt.)

Josh Brown, with zero originality, mentioned Reed Hastings' split-up-the-company mess of a few years ago.

Mike Block had a timely but not convincing suggestion, faulting those citing the January Effect, Years ending in 5 and presidential cycle as reasons for a big stock market this year and noted it's "not working yet."

Stephanie Link curiously said Amazon "didn't get enough, um, negative publicity" for its Fire phone, an accurate sentiment we agree with but one that doesn't exactly sound like New Coke.

Josh Brown said of the Seattle Seahawks' goal-line execution, "This was bad process."

Paul Richards’ suggestion to pay attention to Greece could’ve been among the boneheaded calls of Judge’s panel

In a humdrum beginning to Monday's Halftime Report, Mike Block told Judge, "The price action keeps telling me, buy," while conceding such a strategy is "very Pavlovian."

But, Block allowed, "I'm a little worried here."

Stephanie Link said the stock market story right now is "the haves, and the have-nots."

John Stoltzfus, who spoke in front of a nighttime backdrop (above) even though it was the middle of the day, told Judge, "I'm remembering last year."

Paul Richards told the gang, "You're all missing one thing in my opinion, and that's Greece," but trust us, nobody was missing anything and nobody's gonna get fooled by that again (remember that God-awful episode of Fast Money in 2011 when Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was in Athens and the whole hour was devoted to a bunch of protesters outside some government building who ... OMG ... were flashing LASERS!!!! ... and there weren't even any commercials to ease the pain as traders warned of volatility, and Guy Adami the next day grumbled that some people didn't think there were enough commercials in the program, etc.).

Mike Block said he's not on the same page as Richards there; "I think Greece is gonna figure itself out."

Stephanie Link pounded the table for LUV and called ALK a "great opportunity."

Mike Block said he loves the airlines "long-term," but it "comes down to 1 word: popularity."

Block said Rhino tracks analyst sentiment and found that airlines are among the most popular stocks, so when there's volatility, the "weak hands" will send them tumbling.

Unclear if Tim Love’s $56 SHAK in a week will make the boneheaded list

A rather somber Dan Dicker (above) visited with Monday's Halftime and suggested oil traders got overly enthusiastic about the sharp rig cut from last week. "In a lot of ways I think the market has gotten ahead of itself," Dicker said.

A pessimist who sounded reluctant to hang a low target on crude, Dicker asserted rallies just aren't sustainable. "I'm not likely to see a 6 handle anytime for the next 6 months," he said.

"I'm very negative on energy here," said Mike Block, predicting "some George Soros-style reflexivity (no, that was not the name of Pete Carroll’s 2nd-down goal-line call Sunday night) at work here."

"I'm calling this the shale bust," said Dicker, stating we're only in "Phase 1" of 3 stages.

Block said XOM has been a "lazy short."

Stephanie Link's Final Trade was DEO. Josh Brown said AET, with the "goin' to a hundred" theory. Mike Block said he dislikes the banks.

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CNBC/cable TV
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♦ Lawrence Kudlow
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♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
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♦ 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
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♦ A. Gary Shilling
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♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett