[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, July 2010]
[Friday, July 30, 2010]

In other words, probably
already priced in

Commodities expert John Stephenson made a visit to the Fast Money studio Friday.

Joe Terranova asked him about ag stocks. Stephenson said that's a good sector. "One thing that isn't optional is eating. And uh, you definitely need to do that. And people all around the world are doing that. Not to mention the fact that diets are changing, particularly out of the developing world, becoming more meat, protein-based," he said.

Now there's a great analysis — if we hadn't already heard that on the very first episodes of Fast Money 4 years ago.

RIMM investor Karen Finerman mentioned a Web site — not CNBCfix.com — on the air Friday, undoubtedly bolstering the site's hit tally.

It was "www.blackberrycool.com."

"Is that one of your bookmarks?" asked Melissa Lee.

Steve Grasso wasn't so gung-ho about RIMM. "I'm seeing guys actually sell into the strength," Grasso said.

Guy Adami explains why his bear forecast mostly hasn’t been right

In a subdued episode of Fast Money on Friday, Guy Adami didn't have a whole lot to say, other than Steve Grasso might be getting fat on Domino's Pizza.

But The Negotiator did offer a reason as to why his "crater" prediction still hasn't happened: July has been for some reason an "extraordinarily difficult" market to predict.

(Really. Looked to us like it pretty much went straight up. Guess that was more "extraordinarily difficult" than other months to foresee. But whatever.)

Adami did manage to say twice on the show that the Chinese are better capitalists than Americans. "Again, I think they do a better job than we do in terms of their economy," he said.

Halftime hair — out

Friday's Fast Money opened with Melissa Lee changing what had been her new hairstyle on the Halftime Report, then a rather aggressive challenge from No. 386 to Joe Terranova as to separating the stock market's wheat from the chaff.

"Junk are the names like Sears," Terranova responded. "Junk are the names like airlines. Quality is the larger-cap names with the big balance sheets, the Microsofts, that haven't worked, that look like they're starting to work in July."

Karen Finerman offered that, as long as the market seems basically stable, more dollars are coming. "You're gonna see cash on the sidelines that will be deployed," she said.

But Steve Grasso disagreed. "2/3 of all stocks move with the overall market," he said. "I don't see it as a stock picker's market yet. I see it as momentum either way."

Patty Edwards delivered a shout-out to Steve Cortes from the Halftime go-round on the common thread of today's corporate success. "It's been those with international exposure" that have been most impressive, Edwards said.

People watching Maria Bartiromo's show(s) in the hours before Fast Money got a triple treat when 1) not only did Gary Kaminsky show up on Maria's outdoor set to talk about money managers caught off guard by the July melt-up, but 2) Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Maria fought for air time in a debate over the CSCO circuit-breaker, and 3) a beaming Mary Thompson delivered the day's wrapup from the NYSE.

James Rogers entering
Clay Jones territory

We weren't paying terribly close attention, and were merely expecting just another humdrum CEO interview on the Fast Money Halftime Report, when Eastman Chemical CEO James Rogers showed up at Melissa Lee's table.

Rogers, though, actually proved to be among the Fast Money elite CEO guests.

Approaching cocky, but with enough down-to-earthness to pull it off, Rogers spoke with an amped-up enthusiasm about his Latin America prospects and refreshing candor about wanting to sell the "PET" plastic bottle business.

Despite that, he said every other business line he's got is doing great, particularly south of the equator, where people forget Rio basically never had a recession. "Every time I get down to Brazil, I get pumped up," Rogers said.

Melissa changes hairstyle

Probably more than any stock tip, what viewers will most likely come away with from Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report is an opinion on Melissa Lee's new hairstyle, what we believe is a first on Fast.

It initially stopped us in our tracks. It wasn't maybe as elegant as some of her typical looks, but added a nice dose of formality. By the end of the program, we were neither excited nor disappointed. Which is fine.

See, one thing women don't always get is the importance of variety. It can't always be the same old thing every time. (Then again, you don't want to pull a Keri Russell "Felicity" thing either.)

It's like pitching. You could have a 98-mile hummer, but if you keep throwing the same pitch, same location, inning after inning, eventually they'll all get knocked out of the park. Audiences have to be thrown a changeup every now and then.

Apparently feeling good from the get-go, Mel gave a rather demonstrative shoulder shrug in opening Halftime stating that even a weak GDP report "doesn't move markets."

Cortes: Dollar hollers

Steve Cortes used Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report as a testing ground for his Masco vs. Caterpillar chart comparison, bolstering his theory that the big-cap multinational exporters are the names to be long.

"Really what's driving stocks right now is the dollar," Cortes said.

"That kind of decoupling I believe in," agreed Jon Najarian.

For some reason, Cortes spoke when Melissa Lee asked for "Doc" on the call-the-close-or-whatever trade to end the program. Cortes also said "Investors might be a little too focused on China and not enough on Latin America. I am buying Bancolombia," and he's "very constructive on the whole sector" that includes Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Terranova buys RIMM

Patty Edwards said on Friday's Halftime there are "so many headwinds" for consumers now, but despite that, "this is not a double-dip scenario at this point ... this is just a rocky road."

While Craig Berger was talking about tech stocks on the Fast Line, the graphics gremlins somehow managed to briefly show Patty sideways. Among other things, Berger suggested that the best chip names might be the ones already punished. "Ya gotta think downside in an LSI is a lot less than in a Broadcom that's still sitting near its highs," Berger said.

Joe Terranova said "ISM has been a leading indicator in the market." More importantly, he said, "I bought RIMM this morning ... I think RIMM now gets north of 60 bucks."

Earlier on The Strategy Session, Miles Nadal spoke about the world of advertising, which made us think about advertising, which is how we can parlay artistic license into discussing the fairly new Angie Everhart commercial for NutriSystem that happened to air during the Fast Money Halftime Report.

We wondered why Everhart only appears in a 1-piece swimsuit, when clearly this is someone who would look good in 2 pieces.

The answer must be that NutriSystem is seeking a broad audience of the Everywoman, and that when Jillian Barberie appeared in the 2-piece, maybe it turned off too many potential customers who felt like, "I can't do that."

The bikini is not overrated, but honestly, when you get down to it, there really isn't much difference with the 1-piece.

Goldman Sachs, look out
for Madison Avenue

Miles Nadal was introduced on Friday's Strategy Session as one of the kingpins of the advertising world.

Even he probably couldn't make the sale that his appearance was anything but uninteresting.

Mostly Nadal merely trumpeted how much value the world is finding in advertising nowadays and how alternate platforms like Facebook are so awesome.

But it was a comment along the lines of Chris Dodd-speak that got our attention.

"I say to people, we're no longer in the advertising and marketing business," Nadal said. "I think we're in the investment management business."


As Senator Geary would say, that's quite an expansion.

Just the other day, we noted that a real senator, Chris Dodd, on Fast Money labeled infrastructure projects as "investments," one of the many vocabulary games experienced politicians like to play.

Now we've got a savvy marketing guru using the same terminology to describe a 30-second buy.

Does this mean that Cisco's portrayal of sad-sack Ellen Page lamenting to kiddies how her only field trips were to the farm and not a Chinese classroom that coincidentally is also experiencing daytime even though the schools are 13 hours apart and is all summed up by the most obnoxious female narrator voice ever constitutes a capital asset?

Nadal made a supposedly "famous" comment that we had never heard of before and didn't realize was famous. "You know that famous expression, 'I know half my advertising doesn't work. I just don't know which half'," Nadal said.

Gary Kaminsky said most of the money managers he talks to were caught off-guard by July's rally, and he said the dreaded closet indexers had the best month of anyone.

We’re not trying to get
defriended, but ...

Herb Greenberg showed up on The Strategy Session Friday to complain about the caliber of recent IPOs.

Everyone kind of agreed it mostly sucks this year. Gary Kaminsky said that if Facebook were to go public, then you'd finally see some excitement in the IPO universe.

Or in other words, then we're really in trouble.

(Sigh) We really shouldn't go here. Facebook is undeniably a dandy, useful invention and we congratulate Mark Zuckerberg and the others behind it (as if they care about this site's congratulations).

It's also a form of regressive friendship. Teens writing messages to people they would normally call. People communicating with people they've naturally left behind in life. An endless unwanted and unnecessary class reunion.

Facebook is to friendship what welfare is to economics.

A decade from now, people will laugh it off like they do leg warmers.

Yeah, we know, Gasparino's actually in it. That one, we can't explain. Disappointing. Undoubtedly his bosses somewhere along the line told him it was a must as part of some overall multimedia strategy. Probably 10-year-old picture. Can you imagine him calling the flack at Goldman/Citi/Merrill and demanding, "You're gonna confirm this for me RIGHT NOW, or I'm gonna put something up on my Facebook page!!!"?

Didn't think so.

David Faber reported Friday that "Mr. Rogers" was his favorite show as a child. Gary Kaminsky said, "No surprise there."

[Thursday, July 29, 2010]

Google: On the verge of bringing down the Berlin Wall

Melissa Lee on Thursday's Fast Money delivered breaking news on the purported Chinese shutdown of Google coincidentally while Gene Munster was on the line discussing Amazon.

Munster said there's a "comical dance between Google and the Chinese government," and said it's not as one-sided as it may seem. "Keep in mind the Chinese government wants Google still to be there because if they shut Google down, that can create social unrest. Because the average person would start seeing Google is down, and then start asking questions."

The average person.

Asking questions.

About Google.

In China.

Yeah, right.

This site, believe it or not, gets daily hits from the People's Republic of China. We welcome them all. Regardless of political affiliation.

Flash: Google is opposed
to totalitarianism

Jon Fortt, the Silicon Valley correspondent who replaced Jim Goldman (but as Technology Correspondent has not replaced Goldman, who was Silicon Valley Bureau Chief since 2003, in title), said Google didn't embrace China's form of government when it entered the country to do business.

"Google founder Sergey Brin in particular is from Russia and is really kind of against, uh, totalitarian regimes, has strong feelings about communism," Fortt said.

Munster to Amazon: Lower

Gene Munster says Web e-tailer Amazon.com, at $139, is taking baby steps to Kindle price nirvana when grown-up steps are needed.

"This is good, but it's not good enough. It needs to be 99 bucks," he said. Karen Finerman wondered how soon they could do another trim without present buyers getting angry. "Most likely the next big price cut is gonna be 12 months from now," Munster said.

Was Karen wearing jeans?

Anthony Scaramucci on Thursday's Fast Money wasn't calling out Jon Najarian by name, but did emphasize the nature of the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week, for all those paying attention a day earlier who after hearing Dr. J might've thought the HFTOTW is only designed to appeal to Granny's DRIP.

"Remember the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week is a collection of what Skybridge Capital does, is we go out into the hedge fund market and just look around and traverse and see, uh, what some of the more attractive stocks are that are out there," Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci said this week's HFTOTW is FDO, because of "consistently high margins," and the fact "it's a cheap stock," as well as some whales being in it like Nelson Peltz.

Karen Finerman was a little skeptical of the 13x valuation, saying that's not so great for retail.

But did the camera during this segment catch Karen perhaps in a denim first (for her) on Fast Money? We didn't think anything could distract our attention from Mel Lee's lovely pink dress, but ...

Karen apparently isn’t in the market for a mortgage-backed security

Viewers of Thursday's Fast Money who also saw Thursday's Strategy Session probably hoped they were finished with the Fed stuff at noon.


Steve Liesman spoke on the 5 p.m. show that the Fed is apparently making some money — in some sort of philosophical way — on its AIG and Bear Stearns toxic assets.

Which accompanied yet another policy complaint, this time not from Rick Santelli, but Peter Boockvar.

"It's unfortunately typical of some of these Fed members that the answer to every ill is to just print more money and hope for the best," Boockvar said. "We need to delever."

He chastised the Fed for the fake slogan, "We're gonna print money. We're gonna print money. That's the answer to our problems."

Guy Adami asked Liesman if there's a plan to unload these securities that are evidently appreciating in value. Liesman said he doubts it. "The exit strategy in my opinion right now is no exit strategy."

Brian Kelly said "The mortgage-backed security market is fairly strong" and that he thinks the Fed should try to cash in a little bit and make some money for taxpayers. "I do think they could take some of the risk off at this point," he said.

Karen Finerman, though, was skeptical. "What good is mark-to-market if you actually went to the market and you couldn't sell it."

Maiden Lane: JPM-Bear Stearns
Maiden Lane II: AIG RMBS
Maiden Lane III: AIG CDOs

Normally we think most TV programs, Fast Money or anything else, aren't esoteric enough. That too much time is spent explaining things that many viewers already know and many others don't care about.

That said, Thursday's Fast Money could've used a little Trade School on Maiden Lane.

Steve Liesman was taking issue with a couple things Peter Boockvar said, including whether the Fed is the only buyer in the mortgage security market. "That's a, very good point, Peter," Melissa Lee said with an awkward laugh.

But, "The mortgages that the Fed bought, uh, through the Maiden Lanes are different from the mortgages that are bought essentially, in the 1 and a quarter trillion," Liesman countered.

"The Fannie and Freddie Mac guaranteed, then they rallied with the rest of the market," Boockvar said.

"The Fed's not the only buyer of those," Liesman said.

"Dominant buyer," Boockvar insisted.

Liesman also said, "The Fed took it on the chin from a lot of folks who said it was gonna lose a lot of money. And so far those guys have been wrong."

Since we're never embarrassed about (virtually) anything around here, we don't mind saying, we didn't even remember what Maiden Lane was.

But all it took was a quick visit to the New York Fed's Web site to get some handy info. (By the way, someone should point out that this is actually an impressive and likely overlooked feature of government, that someone at the N.Y. Fed has made this info easily available and, at least in the intro summary, very understandable for people who just want to know what the heck this stuff is, whether they agree with it or not.)

The government owns C shares also. That one's a lot more self-explanatory.

At least unlike in China,
you can probably Google it

Joe LaVorgna, the economist who always seems (at least in the last year or so) to be more bullish than the Street, said something that caught our ear Thursday.

"We still don't officially know when the recession ended," LaVorgna said.

"Don't officially know..."

Hmmm. Is recession an "official" thing? With clearly measurable standards that anyone can interpret for himself?

Or is it a word that only authorities such as Julius Shiskin and the NBER are allowed to define with "precise dating"?

So we've got this word, that probably is heard on CNBC about 50 times a day if one were to watch all 16 live hours straight, and that is used in policy arguments of the highest level including Federal Reserve, Congress, presidency, etc., that is either 1) the select domain of only a handful of people who really know what it means, or 2) so commonly thrown around, usually by grumpy "throw the other bums out" politicians with an agenda, that it ceases to mean anything.

But we're still waiting for someone to "officially" tell us what it was and when it ended.

Even though just 2 weeks ago, 71% of Americans claimed we're "mired" in a recession right at the moment.

OK. Whatever.

Adami predicts market ‘crater’

Steve Grasso was apparently trying to deliver a little facial to Jon Najarian on Thursday, reminding Najarian he had called other panelists the "3 little bears."

"How's the porridge you've been eating lately?" Grasso asked.

"My porridge has been very tasty," Dr. J said not surprisingly, before clumsily explaining he likes the market but doesn't love the market.

Guy Adami said right now the market is sort of see-sawing, but you have time before the big move, which he doesn't think will be higher, but actually "crater."

Steve Grasso said, "I'm long Altria Group." Brian Kelly said he's into the UNG regardless of people's contango concerns or whatever. Jon Najarian said "I'm bullish on the refiners" and would be really bullish if there was a Middle East situation.

Najarian also told Melissa Lee, "7,000 people up here in Boston say Fast Money is the No. 1 show, the one they can't miss."

"Just 7,000?" Lee replied.

Scholar predicts Strategy Session
will air for a millennium

Joshua Cooper Ramo visited The Strategy Session set Thursday to take Superfusion to the max.

In the process, he provided an optimistic assessment of the future of the show.

"China's gonna urbanize 300 million people in the next 15 years," he said. "If you sit here on Strategy Session a thousand years from now looking back at markets, I mean, that will be in human history, the single event that created more economic energy than any other event."

David Faber asked Ramo about the opinions of some, such as Jim Chanos, that the Chinese real estate market is overcooked. Ramo said there are inefficiencies but disagreed. "It's not likely to be something that takes out the whole Chinese economy."

Steve Liesman finds it difficult to agree with Gary Kaminsky on anything

Gary Kaminsky asked Steve Liesman a question on Thursday's Strategy Session by first suggesting that Liesman would agree that it's good for the Fed to speak with a unified voice.

"You know Gary I'm not sure I agree with your premise," Liesman, of course, said.

Rick Santelli thinks
the Fed is botching it

After Steve Liesman reported on St. Louis Fed President James Bullard's approach to quantitative easing, Rick Santelli made a Strategy Session appearance in which he said, "I'm not so much worried about Japanese-style deflation."

Check. We agree with that.

What the rest of his point was, we're not really sure.

Other than, of course, the Fed doesn't know what it's doing, Bullard's remarks were unnecessary, and that the deleveraging will happen regardless of whether there's quantitative easing or not.

Steve Liesman took issue to a few of Santelli's remarks, saying "You're talking about a nominal world," and that bond yields really aren't that bad "in real terms, not nominal terms," and "So far QE doesn't really cost us anything. It might cost us in terms of inflation."

"Oh of course not. A trillion and a quarter," Santelli scoffed.

"Rick, they're all positive," Liesman said.

Steven Barry, a rarity in that he's a Goldman Sachs exec appearing on CNBC (yeah, we know Abby Joseph Cohen always did Maria Bartiromo's show, but so what), unfortunately brought very little of interest to the elongated-plus-sign Strategy Session table on Thursday.

Overall, not a bad show. But we had to agree with Gary Kaminsky when he summed up at the end, "Well I don't think we've learned anything new."

Apparently humans unable
to stop NYSE trade glitch

Melissa Lee was nearly incredulous Thursday and used air quotes in backing a point made originally on this page, before it was made on Fast Money, that nobody would've really cared about the flash crash if the move had been up instead of down.

Lee on Thursday questioned why the CSCO "quote unquote, bad trades" detected at the NYSE/Amex are going to stand when they were made to the upside.

"On the downside, would they be canceled?" Lee asked. "People lose money when stocks go up and down."

"You know where I stand," said Guy Adami. But Adami then turned to Steve Grasso and said "When human beings get involved, these things don't happen, Stevie, correct?"

"We just want a speed bump, that's all we're looking for," Grasso concurred. He added, "As long as they don't trade at a penny, that's the key."

The odd thing about that, in our opinion, is that Grasso works at the NYSE and defends the human element on this subject and last time dissed the electronic trading a bit ... but this trade occurred at the NYSE/Amex. CSCO not trading for a penny is evidently the moral victory.

Grasso’s latest: 1,090

Guy Adami on Thursday's Halftime reminded people that he's been bearish, then pointed to "Kelloggs, Colgate and then inflation" as market drivers, then said the selloff has "actually given me some hope that maybe I'm right."

Steve Grasso, who when the market hits levels he doesn't predict tends to say that not only does the market need to hit that level, it needs to close above it and hold it for a while, said Thursday, "Guys are even honing in on 1,090 level."

Guy Adami said some people like Visa on the selloff (this writer is long V) and that it's bounced a couple times off of $70. Could it bounce a third time? "Typically things don't, although oddly enough the S&P did," Adami said, helpfully.

Adami also made the understatement of the day, saying Intel is "floundering around the 21 level" and, incredibly, might actually dip down to $20.

Brian Kelly said deflation isn't just a remote possibility. "I do think we could be looking at" it, Kelly said. He went on to say he likes Akamai, because "these are the products that everybody needs to buy."

Patty Edwards revealed some stodgy, dividend-heavy picks. "We own Campbell, we own Heinz, we own Coke ... I couldn't list them all at this point," she said. She also said "We own Akamai" and would look to add more.

[Wednesday, July 28, 2010]

Scaramucci will never
miss another episode

Out of the blue, Jon Najarian on Wednesday unloaded on some of these dubious Hedge Fund Picks of the Week recently offered by Anthony Scaramucci, who unfortunately wasn't around to defend himself but had to settle for Joe Terranova in that role.

The panel was talking about either Merck or Pfizer, or both, when Dr. J said, "Don't give money to any hedge fund that buys that stock. Because, that is not what a hedge fund should be doing quite frankly. You don't buy stocks that are gonna lay there."

Terranova articulately noted that Scaramucci sort of began that feature around the time of the SALT conference, when markets stank and were just getting worse, and it would only be sensible at that time to be getting defensive.

"The guys who bought it better get defensive because, uh, there's no reason to be in those names," Najarian said. "Not if you're a hedge fund manager."

We've gotta agree with Dr. J on this one. No doubt. Another hedge fund pick of the week was Kraft. We kept wondering, "What are we missing here?" The thought of hedge funds plowing into monstrosities such as Pfizer with no catalyst except low P.E. and dividend (which was basically the argument for every name in that series) seemed ridiculous then, and now.

Incredibly, Scaramucci recommended PFE as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week twice. First on April 29, when we attached the headline "Who knew hedge funds could be so dull?"

Then, way back on May 4, Scaramucci mentioned Pfizer again. Our headline on the item was "Buy ... Pfizer?" (That's correct, ital on 2nd word.)

We went on to say, "You know it's a weak day in stocks when a couple Fast Money panelists are recommending Pfizer. ... 'You've got a lot of headline risk right now,' said Anthony Scaramucci. 'The hedge funds are looking for more defensive names,' including PFE."

PFE closed that day at $17.26. It closed Wednesday at $15.00, or a 13% drop.

The S&P 500 closed that day at 1,173.60. Wednesday it was 1,106.13, or a 6% drop.

Melissa Lee defended Scaramucci on Wednesday, saying the panel doesn't know if hedge funds are still into that name now or whether it was a short-term thing, etc.

Joe Terranova tried to issue Najarian a dinner bet, but Melissa Lee said skip it, she's tired of dinner bets: "Pfizer outperforms the S&P on Dec. 31st from right here, right now."

Tavis McCourt got out of this chat at the right time

Intentionally or not, Jon Najarian was pushing buttons all over the place on Wednesday's Fast Money.

First, there was a little go-round on Research in Motion. Tavis McCourt said expectations for the new device are restrained and not only would he reject the tag of iPhone killer but so would RIMM; "I don't even think they'll phrase it as an iPhone killer."

Karen Finerman, who pointed out she owns the shares now, said, "I just think on valuation they just need it to not be a BlackBerry killer," another pretty good line from K-Fine.

"The world is going touchscreen," McCourt said, and this is the RIMM challenge.

Jon Najarian then backed the stock by comparing the new phone with the Palm Pre, which he said was sunk in part by store staffers unable to explain it to buyers. "This doesn't look like it'll take a heckuva lot of training for somebody like Karen, or even Mel, who uses a RIMM- Research in Motion product already."

The camera during this comment caught both Karen Finerman and Joe Terranova not exactly smiling, but Brian Kelly sensed humor potential. "I think there's probably gonna be 2 BlackBerrys that'll be replaced when you 2 throw 'em at Jon after the show," Kelly said. After minimal laughs, Kelly quickly followed, "terrible joke," and was barely heard from the rest of the show.

As bad as it might've sounded, we're gonna defend the Good Doctor here. We have no clue as to the phone preference of everyone on Fast Money, but we do know that Karen and Melissa have both acknowledged being BlackBerry users in the past, and no one else on the panel to our knowledge has.

2% on the 30-year

Remember about a year ago when Karen Finerman was pounding the table for the TBT or short TLT trade, which just seemed like it had to pay off inevitably?

Guest David Levy doused that notion with some serious water Wednesday, if you believe him. And, quite frankly, his is a compelling point: "The 4%-plus on the 30-year will eventually get down to 2% or less, and I think we'll go to under 1.50 on the 10-year."

Levy said every time he makes that kind of prediction, "We've been told the same thing, 'Gee that's shockingly low'."

Steve Cortes absolves
Steve Bartman of blame

Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Fast Money managed to draw the only parallel ever made between Mittal earnings and the 2003 NLCS.

"In their report, they blame China as being the problem for their poor report. It reminds me, them blaming China, to me, is a lot like the Cubs in 2003 blaming Steve Bartman for losing their playoff game. Uh, the problem at Wrigley was not in the stands, it was on the field. The problem with Mittal I don't think is in China, it's with Mittal."

Yeah, we know, that was kind of weird.

First of all, really no one on the Cubs actually blames Steve Bartman for costing them the series.

Second, probably at least half of Cortes' own Fast Money colleagues on Wednesday probably had no clue what he was talking about.

Here's the deal. The 2003 Florida Marlins were one of those teams on one of those magic carpet rides. You can't explain it, it defies logic, but it happens. The 2007 New York Giants were the same way — a team that somehow was going to get a huge break whenever it needed it. One of the reasons Florida won the World Series, despite being down 2-1, was that Joe Torre inexplicably didn't use Mariano Rivera, chosen the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball on this page recently, in extra innings in Game 4.

Bartman, though, remains a spectacular footnote to one of sports' greatest dramas. What was that about Mittal's earnings again?

Dr. J apparently made
evening purchase of AKAM

We've noted the last couple days how Jon Najarian has been trumpeting some successful calls. Now's your chance to play along at home.

On Wednesday's Fast Money, Dr. J addressed the AKAM selloff.

"Like SanDisk, you buy this one on the dip, folks. I was not in it today, I'm getting into it, on this dip. ... I think you buy it tomorrow morning, unless you've got our platform, you trade it in the, afterhours, uh, TradeMonster, which is what I'm going to be doing."

He added, "I'm not so hot on Symantec."

Gotta admit: Holly Madison
is unfathomably good-looking

To entertain viewers and several of her panelists Wednesday, Melissa Lee ran a clip of Holly Madison's interview with Jane Wells earlier in the day, when Madison said business is good, "knock on wood."

We were fortunate enough to catch this one live. Jane Wells and Holly Madison in the same report? Talk about one of the rare — extremely rare — moments when the person we're most watching during a Jane Wells report is not Jane Wells.

We doubt if we've ever heard Holly Madison actually interviewed before. Now we're wondering why she isn't a CNBC host. Gracious, quotable, well-spoken ... what are we missing here?

Quite frankly, nothing we could say about the total Holly Madison package could do it justice.

"I think she's adorable," chirped Melissa Lee.

Maybe there’s a Pfizer
trade in here somewhere

A decent part of Wednesday's Fast Money was eaten by uninteresting Sanofi-Genzyme talk (although, to be honest, maybe it's not uninteresting if you've been long GENZ since about June).

Jon Najarian suggested the options are pricing this "I think in the low to mid-70s." But he said he doesn't see many other catalysts beyond this, otherwise, "I really do believe it's a greater fool theory."

Joe Terranova challenged that slightly, saying, "GlaxoSmith could play it."

Dr. J is called Dr. J
to honor Pop

Fast-talking Dr. Mark Schoenebaum spoke to the Fast Money gang Wednesday about Genzyme and said, "I do think that all signs out there right now point to a deal happening."

Jon Najarian asked Schoenebaum a question, introducing himself as, "This is the other Doc."

We mention this because we got a few queries the other day when Schoenebaum was on the set and someone joked about having 2 doctors in the house. Dr. J, to our knowledge, is not an M.D., but his father is, a rather famous one in fact, and so Dr. J wears the trading badge DRJ in tribute.

Karen Finerman dismissed the notion of anyone really buying Amgen, because it's too big of a bite.

Steve Cortes likes RIMM

A skeptical Melissa Lee, who looked great in black summer dress Wednesday, asked Steve Cortes on the Halftime Report what he thinks about RIMM.

Cortes said he actually likes the stock. "The technicals on it are starting to look good," he said.

"I don't know, it is a big market out there, but look at Nokia," Lee said warily.

Jon Najarian though agreed with Cortes, saying there is hope for RIMM because "the 9700 keyboard was very popular."

Cortes charges ahead
on credit-card play

Yesterday Jon Najarian noted that he struck gold with his recent bottom-fishing in IBM and SNDK.

Wednesday, Dr. J indicated his overall approach is pretty profitable also.

"I always say that the time to sell is of course when the market's going up and the time to buy is when it's going down," Najarian said, "just because that's the opposite of what most people do. And it seems to work out for me pretty well."

Steve Cortes told Moshe Orenbuch on the Halftime Report that he's been putting on a trade that's only 2 years behind the times, going long American Express while shorting Mastercard and Visa because he thinks the high-end consumer is healthier. (Keep in mind this writer is long V.)

Orenbuch said "Get that s--- outta here." Actually, no, that was a joke. Orenbuch really said that in the short term that sounds like a good play because the Durbin Amendment (or whatever it is) affects AmEx the least, but in the long run, AmEx charges merchants the most and doesn't have the breadth of product of the other 2. Brian Kelly, really taking a bold stand, said that in order to evaluate Visa, you have to take a look at "some of the consumer confidence numbers."

Steve Liesman sort of says
‘liars’ to common CEO refrain

Steve Liesman, who has a knack of engaging in interesting if somewhat puzzling arguments with Gary Kaminsky, showed up on The Strategy Session set Wednesday apparently to debunk the myth that CEOs are facing too much uncertainty — a point we probably actually agree with.

Liesman even cited a quote from Bill Gross in 2002 indicating "uncertainty is a constant theme," and the fact CEOs now are using this as a reason not to hire or invest in the business is bogus.

Gary Kaminsky made the perfect rebuttal. "As soon as CEOs of public companies get rewarded by their stock price going up when they say that they're gonna expand and hire people, that's what it's gonna be," Kaminsky said.

"But is that a policy issue?" Liesman said, a head-scratcher, apparently referring to a business call for tax cuts.

"CEOs have no reason to go out and expand payroll right now," Kaminsky said.

"Why do we pay them to lead if all they do is follow?" Liesman asked. Now on that point in general he's right, but what does that have to do with hiring people?

"Listen I'm not, I'm simply telling you, if you're running a company right now, and you say you're gonna be spending more money to hire people right now, you will not be rewarded," Kaminsky said.

"But that's not a policy question," Liesman said, unconvinced.

A policy question? What would possibly be a bigger waste of time than a policy discussion? What is this, Larry "lower taxes always" Kudlow or Rick "Fed is always wrong" Santelli on steroids??

Liesman did manage to crack us up — and we pay huge dividends for that — with this comment about The Strategy Session decor: "What's not certain is being on this set. I feel like I'm on some form of mathematical drug or something like that."

Faber ‘got a lot of calls’
on Scott Rechler interview

David Faber on Wednesday's Strategy Session reported not just about Wall Street, but his own show — namely Tuesday's commercial real estate discussion.

"You know Gary, we had a lot of interest in this," Faber said. "I know on the Internet, a lot of people looking at what Scott Rechler had to say, I got a lot of calls on it, and e-mails, I know you did as well."

This page drew some interest on that subject, more than a lot of subjects but not as much as certain other subjects (um, Michelle Meyer ... Mandy Drury ... spin class ...).

Maybe the best part of that interview was the CMBS chart showing a plunge in activity in the last couple years, which Faber and Gary Kaminsky showed again Wednesday.

Kaminsky said mortgage securities have been demonized, but in fact the economy needs strength in this sector.

"What's good in this asset class is good for Main Street," Kaminsky said. "It's one of those disconnects that the mainstream media just doesn't understand."

[Tuesday, July 27, 2010]

You may have missed the IBM clearance sale, but Dr. J didn’t

Jon Najarian on Tuesday's Fast Money indicated you should've been buying IBM and SanDisk a week ago — but in case you didn't, know that he did.

"Both were steals," Dr. J said. "You were able to buy IBM below 123. I did. You were able to buy Sandisk below 40. I did. Both are higher."

Guy Adami said he wasn't trying to make a joke or give anyone a hard time, but he wondered aloud if the World Cup actually distorted the Buffalo Wild Wings quarterly earnings.

Another CNBCfix scoop

On July 14 (see below), this page said, "Dr. Mark Schoenebaum, who talks too fast for us to write up most of his comments..."

On Tuesday's Fast Money, after a studio appearance by Schoenebaum, Guy Adami and Melissa Lee publicly acknowledged for the first time that Schoenebaum does indeed talk fast.

"As fast as we talk here, which is what we like," said Lee, who not only looked sharp but ran a neatly focused show.

Actually, Schoenebaum doesn't talk as fast as the Fast Money crew, but faster, which is why he's difficult to quote and why we're starting not to bother. The most quotable is perhaps Jon Najarian, nearly every syllable perfect enunciation in perfect rhythm. Patty Edwards is always good for a "You know, ...." Joe Terranova makes some of the boldest statements. Karen Finerman's the funniest, but a lot of her quips are off-camera and require a rewind.

Adami: I’ve been wrong for a few weeks, but just wait

Guy Adami made a mini-speech Tuesday near the beginning of Fast Money to explain that he remains in the bear camp and that people shouldn't expect a flat market.

"I do believe that we're in for a huge move," he said. "I think we're at a turning point," which will culminate in a smashing move one way or another in the "next couple of weeks."

Jon Najarian pointed out that "Nobody wanted to put their butt on the line" on Tuesday.

Brian Kelly said, "This move up is a correction in an overall down trend."

It’s OK to be wrong

Guy Adami on Tuesday criticized his own calls on gold (for the last couple years actually) in terms we consider overly harsh.

"I lack credibility in terms of my views," Adami said, but of course that's not true, given that he traded gold at Goldman Sachs. Adami went on to say he thinks the fundamentals of gold are shaping up poorly now.

"I am short gold right now," agreed Joe Terranova, who added, "I would be very surprised if we don't test that 200-day moving average."

Jon Najarian predicted a "significant correction" in gold and pointed to the miners. "Many of these guys are way overlevered to the upside."

Joe Terranova forced to make tough case for BBY

Guy Adami said he thinks the short-term catalysts in BP are about gone and that the stock could float down to $34.

Colin McGranahan said he doesn't see a lot of brightness in Best Buy's margins. Guy Adami pointed to the last quarterly report and even used the term "death spiral" to make an analogy. McGranahan said he's "concerned" about the last quarter.

Joe Terranova said he's long BBY: "This is more of a time trade for me." Jon Najarian said he would be buying if it "breaks 33."

Melissa Lee looked sporty in snug turquoise dress and sharp belt. Paul Sankey had a great chalk-striped suit.

Tilson: BP took Apache
to the cleaners

The way Whitney Tilson talked on Tuesday's Halftime Report, you might've thought BP was AAPL.

"The environmental cleanup seems to be going very well," Tilson said. "The company is reporting just spectacular earnings and cash flows, so it will easily be able to earn its way out of trouble. ... They got an incredible price for the $7 billion of assets they sold to Apache."

Both Tilson and Melissa Lee handled a technical glitch well.

Dr. J: Rumor has it, Kerkorian
making another run at MGM

Jon Najarian reported on hoppin' MGM options Tuesday, saying "Kirk Kerkorian is rumored to be making another run at the company."

Dr. J said in past rallies, the VIX has bounced, but this time instead of bouncing, it may be breaking through a new level, indicating a sustainable rally.

"At this point I wanna play it cautiously optimistic," said Patty Edwards, going out on a limb.

Edwards said Panera will deliver "interesting tells for the consumer," and Boeing catalysts might be running out. "We may have seen the best pop" already, she said.

Melissa Lee said Spice Jet is an India company.

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott experienced a massive video time delay when answering Melissa Lee's questions, pretty much standard fare about the company doing well.

Sometimes, The Strategy Session asks questions it can’t answer

David Faber and Gary Kaminsky had a brief discussion Tuesday about trying to play the spreads between various shares, particularly if not exclusively in media companies, where you have "A" shares held by families who control the company and "B" shares held by the mopes who thought they had a good investment.

David Faber said the hook for this segment is that the spreads nowadays are getting larger. Kaminsky said he always heard about people who had some kind of arbitrage strategy for these kinds of things, but "I can't even give you an idea" why they might work or not work.

To answer the question, they brought in Keith Moore, who didn't really have any good answers except to explain how some people profited on Discovery because of A vs. K share discrepancies when some index got involved.

"It's an enduring mystery," said Faber. "We'll probably keep getting e-mails."

Commercial real estate still
has a shoe to drop: guest

Real estate expert Scott Rechler paid a visit to The Strategy Session set on Tuesday to opine on the great question facing the world of commercial real estate: Is that "other shoe to drop" ever going to drop, or did the industry get a reprieve?

Rechler said he expects the former. "This is happening down the road." He said it's "generally understood" among real estate pros that "the banks' books are undermarked. And that's OK."

"The day of reckoning is around the corner," Rechler added. He also said, "This economy's about the haves and the have-nots."

Gary Kaminsky, showing a CMBS chart with a massive, absolutely massive dropoff a couple years ago, asked Rechler, "Can commercial real estate sustain a recovery without securitization?" Rechler said, "It's gonna be tough."

On another subject, Kaminsky said BP was never well-integrated, and its asset sales will help streamline the company, making it more like Amoco and Arco with an international presence.

[Monday, July 26, 2010]

Mark Gilman: BP to pay much of ‘deferred’ 2010 dividend in early 2011

For whatever reason, CNBC decided all day long Monday that its lede story was going to be Tony-Hayward-being-forced-out, even though 1) it had no new details since mid-Sunday afternoon, and 2) who really cares anyway.

We weren't even interested in hearing Mandy Drury talk about it, if that tells you something.

But the CNBC approach might've been wise, given that BP shares surged on Monday for reasons we didn't really get.

Luckily, analyst Mark Gilman sided with our view during his chat Monday on Fast Money.

"Way too much is being made over the CEO position of this company," said Gilman, saying BP is "far bigger than 1 person" and that the market reaction is "a little bit strong."

Gilman's most significant observation though was that he expects BP to "pay a substantial portion of the deferred 2010 dividend" in early 2011, when he expects the regular dividend to be reinstated.

Gilman agreed with Guy Adami there are "many more innings to this game." He said BP so far has "gotten good prices" for the assets it's selling, and "value is fair." He said the key is selling "mature oil assets."

Joe Terranova, pointing to BP's Alaska holdings, cautioned, "Those assets could be tough to get rid of."

Gilman, proving to be one of the best Fast Money guests recently, prompting us to wonder why he hasn't been on more often, instead of just Pavel Molchanov or "BP's going out of business soon" Matthew Simmons, said he is "not very impressed" by the public case being made by Anadarko about spill responsibilities.

Melissa Lee, in a spoof showing Tony Hayward ice fishing, said she's done "all sorts of other fishing," but not ice fishing.

Melissa’s flippancy

So ... what got into Mel Lee on Monday?

A bit nonchalant, a bit cocky, a bit giggly pretty much all day, she ushered in Monday's Fast Money saying "crappy" as often as possible and then telling Karen Finerman it was completely intentional. "New home sales were less crappy ... the less crappy level there ..."

Mark Gilman during the BP discussion made some reference to "new beginning," which prompted a quirky grimace from Melissa.

But it was when reading a viewer e-mail from Robin to K-Fine as to whether GS is a buy that Melissa gave a shrug conveying something like "Don't you need to get a life?" ("I think it is worth buying here," was Karen's answer.)

Brian Kelly, on the Prop Desk, recalled his point from the Halftime Report earlier about shopping over the weekend, saying, "People were buying iPads like they're going out of style." Lee then hectored Kelly over what kind of screws he was buying at Home Depot. "They were Phillips-head actually," Kelly said.

Finally there was a little go-round on Boeing, in which Alexander Hamilton, Carter Worth and Brian Stutland were bullish, causing Guy Adami to say that gives him "reason for pause," prompting Melissa to blurt out another contrarian view.

"When I hear the bears turning less bearish and turning possibly bullish, the contrarian in me tells me maybe that's a sign of the top," Lee giggled.

Hey, whatever.

Melissa forced to get serious
and defend her turf

One subject did bring out a serious defense from Melissa Lee on Monday's Fast Money.

Karen Finerman said these new 1-week options in names such as AAPL at the CBOE might work for Pete Najarian (who wasn't around to defend himself), but "I think that's just craziness."

Melissa Lee — recall Melissa hosts Options Action on Friday afternoon — took exception to that, saying 1-week options are useful tools because if "there's a specific catalyst, you can capture that."

It’s either pronounced
‘Neev,’ or ‘Neem’

KBW's Niamh Alexander, who is good-looking and talks fast, spoke about a sector that for some reason gets a decent amount of chatter on Fast Money (probably because the show is taped at the Nasdaq or because Steve Grasso works at the NYSE) even though it has undeniably been yesterday's news since about 2007 and a trade that seems permanently in the rear-view mirror because most of the consolidation is done, the conversion to electronic is done, and what's left is a small number of essentially public utilities under constant vigil of Congress for any mishap.

Alexander said "we expect pretty solid earnings from Nasdaq" and said the "flash crash was good for some." She disagreed with Steve Grasso, who said, "They've been saying the volume is seasonal since Christmas."

"No, they haven't. Not at all," Alexander said.

Grasso curiously said he would own Nasdaq shares to be exposed to the competition. Karen Finerman wondered wouldn't it just move in tandem with the NYX. Grasso said, "They more often than not will move independently of each other."

Alexander, from what we could find, apparently picked up her accent in Ireland, where she attended the University of Dublin. If anyone knows Niamh, they might want to send her this link from March in which the Associated Press wrote, "Niamh Alexander lowered his rating on the company..."

We're big fans of the AP, but that one's pretty bad.

FedEx delivers a curveball
to Shilling, Kelly, Adami

A. Gary Shilling was basically running for cover Monday from the recent stock market surge and said his bear case "means going to the sidelines," because this is a time when "people get very wildly carried away."

Shilling said there's an attitude even in Congress that the stimulus should be withdrawn rather than pumped up.

He indicated unemployment won't get better soon. "With globalization, that's going nowhere," he said.

Brian Kelly, who unlike Shilling has at least temporarily tossed in the towel on his S&P to 840 prediction, said in general he agrees with Gary, that all the leading indicators, "they are plunging."

Guy Adami, who not too long ago was saying he thinks the market's headed lower still and so has proven to had not much of a batting average in the past 12 months (depending on how one wants to measure it, which is difficult), told Kelly he has similar views, but being a realist, asked Kelly how he reconciles that view with the FedExes, BNI outlooks. Kelly said he can't.

Kelly at one point said, "I'm a trader, I'm not in the storage business."

K-Fine unconvinced

Karen Finerman was maybe the only person on the Fast Money panel Monday that actually thinks the market is overcooked.

"I'm gonna look for a couple things to sell," Finerman said, pointing to the rapid rise in merely a couple weeks. "I don't recall ever seeing a market that's this, uh, bipolar," she added.

Finerman complained about that goofy Fast Money logo/graphic given a meager spurt. "What's the New Beginning up 8%," Finerman griped.

On the contrary, "I think we're at New Beginnings for a lot of, of the metals," said Dennis Gartman, even though, "The gold bugs hate me because I've abandoned them."

Mike Khouw said high premiums on volatility make MEE an interesting option to play by selling the September 30 puts for $1.75.

What’s happened to
the ‘Obama Trade’?

Melissa Lee reported Monday that Intrade is presently forecasting only a 54% chance of the GOP regaining control of the House in the fall.

Given everything we've heard on cable talk shows in 2010, that seems like a not-particularly high probability. (We tend to think many of those supposed vulnerable Democrats aren't as vulnerable as some speculate, but even if so, that the real strength for the Democratic Party will come in 2012 when the debt-fueled economy will post about a 6% jobless number and virtually no one except for Bob Dole-caliber presidential candidates will run against the incumbent. But in any case, there's a general headwind of center-left people running a center-right country the way they think the center-right people want it run.)

Steve Grasso warned that the Bush tax cuts won't be extended (how come they never refer to it as the "Clinton tax hikes being restored") but that the watering down of any cap-and-trade nonsense is a boom for coal stocks.

Grasso is the white knight
for Kelly’s bull case

Brian Kelly, who has impressively shifted gears with the market (although one could probably argue he's been late, but whatever), made a consumer observation on Monday's Halftime Report.

"I did a little Peter Lynch research this weekend, and Home Depot parking lot was off the hook, it was crazy," Kelly said. He explained, "I was not buying flooring, I was buying little screws."

"Looks like a bull, talks like a bear," said Anthony Scaramucci, who a couple of times poked Kelly about his newfound "tradable" optimism for the market — only to run into a Kelly defender in Steve Grasso.

"Anthony, where were you when we were at," Grasso challenged, "June 21st, we were at 1,130 in the S&P. Bulls were running into a wall there. 2 weeks later we were at 1,010 in the S&P."

"I'm not gonna disagree that we're in a tradable market, I'm not gonna disagree that there's tension in there, but I'm talking about long-term fundamentals in the economy," Scaramucci calmly replied.

"Right, the long-term investor though is dead at this point," Grasso said.

Melissa Lee then interrupted with the "cows come home" comment that is a cloaked way of saying "Shut up, I don't care about what you're talking about anymore."

"I gotta blow the whistle on this one guys; we can debate this until the cows come home," Lee said.

Guest Brett Feldman likes AT&T. "This is a really cheap stock based on the strength of its business," he said. Brian Kelly said Apple is the better play.

Martin Franklin thinks he might be ahead of the Milken Institute gang

A quiet Strategy Session on Monday got a boost from the return of Gary Kaminsky from a camping excursion, but few fireworks emerged.

Jarden CEO Martin Franklin painted himself as a contrarian who's ahead of the pack in making economic assessments.

"I took a lot of flak at that time, 2 years ago, because I was very early, I was before any other consumer product company going out and being cautious," Franklin said. But recently, "I served on a panel at the Milken Institute; I was the only person who was actually bullish on consumer sentiment and where it was going."

Karabell: ‘Stocks are not
proxies for the U.S. economy’

Zachary Karabell writes in Time that stocks "are deeply unreliable gauges of anything but the underlying strength of the companies they represent and the schizophrenic mind-set of the traders who buy and sell the shares."

[Friday, July 23, 2010]

Fast Money quiet on Dell

Curiously on a day in which Senator Christopher Dodd spoke about the limitations of fin reg, not a word was heard on Fast Money about the Dell case.

A day earlier, while the Fast Money gang gabbed endlessly about Amazon and even talked about the PC market with Microsoft, Dell's $100 million settlement somehow flew under the radar.

Think about all the air time given to the Goldman Sachs case, where the major transgression was 1 security in which the sophisticated buyer didn't know John Paulson had picked it out to short. And oh yeah, some trader called himself the "Fabulous Fab."

Then consider that Dell Inc., a stock occasionally recommended (such as Pete Najarian, late 2009) or non-recommended on Fast Money, according to the SEC, "fraudulently used payments from Intel to pump up its profits to meet Wall Street targets over five years."

More: "The decision to charge a sitting chief executive of a major company and reach a seven-figure settlement with him is rare."

"The company and Michael Dell neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing. But they did agree to refrain from future violations of the securities laws."

How much was it? "From 2003 through 2007, the payments to Dell from Intel totaled $4.3 billion, the S.E.C. said."

Also from the NYT: "Though the payments were said by the two companies to be based on complex pricing assessments, the S.E.C. said detailed schedules drawn up by the companies were 'a meaningless exercise' to make the payments appear to be something other than what they were."

And this e-mail, sent by Kevin Rollins: "for 3 (quarters) now, Intel money has made the (quarter). A bad way to run the railroad."

Finally, this from the SEC's Christopher Conte: "Dell manipulated its accounting over an extended period of time to project financial results that the company wished it had achieved, but could not. Dell was only able to meet Wall Street targets consistently during this period by breaking the rules. The financial results that public companies communicate to the investing public must reflect reality."


Let's figure this out.

Dell was apparently lagging analyst estimates. So it figured out a new way to raise cash: ask Intel for rebates in exchange for refusing to sell AMD chips.

Maybe that's fine and legal; it seems like in a free market, a company should be able to choose whatever partners it wants. Nevertheless, Intel was hit with an antitrust suit in this matter in November 2009 by Andrew Cuomo.

But after striking that arrangement, Dell never bothered to tell investors that's how it was meeting estimates.

The SEC called that "fraudulent." At a minimum, it's certainly "dubious."

Karen Finerman used to be designated Fast Money spokeswoman for corporate values, warning viewers to be wary of managements who aren't necessarily doing things by the book, specifically singling out Chesapeake, but eventually she even recommended that stock a while ago and apparently has thrown in the towel on the subject.

Remember all those years of Larry Kudlow programs where the guests almost unanimously agreed that Sarbanes-Oxley was just a costly exercise and an unnecessary annoyance and pain in the neck to CEOs?

Guess they were right.

So just spend $250 billion,
create 10 million jobs. Easy

It's rewarding, and sometimes amusing, when points raised here suddenly emerge within days on Fast Money.

We don't pat ourselves on the back about this too much (um, OK, we actually never pat ourselves on the back, because ... why?), but we do consider it more or less a helpful blueprint for any of the Fast Money gang seeking a primer for some of the contemporary topics.

What the heck are we talking about? It was a nice gesture by Senator Christopher Dodd to discuss fin reg on Fast Money Friday.

Then, Dodd transitioned into typical political mumbo jumbo that might as well be an utter falsehood.

And escaped.


Dodd told Melissa Lee he opposed extending all of the Bush tax cuts because some of that "could be used for additional tax cuts, or investments in our economy such as infrastructure ... invest in the infrastructure of our nation."

Dodd said "$1 billion of investment gets you 40,000 jobs. Our infrastructure is decaying in this country, falling apart. We're never gonna grow without investing in it."

And to that, Melissa Lee merely kept nodding, and said "Got it."

Got it?

Got what?

Where exactly are the airports, roads, sewer plants that are "decaying in this country, falling apart"? Shouldn't those municipal leaders hear about this?

If Dodd recommends building more airports and roads (to replace the "decaying" ones), wouldn't that boost for transportation clash with his concern about carbon emissions?

Or is Dodd's preferred choice of infrastructure "investment" the Harrisburg incinerator?

And if all it takes to create 40,000 jobs is $1 billion in government spending, why not another stimulus by tomorrow night?

See, it was just on July 12 (see below) that this page said:

"Investing" is one of those loaded words often used by certain types of politicians. It has a warm, positive connotation, something about doing something positive for your future economic health. So, for example, "patching potholes" becomes "investing in infrastructure," and "school tax hike" becomes "investing in our kids."

Dodd said he thinks Fannie and Freddie, whether they become utilities or whatever, should be a priority for his successor. He said nobody should expect to have instant authoritative standards for Wall Street because Congress can't begin to police the whole thing right away.

"We weren't writing the Ten Commandments here," Dodd said.

Grasso shorts stress-test rally

Steve Grasso said on Friday's Fast Money that people buying into the Euro stress-test rally might be wishing they hadn't come Monday.

"I was shorting everything," Grasso said, citing opinions from the pros he deals with. "I was shorting consumer names, I was shorting tech, I was shorting financials, because they think the more you get into this data over the weekend there might be a little more than meets the eye."

But Grasso conceded that even the guys who think the market is going lower see no worse than 980 or 950.

Joe Terranova said "Anytime that Amazon gets down around 105 bucks, from a valuation standpoint, that's as cheap as Amazon's gonna get ... that 25% growth rate is still there." Terranova also said he likes FCX here. "I think it goes above 75."

Seymour’s gold meddle

Brian Kelly, who's now on the verge of going bullish so we can't flag his bear calls as much, made an interesting point Friday about the behavior of gold, namely that it might've missed its chance to be truly stellar.

That prompted Tim Seymour to bumble and mumble over a convoluted point apparently about why gold isn't so hot but not on its deathbed. "I'm not jumping off the gold bandwagon, um, but I don't think you can just blindly buy gold," Seymour said.

Steve Grasso said, "I'm actually seeing people raise money by selling their gold stakes, selling the miners and putting it back into the resource names, and steel names," but he wasn't sure that would last for very long.

Charles Biderman, on the Fast Line, told the gang, "There's one thing missing from this market, and that's investors putting any money in it."

Biderman said there's a "30-year bull market in bonds. That's why money's going into bonds."

Tim Seymour said fine, OK, great, but "however, hasn't this market priced a lot of that in?"

Melissa Lee wore pleasant red sweater on top of happening white/red dress.

Patty planning
exciting Saturday

Melissa Lee ran a crisp, news-fueled Halftime Report on Friday, if expressing skepticism by emphatically talking with both hands while pointing out that Goldman Sachs on July 6 said "Deutsche Bank alone would have to raise €14 billion in capital."

Patty Edwards concurred. "Honestly this is looking like Lake Wobegon. European banks, where all the banks are above average," Patty said. "I, I just don't get it. I think that there's a lot more digging that's gotta be done. I know I'm gonna be doing more homework over the weekend."

Halftime viewers were treated to another segment with Mary Thompson, the prettiest hair on cable television who of course looked smashing in navy jacket/white top, as she spoke with Ken Feinberg about this excessive-pay findings. Feinberg said he keeps hearing the argument that this will put the big banks at a competitive disadvantage, but he doesn't buy it. The camera caught Melissa Lee making a gesture of frustration after introducing Thompson.

Dick Bove, always one of our favorite Fast Money guests, expressed disdain over the topic of the day. "You should never do stress tests ever, they never work," Bove said. He said they're only performed to ensure regulators haven't blown it, and that it's the markets that are performing the real stress tests, including in the U.S. in March 2009, well before the results came out in May 2009.

It's always good to see Steve Liesman, and Friday he took up the Halftime Report guest chair after a stint on The Strategy Session. Liesman recalled his appearances on Fast Money a couple months ago when he argued (with Gary Kaminsky mostly but also Brian Kelly) that from a GDP level, Europe isn't really a serious anchor on the U.S. economy.

Beeks Watch: Giving 1,100 a chance

Brian "Beeks" Kelly said on Friday's Halftime this could actually be like 2008 (we think he meant 2009, but same point), where even something as flaky as these tests could actually give the market a sugar high, which would make him bullish.

At the close of the program, Kelly reiterated a recent point that if the S&P sticks above 1,100, it could fuel a tradable rally. Steve Grasso wondered if that wasn't Doug Kass speaking instead.

Strategy Session passes
the stress test

Friday's Strategy Session was devoted to breaking news on the European bank stress tests.

And Gary Kaminsky had the day off, always a loss.

So it was up to Simon Hobbs to step in during a busy day from the U.K., and the Simonmeister delivered a yeoman effort, although we have to say we'd barely heard of most of the banks he was talking about.

We'd also never heard of JPMorgan Asset Management CEO Mary Erdoes, but we were instantly impressed. Smart. Hip appearance. Looks great. However, expectations for exciting commentary during The Strategy Session were muted when Erdoes said, "Actually this isn't the biggest day in the stress tests. The biggest day in the stress tests was when they announced they were gonna do stress testing."

Erdoes a couple times said people will have to take the stress test data home with them over the weekend, presumably to the Hamptons though she didn't say that, to fully digest it before making any decisions or evaluations. "We need to get more detail," Erdoes said. Sounds like an exciting weekend.

David Faber spoke with Kyle Bass, a friend of his who proved a significiant source for his "House of Cards" documentary and book. Bass says it defies logic that the world can enter a growth phase under so much debt and says any European stress test that doesn't include a stipulation of sovereign default is useless. Faber said Bass will be on the show Aug. 17.

Sophia Drossos said, "I think the euro's going further lower from here."

Simon Hobbs did offer a shout-out to Gary Kaminsky later during Maria Bartiromo's Closing Bell, saying the market needs strong banks. "We need the financials, people say like Gary Kaminsky, to lead the rally," Hobbs said.

[Thursday, July 22, 2010]

Finerman buying RIMM

Karen Finerman on Thursday made one of the more interesting Fast Money revelations recently — trumpeting Research in Motion.

"We've initiated a position in RIMM, which I think is really interesting here," Finerman said. "You have to, you're making a bet that they absolutely won't be a complete also-ran to the iPhone. And I feel comfortable with that bet in this valuation."

Dennis Gartman revealed weeks ago on Fast Money he was short RIMM, but did not address the stock on Thursday's program. Gartman did say, however, "I turned the around the other day and became very bullish of stocks."

Finerman indicated she's been buying RIMM with former MCD money. "We actually took some off today," she said.

The most scrutinized press release of all time

Melissa Lee has been so intrigued by Amazon's ebook press release from earlier this week, she even invited Herb Greenberg onto Thursday's Fast Money set to hash it out.

"What were they thinking??" Greenberg asked a couple of times.

Pete Najarian and Guy Adami were just pointing out a couple days ago that all the Kindle chatter might be overrated, but Greenberg insisted Thursday, "That's what drove the story in Amazon," including the multiple.

Know what? He might have a point there.

Why doesn’t Microsoft
try to buy the DrudgeReport?

Karen Finerman rained on whatever parade Microsoft had going Thursday — check that, stomped on the MSFT parade Thursday. "They have such poor, it seems, capital utilization. They sit on these, just mounds, of excessive amounts of cash," Finerman said. "I don't know why they don't, they don't do something much more aggressive."

Company critic Eric Jackson suggested what he views as the best use of that cash. "I think there's plenty of room on the Microsoft balance sheet to double the dividend," Jackson said.

"It unfortunately," Pete Najarian bemoaned, "reminds me a lot of Pfizer."

Referring to Heather Bellini and the company's earnings release, he added, "Heather's got a $39 price target right now on Microsoft? I have a funny feeling after she reads this she might bring that down."

Tim Seymour was the lone MSFT champion, saying that to the contrary, Microsoft gets "vilified" for trying to do things with its cash. (Note: They wouldn't be getting "vilified" if so many of the things they were doing with their cash weren't so stoopid.)

Seymour, though, said, "This is a stock I can now own on this valuation," but it was Karen Finerman who proceeded to make a better argument for that than Seymour himself did, pointing out that owning MSFT hoping for a return to $30 is like owning AAPL hoping for $300, with probably less downside risk in MSFT.

Another treat from
Mary Thompson

Fast Money viewers got another glimpse at Mary Thompson on Thursday when Thompson delivered breaking news on a pending Kenneth Feinberg opinion.

For an all-too-brief moment, the screen was split in half, Melissa Lee in striking red sleeveless dress on left, Thompson in royal blue sleeveless at right.

The Fast Money gang was enamored with Thompson's description of Feinberg's finding of "ill-advised" payments on Wall Street. Melissa Lee addressed the panel about it talking noticeably with her hands. Guy Adami said something about "ill-advised" blind dates.

Tim Seymour concluded the segment with, "Is the SEC gonna look into some of Guy's ill-advised blind dates?"

"They were asleep at the switch," Karen Finerman said, the funniest line of the day.

"And what does ill-advised mean exactly when it comes to a blind date," asked Melissa Lee. "That's my question."

Hmmm. We could try answering that one, but won't.

Beeks Watch: Clawed by CAT

Brian Kelly, refreshingly, admitted on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Caterpillar's performance "knocks a leg out of my bearish case."

As a result, he spent the rest of Thursday's Fast Money episodes gushing about anybody who exports to Asia. "Buy the things that Asia wants," Kelly said, not exactly a newfound investment thesis.

While Kelly actually said he'd be bullish on the market if it sustains over 1,100, he refused to give the all-clear signal, citing "3-month Libor up again."

Nothing to see here,
move along

Steve Grasso on Thursday's Halftime complained "There's no volume here," that trading levels are "atrocious," and the market is range-bound. "1,065 you nibble, 1,100 you sell," he said.

Jon Najarian said "I'm happy to be the lone bull on this panel." He reported a "lot of unusual activity" in Micron options.

Reynolds American CEO Susan Ivey refreshingly referred to Melissa Lee as "Melissa" during the Halftime interview Thursday.

Yet another thing Jimmy Cayne
was good at

Melissa Lee noted on Thursday's Halftime Report that the Daily Beast is floating the possibility of a Microsoft executive coup to replace Steven Ballmer "because the stock price is so poor."

Heather Bellini said that kind of "conjecture" has been brewing for 3-5 years. Bellini said not to expect any more 1-time dividends.

Joe’s taking this
a bit too seriously

We understand that TV stars regularly are needed to do promotional commercials to tout their network's programs; no issues with that.

Pete Najarian, for example, in the endless CNBC spot for "Earnings Central," explains that viewers can profit from earnings releases as long as they have an "execution system."

But how does Joe Kernen keep a straight face when declaring, "This is where the rubber meets the road"?

The Staticky Session

The Strategy Session on Thursday got off to perhaps the worst possible start (short of a black screen) when it opened with monster static as David Faber spoke. Or tried to speak. After a couple tries, Faber wondered aloud, "My mike may be bad."

After a couple more bursts of static, eventually Faber was able to bring in Gary Kaminsky, who initially sounded like he was speaking from the back of the cave, as the dreaded floor mike (or whatever it's called in TV land) apparently had to be tapped.

Normally we wouldn't stoop to flagging a random tech glitch (though we've stooped to a lot worse in the past), but it does seem a bit weak for a studio show produced at the HQ to open up in such a fashion; it's not like Mandy, Melissa Francis and Diane Swonk were knocking everyone off their game at the end of the Larry Kudlow show beforehand, even though they're certainly capable of doing so.

Coincidentally enough, the day's premier guest was American Tower CEO Jim Taiclet, whose company's mission is helping people communicate over the airwaves. "In a typical year the U.S. wireless carriers as a group spend about $20 billion on their network. As a result of that they're putting out about 15,000 new cell sites a year. We capture a significant portion of those cell sites on our towers, and that drives our revenue growth," Taiclet said.

Gary Kaminsky, who, stretching back for months, touted the stock on Fast Money as a play on wireless growth, noted, "My former team bought and sold close to 8 million shares of American Tower."

Score one for Gary Kaminsky and print media — he mentioned Thursday "I actually do read the New York Times, the physical copy."

Strategy Session goes deep

Herb Greenberg on Thursday's TSS supposedly delivered in layman's terms how accounting changes might be boosting financial earnings, but we were too much laymen to figure out what he was talking about.

That big "HERB ALERT" sign on The Strategy Session table always tricks the eye into thinking initially it's "HERB ALPERT." Herb Greenberg seems to have a lot of brass, but not Tijuana brass.

[Wednesday, July 21, 2010]

Doug Kass thinks Fast Money
is 30 minutes every day

Doug Kass on Wednesday's Fast Money did not say very much, if anything, that was controversial, or perhaps even worth doing an item about.

That was until he gave the impression he thinks the Options Action guys are actually on TV every day.

Tim Seymour asked Kass how to play a range-bound market. "You sell straddles and strangles, which is a good subject for the show from the, in the next half an hour, the options show," Kass said.


We could make an edgy joke, that Kass doesn't know what day of the week it is, but that might've come across as mean-spirited, even though, to be honest, we have that day-of-the-week problem all the time, and we actually congratulate anyone else who has it too, because it's a sign you're doing things, likely positive. (Or, it's a sign you're in the same kind of shape as Nic Cage's character in "Leaving Las Vegas" — without Elisabeth Shue to lean on — but we're always optimists around here.)

"I think that the market is gonna be range-bound, from 1025 to 1150 on the S&P," Kass said.

Beeks Watch: Fed training folks
how to dole out money

Brian Kelly identified on Wednesday's Fast Money what he believed to be the most interesting paragraph in Ben Bernanke's testimony Wednesday.

"The whole paragraph on the small business lending, that they're having private sessions, or training sessions, to make sure banks are lending to the small businesses. To me, that's where the job creation's gonna come from," Kelly said, but "looks like it's not there."

So that's the trick. The government instructs banks on how to hand out money. Then a business is created, and that's how we all get ahead.

As opposed to someone with ideas actually raising capital on their own and creating value the old-fashioned way.

Nah. This is 2010. That doesn't make any sense.

Brian Kelly gets it right,
if only for a moment

Brian Kelly on Wednesday started to ask Doug Kass a question that we thought was good.

Not as good as Patty Edwards' recent query to Ara Hovnanian — "Where are you going to make all this money? What's the newest, hottest thing you're going to be bringing?" — but still very relevant: Why does Kass believe comparisons to the last 20 or 30 years are relevant to today's market?

Then "The Cooler" went and ruined it by suggesting not that Kass should be avoiding any of these dubious comparisons, but that he should be comparing today's markets to the 1930s.

(Yeah, we know ... we can't help what they say, only report it.)

"I respectfully disagree," Kass said. "There's not a person in America that invests that doesn't know the difference this time."

Gee whiz, how many people have written a book about the Wall Street debacle of 2008?

Melissa Lee on Wednesday introduced author and money man (of some sort) Larry McDonald, who it turns out has written a book about the (sigh) downfall of Lehman Brothers.

(Let us take a guess as to what that's all about ... Dick Fuld and Joe Gregory failed to decentralize, monopolized the decision-making, took too much risk, weren't adequately hedged, maintained a woefully artificial view of the value of their firm, blew a chance at good offers, figured they would get a bailout...)

McDonald spoke about Ben Bernanke's commentary and said the biggest trend he sees is the "death of securitization." That's not terribly exciting, so why are we making an item out of this? Because McDonald managed to say "it was almost like deja vu" instead of the horridly amateurish "deja vu all over again."

So, maybe we'll have to check out A Colossal Failure sometime.

Who gave Tim Seymour
that bowl haircut?

In the category of making money/wealth/value the old-fashioned way, we were impressed that Pete Najarian could actually make with a straight face the asset management reference he did on Wednesday's Fast Money.

"If the market shows the improvement, the Smith Barney/Morgan Stanley combination really could be something that actually puts them back up towards that 30 level once again."

Sure. Many people are waiting for Smith Barney to reignite.

Just as soon as Bank of America catches fire from Merrill Lynch, and Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns crank up the momentum at JPMorgan.

Guy Adami said he thinks the reasons companies aren't spending their cash stockpiles is because "they're in the hunker down mode."

The guest call from Tim Boyd of MKM Partners made us wonder what's happened to Katie Stockton of MKM Partners, but we've happened to notice that a lot of the more tangential Fast Money crowd (Divine Dani Hughes, Bill Strazzullo, Scott Redler, Eugene Profit, JJ Kinahan, Greg Troccoli, even Jeff "I'm gonna step back and wait and see what happens before I make a move" Tomasulo) have mostly (but not all) started to disappear since the Halftime Report went 30 minutes. Boyd was asked about a subject that inexplicably is of great fascination to the Fast Money crew, the Amazon press release about ebooks. "I wouldn't read anything into it," Boyd said.

We couldn't figure out why Tim Seymour on Wednesday showed up with a George McFly-esque (circa 1955) 'do, but furthermore, we don't understand why, instead of doing a 360-degree thing on Microsoft's earnings, Fast Money couldn't do 360-degrees on Melissa Lee's hot black dress?

Movie of the week:
Dating the prof’s daughter

John Houseman probably never would've been associated with Smith Barney had it not been for "The Paper Chase," the 1973 movie written and directed by James Bridges based on the 1970 John Jay Osborn novel. One curiosity of the film is that Harvard Law actually doesn't seem terribly difficult, provided you read the undoubtedly massive amounts of material. Another is that you don't wanna venture near Lindsay Wagner's pathetic character, no matter what she looks like.

It's at best a mediocre film. The success is in Houseman's Professor Charles Kingsfield, the type of mythical figure everyone assumes exists, the preeminent mind at Harvard, an austere, dominating fountain of wisdom with a noticeable sense of humor who to this day and probably a few decades beyond remains the public icon of tough professors.

But here's a question that maybe the HBS guys could think about...

What if Harvard were a corporation?

Surely it could have a field day maximizing profit. For starters, why turn away so many applicants? If there are 40,000 people willing to pay $40,000 a year to be clients of yours, why not let them?

Ah, but it's not a business. Its motto is "Truth." The mission statement of Harvard College, (not "University," which doesn't have one), is, "Harvard strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities."

So its goal is not to maximize profit, but to educate. Thus there has to be a cutoff, for the purposes of class sizes, individual instruction and overall resources, so that a beacon of learning can adequately cater to a select few while spurning the undoubtedly extra profit that would result, on margin principles, by simply accepting a larger economy of scale.

Viewers of "The Paper Chase," as well as "Good Will Hunting" and probably every other movie about university life, will notice that all the characters in the classrooms are portrayed as paying students worried about grades and finals and papers. Schools constantly brag about demand for their product that they gladly won't or can't satisfy, even though presumably it would increase profitability. One wonders, then, what about education has to be so exclusive. If the goal is to educate people, then shouldn't Harvard courses be open to all? Why should such wisdom be constrained to only a small sample of people? We couldn't find any HLS lectures freely available on YouTube, even though HLS has its own YouTube channel with plenty of promotional pitches. We did a search at Harvard Law's own site for "audit," assuming that anyone might be able to freely audit courses to advance his own knowledge, and the meager results (most of them having to do with audit committee issues in accounting) suggest that doesn't happen except maybe in very limited cases.

If the goal is to educate people, then why do the Gateses and Grosses plow more money into an ancient bastion like Duke, instead of starting their own university so that there may be more elite, high-quality caliber educations available?

All of this seems to point to the conclusion that the goal of higher education isn't actually wisdom, but exclusivity. That the point isn't to spread knowledge, but restrict it, from those deemed less deserving than others. And so we have the world's leading institutions of knowledge not flooding the world with brilliance, but treating their prime commodity like a stock tip and practicing a business model that seems to work best when you're talking about a Cabbage Patch doll.

Your move, Kingsfield.

Edwards, Najarian: AAPL
isn’t headed to $400

Patty Edwards said Wednesday on the Fast Money Halftime Report she's still long Apple and still likes the stock, but "I can't get to 400 bucks. I can get to 325."

Jon Najarian agreed that $400 is too high for now.

Edwars said Starbucks is experimenting a little bit with alcohol in Seattle.

Greenberg: Could MSFT
take itself private?

Herb Greenberg on Wednesday's Strategy Session said only 1 word matters in Microsoft's earnings report.

"The word is dividend — they need to say something about giving money back to shareholders," Greenberg said.

Greenberg openly wondered if the company might one day just decide to buy up all the stock and go private. David Faber was like, c'mon, it's a north-of-$200-billion company.

Faber also suggested to Gary Kaminsky that asset managers' days of "long lunches, big paydays" might be coming to an end and, with a joke, that that development might be the reason Kaminsky's now in TV, where the hours tend to be rather monstrous. Kaminsky told Faber he can think whatever he wants about money managers, but working long hours on a TV show, "That is not even something that we can dispute."

[Tuesday, July 20, 2010]

Mary Thompson’s spectacular
comeback from tech glitch

Sometimes, challenging moments bring out the best in people.

Mary Thompson was suddenly thrust on-air for a breaking news report during Fast Money apparently without being able to hear that she was on, until a producer shouted something to her. And Mary, who's got the best hair on CNBC for probably 10 years running with zero sign of decline, did not miss a beat while delivering an interesting update on Ken Feinberg's upcoming finding of "egregious" salaries.

Karen Finerman was asked by Melissa Lee who the most egregious ones are. "Well, you've gotta think Citibank and Merrill Lynch come to mind," said K-Fine, who said recent salaries are nothing and that it's really the 2007 wages that are truly egregious.

Steve Grasso scoffed at this entire report, warning bankers, "Don't make any money — they might come after ya."

And see, if this item hadn't involved Mary Thompson, we would've been able to headline it with a clever egregious-pay quip.

Citigroup is not a ‘bank,’
but a credit-check company

Dennis Kneale's smash-'em-up reports last week were pretty well done. Unfortunately on Tuesday he reverted to semantics-land to make an irrelevant, if not blatantly wrong, point.

Kneale claimed that Amazon is a retailer, not a tech company, that Google is an advertising company, not a tech company, and that Apple is a consumer company, not a tech company.

And so, according to Kneale, they're not truly representative of the world of "tech."

Except that their products, or, better put, delivery of their products, is completely dependent on technological superiority or creativity of some kind.

Beeks Watch: Whirlpool
didn’t do jack

Brian Kelly on Tuesday said Yahoo (weak) is more indicative of the bigger economy than Apple (strong), insisted Gap is cutting prices, and that Whirlpool's growth "was all rebates, they even said it on the call."

Kelly: Everyone needs an iPhone

Much of Tuesday's Fast Money was devoted to after-hours Apple reports, you know, where they always incredibly beat the estimates and just have everything going right.

We tuned a lot of that out.

Brian "The Cooler" Kelly, however, explained that he now sees an iPhone as a necessity — at least, a necessity in justifying his global-economy-stinks thesis.

"I think what you're seeing in the earnings this season is, people are buying what they need, and I would argue that an iPhone is something that you need, and not necessarily buying what you, what they want," Kelly said, to hoots from the panelists.

"How do you price in complete world domination," Karen Finerman asked cheerfully of AAPL.

Pete Najarian, ever cautious, pointed to Yahoo and said the clock should be ticking on Carol Bartz to do something. "We aren't seeing this stock really moving to the upside," Pete complained.

Karen noted she's a "long-suffering shareholder" of GOOG.

Melissa Lee donned very fetching royal blue top over white skirt, while Karen Finerman was dressed in crisp light blue.

Steve Cortes complained about New Jersey, but if he had been showing any more skin on the set, Fast Money would've merited a TV-MA logo in the upper left.

CNBCfix suggested guest list: Melissa, Karen, Trish, Mandy, Mary, Melissa, Michelle, Erin, Sue, Maria ...

It should almost be automatic that when a company such as Tupperware has a fellow named Rick Goings as CEO, it should have a chairman named Cummings.

In fact, according to Yahoo finance, Goings is also chairman, so no sale there.

Goings said — and he sounded surprised, as though he didn't expect this would be the case — that the public's perception of Tupperware is still "the old June Cleaver time."

Goings claimed, "Our No. 1-selling product in France is $150. It's a, a gourmet, uh, steaming product." But more importantly, he said, "We changed the Tupperware party. It's girls' night out. We just had a big soiree up there in New York."

Patty Edwards said Tupperware is intriguing because of valuation and non-U.S. sales. Furthermore, "I just got invited to a party, uh Tupperware party, on Twitter. I think this thing's going big," Edwards said.

Mariano Rivera: Greatest pitcher
in the history of baseball

This site always likes getting tips, and the other day we actually got word that this No. 42 for the Yankees is pretty good.

Actually, the subject sort of came up in a CNBCfix community discussion during the press coverage of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, so we can safely invoke artistic license and make a point about it on this page.

Many will say Mariano Rivera is the best reliever in the history of baseball. In fact, he's more than that: He's the best pitcher in the history of baseball.

It's unlikely the Baseball Bigwigs will agree with this contention anytime soon. They're hopelessly biased toward starting pitching, a concept this site has debunked to no avail. (We've also targeted the phony, paper 2-league distinction that baseball pretends exists, as well as the draft, to tin ears and closed minds.)

Rivera has 11 career World Series saves. The next closest is Rollie Fingers, at 6. In postseason saves, Rivera leads runner-up Brad Lidge 39 to 16.

Relievers have long been viewed by baseball elitists as a junk bond and faced a (mostly accurate) stigma that they're not necessarily good, but lucky. Too unpredictable. Journeymen who inexplicably become unhittable for a few years before reverting to journeymen. Willie Hernandez being a prime example, handed the American League MVP in 1984. Dennis Eckersley had 5 monster years, Bruce Sutter about 6, Rob Dibble about 2. They don't log nearly the innings of a starter. But the innings they do log are generally the most important.

Understandably, no one is as good as Koufax 65 (or really Koufax 63-66), Hershiser 88, Gibson 68. But those pitchers didn't perform at that level for 15 years and counting.

Here's the best criteria we came up with: If you could pick one player, supported by a random roster, who would it be ... for 1 game or 1 season, it would be Koufax 65. If it's 1 batter, 1 inning, 1 playoff series, 1 career, we take Rivera.

And that seems pretty hard to beat.

Michael Price: Pink sheets say
Facebook worth $25 billion

Michael Price of Evercore, guesting on Tuesday's Strategy Session, pinned a number on a well-known Internet company.

"Facebook's a $25 billion equity capitalization," Price said. "If you believe the pink sheets, that's where they're trading at here."

Kaminsky: BAC, IBM
are ‘terrible stocks’

Gary Kaminsky, on the K-Call at CNBC.com, writes Tuesday that people investing in names like Bank of America and IBM aren't beating the market. "Great companies for sure, but terrible stocks that are owned by the worst kind of investor, the 'closet indexer'," Kaminsky says.

He instead recommends airlines, particularly Delta — as trades, not investments — to beat the closet indexers.

Jon Najarian and Patty Edwards, on the other hand, were bullish Tuesday on IBM during Fast Money's Halftime Report, Dr. J citing the trading range bottom at $122. It's "one of the bluest of the blue chips, literally," Edwards said. Brian "The Cooler" Kelly actually said IBM's earnings "weren't terrible" and recommended ELX and QLGC on that play.

Patty Edwards said something we wouldn't have expected while explaining she owns INTC: "I'm quite happy with the position."

Edwards touted Apple and also noted David Einhorn's interest in Apple and said "Welcome David, come on in, buy more."

Anthony Scaramucci admitted he was wrong about his Monday night optimism for Goldman Sachs but still defended the stock long term.

Brian Kelly said "there are other investigations out there," and for him, Goldman Sachs "is a short at best."

Gary Kaminsky brings up the ‘E’ word in Y2K stock chat

Gary Kaminsky, David Faber and Michael Price discussed the boom in wi-fi and data usage on Tuesday's Strategy Session, the "40-fold increase from here in terms of mobile broadband."

"When I hear these kind of growth assumptions, it sort of reminds me, you probably remember, we used to have those conversations in 1998, 1999, about Internet traffic, it was gonna double every year, uh, sorry, double every month, and ... you remember Exodus, and Global Telesystems," Kaminsky said.

Oh, man. Who doesn't remember that. If Exodus was not the worst stock of all time, it has to be close. From probably the $40s to the $120s to $0 in, um, not a whole lot of time.

Anyway, Kaminsky asked Price how can we be sure we're not getting ahead of ourselves, from companies like AT&T to startups, in estimating wireless usage.

"Sunday afternoon," said Price, "I'm at the Yankee game with my son. We're watching MLB.com and he's watching the Red Sox game live while we're sitting in the stands watching the Yankee game. So, uh, you know, today, 50% of people 20 years old and older don't have home phones. They've all cut the cord. They've all gone to cell phones. So, uh, the new generation is taking up these devices in a completely, uh, different manner."

That didn't sound like a very good answer. Price did offer that people overlook the fact all these iPhones and iPads are computers, so "Apple will make $10 billion more in revenue than HP will make in revenue this year, 47 vs. 37. So Apple is gonna be a bigger PC company than HP this year." Price also said, "Apple in 2011 will have more revenue from apps than they will from video."

Triathlon prerequisites

All of those CNBC viewers feeling a little sheepish about their inability to get/stay in shape probably will feel even worse after hearing Tuesday that Gary Kaminsky goes for his morning run at 5:30 a.m. every day, after e-mailing David Faber.

Kaminsky, Faber agree:
This isn’t 2008

David Faber on Tuesday said he's hearing a lot of conversations these days that sound like what he was hearing when Erin Callan was still in her heyday.

"Everybody wants to go back to '08," Faber said. "Is that fair to even say?"

"It's nothing like 2008," Kaminsky said. "Everything was frozen; you couldn't roll over commercial paper, forget about trying to do a financing."

Kaminsky pointed out that Schwab, which has some serious long-term issues, raised cash recently in a deal that was "way oversubscribed," something that wouldn't have happened in 2008.

Goldman Sachs’
unplanned space flight

Kate Kelly, wearing glasses again Tuesday, said Goldman Sachs had a quarter in which it sort of returned to earth. "I think they've kind of moved from the stratosphere into the atmosphere," Kelly said.

Furthermore, "I heard a rumor this morning that they had taken a loss on a euro short position. I'm told by people familiar with the matter that is not correct," Kelly added.

"CEO confidence is much higher than consumer confidence," assured Michael Price.

[Monday, July 19, 2010]

Joe Terranova is ‘praying’
for a Goldman miss

Anthony Scaramucci told Fast Money viewers Monday that "Goldman is the pinnacle of prop trading," and he expects "surprisingly strong" quarterly results that he said "could put a downside protection on the market for tomorrow morning."

Scaramucci said many Goldman observers don't realize "the spreads have widened since 2008, and there are less market participants."

Guy Adami said he doesn't expect a great quarter.

Joe Terranova said, literally, "I am praying tomorrow morning that Goldman Sachs is- misses in some capacity, disappoints the Street, the stock moves lower. I wanna buy it because I missed it."

IBM reports earnings — for 2015

One of our favorite recurring Fast Money themes is IBM's guidance for 2015, as regularly relayed by Guy Adami.

Everyone on Monday's Fast Money panel seemed to think tech is great long-term, even though IBM's quarterly report stank.

"That said, this is also a company that told you by 2015 they'd earn $20 a share," Adami reminded viewers. "Valuations make sense. These guys do have visibility in certain areas. They have a huge recurring revenue stream. But as a trader, this just doesn't get it done."

Anthony Scaramucci said that on the bright side, there's a "ton of pent-up demand for technology spending."

Beeks Watch: IBM signings
indicate tech demand weak

Brian "The Cooler" Kelly disagreed Monday with Anthony Scaramucci's bullish outlook on tech demand, citing IBM's report. "If there is so much pent-up demand coming, then why are not signings much better?" Kelly asked.

Dennis Gartman: I was ‘stupid’ to predict gold going parabolic

Dennis Gartman on Monday's Fast Money delivered an unnecessarily harsh tirade — against himself.

"Well, when you're stupid, you're stupid, and I was stupid," Gartman said. "Obviously somebody is up there at $1,260 an ounce stopping gold. ... The game has changed rather dramatically. It's the slowing down of the economy, it's the, the non-growth in the monetary base, which I think is starting to weigh seriously upon, uh, the gold market," he said.

Melissa grows weary
of hyperinflation thesis

Guest Vic Sperandeo, who showed up at the Fast Money set Monday, was asked by Melissa Lee and Anthony Scaramucci about 1) why he sees hyperinflation coming, and 2) what tools he would use to fight it.

Sperandeo, as far as we could tell, addressed each question, if slightly going overboard. But then, for some inexplicable reason, a frustrated-sounding Melissa Lee got edgy and snapped, "We can probably debate on this desk till the cows come home whether or not hyperinflation is going to happen, but let's say you're a believer in that scenario, what's the trade on that."

Sperandeo answered, "Precious metals, and you don't need a lot." He also said managed futures.

Dr. J taking loss on TXN

Jon Najarian on Monday's Fast Money seemed absolutely floored by the market reaction to TXN's earnings.

In the last half hour of trading, Najarian said, "Somebody stepped up and bought 3,000 calls like that, bang, in a hurry. The 25 strike is what they bought. I bought those and sold the 27s against it. Um, the 27s aren't gonna give me enough coverage to the downside here," he admitted.

"I guess expectations are just too high for this company," Najarian concluded.

AMZN announcement
fails to impress anyone

Melissa Lee mentioned Amazon's report that it's selling more ebooks than hardcover books right now, just ahead of earnings, and suggested some kind of conspiracy theory.

Karen Finerman wondered, "What does that mean for the bricks-and-mortar business of Barnes&Noble?"

"Amazon to me is more about cloud computing right now," said Joe Terranova.

"Anything linked to Mel Gibson I think you wanna stay clear of right now," joked Guy Adami, who then segued into Goodbye Gordon Gekko. "I own a hard book of Anthony's book, because I can get it signed. You folks, if you own the book, you can get it signed, ship it over to the Nasdaq, I'll have Anthony sign it for you," Adami said.

Adami: AAPL a coin flip

Analyst Mark Mahaney said he's been covering Amazon for years, and "I've never seen 'em do something like this before," releasing "material news" just before earnings.

Anthony Scaramucci said Apple redefined the music business with digital publishing, and he questioned how bookstores will evolve to do the same in print media.

Guy Adami said Apple might be worth waiting for a possible drop to $225. "Right here, you're basically flipping a coin," he said.

Joe Terranova said of AAPL, "It respects the 200-day moving average better than any stock out there."

Karen Finerman said "I do own it here, I have owned it for a while ... I think the franchise is still very much intact."

Terranova said in general, on the economy, "The concerns about deflation have never been more prevalent."

Melissa asks Red Hat CEO same question she asks every CEO

Melissa Lee on Monday's Halftime asked Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, "Do you plan on acquisitions Jim?"

"We'll continue to add; um, most of 'em will be technical," Whitehurst said. "Most of 'em will be small technology acquisitions."

Whitehurst said tech companies tend to overpay because they're flush with cash, something he notices as a self-described tech outsider, the 2nd outsider reference he made after first explaining how after examining his company's cash flows, "I'm still amazed at this thing."

Seymour: $240 key for AAPL

Tim Seymour said on Monday's Halftime that AAPL isn't exactly fetching a high premium right now — "probably 20 to 40% discounted to where people were buying Apple," Seymour said.

But Seymour acknowledged, "The 240 level is the level that concerns me on Apple." He does believe, though, that "people have overdone this i4 problem."

Steve Grasso joked, "I continue to buy an iPad every time I walk past the store."

Dennis Gartman expressed surprise, if not frustration, at the euro's strength. "I'm surprised it's gotten to 127 to be honest," Gartman said. "I think a year from now we'll be back closer to 118, but they sure make it difficult being short."

Steve Cortes compares
BAC chart to LEN

Steve Cortes on Monday's Strategy Session trumpeted Goldman Sachs, saying there is now "clarity" while it's "trading just above book value."

"In this era of high volatility, I believe Goldman is gonna trade exceptionally well," Cortes said.

To hedge that, he suggested a pairs trade with Bank of America, making a curious argument that BAC really has little to do with Merrill Lynch. "It's a play on U.S. housing," Cortes said, overlaying something like a 3-month BAC chart with LEN. (They're not really that good of a match; LEN did better in April and May, but whatever.)

Curiously, Cortes' concept of "clarity" in GS was actually dismissed by TSS guest Amy Butte early in the show, who said many were hoping for finality with fin reg, but "Guess what, there's no clarity."

David Faber closed TSS with, "I'll tell you 1 thing: What's good for Goldman Sachs is not necessarily good for America." Faber introduced Melissa Lee as "someone who is always good for America."

Ken Lewis’ last deal a bust?

Gary Kaminsky offered his own take on BAC early in Monday's Strategy Session. "This is not the bank you thought it was," Kaminsky said.

"Merrill Lynch was thought about, they came in here, after September 2008, and they stole the company," Kaminsky explained. "Merrill Lynch was being bought at the bottom of the trough."

"You don't think it's a steal," said David Faber, detecting the skepticism.

"Is the capital markets business at Merrill Lynch, is it really in a competitive, strong position? That's a question," said Kaminsky, who then deferred to Kate Kelly for an opinion.

"I think there's skepticism about it," Kelly said.

Kaminsky relates joke about
European bank stress tests

"They ask you what's the name of your bank, do you have any ATM machines, and do you have any clients? And yes, you pass. But that's just sort of an inside joke there," said Gary Kaminsky on Monday.

Karabell in WaPost, quoted
by prominent pundit

CNBCfix.com's Fast Money Review page continues to track the nation's curious newfound outrage over corporations that decide not to blow some of their profits Google-style on extra unnecessary workers they didn't need to produce those profits in the first place, which according to our Econ 101 textbook should readily produce a far more efficient economy in which workers ultimately end up not on socialism-style corporate gravy trains, but in jobs of true demand that are actually needed that contribute value to people...

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker, who blames George Bush's views of regulation for causing "mines to collapse; an oil rig to explode; toys with lead paint; cribs that kill babies, and on and on," does not merely encourage people to be more entrepreneurial and try to create value somewhere but instead argues that past government policy is behind the jobless rate, that tax cuts don't create jobs and cites a WaPost interview with Fast Money star Zachary Karabell late last week as "the truth of the matter," even though, in our estimation, Karabell is addressing a slightly different subject than Tucker is writing about:

“CEOs don’t like taking risks. They kind of move in packs,” said Karabell. “There’s not a whole lot that you could do to entice companies to hire. You could cut taxes on them, but they’re not going to hire just because they have the extra cash, because they already have the extra cash.”

[Friday, July 16, 2010]

S&P 500 sharply higher...
than 10 days ago

Jon Najarian, whose recent views on the state of the world economy tend to mirror this page's, declared Friday, "I don't give a damn what the Michigan sentiment numbers are ... I don't care about sentiment indexes."

Dr. J said the market was dogged a few weeks ago by all these people saying "Oh my God, the world's falling apart, double dip!"

Karen Finerman reluctantly pointed to consumer confidence, a stat she admits she dislikes; "that was a pretty dramatic move." On the other hand, "To me, the Bank America (sic) news was, that was it, it was extremely disappointing," she said.

Karen also disagreed with Tim Seymour in what we think is a key debate over the state of shopping, as reflected in bank earnings. "Wait, wait, wait, I don't think they're telling you the consumer's in a lot of trouble," Karen said. "I think they're telling you the consumer's pulling back," which she said is a "different" issue.

Tilson holding on

Whitney Tilson was exactly the right guest for Friday's Fast Money, given his recent success in BP.

However, as everyone hopes the cap sticks, Tilson didn't have a whole lot of new arguments to make about either the spill or the stock.

"We're holding it, and feeling very good about it," Tilson said. "Best-case scenario is playing out." He told Karen Finerman that he thinks the worst-case cleanup cost scenarios won't be realized, though BP apparently has 43,000 people cleaning up the Gulf right now.

Beeks Watch:
10-year could reach 2.60%

Brian Kelly said Friday at Halftime he's not expecting the stock market to bounce around. "I don't happen to think we're in a range-bound area," he said, but then offered an interesting bond play. "For me on the TLT, my target, I think we get back to 280 on the 10-year yield, we might even get as low as 260. ... I think we go lower from here."

Beeks also delivered a facial to Goldman Sachs. "How are they gonna generate the trading profits that they've generated in the past?" he asked. "And I thought during volatility, Goldman Sachs was supposed to do well, they're the greatest traders ever. We had tremendous volatility over the last month, how come their earnings aren't great?"

Jeff Tomasulo was seeing a rosier side of things. "This market bottomed and had an explosive up move for 6 sessions in a row," he said. "Having 1 down day, is not the end of a rally, keep that in mind."

Well-coiffed Patty Edwards, who had the outfit of the day with the pearls-black sweater combination, scoffed at reports of improving credit. "The credit trends seem to be improving? They take out any loan modification," Edwards said, and "65% of every loan modification redefaults. The loan modification numbers are up. The consumer is not healthy at this point in time."

Jeff Tomasulo sort of agreed. "With people unemployed, how can you have consumer confidence." But later Tomasulo closed with, "You know, I'd love to be playing golf today."

Now that sounds like a plan, and a doable one.

Greenberg finds little-known
detail in GOOG report

Kate Kelly said on Friday's Strategy Session that Goldman Sachs probably feels the government litigation is in the rear-view mirror.

"I think we can't rule it out, but I think the body language is telling us, 'unlikely'," Kelly said.

Kelly also reported overflow demand at the Bank of America quarterly report. "The earnings call went about 90 minutes, they actually had to cut off analysts," Kelly said.

Herb Greenberg visited The Strategy Session and honestly made a point about bonds that went directly over our heads. Gary Kaminsky added, "I sat in the meetings, we had these discussions, and what happens Herb, somebody does eventually come out, cut their fees, maybe they'll actually go out and market their fund as a result of the lower fees."

But then Greenberg pointed to something interesting he saw in the GOOG report that "stopped me in my tracks." He said Google referred to a "securities lending program."

"Who knew they had a securities lending program?!" Greenberg said. "Google has turned into an investment bank."

"Oh, that's ridiculous," said David Faber, who said he's hearing about interest in the stock from people at hedge funds, which Gary Kaminsky said is a different breed from the institutional owners.

"The problem with Google is not necessarily the growth. It's that Google is in no-man's land right now institutionally. It's not a growth stock," Kaminsky said, "and it's not a value stock."

[Thursday, July 15, 2010]

Congratulations, Goldman

For a while, we wondered if Thursday might be the first Fast Money without a commercial, but no.

Reactions to the Goldman Sachs settlement were virtually unanimous: GS rules.

Brad Hintz: "It's a win for both Goldman and the SEC."

Joe Terranova: "The 550? Goldman gets off easy on this one."

Anthony Scaramucci: "This is a fantastic day for the industry."

We didn't transcribe a direct quote from John Carney, but he gushed about the damper it puts on litigation because Goldman Sachs really isn't admitting anything that could hurt it in lawsuits.

Sounds like champagne
flowing at 200 West

Tim Seymour, who sounded Thursday like he's been watching a few too many Oliver Stone flicks and not the ones involving Gordon Gekko, thinks that Wall Street hotshots, instead of slapping high-fives, should probably be scrambling for parachutes.

"I also fear that this is a newly empowered, certainly a much more confident SEC (that's) pretty proud of what's happened here," Seymour warned. "I think that this is just the first of a few."

But Gary Kaminsky indicated the mood inside GS HQ is basically the opposite.

The SEC case, Kaminsky said on the Fast Line, "has been a huge distraction," and the mood inside the building is "Thank God it's over," people are "very, very happy."

Kaminsky even called it, in terms of importance to the firm, a 4-bagger. "This was a grand slam to get this out of the way," he said.

Guy Adami said repeatedly throughout the show (maybe 3 times, maybe more, we lost count) that the settlement notably does not call for any management departures, but he still has a gut feeling that Lloyd Blankfein could be charting a path to retirement/resignation in a matter of months, on his own terms, and possibly followed by Gary Cohn, which would make Goldman Sachs a different kind of firm. Gary Kaminsky said he would stand by his prediction of weeks/months ago that Blankfein will probably step down in some capacity by year-end.

No, Guy Adami did not attend Tufts, as far as we know

Guy Adami managed to throw a curveball to a few savvy Fast Money viewers during Thursday's Goldman Sachsathon.

During a chat with Anthony Scaramucci, Adami said, "Anthony, we have Tom Curran coming on, he's a lawyer, he's one of our classmates from college."

Because Fast Money viewers are smart folks who tend to know facts such as Anthony Scaramucci graduated from Tufts, this site actually got hit with some Thursday afternoon inquiries as to whether, given the comment, Guy Adami went to Tufts as well.

No. By "one of our classmates," Adami was referring not to Scaramucci, but Tim Seymour, who was seated next to Adami and like Adami and Curran attended Georgetown. Curran graduated in 1986 and got a law degree from Fordham in 1989.

Beeks Watch: Clinging
to China-slowing thesis

Brian Kelly, reached by Melissa Lee more than halfway into the GS-fest on Thursday's Fast Money, tried to rain on all the good news in the stock market, which we think is the GS settlement, fin reg and, oh yeah, that BP cap.

It all "really has no impact on what the consumer's gonna do, on what China's gonna do," Kelly said. "Zero impact."

Kelly's market prognosis, perfectly good a few months ago, is now dissipating into a phantom menace in search of data to justify it that's flirting with putting actual users in face-ripped-off land.

Banks aren't about to fold like Lehman; they're swimming in capital while the Fed pours cash down the system until unemployment falls to 1%. There are no pending TARP votes capable of sinking the Dow 700 points in a day; on the contrary there's basically no D.C. urgency in any more stimulus, unless you count Paul Krugman and Jesse Jackson and we don't. Getting bearish on any market decline since about November 2008 has been an utter disaster, unless your bearish time frame was no more than, say, 2 weeks.

We never speak for anyone on Fast Money, but it's safe to say Jon Najarian is on our side when it comes to Beeks' forecast. "I'll just take the other side of the coin, BP (sic)," Doc J said, mixing up Kelly's initials with a recently well-known company, before Najarian suggested that China, contrary to Beeks' fears, is actually doing pretty well.

Kelly grumbled that China is dependent on exporting stuff to the EU and U.S., and "They don't look that strong to me."

Whitney Tilson getting rich

Thursday afternoon brought a chance to keep score on Brian Kelly's Wednesday Halftime short of JOE, a company with Florida real estate. There was also Kelly's dismissal of BP getting any kind of traction from a successful leak plug.

In fact, both BP and JOE surged at the end of Thursday's session. Which means if "value investor" Whitney Tilson started unloading those BP shares he only bought a couple weeks ago in the low $30s, he's already had a great year and probably wondering why he didn't splurge more than 4% of his portfolio on it.

Tim Seymour, like Brian Kelly, refuses to accept that anything good can come from owning BP. "It's a dart-throw at this point," Seymour said for about the 3rd week in a row.

Something we're wondering is how come, when BP was plunging, the bears kept pointing to the market's punishment as a telling indicator of the stock's future, but now that it's surged in the last 2 weeks, people such as Kelly think the market is a fool.

Does Netflix know the secret
to Internet prosperity?

A few entries below this one, we made the observation that Internet operations, no matter how relevant, tend to seem profit-challenged. We're hardly the first ones to make this claim; the guy who was the Fake Steve Jobs or whatever griped that he barely got any money from getting millions of clicks on the page.

But surfing the Web only a short while later, a better thought hit us like a ton of bricks: Why do we get these stupid Netflix popup ads on most of the Web sites we click on even though our browser is supposed to delete them?

We did the Google search for "Netflix popup ads" and found many others questioning this, and a few supplying answers that it's a built-in app of some kind with Internet Explorer.

Fair enough. Here's the bigger picture: Look at the Netflix stock chart. Is this chart a signal that relentless Internet advertising really does work?

More than CNBCfix.com

FriendFinder boss Marc Bell sort of dodged Melissa Lee's questions on Thursday's Halftime about how he can revitalize Playboy, but he did note that FriendFinder brands draw 140 million unique visitors a month.

Bell sounded like his strategy was contingent on what Hugh Hefner wants to do — and he's still waiting to find out exactly what Hef's goals are.

Bell did claim he's got 200,000 Web affiliates and said his goal with Playboy would be to "allow our affiliates to start driving traffic to the Playboy sites to drive more revenue."

Dr. J: Betting against AAPL

Jon Najarian, who just a couple weeks ago was saying AAPL would be at $310 "if it weren't for the headwinds that we're facing globally," on Thursday's Halftime was lining up the opposite trade.

"I'm positioning to the downside actually," he said, because he's noticed people buying "10% out of the money puts."

Guy Adami said he agreed with that call. "Where there's smoke, there's fire," Adami said, suggesting people looking to get long should maybe wait for $225, $230.

Patty Edwards predicted the stock would jump on an announcement Friday because of the "clarity" it would provide; these guys are super-smart and great at PR and wouldn't announce anything that would make the stock go anywhere but up, or something like that.

Beeks Watch: Capping spill means little for BP shares

Brian Kelly's Bearish Indicators on Thursday concerned the dollar-euro issue, which allowed Kelly to twice mention the "weak U.S. economic data," and also a shrug of irrelevance toward a possible BP capping of the well, grudgingly saying he would "guess" that maybe it would put a smidgen of a bid in the stock, but why would anyone care.

Guy Adami said the market looks "squishy" to him. (Because, you know, all the gains that temporarily derailed his "it's all going lower" thesis are bad gains on light volume.)

Patty Edwards said consumers are spending their money on credit card balances and not other goodies like iPhone 4s (oh, forgot, they actually are buying those to the point they're sold out), er, Crox, because they have "no other choice." Edwards also returned to a pick from a few months ago, HLF, saying she would buy it right here.

Kate Kelly: Banks think
fin reg is a joke

Remember how panelist after panelist on Fast Money spent May and June complaining about massive headwind that fin reg was putting on the bank stocks?

On Thursday's Strategy Session, Kate Kelly said that now that fin reg is nearly complete, banks are "totally shrugging this thing off."

Kelly said the banks think it'll take "months if not years" for regulators to figure out how to police all the regulations.

Gary Kaminsky said he's constantly heard that news of one corporate deal is supposed to get other CEOs talking about the deal and spurring more deals, but he's never been able to determine if that's actually true. Kaminsky mentioned again he thought it was ridiculous for people to be suggesting recently that XOM would buy BP intact, unless XOM wanted to shave 20% off its market cap instantly.

Cortes: Consumer getting worse

Steve Cortes, who just a couple months ago said people aren't even going to have enough money to afford Wal-Mart, said Thursday on The Strategy Session, "The market is telling us that the consumer is actually in trouble and his situation is getting worse."

Cortes said to look at BBY, TOL and HD ... "Consumer names that are real harbingers."

TOL? Harbinger of what?

Cortes doesn't like JPM or MA.

One made the money,
other made the jokes

Robert Kindler guested on Thursday's Strategy Session and noted his brother is a comedian.

Kindler, unfortunately, doesn't quite have the same knack for a joke.

"He gets to be funny on 'Last Comic Standing.' I get to be standing and talking about bridge loans. Where are the seats here by the way?" Kindler said.

David Faber quipped that after a while, someone would come out and massage your legs. And if that someone happened to be either of Larry Kudlow's co-hosts on The Call ... No, we didn't just write that. We did not write that.

[Wednesday, July 14, 2010]

CEOs get distracted
by regulatory agencies

It's hard not to root for Heinz CEO Bill Johnson.

After all, his company, in a gesture of community service, pumped a decent chunk of money into the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for the typical nonexistent-value stadium naming rights, allowing the frugal franchise to sign stars such as Hines Ward and Aaron Smith and Alan Faneca to important contract extensions early in the 2000s. (The team also threw some of that money at washed-up cornerbacks Dewayne Washington and Chad Scott, who really weren't very good beforehand and didn't do jack afterward except put together the league's worst pass defense in 2002, but we all make mistakes.)

Despite all that, we found ourselves grimacing at Johnson's description of his own book on CEO management during a studio appearance on the Fast Money Halftime Report Wednesday.

Johnson said he interviewed all kinds of CEOs and was "surprised" to learn, "We were all well-prepared for the functionality of the job. We were not prepared for the distractions of the job."

What exactly are those "distractions?"

"Market ... government ... regulatory agencies ... multiple constituencies ... trying to balance the board vs. the employees vs. the Street vs. customers vs. consumers."

"All of that stuff," Johnson said, "you can't prepare for."

So let's see: A CEO of a publicly traded company considers the market, the government, even regulatory agencies to be a "distraction," which seems less like the view of an admired CEO than the previous philosophy of Massey and BP.

Johnson also considers the notion of having to deal with "multiple constituencies" to be a "distraction."

Exactly what about the job, then, would not be a distraction? Was Johnson merely interested in making ketchup in his office? Does one call Steve Jobs when one's cell phone reception is crappy? Do you call Fred Smith to deliver a package to China?

Given that all of these CEOs apparently are telling Johnson, unanimously, that they weren't prepared for these things, it sounds like corporate America really isn't grooming people to be CEOs, but to turn wrenches.

Nevertheless, Johnson managed to earn $14.9 million in fiscal 2010, up from $14 million in 2009, for "exceptionally strong results and his leadership in driving the consistent growth and performance of Heinz."

One obvious "distraction" that Johnson didn't bother to cite is when you've got someone like Jimmy Cayne as co-president right beneath you striking up side deals with the board, which in our opinion would probably be the worst problem of the bunch.

Johnson said his biggest mistake when he took the CEO job was trying to do everything for everybody. "You can't please anyone fundamentally if you try to do that," he said.

Fortunately, Johnson, unlike Tuesday's Halftime studio guest Bill Stone, did not call Mel Lee "Michelle."

Yes, Karen, that’s correct

Guy Adami at the top of Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money unveiled a stat, and Karen Finerman said no way, not havin' none of that.

"My friend Mike Wagner just sent me something: Stock bears outnumber bulls for the 1st time since April '09..." Adami said.

"Wait wait wait," Karen interrupted. "Bears outnumber the bulls now, for the 1st time? 3 weeks ago, bears didn't outnumber the bulls??"

"It's a Bloomberg/BusinessWeek article," Adami said. "I literally just printed it out."

We never heard another word about this article the rest of the program. So we found the article. It says, "The level of bullish sentiment about the U.S. stock market fell below the level of bearishness for the first time since April 2009, according to a survey of newsletter writers."

It continues: "The proportion of bullish publications tracked by Investors Intelligence trailed bearish ones by 2.2 percentage points, declining to 32.6 percent."

Leave it to Dow Jones Newswires to explain the reversal, pointing out the bulls plunged from 37.0% a week earlier while the bears were unchanged from 34.8%.

The Bloomberg article cites Mr. Barton Biggs' July 2 negative-tech call, and quotes Fast Money and Strategy Session Friend Peter Boockvar, who says, "It swings a little too much to one side, and we have a rally."

Mike Wagner, by the way, also happens to be the name of a legendary Steelers safety, who was always making a huge play in a big game and practically owned the awe-inspiring 1975 AFC Championship Game and once graciously wrote this writer to say "Keep cheering for us," the 2nd time in a day's worth of posts we've been able to mention the Steelers.

Mel Lee’s view of the Web

Melissa Lee was in a hot black outfit with gray skirt, but producers missed a chance to have Melissa walk around the set and deliver something of a fashion show.

Gary Kaminsky, on the Fast Line for the 5 p.m. show, said the strength in master limited partnerships suggests the recent levitation in interest rates isn't sustainable. We, like Karen Finerman, did wonder if that was a market call on shorting the MLPs. Kaminsky said no way he'd short the MLPs; he was making the point that MLPs are a leading indicator of rates.

Kaminsky also saluted Bastille Day.

We're starting to like it — love it, actually — whenever Melissa Lee talks about CNBC.com. It's the way she refers to it, not condescendingly, not with any disdain, but sort of like she's waiting to make a joke, but pausing and not making the joke. Maybe it's the frustration that many in print and TV media feel, growing weary of endless instructions, as though it's a brand new concept, to direct audiences to Web sites, which (highly frustratingly) are extremely timely and useful and relevant and seemingly the future but don't really seem to print money, if even making money, even when heavily trafficked; or maybe Lee has the correct mentality that everyone probably already knows or can figure out what the Web site is, and that she really thinks all she needs to say is "read Gary's blog" and the typical Fast Money viewer can figure out what and where that is, but she's being reminded by whispers in the ear, "Tell 'em about the K-Call at CNBC.com!"

Or maybe, we're just overthinking it all.

Lee at Halftime spoke of the fizzled reaction to INTC and said, "I'm gonna risk being a glass-half-empty kind of gal."

Between Brian Kelly and Mike Darda, we can't believe nobody warned about the Fed possibly taking the "punch bowl" away too soon.

Brian Kelly Watch:
Fed afraid of deflation

Like most Fast Money viewers, we watch every day in anticipation of what bearish stat on the global growth story Brian Kelly will turn up.

Wednesday, a subdued Kelly noted that auto sales were down 2.3%, that he sees a "change in thinking" at the Fed indicating a "deflation" fear, and that oil is, apparently/possibly, still leaking or maybe still leaking in the Gulf.

Kelly said at Halftime he shorted JOE because, even though it's down 26% since the spill, "they own 600,000 acres of oceanfront property in northern Florida. I mean, you know, the BP spill isn't over yet." But Kelly actually admitted that Intel's results made him "incrementally more positive" and that he would look at Emulex and QLogic.

On the 5 p.m. show, Kelly said, "I bought the TLT today," but he said it's just for a trade.

Google is going up,
but no one sounds excited

This page has been slamming GOOG for months — just stating the obvious, really — and perhaps has been suffering a recent facial of sorts given GOOG's gains from the market surge and renewal in China.

(But then again, we're hardly alone ... check out Dr. J's sell-at-$470 call as recently as July 7 below.)

Carter Worth and Mark Mahaney both reported they're buyers going into GOOG earnings. Worth's rationale is that the chart is so bad, it's good.

Karen Finerman, who really re-kick-started the notion of Google as market darling in late 2009 and early 2010 by gushing over the stock, pointed out the shares are $100 less than they were going into the last earnings report. "That bar is dramatically lower," Karen said. "Huge change in valuation."

Recent buyer Joe Terranova said he thinks the stock goes north of $500.

3% is pocket change for Pete

Pete Najarian said Wednesday he gets ill watching yields on Treasury bonds. "It makes me sick to my stomach," Najarian said.

Pete’s TCK Hail Mary
answered by Richard Kang

Pete Najarian rarely passes up a chance these days to ask a Fast Money guest to endorse Teck Resources.

We've said before that we've concluded many of these types of questions for guest analysts amount to a reach, as though the trader needs some reassurance that he/she made the right call.

On Wednesday, while a family outside the Fast Money set at the Nasdaq Marketsite repeatedly pantomimed for the camera, Najarian managed to get China watcher Richard Kang to call TCK "a good idea" as an alternative China growth trade instead of FCX.

The pantomiming family also put on a show during Dennis Kneale's breakup-Verizon segment.

Terranova: Take the money
and run in APC, BP

Joe Terranova said Wednesday that people enjoying gains in APC or BP should nevertheless "move in to the next trade."

Terranova also said it looks to him like the Fed is "in a box." (But he didn't say they're having issues with taking away the punch bowl.)

Melissa Lee reported record response to the AAPL poll at CNBC.com.

Guy Adami said he thinks the shorts in BP got crushed recently but he could see the stock drifting back down to $32.50.

Dr. Mark Schoenebaum, who talks too fast for us to write up most of his comments, said, "My basic thesis is biotech sucks right now." Even so, he recommended AMLN, HGSI and GENZ.

He also thinks Americans are underestimating the China growth story, to America’s detriment

"Zeke" Karabell refreshingly brought along his patented sense of humor Wednesday in his 2nd appearance of the week on the Fast Money Halftime Report, but his joke about Jon Najarian's "baby born" Intel comment (see below), "This is what's wrong with America health care," sorta fizzled.

We were waiting to hear Karabell's opinion of the China statistics question, and his response — that statistics from all governments are suspect — was precisely what we expected, especially given that he recently wrote just that opinion in Time.

Melissa heaps praise on Dr. J

Melissa Lee, in sharp navy with new hairstyle, was effusively complimenting Jon Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime — but not for Dr. J's curious purple-yellow shirt-tie combo.

"Dr. J, you made an un ... believable call right here at Halftime yesterday. You said $10.8 billion in revenues, that was spot-on for the Intel quarter. You also said last night to me that you took 50% of your Intel off. Is that right?"

"That is correct, and thank you very much for that, Melissa," Najarian said. "As soon as the baby's born, I get out of the hospital."

Kneale’s next breakup: VZ

Dennis Kneale notes at CNBC.com that Wednesday night he'll be arguing for a Verizon breakup, under the theory the company is spending way too much on landline and should spurn that division.

"The old wireline biz consumes 40 percent of total company assets and 56 percent of all capital spending, all to provide just 10 percent of the profits," Kneale writes.

Kneale's arguments, impressively, are remarkably well-researched.

This was one prepared guest

Bob Olstein guested on The Strategy Session on Wednesdsay, and delivered more of a book review than David Faber likely expected.

"On Page 126, you talked about, you didn't know that Merrill Lynch was in the mortgage business, yet you came out there and saw that the balance sheet was loading up with mortgages," Olstein said, with a chuckle, referring to Faber's And Then the Roof Caved In.

"Unfortunately I was doing my research a year or 2 late, and that is for investors as well," Faber grinned.

Olstein, who indeed was absolutely correct about Page 126, made the point that investors should pay no attention to what corporations actually say. "I have never had a management in my 42 years in investing call me and tell me, 'Something is wrong, and if you don't bail, you're gonna lose a lot of money'," he said. "We care what they are doing, not what they are saying."

Gary Kaminsky echoed Karen Finerman's opinion yesterday that stock-picking at the moment is irrelevant. "You've got this unbelievable correlation right now where the stocks that make up the stock market — the stocks that make up the stock market are actually all trading up, or trading down, in sympathy. Something about the ETFs..." Kaminsky said.

Steve Cortes, and Kate Kelly, talked about a possible resurgence in Wall Street products. "If these Wall Street firms are right, that structured finance trading is returning, and I think they are, the company that really stands to benefit to be right in the middle of this is Annaly Mortgage, NLY," Cortes said. He cautioned, though, that "Annaly is almost a pure play on the yield curve."

[Tuesday, July 13, 2010]

Melissa goes ballistic
on iPhone 4

Just a day after congratulating, for lack of a better verb, Tim Seymour for winning the garrulous crown, we discovered that none other than Melissa Lee was eager to challenge him for the title.

The result was a cuteness eruption on the Tuesday Halftime Report, as Melissa, in chic V-neck black dress with brown trim, channeled Morton Downey Jr. in a small finger-pointing tirade, with escalating emphasis, against — gasp — Apple's iPhone 4 reception problems.

"Now, this is a problem that we've been highlighting, and the reason why I'm highlighting this, Dr. J, is because, when I see a stock that is so loved on Wall Street, everybody wants to say, 'You know what, this problem is not a problem.' That makes me think maybe this could be a problem for a stock which is priced for perfection."

Dr. J, who as recently as June 28 said Apple would be at $310 today "if it weren't for the headwinds that we're facing globally," on Tuesday congratulated Joe Terranova for what was indeed a tremendous AAPL sale — Terranova said June 21, when the stock traded from $268-$279, that he was getting out of AAPL and would look to get back in around $250.

On Tuesday, Terranova seemed to confuse the point of Melissa's argument. "Classic example of good news, bad price action," he said, asking, "Is reception that important to a smartphone?"

That left Melissa amazed. "It's called the iPhone. But they apparently don't buy it to make calls," she said.

Dr. J’s advice to those
having iPhone 4 problems

During the Halftime discussion of Apple, Patty Edwards revealed that she needs to do some shopping, but not at the mall.

"I have a couple of people that I need to buy some stock for," Edwards said. Because of that, "I might nibble a little bit at this point" in AAPL.

Melissa Lee challenged Edwards on that one. "Looming technical recall is not a big deal for you?"

"When they fix the issue, I think that's, that's the catalyst to the upside," Edwards replied, confidently.

"iDucttape — I think is what Apple's next product should be," Lee shrugged.

"Nobody in their right mind is using this phone without some sort of a case," argued Jon Najarian. "With that case, you don't have the antenna problem. So I'd say to the people that are having the problem, go buy a case."

Caruso-Cabrera is not
on Fast Money (continued)

It's actually been a few days since someone on the Fast Money Halftime Report referred to Melissa Lee as "Michelle."

Tuesday it came from SSNC CEO Bill Stone, who unfortunately was seated at the other end of Lee's table.

"Bill, nice to have you," Lee said, without mentioning Stone's last name.

"Thanks a lot Michelle," Stone said.

"Uh, Melissa," Lee responded.

"Melissa. Sorry," Stone smiled.

"No problem," Lee said, with trademark point gesture.

Karen: Stock-picking
does not matter now

Tim Seymour on Tuesday reversed his Monday quantity-vs.-quality approach to speaking by making a most excellent point on the 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Seymour essentially called out the doomsayers by noting nothing really has changed in 10 days other than 3 companies have reported earnings, yet the stock market has seemingly done a backflip in its perception of the global economy.

Even better, Seymour piled on to Karen Finerman's challenging question for Brian "The Cooler" Kelly about why Kelly would predict he would suddenly start getting bullish around S&P 1,000 or 1,005 or whatever the floating target is now, when in fact a more typical trade with some seeming conviction after such a steep, quick run would indeed probably be to take profits and maybe reinstate some shorts.

Karen Finerman made a grand statement. "It is not a stock picker's market," Finerman said. "That's what we do. We're stock pickers. It doesn't matter right now. If they all go up together, they all go down together, based on whatever the macro story of the day is. That's not ideal for us. And hopefully over time, there'll be some differentiation where stock-picking skills do matter. But right now, I feel like it's fund flow, all-in or all-out, risk on, risk off."

Joe Terranova said he totally disagreed. But he's wrong.

Dennis Kneale: Time for Murdoch to turn the page from print

Like we said, Tuesday for Tim Seymour marked quality over quantity, including this gem: "The chicken at KFC may be a little more moist than the chicken at McDonald's. ... Some people would say that."

Melissa Lee revealed, about 5 times actually during the program, that she once went to Benihana for a "3rd grade birthday party," and "I enjoyed it." Pressed by Karen Finerman as to when she has returned, Lee said, "Not since."

Joe LaVorgna only just barely started to touch on a point this page tried to make yesterday, that the only thing that isn't happening yet in this great corporate revival is "hiring people," which is another way of saying they bungled away a lot of past profits by hiring too many people in recent years and are only now figuring out they could make virtually the same amount of revenue with less staff.

Dennis Kneale reported Tuesday that News Corp's movie decision amounts to 14% of the assets but 40% of the profits (the other 60%, or more given print struggles, we think, is from the NFL and "American Idol" and "Temptation Island" residuals), so he suggested, "You keep the film, and you get rid of newspapers."

Chris Whalen, who never found a statistic that wasn't bearish, offered this head-scratcher: "The FASB are the last people on the planet who don't get the joke about efficient market theory."

Ecolab, so far, is the other

Gary Kaminsky joined the Fast Line on Tuesday for what sort of amounted to a promo for The Strategy Session.

What no one probably bargained for was the cuteness of Mel Lee in handling this topic.

Lee noted that Expeditors International was surging and ushered in Kaminsky, teased about headwinds in Europe, then employed a cute shrug as Kaminsky spoke. "Well, Melissa, as you probably know, because I know you checked it out last week on The Strategy Session Web site, uh, Expeditors is actually the first stock we nominated for the 1-Decision Stock Club," Kaminsky said.

"I gotta tell ya, I was literally shocked to see the pre-release," he added.

Kaminsky said he'll be inducting a 3rd stock into the 1-Decision Stock Club on Wednesday, and that people can read about it on the K-Call.

"K-Call being, uh, Gary Kaminsky's 'blog'," Lee added, with humorous emphasis, concluding in unison with Guy Adami that you can read it at "CNBC ... Dot ... Com."

INTC: The greatest stock ever to be permanently anchored between $18 and $24

Guy Adami, who basically is firmly ensconced in the "wrong" camp again for the last week and a half, admitted INTC reported a "monster quarter" on Tuesday, and his earlier gross-margin predictions were off.

Unfortunately, Joe Terranova was talking on both Halftime and 5 p.m. shows about "innings" in the PC cycle.

Herb Greenberg was supposed to be giving us details about the INTC conference call, but we're not exactly sure what he was doing, to be honest.

"I actually bought some puts today on the S&P," said Karen Finerman, citing the whooshing plunge in the VIX.

"The laggards are beginning to lead the market," said Joe Terranova, for about the 5th time in 4 days.

Steel the 1

Patty Edwards, though not 1st in the order, at least helped Tuesday's Halftime get off to a good start early, like Rickey Henderson's leadoff home runs, by pointing to a rarely mentioned name, Posco, which confused the CNBC graphics guru into putting a Costco chart on the screen.

"I think it's a really interesting story here," said Patty, of Posco, not Costco, although maybe she feels that way about Costco too, seeing "strength and momentum building."

"I like Schnitzer, SCHN, as well as Steel Dynamics, STLD," said Jon Najarian. "I own both, I've written calls against them."

Melissa Lee asked "Mr. Bear" Brian Kelly for his take. "If you add this all together, it looks like a positive picture looking in the rearview mirror," Kelly grumbled.

Kelly mocked the recent gains in BP by touting Tuesday's selling as the "markets just coming to their senses ... Why do they even need to sell off assets? I thought they were the best company in the world," he said.

Can’t be any worse than BX

The Strategy Session gang, with assistance from Rob Cox and Tom Fox (how's that for a pair), put together an interesting little take on a KKR IPO.

Cox made several arguments in favor, suggesting it's a better valuation than what Blackstone was at in 2007, and that KKR is on the shareholders' side. "They actually own stakes in the companies," he said.

David Faber, making the contra-argument, says he always hears the same "olllld story when it comes to private equity ... all it is is a leveraged play on the market multiple."

Gary Kaminsky said investors have a couple things in their favor, namely that "There's been an information void" during the quiet period that doesn't help the closet indexers, and "unlike the other private equity firms, they have a much higher exposure in health care, it's a lower-beta sector."

Kaminsky said, in case you've seen "Barbarians at the Gate" and perhaps actually believed that Kravis is a quick-buck artist out to make a profit ASAP, that "Henry Kravis is building this company as a public entity, and I know this from talking to former colleagues of his, for the 2nd and 3rd generation. ... This is not like Schwarzman about monetizing and creating his own wealth so he could throw big parties."

[Monday, July 12, 2010]

Tim Seymour apparently
gets paid by the word

Motormouth Tim Seymour put on a show Monday that would've made even Dylan Ratigan envious.

The Ambassador, employing the John Bolton method of diplomacy, managed to incur a mini-debate in every subject during his data-spouting spree on Fast Money.

There was the burning subject, with Karen Finerman and Joe Terranova, over how high the earnings bar is this time.

Seymour said Alcoa earnings told us what we wanted to hear. Brian "The Cooler" Kelly shrugged and said if the numbers really are so good, "the market better rally on this." Seymour said AA is not a bellwether for the rest of the market.

Seymour also made the curious observation that some of his positions were "a little tiresome" and said the day's market action seemed a little jittery to him. "We were reeling in a couple of our longs," he said.

Karen Finerman gave lukewarm praise of MSFT, saying "It is kind of a value stock," but Seymour countered that while it's had a good week, it "really cratered" since April. He revealed, "I own the stock long-term in my pension."

Seymour reported "we were all sleeping" when great Chinese export-import numbers came out over the weekend. That landed him in a squabble with A. Gary Shilling (can't really fault him for that), who claimed "Their imports are weakening," then admitted they weren't year-over-year, though Shilling is correct there was a drop from May's 48% to 34%.

How to be 100% right

Tim Seymour had so much to say Monday, he even found a way to argue against himself.

"It seems like if Deutsche Bank's having problems, everybody should be having problems," said Brian Kelly.

"I agree," said Seymour, but by the end of the comment, he was saying, "I think we have a little bit of a different situation" in the U.S.

Message to corporations:
Try not to make money

Brian Kelly on Monday's Fast Money brought up a subject you've heard a zillion times.

But for the 1st time, it unleashed a new thought around here.

Kelly told A. Gary Shilling he agrees with all the gloom and doom; of course he does, Europe is going to sink us all, etc.

But then Kelly said he'd play devil's advocate. "Corporations have a ton of cash on their balance sheets," he told Shilling, asking if that could ignite the markets.

Shilling scoffed that corporations may have the cash, but "very little incentive to spend it," and that they're only holding it because of "extreme caution."

That exchange finally stoked the wheels of thinking around here on that subject: If unemployment is near 10% and we're nearing a double-dip and the consumer is tapped out and housing is flatlining and deflation is going to plague us, then how can corporations be making so much money?

According to this recent op-ed in the New York Times, "American corporate profits are nearly all the way back to their peak, right before the global financial crisis took hold."

So where are the corporations getting all of this cash? Thin air? China?

The same NYT op-ed complains that "corporations have been saving more and investing less in their own businesses."

"Investing" is one of those loaded words often used by certain types of politicians. It has a warm, positive connotation, something about doing something positive for your future economic health. So, for example, "patching potholes" becomes "investing in infrastructure," and "school tax hike" becomes "investing in our kids."

"Investing" is also used dubiously by the financial community. An "investor" is cheered as someone willing to believe in a company and help usher it to success, rather than a stock speculator who merely hopes someone else will ultimately pay more than he paid for the shares he just bought.

Later in Monday's Fast Money, guest Eric Jackson complained that Microsoft and other mature companies aren't paying enough dividend. He said MSFT is spending $9 billion a year on R&D, as opposed to AAPL's $1.2 billion. Money well "invested," no doubt.

Maybe, in fact, corporations only have a "ton of cash" now because they've stopped foolishly "investing" it. Eliminating positions that weren't working, avoiding dumb deals such as spending $6 billion on aQuantive — at an 85% premium — just because a rival bought DoubleClick. The evidence suggests that for most companies (excepting, for example, Berkshire and Jack Welch's GE), contrary to presumed traditional business/capitalism goals, cash is the last thing they should be accumulating, because they utterly suck at dealing with it and are just going to waste it and the stock will just plateau.

It all gets back to what has become theater of the absurd in financial media. Companies are not supposed to print money. If they do, they either have to declare a buyback (too useless, and a market-timing risk), raise the dividend (too risky because it has to be sustainable for years and might be less desirable based on U.S. tax laws), buy something (9 out of 10 acquisitions fail to add value, as The Strategy Session guys always say), or "invest" internally, which can mean anything from a space program to a Zune. Or get blamed by NYT op-eds and cited on The Strategy Session as headwinds on the market for not unloading the money somewhere.

Gary Shilling said the last 5 days only "looked like a huge short-covering rally."

All you need to know

Dennis Gartman tracked the Alcoa earnings on Monday's Fast Money and reported airplane demand is up, a steep "headcount" drop of 37,000 ("thought that was a very large number"), business is picking up everywhere, and perhaps the "United Steel Workers gave in."

Berkowitz evidently
knows what he’s doing

Melissa Lee reported on Bruce Berkowitz's stakes in AIG and MBIA with a dose of skepticism; "seems like a high-risk sort of investment," Lee said.

"He's not a dumb guy," assured Karen Finerman.

Finerman said Bank of America is trading at 1.1 times tangible book value, and "that's cheap."

Herb Greenberg on Monday's The Strategy Session warned against taking analysts' price targets too seriously.

Steve Cortes, citing the weekend article about FICO scores spreading into a dumbbell curve, thicker at both high end and low end, suggested a trade, kind of clumsily actually, of being long AXP against MA.

Far less than 140 characters

We never hesitate to pass along a CNBC appearance compliment. Early Tuesday morning on Worldwide Exchange, Ross Westgate asked Nicole Lapin, "Do you eat pizza?" Lapin answered, "No. It's not in my contract." Westgate responded, "No. OK. That's probably why you look so good."

Lapin, widely reported to be a vegetarian, devotes some of her morning Twitter time responding to males complimenting her on her appearance. "Thanks" is a common tweet.

Movie of the week: ‘The Cooler’

Most movies depicting parent-child tension end with some kind of happy resolution. A few — "Monster's Ball," "Chinatown" — don't, but generally pin the blame on the parent; the youngster is at least going to grow up enlightened.

"The Cooler" defies that scenario. Cast to jaw-dropping perfection, including the staggering casino-boss portrayal by Alec Baldwin and adequate assessment of modern Vegas as DisneyLand, it is as powerful as it is heartbreaking. Bernie will stand up for his son when your mind is shouting "No!" but your heart reluctantly says "Yes." Like "Leaving Las Vegas," a cousin of sorts, "The Cooler" is about a man who gets much more than he bargained for from a woman who isn't supposed to care. The sorrow in knowing how Bernie must feel about his son is somehow trumped, by the realization that luck only exists if we allow it.

Karabell cracks up Najarian

We were excited to see the return of the Zekemeister, sans jacket, to the Fast Money Halftime set Monday.

But even Zach Karabell, whose Call the Close was a lukewarm "keep looking at individual names" without naming names, was unable to shake the recent Fast Money slump, namely the struggle to deliver names of stocks for viewers to buy to make Fast Money.

First there was a mini-debate over China. "Copper and iron ore imports into China dropped for the 3rd straight month," asserted Brian Kelly. "So that suggests the domestic economy in China may be slowing."

But Kelly said it's better to be curbing growth, "otherwise they have to deal with runaway inflation," he said.

"I don't know if we agree that China is slowing. China is slowing a rate of extremely accelerated growth, OK," countered Zach Karabell. That line, inexplicably, produced some guffaws from Pete Najarian, goodness knows why.

"So, going from 11% to 10% for GDP figures that make absolutely no sense, I mean, if you wanna know China's intrinsic demand structure, listen to what Vale is saying about iron ore shipments and inventories," Karabell added.

If you were hoping for an Alcoa trade, you came to the wrong place

While traders might not've had a quick-buck suggestion right off the bat, surely the Fast Money Halftime Report discussion about AA earnings would produce a trade.

Um, no.

Or, maybe. Barely.

Joe Terranova said in the event you're actually getting "excited" about Alcoa's results (yeah, right), you should buy some FCX calls. But he's more interested in Intel. And so, "I own, bought it last week, Marvell Technology."

Zach Karabell actually is putting on an Alcoa trade. "We've been short on Alcoa," he said. But then he conceded the stock has a lot of headwinds built in, and if the news just happens to be not terrible, that strategy could backfire, making it a "dicey stock to play."

Pete Najarian wasn't interested in Alcoa but said maybe if you believe in global growth you can buy CAT, BUCY, JOYG, TCK, helpfully.

When the discussion turned to BP, Joe Terranova offered, "The trade off all of this remains Anadarko."

Melissa Lee asked Joe Terranova about a Microsoft upgrade. Terranova instead touted QCOM, "your better trade."

Karabell brought his impressive capacity for humor back from break, saying, "I think Joe's taking lessons from the Washington political community, which is, answer the question you wanna answer, not the question you're asked."

Melissa Lee summed it best by noting, "Quiet day ... waiting ... holding pattern."

Guests reveal they watch
Fast Money

Melissa Lee first welcomed UPS/FDX analyst Kevin Sterling onto the Fast Money Halftime Report via phone, and Sterling said, "Thanks for having me on, I really like your show."

Later, Lee introduced TD Bank CEO Ed Clark. "Nice to see you, Melissa. I always watch your program and now it's fun to be on it," Clark said.

Zach Karabell said, basically, that FDX and UPS are just macro-GDP names. Lee pointed out TD Bank refers to its branches as "stores."

talks about Playboy

We were fortunate to catch the end of "Power Lunch" on Monday and hear some comments from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera about the value of the Playboy brand.

"It is a shame how they have let this thing wither," Caruso-Cabrera said. "It is unfathomable to me that they cannot make more money off of this brand in some way."

Haven't thought much about it for a while, but we probably agree.

OK. (Slippery slope here.) One way Playboy would not be letting things wither is to call smart, well-presented people on occasion such as MCC and ask for an interview, or, um, (starting to blush), maybe more, which of course would be politely turned down on professional and/or moral grounds.

There. Whew. Sometimes, delivering a well-meaning compliment is tricky.

Barton Biggs: 1 week early

Somehow we missed it last weekend when Barton Biggs made a market call, and only through the grace of Doug Kass mentioning it on Fast Money did we know it had happened.

Biggs is sort of a favorite subject here, only because on Oct. 31, 2007, he appeared in a landmark Fast Money episode in which he chastised Dylan Ratigan for calling him "Mr. Biggs" while at the same time predicting a "stampede" (exact word) into stocks, and according to CNBC.com, included this observation that the investment banks are "clearly signaling" they are going to perform and rise at least twice as much as the S&P 500.

So, not even the great ones always get it right.

Last week, it turns out that Biggs told Bloomberg TV on July 2 that he sold half of his technology holdings on a policy concern, namely fears that the knuckleheads running the world's debt spigots will shut off the cash flow too soon and lead to a 2nd recession in 3 years, but that can be prevented by "rational politicians."

According to various measures we found, tech stocks rose 5% in the 4 days of trading since Biggs' call.

[Friday, July 9, 2010]

El Stinko

Sometimes you witness a train wreck, and as long as no one gets hurt, you can howl.

Friday marked just that kind of moment for viewers of Fast Money.

It started with Guy Adami's head-scratching, unintelligible opening.

Around the 10-minute mark, viewers had to be sitting there thinking, "What in the world are these people doing? ... What's the point of this confab ... Who called this (bleeping) meeting," stuff like that.

If there was anything going on here, we'd mention it, but ... OK, Guy Adami and Steve Grasso both say the market is still going down, and Mike Khouw bashfully likes Goldman Sachs at this price.

Oh, joy.

And the star guest was an analyst who managed to raise a price target a whole dollar.

This had to be one of the worst episodes of Fast Money ever produced. Did they think nobody was watching? They would've been better off with one of those supposedly timeless canned Trade School programs that Dylan Ratigan's gang used to do for holidays and Cramer does all the time.

Oh well. Everyone's entitled to an off day.

Now there’s a lucky guy

All right. Friday's wretched Non-Money did have one redeeming value: a segment of Karen Finerman interviewing her husband, Lawrence Golub, founder and chairman of Golub Capital who rang the "bell" at the Nasdaq Friday to celebrate his company's IPO.

Mr. Golub doesn't exactly seem like a maestro of comedy, explaining on the clip that he owes "100%" of his success (yeah, not terribly unpredictable) to Fast Money. But that's OK. Golub and Finerman, by the way, like many on Fast Money, are extraordinarily involved with charities.

Congrats to both.

Adami’s call of the week

Guy Adami closed the Fast Money episodes Wednesday and Thursday with the same Final Trade: Visa. (This writer is long V.)

On Friday, Goldman Sachs coincidentally put Visa on its Conviction Buy List.

Either Adami had a scoop, or some marvelous trader instincts.

Either way, pretty impressive.

Former customers apparently
not profitable

Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier visited the Fast Money Halftime set Friday and seemed chipper enough, but the gang's interview really produced little more than press release talking points.

We were interested in Melissa Lee's first question, however, which was what exactly the company does. "We're the leading specialist in IT hosting and cloud computing," Napier said, before rattling off the big growth potential in cloud computing even though it's not particularly profitable yet.

But then we got a chuckle at Napier's response to Pete Najarian's margin question. "Here's what drives profitability in our business: It's existing customers and new customers," Napier explained.

How does the consumer
know what’s going on?

Gary Kaminsky on Friday made one of those thought-provoking observations that The Strategy Session seems ideal for.

"I think that the consumer sentiment is driven a lot by what's happening in the stock market," Kaminsky said. But he said it's unclear whether stock price action is a leading or lagging indicator in that regard.

Many Fast Money experts, notably Zachary Karabell (and where the heck has the Zekemeister been recently anyway?) regularly dismiss stats like consumer confidence, and with good reason in our opinion.

We don't doubt there's some historical correlation between consumer "sentiment" and broad economic statistics. The problem is, the broad economy is absolutely unmeasurable by any given human being. If you live in a town with a plant closing, the economy looks utterly horrid. If you live in Mountain View, Calif., it looks like the skies are raining money.

But those are only extreme examples. You might have visited the shopping mall in October 2008 and found it packed and wondered what all the Lehman Brothers fuss was about. Or, you might've found a food court empty in 1994 and figured Bill Clinton was leading us into the Great Depression Part II.

People don't even really know how much their own relatives are making, because relatives always fib a little bit around Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, the family reunion, etc., and the idea of extrapolating everyone's own little personal story/headline-reading into a macro indicator seems totally absurd.

Virtually no human being ever thinks unemployment or inflation levels are good. A few years ago, when unemployment was somewhere around 4.5% or 4.4%, you'd hear carping about how "it doesn't measure all those people who have given up," etc. Mention inflation below 1%, and you'll hear about how much more it cost this year than last year to take Junior to the doctor.

Kaminsky's point about stocks driving sentiment might be 100% correct, but the gut here says most people, even "comfortable" people we know, aren't following their stocks day-to-day. Some do, of course; most don't. They've got some family-owned GE, or an S&P 500 fund in their 401(k), but the majority isn't making daily decisions based on the Fast Money Final Trade. If you go to the mall tonight and ask random people what level the Dow's at, we'd guess not 1 in 10 is within a hundred points. If Kaminsky's correct, sentiment indicators should've boomeranged between the end of last week and the end of this week, which seems unlikely.

So, what is this entry driving at ... if something as phony and anecdotal as consumer sentiment, however it's measured in whichever survey, actually is a relevant indicator of business trends, it would seem phenomenally easy for policymakers to manipulate it. For example, have the president and a bunch of governors announce on a Friday that the deals they've seen at shopping malls are the best they have ever seen in their lifetimes. Or pay a bunch of celebrities to declare that the price of gasoline is probably the lowest it's ever gonna be in the next 10 years and see how many people jump in the car or plane and travel somewhere.

Whatever. Either people vote the economy, or vote what they think is the economy.

Ed McMahon passed away
June 23, 2009

Tanya Beder, an elegant and striking Strategy Session guest who sort of showed up a bit early Friday, warned "this could be a rainy decade" for the stock market.

Beder argued corporations should be more concerned about stockpiling cash than burning it on uses that may not be so great. "I disagree that they should give the cash back," Beder said. "I think the strategy of buying back stock right now could be a bad one ... the risk-adjusted opportunities just aren't there to use the cash."

Beder insisted holding cash is fine, "relative to the cost of hedging."

Gary Kaminsky said that's fine, but that markets want to see companies be active with the cash. "Go out and do something," he said.

Steve Cortes said that with a name like his, he "should have an inborn thirst for gold." But he doesn't. "I'm not a fan of the gold story, I think it died with Ed McMahon."

Cortes said he thinks a lot of investors were "hoodwinked" into buying gold as a hedge, and now it's an "incredibly crowded trade."

Grasso: RIMM bounce phony

Steve Grasso at least was fairly happy on Friday's Halftime but was basically telling viewers to sell anything doing well, namely RIMM, which he predicted could tumble before close, and Alcoa; "any pop you see on earnings, you must sell the stock," he said.

Joe Terranova graciously accepted congrats for a good call on Anadarko.

Patty Edwards said the fast food names such as Yum don't look so bad here but she's a lot more worried about the Applebee's and Darden names.

[Thursday, July 8, 2010]

The next big Apple thing?

J.P. Mark of Farmhouse Equity said on Thursday's Fast Money that Apple might be up to something in North Carolina.

"Our channels are talking about a new, 500,000-square-foot server farm in North Carolina, which is, just to put in perspective, that's 10 football fields, which is hu- enormous," Mark said. "And what Apple's gonna do with that, probably, is they're gonna set up the largest content library ever. A digital library where you can get video on demand for anything. And I think that the companies that need to watch out for that are the cable companies."

On that provocative note, inexplicably, Mark was cut off so Melissa Lee could deliver breaking news on Gulf drilling moratoriums involving Charlie Crist and a constitutional amendment.

Why LeBron James
belongs in Miami

The whole world was talking about LeBron James on Thursday. We're highly convinced that if someone on Fast Money had the audacity to raise the James subject on the accurate grounds that there's big business involved here, Melissa Lee — who did briefly mention the "LeBron-a-thon" — would've quickly switched the subject to chips & nuts or whatever it was with Diamond Foods.

The truth is that pro sports drafts are ridiculous, benefit no one, and should be tossed out as illegal if not just plain stooopid, and this would've been a great topic for Fast Money. That's how James ended up in Cleveland in the first place.

Back in the early days of this site, we put together a lengthy treatise on this. Basically drafts were devised to keep rookie salaries down. When you can only negotiate with 1 entity, you're going to get less money offered to you than if you negotiate with 25 entities. "Competitive balance" was the stated reason to soothe courts. Nowadays sports leagues have salary caps, or luxury taxes; there's no need to restrict rookie pay.

Consider that the draft may actually jack up salaries in some cases, such as a late-1st-round NFL pick who is essentially guaranteed a certain salary by being picked 27th when, in a pure free market, he might get no better offer than a similar player drafted 45th in the mid-2nd.

The same teams in every sport tend to draft at the top every year, obliterating the argument that the draft provides competitive balance. Instead, it provides the worst possible incentive, rewarding teams for losing. This used to be an open secret denied by everyone, so the NBA devised an even more absurd approach, a weighted "lottery" that still rewards the team that loses the most.

The worst part about any draft is that it forces a player to go work at a location he did not choose. Incredibly, people don't demand this of college players, but they do of pro players. Nobody complains that USC, Florida, Duke get all the good players. Pro sports have to practice socialism. Did LeBron James in 2003 really want to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers? If he did, fine. The question is, why couldn't he choose among every team that was willing to sign him? Maybe he wanted to play for Boston, or the Lakers, or the Knicks.

Maybe we need drafts of accountants, doctors, teachers, physicists, just to ensure we've got "competitive balance" everywhere...

Gartman: This is short-covering

People who didn't believe Doug Kass in the last couple of days found an ally Thursday in Dennis Gartman, who told Fast Money viewers that the week's gains are nothing more than a "short-covering rally."

"We're going up on light volume, we tend to go down on heavy volume," Gartman shrugged.

Joe LaVorgna argued with Guy Adami about the wisdom of a 15 multiple on the stock market. At some point he started talking about "There's Something About Mary." Nothing divides moviegoers more than comedy. There are reasonable people who even think "Caddyshack" stinks. Few comedies, however, are as wretched as "There's Something About Mary," even though you can count this site as a big fan of Cameron Diaz.

Joe Terranova for the 3rd day in a row claimed the market is now rewarding a "mean-reversion type of trade" in which the underperformers are catching up.

Karen had a new hairstyle,
Melissa had the giggles

Karen Finerman, hopefully smarting from a highly lackluster return on Wednesday, actually started talking about stocks worth buying on Thursday.

"I like Goldman Sachs here," Finerman said, and TJX — "At this level, I really like it."

Karen also trumpeted FLIR, "it is a digestable company for somebody much bigger."

Melissa Lee asked Karen about Air Products' bid for Airgas. "The 63.50 isn't enough; it's not enough to get it done," Karen said, "but they know that."

Joe Terranova asserted that "Goldman Sachs is absolutely going higher," because "I flinched" and sold.

2 votes for AXP

The bust of the day Thursday had to be Pete Najarian, who in our own little recollection said nothing that was actually remembered.

Patty Edwards made the case for Corning — "how can you not love it?" — that was seconded by Karen Finerman.

Patty also said AXP "looks pretty interesting here."

Joe Terranova said of AXP, "I think the stock goes up to 45."

Alex Hamilton, during a not-very-interesting chat about Boeing getting some overdue contract probably, said "I'm very bullish on commercial aerospace."

Brian Stutland said there's been a lot of options chatter about Visa and he suggests selling the August 70 put for $2.10, which would allow premium collection at a level he considers a possible floor. (This writer is long V.) Guy Adami made V his Final Trade for the 2nd day in a row.

Melissa Lee interviewed Diamond Foods CEO Michael Mendes. Mendes was a fine interview, but we're hard-pressed to note anything of significance about it other than the company's apparently doing great despite the short interest noted by Guy Adami. Adami said you can continue to own it and don't have to pull the ripcord until the short squeeze happens.

Adami: GS sub-$130

Guy Adami said the worst may not be in yet for Goldman Sachs.

"I think the price action tells you that it wants to go below 130," Adami said.

We were wondering what new key technical level Steve Grasso would unfurl Thursday, and turns out it's 1,065.

"That was the original flash-crash level," Grasso said. "I've gotta see it close above that before I start nibbling on this market."

Patty Edwards employed a semantical technique to deliver a point, calling this a "market of stocks, not a stock market."

Melissa Lee, who extended her profits in hot dresses Thursday, gave a shoutout to eWallstreeter.com, for a chart of the day on the S&P bullish percent index that indicates an oversold condition.

Adami predicted a "65 handle at some point" on oil.

Cortes: Washington interference
‘unparalleled in our lifetime’

Herb Greenberg, who has a way of making a silky-smooth entrance onto The Strategy Session set, didn't quite make the sale Thursday on underfunded pensions as to why people should care. But it wasn't a bad presentation.

The show's best moment was when Gary Kaminsky mocked the rationale behind growth assumptions of some of the large pensions he used to manage money for, which not surprisingly were as basic and optimistic as historical trends, what competitors are doing, etc.

David Berman made a useful point on Wal-Mart's margins. Berman said when the margins get low or negative — as David Faber said, when Wal-Mart is being Wal-Mart — we're talking major headwinds on other retailers. Berman also said the y-o-y comps are starting to get a lot tougher.

Steve Cortes, wearing Gordon Gekko-style shirt, took a curious crack at Washington after a Canadian oil sands discussion. "This level of Washington interference in business, and we're seeing it, it's emblematic in this Canadian pipeline story, uh, is really unparalleled in our lifetime, and so, traders just don't know what to do with this," Cortes said.

Kaminsky challenged policymakers to get it right on oil. "I've been up to Fort McMurray, I don't know if Waxman's ever been up there, I hope he has," Kaminsky said.

[Wednesday, July 7, 2010]

1.11, according to Google finance

Around here we've developed sort of a sensitivity to Fast Money traders' calls, to the point we feel like we can recognize a Hail Mary when it happens.

Wednesday, we sorta got the feeling that Joe Terranova was trying to hit Drew Pearson at the goal line, in the form of Doug Kass.

Terranova mentioned recent purchases GOOG and MON, as well as GS and POT, as 1st half dogs, and then asked Kass, "Are these the type of names you can go in and buy?"

Kass wasn't exactly pounding the table.

"I think Jon at the end of the discussion, the segment, last night asked me what sector I liked the most, and my response was technology, so Google would be prominent," Kass said. "You know, you have to go to the beta, uh, and, uh, or as Jim Cramer calls them, the candy."

We wouldn't rule it incomplete, but we'd stop short of calling it a TD.

That Google-beta thing perplexed Melissa Lee. "I wouldn't have thought of that as a beta stock," she said.

Tim Seymour said he liked the stock but Guy Adami was straightforward. "Google's been candy, I mean, but a lot of people have been talking about this candy for the last hundred dollars," he said.

This one’s for Emily, whenever we may find her

Doug Kass was feeling so good about his timely bull call on Tuesday, he couldn't resist a little taunting of Brian Kelly on Wednesday.

"Remember the line in 'The Boxer,' Simon & Garfunkel, 'All lies in jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,' don't forget that Brian," Kass said.

"All right, I won't forget that, but this is 1 day, Doug," said Kelly.

But taking questions from Melissa Lee, Kass spoke rather soberly.

"I'm reminded Melissa of that adage that the streets of Wall Street are lined with geniuses who made one great call in a row," he said. "I think that the market has set a low for the year, uh, but I think we'll probably see some healthy backing and filling."

Karen left all her
stock tips on vacation

Fast Money viewers excited about the return of Karen Finerman after a long holiday vacation were undoubtedly disappointed Wednesday, given that Karen was quiet as a mouse the entire show.

The only treat viewers got was a glimpse of Karen's famously beautiful smile during a late exchange with Herb Greenberg, who absolutely ran roughshod over viewers' concentration abilities during his description of EMC maybe doing something or other.

Melissa Lee showed up in her snazzy vest outfit that we've seen before and were happy to see again. We said yesterday we hoped Lee spent the steamy holiday weekend on a beach somewhere in her swimsuit. There was neither confirmation nor denial of that on Wednesday's show, except Guy Adami's remark that Lee was "out gallivanting somewhere" over the weekend.

Analyst calls Abercrombie & Fitch
‘ridiculously cheap’

Joe Terranova didn't really have a good explanation to Melissa Lee for why he decided to plunge into Anadarko on a huge day Wednesday, but he did say he thinks APC is a safer pick than surging BP right now because BP has "reputational resistance overhead."

That apparently is RRO, for you accountants scoring at home.

Tim Seymour tried to play newspaper-editorial format on BP, making a point against owning the stock, then offering the counterpoint, only to keep alternating until he reached his obvious conclusion: "They probably got more liabilities than any company in the world has ever seen."

(That is basically the correct way to do an editorial; we're not knocking that.)

Retail expert Rob Samuels recommended Finish Line, Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch. Of ANF, he said, the "stock is ridiculously cheap here, uh, you know, you're basically getting the domestic business for free."

Guy Adami wasn't terribly impressed. "Talk about toning, I mean, Abercrombie & Fitch, that stock price has toned," Adami said.

Heather Bellini spoke of long-term iPad headwinds on MSFT and recommended VMWare and SalesForce.com. "There's only a handful of good secular growth names in tech," she said.

OK ... but isn’t Fast Money
part of the media?

Tim Seymour, expressing more frustration each day with heavily bearish calls from certain quarters on Fast Money, complained Wednesday, "It's kind of ridiculous ... you have to be really careful as an investor because you're getting thrown all over the place by the media and by top-line strategists that are telling you the S&P is gonna be here or here."

Seymour questioned how analysts over 2 months could find so much evidence to reduce S&P 500 forecasts. Melissa Lee challenged that, saying it's a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't," because if the analysts wait until the stocks fall, they'll be accused of being late, etc...

"I'm not saying the consumer is dead, but I think the consumer is strapped," said Guy Adami.

Those (snicker) looking to A. Gary Shilling for cheer were disappointed Wednesday. "I think we could break the, the old lows. Uh, this is, uh, I think we're in a secular bear market that started in 2000, and what was it, 666 on the S&P, that's, uh, that's certainly possible on the downside," Shilling told Melissa Lee.

Joe Terranova said a lot of people tend to make it too complicated, using an expression he used a day earlier. "Narrow the thought process, because then you get to a point where the analysis becomes paralysis," Terranova advised.

"This is 1998, not 2008," Seymour concluded, confidently.

We’re not Congress,
but ...

Jon Najarian zeroed in on an element of high-frequency trading Wednesday on Fast Money.

"Everybody talks about high-frequency trading, I'm not demonizing that, but I will demonize this part of it. And that is, when they step ahead for just a thousandth of a penny to so-called improve the market, that's B.S. That should be stopped, and if anybody in Congress is listening, that is where the real problem is here."

Mort Zuckerman:
Another ‘policy’ guy

Around here, we're fans of Mortimer Zuckerman, not because we're angling for work at the Daily News, but because his down-to-earth punditry, which often includes the polished-sounding phrase "in my judgment," is a welcome relief among what's often heard on "The McLaughlin Group," which maybe shouldn't even be watched, but you almost feel like you owe it to John McLaughlin...

Quite frankly, Zuckerman would be a good Fast Money guest.

Unfortunately, as Zuckerman's TV comments suggest from time to time, he is revealing himself to be a Policy Guy, evident in this excellent summary by Lloyd Grove of Zuckerman's comments at the Aspen think-fest.

Zuckerman, according to Grove, said, "The real problem we have ... are some of the worst economic policies in place today that, in my judgment, go directly against the long-term interests of this country.”

Not clear what those policies are. Nor does he mention any policy problems in his most recent U.S. News & World Report column in which he does little more than observe negative economic stats and Obama poll numbers.

We speculate 1 policy he's probably referring to is the national debt. Fair enough. Except that's been the policy since about 1982.

No word on what we're all missing out on as a result of these bad "policies" ... would we have cured cancer, produced more potash, built a better Facebook, netted more than $5.70 for Palm...?

It's fine to argue policy; it's silly to consider it important. That's when it sounds amateurish and below the thinking level of a whiz like Zuckerman. Especially at an event such as Aspen, which was, according to Grove, attended by Streisand-Brolin, who, um, we don't often agree with politically but do in general like the movies. The New England Patriots' policy was 5-11 before Tom Brady started running it. "The problem is the knuckleheads at the top" theory is about as useful as Bledsoe as your starting QB.

T. Boone Pickens is one of the nation's preeminent policy guys. He argues the only thing standing in the way of unleashing the torrent of wind power and natural gas that will provide energy independence and lead us all to Solla Sollew is mere government policy. Pickens spends his spare time building a state university into a spectator-sport mecca.

Joe Terranova plunges into 2 of the worst charts on the Street

You've gotta give Joe Terranova credit, for dogged determination if nothing else.

"Today I'm going after names like Google, I'm going after names like Monsanto," Terranova said on Wednesday's Halftime, citing what he calls "paralysis by analysis."

If one were charitable, one could say Jon Najarian backed up Terranova's purchase. If one were charitable.

"I don't mind buying Google way down here, $200 off the recent highs, uh, but that's the only reason I like buying it," Najarian said, "because I think for the most part they've lost their way, giving away software for free, making a phone that they couldn't hardly sell because it's more expensive than an iPad, uh, getting out of China. I mean those are 3 pretty big reasons that the stock is on its backside hard. And I bet Joe that you'll be selling at a frenzy if this thing gets up towards 470 because I certainly would."

Melissa Lee also asked Patty Edwards what she thinks of a Google purchase.

"You know, we own a little bit of Google, but to me it's starting to look a lot more like a Microsoft," Edwards said.

Moments later, Bill Fleckenstein revealed, "I own Microsoft and Microsoft calls."

Staple of Halftime gloom

Brian Kelly made what seems like his daily Halftime doomsday appearance Wednesday. But when Joe Terranova pressed him to suggest a possible if-you're-wrong S&P upside, Kelly had to concede, "Well, I wouldn't necessarily be shorting an awful lot right here."

Kelly did note later he is short Barclays, and suggests people could try shorting IXG.

But for those needing a lift, Mandy Drury subbed as Closing Bell host Wednesday.

Bureaucracy at work

We learned on The Strategy Session Wednesday that Boeing CEO James McNerney is the chairman of the President's Export Council, a group we didn't even know existed but was apparently formed by Richard Nixon.

We also learned, via David Faber's comments, and this link, that President Obama at his February State of the Union speech specifically called for a doubling of exports in 5 years.

McNerney, we're happy to say, even though he sports traces of Dan DiMicco, sounds like he totally "gets" it and is likely to soar up our Fast Money/Strategy Session CEO Impressiveness Meter like Clay Jones. As the star Strategy Session guest Wednesday, McNerney was asked by David Faber if that doubling in 5 years thing is "gonna actually be something that takes place, as opposed to just a nice speech ultimately that we quickly forget about in a couple of years."

"I totally 'get' that question," McNerney admitted, in front of the White House, which was impressive. But then he didn't exactly provide the most concrete evidence that it will be more than a speech: "Gotta be quarter by quarter, it's gotta be measurable, it's gotta be granular, it's gotta be industry-specific, country-specific..."

Apparently, a lot of experts at the time of the speech doubted this particular goal.

McNerney was asked what it would take, and that's where the answer sank into Dan DiMicco land: "(Removal of) hurdles and impediments ... level playing field ... fair trade ... enforcement of existing policies..."

Multiple definitions for this word, not all of them good

Jim McNerney also spoke Wednesday about that economic giant in Asia.

"Listen, there is no question we're gonna have to both compete and collaborate in China," McNerney said.


Cortes: Housing stinks

Gary Kaminsky said he puts a lot of stock in the Family Dollar CEO's comments because with sell-side analysts, it's often "garbage in/garbage out."

Steve Cortes identified homebuilding as a rocky place. "What the market is telling us over the last couple of months is that the housing market is not recovering; this sector is trading disastrously," Cortes said. "Even wealthy folks cannot get the loans they need, or want, to buy homes."

[Tuesday, July 6, 2010]

Scaramucci: Expert says 50%
of Gulf spill is evaporating

Anthony Scaramucci on Tuesday's Fast Money reported spending the holiday weekend in Cape Cod "with a hedge fund energy specialist, and (he) was telling me, what we don't hear in the media, is that 50% of the spill is actually evaporating into the air. It's a light sweet crude."

Indeed, a New York Times article on June 6 explains, "Some oil on the water surface evaporates within days. The lighter the oil, the more evaporation: half or more of light crudes can evaporate."

We should note that given the public statements of BP, the government and outside experts, no one seems to really know for sure how much oil is even spilling. But not all of it ends up on the beach.

Scaramucci said the relief well drilling is ahead of schedule and he thinks BP has plenty of "sidecar" for its cleanup fund, and "The costs associated with the spill are gonna be significantly less than people on the Street think ... I think Whitney Tilson's gonna be right."

Tim Seymour insisted that going long BP now is still just "throwing darts."

Scott Nations made a curious remark, stating the relief well would only be ahead of schedule if it was somehow done the day before the rig exploded. He recommended buying the BP August $40 call "for just 50 cents" rather than getting long the stock here. "BP is probably pretty binary right now," he said.

What, exactly, is the
goal of economists?

Tim Seymour on Tuesday's Fast Money questioned Mark Zandi's assertion that the public is better off with more unemployment benefits.

"It may sound insensitive, but what about extending unemployment benefits is really gonna help these people in the long run?" Seymour asked.

Zandi said there probably are people "taking advantage of the system, probably could work, and aren't working," but insisted the "vast majority" are trying to get ahead and need extended benefits in order to avoid a serious cutback in spending.

Oh man. This is one of those delicious topics that a Web site could really get buried in...

We won't. But this conversation, and many others on CNBC, prompts us to wonder, what exactly is the real goal of policymakers? Not the mumbo jumbo about things like "supporting a strong dollar," etc., but what they're really driving at.

It seems the answer — remember, we're not pro economists and about the only elasticity we understand is Olivia Newton-John's outfit at the end of "Grease" — is constant, unending adherence to merely a series of arbitrary numerical targets, something like 5% unemployment, 4-5% GDP and 2-3% inflation ... and anything viewed as derailing those scenarios is attacked with about the same ferocity as Atlanta circa 1864, with whatever weapons are available, national debt, endless unemployment, Cash for Clunkers, etc.

Is this all that Miss America contestants and the rest of the world's people should list as their hope for the world, a permanent 2.5% inflation rate? Did Ben Bernanke really study all those years in college just to learn how to buy crappy mortgage bonds? Is that how we cure cancer, get to Mars, paint the Sistine Chapel?

Maybe in the end we just get the world of "Wall-E." Mark Zandi says we need another $80 billion to make sure the 2nd half of 2010 doesn't further violate whatever arbitrary scenario we're already violating. Whatever.

Don’t take the bet, Beeks

Doug Kass, fine guest & market pundit though he is, tends to ramble too much on Fast Money, and Melissa Lee on Tuesday once again handled Kass' commentary as though he were Dustin Byfuglien.

Kass, speaking bullishly on the stock market, talked of a dramatic "disconnect" from fundamentals and then said, the penultimate word being the key, "Let me give you a very, very quick example."

We "quickly" got so lost in his rambling rationale, we only barely absorbed "June ISM non-manufacturing index" and "conference boards, no one ever talks about..."

Kass offered a bet with newfound curmudgeon Brian Kelly, who these days looks like he bet half of his net worth on Argentina to win the Copa Mundial, that GDP "in the 2nd half is up over 1%."

"It's what I do every day Doug; I make bets on what GDP is going to do. So I don't need to make another one," Kelly said, though offering to do the bet anyway.

An idea so good, Steve Ballmer
will never consider it

We were excited about seeing Dennis Kneale turn up on Fast Money, possibly for the 1st time. Except we wish he hadn't come loaded up on roids.

(Oops ... is that one of those quips that will cause Dennis to lump us in with the "bitter blogger bullies"? The "Up Yours" was a classic and this site said so at the time, btw.)

Kneale is apparently doing a new Fast Money feature called "Smash 'Em Up" spotlighting companies he thinks would benefit from being broken up in some fashion.

He started with Microsoft, and quite frankly, this was a tremendous segment, so tremendous that Pete Najarian was heard to say this:

"If I, actually, it was a believable premise and I actually thought they were kicking this around, then I would get a little more interested."

Think about that for a second ... here's a stock that for a decade has undeniably sucked mightily. An elite trader says he definitely would be interested in breakup talk, but only if he thought the company was actually considering it. Which essentially means nobody believes it's being considered by the company, apparently dead-set on its long-term strategy of buying pieces of Yahoo and slowly but massively sucking the value out of whatever's left of the stock.

Even grim-faced Brian Kelly said he would buy shares in Xbox if it were spun off as its own company. We suggested a few weeks ago that maybe analysts might be better at running a company than the people actually running the company, and this seems like one of those situations where that may indeed be the case.

Kneale complained that MSFT has merely been an "Apple wannabe" and noted it had to scrap a phone we'd never heard of. Najarian asked Kneale for specifics on a breakup and to what extent it would go. "Take the consumer stuff and you put it all there," Kneale said, then "Let some buyout artist come in" and figure out the rest.

At the end of this segment Tim Seymour sounded like he's in the camp of those who don't see any need for a breakup here, somehow managing to praise the company for pulling the plug on this phone so soon.

Seymour: ‘Everybody needed Prozac,’ including ‘this network’

Tim Seymour, analyzing the meager stock market rise on Tuesday, conveyed the notion that many recent guests and pundits on CNBC have been a little overly sour to his liking.

"I'm taking a victory here, because again, last week, everybody needed Prozac last week," Seymour said. "I mean, everything, this network, everything we said all week — we had death cross, death this, and that — the reality is that the numbers aren't that bad."

Seymour and fellow panelist Anthony Scaramucci seemed intent on double-teaming Brian Kelly, who — and in fairness, he's been right recently — maybe is getting a bit under people's skin with his double-dip scenarios.

"What we're not seeing is the doom and gloom, I mean, people are losing their minds here," Seymour said. "This Hooverism garbage..."

"I actually think the market's gonna trade higher into the back end of the year," Scaramucci said, confidently, citing a "hair trigger set for good news."

Kelly, unfazed, said "Personally, technically I'm looking for 940 to 840."

There is no ‘s’
at the end of ‘Nordstrom’

Many times you've seen a Fast Money panelist lob a favorite stock toward a guest analyst in hopes of getting a reaffirmation of some recent call or position, only to hear the analyst say "No thanks."

Joe Terranova managed to strike gold with KSS with Debbie Weinswig on Tuesday, even though his literal question did not tout the stock but merely asked Weinswig to render an opinion, which made us think the 2 might've set this one up before the show started, you know, like how the TV news anchor asks the field reporter a preplanned question after the reporter has given the initial report.

Weinswig said KSS has done an "amazing job" and is "very disciplined from an inventory perspective .. I think you've really hit the nail on the head with that one."

Weinswig sounds a little negative on retail as a whole, citing "stocks like a Nordstroms (sic)" and indicating she's "getting a little bit concerned that inventories might actually be a little bit heavy."

Genworth Financial:
No. 1 beta in S&P 500

We've said before we tend to find ourselves rooting for Joe Terranova, if for nothing else than the daily enthusiasm he brings to trading.

So is it bad then to note that Terranova on Friday twice said he expected a big "whoosh" of capitulation on Tuesday morning before buyers jump in and drove the market higher ... when it turned out to be the exact opposite that happened?

Pete Najarian on Tuesday said July 14 calls in Genworth Financial are hopping. But then he added this far more interesting nugget, that Genworth is the "No. 1 beta stock in the S&P 500."

Melissa Lee mentioned the "steamy" weather in New York City and hopefully Lee spent the steamy holiday weekend somewhere relaxing on a beach in her swimsuit. Lee, who followed up her hot purple dress from last week with crisp navy in similar cut, complained to Joe Terranova about his pro-nat gas call, citing Swift Energy. "The problem though I have with some of these nat gas stocks," said Lee, "you don't get the swing" that comes with the nat gas price movement.

Lee for the 2nd time noted one of her Strategy Session colleagues didn't seem too thrilled about that Tesla test ride. "David Faber looked like he was gonna be carsick," Lee said. Ouch.

Greenberg: How to make 9%
in barely more than a year

Fireworks were a little scarce Tuesday on the 1st post-July 4th edition of The Strategy Session, but David Faber, Gary Kaminsky and Kate Kelly put together a crisp show with the help of the return of Steve Cortes, who as always wasted no time in getting to a point.

Cortes said now is the time to start getting in U.S. names with European exposure such as McDonald's and United Technologies. He also said German exporters just might be going gangbusters.

Herb Greenberg pointed to a possible 9% yield buyers could get for jumping into VZ Tuesday and holding for a year and a day. Kaminsky pointed out several fund managers were touting Verizon when it yielded 4%. Greenberg acknowledged the trade is not for the "faint of heart."

Energy expert Ken Hersh and Kate Kelly both spoke about BP. Hersh said the company financially should survive, assuming the relief wells meet hopes/expectations, but the long-term operational aspects are dicey because there's a stigma in dealing with the company.

Gary Kaminsky said he expects the markets to take more of a glass-half-full approach the rest of this year, but that the bond market wasn't backing up Tuesday's early gains in stocks.

Kass: 2010 market
has bottomed

Doug Kass, saying he strongly disagrees with Brian Kelly, said on Tuesday's Fast Money, "I think now we have reached a yearly low for the market for the year."

Kass is so confident, he not only was making GDP-related bets with Kelly, he was demanding to confront Steve Grasso.

Tough words from a tough man. We'll enjoy keeping a scorecard of this one.

Gotta agree with Beeks
on this one

Every now and then this page is prone to point out that we just don't quite "get" the occasional Fast Money fascination with GOOG, at least since December.

(JPM is another one, although at least that stock has been solid, but why so many pound the table for it, we can't figure out.)

GOOG quite frankly since December is an absolute disaster, and it didn't get hit with a Fab-Fab SEC suit nor did it spill any oil nor did it get caught up in Jon Najarian's quarterly-pricing greatness of AK Steel.

This is the type of stock that in the old days of Fast Money, i.e., Eric Bolling, Jeff Macke, plus Dennis Gartman (who unlike the first 2 is very much still a part of the show, thankfully), they'd tell you "This chart is unspeakably horrid, just stay away, don't try to be a hero."

It's got serious long-term problems in China, it's got Germany, U.K., even several U.S. states questioning its privacy policies, it's got angry newspaper defenders accusing it of parasite behavior and getting the feds to listen (at least a little), it actually has too much cash, and it's difficult to see its market share in its leading countries get much better.

Nevertheless, Joe Terranova of all people curiously started pounding the table again on Tuesday's Halftime.

"There's one name we haven't spoken about in a long time, we gotta start talking about it again, Google," Terranova said.

Melissa Lee demanded to know the catalyst.

"I think the catalyst is nothing more than good earnings, and I think you're gonna see that from Google in this next reporting," said Terranova, who recommended investors "Analyze your position, say 'Hey, let's step in and buy some here'."

Melissa Lee, who led kind of an unfocused round of questioning that beyond "what do you think" wasn't terribly specific, asked Brian Kelly if he agrees. "No" was the answer.

On the 5 p.m. show, Kelly, on the Prop Desk, said "I'm dying over here" after listening to positive remarks from the panel.

Nothing wrong with giving it a shot. Like we always say around here quoting Jeff Macke, you can and should do any trade you want. Just make sure you have an exit strategy.

Patty: Mallgoers shopping
at Apple, maybe nowhere else

Fast Money Halftime viewers got a rare mall-walk report Tuesday from Patty Edwards, who noted, "The busiest store still by far is the Apple store."

Jon Najarian said he spent the holiday weekend in Europe and he found sellers of Apple products sold out. "Can't be a better boots-on-the-ground estimate of how well that company is doing than to not be able to buy these products," he said.

Joe Terranova, who Friday predicted a big "whoosh" of capitulation on Tuesday morning and then a big recovery, didn't mention that Tuesday but did say the morning's rise seemed "too easy" given where the futures were Monday night.

Brian Kelly called the rally, weak as it was, "more consistent with a correction in a down market."

Patty Edwards made this intriguing remark about composition of one's wealth. "I would rather own a Treasury today than put my entire life savings into the stock market, frankly," Edwards said.

RIG: Karen called it

This site usually doesn't have the time, or inclination, to try and audit virtually every stock/option recommendation on Fast Money, but because we're optimists, we like saluting the more obscure winners whenever we can.

On June 18, RIG had suddenly surged to $54. Karen Finerman that day noted the July 45 RIG put was "just over a buck," which we verified, something around $1.07.

As of last weekend, not only was RIG back to a $47 handle, but according to Yahoo finance, the July 45 put cost $1.27. So, on June 18, that would've been an excellent defensive play on the cheap.

Good call, Karen.

Dr. J in Reuters

Reuters' Angela Moon put together a nice article (although it could use more than 2 sources) on the CBOE's new 1-week options on individual stocks. The article quotes Jon Najarian, who says, "The weeklys are popular among investors who know what they are doing. As long as you understand that this could be something or nothing very quickly, that this is a more purified bet, it is a great way to focus on short-term movements in the market. But I would be surprised if their volume grew (to) more than 20 percent of regular options."

[Friday, July 2, 2010]

Scaramucci indicates sequel
is better than ‘Wall Street’

CNBC promoted "Wall Street" all day Friday, and really, why not? Holiday weekend, legendary Friday night movie, impossible to go wrong here.

The best chatter about it though came when Anthony Scaramucci chimed in from the Fast Line on Friday and compared the old "Wall Street" to the upcoming sequel, "Money Never Sleeps."

"The script is much broader, much richer this time," Scaramucci said. "In 1987 that was a macho Wall Street movie. This movie has got a mother and son struggle in it, it's got a father-daughter struggle. There's an intense experience of, uh, Mr. Gekko coming out of jail, and I think Oliver Stone has taken an interesting depiction on what took place in the 2008 financial crisis. And my guess is most moviegoers will wanna hear his opinion and his side, interpretation of things that happened."

Stone is certainly controversial, though we don't think that should stop anyone from watching his films, unless they honestly just don't care for the movie. He's a filmmaker. He's there to entertain you, not to run your government. If he runs for office, you can vote against him. Nobody stands in line at 7-Eleven demanding to know the cashier's views on Northern Ireland before ringing up that Big Gulp.

Stone has won 2 Best Director Oscars, for "Platoon" (speech here) and "Born on the Fourth of July."

Did Oliver Stone sense tremendous marketing potential in Scaramucci’s book?

Anthony Scaramucci on Friday's Fast Money also explained how his book (reviewed here) came to be titled Goodbye Gordon Gekko.

"I was writing that book as a, uh, personal memoir, and I handed it to Oliver Stone, and he said to me, hey, you know, you could thread the movie through this thing, and so we brought quotes in from the old movie," Scaramucci said. "It's part autobiographical, it's part social commentary ... I think Guy Adami has read it."

"It is a must-read," Adami said, and then in another strong endorsement, said, "The only thing changed in the last 20 years is Anthony Scaramucci's book is the best thing that's come out since Liar's Poker.

One thing that does give us a bit of a chuckle is the apparent disgust from Michael Douglas, Oliver Stone, even Scaramucci in his book, as to what they see as the public admiration of Gordon Gekko.

"Wall Street" is a movie. Gordon Gekko is a compelling movie character. So was Darth Vader. He murdered a bunch of people, destroyed the republic and ran a totalitarian regime across the galaxy. Yet 6-year-old kids played with his action figure and dressed like him for Halloween.

Michael Corleone, Vito Corleone and Sonny Corleone committed mass murder, untold crimes, and lied to just about everyone, but movie fans don't seem to hold that against them. Almost laughably, Francis Coppola explains the raging dispute between him and Mario Puzo as to whether the audience would "forgive" Michael if he killed Fredo, so he had to do it only after mother died, then it was OK with everyone.

Movies, perhaps to the surprise of some, aren't always about heroes and good guys. Consider "No Country for Old Men," "Crash," "Million Dollar Baby," "The Departed," not a lot of heroism going on there, but a lot of Academy Awards. Michael Corleone is popular because "The Godfather" isn't quite as tragic as it should be; Gekko soared to absurdly likable heights because of Douglas' greatness; his counterpart, Charlie Sheen, proved a lightweight, and because a flawed script made Bud the most hollow of wealth-seekers, no interest whatsoever in social climbing, art circles, no grudge against being from the wrong side of the tracks, etc., and somehow in the course of the 2-hour movie never lets us know why he wants to be rich.

Bottom line? It's OK to be entertained by Gordon Gekko.

Americans read Labor Dept. report, opt not to buy iPods Friday

Lo and behold, someone actually told Fast Money viewers that the consumer's doing OK.

Brian Nagel spoke about his enthusiasm for Bed, Bath & Beyond and a few other names. "I think the consumer's actually in decent shape here," he said. "Sales momentum seems to be building."

"I'm a little bit skeptical on how strong the consumer's gonna be," said Patty Edwards.

Someone else said Nagel's opinion on Bed, Bath & Beyond, based largely on the demise of Linens 'N' Things, is more a 1-off than pro-consumer finding. Nagel said that may be true, but overall he doesn't see a consumer plunge, but activity "very indicative of a typical cycle."

Nagel said the unemployment number is a lagging indicator and the stopping of job cuts is an important turnaround.

Guy Adami grumbled that Nagel's connection was cut off just as he was about to argue the lagging indicator thing. "It's a leading indicator in terms of how you feel," Adami snarled.

Brian Kelly, never at a loss these days to uncover a stat that proves the economy is sinking, reported that "average hourly work week, average hourly pay, that is declining at this point."

No relief in sight—
for a week, maybe

In a Friday show marked oddly enough by as many laughs as doom predictions, Patty Edwards warned Fast Money viewers that not even Alcoa's earnings seem able to save stocks.

"July 12, how far out is that, a long ways," Edwards said, before explaining that most of the important ones don't really come out until a week after that. "I just don't like this market at this point in time."

"No reason to be in this market," scoffed Brian Kelly. "The bond market is telling us we're going into another recession ... the gravy train for all the financials is gone now."

Guy Adami contributed this sliver of hope: "I think we're actually closer to the beginning of this move down than we are towards the end."

Joe Terranova kinda shrugged and said maybe so, but on Tuesday, he expects a "capitulation moment" in the morning that'll involve a "big whoosh, probably go below a thousand in the S&P, and by the end of the day you're higher."

"You're all bearish," declared guest host Simon Hobbs, calling it a "classic case" of sentiment bottoming.

CNBC has no political show

On Friday, many on CNBC were yukking it up in anticipation of the holiday weekend, and you'd only expect the inside jokes to be warm and rampant and everyone to be jolly.

Someone forgot to ship the memo not only to Brian Kelly but also Gary Kaminsky, who didn't seem like he was having quite as much fun on The Strategy Session set as he was during that Tesla test ride.

Kaminsky stubbornly informed David Faber at the opening, "I have not been negative, I've been dealing in the real world whereas a lot of the positive economists have been looking back at historical trends and trying to project out what they think will happen as a result."

Later, Peter Boockvar suggested "That November election could be the biggest market-moving event in the second half of 2010." (It won't, but that's what he said.)

Faber turned to Kaminsky and suggested if July's data continues, that would probably be a good thing for Republican candidates in November.

"We don't wanna be political," Kaminsky said.

"By the way aren't you a political pundit as well?" Faber joked.

"No no, we're not gonna talk politics," Kaminsky insisted.

CNBC doesn't really officially get into politics in terms of its programs, unless you count Larry Kudlow, and notice which word comes last in his "Money Politics" blog. Instead, the network opts to sort of dip every program with a bit of political sauce, not really enough to, say, get on Barack Obama's case about the Afghanistan war, but far more than enough to grumble about some little-known provision in a bill in Barney Frank's committee and perhaps bring in the party spokesmen to recite talking points. That, and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's constant call to privatize everything.

One wonders if there's not an untapped winning formula somewhere in there, pairing Caruso-Cabrera up with a legit liberal she gets along with to stage a business "Crossfire."

Kate: Euro $1.30 predictions

Kate Kelly, who we've reported before does look good on television, showed up in hot glasses Friday and said some hedge funds are starting to compare the U.S. and Europe and are actually deciding Europe looks better.

"I'm hearing, some people think the euro will go to $1.30 by the end of the summer if not sooner," Kelly said.

Kelly also reported that the Conquest Macro Fund, run by Marc Malek, apparently is "22% to the upside in June" primarily on currency trading.

Herb Greenberg made a sweeping entrance Friday and analyzed Goldman Sachs' 71-page research report on Berkshire Hathaway that resulted in a $152,000 price target.

Greenberg said the report indicates the company will be "valued by its consolidated operating entities as opposed to its equity investments," which is a pretty big sea change. Gary Kaminsky said way too many people have bought BRK for the wrong reasons, as a (you guessed it) closet index.

Kaminsky said in 2008 it was impressive that companies had cash on the balance sheet, but in 2010 it's a negative.

Rodgin "Rodge" Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell guested on The Strategy Session Friday and pointed to the success of last year's often-mocked banking evaluations. "No program did more to restore confidence in the banking system and enable the banks to raise capital than the stress tests," Cohen said. "You've got to give the secretary of the Treasury great credit."

Mixed day for Simon

Around here we get a smattering of inquiries for Simon Hobbs, and the opinions seem to be mixed, though we've come to like his guest-hosting of Fast Money, where he turned in another splendid performance Friday.

Pete Najarian acknowledged this at the end of Halftime, saying Hobbs "did a heckuva job today."

But later on the real show, while Guy Adami was talking up Celgene, Hobbs actually had the audacity to properly ask Adami mid-sentence if he owned the stock.

"I don't, we would disclose it on the bottom of the screen there, young man," Adami grumbled. "Get familiar with the show. But I love your question."

Guest Mark Schoenebaum, discussing Celgene positively, said of biotech in general, "It's hard to see how we get out of this funk."

Steve Grasso said at Halftime that he wasn't buying anything into the close except Scott Wapner, who was standing right next to him.

Guy Adami pointed out on the 5 p.m. show that, in honor of CNBC's airing of "Wall Street," he and Steve Grasso were wearing the Gekko-like collars. Scott Nations, however, outdid everyone with a tremendous chalk-striped suit on Options Action, though without tie.

Grasso: Buffett avoids cars & planes, so I do too

Elsewhere on Friday's Halftime Report, Pete Najarian reminded of light volume again, about the only panelist to regularly do that. Joe Terranova suggested, as he later would at 5 p.m., there could be a capitulation on Tuesday.

Patty Edwards said, with a smile, she'll be reading charts over the weekend and recommends hot dogs and beer. In the meantime, she said Dollar Tree looks promising.

Airline expert Michael Boyd said he expects "static" business this summer, but "remember they're not adding any capacity."

Steve Grasso said he shies away from airlines, like another famous person we might know, Warren Buffett, because like automotive, it's too contingent on union activity.

Marc Chandler says the euro's move was basically a "simple correction."

Carter Worth pointed out a bearish-to-bullish reversal in Comcast on Options Action.

Good try, Pete

Arena Pharmaceuticals CEO Jack Lief, as would be expected, spoke glowingly about his company's prospects (despite a sub-$5 stock), only to run into a fine question from Pete Najarian, who noted the short interest and asked, "Is the burn rate something that's a very big concern for those of us who are investors?"

"Well, I don't know what the concern is. I, I think we're gonna be very, very successful," was Lief's answer.

[Thursday, July 1, 2010]

Socialism, and not just in ‘Reds’

Rich Greenfield, an undeniable Fast Money all-star guest who we don't think has made an appearance since exiting Pali Capital for BTIG, came on the show Thursday to posit that the healthy 3-D premiums theaters are now enjoying are bound to fall.

But then he said something very provocative that really got our attention.

"Hollywood has built their entire business by keeping price reasonable," he said. "Because they make good movies, and they make a lot of bad movies. But they don't charge you more for one vs. the other."

What a tremendous point.

Does it make an ounce of sense, really, that "The Hurt Locker" would cost the same price as "Capitalism: A Love Story"? It's like walking into a Mercedes dealer and seeing a GLK350 and a G550 and being told the price is the same for either.

And then it suddenly hit us like a ton of bricks: Theaters must charge the same price for each movie, or else everyone paying $1.50 to see "The Break-Up" would just sneak into the $10 showing of "The Departed."

Greenfield reported good news for Florida: "You're seeing Orlando flooded with visitors."

Face ripped off

These days, Steve Grasso is really bearish on the market, and he can't tell you that viewpoint often enough.

"We're still going down below 1,000 in the S&P. I don't know how you're getting positive about this market. I'm not saying you," he said, referring to Melissa Lee, but "I'm saying the viewer, anybody, I don't know how you're getting positive. This market's going lower."

Joe Terranova tried to argue, a little bit, only to have Grasso state, "Three-quarters of all stocks trade with the broad market."

Grasso said next week there could be a small relief rally, but "You're gonna go where the momentum is. And the momentum is probably most likely down."

Whew. Got that out of the system.

Grasso is the pro here, not this site. This page in fact sucks at predicting stock-price movement. On some technical measure, Grasso is probably going to be right. The gut, though, feels like he, and Guy Adami, and Brian Kelly, are wrong, and there is no big crash looming, only typical seasonal selling exacerbated by a few Greece riots and an oil spill. Those on the Fast panel willing to entertain more optimistic notions, such as Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova, were way too hedgy Thursday and didn't seem to have the brass to take Grasso's point down, so we'll try.

There is no dying Lehman Brothers right now. Even crappy banks are making money. There is no American financial bubble that anyone can think of, with the unlikely exception of gold. If the economy is so horrible, where is the panic in Washington, the scrambling to pass another stimulus or jobs bill ... where are all the elite Republican candidates lining up to run for president (and "elite" does not include Mitt Romney) ... where are all the Bernanke critics ... how come Larry Summers, Austan Goolsbee, Jared Bernstein, etc., haven't been forced out ... Notice that you're regularly hearing about 4 or 5 arguments on Fast Money as to why the markets are supposedly collapsing. No jobs in the U.S. China "slamming on the brakes" rather than "tapping on the brakes." Greece. The euro. Fin reg. Goldman Sachs. Everything about this selloff screams "temporary," and the gut here says that once you start shorting, you'll end up with the title of this item.

Why doesn’t the government
just invest in AAPL?

The FT's Francesco Guerrera delivered breaking news on Fast Money Thursday that the U.S. government has made $10 billion on owning Citigroup. (This writer is long C, as is just about everyone who appears on Fast Money.)

"It's a tangible return on something that a lot of people thought was never gonna make a return, so, good news for the U.S. taxpayer," Guerrera said.

Guerrera's article actually says, regarding preferred shares, "The authorities received the shares for free after scrapping an insurance policy on $250bn of Citi’s troubled assets last year."

It also mentions the U.S. handing Citi $45 billion in December 2008, getting repaid $20 billion a year later, but then Citi "had to agree to convert the remainder into common stock at $3.25 a share."

Nowhere does the article mention the nearly free money the government is handing banks to lend, which comes at a cost to the government. Somewhere in this equation, we're certain, Peter Schiff can point out how this really doesn't work, but we're headed toward a holiday weekend and already just about set to reach for the wine bottle, so we'll leave it at that.

Steve Grasso and Joe Terranova found themselves on the same (bullish) side of the Citi debate with Tim Seymour, who questioned why the government's still-large stake doesn't remain a headwind. Terranova said the last 2 billion shares are the ones to buy and we're not far away. "They could be out of that name, very quickly, quicker than you think," Grasso agreed.

‘Obama says he wants to diversify away from oil’

Guy Adami challenged China expert Richard Kang on whether Beijing can adequately tap on the brakes.

"I don't think they can Kerri Strug this, this financial landing," Adami said.

Kang said not to overreact to some weak data. He said China remains very attractive. Furthermore, he added this intriguing point: "When VIX spikes back down, a flood of money goes into emerging markets, especially ETFs."

Kang recommends STP, because "Obama says he wants to diversify away from oil."


Kang also recommends ACH.

The number is coming down,
a bit

Analyst Wayne Hood spoke on Thursday's Fast Money about updated risk/reward scenarios for Home Depot and Lowe's that quite frankly went over the noggin a little bit.

Patty Edwards, who has been suggesting HD for a long time based on foreclosure potential, asked Hood if that wasn't a tailwind for the stock, referring to a study suggesting it costs "$5,200 per foreclosure to get it habitable again."

We've heard this point from Patty before, so we took a look at the old archives. On Dec. 29, Patty said, "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."

A week earlier, Dec. 22, Patty said, "On average I believe the number's about $5,700 that you have to spend."

Adami, Grasso: 1 person
behind gold’s selloff

Steve Grasso observed Thursday that the actions of the S&P 500, euro and gold didn't all make sense.

He tended to believe gold was the fluke. "I think somebody was really unwinding their gold position," he said.

Guy Adami said that, based on his trading experience, "It felt like it was 1 person getting out of a position."

Fast Money wine tips

Joe LaVorgna predicted Thursday that if the jobs number is merely "a dud," then "I think (it) actually leads the market to close higher on the day."

LaVorgna said he remains bullish and in recent weeks/months the positive data hasn't really gained steam, but he called the market selloff "self-feeding and self-inflicting."

Carter Worth for some reason came on the show to repeat a point he's made about 3 times now, namely S&P 980. "It's the mean congestion price," he said. He also said he'd take the Dow vs. the transports in a pairs trade.

Patty Edwards said that while the market may stink, some retailers have been harshly punished, thus, "I think valuations are getting a little bit more reasonable though in a lot of these retailers' shares."

Patty also addressed share buybacks vs. dividend hikes in what was a good little Fast Money discussion. Edwards and others pointed out that buybacks often aren't completed as stated, whereas dividends require serious long-term commitment and pose a risk to a company. "We're talking dating vs. marriage here," Edwards said.

Brian Stutland recommending selling the Sept. 105 call on TLT and collecting the premium.

Rob Sands of Constellation Brands recommended to the Fast Money gang, "I think you should try the 2006 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, great bottle of wine." Melissa Lee seemed to endorse that choice.

Melissa Lee, obviously ready to get started on a holiday weekend with a hot night on the town, evidently during the commercial break before the Final Trade gave the hair a noticeable shoulder flip, then announced she's taking Friday off and that Simon Hobbs will guest-host.

Guy Adami on fire

The gut feeling around here continues to hold that Guy Adami's collapse-just-around-the-corner theory is a little overstated.

But this week, The Negotiator is scorching, almost as much as Mel Lee in new sexy purple dress on Thursday.

Adami not only pegged the present market slide, but on Tuesday, masterfully called BP as his Final Trade, which would've turned a healthy profit over 2 days for anyone paying attention (i.e., still having any money left to buy some).

"I think the market is technically broken," Adami said on Thursday's Halftime. "I am firmly in the belief now that every rally needs to be sold ... I think we're headed down to probably 9 and change in the S&P."

Joe Terranova said now's the time to buy Goldman Sachs.

Patty Edwards, for the 2nd time in a day or 2, experienced another technical glitch at Halftime, not able to hear that Melissa Lee was calling on her, and the inadvertent stare would've made Cindy Brady proud.

Guy Adami said last night he took his 3 kids to the 3-D version of "Toy Story 3."

The panel had some fun with Mattel talk, Patty Edwards even mentioning Christmas (isn't it only July?).

"I'm buying toys with or without kids, you know what I'm saying, Patty," Adami said. "I know what you're saying," Edwards said.

The Strategy Session was kind of humdrum Thursday, but David Faber did get in a zinger at co-host Gary Kaminsky, after guest Bruce Grossman said the market isn't so much "enigmatic," but "unanalyzable," prompting Faber to say, "Gary appreciates that by the way because now he understands what you mean."

Trish Regan told The Call viewers she's off on Friday, perhaps signaling a Mandy appearance, but Melissa Francis and Larry Kudlow indicated they'll be on hand.

Back to CNBCfix home

CNBCfix.com home

Fast Money review

FM archive: June 2010
FM archive: May 2010
FM archive: Apr. 2010
FM archive: Mar. 2010
FM archive: Feb. 2010
FM archive: Jan. 2010
FM archive: Dec. 2009
FM archive: Nov. 2009
FM archive: Oct. 2009
FM archive: Sept. 2009
FM archive: Aug. 2009
FM archive: July 2009
FM archive: June 2009
FM archive: May 2009
FM archive: April 2009
FM archive: Mar. 2009
FM Viewers Guide
Fast Money cliches

Why we don’t
review Mad Money

Movie review:
‘Wall Street’

Gordon Gekko:
The Michael Corleone
of Wall Street

CNBC/cable TV
star bios

♦ Jim Cramer
♦ Charles Gasparino
♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Karen Finerman
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Zachary Karabell
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ Nicole Lapin
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
♦ Bertha Coombs
♦ Mary Thompson
♦ Trish Regan
♦ Melissa Francis
♦ Dennis Kneale
♦ Rebecca Jarvis
♦ 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