[CNBCfix Fast Money Review archive, January 2010]
[Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010]

This page breaks its
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Thanks for visiting! Despite a very rocky month for stocks, this page just blew past its previous high for page views.

And January is not even quite over, yet.

Let's face it, it's not the Drudge Report. It's not (yet) going to dictate the subjects Larry Kudlow, Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly talk about on their TV programs. "Irrelevant" may be too kind of a description. It's merely a (very) tiny corner of the universal message board known as the Internet, giving us a tiny soapbox to express those feelings we've had watching "Fast Money" that previously were all bottled up inside.

But everyone should take pride in what they do. We never know if or when, gosh, Warren Buffett might actually look up this page. Or Steve Schwarzman. Michelle Caruso-Cabrera! Mike Khouw. So we're going to keep it real, and we're keeping it real dedicated to the highest standards of journalism established for decades by the nation's daily newspapers and news magazines. We're here because you are, and we're fighting for every click we get.

As always, happy trading.

Lessons from Lou

Today, Jan. 30, is the birthday of the late Louis Rukeyser.

Mr. Rukeyser died in 2006. He would be 77 today.

Mr. Rukeyser is correctly regarded as the pioneer of business television hosting. "Wall $treet Week" launched Nov. 20, 1970. He was perhaps most successful at speaking to a lightly sophisticated retail-investor audience with extraordinary clarity and without condescension. His best moments weren't about stock picks, but interviews with Fed officials, presidential advisers, economists and CEOs.

Unfortunately, it's probably fair to say "Wall $treet Week" was a bull market show. It succeeded in the '70s, but thrived in the '80s, when stocks heated up ahead of cable TV competition. According to the New York Times obituary written by James Grant, viewership peaked at 6 million in the mid-1980s. It's not a surprise that the demise of "Wall $treet Week" happened in early 2002, during a depressing bear market.

We bring this up for a couple reasons. One is that the benefits of stock-picking TV programs have been questioned since Mr. Rukeyser's heyday. His Wikipedia page cites several critics. Mr. Rukeyser was basically a perma-bull who regularly insisted the market would ride out every storm and eventually you'll always get ahead. The panelists (according to the obituary, investment pros were dying to get on the show because it was great for business) spent the show's last couple decades regularly recommending Microsoft, Disney, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Dell, etc. He dismissed relentless bear Gail Dudak in November 1999 for three years worth of inaccurate forecasts, shortly before the tech bubble exploded. He enshrined Abby Joseph Cohen and Sandy Weill in the "Wall $treet Week" Hall of Fame.

One of the most interesting things we ever heard on the show was Lawrence Lindsey, the longtime Republican presidential insider, saying in the late '90s or early 2000s something like "I'd never put my money in the stock market" (not an exact quote), and he sounded like that was a matter of choice, not because of any government stock-holding restrictions.

Anyway, we noticed that Mr. Rukeyser's Web site is still intact, though apparently dated. It includes this sentence: "What's key to remember is why we own stocks in the first place: because over any long-term period you care to choose, stocks have paid off like no other investment."

Obviously, this century has proved that theory wrong, assuming reasonable definitions of "long-term."

"Wall $treet Week" enjoyed a loftier reputation than "Fast Money" or "Mad Money." The problem with shows such as "Wall $treet Week" and "Mad Money" is that once the tips/suggestions are out, you're not going to beat the market knowing them because the rest of the market knows them too. So the shows become a celebration of long positions, callers and letter writers eager to know if Amazon has another 10 points in it, can Goldman Sachs go to $300, etc.

What is useful about "Fast Money" is that traders do, in fact, tell you in various ways (albeit not often enough) what "Wall $treet Week" never did, which is how to own stocks.

Guy Adami will tell you about volume reversals and previous resistance/support levels and the need to be short at times. Pete Najarian will remind you to protect yourself with options. Dennis Gartman will tell you to quickly admit when you're wrong and take 1% moves seriously. Karen Finerman will remind you to always be hedged. Jeff Macke told you to use tight stops. Eric Bolling told you to buy at highs because they go higher.

The truth is, strictly in terms of stock picks, "Wall $treet Week" was useless, if not misleading, and "Fast Money" would be also if that was all the show was about. Recommending a stock to the whole world at the same time gives no one an advantage in knowing it. The only advantage is previously owning it and being able to sell on the pop.

Ironically — and that is actually a correct use of "irony" — Mr. Rukeyser advocated two bullish tactics that were not only probably faulty, but at odds with each other. One was that anyone wins just by owning stocks for long periods of time. That theory supports simply buying a broad index such as the S&P 500. But Mr. Rukeyser also believed savvy players could beat the markets making active decisions on names already released to the general public, evidenced by his show contests and subscription newsletters.

It's a great country. The stock market should be a capitalist free-for-all for everyone who wants to give it a try. It shouldn't be billed as having any guarantees or being particularly safe for amateurs. One of our favorite lines was the refrain from Jeff Macke, "You can do any trade you want." Monday morning, you can go long Amazon or you can go short Amazon. You can scoop up Goldman Sachs or you can short JPM. You can go long the TLT or long the TBT. You can buy all the stocks mentioned on "Fast Money" or you can short all the stocks mentioned on "Fast Money." Just make sure you have an exit strategy.

Mr. Rukeyser was nevertheless ahead of his time. In the categories of business journalism and financial commentary and relentless enthusiasm for his profession and the future, he was a champion. Hopefully, he will not be forgotten. We don't think we've ever heard his name mentioned on "Fast Money."

[Friday, January 29, 2010]

Can probably repeat this
segment a year from now

Melissa Lee on "Fast Money" Friday trumpted the "January barometer," or the theory that January's performance might be an indicator for the whole year.

But then she cited a "fun fact" in dismissing it.

And, like many theories on TV, it lacked a necessary angle.

"If you take a look at the January barometer for the past 113 years since the Dow started trading, it's been right 64% percent of the time," Lee said. "If you said the market was gonna go higher between February and December of every year during that same time period, you would've been right 65% of the time as well."

"So let's throw darts," said Tim Seymour.

What Lee didn't say, and what the "Fast Money" backstage crew obviously didn't research, is whether any other month might actually be a better predictor of this dubious relationship. In other words, maybe every time May finishes positive, the next 12 months tend to be positive much more than 64% of the time.

True, no one talks about a "12-month effect," only a January effect. True, it's a dubious enough theory as it is. But if you consider it credible enough to mention on-air, you could at least take it to the next level of reporting and perhaps not only debunk it, but find a more interesting statistic.

Gary Kaminsky nevertheless considers January market action "important." Tim Seymour said recent years have proved that "history is totally irrelevant," and Karen Finerman agreed totally, saying "I don't see how you can extrapolate" in this extraordinary environment, when flow of funds has a "hair-trigger."

Gary Kaminsky’s advice to Obama
for boosting Dow 300 points

Gary Kaminsky on "Fast Money" Friday offered a quick-fix for the government to give the stock market a lift.

"If you want the market to go up and you want something out of Washington," Kaminsky said, "if Geithner goes, you get a 200-, 300-point rally right away if he resigns. ... There's a genuine feeling that this guy shouldn't have been in the job in the first place."

"Don't you think it matters who he's replaced by?" said skeptical Karen Finerman, who already argued this point this week.

Melissa Lee added that "Geithner was a little bit critical about the bank plan," so maybe he's the guy the markets actually want.

Lee later read a letter from viewer "Captain Joe," who disagreed with Gary on the grounds that the market rallied 300 points when Geithner was appointed. (According to Wikipedia, Geithner's nomination was announced Nov. 24, 2008; the Dow rose 396 points that day.)

Gary said that was a different time, and the world has changed.

Good call, Gary.
You definitely weren’t ‘crazy.’

The show is called "Fast Money" for good reason. It's supposed to give you nimble trading advice.

Which is why Gary Kaminsky seems like a genius right now, and Karen Finerman's generally-long-term-holding strategy can seem kind of like "The Love Boat" circa 1986.

Gary took advantage of a rare seat on the "Fast Money" set Friday to trumpet his tech bearishness. "I thought January was gonna be ugly, I guess I was right," he said. "I continue to think uh equities are gonna have a number of headwinds that are gonna create pressure for some time."

Why can Gary crow? Here's the record:

On Jan. 7, when QQQ closed at $46.17, Kaminsky said this: "It feels and smells a little like 1999 in technology to me. I'm not saying we're gonna have some sort of massive correction..."

On Jan. 12, with the SPY closing at $113.66, Kaminsky said, "There is not that much cash around." This was mocked by 1) Karen Finerman ("I gotta differ with you ... You can't discount the effect of hedge funds getting new money"), 2) Tim Seymour ("I hate to pile on ... I think we're gonna have a record fund-flow data in the first quarter") and 3) Joe Terranova ("Gary, knowing you as long as I did, I can be the one to say: You're crazy").

On Jan. 20, Kaminsky reasserted his QQQ-short, saying he'd be holding it for days, even though Karen Finerman disagreed and Pete Najarian called that day's selloff in technology ($45.92 QQQ close) "ridiculous."

So Friday, Gary reminded colleagues, "Let's get it up here. I was crazy, remember I was crazy."

Then he reiterated his anti-tech call. "It was overowned, they marked 'em up, and these are the names they took profits in ... they're pukin' 'em out left and right."

"I don't like to step into puke; blood I'm a little more OK with," Finerman said.

K-Fine calls the top in GOOG

"Fast Money" is purportedly meant for the frequent trader. So when longer-term picks get hailed as gospel, they can come back to haunt.

As in the case of Karen Finerman's recent Google gushing.

Now, the last thing we'd ever want to do is rip on Karen Finerman.

But we'd be negligent in our reporting obligations if we failed to note how Karen has essentially been buying GOOG all the way down the top since her initial December bullishness eruption.

Here we go, backpedaling:

Friday, GOOG closed at $529 — "We did add a little bit" (presumably Friday).

Jan. 25, GOOG closed at $540 — "I did buy more Google today actually."

Jan. 21, GOOG closed at $582 — "In the 550 level, I would add to Google. Overdone to the downside."

Jan. 12, GOOG closed at $590 — "For Google, if you can just hold on till like, you know, January 21st, it's not that far away."

Jan. 7, GOOG closed at $594 — "I bought more today. To me the story is absolutely intact."

Jan. 6, GOOG closed at $608 — "I really like Google here, with or without this phone taking off. South of 600, which we'll get there by lunch tomorrow, if the market, you know, this path continues, I would be adding to Google."

Dec. 22, GOOG closed at $601 — "I actually think Google here is a value play. A little more expensive than I normally like, but a premier name with a huge barrier to entry. We've seen Microsoft can't compete against them, and yet they could end up taking away market share from Microsoft in some of Microsoft's own business. ... The power of this business model is so great, that, uh, you know what, I'm on board for the space program."

We've always wondered what she means by "huge barrier to entry." What exactly is the barrier? Can't anyone create a search engine and offer it to the public and then sell ads with it?

On that Dec. 22 day of gushing, K-Fine was joined by Guy Adami, who said, "They want me to take down K-Fine on this, but I can't take her down, because she's right. ... Their balance sheet is great, frankly." Then Joe Terranova and Pete Najarian agreed GOOG is a "value" play.

It's worth noting that Todd Gordon on Jan. 21 said the maximum post-earnings upside he saw for GOOG was $570 and ended up in an argument with Tim Seymour over whether that ceiling was too low to be buying it in the $550s, which Seymour claimed he was doing.

Downhill from here?

Guest Peter Boockvar made a startling prediction on "Fast Money" Friday — the market has already peaked for the year.

"The rest of the world has much better outlooks," said Boockvar, citing the usual inevitable-taxes-going-up argument, stimulus withdrawn, interest rates higher, etc.

Tim Seymour questioned Boockvar how he could like Europe better. Boockvar said Europe isn't his call, but "I'm talking about China," Boockvar said, including Singapore and Malaysia.

Boockvar said Bernanke might not've tightened, but "the bond market quickly tightened for him."

Rick Santelli went off on interest rates or something or other Friday, and we could barely make sense of any of it.

Santelli said something about "they" and "we" and a new preamble to the Constitution on rate hikes or something like that.

Gary Kaminsky reiterated his long-running thesis that the market is underestimating rising rates in 2010. "Rick, Rick, I don't know if it's they, we, whoever," Kaminsky said, but rates are going up.

Tim Seymour claimed the outcome of the Scott Brown-Martha Coakley race "actually puts pressure downward on the dollar."

"How can you say that?" Santelli demanded.

"Washington is a mess, that's not dollar strong," Seymour said.

Karen Finerman asked if it was possible Greece could secede from the European Union. Tim Seymour didn't think so, but said "they wish they'd never brought 'em in."

Small note on China, disregard

If Joe Terranova is reeling from a series of declared trades that have obviously gone sour, he didn't look depressed on Friday.

He credited Gary Kaminsky for being right.

"I've taken the other side of the trade over the last week or so. It does not feel good. You are correct. It feels awful right now," Terranova said. "Fundamentally, I still believe in the technology story. Unfortunately right now, I cannot control what comes out of Washington. ... I continue to fight on."

Tim Seymour raised what sounded like an alarming point to us, but the way and time he raised it indicates it's probably not. "Suddenly, people are concerned that actually the Chinese bank lending is, is getting to a point where there may be NPLs. I don't think China is a credit problem," he said. "I think this is about the dollar."

Unfazed by the setbacks in GOOG and others, Karen Finerman insisted "I feel like there's a lot of high-quality bargains out there. ... I think the great names will continue to do well. ... IBM, we bought IBM today for the first time in I don't know how long."

Kaminsky matter-of-factly explained what happened to the 2010 market. "Earnings came in as delivered, but there was nothing spectacular, the market already reflected it," he said.

Tim Seymour disagreed. "I think it's the opposite, I mean, I think earnings actually are delivering, I think the market is priced, um, to not believe these earnings," he said. "Nobody thinks that, that the punch bowl stays here; that's the problem."

Don’t armageddon it

Joe Terranova said copper isn't just taking a dip, there is heavy volume in the selloff.

Unabashed, he was buying into it. "I bought Freeport-McMoran on the close today. I think what the market is doing right now in a very very fast fashion is pricing in Armageddon II, and I think that's the wrong trade," he said.

Tim Seymour basically agreed. "It's a heavy momentum stock, even for guys that know nothing about copper," he said, and is "something that has value." Seymour said picking stocks based on value hasn't been working in many ways, but it works here, as FCX is valuable even with copper at $2.50, he said.

We said a couple days ago, partly out of anger, that CLF might be the worst stock ever. But FCX in January might be a stronger candidate, unfortunately.

Not done with Terranova

Joe Terranova was announcing the trades fast and furious on Friday.

"I got long the British pound today," Terranova said, something Rick Santelli congratulated him for because Santelli said the only thing he fears more than Greece is the U.K.

Joe also said of Cisco, "I think the stock's a buy here" and will do a "revisit of 25.10."

How has he been able to afford this ongoing buying binge? "I've been selling oil against my positions," he said, during his JPM "Fast Fire."

Terranova also noted that GS was "the one trade I did get stopped-out on."

Gary Kaminsky addressed the rumors of Goldman exiting its status as a bank holding company. "It's not happening this year," Kaminsky said, saying both the company and government are leery of that. "Combination of both."

No, Carl Icahn isn’t really
Karen Finerman’s boyfriend

Once again Melissa Lee made reference to Carl Icahn as Karen Finerman's "boyfriend," this time during a legitimate breaking news update.

Which will undoubtedly bring inquiries to this site, to which we can say, no, Karen is not Carl Icahn's girlfriend, Karen is married to someone else and enjoys gushing on-air about how "hot" Jamie Dimon is and how Carl Icahn is sort of her financial "boyfriend."

Karen was modest about the "Fast Fire" she got for AXL. "Frankly I don't know how they picked just one for me," she said.

Karen repeated that she sees C trading at a massive discount but insists she's "pissed" about how Vikram Pandit sold his company and then got the CEO job. (This writer is long C.)

Gary Kaminsky offered a bright spot to C investors, saying that after the "sloppy" offering in December, "I think this has been the best-performing large-cap financial on a relative basis."

Brian Stutland had an options trade for protecting yourself in PFE. It's selling the March $18 put for 50 cents, to "bring in some premium, protect yourself."

Melissa Lee showed a clip of Maria Bartiromo in Davos interviewing Bill and Melinda Gates. We didn't think much of the interview, but Maria looked cute in her jacket.

Oh, to have once been Karen's boyfriend...

Tomasulo got angry mail
over Citigroup call

Apparently, we're not the only ones who watch the "Fast Money Halftime Report."

Jeff Tomasulo revealed Friday, "I got tons of hate mail when I said Citigroup was a dog."

None of it came from this site, we assure everyone. (Even though this writer is long C.)

"I think there's just better opportunities," Tomasulo said.

Steve Grasso was as skeptical of the stock market as anyone we've seen recently, even Guy Adami.

"Short-term, it's broken," Grasso said, and if there's further selling with conviction, "we could be looking at 1025 or 1,000 ... I wouldn't be doing anything until we close above 1,121 in the S&P."

Tomasulo pointed to Apple hitting $215 about a week ago and now trading about $20 lighter and explained that he wasn't terribly impressed with the iPad. "I think they're renaming it the iShort at this point," Grasso agreed.

Todd Gordon and Tomasulo basically agreed that they're not ready to make a move until the technicals break out one way or another.

Scott Nations wasn't impressed by MSFT's outlook. "Microsoft is like a utility now," he said. "The growth prospects are pretty slim."

But for those longing for bullish evidence, Nations said "we saw some call-buying in the XLF, the March $15 calls ... that's tepid longs."

Melissa Lee pointed to options action in another big name. "It was one trader apparently, 10,000 Goldman Sachs July 200 calls were bought this morning."

Joe Terranova called in to say "Oil to me seems to have taken its medicine on the downside." He said he's long HAL and OIH.

[Thursday, January 28, 2010]

CNBC females fascinated
by name of new Apple device

On Wednesday, we reported a "Fast Money" joke from Melissa Lee: "If you're buying an iPad with a lot of power, would it be a max-iPad?"

We also noted that Jane Wells on Wednesday put together a blog item, hailed by Lee, on the new Apple tablet, featuring lines such as "Will there eventually be a slimmer version called the iPon?"

Then Thursday, Erin Burnett on "Street Signs" cut away to a commercial with this teaser: "Next on the show, it's time to 'Stop Trading'. We're talking about ketchup ... and the iPad? Did someone really just put that in the same sentence in this tease? Carolyn?"

Wells mentioned cringing, but obviously the ladies are doing anything but.

This seems like a gal thing. Months ago, when the subject of the Cialis bathtubs came up, Mel Lee and Karen Finerman snickered together like Blair and Tootie cooking up another end-around on Mrs. Garrett. It's beyond the scope and ability of this review to explain it.

MSFT: Great stock, if it doesn’t
go down and if market goes up

Pete Najarian on Thursday's "Fast Money" managed to argue both the bull and bear cases for Microsoft in the span of about 20 seconds. Pete said "This stock's gonna go higher tomorrow, likely," but then urged viewers long MSFT to wait a couple hours until the volatility settles down before buying put options.

"I don't own it right now, wish I did," Pete said.

But then Tim Seymour and Melissa Lee asked if people who are not long MSFT should buy the calls Thursday. "Absolutely not," Pete said. "I don't own the stock, I don't wanna chase the stock, because I think you might get that selloff that a lot of us perceive."

So he believes in the stock, it's either going to go up or down, but don't buy calls because there might be a selloff.

Got it.

According to Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova, people should want to be long Microsoft.

"Bank of America came out with a 38 today on the stock," Seymour said. "This is a stock that's gonna go higher and the Street's not even there yet."

"Microsoft is actually underowned," Terranova claimed.

Now, why would there be any risk whatsoever in owning this name trumpeted on "Fast Money"? Only because, um, there seem to be some problems with the overall market, according to Seymour, "It's policy risk, it's, it's sovereign risk, it's China risk..."

Tim Seymour says a dubious
word on live television

Who would've thought a Brian Kelly discussion on a yuan rumor would net a comment such as the one you're about to read from Tim Seymour on Thursday, and no, it had nothing to do with the iPad.

But first, note that Melissa Lee asked Kelly to "connect the dots" before Seymour jumped in with this slightly jumbled movie quote:

"To me this, this currency rumor reminds me of that scene in 'Fast Times' when Phoebe Cates says to Stacy, you know, 'Did you hear about that guy that pulled a knife on Mr. Hand today,'? And she's like, 'No no no, she (sic) actually just called him a dick.' " This did not happen."

Phoebe Cates, incredibly, looks even better now than she did in that movie. According to something we read a while back, she likes being a socialite & hostess and dishing the dirt on fellow celebs.

A member of the CNBCfix community has claimed to have attended college with Robert Romanus (that would be Damone) and insists his name was "Romanos" then.

America’s favorite pastime:
Blowing money on gadgets

Pete Najarian said something Thursday about the tech field that really perked up our ears.

"There's already 40-plus e-Readers out there, or going to be out there on the marketplace," Pete said.

So there are 40-plus ways of reading a book on a computer tablet, and who knows how many cell phones, but the "expanding pie" is growing bigger for everyone and people who buy iPads will then buy a Mac, and all kinds of companies can thrive because the space is big enough and margins and pricing power will remain intact, while unemployment remains around 10%.

iPad skeptic Melissa Lee compared the new $499 device to the cheaper Kindle, which Lee noted "includes unlimited 3G access" that the $499 iPad does not, "so it does work out to be much more even at the very base level."

"Or you can just do what I do," said Guy Adami, "and buy the freakin' newspaper. I mean, at gunpoint I wouldn't buy one of these things."

Maybe AMZN not testing $106

Guy Adami, for days clinging to this Amazon's-going-to-test-106 thesis, considered reversing himself Thursday on the earnings action, saying the reversal afterhours could signal opportunity to get long.

Brian Kelly was manning the "Prop Desk" Thursday just like the Prop Desk is usually "manned," by someone in Englewood Cliffs not scanning the afterhours markets for trading developments, but reciting a prepackaged storyline they'd obviously spent a few hours putting together. Kelly took up the subject of Microsoft and said he's not big on the consumer, but his "channel checks" indicated possible strength in CRM and VMW.

Joe Terranova, we give ye credit for honesty, but why doth ye continue to own this dog of a stock? "I've got Dell on, I've had Dell on for a long time, it's done nothing but disappoint me," Terranova admitted. Kelly said there's signs of strength around $13 — oh, joy.

Tim Seymour said maybe the earnings don't matter. "I think we're scarred right now," he said.

MLee asks Pete Najarian
her wrap-it-up sentence

Guy Adami challenged the bullish bank notion from Paul Miller a day ago. "I think again the banks are setting up, especially some of these regional banks, for a nice short position," Adami said.

Remember, if you play hockey, you've gotta know how to skate backwards as well as forwards, and if you're trading stocks, you have to go short at times too.

Pete Najarian, on the other hand, thundered that there's been serious put-buying in the XLF.

"Connect the dots then," Melissa Lee pushed, the first of two utterances Thursday.

"They're willing to stay in the trade," Pete said.

Steve Liesman, one of our CNBC favorites, didn't impress us much this time, saying (yawn) that the Bernanke vote might indicate not only is the Fed's balance sheet politicized, but the process might be politicized, as well, as the mainstream media continues to gradually stop pretending the Federal Reserve isn't a purely independent body.

Note to self re: grammar

Guy Adami was certainly on top of the FCX trade last week (as he likes to remind viewers, although he didn't start flagging it until it was around $75), and Dennis Gartman was ahead of the curve on the whole commodities problem even before that, but Joe Terranova sadly spent much of Thursday's "Fast Money" explaining which commodity stocks he was unloading.

"I had to get out of 3M today, got out of Freeport McMoran," Terranova said. But he said a safe haven might be the big banks like JPM and GS. "It looks like maybe they have taken their medicine," he said.

Tim Seymour said FCX may be down, but others may have further to go. "TCK, that's a name you can still get short, PCU, Southern Copper, these are inferior companies to Freeport," Seymour said.

Guy Adami praised JetBlue's Dave Barger for coming on the show since its inception, in good times and bad. Indeed, Barger has been a regular guest and a very down-to-earth guest and a "Friend of the Show" in similar ways as we consider Patty Edwards and Michelle Meyer "Friends of the Site" (OK, no confirmation Meyer even knows this site exists, but surely at some point she's been interested in a review of "Fast Money"? ... btw, when was the last time Meyer's been on the show ... free tip to CNBC, traffic at this site lights up when Meyer is on, maybe not quite at the level of the NBC switchboard during the Heidi Game, but a spike nevertheless, so presumably the same happens with TV viewership), but in fact Barger didn't start coming on until after David Neeleman had appeared a couple times in the early days, and early "Fast Money" viewers will remember original "Fast Money" kingpin Eric Bolling knocking Neeleman's apparent lack of knowledge about the airline's hedging strategies.

Melissa Lee at one point told Guy Adami, "I'm glad you said 'further' and not 'farther,' because that's one of my pet peeves."

Gartman: Commodities busted;
look to cereal, restaurants

Dennis Gartman, who warned "Fast Money Halftime Report" viewers a week ago about commodities, said Thursday "I think they've been broken very badly."

Gartman said the only play out of this is he sees "cereal manufacturers, and the restaurants, getting stronger." He said without a ton of conviction that anyone who somehow must be long metals should look to palladium and platinum, for auto reasons.

Melissa Lee hailed Guy Adami's recent call on Intel and overall market bearishness. "That was the tell for tech, that was the tell for the rest of the tape," Adami said, saying traders of course have to be "market agnostic."

Scott Redler agreed, saying "we've been seeing technical damage add up ... next area to watch is about 1072." But he warned the really "compelling area" is 1,040 on the S&P.

Adami said it'll be lower than 1,040. "I see actually more than that to be honest with you," he said, pointing to FCX and saying "these names are broken."

Jon Najarian said he shorted QCOM upon seeing options activity, but now is "getting long QualComm" around $40.50.

What more can we say? The 2010 stock market is so far a disaster.

[Wednesday, January 27, 2010]

Gary Kaminsky: Apple goal
is to bypass search engines

There was a lot of noise from the "Fast Money" panelists Wednesday about the iPad, but the most curious remarks came from Gary Kaminsky on the "Prop Desk."

Gary said the Apple "master plan," as he sees it, is "about direct connectivity to the customer. ... What they're gonna do, is they're gonna disintermediate, longer term, search engines."

Karen Finerman challenged Kaminsky on this point twice, first asking how long this disintermediation would take.

Kaminsky said it would take two to three years, but that "out of the box" thinkers will realize that fund managers will start planning for this in a few months. He pointed to Apple's array of products and said "you take away the need for search to drive product sales."

Finerman shrugged and said if that trend is actually true, still, "that is a very, very, very formidable position that Google has."

Kaminsky told Guy Adami he'd be reluctant to short GOOG because so many "closet indexes" have to buy it, but at the same time, he doesn't see any "upside risk" for weeks, especially given the psychological effect of Friday's CEO sales announcement on the heels of "sloppy" earnings.

Karen later got in a Round 2 with Gary and demanded he make a call. "Are you saying then, at this valuation for Google, if that looming threat is really out there, as you say, what would you do?"

Kaminsky responded, "I look at today's announcement from Apple as they're going directly after search. So I'd be concerned."

Bruce from Boerne, Texas, e-mailed in his own challenge to Kaminsky, saying he would buy the iPad, but use Google instead of Safari. Gary shrugged and said so what, Apple's goal is "to disintermediate and have direct connectivity." We can't figure out either why Safari is so bad.

Did mighty AAPL botch a name?

Like we said, there was a lot of noise from the "Fast Money" gang on the iPad — most of it redundant, and a lot of it violating our "eeeewwwwwwwwww" standards.

Melissa Lee, for example, asked, "If you're buying an iPad with a lot of power, would it be a max-iPad?"

Lee also invited viewers to read Jane Wells' blog post on this name. Sorry, we already had enough of a hint as to what it was about.

Karen Finerman, always above childishness, made the most useful point, that the rumored-$1,000-actual-$499 pricing "was a masterful Jobs manipulation .. they really did just a masterful job of setting up market expectations for one thing, and then, completely turning them on their ear."

Karen also smartly tripped up a bogus point by Pete Najarian that he has made before.

"It's an iPhone on steroids," Pete first said of the iPad. "I don't have an iPhone. I don't have a Mac. But I will have this the day it comes out."

But then he returned to a point he occasionally makes, that all of these Apple devices aren't really supposed to make much money but merely get everyone to buy Macs. "I was pounding the table, it isn't about the iPhone. That actually turned out to be wrong. The iPhone did become a product that actually is adding to the bottom line. All these applications, all the money that's generated. But it really comes down to the growth of the Mac. This is another feeder into the Mac."

So Karen asked, "You do, you were just saying you don't have a Mac, and you wouldn't need to buy one if you have this instead."

Guy Adami also questioned this endless supply of devices, and that's one of the things we've been wondering, through all the gushing by Pete and others, at what point do these Apple devices cannibalize not only other companies' market share, but Apple's own products?

"I should have the iPhone right now, I got this crappy Nokia," Pete mumbled, and obviously, a celebrated options trader successful enough to land a chair on "Fast Money" couldn't possibly afford $300 for a new phone.

"The iPhone is my wife's favorite thing in the world because she's now, we don't even need a camera anymore," Tim Seymour said.

He said of the iPad, "You don't need this if you have a netbook."

Guy Adami announced at the top of the show that discussion of this product would have to involve Church & Dwight and Johnson & Johnson, and we were just holding our sides in to contain the laughter.

Tim Seymour topped that by stressing the "thrust" of the AAPL trade on Wednesday wasn't the iPad, but the Fed.

$6 ago, seemed like a great idea

You know what's interesting? AAPL gets props for half the show for barely trading above flat for the day, while a stock pretty much universally hailed this month by the "Fast Money" gang is barely discussed during an absolute hammering afterhours.

That name would be QualComm.

Guy Adami said, "It's a name I've liked; clearly I'm wrong though this afternoon."

Ya think? According to Google finance, it fell 10% in the afterhours.

He's not the only one. Joe Terranova's touted it a couple of times recently, and Pete Najarian — not really an endorsement, but he wasn't telling people to stay away either — spoke this month of raging call-buying at the $50 level.

As poor of a call as this was, there is also the bigger-picture issue that we've long believed is bogus, this idea of the "expanding pie" and "rising tide" of the cell phone market that is going to make winners of all of the stocks, Motorola, Palm, Apple, Research in Motion, Google, Nokia, with QCOM being one way to play the whole pie.

Lo and behold, Reuters reported Wednesday that "The company said the average price of phones was falling." Where have we read predictions like that?

Even though Guy Adami said of QCOM on Jan. 5, "they actually win to everybody in the space," nobody on the show Wednesday seemed eager to ask if the Wednesday report is thus a sign that all phone makers or their component suppliers are in trouble. (This writer has no position in any cell phone makers, long or short.)

Not surprisingly in the slightest, Tim Seymour even found a way to spin the QCOM debacle into a potential positive for his favorite, Nokia, even though he doesn't own NOK per disclosure but does own AAPL. "I think a lot of bad news is priced into guys like Nokia," he said, but the company needs to re-earn trust after (you've heard this before) it "dropped two doughnuts on us in a row."

Pip Coburn: iPad will be
like the ‘Holy Grail’ for some

Pip Coburn, the seer of business trends, pointed to all those iPhone apps from AAPL and praised the company for creating a new market with the iPad. "Like it tremendously," he said. "People are gonna be toting around their iPad as if it's like the Holy Grail."

Then he offered another plus for the company. "You know, when you think about it, when people see those Apple ads, they're not saying, 'I want an iPhone,' they're saying, 'I wanna be the person in the ad,' and that's really powerful," Coburn said.

So two big reasons he likes AAPL are the number of iPhone apps and the TV commercials. He didn't say what might happen if people in the next couple years can get a phone with essentially the same functions as today's iPhone for $20 and a $10/month plan, or a tablet similar to the iPad for $49.

Karen ‘embarrassed’
for angry congressman

Gary Kaminsky, who looked to be wearing jeans with cufflinks (but we couldn't determine with certainty), might've drawn Karen Finerman into an AAPL-GOOG battle, but Karen refused to be goaded into a debate on Tim Geithner.

"Geithner should never have gotten the job," Kaminsky said. "He was way too tainted in the first place. And the one thing I'll tell you, is this man will resign, he'll resign for family reasons or personal reasons, sometime before the summer, and it will be good for stocks. It will be good for equities."

"I don't agree on the Geithner thing, but that doesn't matter..." Karen said, trying to ask about GOOG instead.

"You don't agree about Geithner?" Kaminsky asked.

"I don't agree that he never should've gotten a job in the first place..." Karen said.

"We were supposed to have a fresh start," Kaminsky asserted, before Melissa Lee cut them off and redirected the conversation to search engines.

"I felt bad for Tim Geithner," Guy Adami said. "I think he's a stand-up guy, I think he did the best job he possibly could've."

"I gotta second that," Finerman said. "I was outraged at some of the idiotic things that (Congressman) Lynch said actually. He to me demonstrated no understanding of the capital markets. At. All. He referred to the Bear Stearns bailout of 2 cents on the dollar. That was $2 for the equity. I don't think he knows the difference between debt and equity. I personally was embarrassed for him."

Guy Adami rolls out
a term we hadn’t heard

Guy Adami made one of the most overdue "Fast Money" observations of all time Wednesday in a segment somehow left until the end of the show. Caterpillar and Freeport-McMoran — two very widely held names — have been getting killed, and the rails haven't exactly been soaring.

Adami said this is all evidence of a "shadow bear market."

A "shadow bear market." Got it.

Tim Seymour pointed the U.S. Steel chart and said that it's horrendous, but you might actually want to start taking a look. Yeah, sure.

Paul Miller told "Fast Money" Wednesday that the banks don't have as much to fear from Washington as you might think. "I don't think the Obama tax is ever gonna go through and I definitely don't think they're gonna limit the size of banks," Miller said. "I think Wall Street will get bored with Capitol Hill eventually with all this regulation." He said he likes the regionals ZION, RF, STI and FITB.

Scott from Palm Beach e-mailed a question for Guy Adami about whether Apple would be interested in Electronic Arts. Adami said AAPL has hired Adrian Perica, a guy from Goldman Sachs, and ERTS "could be an interesting target for them."

Pete Najarian warned if Amazon doesn't deliver knockout earnings, "It's like an air pocket right now underneath 120."

Melissa Lee aired a comment from Heather Bellini being bullish on Microsoft. Karen Finerman admitted she's owned it for a while with minimal results. Pete Najarian said there are some good reasons to own it but "this is a big battleship though," in other words, not really going anywhere.

No ‘Halftime Report’

The double-hit of AIG hearings and Apple tablet presentation preempted not only the "Fast Money Halftime Report" but pretty much all of "Power Lunch" on Wednesday.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was heard to remark, however, that she got "burned so bad" by the quick price drop shortly after buying a brand-new Kindle.

Cliffs Natural Resources:
Worst stock of all time?

We try to keep this site from being a "blog." Whenever this review of "Fast Money" mentions one of the panelist's stocks that we own, of course we feel obligated to mention the position, and just leave it at that.

(This writer has been long CLF. The remnants were unloaded Wednesday.) Hopefully no one else out there, aside from Pete Najarian until this week according to CNBC.com disclosure, has had the misfortune of being long Cliffs Natural Resources in January.

This wretched, beyond-sorry stock performance would make some of these circa-2000 Internet names blush. The peak for a bunch of these steel/coal names was around Jan. 8. Since then, CLF fell off the cliff 23%. We actually found one worse, X, off about 28%. Buying a stock you should be shorting, ouch.

The warnings were there. Dennis Gartman tried to save people some cash in this space a week ago. Remarkably, these stocks up until Jan. 8 had actually boasted impressive charts going all the way back to March 2009 and Najarian was right to be on board, higher highs and higher lows throughout, even while the banks fumbled and stumbled starting in October.

Hopefully sometime soon the CLF and X longs can get back in and recoup some of this train wreck. For now, this is massive sucking.

So take that, CLF.

Much better to unload in a hurry than do the Regis Philbin thing, i.e., hang on for 12 years hoping to finally come out "ahead." And when CLF soars $5 in a day or two, you can thank this site.

[Tuesday, January 26, 2010]

Josh Rosner: Geithner
won’t last the year

Josh Rosner made an appearance on "Fast Money" Tuesday to proclaim the downfall of Tim Geithner, starting with Wednesday's House hearings on the AIG bailout.

It was interesting stuff, though you're probably already aware of it if you've been reading the Drudge Report in the last week or two.

"Well, I expect that we're gonna find that the New York Fed did in fact mislead the SIG TARP," Rosner said. He said evidence likely to come out in the House hearings indicates the N.Y. Fed "stymied" the investigation "time and again," even keeping information from Congress and the public "using national security."

Karen Finerman, always looking ahead, was adamant about assessing the specific impact of the Goldman Sachs/SocGen angle to this. Karen said she didn't see any "unwinding" of these payouts, "those eggs are scrambled already." She questioned Rosner about the (in)significance of Goldman and SocGen perhaps getting 100 cents on the dollar when they should've gotten 40 cents on the dollar, saying it probably amounted to about $7 billion. "It's not that much money considering what was happening at the time," Karen said in a low voice.

On the question of Tim Geithner, Rosner said, "I don't think he survives the year." But as for an immediate resignation, he said, "I don't think it's in the cards."

Melissa Lee asked Rosner to "connect the dots" to ramifications for Ben Bernanke.

The Treasury Department, apparently contacted by CNBC, said later it had no comment on Rosner's remarks.

For long-term investors

Ara Hovnanian refused to take a stand on whether we've seen the bottom of the housing market, and we don't really blame him.

"Generally speaking though," Hovnanian said, "demographics are working in our favor. The population is growing..."

Please just let it continue
to be misunderstood

Goodness only knows why "Fast Money" would devote practically half a show to Yahoo's earnings.

Pete Najarian pounded the table for YHOO like those gorillas used to pound the Samsonite luggage in those old commercials. Pete said to "forget" search, that display ads are the "monster growth area."

Brian Kelly, manning the utterly useless "Prop Desk," said the skepticism of a lot of people is a "great opportunity" to buy YHOO and "take advantage of that misunderstood story."

Jim Goldman, on the other hand, asserted that for all the talk of potential cited by Pete Najarian, Yahoo actually has no "track record" of great success, and a lot of these opportunities are probably "pie in the sky."

Adami’s BNI conspiracy

Guy Adami was blunt about the YHOO story. "Valuation in Yahoo is utterly ridiculous, frankly," he said Tuesday.

Adami also said, "The price action today in Apple was atrocious, frankly."

And Adami also said, "Intel since earnings frankly has been a bit of a disaster."

Then Adami suggested that Warren Buffett "overpaid completely for BNI frankly" and that the acquisition "end game" might've been to get Berkshire into the S&P 500, which indeed was announced during the show Tuesday.

Melissa Lee turned to Brian Kelly on the "Prop Desk" hoping to get a trade on the Berkshire news.

"Frankly I haven't found anything yet, so I wish I had," Kelly chuckled, not surprisingly.

Whitney Tilson — hopefully he didn't call in to the show to gloat on the BRK news but rather they called him for commentary — used that neat-sounding-but-irrelevant "i" word to tout Berkshire as undervalued, saying he finds "intrinsic value somewhere around $140,000 a share."

‘Fast Money’
can take 2 days off

Joe Terranova, regarding Apple, made one of those statements that, when you think about it, really serves no purpose. "I think you know everything you need to know about Apple by Friday afternoon," Terranova said.

Pete Najarian, defending Intel as he always does, took issue with Guy Adami's seemingly correct assessment that INTC shares crested on the earnings announcement. Pete said the shares had been running into earnings, and so they're merely back down to pre-earnings-anticipation levels, giving investors sort of a "do-over."

Karen Finerman, in her "Final Trade," said she is "long Bernanke."

Katie Stockton warns S&P
could tumble to 1010

Katie Stockton said Tuesday on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" that last week's correction might be just the beginning, because too many people don't believe it.

"Sentiment has become uncomfortably bullish, and also there's not that many bears out there," said Stockton, whose comments notably raised the eyebrows of Patty Edwards. Stockton suggested the S&P could tumble down to its 200-day, around 1,010.

Patty Edwards, who might be the "Fast Money Honey" unless it's Jane Wells, was doing more waffling on Apple's tablet than Harry Reid exhibited on the Ben Bernanke endorsement.

Melissa Lee, curiously interrupting this segment into two parts, said to Edwards, "I'm gonna play the skeptic here because that is my job here ... the Apple tablet, whatever you want to call it, it exists in no category, it's expected to price about a thousand bucks, it's about three times as much as a netbook costs out there, who is going to buy this thing?"

"Well there's always the early adopters who have to have the latest, greatest thing; I'm sure Pete'll pick one up first day," Patty said. "But beyond that, you know, there are going to be some uses for it. I think the folks who have been buying the Kindle, and carrying their, um, iPod, and carrying an iPhone, I think if you can wrap more and more things into it, you're going to get greater adoption."

Asked to make a stock call, Edwards flinched and said, "Boy, um, I think if you have bought before these, these, earnings and before these, um, events, you have always done well. I like the stock, I think I'm on record as saying I thought they could get to $230, we're not there yet. Um, I would pick and choose very carefully, maybe listen to Pete, take some options and, and work it that way, I don't know if I'd plunge in head-first right now though."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Sounds to us like "Don't buy."

On the other hand, Pete Najarian, who was heard guffawing in the background several times during this broadcast, sounded like he couldn't scoop up enough AAPL shares fast enough. "There's a lot of folks on the Street who find this to be much more than just another product," Pete said. "I think we can get to 250, not necessarily tomorrow." He said "call spreads are extremely cheap."

Mike Gurka was asked to make a comment about retail and said something about disappointed expectations blip domestic issue that made absolutely no sense.

Much more straightforward, Patty Edwards said "you can look at a TJX, you can look at a Buckle ... I like Aeropostale ... I'm avoiding the middle markets, um, I'm avoiding the absolute high end, but I really do like Nordstrom at these levels too."

Brian Kelly said he was shorting South Korea via the EWY. He's going to be on the Prop Desk later.

[Monday, January 25, 2010]

‘Fast Money’ crew draws
the line on capitalism ...

"Fast Money" viewers who didn't go to CNBC.com for Monday's "Web Extra" missed the best part of the show.

Karen Finerman trashed the government approval of the TicketMaster/Live Nation deal.

"It's obscene, it's absolutely obscene," Karen said, mentioning it can cost more to print out a ticket from TicketMaster at home than it will charge to mail it to you, while Tim Seymour chimed in about the "disservice" charge and "inconvenience" fee of using TicketMaster.

We don't disagree there are likely legitimate antitrust concerns. We have no opinion on those. And we don't care much for TicketMaster either; who does? But we find ourselves chuckling at the "Fast Money" gang's acute disdain for capitalism. Event tickets aren't exactly bread and water. If it costs too much, don't go. Face value is usually artificially low for altruistic reasons. A company finds people are somehow willing to pay more to print out a ticket at home than have it mailed to them. Stock traders find this offensive and believe the product should be sold below market value.

"There's a guy down on Eighth Avenue that's better than Ticket-," said Guy Adami.

... and on politics

On "Fast Money" Monday, Bob Pisani said it was "amazing" that Sen. Harry Reid is attaching qualifiers to his endorsement of Ben Bernanke, saying "that's an outrageous attempt to politically influence the Federal Reserve at this point."

We like Bob, but the notion that a major news commentator actually thinks the Federal Reserve (or Supreme Court, or the Nobel committee) is some pristine body accountable to no one and operating in a vacuum untainted by any sort of influence or pressure is what strikes us as "amazing."

The Senate votes on this person. How can any subject voted on by the U.S. Senate not be considered political?

Sure, people should probably pretend the Fed is independent, but when they don't, does it really matter?

Tim Seymour was either disgusted or outraged or both. "I think Bernanke goes back to Princeton before he accepts all this," Seymour said.

Karen Finerman, who moments earlier on another topic said "confusion's never a good thing," offered Pisani the most ambiguous and confusing question possible. "Do you really think that Bernanke would rather serve under the thumb and continue to be in that position?" Karen asked, which we interpreted to mean that Karen agrees with Seymour in that Bernanke won't accept the job under conditions like that, but her follow-up comments instead suggested he would accept the job regardless but that he wouldn't allow comments from Reid or others to influence policy.

Pisani eventually said he agreed, though we're not sure what he agreed with. (A little help from moderator Melissa Lee would've been nice.)

"The problems are not coming from the White House right now, the problems are actually coming from the Democrats who don't really support the same thing they talked about three weeks ago," said Seymour.

Daniel Clifton of Strategas incredibly suggested Jon Corzine and Chris Dodd as two possible replacements for Tim Geithner (in the low probability that Geithner departs) who would have the support of both D.C. and Wall Street. The panelists correctly reacted in disbelief.

What exactly is biz school for?

Bob Pisani made this remark about Ben Bernanke: "This is a man who's an academic who had no real training in crisis management, has gotten a crash course in it right now."

Absurdity of categorizing comments from Harry Reid as a "crisis" aside, it made us wonder — do the leading business schools teach specific courses in crisis management?

We didn't see such a title on Wharton's MBA curriculum (but one title, "Monetizing Emerging Interactive Media," certainly got our attention, and perhaps counts some staffers from the New York Times among its students), and HBS merely leans on generic-sounding "case-based learning" curriculum, but with the reminder, "AT HBS, EVERY DECISION YOU MAKE IS A PRICELESS LESSON IN LEADERSHIP." (And you thought the Ivy League was above Billy Mays.)

Eventually we got to Northwestern's Kellogg, where we found "Values and Crisis Decision Making." The kicker here is the intro: "In recent decades corporations have increasingly become the dominant source for political and social change."

They have?

It also says "simply 'doing the right thing' is not enough." Apparently, you don't even need that, given that Karen Finerman of all people has recently said it's OK to buy CHK.

Joe Terranova and Tim Seymour neatly summarized the Bernanke situation. "The incumbents need higher capital markets in November," Terranova said.

Seymour said it's "10 and 10. They're gonna keep the Dow above 10,000 and unemployment below 10 and they don't care about anything else."

Maybe tomorrow, Gene Munster

As Apple's earnings raged somewhere in the background where Jon Najarian wore a clumsy headset and chomped on an apple, Joe Terranova was semi-giddily announcing his day's grocery basket. "I was doubling down in all the tech names," Joe said. Not just AAPL, but names like "EMC ... Qualcomm ... Dell ... Microsoft."

Basically by the time the show ended, we still had no clue whether Apple's earnings should be considered positive or negative, and obviously the panelists didn't either.

Tim Seymour was done an injustice by the "Fast Money" hair-styling crew, the right top of his head plastered with gel in an offbeat Gekko look minus the necessary symmetry. Seymour said he thinks Apple's upside is limited; a lot of good stuff going on, but, "in the short run though I think there's a lot of news that's baked into this price," he said.

Melissa Lee spoke the theme of the day when she turned to Karen Finerman and said that before Karen comments, she probably needs a really long look at Apple's convoluted redone GAAP/non-GAAP numbers.

"Confusion's never a good thing," Karen agreed.

Guy Adami, whose hair was OK, waffled on AAPL but locked in on another phone seller on the heels of the Apple report. "My sense is, good or bad, RIMM goes down," he said.

Adami again mentioned his favorite storage names, which Melissa Lee said are in the "golden age of disk drives."

Props & drops

We like the fact "Fast Money" is attempting some innovation this year.

But this "Prop Desk" ain't really working.

It's obviously an effort to get a fifth panelist some screen time, but it impedes the flow of the show.

The bonus commentary viewers are getting from it is only mildly useful, often b.s., and almost always prepackaged material at odds with the visuals of these guys climbing all over these screens like Captain Kirk as though they're monitoring up-to-the-second price movements, evidenced by Mike Khouw on Monday merely repeating tips he got from his friend Scott Stevens at Strata Capital (why not just have Stevens call in as a guest instead of communicating through a third party?).

Melissa Lee looked great but had a lot of trouble with the timing for commercial breaks, at least a couple times realizing she had more air to fill than she was prepared for.

Seymour’s answer for Chanos

In what seems to be a daily habit, Karen Finerman said, "I did buy more Google today actually." Melissa Lee read a question from Aaron in Chicago, purportedly a futures trader, who was disheartened that Google fell after he bought some. Karen merely re-acknowledged that she bought some shares herself and thinks the Brin-Page share sale plan is what drove the stock down Monday.

Karen spoke for a few moments about Amazon's valuation and for a while we thought she would avoid her favorite word, but eventually came through: "It is ridiculous."

Karen said of the banking selloff, particularly with one of her top names, BAC, "I think it's overdone" and there are still "absolutely valid" reasons to stay in the stock.

Tim Seymour said he thinks commodities have been oversold, including big oil names PBR and COP. "You wanna be in some of the refiners also," he said, "TSO, Sunoco ... two names you trade the range on."

Karen Finerman questioned him about bullishness in FCX. "I actually think fundamentally if you value Freeport at, at 2.80 a pound in copper, the stock still has room to run, because it's probably priced in, in, somewhere around 2.50," Seymour said.

Seymour also rebutted the tape of Jim Chanos' comments that "five to nine" people in China can dictate the numbers and somehow always make them. Seymour said many smart independent analysts are also crunching the Chinese GDP and other key data and are reaching conclusions similar to the party line.

"I sold out my Frontier Oil position today," Joe Terranova said.

Terranova sets sights high
on AAPL earnings

Joe Terranova on Monday's "Fast Money Halftime Report" was predicting a gangbusters afternoon in AAPL.

"I bought some more Apple today," Terranova said. "I am playing for an Amazon-type of earnings response in Apple tonight."

Jon Najarian said, "My numbers say that they're gonna come out at about $2.28 per share, that's not gonna surprise me, but that's about 20 cents better than the Street. I also have a target of 265 for the stock." However, he noted the tablet isn't going to instantly hit shelves, and he didn't recommend that stock buyers go rushing in at this price.

Meanwhile, Dennis Gartman was scaring the heck out of commodities/materials investors.

"A lot of damage has been done to the materials," Gartman said, adding they have "broken incredibly well-defined trend lines. ... If you're long, you probably need to sell into this bounce."

Joe Terranova disagreed. "I view this as a little bit of a correction, a pullback," he said, pointing to copper futures. "I actually think this is a buying opportunity." (This writer is long CLF.) Zach Karabell agreed in the closing thoughts, but was wary of Monday's market action.

Karabell said that RIMM has recently been trading down on AAPL anticipation. "I think actually that's a mistake," he said, suggesting there's plenty of room for device makers.

"I am long both Motorola and Palm," Najarian said, discussing the usual go-round of takeover rumors that have to be so commonplace with Palm, we don't know why they merit a segment on TV.

Karabell said that if you're troubled by the bank headwinds, ignore them. "I really don't think we should be looking at the financials for market leadership. I don't buy the thesis that you need the financials to do well for the markets to go up," he said. "Not interested."

[Friday, January 22, 2010]

Schiff earned $18 million
over nearly 2-year span

The Hartfort Courant reports this week that Peter Schiff "earned a salary of $17 million and reported dividends, interest and capital gains of at least $1.4 million over a 23-month period ending in mid-December, according to financial disclosure forms." The Courant says Schiff has raised nearly $1.6 million for his Senate bid, almost all in small individual donations, and bought a $2.4 million home in Weston, Conn., in December.

Are feds watching ‘Fast Money’
as closely as we are?

Peter Schiff said something curious on "Fast Monday" Friday:

"I own several stocks in my own account, but I'd just as soon not speak to, speak about them, because last time I did, I got a call from the regulators, and so I'm trying to keep quiet."

Interesting. As far as we can tell, the last time, and maybe the only time we can remember, that Schiff mentioned a specific name was Dec. 11, when he spoke about Skyworth Digital as a pure outside-the-U.S. play on China.

Friday, Schiff was pressed by Pete Najarian to explain what oil and mining names he's in. But he says he can't tell us, because the regulators might call.

Does that mean Whitney Tilson gets a call every time he's on "Fast Money," or that Jim Chanos got a call after his interview with Melissa Lee?

Or was this really nothing, and just an excuse for Schiff to escape any scrutiny over his holdings while using a TV news appearance to talk about how great his funds are purportedly doing and the fact he's a candidate for U.S. Senate from Connecticut?

We're not sure which one of our alarms is ringing the loudest — the guys in charge of policing the Bernie Madoffs of the world trampling on the free speech of a fund manager who purportedly isn't even allowed to say on air what stocks he owns ... or said fund manager regularly coming on TV to gloat about how great his thesis and investments have been but won't say specifically what he owns, blaming government regulation.

The fact that Schiff returned to the show Friday to slam Ben Bernanke — whom Schiff called "terrible" and said "in fact he did a terrible job before we promoted him" — but was unable to offer a suggestion when Melissa Lee asked him whom he'd appoint instead makes us think the smelly little trend here is not the one from the feds.

Update: On Friday, Dec. 4, Guy Adami asked Schiff about ABX. Schiff said: "I own the stock personally. I have a lot of money in it. I started buying it in 1999. I own a lot of it because I owned also Homestake, I owned Plutonic, I owned a lot of companies that Barrick merged with."

Schiff then suggested gold names, which had tumbled that day, had merely suffered a "hiccup" and would recover. "The smart money is still buying it," he said. ABX on Dec. 4 closed at $42.68. By Friday, it was $36.50.

Is this disclosure of owning ABX for 10 years what drew the regulators' phone call? Is the government now opposed to CNBC pundits actually disclosing what they own? Or is there any chance Schiff is producing excuses for not promoting more names that might fall 14% in a month and a half?

Update II: Schiff on Dec. 11, when Pete Najarian asked about China exposure from owning FCX, coal and steel names, said only generically "I own some of those names." Then he mentioned only one holding, Skyworth Digital, and said of his pure China plays: "Most Americans are gonna have a hard time buying 'em, they don't trade in the U.S. and they don't have ADRs."

As far as we can tell — and we are definitely not experts on non-U.S. stocks — Skyworth Digital is a Hong Kong issue. What regulator would be calling Schiff about disclosing his "favorite" Hong Kong stock?

Update III: We realized that Schiff did not specifically say that the regulators' call stemmed from a CNBC appearance. We checked the Fox Business and Bloomberg Web sites. Neither indicates any Schiff video in January or December. Schiff did appear on the Glenn Beck show on Fox News on Dec. 28 in a segment on "will government get out of the way" and didn't name any stocks.

We have no reason to doubt what Schiff said about the "regulators." We think if CNBC market pundits and/or political candidates are actually being pressured by regulators not to disclose what stocks they own, someone should be calling the lawyers, as well as the media watchdogs. And if that's not exactly what happened, then Schiff would be using excuses to avoid disclosures that other "Fast Money" guests, to our knowledge, generally provide. On Dec. 4, the official CNBC.com disclosure said "Schiff Owns Gold, Silver, Platinum" and "Schiff Owns (ABX)." On Friday, the show's disclosure said "Schiff Owns Gold" and "Schiff Is Short U.S. Dollar."

Melissa Lee didn't sound too concerned about Schiff's regulator concern. "All right. We don't want you to get put in the clunker," Lee said.

Videos of Schiff's Friday appearance and Dec. 11 and Dec. 4 appearances are below. Note Friday's is near the end of the lengthy "Word on the Street" segment:

Melissa Lee to Barbara Boxer:
You don’t get it

The "Fast Money" gang, instigated by Steve Liesman's reports on the status of Ben Bernanke, unloaded on the political world Friday.

Surprisingly, it was Melissa Lee leading the charge.

"What is concerning guys here on the desk is that Senator Boxer said that uh, she would like to see a champion of Main Street at the, at the Federal Reserve, which is exactly what the Federal Reserve should not be," Lee said.

"And that's very (sic) the problem," agreed Tim Seymour.

"Here's a political comment folks," said Guy Adami. "I guess Britain just raised their terror alert. I, uh, this is just for all ya folks out in Washington. There are enemies that we have that do wanna do hurt to us, do harm to us. It isn't the banks. The banks are what made this country great, believe it or not, go back and read your history books."

That one rang our b.s. meter loud and clear. The banks are not what made this country great and hopefully it doesn't say that in any history book. The American people are what made this country great.

Pete Najarian used to operate around the Chicago area. We don't think we've ever heard one CNBC expert from the CME/CBOT ever not sound like a raging Republican, but Pete plays his politics close to the vest, and instead broadened the problem to "the markets had three hurricanes this week," not just Obama and the banks, but Greece and purported Chinese tightening.

But Adami wasn't done. "I think the market was going down before the president's comments, I think he accelerated it, but I think it was headed down," he said. "Why? Because again we talked about it. Good earnings reports, bad price action, talked about that last week, when Barack was probably still in Hawaii, I think the market wanted to go lower. He made it go down faster."

We get a chuckle that we once said, a while ago, that Adami expressed fewer political concerns than other panelists, namely Jeff Macke and Eric Bolling. Now he's the standard-bearer.

Joe Terranova chose to think about Sunday analogies. "I'm feeling the same way, it's a football weekend, Tom Brady won three Super Bowls, when he lost the last one to the Giants and walked off that field, he felt far worse and didn't think about the three Super Bowls he won. That's how I feel right now. I don't feel good," he said. But, "I am still buying."

We put in a call to Tom Brady to see if that was indeed how he felt after his last Super Bowl, because we're good journalists, and that's what we do.

Kaminsky: Goldman Sachs
missed chance to go private

Gary Kaminsky, addressing a regular point by Pete Najarian on Goldman Sachs, said Friday, "If there was a time to go private, it would've been a great time to do it last March."

Kaminsky supposedly was going to tell viewers how to play GS, but instead offered only the most overarching concerns that only an analyst spending 40 hours a week on this subject would want to think about over the weekend. He said the strategy for owning GS comes down to 1) what's the correct multiple, 2) what's the new business model going to look like, 3) beware that employees given stock as compensation are prone to sell, and 4) amid all that it seems like an overcrowded stock.

We think that's a lengthy way of saying "Don't buy."

Guy Adami on the employee stock: "Some people sell, some people don't."

This is why stock tips
on breaking news don’t work

Brian Kelly, admittedly being hit with late news without time to brush up on it, made about the clumsiest analysis of the Google founders' announced stock sale Friday. Sounded to us like Kelly was just grasping for any material possible to justify his market bearishness.

"I do think we're actually beginning a correction here," Kelly said earlier, pointing to "probability." He asked why metals inventories aren't down if the economy is so great.

Tim Seymour doused Kelly's Google-sale thesis. Seymour said the key S&P number is 1085. If it breaks that, he said look out below because the 200-day takes you to 1015.

"I happen to think we have a long way to go," Guy Adami said. "I think this is the beginning of something."

"I think the dollar will resume its downward trend," Joe Terranova said.

"I happen to believe the dollar's heading higher in the near-term," Adami said, then he turned to one of his favorite subjects, American Barrick. "If you're long right now in the gold market, you can't be feeling that good about things, that's, that's my point. And remember, gold more than anything else goes down a lot faster than it goes up."

We've addressed that last sentence in previous posts and decided it's not really true, although one can make the argument that FCX specifically experienced a bungee-cord-like movement from 2008 to early 2009.

"And if gold goes down, platinum's gonna go down faster," Seymour said.

‘Fast Money’ makes news
in the tech world

We noted this week (see below) that a BusinessWeek expert on presentations specifically cited "Fast Money" commentary as evidence that Google really botched the Nexus One launch.

Pete Najarian rekindled that issue Friday, explaining that Apple with its tablet was going to show the world how it's done, after "the Nexus One — holy smokes!"

Melissa Lee smiled, and was still verbally high-fiving Guy Adami on Friday about her observation on the Nexus One guys' use of a Webster's quote.

Adami said he thinks the market's got lower to go, and AAPL will get hurt. But, "If you think the market's stopped going down, then you load the frickin' boat on Apple," he said.

Brian Stutland offered an options play on AMZN to protect a long position. He said to buy the February $110 put for $1.50 and sell the February $140 call for $1.80, but he noted this trade was packaged together earlier in the day before the late selling.

Unfazed Terranova
is hanging on to JPM

In tough times, we turn to Bill Strazzullo.

"The short-term momentum has actually flipped from bullish to bearish," Strazzullo said on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Friday. "So we have our first sign that we could be putting a top in the market. The inside game right now, I wanna be a seller around 1120 in the S&P, and I wanna be a buyer around 1090." He emphasized: "1090's really the critical level."

More reassuring to long investors was Joe Terranova.

"I myself fundamentally, I do not believe this is the beginning of the deep dive, I actually think this is a buying opportunity in high-quality names," Terranova said.

Brian Stutland sort of echoed that, but not with any conviction. "You don't wanna get out right here I don't think; I still wanna be long the market," he said.

On the other side were skeptics such as Jeff Tomasulo ("something has changed in this market") and Brian Kelly ("you probably have at least a month before you can buy China again here").

Strazzullo did have a suggestion: "I wanna sell the euro versus the dollar at 142, looking for 139 and maybe even as steep as 136," he said.

Terranova said he's not giving up on one of his favorites. "I picked up some more JPMorgan yesterday," he said. "I believe in the JPMorgan story. Not getting out of JPMorgan. I'm selling regional banks against it."

But Strazzullo was highly skeptical of the range-bound XLF. "The fact that the sector can't follow through to the upside, that's a big problem for the sector as a whole," he said.

[Thursday, January 21, 2010]

But Ellen Page is cute

A funny thing happened the last time we saw one of those Ellen Page Cisco commercials, which, given their frequency on CNBC and "Fast Money," was probably about five minutes ago.

We actually paused for a moment to question the substance.

It's the "New Classroom" ad that we think was the first in the series, where Ellen walks into the classroom in the elegant-looking "Lunenburg Academy" building and the assertive girl announces "We're going on a field trip to China!!!!!" And Ellen says that's amazing because her biggest field trips were to the farm, then the videoconference screen flips on, and the Canadian kids trade annoyingly loud cheers with the Chinese kids.

First, are we really supposed to believe these kids are more excited about seeing Chinese kids on TV than they are at having Ellen Page in their own classroom?

Second, according to this handy-dandy world-clock Web site we found, Beijing is 13 hours ahead of New York City, so even though this commercial shows both classrooms in daytime (perhaps, um, the kids weren't really connected as the commercial was made?), the Chinese kids better be taking night school if they want to cheer with the Lunenburgians.

Third, it occurred to us that for this concept to "work," both sides probably have to speak the same language. We doubt if that many kids in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, probably know Mandarin, so we're guessing the language-learning responsibilities fall on the Chinese kids. If so, this seems contrary to a principle of Superfusion, that China and the U.S. are nearly equals and that the U.S. has to realize it and start playing along. (See, we're suffering Zachary Karabell commentary withdrawal this week, mitigated only by the brief "Fast Money" phone chat Tuesday, because there was no show Monday and "Zeke" has apparently been in Colorado.)

Fourth, don't North American school districts have other things to spend tight budgets on? Would this be an easy sell for a referendum in a quaint Canadian town, raising taxes to buy Cisco networking equipment, then paying some coordinator to find a suitable school in China to participate in this project, then hiring an A/V technician to get the right equipment and put it together, so kids can maybe have a chat about Yao Ming while a stone-faced party official undoubtedly anchors the Eastern end of the dialogue?

Maybe Lunenburg Academy would find it a better investment to provide a desk for each pupil, instead of sharing benches with each other as the ad depicts.

Maybe the point of this particular hookup is for Canadian kids who actually are learning Mandarin to get firsthand instruction from Chinese kids, and perhaps vice versa. If so, that seems a bit of a stretch for a Nova Scotia seaport town of 2,300 (per Wikipedia). We counted 27 kids in Ellen's class (possibly one or two more who are obscured), and at least 22 in the Chinese classroom. Is there time in this hookup for each kid to get individual instruction? Wouldn't it be easier to just pay some local grad student from Shanghai to visit class as an adjunct?

If the Canadian kids aren't doing this to learn Mandarin, what exactly is the discussion topic? Algebra?

The assertive girl calls this event a "field trip" to China. Where exactly does the camera go outside of the classroom? And if it's a "field trip," does that mean it's only a one-time event?

As far as we're concerned, the term "sellout" applies to Charles Gasparino's book, and not the actress in question, but ...

We'll stop. You can see the ad on YouTube right here.

Tim Seymour: China
is braking, not bubbling

Tim Seymour said some things Thursday on "Fast Money" that are either ahead of the curve, or the type of commentary that can come back to haunt.

"I think China's in a sweet spot right now," Seymour said. "People who think this is a bubble, um, there's no credit problems in China. I mean China has a, has a property bubble that could be brewing in the second half of the year, but that's my 2 cents on China."

Karen Finerman, who has a history of pinning tough questions on The Ambassador, asked about the bubble scenario and said, "Usually you don't see the credit bubble until after it bursts ... if asset prices continue to inflate, you don't have a credit problem ..."

Seymour frowned slightly as the producers tried in vain to create a split-screen debate, and said, "Housing prices and property prices in China in the last two years in this bubble, have, have, gone up about 70%. Now that's an enormous return, but that's nothing like what was going on in this country. So again, are you telling me that, you know, people are taking cheap money and moving it into, into property? Yeah they are. And is this something the government's worried about? Yeah, they are. But I think that they've got their foot on the brake, and I don't think you're gonna have the domino effect. Banks in China were not securitizing bad stuff and packaging it as triple-A. It's an apples and oranges situation that I think people have gotten wrong."

Pete and Karen make
amateurs feel good

Misery most certainly loves company. And anyone who had any exposure to commodity names, particularly coal (this writer is long CLF), hasn't exactly had the greatest pair of days.

So it cheered us up — seriously — when Pete Najarian announced Thursday, "By the way, I got taken out back in Cliffs today, I'm one of those people who got taken to the woodshed, so not so good."

"I had the same sensation, just with a different security," chipped in Karen Finerman, and we think based on disclosure, Karen was either referring to BAC or the afterhours GOOG.

Sometimes even well-planned trades are a disaster. Thanks Pete and Karen for reminding amateurs that even the pros can have a bad day too.

Rick Santelli endorses some
‘harsh’ form of regulation

Tim Seymour made what we found to be the most cogent of the bank-tax commentaries on "Fast Money" Thursday.

It was a point that made us wonder how much worry David Axelrod truly is experiencing about the events of this week.

Rick Santelli started it off by complaining about Obama, Congress, Bernanke and Geithner, insisting to Melissa Lee that they've all got it wrong despite Lee's suggestion that maybe if Obama is wrong then Bernanke is the one who's been right.

It all brought this from Karen Finerman. "Rick Rick, I find myself agreeing with almost everything you said, which puts me in an unusual spot," Karen said. "So what would you do?"

"Here's what I'd do — I'd regulate the products. Pure and simple. OK. Over-the-counter derivatives, securitization," Santelli said. "I would regulate products through very harsh capital requirements and move on."

"That's a good answer," Karen said.

That may be a fine answer for financial purposes, but it's hardly a fine answer for political purposes, which is exactly what Tim Seymour was accurately pointing to.

"The White House is in a political maelstrom," Seymour said. "I mean, there's no place to go. This was very expected."

Tim Seymour, Dr. J cash in
before the show starts

Todd Gordon, who didn't quite own the "Prop Desk" Thursday like Gary Kaminsky previously, warned that Google is likely facing resistance at $570, and he questioned buying it in the $550s with such a low (in his opinion) ceiling.

Tim Seymour, who said "I picked some up afterhours today ... 550 technically is a great level," asserted to Gordon, "If I make 4% in 12 hours, we can annualize that number at a very nice return."

According to Google finance, the stock did fall as low as $550.65 in afterhours. From $550.00 to $570 is only 3.6%. But give Seymour serious props for calling the $550 support a couple days ago (assuming it holds).

Seymour wasn't the only one buying. So was Dr. J, Jon Najarian, who seemed far more content with just a 1% gain. "I bought a little Google on the dip, down towards 550, and because it held, and I've taken a little off at 557, but I still do own some here," Najarian said. "Stock outright, unfortunately I can't trade the options afterhours. Not yet."

Dr. J, listening to the GOOG conference call, said there were plenty of obvious questions about China. "The response was, 'We're staying in China, we've made adjustments, we don't think we're as vulnerable to hacks now, and we're gonna have ongoing dialogue with China,' so anybody that was looking for Google to leave, put that aside, they're not leaving China," Najarian said.

"In the 550 level, I would add to Google. Overdone to the downside," Karen Finerman said.

Adami: Consider FCX at $75.50

For all of you feeling bewildered by this sudden slamming of banks, know that Karen Finerman feels your pain. (This writer is long C.)

"I feel like, you know, if we're- there's a firing range, and uh, you know, some of my positions seem to be targets at the moment," Karen said.

But she remains defiant about her stake in BAC. "All of this stuff happening right now is noise. I'm not a great day-trader, I'll leave that to Pete," Karen said.

Our gut feeling — and keep in mind we're wrong most of the time — is that Karen is correct, there's a lot of "noise," this selloff doesn't have a whole lot to do with actual fundamentals, and that by April no one will even remember this week. We saw the graphic during the day that it's the worst two-day close for stocks since June of 2009. Anyone remember that? Didn't think so.

Also, we noticed Joe Terranova's interesting comment of a couple days ago that he's seen commodities for years sell off in January, and that turns out to be the low for the year. We checked some charts of FCX, BTU and RTP and found some truth in that statement, though it certainly wasn't the case in 2008.

Tim Seymour and Guy Adami seemed to think there's more room on the downside. "I think guys that are selling volatility here, I was hearing from brokers today, are crazy," Seymour said.

"I say, don't play defense now, now's the time to play offense," Adami said, which we thinks is backward, unless your primary position is short. "Because I think, you can make more money actually being short things than you can being long."

Adami talked about pullbacks in FCX and said the key level is around $75, it may be worth getting long right here. "But below 75 and a half, that chart is broken," he warned.

Brad Hintz found a way to accentuate the news for GS. "Goldman in a new securities industry will be a giant around a bunch of dwarfs," Hintz said. "I think Goldman's still an outperform here, and I, I told clients to buy at this point."

Karen Finerman pointed out that given Obama's bank rhetoric on "too big to fail," acquisitions seem a lot less probable, so as for regionals being takeover targets, "I think that takeout scenario is way, way less likely now, so I think that bodes well for the short."

Karen also said in her "Final Trade" she likes TGT, which puts her at odds with Patty Edwards.

Scott Cohn delivered breaking news on the Galleon case. He said one person in the case is known as Octopussy, "because he had his hands in so much." Pete Najarian was heard cracking up, and Mel Lee, showing more of a sense of humor than she sometimes does, concluded the segment by mentioning this "Octopussy" character.

Redler right on GOOG

Scott Redler said Thursday on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" that no matter how good the Google report is, he thinks people will be selling into it.

The initial afterhours reaction confirmed that, with Google down around $28 or about 5%.

Gary Kaminsky, apparently trumpeting his own calls, said, "All I can say is wow, I feel a little bit like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day.' ... It's about these overowned stocks, the winners of last year that continue to be a source of funds."

Melissa Lee, like Joe Terranova has done this week and perhaps others as well, chided Kaminsky for seemingly introducing fundamentals into what is purportedly a technical call. But the bigger problem was that Kaminsky exhibited Fast Money Halftime Report Caller's Disease, which is the panelist on the phone talking far longer than Melissa Lee wants them to and ultimately having to cut them off.

Guy Adami, congratulated by Lee for his accurate sentiments toward banks, said, "The best defense is a good offense and I would con-, I would push here, I think you're in, now I think shorts are in a position of strength, where they've been playing defense, now they can play offense."

So doesn't he actually mean, "The best offense is a good defense"?

Whatever. "I think now, rallies are gonna be sold into," Adami said.

Jon Najarian unfortunately wasn't able to deliver many stock specifics but agreed the volatility is past the point where one can get adequate protection. "You nailed it Melissa, and I'm not surprised because you know this stuff inside and out," Najarian said.

Eugene Profit was a rare semi-bull, saying even though some are predicting $130 for GS, "I think you buy Goldman here."

Adami said "Mel, love the glasses," then he went on to crow about ABX finding the exact top of the gold market when it bought back hedges. "That was the high ... I think it trades down to 34 and a half," he said.

[Wednesday, January 20, 2010]

We agree with Gary,
the Jets are going to win

Gary Kaminsky seemed to take the concept of fast money to a new level on Wednesday.

Shown in that little control-panel set during a couple segments of "Fast Money," Kaminsky kept turning away from the camera before the segment was done to scan his charts, making us wonder if he was actually trading during commercial breaks.

But that's probably unlikely, given that he spent his on-air time repeatedly defending a short-QQQQ position he insists he'll have for days.

"The buy and hold mentality's gone," Kaminsky said. "You guys were punching me, you were all after me yesterday, I kind of felt like the Jets out in San Diego. The Jets are going to Indianapolis, and the Jets are going to Miami."

Pete Najarian, who evidently thinks he can convert anyone to his investing thesis these days, tried in vain to convince Kaminsky that the day's dip in technology was "ridiculous," Karen Finerman's favorite term.

Kaminsky said the problem with Apple is that everyone knows it's going to have a great quarter already.

When Karen Finerman started to ask her question, Gary interrupted with a mildly friendly taunt, "Is that bullish tech girl there?"

"Yes that's me," Karen said. "I've never been called that before. A lot of things in my life, but never that."

Yeah, that's not one we would've coined, particularly since the folks at NOW probably wouldn't like us too much, and we need all the admiration we can get.

Kaminsky went on to use the term "relative underperformance" about four times in speaking about technology. Gary said he doesn't understand why he has to keep defending this trade, but nevertheless, "It's my birthday on Monday."

Not a fan, apparently

We don't think we actually heard Gary Kaminsky use the term "closet index" on Wednesday. But if you've wondered why Gary seems to use this term often, you might want to check out this 2006 profile in SmartMoney we dug up, in which Gary says, "closet indexing is absolutely insane."

For commodity investors,
even scarier than ‘Avatar’

Dennis Gartman painted a frightening scenario for those long in the commodity space. (This writer is long CLF.)

"I have been bullish of the dollar since basically Dec. 9, when I issued a 'watershed' comment," Gartman said on "Fast Money" Wednesday. "With the dollar getting stronger, it's taken a lot of the wind out of the commodity markets and put a lot of the commodity markets on the sell side."

Gartman pointed to Wednesday in fact as a "watershed" day in dollar bullishness, citing the euro. However, despite the heavy terminology, we didn't hear him advocate throwing everything overboard right now, and he conceded Joe Terranova may have a point when Terranova complained that he's bailed on commodities in past years around this time, only to realize this was the bottom for the year.

Gartman said he is more comfortable shorting the euro than going long the UUP, although he figures the UUP would work as well.

Karen Finerman asked a great question, with the way the U.S. has been printing money and with the deficits that exist, is there really a strong bullish case for the dollar. That gave Gartman an opportunity to remind us he's been in the business for 36 years.

"I've been trading foreign exchange since 1974, and I have never seen any protracted correlation between budget deficits and a currency, trade deficits and a currency," Gartman said.

Guy Adami, one of two times he mentioned slamming on the brakes rather than tapping the brakes, asked about the China factor. Gartman said China is very important in all of this, it's fearful of a bubble, and at the moment is getting "everyone's attention that a bubble will not be allowed."

Gartman was also on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Wednesday, making the same points. Tim Seymour, who wasn't on the real show, had some nice commentary at halftime about the amount of Chinese data coming out overnight and why people were nervous. (Jared Levy also has a new pair of specs and didn't get a chance to make a point about commodities before a commercial break, and those were the highlights of the "Halftime Report" Wednesday.)

A certain popular 3-D movie featuring blue people brings up a wonderful "Fast Money" discussion topic that will never be heard on the show. We're not going to give anything away, but our ears perked up at the theater when we heard "shareholder" greed cited as the rationale for a certain monstrosity being ordered. Gee whiz, even Gordon Gekko's gang wasn't nearly that ruthless.

Guy Adami mentioned Denny McClain as another famous "Denny." Seemed like Mel Lee didn't know who Denny McLain is and was eager to move the conversation along.

Likely already baked in

Melissa Lee, who flashed the prettiest smile of her "Fast Money" tenure on Tuesday at the beginning of her phone interview with Zachary Karabell, had an answer to Pete Najarian's question of who is capable of buying EMC.

"A Cisco could do it," Lee said, although the "A" wasn't really necessary because there's only one Cisco. (Actually there's another, that SYSCO that occasionally gets recommended, but it's spelled differently.)

Lee explained that she has talked to an analyst who said CSCO could take out EMC at $30, still a 50% premium, and the deal "still would be accretive to earnings."

We are highly convinced that is correct. Mostly because of this Reuters article from February 2009 that says Cisco held informal talks in the summer of 2008 to buy EMC.

Guy Adami thought he had another funny sex-innuendo quip when someone suggested a buyer of EMC would have to go after VMWare as a "twofer."

Karen takes a LEAP of faith
in BAC for 2011

We like this new "Fast Money" trend of panelists more specifically identifying their trades.

Karen Finerman said Wednesday of BAC, "We were buying today, the uh, the November- the uh, 15, uh, LEAPS of 2011. So they're struck at 15, we bought 'em at, at just over 3. And, I really think this will be a great trade."

Karen at one point did actually say "Bank of America," but initially said, as usual, "Bank America (sic)."

Joe Terranova said "Bank of America, I added there ... I'm not worried about the broad market tape."

Guy Adami said "guess what" about his call of a WFC short possibility. "If you play hockey, you gotta skate forward and backward, if you're trading, you gotta make money when it goes up or when it goes down," Adami said. He mentioned "Jefferies is firing on all cylinders ... (but) is it a buy here at 27? Probably not."

"I love Morgan Stanley, I decided not to get shaken out," said Pete Najarian.

The delightful Citibank Sapphire credit card ad featuring Molly Culver on a chair lift losing a bet and having to deliver a backrub at the ski lodge is being shown on CNBC about every five minutes, and the spot is generating a healthy amount of Web queries too.

It’s the people’s show

On a day when commodites got a scary slamdown and China was making people nervous, "Fast Money" spent a confoundingly large amount of time talking about Western Digital and Intel and other tech names.

Pete Najarian, never one to shy away from a long INTC position, announced he bought March 22 INTC calls. "Cost me 33 cents," he explained. "It's a cheap shot, why not take it."

Well, maybe because Guy Adami, who owns the shares, thinks they're going lower.

"I will say, I think Intel heads back down to probably 19," Adami said.

But the Seagate earnings "should bode well for Western Digital, which reports tomorrow," Adami said, not the only time WDC came up in this show.

"I bought Marvell today, just underneath $20 a share," Najarian said.

Karen Finerman in the "Web Extra" rightfully credited Adami with his short-UNH-on-the-Massachusetts news, while Adami borrowed a Scott Brown line in bashing what he seems to think is a sense of entitlement to holding political office on the part of a couple of Democratic politicians.

A fist-bump for Joe

Sometimes when we spotlight curious calls we hear on "Fast Money," we end up wishing we hadn't.

Melissa Lee obviously felt the same way Wednesday when tripping up Joe Terranova on his VIX-Goldman Sachs thesis, saying she's seen the data for 10 years and there's actually no correlation. "There seems to be no relationship between VIX and Goldman Sachs," Lee said.

Terranova's humbling acceptance of this point — assuming it's true, we have no idea — and clarification that he was merely recalling the "template" of 2003-04 only added to his credibility as an honest broker of punditry.

Mr. Jim Skinner,
please give us a look

Guy Adami reported Wednesday that McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner is a fan of "Fast Money" and watches it often.

Perhaps he also likes a little CNBCfix to go with his Chicken McNuggets?

Hey, anyone can look up the official summaries at CNBC.com or TheStreet.com. Those are fine, chock-full of info (and usually crammed with ads and pop-ups and require several pages of navigation, but whatever). Here, you actually get sense of humor — see, that description made you laugh.

CNBCfix welcomes all viewers, be they CEOs or busboys.

And we'll take the 20-piece, with honey mustard sauce.

[Tuesday, January 19, 2010]

Drudge already asking if
Brown will run for president

Tim Seymour asked, "What can Brown do for you," and Guy Adami had a possible answer: Short UNH.

There was much speculation Tuesday on "Fast Money," during a show that was refreshingly businesslike, about the ramifications of a Scott Brown victory, but everyone pretty much waffled away a trade opportunity, except for Adami's suggestion of an "aggressive" play on the UNH that he feels might've topped out Tuesday.

"Now I would say, maybe for the risk-takers out there, UNH is a name where you could potentially get short," Adami said. "I think you will get negative rhetoric, that will knock these stocks down."

"This is the $100 table," Adami said, acknowledging such a trade might amount to calculated gambling.

Karen Finerman said health care overhaul has been damaged regardless of who won the election. "It is on life support, no pun intended," Karen said. "I don't think it's dead dead." She said the process is ongoing and she wouldn't jump in to HMOs here.

Seymour advocated staying away from the sector. "You can't trade these things, because, the bottom line ... the reality is, this administration is gonna get some form of health care through," he said. "This is gambling."

Actually, we don't think trading in this sector is gambling (although a short of UNH might be considered gambling) in part because of a point Patty Edwards made earlier on the "Halftime Report." These companies (our interpretation) are going to continue to exist and make money, and the legislative movement continues to shift further and further away from armageddon for this sector, and Brown's victory confirms that thesis. The truth is that UNH hasn't killed anyone on either side for nine months, the trend is up, but more pullbacks are likely. So if you're aggressive, short it Wednesday; if not, wait a day or two and start scooping up some shares.

Daniel Clifton rattled off a lot of interesting assumptions. "Something's gonna happen on health care, but if Brown wins, it will be so small, it will be negligible to industry," he said. "You could look at managed care, you could look at pharma, you can look at home health care and device-makers." Clifton also said cap-and-trade was already out of the picture but a Brown victory would reinforce that.

Been there, done that

One of the most startling things we've seen on "Fast Money" recently is the screen text Tuesday while Joe Terranova was speaking about IBM:


Good grief, why?

When "Fast Money" is covering the Dell earnings as happened last November (this writer was long DELL at that time), and Jim Goldman comes on and declares the quarter a "disaster," you know you better pull the ripcord and hope for a better landing than D.B. Cooper. Incredibly, the stock did creep above $15 last week, who knows why.

Maybe next time

Guy Adami was happy to note that his prediction of IBM topping out into earnings might have occurred. "Maybe they're a tad ahead of themselves," he said Tuesday.

"This is not a hardware company anymore," Tim Seymour said, as if we hadn't heard; "it's really about software where they have a ton more competition than they had a year ago, so be careful about that, and I think the market's worried."

"You wanna look at a Dell, that's your hardware play here," Joe Terranova said, and yes, he really did say that and declare that he owns it.

Melissa Lee said she spoke to analyst Brian Marshall, who said "essentially, IBM is dead money" for a year.

Karen: Something was wrong
in that Citi succession plan

Karen Finerman seems to make BAC and GOOG purchases like her regular trips to the grocery store.

"I bought some more Bank America (sic) this morning," Karen said. "The price to tangible book value, the tangible book is, I don't know, 4.15 or so, and the stock's right here and I think, 'Wow, you can buy Citibank for less than tangible book,' which is astounding to me. But, at the end of, I, I am so still troubled by Pandit, having sold his now worthless business to them for, I don't know, 165 million that might not be the exact number, but, that's just amazing to me that's that, where, how it all ended up, and now he's the CEO, that keeps me from buying Citi." (This writer is long C.)

Guy Adami, not surprisingly, said "WFC sets up for the nicest short" of the big bank names.

Gary Kaminsky did a little jawboning with Joe Terranova over AAPL and continued to insist his short-QQQQ thesis will soon prove correct. "When we get to the end of earnings season, you will see, that the mawket for these large-cap tech names is simply exhausted," Kaminsky said. Then he talked about something for an upcoming show, and Melissa Lee said, "All right Gary, you're a tease, you're a professional."

Then Karen Finerman said something a lot of guys wish they'd hear: "a lot of girls say that to Gary."

"This is a case where 1 and 1 might equal 3," Tim Seymour said in discussing the Apple tablet and whether it would cannibalize existing products.

Guy Adami said to take down the "takedown" screen erected by the conflict-desperate "Fast Money" producers as he and Joe Terranova discussed CREE. Adami said his point that it's a little toppy at the moment is not incompatible with Terranova's point that it's still a great stock.

Whitney Tilson: WFC
is a ‘money-printing machine’

Whitney Tilson told the "Fast Money" crew Tuesday several things:

He said he's calculated Berkshire A's "intrinsic value" to be $135,000 or $140,000. "The stock's just cheap." (Tim Seymour, like us, questioned what "intrinsic value" means and whether this is a "sum of the parts" analysis. Tilson seemed to say it's sort of a sum-of-the-parts analysis.)

Tilson also said, "What more logical substitute for the S&P 500 than Berkshire Hathaway replacing Burlington Northern?"

He said his biggest short stake is housing. "It's a market we're very cautious about," he said, projecting an ongoing stream of foreclosures. "We're not predicting calamity, but we think it's gonna keep the housing market under pressure."

Guy Adami, as expected, tried to talk Tilson into a Wells Fargo short. Tilson didn't bite. "You don't wanna short a money-printing machine, that bank is so profitable," he said.

The football team most regarded as the best example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, by the way, was the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Scooped by Time

After, what, more than a week(?), "Fast Money" finally got around to asking its China expert, Zach Karabell, about the Google situation in Beijing.

Karabell mostly restated points made in his Time article this week (see below) that American New Media companies have struggled in China, and that investors seeking China exposure should consider the American brick-and-mortar names but the Chinese New Media names. Melissa Lee told "Zeke" she might be a conspiracy theorist on the Google flap. "It's the latest of a series of really high-profile stumbles of New Economy information giants, Silicon Valley New Economy giants, who simply cannot gain traction in China," Karabell said. He recommends SINA, NTES and GAME, as well as HON, YUM and NKE.

We picked Chargers, were wrong

We quickly learned the hard way not to make football predictions here. But we did say the Jets were "big trouble" for San Diego, only that Philip Rivers — a great competitor if not the most likable sort — would eventually finish them off. It wasn't for lack of trying. The obvious conclusion to us is that the Jets simply can't be beat, at least in the AFC; it's too hard to score on that defense. This is the NFL version of the 2003 Florida Marlins. The Colts are going down.

BusinessWeek notes MLee’s
reaction to Nexus One launch

BusinessWeek writer Carmine Gallo, without naming names, cites the "Fast Money" reaction — including "Webster's" quote — to Google's Nexus One launch as evidence the Mountain View guys might've miscalculated on something, and the event "demonstrates that presentations cannot be taken for granted."

A Jane Wells opportunity:
Patty grimaces at Target

Obviously, we'll go to just about any length to post Jane Wells news on this page. Tuesday morning we were handed such an opportunity on a silver platter (sorry for the cliché but it reminded us of the Brady Bunch ... "Hey hey hey ... everybody's smiling ... sunshine day ... so happy today ...") when Jane did a segment on Target's warehousing efforts with "Fast Money" star Patty Edwards.

Patty, it turns out, is not impressed. "I walked into Target, looked at what they had set up, and frankly, I was incredibly disappointed," Edwards said. "It was very half-hearted, it felt more like a dollar store than a warehouse club."

Then Patty delivered some "Trade School" beyond Jeff Macke's usual point (which we think is a good one) that cleanliness of the stores is a huge factor. "Retail is three things," Edwards said. "Retail is having the right merchandise at the right price with the right shopping experience. And, this just kind of missed on all three for Target. They're capable of doing better."

Interestingly, Jane Wells did find someone actually bullish on the concept. But in a 2-minute, 18-second segment, Patty's bearish case got 1:52, or 81% (if our math is right) of the production. It turns out the unmentioned Citi analyst who likes the concept is Debbie Weinswig, another retail expert we like, but we're not going to bet against Patty.

Jane Wells closed with this: "Patty Edwards owns Costco and Wal-Mart, she'll also be on the Fast Time Honey- uh, Fast Money, Fast Honey Money, Halftime Report in an hour. I haven't had my coffee yet people."

No need to explain. We liked it that way, and we're entirely certain the rest of the viewers did too.

Goldman Sachs isn’t
‘some sort of stepchild’

Melissa Lee looked smashing in black Tuesday on the "Fast Money Halftime Report." She asked Pete Najarian about a Bloomberg article suggesting that Goldman Sachs might have "plateaued" and that Morgan Stanley might be due for a "rebound" and overtake GS as the premier Wall Street stock.

Najarian said, "I like what Morgan Stanley looks like going forward. Now it doesn't mean that Goldman Sachs is some sort of a, a stepchild right now, but I think both those two companies, when you look at the investment banks, those two are the first two that you always look to." Wow. Lee laughed, and there were smiles all around. Good to know "Fast Money" is above stepchildness.

Patty Edwards refreshingly made another bold trading call during a discussion on the Massachusetts election. Patty said she's been running some "quant models" on the health care names, and she's found "these stocks still are screaming cheap ... frankly I would actually be adding to positions at this point rather than backing away."

Jeff Tomasulo was aligned with that, though not quite as bullish. "This is a little bit of a referendum against the Obama policy," he said. "I have to agree with Patty, I'm not gonna add to a position right now, but I'm not gonna step in the way of these health-care stocks."

Todd Gordon did the phone call but talked too long as many "Halftime Report" callers do, cutting into the break.

[Friday, January 15, 2010]

‘Fast Money’ in the
non-mainstream media

Either we looked a long time ago, and just forgot about it. Or maybe we never looked.

It just came to our attention Monday that there is a Wikipedia page for Karen Finerman. However, there's an editor's warning at the top, "This article or section appears to have been copied and pasted from a source, possibly in violation of a copyright." It looks like someone might've just posted Karen's bio at MSNBC.com.

What we didn't know? Karen's brother Mark is a real estate financier in Greenwich, Conn.

Karabell & Shakespeare

According to the Amazon.com authors page, Zach Karabell will discuss Superfusion on Tuesday at the Colorado Foothills World Affairs Council, which is actually in Golden, Colo. Oddly enough, Amazon also seems to think the "city/state" is Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

More ‘Fast Money’ in the
mainstream media

Zach Karabell writes provocatively in Time that Google and the Western media have portrayed the China showdown as a clash of values, but underneath is a burgeoning battle for New Media in which China is holding its own against the West. Karabell also writes: "Other countries censor content ... Other countries also engage in cyber espionage."

(CNBCfix commentary: We would speculate that brick-and-mortar companies are more successful in China because their products and benefits are far more blunt and tangible. Media is an extremely nuanced product, one category in particular being joke-telling, another music. Even in the same language — someone in Austin, Texas, can easily read a newspaper from Liverpool, but not to quite the same effect as someone in Liverpool — there are appreciable nuances, little things the reader in another country or region won't "get." It seems a mistake for media companies to try to be among the first in a foreign market. Karabell's list of New Media hopefuls is short. EBay's initiatives are beyond our knowledge; the product is an updated version of the American classified ad and perhaps the Chinese never took much to classified ads. Then there is the other question, is Google really good and why do so many Americans use it, other than perhaps the simplicity and coolness of the name...)

Karen talks about AMZN
without saying ‘ridiculous’

It just occurred to us over the weekend that Karen Finerman only briefly knocked the price level of Amazon on Friday without using her favorite term.

Melissa Lee asked Karen to "chime in" after Pete Najarian assessed the stock.

"They are beneficiary of everything positive that happens in the universe. However, I do think that the stock already reflects that. That's all, the valuation," Karen said.

‘Fast Money’ in the
mainstream media

Newsweek writer Daniel Gross quotes Zachary Karabell asking a question of Google, "How far do you go down the path to becoming a de facto adjunct to government control of information?"

Round 2:
Santelli vs. Finerman

Melissa Lee reported Friday on "Fast Money" that "the inbox just blew up" yesterday when Rick Santelli and Karen Finerman clashed over the government's handling of banks.

Lee read e-mails from Robert in Olympia, Wash., congratulating Finerman ("you go, girl"), and from Tony in Bristol, Tenn., saying Santelli had it right.

But "e-mails were evenly divided, so there's no way of calling a winner or anything," Lee said.

Yeah, right. "Fast Money" received a lot of e-mails in favor of extra government taxes on banks. This isn't "The View."

The Thursday segment was so intriguing, "Fast Money" decided to bring back Santelli for a rematch Friday.

"I think the winner is, nobody," Santelli said. "What is it gonna be next, drug companies, energy companies..."

"It will be. It will be, Rick," Tim Seymour warned.

"When the guy next door to you who hasn't had a job in two years, bought a big house thinking that it was gonna go up and he'd refinance, he has a mortgage modification, he's paying a thousand less than his neighbor who's working. None of it is American by its nature," Santelli declared.

"Rick, rick, that may be, but we're in extraordinary times, and I gotta say-" Karen said.

"Oh, that's an excuse," Santelli said.

"I am a free-market girl, absolutely, but if the government hadn't stepped in, we would be in way worse shape than we're in," Karen said.

"No, don't agree. Absolutely do not agree," Santelli said.

"Look at what happened when they let Lehman fail, when they let that free market economy-" Karen said.

"What happened," Santelli asked.

"What happened? You had a worldwide collapse that put us on the verge of absolutely armageddon," Karen said.

"Oh, worldwide collapse," Santelli mocked.

Rushing to Karen's side, Lee said, "You had some of the biggest investment banks out there Rick ready with a bankruptcy filing. They had that ready."

"So what?" Santelli said.

"So what?!" Karen exclaimed. "We're not in a vacuum. We're not in a vacuum ... the complete credit system would've melted down entirely, and that's terrible for not just the subprime guys but every other guy on the block."

"They used fear to make you believe this," Santelli said. "That money was disbursed in a random way to most undeserving trading desks-"

"It worked. It worked," Karen said. "The timing that they had which was very, very small, they had a very brief window-"

"They wanted you to think it was small," Santelli said.

"It was successful," Karen said.

Tim Seymour grumbled about disparities in tax breaks for people like himself and certain corporations. "Fast Money" showed an interesting graphic,

Effective tax rates, fiscal 2008:
Merck — 27.1%
Microsoft — 26.5%
P&G — 26.3%
IBM — 26.2%
Intel — 12%
source: Strategas

Seymour's conclusion? "Obama drifted farther to the left than anybody thought he would ... corporates have money, and they're skirting the system ... if we're gonna be in organized socialism..."

Karen’s way of sticking it
to the tax man

Karen Finerman on Friday's "Fast Money" explained, "for wonky ones out there," a neat little way of creating a tax break for yourself, if the trade pays off.

The subject was Bank of America LEAPS, which Karen has been long.

"I would probably buy more on Wednesday when they report earnings," Karen said, "even if it's up or down, because, this is really getting wonky, you can own them for a year and a day and have long-term gains if they work. If you buy them, actually has to be on January 20th."

In the past, we've asked financial/government watchers what exactly is the point of the 1-year holding period on capital gains. Why does the government seem to find it more noble, for example, to hold a stock for 12 months instead of 1 month. What greater public service is achieved if someone sells after 11 months than if they sell after 12 months and 1 day.

Obviously, it's an arbitrary mechanism tapping into the stigma against "traders."

If the argument is that it rewards Grandmas who want to hold forever, remember that for every buyer, there must be a seller, and if there's a disincentive to sell, it only makes the price for Grandma's purchase higher.

Pete: Don’t give up on JPM

Karen Finerman lamented Friday, "I had JPMorgan calls. They went to zero today."

Pete Najarian said the question people had about JPM is "when are we gonna see this dividend come back." Nevertheless, he said if it gets around $40, it's a "great opportunity" to go long.

Adami suggests shorting
a stock he owns

It was Tim Seymour, not Karen Finerman for a change, who handled the Google commentary on Friday, and he offered a bullish case with a curiously low number.

"I think people have overreacted" to the Nexus One, Seymour said, and "550 is the level I'd buy Google."

Equally noteworthy, Seymour seemed to suggest — though not in these terms — that the Greater Fool days of Amazon may be over.

"People have gotten sick of" it since December, Seymour said, and the "momentum's gone."

Pete Najarian reported options activity in AMZN, "it was the 130 strike that seemed to dominate."

Guy Adami said "very quietly we're now down 13% ... that's not an insignificant move." He even pointed to a double top from 1999 around $106 and said that represents support, "wait for the 106," he suggested.

Adami, who is long INTC, said "If you are aggressive folks, yes, I think you can get short here." Tim Seymour said "I think it's tired."

Najarians say something’s
brewing in health care

Jon Najarian came on the "Fast Money" set Friday to talk about some options activity he was playing in the HMO space, in particular HUM.

By the end of it, we weren't really sure if he had come out ahead on the trade, or taken a beating.

Dr. J said if health care legislation passes, "This is a freakin' windfall for UNH, AET and Humana." But he wasn't big on the legislation. "It's not reform, unfortunate (sic)," he said.

Pete Najarian recommended HUM as his "Final Trade" because of the "smoke" going on. Pete also talked about creating an extra dividend on top of what he's getting from BP by selling upside calls every quarter.

Karen Finerman admitted "yes I would" get back into the Cadbury trade if the Hershey presence reopens things. "Like an addict," said Melissa Lee.

Karen questioned Pete Najarian as to whether the lower VIX was a bullish or bearish sign for the market. Pete said generally bullish, but Karen said it might signal some kind of top. "I agree with you Karen," said Tim Seymour, "I think the market's too complacent."

Suze Orman must be No. 1

Brian Stutland delivered Friday's "Options Action" teaser with a trade on EBAY. Stutland said he's buying the February $20 put for 30 cents, and selling the February $25 call for 20 cents.

Todd Gordon delivered a series of charts that he claimed suggest trouble for the market, coupled with the direction of the yen. We didn't quite get what he was talking about, and Tim Seymour seemed notably confused as to whether Gordon was making a technical call, or what.

"Todd is the second-most followed financial Twitterer in the Twitter-verse," said Melissa Lee. "I don't know if I got the lingo right."

It’s ‘gauge,’ not ‘guage’

No word is more misspelled by the "Fast Money" graphics gremlins than a certain "g" word that describes the VIX.

But in our estimation they did get this pun — "when the levies break" — correct on a taxation graphic.


Melissa Lee went sexy sleeveless on the "Halftime Report" Friday.

Viewers who only saw the 5 p.m. show got a sweater instead.

Dick Bove slams JPM

Dick Bove talked to Sue Herera on CNBC's "Closing Bell" and called the JPM conference call "shocking."

Bove said analysts had recently been given the impression that the company was seeing positive trends.

"Then in this conference call, you know, when asked about what do you think the economy's gonna do, he said, well you guys know better than I do. What?" Bove said. "That was a real downer ... and I think the other problem was this bank should have increased its dividend. If it's gonna pay these high bonuses to these people internally, the shareholders deserve a dividend. Because, you know, essentially, this stock has gone nowhere for 12 years. The dividend has been cut, and shareholders have gotten nothing out of this company. It's time for shareholders to get something, and they didn't get it in this particular quarter."

Bove also said the proposed banking tax has no good ramifications for the industry.

"They're all negative," he said, pointing to higher prices for consumers and less lending. "The government has taken an anti-banking stance. That anti-banking stance is not gonna help the U.S. economy in any way, shape or form."

‘She has been right
most of the time’

Guy Adami talked about JPM earnings yesterday and reported that Meredith Whitney expected "40 cents for the quarter tomorrow, the Street's at 61. ... If she's right, and she has been right most of the time, JPMorgan, which looks cheap now, is not as cheap as it seems to be."

According to Reuters on Friday, The New York-based bank reported a quarterly profit of 74 cents a share ... Analysts on average expected a profit of 61 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S."

Get used to it

Brian Stutland discussed VIX fluctuations Friday with Scott Wapner on the "Fast Money Final Call" and said a "100-point move in the Dow could be the norm over the next couple weeks."

Bill Strazzullo misses
Friday ‘Halftime Report’

Scott Nations told viewers of the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Friday that retail's darling of 2009 seems due for a bounce.

"Amazon has done really well," Nations said. "It looks like technically it's winding up to get to, try 140 again, but it's a countermarket trade so it's a step-lively trade."

Nations also said there is "tremendous buying in the Feb 30 puts in Morgan Stanley, and 11,000 options traded at 29 strike in the Feb puts."

Jon Najarian said he and Pete (his "brotha," according to Melissa Lee) are eyeing AGU, MOS and MON but aren't ready to jump in. "We're looking for a little bit better entry prices. I think we'll get those by the middle of next week," Najarian said.

"I'm waiting for Cree to go a little lower," Dr. J added. "Applied Materials, however, AMAT, that's one I'm looking at accumulating a position in."

Melissa Lee reminded viewers that Steve Grasso was a buyer of Citi with a 4 handle.

"Grasso, you've been a proponent of Citi, you're saying to buy here, you told us also to buy at 4 and change," Lee said.

"Oh easy, geez, stab me right through the heart," Grasso said.

"I'm just asking what the viewer wants to know, Grasso," Lee said.

"I always put out a five-year timeline on my Citi purchase," Grasso said, then referring to earnings next week, "I think it's probably getting beaten up today ahead of it, and I'd probably buy it again."

"Grasso we're still friends, right?" Lee asked.

"Always, always," Grasso said.

Grasso offered one of the most lukewarm endorsements of all time, for IBM. "I guess it's a service company now," he said, and thus there is a momentum play on it, but by the end of the first quarter, "it's gonna run out of steam."

Brian Kelly said he's still long gold, a subject that's been rarely heard on "Fast Money" recently. "I think there could be a fear-based bid that comes into the gold market," Kelly said, but "I'm not really that excited about buying gold today."

[Thursday, January 14, 2010]

Pete might not’ve gotten
a fist-bump from Karen

Karen Finerman got tangled up in a little debate with snarling Rick Santelli on "Fast Money" Thursday.

Keep in mind that Karen and Rick are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, although K-Fine rarely makes that known on the show and is remarkably measured in the show's various dabblings in political commentary.

Finerman and Santelli were assessing the government's tax levy and approach to banks.

"They're trying to encourage the banks to lend more to help the economy," Karen said.

"Oh, they are not," Santelli said.

"Rick! Rick! If you have rates at zero, how does that not encourage banks to lend?" Karen said.

"It discourages banks to lend. It discourages banks to lend," Santelli insisted.

"Why? Why?" Karen demanded.

"They're taking unlimited amounts of money," Santelli said, "and they invest in yield curve and Treasury products. Why would they ever take the risk of lending when they can game the system that the Federal Reserve and Treasury have created to make oodles of money-"

"Because look what they can earn on lending now. Look what the yield is on lending now," Karen said.

"Oh, come on," Santelli scoffed.

"What do you mean, come on? I'm telling you, it's hard to get a loan," Karen said. "If it's hard to get a loan, that means they're expensive. They are creating an environment that is geared to make banks make money, right?"

"If my bank keeps calling me up and saying listen, we're gonna give you free money and we want your deposit to give you 400 basis points, I'd do that trade all day before I'd go to work," Santelli asserted.

Karen paused. "All right, look, I, I can't see how you'd think that banks are not interested in lending right now because the yield curve is so wide-"

"They're not as interested in lending," Santelli said.

Pete Najarian jumped in, supposedly as a U.N.-type neutral observer, but perhaps vindicating Santelli's commentary and risking the wrath of Karen.

"They don't have any incentive is what you're saying Rick, I mean, because of the fact that they make so much money right now at this zero, this, this spread, that there's no reason for them to make the move is what you're saying," Pete said.

"Absolutely!" Santelli said.

Finerman: That banking tax
isn’t such a dumb idea

The seeds for a Finerman-Santelli clash were sown early in "Fast Money," when Karen — who demonstrated she's actually read in detail the proposed tax — argued it's not a big deal, and actually perhaps responsible.

"It's actually not that dumb. What they're looking to do is tax those institutions that rely on leverage, not deposit leverage," Karen said. "For those who have big levered portfolios that aren't funded by deposits, and that would be more of a Goldman Sachs, vs. a Bank America (sic), or Morgan Stanley vs. JPMorgan, it's really looking to tax them and say, 'Hey, if you want to have this risky kind of structure, then you're gonna pay a tax on it.' That's not that dumb actually."

Karen added, "Reminds me of the Sarbane (sic)-Oxley response to the Enrons of the world ... ultimately I think people just don't pay attention to it anymore."

Santelli, on the other hand, sounded like he was ready to call for a tea party or something.

"Watching this whole thing unfold is like kicking your dog because it ate a can of dog food that you left out," Santelli said. "Why don't they just raise margin requirements? It's that easy. Or why don't they limit, through capital requirements, the over-the-counter, which was absolutely the most responsible issue environment to cause the crisis. What he's doing here is worse than a punishment because .... they're not dealing with the problem."

We're not experts here and will tread carefully, but our guess is that the margin requirements might be a perfectly fine solution, except it means nothing to the populist crowd that wants Goldman Sachs punished for taking a bailout then handing out $20 billion in bonuses.

"What we have here, is first of all, dealing with symptoms, not causes," Santelli said. "This tax isn't gonna change the casino being open. And they still haven't done anything to take away all the enabling the government has done for decades to create and build the field that the lions ate in."

He predicted it would only get worse because of Fannie and Freddie. "Are we gonna have a tax on anybody who has a mortgage? Oh yeah I think we are."

Karen Finerman, by the way, said "I added to our Bank America (sic) position today, and we did it through long-term LEAPs. I wanna have enough time for this to play out," she said, explaining she's eyeing January 2011, buying half today before the JPM earnings.

Adami puts Meredith Whitney’s
reputation on the line

With less than a day to go, Guy Adami continued to pound the table Thursday against an upside JPM surprise.

"The data isn't as good as people make it out to be," Adami said. "And then I go back to Meredith Whitney's comments. She has a 40 cents for the quarter tomorrow, the Street's at 61. She has $2 for next year, the Street's at about 3.10. If she's right, and she has been right most of the time, JPMorgan, which looks cheap now, is not as cheap as it seems to be."

Adami also said "Wells Fargo is becoming an interesting short idea again." Interestingly enough, Melissa Lee, whose outfit we covered in the "Halftime Report" below (a day after a thought-provoking, conservative dark suit), later read an e-mail question from Jeff from Virginia on that subject. Jeff wondered about put-buying in WFC.

Pete Najarian said the buying was way out of the money, at a $23 strike. "This is not hedging," Pete said. "Somebody's speculating."

If you do know what you’re doing, we can’t help you

Thursday was Karen Finerman's day to offer an ETF play. Karen suggested the HYG.

"You're not taking on a whole lot of unique risk in any one name," Karen said. "Which is, if you don't know what you're doing, you really need to have diversification."

No, if you don't know what you're doing, you really need to have your money in a CD, or Treasury bond, or under the mattress. Not in a high-yield ETF, or the stock market.

Karen noted again, "the TLT, which we are short."

Melissa Lee and Guy Adami agreed that Karen has a "spunky mom."

What he’s really saying
is you shouldn’t do that trade

Special pay master Kenneth Feinberg, quickly proving to be one of the best "Fast Money" guests, had another little round of sparring with Guy Adami on Thursday.

"Mr. Feinberg, what should the metric be for compensation, for bonuses for employees," Adami asked. "What metric will you use, or should we be using?"

"Well the primary metric I use," Feinberg said, "is the metric that ties your compensation to long-term performance in stawk. So that the days of guaranteed cash are over, largely."

"I generally don't do this," Adami responded, "but let's say I put on a trade in September, and by October I've made a few hundred million dollars, which is not unreasonable given what goes on. Why should I then be — why should I have to wait three or four years if in a month I've made my year?"

"Because," said Feinberg, "it's that type of excess risk that's determined by short-term swings in company performance that led us to conclude, you may be right with your hypothetical, but in the overall economy of the country, it's better that you have to wait for long-term mocket forces rather than short-term swings in the market."

Adami didn't protest, perhaps because he wasn't allowed any more time. Honestly, this one is loaded with inside baseball, and we're not trading pros, so we'll just say we agree with Adami's sentiment, but we can't discount what Feinberg is saying either.

Yesterday we claimed Guy Adami needed a haircut. Today, it certainly appeared he had gotten one.

Original K-Fein gives Karen
an interviewing challenge

What was a little disheartening in the Kenneth Feinberg segment Thursday was a follow-up question from Karen Finerman.

We've remarked here before that the questions asked by Karen (and also Guy Adami, and usually other panelists as well) are often so good, she seems like a professional journalist/interviewer.

Thursday she failed to meet high expectations.

"This is a serious question," Karen said to Feinberg. "I know you've had a long history of public service, and this is probably the most unusual of all your, uh, positions. But what does it feel like to be both the messiah and a pariah in terms of, you're right really at the nexus of uh, a lot of heated emotions on both sides."

"Well, I don't consider myself a messiah or a pariah," Feinberg said, before rattling off a call to duty.

Unfortunately, the "how does it feel" question is the second-worst a reporter can ask. It would only work if you are addressing the subject with something the subject doesn't already know.

So if Karen, for example, had said, "I've gotten a tip you were just voted Time's Person of the Year. How does that make you feel?," then Feinberg's response would be worth hearing.

Telling him he's viewed as a pariah and messiah (neither of which is actually true as Feinberg noted) is hardly news.

Usually this question is thrown out by weak sportscasters on the field after a big game. How does it feel to win the World Series. Gee, can't imagine.

Not only is it an uninteresting question, it's almost a disservice to the subject. It's like asking Bill Gates, "how does it feel to be the world's richest man," etc.

There are plenty of great questions for someone like Feinberg. Is the chance for another 2008-like financial meltdown lesser or greater than before, or equal. Do you think the government adequately understands how banking and trading pay works. Does it serve society to protect a previously non-bank-holding company such as Goldman Sachs. What do Wall Street executives privately think about your work. Have you gotten any threats.

The worst question a reporter can ask is the non-question that is really a statement. Something like, "Ken Feinberg, you've made a lot of decisions on pay recently." Yeah. So?

One thing someone should definitely ask about is why the photo of Feinberg shown by "Fast Money" is remarkably stodgy, almost like that professor in "Back to School" who regularly gets his comeuppance from Rodney Dangerfield. Feinberg's image could benefit from a savvy PR agent.

Feinberg told Karen, "You don't say no to the Secretary of the Treasury." You don't say no to the IRS either, unless you're someone important enough to be Treasury secretary someday.

Ad in for INTC

Pete Najarian was so impressed by Intel's earnings, he was ready to crown the market — provided someone else comes through Friday.

"This number was absolute blowout," Pete said. "If JPMorgan can hold this thing up as well, now we're going to 1,200. We are gonna explode to the upside."

Given that, Joe Terranova was remarkably calm.

"Intel held serve, that is what the market needed Intel to do," he said.

Guy Adami actually likened the positive post-market Intel response to the RIMM high experienced about a month ago. (He likes noting that fine call he made in RIMM.)

Adami pointed to Qualcomm. Pete Najarian was sort of on board. "Last week we also talked about, February 50 calls, they were just unbelievable amount of volume," Pete said.

Terranova had a different idea. "I added to Microsoft today, aggressively," Joe said. "I think Microsoft is the trade here. ... Everything kind of comes back to Windows 7."

Pete and Mike aren’t clicking

Jon Najarian said Thursday he's finally convinced about some heavy activity he's seeing in ENER options.

"ENER trades about 16,000 calls, that's three times normal volume," he said. "The reason we pay attention here is the solar space has been hit hard this week." He said he had been ignoring the January plays. "That's chump money that's in the front month; this is smart money that's in the second month, the Februarys."

"I think the best exposure still goes back to Applied Materials," brother Pete Najarian said.

Guy Adami halfheartedly tossed out TSL. "That stock continues to perform, that's another way to play it," Adami said.

Mike Khouw did a Kaminsky-esque stint from the "Prop Desk" control room, explaining what kind of coattails the Intel report would have for AMAT and TXN. Khouw indicated the Intel report was more positive for TXN than AMAT, because of capex issues. Pete Najarian, who already this week doubted Khouw's thesis on JPMorgan dividend expectations, refused to believe that things aren't looking great for AMAT but failed to convince Khouw to disregard his own report.

‘Fast Money’ in the
mainstream media

Mark Mahaney, who talks to "Fast Money" seemingly every day, told the New York Times on Wednesday, "You just have to wonder if people are going to buy prepackaged $60 video games in the future."

A ‘sideways’ trade that
doesn’t involve Sandra Oh

Guy Adami is afraid of excessive taxation not just in banks, but big oil.

"At what point do they levy a tax on the ExxonMobils of the world, say, you know what, these guys are making much too much money. You know, at what point do they stop," Adami said on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Thursday. "It should scare folks, like frankly it scares me."

In a fairly lackluster session devoted to uninteresting Intel forecasts, Jeff Tomasulo sort of reaffirmed our view that he probably never holds a stock into earnings.

Tomasulo said if INTC goes gangbusters, then (stunner) consider going long the Q's and the SMH.

He added this: "If JPMorgan really goes above $45, uh, $45 level, we could see 52-week highs."

Jon Najarian offered a ringing endorsement of INTC. "Love the stock, I think it trades sideways after the earnings, much rather own Marvell."

"My concern about Intel is, it has not performed with the rest of the space since October frankly," said Guy Adami, who instead touted HP, which "I think is the best-run company out there ... Mark Hurd's a stud."

Melissa Lee, who delivered probably the highlight of the show by appearing in snug black top and gray skirt, unfortunately in one intro made a tired joke that's probably been made hundreds of times, "Eugene Profit, with the best name in the business..."

"I think Intel's earnings will be strong, and I think it's a stock you can buy, even if it goes sideways for a short period of time," Profit said.

While we were excited to see Jeff Tomasulo and Eugene Profit (and wondering when Divine Dani Hughes will be back), we really got excited when we heard Patty Edwards would be making the call. Lee introduced Patty as the "maven of mall stocks."

Patty said the day's data "really is confirming that that middle-range consumer is still hurting. ... So I think you have to focus on the trade down in retail at this point." She recommended TJX, although in the notoriously tight "Halftime" format she spoke about two or three sentences too many, and also touted Aeropostale. "Love that space ... with these higher gas prices, teenagers aren't gonna have as much money to spend."

Jon Najarian talked about options-buying in Textron (TXT). "Lot of unusual activity but it was January so I didn't like that, now they've extended it out into February options. ... I am in full disclosure long the stock," Najarian said.

Guy Adami hinted that the 5 p.m. show would feature a trade known by Chargers fans, which we assume must be Qualcomm.

It’s now 2010

Guy Adami and Patty Edwards on Thursday talked about JCG, and both recommended it on some level, but they weren't exactly in synch.

"I'm glad Patty took the time to call in all the way from the West Coast," Adami said. "It's effectively been holding the 50-day moving average basically since the beginning of this year. Sets up for a pretty easy trade there, folks. You continue to own it above the 50-day, a close below the 50-day you get out, and for those of you that enjoy risk out there like I know Patty does, you can get short it on a close below the 50-day moving average."

Patty's response? "Oh guys ... You know, J. Crew has done phenomenal things, you got one of the best merchants in retail behind 'em. I would continue to be long this one. I agree with you Guy, I think you gotta ride this one, it's doing phenomenally well."

First, Patty may enjoy risk, but we've never heard her advocate the type of technical long/short trade that Adami described, so when he implied she would be interested in this trade because she likes risk, we think he's wrong. Second, Adami's argument was completely technical and equally pro-short as pro-long, while Patty has been notably pro-J. Crew for a while, so when Patty said "I agree with you Guy," she really didn't, because she's saying merely go long while he's saying you can play it either way. Third, according to the chart, it's held the 50-day since the beginning of last year, not this year.

[Wednesday, January 13, 2010]

Clarification, or repudiation?

Jon Najarian delivered a "Fast Byte" video Wednesday explaining how he expertly traded an article he read on the Huffington Post.

"Hey guys, I saw a post on the Huffington Post of all places about Monsanto," he said. "The stock fell out of bed. But again, this isn't a reputable news site like CNBC, it's a blog post. So I faded it, bought the stock, the stock rallied all the way back up to unchanged, grabbed a cigar, and lit up. That's how I traded it; anybody wanna take the other side?"

But then at the end of "Fast Money," Dr. J, via Melissa Lee, took the unusual step of issuing a retraction that sounded like a full 180-degree backpedal on a key point.

"Just wanted to say I got a little carried away by a comment I made about Huffington Post earlier in the show. Wanted to clarify — Huffington Post is a reputable news site that I read every day."

Certainly, there is reputable news on Huffington Post. And then there are the op-eds by Justine Bateman.

Hmmmm. Wonder what CNBCfix might have to do to reach the level of "reputable news site that I read every day."

Dr. J, when doing his video "Fast Byte," had CNBC on in the background, and not surprisingly, it was showing an all-too frequent commercial. Lesley Ann Machado and Rosetta Stone? No. Molly Culver and the Chase Sapphire backrub? No. Pajamagram? No. Try Dan Weston, of the Scooter Store.

You’re gonna
make it after all...

Gary Kaminsky has rapidly emerged as the "Fast Money" muscleman, declaring his trades with gusto and delivering verbal forearm shivers to anyone who might object.

Wednesday he resembled Lou Grant, apparently seated in some kind of Englewood Cliffs control center.

"When I was managing money for close to 20 years, and we routinely, you know, trounced the indexes, we did it by thinking outside the box," Kaminsky said. "Where are we gonna be two or three weeks from now."

Climbing out of the box, Kaminsky found himself seeking a trade for the thesis of unexpectedly rising rates' effect on dividend-paying stocks. "What are the highest-yielding stocks in the S&P 500, because managers will typically, as soon as they think, oh, rates are going up, the first thing they're gonna do is say, what are the highest-yielding names in my portfolio, those are the ones I wanna get rid of," Kaminsky said.

"Two names that stand out to me right away," he continued, "Verizon and AT&T. Why is that. Very weak fundamentals. These guys are fighting each other, they're fighting the cable companies, the cost of customer retention right now, they're out of control."

And if Kaminsky was Lou Grant, Karen Finerman was most certainly Mary Richards. "Let me just play devil's advocate for a minute," said Karen, who pointed out that AT&T and Verizon have been moving based on the smartphone market, not so much dividends, and that shorting them is more a short of smartphone carrying than high dividends. "I wonder if you're making a much bigger bet sort of tangentially than the bet that you really do want to be making," Karen said, and that was a beautiful point.

Tim Seymour questioned why one would be so eager to sell smartphone carriers, although he was speaking mostly of the emerging markets guys. Guy Adami essentially concurred with Karen and asked if utilities wouldn't be a better play for this thesis. Kaminsky said the problem with playing utilities is that if the thesis is wrong, they don't have the same fundamental problems he sees with Verizon and AT&T.

Melissa Lee asked, what do you do if the dividends are raised, just say "mazeltov"? She said "it's the Great Neck in me coming out."

Lee directed viewers to the Web Extra for a third Grant, er, Kaminsky, selection under this thesis. We did, and it's BMY.

The Kathy Lee trade

Regis Philbin actually called in to "Fast Money" to complain that he's been holding Time Warner since 1998 and EMC since 2000.

"You're tying up capital!" said Melissa Lee, who asked a good question, what does Philbin think of Conan, and Philbin said he admires Conan for sticking to his guns.

Philbin did crack us up, however, when he mentioned AT&T and said "this stock is still sucking at 26!"

"It's irrelevant what your cost is," Karen Finerman tried to explain, but we don't think he "gets" it.

Everyone’s making a late-night
comment, so here is ours

Jay Leno should be admired more than Conan O'Brien. Jay is the one who overachieved here. His ratings did better in the last few years than executives expected. That made him viable enough to get a prime time show instead of a dismissal and also perhaps provided a headwind for the networks' chosen 11:35 guy. Conan was handed a glorious gig more on age considerations than merit. He got far more time to prove himself on his late-night show in the '90s than most TV people get. It can now be said, four years ago or so when this started, Jay was an outperform, Conan was a sell. Jay is a nice guy, but he's a tougher competitor than probably any of us ever realized.

Adami needs trip to barber

Based on his usual "Fast Money" standards, Guy Adami is getting rather shaggy on top, could use a trim, especially around the ears, particularly if he's expecting to meet Ashley Judd on the set of Regis' show.

Seymour: GOOG won’t go

There was some really good commentary we thought on the "Halftime Report" Wednesday (see below) about the Google-China situation.

On the real show, Tim Seymour said the future Chinese market is too lucrative for Google to exit, and that this move is part of a broader plan.

"They are not gonna forgo that," he said. "The U.S. is going after China right now on a number of levels on the trade front, and I think that Google did not act on this alone, I think this is, they had to have the cooperation of U.S. intelligence, and I hate to sound like this is a spy novel-"

"Conspiracy theory," said Melissa Lee.

"... the steel wars, the tire wars, the chicken wars," Seymour continued. "You know, U.S. and China, this is not being played up in the press. If this was Russia, and this was happening today, and a U.S. company like Google, one of our most important and iconic companies, was hacked, by the Russians, we'd probably be saying the next one's warfare. Now I know that's sensational, but the reality is, we are in a very dangerous place with China on the trade front, and China's not in a place to be insulted right now."

"At the same time," said Melissa Lee, "if I were a Google shareholder, I'd be upset. I was gonna say another word. But I'd be upset because Google, you know, their goal is to make shareholders money, not to make a stand against the Chinese government on behalf of the United States government."

"You do just want them to make money, that's their job," Karen Finerman agreed, but K-Fine gave the Google statement a long look and found it not so aggressive. She said the censorship move was a "little bit of a shift," but saying they were going to "review" operations in China, "that is far short of pulling out ... I agree with Tim."

Wonder if Cisco will continue to run that Ellen Page ad — which, coincidentally, aired during this episode — showing Canadian schoolkids cheering their classroom hookup with Chinese kids.

‘Fast Money’ in the
mainstream media

Seeking experts to discuss the ramifications of the Google-China standoff, Reuters turned to the highly qualified Zach Karabell, who said not to expect an exodus from China. "It's not going to make anyone reconsider anything. It's a realpolitik world of business. People want in," Karabell said.

Frugality’s quick unwind

Joe Terranova made an argument in favor of JPM Wednesday that got our attention.

It got our attention, only because it sounded like a 180 from an argument he just made on Friday.

Wednesday, Terranova said: "JPMorgan, the story on Friday, I think it is going to be about the improving consumer credit trends, the loan-loss provisions coming down, unemployment trends improving, I do think JPMorgan right here lines up nicely ... I think it's a name you want to be long. I bought it this morning."

But Friday, he said this: "The reason why fundamentally I'm so interested in owning technology is because of this morning's unemployment report. It clearly highlights that there's a divide. ... I do not wanna rely on consumer spending after this morning's report. I think we make the shift back from pent-up extravagance to frugality again."

Ah, the all-important jobs report. So, so ... last week.

Bonuses look safe

Karen Finerman offered interesting commentary Wednesday on why she sees a lot of value in Bank of America.

"Think about how much Bank of America has been provisioning," Karen said. "They're at a run rate of about $50 billion of provisions. Fifty billion. That's an extraordinary amount of money. If they were able to bring that in by half, which is not as herculean at all as it sounds, that additional, that is, I don't know, another buck-sixty, roughly off the top of my head, of earnings to them ... blows away any of the other metrics that are out there, price to book, any of that."

Tim Seymour said "Bank of America is my long-term holding, I've had it in my IRA. I will continue to hold this stock."

Guy Adami, who worked for Goldman Sachs, it was revealed yesterday, sounds like he knows the CEO there quite well when taking up the congressional hearings. "Lloyd did a great job, I mean you have to understand the difference between a principal and an agency," Adami said. "Clearly the guys on the Hill don't understand that, they should take their Series 7 if they need to."

"Blankfein I thought did a great job today," said Tim Seymour, backing the GS CEO's defense of the mortgage-backed securities trade. "I agree with him. The people that bought these were professional investors. ... They should get out of that chair if they don't know what they're buying."

"It is a good time to be in the banking business, aside from all the noise, and I really do think it's noise," said Karen Finerman, and we agree, it is noise.

Stuck in the middle
with Cortes’ Treasury play

Melissa Lee, who has rapidly grown skeptical with her panelists and guests since the new year, sounded a wee bit unimpressed not only by Steve Cortes' strength-in-Treasurys thesis, but also his disclosures.

Cortes trumpeted what he sees as continuing strength in debt issuance from last year. "But how about the one today, Steve?" Lee interrupted. "Full participation today in the markets, and it was mixed."

Cortes said that "Selling this kind of volume, mixed results to me are a very big win."

Tim Seymour jumped in with a mixed verdict. "I agree with you on the short end, the long end has to go higher because that's where inflation is."

That's when Cortes explained he was actually somewhere in the middle — the 5-year — and Lee sounded like she felt taken, given what she expected to hear.

"You're buying the 5-year?" Lee said. "I had in my notes 7 to 10. Where're you at?"

"Well yes, you know, I'm buying the 5's, and honestly between 5's and 7's, there's very little difference, I think, you know, for the viewers at home-"

"What vehicle are you using?" Lee demanded.

"I'm using 5-year futures. But for the viewers at home, IEF I think is probably the best vehicle, which is essentially a 7-year..."

Lee concluded the segment with a smile, saying it was "El Capitan in El Capitol," amusing herself. Tim Seymour made the joke (heard for the sixth or seventh time on "Fast Money") about "Cortez the Killer."

Manic Wednesday

Seemed like everyone was making football analogies Wednesday on "Fast Money." Would've been nice if any of them were actually accurate.

Joe Terranova started it, inadvertently equating the Cincinnati NFLers with a girl group thanks to his generous Long Island accent.

"Everyone expected the Bangles to win, they came out, scored a touchdown, Bangles looked great, but you know what, the Jets hung in there, won the game."

Actually, not everyone expected the Bangles to win. The point spread was 3 or 4, hardly overwhelming, and the Jets just beat them 37-0 a week earlier and held Palmer to about zero yards. The Bangles never looked great. The Jets dropped an easy TD pass and missed a field goal opportunity and otherwise should've blown out the Bungles by halftime.

Tim Seymour said at one pont, "The Jets, they only really should be running the ball." Why? Mark Sanchez just went 12 for 15 and even threaded the needle in a very risky goal-line pass that veterans often botch (see Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl last year).

Steve Cortes finally used another team as a favorable comparison with government bonds. "Treasurys right here are a lot like the Baltimore Ravens. They are fundamentally sound, but they are not sexy, they are not glamorous, there's no bells and whistles, Flacco passed for whatever it was, 40 yards, but they won, and they're dangerous and valuable, and that's how I feel about Treasurys right here."

The Baltimore Ravens are not fundamentally sound. They finished 31st in the league (that's next to last) in yards penalized per game. They dropped what should've been the winning TD in Pittsburgh, and they missed a very makeable field goal that would've beaten Minnesota. This is a sloppy, inconsistent team that still has a lot of good players but not nearly the focus of last year. Cortes sounded like he's only seen one Ravens game all year, the one last weekend that will clearly be the team's high-water mark, against an opponent that was ready to pack it in a week earlier.

We think the Jets are big trouble for San Diego. But no matter what buttons Rex Ryan pushes, he can't equate for Mark Sanchez the playoff losses Philip Rivers has endured the last several years. So because Rivers wants it more than Sanchez, who at this stage of his career is just happy to be here, we think San Diego barely prevails on Sunday.

Jim Iuorio, we barely heard ye

Tim Seymour discussed a potentially interesting ETF play, platinum. He mentioned both the PPLT and the PTM. He seemed a bit grasping for details, but the recall still sounded pretty good.

"The PPLT owns the underlying physical, less the costs of operations," he said. "The PTM is an exchange traded note which effectively is, is a synthetic, and, and, and pays you a, a, a dividend at the maturity of the note."

Joe Terranova took an e-mail question from Joe in Ohio. Joe in Ohio said the UNG wasn't working for him, and how should he play nat gas. Joe in Times Square said APA is the way to go, and "sorry about the Bangles' tough loss this weekend."

Guy Adami briefly mentioned correctly calling a RIMM short a few weeks ago on earnings. Jim Iuorio, in an extremely muffled connection, suggested viewers might want to look at Cell Therapeutics (CTIC), because of a "ton of buying in the February 20th, the, uh, 1 and a half call."

‘Halftime’ conclusions:
Buy GOOG, short BIDU

A massively delayed — and quite brief — "Halftime Report" packed considerable punch Wednesday.

We've noticed "Fast Money" traders tend to be at their best when trading breaking news, offering gut reactions.

Of course they'd had a few hours to think about it, but everything that was said about the GOOG-BIDU situation sounded good. (This writer has no position in either name.)

Brian Kelly sees genius in Mountain View.

"I'm buying Google here. I bought some this morning, and I would still buy some," Kelly said. "I mean I think this is actually a really brilliant strategic move by Google, because what they do by doing this is they say, Baidu has an inferior product because it has censorship. If they can somehow get any kind of movement out of the Chinese government, Google wins."

Melissa Lee questioned that last sentence. "You know what, with all due respect Brian," Lee said, "if I were to bet, uh, you know, if I had to choose between Google and the Chinese government, my bets would go with the Chinese government."

Maybe, but "he's right, I mean this sets a precedent," said Levy. "At a 30 multiple, it's a $700 stock. I agree, I think this is a smart move by Google, I like what they're doing, I like the stock."

Tim Seymour was actually skeptical of Google's decision and said the play wasn't going long GOOG, but shorting BIDU. "If Google is really pulling out, Google would've been, been, you know, probably down 10% this morning. I don't think they pull out, I don't think it's great news for Google in China, but Baidu was the one that overreacted on the upside."

Lee said, "Based on fiscal year 10 revenues, 2% for Google out of China. So the damage specifically to Google, can be very limited."

Kelly later said on the "Fast Money Final Call" with Simon Hobbs that this move is win-win for GOOG. "They will be back in this market, and when they do get back in the market, they'll be back in the market on their terms, and they will become the premier search provider in China."

Good job, Lloyd

Panelists on the "Halftime Report" Wednesday also took a stab at Goldman Sachs as the banking hearings (and David Faber's interviews) took center stage.

Todd Gordon said of the BKX, "There's a little resistance around 47.75." But specifically, he warned about the Broad Street giant. "Goldman, on a long-term daily chart, we're looking at a head and shoulders, right around the 175 area. A lot of signs that bearish price action could be ahead for financials," he said.

Tim Seymour didn't see it that way. "I think Goldman's the one you buy here," he said. "They're the ones that usually surprise on the upside ... I think Blankfein did a great job today."

Then he said something we think is A) hardly right if not outright wrong, and B) if it's truly priced into the stocks, you want to take the other side. "Taxation for all the financial institutions is still what's holding these things back, and that's not gonna help us in earnings, that's gonna be hanging over these guys for a while," Seymour said.

"I like Goldman Sachs going forward here," said Levy, echoing Seymour.

"The yield curve is at record steepness, so financials have to make money," Kelly said.

[Tuesday, January 12, 2010]

Gary Kaminsky: There is not
more money on the sidelines

Gary Kaminsky is growing on us, not because we think he's often right (actually, we disagree with him most of the time), but because he's been expressing these Teflon-coated views that seem unfazed by the facts on the ground.

Tuesday, Gary phoned in to take on the whole "Fast Money" panel on market direction, and was ready to take on even more after all four had taken their shot.

"The melt-up that we had from August to December was a lot of cash on the sidelines that was getting, uh, put into the market," Kaminsky said. "There is not that much cash around. The cash that is so-called cash is staying as cash. We saw that today with the action in the Treasury market. The money that some money managers are receiving — and this is a very important point — people are selling Fund A and then they're maybe reallocating to Fund B."

"I gotta differ with you. I think that hedge fund flows are actually, there's incoming money in hedge fund flows that- to hedge funds, and that needs to be deployed," said Karen Finerman. "You can't discount the effect of hedge funds getting new money."

"I hate to pile on," said Tim Seymour, "and the other thing you're seeing in the hedge fund industry, is that, you know, a year ago, all the, a lot of funds were dated, in other words, a lot of hedge funds were not allowed to get their money out. Because it was a decent year, because some managers got above high-water marks, money is starting to loosen up in the hedge fund space. ... I think we're gonna have a record fund-flow data in the first quarter."

"And wouldn't the outflows be more attached to those that didn't participate, the folks that didn't actually get part of this rally?" asked Pete Najarian, rhetorically.

A still-defiant Kaminsky invoked Patriot Act terminology.

"My surveillance tells me that a lot of the money that's going into, whatever it be mutual funds, or hedge funds that, getting inflows, it's not coming from cash on the sidelines, it's coming from other money managers. I'll stick with my point," Kaminsky said. "I believe that we're gonna trade sideways here."

Joe Terranova tried to finish him off. "Gary, knowing you as long as I did, I can be the one to say: You're crazy." One person laughed, and as usual, it was Pete Najarian.

During Kaminsky's session, the "Fast Money" tech crew rolled out a graphic titled "Mutual fund cash levels vs. Dow industrials." This one, after we stared at it for a moment, did make some sense, but the problem was that it covered a 24-year span, and there were no year markers other than the beginning and end, so kinda hard to tell at a glance what the inflection points were.

MLee did more than just study

Melissa Lee said Tuesday her pizza standards have improved in the (insert number here, probably around 15 or so) years since Harvard.

"You know, when I was in college, I liked the uh, 2 for $11," Lee said, during a discussion of Domino's risky "our pizza was lousy" ads.

Karen Finerman apparently could empathize. "It's not a culinary, sort of calculation," Finerman said.

There must be some folks out there who spent Friday and Saturday nights around Harvard and Wharton sharing a Domino's pizza with Melissa and Karen ... wonder if they realized they were dining with future TV stars?

What’s the big announcement?

"Fast Money" is a little different than baseball. On "Fast Money" if you make one good call, you're regarded as a hero forever, whereas in baseball, those bad calls (e.g., performance-enhancing drug use) come back to haunt.

Melissa Lee introduced Doug Kass — whom we like, by the way — with this: "Doug Kass was early to the subprime crisis, then called lows on CNBC back in March. Now he's back with a very big announcement: Doug, what's the next stop for stocks?"

Kass answered the question with a Mark McGwire analogy that was so strange, we were just as confused as Karen Finerman appeared to be. "Do you wanna know the truth, or you wanna see, see me just hit a few dingers, or home runs?" Kass said. "We're consistently bamboozled by appearance of consensus, too often we're played as suckers."

Thankfully, an exasperated Melissa Lee, who in the past has afforded Kass far more latitude than an NBA ref gives a point guard in Game 6, cut in to Kass and demanded, "What does this all mean Doug?"

"It all means that I'm negative," Kass said.

"Doug takes steroids," chirped Karen Finerman well under the radar, another startlingly funny quip that has become so commonplace for The Chairwoman.

Lee kept up the attack on wind-baggedness. "Going back, going back to the original question Doug, with all due respect Doug, going back to the original question, what is the next stop for stocks, are we in for some sort of a correction here?"

"Yeah I think we're- I think we're gonna have a correction, and I think there's some discreet clouds gathering. Um, we're seeing renewed fears of populism, the administration considering launching attacks on financial institutions. I'm very fearful of the ramifications of populism as the next two years (sic) on economic growth and on the market's prospects ... the industrial trade is obviously far too crowded, Thirdly, China guided the one year ... (slightly inaudible) ... higher to current lending, and also raised bank reserve requirements, and I think they're setting the stage for a rise in benchmark interest rates and I think we follow."

This is one of the diciest bear cases we've ever heard. "Fearful of the ramifications of populism" as his No. 1 argument? Is he serious? Here's how it works. Some influential critics have seen Charles Gasparino's reports on Goldman's huge bonuses and whatever other banks are paying and aren't happy. So President Obama's staff (i.e., under the direction of Rahm Emanuel) floats a story that they're considering a bank tax, then angry Wall Street types like Guy Adami will call Chuck Schumer, then Schumer will get back to Emanuel, and eventually something will happen that neither side will grumble about too much.

And it's not gonna do jack to the market. People obsessed with this stuff (see Guy Adami, below) who think there's some grand public, populist conspiracy to nationalize banks need to venture outside the Wall Street bubble and ask some folks at Burger King if they've ever heard of Lloyd Blankfein.

Whatever happened to that supposedly nasty CFTC crackdown on hedge fund oil positions last summer that Joe Terranova and the rest of the "Fast Money" crew claimed was going to rob the markets of liquidity. Yep, lot of folks really got punished in the oil markets last year.

At least Tim Seymour objected to Kass' point. "This is a tap on the brakes by the Chinese central bank," he said.

Kass insisted that the markets are pricing in China waiting for the U.S. to raise rates, when it will ultimately be China first. Karen Finerman was shown scratching her chin, like Sigmund Freud.

"How big of a pullback, what sort of time frame are we looking at?" Lee asked Kass.

"We're gonna get whacked in the next couple of months-" Kass said.

"What's whacked? What's whacked? Give me a number," Lee demanded.

"10% or so," Kass said.

Notice Lee introduced Kass saying he saw the subprime crisis before everyone and called the market low in March. What she doesn't say is that on Oct. 27, Kass said "I continue to get progressively more bearish (SPY $105.85 then, $113.66 Tuesday)," and on Nov. 18 he said "Retail (XRT was $35.43 then, $36.16 Tuesday) is a prime short-selling candidate," and "I am long one financial stock, which you know, Bank of America ($16.34 then, $16.36 Tuesday), have been for probably seven or eight months. I have started to accumulate a short position in the asset managers, T. Rowe Price ($49.93 then, $54.59 now) and Franklin Resources ($115.40 then, $110.90 Tuesday), which are simply leveraged plays on the capital markets."

On Nov. 2, Kass said, "I'm dating Debbie Downer."

Karen on levered ETFs:
‘One of ’em’s gonna blow up’

Reginald from Dallas asked a pretty good levered ETF question Tuesday.

Melissa Lee even thought it was so good, she said, "Wow, Pete what do you say?"

Pete had an equally good answer, that levered ETFs are short-term trading vehicles, they are rebalanced daily, and you should just trade them and not try to seek options protection.

Tim Seymour, at first misunderstanding the question, somberly told viewers, "Don't short puts in leveraged ETFs, that's scary stuff."

Joe Terranova got into a debate with Bob Pisani about commodity ETFs. "They don't track properly," Terranova said. "You gotta pay a premium every month to stay in the game."

Pisani, who's spending time in Boca Raton at an ETF conference (so he might be a bit biased on this subject), said that when you have something like the DBC, a "big, big commodity play" with "not a lot of tracking error," he doesn't see it as any worse of an investment than the futures.

Karen Finerman said of leveraged ETFs (without talking about the TBT), "One of 'em's gonna blow up one day, I don't know which one ... maybe the puts will help you, maybe not."

Hopefully NOW isn’t reading this

Guy Adami, who at least sounded jollier Tuesday than Monday, continues to be somewhat insufferable on the subject of bank salary caps.

Tuesday, he made a phone call with about 10 minutes left of "Fast Money," introduced by Melissa Lee as agreeing with Jamie Dimon's protest against the vilification of bankers.

"You're damn right, now leave these cats alone," Adami said, explaining that the critics are people who would jump at the chance to work there. "Shut up, leave 'em alone, and move forward."

Adami repeated a point he made a day ago, predicting a downside surprise for JPM because Meredith Whitney did.

Then Melissa Lee decided he needed to come extra clean. "Full disclosure, you used to work for Goldman Sachs," Lee said.

"Hell yeah I did, and I'm proud of it girl, I'm not hiding that. ... Girl, baby," Adami said.

Sigh ... here's the problem with the salary cap beefing...

There are three typical viewpoints to government interference with banks expressed during and since the 2008 credit crisis:

1. Government should intervene to whatever extent it feels necessary.
2. Government should stay out of banking no matter how many might fail.
3. Government should give banks whatever cash they need, no questions asked.

Adami's commentary sounds more along the lines of 3.

Our beef with the government on this subject is more nuanced than Adami's. We think instituting pay caps is a silly, weak, eminently dodgeable way of exerting leverage and populist payback (or the appearance of populist payback) for the type of largesse that Goldman Sachs is never going to be able to adequately repay and (to some degree) shouldn't have gotten. If you're a government official who finds the fact GS is good to go in the millionaire-minting business for another generation offensive, then stop bailing them out in the first place.

Relax, GOOG longs:
Karen still likes the stock

Coal. Copper. Storage. Teva.

All of those good calls for months, and yet all Pete Najarian ever wants to talk about on "Fast Money" is Intel.

"The entire quarter it has basically traded at 20 and a half," Pete declared.

"This is where it traded even after its last earnings!" agreed Tim Seymour.

So after nearly six months of touting this completely range-bound stock, isn't it time to admit it's not going anywhere?

Seymour had a simple theory for why stocks and tech took a dip this week. "The greater story is that the market is tired here," he said.

Karen Finerman was vying Tuesday with Melissa Lee for the top "wow" factor of the day, sporting an elegant pinstriped vest while Lee donned a sharp magenta V-neck. Finerman said she is still way on board the GOOG trade.

"I actually think this is just noise," Finerman said. "For us, the next catalyst in Google, or Apple, another name that hasn't done particularly well since the beginning of the year, is earnings. ... For Google, if you can just hold on till like, you know, January 21st, it's not that far away."

On the XLF, Pete Najarian used one of Guy Adami's recent favorite expressions — "almost had to pull the ripcord today." (This writer is long C.)

Why didn’t Terranova buy
some AGU protection in puts?

Tim Seymour credited Joe Terranova for advising folks not to play casino with ag stocks before the farm numbers.

"It's a horrifying crop report," Seymour said. "If they don't have higher prices for their crop, they won't spend money on fertilizer." Nevertheless, he said the bull play will eventually return, "This was a great chance to pick your spots." He said to look at POT for a return even if it goes "all the way back to 105."

"Didn't want to sell Agrium, but the tape forced me to do it," Terranova said.

Pete Najarian also talked about the declines in coal. "If you were waiting for a pullback, you're getting your shot; I like all of these names," he said. (This writer is long WLT.)

Joe Terranova said if you do that, you might want to hang on for a while. "I think it's a long-term trade on coal. Coal is not a trade you're putting on, getting out of next week, it's a trade you're probably gonna have for the remainder of 2010," Terranova said.

Joe mentioned doing his leg workout, including sprints, so he didn't have to watch his short-oil and Alcoa trades.

Who’s the better trade,
Pete Carroll or John Thain?

Karen Finerman on Tuesday suggested long investors might want to return some of the gifts they've been getting in Tiffany and Ralph Lauren. "The run is too much for what happened I think in the underlying economy," Karen said. "The multiple is too high ... Instead, I'm feeling way more comfortable downscale," Karen said, an interesting comment if extrapolated to everyday life. Karen mentioned Wal-Mart, Target and TJ Maxx.

Joe Terranova made an analogy between rumors of John Thain at CIT Group to Pete Carroll jumping to Patty Edwards' favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. (We heard one Seattle writer on the radio describing the move as an act of "desperation" on the part of the Seahawks, which we kind of agree with. By the way, does anyone Twitter about football — or any other subject really — as much as Jane Wells?)

Pete Najarian spoke of options interest in MGM. "Yesterday they came back and bought even more of the 2011 strike ... the January 20s." Pete said people buying so far in advance are "buying time," something all of us should be so lucky to do.

Analyst Geoff Meacham talked briefly at the biotech conference about AMGN. "You know, I am a buyer of this stock," Meacham said. "I think it probably could get to the mid-60s."

Macke back at Minyanville

We were happy to learn this week that Jeff Macke is once again posting market commentary at Minyanville.com. Macke evidently realizes his absence was noted, writing, "Hello from New York where, judging by my email, I’ve been remiss in staying in touch with you all. I’m not an 'excuse' kind of guy... And any explanation beyond that would be dangerously close to offering one. I’ll say this: Where once I was lost, now I’m found. Where blind I remain as unsighted as a mole."

Gurka ‘not scared’ by Alcoa

It's not really a huge deal when the "Fast Money Halftime Report" loses a few minutes because of some kind of breaking news. It's only a (mini-)tragedy when it happens because 5-star fund manager Chris Retzler of Needham speaks in the most uninterestingly generic terms about various sectors and fails to give Tyler Mathisen specific names he asked for.

So, while we generally get excited about the usual weekly appearances of JJ Kinahan and Patty Edwards, we had to settle for about one soundbite apiece.

"Yesterday Intel was uh, pricing in about a 5% move by its options, this morning's volatility came in a little bit, and they're already pricing a 7 and a half percent move," Kinahan said. "Lot more nervousness surrounding that name."

"Don't forget that right now we've got the Needham conference going on," Edwards said. "I think there was a little bit of commentary in there that the market's not liking."

Mike Gurka was about as devoid of specifics as Chris Retzler while discussing Alcoa's dip.

"This might be opportunities for the market to see a big dip in commodities," Gurka said.

"You buying, you buying on this dip, Mike?" Melissa Lee asked.

"I think it's gonna do very well, absolutely," Gurka said.

"So are you buying?" Lee repeated.

"I'm not getting scared by this," Gurka explained.

Traders expressed caution in GS. "February 165 puts they've traded now almost double," said Pete Najarian. "The real buying started at $5; those options are almost up to $6 right now."

Joe Terranova said Goldman Sachs has "lost its mojo" since the beginning of the year.

Kinahan said "I would use any rallies we saw this afternoon as a selling opportunity."

Gurka said "1134 in the S&P is pretty big for me on the trend line right here."

Patty Edwards used the "call the close" moment to squeeze in some retail commentary. "You know we've got some great news coming out of retail today," Edwards said. "You've got fabulous numbers coming out of Tiffany. The high end is working. You gotta be careful about where you go. Go to the high and low end of retail. And I think you avoid the market overall though."

Pete Najarian has a neat collection of Polaroids in his office.

[Monday, January 11, 2010]

Pete sacks Khouw’s JPM play

Mike Khouw on Monday was making what we thought seemed a reasonable point about a possible boost in the JPM dividend — fivefold, from 5 cents to 25 cents — until a couple of "Fast Money" heavyweights slammed the door on this one.

"Banks generally right now have about their lowest yield historically that they have from a dividend-paying perspective," Khouw said. He said some names are indicating expectation of hikes, but "few of the names are seeing it as clearly as JPMorgan is."

"I don't know if you buy stocks based on the fact that they may raise dividend," said Guy Adami. "To me, the potential for them to raise a dividend is not a reason to buy the stock."

"And if you learned anything from last year, it was that you don't buy stocks just based upon dividend," said Pete Najarian. "Expectation of a dividend, that's even a scarier proposition."

"I would slightly disagree with that," said Tim Seymour. He said dividends are possibly a front-running sign for the stock, "2%, 1%, who cares really at this point ... if I get anything close to a normalized dividend, I believe that computes to a normalized earnings."

Someone should've put Melissa Lee into the pun-itentiary after she parlayed a joke about Google's Nexus One into a follow-up question for Adami about a dividend hike being at the nexus of something or other.

Oddly enough, wasn't it just Friday that we saw a "Trade School" commercial, we think during the Larry Kudlow hour, where Pete and Karen Finerman recommend for some investors dividend reinvestment plans? Wouldn't participating in such a plan require an "expectation of a dividend"?

Gartman: FCX double in 3 years

Probably way too much time was spent by "Fast Money" on Alcoa earnings Monday.

The most interesting angle, in fact, was Tim Seymour's seeming endorsement of the Greater Fool Theory.

"I start to buy commodity stocks when they're expensive," Seymour said. "Because that's when we're starting to see the momentum behind them. I don't think valuation really matters that much when you're buying commodity stocks quite honestly."

Dennis Gartman, who's been doing this kind of thing for 36 years now, got our attention less with his Alcoa commentary but more with this FCX prediction:

"Where's Freeport going to be in 24 to 36 months? Probably a double from here again. I, I think you're gonna be surprised at how strong metals prices may well be," Gartman said.

He said he would probably take a chance on Alcoa at $16.25, even though guesses on interpreting the numbers are about as reliable as Shayne Graham inside the 40.

"It's getting close" to that $16.25, he said as afterhours selling persisted, "that's probably cheap enough for me to take a look at it." He described the report as "very confusing earnings ... I couldn't figure out what the number was."

But he agreed with Joe Terranova, "FCX is probably a better overall trade. XStrata is probably a better overall trade." Actually, Levi Strauss is probably the best overall trade you can make. We always thought women looked cute in those.

What? You mean it’s not
a pure free market?

Speaking of females, Tim Seymour explained Monday how he's fond of Alcoa. "There's a lot expected of my girl here ... big deal coming up in China, which is this Russia deal. I think there's guys that are driving up the price of aluminum actually to make this deal go off well. That's the, that's the conspiracy, you know, theorist's view. But I don't think aluminum should be this high. Demand's not there."

"Gross margins came in really weak," was Guy Adami's shruggable reaction to AA.

"I like copper much better than aluminum," said Joe Terranova, who then made quite a leap with AA's stock. "I think it becomes like Amazon, where it just trades in a range."

Pete Najarian was sort of fence-sitting. "There were some good numbers, there were some bad numbers," Pete said, explaining he was instead trading the volatility and likes other metals better.

Tim Seymour once again cited this mysterious "linear" argument that would make AA worth $35. Guess a linear argument is probably more solid than a circular one. (Or are they not mutually exclusive?)

Some producer apparently thought it looked good, rather than awkward, to have Melissa Lee open the program standing in front of the desk, asking a question to Tim Seymour without looking over her shoulder.

Sometimes, he earns the title
of Debbie Downer

Joe Terranova made a joke.

"Coffee market, percolating a little bit right here; coffee prices, brewing, brewing higher," Terranova said.

"Worst joke of the show, Joe," said Melissa Lee, who wore black sweater over green top and ran a tight ship Monday in serious, businesslike fashion.

Actually, Terranova's joke wasn't the worst of the show, as Terranova noted later when Tim Seymour said something weak we don't quite remember.

Someone obviously turned off the classic rock and took the smile out of Guy Adami's repertoire Monday. Adami frowned on ERTS as a possible referendum on the consumer and/or Best Buy. And then he twice issued glum warnings about what somehow is going to happen next year with JPM if Meredith Whitney happens to be correct this week. If she's right, Adami said, it "means JPM is too rich at these levels ... If they miss, she will then subsequently probably be right for expectations for next year."

Adami also again mentioned pulling the "ripcord" on something, though we can't recall exactly what, Ford perhaps.

Pete Najarian pointed to TTWO, saying "over 22,000 contracts traded, well over normal" in the options market.

Pete also reported a "lot of Kune upside call-buying, 17s, 20 strike," in the XLF.

"Sugar's going higher, ethanol makers are going higher," said Tim Seymour, who again pointed to CZZ. Pete Najarian said he "took some profits" in Bunge, and we know you're as tired of the "bungee" jokes as we are.

Tim Seymour backed the UNG. "I am long, it's going higher," he said.

Melissa Lee called Bob Pisani the "Italian Stallion" during a strange remote hookup in Florida that was never quite adequately connected. Pisani talked about interest in those ETF plays on the dollar.

Seymour described Pisani's report as, "I think Bob's stumbled on less a directional play on the dollar than he is (sic) people wanna be able to hedge the dollar or be on the other side of the trade," Seymour said. "I think they wanna hedge long commodity positions."

Seymour, referring to reports of lower Super Bowl ad prices, said "OptionsMonster (sic) could get one now." For some reason, Pete Najarian nearly fell off his chair laughing during the "Pops & Drops" segment on fruitcake-throwing.

Wishful thinking

We've got a great idea the next time the "Fast Money" gang wants to talk retail.

How about getting Isla Fisher on the set?

We happened to see part of that movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic" on cable (it's not worth explaining why). We had already seen more than enough in "The Lookout" and "The Wedding Crashers," but oh man...

Mel Lee could ask Fisher where she shops, what trends she sees, what stocks she owns, whether she's feeling pinched by the economy. Get Patty Edwards on, give Kimberly Greenberger a call, of course bring Mandy in, and let Karen Finerman and Guy Adami ask some follow-up questions.

It would be better ratings than the Regis Philbin segment, probably.

Other than Manning,
Colts have no quarterback

Joe Terranova — who, if he were to have bet on the Packers-Cardinals game and made his trades during the game possibly would've racked up a ton of commission fees — made one of those seemingly contradictory trading calls in the crude area on "Fast Money" Monday.

Terranova said he was short oil. "I know this is going to be a heated conversation on the desk," he said, and it really wasn't, but he added this: "I don't like anything in the energy space right now."

Moments later, after Pete Najarian gushed about the BP dividend and said he also likes Petrobras and Chevron, Terranova said, "I agree with you. I bought ExxonMobil, defensive energy play."

We don't actually think this is as strange as it sounds. According to disclosure, Terranova is short February crude oil futures, and XOM would be something of a hedge.

But first saying "I don't like anything in the energy space right now," then saying he just bought XOM ... dunno, maybe our definition of energy is different than Terranova's, but it seems kinda like saying "I don't like anything in the fertilizer space right now, but I'm long Potash."

Terranova got a "Fast Message" question about the UGA from Jerrell in Seymour, Idaho. Should he go long? "Absolutely not," Terranova said, recommending refiners (Terranova is long FTO) instead. Terranova said the problem with UGA is "it does not track properly. Then you have — should I mention the word? Guy? — contango."

"By the way, that video has been banned. Banned. I banned it," declared Melissa Lee.

"Big buyer of Seymour, Idaho, by the way," said Tim Seymour.

OK, computer

One thing you've gotta say about Carter Worth, his attire is generally always poised for a breakout. Monday he raised the bar on the "Fast Money" set with the suit complete with pocket handkerchief before identifying some range-bound trades.

YUM and WU, Worth said, have been in a long-running range and ready to go higher on some news. "There's a debate raging," Worth said of WU, "and sharp indecision is resolved sharply."

That sounds a little like something Thom Yorke might say. Investors feeling "Lucky" should consider those two names, and perhaps buy previously broken-out AA ($15.50) and AMD ($7.50) if they regress to Worth's levels.

Seymour: ‘Valuation
of Ford is absurd’

In contrast to Carter Worth, Tim Seymour was momentarily caught anchoring his blue business shirt/green tie combo with gray jeans while performing a "Trading the Globe" segment on the same screen as Worth.

Seymour took the occasion to recommend a somewhat forgotten name, Toyota, saying it could triple its market share in India by 2015. TM, Seymour said, "to me is the best-run car company in the world, is probably producing the best cars in the world, is the company you really wanna watch." Pressed for a call on F, he said, "I'm long Ford, I'm long Toyota." But in the case of Ford, "I'm very nervous at these levels ... the valuation of Ford is absurd, quite honestly. It's very expensive right now."

Even Carter Worth
couldn’t figure this out

We're starting to wonder if anyone at "Fast Money" actually attempts to read the charts they show on the screen before they're shown on the screen. Monday we got "S&P 1500 VS NET EARNINGS ESTIMATE REVISIONS," which apparently was supposed to tell viewers that market performance has been in line with estimate revisions. We think we might — might — have understood the column on the right, but the column on the left made zero sense.

Too easy to forget it’s
a credit card commercial

The "Fast Money" 5 p.m. show teased a segment from Jon Najarian about Obama's possible levy on banks. The segment showed Dr. J with that neat blue Na'vi tint.

Except that teaser was an avatar of nothing, as Dr. J never did appear on the show to talk about the supposed bank tax.

So you'll have to be satisfied with what he said about it earlier on the "Halftime Report" (see below).

However, those awaiting Dr. J's report were rewarded with a treat of a different kind, the latest Chase Sapphire card commercial featuring Molly Culver losing a bet and having to give her significant other a backrub in front of the fire at that ski lodge.

This is why they leak it

Jon Najarian seemed outraged on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Monday by the purported Obama plan to slap a levy on certain banks.

Dr. J questioned why the banks that would be punished are the ones who have already done a fine job of repaying the bailout.

"We've made a nice return on that," Najarian said, "now we're gonna go out there and penalize these same banks? I'm not championing the banks, but I am saying that that's the exact wrong thing to be doing right now."

Melissa Lee seemed to agree in her line of questioning, suggesting this isn't fair to investors "when you're changing the rules of the game," apparently dismissing the notion that this news is purposely leaked to gauge the reaction from all the VIPs, you know, Warren Buffett, Lloyd Blankfein, Bill Gross, Ron Insana, et al., before anyone makes the rash decision to enact such a tax without knowing exactly what the response will be in advance, kinda like the way they did the TV game shows in Robert Redford's "Quiz Show."

"These knee-jerk reactions are always very dangerous," Mike Khouw said.

Zach Karabell wasn't biting. "I'd be much more concerned about the negative backlash from bonus season," Karabell said. "I don't think that furor has in any way peaked."

Much of the session was dominated by advance talk of Alcoa, which prompted a bit of a disagreement between Karabell and Dennis Gartman.

First, Mike Khouw said options players were "anticipating a move between 8 and 9%" on AA, but because there are "only a few days of optionality left," it's actually "harder to really interpolate necessarily how much of a move there's gonna be."

That sentence raised our eyebrows, and Karabell refreshingly made us feel not alone, "it's great that Mike said interpolate," he said. "Secondly, I think Alcoa is where commodity investors, you know, it's the graveyard of commodity investor hopes ... Alcoa should not be seen as a bellwether for global commodities."

It's "probably better to stay away from it," Gartman said, and "although I think Zach is one of the smarter guys on the Street," he said if AA drops afterhours, "I'd rather be a buyer on weakness than a seller."

Joe Terranova, who spent much of the session peeking into the backfield more often than the Philadelphia secondary did in Dallas on Saturday, said he views the February AA options bearishly. "Near-term good, longer-term, I don't like aluminum," he said.

On other plays, "I own Caterpillar because I like their exposure to the global industrial story, which I'm beginning to sound like a broken record talking about," Karabell said.

Gartman described the POT selling as "simple profit taking."

Karabell said "I own Schwab" and thinks the stock doesn't reflect the adviser business it has going. Khouw said "I am bullish on Intel."

In an abbreviated "Fast Money Final Call" with Bob "Italian Stallion" Pisani, Karabell said he owns SLB because oil companies have to step up exploration. "You can't just defer and defer and defer, because if you defer and defer and defer, you become Venezuela and Russia," Karabell said.

[Friday, January 8, 2010]

‘Fast Money’ again
in the mainstream media

Seattle Times writer Amy Martinez knows when she's got a hit on her hands, this time quoting Patty Edwards on the strength of Nordstrom. "Certainly, happy days are not here again, but we don't need to be singing a funeral dirge anymore," Patty says.

Flight to 767?

David Rosenberg, the Gluskin Sheff economist who occasionally comes on "Fast Money" to examine the "crystal balls" and proclaim a jobless recovery, tells the Associated Press "the market could lose a third of its value once the government props are kicked away."

N.Y. Times fails to credit
Melissa Lee for Chanos scoop

We generally have a high opinion of the New York Times' newsgathering operation, but not when it attributes a key interview generically to "CNBC" instead of the host who got it.

Karen talks about Amazon,
says ‘ridiculous’ six times

Long ago, this site was the first to identify Karen Finerman's favorite word.

And nothing gets her going like a certain Web retailer did Friday on "Fast Money."

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

Steve Grasso maybe doesn't think AMZN is ridiculous, but sees a serious headwind. "I think the Apple (sic) is going to be the Kindle killer. There's probably $20, in Amazon, from the Kindle. So the trade now is to be long Apple, short Amazon at these levels."

Melissa Lee said Mark Mahaney believes "Kindle and all the apps" amount to 5% of projected AMZN revenues for 2010.

Joe Terranova actually
believes in the ‘frugality’ trade

Joe Terranova had a startling revelation from (as we predicted) a non-market-moving jobs report.

"The reason why fundamentally I'm so interested in owning technology is because of this morning's unemployment report," Terranova said. "It clearly highlights that there's a divide. I wanna rely on enterprise spending, which is what technology is to me. I do not wanna rely on consumer spending after this morning's report. I think we make the shift back from pent-up extravagance to frugality again."

As for technology specifics, Terranova said "Karen made a great call last night talking about Microsoft. It doesn't matter what the price is where you get in. Microsoft right now is still a buy. ... I bought Microsoft, I bought EMC."

So he suddenly, as of Friday morning, thinks the consumer is hurting, and so he likes technology instead, including Microsoft no "matter what the price is" and which, to our knowledge, has a decent consumer component.

We also wondered why, if frugality is the new normal, Terranova would be so eager to short SHLD, which last we checked sort of caters to the less-wealthy consumer.

But that was yesterday, and this is today.

Melissa Lee, perhaps a little bit confused like we were, asked Terranova to "connect the dots" for a trade.

"Absolutely," Terranova said, explaining it's about employers. "They are not going to be hiring, they are going to use enterprise spending as their way to improve productivity."

(Sigh.) We tried this "frugality" thing once before. It was 1930. Jimmy Carter gave it a shot in the '70s and it didn't work. The Browns aren't coming back to St. Louis, the Cardinals aren't coming back to Chicago, and frugality is not returning to the American consumer.

If you’re not in the studio,
you shouldn’t be on the show

Tim Seymour was shown Friday in a prepackaged video clip, in casual attire presumably at home, referring to his predictions yesterday on the jobs report.

Melissa Lee, we think, introduced the segment as Seymour actually being wrong, and now explaining how he's playing it.

But it sort of sounded like Seymour in the clip was declaring himself to be right, at least in the effect on emerging markets.

On Thursday, all Seymour basically said about the jobs report was that he disagreed with Gary Kaminsky's "sell the jobs report" advice and that "I see recovery across the board."

The Dow was down about 20 points most of the day, and closed about 11 points higher. Other than a spike in steel, there really wasn't much of a trade in anything, and nobody should really consider themselves a winner or loser here, although Kaminsky's "sell" directive seems a bit much.

No, Tim hasn’t done time

Funny how virtually every gag or stray comment on "Fast Money" ends up delivering inquiries for us in some way. Now we've got people wondering about Tim Seymour talking about prison and jail time.

Relax. It was a joke involving a rapper from a few days ago and a play on Seymour's apparent upbringing on the "mean streets" of Scarsdale, N.Y., which according to Wikipedia boasts a per capita income of $89,907, ranking No. 2 in the nation for towns over 10,000 population.

According to recruiters,
networking still No. 1

Melissa Lee and Jim Goldman jointly interviewed FCC chief Julius Genachowski on Friday.

To be honest, Net Neutrality, while important to the likes of us, is one of those concepts that makes our head spin when we try to absorb it, so we mostly try not to think about it.

Here's what Genachowski said that we found interesting:

"Today, most jobs, overwhelmingly jobs are posted online only. If you don't have Internet access, you can't find a job."

That first sentence is true; the second is bogus.

Few things have struck us as a bigger cesspool of wasted time than e-mailing resumes to mysterious employers on career sites, who are listing many jobs perhaps just to meet EEOC requirements, often not responding to the query and not providing any contact information whatsoever so that a job-seeker could actually pick up the phone and call said employer and explain he is interested in the position and is sending a resume.

However, we do know at least one person who, as a complete stranger to this company, applied for a decent job he saw listed on a Web site, actually was able to call someone for a follow-up, and did indeed get the job. So it does happen.

The 5:54 bounce

After Genachowski spoke about the broadband buildout, Karen Finerman suggested a couple infrastructure plays, CCI and American Tower (AMT).

She said "I don't own any of the names," but that didn't prevent AMT from jumping from $44.17 to $45 on Karen's remarks, admittedly very light volume, while CCI climbed about 23 cents to $39.17.

Back over $600

Karen Finerman apparently wasn't sold on Joe Terranova's frugality theme, explaining at one point that she found the consumer credit decline interesting. "I don't know though whether it means that the consumer is pulling back, or that they're done pulling back," Karen said.

The show opened Friday, as it always does nowadays, with Karen or someone else evaluating the day's action in GOOG. "You know, I like Google," Karen said. "I'm happy to buy it on, as the noise from this Nexus One launch dies down. That's OK, I still think it's a good opportunity to own it here for a long time."

Flunking ‘Trade School’

We saw one of those "Fast Money Trade School" ads Friday that we actually think is a lousy idea.

Karen Finerman and Pete Najarian recommend dividend re-investment plans.

What they don't mention is that you're buying fractional shares every quarter, and if you hold these positions for years, it's a big pain for your Schedule D — especially if the company's involved in some acquisition and ships you some "figuring cost basis" instructions for pro-rating shares — once you finally sell.

But perhaps the bigger problem, also not mentioned in the commercial, is that you can't unload your position on a moment's notice. You might be able to call and sell shares the same day, but you might also have to ship instructions in writing and wait for the order to be executed.

Another problem? Once you get into these programs, the paperwork is an incentive to stay in them. If you think that's OK, that you'll just choose a blue chip (as many do) that will weather the storm, consider a lot of people had such plans with AT&T in the '90s and GE and Pfizer in the 2000s.

Don't take Karen's advice here. Your dividends indeed are better off in a nimble savings account.

HeatSeeker going off

Pete Najarian was chock-full of call-buying information Friday.

"Lot of upside call-buying today in Qualcomm, February 50 calls were just on fire," Pete said.

Regarding AMAT, "Yesterday, huge activity going out, buying the April upside calls, the April 15 calls," Pete said.

Finally in the XLF, Pete saw buying in the 15, 16 calls.

And then there are the coal and copper companies. "One of the names I did add recently, just a couple of days ago, was Teck Resources. I've talked about that name, I've liked that name, finally I decided I'm gonna probably get taken out of Cliffs, cause I've sold some upside calls," Pete said. "Patriot Coal was the name today," he added, saying "the call activity out there today (February 20s and 21s), absolutely off the charts."

That wasn't all. There's a JPMorgan biotech conference upcoming. "I think there are three names," Pete said, naming Pfizer, Celgene and Teva. "I own all three of these names."

Mostly, though, Pete is sticking to his Mamas and the Papas-esque theme. "I believe in this Mutual Fund Monday," Pete said.

Terranova: More gold than oil

Joe Terranova was chock-full of trading suggestions Friday.

"I sold ICE today," Terranova said. "At one point today you saw something that I have not seen in the last 10 years. Gold futures, the spot contract, had more volume than oil futures in the spot contract."

On airlines, "I believe that all the good news is priced in. JPMorgan raised Continental Airlines yesterday. I was a seller of Continental Airlines today," he said.

And keep in mind, "It was my first move for 2010 to be long Bank of America" and to sell Comerica against it.

He said, "Look at ESX ... it is something that I have shorted," on the theory of apartment-growth lacking and challenges in California. But Karen Finerman, who backed off this trade at least six months ago, said "I feel like you can't be short" the REITs.

Terranova reiterated from Thursday that he's hoping Alcoa goes gangbusters next week because he's dying to sell it.

Grasso: Confidant of gunslingers

Melissa Lee, looking just about as great as yesterday in her fuchsia outfit, asked Steve Grasso about buyers having an "itchy trigger finger" — not once, but twice on the "Halftime Report" and again at the beginning of the 5 p.m. show, which prompted laughs from Pete Najarian.

Lee read a "Fast Mail" question from Evan in Florida asking why Best Buy was getting creamed.

"It's not just the news, it's the expectations going in," Karen Finerman said.

"It's a heavy competition they've got with Wal-Mart," Pete Najarian said.

Grasso said Ford looks popular and might be a better idea. "Now people are talking about a 14-16-dollar price range," Grasso said.

"American Axle is a name that we like," Finerman said. Referring to her vehicles, Finerman said, "I do not own a Ford, no." Finerman, like us, wondered why Melissa Lee later asked two male traders, but not Karen, if they owned Tupperware.

Melissa Lee, introducing talk about the JPMorgan four-day health conference next week, said data shows the "biotech index outperforming the S&P 500 89% of the time during the week of the event." Karen Finerman said to consider the IBB, saying "I don't have the expertise to make those specific bets that maybe Pete does."

Brian Stutland did the Options Action tease. Citing "a ton of January 17 calls" in Alcoa, he said he was buying the January 16 call for $1.10. "Your break-even is 17.10 on the stock there," he said.

A beaming Melissa Lee later told Larry Kudlow during a teaser for "Options Actions" that she's hoping to return to Larry's program soon.

Bill Strazzullo: Good
risk/reward in the XLF

Bill Strazzullo and Steve Grasso carried on a bit of a debate about the S&P 500 on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Friday.

"The trend is still higher," Grasso said.

"If you're somebody with a longer-term time horizon, you really wanna be in the profit-taking mode," Strazzullo said, even though he acknowledged throughout the show that short-term looks decent and people could buy in front of 1120, sell half at 1150 and the other half at 1170. "We've got a private sector that still can't stand on its own two feet," Strazzullo said.

"Pre-Lehman levels, we were at 1235 in the S&P," Grasso said. "There's nothing but air in between us and there."

Strazzullo, though, asserted that after a huge months-long gain in the S&P, fair value is really 950 to 900. "The risk/reward doesn't make sense here," Strazzullo said.

However, he did advocate a long XLF position, "buying in front of 15, looking for a move to 16 and 16.50, and all I think you really have to risk is really a close below 14.60."

Brian Stutland said there were 14,000 January 45 calls in JPMorgan.

Mike Gurka said V and MA aren't a bad idea. "I have no problem with those positions." For the S&P 500, "I'm gonna get long, stay long and remain that way ... I see 1235," Gurka said.

[Thursday, January 7, 2010]

Maybe NOK needs a tablet

Melissa Lee, who looked beautiful in chic gray skirt and belt Thursday, made a beautiful point on "Fast Money" about computer analyst chatter.

"When you talk about all these devices," Lee said, "not one person is saying that there will be cannibalization. They say that there is room for all of these devices. Which, raises a red flag. Raises a red flag."

Actually, we did say that.

Yesterday (see below).

But we're not analysts, so Lee is correct.

It was Tavis McCourt — a bona fide analyst — who did not say that yesterday, even though his MOT arguments painted exactly that scenario.

Bolstering our contention, Tim Seymour came through for us Thursday, using "rising tide" as his term of choice.

Falling to "35 from 40% market share in a rising tide is fantastic for Nokia, in fact, it's better for them," Seymour actually said.

Lessee ... the market share is falling, and the device/service prices are bound to be falling. Sounds like a winning strategy.

The smartphone trade is much like the Macau trade of a couple years ago; oh, there's a billion people just waiting to gamble in Macau, oh, they'll come from Japan and Indonesia too, oh, visitors are going to extend their stays beyond one night into weeklong trips, and before you know it, there are 10 slot machines there for everyone who comes to gamble, and LVS is trading at $1.38.

Gary Kaminsky, who delivered his commentary Thursday with an impressive degree of swagger even though we disagreed with much of it, got this all started with a relevant reference to pre-Y2K.

"I think back to 1999, when, when you had stocks like Global Crossing and Exodus and some of the viewers remember, and the idea was, Internet traffic was gonna double every 30 days," Kaminsky said. "It feels and smells a little like 1999 in technology to me. I'm not saying we're gonna have some sort of massive correction," but ...

Indeed, we remember Exodus quite well. We think we actually let it sink all the way from $85 to $0 — in a long position — in one of our accounts, back in the day when we sort of thought "buy and hold" was gospel. Try pulling off a worse trade than that.

Forgotten by 9:45

Gary Kaminsky sounded Thursday like he's taking Friday's jobs report a lot more seriously than anyone else.

Melissa Lee was so intrigued by Kaminsky's viewpoint, she opened the show with a segment titled "Sell this jobs report."


"There's a period where fundamentals really don't matter, and I think this is where we are right now," Kaminsky said.

"I have to disagree Gary," said Tim Seymour. "I see recovery across the board ... I think this rally is about, it's about confidence ... the Fed is not gonna move anytime soon."

Karen Finerman revealed a new nickname for Seymour we didn't know about. "I gotta agree with Pretty Boy actually," Karen said. "There's still so much money on the sideline. You think January Effect is dead? I don't."

Kaminsky just shrugged. "Good numbers are bad, bad numbers are bad," he said, echoing yet another line from our commentary on this page yesterday.

Joe Terranova was annoyed by the timing of it all. "I do not understand, why is the numbers (sic) released at 8:30 and equities don't open till 9:30. That aggravates me," The Liquidator said.

Everybody, except ...

Oddly enough, one argument made vociferously by Gary Kaminsky on Thursday was inadvertently undermined by Rick Santelli, and even by Karen Finerman.

"I'm short the Nasdaq right now, I'm short the Q's," Kaminsky said. "Remember the same people who told you on this network a year ago that the world was coming to an end, and then they said that- you, you're getting the same type of commentary across the board that interest rates are not going up in 2010. And the way you make money is you have to have some contrarian mind-set. Everybody says rates are not going up in 2010. They can't all be right."

Santelli came on moments later and said this:

"Rates have to go higher, because there's too many people borrowing, and these people are big, we're talking sovereigns here."

Karen Finerman chimed in with her most reliable trade. "Still short the 30-year, I just uh, uh, you know, lot of supply coming on," K-Fine said.

So Kaminsky says "everybody says rates are not going up in 2010," and yet one of CNBC's most prominent pundits comes on and says just the opposite, and another panelist reminds viewers she's "still short the 30-year."

"My reaction to Rick, by the way," said Tim Seymour, "is if, I agree, you know, 10-years are gonna go higher, I'd be buying commodities."

Today’s question about
CNBC.com’s Finerman disclosure

Wednesday we noted that Karen Finerman indicated on TV about three times she was long GOOG, and the disclosure at CNBC.com made no mention of a long GOOG position.

Thursday, we discovered the CNBC.com disclosure does now indeed say Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (GOOG).

But what really got our attention on this page Thursday was "Finerman's Firm Is Short (TBT)" — which would be completely opposite the trade she's talked about for nearly a year and even reiterated on Thursday's show.

We're thinking they really meant "Finerman's Firm Is Short (TLT)."

Either that, or Kaminsky's commentary Thursday was extraordinarily convincing.

SHLD: Not a stock,
but a state of mind

Certainly one of the strangest stocks of all time is the 2000s version of Sears Holdings.

Joe Terranova took something of a victory lap Thursday in explaining how he sold at three digits and is eager to short the stock because it's really only worth about $75.

Gary Kaminsky warned that this is not a name to mess around with, that parts of this company can be "monetized" and shorts can get burned. Karen Finerman was opposed to shorting for another reason. "The price to borrow is 19 and three-quarter percent a year. That's insane. You've gotta be 20% right before you make money if you were to hold on to it, if you were short it for a year," Karen griped.

Melissa Lee said they'll keep tabs on who's right.

Jon Najarian offered his own version of a Brag Trade for reasons we didn't really understand, how it was great that he sold off APOL before the dismal afterhours performance Thursday, but at least that trade is done and over with.

Ellen Page likes Cisco

We like the way Karen Finerman thinks out of the box.

If you pay attention to the show, note that usually every time someone is talking about a bullish play on something, Karen is mulling a short angle.

Thursday, it was the "security" trade.

"If what you want to do is, is have a portfolio that's defending against if there were actually a successful attack, then you just wanna be short the airlines, or maybe long videoconferencing. Cisco, or something like that," Karen said.

Now, why would you possibly consider videoconferencing part of your security trade? Because as Karen noted, if there's a successful attack, airlines will take a beating, and fewer business travelers will fly.

We actually think a massively saturated company like CSCO is too much of a reach for this trade. But we like where she's coming from.

That forgettable Nexus debut

For whatever reason, "Fast Money" in 2010 has become obsessed with daily price movements in GOOG.

"I bought more today," said Karen Finerman. "To me the story is absolutely intact."

"To get involved in the Google growth story, you can play Qualcomm now," said Joe Terranova.

Karen Finerman was asked about Mastercard and offered kind of a lukewarm position. "If I had to be long or short, I would be long," she said.

On the "Web Extra" — which wasn't nearly as exciting as the Wednesday "Web Extra" — K-Fine grumbled about the Gamestop management ("they stepped in it today") but explained that she bought some on the selloff because it sounds like they have plans to boost shareholder value.

This site, according to those Web search term summaries, apparently got some inquiries the last couple days from people wondering who on CNBC made the "Webster's opening line" dig at the Google guys this week. (It was Mel Lee.)

Don’t look now, but ...

Citigroup, incredibly, has actually gone up every day in 2010, from $3.31 to $3.65, or a 10% pop so far. (This writer is long C.)

Terranova: Market needs $100 oil

Joe Terranova offered some intriguing predictions Thursday for crude.

"If oil does not hit $100 this year, then I think the equities markets themselves will have a very, very bad year," Terranova said. "I think oil actually goes above 150 at some point in the next three years."

Tim Seymour, who looks in 2010 like he's got a new haircut or something, told Terranova at one point, "I don't pooh-pooh anything, Joe," and then went on to discuss his little turnabout in Alcoa.

"I think aluminum prices are going higher," Seymour said. "I sold it last night because after a 5% move and some extraordinary movement in the stock over the last week, I felt it was a little frothy. When it dipped down to 16.30 today, I jumped back in, and I'm back in this trade."

"(If) Alcoa has good earnings next week, I am a big-time seller of Alcoa," Terranova said.

Terranova praised Meredith Whitney's calls on Goldman Sachs. "I think she's done a great job with this stock," he said.

And with banks, Terranova is long BAC, with a short against it. "I'm selling Comerica basically because of the exposure geographically of where it is," which would be Michigan and the Midwest.

Best ‘Web Extra’ ever

Every once in a while, you get much more than you bargained for in the "Fast Money Web Extra."

Wednesday's production should've been teased from the TV show.

Karen Finerman was talking about her frustration with the Kraft-Cadbury situation, and even drew a parallel to her own romance that had her colleagues in rapt attention.

"Reminds me of when I was dating my husband after 2 and a half years. Finally, ultimatum: 60 days, ring or we're done," Karen said.

"Really? That's what you did?" asked Melissa Lee.

"Yes. I had to," Karen said, matter-of-factly.

"What day did he come through on that?" asked Joe Terranova.

"59 and a half," Karen said.

"He almost got stopped out of that one," Lee said, a pretty good one-liner from Melissa.

Karen also had a neat one-liner about the Cadbury deal. "It's 'War Games.' The best way to win is to not play, actually. Sadly, now I learn," she said.

But "I liked the backstory about you and your husband," Lee said.

"Yeah, isn't that fascinating," Karen said.

"Things you learn on the Web Extra," Lee concluded.

We sort of got the impression the panelists — which unfortunately on this date did not include Guy Adami, who would've struck just the right chord with whatever commentary he offered — have heard some variation of this before but were surprised Karen was explaining this to viewers.

It's a cute story with a happy ending. We definitely shouldn't offer even the tiniest commentary here, but (sigh), that's what this page is for. Sometimes, males are just more inactive than they should be. We can't really defend it. But it happens. That's how it is. The 59 and a half might've been exaggerated for dramatic purposes. We can't imagine anyone risking being stopped out on this specific endeavor and person. But we do understand why those things almost happen.

It’s below $600, activate Plan B

Google dominated the talk Thursday in a "Fast Money Halftime Report" that was a little light on stocks and devoid of reports about heavy option-buying in certain names despite the presence of Jon Najarian.

Much of the chatter was whether GOOG would break $600, and what to do if it did.

"It is gonna break 600," predicted Jon Najarian, "but it's not because of Nexus One, that was ludicrous, I said so Monday."

"You need to watch 598 to 600," said Scott Redler. "You need to be careful technically here."

"If Google does break below $600, I mean we could have some really downward momentum," said Jeff Tomasulo, pointing to the $580 mark as a possible buy-in. "Tech has not participated since the beginning of the new year."

Joe Terranova made (small) waves by suggesting a possible short in crude. "If you've played along with us in the Santa Claus rally and been long oil, I think now you move to the sidelines or maybe even get slightly short," The Liquidator said.

There was also some talk about GE. Jon Najarian said he's not in the name but he likes it, "I would hold on." Jeff Tomasulo noted it's been a laggard, but "this dog is having its day."

A fortune with Ron Insana

Way back in October, we got ahold of an early media copy of Ron Insana's new book, How to Make a Fortune From the Biggest Bailout in U.S. History.

The book, we've noticed, was just released with the new year, and a lot of interested readers have suddenly found our review, which we moved up on our home page. Our book was a non-copy-edited version, subject to change, so the final material may be slightly different. It's been a long time since we read it, and we don't recall everything that was in it.

We did find it interesting that Insana places a high priority on general newspaper information, advising readers to look at WSJ, NYT, FT, Bloomberg, even a prominent Web aggregator or two to always be aware of news developments affecting global markets. However, we tend to short the idea that any book such as Insana's can really serve as a good investment guide, given how out of date the material quickly becomes after publication. Insana seems well aware of this, using the book to recommend various Web sites to follow every day.

We don't think Insana's book is really going to make anyone a fortune. But we admire his ongoing determination to stake his own claim on Wall Street.

[Wednesday, January 6, 2010]

Thankfully, they’ve stayed out
of the ‘Fast Money’ review biz

Wednesday on "Fast Money," Pete Najarian made a comment about the smartphone sector that got our attention.

Najarian asked analyst Tavis McCourt, "What is wrong, and what can be fixed, with Nokia and Research in Motion right now. Both just can't get out of their own way."

We disagree. (Keep in mind we're hardly phone experts here.)

The techies can probably find things done wrong by NOK and RIMM. Big picture, we think the problem isn't about getting out of their own way, it's about getting others out of their own way.

We've heard recently that some of the world's smartest entrepreneuers and smartest people have invaded the phone space with similar products.

Consider if the folks at AAPL and GOOG, instead of selling phones, decided to make and sell hip clothing for teens and young adults. Think Abercrombie & Fitch and The Buckle and Aeropostale might have a headwind?

Or what if those folks at AAPL and GOOG opted to relocate to Manhattan, underwrite bonds, trade fixed income and issue IPOs. Think they might be able to take a cut of the Goldman Sachs/Morgan Stanley/Merrill Lynch/Whatever's Left of Citi pie?

(OK, they wouldn't be able to do it in shorts and T-shirts, but they'd figure out how to account for the dress code.)

RIMM and NOK have been great companies in a field that's too great — so lucrative, it eventually attracted outsiders who smartly realized a new avenue for their own core products.

For years we've heard the same refrain on "Fast Money," panelists and analysts (hey, that rhymes) alike, that all these companies are good investments because "the pie is growing bigger for everyone." No way. The device production is way ahead of the pie expansion. Listen to McCourt on Motorola: "At least two new phones are going to be launched, or announced, tomorrow ... And more broadly over the course of the year probably looking at 10 to 12 additional smartphones in the U.S. market." As for the Nexus One, "Every quarter there's gonna be a different one of these phones."

McCourt conceded, "I think broadly investors are reasonably scared of the smartphone space right now and the competition."

Tim Seymour referred back to yesterday's Lenovo presentation in terms of niche markets. That wasn't a phone, but something actually between a phone and a desktop. "I'm a little skeptical about what Lenovo's doing in terms of being able to bridge that gap. I think you're mobile with your phone, or you have a laptop," he said.

But he defended MOT, saying carriers matter, it has a "low bar," and that "8 bucks is your resistance."

One Friend of the Site (not Patty Edwards, and not nearly as famous as Patty Edwards) told us an amusing anecdote the other day, unsolicited, that he called the BlackBerry people about why he couldn't get some program that had some kind of game feature for his phone, and was told by some stuffy techie or sales rep something like, "This is a business phone, it's for business and not those kinds of things."

Either Karen owns GOOG,
or Karen doesn’t own GOOG

Karen Finerman spoke Wednesday about her favorite search engine:

"I really like Google here, with or without this phone taking off," Karen said. "South of 600, which we'll get there by lunch tomorrow, if the market, you know, this path continues, I would be adding to Google, the long-term story is completely intact notwithstanding the phone."

K-Fine also recommended GOOG as her "Final Trade."

And Melissa Lee even read a viewer question on GOOG to The Chairwoman, saying, "This one's for Karen, since she's a shareholder."

But according to the disclosures at CNBC.com for Wednesday's show, Karen Finerman does not own GOOG. Among others, she is listed as owning AAPL.

Take those online disclosures with a wink and a nod. We've caught (many) discrepancies before.

Or then again, maybe it’s
a mistake, and he’s long

Curiously in those same "Fast Money" disclosures Wednesday at CNBC.com, Tim Seymour is listed as being short POT — which just happened to be his "low-risk" trade for 2010 announced Dec. 23.

Yes, we know it's not really contradictory, that he's making a short-term trading decision that's probably wise while still liking the stock's prospects in 2010, that the stock might've had a bigger jump to start the year than he anticipated. But isn't it kind of odd that just three days into the trading year, he's already shorting his "low-risk" pick for 2010?

Every little bit helps

Melissa Lee explained to viewers Wednesday why she mentions the Goldman Sachs Conviction Buy List so often.

"In 2009, the Conviction Buy List was up 30% on an absolute basis, and relative to the S&P, 11% outperformance. So that's why we talk about the Conviction Buy List," Lee said.

What Lee didn't mention is that mere placement on the Conviction Buy List moves prices.

So when folks tally the actual return of the Conviction Buy List, are they, for example, starting 3M at its Tuesday afternoon closing price ($82.50) before it made the list, or the level ($83.67) it reached Wednesday after it was reported to be on the list?

It helps when you have a hand in making your own returns.

The 5:46 bounce

We've enjoyed pointing out this week how afterhours traders seem to like converting the "Fast Money" gang's stocks for the next decade into stocks for the next 5 minutes once they're revealed late in the show.

If you had been smart enough to anticipate Jon Najarian would speak positively about ENER, you could've ridden it Wednesday from $11.655 to $12.34 (5.8%) in a matter of moments, according to Google finance.

"Fast Money" should amend the "Pops & Drops" segment to include "the stock one of our guys is gonna talk about in two minutes."

Now it’s 36 years, and counting

Weatherperson Alexandra Steel gave a very macro-forecast Wednesday that essentially said "it's cold and snowy everywhere this winter." Karen Finerman made a great joke about Chinese weather data: "They always lie about their numbers, you can't believe 'em."

Dennis Gartman reminded the "Fast Money" crew of his experience level when discussing a certain energy play.

"I've been in this business a long time, and I'm frightened of trading natural gas futures," Gartman said. "The real trade is natural gas." He said he likes Pengrowth (PGH) and San Juan (SJT) for the income stream.

Also, "I'm long of copper," and he said amid the rough weather here and in China, "activity will pick up in two or three weeks."

Pete likes TJX too

Kimberly Greenberger, who looked great as always, advised retail investors Wednesday not to get caught in the middle.

"Tiffany and Coach are two of the retailers that we think had a really great holiday season," Greenberger said. She thinks high-end is entering boom mode. She also thinks shoppers are steering clear of mid-level stores and if not going high-end, choosing low-end names like ROST and TJX. "So we think you either want to play the low end with the value-oriented retailers, or the high end," Greenberger said.

Someday, all the money
will get into the game

Pete Najarian has the facts nailed.

Wednesday he said, "I've talked to Deane Dray, FBR analyst, who stood right here back in July talking and pounding the table on Danaher, he was talking about Illinois Tools (sic), but his favorite name in the space was triple-M."

Pete was absolutely correct. On July 22, Dray called 3M "absolutely" a buy.

Karen Finerman said even some of her favorite oil service names look "a little bit frothy ... it's that phenomenon, money just looking for a home."

"I do think there's a lot of money that's on the sidelines," Tim Seymour agreed. And as for Fed policy, "I think higher rates are absolutely off the table."

Karen Finerman made another good joke during discussion about the IMAX 3-D trade when the gang tried on 3-D glasses. "Who makes Tylenol," Karen asked.

Always be skeptical
of government data

Steve Liesman did the obligatory pre-jobs report discussion Wednesday. Here was his analysis:

"When there's no clear favorite in the race, there's money to be made ... let me just tell my friends at 'Fast Money' there is gonna be some trade on Friday ... there is no conviction behind the consensus."

(Sigh.) In the decades we've been watching CNBC, we've noticed it never gets tired of hyping the jobs report.

The truth is, there's virtually never a trade from this data. Here's how it works:

During good markets:
Good jobs report: Economy is strong
Bad jobs report: Low rates for a while
Markets trade flat or higher

During bad markets:
Good jobs report: Rates will have to go up
Bad jobs report: Armageddon's not off the table
Markets trade flat or lower

Levy ‘nibbling’ at GOOG

There was virtually nothing said on Wednesday's "Fast Money Halftime Report" that had any conviction.

"I think in the steel space, again, you can look at the underperformers," said Tim Seymour, singling out NUE and AKS.

"I like the alternative metals ... I agree with Tim," said Jared Levy, who nevertheless didn't pound the table on any specific name. "We're actually seeing some bearish options activity in X."

We were excited that Patty Edwards got buzzed in as the special guest caller for a change. And it is true that Patty on Tuesday did recommend FDO, although it was one of the most lukewarm recommendations ever and not nearly with the vigor of her JCG call.

Wednesday, Edwards said, "Family Dollar told us that they are seeing people coming into their stores at higher income levels. ... I'd stick with Family Dollar."

She said apparel retailers aren't generating traffic like electronics retailers. "I think you can still play an Apple," she said.

Melissa Lee brought up Radio Shack. "Branding is everything when you start looking at the consumer," Edwards said. "Yeah, you could probably play Radio Shack at this point."

"I'm nibbling long at Google," Levy said. "I'm using out-of-the-money bull put spread. The trade is sell a 520/510 put spread in February, and I believe that allows Google some room to move."

Regarding ag, "I like Bunge, BG, this is a fully integrated play," Seymour said.

Brian Kelly, like Levy, was jumping on the agreeing-with-Seymour bandwagon. "I still like the potash names, I'm still long Mosaic," Kelly said.

Todd Gordon made the strongest call, saying "I'm long dollar, I'm short yen, I think the new finance manager- minister in Japan is going to weaken the Asian currency." He said he prefers that trade over the UUP because Europe is too unpredictable.

[Tuesday, January 5, 2010]

Tomorrow, Jim Goldman
can do the honors

We've been wondering, why doesn't "Fast Money" just open every show with a two-minute segment on iPhone apps.

Tell us how many were downloaded today, how many are projected to be downloaded this week, this month, this year, how many have been created so far, how many more does Apple have than all the sorry also-ran phone makers that developers don't care about, etc.

Tuesday, it was Gene Munster's turn, with an assist from Pete Najarian. Munster wasn't terribly excited about the Google Nexus.

"I don't think it's gonna have any impact on Google and actually no impact on Apple too. This is no iPhone," Munster reassured. "This is just a crazy day, to think back that Google is entering the hardware business, the same day that Apple's entering the advertising business in their acquisition of Quattro today. But earlier in the show Pete just nailed it, the reality is this: People aren't buying a phone because it's got a cool screen, the reason people are buying an iPhone or any device for that matter is these apps."

Really. Never heard that one before.

Melissa Lee eventually asked Munster a great question and really the only great question: "Does Apple gain based on Google? Google's phone."

Munster somehow was confused and didn't know what to say.

"Who gains and loses?" Lee had to ask again, before Munster answered in a roundabout way, pretty much no one.

Pete Najarian returned the compliment though. "Gene just nailed it too."

Pete, like brother Jon earlier in the day, criticized the $500 Nexus tag. "I think at some point they will reduce this price," he said, going out on a major limb there.

Tim Seymour actually had the audacity to say, "I think the smartphone space is probably becoming, you know, overly saturated," even though he recommended Nokia last year whenever the mood struck.

But Seymour noted the new device is probably a small bit of trouble for all the existing makers. Guy Adami said one way to play that is with QCOM, "they actually win to everybody in the space."

Remember when some said PALM was a buy at $15? Pete Najarian said Tuesday, "at $10, they start to become attractive again."

Joe Terranova reminded anyone considering owning DELL shares that "Dell has said they want to be in the space."

Guy Adami said Nexus is actually his shampoo, and Mel Lee said, "Can't believe you use Nexxus."

"Smells great," Adami said.

Bad day for Mario Queiroz

The "Fast Money" crew made it clear they weren't too impressed with the awkward presentation of the Google Nexus.

"Was he giving his first school report?" chortled Tim Seymour after the tape was shown.

"Your opening line is from Webster's, you know you're in trouble," agreed Melissa Lee.

Guy Adami was remarkably snarky. "What a Johnson that guy is," Adami said. "Should've named the phone Johnson."

One site says it’s $499

The "Fast Money" crew conducted a neat little informative session with Peter Gaucher on the new Lenovo Skylight.

Except nobody bothered to ask Gaucher how much it's going to cost.

Billed by the show as a possible "tablet-killer," Gaucher described it as the "middle space between PCs and phones." His description: "It's under 2 pounds, it's got the large, uh, high-definition screen, and a generous keyboard. Uh, it's also as thin as my smartphone, and like my smartphone it's got all-day battery life because it uses a low-power Qualcomm processor."

It looks interesting. Whether there's a niche for it, guess we'll find out.

Melissa Lee, please identify
this woman for your viewers

Melissa Lee interrupted Peter Gaucher with breaking news from Scott Cohn on Raj Rajaratnam.

If you watched Cohn, you were missing out.

Seated a few meters behind Cohn, at the left of the screen, was an anonymous woman who, despite the shadows, seemed like she might be ready for prime time. At one point she even looked into the camera, which seems to like her.

We'd embed the video right here, except we looked at it and couldn't see anything in the background because it was too dark. You have to check it out on TV.

Hey, it was CNBC's idea to show her, not ours.

Place your limit orders now

Richard Bernstein is bullish on the dollar.

But once again, he was bearish on the delivery of an actual trade.

"If the economy's gonna improve, monetary policy is going to tighten. The only question is by how much and when," Bernstein explained.

Bernstein was told he was at odds with Peter Schiff. "That I think is an issue for the next downturn," Bernstein said. "It's premature to worry about the debt in the United States."

Melissa Lee asked for an actual trade. Bernstein said he might be standing in front of a freight train, but he thinks the play on a bullish-dollar scenario is domestic stocks. "I think you wanna play smaller, cyclical companies," he said.

Macke still quiet

We were hoping, with the new year starting and everything, former "Fast Money" star Jeff Macke would quickly return to form with regular posts at Minyanville.

So far, no luck. Minyanville.com shows nothing since Dec. 8. Either Macke is taking a long holiday vacation, has a new Web/media plan in the works, or is simply saying "screw this" (which, unfortunately, happens to be one of our sentiments every once in a while).

Once was enough

We're not really sure why Bob Pisani made a remote appearance Tuesday to talk about the ASEI backscatter machine again, other than a second opportunity to make the joke, goaded by Melissa Lee, about "is that a gun on you or are you just happy to see me?"

The 5:54 p.m. bounce

We heard on the "Halftime Report" that Meredith Whitney had made a cut on Goldman Sachs. Later we heard Bob Pisani note Whitney still has some of the highest estimates on the Street, then Guy Adami said the same thing on the 5 p.m. "Fast Money" episode. "She's still one of the highest ones on the Street," he said.

Joe Terranova said, "I don't think this is overwhelmingly bearish" for Goldman Sachs shares.

Guy Adami said great things have happened at Ford, but from a trading perspective (which is, by the way, the point of the show, we thought), consider bolting. "If you've enjoyed this run, I think you get out," he said.

The panel discussed another "Fast Message," a trend we've realized is growing in the last few weeks (or has it been months?). As we recall, Dylan Ratigan wasn't too fond of reading viewer e-mail on the air, but whatever.

"I think you wanna own ag here," said Tim Seymour, which is refreshing, given that he just named several ag stocks as his "low-risk" trades for 2010, and we're only two trading days into 2010.

We speculated during the "Halftime" tease that Pete Najarian's great stock for the next decade might be a metallurgical coal name or a steel name. Instead it was BP. (The brief footage we saw looked to us more like a steel mill than oil well.) We detected, according to Google finance, a 19-cent gain when this was mentioned, extremely late in the program, which is an indicator of how important the show views these "stocks for the next 10 years" segments.

K-Fine uses ‘ironically’ correctly;
Guy Adami does not

Karen Finerman, who had the day off Tuesday, apparently was motivated to call in to the show because of the Kraft-Cadbury news.

"You don't see something like Berkshire's statement today very often," Karen said. "Ironically by him doing this, he's actually made the likelihood of the Kraft offer succeeding much higher."

This segment could've used a lot more context, perhaps officially identifying "him" as Warren Buffett, but if you care about this deal, you already know that, so we won't bother.

Guy Adami said to Finerman, "I find it ironic that you're in this deal yet you don't eat candy. You eat it once a year on your birthday."

"The last time I had candy was Hershey in 1998," Karen said.

For once, K-Fine might've been trying too hard to make a joke. She said at the beginning of her call, "I feel like I was just there yesterday," which nevertheless got a load of chuckles from the panel. She also accused Guy Adami of using Head & Shoulders. Too bad she wasn't available during the loopy Radio Shack segment to ask, as she has previously, why, if anyone was launching a new electronics retailer now, would they call it Radio Shack?

Jon Najarian ‘applauds’
Google with faint praise

Mighty Meredith Whitney crashed the "Fast Money Halftime Report" on Tuesday with a fourth-quarter estimate cut on Goldman Sachs.

That mostly cut into the time Melissa Lee wanted to spend talking about the Google phone that was due about 10 minutes after the show.

Jon Najarian was asked about the Nexus impact on GOOG earnings. "I don't believe it is positive for them," he said. "I don't think it's a game-changer. I applaud Google for the move that they're making here, uh, but unfortunately an unlocked phone for over $500 is not what I think the public is crying for."

Ouch. But not all bad. He added, "I love the speed" he's been hearing about with the T-Mobile network and Snapdragon processor, but at the same time he sees it attracting "mainly just urban players."

So it's too expensive, and mainly just serves "urban players," but congratulations are in order nonetheless.

"But I do applaud 'em for the move," he repeated.

Scott Redler talked charts. He cited the "halo effect" of the Nexus device and said, "Technical traders are looking to see on this announcement if you can get above 629 and hold above there; we'll see a momentum move probably toward that 650 area, pretty quickly."

Redler also took up the Meredith Whitney call and said banks nevertheless look promising. "I think you can buy dips in Goldman," he said.

Melissa Lee wasn't impressed by Whitney on Tuesday. "And of course we do respect Meredith Whitney tremendously Pete Najarian and her fine work she has done in the past but we should note that many analysts out there have been revising their estimates lower," Lee said.

More interesting was JJ Kinahan's scoop on C options (interesting in part because this writer is long C): "In Citigroup we've seen in January 2011 calls, a very big buyer of both the 5 strike and the 7 and a half strike," Kinahan said.

With all of that going on, Patty Edwards barely got a word in edgewise. Edwards compared Ford with a name she said she'd been playing, Autozone, on the heels of Ford's numbers. "You know, I think that you have got to respect what they have been doing," Edwards said. "It's obvious from these numbers that people are actually buying new, not spending as much repairing the old, and I think you've gotta be looking at 'em."

"I guess people aren't gonna be buying those windshield wiper blades, and the floor mats, and whatever else you buy at Autozone, or the likes of Autozone out there," chirped Lee.

On FDO, Edwards said, "I think that the consumer is back to a certain extent, but they are not back all the way. ... I think you can get in to something trading at 11 times."

Pete Najarian teased his stock of the decade call with the tagline that it's a "sector that's red hot right now." Given the brief footage of what looked like it might be a steel mill, it's probably metallurgical coal or WLT or perhaps X.

[Monday, January 4, 2010]

Sweet nothings

Tim Seymour wished everyone a rather strange "Happy New Year from 'Fast Money' " on the "Fast Money Web Extra" Monday.

"The sugar trade is not a bubble," Seymour said, mentioning CZZ.

Melissa Lee referred to the "InterWeb."

Guy Adami talked about Def Leppard's "Pour some sugar..." (yeah, you know the rest), then referred to someone as "jerks." We don't think he meant us.

The tentacles of TARP
creep into advertising

It's not "Fast Money," but you see it during the show.

There's a series of commercials airing during "Fast Money," or certainly during an NFL game, where a mean banker uses fine print to dupe these adorable little girls into thinking they're getting something they're really not, namely a pony, but also a bike ride.

Here's our question for you: Can you name the bank that's actually behind these commercials?

Neither could we, at least until we looked it up at the end of the year. It suddenly occurred to us we'd been seeing these spots for probably a year ... and still had no idea which bank was sponsoring them.

Somehow, that doesn't strike us as very effective advertising, even if the commercials are clever enough to get people to remember them.

So as punishment, we're not even going to name the bank or its agency here. If you're dying to know, you'll have to Google it.

There's another question mark besides brand ID. We found some articles about this ad campaign. We saw some reader comments questioning that a blonde girl receives a real pony, while another girl described as "Jewish/Latina" only gets the small toy pony.

Others called that observation ridiculous, overthinking a cute commercial. We have no opinion on the description. But we have to say, the first couple times we saw the ad, we wondered about the blonde girl winning the real pony too.

Happy New Year

Melissa Lee swept back in to the host's chair Monday on "Fast Money," eager to kick off a new year of trading and see some old friends. "The family is back in place," said Lee, who a year ago at this time was getting stoked for "Options Action."

And with the mild exception of Guy Adami, it was all smiles, and few frowns.

"I think we have a lot to rally on," said Tim Seymour.

"Again we have the same phenomenon, existence, that I think we had the end of last year: money on the sidelines, just waiting to jump in," said Karen Finerman.

Pete Najarian said we've now had "12 of 15 mutual fund Mondays."

"I was a skeptic. I will remain a skeptic," Adami said.

Melissa Lee looked undeniably great to start the new year. But how about the business-cas ensemble Karen Finerman came up with, navy pinstriped jacket on top of white T-shirt.

‘Your father did business with Hyman Roth. Your father respected Hyman Roth. But your father never trusted Hyman Roth.’

We're always interested whenever a "Fast Money" trader mentions a little-known or small-cap stock. We've noticed that such mentions can provide a little boost to the shares after-hours.

Monday, it seems like perhaps a savvy viewer took advantage of a "Fast Money" teaser.

Guy Adami, starting at 5:44 p.m., delivered a couple arguments for investing in IMAX, one of the show's featured stocks this week "for the next 10 years." According to Google finance, at 5:46, IMAX shares jumped a mere 11 cents, to $13.61, on a trade of 19,000 shares. Not even a 1% gain.

But we did wonder why it was that IMAX shares, which closed the regular session at $13.31, spent the first hour and 20 minutes of the afterhours session going nowhere, trading around $13.27 in small amounts ... until someone suddenly paid a 20-cent premium for a 350-share bloc at $13.50 at 5:26.

We rewound the tape and realized, at 5:22, when cutting to the first series of commercials, "Fast Money" teased the upcoming IMAX call. There was nothing in Melissa Lee's narration that gave it away, but the footage of moviegoers entering a theater with a lot of neon lights was certainly a clue.

A $35 return doesn't seem like much. But barring any breaking news, any sub-$1 billion-market-cap stock recommended on "Fast Money" is almost certain to go up in afterhours once it's mentioned, so if you think you've figured out when one of those is going to happen before it happens, you should probably buy; it might go up 3% or more and it's almost a no-lose proposition, at least through the end of the day.

Someone really paying close attention might've also noticed at the beginning of the program when Guy Adami said "We'll talk about movies later — that's a tease."

As for his own rationale, Adami said of IMAX, "huge short interest in this thing." He said, "You're not buying on valuation, you're buying it because A) They may be bought, and B) I think it is a growth name."

Melissa Lee pointed out some analyst's issues with pension liabilities. Adami said "Just like Frank Pentangeli, small potatoes," but he said only three people out there would get that.

Of course, we got it, and so did far more than three people.

Like Nazorine the baker says, "You understand everything."

"I heard 'Avatar' was fantastic," said Melissa Lee.

Does Mel Lee say these
things on purpose?

Karen Finerman called the Total-Chesapeake deal "clearly a bullish sign on natural gas." Unfortunately, Karen said, if you want something resembling a pure play on nat gas that doesn't have the ETF glitchiness of the UNG, CHK is one way to go. "Much as I love to hate the name, I think it is a good way to play the natural gas space," Karen said.

Guy Adami called longtime favorite WDC "still a value" at these levels, and Pete Najarian said "look at EMC," saying the storage names have P.E.s still in the single digits.

Melissa Lee made an argument against RIMM, even though according to a conversation a few weeks ago, she's a "dedicated" BlackBerry user herself.

"If you're gonna watch a movie on your device, it's not going to be a BlackBerry, it's going to be an iPhone," Lee said, before moving on to "hard drives," which along with Lee's later reference to the porn industry and how she discovered something (we think it's too silly even for us to provide the exact quote) is the type of comment that turns the "Fast Money" panel into an eighth-grade cafeteria.

Guy Adami pointed to RIMM below $66, reminding viewers he suggested it might've topped around $71 or $72 during earnings afterhours a few weeks ago.

It sounded like Karen Finerman was about to unleash a new joke, asking Lee, "Not into the whole cloud computing thing?" But others interrupted, and we're not sure if there was even a joke unfolding there.

Peter Schiff talks for 6 minutes
without mentioning gold

We were actually strongly considering not even mentioning Peter Schiff's appearance Monday on "Fast Money," given that it happens about every other day now.

Then he said something that really rang our b.s. meter: "Americans are gonna stop shopping. We're broke. We're done."

Anyone who predicts Americans are going to stop shopping would find better odds on the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.

Melissa Lee, for whatever reason, was even giggling a bit while introducing Schiff, another sign that people aren't taking actual predictions of financial armageddon very seriously anymore.

"The U.S. economy is in terrible shape right now and it's only going to get a lot worse," Schiff said. Schiff said Time mag is wrong, the last decade wasn't the Decade from Hell. "That was the Decade from Sin. This is the Decade from Hell. Because now we're going to have to pay for all those sins."

It wasn't too long until Tim Seymour had heard enough about the U.S. economy getting worse.

"Worse shape than what? Worse than what," Seymour demanded to know.

Schiff responded that "Housing prices are still too high," and that the Fed has corrected our short-term problems with phony liquidity.

Seymour conceded there were Band-Aids. But Karen Finerman wanted to know where the inflation would come from if the economy was still going to be in the tank. "The inflation comes from the Fed," Schiff responded. "They're not lending to business, they're lending to government. The money is still getting into circulation."

"There's no inflation anywhere," said Seymour.

"Inflation has prevented prices from falling, which is what we needed," Schiff insisted.

Finally Pete Najarian asked Schiff for some actual trades. "The same themes that I hit upon last year are gonna work this year," Schiff said.

A "Fast Money" graphic showed gold among Schiff's picks. And Melissa Lee mentioned the word "gold" when beginning this segment. But the man himself never actually said the word.

Welcome back, Mark Mahaney

Karen Finerman told Mark Mahaney on Monday, "I won't hassle you on Amazon's valuation." But as Tim Seymour noted, "You just did."

(Remember: One of the reasons Amazon should keep going higher is because of the amount of diapers it sells online.)

Mahaney, who might as well become a regular panelist, was discussing the Google phone, Nexus One. "I don't think it changes earnings estimates one way or the other. I think mobile searches do, and that's not in Street estimates for 2010," Mahaney said.

K-Fine asked a great question. "Is a mobile search just as valuable as a non-mobile search?"

"Not yet. It will be. It takes time," Mahaney said. "With mobile searches, you've got something that desktop searches have never had, uh, you know, real precise location" that advertisers covet.

Pete Najarian said the phone is basically no risk for GOOG. "It's a no-lose, it just opens up that much more search for Google."

George Goncalves talked about bonds. Of the 10-year, he said, "I think we can easily make a run for 4 and a half percent."

Robin Farley, whom Guy Adami called "Rob Rob," explained why she upgraded WYNN and LVS. "This is absolutely a call on Macau," and man, haven't we heard that one before.

‘Final Call’ with Mandy

Zach Karabell delivered three stock picks for 2010 on the first "Fast Money Final Call" of the new year, but honestly, even though they were fine picks, we were more riveted to Mandy's oversized hoop earrings.

"These are three stocks that I like," Karabell explained. "These are not three stocks that if you were gonna invest all your money I think are gonna do the single best, but of some of the ones that are gonna do the best I think have a much higher risk component even though they have a much higher reward component."

Here are the picks:

FLR — "There's gonna be huge spending on both water, and some of coal."

BRCM — "Poised for ... the continual expansion of hand-held smartphones and mobile communications devices."

SINA — "Gonna grow much more quickly than people expect."

CNBC's graphics gremlins initially listed it as "ZACHARAY" KARABELL before getting it right, perhaps payback for when he addressed Melissa Lee as "Michelle" a couple hours earlier on the "Halftime Report."

Karabell: 20% in energy too low

Maybe the best part of the "Fast Money Halftime Report" Monday was Mel Lee returning from a week-and-a-half vacation and showing off racy leggings.

Zach Karabell, sort of like when Bud Fox moves into his new condo, suggested investors in oil names might shoot for the moon in 2010, indirectly chiding Mike Khouw for perhaps having not-so-great-enough expectations.

Khouw said of CVX, "I like the stock, it trades at an attractive multiple."

"You know, the article on Chevron in Barron's said that it could go up like 20%," Karabell said. "Personally in the commodity-energy space, even this year going forward, I don't think 20% is an awfully ambitious return, and if you've got a certain amount of money you want to invest, I don't think you should go with the 20%, I think you should go with something where you think you could get 30-plus ... I mean I think Schlumberger for instance has a better chance in that same area of going up 20 to 30%."

Khouw was eager to rebut, even though he didn't actually appear to disagree. "Here's the thing though, I mean, that's one way to play just one marginal part of the oil space, which is obviously the services side, which is sort of like the inflation index for the oil space," Khouw said.

Khouw said that while oil may look promising, "I don't know necessarily that, uh, owning gold is the way I'd go for the long term."

"You wanna be in something like the XLE," said Joe Terranova.

"I think the miners look great," said Tim Seymour, whom we haven't seen for a while. Rio Tinto, he said, is "I think a great play here. I think the stock's got 10% up to the near-term resistance, which is somewhere around 245 in the ADR trading here."

He added, "The reality is, China is continuing to grow."

Jon Najarian said he was relieved to see the market up today as a chance to unload. "I think you, uh, take a little profits on this big rally quite frankly," Najarian said.

On banks, Dr. J added, "We're positive on Morgan, we're positive on Goldman Sachs as well. Unusual option volume on that one, Goldman Sachs, just before Christmas, and that's paid off in spades."

Joe Terranova recommended KCE as a play on those names and other financial managers.

Zach Karabell said to focus on profits and not on government statistics. "Assume there's gonna be no job creation and invest accordingly," he said.

Jared Levy remembers
Jeff Macke dissing HGX call

In all likelihood, you have no recollection whatsoever of Jeff Macke saying "balderdash" on the "Fast Money Halftime Report" last spring.

Neither do we.

Jared Levy, on the other hand, evidently remembers it quite well.

Levy writes in a column this week, "Real estate has been on my mind since March 2009. I was one of the first on CNBC to begin recommending it, making my case both on CNBC reports as well as live on the desk on Fast Money back in March (you may remember Balderdash from our old friend Jeff Macke, when I recommended it). Back on the show, I recommended using the XHB and the HGX as proxies for housing."

Because we didn't remember it, we looked it up.

First, we should note, Levy's dates aren't quite correct. According to the video available at CNBC.com and verified by our daily summaries (which aren't 100% transcripts but pretty much contain all the good stuff), Levy didn't start appearing on "Fast Money" until the "Halftime Report" in late April. It is true he was appearing on "CNBC Reports" and "Worldwide Exchange" (which used to be must-see when Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and later Margaret Brennan served as the U.S. anchors) in March and prior. We reviewed those clips and found at least one instance of chatter about homebuilders, though we don't see anything in the way of a strong "case" for them.

The exchange with Macke actually occurred May 5. Here's a brief transcript:

Levy: "I like the HGX. It's one of the indices I've followed for a while. I typically, right now, because volatility is low, I'm looking at out-of-the-money call spreads. One other thing I wanna point out. The markets are forward-looking, don't forget, and the markets' eyeballs right now are looking past all the little dips that we're maybe gonna see here, they're starting to smooth out the spot, I mean, I think moving forward into the end of the year, things are gonna start to look up."

Macke: "Nah, you know, kinda balderdash to that. I mean it's, it's, the market's forward-looking, but I tell you what, they sell on nothing as aggressively as they sell off on weak earnings. I like names that are shorter in duration, not homebuilders, simply because that's just too much of a capital investment for most people."

Because we've elected ourselves referee of this episode, we checked some numbers.

Levy specifically only mentioned the HGX, though it is essentially matched by XHB. According to Yahoo Finance, the HGX stood at 97.27 on May 5 ... and by the end of the month was in the 81 ballpark. In June and July, it had trickled down into the 70s.

The XHB, which was shown trading on the show at $13.80 that afternoon, had an 11 handle a week later, and reached the 10s by July.

At year-end, XHB stood at $15.11, the HGX at 102.72.

If one looked at select names, which Levy did not mention, PHM closed May 5 at $12.30. It ended the year at an even $10.00.

TOL closed May 5 at $21. It ended the year at $18.81.

Conclusion? We won't give someone a hard time for misstating when they said or heard something on "Fast Money;" it's hard to remember and only nuts like us should be reviewing things like that. (Yes, we did give Gary Kaminsky a hard time for saying his AMZN doubt came a lot later than it did, only because the stock had moved about $20 in between.)

But as far as we can tell — and we're just the clueless amateurs here — Levy didn't recommend homebuilders on "Fast Money" in March, and when he did recommend them in May, it was a lousy trade, even into the end of the year, and if you bought XHB (9%) on "balderdash" day, you would've been far better off buying the SPY (25%) ... so why is Levy calling attention to Jeff Macke's scoffing when Macke essentially made the right call?

As far as the rest of the panel on May 5, Dan Fitzpatrick made a muddled argument on homebuilders that sounded bearish and bullish at the same time, saying that Caterpillar was "dozing houses" and that's a "pretty meaningful sign," even though "we've got in the housing market a big long hockey stick bottom, where that bottom actually is, I don't think anybody really knows, but we've got homebuilders that are actually still building homes just so they don't violate their debt covenants, so there's a problem." Jeff Tomasulo had the best trade of all in this mess: "Or you guys can actually just stick with playing the strong sectors ... and not worry about the housing part."

Levy also writes: "As for the smartphones, I maintain my bullish stance on GOOG, RIMM and AAPL into 2010."

‘Fast Money’ in the
mainstream media

Patty Edwards tells the Seattle Times about five things to expect from the retail world in 2010, plus five more pockets of retail she sees as winners this year. Says Patty: "The patient is out of I.C.U. and has stabilized, but the patient is not out of the hospital and certainly is not ready to run a marathon."

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Fast Money cliches

Why we don’t
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Masterful Gordon Gekko

CNBC/cable TV
star bios

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♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
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♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
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CNBC guest bios

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♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett