[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, January 2012]
[Tuesday, January 31, 2012]

CNBCfix.com special report (cont’d): Ron Insana’s status as a ‘professional trader’

First, there is no site in cyberspace that respects Ron Insana's contributions to business journalism, and looks forward to his appearances on CNBC, more than CNBCfix.com.

This site noted in a special report issued Tuesday on the incompleteness and uselessness of Fast Money disclosures, that the official CNBC.com Fast Money disclaimer contains terminology such as this:

"The Fast Money Participants are professional traders ..."

Notice that sentence is written in present tense.

Is Ron Insana, who occasionally takes a seat at the Fast Money desk as a panelist opining on stocks, actually a "professional trader"?

Insana's bio at CNBC.com labels him "CNBC Senior Analyst & Commentator" and is remarkably limited and seems outdated, though it is the profile that appears when his name is clicked. There is no mention of any career in money management or trading.

Yet as many CNBC viewers know, and Insana's Wikipedia page makes clear, he left his long-standing anchor post at CNBC to start Insana Capital Partners in 2006, a fund-of-funds (according to an Andrew Ross Sorkin article in Dealbook) intended to guide investor money to select hedge funds that was folded in summer of 2008. Insana then spent about 6 months with SAC Capital.

Insana's most recent Huffington Post bio (he apparently has not written on the site since January 2011) says he "is a CNBC senior analyst and commentator and host of a (sic) 'The Insana Quotient,' a nationally syndicated daily radio show. He is also the Wealth Advisor at Kubera Advisors, a 'whole life' advisory group that offers financial, legal, health and wellness counseling to high-net worth individuals and families."

Insana's face does appear at the Kubera Advisors Web site, with this description: "Our wealth advisor, Ron Insana, will help you: develop financial literacy; learn to work effectively with other financial advisors; make your money support a sustainable lifestyle; understand and review your portfolio and asset allocation; master the art of due diligence; find the synergy between wealth and life purpose; plan and build."

Insana's radio show bio makes no mention of money management.

Notice in the photo above Insana was labeled by the text on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money as "CNBC Business News," which makes one wonder what's stopping Joe Kernen (other than the late afternoon hours) from taking a seat at the table and spinning FSLR in one direction or another as his Final Trade.

Unlike the schadenfreudeists on Wall Street, this site applauds Insana for taking a chance at money management. Whether he is now a credible voice of trading is subject to the eye of the beholder, his money-management background being something CNBC deems unnecessary for Fast Money viewers to know.

It would seem as though CNBC otherwise sees no value to Insana's hedge fund venture, except when it needs to fill a chair on Fast Money, where Insana evidently quietly qualifies as a "professional trader" with credentialed opinions on the direction of Citigroup, which was his Final Trade recommendation Tuesday.

Whether Insana owns C, and whether he presently is managing and trading stocks for himself and/or others, is unknown, in part because not surprisingly (see the special report), Insana's name was not mentioned in the Fast Money disclosures for Tuesday, despite his recommendation of C. Which only provides a little bit more traction to that "for entertainment purposes only" thesis.

AMZN starting to validate Karen’s argument of 3 months ago

Karen Finerman's long-standing skepticism of AMZN's valuation has failed for years to keep a lid on the stock.

Maybe that's changing.

Finerman reiterated on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, as Amazon plunged, that valuations are "so stretched ... they can't possibly grow into it in time."

Finerman at one point redirected the chatter from Facebook back to Amazon to stress that Wal-Mart 10 years ago "traded within a buck of where it is now," and was a "juggernaut" then with a valuation that necessitated it "grow into it over a decade."

Melissa Lee said "we" had that argument "3 or 4 months ago" with an analyst who said AMZN is maybe like WMT 10 years ago.

Actually, it was Finerman herself who made that comparison, on Oct. 25 (see the archives to the right), saying that by WMT's performance, AMZN is "priced to perfection every year for 10 years."

Karen's Final Trade was, "Don't take a look at Amazon."

AMZN could use a jolt of that Steve Cortes ‘stealth cloud play’ thesis

Seemingly no one on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was very interested in touching AMZN after its earnings report.

"This is about cost," said Joe Terranova, who said the company's spending trend is only going to increase, and he doesn't want to own the shares.

Guy Adami said "they have to do everything right" to go higher, which isn't really the case but it's a wrongheaded cliche so embedded in Fast Money culture that people can't stop saying it, but Adami did give viewers something to chew on by rattling off $170.25 and $160.50 as benchmarks to trade around.

(Which frankly makes a lot of sense, because this stock might be going down, but it's definitely not going to zero.)

Mike Khouw delivered an early Brag Trade, saying, "We were positioning for a down move, and we obviously got it." He said he'd wait for AMZN to come in lower before buying; "these are very, very high multiples."

Guest Kerry Rice waffled like l'eggo my eggo on this one, spending much of his time repeating the company's general financial metrics like everyone does multiple times around AMZN earnings, then simultaneously suggesting the stock doesn't really trade on valuation and will grow into it and "It's not all negative" while conceding, "I think you still wait" to buy ... "on valuation it remains expensive."

Guy Adami said it might trade on expectations for now, but eventually it will trade on reality.

Ron Insana asked Jon Fortt to explain why Amazon has forex exposure; why don't they just "domicile here," and "why do anything in another currency." Fortt didn't have an answer (and certainly neither do we), though Joe Terranova said that qualifies Insana for a seat on the board.

Guest Larry Haverty later said "it's not even a growth company" but benefitting from some of the "mythical valuations" of tech shares, in which Facebook will "join in the mythical crowd."

Flash: People apparently interested in buying Facebook

Larry Haverty indicated on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that a lot of people are rarin' to get euphoric over Facebook shares.

It'll be a "fantastic feeding frenzy," Haverty predicted, saying that it'll take a few days for buyers to realize they're like Wile E. Coyote chasing the road runner off the cliff.

Haverty said many metrics are not fully known about the company; "you don't see the margin level ... people can get really carried away."

Karen Finerman said the total value of the IPO in initial documents is probably subject to change; "We could very well be looking at 10" billion.

Joe Terranova asked CNBC reporter Kayla Tausche if Mark Zuckerberg is engineering all of this. Tausche said on the contrary, "I think this is David Ebersman" who is steering the process.

Karen Finerman seemed a little skeptical of Facebook but not nearly to the extent she is of AMZN. "I don't know if it's expensive or not," Finerman said.

Mr. President, here’s a statement Ralph Nader would like you to issue

Fast Money occasionally likes to bring on a corporate agitator, but rarely is it the celebrated Ralph Nader, who spoke on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money and, rather than call Melissa Lee "Michelle," called Karen Finerman "Melissa."

Nader wants CSCO to jack up the dividend, saying it'll help the economy.

Nader claimed he's "talked to a high official there" at CSCO, and that a healthy dividend stream would get spent and be a "great stimulus to the economy."

"I've been trying to get President Obama to make a statement on this," Nader claimed, and somehow we doubt that Nader is on the receiving end of regular Oval Office invites.

Karen Finerman told Nader that there's a "mechanism" to agitate, rather than declaring Web sites and asking people to repond, which involves proposing "nonbinding" resolutions, which Karen helpfully defined for viewers ("so they don't have to do it"), and asked whether Nader has considered that idea. Nader said "it's a good idea Melissa," but that at the last meeting shareholders raised the issue and got nowhere.

Nader declared "I don't own Apple," but the screen text said he owned 18,000 shares of CSCO.

Guy Adami and Karen Finerman debated whether shareholders owe any loyalty to Cisco or Cisco owes any loyalty to shareholders (Adami said no, Finerman said yes, in a way).

Ron Insana said "at the end of the day" in the course of the discussion.

Mike Khouw said the company would have to address repatriation before doing this and seek a "reasonable tax policy" before committing (in other words, another holiday).

You wonder if, on 2nd glance, Melissa now believes it

If you don't believe Larry Haverty's contention (as well as Jon Najarian's) that people are going to get carried away with the Facebook IPO, consider that Melissa Lee welcomed on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money Rishab Ghosh, who helms a service called Topsy that claims to gauge useful sentiment on social media toward certain businesses.

"At first glance, I didn't believe it," Lee said.

Ghosh said followers could've made 20% in 2 weeks if they paid attention to Topsy's analysis of Twitter comments about the iPhone 4S launch.

Guy Adami, oozing skepticism, said "We can cherry-pick Apple and a couple of these I'm sure" but wondered how deep the overall sampling and statistical analysis is. Ghosh said they did "statistical regression" and tracked NFLX for months, and could do that for "lots of others."

Ghosh suggested the service might be most applicable to consumer stocks and perhaps oil price.

He told Lee, "We don't have a product that we're selling yet."

Joe Terranova questioned, "Whatever happened to the good ol' fashioned boots on the ground research."

Shout-out: Crosby, Stills & Nash

John Bollinger, like virtually everyone on the Fast Money programs Tuesday, told the 5 p.m. gang that the golden cross isn't a great indicator, that it tends to get you in near the top of the range and out near the bottom, and it's a case of the "tool and the task being mismatched."

Bollinger said the 2 traditional big January indicators are the entire month's performance and just the first 5 days, but "neither of them are markedly better than a coin toss."

He said the market has been trading "exactly according to seasonal pattern" and sees a smooth market into mid-year.

"Southern Cross" is not a stock-market indicator, but the signature song on the 1982 CSN comeback effort "Daylight Again."

Luckily, Melissa didn’t characterize Joe’s BRCM position the same way Judge Wapner did (see below)

Jon Najarian spoke on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that legislation called VPPA involving Facebook streaming not just abroad "would be gangbusters" for Netflix if the House gets aboard.

Najarian did clarify, "No position in here, liquidated all of our Netflix last week."

In a strange Fast Money feature, Sharon Epperson, who has rarely appeared on the show, did a short profile of Ira Eckstein a trader who is plunging into a social media project of helping fans connect at sports events.

Karen Finerman spoke about the U.S. playing catch-up in the trend toward computer chips in credit cards, suggesting several plays on this including Gemalto (GTO:FP), MA, GPN and PAY. "Longer-term, this is where we're going," Finerman said.

Guy Adami said he's "cautious" about piling in to Broadcom (and when in the world did this stock ever merit as much attention as it got Tuesday?). Joe Terranova revealed of BRCM, "I got out of the stock."

Adami's Final Trade was long TRN, while Terranova said "keep buying those UNG puts."

Judge Wapner calls Joe Terranova a ‘front-runner,’ says ‘you know what I mean’

Every once in a while a Fast Money host says something about a trader that doesn't sound terribly favorable. Judge Scott Wapner happened to venture into that territory on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Wapner brought up BRCM, and Terranova said, "Now we're talking about something that I've traded well, am more excited about; got more confidence."

Inexplicably, Judge claimed, "Well you're a front-runner I understand."

Slight taken aback, Terranova said, "He just called me a front-runner. That's something we don't- in the trading business we never say that Scott."

"You know exactly what I mean. The stock's up 19% year to date," Wapner insisted.

"It is," Terranova conceded, adding, "this should be an excellent quarter."

Moments later, apparently realizing the slippery ground, Judge said, "I realize that saying the word 'front-runner' in, in this environment can be a little bit-"

"Yes, not the right word," chimed in Zach Karabell.

"... dangerous. However, he knows exactly what I'm talking about," Wapner continued.

Karabell said of BRCM, eventually the stock should make money. "I have been long this name; I've lost money in this name," he said.

Terranova told Wapner, "You know we're gonna be on YouTube."

Colin Gillis’ Amazon purchases are not being sorted into as few boxes as possible

Colin Gillis, who's been offering the same skeptical refrain about AMZN for more than a year, spoke again of all the headwinds on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report (basically the low margins and the Kindle's propensity to lose money) in reaffirming his sell rating.

Zach Karabell challenged Gillis, "In what way does Amazon ultimately not go in the direction it's going" as far as overtaking several traditional retail spheres. Gillis admitted the company has done that but said if there are signs "revenue growth slowing down," that would pressure the stock.

Gillis said Amazon's fulfillment costs are rising, that when he orders something it arrives in "5 different boxes."

Patty Edwards questioned if the Kindle isn't ultimately a winner because people who buy it will starting loading it with ebooks, which are "decent margin." Gillis said there's no doubt it's driving book sales, but Amazon is playing catch-up in music and movies, and that compared with Nook users, Kindle users are consuming more free content.

Zach Karabell said the company's long-term trend and outlook are quite strong, while conceding that any given quarter could bring hiccups, a "mismatch that obviously can hurt the stock." Karabell waffled at the end of the program about making a call on Tuesday's earnings, finally shrugging and saying, "I'm long the calls."

Tim Seymour claims Vladimir Putin is actually ‘paying heed’ to reform movements

Only in places like Russia are guys with 45% of the vote considered shoo-ins.

That's basically what Tim Seymour told Fast Money Halftime Report viewers Tuesday, saying, first, "at the end of the day," and then adding, "elections 2 months away, Putin will win. He's got 45% of the vote that's legitimate."

So for Russian stocks, "I think the politics are overdone," Seymour said.

Later, again saying "at the end of the day," Seymour said Putin doesn't have a tin ear; "he is I think paying heed to this, this challenge, real reform."

Patty Edwards said of MAT, "this is one I own," with her own $35 price target.

Joe Terranova wasn't high on ADM. "I think CF is the name you wanna own in this space." Patty Edwards said she likes Potash and Syngenta a lot more than ADM.

Brian Kelly said he thinks the 10-year will be "close to 1% for a long time here" and mentioned the TLT. Joe Terranova said he might add to AXP after the show, and Patty Edwards recommended "tiptoeing into Nike."

When Money in Motion
and Fast Money collide ...

Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report crew didn't seem too enamored with Faisel Khan's VLO-top-pick call.

But Brian Kelly performed a full-fledged takedown on George Davis' Money in Motion trade to sell the euro against the British pound.

Davis said the bias in the euro is to "fade rallies," and that his trade is to sell the euro against the British pound.

Kelly flat-out declared he was skeptical of the pound side of that equation, and in fact, "I'd be on the other side of this trade."

Meanwhile, guest Sean McGowan said this is one of those times to be buying UA; "I think these headwinds are temporary."

Patty Edwards asked McGowan, why buy UA when you can buy NKE. McGowan's answer was that NKE is very solid, but UA is "just penetrating a lot of markets outside the U.S." Zach Karabell said he thinks NKE is going higher.

Stephen Weiss gets double the market return on his now-exited RIMM position

Stephen Weiss wasn't on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report panel, but he did come loaded for bear with a Brag Trade when Judge Wapner dialed him up on the Fast Line.

Research in Motion was a "very very good trade, got in about twice the market return this year so far on it," Weiss said. But he sold, because "you don't turn trades into investments, uh, because you fall in love with 'em."

Weiss said he bought the shares because "the vitriol just, just hit the crescendo ... when the hate just becomes so palpable," but it's still a real company, that's when it's time to buy.

Zach Karabell said, "I appreciate and respect the gumption," but dislike alone maybe isn't the best reason to buy a stock. "Just because everyone hates it doesn't mean that there's not a good reason for everyone to hate it."

Judge brings up ‘paradigm’

Patty Edwards questioned on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report whether traders are about to usher in February with a bang.

"You've got a 4% return for the month of January. How many traders are gonna come in tomorrow and put the pedal to the metal," asked Edwards, cautioning against being "overly long at this point in time."

Joe Terranova said one stumbling block for the S&P is that it "can't get the rotation out of bonds."

Terranova downplayed the relevance of the S&P golden cross, saying it "works better in individual stocks."

Zach Karabell said he's not bearish because, in part, it appears to be a stock picker's market.

Brian Kelly though indicated there's hope from Goldman Sachs of all places. "This is — for the market — is very bullish," Kelly said. "I'm long XLF."

Terranova claimed "the trade has passed for the regionals," which Judge Wapner found interesting enough to declare a possible "paradigm shift" in the banking sector.

Patty Edwards scoffed at how Radio Shack pointed the finger at Sprint. "That would be like a clothing retailer blaming the clothing designer," Edwards said. "I'm sorry. Man. Up." Edwards said RSH is nevertheless "incredibly cheap at this point in time (sic 2nd "in time"), but she's not buying on such a blowout. She said bulls might wonder about a possible Best Buy takeout to acquire smaller locations, but Best Buy hasn't been interested so far.

Panel zings guest’s VLO call

Dan Dicker guested on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to say oil's got a floor both from Iran and the revelation of the Fed targeting inflation, it's an "incredibly sticky price."

Dicker said integrateds have been outperforming services largely because of dividends, but he likes SLB and WFT, though he admits with WFT he's "pretty suspicious of them" preparing a dilutive secondary as the price gets closer to $20. Judge Wapner said Steve Grasso got out, which Dicker said was a "careful" move given that possibility.

Joe Terranova said that for the first time in months there might be "vulnerability in the spot price of oil."

Zach Karabell said "I'm in Schlumberger, Baker Hughes as well," and questioned guest Faisel Khan's mildly enthusiastic case for XOM, suggesting there are more exciting plays in the oil space.

Khan, in a bit of a Brag Trade, suggested his XOM numbers were more accurate than the Street, that XOM reported "pretty much right in line" with his own estimates though maybe, under the surface, below the Street.

But, Khan revealed, XOM isn't his top pick (though he likes it with a $97 target), rather, "Valero's our top pick."

Brian Kelly said there are rumors of a refining strike and thus the Valero call "surprised me a little bit." Joe Terranova said he has "no interest in Valero at all" and prefers "mid-continent, CVI, HOC" because of the spread.

More from Tuesday's Halftime and 5 p.m. Fast Money later.

[Monday, January 30, 2012]

CNBCfix.com special report: The uselessness of CNBC’s official Fast Money disclosures

As CNBC's Fast Money franchise continues its relentless expansion, one seemingly important part of the program is getting utterly left in the dust.

Disclosures — both during the TV shows and online — as to what positions the panelists hold, whether those positions are in personal or client accounts, and the sizes of those positions, are at best minimal, often unreported, and often contradictory or blatantly inaccurate between online and television.

This site has put together an analysis based largely on disclosures of last week.

Evidence suggests that trader disclosures are demanded, but ultimately voluntary, with no enforcement ... and there is not even a requirement that the disclosures be accurate.

TV screen text, which years ago regularly listed trader positions as they spoke, now only rarely lists trader positions.

Perhaps worst of all, the scattershot nature of the disclosures suggests CNBC doesn't take them — and thus the opinions offered on the show — very seriously.

It's important to note this site does not fault the traders. However, the remarkably inconsistent and lacking nature of the disclosures certainly could give reasonable viewers grounds to wonder if any given trader is intentionally not reporting positions, for whatever reasons.

The (benefit-of-the-doubt) presumption here is that, with 2 hours of daily programming and occasional daytime and evening hits, it is enough of a chore for producers just to field a crew for each program without also keeping track of ongoing positions from panelists who are carving out chunks of their day for TV hits and might well be unreachable immediately before or after.

But there's a serious question for CNBC — if disclosures, on TV and online, are going to be so inconsistent and slipshod, why even bother? Does it do the viewer any good if at least some of the information is 1) unavailable, 2) untimely, or 3) inaccurate?

It appears CNBC is stuck in the middle, a media company whose business is equal parts providing stock market information while hiring professional stock/options/currency traders to provide proprietary programming. Fast Money disclosures seem far less like a serious journalistic endeavor, and the nature in which they're handled implies CNBC perceives the show's information as essentially for entertainment purposes only.

Check out the post, and judge for yourself.

Fred Cannon makes an undeniably great point about buying a certain bank

Fred Cannon visited the 5 p.m. Fast Money's Nasdaq set on Monday and had this advice for BAC buyers:

"You should've done it at 5 bucks, not at 7½," Cannon said.

Cannon's thesis on Monday was that the banks, which have traded on earnings estimates with a "lot of correlation," have gotten ahead of those revisions in 2012 and now mostly should be viewed as value traps, despite a few "select opportunities."

Karen Finerman, unfortunately reverting to bad questioning habits, said to Cannon, "So let me ask you something though," are the big banks at these valuations no longer an earnings-driven story. Cannon said last year it was the earnings revisions and not capital raising that drove the stocks, and then he said "at the end of the day," and even "at this point in time."

Finerman got another crack at the end of the segment, wondering if Cannon is not fully anticipating the value of "normalized" earnings in years to come. Cannon said "normalized" earnings aren't really the reality anymore.

Dan Nathan, whose positions (if any) in the banks or any other stocks he discussed Monday (AAPL, RSH) were not posted at CNBC.com, said Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are big banks with upward revisions, and those kinds of names have a "lot of wood to chop."

Adami: Look for RSH washout on Tuesday

Guy Adami, who nailed an afterhours selloff call in IDCC last week (and managed to mention that on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money), had another one for savvy traders Monday.

Adami suggested many of the shorts will cover on Tuesday, and so for capitulation, "tomorrow might be the day," with the stock possibly buyable in the last hour of trading.

Joe Terranova read off the list of negatives including buyback suspension. Karen Finerman said the name "Radio Shack" to her sounds "somewhat dated."

Dan Nathan pointed to Circuit City and said "at the end of the day," this space hasn't been particularly promising.


Amelia Bourdeau
says 38-30 Giants

It's been a while since we've done one of our Fast Money/Hollywood lookalike presentations, and what better place to resume than good-looking currency trader Amelia Bourdeau's resemblance to ultra-gorgeous-fox Isla Fisher.

Oh, and Guy Adami referred to Bourdeau as "girl" on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money in seeking a Super Bowl prediction.

"I am a huge Giant fan," Bourdeau revealed.

"Throw the score out there girl," Adami urged.

"I think we're gonna see 38-30 Giants," Bourdeau said.

Meanwhile, Bourdeau said there is some concern, though it might not fully be priced in, that Portugal will need another bailout; "this discussion will be heating up." Karen Finerman asked about Portugal's debt burden thankfully without her usual preface. Bourdeau said she'd have to check the numbers to be precise but it's the "2nd-worst-case to Greece."

For trading, Bourdeau said, "I do actually like euro lower," and would short on a bounce from the PSI announcement, but her official trade is short Aussie vs. kiwi dollar, although it should be noted official disclosures at CNBC.com say "No disclosures," so it's not clear to us if she has actually put on this trade or not.

Not ‘much evidence’ that 2012 rally is all short covering

William Duff Gordon authored one of the more curious theories on Fast Money during Monday's 5 p.m. taping, saying there aren't really signs of a short-squeeze in some of the surging 2012 stocks such as KB Home, Dendreon and SHLD.

"Hate to rain on the parade on that particular theory," Gordon said, but he "can't find much evidence."

Karen Finerman did the question-preface again, saying, "It's Karen let me ask you something" and "I love the accent," before arguing that rising costs of borrwing SHLD shares seems like a short-covering sign. Gordon said the borrowing costs are high because Lampert owns so much, and "it's not like it's being recalled."

Dan Nathan insisted, given the performance of names such as FSLR and NFLX, "there is no doubt about it," there are short squeezes going on.

Joe Terranova said of Monday's stocks, "I would call this a modest correction at best," and also said, "at the end of the day," the XLK is the name to own, the "perfect trade right now."

Adami: Wait for QCOM to either go higher or lower

In a bit of an upset, no one on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money actually spoke about an AAPL dividend, but Karen Finerman expressed concerns about momentum.

"I'm a little nervous about Apple," Finerman said, reiterating that she had sold upside calls and asking, "what's the next catalyst."

Dan Nathan, who has notably been skeptical of Apple in past appearances but whose own AAPL position(s), if any, were not posted at CNBC.com, said "playing the Apple supply chain isn't always a winning proposition," and that "the iPad numbers are not popping" like the iPhone, but the company still has only "30% penetration" of global carriers, which could be a catalyst.

Guy Adami said QCOM right now is in "no-man's land," and kind of said the same for BRCM, "wouldn't go racing into this."

Fast Money thought it needed to hear Dennis Gartman say he owns gold in euro terms again

Guy Adami, who says he's a gold bull and not a gold bug, asked Dennis Gartman on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money if it's possible central banks could start selling gold.

Gartman said it's always possible dogs could lie down with cats, and "N.C. State can beat Carolina in basketball," but he strongly doubts this will happen, maybe a "2% probability if that."

Kathleen Smith was asked to speak about Renren at the end of the show and was allowed to deliver an endless summary of how RENN traded, which seemed to include one of those 1st-year math student's typical circular-argument-assume-what-you're-trying-to-prove-is-true mistakes, saying that Renren had "probably the worst IPO, uh, return of the 125 IPOs that were priced in 2011," and that it's also a Chinese ADR, a sector that has had accounting concerns (many from Herb Greenberg), and that these are "factors" in the "heavy downward pressure" on the stock for a while.

So in other words, one of the factors Smith was citing for Renren's slide was that RenRen was sliding.

This was all supposed to be about Facebook and apparently whether social media-related names are a buy given the pending Facebook IPO. We're not sure exactly, but Smith did say there's "more money is coming into unseasoned equities" and that the Renren multiple on sales could grow.

Dan Nathan said "at the end of the day," and then insisted, "I mean, you know, Facebook's model is (sic) not been proven yet."

Nathan's Final Trade was VIX calls, while Guy Adami picked AUY, Karen Finerman — who, like Nathan, had no disclosures listed at CNBC.com — said PLCM and Joe Terranova said IACI.

Edward Zabitsky’s AAPL thesis may not be accurate, but it is interesting

Edward Zabitsky, the analyst who's got a $270 price target on AAPL, defended that call in the presence of a skeptical Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"There is no doubt I was way too early on the call. This story is about the iPhone, it's about the iPhone ecosystem," Zabitsky said.

While his numbers may be off-base, Zabitsky stressed something that seems very important actually — whether people will continue paying a premium indefinitely for Apple products. (So far, in the case of the iPod, they certainly have.)

Zabitsky said people buy AAPL now for product convenience that will be commoditized, and that programs such as Face Time will gradually be blended with other similar proprietary programs under a single Web standard.

It's interesting food for thought, but as far as we know, bottom line is that analysts get paid to make successful stock calls, and Zabitsky's AAPL recommendation hasn't gotten the job done.

After the interview, Judge Wapner asked Pete Najarian what Pete thought about "this guy." Pete said AAPL has too much going in 2012 and a pipeline that is not slowing and so he couldn't buy this theory.

Judge then turned to Herb Greenberg to vent his incredulity, saying, "It's hard to take a call like that seriously, right," only to have Greenberg defend Zabitsky for standing by the call.

Don’t short RIMM, but here are a few reasons you might want to

If Edward Zabitsky defended his tech recommendation adequately on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Pierre Ferragu, with a much more credible thesis (don't short RIMM), seemed to struggle mightily.

Ferragu began by rattling off reasons RIMM is in trouble, including the new CEO's "commitment to the strategy in place" that Ferragu doesn't believe will work.

"Yeah but you're saying don't short the stock," Judge Wapner asked, apparently rightly confused.

"Sorry yes," Ferragu responded, proceeding to detail in fairly thick accent that service revenue and customers are presently undervalued.

He said MSFT would be the best fit as a buyer, but that it doesn't seem to be in the cards now.

Josh Brown was skeptical of the RIMM story, saying after seeing comments from the new CEO about marketing, "you almost think you're reading the Onion ... I think this gets worse before it gets better."

Getting Facebook IPO shares might be tougher than getting membership at Augusta

Colin Gillis spoke about Facebook on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report and said its impact will be much greater on Yahoo than Google as it seeks "brand advertising." Even so, "We think Google is dead money until the summer."

Jon Najarian insisted that market conditions will not be a factor in Facebook pricing/valuation. "If you can get into this one Judge, you buy every share of it you can get," Najarian said.

Steve Grasso said his wife told him to buy GOOG on its IPO and he didn't, so he'll listen about Facebook this time.

Jon Najarian said recent AAPL call-buying indicates an "impetus to the upside." Pete Najarian said he finally jumped in to AAPL options.

Josh Brown said if you own NFLX, you've got a "tiger by the tail."

Brown: Biotech on fire

Abigail Doolittle spoke on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report to report the S&P 500 seems to be in the ever-popular "sideways trend" that can be "so vicious," yet by the end of her discussion it sounded like either the S&P 500 will go up or go down.

The XLF, Doolittle said, is "showing a little topping pattern."

Pete Najarian said XLF is a key to him, "if it holds in these areas (13.90s), then I think we're all right," Najarian said.

Josh Brown revealed, "We picked up some indexes here," but then said indexes are "not telling the correct story ... watching the trees is more important than watching the forest."

Brown went on to say biotech stocks are working, it's "setup city," and "the IBB is just goin' bananas ... they can all get bought at any moment in time."

Steve Grasso reminded that 70% of stocks move in the same direction.

Why do we need stores?

Herb Greenberg said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that there's an "interesting emerging development" in the office-supply space as Goldman Sachs downgrades SPLS but remains neutral on longtime dogs Office Depot and OfficeMax.

Steve Grasso said, "I don't know why Staples exists; I don't know why Bed, Bath & Beyond exists," and that Amazon is the present and future.

Best-dressed CNBC superfox Seema Mody delivered another report on pharmaceuticals, this time PFE, ending with an abrupt transition to Judge Wapner, who turned to Pete Najarian, who revealed, "I continue to hold it ... pretty decent pipeline."

Guest Nik Modi was down on PG, saying "there's other ways you can make money right now." He said he recommends Altria.

Kimberly Greenberger said the "long-term game here" for ANF is to get back to higher prices, but right now, the teen retail space is tough. Greenberger was most enthusiastic about Victoria's Secret.

Pete Najarian made CROX his Final Trade.

Karen Finerman asks a question of CEO without starting, ‘Let me ask you something …’

Wendy's CEO Emil Brolick, a distinguished-looking fellow who actually seems a bit older than his mid-60s age (per Forbes) (if that sounds like a dis, it's not meant to), visited the 5 p.m. Fast Money set on Monday for a well-rounded discussion about square burgers.

We were most heartened when Karen Finerman asked, without preface, "Do you have any chance for financial engineering" with franchisees. Brolick mentioned 2 things, a "callable bond" and interest in "growing our company ownership base."

Brolick said Joe Terranova was spot-on in Terranova's assessment that Wendy's is battling to get back the customers that are trying Panera Bread, etc. Brolick told Guy Adami the year-end insurance adjustment is typical for all companies but in Wendy's case was larger than usual, so that's why it was mentioned.

Adami said, "On a risk/reward, the stock here to me is pretty interesting." Dan Nathan said the stock, around $5, is not a bad "long-term call option."

Much more from Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money and the Halftime Report later.

[Friday, January 27, 2012]

Dennis Gartman explains how to own gold and not ‘get banged so hard’

Clear the decks — Dennis Gartman is making a gold call again.

Apparently not one of the great bubbles of our time, gold seems to be going from the lower left to upper right, according to Gartman, who spoke with Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report about how he's getting off the gold sidelines.

Jon Najarian said "Dennis telegraphed it," although Gartman more modestly said he "got very lucky when I sold it" and then stepped aside into copper, trying something refreshing "where you haven't had a reputation made," and right now in fact "I'm still long copper."

Gartman actually told Judge Wapner he prefers to own gold in euro terms because "you tend not to get banged as hard" when something crazy happens. (This during the same segment in which Zach Karabell made a reference to "The Great Sandusky" related to Steve Grasso's "mental" level of the S&P.)

Jon Najarian said he likes to play the GDX, "knock on wood," and asked Gartman to "verbalize" for the benefit of viewers why he prefers the commodity to the miners.

Well, "If I'm bullish on soybeans do I go out and buy ADM," Gartman asked rhetorically.

Then, while we fully expected to hear the old saw about waking up to learn a mine has been flooded, Gartman instead tweaked the cliche a bit, saying you might wake up to learn a "mine that you own has been watered in."

"Flooded," "watered in," probably not too much of a difference.

Patty Edwards, barely receiving an opportunity to speak from Judge Wapner throughout Friday's program, one-upped Gartman on gold, "I've been adding to positions that I never actually sold out of," (although maybe not one-upped Gartman, if he successfully timed the market better) and also recommended people look at platinum.

You’d think all the rich guys in Davos could put together a camera without a 5-second delay

Anthony Scaramucci, from Davos with that incredibly delayed satellite production, said Newt Gingrich seems to be the better debater in the GOP field, but "I think the governor's got great leadership skills" and "organizational skills."

(And, once again, nobody associates Mitt Romney with "heart," "passion," "beliefs," or "conservative," as the nation looks forward to choosing a Bureaucrat in Chief in November … ah, almost forgot, the current guy will sometimes say he wants to know "whose ass to kick.")

Scaramucci said BAC and C are "terrific names" for 6-12 months, while he also likes MDRX and BDX, and that he thinks Defense allocations will be good for GD, due for a "major technological upgrade."

Meanwhile, in Davos, "it's colder here than it looks," Scaramucci said.

Patty Edwards said that rather than plunging into a name like DHI, "I'm going actually with Home Depot."

Judge Wapner, the bag of tricks apparently empty, unleashed another "smoke 'em if you got 'em" on viewers regarding Altria shares.

Analyst: U.S. automakers used to build ‘these pieces of crap’

For whatever reason the Detroit CEOs seem to only do CNBC interviews with Phil LeBeau around 12:15 p.m. Eastern (but at least it's in real-time without a 5-second hitch), and so Fast Money Halftime viewers got Alan Mulally on Friday saying Ford has a "great plan in the United States" while conceding that last year, "we also got hurt on the hedging side" as commodity prices fell off late.

Things got salty, as they're prone to do on Fast Money these days, when guest Adam Jonas said he likes the stock despite the headline miss, it's not like in the old days when they'd get people to "buy these pieces of crap for half price or employee discount."

Jonas said Ford is more exposed to Europe than GM is.

Jon Najarian said "I like the way Ford bounced today." Steve Grasso asserted "the good news is already baked into the stock," and he suggests trying BWA instead.

Pumping the fist for Dan Dicker

They say pride comes before the fall, but Dan Dicker on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report was as well-grounded as anyone with a successful trade can be.

Dicker lamented "I took so much abuse" when RIG was at 40, but now that it's gained, "I think you do bail out … it is time to bail on this." Although conceding the stock had popped much earlier in the morning and had pulled back, Dicker admitted, "that information was better about 3 hours ago."

Steve Grasso mentioned Cameron's favorable ruling and how it affected Halliburton. Dicker said other names including NOV are better suited now than RIG for Gulf gains. Patty Edwards revealed, "I own National Oilwell Varco."

Emulex apparently is not
an AAPL Derivative Trade

Emulex CEO Jim McCluney reported on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report he sees "tremendous strength across all of our product lines," and noted that IBM, HPQ and DELL are his biggest customers (we think he actually said HPQ twice, which would indicate exactly why things were so bad under Léo Apotheker.)

"China has been a high growth market as well," said McCluney.

Zach Karabell called Emulex "probably a momentum story" or a "comeback story" because it had been sold off so much. Karabell said he's more cautious of Riverbed (RVBD) because of its recent disparity with VMW.

Ron Johnson vs.
the King of Liechtenstein

We figured after yesterday, no way this run in JCP can continue; it's not ANF or LULU or anything like that.

Evidently, no, given that guest Jeff Klinefelter told Judge Wapner on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that he's upped his price target to $50 because "the strategy is sound, we believe it's gonna work."

Judge argued that Ron Johnson can't just snap his fingers and get gobs of people coming in. (He can't?) Klinefelter agreed it would take time but there are reassurances about drawing customer traffic without experiencing negative comps but said it was prime for streamlining in marketing, "that was a bloated organization."

Zach Karabell, who revealed a JCP short this week that obviously hasn't been one of the week's winners, made a curious analogy to Klinefelter regarding the King of Liechtenstein (actually we checked out Wikipedia and learned it's a "principality," or run by a "prince"), saying that just because the King claims he's a world power doesn't mean he is. Klinefelter said right now JCP is enjoying "great timing," and with the possible exception of Macy's, "I don't think they're dealing with a particularly uh, uh, strong competitive environment."

A day without Herb,
and Green Mountain

Jean-Claude ("not Van Damme" as Zach Karabell said) Trichet told Maria Bartiromo from (where else) on Friday's Halftime Report that an ECB haircut is "not my working assumption."

Willie Williams said "The Fed has lit the bunsen burner up under high-yielding assets," and he likes selling the Aussie vs. the Mexican peso.

Zach Karabell touted QCOM for his Final Trade, while Patty Edwards mentioned SBUX. Steve Grasso said Weatherford, while Judge Wapner for whatever reason steered Dr. J into a RIMM call in which there was really nothing to call after Judge's commentary.

[Thursday, January 26, 2012]

Keith McCullough unloads U.S. equities, says he’s 91% in cash

Keith McCullough told CNBC Thursday that in the wake of the Fed's comments, he unloaded all his U.S. equities.

McCullough also, in a classy move, credited CNBC's Brian Shactman for an article that is "well written and reflects the turn I made succinctly."

Ron Insana indicates Fast Money hasn’t done anyone any good

Steve Cortes joked about Judge Smales on Thursday's Halftime Report, but the 5 p.m. edition of Fast Money is best described as the Dance of the Living Dead.

If there was any reason whatsoever to tune into this program, we couldn't find it.

Melissa Lee, despite wearing a sharp, vertically striped dark/shiny blue button-down blouse, felt compelled to open with an assessment of JCP NFLX how much the retail investor is out of the game.

Ron Insana used the moment for tough love, saying retail investors have been wrong since March 2009 when they should've been in risk assets ever since the Fed plunged in ... which kinda makes one wonder about a TV show for the masses called Fast Money that's been on the air since before March 2009.

Karen Finerman said, "For the retail investor, if we'd gotten here in a slow steady line, that would've been a lot lot better than how we did get here," clarifying for Tim Seymour that she was referring to the "last 6 months of last year," the type of activity that "scares 'em off" and that we tend to think, though no one said it, kills even most of the pro traders too.

Finerman and Joe Terranova said AAPL in the last couple days has actually underperformed what its monster results suggest. Insana, nevertheless, said "I think we've got a green light for stocks for quite some time."

Worth: GOOG will rebound

Carter Worth, extending his regular notion that people who bought higher are always eager to sell at the chance to be made whole while those who bought lower are eager to take profits (and thus how does any stock ever go up), told Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that it's no surprise that the Dow is having trouble approaching its May 2 high.

Tim Seymour asked the question we had, which is, why is Worth charting the Dow in analyzing investor memories. "My memory is that the Dow is, is, not a relevant indicator for markets," said Seymour.

Worth acknowledged the price-based measurement but said it's still a 99% correlation with the S&P 500 and that the charts are basically exact.

Worth first said that the regular GOOG gaps show that "somehow the Street is unable to model this stock," but, "the premise is, that it will find support here and actually rebound."

Worth singled out KMP for a drop, saying its "2 standard deviations above its moving average," and that's only happened "6 or 8 times in the last decade" and is regularly a time to sell.

Finerman on JCP:
‘I don’t get it’

Evidently the 5 p.m. Fast Money panelists haven't been comparing notes with Herb Greenberg.

Karen Finerman spoke Thursday about JCP in terms she usually reserves for NFLX or SHLD, saying, "I don't get it," and that the stock is "already baking in a lot of good things happening." Nevertheless, Finerman said, she "wouldn't want to short it."

Mike Khouw said that JCP trading at an all-time valuation "doesn't make much sense."

Tim Seymour sneaked in another joke about plain-pocket jeans.

Karen Finerman also wasn't enamored with GLW and the recent Gorilla Glass 2 demonstration, first calling it a "little clip," then corrected by Melissa Lee to call it a "long clip ... see it doesn't crack the glass, but it actually breaks the shares."

It seems that in the early days of CNN, you couldn’t go 15 minutes without a Charles Schwab discount broker commercial (and he actually had brown hair then)

Richard Repetto explained on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money why he's down on E-Trade. "These ebrokers are actually a hybrid-closet banks (sic plural)," Repetto said, and face some of the banking headwinds.

Repetto said E-Trade is still resetting loans from 2006 and getting lower rates. He said in the meat-and-potatoes business, retail trading, "We're not back to levels of last year."

Joe Terranova said, "I think the trade in the banks is over."

Nothing to see here, move along

Marc Riddick on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money indicated Starbucks' report was as humdrum as it gets.

"They actually raised the low end of their guidance," Riddick said, adding most expectations stayed in line while explaining, "The Street is a little bit ahead of them."

Tim Seymour said he might've stayed in Moscow 10 years ago if there were had been plain-pocket jeans a Starbucks outlet.

Jon Najarian made an appearance to crow about how the iPhone bested Android, saying recent purported Android statistics raise the question of "what are they shipping vs. what are they selling."

Not just Dan Dicker,
but Lee Cooperman

The 5 p.m. Fast Money gang sounded Thursday like they respected CAT but wanted something else. "I'm playing this through Joy Global," said Joe Terranova, adding that CAT's report suggests "things in the near term are a lot better than we thought they were" in October.

Tim Seymour said of CAT, "I would not buy it, I would buy CNH."

Dave Barger, who seems to do little but appear on business television, said (for about the dozenth time he's answered this question on Fast Money) he hasn't changed the JetBlue fuel hedging strategy and that it's probably "42% hedged, 27% for the year," and that they've been looking at Brent/crude for a while.

Joe Terranova said JBLU has "expanding margins ... stock is breaking out."

Mel Lee reported on the afterhours RIG gains, cheering "good for Dan Dicker out there." Then Karen Finerman said something that cracked up the panel, we couldn't really hear it but it sounded like "win one for the Dicker."

Mike Khouw's Final Trade Thursday was a jumbled mess of S&P protection. Tim Seymour said CIB, Ron Insana said "I'd buy the S&P again." Karen Finerman said Pacific Drilling (PACD), and Joe Terranova said Consol.

Both Darren Rovell and Jack Nicklaus refer to golf as a ‘sport’

Darren Rovell spoke briefly with the Golden Bear on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report and distressingly, Jack thinks golf needs to resort to gimmicks (such as a larger cup that Jon Najarian says he finds appealing) to build a following.

"We have to think out of the box," Nicklaus said, and that's kinda what happened in "Caddyshack II."

Nicklaus conceded "it's a difficult sport, it's an expensive sport, it takes a lot of time," but that there's growing interest in the 4 BRIC nations and will get a big boost if the Olympics make it a permanent sport (just what we need, another elite golf event ... why not fill up every winter week with a U.S.-vs.-someone competition).

Steve Cortes, who probably has a membership at Cog Hill, said he's down on ELY because "it has had a miserable decade," and that the sport has been fueled by old-timers who can't sustain the growth anymore, "those days are done" while names such as LULU (which The Contrarian bashed last year as too high-end) are winners in sports merchandise.

Investors want to be "long Pilates and yoga, and you wanna be short Judge Smales," Cortes said.

Jon Najarian said Cortes owns plaid pants and a teal shirt.

Mike Murphy revealed Lululemon has a golf line.

Nicole Miller Regan said, "it's the year of the restaurant, and Starbucks is gonna be one of the outperformers."

Guy Adami prevails in non-debate with Zach Karabell over JCP short

It was just a day ago that Zach Karabell revealed, "I'm short JCPenney cautiously," which was followed by Guy Adami touting Ron Johnson and saying, "To try to short this stock here, you know, maybe you get a buck or 2 out of it max, but I think, again, to bet against him is probably a fool's errand at this point."

Adami wins — and he didn't even have to give up the "buck or 2," unless you count the brief mid-afternoon dip after Halftime aired Wednesday.

Check out not just the price action but volume in JCP on Thursday, as (2012 JCP bull) Herb Greenberg on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report cited a "very impressive presentation" by Johnson, while Judge Wapner pointed out they affirmed guidance, which did not impress Herb so much because guidance just puts companies in a corner.

Herb said inventory concerns at UA are hardly a new concern; "inventories have always been an issue at this company," and he said GMCR is facing "additional potential competition" from a deal between WMT and some company called ESIO.

Michael Pachter gets a live NFLX debate this time and hears nothing to change his mind, though you gotta wonder if content costs are ‘fixed’ or not

Judge Wapner on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report brought on another one of those goofy bull-vs.-bear debates in which one person is merely on the phone and represented by a (probably 5-year-old) mug shot, this time pitting Michael Pachter vs. Whitney Tilson Mark Mahaney on Netflix.

"It is not a binary outcome," was how Pachter first downplayed expectations here, before insisting, "content owners are smart guys, they're greedy guys," and this will hurt NFLX.

Mahaney countered that churn "fell off pretty dramatically ... the evidence now is on the side of growth."

"I'm a huge fan of Mark Mahaney, but he's wrong on this one," Pachter said. "Content costs aren't fixed."

"I'm a big fan of Michael Pachter," Mahaney rebutted, but "the industry so far though is fixed costs."

Jon Najarian revealed, "I liquidated all of my Netflix today."

Reductio ad absurdum sounds like the type of thing that can happen when you read this page

Steve Liesman opened up Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report hailing the market confusion he predicted over the Fed's statement and "dissonance."

Brian Kelly said that for him, all that matters is, it's pumping money, and so, "commodities are gonna rip, stocks are gonna rip, and I even think U.S. Treasury bonds are gonna rip."

Liesman, who said "Youse guys" a couple times, also spoke to whether people would view the Fed outlook as a "forecast" or a "promise," and that people might overthink it and lead to "reductio ad absurdum."

"Zach Karabell's not here on the desk; none of the rest of us, Steve, speak Latin," said Jon Najarian, and neither does this writer, though it prompted a search to Wikipedia. Learn something new every day.

Steve Cortes later said he couldn't endorse some of what we was hearing earlier, "particularly Brian Kelly saying that the market is going nuts," claiming the S&P was up a mere 8 points since Tuesday's close in an "underwhelming" response.

Calling monetary policy a "narcotic," Cortes said, "The more you take it, the less it works."

Kelly insisted, "You print enough money, I guarantee you, asset prices will go up." Cortes insisted that means bonds, "I'm long, adding to longs," and wants the "safe yield," not something like GOOG or CAT.

Not much to do in Davos except the skiing

We've been suspicious for years that all of these bigwigs in Davos aren't really doing anything constructive toward their business, but hanging out with friends, giving speeches, and telling CNBC they're "cautiously optimistic" that the economy's getting better.

Bob Greifeld spent most of his Fast Money Halftime Report interview talking about what's not happening, sort of hesitatingly shrugging off Judge Wapner's question about interest in London with, "Certainly don't see any reason at this point in time to contemplate what you'd call a, a major transformative acquisition."

If anything from this feature was significant, it was Greifeld downplaying expectations for landing Facebook, insisting "We have this large pipeline" and there are many other IPOs out there, even though he'd be thrilled to get it.

"We're doing the right things," said Greifeld, who acknowledged to Judge that "we would've been an interested party" for Liffe had the NYSE spun it off, but that a lot of others would've been interested as well.

As far as the NYSE in the wake of Deutsche Boerse, Greifeld said, "We will not be making a run."

Murphy is short CAT, FAST

Judge Wapner spoke about Caterpillar in about 3 or 4 segments on Thursday, with Philip Pearlman saying "I'm a buyer here," but Mike Murphy explaining he "covered my long, now I'm short Caterpillar here," and later adding, "We think Cat is priced to perfection here."

Steve Cortes, whose China-hard-landing-and-out-of-Apple thesis of recent days has brought some Googling grumblers to this site, insisted "I am not fighting Caterpillar" and that his shorts are limited to 1 name in the solar space.

Guest Ann Duignan said late in the show that CAT is pulling an IBM, saying 2012 is "pretty much in the bag" and that the company is looking out to 2015.

Phil Pearlman said he likes trading XOM, selling calls when it goes higher and selling puts when it goes lower, because "long term, we're goin' higher in crude oil." Jon Najarian saw "very strong unusual activity" in NBR options, and Brian Kelly insisted, "You have to be long gold here."

Jens Nordvig said "this could be the top" for the euro but seemed to sound more convinced that another big squeeze is possible. He recommends "long yen crosses."

Steve Cortes said to buy tobacco for a Final Trade, while Mike Murphy is shorting FAST, Brian Kelly likes DBA and Jon Najarian recommends a DB short.

[Wednesday, January 25, 2012]

A State of the Union speech,
and nothing to do

In one of those segments that promised far more than it actually delivered (which was nothing at all), Jimmy Pethokoukis told the 5 p.m. Fast Money gang on Wednesday that the State of the Union Address apparently validated some blog post he wrote a while ago about the administration seeking a housing plan; "they've been dying to do something."

Yet, Pethokoukis admitted the details are "sketchy" at best, that it may affect 3 million or 10 million people, and most of all, it won't be easy to get through Congress.

Karen Finerman, with her usual preface, said to Pethokoukis, "It's Karen, let me ask you something," and that was whether this new program, whatever it might be, will be any kind of panacea after so many other acronyms have been floated for 3-4 years.

Pethokoukis did say this would be an "extremely simple" plan; "as long as you're current on your mortgage, you're gonna be eligible," and then said they're "underplaying it," because they've "overhyped" previous plans. But he said, "For some banks it could actually help," but it would be a problem for those with prepayment risk.

This is a sorry reminder of George Bush's 2nd term speech in which he suggested private Social Security accounts would be a good move but would wait for others to bring him a plan, or the early '90s, when the Clintons said they didn't have their own health-care plan but wanted to get one started through town halls.

Think about how prideful and free Americans are, and then consider that our municipalities and business regulators could stack paperwork to Mars detailing all the rules we've written for ourselves about things we can't do and remedies for our victimhood.

The biggest problem with presidential cycles and expectations is that, while it's virtually unfathomable that the government could actually be underplaying any issue, office-holders and office-seekers still feel compelled to pretend that "there's so much more to do" when there's anything but, so that all we get is a rapidly expanding, unsustainable government infrastructure under both parties that pretends the only reason we got a Katrina or a Lehman or a recession or a Countrywide or a BP is that there wasn't enough legislation/stimulus already on the books.

John Madden used to say he only had 3 rules for the Oakland Raiders: "Be on Time. Pay Attention. Play Like Hell When I Tell You To."

Fast Money bust: Traders whiffed on great opportunity for a quick buck in CCL

Now that we've had more than a week, it's safe to say the Fast Money gang utterly blew it with CCL and RCL last week, with the panel on Tuesday Jan. 17 almost unanimously telling viewers to stay away from CCL just as it bottomed or had already bottomed because of one random accident whose outcome was already cemented.

Joe Terranova was the biggest miss, explaining he had just bought CCL the prior week but "Today, I was getting out as fast as I could on the open, because there's too much uncertainty."

Jon Najarian crowed a bit about a quick profit from the open, but obviously got out sooner than necessary.

Karen Finerman admitted the stock had taken an "enormous" beating for this 1 disaster but indicated it was too soon to jump in. Dennis Gartman, after guest Kevin Milota painted an absurdly dire scenario, claimed he researched Amtrak bookings once after a disaster and that it took months to reach pre-disaster levels, which Gartman claimed was a "correlative" example.

Credit Patty Edwards for at least getting part of the way there on Jan. 17, advising viewers not to take a full position in CCL just yet, but "I think you could actually nibble on some."

NFLX is too much of a good thing for Whitney Tilson

One thing Whitney Tilson indirectly made clear on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money is that he hasn't been reading Buy High, Sell Higher.

Joe Terranova on Wednesday happily pointed out, in one of his rare Brag Trades, that he got into NFLX on Jan. 5 below $80, and "I got out of the stock in the mid-90s."

Pete Najarian likewise said the options were pricing in an $18 move, and that he got out before earnings, because "It could've gone either way."

But Pete, continuing his bid to convince Tilson to take the money and run, ran into an answer that was unsatisfying from any perspective.

Tilson said his NFLX holding "entered the year as a sort of 5% position for us, our 10th-largest position." Then, after the stock soared 40% in just a few weeks, "We trimmed a little bit going into the earnings just to manage the position size. So this is not a position we're ever going to allow to be a 10% position for us."

Hmmm ... and there on Page 171 of Buy High we find, "You want the biggest holdings in your portfolio to be the best performers."

Tilson said he recently trimmed his NFLX position "down to about 6% or so" and will keep it 5-6%, which presumably means he'll keep selling a bit as it goes up, even though he said Wednesday he's "not inclined to sell or to add" and that he's in it for 12-18 months.

We don't really know who's right ... but it stands to reason, if everyone trimmed positions once they had gains, then the positions would never actually achieve any gains.

(Which is a great reminder of one of Karen Finerman's axioms, which is something like, "The price you bought it at has no bearing on where it's going.")

So Tilson at the same time he was articulating a bullish case for the stock was also articulating why he was selling.

As to the former, he told the Fast gang the big quarter "reduces the odds of a very bad downside scenario that we couldn't rule out," and that he expects a lot of short covering Thursday. And, "if they show 30-40% subscriber growth, you know, exiting this year, uh, this stock's an easy double this year."

Which presumably would make it more like a 9% part of the portfolio, and we can't have that.

Tilson said it's best to not even watch the daily NFLX price, and that his firm tries to make "1 good decision a week."

Wonder how Len Brecken’s portfolio is doing in 2012

NFLX might've skyrocketed and Whitney Tilson might've made some money, but Michael Pachter on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was as unconvinced as the 49ers after that forward-progress call.

"The company is more out of touch than I thought that they were before," said Pachter, saying the Netflix has antagonized its movie suppliers and faces rising content costs and "acting like it doesn't matter, and it matters a lot."

Noting Whitney Tilson's earlier bullish case for the company, Pachter channeled Dire Straits' "Industrial Disease," saying, "2 men say they're Jesus, one of 'em must be wrong. I think Whitney's the one who's wrong. Maybe I am too ... content costs have to go up."

What's more, Pachter hit home with an example about how the company might be underestimating the impact of content losses. "CNBC is probably about 10% of my viewing time," and if it were pulled, he'd terminate his cable service, Pachter revealed.

Joe Terranova credited Pachter for candidly handling his upgrade question from last time, then asked if he would upgrade his price target based on these results. "Not a prayer," said Pachter, his second religious reference of the interview, or 3 if you count CNBC.

Oddly enough, Terranova said you can't rely on the experts to know when to buy NFLX, because "the analysts are getting Netflix wrong." He cautioned that there figures to be a "tremendous amount" of "overhead selling."

Karen Finerman said trading NFLX is the "deep end of the pool." But nobody said, "Don't try to be a hero."

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

Karen Finerman said on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that the Roche bid for Illumina "doesn't get any more hostile than this," and realistically, Illumina is "pretty much defenseless."

Karen said "we bought some ... February 50s" to play this one, but the "pansy way" is to go with the XBI for the hot sector and avoid single-stock risk.

Melissa Lee welcomed Keith Moore, whom she called "Michael Moore," to discuss the bid. Moore said, tacking on Patty Edwards' favorite redundancy, that Illumina "is ahead of itself at this point in time," but that the "most natural buyer is Roche" and the "best fit," even though Illumina will be inclined to fight.

He suggested using options and a buy/write because it's "dicey" playing this one through stock.

Pete Najarian said the February 55 calls in Illumina were hopping. "Wow," said Melissa Lee.

Karen Finerman joked, when Melissa botched Moore's name, that it's like being called "Michelle," which we haven't heard (at least on Fast Money) for a while.

Some Fast Money guests tout their books more than others

Pete Najarian on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money gave himself and to some extent Joe Terranova a refreshing Fast Fire on Sandisk, saying both were in it and had "absolute pain ... unfortunately I'm dead wrong on this one."

Terranova insisted, "We're not dead wrong, this is a nice run we've had on the stock."

Najarian said the January 32-33 calls in SLV were "extremely active today," and so were the February 31-35s.

Larry McDonald turned up at the end of the program to argue that there's still a bear case for the market based in part on Portugal spreads blowing out.

Mel Lee asked, "Can you explain in plain language" how it's such a bear case if Portugal decouples from the continent's problems.

McDonald conceded that the spike in the spreads "doesn't necessarily mean the world's gonna blow up tomorrow," but that it's reminiscent, after Greece, of what happened to Lehman after everyone thought the Bear rescue would be the last straw. "I talk about this in my book," McDonald claimed.

Joe Terranova's Final Trade was to beware euro shorts. Dan Nathan said to buy puts, Karen Finerman said to sell the Colorado Kool-aid, while Pete Najarian insisted "Apple's too cheap."

Speaking of the Fed, haven’t heard from Peter Boockvar for a while

Melissa Lee on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money assigned a list of Slow Money stocks from her panel to keep in some kind of a Fed theme.

Karen Finerman started it off with MSFT, then Pete Najarian followed with big pharma, and if you actually thought this one was gonna be illuminating, well, you were probably soon hoping for Steve Cortes to come on and explain how Chinese central planning won't produce a soft landing.

Joe Terranova asserted that Bernanke is "now at the point where he's overtrading." But, in the spirit of the session, Terranova added, "I continue to hold the LQD" and said viewers can look at MUB. "Joy Global's a name that I bought," he said.

Mike Khouw apparently doubts interest rates really will remain this low for a couple years.

Later, in a segment on value funds in which MSFT was shown to be 71% owned by value funds and how that might apply to AAPL, Karen Finerman questioned the definition of "underowned" but allowed that it "did seem interesting" because value-fund dollars outweigh growth-fund dollars.

Amelia Bourdeau always looks good but looked better than usual Wednesday, recommending selling pound sterling against a long kiwi, starting at 1.92.

Brian Moynihan tells Maria Bartiromo his formula for improving BAC’s stock price

Probably the most significant exchange on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report occurred between Maria Bartiromo and Brian Moynihan on an extremely yellow-looking Davos set.

Maria asked, "How are you gonna turn this, uh, stock price around?"

Moynihan answered: "Uh, well we're- we need to do is to, continue to, uh, fine-tune the company, give capital ratios where people, uh, understood that we had the capital that we knew we had. And then they saw that, and that's why you've seen some, um, um, response in the stock. The- The core issue now is to drive the core earnings, and we've gotta get the costs down in the company, which we're working on, and then as the economy continues to move along, even at the 2% growth level, we'll start to materialize more and more earnings, and that's what we need to do."

So, "the core issue now is to drive the core earnings."

Hard to argue with that.

Sounds like a plan.

Steve Cortes admits AAPL is roaring but calls the derivative trade a dud

To say there were some issues with the production of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report is to say AAPL had a decent quarter.

For some reason, Judge Wapner opted to bring in something like a 15-person panel (OK not quite that many) that got about 15 choppy minutes to speak before CNBC's Davos/Fed crews commandeered most of the hour.

There were non-transitions, abrupt transitions, Steve Cortes talking but not pictured while 6 other mug shots were on the screen, a "light issue" that turned Guy Adami into a silhouette, and eventually A. Gary Shilling telling everyone (again) how he purportedly called the "bond rally of a lifetime" in 1981.

Steve Cortes, who cited Apple's Q4 stock performance as one of the reasons the market looked dicey and said a year earlier regarding AAPL's leadership that "the general's been shot" and who was mentioned in several queries to this site yesterday from folks not too happy with the 2012 results of his austere-markets thesis that included an AAPL-sidelines call yesterday, told Judge he wasn't going to be the "foil," but, "I won't say anything negative," but that as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, AAPL is in "no-man's land ... I certainly would not be buying here, but nor would I want to short it."

Meanwhile, "I am very negative on tech outside of Apple ... this is a superhero that doesn't have much of a cape."

Zach Karabell begged to differ, saying "there are coattails of Apple here," including BRCM, QCOM, VMW and EMC, which are enjoying a "virtuous lattice" of business.

Cortes dismissed that as, "the cloud story is, is not an Apple story ... for everything you name, every company you name that is apparently benefitting from Apple, I can name ones who are apparently not," such as Verizon.

Stephen Weiss chided Cortes for "mixing your metaphors up," and suggesting the markets were dipping because after a small bit of Greece euphoria, people realized "Europe is not healed," and the "fluff's coming out of the market."

Brian Marshall meanwhile said he only went from $500 to $525 on his AAPL price target because "we're having multiple, uh, degradation ... we think a 12 multiple is appropriate." He said it's a "relatively conservative, realistic price target."

Mike Murphy said don't jump into AAPL right here; "it's possible they set the bar a little bit high for themselves ... look for a pullback if you want to enter."

Guy Adami says shorting JCP
(as Zach Karabell is doing) is a ‘fool’s errand’

You know what they say: "That's what makes a market."

Zach Karabell revealed on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, "I'm short JCPenney cautiously."

Guy Adami, though, spoke venerably of Ron Johnson, saying you should either be with him or on the sidelines. "To try to short this stock here, you know, maybe you get a buck or 2 out of it max, but I think, again, to bet against him is probably a fool's errand at this point," Adami said.

It sounded like Penney's might be serving Kool-aid, given that Brian Kelly explained that if you're buying JCP now, "You're buying it now because you think it's gonna turn it into an Apple-like experience, maybe not like the Apple store."

Steve Cortes said one problem with JCP branding is that its longtime stars are the Olsen twins, who are now "grizzled fashionistas."

Kelly: ‘Best sector’ is coal

After the Fed-decision interruption on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Brian Kelly said the market reaction is that "stocks are gonna rip." Kelly said, "The best sector right here is the coal sector."

Guy Adami said "All lines point to gold right now."

Stephen Weiss revealed, "I actually bought some gold during the break," as well as adding to some MLPs.

Steve Cortes said he's long Treasurys because "I think that the herd has stampeded into the anti-Treasury trade."

Zach Karabell thankfully delivered an elbow to A. Gary Shilling (who wasn't on the program at that point), saying, "You know someone like Gary Shilling who's always predicting that things are gonna get bad is always right when he's right ... I don't see the global economy as getting nearly as negative," and that the "odds have decreased mightily" for a Europe collapse.

They’re evidently not comparing notes in Davos

Anthony Scaramucci beamed in late to the Fast Money Halftime Report on Wednesday to say "household formation is much larger than people expected," and that in housing, "we've probably already seen the bottom."

Earlier, Brian Moynihan told Maria Bartiromo, "With housing overall, it's, it's gonna still take time to work through everything. Um, I'd say, we got a couple years of working through some of the inventories of, of properties."

Judge Wapner a couple times referred to "effort" as a verb for establishing a connection from Davos.

Hopefully 3rd time will be the charm for Stephen Weiss & WLP

Tony Wible was given barely a soundbite at the end of Wednesday's Halftime Report to say of NFLX, "new streaming subscribers just aren't that profitable."

Zach Karabell cautioned that while NFLX has healthy upside, there's also a premium to its stock just as for its drinks, and, "You could easily see Starbucks going down 5-10% if their earnings were to fall short of this sense of continued momentum."

Steve Cortes said he was taking profits on long nat gas positions. Stephen Weiss, who botched the WLP call both Tuesday and last Thursday when it traded in the 70s, said Wednesday to "double down." (This writer is long WLP.)

Zach Karabell said to look at Honeywell, Brian Kelly hailed commodities/JJG, and Guy Adami reiterated gold for his Final Trade.

Another CNBC birthday

We missed Anthony Scaramucci's this month, so this page should note that, on the lead-in to Wednesday's Halftime Report, Carl Quintanilla wished Gary Kaminsky "a happy birthday," and the 2 noted Gary is still on the good side of 50. (Next we've gotta be ready for Karen Finerman and perhaps others in February, and a whole trio in early March.)

Kaminsky noted, on the morning after the State of the Union Address, the U.S. "leverage" and "earnings" and "somewhat questionable" outlook accruing over the last several years, and wondered, "Where would the U.S. be trading if it was an equity?"

Keith McCullough explains hairstyle on Fast Money

It's not like we were wondering about this — couldn't have cared less actually — but apparently Keith McCullough's hair was a bit unnatural on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, given that the Keithmeister went to Twitter to explain, "The CNBC girl put hair spray in my flow, sticky helmet head."

[Tuesday, January 24, 2012]

How the Wall Street analyst community works (cont’d): Yukking it up over embarrassing missed call

Apple Inc. is one of those stocks that even regular Joes can get right; just constantly tell yourself "buy buy buy" for about 10 years running.

Colin Gillis is someone actually paid to give advice about the stock's direction, and so wasn't it a hoot when Colin was all chuckles with the Fast Money gang on Tuesday's 5 p.m. show in explaining, "Our hold rating was a great call until about an hour ago."

Karen Finerman, after Gillis' concession, pushed the theme of "How Wrong Did Colin Get It?," first asking (as she always does), "Colin it's Karen, let me just push back a little bit on you," then asking if there's any type of AAPL quarter that would change his mind on the stock. Gillis joked that this one was pretty good, but then stressed that a company like this will at some point experience a shortfall.

It's a little bit like if the Harbaughs were laughing their way off their respective fields last Sunday.

Even Guy Adami falls into the trader-cliches-that-defy-logic trap occasionally

Keith McCullough decided he was Dr. Joyce Brothers on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, advising people who missed the AAPL spike to exert some self-help initiative.

"Tomorrow we don't buy Apple. I mean, if you missed it, you missed it. You gotta get over with it and deal with your issues," McCullough said.

Moments later, after Colin Gillis freely admitted his bungled AAPL call, Keith was Marvin the Mind-Reader, describing Gillis situation as, "This is classic, a sell-side analyst gets caught offsides, he's offsides, if he could take it back, he would take it back," and that McCullough's assessment is that Gillis will upgrade on the first pullback to $423. (Gillis said he should've upgraded it on the miss last time.)

Karen Finerman gushed about the AAPL quarter. "I mean it's pretty astounding," Finerman said, noting one of her colleagues told her, "This is the biggest big-cap, big-market-cap stock beat she had ever seen ... phenomenal on any metric ... still not a crazy valuation."

Even so, Finerman's Final Trade was to "hold off" on AAPL.

Guy Adami, speculating if AAPL is a buy here, seriously dropped the ball in the Logic Department, asserting, "if you have a year time horizon ... absolutely yes." But, he said, for those who are trading the stock, "clearly at this point late." (So why in the world, if you want to hold it for a year, would you buy it tomorrow if it's going to be cheaper in a week or 2?)

Wendy’s back in the game

Karen Finerman asked Lions Gate's Michael Burns on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money a phenomenal question about movie profiting.

"So let me ask you something," Finerman began, as she always does. "Let's say for a movie like 'Hunger Games,' for every dollar of revenue, who gets what."

Burns answered, "If you just look at domestic, a dollar a box office should equate to um, uh, a couple dollars, and so effectively you need to divide that up. If the box office- let's just say we're getting 50% or so of a $10 ticket, and then when you add in pay television, free television, DVD and international sales ..."

Of course he didn't answer Karen's question. And quite frankly, what he said literally doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but we can probably interpret some of it. Apparently, the total domestic gross generally turns out to be twice the domestic box office. And apparently, Lions Gate gets on average maybe half of the box office ticket price, plus unknown percentages of DVD, TV, international, etc.

Burns' ridiculous non-answer notwithstanding, we figured this is sort of the type of thing we should know, but Karen said she's never figured it out herself either, so that makes us feel better.

Instead of asking Burns why Lions Gate was coming up so empty-handed in Oscar season, the Fast Money gang devoted most of their time to hailing "Hunger Games" and seeking AAPL derivative trades for Lions Gate (because QCOM is too boring now for a derivative trade). Burns offered the profound, "People are gonna watch content ... it's amazing to me how many people are watching content on devices. That's good for content."

Burns added that Lions Gate has "One For the Money" coming out soon, which is produced by Wendy Finerman, her first producer project in 5 years according to the Internet Movie Database.

Keith McCullough raises the bar for Fast Money’s dress code

Guy Adami and Joe Terranova, pointing to the VIX, both said on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that now's a good time to be buying puts to protect yourself from a market downturn.

Keith McCullough, though, like Dennis Gartman apparently the only male who wears a jacket at the Fast Money desk (even Ron Insana won't do it), questioned if we're in a new "growth" paradigm in which previous formulas don't apply.

"You don't wanna be too early. Like the growth trade is on. And to a degree, you know, it's been Pavlovian. You buy the VIX at 15; you sell everything you've got. What if we've fundamentally changed," McCullough said to Terranova. "And there is a long way to perdition from 18 in the VIX to 15."

"Well I wouldn't sell everything. I'd buy puts to protect it, and just keep, buy high, sell higher, as we say," Terranova said, transitioning into a book pun for the panel.

Except Guy Adami was hung up on McCullough's trip to "perdition," asking, "Was that a Wendy Finerman movie, 'Road to Perdition'?"

Karen Finerman and Melissa Lee jointly responded "No 'Buy High Sell Higher'," as though that's going to be the next Wendy Finerman movie. (Presumably the action parts will include LL Cool J at the MBF party after their great year in nat gas in 2005.)

"Road to Perdition," by the way, was not produced by Wendy Finerman (we just looked it up), but by Sam Mendes and the Zanucks, which isn't one we'd really want to see on Wendy's credits anyway, you know, finding a farmer who can surgically remove a bullet without the authorities finding out about it; the "dead" guy who really isn't dead, etc....

What’s more automatic:
Long AAPL, or short UNG?

ETF expert Matt Hougan waffled between calling UNG useful and a piece-a-(bleep) on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, insisting it does what it says it's supposed to do but has serious problems with contango.

"It's been on a steady march to zero, hasn't it," Hougan admitted. "I don't think it's gonna go under; it's still a sound ETF."

Avalon Rare Metals chief Don Bubar finally settled the "bubble" debate that Molycorp's Mark Smith ignited more than a year ago between his own appearances on Fast Money and Bloomberg, saying Tuesday, "certainly the market got ahead of itself, uh, 12 months ago."

Guy Adami said that after the pounding in the sector, rare earths now look oversold.

Keith McCullough, though, had a different analysis, saying, "Overlay the U.S. dollar with a rare earths stock and you get every piece of information that you know."

Melissa Lee hailed Karen Finerman's recent bullish calls on PLCM with video from November. "I like to see the, the clips and make sure I wasn't wearing the same thing," said Finerman, who added that the "story is very much intact." More dubiously, Finerman indicated that CSCO and anyone else in the space aren't choking it off; "the pie is growing, so there's enough for everybody," and it wasn't too long ago we were hearing that about smartphones.

Keith McCullough said "Buy Brinker" for his Final Trade. Guy Adami said LGF, while Joe Terranova gave 3 tech longs with stops, CRUS 20.16, BRCM 34.52, AAPL 419.

Despite Judge’s emphatic tease, apparently reason for Zynga bullishness has little to do with online gambling

Stephen Weiss on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report insisted owning RIMM makes sense; "my downside's 2, my upside's 10."

Patty Edwards wasn't buying that, saying, "I respect Stephen, but I wouldn't wanna go there."

Ben Schachter appeared on the show apparently for the purposes of telling everyone not to expect anything from Scott Thompson about a strategic vision, saying it's "too early for him to say that."

Colin Sebastian also got to appear on the show, albeit in the last 5 minutes, to defend his Zynga call, except Judge Wapner wasted half the time in the preface to grumble that there's risks everywhere, so "where's the reward." Sebastian said the company is well positioned at the intersection of social media and mobile.

Patty Edwards said WDC did better than people expected, and has "probably got some upside from here."

Todd Gordon flags Stephen Weiss for shorting euro with no line of defense

Todd Gordon suggested on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Stephen Weiss' euro short is equivalent to an 11-man blitz with no safety back.

Gordon said we're now in risk-on and "I wanna be short the dollar," even though his trade was actually short euro vs. kiwi.

Stephen Weiss disagreed about the dollar and crowed about how he continues to be short euro.

"Steve when are you gonna stop out of this trade," Gordon asked.

"Where am I gonna stop out, I'm not a currency trader, frankly if it goes against me, I say, OK, it's a hedge," Weiss said.

"Don't listen to that viewers, trade with a stop," Gordon said.

Weiss turned to Brag Trade land, insisting he's been in it since 1.40 and "I've got lots of money in the bank here." But actually it sounds like most of the money is still in the trade.

Gordon insisted traders should respect the correlation between the euro and the S&P 500 as the S&P figures to move higher. "Correlations are made to be broken," Weiss scoffed. "This has been going on for 5 years now," Gordon said.

Steve Cortes explained that he was reshorting the euro because "Siemens gapped down." (He also told everyone, as all Fast Money panelists feel obligated to do, that Siemens is the GE of continental Europe.)

Gordon, though, zinged Cortes' earlier take that China can't do a soft landing, with Gordon saying he was short the Hang Seng and "I got crushed in that trade."

Judge Wapner apparently almost said "messy divorce" instead of "messy default" for Europe.

Guest analyst tends to look everywhere but into the camera

And we always figured the bistro-goers weren't that high on the Big Mac.

Fast Money Halftime Report guest Sara Senatore told Judge Wapner's crew that MCD remains a "very affordable option for dining out, even moreso in Europe."

Senatore, who tended to glance everywhere around the room she was in, said McDonald's delivers an "affordable, consistent, but you know, good-tasting meal." She called the stock a "good core holding" with "very visible top- line growth, some very healthy comps."

Senatore did say the currency tailwind would reverse, and Stephen Weiss stressed that MCD could become an underperformer if the economy does surge, while he has said in the past not to expect during the last 2-6 years (take your pick) of the Obama presidency.

Senatore wasn't so gung-ho on SBUX and CMG, saying there's "still some question around margins for those 2."

CNBCfix Movie Prop Glossary: When regular Joes order out (think ‘All the President’s Men’), it’s MCD’s; when smart elites do (think ‘A Few Good Men,’ ‘Primal Fear’), it’s Chinese food

Steve Cortes on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report made short crude his Final Trade, after saying about 5 times, "I do not think China achieves a soft landing" and suggesting that will hurt coal also.

"I think crude comes down quite a bit," said Cortes, without talking for a change about the Iranian military vs. U.S. military, and adding there was a "gap down today in CSX."

Joe Terranova praised Cortes for diligence if nothing else. "Steve's got a thesis, and his conviction behind it's great." But Terranova said he thinks in the Chinese easing environment that CP can be owned.

China, Cortes insisted, "cannot achieve a soft landing." Cortes said that like Chinese takeout food, "It is not gonna leave investors full for very long."

Patty Edwards said she's been hedged in WLT for 3 months, but that's been a "tough trade to be in."

Steve Cortes sitting out
the AAPL hurricane

Peter Misek said on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that an AAPL dividend announcement this time is "unlikely."

But, 35 million iPhones are possible. (Zzzz.)

"I think it's gonna be 32 million at least," said Joe Terranova.

Stephen Weiss said, "I continue to sell out of the money puts."

Steve Cortes said, "I have no position and it's going to stay that way."

Patty Edwards said she owns some AAPL and wishes she had more given the recent gains. "I think this thing will do better than expected," Edwards said. "I would add to my positions, yes."

Joe Terranova said Cirrus Logic is a good derivative play but NUAN right now is not.

How come Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Barack Obama won’t debate whether ‘The Artist’ deserves Best Picture? (Answer: Because none of them has seen it)

Herb Greenberg indicated on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report he thinks IBM's 2015 guidance is just as bogus as we think it is, but once again instead of tackling a Twitter rumor, Greenberg merely cited Toni Sacconaghi, who Greenberg said is "very concerned about the revenue growth."

Greenberg insisted it's a "sharp slowdown in revenue growth," but the company and its EPS tools is part of "the gamesmanship of the market." Greenberg also complained about Colin Sebastian's Zynga call at the end of whatever quiet period there was, saying "here we go again."

Tuesday's ETF guest was Anthony Rochte, who didn't have much to say except that there's interest in JNK, "people like high-yield bonds" similar to 2 years ago, and that investors now "really view gold as an asset class."

Judge Wapner said "The Artist" looks like InTrade's overwhelming Oscar favorite for Best Picture.

SHLD: Early front-runner
for stock of the year

Dr. Mark Schoenebaum, who in the last year has made great calls (BIIB) and wretched calls (HGSI), said on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that MRK is promising because in the pharmaceutical space it just comes down to how many great drugs a company can churn out, and "I think they've got a shot at doing that." He's got a $45 price target.

Steve Cortes said MRK has outperformed for a while so consider Bristol Myers.

Joe Terranova said he's "less long" the market and, dreadfully, "I think it's healthy to have a correction." (Sure … how about another Oct. 3?)

Patty Edwards kind of stumbled a bit in explaining the cost of shorting SHLD and asserted "I wouldn't go anywhere near this thing." Edwards picked Grainger for the Final Trade, while Stephen Weiss picked Wellpoint and Joe Terranova said to exit Visa for MA.

[Monday, January 23, 2012

Trish. Regan. Is. Gorgeous.

Until Monday, we hadn't had a chance to check out former CNBCer Trish Regan's new Bloomberg show.

Obviously, she's doing well.

Incredibly, once in a blue moon, we stumble upon the most impossibly perfect screen image.

If you can take your eyes off that one in less than 30 seconds, you are disciplined.

OK. Day made.

Moving on.


Guy Adami, suspicious of mainstream media attacks on Goldman Sachs and perhaps overdoing it recently on ‘Inside Job,’ questions motivation of Greg Zuckerman’s ESL article

Basically the media's job is to inform, and the Wall Street Journal's Greg Zuckerman presumably figured he was doing just that while summarizing on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money his article about Goldman Sachs' recruitment of investors in 2007 for Eddie Lampert's high-flying ESL.

Zuckerman explained that Goldman directed $3.5 billion from clients, including endowments and foundations, into ESL ... and that Goldman collected a $75 million fee for arranging the deal that it put into ESL as well.

Now, they're all hoping SHLD has some legs, because they're locked in until the end of the year, part of Lampert's 5-year commitment.

Guy Adami voiced 2 consecutive questions to Zuckerman, concluding with, "I rarely do this follow-up, but, you know, writing the article leads certain people to believe that maybe Goldman did something nefarious here ... I think you understand what I'm saying."

Zuckerman responded, "If you read the story it says Goldman and its clients are sweating it out ... didn't mean to imply they did anything wrong and if anything, they did something right, they invested alongside their investors."

"Wrong" is not implied in the story, but "goofy" might apply. The idea that an endowment is paying who-knows-what-percent to buy lock itself into Sears stock for 5 years is borderline hilarious, especially when you consider that A. Gary Shilling and Jeff Kilburg would've steered them into much better-performing Treasurys basically for free.

Not only that, but by the way, ESL is also a common abbreviation for East St. Louis ... which, uh, isn't exactly a hotbed of growth.

Fast Money panel that used to gang up on John Chambers now defends him

We've kinda been under the impression that the CSCO comeback of 2011 is one of the more overrated stock stories in recent memory; yes it's been a big bounce since August, but it's still down over 12 months, and if you look at the 2-year and 5-year charts, it's not a particularly appealing sight.

Evidently Fast Money guest Eric Jackson agrees, telling the panel on Monday's 5 p.m. show that John Chambers' job is still quite possibly in jeopardy.

All Chambers has had, Jackson claimed, is "1 decent quarter" after lowered expectation, and Jackson predicts investors will have "knives out" if Chambers runs into another "shaky" stretch.

Tim Seymour, who last year claimed he was "Jedi mind-tricked" into buying CSCO but apparently now doesn't see fit to allow Luke and Obi Wan and the droids entry to that Tatooine cantina, argued that Chambers hasn't been a disaster, that "last year was, uh, death by, you know, a hundred knife cuts for Cisco ... if anything he's guilty of mismanagement of expectations."

Jackson insisted it "comes down to, uh, lack of focus" as Chambers' "biggest mistake."

Then again, there's that old saw in football about how it doesn't matter what the score is, but who scored the last touchdown, and Ron Insana stood up for CSCO and MSFT, saying those companies and the traditional "backbone" of the Web have been "not really misfiring in any meaningful way."

Joe Terranova according to Melissa Lee was shaking his head at Jackson's commentary, instead pointing to Corning's Wendell Weeks as "potentially a CEO that might be challenged." By who? Newt Gingrich?

Maybe this could be the year for Thomas Lee’s 1,475

The funny thing about Fast Money, all it takes for people to start talking about the market going up is for the market to go up.

And so on Monday's 5 p.m. program, viewers first heard from Paul Hickey, who sees 1,400+ in the S&P basically on price; "If you're under the age of, you know, 60, you haven't seen these valuations in your lifetime or in your career."

Guy Adami tried to perhaps douse some of those visions by asking if Europe won't provide a significant headwind. Hickey shrugged that off, saying people are taking money out of Europe to put in the U.S., which has great relative strength.

Then it was Mary Ann Bartels' turn. Bartels, who claimed on Nov. 18 that the big banks are "gonna take out their October lows," reiterated Monday, "We are bearish," but ... a big 'but' ... "we've become a little bit more constructive," and now it looks like the S&P will get to 1,350 or 1,365.

Bartels suggested the Dogs of the Dow "broke out some time ago" as a lead indicator. She told Ron Insana that she doesn't share others' concerns of resistance at 1,319, which she considers not a significant level.

Finally Bartels took up something a bit at odds with something Gary Kaminsky mentioned on Squawk on the Street, that a correction is quite possible in February but not January. Kaminsky pointed out that technicals the last 3 years show market selloffs particularly in big-cap tech in the last 2 weeks of January.

CEO says on national TV that he thinks the deal he just made is a good one

Melissa Lee took some extra verbiage to unleash it but eventually asked Apache chief Steve Farris on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money what he thinks of RBC's calculation that APA is paying $6,000 an acre for the Cordillera nat gas, and that the commodity price will have to up a lot to make money on it.

Well, "it's certainly quick math," was Farris' non-rejection of that assessment, before rattling off numbers of oil and hydrocarbons and concluding, "from an economic standpoint, we think it's a very good deal."

And what other standpoint could there possibly be — vacation grounds for employees?

Guy Adami asked Farris, who, to be honest, if this doesn't sound too unfair, sort of physically and a little bit in the voice/delivery resembles that Jeremy Irons character (no, not the Hans Gruber brother guy) in "Margin Call," albeit with whiter hair, about the impact of Egypt. Farris called that a "good question" and said it's business as usual (which really makes you wonder about that Arab Spring thing), "we've seen no changes whatsoever."

Joe Terranova slightly confusingly said LNG is the play, specifically a name like GLNG, which showed Melissa Lee on her "A game" by clarifying that Terranova was not referring to Cheniere, but "LNG" as basic liquefied natural gas.

If you consider inverse outflows a contra-indicator, now’s your chance

Nick Cherney of Velocity Shares guested on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money with Bob Pisani and defended selections of ETNs over ETFs in a product line linked to the VIX, explaining, "one of the advantages of ETNs is that they have no tracking error."

Melissa Lee eventually cut in to ask how trading in VIX-like instruments is going during a period of lower volatility. Cherney said he's seen "a lot of inflows into the 2x leveraged products, with, uh, outflows actually from the inverse products."

2x leverage. Giddyup!

Scott Nations was bummed out by the costs of mimicking VIX because of the futures component. "These tend to trail to a huge degree," said Nations. "Futures are hugely problematic."

Joe Terranova agreed with Guy Adami that TXN valuation may be stretched. Terranova said recent pick LLTC might be a better play.

Guy Adami did sort of a Brag Trade regarding the rails, saying "we" predicted a runup into the 1st earnings report on the 19th, "and that's exactly what happened."

It's been a while, but Tim Seymour finally re-recommended Cemex again for a Final Trade. Guy Adami mentioned Interdigital (IDCC), if it holds 35 in afterhours. Ron Insana said to think about going long euro for a bit, while Joe Terranova said he was cutting his long exposure.

Dennis Gartman declares history-making bull call

Somewhere embedded in Dennis Gartman's copper/nat gas analysis on the Fast Money Halftime Report Monday was this eye-opener: "I've never been more bullish of the equity market than I am at this point."


That was Gartman's explanation for his out-of-copper position, saying it's just a trade, "nothing more than that."

Gartman also predicted nat gas' jump on Aubrey McClendon's cutback is not sustainable. "I think we're gonna have a 1 handle on it," Gartman said.

Jon Najarian, meanwhile, claimed "this administration has had no energy policy whatsoever," which to be honest is basically true of every administration, but then mockingly predicted the president would use the State of the Union Address to predict "2 million clean energy jobs that I just don't think are out there."

Najarian and Steve Grasso then briefly butted heads over whether one should sell the 5% gain in nat gas (Grasso), or whether there's more to come (Najarian).

Mike Murphy said "We're long Cabot," then played Al Roker; "the weather's gonna turn."

Jon Najarian said options were hopping last week in Range Resources (RRC).

Guest Michael Harris played the old Iranian-tension-premium card, saying if those U.S. ships in the Strait of Hormuz run into some thugs, "you better be long oil."

Remember when a couple years ago the smartphone pie was big enough for everyone?

If you missed the opening 15 minutes of Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, consider yourself lucky.

Guest host Brian Sullivan opted for a RIMM exclusive, in which the only thing halfway interesting was Dr. J doing a little Shields & Yarnell when he thought he was speaking live but there was no sound to what he was saying and Pete had to jump in.

Mike Murphy said "I don't know why you'd wanna buy here on this news," and Brian Kelly said the appointment of Thorstein Heins (and if you've seen any amount of CNBC Monday you've had it up to here with the Thurston Howell references) "did not instill any confidence."

Guest Mike Genovese insisted Heins is the "wrong guy" and that "there's really no hope for this company on the current strategy."

Even longtime RIMM agitator Vic Alboini didn't seem terribly enthusiastic that positive change (you know, the kind he's lobbying for that doesn't really involve new products that people buy but chairman/CEO shuffling that makes it more "independent" or something) is at hand. "There's a lot of negativity with this news," Alboini said.

Jon Najarian, in one of his regular CNBC roles nowadays, defended the company's value, stressing "the security factor," that the Saudis and the UAE had to block the service because "they just can't tap into this," which then makes you wonder if Symantec should be the one to do the take-under.

Maybe Jimmy John’s could deliver to Herb a new original thought on JCP

We thought the hook for Herb Greenberg's appearances on the Fast Money Halftime Report was to identify the real and bogus (mostly it's bogus) Twittersphere chatter that's actually moving stocks.

While time after time, we've noticed Herb is barely bringing more than a single soundbite to the production, leaving him with nothing to fend off the savvy follow-up queries from the traders with a cliche dismissal ("that's the type of stuff that moves markets now"), on Monday we noticed he simply skipped the Twitter and morphed into the (ever-popular) Barron's mode, saying there was an article about Herb's pet stock, JCP, as well as a JPMorgan note.

"There's not chatter," Greenberg conceded, "but the analysts are starting to talk about it." Calling the Barron's piece a "very interesting read," he cited the JPMorgan note as getting down to the brass tacks, in that, "the timeline for change will not be an overnight phenomenon."

That led to a debate pitting Jimmy John's vs. Panera. Jon Najarian revealed "I don't eat at either ones (sic)" but would probably prefer Jimmy John's because it's supposed fast.

Pete: TXN maybe could get close to $40 in months

Bob Pisani, covering a windy ETF conference, told Brian Sullivan on the Fast Money Halftime Report Monday that certain ETFs are gaining favor over more established similar names because of costs; "expense matters at this point."

Pisani said, though, if you're more into the mutual fund scene than ETFs, relax; "I don't see them overtaking mutual funds," just based on the size of the market.

Jeff Kilburg didn't credit Jon Najarian for stuffing running backs this time but said Treasurys are far from done, and "I think this is a buying opportunity," and that viewers can try the TLT.

Guest Vernon Essi said he thinks TXN is about to run out of short-term gas, that people will sell into the print because of its nice run.

Pete Najarian differed with that, saying TXN is into the tablet market and "we could see something closer to $40 over the next few months."

Mike Murphy said "we're buyers of CSX here," which Brian Sullivan used for a lot of ribbing during the show.

Dylan Ratigan used to wonder why health-care stocks rose once the finishing touches were emerging on ObamaCare

Best-dressed CNBC superfox Seema Mody made a marquee appearance on Monday's Fast Money Halftime, to rattle off a slew of developments in health care this week.

Unfortunately the cameraman didn't get closely enough for a full evaluation of Seema's outfit, nor did anyone ask Mody about football (she's apparently a Raiders fan).

Mike Murphy warned that JNJ may be a solid name but "you have to be careful here." Jon Najarian said "keep an eye on Celgene." Steve Grasso is always good for a warning about Supreme Court decisions on ObamaCare and came through again Monday.

Brian Sullivan actually referred to Thalidomide as "the drug everybody hated" ... given that it's called "one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times," ya think? But he said Celgene has something going.

The "Final Trades" were as weak as it gets, with Steve Grasso recommending protection against a possible market sellof, Brian Kelly saying to watch the XLF and its Oct. 27 high. Jon Najarian offered something constructive, saying he's long MRVL and that in options-land there have been "pretty heavy accumulations in Marvell."

Ex-wives vs. deficit: The Gingrich tax plan no one talks about

On the heels of Newt Gingrich's resounding victory in South Carolina, we couldn't help but think of a recent news article we'd been meaning to flag on this site for a while.

It's straight from Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press, went out on the national wires Dec. 13, and begins this way: "WASHINGTON — The tax plan by GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich would provide big tax breaks to the rich and blow a huge hole in the federal budget deficit, according to an independent study released Monday."

Now, not everyone's definition of "independent" is the same, and the AP notes in the 3rd paragraph that the Tax Policy Center that made this finding is a combination Urban Institute/Brookings Institution "think tank"; we found accusations of bias via Google searches but don't know enough on that front.

Whatever, here are the 4 words that make this story sexy: "blow a huge hole."

You don't get that every day in AP story.

For the 1%, the story says, "The analysis by the Tax Policy Center says households making more than $1 million a year would see their taxes drop by an average of 62 percent."

Many conclusions can be drawn between this article and Gingrich's resiliency in the GOP race, but at least one of them has to be, apparently most of the folks who parade daily through CNBC (and some who issue Fox Business-related tweets) decrying U.S. debt and how shockingly bad everyone in government acted in failing to "resolve our problems" last August regarding the debt ceiling ... don't actually give 2 (bleeps) about the purported problem.

Not only that, but while national politicians have a bizarre phobia about raising taxes or fees (perhaps because of Mondale, who had no chance anyway), state and local municipalities have been jacking them up for years and hardly any of the bums are getting thrown out; Bill Clinton cruised in 1996. (That is only an observation; this page frowns on tax hikes.)

(Please note: We're invoking some artistic license here for necessary satire to make a point, so in the rare possibility that we're ever running a campaign against Mitt Romney, no opposition-research types should clip this and actually claim it's like Bill Clinton's draft letter or anything like that.)

Now, how about Europe 2011, which the worrywarts have pegged with the type of fiscal fright that causes even Kyle Bass to shield his eyes, the most recent alarmist being John Stephenson's Fast Money call Nov. 28 that "We're facing the mother of all risk-off trades, coming down the pike anytime soon, in the next week or 2. With Europe. Europe is gonna blow up, and I think the euro, zone, as we know it is gone."

Yes, that was some "mother of all risk-off trades" in December.

The "zone" is still here.

Meanwhile, stock investors finished such a horrifying year ... utterly flat.

And so, maybe people focused on the Kyle Bass sectors of the world have actually got it wrong, that long-term debt is a paper fascination, a red herring, that somehow there's nothing to worry about, leaders will jawbone around various meetings and be criticized by Dennis Gartman but do whatever truly needs to be done, and that in fact it was Ronald Reagan of all people ahead of the curve when "joking" at the Gridiron in 1984, "I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself."

Finally, back to Gingrich. The AP story suggests a phenomenal satire movie concept: A successful candidate who turns society's current concerns completely upside down. Expand the national debt, don't cut it. Kick every remaining U.S. manufacturer out to China and Mexico. Import ALL of our oil STRICTLY from Iran and Saudi Arabia (you know, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer"). Warm the earth so that Noah Cross "Chinatown" types can start buying Greenland parcels on the cheap under the name of Jasper Lamar Crabb and sell it as vacation resorts.

The dramatic hook would be standard; candidate eventually sees the light thanks to a woman, but there would be hints about why those extreme positions reflect some bit of reality, kinda like in "Thank You For Smoking."

We might take a crack at that, once we (snicker) ship Oliver Stone our idea for "Wall Street 3" (hint: Gekko stung by John Paulson gold redemptions, takes the other side of Stephen Weiss' euro short...)

[Friday, January 20, 2012]

Isn’t it about time to cement that 2017 guidance?

Zach Karabell is certainly capable of profound thoughts on any subject — including, Fast Money Halftime Report viewers learned Friday, the contrasting earnings reports of Google and IBM.

"First of all this is exactly what people who actually try to invest in individual companies have been looking for — a differentiation in results, and a differentiation in how these names are trading," Karabell said, but to be honest, we think those "differentiations" could kinda be boiled down to "buy signals," which opens up a confounding can of worms about how traders will say something is good because it's sold so much at the same time they're saying "buy high sell higher." (Actually, both are true or realistic, which is what makes a market.)

JJ Kinahan tried to argue that Google's selloff isn't a big deal because of the run it was enjoying up until recently, but Judge Wapner, in the first of 2 chippy interruptions, insisted GOOG has been decidedly weak recently. Kinahan nevertheless argued people tend to "overplay things to the downside," and he'd trade that by selling GOOG puts.

Guest Ken Sena, who seems to be Judge Wapner's go-to guy of big-tech go-to guys, said something along the lines of Google's paid click gains will offset costs, or something like that.

Steve Grasso flat-out declared, "I've never had good luck buying Google. I've never had good luck selling Google," and in his opinion, the stock is "not attractive here."

Grasso coincidentally felt similar about IBM, which was moving in the opposite direction, but Grasso said he was "not really chasing it."

Jon Najarian flat-out bashed faceless pundits on CNBC who Najarian claims have been predicting an IBM currency headwind when in fact that doesn't affect the services business.

Guest Ed Maguire praised IBM in part because "they have a lot of tools in their bag to get to EPS growth," and you learn something every day on Fast Money, or maybe the same thing for 5 days a week every quarter for 2 3 4 years running.

Zach Karabell pointed out, in regard to IBM, the cloud plays have ignited recently. Karabell wasn't excited about MSFT, saying he's "basically not interested," and really, is anyone, besides Heather Bellini?

Jeff Kilburg’s attempt to flatter a colleague is embarrassing bust

Jeff Kilburg was evidently en route to Burger King for lunch Friday given the whopper he was telling on the Fast Money Halftime Report.

Skeptical of a European solution of any kind, Kilburg was complaining about the difficult of getting 27 nations on the same page, then mentioned that there seems to be a lot of backup notions, including the IMF, which Kilburg said is "kind of like the 2nd line of defense, kind of like when Dr. J was playing for the Chicago Bears here in Chicago."

Which could either make a person think 1) Najarian was a backup defensive player ... or 2) Najarian was the 2nd coming of Butkus.

As far as we know, he doesn't have an official NFL tackle.

That's not meant to sound like a dig at Dr. J, who wasn't the one who brought it up. What Najarian did accomplish — trying out for an NFL roster spot — is something that happens to virtually no one, an exceptional athletic feat.

To stick on an NFL roster for a couple years, as brother Pete did, takes downright lottery-ticket-type athleticism and health.

Uniqueness (is that a word?) can be an asset in many facets of life, and the guess here — strictly a guess, we don't want to get clotheslined — is that the 1981 Bears took a look at Dr. J probably because of his unconventional, low-profile college career that makes teams rightly think "this could be a diamond in the rough." Fill out the training camp roster with people of unknown potential, rather than leftover Notre Dame, Texas and USC players who've already been scrutinized as much as Herb Greenberg's StockTwits feed. Dr. J wrote in at least one book that the dream ended in preseason game 2 in Kansas City, short of a roster spot.

The only reason Kilburg's comment is flag-able — and only for 5 yards — is that we tend to think Fast Money's stock talk is much like lottery stories; you tend to hear more about the winners (and MSFT) than the losers, and this was one of those inside compliments that most viewers are instead going to assume occurred at larger proportions, and while this page has never doubted that these traders are whip-smart and off-the-charts financially savvy and should definitely be listened to, do we really have to pump up their greatness in all things life as well as the options market?

(Check that — we'll flag Kilburg 15 yards for presuming his audience is a bunch of knuckleheads who don't realize the "Chicago Bears" play "here in Chicago.")

Next thing you know, we'll be hearing on Fast Money how Keith McCullough was minding net for the Canucks in Game 6 or that Steve Cortes got a walk-on offer from John Thompson.

Kilburg also broke down the abbreviation of "FOMC" for his viewers, and was the 2nd person to try a Costa Concordia joke Friday, saying, "clearly we're seeing this Treasury slip and fall like an Italian cruise boat captain today."

Judge apparently got ripped in office outing

We always get excited when we see Money in Motion fox Rebecca Patterson on Fast Money, if only because it reminds us of Patterson's famous "gold gone wild" shower-in-a-bikini quote that got male viewers' attention many months ago.

Unfortunately neither Patterson nor her colleagues has revisited it since, but they sure have revisited euro direction (like, um, every 23 minutes), and on Friday's Halftime Report, Patterson said the euro should climb a bit on a formality, but "I would be looking to fade it."

Patterson's trade is to sell the U.S. dollar vs. the Mexican peso.

Patterson told Judge Wapner, "I've been over in Europe, seeing clients," and that indeed is reassuring, that Europe still contains clients.

Herb Greenberg opted to sit down for Friday's StockTwits feature and unleashed this doozy about ISRG: "As long as they can put in new systems, it's like a retailer opening up new stores, or putting merchandise in new doors."

Or put another way: As long as they're selling their product, it's like companies that sell products.

Greenberg also found, in what is becoming a daily occurrence, that the panelists were too much for him in SHLD trading soundbites, with Herb forced to conclude something along the lines of people are buying SHLD because it's going up. (Maybe like those retailers putting merchandise "in new doors.")

But Herb got the last laugh at Dr. J, saying a friend of Herb's spied Jon Najarian and Pete Najarian at an Italian restaurant, and "boy were they livin' large!"

Dr. J declined comment, except to point out, "That was with the Judge too I think."

Kodak: The Costa Concordia
of 2012 stocks

Zach Karabell is often the king of Fast Money's intellectual humor (that's "intellectual" as opposed to the type Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova sling at each other), and Disco Zeke tried his hand at pop culture on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"Isn't the Fed kinda like a cruise ship captain," Karabell speculated, because when markets are doing well, people seem not to care about them until a disaster happens.

"Bad analogy this week Zach but uh, that's neither here nor there," Judge Wapner tried to claim half-seriously. Karabell said that's why he said it, it's apropos.

Steve Liesman spoke seemingly forever (we didn't have the guts to actually time his segment) about this new schedule or whatnot of Fed revelations, highlighted by the "big fat hour and a half gap" on some days between a Fed statement and its interest rate forecast.

Diana Olick talked even faster than Liesman and didn't show off her chiseled biceps this time, saying UBS has downgraded homebuilders because of the huge gains, then pointing out the difference to homebuilders of judicial and non-judicial states, or as the giant CNBC wall chart said, "NON-JUDICAL (sic) STATES."

Jon Najarian said the gains have come so quickly this year, "I would take some profits."

For Final Trades, Zach Karabell recommended EMC, Najarian predicted VIX down, and Steve Grasso mentioned AXP. JJ Kinahan for some confounding reason actually touted GE.

Students left with differing interpretations of Dr. Dicker’s lecture

Dan Dicker made the most wonderful of concession speeches on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report (even if everyone's heard it before), telling Judge Wapner that with RIG, "I bought it high and I sold it low."

However, Dicker said oil services are playing catch-up, and so he likes SLB, BHI and HP.

That's when, in something of an oddity, 2 panelists questioned Dicker's conclusion from his own thesis, with JJ Kinahan expressing surprise that Dicker didn't name Valero, and Steve Grasso saying (with a tiny Brag Trade) that actually the name to watch here is Weatherford, for international exposure.

Zach Karabell made the "people are gonna eat" thesis for ag stocks but conceded they've been difficult to trade (and of course, people are gonna fly too but nobody ever says to buy the airlines). "I remain, you know, bullish about these names," Karabell said.

[Thursday, January 19, 2012]

CNBCfix poll finds no one buying big-screen TVs online

On the heels of Steve Grasso's thought-provoking argument with Stephen Weiss on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, the CNBCfix community compared notes as to whether 1) anyone had bought an HDTV online, or 2) knew someone who did.

The answers came back zero across the board.

So, score one for Grasso.

However, everyone conceded there probably are a lot of people who buy that way.

One buyer reported simply getting blown away by an offer he saw at Costco on a 55-incher, while another regularly looks up prices on Amazon, then brings them in to get (past tense) the same price at Circuit City (while it was still open, obviously).

Hardly a scientific sample, but this crew prefers to see the merchandise before buying, and it's indeed a fairly gadget-using, tech-savvy crowd, to the point we should probably turn over custody of this site to some of them from time to time to see what they can really do with it. (On 2nd thought, scratch that, you definitely don't want any some of these jokers opining on stocks.)

Really, the best guess here is that TVs are purchased infrequently, and tend to be a large expense, and items fitting those criteria are probably going to be most often picked out in person.

CNBCfix review: Joe Terranova’s Buy High, Sell Higher

Finally got it done — we've now posted the CNBCfix review of Joe Terranova's Buy High, Sell Higher.

There's a lot in Buy High — too much honestly, that some of the points seem to us amateurs to contradict themselves, and that it's even perhaps ironic that such a conservative-leaning book recommends large amounts of homework and note-keeping, but in Terranova's extensive Chapter 1 description of a Continental Airlines trade, he never suggests actually trying the product itself (i.e., flying Continental) to see if it's an appealing business. But there is plenty of technical advice most amateurs probably haven't considered.

Check it out, and this site's review, and judge for yourself.

Melissa said probably at least 3 times that this was GOOG’s worst earnings selloff since 2006

The Fast Money gang on Thursday talked a lot of mumbo jumbo about Google, but only a couple people came close to actually suggesting a trade.

Guy Adami said that if the shares were to reach, say, $560, "grab it with both hands."

Pete Najarian said he'd be inclined to buy it around $580.

Meanwhile, Jon Najarian spent his allotted GOOG time gushing about how much money he made on the options, revealing he was into calls as well, but "the puts exploded," and he was able to buy shares $20 lower afterhours than the price when Najarian was speaking. "This is not clairvoyance on my part Melissa," Dr. J clarified.

Jason Helfstein gave the most runaround answer to Melissa Lee's fine question as to whether investors should care more about the cost per click (negative) or paid click trends (positive). Helfstein said the company doesn't give guidance, so it's "up to the Street to decide."

Eventually, Lee decided Helfstein was saying the stock is attractive on weakness.

No word on whether the black box Wednesday over the Google home page logo is expected to eat into the next quarter's bottom line.

Joe Terranova bluntly declared, "Larry Page has a lot of explainin' to do on the conference call." So how come nobody on Fast Money was pining for the "adult supervision" of Eric Schmidt?

Life after Léo

Brian Marshall on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money became one of the rare folks to dislike IBM shares, saying, "we think the stock's priced for perfection."

In fact, Marshall said, "We would look to buy HP actually," saying the recent divergence has been too extreme.

Tim Seymour, in another rare quiet day but not as quiet as a day earlier, said, in a weird bit of irony or something, that IBM's ongoing strength is working against it, because people are rotating into laggards that now are perceived as having more upside. There's "much better value than IBM" in the tech space, Seymour said.

Guy Adami reminded everyone how IBM has already figured out its $20 EPS by 2015, which Adami thinks will be closer to $22 or $23. Joe Terranova disagreed with Marshall's assessment that it should get a market multiple around perhaps 12, predicting a "14 multiple."

Guess it depends on what the consensus definition of ‘consensus’ is

Guest Dan Berenbaum on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money had trouble getting going in his INTC segment largely due to some quibbling with Mel Lee over percentage plus/minus in Intel margin guidance.

Mel apparently was trying to say that the plus or minus could theoretically put margins below consensus. But Berenbaum said he was hearing rumblings of a below-60% guidance, and so, 65 with a plus/minus is much better than consensus was thinking.

Berenbaum also said the data center cycle is still booming.

Jon Najarian said there's been a "lot of upside call-buying" in INTC, and "I think it goes higher again tomorrow."

Joe Terranova said it's hard to believe, but MSFT above $29.50 would be a breakout; "that's what presents itself."

Pete Najarian made MSFT his Final Trade. Terranova picked NFLX, with a 97 stop.

Gregg Abella evidently hasn’t heard the old saw from Guy Adami, stocks don’t lie; people do

John Stephenson, the guy who always seems to think a barrel of oil or an ounce of silver is going to cost as much as a share of AAPL, imminently, said on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that TRP is undervalued no matter what happens with Keystone.

The stock is worth $45 if no pipeline, and 50 if there is. "I think you get a free option on the XL decision," Stephenson said.

Tim Seymour hailed Tenaris, calling it "the best in the business" and the name that "is your best pipeline play," so dig in.

Seymour recommended EEM over SPY for his Final Trade. Guy Adami touted ALB.

Pete Najarian said the ISRG might be a victim of profit-taking. "This pullback makes some sense," Najarian said.

Joe Terranova said he bought State Street (as he'd previously recommended), sold half, and still sees "a little more upside."

Gregg Abella, holder of a rather hapless Kodak investment, visited the Fast gang at the Nasdaq and lamented that he believed the company would "be profitable this year, as they promised." He said he "certainly" was misled (though he didn't quite say they lied). "Based on the information that was provided by management, certainly, um, and in their financial statements, it looked like a decent sum-of-the-parts analysis," Abella said, and with shares under $5 for a year, whatever would make him think otherwise?

Mandy Drury would rather be called a ‘cougar’ than a ‘frump’

Every now and then we're reminded on CNBC that Amanda Drury simply is not given enough air time to free-lance with pop-culture stories.

Mandy reported on Thursday's Street Signs that a high school board rejected "Cougars" as the school nickname, for reasons you can guess, prompting Mandy to call that ridiculous, because, "If I was a single middle-aged woman, I would be delighted to be called a cougar, rather than like a middle-aged frump."

Tyler Mathisen’s Best Buy
program looks good

Judge Scott Wapner on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report showed clips of Tyler Mathisen's Best Buy documentary airing at night, and while we kinda figured everyone pretty much knows everything they need to know about Best Buy, this one looks pretty good.

"The piece couldn't be more timely," said Stephen Weiss, who stressed the company's battle against online shopping.

That brought a curious rebuttal from Steve Grasso, who claimed "Nobody's buying online a 65-inch television" online.

"That's just not true. That's just not true," Weiss insisted, adding that not only do people buy online but they bring in lower prices that are matched, and thus "the margins go nowhere."

Grasso sees a more optimistic future, saying the goal is to "stock the stores with things that people aren't getting online, that's the billion-dollar question."

Judge Wapner piled it on, saying people were telling him in his ear that they buy 65-inch TVs online and that contrary to Grasso, nobody actually buys them in stores. Grasso tried to argue that people don't want such a purchase dropped on their front door. Judge argued that they get white glove treatment anyway.

Weiss insisted the 65-inch TV market is so small as to be irrelevant. "That's a bad example, it's bigger than your bed," Grasso shot back, their colleagues including Pete Najarian erupting, with Pete concluding, "Man, that's a shot."

Grasso said "I hate to act like Herb Greenberg at this point," but just wait till Amazon buys Best Buy.

Herb’s sidekick discovered

Herb Greenberg said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that XLNX's "beat" was only on lowered revenue, but that's working for people now; "It's a Xilinx kind of a market."

Stephen Weiss indicated that was kind of silly. "Expectations were lower, they came in and beat them," Weiss said.

Herb said he didn't want to talk about YOKU and what he considers ridiculous rumors, but they affect the stock, and he was "getting sort of sucked into that now."

Yesterday (see below) we questioned who the woman is who has to work next to Herb's desk. After doing some "sleuthing" through cyberspace, we've determined it's CNBC Markets Producer Karina Frayter, who has her own Twitter account and could use some more followers. (Give her a shout-out and express sympathies for sitting next to StockTwits guy.) Curiously, on Thursday, the cameraman opted for a tighter shot of Herb than usual, then mostly played that in a 6-window format, so no one really got a look at anything.

Weiss likely to buy CSX

The Fast Money Halftime gang on Thursday could hardly find anything not to like about the rails.

"I love these stocks," said Jon Najarian, mentioning Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific before later doing the "Berkshire not a pure play" thing that you've heard 5 times now.

Brother Pete insisted, "this is not just about coal guys," but the UNP story is about "energy."

Guest Anthony Gallo said rails have "pricing and productivity," especially considering they've got 2 times the EBIT of Q4 2006 despite having carloads 6% below pre-recession peak.

Stephen Weiss said "I'm lookin' at CSX ... it's likely that I'll buy it."

Have to wonder if nat gas will beat the 10-year to 1.67

David Goldberg on Thursday's Halftime Report came on the Fast Line — which was such a clear connection it sounded like he was actually sitting next to Judge Wapner, and there was no icon on the screen showing Goldberg — to argue with Brian Kelly about homebuilders, with Kelly somehow deciding that the Fed now realizes housing is important and is going to engineer a rebound.

Goldberg said the homebuilders actually are running out of steam, with "overly optimistic expectations baked in the group." He said Meritage and KB are most at risk to the downside.

Thursday's Halftime did beg the question, if Best Buy is getting killed by online purchases, why isn't Home Depot? (Evidently, people are more likely to buy DVD players than kitchen sinks online.)

Pete Najarian said DLTR has been "absolutely astronomical," and because of that, "I'm no longer in this name."

Stephen Weiss, speaking about nat gas' tumble, said, "First of all with gas going lower does that mean that Grasso's value is also declining." Grasso, in stride, said "You had 10 minutes to think of that. I have kudos for you."

Didn’t Colin have a $95 AMZN target not too long ago?

Colin Gillis insisted on Thursday's Halftime Report that "I'm not an Apple hater here," but "there's a lot of fast followers in this space," which is why he thinks the company's upcoming iPhone report is possible trouble.

Gillis said the Street's estimating 32-35 million, far higher than ever before, and "if you don't get that 35 number, it's probably gonna look like a disappointment to some people."

Dr. J, impressively, pinned down on Gillis on declaring that 35 million is already baked into the price.

Gillis said he's "dividend neutral" as to how such a move would affect AAPL stock.

Steve Grasso asked Gillis if he'd consider going long AMZN vs. short AAPL. Gillis said it's a bad idea to short AAPL (even after just forecasting the possibility of an iPhone disappointment) and actually indicated he's more like to take the opposite of Grasso's trade.

Pete Najarian rebuffed Gillis' skepticism of MSFT, saying the "PC market is not dead."

That 2015 EPS still on track

Guest David Grossman said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that things look good for IBM; "we think the business model is well-positioned to deliver very stable and predictable earnings growth."

Currency will provide a "meaningful" headwind, Grossman conceded, but there's still "plenty of room to manage earnings." (Of course there is, because whatever they need to do to reach expectations, they just buy back the shares.)

Pete Najarian said he was convinced enough to "consider it after the show."

Jon Najarian seemed blown away by FFIV, saying "guidance was spectacular ... a lot of haters in this stock."

Steve Grasso said 1,310 is a key level for bulls but "need a couple of closes above here."

Pete says something you don’t always hear

Pete Najarian, who has correctly identified banks for weeks as catching fire, distributed the praise on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report to a well-known back-stock fan.

"Dick Bove's been dead-on on this call," Najarian said, indicating that options suggest BAC "may be going much higher," and that retail dollars are "coming back in" to Wall Street banking.

Steve Grasso warned the yield curve will drop another shoe before the Dickster's $14 BAC prophecy is realized.

Pete also said there's option activity in Credit Suisse; "I think this thing's going higher." Willie Williams said the "path of least resistance" for the euro is to the downside. His trade is long Canadian/short yen.

Stephen Weiss defied Steve Grasso with a Final Trade of buy WLP. Grasso said to look at BBY provided it holds the 50-day at $25.53. Jon Najarian said FSLR may plunge far enough for a buying bottomm.

Judge Wapner showed a token clip of President Obama making some kind of speech to justify not breaking into live programming for it.

[Wednesday, January 18, 2012]

Analyst Logic (cont’d): Spinning off PayPal would boost companies’ value but not be ‘strategically helpful’

Karen Finerman, yet to take this page's advice (no, not about that sizzling hot sleeveless black dress Wednesday as we're clueless about fashion) that she stop asking guests to "let" her ask them a question, asked a fine question of eBay watcher Fred Moran on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money with her typical preface.

"Fred it's Karen, let me ask you," Finerman said, whether a spinoff of PayPayl might be something in the company's near-term plan.

Moran doubted that, saying, "I actually think the 2 are helping each other right now." But while conceding PayPal alone would trade at a higher multiple than the combined company and that the combined market value would be higher, he said such a move would be "not strategically helpful."

Finerman afterwards questioned why the companies couldn't continue doing the same business together as a spinoff, especially when it would boost the market value, and we didn't get Moran's answer either.

And so what Karen really should've started to say to Moran was "Let me clue you in pal," but of course Karen is too polite for that.

Moran said EBAY offered a "fairly stable outlook" but that currency will shift from a tailwind to headwind in Q1.

An AAPL discussion that could’ve used a jolt of Gene Munster, or the $666 guy

As great as AAPL has been in the last month or so, the Fast Money gang seemed to think something was lacking on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show.

Jon Najarian singled out the "shockingly low" 1% premium on AAPL options. "The 'wow' factor is just not there for the event right now," Najarian said.

Karen Finerman indicated she might've come around to Anthony Scaramucci's big-market-cap notion (which he actually started talking about at least a year ago, unfortunately), saying, "At some point the law of large numbers ..."

Jon Najarian asked if AAPL in the education/textbook space is trying to "disintermediate some of those publishers," but Jon Fortt was skeptical that it means anything; "doesn't sound like a huge driver," Fortt said, adding the company might even be trying to "downplay" it.

Joe Terranova made a good Final Trade a day earlier on LLTC; even though it was trading up in afterhours during Tuesday's show it apparently traded higher during the day Wednesday. Terranova said Wednesday he also likes TXN.

Kilburg: $2,000 gold in 2012

Mel Lee congratulated Jeff Kilburg on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money for becoming a CNBC contributor, about a week after Judge Wapner did so on the Halftime Report.

Kilburg came on to talk gold, saying, "I think people are chasing this price right now," and that "$2,000 is coming in 2012."

Joe Terranova asked Kilburg an excellent question about whether bonds can rally as stocks do, and it seemed like Notre Dame hero started to answer it, but somehow twisted it into a gold question that it clearly was not.

Jon Najarian said someone is selling the EMC February 22 (screen said 21) put in huge numbers, rolling over from January, a positive sign, Najarian said.

Even the guests can deliver a Fast Money Brag Trade

Somehow, and we don't intend this in a mean-spirited way, we've gotta think there's a fairly healthy collection of busts from Sean Egan's rating service.

Yet, none of that mattered on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money when Melissa Lee asked Egan if he felt "vindicated" by downgrading France ahead of the pack.

"The issue is whether our clients are making money," Egan started to modestly say, before explaining that his big score was a call verified in Barron's about being "bearish on European banks" just before a 40-80% crumbling including 80% in Commerzbank.

Egan defended his Germany call to a skeptical panel in part by saying Deutschland will be "supporting all the other countries" by absorbing the bailout costs.

Amelia Bourdeau seemed to make little sense in explaining the movement of the euro in 2012, saying people who wanted to be short missed the move at the beginning of the year because they were uncertain, and now it's apparently going up because people who missed the move are ready for another chance to short. Her trade is to short the euro vs. the kiwi.

Tim Seymour — in probably his quietest Fast Money performance ever — said the skeptics are losing out; "I think people really are underestimating the sustainability of this rally."

Guest Carl Kirst said TRP wasn't getting any short-term profits out of the Keystone Pipeline anyway, and if it ends up never happening, well, "there was basically a dollar, maybe $2 at best" in the stock, and it would trade at $40 if nothing happens and be a longer-term buy.

Things that make Melissa go ‘Wow’ (cont’d)

Karen Finerman on Wednesday's Fast Money invoked the terminology she's discovered in 2012, saying that BAC is probably going to have "crappyish investment banking trading returns," but insisting the stock is "ridiculously cheap."

On the other hand, Finerman said WebMD's latest report was "horrific."

Finerman for Final Trade said to sell AAPL 450/460 calls. Brian Stutland said EP can get to $30, Tim Seymour said to get into Brazil via BVN or SQM, and Joe Terranova said F and JNPR are buyable.

Jon Najarian said someone bought 10,000 AKS June calls, and so he's in the name. That prompted a quiet "Wow" from Mel Lee.

A panelist makes the rookie (and often veteran) Fast Money questioning mistake

One of the things this page constantly (or at least as often as possible) tries to stress is that asking a person 2 questions at a time is a bad move.

Still, Stephen Weiss plunged head-first into that trap on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, and unfortunately, both of his queries for Mark Mahaney were good ones that were better than Judge Wapner's repertoire and should've been asked separately.

In these cases, the first question tends to be better, yet the responder usually starts with the 2nd and often forgets about the first by the time he/she is done answering.

If Weiss is convinced he has 2 good questions, and he basically did, he should ask the first and then insist on the 2nd. Otherwise, it's kind of like sending 2 good wide receivers to the same pattern.

Weiss first asked if Scott "Thomas" (sic) was a good exec but not a difference-maker at eBay, as Mahaney had indicated, why would he be a difference-maker at Yahoo. Then Weiss demanded to know how Yahoo isn't just another AOL.

Of course, Mahaney started with the latter, and basically agreed with the premise, saying, "I think Yahoo is more likely to be the next AOL than the next Google" and that's why it trades at a low multiple. Then Mahaney said Thompson is a "good executive" and Mahaney doubts that a good executive can turn around Yahoo, but Thompson has a shot.

Mahaney said Jerry Yang realized "it was time for him to move on." But his most curious call was with EBAY, where he said "there is risk to the outlook" in eBay because it'll probably guide lower than the Street expects for the full year based on European and currency reasons. Judge Wapner asked why, then, would Mahaney reiterate "buy" with a $39 price target. Mahaney said "anytime I get eBay below 30 ... I'm gonna be a buyer," an interesting call somewhere between Abigail Doolittle's gloom prediction for the stock a day earlier and Patty Edwards' possibly slightly overzealous September call of "it looks like it's going north of 45 at least."

Mahaney opened his interview begging off (in a rarity) an underprepared Judge Wapner's question about Apple in the textbook space, saying "actually I don't cover it," which Judge should've known, and which means AAPL may be unlikely to shop an IPO to Citi (and that last part was only a joke, a Wall Street Journal-wonky joke).

Jon Najarian said the chip space has been one of the year's top stories, and "I still like 'em here." Stephen Weiss said he's in both QCOM and BRCM and BRCM "looks great" after being a "dog."

Najarian also said the Street is "underimpressed" with Apple's education offerings, at least based on the options markets.

Who is this pretty woman who has to work next to Herb Greenberg 7-8 hours a day?

Herb Greenberg on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report had a little more to say this time than usual, but he did succeed in launching a bet between Jon Najarian and Josh Brown as to RIMM's ultimate sale price.

Brown said, probably accurately, that you could start a hedge fund trading strictly on Research in Motion rumors by selling upside calls, and have a good year because the stock's not going anywhere.

"You and I gotta bet on that one then Josh because someone is going to buy 'em, RIMM is going to be bought," Najarian responded, with a bit of a chiding on Brown and others' grumbling about the rumors, saying the way to profit is to jump in before those rumors are validated or debunked when they're "actionable," and then "take the money and run."

Najarian predicted RIMM sells for $24.

"I'll take the under on that," Brown said.

Greenberg said some people want to say RIMM is like Palm, but "the reality is," the company has "good cash flow" and balance sheet, so others insist RIMM is like Yahoo.

But Herb got a little more apoplectic over reports of Einhorn's buying in DMND, saying, "He was actually short the stock" and merely covering, and decrying, "just shows ya how silly, how just out- downright silly these rumors are."

Stephen Weiss said the Einhorn story wasn't a rumor problem, but "the Street just got it wrong," a distinction that he didn't quite make in the limited time he had. But Weiss did score points for imploring of Greenberg on RIMM, "Keep these rumors coming, because that's helping the stock move higher."

It's overdue that this page finally singles out the young woman who is regularly seen to the left of Herb's head during these lunchtime rants, studiously at the keyboard, and impressively having yet to crack up at the made-for-TV hysterics of her colleague.

Goldman Sachs’ growth strategy:
Stashing aluminum in Detroit

In this turbulent financial era everyone is rightly entitled to speculate about the future of Wall Street banks, but the course Dan Dicker envisions for Goldman Sachs on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report has to be considered nothing short of a whopper.

Dicker said that like Glencore and others, Goldman Sachs is seeing the benefits of physical custody of commodities, and thus is collecting aluminum "stockpiles in Detroit" with a "number of warehouses," which he said is a sign GS will "build that better mousetrap again."

That comment ended the segment, so it's unclear if fellow panelist Josh Brown considers it an adequate answer to his question, "Where is the growth gonna come from?"

Stephen Weiss tried to argue that Goldman Sachs will benefit from a "massive recapitalization of European assets around the world," but Brown shrugged, "that sounds like a replacement."

Ed Ditmire said investors like the idea of GS closing the books on a bad 2011, but it's a "very open debate" if the industry is forever changed. Rather unconvincingly, Ditmire said, "if the market rises all year, they'll do better." Ditmire also told Judge Wapner he hopes the NYX doesn't waste time trying to sue for approval of its Deutsche Boerse deal but should instead focus on a "bold plan" to recapture the setbacks of 2011.

Dan Dicker may have read Joe Terranova’s book, but he’s apparently inclined to buy low

In the category of Falling Knives, Dan Dicker took up natural gas on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report and said "I'm wondering where this stops ... we haven't seen a 1 handle since the '90s." Specifically, he pointed to CHK and asserted, "You have to be buying some shares here at $22."

Dicker said the breaking news reports of the Obama administration rejecting the Keystone Pipeline were "expected ... this was not at all surprising," and that it will be "absolutely be approved" after the election no matter who wins.

Mark Fisher, teamed with Dennis Gartman at a trading pit that picked up every possible background noise, said "the risk-on environment's here for a while," then was hailed by Judge Wapner as the "King of Crude," but Fisher humbly protested, "I'm the King of Nothing." He said KMI is still his top pick apparently in the energy space.

Dennis Gartman, meanwhile, managed to turn a gold Fast Fire (courtesy of Judge Wapner, who pointed out Gartman recently said it would trade $1,450 to $1,500) into a Brag Trade. "I had to trick myself to be honest," Gartman said, explaining he was looking for an entry point in gold, then "I came over 2 weeks ago and bought the copper market" because it was a "fresh idea," and fortunately, "copper's actually outperformed gold in the last several weeks."

Gartman conceded the gold botch, but shrugged it off. "Yeah sure I did. I was wrong," he said. "We'll get a correction in gold sometime."

Stephen Weiss said of homebuilders, "I'm embarrassed, I missed the entire move," but he recommends taking profits now. Brian Kelly said he's sticking with them. Jon Najarian got a chance to crow, saying, "This is one of my top 5 picks for 2012."

Kelly buys German bonds

In one of the lackluster series of opening minutes you'll see on the Fast Money Halftime Report, Brian Kelly on Wednesday revealed, "I bought German bonds yesterday."

Stephen Weiss said he's looking at buying Spanish bonds but "I'm not there yet."

Josh Brown said the market might look at an Egan-Jones downgrade and "pretend it doesn't even exist."

Steve Liesman reported that CNBC has talked to a "Treasury spokespersman" (sic) who insists the U.S. has no intention of giving the IMF additional money. "Who cares about the IMF," said Brian Kelly.

Stephen Weiss flat-out insisted, "The euro is still going down to par. Period."

Josh Brown said he rates CCL a "strong neutral" and that Tuesday it was oversold but people shouldn't chase the bounce Wednesday. Brian Kelly, getting the lone "Final Trade," said to watch PPLT.

[Tuesday, January 17, 2012]

Not every cruise is going to turn into ‘The Poseidon Adventure,’ although it’s worth noting, Gene Hackman also had a rough Friday

We complained at Halftime that Judge Wapner took way too long to get to the most interesting trading story of the day, CCL, and that the stock might indeed be appealing given the extent of the selloff.

Mel Lee on the 5 p.m. Fast Money indicated it comes down to "human error, 1 guy in Italy," and it's not like there's an epidemic of sinking ships.

Karen Finerman seemed to lean that way, saying Tuesday's pounding was "enormous for 1 year's worth of decreased booking."

Yet, even Finerman wasn't ready to jump in. Guest Kevin Milota, polite to a fault but repeating words constantly, painted a gloom scenario for CCL, saying it's not the liability that matters so much here but "the risk to the top line" because this is when a large number of bookings are made, and the accident "couldn't have happened at a worse time."

Dennis Gartman claimed he researched a "correlative" event involving Amtrak, and the bookings took "several months" to come back, which is fine, but our point (again) is that, how was that not already priced into Tuesday's open?

Finally, Joe Terranova revealed that he was the one selling to people like Jon Najarian (except Dr. J said he did it with options), explaining, "Friday morning took a small stake in Carnival Cruise Lines. And I would do it again. I would do it all over again. But today, I was getting out as fast as I could on the open, because there's too much uncertainty."

Why does Karen Finerman continue to ask guests for clearance to ask a question?

This page alone flagged Karen Finerman's curious refrain before every question, and on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, The Chairwoman was back in business.

Addressing Ken Sena, Finerman said, "It's Karen, let me ask you something," which was whether Yahoo will announce that the process of exploring alternatives is over and what it means for Dan Loeb. Sena said, "I don't think that they are gonna come out and say, 'Look, you know, strategic options have ended'."

Later Finerman got a chance to query Kevin Milota about Carnival bookings. "Kevin it's Karen, let me ask you something," Finerman said, which was, citing salmonella incidents, how quickly cruise ship bookings bounce back after a disaster. Milota said salmonella didn't really affect bookings, but he's convinced that the Italian disaster has "more of an emotional impact for the consumer," that it's "more of a cruise issue" and is negative for the "European customer" (who apparently is more put off by it than people in other countries.

Somewhere in between, Finerman offered another preface although not quite as unnecessary to Brian Marshall, "quick question for you Brian" (is she afraid that he might've thought it would be a long question and refuse to consider it?), about how quickly does the announcement of the next-generation Apple product eat into sales of the existing product. Marshall called that a "great question" and said there is some of that, but didn't have much in the way of specifics.

Panel mostly clueless
on impact of Yang resignation

If the Jerry Yang resignation has got your engines stoked to trade YHOO, you might want to consider what was said, and not said on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

While Guy Adami did assert, robustly, that "I think this stock is a 19½ to $20 stock" and that Yang's resignation is the next step to getting it there, his colleagues couldn't figure out what the heck this means for the stock.

"I don't know what to make of it," said Karen Finerman. "I wouldn't be jumping in right here actually."

Joe Terranova admitted he "wouldn't be jumping in either."

Ken Sena said if nothing else, it's promising that the "board is listening to shareholders now."

Finerman said she's not sure if Yang's departure is enough to satisfy the activist investors or if they want more. Joe Terranova said he doesn't know if this move will help bring back some of the employees the company has lost.

Dennis Gartman mocked Yang for his rejection of Microsoft's offer, saying, "There just aren't many people who have destroyed that much money with, uh, 1 decision." Jon Fortt reported that sources say there might be more Yahoo board resignations.

But when are they most likely to finally institute a dividend?

Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money met its AAPL quota by inviting Brian Marshall to talk about its mysterious new "educational" plan, but Marshall couldn't resist cliche-land, saying "at the end of the day," even though at the beginning of the day it's equally true that AAPL gets 80% of its gross margins from iPhones and iPads.

Joe Terranova said interesting derivative plays include BRCM (own the 35 calls), CRUS and NUAN.

Guy Adami asked a great question of Marshall, albeit not in Marshall's "comfort zone," whether publishers such as Wiley, McGraw-Hill, Scholastic should be hurt by Apple's presence. Marshall called that a "very interesting question" but said he doesn't have a good answer yet.

Adami said RIMM could go 19½ or 20 like YHOO. Joe Terranova said he wouldn't buy RIMM.

Dennis Gartman not asked for a gold call in Fast Money desk appearance

For some reason the Fast Money franchise is obsessed with trying to get someone to declare a U-turn in banks, even though virtually no one ever does.

Fred Cannon on Tuesday's 5 p.m. show said, rather lukewarmly, "hopefully we've seen the worst," but he had to admit he didn't see a robust banking revival next year either.

No one seemed to think, unlike Anthony Scaramucci at Halftime, that GS was in the clear. Nevertheless, Joe Terranova said State Street is "a name I think you wanna own."

Jim Iuorio said the VIX at 21-22 "seems to be an excellent buy."

Karen Finerman said sticking it to SHLD is nearly impossible. "I did look into shorting it," Finerman said, but it costs "47% to short it." That, she said, is "staggering ... prohibitive."

Guy Adami said nobody but the people on Fast Money talks about PFE.

‘Rate My Stock’ proves nothing more than run-of-the-mill CEO interview

Melissa Lee was excited on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money about the "very very exciting" new "Rate My Stock" feature, in which a CEO of an "under-the-radar company" purportedly makes the case for buying his stock.

Tuesday's inaugural subject was Dick Heckmann of Heckmann Corp. (HEK), who didn't really lobby the panel to buy his stock, and got no rating from anyone.

Heckmann, who of course was polite, sounded like he referred to Melissa Lee as "Marissa," then proceeded to point out that in fracking, "everything happens around water" and thus regulation is good.

Lee asked, as she always does, if he's open to a buyout. Heckmann said he'd never prevent a shareholder vote, but insisted "we've got our head down because the demand for what we do is enormous."

Guy Adami was the only panelist opining, saying, "If Jim Cramer likes it, it's worth taking a flier." (Yeah. Sure. Just like the "4 Horsemen.")

Carter Worth said the stock-market technicals indicate "health at the strong end, health at the weak end ... fairly constructive tape."

Worth agreed with Guy Adami that the S&P in the 1,330s or 1,350 is a "fair price objective." However, he disagreed with Adami in saying oil services figure to play "catchup." Adami pronounced the sector as "grim death."

Joe Terranova's Final Trade was LLTC. Karen Finerman said TC, Guy Adami said WLK, and Dennis Gartman said "English-speaking currencies."

His loss: John Harbaugh
clearly doesn’t read this page

Most NFL coaches, usually in a polite, courteous way, will shrug off advice from fans by implying fans don't know what football's all about.

Yet, all Baltimore's John Harbaugh had to do was check out this page's 2011 NFL Playoffs primer (see below, January 9) to save himself — and Ravens fans — serious angst.

Harbaugh would've seen that, entering Wild-Card weekend, the first team to 20 in NFL playoff games this century wins 91% of the time, or 100-10.

After the first 8 playoff games of January, that now stands at 108-10.

Harbaugh was presented with 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter, Ravens leading 17-13. Rather than seal the game with a chip shot, he ordered the most bone-headed call since Jerry Yang rebuffed Microsoft, and gave the Texans a chance to be first to 20.

Harbaugh, and other coaches, should be aware that goal-line offense in playoff games, especially Super Bowls, is extremely difficult. Even the teams that win playoff games (that's correct, the winners) tend to have huge difficulty scoring touchdowns inside the 5-yard line. With rare exceptions, coaches should always settle for the field goal. You don't want to see your guys trying to tackle James Harrison with no time on the clock.

It can also be said that the first team to 17, or 10, wins a majority of the games. Yet, ⅔ of losing teams score 17 or less. The great divide is between 17 and 20. A bad team can get to 10 first thanks to a fluky play or 2, but getting to 20 requires sustainable scoring.

Meanwhile, this page at halftime of the Packer-Giant game penciled in the Giants over Patriots as Super Bowl 46 champions, and we don't expect Eli Manning to have any trouble reaching 20 from here on out.

Stocks often have more lifeboats than the public might think

Undoubtedly the most intriguing stock of the day Tuesday was CCL, and inexplicably, Judge Scott Wapner took forever on the Fast Money Halftime Report to get to it.

The Italian cruise ship disaster, occurring Friday, offered the show another great example of how stocks sometimes are a buy on bad headlines (this writer took no position in CCL or any cruise line). Patty Edwards seemed to have the best call, suggesting viewers not take an entire position in CCL right at the moment, but "I think you could actually nibble on some.

Jon Najarian concurred, though he said he already got in and out based on the instant pounding the shares took in Tuesday's pre-market.

Honestly, we're not the pros, but we can't see how, unlike the early days of the BP spill, this news can get a whole lot worse; the death toll is basically known, there's no oil spilling, and people aren't going to cancel cruises out of sinkage fears.

Wherever the stocks go, as Najarian and Edwards indicated, this is undoubtedly the type of breaking news story that, while regular Joes are lamenting over the weekend how bad it is, the savvy trader is actually recognizing, "There could be an unsustainable pounding here Tuesday morning."

Let’s play Name That Constituency regarding Anthony Scaramucci’s assessment of a Romney presidency

We shouldn't be so cynical. But in the category of "Obvious Bias," doesn't it seem a bit of a reach for Judge Scott Wapner to ask Anthony Scaramucci — whom Judge noted is one of Mitt Romney's "8 national finance chairs" — to predict stock reaction to a Romney presidency?

No, this is not a knock on the Moochmeister, but you'd think viewers would be better served on this subject hearing from Jon Najarian, Patty Edwards, Josh Brown or Joe Terranova, all of whom (to our knowledge) are not involved in the Romney campaign (though they presumably might be voting for him) and who would likely have independent notions of Romney's impact on stocks.

Instead, Judge merely asked Scaramucci alone "what areas" of the market should someone look at today if he/she thinks Romney will win. This is Tee-Ball-type opportunity for Scaramucci to court necessary voting blocs, and thus his answers — "he'll be very positive for stocks," particularly "defense stocks" (shore up the pro-military base) and the "commercial banking area" (attention Wall Street campaign donors) — have to be taken with a grain of SALT, and not the version in Vegas every May.

Conducting debates over the Fast Line just doesn’t work

Obviously sensing, as this page noted last week, the upset-the-apple-cart potential of Keith McCullough, Judge Wapner on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report tried to engineer a China debate between the Hedgeye king and Steve Cortes.

(And actually, if McCullough has been watching Fast Money for a couple years, he already knows Cortes' argument like the back of his hand, a decided advantage.)

Problem was, while Cortes was beamed in on video, McCoolah McCullough had to settle for the Fast Line, which painted a boring picture to begin with, and then Judge even felt compelled to jump in on McCullough's behalf before McCullough even said a word.

Cortes started, arguing a small band of central planners can't guide an economy, and then cited data of weakening Chinese financial performance from the last couple of years.

"Yeah but who cares what's happened in the past," bellowed Judge.

"The trajectory matters," Cortes insisted. "The trend line and the trajectory clearly is toward slower growth in China."

Finally McCullough got a chance, saying, "Well he's wrong 'cause the market's ripping him," and then in a dis, claiming Cortes' call was a Hedgeye position back in 2010 but is now a "stale thesis," and that they key is getting the growth right.

Cortes insisted that "Chinese consumption," which is "still extant," is declining as a percentage of growth, "they are totally dependent on exports."

Josh Brown jumped in basically on McCullough's side, saying Cortes is citing numbers from a rate-hike cycle, but now it's in a cutting cycle with other emerging markets which has been awesome this century. Cortes downplayed that as analogous to being, "like a patient saying, 'I'm so glad I'm sick, because now I get to take more medicine'."

Brown also in the program asserted, "The market is telling you there's a new math. And the new math is, good China news trumps bad Europe news." Patty Edwards even said that describing China's 8%-plus growth as either a mild recession or hard landing is "just a little bit ridiculous," and recommends TAL, hot in 2012.

Anthony Scaramucci cautioned that Chinese banks have been lending money to failed businesses as a way of keeping unemployment low, which "could be a kick-the-can-down-the-road situation."

Doolittle: 1,075 possible

And amid a rip-roaring start to 2012, leave it to Abigail Doolittle to douse the rally.

Doolittle told the Tuesday Fast Money Halftime crew that stocks maybe have been gaining on a "low-volume melt-up," with an "apex" possibly around 1,350 and a retest at 1,250 ... and if that retest fails, look out for "target 1,075."

Anthony Scaramucci said he also sees a "staggering" move in short-covering recently, and that, "Short interest now is at its lowest point that it's been in 12 months."

Abigail Doolittle gives Patty Edwards something to think about

Not only did she predict possible gloom for stocks, but Abigail Doolittle on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report outlined what would be a horror show for EBAY, postulating, "that pattern's going to break to the downside, a big target down to 20, $20."

Patty Edwards revealed "I'm actually long EBAY" and said she was going to revisit that in the afternoon based on Doolittle's analysis.

Jon Najarian touted MSFT, saying there's a "lot of good 'oomph' to the upside here." Najarian also praised AAPL, saying, "love it, and long it, and I think you wanna own this thing at least through the end of March," when he thinks that ever-elusive dividend is coming.

Joe Terranova had to spar with Judge Wapner briefly about why he's not in AAPL, insisting it's a matter of "risk management."

Christopher Danely called a top in INTC, saying "margins are peaked out," but he's "very very bullish on the semiconductor sector," in particular TXN, XLNX and ADI.

Hedgeye crew introduces new indicators for the Fast Money Halftime Report

It was almost Hedgeye day on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, with Josh Steiner following Keith McCullough, but to discuss banks.

Steiner said Hedgeye was short C in the morning but covered. He said that while banking fundamentals don't impress, there is now such a "large embedded European discount" in the stocks that the upside, citing Euribor/OIS spread (which isn't exactly a common Fast Money subject), assuming the potential of a short-term crisis continues to recede, outweighs the headwinds.

Steiner likes the superregionals including PNC and UBS.

Jon Najarian said the XLF option activity shows "people have an optimistic outlook."

Anthony Scaramucci said he's been wrong on GS but that they're "buying back stock in a progenous (sic, that's what it sounded like; perhaps he meant "prodigious") way, OK, this, this company's gonna move higher in the next 6 months."

Josh Brown insisted that the big banks aren't going anywhere. "They're all head fakes ... It's only suckers buying in," Brown said.

CHK is yet another falling knife that Dan Dicker views with disbelief

Dan Dicker briefly joined Tuesday's Halftime Report to say FCX has turned; "Freeport I think you can finally be in," and VALE is appealing too; "I think you can still get in."

Dicker also touted XEC and wondered how much lower CHK could go.

Joe Terranova reiterated that the trade is the Permian Basin and said, "I bought some UNG April $5 puts today."

Jon Najarian said he likes the fertilizers off of cheap natural gas.

Money in Motion personality Camilla Sutton recommended selling British pound vs. Canadian dollar. Patty Edwards defended her Friday call on PM to Judge Wapner, who credited her for sticking with it despite what Wall Street says. Edwards said, "I see 11% upside just for the price appreciation, plus a 4% dividend yield ... I'll probably buy more."

Another Herb bust

Herb Greenberg, scraping to fill up his meager amount of minutes on the Fast Money Halftime Report, reported Tuesday that in the case of SHLD, "nobody knows nothin'."

Then Greenberg transitioned to GMCR, claiming NPD shouldn't be a driver because of the "huge disparity" between NPD data and actual sales, prompting Judge Wapner to chide Herb for previously stressing the importance of NPD.

Judge then asked a good question, saying GMCR is collecting royalties and that Starbucks says it is selling K-Cups, so isn't that good for GMCR. Greenberg suggested it's not, only because "you don't know what the economics of that deal are Scott."

Anthony Scaramucci accurately opined of Greenberg and GMCR, "he's in love with hating the stock."

Jon Najarin made RIMM his Call the Close Final Trade, while Josh Brown said to sell precious metals on strength, Patty Edwards hailed PX and Joe Terranova said to get long WFM with a $71.25 stop.



Fast Money & the aging process

Do your trades ever give you gray hair?

While doing a little Fast Money "research" recently, we pulled a little archival video … and the first thing one notices is, darned if some of the folks on the program don't look like they've aged every bit of the 3½ years since the summer 2008 images above.

The thing about life, no matter how hectic or complicated it may seem, it actually passes so slowly, we don't even consciously notice the change. (Which is one of Mother Nature's gifts, because if we actually were given a constant daily comparison of our 40-yard dash time now vs. the days when Microsoft didn't even exist, it would be sobering at best.)

On the flip side, check out another trader (below) from 2008, who has something of that Karen Lynn Gorney look from "Saturday Night Fever" going, and does not appear to have aged 1 day since.

[Friday, January 13, 2012]

Guy Adami jacks one out of center field at the Polo Grounds*

On Thursday's Fast Money, Guy Adami said one name in the beleaguered chemical space stood out as a buy, and it was Georgia Gulf (GGC).

"That was one helluva call," Judge Wapner gushed on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, and Judge of course was correct.

"He's being interrogated right now by some folks over at the SEC," said Jon Najarian, which we think was (hopefully) a joke.

The last thing we want to do is balk at such a success. But something here is worth noting*.

GGC actually opened Friday at $32.96 and closed at virtually the same price. To have adequately capitalized on Adami's trade, Fast Money viewers would've had to buy in extended hours Thursday afternoon/evening.

The problem with extended hours trading is that, and this is just from amateur observation/frustration, 1) for some stocks there is no market, 2) some orders, particularly for active names that have just released earnings, etc., go unfilled even when trades are being logged at prices below the offer, 3) orders for large numbers of shares can get diced and sliced in more ways than a mortgage-backed security, 4) when fairly obscure stocks such as GGC are mentioned on Fast Money, the bids (as evidenced by the CNBC ticker) can spike, making it almost a fool's errand to guess at how much one might have to pay over the 4 p.m. close to buy such a stock in a light-volume extended hours environment ... and 5) maybe most importantly, even the Fast Money gang virtually never urges afterhours buying. (Yes, they will say during afterhours earnings selloffs or gains, "I'd buy it right here," but that merely means they like a price it did actually trade at; we've never heard anyone say "I'd buy it right here and make sure I flip it before tomorrow's open.")

We're unable to determine exactly how much activity GGC had in Thursday's afterhours, but data from Google finance suggests it was minimal, presumably because few wanted to sell after the day's rise, and it's simply not a big market-cap.

Bottom line? It was a phenomenal trade, ridiculous really, but so good that it was practically undoable for any discerning viewer who would rightly insist on collecting some information and getting a true market price rather than chasing an afterhours gambit he heard on television.

Some goof at GameStop is giving out too much information

Michael Pachter, who is almost on Fast Money retainer these days, surfaced again on Friday's Halftime Report, but fortunately/unfortunately didn't berate Zach Karabell and the gang this time for not appreciating the Coinstar story that the gang's cleaning ladies and chauffeurs undeniably know all too well.

It doesn't get much more damning than what Pachter said about a well-known video game shop: "I spoke with GameStop this week, they told me their stores were empty for the first 3 weeks of December."

Then Pachter went on to defend the video game industry, sort of the way he defended DVDs actually, drawing a curious analogy to 3 types of Vegas players who pick either 1) penny slots, 2) blackjack or 3) Texas Hold'Em and indicating the console video game players are like the blackjack players in Vegas and will keep coming back.

Steve Grasso asserted, "GameStop is going to have a terrible time going forward."

Zach Karabell said "Netflix is trading in its own little microcosm."

Maybe the Patriots will do a better job of covering than JPM

Patty Edwards on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report experienced that little phenomenon that nighttime Denny's diners know all too well, which is that, the first offer you get is always the best, when the waitress seats you and asks if you want anything to drink, you BETTER deliver your entire order right then and there, because no one's coming back to your table for at least 15 minutes (and whoever finally does isn't going to have a clue).

See, Scott Judge Wapner, in the process of practically overlooking Patty for the entire opening segment of the show, gave Patty a brief opportunity to explain her moves on Friday, and all Patty could say was that she hadn't traded any stocks yet, but "I am looking at a few" and was expecting to "leg in" to some dividend payers.

(Or put another way, "I'd like to see the menu first.")

Edwards did manage to say "at this point in time."

Jon Najarian, in quite an understatement, said the Dow-down-93 market wasn't a great buying opportunity, but that there had just been a "good buying opportunity" when it was down 160 points.

Judge a couple of times stressed that the type of news occurring Friday would've utterly sunk the market a few months ago; "the market would be down 993 points" if S&P had knocked down a few of the European biggies 2 or 3 notches.

Gerard Cassidy said JPMorgan didn't continue its gains on Friday because quite simply, "they needed to knock the cover off the ball," and they didn't quite do that. Notably, the screen text showed Cassidy has a (snicker) $50 JPM price target.

While Jon Najarian said the selloff is appealing, Steve Grasso — while courteously trying insist he's not calling Najarian's trade a "sucker" trade — said that buying the banks right here for anyone who doesn't have Dr. J's super-speedy time horizon is quite possibly making a "sucker" trade because these banks could flop in a jiffy.

Dr. J implies Kyle Bass
is just like 2011 Colts fans

Zach Karabell had one of the better lines in recent memory on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, not just that Stephen Weiss was calling from Athens (never to be heard from again), but, "This just in, Standard & Poor's about to announce that Kodak has some funding problems and that the Soviet Union may dissolve."

Steve Grasso said he gets the sense that "people wanna be longer this market vs. short." Karabell envisions stocks decoupling from the euro, saying short-euro still looks like a good trade but is not necessarily bad for stocks.

Karabell opined that people are more prepared for disaster in Europe than they are for a possible upswing in global markets. Steve Grasso saw it the other way, that people are too complacent.

MacNeil Curry said it's "pretty clear" the euro will continue depreciating for weeks). Curry even went beyond the Bob Gibson standard to say it could hit 1.12 or 1.08. His trade is to sell the British pound vs. the U.S. dollar.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reported on setbacks in Greece talks and looked. Damn. Good. Doing. It. Suggesting solutions could be a ways off, Jon Najarian kind of bizarrely came up with, "Kyle Bass is cheering for that," based on CDS movement in relation to Greek debt negotiations.

Remember the days
of the ‘Four Horsemen’?

While Jeff Harte is Fast Money's Will Rogers of banks, Colin Gillis is getting to be the Will Rogers of big-cap tech (except Amazon and Research in Motion of course), touting MSFT on Friday's Halftime, saying "look for a pop" into earnings for GOOG, and that even EBAY is getting "oomph" out of mobile and should benefit from a great season in online commerce.

Patty Edwards, who said she likes QCOM (that's an AAPL derivative trade, but this time no one said anything about the AAPL dividend), but noted she sold her GOOG position recently (an undeniably good trade) and, "at this point in time, I'm gonna be staying away."

(That was the 2nd time for "at this point in time," and we sometimes think, like Emmet says in "Road House" to Dalton, "I swear he does that just to p--- me off.")

Judge Wapner overdramatically called the upcoming CSCO report "Chambers' last stand." Not surprisingly, Colin Gillis likes CSCO, saying JNPR's results are germane to JNPR.

Whatever happened to the for-profit education sector?

Zach Karabell, in one of the more provocative statements of a fairly dry Halftime Report Friday, claimed the 10-year yield really won't have much to do with stock direction.

Jon Najarian claimed VMW has recently hit a "triple bottom."

Herb Greenberg, demonstrating he had nothing to talk about Friday, rehashed yesterday's Shutterfly-CFO meal, which illuminated nothing except that Zach Karabell revealed, "I was long some calls," then, with the rightful hint of annoyance, asked Greenberg if everyone on StockTwits thinks it'll bottom at zero. All Greenberg would say is that it'll bottom somewhere.

Dan Ives trumpeted NUAN in the worst possible way, calling it the "early innings of a major growth cycle here." Patty Edwards nevertheless hailed the company; "I use the product all the time; I'm in love with it," before conceding she'd prefer a lower price to get in.

Edwards for "Final Trade" said Philip Morris. Zach Karabell said GOOG, Jon Najarian said to watch COV (hopefully that's as good as his pick the previous Friday), and Steve Grasso said to avoid PCX.

[Thursday, January 12, 2012]

Keith McCullough is rapidly raising the stuck-in-neutral Fast Money bar of polarizing television

It's entirely possible the best thing to hit Fast Money in 2012 is Keith McCullough.

(For 2011 of course it was Scott Wapner, and we know that wresting the title away from Judge won't be easy, but it's a new year.)

McCullough, who squeezed in a few warm-up appearances last year, is the loudest voice on the show and the fresh agitator the panel desperately needs, as 2 hours worth of daily often-repetitive programming has watered down the franchise into suburban sprawl-like proportions that leave many time-strapped viewers wondering, "what the heck version of this should I be watching"?

In terms of television niceties, McCoolah McCullough, already polarizing enough to elicit a fake Twitter account, has bull-in-a-china-shop (that's lower-case "c") potential, which cannot be underestimated in either the Wall Street or media world.

Now, some will think everything Keith says is cutting-edge, and others will think everything Keith says is a bunch of b.s. We haven't the foggiest idea. Like they say, that's what makes a market.

On Thursday's 5 p.m. production, McCullough unloaded on poor guest Mike Ryan, who merely was making the reasonable (if often-stated) point that we're entering a dividend era for stocks.

McCoolah McCullough scoffed that people are saying that, because, "For the last decade, you know, returns have been zero," and he just wants to know how far Ryan is going with this.

Ryan quibbled a bit with the "lost decade" argument, claiming it's not only where you end up, but where you started (try telling that to a NASCAR driver), and we started to think this was some kind of existentialist discussion that probably isn't what you'd hear Mike opining about at the 28-minute mark of "The Brady Bunch," which is often the highest form of intellectualism we can understand around here, so we're not really sure where that one was going, except that Keith ultimately summarized it as: "If you're gonna make a call on a decade, make a call on the decade. Don't back off on the decade. You know?"

Again, we have no clue if Keith is right about the stock market. He might even figure out a way to be less right than his apparent archnemesis, Doug Kass. We do know that as far as curious television, Keith has got something going. To paraphrase Kevin Bacon in "A Few Good Men," McCullough might even cut into an officer or 2 ... but it's gonna be entertaining.

Dr. J pins 100% of blame for stalled Keystone Pipeline on Barack Obama

Let's be honest — TRP's Russ Girling basically had Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money gang even before "Hello."

Girling professionally, and in impressive down-to-earth manner, handled Melissa Lee's questions about the job prospects from the Keystone Pipeline, saying the lower numbers are from his company and the bigger long-term forecasts are from other entities' studies.

He stressed the pipeline would be the safest ever built in the United States and shouldn't stoke environmental fears. And, he suggested if the oil doesn't go to the U.S., it'll go to places like Asia.

That was far more than enough for Jon Najarian, who said the pipeline is in limbo "strictly on political reasons, that's why the president is standing against it. He should stand up for the American people and support this."

Joe Terranova said, "I was impressed with that interview," saying Girling "sounded very confident," and if it gets built, it "could be an incredible opportunity to own" TRP.

Pennsylvania, by the way, is the "Keystone State."

Early glitch: Keith McCullough
botches use of ‘irony’

Who woulda thunk on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that it wasn't Mike Ryan nor Moshe Orenbuch who would trip up Keith McCullough, but the grammar cops.

Guy Adami was saying that RIMM the company is broken, but RIMM the stock is not, and actually has more upside.

McCullough, who went to Yale by the way and captained the hockey team, then revealed, "I actually, ironically enough, had dinner with one of the former executives of RIMM last night," even though there's not an ounce of irony in that particular happenstance (though it certainly sounds plenty "coincidental").

McCullough said this ex-exec insisted the company isn't broken (snicker), but "the management team's broken."

Jon Najarian reiterated that a RIMM takeover in the mid-$20s is one of his top 5 predictions for 2012.

Keith McCullough seems to presume that no one watching Fast Money is actually just day-trading

Guy Adami, sounding skeptical, told viewers of Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that JPM has faced resistance at $37, and there's an issue of, "have the banks paused yet."

Adami was even cautious on his longtime favorite bank (besides Goldman Sachs), USB, advising, "you better make sure it closes above 29 if you wanna stay long this thing."

Keith McCullough, for no reason we can fathom except to play rear-view mirror, apparently tried to douse the joy of 2012's early winners by stating, "if you're long the financials you're getting, you know, your butt handed to you for the whole 4th quarter."

Unless, of course, you just bought them on Dec. 30.

McCullough also wasn't impressed with Moshe Orenbuch's rather uninspiring take on banks' and JPM's emphasis on "return of capital," saying "I was waiting for that all year last year."

Joe Terranova said he owns WFC calls and PNC calls.

Ilczyszyn: Watch for crude
drop to reach $92.77

After hearing from Dan Dicker seemingly every other day (Iran is saber-rattling something and "spare capacity" is at risk), Fast Money viewers finally got an oil call from Rich Ilczyszyn, with the Ilchmeister pointing to a WTI reversal and asserting, "I don't think this thing is done for the down side ... I'm looking at 92.77 ... I think that's your support level," and the trade could materialize in possibly a couple of days.

Ilczyszyn told Guy Adami he doesn't see gold on the path toward $2,000 at this time; "I think there's too much resistance right now my man."

Keith McCullough said the strength in the dollar makes consumer discretionary his favorite sector, and he also expects "gold to really back off hard."

Adami said the chemical giants (which he and Pete Najarian used to trumpet like nobody's business) have been "washed out" for a while, but he thinks Georgia Gulf (GGC) suddenly looks interesting.

Joe Terranova said location is a big part of what's hot and what's not in the energy drilling sector, said 2012 is the year of the Permian Basin featuring names such as PXD and CXO possibly as opposed to Cabot. Keith McCullough asserted, "This is a crash in natural gas, so let's be absolutely clear: The price of natural gas is crashing."

Jon Najarian rather curiously suggested the travel companies figure to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of natural gas' decline, because consumers will feel the savings. Keith McCullough praised that analysis, saying those names were up Thursday.

Green Mountain basically flat for the last few days

Guy Adami impressed Melissa Lee (who had that attractive auburn tint going again) on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money by suggesting GE's resistance around $18-$19 is just something to accept and move on. "Sometimes the answers to why something's happening isn't (sic) as important as to the fact that it is happening," Adami said.

"That's very Zen-like," Lee said. "I think that could probably be applied to many areas of life."

Herb Greenberg said basically little more than a bunch of people are probing or investigating Diamond Foods for something or other. "The most important thing is, what happens to the Pringles acquisition," Greenberg said.

Guy Adami said DMND has not experienced the BP moment yet, which we think means that moment where all the bad news is in and the bottom has hit. Jon Najarian says the low of $26.11 and whether it tests will determine if all the bad news is priced in.

Dr. J looked inside the mind of departing Shutterfly CFO Mark Rubash and reasoned that Rubash is "not seeing any upside to the stock from where he's at."

A better week for Fisher-Gartman’s OFF than ONN

Mike Khouw sounded like he might sorta be on the same page as Steve Cortes, suggesting on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to buy the March 50 put in the XRT.

Joe Terranova, despite Keith McCullough's scoffing of dividend-decade themes, advised viewers to stay with dividend stocks and also look at the LQD.

Jon Najarian for Final Trade said Chicos, which prompted know-it-all Mel Lee to explain what FAS means. Guy Adami suggested GSK, Keith McCullough said to short BBBY based on Williams-Sonoma, and Joe Terranova said CCL.

Terranova also suggested IGT seems like a "prime acquisition target."

Dr. J introduced the world to the emerging markets VIX, the VXEEM.

Mary Thompson sighting as Judge runs bank talk into the ground

In another day of grasping fruitlessly for compelling subject matter, Thursday's Judge Wapner-helmed Fast Money Halftime Report spent 15 opening minutes running traders again through the wringer as to how long this miracle bank rally will last.

But at least Mary Thompson, whose Prettiest Hair on Cable Television should be in shampoo commercials if company policy allows and who finally got an excellent sideways profile showing off said golden locks from the Fast Money camera crew, got to wrap up the conversation.

Pete Najarian insisted "these are trades, they are not investments." Brian Kelly said he'd sell the big investment banks on these gains but keep the regionals.

Steve Grasso predicted that a lot of people will end up chasing the big banks and probably only getting half the Joe Terranova book title correct, buying high and selling on the lows. Grasso noted he did sell BAC recently, and "I did leave a lot on the table."

Steve Cortes, in one of his 2 excellent calls on the day, had the greed & fear thing down pat, pointing out, "I find it interesting that the Street hates Bank America (sic) at $5 and then loves it at $7," and that he has no position but would start shorting on another leg up. "Government is absolutely strangling this industry," he said.

Mary Thompson, citing a couple experts, said it's "proving a little bit trickier" for banks to find new revenue in the wake of increased regulation, and that from their old streams, "some of that revenue is lost for good." Mary unfortunately also included a redundancy, "free of charge."

Brian Kelly attempts to get a bank watcher to opine on Dennis Gartman/Rich Ilczyszyn turf

After the Fast Money Halftime panelists took a halfhearted crack at the banks on Thursday, guest Jamie Cox, who proved good with a quip, basically admitted he didn't really know what to make of it either.

Cox noted that banks are on pace to blow out his rosy 2012 forecast and that if anything he should've predicted a year's worth of gains into just January. "We're all a genius for 5 or 6 minutes," Cox said.

But Cox was cautious about buying here, saying "there's always a run-up into earnings."

"Not like this. not like this," barged in Judge Scott Wapner.

Cox insisted that the "determinant" as to how much more he likes the sector will come from whether it makes "sustainable" moves after earnings.

Cox did add, "The foreclosure dump that happened last year is actually positive for Wells Fargo, JPMorgan."

Brian Kelly asked a strange question, telling Cox his forecast includes an "implicit" bullishness on the U.S. economy, and thus, shouldn't people be buying commodities which are known to produce in such an environment rather than banks that still have many unknowns.

"Well I think it's fine to be in commodities but we were talking about banks," Cox correctly responded.

Fast Money Ag Trade
roaring again

Generally speaking, according to the crew on Fast Money, whenever agriculture/fertilizer stocks go up, they're rip-roaring buys, and whenever they go down, they're still rip-roaring buys.

So, all it took was a fertilizer drop Thursday highlighted by MOS to get Brian Kelly declaring on the Halftime Report, "there is a buying opportunity here," and, citing the oldest known trade of all time, "7 million (sic) people on the planet, most of which now wanna start eating better."

"Anytime you get these selloffs, it's the place to be," Kelly concluded.

Yes. That 12-month MOS chart shows every selloff was the place to be.

Stephen Weiss was also enthusiastic; "to me this is just a blip." Pete Najarian crowed about Tractor Supply and said MOS is only pulling back after a "pretty terrific run." Steve Grasso acknowledged the stocks have experienced a "roller coaster," and of the group he likes MON the best.

Steve Cortes was the only one telling it like it is on this monstrously overrated sector, saying, "I am not a fan of the ag sector in general. I think it put in a top in 2011. I think um, the farmers that are driving Porsches in Peoria are gonna be selling those Porsches soon," which is a slight departure from his previous "Maseratis in Moline."

Pete: Something’s happening in MCP

Given the Najarians' recent success at identifying signals in the options market, it's important to note Pete spent quality time on Thursday's Halftime Report discussing MCP call-buying. "Judge the activity in there today definitely smells of something ... there is something behind this."

Guest Michael Harris actually thinks the geopolitical risks in oil have "elevated in the last 24 hours" (and there's probably a threat to "spare capacity"), and that he doesn't think Brent at $120 is suddenly an economic deal-breaker because there's already a "very big psychological level at $100" that Brent and WTI continue to trade over.

Harris did sort of a Brag Trade on nat gas, claiming his firm recognizes a ski slope last year, and "we continue to be short here."

Brian Kelly and Pete Najarian both like CLNE. Pete also said COP is "undervalued right now." Steve Grasso said, "I bought WFT," which figures to be strong if oil sustains its pricing, and he also made it his Final Trade. Grasso also touted CLF on Australian weather, "Look for iron ore prices to firm up here and, and go higher."

Stephen Weiss chides analyst for raising a price target over nothing

Guest Ken Sena said on Thursday's Halftime Report that for Google, paid clicks is strong, but longer term, "the concern would be how people actually search and find."

Another guest, David Palmer, slightly ran afoul of Stephen Weiss, who occasionally voices disdain for analyst price targets. Palmer spoke about his SBUX hike and indicated business continues to roll.

"Why didn't you raise your target before. There's nothing new you're telling us today," Weiss demanded.

Palmer paused briefly before insisting, "Same-store sales momentum is stronger than we thought before."

Palmer also told Judge Wapner that SBUX isn't experiencing cracks in the high end like certain retailers; "You just don't see that yet."

"You're supposed to be ahead of the curve," Judge curiously claimed.

Pete Najarian asked about K-Cups as a percent of SBUX profits. Palmer said the margins are "extremely high."

Another day without

Herb Greenberg, whom we've said before basically uses StockTwits as a cover to talk about whatever he wants to talk about, did just that with NUAN on Thursday's Halftime Report, admitting it "isn't really getting the tweets today." But he said the one "real question" about the company is actually a series of 3 or 4 things.

Brian Kelly hailed NUAN, saying, "this is the new technology." Stephen Weiss said it's "fairly reasonably priced" but had to admit to Judge Wapner he "absolutely" does not own it.

Greenberg also said that 2 big holders are getting out of Diamond.

Steve Cortes had a great day going but flirted with dubiousness in his XRT short, which he said "so far is working very well" but repeated that he did it based on Amazon's performance, when the "best in breed can't do well," even though the XRT's top holding from our limited research is actually an AMZN rival, and most of its top positions are specialty shops.

Willie Williams is selling the euro vs. the Mexican peso. Colin McGranahan said Target's upscale dabbling is a good idea; "I think the strategy makes a lot of sense for them."

Steve Cortes went out on a high by again denouncing solar for his Final Trade, Stephen Weiss said Broadcom is a "dog no more," and Brian Kelly said XHB. Pete Najarian said USG for housing.

[Wednesday, January 11, 2012]

A Fast Fire for the
Fast Money scheduler

Some people on Fast Money tend to be more explosive than others.

When all of those explosive types take the same day off, that's a problem.

Wednesday's 5 p.m. crew consisted of perhaps the quietest bunch possible, to the point viewers were probably relieved that Tim Armstrong went on not answering questions for nearly 10 minutes.

Please note, we're not saying any of these panelists are bad panelists, just that it's a more subdued group that isn't really into the takedowns, inside jokes, movie/musical references, etc., that occasionally annoy but also bring some life to the show.

The all-important opening minutes struggled to find footing even worse than the "defense" the yinz put on the field in Mile High. Karen Finerman rationalized the monster 2012 of BAC by revealing "I didn't get the move down to 5," and that BAC has taken a much bigger pounding since 2008 than JPM.

JJ Kinahan said retail investors tend to like the $1-priced call and that the Feb. 6 call in BAC for $1 is again popular, but "in this case it's not such a bad buy" because the stock's already at $6.87 (and, after doing the math forwards and backwards a few times because we can be as speedy as a stegosaurus in figuring some of these things out, realized why Kinahan was touting the 13-cent differential).

Joe Terranova said of CVX, "I would expect the stock to recover over the next few weeks." Ron Insana, who bases virtually all of his calls on WSJ articles or well-known investors, said that Ken Heebner has owned automakers for a while and says the key sales rate is 13 million; "Once you cross that, it's all profits for the domestics."

Previously calling it his worst trade of 2011, Dr. J right back into WLT, but with ‘measured risk’ this time

Jon Najarian delivered the most interesting segment of the day on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, explaining the Walter Energy CEO missed a Goldman Sachs conference (something he had already noted at Halftime) and that Doc himself put in a call and was told the company had a "scheduling conflict," or as Najarian put it, "the dog ate their homework."

Najarian said there were takeover rumors in the stock over the summer, at prices as ridiculous as $240, and that possible buyers probably have an "unusual opportunity" with it now under $60.

Karen Finerman offered one reason WLT would back out of a conference without a takeover offer: "Very often though that's because they don't want to say that they're going to miss."

Najarian acknowledged that but said the numbers aren't due for a long time. At the end of last year, Najarian chastised himself for buying WLT stock during a volatile period, guessing wrong and taking more of a hit than he would've taken with options. Wednesday, Najarian revealed, "I am long call spreads now and I am short put spreads ... I have no stock at all in Walter right now."

Dennis Gartman said, meanwhile, that "Every smart guy, every smart woman I know, is short, or trying to be short of the U.S. bond market," and it reminds him of people trying to short the yen bond 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 years ago and even last year. (Which means, a week from now when yields suddenly spike, Gartman will explain that "the market is telling us there is a demonstrable change in fundamentals that looks like it'll persist for months.")

Ron Insana claimed another catalyst for housing could be this notion that the Obama administration might start selling excess real estate to investors as rentals. "I've liked the homebuilders for a while, and I would stay with 'em for a long time," Insana said. Pete Najarian said that ties in with USG.

At least it wasn’t 10 minutes of Wendell Weeks trying to break Gorilla Glass 2

Melissa Lee, whose hair on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money had a striking auburn tint, was hell-bent for some reason on eliciting some kind of declaration from Tim Armstrong that Patch is useless/unsustainable/something she never reads/waste of money ... but Armstrong, for nearly 10 minutes, refused to bite.

Why Armstrong is attending a gadget conference in the first place, we're not really sure, but then again this page's Web code is probably circa 1980s, so we're not exactly on the cutting edge. Armstrong reported 2 highlights from CES, that people are making "major investments in devices and bandwidth" (wow! who woulda thunk), and there are "people really thinking about creating content" (finally!).

On the first Patch question, Armstrong laid out what was obviously the primary talking point, that it's basically just a bunch of police blotters "86% of commerce is still done locally" and that Patch has become the "No. 4 property" on the Internet (we'd like to say that puts this site at No. 3, but can't do it with a straight face.

Lee demanded to know if a loss ranging from $100-$150 million in Patch is "within the ballpark" of maintaining it as a viable product. Armstrong totally dodged that one, saying that 2011 was probably the "high-water mark for investment in Patch" (translation: We'll cut the cord if it gets bad enough).

Eventually after Armstrong was off air, Lee concluded he "didn't give too much clarity in terms of some of the specific questions, um, I put forth to him."

Joe Terranova said IACI is the name to look at because of its dating sites.

Honestly, the only people we’ve ever heard talking about ‘Juicy’ are the people on Fast Money

It's occurred to us that the Hedgeye gang is starting to take over Fast Money in stealth ways, and sure enough, after Herb Greenberg mentioned on a Halftime Report that Brian McGough was touting LIZ, McGough turned up on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to explain why.

McGough clearly has a future in this type of endeavor provided he can relax a bit more, unleashing the most curious array of faces seen on the show in a long time with a rat-a-tat-tat dialogue that nevertheless covered the bases and then some.

McGough told Mel Lee that what the LIZ CEO told him has nothing to do with McGough's outlook; "I don't care what he told me," because he only cares about what he knows about the stock, and while it's been "incredibly opaque over the last 3 years," the stock has bedeviled people who missed it at 4, then missed it at 6, then 8, then 9, and "they're gonna keep saying that up until 20."

However, in an example of priority issues, McGough failed to deliver his Sunday punch at the beginning, eventually telling Karen Finerman that he doesn't care about Juicy or Lucky or whatever the heck line they've got because "Kate Spade, that alone is worth over $20," which Melissa Lee said was her biggest takeaway of the conversation.

Finerman said "I like it here but I wouldn't jump in with both feet."

Ron Insana protested, "I haven't heard the women in my house talk about Kate Spade, Juicy, or any of the other brands for quite a long time," and apparently he hasn't seen bullish articles about them in the Wall Street Journal or name-brand investors' newsletters either.

"Kate Spade is everywhere Ron. Gotta get out there," chided Mel Lee.

"Most women complain Ron that men aren't good listeners," said Joe Terranova.

McGough said of Under Armour, "they have completely fallen flat on their face," but it's still a great company.

Karen picks a Final Trade whose market cap we thought was below the show’s guidelines

Like we said, Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money had such a low-key crew that we wondered if the highlight was ultimately going to be Win Thin recommending buy U.S. dollar/sell Turkey.

But actually, Bonawyn Eison, apparently on his maiden Fast Money voyage, upstaged that by introducing his own comments on his FXI trade. "Let's get into the specifics please," he said to himself, as he recommended selling the 37 February FXI call for $1.25 and buying the 39 call for 50 cents, for the best possible reason: risk/reward.

However unconventional, it was about as well-explained as an Options Action trade gets.

Karen Finerman said she couldn't care less how well CROX might've been doing; "I've lost so much money in the name" that she won't go back and won't even let her kids wear the shoes. Pete Najarian on the other hand checked his emotions at the door and pointed out the "19 calls have been very active."

Joe Terranova seemed to prefer silver over gold and announced OII as his Final Trade. Ron Insana picked INTC, Pete Najarian said FCX is "goin' higher," and Karen Finerman picked a lightly known name, WTSLA.

When 1 angle of a book
overrides another

Steve Cortes, who just wrote a book that's partly about how America is going to outperform the rest of the world, told Fast Money Halftime Report viewers Wednesday to ignore that for now.

Cortes said that so many people have expressed the U.S.-outperform view recently, "that has now become actually a very popular opinion" and "consensus view."

Judge Scott Wapner, who throughout the show singled out Cortes' "Mr. Rogers" sweater, said no one on the panel's got more riding on the possible euro-U.S. stock correlation than Cortes. Cortes insisted, "I do not believe in decoupling," that it's for the Kardashian sisters, but he did take profits on his euro short and that the trend has gone too far.

"I don't disagree with any of your arguments," said Guy Adami, before disagreeing with Cortes' take that this type of reversal is imminent but rather more like something that'll take 6-9 months. Cortes called that an "excellent point … often contrarians are too early," but "my guess is the time is now" and that the stronger dollar is proving a headwind.

"You'll have to call up Wiley now and change Chapter 6 in your book," bellowed Judge Wapner, demonstrating unusual familiarity with business-book publishing. Cortes insisted it's still valid, it's just a matter of, for the short term, "I think that trend has gone too far."

Brian Kelly said he's in Adami's camp, that what Cortes is talking about now is maybe 6 months away.

Analyst/expert guests don’t exactly bring a lot of Halftime mojo

Luckily Judge Wapner had Steve Cortes' U-turn to deal with on Wednesday's Halftime, because his crew of analyst guests wasn't exactly setting the world on fire.

Chief among them was Michael Widner, who said while there has been "certainly a lot of enthusiasm built in" to homebuilder stocks, "at the end of the day" (the 2nd person on the show to use that phrase), he finds Lennar to be "relatively expensive" right now.

Jon Najarian offered a statement rather than a question, saying the recent rally in homebuilders is "just the tip of what is going to be coming in 2012 for these guys." Widner said he's still got a hold on Lennar, "geez," and has for 3 or 4 years. Guy Adami recommended sticking with HD.

Jeff Sprague, meanwhile, said while "I understand where the speculation is coming from" on TXT given it's an "obvious breakup candidate," it's unlikely in the near-term because of the CEO's priorities and a surprise if it happens in 18-24 months, even though "at the end of the day" (the 1st person to use that phrase Wednesday) there's no reason for all those assets at the same company.

Kaumil S. Gajrawala said he doubts Coca Cola will enjoy the same tailwinds in 2012 it's been experiencing. Scott Wapner mispronounced Gajrawala's first name, but he told Judge "no problem."

Things got a little brighter when Craig Moffett said he's been a bear for a while on DTV but now thinks sentiment and valuation will drive it forward and that cable companies are still being wrongly viewed by the old model, "they win in any of these scenarios. Jon Najarian said he prefers the content producers rather than the distributors.

Moffett conceded his DTV call might not be a home run, but Judge Wapner claimed "singles get a lot of players to the Hall of Fame," except it takes a lot of singles to get there, and it didn't work for Pete Rose.

Laura Martin got as close to the definition of exuberance as anyone with Pandora, but without a real sexy hook, claiming "we think the market is better understanding the Pandora story" and that it's a "much much better" business model than Spotify. Brian Kelly said "Laura makes a compelling case for this" and that it's starting to get into the auto sector.

Mr. Rogers Steve Cortes for some reason didn't ask Martin about his June 15 observation that Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy's chat with Melissa Lee on IPO day was "about the most sanguine, obtuse interview that I can think of on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange."

So far, a week without a gold call from Dennis Gartman

As a new CNBC contributor, Jeff Kilburg's job is basically to come on Fast Money once or twice a week and predict the 10-year will retest 1.67%. Wednesday's Halftime Report was par for the course, with Kilburg suggesting that after we get below that, 1.5% is the next stop.

Kilburg said gold started attracting people at $1,600, and that it figures, "from a technical perspective, (to) bring more and more buyers in" while eventually getting to $1,700 or $1,800.

Brian Kelly questioned where silver goes given its industrial component. "I think silver's gonna be brought up with gold," Kilburg shrugged.

It was actually kind of hard Wednesday to figure out what side of the solar story Herb Greenberg was on, pointing out that someone from Deutsche Bank had identified "significant issues" with supply and orders among its Germany/Italy-centric sphere that could justify the stock moves, and that "China demand is not part of the story that is pushing the stocks today."

Steve "Mr. Rogers" Cortes merely claimed FSLR was "insanely overshorted" and reiterated "this business is not long-term viable, it is a political machination" and that the steep gains were an opportunity. "This morning, I actually shorted First Solar," he said, suggesting that as his Call the Close Final Trade.

Cortes added that the nat gas chart is the key, and that if a Republican (um, that would probably have to be Mr. Romney) wins the White House, "we are going to be drilling everywhere."

A show without NFLX

Guy Adami was bitten by the bullish bug on Wednesday's Halftime, saying you have to respect the market, and "I think we're headed toward 1,350, 1,370 on the upside." Adami even liked MSFT, explaining, "I'm not saying it's going to 35 but I still think it's going to 30." And CSCO was his Call the Close Final Trade.

However, he said Oppenheimer's refiner call sounds iffy; "I don't know; I think they're playing a little stock market right here," and he recommends the sidelines.

After Jon Fortt showed off an Ultrabook that didn't seem particularly exciting, Adami claimed, "Broadcom all of a sudden's interesting."

Steve Cortes said MA has been hit because of European exposure. Jon Najarian said he likes LVS and WYNN on dips and pointed out WLT, as his Call the Close Final Trade, just backed out of a conference. Brian Kelly's "Final Trade" (more likely "precursor to a non-event") said to watch the ECB tomorrow morning.

[Tuesday, January 10, 2012]

Dan Nathan explains why we had to sit through 11 minutes of glass-testing and post-testing analysis

In what has to rank as one of the biggest Fast Money stinkbombs ever, Melissa Lee on Tuesday's 5 p.m. show allowed Corning chief Wendell Weeks, from a Vegas convention booth, to conduct 4 slow tests of glass-shattering that didn't pack anywhere near the punch of Ivan Drago's right hand in his obvious parallel to "Rocky IV" (wasn't the typical heavyweight something like 1,300...?).

Weeks (yawn) said Gorilla Glass 2 is "20% thinner but with the same legendary strength ... I'd rather be thin than thick."

The shocker was Weeks explaining, "What we expect is that Gorilla Glass 2 will replace Gorilla Glass 1."

Other than getting bamboozled into being told this was gonna be entertaining, we don't know how the Fast crew fell for this one, but fortunately Dan Nathan had a theory: "I think we had to listen to that Gorilla Glass 2 thing because it was in Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography. If it wasn't in that book I don't think we'd be talking about it today."

Karen Finerman complements new hairstyle with sizzling new outfit

We thought we were doing well just to identify some of the more interesting Fast Money moments of 2011 in our year-end review, but little did it occur at the time that we were most ahead of the curve in detecting Fast Money's newfound informal language trend.

Joe Terranova on Tuesday's 5 p.m. show (yeah, we thought the book promos were done, but evidently not) set the stage by stressing the importance of short interest and said X is just about looking ripe; "I'm not in it yet, but this is a trade you wanna follow."

Karen Finerman followed by noting there's some retail event going on, and "Skechers canceled from the conference. I never like to see that. ... The optimists think 'Oh, maybe because they're in M&A discussions,' the bears would think 'No, because they're gonna have crappy earnings. That's why they canceled'."

No risk of a fine for that one — and maybe, in fact, Karen and the Fast gang are merely conveying their opinions to any Supreme Court justices who watch the show.

Tim Seymour said DO is a name in which he sees a "lot of opportunity" from short interest.

Fast Money crew utterly fascinated by a 1% move afterhours

The 5 p.m. Fast Money gang gave tepid endorsements to the stock market on Tuesday, with no one going as far as echoing the traditional Guy Adami "I think we're goin' lower," but with healthy skepticism toward recent moves in names such as BAC and CMI, the latter prompting Karen Finerman to assert Europe is not fixed, and "I cannot jump in with both feet right here."

Dan Nathan said don't think Bank of America's in the clear either. "The likelihood that this is the low is not great for the balance of the year," Nathan said.

Chris Verrone said the market feels "a little exhausted" but that the trend favors large, mega-cap names. He thinks INTC has finally broken out and is on its way to $28 or $29.

Nathan is not impressed by Microsoft, claiming the company has been "wasting their cash" on the Skype deal. Tim Seymour insisted the Nokia partnership was a "great deal," but Nathan said "it remains to be seen" whether that's the case.

Nathan said the VIX reflects an "awful lot of complacency near-term."

Things that make Melissa go ‘Wow’ (cont’d)

Diana Olick refrained from showing viewers her chiseled biceps on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, but she did get a chat with departing Fannie Mae chief Mike Williams, who apparently claims as his top regret that people don't appreciate all the hard work done by Fannie.

"He used the word (sic) 'frustrating' and 'demanding' many times and he said he will probably be gone in the next 3 months or so," Olick said.

"Wow," Melissa Lee said.

Clay Siegall of Seattle Genetics (see, there's a bunch of conferences going on) gave Fast Money an interview and we couldn't really figure out what the angle was, other than Melissa Lee asking about assumptions for Adcetris. Siegall praised Adcetris as not being just an incremental drug but something that "really helps patients" and has a "very big effect on patients."

Darren Rovell explained an unscientific survey he took showing people have ditched Budweiser for craft beers.

"Do you think you're self-selecting your sample because, I mean, do you think that the people on Twitter are the kinds of people who actually drink full-calorie Bud?" asked Melissa Lee.

"Uhhhhh. I mean the kind of people on Twitter are the kind of people in the world," Rovell said.

"OK," Lee chirped, and that was that.

Tim Seymour made a nice reference to "Dan Haggerty, Grizzly Adams," who happened to be a fixture as the tug-of-war anchor for the NBC team in Howard Cosell's "Battle of the Network Stars."

Karen Finerman admitted she doesn't drink much beer, "really not so much."

NFLX pits analyst against analyst; Michael Pachter calls out Gene Munster

A day after Whitney Tilson proclaimed the possibility of "crazy" upside gains in NFLX if it keeps competitors at bay, Michael Pachter turned up on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report — as Guy Adami astutely predicted might happen — to offer a contrarian view.

"It's up on 3 things. None of them make much sense to me," Pachter said. "1 is, Yahoo gets a new CEO, so Gene Munster at Piper says, 'this guy has to buy content,' he's gonna buy Netflix. Netflix doesn't have any content, so I don't see that at all."

Pachter also said the company's content costs will rise, and that the U.K. launch is vastly overrated. "Whitney Tilson says 'oh my God, they're gonna have 30% growth.' Not out of the U.K., not a possibility," Pachter said.

Pachter said Netflix's loss next year won't be the consensus 14 cents, but "I'm betting it's closer to a dollar," which will "wake people up."

Joe Terranova said he has dabbled in NFLX (so much for "buy high") and has found success; "to buy it at 80 and it's working right now," can't argue with that, and he's got a stop. He asked Pachter how he flipped from a buy in September and $155 price target. Pachter responded, "When I realized Amazon wasn't gonna buy them, I went the other way," and the odd thing about this exchange is that CNBC.com has no video in September or October of Pachter calling the stock a buy based on an Amazon purchase nor do we have a record of that on this site, but in fact, Sept. 19, Pachter told Melissa Francis (she's at Fox Biz now) and Tyler Mathisen on The Call that Qwikster should be called "Quitster" and that the stock's a sell and "I have a $110 price target. I'm sticking to it," and that it wasn't until Oct. 10 on Fast Money, in which Pachter was bearish, that he referenced the interim positive call and said he was reversing it even though this call apparently never made it on TV ... which is another sign of how goofy this analyst business really is.

Pachter said Tuesday that regarding Britain, "Reed Hastings says they have a huge advantage over LoveFilm. I think he is crazy. He's lost his mind."

Despite Pachter's availability Tuesday, Zach Karabell didn't get an opportunity to ask Pachter about the "berating" he gave to the Fast Money gang for "not understanding" Coinstar, perhaps because Coinstar has surged on Monday and Tuesday since it was declared a dog on Friday.

We now have clarification:
Cortes was actually out of AAPL Dec. 27 when he said he was ‘flat’

Just as this page suspected, Judge Wapner apparently overdid it yesterday with his bizarre takedown of Steve Cortes' most recent AAPL position that Cortes admitted a couple weeks ago was a "small loser."

Judge on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report told Cortes that to square away the record, "Decembel- (sic) December 15th, you added to your AAPL shorts. December 27th, you had no position. Right?"

"That's correct," Cortes said.

Obviously, Dec. 15 wasn't a good day to be adding to an AAPL short (talk about contrarian), but not really a big deal coming off a gain, unlike the Dec. 28 call to short rails, which have basically gone up ever since.

There are other stocks available to buy

Patty Edwards on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report said this about a certain stock:

"It had almost been left for dead by a lot of folks, everyone had bailed on it."

And you'd think she was talking about, hmmm, NFLX ... BBY ... GMCR ...

No. Actually Edwards was referring to Lululemon, which according to our Yahoo finance calculation ended 2011 with a robust 36% gain for the year despite "everyone" bailing.

Patty got a small amount of heckling from Judge Wapner after explaining of JWN, "I am out of my position at this point in time" (no the heckling wasn't about the last 5 redundant/unnecessary words) and telling a persistent that while liking the stock, she hasn't had an "opportunity" to get back in.

"Well, I mean, look, if you say you, if- if you say you like the stock and it's a compelling story, I wanna know why you're not buying it," Judge explained, which he and Joe Terranova agreed is a "fair point."

Zach Karabell said he has TIF calls and "I'm gonna stick with" them.

Cortes suggests size does matter

Dan Dicker said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that Iran might not be storming the Strait of Hormuz anytime soon, but what is "likely" is the "EU ban of Iranian imports" which will cause fears over everyone's favorite oil-market mcguffin, "spare capacity," and "that is to me a supply problem that will stay with the crude market for weeks, if not months."

"Bottom line, I am long oil," Dicker said.

Steve Cortes, on the other hand, said he's short crude and that Dicker's side is ahead now but there's "far too much geopolitical premium in oil." Then he came up with this assessment, "If you put Ahmadinejad on Chavez's shoulders, you'd end up with a grand total of about 7 feet in total of anti-American dictatorial swagger."

Dicker said the Alcoa report is only relatively impressive, like only losing $100 at Vegas or Atlantic City.

Joe Terranova calls out Herb’s ridiculous obsession with GMCR

Herb Greenberg, who once again had little better to do on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report than complain about GMCR, actually turned to Keith McCullough's Hedgeye shop for a positive report on LIZ, with someone saying the stock was "gettin' smacked for the wrong reasons ... actually a great company."

Patty Edwards wasn't ready to buy. "I think you're gonna have a better opportunity," Edwards said.

Greenberg claimed that this market is somehow different than others in that stocks like GMCR exemplify how "people are buying a selling stuff based on, uh, vapor." Joe Terranova correctly questioned of GMCR, "I don't even know why we're talking about it," saying SBUX is the name in coffee.

Terranova said he bought Deckers in the last couple of days. Debbie Weinswig said she has buys on JWN and SKS (but didn't say whether SKS gets 25% or "almost 50%" of its sales at its flagship NYC store.

Someone on Fast Money actually cites worse 1980s slogans than Steve Cortes

Guest Mike Vorhaus, reporting from that interesting computer show (remember how in the '90s Bill Griffeth would always show off new gadgets from ComDex?) on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, told Scott Wapner, "Remember the phrase 'I want my MTV.' Well now the consumer's saying, 'I want my Internet TV,' and they mean it."

That one was likely drummed up ahead of time, probably not spontaneous.

Jon Fortt said Samsung is important; "you really have to watch them and consider them ... Samsung is a player." Zach Karabell said "Samsung is the Apple of South Korea."

Patty Edwards and Steve Cortes got their first chance at having the all-clear to end Halftime with a "Final Trade" instead of the (snicker) faux "Call the Close." Cortes chose a conditional TLT (only if the auction goes well), while Edwards selected Grainger to get a "U.S. focus." Zach Karabell specifically chose CAT and DE for a beyond-U.S. focus, and Joe Terranova mentioned PNC.

Viewers catch a break,
another episode with no chatter on Research in Motion

Steve Cortes on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report rationalized the 2012 strength in markets this way: "bad news out of China is perceived as good news."

Cortes said "I'm covering my euro currency shorts," calling it an "incredibly crowded trade." But Zach Karabell questioned whether it matters if a currency trade is "crowded."

"You can be in this crowded trade without it creating momentum in that direction," Karabell asserted.

George Davis recommended buying euro/Swiss.

Onyx chief Dr. Tony Coles told Judge Wapner, "We like our prospects as an independent company," and he likes a lot of other things about his company. Steve Cortes hailed the PPH, "I continue to like this sector ... given our aging world that is soon gonna look like an ongoing replay of the movie 'Cocoon', I think it makes a ton of sense to be long biotech, and pharma."

[Monday, January 9, 2012]

Maybe Karen went to prom with ... Crispin Glover Lenny Kravitz Nic Cage ... Peter Schiff??

The Fast Money gang reached back into the past on Monday's 5 p.m. show as Karen Finerman swooned over Jamie Dimon.

Mike Murphy initiated the subject, crediting Dimon for a "great job," and "steering the whole financial industry," and even being the "face of the recovery" (yeah, we could hardly believe it either).

Karen Finerman and Melissa Lee smiled over the "face" reference ("yes, yes"), prompting Guy Adami to crack about Finerman, "High school girl ... It's like back at Beverly Hills High ... Jamie asked me to the prom!"

The dudes who work for free post Wikipedia pages somehow left Karen and Oscar-winning sister Wendy off the BHHS "notable alumni" page, but at least one Fast Money personality is on it (hint: think gold).

This one won’t make
the 2012 list

Barely more than a week ago, this page ranked last year's Guy Adami-Richard Pops "welcome to biotech" conversation as the 10th most contentious Fast Money moment of 2011.

Pops must've checked out the site, because he was all compliments on Monday's 5 p.m. redux.

Guy Adami noted that the Alkermes Web site lists 5 major products (he's absolutely correct; that's precisely what it does) and asked the CEO which ones he's most excited about.

Pops called that a "great question" despite not really answering it, instead lauding a "whole group of medicines in development."

Pops said the European approval should bode well for the FDA ruling on Bydureon after 2 apparent applications; "the 3rd should be the charm." Melissa Lee also asked Pops if his company could be bought. "That wouldn't be our preference now," Pops said.

Guy Adami said ALKS is "towards the upper end of the range here" and is not a short, but rather "no play."

Mel skips necessary backstory as to why Adam Parker is revisiting some opinion he previously had that people previously disagreed with

If nothing else, Adam Parker is honest.

In a "cool" way.

In a confusing segment that was crying out for Melissa Lee to back up a bit and start from the beginning, Parker joined the 5 p.m. Fast Money set to explain his 2012 forecast for a lower stock-market multiple than others are giving.

He said that he issued a note explaining how he could be wrong because it's "part of being intellectually honest.

Apparently, according to an accompanying chart, Parker actually thinks one reason he could be wrong is because the U.S. government could address the debt situation.

Sure. And the Steelers are marching to the Super Bowl.

Tim Seymour opined that, "Intellectually people think it's pretty cool to be bearish," and that people have "fallen into the bear trap in the last 6 months." Parker said he was going to "sling back" a little bit, saying that was no trap in the last 6 months of the year.

Parker characterized people's January optimism as the golfer who shoots 55 on the front 9 and expects a 36 on the back (actually, when the 55 happens around here, we expect only half the clubs in the bag to finish the round unbroken).

Seymour concluded, "It's interesting that people have made this turn" to bullishness, "suddenly."

Fast Money Web Extra:
Nearly defunct

The Fast Money Web Extra has become so irrelevant (it wasn't exactly ever on the cutting edge), they don't even bother putting it on the CNBC.com official Fast Money page anymore.

Those who actually sought to drain 2 minutes of their lives were rewarded Monday by Tim Seymour questioning if the new "Karate Kid" with Will Smith's son is actually "Karate Kid 3," and then noting the characters in "The Outsiders" including Leif Garrett, none of whom like Karen Finerman being listed on the Beverly Hills High School notable alumni page.

Guy Adami managed to say that NFLX could go down as much as it went up Monday if someone comes on TV and says the opposite of Whitney Tilson, and if you're long here, it's the "deep end of the pool" ... which ... lessee ... could be referring to "Back to School" ... "Caddyshack" ... "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" ... "Vacation" ...?

Finerman: ‘Opportunity’
in LIZ selloff

Where others saw selling, Karen Finerman saw opportunity.

Finerman said on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that LIZ was not taking an extraordinary hit afterhours, and "I actually think it's an opportunity here."

Mike Murphy said he hopes that works out, but he'd like to see a "little more traction" before getting in.

Guy Adami agreed with Finerman; "the selloff is not that catastrophic."

But it was Tim Seymour who turned the conversation lopsided, suggesting it's a "problem" to have girls sporting "Juicy" clothing.

" 'Juicy' on their butts," clarified Melissa Lee, who as of Monday has demonstrated that her orange-arc-topped black dress is her favorite.

Adami: Ride the rails

Tim Seymour, speaking of Alcoa on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, showed the proper way unlike Brian Kelly of handling one's TV nickname.

"This is one of The Ambassador's original girls, sorry for that 3rd-person reference," Seymour said, indicating he would buy AA around $8.50.

Mike Murphy said he'd be a "buyer down under 9," but Scott Nations said "I don't really see anything good here."

Guy Adami touted KSU, which he said has the most beta of the railroads, and that he can see continued upside after the Jan. 19 UNP report.

What’s the better oil-conspiracy movie: ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ or ‘Syriana’?

Michael Wittner visited Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to say that for his 5%-chance-of-Brent-to-$200 theory to happen, "Iran would actually have to close the Strait of Hormuz."

He said this would bring a certain "military response" from Europe and the U.S. and that Iran couldn't keep it closed for more than 2 weeks.

He said an embargo of Iranian oil would result in the Saudis pumping more to make up the difference, but it would still reduce "spare capacity," which is kind of the same mcguffin to oil's price as the Ark was to Indiana Jones.

Tim Seymour said his takeaway from various analyses of the oil market is that there is "not as much demand as people think."

Larry McDonald said that if Greece gets the bum's rush from an audit, it "creates a great buying opportunity" for U.S. stocks.

Karen sells AAPL calls

Kayla Tausche briefly appeared on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to throw "cold water" on the notion of Brocade igniting a bidding war, downplaying the importance of Frank Quattrone and saying she's "dubious" of the purported bidders.

Guy Adami said that in the wake of Juniper's afterhours pullback, CSCO is "where you wanna be."

Karen Finerman revealed she "sold upside calls in April" for Apple of all companies, saying the "run has been really big."

For Final Trade, Tim Seymour came through with old reliable VimpelCom, while Guy Adami touted V, Karen Finerman said PLCE and Mike Murphy said TYC.

Pete Najarian sounds skeptical that Whitney Tilson won’t take the NFLX money and run

Whitney Tilson got a chance to do a Brag Trade on NFLX Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, but to his credit, it's a now-famous trade and he didn't really brag about it, and his purchase price is relevant to others because his position is a signal of whether this spurt has legs.

"It was right around 77" when he bought, Tilson said, but he's looking at a "multi-year horizon" for the stock to gain with lesser competition.

Tilson acknowledged "it certainly is a favorite of, um, momentum players, uh, we wish they'd all go away frankly," and we'll give him the benefit of doubt that he means that, even if Pete Najarian wasn't so inclined.

"I think he ought to embrace these mojo players or momo players that are jumping into this stock because they've absolutely been exploding this stock to the upside," Najarian said after Tilson signed off, before telling Judge Wapner he'd like to know at what point Tilson would consider cashing in. Judge said he didn't want to speak for Tilson but it sounds like he's only in it for the long haul.

Judge gives Steve Cortes,
in absentia, one of the worst Fast Fires of all time

Steve Cortes has mentioned this off-and-on AAPL short so many times since October, we had sort of lost track and/or stopped caring.

That was a mistake, because Judge Wapner hung The Contrarian out to dry on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, claiming, "he was short it like 380, or whatever, it's uh, you know, 40, almost 50 dollars higher than that," and then cracking that Cortes is probably "sick" on Monday.

Our recollection is that Cortes used to say it's a short over $400, but that he would cover around $370. On Dec. 27, Cortes revealed, "I'm flat Apple right now. Uh, I had a lot of paper profit unfortunately; I did not cover any. I ended up scratching my Apple trade. Above 400 as a short, I'm no longer interested."

OK, um, connecting the dots, it sounds like "flat" meant "still short," with a stop at 400. But "scratching" might mean he exited completely.

At least this time he hasn't claimed, "the generals have been shot."

Actually Cortes had a more immediate bungle in his most recent shorts, mentioning UNP and CSX on Dec. 28.

Judge impressively asks Mark Mahaney about WSJ article, but with one bad question, then a good one

Mark Mahaney joined Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report for a healthy conversation about AKAM and NFLX, but it was Judge Wapner's reference to the WSJ article last week suggesting IPO shoppers go to Citi because they like Mahaney that got this page's attention.

Judge's first question was, "Can you respond to that article," which is not a good question or not a good way of phrasing one (he should've just asked if the article was accurate), but after Mahaney responded "Not really ... the record's clear, no particular comment," Judge followed by asking if Mahaney feels any pressure from Citi for favorable ratings.

Mahaney said, "I've never felt that pressure."

While this page won't knock Mahaney over this, and the article actually didn't seem that damning, anyone who thinks IPO shopping is 100% free and clear of bias is someone who thought the yinz were legitimate 9-point favorites in the Mile High City on Sunday.

Mahaney said he's wary of AKAM in part because "Amazon particularly is making a much bigger move against this company." He also said, "customer sentiment has stabilized on Netflix."

Steve Grasso said that instead of NFLX and its "queasy" chart, people could try the content providers, cable companies, or the tech end, and suggested VIA and AKAM irrespective of Mahaney's call.

Brian Kelly makes the Saks NYC-flagship-store sales percentage debate 2-1

Abigail Doolittle joined Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report to express TIF and COH skepticism, especially TIF, which she said "is trading in a bearish rising-wedge pattern, it's confirmed." COH is heading the same way, but not confirmed, Doolittle said.

Josh Brown on the other hand was enthusiastic of LULU, saying, "If a general weakness in the tape drags this thing back toward 50, I'll probably buy again ... I think they can double the store count, and then double it again."

We've noted that Stephen Weiss thinks SKS gets "almost 50% of their sales" from its NYC store while Patty Edwards has said it's actually 25%. Brian Kelly seconded the latter on Monday, saying, "They get about I believe 25% of their sales from that New York flagship store."

Well, it depends on whom you believe.

Herb is completely unprepared for Steve Grasso’s good question, takes embarrassing dodge

Herb Greenberg, a refreshing CNBC voice who maybe is a bit overexposed because he has such a narrow focus (that, and the fact he basically hates everything), noted on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Tony Wible is "positive on GameStop," and one's gotta think, "slow day on StockTwits."

Steve Grasso astutely noted that people won't buy video game consoles with new ones in the pipeline to come out, so that figures to be a GME headwind. Herb had no rebuttal, except to say, "I love the contrarian calls." (Yes. And for every "Denver to win," there were 2 or 3 "Falcons to win" or "Lions to win.")

Herb stood up again to complain about GMCR. Josh Brown said, "There are no bulls in this stock, there are just people that haven't gotten the chance to sell yet."

Shaw Wu said of AAPL, "We like the stock." Josh Brown was skeptical of MSFT's mobile strategy delivering a big MSFT bounce; "if you think Microsoft's mobile strategy has a shot, you buy Nokia," Brown said.

Pete Najarian said INTC could push to $30 by year-end. Brian Kelly hailed Taiwan Semiconductor.

Judge didn’t know Killir
played center for Lou Holtz

Jeff Kilburg was announced on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report as a "new CNBC contributor" (to be honest, we figured he already was), which means he's now achieved the heights of ... Mike Farr and Howard Dean.

What was startling was that Judge Scott Wapner, normally blessed with excellent recall of show details, admitted, "I didn't realize that you, uh, centered the, uh, Fighting Irish in 95."

Speaking of recall, Kilburg said Angela Merkel has been "juggling these dynamite sticks," and the question is, "how long is that wick over in Europe."

"Juggling dynamite" reminds us of when Danielle Park, who wrote a book called Juggling Dynamite, took part in one of Fast Money's most dubious moments ever, when she did the "Bull Market or B.S." segment on July 22, 2009, and ran into a Tim Seymour buzz saw when she argued, more or less, that Japan and Europe constituted the "rest of the world."

After sort of getting ramrodded off the show, Park complained on her blog that day, "TV clips can be so fast that its a miracle you get any complete thoughts out sometimes. My point that was not finished on Fast Money tonight was that western world over-consumption and then retrenchment, has triggered the global recession. And this new reduced level of consumption is likely to continue for several years" (spelling/grammar sic).

She added, "To think that emerging markets can somehow pick up the slack in world demand because they have a few billion people walking about is to miss the point about consumption. It is not just about population; it is about marginal propensity to consume per unit (human)."

Anyway, Killir didn't do much Monday except be introduced as a CNBC contributor, but he did offer a decent movie analogy toward Europe's solutions. "It's kind of like the 'Rocky' saga. Rocky 1, 2, 3, 4 was great, but once we got on to 'Rocky 5,' people lose interest," he said.

Banks apparently not a once-in-a-generation opportunity

Josh Brown said banks were sold in December because "no one wanted to show that they actually owned them," which once again makes us wonder why they then didn't go to zero, and for tax-loss purposes, and those dynamics are over. "I can't imagine anything fundamentally that's gonna change for these banks, if anything, the rhetoric for the 2012 election is gonna get worse ... take the money and run," he said.

Steve Grasso said, "One negative headline out of the Eurozone and they're right back down." Brown agreed, saying it's a "land mine" sector.

Chuck Bradford said Alcoa has some headwinds of a stronger dollar and slowing global growth, and "the first quarter could be even worse." Steve Grasso said to "wait for it to hold 9.10."

Josh Brown said for the newfound Final Trade he's buying COP. Steve Grasso named AMZN, "I would be buying it on weakness" but he does caution he thinks the market is headed lower. Brian Kelly said gold, and Pete Najarian said SanDisk.

1st and 20
(Or: Playoff scoring — how low can you go?)

Time was when NFL elitists would scoff at "Wild-Card Weekend."

Unfortunately, this season, some of us actually have to care.

And, while certain teams attempt to avoid a loss to the Research in Motion of 2011 NFL playoff teams, we happened to stumble onto some interesting stats.

Before this weekend's games, the lowest point total by a winning playoff team in the 2000s is 13, by the Baltimore Ravens, in 2008, against Tennessee.

Carolina once had a 14, and Indianapolis had a 15.

But 90% of winning teams score at least 20.

And here's the stat you really want to know ... In NFL playoff games of the 2000s, the first team to reach 20 points is 100-10.

So, our advice to teams is to get to 20 ASAP ... and whatever you do, make sure you top 12.

[Friday, January 6, 2012]

Victory for CNBCfix.com:
Judge finally changes name of
‘Call the Close’ to ‘Final Trade’

The embarrassment is over.

After suffering through months of Fast Money Halftime Report panelists being asked to vote up or down on the day's market yet merely giving a weeks- or even months-away stock call, viewers heard Friday that the conclusion of the program is now dubbed "Final Trade," rather than "Call the Close."

(Except, some of those panelists are bound to also appear on the 5 p.m. program, in which they will also offer a "Final Trade," so the Halftime Report "Final Trade" should actually be called something like "Interim Trade.")

(But, progress is progress.)

A lot of times newspapers nominate themselves for a Pulitzer after having effected change such as this. We won't go that far, but won't attempt to hide our pride at being in the vanguard of this movement.

Like we always say, we never object to Fast Money borrowing ideas or punchlines from this page; just happy to help ... just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere ... just trying to take it 1 game at a time ...

Zach Karabell launched the segment suggesting AMZN has found a floor; No. 386 said to stay with utilities; Dr. J mentioned INHX, and Joe Terranova said "go Giants."

Payback is sweet, if delayed:
The Zekemeister sticks it to Michael Pachter for Dec. 19 elitist dis

Justin Patterson guested on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report with a pessimistic call on CSTR, noting a pending time lag for acquiring more DVDs and explaining, "With DVD a shrinking pie every year, a much longer window is just going to hurt the company's top line."

Moments later, Zach Karabell crowed, "You know it's funny, we got berated a few weeks ago for not understanding the Coinstar phenomenon. I'd like to come back, I guess we can all say we now understand the Coinstar phenomenon."

"I didn't berate you did I?" cut in Judge Wapner.

"No no no no, there was a guest on who said-" Karabell said, without naming Michael Pachter.

"I mean I would. But I don't think I did," Judge cracked, a good line that drew legit chuckles.

"There's 34 minutes left in the show," Karabell insisted, thrust into the rare reverse role of breaking up the host's attempt at wasting time.

Karabell was referring to Pachter's Dec. 19 appearance in which he argued Netflix's DVD decline was good news for Coinstar and that DVDs are still in demand despite the fact the Fast Money gang allegedly doesn't use them. "You guys have access to streaming. You guys have access to On Demand on cable, and you don't think you know anybody who rents movies. ... And the truth is, your nanny rents movies, your, your driver rents movies, the guy who delivers stuff to your office rents movies, um, most of the clerical workers around you rent movies," Pachter said.

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

Friday, Patterson also said he's "very positive on Amazon."

Herb Greenberg annoyingly dismisses Steve Grasso’s thought-provoking idea

Herb Greenberg, who basically uses StockTwits as a cover to talk about whatever stocks he hates on the Fast Money Halftime Report, complained about APOL and how bad it is and how bad all the bears think it is, only to have Pete Najarian point out that Herb didn't talk to the bulls.

Steve Grasso made the mistake of asking Herb in this environment an excellent question meriting thought that instead got elbowed aside like the Jets last Sunday.

"Maybe Amazon needs a brick and mortar and they take out Best Buy," Grasso said, citing the growing movement toward taxation of Internet retailers without a physical presence and asking Herb to opine.

"Steve, that sounds like one of the craziest ideas I've heard yet," Greenberg scoffed.

The gut feeling here is that it won't happen, it's too much at this point for Amazon to take on and not in its interests right now ... but hardly a crazy idea, and something that will eventually have to be at least on the table in Amazon's long-term strategic plan.

When Fast Money strategies collide

Sometimes, you never really know who to believe on Fast Money.

On Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Joe Terranova told Scott Judge Wapner that he got stopped out on AAPL at $364 but wishes he still had it, prompting a bizarre overdose of questioning from Wapner about whether Terranova still likes the stock (he does) and prompting Steve Grasso to crack that Judge is trying to get Terranova on a couch to get over it.

Near the end of the show, Terranova did what figures to be the last of his book-related trading tips, stressing "entry price" and "stop loss."

"Now, you beat me up before for Apple," Terranova told Wapner, but having a stop loss helped him dodge what could've been big losses in RIMM, NFLX and FSLR last year.

"I wasn't trying to beat you up earlier, I was simply trying to make the point that, you still like Apple, despite the fact that you're not in it," Judge protested.

This all came on the heels of Thursday's Terranova discussion with Dennis Gartman about how people hold losers and cut their winners too early.

But notice that on Friday's Halftime, Stephen Weiss dialed in to say he was adding to his euro short; "generally counter to what I do. I generally like to sell spikes, particularly when I have a good profit" ... which, um, sounds like the opposite of what Dennis Gartman recommended a day ago.

And then on Friday there was Zach Karabell saying of Alcoa, "I've been short it, I should've had the courage of my convictions and stayed short ... Alcoa is much more like the Best Buy of industrial metals than anything else."

But who will ever forget Steve Cortes saying on Dec. 27, "I'm flat Apple right now. Uh, I had a lot of paper profit unfortunately; I did not cover any. I ended up scratching my Apple trade."

So on the one hand, you should keep riding your winners.

On the other hand, you shouldn't ride them long enough to give back your gains.

See, it's easy.

Gotta leave it there.

‘Stars are aligning for Boeing’

Guest Jason Gursky made an eloquent case for a big year for Boeing (without relying on Patty Edwards' signature line, that the stock moves on "orders" not "deliveries"), citing the cyclical situation of aerospace and saying, "I think the stars are aligning for, for Boeing in 2012."

Notably, Gursky said "investors are still skeptical on the 787 ramp ... I'm increasingly confident on their ability to ramp production."

Zach Karabell questioned if defense cuts won't hurt. Gursky said you buy the stock for commercial prospects and that air and water figure to be spared the military ax, and to expect the "defense business to be relatively flattish at this point as we move forward." (Yes, the last 6 words of his sentence there are redundant.)

Joe Terranova claimed, "Looks like natural gas may have found a bottom."


Doctor my eyes ...

Making our day in several ways, Judge Wapner on Friday's Halftime brought in CNBC's best-dressed superfox Seema Mody for a little introduction to the JPMorgan Super Bowl pharma conference and what to look for.

Unfortunately, the camera angle wasn't close enough for procuring an image of Mody's Friday ensemble of white sleeveless top and copper skirt, so we're only showing a head-and-shoulders shot from today coupled with yesterday's photo, for variety.

Mody pointed out developments with Celgene, Regeneron and Vertex but then stressed smaller names such as Auxilium, Emergent Biosolutions, Inhibitex, Achillion and Idenix Pharmaceutical might be the biggest movers.

Steve Grasso pointed to strength in HMOs and said "their sweet spot is employment."

What’s more boring: Someone on Fast Money speculating on the AAPL dividend, or someone talking about how the banks could move if the European headwinds lift?

Guest Douglas Sipkin was enlisted on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report with the dubious task of evaluating the investment banks and made it even more dubious by claiming "these stocks are always very tricky. Um, I like to tell people they're real-time stocks."

As opposed to all other stocks, which don't trade in real time.

And what's so "very tricky" ... basically a complete sell for 4 years running.

Anyway, the "4th quarter's gonna be incredibly weak," said Sipkin, who nevertheless insisted "there's a lot of money on the sidelines" and even re-insisted later, "so much money is on the sidelines."

Joe Terranova said, "I think money managers right now are expecting that the market's gonna break out," predicting an eclipse of the Oct. 27 high of 1,292.66.

But Steve Grasso expressed pullback caution and said the key levels are 1,249 and 1,295, that a break of either could bring a 5-6% move.

Grasso also had the best line of the icy Target truck driver; "he definitely had bad guidance."

Willie Williams said the euro could fall from to 1.19 if it gets through 1.26. Judge scoffed, saying it's practically at 1.26 right now.

[Thursday, January 5, 2012]

Joe Terranova’s CNBC job description expands in Buy High, Sell Higher

Mel Lee on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money orchestrated another segment on Joe Terranova's book (got a review coming soon, promise), and it's worth noting that Terranova in Chapter 2 refers to Fast Money as "a show of which I am one of the hosts."

Terranova on Thursday surely needed more time to explain how analyst ratings of BTU are relevant to his point that one's biggest position must be a winning position, not a losing position (which strikes us as being as profound as "own stocks that go up, not ones that go down").

Dennis Gartman chimed in with something more interesting, saying it's the "first rule of amateur trading ... people take profits automatically, they do it quickly, and they hang onto their losers, it is what separates pros from amateurs."

Now we know why Steve Cortes is shorting the XRT

We were thinking about taking a pass this year on Steve Cortes' XRT short, lest we re-acquaint ourselves with the fiasco that occurred last year over The Contrarian's quote about it being "largely Amazon" that drew counter-opinions from Patty Edwards.

But, like Michael Corleone, we just can't help but be drawn in.

Specifically, because Cortes this time cited Amazon's underperformance as spurring his short (he didn't say it consisted of AMZN, only that he is reacting to Amazon's performance) and because the XRT description at Yahoo finance shows that its No. 1 holding is ... BKS.

We didn't make the Rhodes Scholar cut by any means ... but isn't it a bit odd to be shorting an ETF headed by the stock whose chief nemesis is Amazon?

It's like saying, the Dallas Cowboys are slumping, so I'm going to short the New York Giants, even though the Giants are actually beneficiaries of any slump by the Cowboys.

BKS is only 1.49% of XRT's assets. However, XRT's top 10 includes not DG, DLTR (Judge Wapner has assigned that ETF to Patty Edwards), WMT, BBY, HD, TGT, KSS, etc., but mostly hit-or-miss specialty shops, some of which we've never heard of before.

Note that BKS, as the purported largest holding, is evidence the XRT doesn't follow Joe Terranova's or Dennis Gartman's model; somehow its biggest position is a loser.

And there you have multiple Fast Money themes poured into a single post.

Leveraged-buyout candidates tend to be the definition of dead money

Dana Telsey is cute, but the segment Melissa Lee conducted over the possibility of a Best Buy leveraged buyout on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was crying out for the skepticism David Faber always exhibited on The Strategy Session.

Telsey said BBY has a "lot of structural issues," but that, "a lot of these changes could be bettle- better handled perhaps out of the public eye than within the public eye."

Really. So once the stock no longer trades publicly, that's when they're allowed to shrink the staff and the stores, only after piling on a mountain of debt to pay existing shareholders beforehand.

Telsey indicated there's a "bunch of private equity firms" who'd be interested in this kind of deal, but the price "certainly has to start with at least a 3 in front of it." She said Collective Brands and Charming Shoppes could also be ripe, probably sooner than Best Buy, for a buyout.

How in the world is a cheeseburger en route to obsolescence?

Fast Money sometimes touches on the most interesting of life's topics (no, we don't mean Mandy Drury, at least not for the purposes of this discussion), only to disappointingly reach the "gotta leave it there" threshold before anyone is able to say anything somewhat profound.

Thursday at 5 p.m., Melissa Lee mentioned Kodak, then introduced a chat about who might be next down the road to obsolescence, though Lee insisted, "We're not, let's be clear, we're not saying companies that could go bankrupt."

It started off slow and predictable, with Jon Najarian offering hard disk drives; Brian Kelly the tiredest of names, GME and BKS as well as SODA; Joe Terranova tried making it more interesting somehow with fast food by naming Wendy's; Tim Seymour suggesting as millions angrily have before LiveNation/Ticketmaster ("It's a disservice charge, it's mandhandling"), and Scott Nations offering not Monsanto, but another name with similar letters (MSFT).

Dennis Gartman capped it off with maybe the most predictable of the bunch, "print journalism," explaining a handful will persist, but "the paper in Indianapolis, the paper in Cleveland, the paper in Louisville, Kentucky, gone."

But he claimed, somewhat ironically unlike Ron Insana earlier (see below), "We use far more paper than we ever did before."

We understand the segment was more about identifying stocks (Gartman didn't do that, but whatever) than longer-term trends.

But they could've considered, for example, Rosetta Stone (RST ... check out that chart by the way), given that the way the world is headed, there's only gonna be one tutorial it'll need to produce (that would be English), as it's terribly inefficient to have so many languages in use around the world, ours seems to be the winner, and leaders of the least-developed nations are making a big mistake in not converting to it or at least dual-teaching it.

The problem with the Fast Money discussion is that virtually nothing goes obsolete overnight. It's more fascinating to weigh the life span of various forms of pop culture.

100 years ago, the 3-minute electric-guitar pop song didn't exist, nor did the 22-minute sitcom, nor did the 2-hour feature film, nor did the 3-hour football game, nor did the drive-thru fast-food restaurant.

Is that where so many of our leisure dollars will continue to be going in 50 years?

Books and stage drama, meanwhile, have persisted for hundreds of years.

Gartman may be overstating the demise of print journalism. As always, anything that represents on-demand, or speed, or specialization, is likely to be future's winner.

Jon Najarian made a rare reference to "M. Lee" (just occurred to us, nobody's called her "Michelle" for a while) while reporting on DNDN in Pops & Drops.

Kulbinder Garcha did an excellent job of cramming through his points on NOK in that terribly small time window at the end of the show. "We think Nokia can get to a 13% market share in smartphones by 2013," he concluded.

We thought it was
Pete Najarian

Anyone who profited in the banks Thursday from the refinancing rumor apparently got a gift, according to a couple people on the 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Diana Olick, she of the glistening biceps that no one saw Thursday, said the truth is, "they are not considering a trillion-dollar refinance program."

"Diana has been all over this story," Melissa Lee assured viewers, as Olick coincidentally busily checked her cell phone.

Chris Whalen said, "The issue here is that, the big banks really don't want to get into this ... the market reaction was the opposite to what it should've been."

But Brian Kelly seemed to think 50 cents up in BAC made sense because "It's all about the Bernanke letter yesterday and the white paper from the Fed."

Tim Seymour said, "I think it's even simpler than that. I think this is rotation."

Dichotomy, demonstrably

Jon Najarian said on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that FDO is one to watch for a bounce. "I think this is an overreaction right here," Najarian said, saying if it falls into the "53, 52 range, then I think you start grabbing it."

Guest Scot Ciccarelli said "this particular quarter" has been traditionally bad for FDO. But actually, while the chart for January 2011 looks terrible, January 2010 looks dynamite.

Dennis Gartman warned that the outlook for FDO isn't so great, because "they're gonna start leaving Family Dollar stores, because the economy I'm telling you is getting stronger."

Joe Terranova asked Ciccarelli if now's the time to get into RadioShack. Evidently not, as Ciccarelli said RSH still has to determine "who they are, what they wanna be, and how they're gonna grow."

Gartman said there's a "dichotomy in incomes" and no question that "you're gonna see the high end do completely- demonstrably better over a long period of time."

And then there was the deal with N. Korea about barring plutonium, while they just used uranium ...

As if anyone doubted the Fast Money Ag Trade would dry up in 2012 (because, you know, people always need to eat ... they also need to read, too, but nobody's plunging into BKS), Dennis Gartman reassured the faithful there's going to be "good demand" for fertilizer, especially nitrogen, and that South America might hate genetically modified crops, but they "can't avoid it."

That's when we had an "uh-oh" moment, as Scott Nations resurrected one of the Fast Money Most Contentious Debates of 2011 (see below) outside the presence of his fellow combatant, Zach Karabell, insisting again that Monsanto has "had a lot of problems ... their Roundup is just getting killed ... by Chinese generics," but that recent call-buying makes sense.

Honestly, the stock doesn't really float our boat either, but we can't figure out why Nations hates it so much.

Dan Dicker got brought on purportedly to discuss refiners but ended up more Walter Cronkite than Louis Rukeyser in a curious analysis of geopolitics, saying there's a "pressurizing of the Iranians" about their "atomic ideas" that is having an effect, though he didn't call them "crazies" as the Ilchmeister did earlier Thursday.

Dennis Gartman had no trouble opining, asserting, "I guarantee you the mullahs wanna go to the table ... they think that Ahmadinejad is a madman."

Dicker said margins for refiners are pinched now and won't rebound till the spring. "We hit that one on the head, so let's give ourselves, you know, a collective pat on the back," Dicker said, a generous form of Brag Trade.


Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
& Seema Mody: 2 for the title

Anyone who flipped on CNBC on Thursday probably got a glimpse of Seema Mody, and a knee buckled.

And then late in the afternoon, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera showed up at the NYSE with what could prove to be her hottest outfit of 2012, and buckled the other knee.

So, while we couldn't get an image of MCC walking around, we figured there's no good reason not to post a couple pictures, because it's just ... undeniably ... So. Good. Lookin'.

Pete jacked one
out of the park

Gotta admit, the Final Trade that Pete Najarian offered on Wednesday (BAC going up) (which he could've stressed a little bit at the beginning of the program) proved a blockbuster on Thursday.

"Kudos to my brother Pete," Jon Najarian said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Steve Cortes said he's not investing in banks regardless because "It doesn't make any sense."

"It's working though," chortled Jon Najarian.

"It's working today. We'll see," Cortes said.

"And yesterday!" Najarian chortled again.

Cortes, who said he is short DB, likened it to football with a grossly out-of-date team reference, saying it's like "The Colts are having a bad season, so I'm gonna start cheering for the L.A. Rams."

"Well I mean if the L.A. Rams had the first pick and they got a good quarterback, maybe you would," said Judge Wapner.

And if the L.A. Rams had the first pick, then there's a new stadium in SoCal and a hole in St. Lou that nobody knows about.

Nevertheless, Ron Insana said there is indeed a big difference between American and European banks, which Insana said "held all the bad stuff that we sold them. They haven't even written that down yet. We have written all that stuff down."

Dr. J hints Steve Cortes is trying to make television headlines then says he’s not saying that Cortes is doing that

Steve Cortes ran into a buzz saw on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report over the state of the global economy.

Ron Insana claimed, "There is not an empty airplane. There is not a slow airport. There are not restaurants that aren't full in every major city of the country that I was in in 2011. .... I made 41 trips in 2011, about 25 different cities. We're lookin' fine."

Cortes said in fact, citing Europe and China, other economies are "basket cases," and that "decoupling is something that Katy Perry and Russell Brand are doing right now. Decoupling is not an investment thesis.

Jon Najarian leaped to rebut. "When you say China and Europe are just in the crapper ... or a basket case ... you and I know that's not true ... we hear that a lot on television, that, you know, to make headlines, and I'm not saying you're doing it Steve, but, you know, we get kind of pulled into this thing, that says, 'Oh, well Europe's obviously in a deep recession.' No, they're not. 'China's obviously upside down.' No they're not. I mean, I don't see any evidence of that whatsoever."

Dr. J concluded with that the only packed stores are the NYC-stores-jammed thing. "Oh you mean those poor people that are in a recession are flooding into the United States. Those are the people shoring up our economy ... you can't have it both ways, can you?"

"Jon, Jon, hold on. I'm not having it both ways at all. I'm saying Europe is absolutely in a recession. It is. And I believe that right now China is slowing dramatically," Cortes calmly responded.

‘Things are really slowing’ in U.S. online advertising

Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report was such a gangbuster, it practically wiped us out just keeping track of all the notable things, from "crapper" to "women's underwear" and everything in between.

Maybe most important though was Clayton Moran's startling call on advertising.

"Channel sources have told us that the European online advertising market weakened severely in the 4th quarter, and that that weakness will persist through the first half of this year, uh, worse than expected. In addition, while the U.S. was strong in the 4th quarter, U.S. advertisers are much more hesitant and cautious entering the new year, so it looks like the U.S. is beginning to slow as well in regards to online advertising," Moran said.


Moran insisted, "The U.S. marketers are telling us that advertisers are very hesitant, that they're very cautious entering the year, and things are really slowing."

Patty Edwards had a very sound approach to GOOG that seems right-on; "if you looked at the charts frankly, this thing had just gotten toppy, and at some point in time, you have to take some profits, it was time for me to just bail out."

Jon Najarian said taking profits was a good move, but referring to Moran, said, "as far as the U.S. advertising market going upside down and slowing down, I think he's got that 100% wrong."

However, Dr. J's argument was based on Super Bowl ad sales, which, um, generally are pretty robust no matter the economy.

Ron Insana suggested people in his own shoes are more plugged in than people in Moran's, saying, "We haven't really heard that advertisers are pulling it in. I mean, we work in the media business, we're not hearing that complaint."

Patty reacts scoffingly to Judge’s suggestion of work assignment

Patty Edwards had a good line on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying, "You know if I could buy an ETF that was just dollar stores, I would do it. One doesn't exist."

"Why don't you create one," said Judge Wapner.

"You know, in my spare time I will get on that next week," Edwards sighed.

"Please do, would ya," Judge said snarkily.

"Absolutely," Edwards grumbled.

Ron Insana maybe gets what
Call the Close has become

Judge Wapner in closing Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report asked Steve Cortes to Call the Close ... and Cortes said not a word.

Then Judge asked Patty Edwards, whose "closing" call was merely to mention TAL (so much for markets up or markets down).

Ron Insana demonstrated either unfamiliarity with the concept or shrewd analysis of what is has morphed into, telling Judge, "I thought we were doing Final Trades."

Judge seizes early decline to label Herb’s top pick a bust

Herb Greenberg admitted on Thursday's Halftime that his favorite stock of 2012, JCP, was "getting hammered today."

And then Judge Wapner, who maybe had some bad egg nog Thursday, shouted out skepticism of Ron Johnson, asking Greenberg if expectations aren't too high, "just the guy walks through the door, and all of a sudden the company's gonna turn around."

Greenberg pointed to Jan. 26 when JCP will "roll out the new concept, it's gonna be in some really big whatever," but more importantly, "how can you judge Ron Johnson based on not even getting his hands on the thing going forward."

"You judged him already Herb yourself without him doing anything!!!!" Judge shouted.

"I've got a whole year to go here," Herb calmly responded.

Patty Edwards sided with Greenberg, saying, "It's gonna take 9 months to see what he can even begin to do," but then Patty included those 2 words that always give us pause (ever since those Citigroup analysts in 2007, not Meredith, kept saying them), that Johnson "threw the entire kitchen sink into the numbers today."

Ron Insana said to remember that retailers dealt with one of the "warmest Decembers in history."

Lingerie always in demand

Patty Edwards said she has grown tired with Target and that it's media/electronics report isn't good news for Best Buy. "Target is one that I have owned for a long time, I actually sold it this morning on the news. Frankly I got tired of the disappointment," Edwards said.

However, Macy's earned the favor of Patty, who said "they're eating everyone else's lunch ... I think Macy's has made the department store cool again."

But the most intriguing thing Patty said was that, "in the middle of the mall, most of those did not do well, unless they were selling women's underwear, like Victoria's Secret."

Steve Cortes said he shorted XRT because retailers, "As a group, they're trading very poorly," and that "consumers are unwilling to buy except at steep discounts."

Colin McGranahan said "idiosyncratic" or some version of the word a couple times and said "I think you're gonna have a tough first half for the retailers."

However, he likes Target, which prompted Judge to ask Patty if she unloaded too soon. "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't," Edwards said.

Smart guy Ron Insana incorrectly uses the term ‘ironic’

Patty Edwards knocked Barnes & Noble on Thursday's Halftime Report; "they are essentially a lending library where people like to drink coffee and hold business meetings."

Ron Insana said, "You know what's ironic here," is that in the '90s people in NYC screamed about the giant booksellers destroying the local independents, and that now it's Amazon that is the "category killer" of the "category killer" as part of "creative destruction at work."

Inflation in the foreclosure-rehab market

Nishu Sood said on Thursday's Halftime Report that home prices are the wrong focus for housing and are backward-looking.

Patty Edwards offered, "It takes $6,800 on average to refurb a foreclosure, you wanna be in something like a Home Depot," which is an upgrade from December 2009, when Patty asserted, "Think about it, there's $5,700 that has to go into every foreclosure to be rehabbed so you can live in it. With, you know, what, 300,000 foreclosures a month, that's a lot of money going into Home Depot and Lowe's."

Ron Insana on Thursday used another dreadful term that never works, a "generational opportunity to buy homebuilders."

Ilczyszyn on Iran: ‘A lot of this is just b.s.’

Rich Ilczyszyn took up the Brent/WTI spread on Thursday's Halftime in reference to TSO and said "it's narrowed and will continue to narrow."

Ron Insana suggested Iran's saber-rattling shouldn't be taken seriously because of reports "they PhotoShopped their missile tests in the Straits (sic) of Hormuz to make those missiles look more long-range than they really are," and that Iran's economy is actually "imploding" with sanctions.

Ilczyszyn shrugged and said, "that's why we call 'em the crazies ... I think that a lot of this is just b.s."

Jon Najarian said options in DNDN and OVTI are hopping.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rakers said of Seagate, "clearly they're reaping the benefits" of Western Digital's troubles.

Win Thin said that with the euro, "at this point there is no floor," and it's "wishful thinking" that Europe only has a shallow recession; "markets should prepare for something much deeper." He wants to short euro at 1.29.

Steve Cortes said, "I am short the euro currency, I have taken profits on a good portion of that this morning."

Gundlach: DoubleLine success ‘kinda looks like Secretariat at the Belmont way back in the 1970s’

Bond superstar Jeff Gundlach, who crushed a gargantuan called shot last year in Treasurys but gets just as many kudos around here for hilariously questioning why anyone wants to own a home (the gas company anecdote), noted on Thursday that DoubleLine's success "kinda looks like Secretariat at the Belmont way back in the 1970s."

(Yes, it's true, "way back in the 1970s" is redundant because Secretariat didn't race the Belmont in the 1980s or 1990s, at least in any official capacity.)

Nevertheless, as Gundlach discussed on Squawk on the Street with Gary Kaminsky, who's had a banner new year already with a broadcast from Goldman Sachs HQ (perhaps Lucas van Praag finally heard the calls on this page since Lloyd Blankfein stood up David Faber that if they were just a little more accessible and even returned Gasparino's calls once in a while, people wouldn't write as many Rolling Stone articles about them), Morningstar doesn't even give him a rating because of a "style box and misunderstanding" situation which screams out "closet indexing."

"I hate the idea of indexing in bonds," said Gundlach, as Kaminsky asked how the funds have succeeded with active managing while not being pegged to benchmarks and thus not receiving Morningstar listings. It's "sort of crazy ... indexing in bonds is really kind of dumb," Gundlach added.

Anyway, horse-racing quotes aside, we were most interested in this year's bond call, and Gundlach suggested Thursday that the most important thing about a 2012 portfolio is it's "gotta be dollar-denominated." He said investors need to be positioned defensively but also for the possibility of an improving economy and the "tail risks that are in the marketplace." For that he's into the "default-exposed mortgage market" in his total return strategy, "36% of the portfolio in that area" since the "credit markets got cheaper into Sept. 30 or so." But, he stressed, one needs "long-term government bonds still within a portfolio."

Gundlach said DoubleLine has a "moderate risk profile in all of our funds... in fact a below-risk profile," and "our worst drawdown in 15 years using daily data is less than 4%."

[Wednesday, January 4, 2012]

Karen’s curious habit of seeking clearance before asking guests questions

She's not required to say "gotta leave it there" like the CNBC hosts. But Karen Finerman tends to begin every one of her queries for Fast Line guests the same way.

"Let me ask you something," Finerman asked Debbie Weinswig on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money. Then later, to Greg Zuckerman, it was, "So, let me ask you..."

Finally, Karen said to Matthew Lamphier, "Lemme ask you something..."

Why does Karen need these guests to "let" her speak? Once Mel points to her, she's got the floor. The guests can't prevent her from asking a question.

Now, if Finerman were to say instead, "Answer this truthfully for me please," or, "Don't dodge this question please," or, "Say something that makes sense," that would be a value-added preface to whatever question she's about to ask.

Otherwise, it's just one of those unnecessary refrains that doesn't need to be said.

Karen politely tells Gene Munster his NFLX possibility is nuts

Gene Munster on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money actually said Netflix is a "logical, growing space" for someone like Yahoo.

Karen Finerman bluntly told Munster, "I gotta tell you, I just find that so improbable, the idea that Yahoo would buy Netflix ... I gotta think the Yahoo shareholder base would go absolutely berserk over this."

Munster's argument was that "we're making a bet that Yahoo is gonna do some M&A in the content space. And the exciting, logical, growing space is Netflix and that's one of a few places that they could go. ... They need to throw up a Hail Mary pass, and this would be one of 'em, but it's one of many options."

But far more interesting than that little go-round was the fact Joe Terranova said of Netflix, "For the first time in a while, you can buy the stock," while Brian Stutland revealed, "I actually shorted the stock today."

Pete Najarian delivered the most long-winded explanation of selling YHOO upside calls that allow him after a 12-month span to collect "$6 on a $16 stock." But he told Tim Seymour that selling the calls naked "would be insane in my mind."

And if GDP surges and if the S&P 500 soars, it’ll also probably go up

Joe Terranova on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money said he thinks MOS can go up, but only if 2 questions are answered: Whether there's a robust spring application period in the U.S., and whether corn prices stay strong.

(Lessee ... must be a chapter in Buy High, Sell Higher for handling this one.)

Tim Seymour claimed "fertilizers are a long-term structural play," but so are airlines, so how come he isn't recommending them?

Layaway is just such an exciting business, you know

Debbie Weinswig, who never shows up at the Nasdaq nor does video anymore but is strictly a Fast Line guest these days, told the 5 p.m. Fast Money gang Wednesday that "retail traffic in December was quite strong."

But Debbie went a little bit over the top in claiming "Wal-Mart's execution this holiday season was just, you know, unstoppable," while also adding about 15 other "you knows."

Steve Cortes flirted with Brag Trade territory, saying his short XRT/long SPY trade that he also did a year ago is "starting to go my way," though it's not a big gainer yet; he said it was the underperformance of Amazon and its "horrible 4th quarter" that prompted him to act (and remember how that led to some debate with Patty Edwards last year over which retail index included AMZN and which didn't?).

Cortes, curiously dubbed as being on the "Prop Desk" while merely standing upstairs at the Nasdaq, also revealed, "I am short the euro currency right now," against the U.S. dollar. MacNeil Curry said he prefers short euro vs. the Canadian dollar because it "has a lot of potential."

Pete: BAC going higher

In what could've been a pretty good Trade School, Greg Zuckerman and the 5 p.m. Fast Money panel on Wednesday explained this crazy structure Eddie Lampert's got going where he doles out shares in lieu of redemptions.

"He's handing the shares themselves back to investors," Zuckerman said, which "helps the stock by not actually selling it ... he's allowed to do that."

Zuckerman also explained how Lampert collects a "management fee as well as an incentive fee" that unlike other funds is based on mark-to-market and not realized loss valuation, as Karen Finerman openly lamented the math about a billion-dollar investment that rises to $1.5 billion in which Lampert keeps $100 million but on the way down, investors only get the shares.

Tim Seymour said nobody's getting fooled, that there are a lot of unique structures and it's people's own fault for not knowing, but that there are many who don't know what restrictions they've got, and "What he's done here I think is genius."

Matthew Lamphier, who might've had a better year than Lampert, was forced into a Brag Trade on CSCO, saying "our basis is about 16." (But while everyone these days is hailing CSCO the Great, how is that chart over 5 years anything but a dead-cat bounce?)

Lamphier said he likes (deep breath) MSFT, CSCO, INTC, LLTC, TXN, BBT, USB, AXP, V, MA, COP and MMM.

Mel Lee called Joe Terranova's Buy High, Sell Higher a "soon-to-be best-seller." Terranova on Wednesday referred to exiting FCX last year in May after it stalled for 3 months. "It's the value of money. It's the value of, I can be somewhere else. It's the value of protecting yourself on the downside," Terranova said.

Pete Najarian said someone was buying a bunch of $7 calls in BAC, and so "Look for Bank of America to go higher." (And the fact he waited till the very end to say that is a sign of the confidence behind that call.)

Dan Niles would be a great spokesman for Gingrich, Perry, Huntsman

Dan Niles' opinions tend to be some of the most widely noted among Fast Money guests, but squeezing some short names out of him on Wednesday's 5 p.m. show was about as difficult as finding a parking spot at Debbie Weinswig's Wal-Mart.

Niles said he thinks momentum is turning for semiconductor makers because they will experience lower estimates for the March quarter, then "that's the last estimate cut for the group as a whole."

(Which is a bit redundant, because what else would it be, "group as a part"?)

Niles said "3 of our favorite names are Teradyne, LSI and Marvell," in part because they're all "levered somewhat to hard disk drives."

Melissa Lee asked Niles what shorts he would use against those names, only to get the most generic list of industrial and other sectors. Lee pressed for specifics, and Niles chuckled, "you know how companies get around shorts," finally revealing that it would be the "more broadly diversified companies in Europe" or in the "lodging space."

Which sounds like NFLX is spared. (But that's OK because Brian Stutland will do it.)

Tim Seymour defended Niles' reluctance to name names and said companies actually respect quality investors even if they're short. Seymour also said of Seagate, "there's value here."

Fast Money Ag Trade:
Alive and well in 2012

Analyst Mark Gulley guested on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to talk about his MOS buy rating but then conceded, in the hierarchy of top ag stocks, that it's only "maybe a No. 3 spot" on his list, which is a little like having a discussion about the yinz's receiving corps and starting with Jerrico Cotchery.

"I've got more upside potential for CF Industries," then Agrium, Gulley said, adding that Potash would be "at the end of that" list.

"Rising corn prices are more important" for Mosaic, Gulley said.

Zach Karabell said "I own Potash and CF" and, while conceding the volatility and trading around the "incredibly beta-ish names," said he's "absolutely" holding onto the ones he has. "There is gonna be huge demand for this stuff … people are not like eating 60% less every 3 months," Karabell said.

True … but there's huge demand to fly in airplanes, and people don't suddenly fly 60% less every 3 months, so doesn't that make airlines a long-term hold also?

Jane Wells’ chic new hairstyle

Giving Judge Scott Wapner's humdrum 2012 launch a big boost, Jane Wells showed up on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report in smashing new wavy hairstyle (sorry the screen grab was the best we could do; cameraman didn't allow for a better pose) to report that while big cuts appear to be in store for the defense budget, there could "counterintuitively" be places to invest.

Wells noted interest in Asia and long-range weaponry and played a clip from Howard Rubel saying "the president is moving a brigade of Marines to Australia." Still, Wells conceded, "everything's on the table," and someone joked the Defense Department might be morphing "into a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist."

Brian Kelly revealed, "I'm actually short United Technology, UTX."

Who’s gonna go first:

Analyst Ken Sena told Judge Wapner on Wednesday's Halftime Report that he agrees with another analyst that Yahoo is better off with Scott Thompson today than without him yesterday, but "I still think there are some concerns," namely about Thompson's experience level with media content.

Judge Wapner, saying maybe Meg Whitman wasn't all that prepared for the HPQ job, suggested "maybe he can learn on the job." Sena said perhaps, but the investors he deals with at this time are "really focused on seeing a deal occur," even if Thompson might help the underlying businesses.

Dr. J said someone, not a retail investor, bought 20,000 July 16 calls, so "they think a floor is in."

Najarian also said someone bought 6,000 March $100 calls in NFLX, "that's a pretty big bet." Pete Najarian said this is a "great entry point" on EBAY.

Once again, it’s the year of the banks

Pete Najarian said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that banks were still sort of the stars because, after a big Tuesday, there's been "not really much of a pullback."

Jon Najarian gushed about GS, "that is a nice gap to the upside," then offered "kudos to Pete" for identifying this sector as moving in December. Pete, who has spent most of the last several months decrying catalysts in banking, revealed he "today added to some JPMorgan" and cited January 36 calls rather than the dividend play. He also has WFC.

Jon Najarian continued his GS gushing, calling Jan Hatzius "a guy I respect a lot" who apparently agrees with Dr. J that housing is bottoming and thus "loan demand is increasing."

Zach Karabell joked that the stocks were getting a "Bachmann bounce" but remains wary of financials; "I'm gonna defer on that one … tough road ahead for the financials … I'm beating the same drum here."

Valuation, risk-off environment aren’t the sexiest reasons for buying stock

Jon Najarian, slightly at odds with Guy Adami's call last night, said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Acme Packet is crumbling so far, he's "starting to be the contrarian."

Guest Barbara Ryan, on the Fast Line, said big pharma's big year in 2011 largely happened because the stocks had "been left for dead." She thinks 2012 figures to be more of the same, but her first 2 reasons were extraordinarily low valuation and a risk-off environment.

She cautioned that might not work "if the risk-on trade comes back."

Pete Najarian said of LULU, "obviously I'm missing the whole thing." Zach Karabell noted NKE and LULU have done well, and "I'm not sure you go wrong with either of these."

Herb Greenberg used StockTwits as a cover for another takedown of GMCR, noting a cautious analyst's terminology of GMCR's prospects vs. someone's more effusive take on Sodastream. "You've gotta look at the wording of the report!" Greenberg said.

Zach Karabell said that if GMCR could only "monetize the obsession" traders have with the name, it would be a "home run stock."

Greenberg noted that Bernstein's Mark Moerdler is "doubling down" on his CRM negativity.

Call the Close, likely to be a bust all year, featured Brian Kelly mentioning XLU.

Interesting he didn’t say ‘the vote-counting between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum’

Isis Pharmaceuticals chief Dr. Stanley Crooke found a creative way to handle Judge Wapner's question on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report about an analyst seeing more challenges than opportunities for the company in 2012.

"I think there are plenty of challenges for drug discovery and development all the time," said Crooke, who said it was a "year of real productivity in 2011."

(Which is like questioning the Patriots' running game, and having Bill Belichick — assuming he even answers the question — say, "We never had a running game anyway.")

Judge, already off to a lackluster start in 2012, actually then asked Crooke "What keeps you up at night." Crooke skipped "insomnia" and "Dow futures" and "Chelsea Lately" and merely repeated, the "challenges of drug discovery and development."

Crooke said advancements in SMA research can begin right away with Biogen's partnership.

Judge said time was running short, but he had to ask, is Isis a takeover target. "We certainly don't wanna be," Crooke said.

Add another one to the CV

Steve Liesman — who always manages to find Federal Reserve procedural and PR maneuvers interesting — was excited on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to make the transition from a segment on LULU.

"The yoga of the Fed! …. Yin and the yang of the yoga," Liesman chortled.

Liesman stressed the transparency of the Fed's quarterly outlook or whatever it precisely is, but it was Zach Karabell who pointed out that a survey of the Fed in 2008 as to where interest rates would be on Jan. 1, 2012, would've undoubtedly been wrong, so "Why do we care about their expectations."

Liesman credited Karabell for making good points and even said, "Zach, you were a reporter in your old life, you're still a reporter now," which prompted an interesting look from Karabell.

Unfortunately, no one has yet told the folks at Wikipedia, where the Zekemeister's page says "author, historian, money manager and economist."

Jon Najarian said the Fed's new quarterly release will be significant in telling the markets when it expects the first rate hike to be.

[Tuesday, January 3, 2012]

We swear, the Fast Money gang seems to borrow lines from this page

To think it was just last weekend this page was pointing out the explosion in apparently un-fined crude Fast Money language in 2011.

Tim Seymour on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money couldn't wait 1 day into 2012 before starting the new trading year off on the same foot.

Guest host Scott Judge Wapner, who brought not an ounce of new material to the new year, had mispronounced guest "Pah-vul" Molchanov's name, which was noticed by Guy Adami and Tim Seymour.

"He 'Pa-velled' him on the way in," Seymour said, as Guy Adami mentioned Pavel Bure.

Grumbled Judge, "As a hockey fan, I'm embarrassed about-"

"Nah, don't be embarrassed about it, sh-- hap, happens," Seymour said.

Fast Money extends 2012 consecutive-shows-discussing-AAPL-dividend streak to 2

While Judge Wapner's segment on AAPL's dividend at Halftime Tuesday came as utterly no surprise, one has to wonder what the 5 p.m. Fast Money was doing with Tavis McCourt other than providing McCourt unnecessary publicity.

McCourt managed to take down his price target a whole $17, from $530 to $513, without changing his rating on the stock. "This is a change I could've made a month ago," McCourt even admitted.

Karen Finerman wondered how he got such a price adjustment on a fairly small earnings change, a "pretty hefty multiple on that 14 cents."

"It was all relatively marginal," McCourt said, which explains, basically, nothing.

Judge for some reason felt compelled to ask, "I wanna get you on the record" — as if anyone, not even this site, is actually keeping score — as to whether 2012 is the year for the AAPL dividend. "Oh God I hope so," McCourt said, not exactly a call.

Stephen said "I took a flier on RIMM" but wasn't impressed by McCourt's AAPL analysis. "That's why I don't use a lot of Street research ... the fact he makes a call at the end of the quarter and waits, not a lot of value there."

We’ll know for sure that Mary Ann Bartels was wrong when ...

Guy Adami recommended on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that if the S&P 500 were to "stay above 1,265, you've probably got another 75 handles in the S&P."

Mary Ann Bartels then proceeded to agree and/or disagree with Adami, claiming she wasn't too impressed by Tuesday's rally because "I need volume to confirm a breakout," and that she would see it top out at 1,350 or 1,365 without better volume.

Judge Wapner somehow asked Bartels what it would take for her to change her mind, given that she made clear she was looking for higher volume.

Anyway, Guy Adami asked if 1,370 could be a double-top. "Absolutely," Bartels said. Karen Finerman asked where support down below is, and Bartels said she wouldn't rule out a plunge back to October's 1,074.

Karen Finerman continues her Treasury-binge-can’t-last theme for perhaps 3rd straight year

What a way to kick off a new year. Mary Thompson showed off her stop-you-in-your-tracks Prettiest Hair on Cable Television during Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money while reporting on reasons why M&A among smaller banks could heat up. Guy Adami said that if the banks do finally gain some footing, USB is a gigantic $30 stock, while not noting that if USB hits $30, BAC is probably going to rise twice as fast.

While Tim Seymour, when he wasn't swearing, was predicting "the dollar strength or the DXY I think will continue to be a wrecking ball for risk assets," his panelists were expressing at least a slightly rosier outlook.

"I can't see wanting to own Treasurys over equities at this point," said Karen Finerman.

Jim Iuorio flat-out called it an "interesting and convincing day to me" and argued — successfully, in this page's opinion — with Tim Seymour over whether Europe's "monsters" are really still in the "shadows."

Guest George Goncalves actually sees light at the end of the tunenl. "We can see Europe just kind of muddling along, and U.S. will just steal Europe's lunch money, and the U.S. economy can actually do pretty well," Goncalves claimed.

Buy high, watch it plummet, hope to eventually break even

Joe Terranova on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money got some moments at the end from Judge Wapner to discuss Buy High, Sell Higher.

Quite frankly, this wasn't exactly a Mike-Brady-caps-off-the-episode-with-advice type of discussion, as we didn't quite understand the lessons behind Terranova revealing that last year, "the beginning of January I went all-in in Google," and then it tumbled on the Eric Schmidt news even though it was still, apparently as proved by its current price, the right trade.

And then Terranova said he really would like to take a crack at ARUN, but was glad he waited as the stock continued to crumble Tuesday.

And if we all had crystal balls ...

Nevertheless, Guy Adami told viewers, "You know what would be a huge mistake for you folks? Not buying this book."

A review will be posted on this site shortly. Terranova in early passages does seem to convey a little uncertainty over whether his audience is beginners or market pros, and the Prologue and Chapter 1 could use a little mojo.

A Final Trade, eventually

Pavel Molchanov told Judge Wapner on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money that for BP's Halliburton case, "These settlement odds are, are pretty good" and can give BP a boost, but it's "completely implausible" to think BP will get $20 billion.

Tim Seymour said you can't trade names like POT on macro events but that it's a "great valuation." (Because, it's always a great valuation.)

Joe Terranova, responding to a clip of Mark Fisher's pipeline play, said "EEP, that's the ultimate play here."

Guy Adami warned against piling in so fast to APKT.

Stephen Weiss' Final Trade was, "I love Aubrey McClendon; I like the stock." Mike Khouw said if you're not selling VZ consider the puts. Joe Terranova said CSX, Tim Seymour said GFI and Guy Adami said UNH.

Karen Finerman recommended TKR, "but I wouldn't buy it tomorrow."

Darren Rovell bamboozled; falls into trap of making guest’s point

Darren Rovell is one of CNBC's most underrated stars. Hopefully, his interviews on his NBC Sports Network show tend to be different than the exchange he had with MSG's Mike Bair on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Rovell, explaining the dispute between MSG and Time Warner (and man, aren't those incredibly d-u-l-l stories for people whose cable service is not affected), did right by presenting Time Warner's claim but made the mistake of repeating Bair's own argument.

Which allowed crafty Bair to say, "Well you've got it right, it is a gross mischaracterization." Which implies Rovell and CNBC are calling Time Warner's argument a "gross mischaracterization" even though Bair could ambiguously claim, if Rovell were to protest, that he was merely saying Rovell restated his argument correctly.

(Bair obviously is well-skilled at these PR nuances.)

If someone is present for the interview, you as the interviewer don't need to make/recall their comments for them.

Bair also called the a la carte issue a "smokescreen."

Mark Fisher suggests Fast Money gang opines beyond their realm of expertise

In the category of Refreshingly Blunt Television Commentary, this was a "Wow."

By the time Judge Wapner got around to copper, Mark Fisher, sitting in on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, apparently had had enough.

"With all due respect, I don't know how everyone has an opinion about everything," Fisher said. "Having an opinion about everything, right, seems to me, like, it's almost like having an opinion on nothing."

A. Men.

(Note: That's not to say this page is immune. Anytime we get beyond football — and that's watching, not playing — it's basically a little like Cliff Clavin, with or without the drinking.)

Anyway, Fish pointed out he's made this point previously to Joe Terranova. Judge semi-impressively stood up for the gang, asserting, "Our guys have opinions on a lot of stuff, they know a lot of stuff. I'm not saying they're right on everything."

PBR me ASAP: Either it’s a great, great value play, or worst oil stock on the planet

One subject Mark Fisher felt comfortable discussing Tuesday on the Fast Money Halftime Report was energy.

Fisher said a consistent way to make money is to "sell puts in oil." But then he threw in a twist, suggesting he would "basically pair any single oil stock up against Petrobras and make money this year."

Fisher can sometimes speak in a bit stilted manner on TV. But his Petrobras comment was crystal clear, which made it odd when Dan Dicker said moments later, "Petrobras I think is a great, great value play; it's a great idea by Mark."

Eventually it was pointed out that Fisher was making the obvious argument. "Sorry Fish I misheard you," Dicker said.

Dicker predicted in the oil space a "shift out of those big-dividend-paying assets into some beta."

Fisher said the KMI-El Paso deal has more legs in 2012, but he also mentioned Suncor and the Canadian oil plays — talk about a lousy 2011 chart — and said, "That's where the real action's gonna be in the 2nd half of this year."

Fast Money can’t let 1 day in 2012 go by without AAPL dividend speculation

Sometime over the long weekend, we were wondering if we should start posting some odds as to how long it would take in 2012 for Fast Money to speculate on an AAPL dividend.

It was a short wait, as Brian Marshall told Judge Wapner on Tuesday's Halftime Report, "I definitely think a dividend's gonna happen in, in, in uh, in, uh, calendar 12."

For those who thought Tim Cook was hitting a wall, Marshall claimed, "I think they've got a good product cycle this year."

Who’s worth more:
Dr. J (the options guru),
or Dr. J (the hoops great)?

Judge Scott Wapner introduced Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report as a "special edition" apparently because of the presence of Mark Fisher, complete with a clip from "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh."

Then Judge mentioned having Dr. J around; "no offense to Julius Erving of course."

But actually, given that Erving recently had to sell a boatload of personal trinkets to raise $3.5 million in a purported "long-planned celebration of his career," we've gotta be thinking that if the two "Doctors" were to meet, the basketball star wouldn't take offense, but perhaps a loan.

Judge Wapner for some reason cracked up goofily at Mark Fisher's answers about whether he liked the clip from "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh" and whether he knows the movie.

Call the Close opens 2012
as a bust (cont’d)

Andrew Burkly predicted on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that markets figure to re-create 2010 and 2011 in being strong early and fading late. "I think that playbook that, that's worked over the past couple years doesn't look too uh, too unreasonable to me," Burkly said.

Joe Terranova said Judge Wapner jinxed Burkly by claiming Burkly called the market last year.

Brian Kelly and Jon Najarian talked over each other as to who if anyone is or will be spending in Europe.

Dennis Gartman (sigh) is commenting on gold again, saying, "I wanna get long" but isn't sure when he can get back in (and if he's actually right, Bill Strazzullo's recent forecast is gonna look awfully loopy).

Rebecca Patterson said euro activity is gonna "heat up again soon" and that it'll be an opportunity to fade strength. "I'm still nervous on Europe," Patterson said, saying her trade is to sell the dollar vs. the Mexican peso.

Brian Kelly somehow twisted Call the Close into saying he likes small caps (IWM), but, "in 2012 we will have to watch Europe."

Jon Najarian's "Call" was to tout RES, while Mark Fisher, who gets a pass because this isn't his regular lunchtime gig, said food is the call for 2012, "probably an upside surprise in the works for the grain markets."

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♦ Darren Rovell
♦ Carl Quintanilla
♦ Diana Olick
♦ Dylan Ratigan
♦ Eric Bolling
♦ Anderson Cooper
♦ Neil Cavuto
♦ Liz Claman
♦ Monica Crowley
♦ Bill O'Reilly
♦ Rachel Maddow
♦ Susie Gharib
♦ Jane Skinner
♦ Kimberly Guilfoyle
♦ Martha MacCallum
♦ Courtney Friel
♦ Uma Pemmaraju
♦ Joe Scarborough
♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
♦ Donald Luskin
♦ Herb Greenberg
♦ Robert Reich
♦ Steve Moore
♦ Vince Farrell
♦ Joe LaVorgna
♦ A. Gary Shilling
♦ Joe Battipaglia
♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett