[Fast Money Review archive: June 2009]
[Tuesday, June 30, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Gloom and
doom from celebrated economist

Featuring: David Rosenberg | Dennis Gartman | corn | POT | natural gas | oil | Brian Stutland | Melissa Lee | Joe Terranova | Guy Adami | Karen Finerman | Pete Najarian | OIH | USO | Bill Nuti | NCR | Blockbuster | Netflix | Mark Mahaney | BX | BRCM | ELX | AMAG | PFE | MSFT | HRB | PKX | GGB | Jon Najarian | Zachary Karabell | Jimmy Iuorio | AMZN | NVDA | DE | DYN | dollar | FCN | Dennis Kneale

"Fast Money" didn't give us anything nearly as exciting as a poker game on Tuesday.

So we were all set to lead off, as we often do, with Dennis Gartman.

But his discussion was a bit flat.

And it just happened to be celebrated economist David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff who got our attention. (For his forecast, not the silly "crystal balls" joke that Melissa Lee likes to giggle about so much.)

"I think we're probably gonna see somewhere close to 350, to 400,000 job losses," he said. That was the vanilla part. Here's the rocky road: "Companies have let go 8 million full-time workers, and not everybody was fired; 6 million of them were, 2 million were put on part time, and we have the work week at a record low 33 hours. Even if these green shoots turn into something more significant and we get a recovery, companies are gonna start to uh, take their part-time workers, that are at an all-time high, they'll bring them into full-time. ... And so the traditional 100,000 to 150,000 people that naturally come into the labor force every month, I've got bad news, there's not gonna be any jobs for them. So this is going to be the mother, OK Melissa, the mother of all jobless recoveries. ... We could have a recovery, and the unemployment rate is still gonna make new post-World War II highs through the process."


"Right, and that sounds absolutely dreadful," Melissa Lee said, but is it possible the market has priced this in?

"I think we can safely say that the recession's been priced out, and some sort of recovery has already been priced in," Rosenberg said. But he sees parallels to a rough market "relapse" similar to what happened in December 2002.

So then it was up to Joe Terranova to put the pedal to the metal, asking if Rosenberg was standing by his market call of 600 S&P in October.

And Joe really didn't get much of an answer.

It's a "multiple-driven rally; now the onus is gonna be on the earnings coming through," Rosenberg said. But as for his prediction, "I'm not gonna say that that's necessarily gonna happen."

OK. So it might, and it might not necessarily.

Rosenberg only recently joined Gluskin Sheff after being chief North American economist of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. Rosenberg has a B.A. and M.A. in economics from the University of Toronto. According to a Gluskin press release in May, he reports to Bill Webb, the firm's deputy chief investment officer.

Dennis Gartman showed up on the set a model of professionalism in an excellent suit. We were glad to see him more chipper than in his last turn on the "Halftime Report."

What got him going Tuesday? Inaccuracies in government estimates.

Specifically, corn.

"It was so large, it looked like a typo," he said, explaining that "we were expecting, uh, 2 million acres less in corn, we got 2 million more in acres of corn. ... If the government can't get acreage right, how are they gonna get any number right?"

That's not one we're going to attempt to answer here. But it allowed Gartman to offer a reminder of one of his top rules of trading.

"I was wrong," he said. "First wrong, early wrong, best wrong, get out."

We pointed out how his short in POT last week didn't seem to be faring too well. Now, perhaps he's getting the last laugh. "I ... was adding to my short position in Potash, because the market is telling me that I was right."

Joe Terranova asked him if the commodity trade is too crowded. ("It is the 5 o'clock subway," Terranova said on the "Halftime" show). "Not nearly as crowded as it was a year ago," Gartman said, referring to Mark Twain's cat-on-a-stove analogy. "I loved energy until I saw the reversal today. ... When you make a new contract high and close lower, that's a signal that I pay great attention to." He credited Joe Terranova for mentioning this (we get to that below). Gartman said he has been doing the bullish oil thing by being long Petrobras, long Suncor, "short Exxon, short Mobil" (we think he meant "short Chevron" for the last one, because he mentioned that before, but we can't be certain), and that he would be pulling back in that position.

The "Letter"-writing king took a dig at folks who like a certain energy trade.

"Everybody I know says natural gas is cheap relative to crude oil," he said. "It's a very crowded trade with everybody on the wrong side of the trade."

One of those people would be Brian Stutland, who we noted Friday (see below) suggested the natural gas-oil divide is at a level seen only a "handful of times over the last 20 years" and that he is "buying natural gas three times vs. selling one oil right now."

Gartman suggested those on the natural gas side should take a fresh look at the trend and switch sides.

And this point on (almost) everyone's favorite inflation hedge, a point he's apparently been making regularly in the Letter recently: "I have had no position on in gold for almost two weeks now. Somebody, someone, something is leaning on gold at 980. They've stopped gold. ... Today the anti-inflation trade went into effect."

We can't imagine why any employer would not want to hire Joe Terranova. He shows up every day rarin' to go, mails nothing in, gives 100% in every at-bat. Those qualities aside, it would be nice if he would maybe take a pass on some of the repetition from time to time. Sometimes we think we could just disguise ourselves as Terranova, sneak onto the set, and deliver his repertoire for one show with no discernible difference, you know, only three big banks to like, XBI, oil you can't go short, just can't get nat gas right, "the integrateds," Research in Motion, etc. You might've heard this one recently:

"My position remains in oil, you are either flat or long."

OK. But then he did better. "Last night 10 p.m., oil trades above 73 and a quarter, makes a new high for the year at 73.38, reverses overnight, goes below 70 bucks, that is a dramatic intraday reversal," he said. "Look at the integrated oil names which have clearly underperformed the oil futures and the oil-service space."

Guy Adami also was essentially in agreement. He said the OIH can "easily trade down to 90 ... that's when you probably pour in." And this: "I do think if you're aggressive you can trade crude from the short side."

Karen Finerman delivered a "wow" before ever saying anything by virtue of her hip, modern update of some late-'60s/early-'70s chic in yellow and the return of triple-loop earrings. Her oil take wasn't much of a "wow." She said the "extreme contango going into the quarter was kind of reversed during the quarter," and maybe more significantly, "We are short the USO not because I have a belief that oil is going down so much, just because I need a hedge for all the oilfield services exposure that we have."

Bill Nuti, CEO of NCR, proved to be an enthusiastic, compelling guest. He came on to discuss NCR's partnership with Blockbuster in the DVD kiosk rental business.

Not a shocker, he thinks DVDs still have a great future, and he thinks Netflix might be worried.

"The DVD business today, if you added up all the revenues, for on-demand, for online, for rental and for sell through, is $25 billion, close to $25 billion," he said. He said $22 billion is in the "physical media space," and only $3 billion is in on-demand.

First of all, we think he mischaracterized the beginning of that paragraph and meant something like "movie-ordering business" because obviously "on-demand" doesn't involve a DVD. (Of course, not all DVDs are movies too, so this can get confusing.)

But then of course we wondered where he got these $25 billion and $3 billion numbers. Apparently, these are standard industry estimates, as they are used by Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes in this August 2008 interview. So, that sounds legit.

Nuti said he likes the "mid-teens, high-teens EBITDA margins," from a kiosk venture. "Adding that to my portfolio for margins is a good thing for NCR."

Nuti said "The shift to kiosk has been pretty immense" and that Netflix apparently sees it as its No. 1 threat. But he didn't delve into the Redbox angle.

For context, Lee could've asked Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney (a frequent "Fast Money" guest) for an objective comment. Mahaney reiterated a buy on Netflix June 17 and said Redbox will pose a more serious challenge to video stores than to Netflix and noted in this article that 70% of all Netflix rentals are back-catalog DVDs, while Redbox focuses on new-release titles. "Kiosks can hold perhaps 200 titles, so their back-catalog offerings have to be very limited," Mahaney wrote.

Nuti also discussed the ATM business and said something curious about "intelligent deposits," explaining,"you get an image-based deposit back." On the economy he said, "I don't see retail coming back until 2010."

Nuti worked for Cisco and Symbol Technologies before joining NCR in 2005. He has a bachelor's in finance and economics from Long Island University.

Melissa Lee said at the outset of the 5 p.m. show it was "a bad day to end a terrific quarter."

"Clearly a reminder," said Joe Terranova, that "the second half is not gonna be as easy as the second quarter was."

"I am mildly optimistic, but I think the market has been wildly optimistic in the last quarter," said Karen Finerman.

Guy Adami sees more fulfilling of his down-market thesis. "We talked about the transports yesterday, they were down on a decent tape, they were down again today ... I am still negative on this tape ... the fact that the transports were down two days in a row might be leading somewhere."

Leave it to Pete Najarian to remind us of one of our favorite CNBC cliches (not "the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal"): "I think you'll see a lot of that money that's been on the sidelines that starts to move in," he said. "I think these earnings are gonna be just absolutely staggering." He singled out Goldman Sachs ("They have had an unbelievable quarter") and said, "I think those utilities will finally get some love." (The last time Najarian tried to talk about utilities, Melissa Lee ran footage of an underwear fashion show.)

Adami had a "yeah, but..." reaction. "Goldman Sachs, I happen to agree with Pete ... FICC is knockin' the cover off the ball ... But you know what, might be in the stock already ... I would not own Goldman Sachs here for a trade. I would look for it to pull back into the 130s. I would not own Jefferies here for a trade; I would look for a pullback to 18 and a half, 19."

Terranova said GS, JPM, MS are the banking names he'll play in the second half of 2009.

K-Fine reiterated her long WMT, short XRT theory. "The bar is now very high, as opposed to being very low a quarter ago" for retail earnings, she said.

"Blackstone has had an incredible quarter," Pete Najarian said. "If it eases back down towards $10, it gets pretty interesting. They had absolutely no problem the other day raising money to- for a real-estate trust over there in Europe. They were looking to raise 2 and a half billion, they got 3.1 billion like that."

According to Reuters, Pete is right (the numbers are in euros). Chad Pike, co-chief of Blackstone Real Estate, said the fund is now "well positioned to take advantage of the inevitable recapitalization of the property sector."

Karen Finerman's absolutely correct take on Broadcom-Emulex yesterday and June 10 disappointingly resulted in ELX shares dipping. "Broadcom did up its offer for Emulex," she said, but "be careful what you wish for. ... They did bump. ...It wasn't the most aggressive thing I've seen in terms of, are they really willing to go forward in a hostile situation? Maybe not. This was either, I don't know if it was very Machiavellian, or if it was amateurish. I'm really not sure which. ... We have to lighten up."

What would an episode of "Fast Money" be without a smartphone discussion.

"I've been buying RIMM every time it gets under 70 bucks," Terranova said, expressing frustration that he can't get a breakout around $75. "I like Apple ... Palm for me, I would stay on the sidelines," but it was just a couple days ago he was telling Joe Theismann that the PALM tape wants to go higher and Theismann reads the tape like someone who doesn't throw many interceptions.

"I still get very excited about Palm," said Pete Najarian. "We saw an insider today exercise some options, he immediately sold the stock....makes a lot of sense. He said he sees "consolidation" in RIMM and "I view that as a positive." But "When you look at Nokia, they charge too much for the phones, ya gotta drop the price."

"I think Oracle has room down to 19 here," Guy Adami said.

Pharamaceutical beat reporter Mike Huckman is good on "Fast Money," and Tuesday he got to deliver some breaking news. And even if you suspect (as we did) that these trades had left the station by the time you heard them, at least one person doesn't think so.

Pfizer "just announced a few minutes ago that it's stopping a Phase 3 or late-stage clinical trial of its cancer pill Sutent," Huckman said. "This is already on the market you guys for stomach cancer and for kidney cancer," he said, explaining it is safe but didn't work for colon cancer but does work on the type of pancreatic cancer Steve Jobs has/had. (As we learned from Dr. John Najarian, it's a neuroendocrine tumor.)

Huckman also discussed a lightly known name, AMAG Pharmaceuticals: "The FDA has approved the drug" for anemia, Feraheme, he said. "Stock is zooming, AMAG, afterhours because there's something like a 30% short interest in that stock."

And Guy Adami added you can "probably try to buy this for a little bit of a ride" because this type of short squeeze is often a two-day event.

"It's all about biotech" for solving Big Pharma's pipeline problem, Terranova said.

Huckman said in the industry it's "P&A not M&A, but P&A. ... Partnerships and acquisitions."

And when Melissa Lee's porn-industry documentary airs July 15, it will be "T&..." er, no, we just can't do it.

Joe Terranova and Pete Najarian pounded the table for Bing. "I don't think people have correctly priced in the value of Bing," Terranova said. "They are stealing market share in the search engine. ... I love Bing ... I think Microsoft, you have to own it." Najarian called Bing the "best search out there."

Guy Adami said HRB hit an "18.54 high back on March 31," and he thinks "it gets there probably by the end of next week."

Tim Seymour phoned in "after dark" from his "home office" in New York, similar to the way Terranova phoned in recently from his office (home or otherwise, we're not sure) during the "Halftime Report" (and his wall TV showed a five-second delay between the real show and what he was seeing).

"Tonight we have China PMI being reported ... that does need to continue" for a sustained rally in emerging markets, Seymour said. Seymour pointed to PKX, GGB, SID. "I like steel," he said, again citing a link to cars. "And I still like the cellulars."

Pete Najarian owns an F call spread and YHOO call spread. He made F his "Final Trade," while Terranova liked INTC, Adami WMT and Finerman DYN.

The "Halftime Report" was lackluster and not nearly as exciting as Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's pink outfit on "Power Lunch." But it did give us a chance to hear from Jon Najarian.

"The stocks that are the hottest at the end of each quarter tend to be among the weakest starters for the next quarter." He said DE is actually "one I'd probably be buying tomorrow or as we begin the third quarter."

He said of AMZN, "buy it below 80."

Jimmy Iuorio said, "I think we rotate to utilities. ... Now we're gonna see something that's a little less sexy."

We got a chuckle and cheered slightly as Zach Karabell blew an irrelevant Wall Street statistic out of the water. "You know one of the great things about consumer confidence numbers is that nobody's ever been able to show any connection between how people feel and what they spend," Karabell said.

Mike Gurka is really down on the dollar, citing it and the VIX as "recipe for things to start ticking up."I like sterling right here," he said, and would "short the dollar against the basket; I think Canada actually looks the most attractive right now. ... I think we will not move out of these high-beta trades. I think technology will continue to lead." He added, let's see if the Dow can hit 9,016 sometime in the third quarter.

Terranova said "financials have clearly lost the momentum" and revealed "I closed out my position in Morgan Stanley." Jon Najarian, like Terranova, says GS, MS and JPM are the only banks he'd buy.

Najarian detected "very strong put activity" in NVDA that "began immediately" He cited "rumors about an Apple switch" or that Dell may be going with AMD.

We finally watched Web Extra. K-Fine said to take a look at FTI Consulting (FCN).

Dennis Kneale went off on "bloggers" Tuesday. Perhaps we'll need to start reviewing "CNBC Reports" along with "Fast Money." We view his lack of mention of CNBCfix as kinduva glass-half-full type of situation, in other words, maybe he doesn't despise us, or perhaps more likely, he's never heard of us. But how could he hate CNBCfix after all those nice things we said about him recently?

Kneale says folks on the Internet can take whatever potshots they want and hide. Something CNBCfix clearly won't hide is its appreciation for the amount of visitors who have been reloading or forwarding links to our "Fast Money" review and certain other pages more than once this month. You see our little note in the upper right of this page and it may be a tad giddy but it is true; thanks in part to a lot of renewed interest in "Fast Money" over recent personnel changes and the climbing markets, we did indeed enjoy a blowout month in June and look forward to an even better July. If you've read us before you know our cliches, media now is a very tough business, we're fighting for every click, we appreciate every one we get, we're devoted to flooding the Web with original content, we're here because you are, etc. Happy Fourth of July, and happy trading in the second half of 2009.

[Monday, June 29, 2009]

Fast Money Review: ‘Big Slick’
deals some commodity hands

Featuring: Gregory Weldon | World Series of Poker | DDB | DBA | sugar | ELX | BRCM | Cliff Gallant | Berkshire Hathaway | GEICO | Mike Abramsky | AAPL | Brendan Barnicle | MSFT | Windows 7 | Bing | Bernie Madoff | PALM | CAT | DE | RIMM | NOK | JCP | IMAX | RGC | HAS | SWI | Greg Troccoli | Mike Khouw | Patty Edwards | Jon Najarian | Zachary Karabell | Lesley Ann Machado | Steve Grasso

We're (still) constantly getting queries for "What happened to Jeff Macke of Fast Money?" One thing that hasn't happened yet is any Melissa Lee presence on the CNBC.com "Fast Money" home page.

Monday's show was flat and seriously lacking mojo, and we unfortunately expect things to be that way all week.

But Greg Weldon gave us something to write about.

Far more interesting than playing commodities, Weldon, whose nickname evidently is "Big Slick," also plays poker.

And when Guy Adami brought up the subject, Weldon said, "I just came back from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas ... I did quite well, I did quite well ... I finished 50th in the tournament out of 487 people."

We tried to look up exactly how well.

From what we could tell — and CNBCfix knows virtually nothing about this production — Weldon played in Event 38, $2,000 Limit Hold'em. He is not listed on the official World Series of Poker site for this tournament as far as we can tell. But our searches took us to this page at PokerNews.com, which shows Weldon on the first day (June 19) with 9,200 in chips, or — based on our manual counting of the page (CNBCfix is a low-tech operation) — 92nd place.

Apparently, there were 446 total players in this event. Perhaps Weldon's number is correct (it was kind of hard to hear him but we think it was 487, definitely not 446) and the extra players just weren't recorded on the Web sites.

Weldon is not listed among the Day 2 players, presumably because the field was severely narrowed and he bowed out.

The results and payoffs pages at both PokerNews.com and the WSOP site cut off at 45 finishers in this event. The 45th-place finisher, Jeff Wagner, made $3,953. Weldon is not on either list (they're the same).

The winner, Marc Naalden, claimed $190,770.

Weldon's career earnings on the poker circuit for several years amount to $4,009.

We don't doubt for a moment that Weldon is a great poker player. The lack of posted data suggests he easily could've finished 50th out of this recent WSOP field in Event 38, which is impressive.

But something less than $3,953, if he claimed any actual prize money at all, isn't exactly "Fast Money." Anyway, sounds like a cool trip, reminding us of the end of "Rounders," where Matt Damon's character (unlike Big Slick) goes all in on a poker career.

OK, um, so what does Weldon have to say about the markets ... "In mid-March, you know, the market dealt us pocket aces ... right now you're not getting as good of cards."

But, he said, "I still like gasoline a lot ... I like sugar a lot ... and I think the precious metals" are promising. "We do ETFs," he said, mentioning DBB and DBA and saying sugar is a toughie but is in the DBA.

Weldon's favorite movie (we love bio pages) is "Crash," his hobbies include golf, surfing, football, hockey and a host of other sports, he likes the Dead, George Benson, Limp Bizkit, Stone Temple Pilots and his favorite place is the New Jersey shore. Weldon is a 1982 Colgate grad (which means he might've crossed paths with ex-NFL players Rich Erenberg) and founded Weldon Financial in 1997.

Karen Finerman offered an update on a possible Emulex (ELX) takeover that sounded kind of good.

"I think we'll see some action pretty soon, which would be a higher bid from Broadcom," she said.

Cliff Gallant of KBW, a 1993 Amherst grad, picked a good day to defend Warren Buffett on "Fast Money," which would be any day that Dennis Gartman is not on the show.

Gallant said a sum-of-the-parts analysis of BRK-A delivers the conclusion that the company is worth $107,000 (and thus an "outperform" rating), despite negative reviews of Buffett's investing portfolio.

"I think there's a lot more to the story than uh, than, than simply ... his equity portfolio," Gallant said in a rather choppy phone conversation.

He said GEICO (10-15% of the company) and Berkshire's reinsurance operation (30-40%) are both premier businesses unmatched by rivals.

As for stock investments, Karen Finerman echoed Tim Seymour's defense last week, saying Buffett doesn't turn quick trades, "It's what's the value of the franchise."

Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest says Wall Street is underestimating Vista's successor.

"I'm still amazed how much people don't know about Windows 7," he said. But maybe the bigger MSFT curiosity right now is Bing. His Google colleague is skeptical, but "I think they've got something here," Barnicle said. Joe Terranova agreed, saying it was a reason he bought more of the stock today.

Barnicle has more in common with Melissa Lee than "Fast Money" appearances. He is a Harvard grad who majored in government, with a J.D. from the University of Washington. He founded MyLackey.com and was a bigwig at eCharge Corp.

Guy Adami seemed to be taking a light volume day fairly hard.

"Today's action blew people out, I mean, I thought it was gonna go down and obviously it got smoked today ... I don't trust today's action," he said.

"Light volume," K-Fine said.

"You're getting no change in trend whatsoever," Joe Terranova said.

"Rails all lower," Adami also said.

But then there was Tim Seymour.

"I would not wanna be out of this market in the first couple of days of July. I think we definitely see an allocation trade there," he said.

And K-Fine said HPQ raised its notebook estimates from 34 million to 38 million and admitted she found that to be "pretty dramatic," showing more consumer strength than she might've thought.

"I think the entire retail sector right now is trading upon a mean reversion," Terranova said, singling out a few of his favorites, BBBY and EAT.

Terranova also gave us this nugget.

"We cannot expect 2009 to follow some sort of script," he said.

Which brings up two thoughts:

1. History doesn't repeat itself anyway, and never let a historian (or anyone else) tell you it does. It's equivalent to saying celebrities always die in threes or something like that.

2. Actually, the 2009 stock market looks a lot like the 2008 stock market, namely because of oil, all the oil experts saying "fundamentals don't support this," and the fact some junky banks (such as Lehman in 2008, but hopefully not that junky) took off in the second week of March.

Mike Abramsky offered a not-so-earth-shattering opinion of AAPL, saying "Steve's return offers upside in terms of innovation, brand and execution."

Melissa Lee, who had the big hoop earrings going again, asked if Dell's new phone venture was a threat. "I think it's a little bit early," he said.

Then we went around the horn on the phone makers.

"It's still Nokia for me," said Tim Seymour.

Palm "pulled back today, you wonder if Friday was it," said Guy Adami.

Nokia is "really attractive here," said Karen Finerman, agreeing with Seymour.

But when Melissa Lee said to Joe Terranova, "Joe, you bought into Palm on Friday," our (Lack of) Preparedness Meter started dinging.

"Did not get into PALM on Friday," Terranova said.

"You did not? Oh, I thought you did," Lee responded.

"I'm actually playing RIMM," Terranova eventually said.

However, we will give Lee a pass here. Terranova did not say Friday he bought PALM (see below). However, he did say at least twice emphatically that the stock was going higher.

Nevertheless, the most elite pros would have it nailed and simply remind Terranova that he gushed about the trade, not state as fact something that didn't actually happen.

Finerman, in sharp, bright attire, talked about a recent big name, TBT. She acknowledged the short-term strength in Treasurys but said, "I'm very pessimistic on the long term." Discussing upcoming bank earnings, she said, "the credit quality, the loan-loss provision is the key to the whole thing."

Guy Adami unveiled Solar Winds (SWI) as his Rising Star stock, though it's not actually a solar play (makes you wonder if someone would pick that as a company name if they think solar stocks are coincidentally going to be hot for 10 years or so). "Today was initiated about six shops," Adami said, and "valuations are ... pretty compelling here." We saw it hop on the ticker to $16.15, up 30 cents from its close of $15.85, after Adami spoke of it.

Terranova offered yet another explanation of the VIX, this time in optionMonster terminology. "Pete Najarian made a phenomenal point Friday night," he said, that you can buy market protection at incredibly cheap prices now. And we also recall that Brian Stutland said Friday that the VIX typically hits a low on July 4th every year, and we recall further that once the wheels really fell off in 2008, the only thing VIX-related that would help a trader was Nyquil.

Tim Seymour talked about Caterpillar (66% of revenues from overseas by end of 2008) as a promising play on the global growth story while rival DE "has not made the same inroads." Actually DE and CAT only compete in certain areas, though the stocks may have tendencies. Guy Adami the CAT chart "looks a tad broken." Terranova said look at BUCY and JOYG. Finerman said "nope," not me, "I've got no position in the space."

Greg Troccoli delivered a sunny forecast for the market in a skit resembling John Roque's curious mix of indicators from last week. This was the most telling sentence: "We'll know, we'll let you know as soon as we see those breakouts." So once the market actually makes a move in a direction, he'll tell us which direction it's going.

Guy Adami was again Mr. Shrug, saying it sure sounds good that the March low was the low, but "still think the market rolls here."

Zach Karabell was back with a bang, grabbing the lead chair for the "Halftime Report."

To be honest, it actually wasn't much of a bang, but not his fault — the show was dealing with breaking Bernie Madoff news.

"Clearly he's been the perfect metaphor for a very troubled time," Karabell said of Madoff, so it's a relief in some ways to have it apparently over, but it's not the end of chicanery in finance. "These things will always be an issue."

We'll disagree with Karabell's first sentence there. The perfect metaphor seems to be a character in David Faber's new book (CNBCfix review coming shortly).

Jon Najarian thought Madoff's sentence delivered a message.

"Sentiment has to be slightly more positive seeing Bernie Madoff get the maximum sentence here," Dr. J said.

"We are gonna be scraping this off the bottom of our shoes, if you know what I mean, for a while here," said Patty Edwards, and actually we're not really sure what she means, other than maybe there is a lot of messy unwinding of the Madoff and perhaps other cases still to come.

Mike Khouw started to make the typical point heard often on Larry Kudlow, regulation's only OK if it doesn't stifle innovation, but he was interrupted by news on Steve Jobs' return to Apple, another speed bump in this abbreviated program (looks like Jim Goldman got a buzz, looks sharp).

Edwards made maybe the most interesting "Fast Money" comment of the day, that "I see a lot more JCPenney bags than any other major department store." She said investors have to be "very particular" in playing retail.

We would've posted that paragraph far higher, if only Karen Finerman hadn't countered in the regular show on JCP, "It's had such a big run though I wouldn't jump in here."

Jon Najarian returned to his theater pick IMAX, and added RGC. But Joe Terranova said later he thinks you could take something off the IMAX table right now.

Edwards mentioned HAS as sort of a "Transformers" play.

Terranova talked about the impact of China on commodities and materials and how creation of a Chinese SPR can move oil. "Joe's entirely right," said Zach Karabell, mentioning Chinalco and AAUK as an example of Chinese demand. "They get depressed prices and they want to buy."

Seymour said AA, Adami said NKE, Finerman said HPQ and Terranova said IBM, AXP and MSFT for the "Final Trade." Gorjus Lesley Ann Machado stars in a new (royal blue) version of the Rosetta Stone ad seen during "Power Lunch."

Moving moment: Steve Grasso on "Power Lunch" thanking people for praying for his son.

[Friday, June 26, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Theismann
belongs in CNBC’s starting lineup

Featuring: Joe Theismann | Susan Krakower | UNG | SKF | PALM | Pete Najarian | Guy Adami | Joe Terranova | Tim Seymour | Melissa Lee | Mike Abramsky | NOK | Jeff Macke | Michael Jackson | SNE | AMZN | TXN | ORCL | Golden Cross | cap and trade | RHT | IBM | VIX | USO | SU | PBR | HES | SLB | IIT | GS | KCE | Luciano Siracusano | Jim Ross | GLD | Mike Gurka | EZA | EWZ | EWT | EPU | ECH | XLU | PGE | Roger McNamee | Bill Strazzullo | Brian Stutland | Zach Karabell | Dan Fitzpatrick | Nesto | Michelle Caruso-Cabrera | pink

If we were Susan Krakower, we would've hustled down to the "Fast Money" set on Friday about 6:01 and told Joe Theismann, leave the jacket off; we're gonna negotiate a deal right here.

Theismann absolutely belongs on "Fast Money" as a regular panelist. He's highly trained in television, good at it ... and he likes talking about stocks.

Sure, he's undoubtedly busy during football season. That's over in February. "Fast Money" could cut a part-time deal. The experts like to say in poker, if you're not raising, you're folding. If "Fast Money" isn't making things happen, it's going to devolve into "Options Action" (and we all know when that airs, not exactly prime time).

Signing Theismann would instantly make "Fast Money" a playoff contender.

It made our day when Melissa Lee introduced Joe this time by reminding us of his "rings," but unlike in May not claiming they were both "Super Bowl rings" — an indication our criticism of this terminology might've been discussed in the huddle. (Even if not, it fortunately allowed us a chance for a consult with profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio, who runs what's been for years our favorite NFL Web site.)

OK. Theismann on Friday told viewers, "I've continued to get into the ETFs ... I like UNG ... You know, we've got the summer coming up, you've got hurricanes to deal with down in the Gulf of Mexico, you've got a lot of rigs out there."

And how's he hedging that?

"I've got the SKF on the other side," he said. "The SKF to me ... is a position that I can hold against other positions that I have."

"Sounds like a guy who doesn't throw many interceptions," Joe Terranova said, admiringly.

"Oh no, I did that, trust me," Theismann said.

Theismann was as plugged in to the PALM trade as anyone. "I believe that PALM is a takeover candidate," he said. "I got in ... about three weeks ago, got out today, when it went up because of the overnight." Then he said he "got back in today" when it dropped down under 15."

The Redskins legend is "correctly reading the tape; the tape is telling you don't get out," Terranova said.

Theismann also asked Pete Najarian for an autograph, explaining he knows that Pete once played for the Yucca-, er, Buccaneers. Talk about another great potential "Fast Money" conversation that never happens, Najarian's years in the NFL and specifically in Tampa in the late '80s on the Testaverde teams. Wouldn't that be an interesting subject, how did Pete negotiate his contracts, did he have an agent, did brother Jon who once tried out for the Bears help him out, etc.? And of course a big question: How did Pete invest his salary? He arrived in the NFL right around the '87 crash.

Not quite everyone is as enthusiastic on PALM as Theismann and Terranova. Take Guy Adami, for example, who has also played a little football in his day. Palm is "probably not profitable next year, so right now you're buying hope," Adami said on the "Halftime Report." This profitability opinion is at odds with RBC analyst Mike Abramsky (see our report yesterday below) and frankly, Terranova didn't seem to care about profitability one way or the other. "Clearly Palm is not going lower," Terranova said. "Right now, it points higher."

Najarian cited Abramsky again on Friday, saying Abramsky's report suggests Palm might be looking at "almost iPhone-type numbers."

Terranova did say he doubted the Palm takeover theory, given that new CEO Jon Rubinstein, a former Apple bigwig considered the father of the iPod, didn't join Palm just to sell the company. We don't know, but this article indicates Rubinstein was "enjoying life on a beach" before he was recruited by Roger McNamee, so we'll see.

Terranova saluted Jim Goldman's recent comment about the iPhone serving as a great test of consumer health.

Najarian and Tim Seymour conducted an interesting little dust-up over Nokia. First Najarian said he likes Intel because of the deal it has with Nokia. Seymour added to that with a plug for NOK, saying "they have 35% of the market in China; no one is going to take it from 'em."

That brought a complaint from Najarian about his own $500 Nokia phone that he apparently considers overpriced. "This is nuts!" he said, declaring Nokia is selling plenty of $10, $20 and $30 units but is too high-priced in the smartphone market to ward off names like (you know the drill here) AAPL, RIMM, PALM.

Seymour argued that's the reason he likes NOK, "I think they've got both sides of the spectrum."

(Note: Why a guy as obviously rich as Najarian is upset about paying $500 for a phone mystifies us, just like Jeff Macke's ongoing gripe about dreading enormous AT&T cancellation fees if he junks his iPhone.)

There was meager discussion on the Michael Jackson trade. Terranova, a little late to the dot-com party perhaps, said "it is truly a new world, a new environment" and pointed out how 60% of Amazon CD sales on Thursday were "attributed to Michael Jackson." Melissa Lee noted a hit from the canceled London concerts to Ticketmaster, which is probably not going to anger a whole lot of concertgoers (which many traders happen to be). Seymour said the "muted response to Sony" is a sign of the changing music business.

Adami said the technicals on TXN were suggesting "buy," even though he didn't seem very enthusiastic about buying it himself.

Najarian said he was suddenly impressed again with the action in ORCL, and he "put a little position on."

If not for smartphones, this would've been one humdrum show.

Adami refreshingly is saying, however, indirectly, he doesn't get what's going on. "I still don't love the market here," he said. "Yesterday's rally definitely took me- I didn't see it coming frankly. ... I still think 870" awaits.

The "Fast Money" production crew entertained with the overbearing "Golden Cross" voice, but Tim Seymour suggested it's one of those indicators in the mold of the (curious) contraption John Roque unveiled a day ago. It's indications are "not always your sure-fire bet," Seymour said.

Najarian practically jumped out of his chair to inform us it was a "very, very light" day in options and general market activity and to not really read anything into Friday's market.

Once again, another potentially great "Fast Money" moment almost happened when Melissa Lee asked Adami and Terranova about the climate bill that got House approval Friday and the effect of any cap-and-trade legislation. "Well that gets passed, we'll all get higher energy prices down the road because, you are restricting your supply, your future supply, your growth, your production," Terranova said.

"It's bad for us," Adami said. "They'll, they'll pass it on, it's lousy for us. But I don't- this is not a political show, so..."

If only.

If "Fast Money" wants to be "Options Action," great. If "Fast Money" wants to be must-see business TV, it needs to start delivering the Bonnie Raitt trade, somethin' to talk about.

Seymour noted that six Iraqi oilfields are going up for bidding next week and the integrateds will be getting involved, if only through partners.

Terranova said at "Halftime" that "Longer-term oil, you're either flat or long" and followed that up on the regular show by suggesting he might be a little cautious on the long side because the "complete energy complex" is a bit lacking thanks to gasoline. Nevertheless he said "Your play is not the USO," but PBR, HES and SU.

Adami said SLB is back in kind of that no-man's land and "probably heads south again."

Pete Najarian wasn't taking the Guy Adami approach to a Dick Bove analysis. Friday, Najarian was intrigued by Bove's apparent 2010 and 2011 hike for Goldman Sachs (we looked, long, for a competent Web link to this, but one doesn't appear to exist). "If Dick Bove is right about close-to-a-$15 earnings number, this is actually trading right now single digits. My gosh, this thing actually looks dang cheap."

Terranova gave us a stock of the day in KCE, which is actually an ETF and a "play on capital markets" that includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Jefferies and Schwab as well as CME and ICE, but doesn't have the regional banks.

Najarian said there's a "lot of call activity out there" in ITT and that Apollo's report on Monday could be a catalyst for the stock.

It was "ETF Friday" — not exactly a humdinger of a TV show theme — so we got a series of ETF gurus who really offered virtually nothing that you couldn't find in a couple minutes of Web searching (if you even need that).

Luciano Siracusano of Wisdom Tree stood nonchalantly on the set, hands in his pockets the whole time, not exactly delivering the hard sell for his firm's products. He mentioned there is "concern about the direction of the dollar" and the value of an ETF to deal with this, then pointed out "If the dollar goes down, I mean some other currency's going up" and you just need to find it. Tim Seymour mentioned a few intriguing nations that feature "extremely volatile currencies" and wondered how to deal with the risk in those. Siracusano said his firm has "put together a diversified basket" of 11 equally weighted currencies.

For those interested in Wisdom Tree, Siracusano has noted that "a number of our senior people came from Barclays." Siracusano is a Columbia grad who has served as a special assistant to ex-HUD chief Henry Cisneros and ex-N.Y. Gov. Maria Cuomo.

Jim Ross of State Street responded to Melissa Lee's question as to whether new ETFs may have too little volume or be too narrowly focused to adequately serve investors. "I think it's really the challenge that you have to know what you're buying," Ross said, dodging the question. He said he sees "expansion in fixed-income arena." He said ETFs could be "wrapped" into other ETFs.

Then we noticed a trend.

Tim Seymour asked of the wrapping, "Isn't that a lot of fees Jim?" Ross responded they would mostly "use the SPYder family of ETFs and probably not charge a fee at the parent level."

"Got it," Seymour said.

Terranova made a wimpy question out of a subject that clearly annoys him, the USO not reflecting the real gains in oil and costing fees. But he only questioned the "inability" of generic commodity ETFs to "correctly track" their supposed underlying goal. Ross responded that again, it goes back to people knowing what they're buying, and that some like oil are dependent on futures prices and thus presumably are unreliable, but the GLD for example which Ross says he owns actually has a stake in the commodity. (We think the translation being, many commodity ETFs are junk, but not all.)

Coincidentally, it's time for another reference to Jeff Macke, who in Minyanville wrote about as much fresh material late this week as CNBCfix. Specifically, Macke recounts a time when "I actually violated the 'lob softball' rules of financial TV by improvising somewhat stern questions..."

No violations of the "lob rule" Friday by Terranova or Seymour, unfortunately, even though they did ask good questions.

Mike Gurka of Empower Global Funds (he had to correct Scott Wapner for listing his old firm on CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange" about 12 hours earlier, but then again, we don't really blame Wapner...since we can't even find a Web site for Gurka's firm) returned to the show to promote ETFs for South Africa, Brazil ("just because the enormous immensity of commodities") and Taiwan ("not so much currency risk"). Those would be EZA, EWZ and EWT. He said volatility is favorable, "you're catching it on the upshoot right now." Seymour added a couple others in Peru and Chile, the EPU and ECH. Lee declared Friday was Gurka's birthday, and Gurka claimed he is 26 (we don't believe that).

Another parade of underwear models was shown on video clips, this time while Pete Najarian and Guy Adami were talking about utilities or something like that (we think it was XLU and PGE).

So it can't be "a political show," but is often a lingerie-model show, apparently.

There was interesting material in the "Fast Fires." Guy Adami was flagged for RHT, but says "I still think this is a takeover candidate. I think IBM has them squarely in the crosshairs."

Tim Seymour said "I would actually be a buyer of Tesoro here" despite his earlier bad call. "I cannot get the natural gas story correctly," Terranova said, then went on to explain it has something to do with the unexpected "jetstream" moving farther south. Najarian conceded defeat, saying "forget about Sprint for now."

The panel was given "Quicker than the Ticker" props for a series of calls nearly all in May, and not particularly prominent calls either. HXM for Seymour May 22, GDX for Adami on May 27, HPQ for Najarian on May 27 and at least Terranova had a good call this month with AA on June 12 (he said "sell.")

We got a "Final Trade" from Theismann, Rambus. Seymour said BZF, Adami said POT, Terranova said the "QQQ" (that's actually the "quad-Q") and Najarian mentioned Intel.

Roger McNamee made gobs of money on the good day in PALM. Whoop de do. Maybe he'll find himself a rock 'n' roll band, that needs a helpin' hand...

Nesto, whose guest-host gig last week didn't go over too well with Sirius/Apple techies based on reader comments we saw in the blogosphere, re-entered the "Fast Money" scene on Friday by teaming with Maria Bartiromo on "Closing Bell" and thus handling "Fast Money Final Call." He pronounced Tesoro as "Tessero." His coordination with Bartiromo was a little off and there were pockets of dead air. We also think Charles Gasparino questioned if they were wearing the same tie (or was that another segment, another day?) But he did say he's been hearing that a lot of traders are issuing covered calls, which might be artificially skewering the VIX somehow (interesting, but don't ask us, we're not the experts on that one).

Brian Stutland had a busy day, pulling double duty between the "Halftime Report" with Lee and the "Fast Money Final Call" with Nesto. Something Stutland said caught our attention, maybe because he made the same point in each segment: that the VIX typically hits or approaches its yearly low around the Fourth of July.

Stutland also tends to get a little too explanatory but is more concise than Jared Levy. Stutland on Friday made a worthwhile observation about the natural gas-oil spread, citing a "handful of times over the last 20 years" with this kind of spread, and he is "buying natural gas three times vs. selling one oil right now."

Stutland is a 1997 Michigan grad with a degree in chemical engineering and apparently has a master's from Ann Arbor as well. According to the CNBC bio, he is an electronic trading "trailblazer" and something of a CBOE wunderkind.

Bill Strazzullo of Bell Curve quite honestly is putting us to sleep, and we detect Lee losing a bit of patience with him. Friday he noted that 900 is now a key level in the S&P and if that breaks, 840 and 850 might be on the radar. He said he'd be "going into the weekend flat." Now there's an exciting trade. Strazzullo's got a degree in economics from Brown and an MBA from Harvard.

Unfortunately we haven't seen Zach Karabell for a while, to say nothing of Louise Yamada, and Dan Fitzpatrick apparently took the week off after the optionMonster barnburner in San Antonio.

Just wondering: Was it a faux pas by the wardrobe department that Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Sue Herera showed up with just slightly different shades of pink on "Power Lunch"?

[Thursday, June 25, 2009]

Fast Money Review: PALM is
Pre-mendous for Jon Najarian

Featuring: Jon Najarian | Jim Suva | PALM | Guy Adami | Tim Seymour | Pete Najarian | Karen Finerman | Melissa Lee | Jim Goldman | Mike Abramsky | HD | GPS | JPM | FLR | URS | Hertz | Danielle Park | SPY | John Roque | MON | MOS | copper | FCX | GS | MS | David Faber | Joe Kernen | AAUK | EWC | Jim Whitehurst | RHT | USX | Mark Cuban | Julia Boorstin | Michael Jackson

Jon Najarian isn't right about everything, but he sure was right about PALM — in fact, a lot more right than celebrated No. 1-ranked analyst Jim Suva.

Thursday at "Halftime" (see below), Najarian said getting a $12 price for PALM would be a "gift from the trading gods" and said the next two quarters will be "spectacular."

Wednesday he questioned Suva's theory that there will be much of a pullback for getting into the stock; Suva said it could possibly go as low as $10 but would probably be available low teens; "We have a $14 target price."

Pete Najarian said Thursday, "What did we see today? Put sellers" in PALM, another sign of strength for the recently beleaguered company. Pete Najarian pointed to the day-earlier target-price upgrade (from $14 to $18) by Mike Abramsky of RBC, who sometimes appears on "Fast Money." Najarian said Abramsky (without naming him) upped his 13-cent loss for 2010 to a profit, and his 3.2 million-unit sale forecast to 4 million. Najarian was basically correct — the 2010 profit estimate is 8 cents, and unit sales are actually 4.1 million.

Others don't see PALM as Pre-cocious as the Najarians do.

"The sound of these shorts getting squeezed is what happens" in a rally like, Tim Seymour said.

"Now it comes down to when are they profitable," Guy Adami said.

Adami has been wary of the stock since May and recommended unloading by the first week of June. It's almost been a "Fast Money" theme for months that expectations and projected sales are too high. Except now, it's become the most exciting stock on Wall Street, and only Jon Najarian has really been out front of this ride. (This writer has no position in PALM.)

So, congrats to Jon Najarian are in order. (And as Adami noted, Najarian also on Wednesday called a positive market for Thursday based on a Fed-related "reversal," though admittedly it was hardly much of a down market Wednesday.)

Jim Goldman had little to offer on the Palm earnings call, except that the company is "surprised by the enterprise adoption thus far of the Palm Pre." He said they gave "no guidance," in line with a "long-standing policy." Karen Finerman asked Goldman a common but good question, if the smartphone makers are cannibalizing each other, and Goldman said, "I think the pie is getting bigger" for all to have a slice." However, he didn't say what that meant for Nokia, a K-Fine favorite.

We've been wondering what suddenly happened to Adami's pessimism.

He said HD and GPS can move higher in a "benign tape" although he's been saying this week that he happens to think the tape will worsen. "Think you can own U.S. Steel here" with a stop below $34, he said. He discussed a recent favorite short, JPM (quite honestly, while he has certainly been on target, it hasn't struck us as much of a short, sticking in about a $5 range), as a way to possibly get long, but tossed out enough numbers and what-ifs and if-thens that we couldn't be sure if he was actually recommending a new trade.

He did scoff at Chinese reports that might signal gold bullishness, questioning why gold would only be up $5 if the Chinese really are going to buy a bunch more (and why they would announce it in the first place).

Seymour and Finerman collectively made two of the best points about the upcoming earnings season that we've heard, although they didn't really pin any trades on them. Seymour pointed out that in the last quarter, banks were pre-announcing all kinds of great news, and "we have not heard that" this time. Finerman noted the banks were helped by a spring mortgage boom that abruptly slowed two weeks ago.

Finerman noted at the outset that the day's data, specifically unemployment, "they were as bad as ever" and shouldn't have really presaged a rally. She questioned how so many oft-competing trading interests could be rising together, bonds, stocks, gold, even the dollar for much of the day. She said she still likes the long WMT, short XRT position even though it wasn't a good day for that trade.

Seymour might be wary of the lack of banking pre-announcements, but he's likes several areas, including copper ("this chart is not broken"), the mining industry being "in play" exemplified by Xstrata and Anglo American, and he thinks the positive news from Hertz is good news for Toyota and Honda, in a limited way, although rental cars are a big portion of car sales.

Pete Najarian pounded the table again on FLR and URS. He also singled out FCX, but said, "If you want to get in, use options."

Two rather curious guest appearances took place Thursday.

Danielle Park, of Venable Park, took up the "Bull Market or B.S." issue. Like everyone hit with this question that became tired about two months ago, she says essentially B.S. But it actually sounded like her main reason for this pessimism was the "sell in May" routine. She was asked by Tim Seymour why she doesn't believe the rally since March 6 and first she said "mostly it's technical stuff," then said that includes "seasonality studies" and noted that February is typically a bad month for stocks, April and May are great, and summer is "god-awful."

"We're probably gonna have some retest here and I don't like to lose money, so I don't wanna be there for that," she said.

Nevertheless, to make the segment as clumsy as possible, the show still asks her for stock picks for whenever things get better, and she offered the incredibly little-known SPY, QQQQ and SMH (as well as EWC).

So she really doesn't want you to be long, but here's how you can be long.

John Roque of WJB explained how he is following six "bellwether" prices as a general market indicator. The composition of this list is head-scratching, let's just say: copper, MON, MOS, FCX, GS, MS. Copper and FCX seem like a double, MOS is in an industry where people can't figure out which company is buying who, and GS/MS are rather similar.

Meanwhile, there's not a Palm Pre or an iPhone to be found.

Now, is Roque on to something here? Possibly. It might be that there is something telling about his particular chart collection. If so, he never made the case, and we became convinced this is a voodoo index dreamed up by a bored person in his research department. In fact, we were more confused than we were with Danielle Park. Roque seemed to note that MOS and MON showed "cloudiness" while GS indicated a "sunny" horizon. We had to rely on the text on the screen to tell us, "Bellwethers indicate market weakness."

There must be something in David Faber's contract providing him with unlimited time on NBC networks for book promotion. It seems like every five minutes he's getting another guest spot to discuss it. We're already into it, and will post the CNBCfix review shortly.

The sum total of his input to Thursday's "Fast Money" was to note the big banks are "not gonna be taking on the leverage ratios" of the past. He was asked by Karen Finerman, where were the corporate boards, and he said "I don't know." He was asked if controversial CEOs would keep their jobs, and he ultimately said "I don't know."

Melissa Lee said, "It's got to be a really good book if even Joe Kernen writes something extremely nice about it." Kernen writes on the back cover, "There is no one better than David Faber when it comes to following the financial services business."

Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, didn't have much to offer in terms of a trade, as is usually the case with "Fast Money" CEO interviews. He did call the Oracle-Sun deal "actually a good thing for us" because his company "picked up business." He also said the developing-world markets are promising in part because Microsoft has "less of a monopoly hold." Melissa Lee ended the segment by saying something that sounded like, "Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hot."

Pete Najarian said Ben Bernanke "should continue to be" Fed chairman.

Pete took a Twitter question from Mark Cuban about protecting one's self in this market, and Pete made the groundbreaking suggestion to buy SPY puts and QQQQ puts. Pete also reminded people he likes MCD, in part for the Angus Burger but of course the McCafe as well. (We'd still like to see that tremendous Najarian family photo again, but with captions.)

For once, dead air was not Melissa Lee's fault. She called on Tim Seymour to launch the "Pops & Drops," and he didn't get it right away.

Guy Adami at one point announced that if they did a poll on MLee's glasses, everyone would vote "yes." Well, we would vote "yes" at CNBCfix. But that's old news already; we'd prefer a poll on K-Fine's enchanting triple-hoop earrings accompanying her ruffled pink ensemble. It was a nice changeup from her impressive, conservative look of a day earlier. (Now that Margaret Brennan is gone from "News Now" duty, we're refocusing our fashion-commentary repertoire. Usual disclaimer: Effective TV production rides in large part on people looking good, so we feel it would be negligent not to take this into account.) Finerman asked "Why would anyone go to a Dress ... Barn?" We get a kick out of that whenever she says it.

Oh yeah. While the show was airing, Michael Jackson was dead. There was a Jackson note early in the show on the bottom of the screen that went unmentioned. It wasn't until Julia Boorstin broke in at the end, after the "Final Trade" was axed while Lee talked with no sound, that CNBC even raised the possibility that it was all over. Boorstin blew through the TMZ "passed away" description so fast (instead of just saying clearly "TMZ is reporting he has died") that she made it look like she was in denial, not wanting to believe it. Note: Media organizations should not borrow others' scoops and then pretend or indicate they are wrong. If Boorstin wasn't comfortable with the TMZ report — and it's clear she wasn't — she shouldn't have mentioned it at all.

Halftime Report: Keeping score
on recent stock predictions

The "Halftime Report" was more like a timeout, seriously delayed and truncated by CNBC's coverage of the Bernanke testimony, which deprived viewers of a chance to get a longer look at Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's smashing black-button business suit.

So it's a good time to keep score with some recent trades.

Jon Najarian said Wednesday, June 17, of WFC, "I think we go through 22 like a hot knife through butter, Guy, and get down to 20 on this one." Actually, Adami's call of $22 and bounce was correct; Wells Fargo hasn't seen $20 in the last week.

Michael Weinstein Tuesday said STJ still has room to go north of $40, and he has been right, up to $41.70 today.

Joe Terranova on Tuesday mentioned buying MS, which has been flat, covering OIH and RIG (great move there, they've rebounded), and getting "out of" X, which was too soon, it has gained.

K-Fine recommended YUM with a prop Tuesday; it's gained about 3% since. Her TBT though is languishing.

Steve Cortes' short of KBE has lost a tiny bit in the last two days.

Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest on Monday didn't expect ORCL to rally, but it did, and it is holding on through Thursday.

Jon Najarian nailed the VIX activity this week in his prediction Friday, trumping Jared Levy to some extent.

Dennis Gartman has not had the greatest week. He mentioned unloading Alcoa Monday as fast as possible, but it is roughly flat around $10 through Thursday. Worse, Gartman mentioned being short POT on Monday, but it has rallied since. (Tim Seymour said Monday that POT was a buy if it drops another 5%; it didn't, but it was a buy, at least short-term.)

And Gartman's short-Goldman-Sachs duel with Tomasulo is more or less a draw around $143, roughly the price where this came up Thursday, though Tomasulo had a chance Monday to take a decent profit before it recovered.

Thursday afternoon at the delayed "Halftime," the only thing that really grabbed us was that Gartman seemed noticeably unhappy. We're guessing maybe he hasn't had the greatest week. But we don't want traders unhappy.

So, hopefully he'll get the groove back soon.

Gartman (and others) noted the positive activity in Treasury auctions, citing an "amazing series of auctions that we've had this week ... gonna be better for the mortgage market."

Patty Edwards says it's clear, "We're not goin' down South."

Jeff Tomasulo, as is his specialty, pointed to the latest key S&P technical mark. "Well the one thing you gotta keep under consideration, we're coming up to a ... resistance level at 92.50 in the SPYders," he said.

Melissa Lee asked Jon Najarian if he's still pounding the table on PALM like he did on the real show. "I think if you get a chance Melissa to buy it down around $12 ... then I think that's a gift from the trading gods," Najarian replied. "The next two quarters are gonna be spectacular for this company. So I think you use any weakness as an opportunity to scale into the stock," he said. Tomasulo admitted, perhaps as a make-up call for his RIMM gloat of last week, "I've missed the PALM trade. ... If it can close above 14.50, I might ... get involved in it."

"You know, I'm still a big believer in RIMM," Edwards said.

Gartman explained that he is still long high-beta oil names and short the low-beta oil names, and has been "for a long period of time." He is long Suncor, long Petrobras, short Chevron and ExxonMobil.

Najarian said, "I think the VIX could settle in a range here Melissa between 24 and perhaps 30 to the upside. We'll have trouble getting back above 30 for any period of time."

[Wednesday, June 24, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Real Dr. J
says Jobs will ‘do very well’

Featuring: Steve Liesman | Alan Grayson | Neil Barofsky | Melissa Lee | Jon Najarian | Joe Terranova | Karen Finerman | Guy Adami | Dr. John Najarian | Steve Jobs | AAPL | Hank Paulson | Ben Bernanke | PALM | Jim Suva | Benjamin Schachter | Katie Stockton | Frank Mitsch | Jeff Tomasulo | Dennis Gartman | Patty Edwards | Sam Hocking | Nishu Sood | YHOO | DTO | MON | Nelson Peltz | Legg Mason | TAN | TBT | BBBY | APC

We were just about to write about the excellent show put together by the "Fast Money" crew Wednesday.

Then we got a load of the crowd's reaction to Steve Liesman's Citigroup TARP report.

Liesman cut in to the show late to explain that Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Orlando, Fla., is asking TARP inspector Neil Barofsky to audit the $300 billion gift to Citigroup last November.

"I don't understand the point of it," Joe Terranova said. "Why do we need all of this right now when the market, the economy, is beginning to show signs of stabilization? It's the wrong time."

Oh my.

Melissa Lee tried, sort of, to set him straight. "Well, do we shelve it for a year, or two years, until the economy gets going; I mean, do you just ignore these things and sweep them under the rug?"

Jon Najarian only made it worse.

"I think you could make the inquiry without having to make the headlines," he said. "I think it's clear guys are trying to grab headlines with this, both Republicans and Democrats now. And it's sort of sad, because this could be asked behind closed doors, and then if they don't get the answers, and then bring it public. Maybe that's already happened, but if it hasn't..."

So we pinned our hopes on K-Fine. Then she broke our heart.

"I think the sweep-it-under-the-rug was the strategy, is the strategy, and..."

"And that's the problem," Lee scoffed.

"I don't know, it's sort of worked, I think the stress test kind of worked, actually."

"These guys love the camera, that's for sure," concluded Joe Terranova.

Oh no.

First of all, CNBCfix knows nothing about Grayson. He may be grandstanding for all we know.

But the idea of the highly educated and successful people on "Fast Money" rejecting an inquiry like this because the stock market is doing well is jaw-dropping.

We'll direct any props from this sorry segment to Guy Adami, who wisely didn't jump onto this train wreck of a conversation.

Aubrey McClendon got a huge pay package, and Karen Finerman couldn't wait to trumpet the New York Times article by Gretchen Morgenson revealing as much. But when the U.S. Treasury rather secretly gives out $300 billion in taxpayer assurance of some kind to a broken company that has been astoundingly mismanaged for years, no one is supposed to even audit the deal?


Guess we'll have to tune in to MSNBC mornings now for our banking/clawback outrage.

The star guest of the day was Dr. John Najarian, dad of Jon and Pete (and two other sons), former football star at Cal-Berkeley and a famous transplant surgeon at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Najarian was a tremendous guest who'd done his homework and then some.

He said of Steve Jobs, "I think he'll do very well." He explained that survival rate of liver transplant patients, "if they receive it from a deceased donor, which he did, is about 73% at the end of 5 years."

He said Jobs did the right thing wth the donor list. "He did exactly what he should do, I'm sorry he didn't do it sooner," Najarian said. He said the advice is that someone like Jobs "should reclassify himself in various places." Jobs, he said, "looked down the line and found that Tennessee had the shortest waiting list and that's why he uh, he put himself in the Tennessee program."

And Dr. Najarian gave one of the most easily understood explanations of what has been wrong with Jobs.

"It turns out that he was fortunate he had what we call a neuroendocrine tumor. This is a tumor which, If you ever, unfortunately, should ever get a pancreatic tumor, this is the one to get; it is totally treatable," he said. "When they removed his entire pancreas five years ago, that was the beginning, and at that point, had he not spread to his liver, he would've been totally cured. But unfortunately he did spread to his liver, and therefore he had his liver removed, and as far as we know he has no further tumor, and so he's got an excellent progrnosis."

Dr. Najarian's credentials are off the charts. However, it's worth noting that not every doctor agrees.

According to this Bloomberg article Wednesday by John Lauerman and Tim Culpan, maybe a quicker transplant by Jobs would've been a setback. "Abhinav Humar, clinical director of the Division of Transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said he’s seen data collected from transplant centers suggesting that patients do better when the spread to the liver occurs long after the initial neuroendocrine tumor appears, rather than shortly after or at the same time the primary tumor is diagnosed," the Bloomberg reporters wrote.

What's more, here are two other paragraphs: "The results of liver transplantation for neuroendocrine tumors have been 'mixed,' according to practice guidelines of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases published in Hepatology in June 2005. ... 'Most patients have died of recurrent disease within the first few years after the operation,' wrote Karen Murray and Robert Carithers, the University of Washington School of Medicine faculty who authored the guidelines. 'However, there have been occasional long-term disease-free survivors.' "

So, it's anyone's guess, and it seems like Jon Najarian's claim of buying AAPL this week in part on his dad's call on Jobs might be reaching a bit.

The discussion of Apple allowed Guy Adami to boomerang, albeit with his regular courtesy, a little zinger back at Jim Goldman for their Monday non-debate — and maybe included just a touch of the Brag Trade.

"Jim Goldman got mad at me the other day, you know, Apple's doing all these things great, and I said Jim, my only point was, I think it's a trade down to 132 and a half, 133, and we basically traded down there yesterday, so it's not about what my view is on Apple, it's about what the stock's gonna do," Adami said. "It is a high-beta stock; the market rolls over it will go down faster. But it did what I thought it was gonna do."

Karen Finerman reiterated that Apple's disclosure of Jobs' health has been "awful ... their credibility is zero," but after the January announcement "a lot of people wrote him off" as the CEO and got used to the company without him.

(So it's "awful" when a private company is guilty of poor disclosure about someone's health, but it "works" when we don't disclose how a company got a $300 billion assurance from the taxpayers.)

Jon Najarian said, "If Warren Buffett were not there at Berkshire Hathaway, a lot of people would be very nervous." He said if Jobs' situation has "already been discounted ... then I think you're getting a steal down here at this level."

Steve Liesman didn't exactly steal the show but did get plenty of airtime. He described what happened with the Fed meeting. "They made just the one new comment on the economy, essentially saying that the financial markets have stabilized over the past several months. ... The main thrust of the Fed's response to the financial crisis remained essentially unchanged ... deflation came off the table," he said. He pointed out that Rep. Darrell Issa is suggesting "coverup" with bailouts, and Liesman noted "there are no friends to bailouts here" in either party.

Jon Najarian said, "I believe that you fade these Fed moves regardless." He also said VIPs in Washington will rise up to defend Bernanke. "We're gonna hear a lot more of it," he added.

Finerman, in workmanlike attire today, said, "Out of the Fed didn't come anything that was particularly surprising ... I agree that Bernanke will be defended very strongly by a lot of people."

"I'm still sort of scared going into tomorrow," Adami said.

Joe Terranova was really eager to make points on this subject. "The Fed buys into the shake, rattle and roll theory," he said. "In the middle of an emergency landing, you don't change pilots." He added, "you will see a turnaround if people come to defend" Bernanke.

But then Terranova, like an overaggressive cornerback, got caught peeking into the backfield — in this case, the backfield of business news.

"I'm just looking at Bloomberg, and Bloomberg is reporting that Paulson is actually going to testify tomorrow at those Bank of America hearings. So, that's gonna be interesting in the morning, certainly," he said.

Yes. Interesting — if only it were actually happening.

Melissa Lee explained later: "Quick correction here. We mentioned that Hank Paulson will be testifying tomorrow. He is not going to be there at the hearing. So we just want to get that straight."

Terranova was confused because Paulson will indeed be testifying, but not until next month, according to the story by Hugh Son and David Mildenberg.

Terranova was a little more optimistic on Oracle than his colleagues were. ORCL "got raised today at Goldman Sachs, price target of 25 bucks. I think it bodes well for the entire sector," he said.

Adami pointed out ORCL traded $13.80 back on March 9. "Look at the guidance they gave for the next quarter, not so good," he said. "I think Goldman Sachs might be right in the long run, I think they're late to the game. Huge volume day today, think it traded close to a hundred million shares, typically trades 30 ... This is another name I wouldn't be piling into, especially if the tape's gonna roll over, which I happen to think it will."

Jon Najarian conceded, despite earlier arguing with Jared Levy on the "Halftime Report" that strong ORCL put-buying in September was a sign of people being comfortable owning the stock, that "we took our positions off today." Given the "overflow volume ... it just screams, 'take profits'."

Najarian said of YHOO, "I like the Carol Bartz story, I'm continuing to buy."

"I think the performance of RIMM was again strong today," Terranova said.

Which brings to mind a couple updates. Dennis Gartman has regained some ground on his short-GS debate with Jeff Tomasulo of last week thanks to two good days from Goldman. Monday at "Halftime," Jon Najarian gushed about owning the DTO, which closed the day at $81.87 after having "already ridden it up $7." He said "My short-term target's $84." It fell below $76 Tuesday and closed at $78 Wednesday.

RIMM hit a low Monday of $67.53, but has recovered north of $70, so Adami's predictions of $66.50, and then not much lower than $60-$65, did not happen immediately, though he did not give a time frame and still thinks the market has a bad left turn ahead.

Katie Stockton of MKM smartly said on Monday that Monday was not a day to sell, that you could sell later in the week; i.e., there was a bounce still to come.

And of course, Frank Mitsch walked onto the set Tuesday and declared Monsanto a "screaming buy at current levels." Those "current" levels were $79.60. Wednesday, it tumbled $3.14.

"In the herbicide Roundup business, it appears that the profit cycle has reached its peak," Terranova said Wednesday, suggesting it might get spun off.

Back to the rest of the Wednesday program. Jon Najarian cited IMAX (IMAX) as his "Rising Star" stock. "It performs like crazy now," he said. "They finally have enough penetration that they can get folks into the theaters." Interestingly, he noted IMAX has "2% of the theaters," but 10% of the market on the big-release opening weekends.

He mentioned "Watchmen" in kind of an offhand way. "Watchmen" was a disappointment, but not a flop. The theme of mutants overburdened with responsibilities to regular folks has been done way too often. There is something about the visual presentation, though, that is not half-bad. Perhaps unfortunately, the best scene is the early sequence that plays to a famous Bob Dylan tune.

There was some interesting talk on oil, though it prompted a lot more congratulatory calls by the traders that aren't quite so bad during the hourlong real show but still annoy us. Terranova called oil "a risk-aversion story ... Guy nailed this back in January," that gasoline demand is a big part of the oil trade. "Now you're losing that support in gasoline," Terranova said. "The energy sector needs to be a complete story."

"Great point by Joe," Adami said. "Again, the price action around here sort of scares me if I'm long ... the oil service names probably follow ... Addison armstrong talked about $60 in oil, he might have this one spot-on."

Melissa Lee then cut in and said Armstrong's precise target was $63.50. Indeed, that was what Armstrong said at "Halftime" on Monday. Earlier Wednesday, he said, "I think we're gonna be heading back down toward 60 quickly." (see our reports below)

Terranova later gave a treatise on oil for the second half of 2009. "Emerging market demand will remain robust," he said, and cited the Fed and dollar as bullish factors. "This will not be a replay of 2008," he said, presumably meaning WTI will not crash down to the $30s. "You wanna focus on Hess, Petrobras, and Suncor," he said. "I think clearly you will see a print north of $80 before this year is over." He added people could do a pairs trade, getting long oil services and selling refineries against it.

"Anadarko is a name we have had," Finerman said, also listing it as her "Final Trade."

Jon Najarian made an interesting point, that coal and solar "react in a second or third day after a crude rally." He said, "I don't think you need to buy 'em till about two days after you see crude bottom."

Patty Edwards has done well as a "Fast Money" newcomer but is starting to look like she's only got one trump card and it's stamped with WMT. On the "Bull Market or B.S." segment, Edwards said, "I think we've gotta go sideways ... I think we need to really retest at least down to 88.50 on the SPYders." (Side note: We've been mulling the right way to spell SPYders. We had a similar internal debate over "Treasurys." Neither option is particular good.)

Anyway, "Wal-Mart's absolutely one of my names," Edwards said, but she did add, "I also like Kohl's" for its "amazing amount of fresh new merchandise that no one else has got" including Vera Wang and Dana Buchman. "I think that Wal-Mart can hit 60 again," she said.

Broadpoint AmTech analyst Benjamin Schachter talked about YHOO with a little bit of enthusiasm.

Yahoo is "not the company it was a year ago," Schachter said. "This is a company that's in transition, that's refocusing on priorities. ... We have a buy rating on the stock, a $19 target ... I think there's probably 20-25% upside in this thing." (Note: The CNBC.com "Fast Money Rapid Recap" wrongly calls it a "$25 price target.")

Terranova, who very impressively is asking the best questions on the panel and sounds like a seasoned journalist (except when decrying TARP inquiries), asked Schachter about a key comparison. "Do you believe that Yahoo is an outperformer relative to Google over the next 12 months?" Schachtner said, "Over the next 12 months I think it is possible...we do like Google as well."

Jim Suva of Citigroup, who Lee says is the top-ranked electronics manufacturing analyst according to Institutional Investor magazine, discussed PALM.

Suva's report was more bullish than others have indicated on PALM, and his appearance this time was an upgrade on a recent static showing.

"Out of the company tomorrow, I actually for the first time in a long time don't think this printed quarter matters, not at all," he said. "Expectations have really started to creep up high on this company; we have a $14 target price ... We believe that they'll sell about 450,000 in the August quarter. They're still gonna be losing money for quite some time. Eight million units, even 10 million units, those are very big numbers."

He did point to a problem: "Our devices won't last a full day ... there's some battery problem issues," he said.

Jon Najarian questioned if there'd be much of a pullback and asked Suva where he'd buy on the dip. "If it pulls back into the low teens, you know maybe even a $10 range; (but) I don't think it'll pull back quite that far," Suva said.

Sam Hocking of BNP Paribas talked about the health of the hedge fund industry. So maybe on some level this is important, but not to us and likely not to most "Fast Money" viewers (like, 99% of them probably).

For those concerned about hedge funds not making very much money, Hocking said, "We think about May, the average return was over 5%, and that's the best month in nine years." He added that "redemptions are starting to slow down." He said "Yesterday, you had somebody on talking about housing, all roads lead to housing." (That would be Steve Cortes, see below). But Hocking said with hedge funds, all roads lead to "performance and capital." Um, pardon us for thinking that sounds patently obvious.

Joe Terranova asked another great question about what can retail investors piggbyack on for a trade here. "That's a good question," Hocking said, but never really gave an answer except to say hedge funds are going to be dealing mostly with institutional clients.

Housing guru Nishu Sood said "The government's had housing basically on steroids since the spring," but he doesn't have any buy recommendations now, "not at this stage."

Guy Adami touted Jefferies (JEF) again. "These guys are doing everything right," but "if you're long, tomorrow's probably a good day to be taking some profits." Jon Najarian was spotting "huge unusual option activity" in Legg Mason, and there were reports of Nelson Peltz getting involved..

That "works right into Nelson Peltz's script," Terranova said. "You know, Legg Mason is one that we toyed with," Finerman said, but "I don't think it's the best quality one out there."

Adami was singing the praises of Nike. "Their inventories this quarter were actually down 3%, that's a good thing ... Nike might actually set up for a nice long-side trade tomorrow." He said $49.50 was the right place on the "Final Trade." Jon Najarian agreed, saying it will be a "gift" if buyers can get it lower.

Adami gave a little segment on the TAN, an ETF basket of solar names that contains 26 stocks, including biggest holdings Trina and First Solar. "Could be a good play if you're bullish in oil," he said.

"I think LVS and MGM are buys on dips," Adami said. He also gave a trade for Supervalu (SVU): "13.45 was the low on April 15. We traded down to 13.52 today. That's your bogey."

"I actually like the TBT here," Finerman said.

Terranova likes BBBY, "think it goes north of 30." Jon Najarian gave PALM as his "Final Trade." "I'm lovin' the smartphone market."

We forgot to note at "Halftime" that Tim Seymour had a great chalk-pinstripe suit.

Lee showed at 5 p.m. a great Najarian family photo, likely taken in the early 1980s. Unfortunately they never showed it again with the Najarian brothers identified. We think Jon was in the front right, Pete in back middle.

Mike Huckman made air quotes with his fingers in the CNBC.com News Now segment just before "Fast Money."

CNBC needs to improve that little studio setup where reporters break into shows like "Fast Money" with news updates. Steve Liesman looked like he was practically sitting on a technician's shoulders while delivering the audit news of Citigroup's $300 billion.

Yesterday we sort of called out CNBC.com writer Lee Brodie, who perhaps delivered a facial rebuttal with this summary of Wednesday's show: "I don¹t think this was a constructive day at all, muses Guy Adami."

Adami at the end of the show mentioned Melissa Lee's upcoming porn-industry documentary. "That will be the biggest ratings bonanza for CNBC ever," Adami said. As with every new CNBC original, you'll find a review here.

Halftime Report: Another salvo
from Seymour at Gartman quip

Tim Seymour took an indirect dig at Dennis Gartman on Wednesday during a Warren Buffett discussion on "Power Lunch."

"I think (Buffett has) received some criticism by people that think he's a poor trader in the middle of all this. And that's just not what he does. ... I have a lot of respect, also a lot of, you know, admiration, for the fact, or maybe even the business model that he lives by. A lot of hedge fund managers can't live by the day-to-day, uh, volatility that he can."

Coming a little before the "Halftime Report," that must've been a second-quarter sack.

Once the "Halftime Report" got under way, ORCL proved to be another subject that Jon Najarian and Jared Levy could spar over.

"One thing we're seeing is a lot of (ORCL) put-buying in September," Levy said. "I'm talking big-time. September 21 puts, September 20 puts. They're coming for 'em. They're buying volatility. We're also seeing purchasing of the straddle, which basically means, people are expecting big things, probably to the downside for Oracle, so I would be careful there."

"I, I'm not necessary disagreeing with Jared," Najarian responded, "but I'm saying, volatility is the lowest level it's been since last August. So these are smart people, locking in gains, uh, that the stock has just made an extraordinary move. I think that's a strong sign that people are comfortable holding shares, but just want some protection."

We do think both can be right in this case. But Levy's point makes a bit more sense to us. How does Najarian know on any given day that particular option buyers are "smart people"? We do think it's a possible sign people are indeed comfortable holding the shares, but anytime there is massive put-buying in something, the regular joe who's got stock in that something should be concerned.

Addison Armstrong wasn't exactly gushing about crude. "I think some of the traders in oil are worried that maybe this S&P rally is a bit of buying the rumor, and they're gonna look and see if the fact gets sold after the (Fed) meeting comes," Armstrong said. "If we don't get back above 71 on oil, and we get a turnover here, I think we're gonna be heading back down toward 60 quickly."

Seymour said the "great durables number this morning" is another reason to revisit the commodities trade that sold off on Monday. It might be "a great place to maybe jump back in here."

Levy also said, "Berkshire Hathaway, you can now trade the B shares with options, that's exciting." (We first heard of this on a Twitter, of all places, from Barron's writer Steven M. Sears, who indicated initial reaction was minimal.) Levy also said of the Fed meet, "What I'm seeing a lot of is people buying some puts, just in case. ... I would tread lightly coming out of this announcement."

This was a crisp, concise, well-done "Halftime" courtesy of some of the show's most veteran pros.

Melissa Lee and Seymour closed the "Halftime Report" by saying Dr. John Najarian, "the real Dr. J," would be making an appearance on the real show at 5 p.m.

[Tuesday, June 23, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Monsanto
good place for seed money

Featuring: Melissa Lee | Steve Cortes | Veracruz | KBE | Frank Mitsch | MON | RIMM | ORCL | YHOO | Kevin Timmons | Pete Najarian | Tim Seymour | Joe Terranova | Karen Finerman | Jeff Tomasulo | Scott Nations | MSFT | USX | Chris Thornberg | Fed | YUM | NOK | SBUX | MS | OIH | RIG | Boeing Dreamliner | AKS | Michael Weinstein | MDT | BSX | STJ | Greg Troccoli | Patty Edwards | Scott Nations | Bob Avellini | Lee Brodie | Margaret Brennan

The good: Melissa Lee sported new glasses that, with the now-commonplace hoop earrings, added a little splash to the new decor.

The bad: Lee sounded like she left her sense of geography on a bus back in Johannesburg.

She introduced Steve Cortes, who has been on the show probably about five times since Lee took over in late March, with this: "El Capitan is in Veracruz, Florida."

Which is equivalent to saying "Jon Najarian is in optionMonster, Connecticut."

(For the record, we looked it up, and there appears to be no Veracruz, Florida.)

"Yes, actually in Chicago," Cortes explained. Lee giggled it off, as she does most of her noticeable name blunders.

Cortes reiterated how real estate is not yet in the clear.

"Housing is ... still the epicenter of this crisis," he said. "We're short the banks, KBE." He would add: "We anticipate the government will not allow mass foreclosures but will instead, uh, force writedowns of principal on those mortgages."

Lee also committed another of her frequent glitches: dead air. After introducing a segment on the outlook for the second half of 2009, she asked "What's the trade here, guys?" without calling on anyone and meanwhile the traders sat there waiting for someone to say something.

Frank Mitsch of BB&T delivered a very authoritative on-set report about Monsanto, a favorite stock recently of panelists such as Zach Karabell, Joe Terranova and Pete Najarian.

His most memorable line was clearly his last: "Monsanto is a screaming buy at current levels."

Lee, and again one has to question preparation here, immediately asked Mitsch about Roundup. Mitsch maybe went a little deep and explained how the big earthquake in China "took out a lot of phosphate production," and that the "Chinese were out of the market; they're now back into the market." But he quickly found his bearings: "That's not what's really gonna drive Monsanto going forward." Specifically, he said farmers can use less fertilizer, but still need seeds, and MON "gained market share in corn seeds for nine years in a row, phenomenal."

Tim Seymour, always highly prepared, pointed out that Brazil could be a lucrative market but has resisted engineered seeds in the past. "Lula has become more and more supportive of ag biotechnology," Mitsch said. "They've got great gorwing conditions down there ... it's booming down in Brazil, it's totally turned 180."

Pete Najarian said of MON, "Love that name, (but) it's that biotech aspect that makes it a wild card ... different sort of business" than the pure chemical plays. He said that makes it problematic in assigning a value to it.

We thought, and sort of hoped, that the panel was done with Research in Motion for a while.

Evidently, no. There's suddenly nibbling going on.

"What was positive about the market performance ... was that you had the resumption again of the dollar weakness trade," Joe Terranova said at 5 p.m. "Even names like RIMM, I bought some RIMM today ... I was able to get RIMM underneath 70," Terranova said.

At "Halftime," Jeff Tomasulo indicated he had one the same — only at a better price.

"I started to get my feet wet at $68 today ... I'm keeping my tight, uh, stops tight," Tomasulo said.

(Note: Tomasulo didn't say he got a better price; we did, after hearing Terranova at 5 p.m. We note this only because we singled out Tomasulo for a Brag Trade last week; this was not one.)

Oracle earnings drew comments all day long.

While reporting the conference call at 5 p.m., Jim Goldman indicated he was surprised the stock would find the red in afterhours on such good numbers.

"Just sort of scratched your head" when seeing the initial reaction, Goldman said, but he thought the numbers "a little more positive" than many were anticipating. And in fact, the stock only briefly traded down afterhours before climbing ahead.

Scott Nations, on the "Halftime Report," was skeptical, saying Oracle "still has to digest the Sun acquisition, kind of a strange acquisition for them ... at 18 P.E., it's fully priced." Nations compared it to MSFT, which he seemed to like better.

"Oracle's clicking on all cylinders," said Pete Najarian at 5. "They just continue to do this inorganic growth. They do have a lot of debt, and that's where they differ from Microsoft."

But Najarian disagreed in spirit with Goldman, questioning the valuation. "I think 21, you start to slow down a little bit."

Tim Seymour said the company's acquisitions haven't sent a totally clear signal about the direction it's headed. Investors want to know "What's the strategy, what's the long-term strategy," he said.

Now that YHOO has gotten interesting, Pete Najarian is the only one talking about it, refering activity in August $15 calls. It's a "stock that's just continued to plod higher ... they did lose somebody big to Microsoft, they got poached on one of their big uh, technical folks over there that's in charge of the data centers, but I still love the direction," he said. "They're buying the upside calls."

Once again, we were curious about this "big technical" person they lost to MSFT. We found that Microsoft hired Kevin Timmons of Yahoo to run its data center group, plus a former YHOO VP and a former Yahoo chief architect.

There was very little talk on AAPL for a change. Pete Najarian, answering a viewer question, threw out the lowest number we've heard recently, $125 and said at that price, AAPL is "very, very cheap."

Chris Thornberg, quickly proving to be an excellent "Fast Money" guest with straightforward, understandable and concise thoughts, addressed the challenge facing the Fed this week.

He said that recently, "the bond markets became afraid of inflation" and that people need to know "what is the exit strategy." If he could advise Bernanke, he would tell Ben "he needs an exit plan."

He concluded that if the Fed fails to adequately describe how it will "mop up" the extra liquidity that it put into the system, "you could see bond prices drop a lot tomorrow, and that could cause havoc."

Karen Finerman said earlier, "I think that people are now coming around to the view that there won't be any Fed hikes."

Tim Seymour said, "They're kind of in a corner," and he thinks it's "back to the resource, reflation trade."

Joe Terranova said the markets can't rely too much on this Fed because "You don't know if Bernanke's gonna be there" when it comes to reappointment time.

Terranova added, "The troublesome aspect of all this is that fiscal policy is becoming a political issue, and that's not good."

Um, we think he meant "monetary policy."

The panel saved a treat for the end of the show, bringing in some KFC as a tasty little prop for K-Fine's presentation of YUM. "The stock's very attractive," she said, with "huge and growing exposure to China" and emerging markets. "I am long and against that, I wanna be short the U.S. restaurants. I am short CAKE (Cheesecake Factory)."

K-Fine said, "I do still like Nokia very much." She took up SBUX in "Pops & Drops" and said, "They got an upgrade today from Baird, I think an outperform." (She is correct. The analyst is David Tarantino, who hiked the price target from $15 to $17 based in part, curiously, on overall coffee marketing by rivals that has spurred overall renewed interest in java.) And she lamented she never wins the bidding for lunch with Warren Buffett. CNBCfix would much rather have lunch with Finerman and, yes, her husband, p.e. boss Lawrence Golub, than Buffett.

The panel took up Boeing's Dreamliner test-flight delays. "Just a colossal embarrassment for Boeing," Finerman said, decrying all the "superlatives" used by the company to describe the jet.

Joe Terranova said, "There are 865 actual orders out there right now." We checked. Pretty close. According to Financial Times, the number is 866 — after 58 cancellations.

Michael Weinstein of JPMorgan talked about promising developments in the implantable defibrillator market. He pointed to "three big players," MDT, BSX, STJ. He said his preferred choice has been STJ, which has "gone from 35, now north of 40, so there was a little of it baked in." But "I think there's still more to go ... our call here is for people to stick with these stocks."

Terranova revealed another purchase. "Morgan Stanley, I stepped in, I bought some Morgan Stanley." And, I covered my OIH, I covered RIG." And finally, "I got out of U.S. Steel today."

Terranova either doesn't read this site (more likely), or he's just taunting us (less likely). He said at the end of a general market discussion that something that could prop up the market is the "$3 trillion in money markets asset right now, sitting on the sidelines."

Melissa Lee cited comments from the U.S. Steel CEO (John Surma) "saying he sees an improvement in orders as well as pricing recently."

"Bottom line is, prices are going up," Tim Seymour said. "Prices are now up around 475 a ton. ... I think AKS is the high-beta name," he said. He was not extremely bullish but said analysts might have been too low, and the time to buy is when prices are rising.

Then we got another interesting Finerman-Seymour Q&A session.

"Steel companies have taken capacity utilitization down to about 45 or 50% ... they're much leaner and in a better position to meet demand," Seymour declared.

Finerman was scratching her head (figuratively), "How can they operate that profitably at 45 to 50 percent..."

Seymour never did give much of an answer, except to perhaps imply that the streamlining is viewed as a permanent positive. "For some steel companies ... they've shut down capacity they will never bring back online," he said.

"U.S. Steel got WAY in front of itself," said Pete Najarian.

If Terranova wasn't taunting CNBCfix, perhaps Najarian was, by drawing yet another phantom distinction between "trader" and "investor." (See our take on this in yesterday's report below.)

"It's very difficult right now to be an investor. It's a trader's market," Pete said, pointing out opportunities to buy RIMM and BA much lower than a couple weeks ago. He called it "an opportune market. Don't chase things you don't have to."

If we all only knew what to chase, and what not to chase...

Najarian added another point on the VIX. "It's not a fear index, it's an index that's telling you movement, and the movement right now is all over the place."

Najarian said UYG was "very active today ... 4 strike ... extremely active on just about every month." He pointed out the formula: "The XLF moves one, this should in theory move two."

Melissa Lee referenced Art Cashin's thoughts at CNBC.com, saying Art is watching the 850 level, which would represent a 10% correction. We like Cashin as much as the next guy, but every time CNBCfix looks at CNBC.com, we see a headline teaser from Cashin's blog saying something like "next two days are critical," or "this week is the big test," or "market could take 'precipitous' drop by Friday," etc. He only got the blog just recently, and fears/predictions of fireworks haven't really happened.

"I think guys are taking profits," Seymour said. Many may be "trying to rotate" and avoid reporting positions at quarter's end that look risky. Of the S&P, he said, "I think 870 is the place it really wants to probe back to. No one has a whole lot of conviction ... I don't think there's a lot of downside" until earnings come out again.

Jeff Tomasulo at "Halftime" pointed to another key Spider number; "88.50 is a very key level," he said. He mentioned AAPL and IBM, saying, "Look for them to come down to support and see how they act at the support level."

Greg Troccoli said not to worry about the 666 number of early March. "I absolutely believe the low is in, barring any catastrophic event from that psychotic puppet in the North Korean peninsula ... overall, we protect the lows," he said.

At "Halftime" there was a little talk on health care. Scott Nations said, "If you have to pick one of the health care sectors it's probably pharma, because the president knows he can't put American pharmaceutical companies out of business." He joked that he "can't think of any ... great Canadian pharmaceutical companies."

Troccoli added, "Eli Lilly looks attractive to me, I would stay away from Pfizer at this point. He said he finds interesting plans for "allocating 19 billion for paper electronics," whatever that might be, and would look at companies benefitting from that.

Tomasulo and Patty Edwards talked about alternative energy. "Have to wait and see what's really passed here," Tomasulo said. "I think I would still concentrate on the green producers, uh, look at something like First Solar, Sun Power," Edwards said.

Pete Najarian said at the end of the 5 p.m. show that he called Intel's Paul Otellini "Avellini." We never heard this and even rewound the tape to verify. Evidently he made this remark off-camera and thought it was on-camera. And we know where Najarian got that name: Bob Avellini was a 1970s starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears who was still hanging around in 1981, when Pete's brother Jon was trying out for the squad in training camp. Avellini, we discovered, is from Queens, and has gone 3-1 in defending himself in court over certain cases this decade.

We saw word Tuesday from TVNewser that Margaret Brennan has apparently jumped to Bloomberg, where she will get anchor responsibilities that she presently does not have. We noted she wasn't in her normal slot Monday but didn't know why. This was our reaction: Gosh, we will miss Brennan. We'll find her on Bloomberg. But it is true, on the rare times we saw her guest-hosting a CNBC program, her show was kind of flat. And it makes one realize that even an extremely accomplished and beautiful face is no guarantee of getting a reaction from TV viewers, and that those who can (for example, Maria Bartiromo, Erin Burnett, Joe Kernen, among several others) are more than just a little bit talented.

Something that has stuck in our craw for a while. Occasionally we check out the official "Fast Money Rapid Recap" at CNBC.com. These pages are obviously very helpful (particularly when a trader says something on TV and we don't understand the point and the summary tells us if he/she is bullish or bearish), with usable video.

Most of the summaries are written by Lee Brodie, who, for whatever reasons goes to whatever extent necessary to avoid using the words "said" and "says." So we regularly get "declared," "explained," and by far our least favorite, "mused." Muses should be left to Picasso, not "Fast Money."

[Monday, June 22, 2009]

Fast Money Review: CNBC finally
asks Gartman about Buffett

Featuring: Dennis Gartman | Warren Buffett | Brent Hunsberger | Oregonian | Berkshire Hathaway | Potash | Alcoa | Karen Finerman | Guy Adami | Melissa Lee | Joe Terranova | Tim Seymour | Brendan Barnicle | Jason Graybill | Jeff Tomasulo | Jon Najarian | GS | OIH | Nouriel Roubini | JPM | RIMM | AAPL | Steve Jobs | WFC | Scott Cohn | Edward G. Robinson | poker

More than a week after CNBCfix (alone, apparently) trumpeted a famous quote Dennis Gartman gave to Oregonian writer Brent Hunsberger about Warren Buffett, Melissa Lee asked the Commodities King on "Fast Money" Monday whether he really called Buffett an "idiot."

"No (chuckling)," Gartman responded. "I think that Mr. Buffett made some terrible mistakes last year. We all made some mistakes, and the fact that, uh, Mr. Buffett was down, uh, what, 45%, that, that, that, that Berkshire was down 45% and that not enough action was taken to mitigate those losses I thought was disconcerting, and, and, and, poor trading. And I am short Berkshire Hathaway right now for that reason ... but I think that Mr. Buffett made some terrible mistakes last year and, when you're down 45% for a year, I'm sorry, that's inexcusable ... Not an idiot, clearly he's not ... He's a genius trader, a genius investor. But when you're down 45% in a year I, I'm sorry I don't know how you can defend that."

Tim Seymour tried.

"Well, Warren Buffett's not a trader though," Seymour said, explaining Buffett got in too early (or late) on names like COP.

CNBCfix doesn't want to wade into a semantical argument with the traders, but it's worth noting that Jon Najarian last week suggested that Buffett calls derivatives "weapons of financial mass destruction" while actively using them.

Quick disclaimer before making a point: We're not taking any sides here between Buffett/Gartman/Najarian and whoever else. CNBCfix is no expert whatsoever on derivatives or trading. These legends can argue it out themselves on CNBC. Point: There is a stigma to the word "trader" that doesn't exist with "investor." Regular joes think of "traders" as quick-buck artists with no public benefit to what they're doing. Meanwhile "investors" are regarded as people somehow supporting a company. Buffett seems very conscious of letting people know he's an "investor" even though some of his actions reported on CNBC suggest "trader." Seymour seems on board with this. CNBCfix sees little to no distinction between the words other than one seems to adequately convey that a person sells shares often; the other conveys the opposite. We just think: "Investors" aren't heroes, and "traders" aren't zeroes, and we question why Seymour is one of many making the distinction. (We also have zero idea why the federal government thinks 1 year is a magic holding time for a stock in terms of capital gains taxation, but that's a subject for another post.)

Again, we're not taking sides. But CNBCfix has previously noted that Buffett has not exactly been hot. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times Oct. 16, 2008, recommending people buy American stocks. He freely stated he doesn't know short-term directions, but wrote, "What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over."

But then on March 2, 2009, as noted in this Bloomberg story by Dakin Campbell and Susanne Walker, Buffett said the U.S. economy is "in shambles" in 2009 and "probably well beyond," an ominous warning just before one of the biggest short-term banking and stock rallies of all time. On March 4, 2009, Bloomberg writers Erik Holm and Shannon D. Harrington noted Berkshire was down 45% for the past year while the S&P 500 was down 46%.

Our gut feeling is that Gartman was trying to make a point in Oregon, that Buffett isn't infallible and that no serious money manager should ever lose 45% in a year. He used strong language that surely must be considered satire, but at the same time probably does not enhance Gartman's own credibility. Gartman is likely tired, as is CNBCfix, of CNBC promoting Buffett trades in "Whale Watching" segments as though regular joes can benefit from knowing his positions at the end of disclosure periods. Regular joes don't have even 1/1 billionth of the leverage or control over their investments that Buffett has over his. The smartest guy in the world can own 100 shares of, say, Citigroup, but unless he's got a corner office near the executive washroom, can't really do much with it except hope.

And hope, as Jeff Macke says, is not a strategy.

Just our opinion.

But maybe most importantly: Gartman was asked if he really called Buffett an idiot. His answer was a chuckling "no," then a non-denial. Given 1) the exact quote reported by Hunsberger — " 'Warren Buffett is an idiot,' he said, emphatically, in a short interview after the speech. 'Shame on Warren Buffett. That'll be a good quote for your article.' " — 2) the fact Hunsberger wrote of this event more than a day after it happened and was not rushing to milk this quote, and 3) Hunsberger cites a reader comment online from "Dennis Gartman" that, while the authenticity maybe can never be verified 100%, reads 100% as though it is a Gartman response and does not claim the quote is inaccurate ... all suggests, that yes, Gartman said exactly what he was quoted by Hunsberger as saying.

So let's not try to suggest on "Fast Money," however implicitly, that a well-done effort by a journalist was wrong or inaccurate.

Back to the stock market. Gartman is remarkably bearish at this time.

"You would not wanna buy any of this pullback, not for a long period of time," he said, predicting it would last "a week, two weeks, three weeks, even more." He added, "We've been short Potash for a couple of days," and he said he even "found myself throwing Alcoa overboard as fast as I could" on Monday.

Unfortunately, he joined Jon Najarian and Jeff Tomasulo in recent days with a Brag Trade, when Karen Finerman asked him how he was unloading stocks Monday.

"The Dow's down, what, 2 1/2 or 3%, and I wind up down 7/10 of 1%," he said, adding he accomplished this despite the fact he "came in (with) absolutely the worst of all trades on."

Tim Seymour said Potash is actually "within 5% of being terribly attractive. ... I would be buying within 5%."

One more Gartman note: In the tiny little Gartman-Jeff Tomasulo debate over shorting GS from last Thursday, Tomasulo now has the upper hand, with GS tumbling $6 Monday.

With all that, and we haven't even yet had the chance to comment on the return of Karen Finerman and the new "Fast Money" graphics.

Karen apparently had been traveling, according to Lee, but we don't think she was in San Antonio for the big optionMonster conference, where Guy Adami is photographed at a restaurant via optionMonster Twitter (see below).

Karen looked great, as always. And delivered a major lesson in Modesty 101 to some of our recent Brag Trade purveyors.

She talked about still being long some of the OIH and not selling all at the top. But Guy Adami noted what we noted, that she was strongly recommending people take something off in the last couple weeks while the gains rolled up. "Karen's been spot-on, she's being humble," Adami said.

Karen was the lone panelist giving Nouriel Roubini much credibility. "He's not a market guy, he's an economist," she said. "I'm interested to hear what he has to say." She noted the market recovery has been V-shaped, but the economy's recovery has not been V-shaped.

We saw the graphics at "Halftime Report" and thought, "not bad."

There was at least one moment during the real show when Melissa Lee was speaking against a backdrop that looked fuzzy or staticky or something, near the end of the program. But overall, not bad. We had gotten used to those football scoreboard-style graphics, but that's the way it is.

Once again Apple was a major subject.

First, there was a discussion about the company's disclosure of Steve Jobs' health.

Finerman called it "one of the worst handlings of this kind of thing we've ever seen," labeling it "awful," "terrible" and "ridiculous." She said Jobs' health situation has given the company a chance to showcase its other talent.

Tim Seymour though gave the company something of a defense. "I don't know that they had to disclose" the liver transplant, he said.

Guy Adami remained skeptical on the stock, saying it was probably a buy in the "low 130s." Jon Najarian has applied a $130 target.

Then Jim Goldman came on the show, at one point to report that Jobs was seen at work Monday, at another point to argue with the "Fast Money" crew over AAPL valuation and its calls that AAPL has lower to go.

There is "clearly enormous interest" in the new iPhone, Goldman said, citing a conservative 3G S sales estimate from Gene Munster that apparently was doubled. Goldman said that by many "metrics," the new iPhone is doing "much better than expected" despite being a premium-priced product.

Joe Terranova first tried to explain that the traders are evaluating the stock, not the company, then Guy Adami jumped in with a tremendously eloquent point about how it's a great company now and was a great company in January when people were selling right and left; "Fast Money" is about stock advice.

And Goldman, who told everyone two Fridays ago that he expected Research in Motion activity to swell into earnings because there's a lot of optimism over its products when the stock was $82 and is definitely not a stock-picking expert (hint: it's not $82 now), should know better.

Anyone who has watched Adami, who is red-hot at the moment, for even just a few days on "Fast Money" (or the few years in our case) should realize one thing: You do not want to play this cat in poker. He quite possibly has the greatest poker face we have ever seen. Given that he was once an elite gold trader and has the post he currently has, it's not a surprise.

(Side note: Of course, let's be real, if any of the "Fast Money" crew ever threw a poker game and invited CNBCfix, we'd be there at the drop of the hat. We're just saying, if you intend to play poker for the purposes of actually winning money, that's when you do not want Guy Adami sitting at your table. Because you're going to be second-best, or worse, if you recall the line from Edward G. Robinson in "The Cincinnati Kid.")

Adami mentioned Wells Fargo hitting $22, and Finerman offered a compliment. "That was a good call, Guy. You've been saying that for a while."

Again, modesty counts in the CNBCfix "Fast Money" review.

Adami said of the broad market, "I think we have 870 ... 870 is the next stop" in the S&P 500. He discussed JPM, saying, "Morgan Stanley raised their estimate on June 2 for JPMorgan" to $3.81 EPS for 2010. This is correct. He said of Darden restaurants (DRI), at $32.50, "I think you jump in."

Tim Seymour, like most everyone on the panel, sees bigger losses ahead. "Feels like we have more deleveraging here," he said.

Then he borrowed one of Eric Bolling's famous lines, about the young hedge fund guys who get "tapped on the shoulder" about getting out of some positions.

He said "I think the dollar's gonna rally a little bit here" and that it would be "very negative" for commodities and emerging markets. He said Russia's stock market drop is "probably not done yet."

We wish Joe Terranova would get a couple days off to recharge, but we admire his grinding.

And his honesty.

"I never bought RIMM at $73" like he said he might last week, though he had sort of already made that indirectly clear. At least by Friday, he was going in the right direction on this one, conceding to Adami and Seymour.

Adami last week predicted RIMM would fall to $66.50. Monday, he said, "I don't think it's going much lower than 60, 65."

Terranova said it was "very interesting" to have a day with this much movement so shortly before a Fed meeting. He added, "Again, gold just cannot work."

Jason Graybill of Carret (interesting name) talked about corporate bonds, which most "Fast Money" watchers are not going to delve into.

"We think it's important for investors to stay at the short end of all of the yield curves right now," Graybill said. "Specifically, we like five-year investment-grade corporate."

Finerman asked him to compare spreads today of 100 or 200 points with the absolute worst in the past year (Graybill said "5, 600, even 700 points over for relatively short three- to five-year paper") and that in normal times, spreads range from 25 to 150. Tim Seymour asked "are you a buyer of TIPS," and Graybill said, "We're not."

Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest took a couple quick questions on ORCL near the end of the show. "Expectations are pretty high," he said, and "guidance is likely to be in line. ... So I don't think it really rallies."

The homebuilders-bottoming segment was a Zzzzz.

Lee picked the perfect substitute host Friday in Matt Nesto, because on the heels of that bomb, she came off like Johnny Carson.

Unfortunately, Scott Cohn interrupted the show with breaking news on the D.C. rail crash and initially reported sadly inaccurate information. "Thankfully good news to report according to NBC in Washington, there are no injuries in this collision." Cohn reappeared later in the show to say several were dead, dozens injured.

Mike Huckman, not Margaret Brennan, ushered in "Fast Money" with the CNBC.com News Now segment.

Halftime Report: Real doc Najarian
says Jobs transplant brings 80%
survivability, other issues aside

On the heels of Father's Day, Jon Najarian turned to his famous pop, Dr. John Najarian, for insight into the big medical development involving Apple Inc.

"My dad is a transplant surgeon. He said 80% survivability over the next five years based just on that side of it, the transplant. So I like Steve Jobs to come out of this OK."

(Michelle Caruso-Cabrera suggested a few minutes later that people read her blog about "monetary reimbursement" for transplants.)

Jon Najarian packed a lot of stuff into a slightly shortened "Halftime Report" Monday. For one thing, he's not concerned the world is going to end because of the tumbling Dow.

"You get panic started when people don't have protection in place," he said. But this time, most do. "This will be a minor correction."

Unfortunately, he couldn't resist a Brag Trade (we're now going to start capitalizing this term) on oil.

"I'm using the double-short ETF for crude oil in fact, Melissa," he said. "Have already ridden it up $7. I'm still long this ... my short-term target's $84."

So now he mentions it, after he's "already ridden it up $7."

Addison Armstrong — we decided he looks slightly, just slightly, like pro golfer David Duval, who coincidentally was at work at the same time Monday on a sister NBC Universal network — offered an oil update. "We're lookin' at, uh, $66, um, down here, and if we get through that, probably moving down towards the 63.50 level in a hurry," Armstrong said.

Katie Stockton of MKM is perhaps throwing a little curveball on gold that Guy Adami might take a crack at during the 5 p.m. show.

"I do see the double top," she said. But, "Gold has set up an inverse head-and-shoulders formation, which is a bullish setup." She said when it nears its 200-day moving average, she'd be an "aggressive buyer."

On stocks, she said, "I don't think today's the day to sell."

We really wish Joe Terranova would get a couple of days off to recharge. Struggling through a slump (which refreshingly he admitted last week), he was a like a computer that needs rebooting, you know, when you start getting partial Web pages and all that.

But he was back in the big chair at "Halftime" Monday. "Sector rotation is kind of over," he said, not particularly excited about doing anything.

He made the obvious point that JPM, MS, GS are the "best in class" banks, "bottom line," and that if he was going to get into banks, these are starting to look attractive.

Mike Khouw rather lamely offered, "I'm inclined to agree with Joe on this." Khouw said at the opening, "Lately we've been seeing a lot more defensive plays."

Khouw seems at risk of being sent down to the minors. There's nothing wrong with his stuff, only delivery. The Najarians have the option thing down pat, and Jared Levy is also talking circles around him. Maybe a brief stint in AAA would crank up the motor a bit.

Melissa Lee revealed that on her trips to Baskin Robbins, "jamocha almond fudge was my favorite flavor growing up."

Macke joins Najarians, Adami at
optionMonster Texas conference

If you happened to watch a lot of CNBC on Friday and wondered why Jon Najarian and Dan Fitzpatrick did remotes for "Fast Money" and "The Kudlow Report" (respectively) from the same San Antonio TV station, now you know.

The Najarians' company, optionMonster, of which Guy Adami is also a ranking exec, hosted an "investlikeamonster.com" seminar on energy's impact on the markets. The all-day Saturday event also got a boost from former "Fast Money" star Jeff Macke, who wrote Friday evening at Minyanville of the difficulty of booking his flight to San Antonio (see below).

The Najarians posted several photos of the event via Twitter.

Best wishes to the "Fast Money" gang, past and present, and hope the conference was a success.

Jeff Macke: ‘I miss doing TV job,
be back in different format ASAP’

Recently departed "Fast Money" star Jeff Macke writes at Minyanville.com Friday that he's gotten a lift from his fans.

Macke expressed "an extremely heartfelt thank you to those of you who have written me regarding CNBC over the last week. I¹ve gotten literally hundreds of notes, only a fraction of which wished me any sort of ill."

He adds: "I keep score of pro versus con just because if you¹re not pushing buttons on either or both sides, you simply aren¹t trying."

"I miss doing the TV job with my friends, more of whom were leaving all the time," he wrote.

But his description of his next assignment is mysterious at best, suggesting his strange exchange over "car people" with Dennis Kneale in May might've hurt his near-term chances for another TV job.

"I¹ll be back in a different format ASAP," Macke wrote.

CNBCfix commentary: We have no idea what legal/programming advice Macke might've received after the incident. We think shortly after, he should've expressed, in statement or on-air soundbite, something like, "I had a bad day. I'm sorry my performance was not up to network standards and my own standards." Mishaps like these can't be ignored. He was needed on CNBC, and now he is gone. The most overlooked angle of the Macke-Kneale episode was Kneale's demeanor. Confronted with a very strange situation that he obviously did not expect, Kneale did not get flustered, did not argue with Macke and did not attempt to embarrass him. He smiled, gave him a second and third chance to clarify, and didn't pass judgment. Anyone can have a bad day as Macke did; Kneale's professionalism under fire kept it from being any worse. For an awkward, impromptu moment, Kneale delivered a tour de force.

[Friday, June 19, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Graybeards
slam Levy in double-takedown

Featuring: Matt Nesto | Jared Levy | Guy Adami | Tim Seymour | Joe Terranova | Richard X. Bove | C | David Lewis | Patty Edwards | Bill Strazzullo | Jim Goldman | RIMM | AAPL | NOK | FSLR | Jon Najarian | ORCL | Tavis McCourt | ELY | STP | TSL | WYNN | F | TER | HES | Charles Biderman | TrimTabs

It was hard to tell Friday who was taking a worse beating: Jared Levy, or anyone who had to listen to a full hour of Matt Nesto's comedy.

Levy had a long day, appearing as the studio guest with Nesto on the "Halftime Report," then doing "Final Call" with Scott Wapner, then assuming the Karen Finerman chair (note to those who have inquired all week: Karen is still on the show, just apparently taking a weeklong + last Friday vacation. We're eager for her to return).

Levy (he said it's pronounced "Leevy," not "Levee") on both the "Halftime" show and the real show talked of increasing volatility market next week (suggesting a "big move" in commodities next week), and a rather specific options play on First Solar (FSLR) that is probably too deep for most viewers including CNBCfix (at least, the part about 75% probability or whatever).

On the real show, Jon Najarian, beaming in from San Antonio (he has spent some time in Texas lately on new business initiatives according to recent press releases), said, "I love your insight, Jared, but we're not gonna see a catalyst that drives volatility higher next week. We had two of those this week. They were both President Obama. We do not have that next week. That Fed meeting is not gonna be a volatility mover. So I'm just lettin' you know, we're gonna be easing in volatility."

Nesto called it "straight talk from Dr. J."


But then it got a little rougher.

Levy at "Halftime" brought up a trade in FSLR. He said, "Sell the July 150 put." On the real show, he said he was also selling the July 145 put and that means a "75% chance that I win in that trade."

"Problem with that is the 25% chance you'll get blown up doing things like that. ... That 25% is very dangerous" if oil gets slammed, Adami said with extreme grimness. "These solar trades will unwind in a hurry.

Nesto, ever today's clown, blurted, "How can that not be a takedown?"

Adami soberly replied, "It is what it is."

In case Levy felt alone, Adami also pulverized Richard X. Bove, a CNBCfix favorite (not for his stock calls but his willingness to have a good stock debate and maybe even get sued). This takedown was a bit odd, only because you wouldn't expect to see a "Fast Money" panelist trashing (indirectly) a stock he actually owns.

Bove gave Citigroup, which Adami has owned for ages (remember that the next time you're bummed out about one of your own trades), a "buy" upgrade — and apparently a price target that raised eyebrows.

"With all due respect why should we believe him now," Adami grumbled. "I think Dick Bove is a great analyst ... (but) ... this is about the third shop (Rochdale) he's been since I think the Olympics last summer." Adami said he thinks Bove upgraded C a while back when it was $18 and doesn't think this is a good reason to buy. "He thinks it's going to 12, outstanding," Adami scoffed.

But did Bove really issue a price target of $12?

The Bloomberg article on this call, by Eric Martin and Josh Fineman, says nothing about $12. Rather it says Bove calls C "too big to fail" and suggested it could rally 28% to a whopping $4.

The MarketWatch article on this call, by Ryan Williams, does mention $12 in the headline, but the lede paragraph says "valued its shares 27% above their current price," which is the $4 number.

MarketWatch only says in the second paragraph, and nowhere else in a lengthy article, that Bove estimated $12 when earnings "normalize." It gives no time frame.

Nesto and the text at the bottom of the screen both used the term "ultimate" for the $12 price target. Think about that one ... what is an "ultimate" price? Does the world or Wall Street suddenly end once Citi hits $12? An "ultimate" price?

Bove in that MarketWatch article calls the C loan portfolio "clearly one of the poorest ever written" and bemoans the weakness in management: "The revolving door continues to be the only management program at Citigroup," he wrote, according to MarketWatch. His argument is the too-big-to-fail variety, and honestly — once public anger subsides a bit and Citi replaces Pandit with a Louis Gerstner type — a jump in the stock is not out of the question.

We basically agree with all of Adami's digs. At the same time, Citi reaching $12 in a couple years doesn't sound farfetched at all — and given that Bloomberg and MarketWatch both each led with the $4 target that went unmentioned by CNBC, and that Bloomberg didn't even cite the $12 number, it sounds like Nesto and the show pulled an end-around on this one.

Nesto's humor, grand in his "Halftime" showing Thursday, grew insufferable throughout his doubleheader on Friday.

He was almost on a roll Friday at "Halftime" with his Apple report, "All kinds of knuckleheads lining up at predawn hours to get their hands on one of these new, uh, I, 3 GSes ... whoo ... is this a smartphone or a done trade?"

He opened the 5 p.m. show by anointing himself the nickname "House." He must be a Buffalo fan, because we've only heard of one person with that nickname, former Bills tackle Howard Ballard, who was along for the Super Bowl ride of the early '90s. "You're as big as a house," Adami said.

Nesto served up a gag on the new bull-less Bank of America/Merrill Lynch logo: "Woven patch on America ... there goes that sponsor." (Actually, the show is sponsored by Charles Schwab, and others chipping in including VectorVest, occasionally the New York Times, that ad where the office people chase down their ideas (the fact we can't name the company is, ahem, an advertising drawback), Topsy Turvy and Rosetta Stone with gorjus Lesley Ann Machado.)

Not awful, but not Richard Pryor either. Then he tried to get quippy. "The 200-day moving average is now ... It's the new Baltic Dry Index. It is. Everyone's talking about it." (If you have to explain the joke/line, it's not a very good one.)

Nesto crumbled further into bomb mode the longer the show went, with inexplicable lines "You start putting beavers on our currency and it's all over" and "You can't never be long Norway enough, right Guy?"

Sure, right.

If Nesto would rather do standup for a living than talk business, he should hop on over to MSNBC and vie to be Ratigan's Andy Richter.

Tim Seymour called it a "very boring week," but of course it wasn't really if you were long Research in Motion, which for anyone owning it the last two weeks became one of the all-too-numerous trades of 2008-09 that's so bad you need Wesley Snipes to get you out of it intact. (This writer was long RIMM about 12% ago but no more.)

RIMM conversation is getting very old on the desk, but Seymour upped the stakes by declaring Friday it's a "dangerous stock here at these levels." Joe Terranova, who has had a monstrously bad week and needs to sit out a few days of "Fast Money" quick, was the epitome of capitulation, suggesting people not in a stock can be more objective. "I now look back at last evening's conversation ... I think Guy is dead-on. I think this thing trades in the 60s first," Terranova said, apparently renouncing his "but it'll go up to $100 anyway" argument of yesterday.

On the subject of Apple, Seymour again was negative. "Margins from 40-45% are not gonna be there," he said, which he called a "halo effect" problem. Joe Terranova said Apple is a "great test ... of consumer confidence," whatever that means for a trade. Jim Goldman gave a live report at the Apple store in San Francisco and said he talked to Gene Munster, who is always just as bullish on Apple as Goldman is and apparently is talking about new iPhone sales exceeding the half-million "consensus" number.

Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt said he was "kind of surprised at both the length of the lines" and the improved, speedier activation. Adami asked him if AAPL deserves a 23 multiple. Yes, McCourt indicated, because Apple has "much more conservative accounting than all their peers" and "the cash they generate is substantially higher," producing something like a 17-18 multiple on a cash basis.

Seymour does actually like one phone maker, Nokia, because it's "best-positioned globally" and he thinks highly of emerging markets.

Terranova returned to the only decent call he's made in seemingly ages, Microsoft. "Bing right now is stealing market share. I think Microsoft is a name you have to own." Levy wasn't so sure. "I see a little bit of a pullback; do some sort of a spread."

Adami saluted Terranova for his Abbott recommendations recently. "Could get to $50," Adami said.

More interestingly, he said this of ABT: "Morgan Stanley raised their estimates 2009 and 2010. You put a 12 multiple on their four dollars and 11 cents for 2010, you get a 49 and a half dollar stock. They have a $55 price target."

That one's a bit obscure, to say the least. We couldn't find mention of it anywhere. Yahoo finance shows no Morgan Stanley decisions on ABT in two years, though that list isn't always comprehensive. Bloomberg didn't mention a $55 Morgan Stanley target. Raymond James did give ABT a $55 target in March. We couldn't find any Bloomberg articles this year on Morgan Stanley opinions of ABT. Street Insider had nothing.

The Morgan Stanley analyst who follows ABT is apparently David Lewis. According to Barrons, on Feb. 22, 2009, with ABT at $54, Lewis had "per-share net earnings of $4.23 in 2010" supporting a "12-month target price of $67."

So somewhere along the line, the 2010 estimate went down from $4.23 to the present $4.11, and the price target is apparently now $55.

And Dick Bove is the only analyst out there with questionable calls. Right.

If anyone can straighten this out for us, please let us know.

Terranova said to "take a look at the XBI," but Levy said, "Near-term, watch for a pullback in these (biotech) names."

Nesto aired an interview clip from a day earlier of Charles Biderman of TrimTabs, then some charts with a dunce cap at the top (we're not really sure why) suggesting basically that insiders are selling, not buying, and that retail investors might be the last ones piling in, a sign of a big drop ahead.

"I like what he's saying; I happen to agree," Adami said. Levy added, "Inflows into mutual funds in the last two weeks of May were dismal."

Adami suggested folks could get burned by inflation trades. He said inflation is not the "bugaboo" that some people think right now, and "Watch out ... in a major way, (inflation fears are) crowded trades that could unravel next week."

If nothing else, Levy is paying close attention to what his fellow panelists say. Terranova described how the Fed might want to take a page from the Bank of Canada, which apparently "put out a great statement" that indicated rates would stay "anchored." Levy asked, a bit surprised, "You think the chairman's (Bernanke) gonna make that sort of statement?"

"What you'll see from the Federal Reserve next week is language ... that talks about size of the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve. And the size of the balance sheet is what quantitative easing is all about," Terranova responded.

So if we had to pick a winner, and we really don't want to, we'd say Terranova is saying Bernanke will, in a massively roundabout way, indeed make that sort of statement.

(Enter Nesto's goofy Canadian currency joke here.)

One chuckler from the Fast Fires was that Terranova was wearing the same gold shirt as Friday and Levy was wearing the same orange tie as Friday, albeit with different shirt. Terranova missed on Teradyne (TER), but was unfazed, as Seymour noted, "Same shirt, same call." Seymour stumbled on Hess (HES) but "I would buy it here." Adami got dinged on WYNN, which proved to be a tiny loss.

Seymour offered ELY as a Father's Day trade (admit it, you could've predicted a golf supplier would be this trade). "They really have seen some green shoots," Seymour said, adding, "I'm not much of a golfer."

Seymour mentioned STP, in the solar space, "is the one I love," but he also singled out TSL.

Jon Najarian, when not chiding Levy, said to keep an eye on ORCL as a weak dollar trade.

About the only time you hear someone on "Fast Money" say a company got "stolen" is when Guy Adami mentions the Freeport McMoran-Phelps Dodge deal. Twice Friday, we got a "stole." Jon Najarian said of Oracle, "Sun Micro, they stole it from IBM." Tim Seymour said Banco Santander "stole Alliance & Leicester" and is "one of the best banks in the world."

Jim Goldman checked back in with some apparently big news on Sirius XM apps being frequently downloaded by Apple phone users. Oh boy. Nesto made a face, then another bad joke: "Thanks for the callback, as they say, from presumably an iPhone."


We heard something just before the "Halftime Report" Friday that more or less verified a theory of this page this week. Addison Armstrong, on "Power Lunch" as Michelle Caruso-Cabrera wore striking navy, said "I really don't think that this Iran story is meaningful for the oil market until and, you know, God forbid this would happen, but until we're faced with some sort of Tiananmen, uh, Square-type situation."

Levy — and no, we're not trying to beat up on him also, just presenting the facts — not once but twice at "Halftime" told us what he was talking about off-camera. He said to Nesto, "You and I were talking about PALM before the show." Later he said, "I'd be really careful in all of these (smartphone) names. I actually said to you Matt before the show that I like PALM as kind of that hidden gem ... potential buyout candidate."

Sigh. Here's the spiel again. Nesto already knows what you talked about off-camera. You don't have to do the social nicety of acknowledging to him that he's already heard this. This is a TV show. The viewers haven't heard it yet. Tell them, not Nesto.

Patty Edwards said, "Everybody wants to go home, wants to go away for the weekend." (Count CNBCfix in that category.)

Of Apple, she said, "I agree it's overbaked at this point in time. ... If (Jobs) comes back, I think everything's fine. If he doesn't, I think you watch out for the downside."

Bill Strazzullo said "The rally off the March lows is still intact," but he said 850 and 840 represent "critical support" levels. He called tech OK for now.

"Bill do you think it's only 'OK' at this point?" asked Edwards. "I mean that's what's screaming 'best' on my screens." Brian Stutland said he agrees with Edwards, tech will "push higher."

Stutland said, "Big numbers like the S&P 900 or 925. 950, those big numbers tend to be a magnet toward stocks or indexes" on expiration days.

Stutland also got in a halftime dig at Bove. "I think $12 is a little bit overzealous."

Seymour joined the halftime show and said "I think Mr. Softee's in a brave new world. The real story is this exciting product line." Edwards said, "Tim, I think you're right on that one ... all the geeks I'm talking to, my husband's one of them," apparently are convinced.

Nesto joked to Seymour to hold his breath until 5, "Mr. Blow," whatever that means.

Levy said to sell the 89 July put in GLD.

Oh yeah. Can't forget. Margaret Brennan wore a sharp white jacket in the CNBC.com News Now segment.

[Thursday, June 18, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Time to take
their game above the RIMM

Featuring: Dennis Gartman | Warren Buffett | Erin Burnett | Guy Adami | Jared Levy | Tim Seymour | Joe Terranova | Pip Coburn | Mike Gurka | RIMM | AAPL | SQM | GLD | AA | BBY | DELL | IBM | David Johnson | Steve Grasso | TEVA | DFS | William Brodsky | CBOE | Carmax | Andy Hargreaves | AMGN | MON | Dan Fitzpatrick | "Lost in America"

There was no way the 5 p.m. "Fast Money" on Thursday could top the fireworks from Dennis Gartman on the "Halftime Report" (see below).

When the regular show did its usual flashback to the "Halftime Report," it used a loopy remark from Dan Fitzpatrick, who is quickly redefining "uninteresting" since the market plateaued (then again, it's probably not his fault that they apparently ask him to be on every day).

But we're aware that CNBC (via Becky Quick) is battling Fox Business (via CNBC expat Liz Claman mostly) to be the official Network of Buffett and probably doesn't want to call attention to someone, even a globally esteemed trader like Dennis Gartman, scoffing at Berkshire Hathaway.

We're suddenly getting the feeling that Gartman is fed up with the cult of personality that surrounds Buffett and is dying to rip into the Oracle's record.

Once Jeff Tomasulo suggested shorting Goldman Sachs on Thursday, Gartman somehow immediately jumped to Buffett, suggesting a short in Berkshire instead.

We're not playing referee for an instant here. As far as we know, Gartman and Buffett are both legit legends. We'll let them, and their records, settle it.

One thing the 5 p.m. "Fast Money" crew did talk about was Research in Motion, which threw a bit of a Curve-ball to long investors Thursday. (This writer, sigh, is long RIMM.)

And we got a dandy little dustup between the left side of the table and the right.

Tim Seymour pointed to the stock's decline in recent days as the signal. "It's almost as if people knew this number was coming out," he said.

Joe Terranova, quite frankly ice cold recently, jumped to RIMM's defense. "Units shipped was south of 8 million; that is not a good number," he said. But, seeing the stock in afterhours with a $72 handle, he said, "This is the spot I think where you've gotta buy it."

Jared Levy, in his first appearance at the table, seconded that motion: "I agree with Joe, it's probably a buy right here."

That prompted this head-shaking rebuttal from Guy Adami: "People might rush in on this one; it might not be the right play. I think it trades down to 66 and a half." Terranova protested, and Adami shrugged. "If folks at home wanna stomach another 10%, that's fine, be my guest." (Adami would later add, in a gold discussion, "I'm scared to death to be long gold here ... be my guest, knock yourself out.")

One guy who clearly didn't want to be anyone's guest was Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest. Hargreaves sounded like Erin Burnett called him out of the blue on his way home from work and he couldn't be more annoyed. He wasn't much interested in commenting on Apple's new iPhone, which is apparently his specialty. But Apple lovers shouldn't be so moody. "The whole world's going mobile, and they have the best mobile platform in the world," he mumbled.

Jim Goldman was shown on a telephone during the RIMM call, then came on to discuss the RIMM report. Goldman last Friday predicted a lot of activity (basically positive) in RIMM shares by Tuesday which, um, didn't exactly happen.

Nevertheless, his analysis of the RIMM call seemed balanced and on point. He said 80% of new RIMM subscribers are non-corporate, and that the company now owns 55% of the U.S. smartphone market, up from 40% two quarters ago. (Note: We've heard a lot of different smartphone statistics recently and they don't all add up; it's not clear to us to what extent RIMM competes with Nokia, but these are the numbers they give.) But Goldman said RIMM talked of 15 million downloaded apps, whereas Apple boasts 1 billion apps. He closed by mentioning RBC's $100 target — "That does not seem any less unrealistic today than it did yesterday."

According to the Associated Press, Genuity Capital analyst Deepak Chopra said, "They continue to do phenomenally well. There was obviously increased expectations. There was chatter that the numbers could even be bigger."

Peter Misek of Canaccord Adams told AP, "The average selling price wasn't discussed in the release and that's why the stock ripped after it." Research in Motion Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said, "The lineup for the next 14, 15 months is spectacular. We've got sector winds at our sails."

We have no idea how RIMM will open Friday. Interestingly, it had a $72 handle early in the show when Adami dissed it; then had a $76 handle (and closed afterhours that way) by the time of the show's end.

Anyway, we're tired of it for now and hope the panel takes a break.

Congratulations to Steve Grasso, who added twin boys John Thomas and Luke James on his own birthday, June 12. (He said he also has a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old daughter.) We were just about to say something one of these days that it's too bad he hasn't been on much recently because he needs to get into a rhythm.

Perhaps that rhythm was why he made a remote appearance Thursday without many specifics to add. The "volume has been horrendous," he said, pointing to stagnation in banking. "The guys I cover, both hedgies and mutuals, can't get enough of tech," he added. Then he made a muddled point about 903 and 918 both being important on the S&P; we didn't know what to make of all that. But best wishes to Steve Grasso and his family (and best wishes as well to Carl Quintanilla and Judy Chung, who welcomed twin girls a day ago).

We took our time getting to an Erin Burnett critique because quite frankly it wasn't that impressive. The panel kind of approached the show like it was substitute teacher day. Burnett has plenty of confidence and flair and doesn't force her laugh, but she doesn't really have the "Fast Money" vibe down. Twice, once when Grasso spoke and once when CBOE chair Bill Brodsky spoke, the split screen showed her whispering jokes of some kind to Guy Adami, who didn't either hear her correctly or didn't get it. The implication was that she wasn't taking this gig very seriously.

Burnett mentioned producer John Melloy twice, saying he's going to buy the new iPhone and that he also tipped her off to the chart showing health care as the only sector up in the last five days.

She was much better at questioning Brodsky than either of the stock experts, Pip Coburn and Hargreaves. She included an overly long segment about some Real Madrid player (Ronaldo, but not the Ronaldo) wearing short shorts and causing a fashion spike. What she didn't say is that she had already prepared that segment for her own "Street Signs" show earlier in the day, only her crew failed to show the actual shorts with Ronaldo in them and she got a little peeved on the air. So that would be the equivalent of the "Fast Money Make-up Call."

She opened the show, interestingly, by saying she was "in for my friend, Melissa Lee."

Amateur film critic Guy Adami ribbed Burnett over something about the movie "Lost in America" with Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty. We haven't seen it; best know Brooks from "Broadcast News" and Hagerty from "Airplane."

Pip Coburn, looking casual, seemed to be applying too many lofty terms to a trade thesis. Admittedly, the thesis was fairly interesting. He claims that, because of the Internet as far as we could tell, the way people buy electronics and big-box stuff is going to be a lot different than the way Best Buy hopes. He said he thinks "their market's gonna shift very much against them over the next few years."

Coburn explained at his firm, "We're market-neutral at all times" and merely study fundamentals of various companies. His recommendation is to short BBY, DELL, MOT and SNE. Given that Coburn is "market-neutral," Jared Levy asked the question that was begging to be asked and thus passed his inaugural test: "How are you placing a bearish bet on Best Buy?" Coburn never did give a good answer, except for "We're using plain vanilla stocks." Our translation? He might be going long the SPY and short those four names against it.

Coburn, like Pete Najarian a week ago, mentioned how Dell was getting this "IBM guy" to make some deals. After hearing this twice, we wondered who this "guy" is. It's David Johnson, according to this Businessweek article by Aaron Ricadela, but there are court limits on what he can and can't do.

Speaking of Dell, Coburn said that absent a massive makeover, "this is classic serial restructure early stages." For whatever reason, that cracked us up.

Jane Wells' picture appeared on the "Trader Radar" segment featuring CCL. Wells is never off the CNBCfix radar. There's someone who could give a jolt to "Fast Money."

Mike Gurka of Empower Global Fund was maybe a little too technical than most viewers would want in a too-long defense of SQM as a good South American play. "It is a very nice company; I see distribution channels here," he said, adding there are Bollinger Band buy signals "here in the lower 30s." Tim Seymour tossed in BBD and ITU. Gurka added, "Argentina's another place that's going very well."

Terranova — we said he's in a slump, right? — mentioned his bad trade in Genzyme for about the 13th straight day. Guy Adami said "I think Amgen's a monster." Jared Levy made a decent little case for Teva as a play for conservative investors who don't want big price swings.

The latter prompted this interesting comment from Tim Seymour, "Israel just went from emerging market status to developed market." That brought a good, albeit delayed, question from Burnett as to how this status is chosen. "It's voted by Morgan Stanley, the MSCI," Seymour said.

Seymour added, "Me and Regis (Philbin) are on board with Alcoa ... very levered balance sheet that's started to improve." He said the pieces are in place once the spot price improves and that the spot price has lagged copper. He didn't mention that Dennis Gartman, more famously than Philbin, likes Alcoa.

On the subject of financial regulation, William Brodsky, CBOE chairman and CEO, took questions from Burnett and even a dig at Guy Adami.

Not too surprisingly — especially if you're inclined to believe the Chicago conspiracy claim of Ron Insana regarding cap-and-trade markets — Brodsky is agreeable to Obama's proposals for OTC derivatives and more. It's a "realistic approach to a problem that has existed." Burnett, like we said good on the general business questions, quickly asked if such regulation would benefit the CBOE. "It certainly can be an opportunity," said Brodsky, who then panned the "biforcated" regulation of the past and present and said the administration brings an "intelligent, honest approach."

Brodsky also apparently heard Guy Adami waffling on gold in the prior segment.

"Why don't you guys just agree to do a straddle on gold, if you can't decide whether it's gonna go up or down. Just buy a straddle."

Seymour said (again) he would "take the other side" of Adami's gold reticence and buy. Terranova said he'd take the other side of that and buy "black gold," oil. Levy said "on the GLD, sell the 89 puts."

Adami said "Carmax ... I think is a coin flip."

Seymour said financials got a boost because "DFS, Discover came out and said their delinquencies are in much better shape." Of Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and financial regulation, Seymour said, "There's no genie for the Fed to pull out."

Terranova lamented, "I was long natural gas coming into today." (Did we mention he's in a slump?) He also pointed to "backwardation" coming back for a "huge move in oil today."

Seymour picked Russia as a final trade because Burnett did a report from there once; Terranova liked BTU and Levy said "sell the July 75 put" for MON, which his firm owns, according to disclosure.

For some reason "Fast Money" folks consider taking a cruise to be a geek thing, an embarrassment. Maybe it is; we've never taken one. Originally it used to be a joke between Tim Strazzini, Guy Adami and Jeff Macke; whenever one was off, the others would say he's "on a cruise."

Thursday, Seymour discussed CCL's discounting improvements and said, "I've never even been on a cruise. I bet Guy takes a lot of cruises."

Dennis Gartman mocks Berkshire
on ‘Fast Money Halftime Report’

Commodity-trading legend Dennis Gartman tore into Warren Buffett during a gargantuan episode of "Fast Money Halftime Report" Thursday.

Gartman challenged fellow panelist Jeff Tomasulo's short of Goldman Sachs, suggesting Tomasulo short Berkshire Hathaway instead.

Tomasulo expressed skepticism of financials and said, "I put a short on in Goldman Sachs."

"Be careful being short of Goldman Sachs," Gartman said. "Maybe, maybe you're smarter than I am, but..."

Tomasulo called it a "short-term trade ... saw resistance at 150 ... I took half of our position off at 140 yesterday..."

"Sell something that's already going down," Gartman responded. "Sell Berkshire Hathaway. It's already falling."

Tomasulo sounded incredulous. "Berkshire?"

"Sell Berkshire," Gartman repeated. "It's already, it's making new lows. It cannot rally."

"I don't wanna be the one betting against Warren Buffett," Tomasulo said.

"That's been an easy bet for the past year," Gartman retorted. (Video below.)

Tomasulo's apparent surprise at Gartman's view suggests he hasn't been reading the exclusive CNBCfix account of the blockbuster Gartman-Buffett story by Oregonian writer Brent Hunsberger that still has yet to be picked up by other national media.

Guest host Matt Nesto somehow did not ask Gartman for more details on his criticism of Buffett. The official CNBC "Fast Money" recap barely mentions the exchange.

Nesto got off to a rocky opening — "Welcome to the 'Fast Time' — 'Fast Money Halftime Report' ... I'm off to a good start..." There were pockets of dead air in this abbreviated show.

Nevertheless, Nesto recovered like a true pro and brought a swagger to the show sorely lacking since the departure of Dylan Ratigan. "Don't smuck around with this thing" was his take on a certain jellymaker. "Timothy Geithner ... arguably not the best salesman in the United States when it comes to pitching the boss' plan," he offered.

Jared Levy could perhaps someday be the Sandy Koufax of "Fast Money." He's got all the tools, just needs to harness it all under control (in other words, talk slower, stop recapping so much, tell us something we don't know). He was indecisive, to put it kindly. "Is the bottom here? I don't know. I think the market's a little overbaked at this point. July is gonna be the tell-tale for this marketplace."

So wait for July to make your fast money.

Tomasulo not only was praising Buffett, he was in full congratulatory mode again. "Matt, I think it's a good point, you know, that Dan and Jared bring up," he said. Tomasulo too played slow money, suggesting "time will tell ... if we can stay above that 200-day moving average, I think we're doing all right for now."

Aside from bashing Buffett, Gartman said, "I'm erring upon the side of trying to own aluminum, and steel." Gartman is on the fence on RIMM. "Am I getting out? No, I haven't yet."

"I think RIMM has some issues," Levy said. "Buy the stock and sell the 80 call in July against it."

Tomasulo — perhaps not enjoying his best show — tossed in the brag trade on RIMM. "I rode the gravy train up from the low 40s all the way up to 80. Yesterday when it broke through 80 I got flat." (This writer is long RIMM, did not ride it up from the low 40s but is rapidly riding it down from the low 80s.)

"Liars and fools absolutely know for sure," Dan Fitzpatrick chuckled. "Everybody else is just watching the data."

[Wednesday, June 17, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Republican
senator finds friendly faces

Featuring: Guy Adami | Jon Najarian | Joe Terranova | Tim Seymour | Jared Levy | Patty Edwards | Melissa Lee | Judd Gregg | Elliott Wave | Jim O'Neill | Simona Jankowski | RIMM | QCOM | Jim Suva | MSFT | UNG | TARP | WFC | JPM | POT | Tim Healy | ENOC | Michael Pachter | Mark Mahaney | NFLX | Addison Armstrong | Erin Burnett | Matt Nesto | Dennis Gartman | Warren Buffett | "The Wrestler"

Today we begin with an awkward opening on the "Halftime Report." Apparently Melissa Lee needed to hit F5 on the intro script. "Meanwhile stocks are getting pounded, in part — well actually, they're higher now — because of tighter regulation."

Guy Adami, who is feelin' it these days as the market seems to prove his "significant" pullback thesis correct, reiterated that "people have gotten very complacent, very lazy ... I think the path of least resistance right now is down." He said "Elliott Wave theorists say the next wave is down, I agree."

He continued this theme on the 5 p.m. show, "people are complacent."

"I'm not so sure," said Tim Seymour, who continues to see resiliency where Adami sees retreat. "I thought that was an excellent response for the 200-moving day (sic) by the S&P," Seymour said, then he went into analyst-quoting mode.

"Yesterday it was Goldman Sachs, Jim O'Neill, Morgan Stanley today. Morgan Stanley did a call, uh, Merrill Lynch did a call, strategists saying "Look, things look a little tired."

"Morgan Stanley said 900 by the end of the year," Lee chimed in.

O'Neill, Goldman chief economist, said there could be "a correction that goes on a few weeks" over concerns governments will roll back stimulus packages, according to this Bloomberg article by Yasuhiko Seki.

Morgan Stanley strategists wrote, "Having breached the 950 level, the rally may now be over." The 900 end-of-year price target, however, is actually an upgrade from 825.

So, Seymour and Lee were both correct.

"Yes, we are feeling a little tired here," said Jon Najarian, making a welcome return to the 5 p.m. desk. "Maybe a 5 or 10% correction here."

Joe Terranova was the disappointment in this segment ... because this is the phrase you hear about 7,000 times a day on CNBC, or twice in three days in Terranova's case, and, quite frankly, isn't very original ... "There is still a tremendous amount of money sitting on the sidelines..."

Terranova had been on a roll recently and we noted it. But recently he has kind of hit a Detroit Red Wing-esque wall. We've noticed in particular (because this writer is long RIMM) that Joe has played moving target with Research in Motion since Friday, when he first said, "The tell with these numbers is gonna be, how many subscribers they added in the quarter. Look for the number anything north of 4 million, bullish." Then Tuesday that morphed into, "I think tomorrow (sic, earnings actually out Thursday) what's important to look at is the number of units shipped, you want it to be north of 8 million units," with a recommendation that "you have to be a buyer" if it drops to $75 or $76.

Wednesday, he was sticking with the "north of 8 million" tell, but dropped his entry point to $73-$75.

Perhaps tomorrow it'll be, "Do I hear $71?"

Terranova said "Goldman Sachs, uh raised Qualcomm's target to $55," while the text at the bottom of the screen said it was raised to $53.

The screen was correct. Analyst Simona Jankowski put QCOM on the conviction buy list from "neutral," according to this Barron's Tech Trader blog post by Eric Savitz.

Terranova continues to repeat this "why didn't Pete Najarian warn me earlier about Genzyme" inside joke that we never really "got." Still, he insists, "Gotta love pharma, gotta love biotech."

He suggested — while insisting he wasn't suggesting anything — that LGF insiders were trading ahead of the Carl Icahn share-buying news.

Terranova did make a remarkably bullish call on MSFT, saying "Microsoft is a name I think you gotta own for the rest of the year." For whatever reason, Lee teased an MSFT viewer question on MSFT right after the break. Adami said MSFT "might actually be on to something" in an opinion that would charitably be described as a bit more lukewarm than Terranova's, which is kind of how Adami also seconded another Terranova favorite, Abbott Labs ("makes sense; Joe's right").

A viewer asked a fairly strange question, would Terranova prefer CHK or UNG for the next "2 to 5 months." Terranova said normally it wouldn't be the ETF, but he thinks UNG is due for a spike.

Terranova said "the wrong people are paying back the TARP," prompting a bit of a debate with Melissa Lee. "Just to play devil's advocate," Lee said, it's "smaller, regional" banks that are on the "front lines" with the consumer that are repaying, but Terranova said their exposure is more about commercial real estate. We don't know who's right; that's a project for another time.

Terranova said "We will continue to monetize debt" during a session on whether inflation could return in extremely rapid fashion. Unfortunately, Lee showed a chart from 1950. If that too-small-sample-size is your basis for a stock trade, you should put your money under a mattress.

Adami, feeling bold, is still talking about shorting financials. He said there is still room on the downside for JPMorgan, but he thinks WFC is no longer a good short candidate. Jon Najarian disagreed on WFC. "I think we go through 22 like a hot knife through butter, Guy, and get down to 20 on this one."

Adami said Mastercard may have another $10-$12 "on the downside." Tim Seymour said "pressure" is on the likes of V, MA and malls, or in general, shopping. Adami said, after a report that Blackrock sees more financial deals in asset management, "Raymond James sets up really well." Seymour said "First Republic too."

Jared Levy said at halftime, "I still like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America ... if you were to put a gun to my head and say Jared, what trade would I make here, I think that CME Group and ICE will be beneficiaries of this regulation" that the president is talking about. Melissa Lee asked, "Isn't that baked into the stock at this point?" Levy said "it's baked in partially, but I still think there's upside here." Levy said of the S&P, "Below 903 I'd be a seller, above 903 I'd be a buyer." Adami noted at halftime that his short JPM call at below 35.25 has paid off, it's now below 33. (And, FWIW, Jeff Tomasulo has made a quick if small gain on his GS short of a day earlier.)

Adami at 5 p.m. repeated another nugget from the "Halftime Report" on Intel, when he said, "Your new range now with Intel is, you buy it around 15.80, you sell it up 16 and a half, 16 and three quarters."

Adami said "the valuation's a little rich" on Texas Instruments (Bank of America analyst Sumit Dhanda upgraded with $27 price target). Lee pointed out how "that was a fantastic Halftime" with Adami and Jon Najarian and Patty Edwards and John Kosar and Jared Levy. Tim Seymour said a big beneficiary of the smartphone boom is QCOM. "Qualcomm really is the name" for phones, he said, and Jon Najarian agreed, "huge, huge."

Star analyst Jim Suva of Citi came on to discuss RIMM and seemed downright grateful for the opportunity. He wasn't worried about the recent sell-off. "We have a hundred dollar target price on this stock," he said, explaining RIMM has 2% of the market, Apple less than 2%, so there is room for those names and PALM, a theme we've heard about, oh, six times in a week.

Adami asked, "Will volume override- overrule price pressure?" Suva responded, "That's a very intelligent question," then he said something about "the carriers are throwing more money at the subsidies," but remember, smartphones are only 18-20% of the market. Melissa Lee asked if Nokia would be the big loser; Suva called it a "great observation" but said Motorola and Sony/Ericsson were bigger losers. He said Terranova's "8 million" theme was a good tipping point; "the consensus is at 7.95" (but then again Terranova had three days to get it right, so we're not that impressed).

Something was too starchy about Suva's appearance; he was too happy, looked too glossy on screen, maybe it was TV makeup or the hair or something. Anyway, we'll say it again, let the CNBCfixes of the world congratulate the panelists; just give us a trade, tell us something we don't know.

Seymour and Najarian explained the fertilizer meltdown. Seymour said the recent rise in POT has been predicated on perceived "pricing power" through year-end (pricing power that we think he may have touted weeks ago), but the warning from K&S of Germany suggests it's not happening. Melissa Lee, who mangles more names than any host, called it "K&M."

Jon Najarian traced the ag decline back about two weeks and appeared to challenge CNBCfix directly. "June 3rd, you can look it up," he said, and find a "massive amount of puts" in POT and MOS.

We did look it up — like we wouldn't believe him on that one — and he is correct about June 3. And maybe one reason he wants us to look it up is because he is quoted in the Reuters story that day. But we also remember in early March when Pete Najarian reported a couple times that people were buying June $2.50 puts in GE. Put-buying isn't always a prophecy.

Tim Healy, CEO of EnerNOC (ENOC), came on the show representing a company that specializes in "smart grid" technology and serves as a conduit for utilities in paying customers to reduce electricity usage during peak hours. Lee said it "sounds almost like alchemy."


Healy said "we've never relied on subsidies." We'll take his word for that. He made the social nod that we last flagged with Jeff Tomasulo, explaining to the TV audience that he had already had this particular conversation with the panel. Referring to work with the City of Boston, Healy said, "talking when we were in the break..."

Again: Acknowledging you are repeating a story is merely an implicit nod to the person you're talking to, i.e., "sorry you have to hear this one again." This is a TV show, you are talking to the viewers, you don't have to apologize to the people on the show with you, we don't care what you talked about before you came on the air. Adami pointed out Healy was appearing on the show on his third wedding anniversary and wished Healy's wife the best. Healy has a couple of degrees from Dartmouth.

Tim Seymour made a funny joke about powering down Guy Adami's hair dryer that got a little bit overlooked.

Adami mentioned Netflix, saying "Wedbush Morgan upgrade, price target 48," and oh yeah, you can order "The Wrestler" with Marisa Tomei.

The Wedbush Morgan analyst is Michael Pachter, who thinks NFLX is benefitting from Blockbuster's crumble and is investing in streaming movies online, which will cut postage costs and improve margins. Adami is literally correct, though it's worth noting, the price target was not upgraded, but maintained, at $48, according to this MarketWatch story by David B. Wilkerson; the shares were upgraded from "hold" to "buy." (It doesn't make a whole lot of sense here either that someone "kept his 12-month price target" while upgrading the words.)

We also found an interesting note from Citi's Mark Mahaney, a frequent "Fast Money" guest who wasn't on Wednesday, who says the Redbox kiosk movie rental service hurts Blockbuster more than Netflix because it focuses on new releases, whereas 70% of Netflix rentals are older films.

We're virtually certain former "Fast Money" kingpin Eric Bolling once called NFLX a "dog" after CEO Reed Hastings appeared, but can't say so with 100% certainty.

Re: Adami and "The Wrestler" — it is a fine film. What's a disappointment is that director Darren Aronofsky is evidently not as good at producing pro wrestling drama as the guys on cable TV are.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) came on the show for a watered-down (to say the least) opposition to whatever it is Barack Obama just proposed for the financial industry. We hoped Lee would use her fine skill of asking good political questions, and she kind of did, asking Gregg what one thing he would want to see in this proposal that's lacking, and Gregg's answer was, "I think my main concern is that we not overregulate." (Translation: not another Sarbanes-Oxley.)

Gregg also said, "We do not want to stifle the risk taker" (translation: don't raise taxes or install compensation curbs) and it would be a "horrific event" if some in Congress succeed at gaining more control over the Federal Reserve because Congress would do a "terrible job with monetary policy" (possible translation: don't replace Bernanke with Larry Summers).

We paid less attention to Gregg's talking points than to the faces of the traders on the side screens while Gregg talked. Tim Seymour and Jon Najarian were spotted nodding, and later Joe Terranova would also. Adami, the show's centrist politically (in terms of what he expresses on air; we don't know if he's a raging partisan on the inside), kept his camera poker face on the whole segment. Jon Najarian suggested there's no need to create regulatory bureaucracy; for example "the CFTC could just talk to the SEC." Tim Seymour said, "You can't politicize the Fed. They're supposed to be independent, let's keep it that way."

Seymour said FedEx's numbers are "very disappointing for the economy." Guy Adami said the rails are getting closer to a buy, but of BNI specifically, "I think you'll see this one with a 60 handle." John Kosar (who hasn't said much to move the CNBCfix stock-market newshound meter) said the Dow Theory discrepancy with the transports raises "kind of a red flag" for the markets.

Jon Najarian said "John Rutledge, a good friend" and pal of Larry Kudlow pointed out to him the boom in broadband in Asia; Najarian mentioned Cisco, Ciena, SINA and Shanda. Tim Seymour chimed in with CHU and CHA, the "simplest road to the Internet" in China.

Patty Edwards, who has hit the ground running on "Fast Money," joined the "Halftime" crowd to say, "It just doesn't look good for any of the retailers or the shippers at this point ... once again it comes down to Wal-Mart for me. ... I think you've gotta be short this market at this point, this thing's going lower."

Addison Armstrong discussed oil & gas at halftime. He said "prices at the pump aren't going to drop until crude has a significant pullback ... I think gasoline prices are gonna be under upward pressure." He predicted a possible oil move to $68.50, $68. But remarkably, or not remarkably given the "Fast Money" trend, said nothing about what effect the Iranian situation might have on oil, which leads us to conclude the people with money involved aren't taking it seriously.

Melissa Lee said, "I just wonder if Twitter's going to, uh, exist as a free-standing company in five years or so."

The so-important TBT, talk of the show for a few weeks, hasn't been heard from now in several days. (This writer is long TBT with a tiny amount of cash and probably will remain so for a long time.)

Two key personnel notes: 1) Terranova on Wednesday sat in Karen Finerman's chair (we miss K-Fine) and Seymour sat in Macke's chair, so Terranova is evidently not the permanent replacement for Macke; and 2) Lee said she'll be gone the next two days but Erin Burnett and Matt Nesto will be around. We're already excited. Burnett has guested at least once and did an excellent job. Nesto brings some wit to the table though we'd sometimes like to see him jack up the motor a bit.

Oh yeah, one more thing ... Jon Najarian sort of scoffed at Warren Buffett's description of options as "weapons of financial mass destruction."

"He does options all the time, Warren Buffett," Najarian said.

Perhaps Dennis Gartman is not the only prominent trader eager to call out Buffettbut why is CNBCfix the only "national" media to pick up on this intriguing and developing story?

[Tuesday, June 16, 2009]

Fast Money Review: The greatest
fly-swatter you’ve ever seen

Featuring: President Obama | fly | John Harwood | Brian Williams | Karate Kid | Melissa Lee | Pete Najarian | Brian Kelly | Tim Seymour | Joe Terranova | Jim Goldman | Rich Greenfield | DTV | Hunter Keay | CAL | DAL | RIMM | GS | FDX | PCL | BBY | SF | MSFT | YHOO | Glass-Steagall | SPY | Gary Locke | GOOG | WMT

President Obama killed a fly during an interview Tuesday.

A gushing, beaming John Harwood exclaimed "Nice!"

And then the president coolly said, "Now, where were we? ... That was very impressive, wasn't it? I got, got the sucker. Whaddaya think Gibbs?"

"That was very good," Harwood said.

"You wanna film that? There it is," the president added.

We were hoping to leave this angle out of our review, but it was deemed not only important enough for the beginning of "Fast Money," the "Pops & Drops" segment of "Fast Money," but a separate feature on the "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."

"The president of the United States has very fast hands," a gushing Harwood told "Fast Money."

Melissa Lee delved back into 1980s filmdom: "He almost pulled like a 'Karate Kid' kind of like, really focused..."

Brian Williams introduced this important segment, "We can't recall seeing this before, but this is what happened ..."

Yes, and it was all so cool.

We have little to no problem with the guy's governance so far and wish him well.

And we're sure, given this kind of press treatment, the next time he claims he's "outraged" once he heard about the AIG bonuses or we absolutely have to pass this stimulus package right now or we'll never have another hope or chance ever again, that news people like Harwood and Williams will quickly smell the b.s. for what it is and report it as such.

Or maybe not, and the only roadblock in the guy's way isn't the 2012 election but whether there's enough support to remove the constitutional two-term limit.

Back to the stock market.

Several days of major unrest in Iran, and "Fast Money" has nothing to say about the effect on oil or Middle Eastern investment opportunities. (But Tim Seymour did do a not-so-gritty report from Turkey Monday).

Brian Kelly enjoyed his first stint at the "Fast Money" desk on Tuesday.

He almost immediately struck a worrisome tone about U.S. borrowing, even drawing parallels to a very tiny country far across the world.

"In terms of the double-dip recession and in terms of the deficit, that is a very big issue, but it doesn't seem to be a problem for the Chinese and for the Japanese, they were buying longer-term bonds," he said. "But the whole recovery is based on the flawed assumption that we can borrow at will, and eventually that will come back to haunt us. Just take a look at Latvia."

Brian, we'll take your word for it. We're not in the mood to start researching Latvian economic statistics. This is "Fast Money," not Baltic studies.

Kelly has immediately found a "Fast Money" niche as a lumber expert. "Lumber has been on fire," he said, explaining that the stocks have been dropping just as the pure commodity has risen, as what happened with coal last year. "Could be a good opportunity to get into these stocks" like Weyerhaueser, Plum Creek, Rayonier, he said. PCL was his "Final Trade."

"I still like the names that make me more productive," he said. "That goes to RIMM, and that goes to APPL and those type of things." He said one issue for Best Buy is not collecting enough of the old Circuit City traffic, which probably went to Wal-Mart, "as Pete was saying."

He said he likes Stifel Nicolaus (SF), a "plain old broker-dealer that does a great job at executing the business plan."

Joe Terranova, settling in to Jeff Macke's chair, had a lot to say Tuesday. "This is deflation, folks. We're still fighting deflation," he said, referring to industrial production numbers. "If we settle below 905, we are going to have a much deeper correction than we anticipated."

"I am more concerned about the deficit going forward," Terranova said, saying a "double-dip recession" is "on the table" and could lead to higher taxes.

Terranova and the rest of the panel Tuesday addressed Research in Motion (this writer is long RIMM). Terranova had said Friday, "The tell with these numbers is gonna be, how many subscribers they added in the quarter. Look for the number anything north of 4 million, bullish." Tuesday, he said, "I think tomorrow (earnings actually out Thursday) what's important to look at is the number of units shipped, you want it to be north of 8 million units."

He added, "A pullback in RIMM, you have to be a buyer of this stock" around $75 or $76.

Mike Abramsky, an analyst who has been on "Fast Money," says he expects subscribers to rise to 29 million from 25 million a year ago, or the 4 million Terranova spoke of. We couldn't find any fresh story stressing the 8 million number.

Tim Seymour was more skeptical, saying there isn't much new about the Tour and what's new in RIMM is mostly priced in. "The pressure is so high for these guys to keep delivering on the innovation side. ... I think you have concern for RIMM because you have concern for tech."

Pete Najarian said options players in RIMM are "looking for about a 10, 11 percent move; people very much expecting something good." He cited a "2 to 1 calls to puts" ratio Tuesday. But "if you do get that pop, you better get out quick," because he agrees with Seymour.

Recall that Jim Goldman on Friday said, "I wouldn't be surprised if we see start seeing some very heavy action in RIMM probably by Tuesday at the latest."

The stock closed Tuesday lower since then. So don't take stock tips from Goldman.

Tim Seymour said "valuation on the S&P right now is roughly about 15 times, that's not expensive but it's not cheap."

He didn't see much optimism in Best Buy's numbers. "Nothing in those numbers that really had you believe that these guys were in great shape," he said.

And in another example of his extraordinary preparation for the show, Seymour said he is concerned that the government is "gonna put back up" Glass-Steagall, which "concerns me ... mostly for the profitability of insurance companies." Then he pointed out that with FDX, "some concern that their labor force may be classified under the Railway Labor Act company, which would essentially give unions an easier opportunity to organize, which would certainly put a lot of pressure on their margins." And he noted GSK is a good "margin play" in India.

Rich Greenfield, an excellent media analyst, was raving about DirecTV. "We put a buy on DTV yesterday," he said. It's "just operating better than everyone else," he said, and is a "free-cash-flow machine, what's why we put a buy on it." He predicted it would be either bought in the next 12 to 18 months or would have significant ability to take itself private. "I think the two most logical buyers are AT&T and Verizon. I think AT&T's probably the most logical one."

He also dropped this interesting nugget: "Broadband's in 75 percent of the country."

Stifel Nicolaus airline expert Hunter Keay bumped up against a time limit but otherwise made some interesting calls discussing his upgrade on Continental Airlines. He called Continental and Delta "blue chips of the large network airline carriers in the United States." But he warned that if the economy stays like this for six to nine months, doesn't even need to get worse, then "I think we could see a potential liquidity crisis in this space."

He discussed oil hedging, always Eric Bolling's favorite question of the airlines, explaining "they're all pretty much equally exposed" and that Southwest for example is about 50% hedged around the $70 range, but he said decreases in jet fuel crack spreads represents a "huge, huge tailwind for these guys."

Terranova said besides commodities, "you need other sectors to perform" to keep the market afloat. He said of natural gas' rollover, "I got out of that, I took my loss." He said "the retailers, they are at the point where you want to step back."

But "I'm long Microsoft, I love what Microsoft is doing right now ... I tell you what, I love the Bing, I use the Bing, it's my search engine."

"Joe bought Karen's stock in Microsoft; he's in good shape," Seymour joked. Seymour added, "I would be a seller here, I think the Windows 7 juice is in the stock."

Najarian said, "Yahoo gets more interesting by every single day. Carol Bartz is doing everything right right now." He also pointed to NTAP and WDC.

Jim Goldman — not predicting a RIMM surge this time — talked about MSFT and Bing. "The folks at Google, they're very concerned about Bing," but he suggested that maybe they're not actually very concerned and are only pretending to be so that the government will lessen its scrutiny of GOOG. Goldman said "Microsoft looks like it's in a very good place ... significantly undervalued during those March 9 lows" (like about hundreds of other stocks).

Najarian pounded the table for Wal-Mart, which is becoming a daily occurrence on "Fast Money." Wal-Mart's gonna continue to be the monster in groceries, and they're going after the electronics ... everybody says that they're the best competitor right now for Best Buy."

While Terranova grumbled over Genzyme and repeatedly made some inside comment about Najarian wisely telling him to sell calls, the two praised AMGN. "You love what you see as far as Amgen's concerned right now going forward; $65 price tag right now by Bernstein, that's probably about right," Najarian said.

Melissa Lee told Terranova, "For the record, I don't like to hurt you ... I don't wanna get those nasty e-mails out there, why don't you like Joe Terranova."

Seriously? People are spending quality time e-mailing complaints to the show that Lee isn't nice enough to Terranova?

Lee briefly mentioned the breaking news of Lloyd Blankfein's letter to Barney Frank expressing some contrition for the financial meltdown and seeking to repay TARP ASAP. Seymour said he doesn't think they're going to escape government interference so easily. Terranova said perhaps the Blankfein letter released after close was why GS bucked the down market Tuesday. "It's gotta make you wonder when you see that, uh, bid higher in the market," Lee agreed.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was interviewed late about some kind of initiative or other ... "we're revamping the services we offer," he said, or something like that, Zzzzz. Lee to her credit tried interrupting him several times with "sure, right," and pressed him for political details, something she is good at, with: "You do not favor the Buy America clause?" Locke's dodgy answer was, "It's not something the president really wanted."

At "Halftime," Jon Najarian recommended buying oil names with a sub-$5 billion market cap, such as Petrohawk (HK), especially if oil pulls back as he thinks it might if the dollar holds its gains.

Zach Karabell said he thinks he's "with Joe Terranova on some of this" on oil trending higher, but not heading in a straight line to $85 or $90. "I think you've gotta look at oil more as a demand driver both coming out of Asia, absolutely that story is known," and summer driving in the U.S. that will produce a "demand uptick." Karabell said "I bought some of the XES; again, cash-rich companies, they're gonna need to start to think about spending."

Jeff Tomasulo pointed to the $93 level on the SPY. "The bears have finally started to take a little bit of uh, control here," he said, adding he would "look to short weaker stocks" here. "I'm a risk manager, and then a trader," Tomasulo said. "I'm short Goldman Sachs; the pattern changed last week." He said "90 on the Spiders" is going to be another resistance level.

Dan Fitzpatrick said "there' just no aggressiveness on the buy side" and, like Jon Najarian and Tim Seymour Monday, said people are likely waiting for the big Obama speech on the financial industry Wednesday. He said it's still a "buy the dips" market.

Terranova at "Halftime" talked of doing a pairs trade with names like RIMM against the SDS. Lee for some reason felt the need to confirm with Terranova that SDS is the short of the S&P 500, something Dylan Ratigan would just declare and move on.

No Karen Finerman for the third straight day. And no talk of TBT for at least a couple days. (This writer is long TBT.)

We meant to mention it yesterday, but didn't really get it because we never saw the tape, but apparently Regis Philbin came by the studio Monday, then said on his own show Tuesday that he likes "Fast Money" (and apparently Alcoa stock, according to Pete Najarian).

Hopefully Philbin reads CNBCfix.

[Monday, June 15, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Writing off
dense Bove interview on BAC

Featuring: Dick Bove | BAC | Melissa Lee | Jeff Macke | Guy Adami | Tim Seymour | Joe Terranova | Patty Edwards | Win Thin | TUR | TKC | PALM | DELL | UTX | MA | GT | WMT | TGT | M | JWN | Carter Worth | Daimler | Ford | ACN | IBM | UBS | CS | dollar | G-8 | DXY | S | MSFT

(For updates on the Dennis Gartman-Warren Buffett zinger, including Gartman's description of his own trades and positions, see our home page.)

Jeff Macke is clearly gone. The CNBC.com "Fast Money" home page no longer includes Macke's image.

Know what's really interesting? It doesn't include a picture of Melissa Lee either and hasn't since she began her regular hosting gig in late March.

If Lee is only "interim," it makes you wonder what kind of auditioning is going on behind the scenes. She hasn't missed a day since Dylan Ratigan bolted.

Margaret Brennan — who wore lime green and the biggest hoop earrings we've seen since the '70s (that's a compliment of course) — introduced the show, as is typical, as " 'Fast Money' with Melissa Lee starts right now."

Joe Terranova sat in Jeff Macke's seat; Tim Seymour was in Karen Finerman's chair.

Now, on to the show.

Nobody gets more excited about a Richard X. Bove appearance than CNBCfix.

But the Bove interview Monday on "Fast Money" was a massive train wreck.

And Lee needs to take the fall for this one.

We had a hard time, to say the least, figuring out if this was a bullish or bearish call on Bank of America.

Lee introduced the bank talk by saying BAC was down 3% on Bove's call for "horrific loan losses." The text at the screen bottom referred to this "horrific" $46 billion.

If that's not an implication that Bove was bearish, we don't know what is.

Then her question to him asking if macro trends or specific business improvements (i.e., the Countrywide and Merrill acquisitions) were going to help BAC the most sounded like he was, in fact, bullish — which he is.

We'll see if we can figure this out.

Bove told Lee, via phone, that BAC had $5 billion in loan losses for 2006, $8 billion for 2007, $28 billion for 2008 and "I think this year, they'll write off $52 billion in bad loans."

Then he explained, "I don't think you can keep that growth rate going. ... The pool of write-offs is getting smaller and smaller and smaller."

This Charlotte Business Journal story on Bove's call says, "He says BofA may see a loan-loss provision of up to $46 billion this year."

The text on the screen also referred to the "horrific" $46 billion.

Also in agreement on the $46 billion is this Reuters story, which also has this key info that we didn't hear on "Fast Money": Bove raised his BAC price target to $19.

But whatever.

The bigger problem was when he gave a speech about the earnings math that requires about four rewinds to absorb. Something about $42 billion plus $12 billion divided by shares outstanding to get your multiple ... "I still think it's a triple even though it may get set back a little bit in the next few weeks," he said.

The camera caught Lee glancing sideways during all of this, looking like she was asking "Does anyone follow all this?" and/or "How do I cut him off?"

This is downright negligent hosting, introducing opposite ends of a research report and then allowing a guest to do speechmaking on an esoteric concept with little context.

It took us about 15 minutes to figure this out. We think Bove's opinion is that a larger-than-expected amount of loan-loss provisions will be taken in 2009, which may shock people at the moment, but that will provide a rock-bottom basis for future earnings growth and thus produce a triple for the stock within a few years. In short, the "kitchen sink" that "Fast Money" folks spoke constantly about in late 2007 is finally coming to pass.

Or, as Dylan Ratigan would've interrupted Bove early to clarify, "You're saying they're clearing the decks with huge loan losses now that will lead to rapid earnings growth in upcoming years." And Bove would've likely said "yes." End of speech.

Tim Seymour was clearly skeptical of BAC's consumer exposure. He was the only one who noted a significant part of Bove's call, which was that Countrywide and Merrill acquisitions are a major plus. Guy Adami said, "I don't think it's a raging buy right here," and that Bove's "time horizons are much different than the show's time horizons, frankly."

Pete Najarian said analysts such as Bove will talk about "normalized" earnings. "What is normalized?" Najarian asked. "Morgan Stanley is now having some issues with the whole integration of Smith Barney."

OK. Glad to have that segment behind us.

Clearly, a major Achilles heel of "Fast Money" is its soundbite discussion on analyst calls that tend to lack, at a minimum, context, and sometimes even accuracy.

Adami, as the show's last original, was a study in confidence Monday, declaring a rough ride ahead in terms more emphatic than he previously has used. "The next move, the next leg, is down, in a significant way," he said. He briefly debated moving averages with Tim Seymour, pointing out the 200-day holding:

Adami: "You need this to happen for at least a week to 10 days."

Seymour: "Well, we're still above."

Adami: "Well, we're still right there," he said, unconvinced.

Seymour pointed more than once to what he sees as a big speech by President Obama on Wednesday. "There's no reason to be a hero here" until then, he said.

Terranova said fear not for energy and commodities: "I think you're a buyer on the dips," he said.

Adami had this interesting take on PALM. "If you buy this stock now, you're buying it hoping that Dell might buy 'em. But I think that's the only reason you buy it right here."

Adami said of homebuilders, the "ancillary trade for me is Home Depot." He said UTX is "too rich here" and could probably be had for $50. Mastercard? "Think it still heads down," he said. He said Goodyear (GT) has had trouble at $13.75, "think this run is over for now" and it will be available with an "11 handle."

Patricia "Patty" Edwards of Storehouse dislikes just about everything except a certain Bentonville, Ark., company.

"The consumer has nothing left to stand on," she lamented. "I do like Wal-Mart," and she said she prefers it over Target despite the Goldman Sachs call because "Wal-Mart sells more food by far than Target does." She said the consumer isn't nearly healthy enough to make Macy's (M) and Nordstrom (JWN) appealing buys.

Terranova asked Edwards, "What do you make of all the money sitting on the sidelines?"

Carter Worth made what nowadays is sort of a rare "Fast Money" appearance to discuss pairs trades, a concept that on Friday with Wayne Weddington was referred to as do-it-yourself hedging.

Several times in the last few weeks Lee has asked panelists for extensive explanation as to what a "pairs trade" is, even though this is the same show where options traders such as Jared Levy regularly spout straddles as though the whole world spent the afternoon sightseeing at the CBOE.

Worth made a point he's made for years now, about "convergence" and "divergence" of mature stocks and instruments that tend to have a high correlation. He suggests being long Daimler (he pronounced it "Dommler") and short Ford; "at this point we would play for convergence." Also he suggests long ACN vs. short IBM, and to buy UBS and go short CS. Najarian asked "Is there anything fundamentally that would change your mind?" Worth acknowledged the stocks trade where they do for a reason, but that "at some point that's an unsustainable divergence." Lee asked when to quit the pairs trade. "If you can get 5, or 600 basis points of performance, walk away," Worth responded.

Win Thin, currency expert for Brown Brothers Harriman, came on to discuss the dollar only to have Tim Seymour steal the show. Thin explained that Russia and China have an incentive not to talk down the dollar because they own so many. "I expect no surprises except positive out of them," he said.

Seymour cut to the chase regarding India and China. "This is all about these guys wanting more representation within the G-8 and the IMF," he said, adding they should "act constructive, not attacking the West." Thin agreed.

Seymour did a little segment from a recent trip to Turkey, a nation he has touted for the past year as perhaps underrated by investors. "TUR is the ETF to buy Turkey," he said, and he said "Turkish banks are reasonably healthy," but he really likes TKC, which was also his "Final Trade."

Pete Najarian said Tim Seymour is correct that he wears a clip-on tie. "My hands are shot," Pete said. Apparently that's why he also goes sockless, in bare feet and sandles on the set.

Pete detected heavy buying in July 6 calls for Sprint, which later became his "Final Trade," and he said "Boeing just got far in front of itself."

Terranova was quieter than usual. He did give a shout-out to producer John Melloy over Lincoln Financial, and he made MSFT his "Final Trade."

The abbreviated "Halftime Report" was a dud. Terranova said the big question for the market is, "Does Ben Bernanke come in and buy more Treasurys." Dan Fitzpatrick said, "I'm looking at 945 on the upside. I'm cautiously bullish. We still need to be buying the dips." Mike Khouw dismissed strength in the dollar. "By and large it seems we're seeing sellers in almost everything." Jon Najarian offered, "I say we go lower today and tomorrow ... Wednesday could be a nice up day."

Seymour phoned in to "Halftime," saying "I think the commodity trade's under pressure. I think the DXY, you know, which is the dollar index, you watch this up to about 85, that's really your pivot point, until then, I don't think you vacate these trades." On the regular show, he said, "If you believe that the dollar is in a structural bull market, you're probably very alone right now." He said a lot of big commodity names are down 10-15% but still holding above the 50-day.

Lee apparently has done something with her hair; she looked much like Trish Regan, who stepped in for Maria Bartiromo on "Closing Bell."

Jeff Macke done at CNBC

The somewhat-predicted earthquake at "Fast Money" has happened, according to TVNewser. We don't know if it was a firing, contract expiration, or even Macke's choice. All they've got is this quote from CNBC spokesman Brian Steel: "Jeff is no longer with CNBC. We wish him all the best, and we thank him for his quality contributions."

CNBCfix wishes Macke the best, and looks forward to his own explanation at Minyanville of what happened.

CNBCfix turns 1, thanks readers

We're so busy at CNBCfix, we nearly overlooked something we consider as important as Guy Adami's "Final Trade."

Our birthday.

CNBCfix actually launched the last week of May 2008, though we didn't get much of a real home page going until early June. Our pride and joy then, as now, was the detailed "Fast Money" review (which we called "Fast Money Fix" at the time but quickly thought that sounded strange). We also did a nightly "Mad Money" review, but stopped that after a couple of months.

We coined the term "CNBCfix" well before partisan interests were clamoring to "fix CNBC." Occasionally we get lumped with that. We're not trying to fix anything, and we don't consider CNBC a controversial business entity. CNBCfix is for people who like getting their "fix" of CNBC every day like we do. (The fact it's a very short term and easily typable for a URL, um, didn't hurt either.)

The Web business is extremely humbling. Those who've tried it know what we mean. Site ideas that turn out shoddy. The complaints or shrugs. And perhaps the worst, the hopefully infrequent minimal traffic days. Sometimes it makes one wonder, "Why am I doing this?" CNBCfix does it because we think we have something to say. And we say it, like you see on every one of these pages, dedicated to the highest standards of journalism established long ago and still practiced by print newspapers and news magazines.

We don't know if we'll hit blockbuster traffic numbers. We do know that some very accomplished people are reading CNBCfix, in Englewood Cliffs, Manhattan and far beyond. We've heard from some, are aware of others. These are people well-versed in the issues of Wall Street, Washington, the national media, and the world, in some cases maybe even leading the discussion. And like anyone else, they like a good stock tip too.

In our earliest "Fast Money" review on record, May 28, 2008, we grumbled about the monotony of the show that week, complaining the panel "risked relegating their show to only-once-a-week-must-seeing." There was a large amount of MSFT-YHOO discussion (Tim Seymour finally helped stamp that out a few months ago), and Pete Najarian pounded the table on oil services. Stacy Gilbert came on to talk options, but the most interesting guest was Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who called Iraq's security situation "immeasurably better" than a year earlier and predicted a "functioning state" at peace with its neighbors and producing large amounts of oil within five years.

We're here because you are. As always, we're fighting for every click and appreciate the ones we get.

Now back to our "Fast Money" review.

[Friday, June 12, 2009]

Fast Money Review: If Clorox
is great, why isn’t CEO buying?

Featuring: CLX | Don Knauss | Guy Adami | Jeff Macke | Joe Terranova | Pete Najarian | Melissa Lee | Dennis Gartman | AA | gold | oil | PBR | SU | Jim Goldman | AAPL | RIMM | MCD | WMT | Wayne Weddington | NDN | FDO | BAC | Ken Lewis | MSFT | MRVL | BNI | CSX | ANR | OXY | CME | Zachary Karabell | Charvet

"Fast Money" made a big deal out of Clorox on Friday, a day after CEO Don Knauss appeared for a healthy exchange on the show.

"He was a great CEO, we gave him props, stock went higher," Jeff Macke said.

"Look at CLX today, up 5%," Guy Adami said. "Probably still goes higher from here."

Yes, it was a good call by Adami, at least for a day.

We'll just ask the question we identified yesterday:

If the stock is "undervalued certainly," as Knauss said, why has he not bought any shares in 2009?

We were eager for a return appearance from Dennis Gartman — seems like he's been absent for a long time — and were intrigued by his Alcoa call (and credit Melissa Lee for asking the question).

"I still own it ... actually the biggest position that I have on," he said. "I think that's a 40 or 50-dollar stock over the course of the next two years ... I'm gonna try my best to stay long. I wanna own the base metals." (Joe Terranova would respond later, "I would be careful with Alcoa, think it's ripe for a pullback.")

Gartman also said, "Somebody is leaning on the gold market between 970 and 990 ... there's somebody there stopping it. Somebody of consequence is selling gold at $980 an ounce."

About the Fed, he said he finds it interesting that the "monetary base ... it's actually not expanding." He said the Fed will next report it has "done almost as much as they need to do in quantitative easing."

"I think you're gonna end up seeing inflation in commodity prices and you're actually gonna see deflation in wage rates," he added. "Wage rates are gonna be under pressure for a long time."

Of course, he was asked about oil. "I think $72 is getting to be a little sporty price for crude oil," he said. "I really doubt that we'll get to $75. If you have been bullish of crude oil, probably should go to the sidelines ... I'm long Petrobras and I'm long uh, uh Suncor, and I'm short the U.S. domestics, that tends to be a bullish transaction," he added, but suggested it might be time to take it off.

And as is custom, he reminded us how long he's been a commodities pro.

"I've learned after 35 years of doing this, you don't just switch from being bullish to being bearish, you switch from bullish to neutrality, and then after a period of time you may turn bearish."

We got what looks like a looming Apple debate that could result in Jeff Macke giving Jim Goldman the Dennis Kneale treatment.

Pete Najarian played broker in this one, asking Goldman — who some Silicon Valley wags tend to think is a bit of a spokesman for the Cupertino giant — about criticisms that Apple is turning an elite brand into a mass market one.

"Boy, I couldn't think of a more mistaken way to look at this," Goldman said (with stressed words in italics). "When Apple has cut prices, we have seen a dramatic increase in uh, you know, sort of market acceptance ... by and large if Apple is starting to drift towards more of the mass market idea, this is just opening up a whole new segment of consumers for this company, which has yet to really go broad, and if it goes broad, we're talking about a huge potential uptick in revenue."

Macke was straight-faced in the small screen while Goldman talked, and didn't get a chance to follow up with Goldman but did tee off after the ensuing commercial break in a discussion of solid, "boring" stocks such as McDonald's, Wal-Mart and (of course) Clorox.

"Calling these stocks boring is the biggest misnomer since Jim Goldman called Apple's price reductions a positive development," Macke said.

For whatever reason we're reminded of the early days of "Fast Money," when Herb Greenberg came on a couple times a week for a showdown with a trader over whether a company was a good buy or not, with the rest of the panel refereeing. Greenberg liked to regularly claim that Apple was never very forthcoming about its business activities.

That was many dollars ago in the share price.

Anyway. Goldman said the next big thing in the tech world is the Research in Motion earnings Thursday, and he struck a bullish theme. "The pipeline is stuffed with some very exciting products that are gonna be coming out on Verizon as well as AT&T, there's a lot of bullishness surrounding this stock right now but it's not necessarily reflected in the share price," he said. "Some people are thinking there's gonna be a pretty good upside surprise next week, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see start seeing some very heavy action in RIMM probably by Tuesday at the latest." (This writer is long RIMM.)

He said of PALM, "just gotta wonder if this company is just going way too fast too soon." He downplayed Macke's suggestion of a "death fight" among the phonemakers but said that chipmakers like TXN and software makers will benefit from this smartphone boom. "This is, you know, one of these rising tides floating a lot of different boats."

Pete Najarian mentioned Marvell, "another winner on the chip side ... they had an absolutely phenomenal week."

In a slightly redundant add-on at the end of the show, Terranova said of RIMM, "The tell with these numbers is gonna be, how many subscribers they added in the quarter. Look for the number anything north of 4 million, bullish."

Newcomer Wayne Weddington of Brunswick Capital did well in an abbreviated guest spot despite the fact Melissa Lee tried to make his fairly simple strategy as complicated as possible. Weddington is simply saying to go long consumer staples against an overall market short. Not too tricky. It took Lee about three tries to express that as "do-it-yourself hedge-fund investing." (Side note: "do-it-yourself hedge-fund investing" would be not about a simple pairs trade, but successfully lobbying some fat cats to give you a few million to invest.)

Weddington was eloquent and very straightforward. Perhaps he could've used a jolt of caffeine from McCafe, especially given it was late in the show and Lee was starting to hit the panic button over time.

"Basically if you look at the sectors of the S&P 500, there's 10 sectors. And of the 10 sectors, there's only one that actually outperformed the S&P 500 over the last year," Weddington said. "That is consumer non-cyclicals. That's consumer staples, that means the things that you and I buy every day.

"Thing is, families still have to eat, they still buy underwear, they still gotta buy their kids' clothes, so there's still gonna be a lot of demand for these things, but I think people are trading in their Guccis and uh, you know the higher-end products and they're going to places that really stretch their buck," he added. "What's important is, I don't really know which direction ... the S&P 500 is gonna go. But I do know that relative to the S&P 500, these stocks are going to do quite well." He said he recommended MCD and WMT to his clients back in November against an S&P short. "I still like 99 cents (NDN) and Family Dollar (FDO)," he said.

Today's "sidelines" report: "I still think we're toppy here folks," Guy Adami said. "Money on the sidelines, blah blah blah ... we've come too far too fast."

Pete Najarian on the other hand said "People are on the sidelines, people do want to get involved in this." But we also heard Bob Pisani during Closing Bell question if it's really true that there's so much "money on the sidelines."

So there you go. Is your money on the sidelines?

This being a quiet Friday (it was a mere 13 minutes of "Word on the Street" before the first commercial), traders unfortunately spent a decent chunk of time rehashing old calls from the last couple days, and not just Clorox.

"I would be flat the energy space," Joe Terranova said, scoffing at oil predictions by the IEA ("tell me when it's trading 45 or 50"). "Oil is not going up on demand, it is going up on paper asset demand ... we are creating a bubble in itself in oil."

Jeff Macke retold how great BAC CEO Ken Lewis did against Congress. "He beat them senseless, he knocked them around from pillar to post," but he did say of BAC shares, "they're tired, they deserve a rest."

Adami said UNH "works with that trading strategy" of his $22.90 base.

Interestingly, now that MSFT is finally, actually, moving north, "Fast Money" is hardly talking about it — except for Joe Terranova. "How about Microsoft, Windows 7 is coming out ... I think Microsoft is coming back again," he said.

Adami said of Jefferies, "Something's clearly going on there" and that he wouldn't initiate, but there are bullish signs. He said "I still like YUM" but wasn't quite as sold on high-end retail. "A lot of people aren't out there buying $125 Charvet ties from Saks," Adami said.

Terranova said "You cannot lose with The Buckle, stay with this trade."

Talk of energy and transports was linked.

On Friday, "We lost the energy, we lost the resource, we lost the commodity trade," Terranova said, adding "we are probably going to roll over heading into the Federal Reserve meeting June 23."

Adami called transports still a "huge barometer" for the market. He said BNI "I think has gotten ahead of itself ... I would still rather be long CSX than BNI here, but both of them are still working." Macke said transports haven't been rallying on fundamentals. Terranova said, "It's a little late in the game ... be real careful with the rails, I'd also be real careful with the truckers."

Pete Najarian is again pounding the table on coal, citing ANR making the famous "conviction buy list from Goldman Sachs." Why? "They believe in the coal, they believe in the steel, demand hasn't started, but it will pick up soon."

Terranova made a good point if fairly obvious, that the market cannot live with uncertainty "auction to auction." He said "private sector borrowing costs continue to rise ... that puts Ben Bernanke in a conundrum, because he then has to figure out how to restimulate the market that back in March he thought he had stimulated." Melissa Lee had a simple solution for that. "All he has to do is go in and buy more Treasurys." OK.

Najarian discussed TIVO's "huge spike in the stock ... incredible amount of options activity," and called TEVA a "generic king, gotta love these guys, still probably have some room."

Steve Grasso made a brief early appearance and said his customers are throwing in the bearish towel. "My clients have been covering their short positions ... so I think we're going higher from here," he said. "Feels a lot like that 850 (S&P) battle. I've been long OXY, my clients have been long OXY. they're interested in big pharma, staying away from HMO plays."

Lee asked Grasso what was going on with a trading power outage. Grasso basically said it was no big deal and that the exchange was prepared. "Sounds to me like one of those bearish clients pulled the plug because he didn't like the direction," Terranova joked.

Zach Karabell at "Halftime" offered a different rationale than Terranova for the "lost" trades Friday and potentially "rolling over." Karabell called it common Friday activity during summer or pre-summer and a typical market pause. Jimmy Iurio said Friday was about the stagnant dollar. Terranova spent other segments during the day discussing how he's getting long the XBI and ABT.

It's not really the domain of this review, but Ron Insana was heard on "Closing Bell" stressing two potential objections to carbon cap-and-trade, that it doesn't matter what happens in America if China and India don't change, and — what caught our ear — that Chicago, President Obama's hometown, would benefit most because of some CME interests.

[Thursday, June 11, 2009]

Fast Money Review:
Halftime pep talk sacked at 5

Featuring: Bill Strazzullo | Jeff Tomasulo | Brian Schaeffer | Joe Terranova | Karen Finerman | Jeff Macke | Guy Adami | Melissa Lee | AAPL | Dennis Gartman | Herb Greenberg | CLX | Don Knauss | Daniel Clifton | Steve Liesman | AA | Steve Cortes | UNH | BAC | Ken Lewis | TBT | Kenneth Feinberg

Here's a possible idea for Susan Krakower:

Make the "Fast Money Halftime Report" independent of the real show and keep the panelist teams separate.

One thing we occasionally notice is the divergence in market forecasts between the "Halftime" people and the 5 p.m. people.

Bill Strazzullo said Thursday at halftime, "I think there's another move to the upside, I think we get to at least a thousand in the S&P."

And though Jeff Tomasulo also said at halftime, "I'm not drinking the Kool-aid until this market gets above 95.50 ... It needs to close above 95.50 (we think he means $95.50 for the S&P-tracking SPY), Brian Schaeffer of VDM was there to counter, "If I were Jeff, I'd have some Kool-aid, and I'd have some Kool-aid right now. "I would be a buyer, I would not wait."

On the real show, Joe Terranova called the day's run-up "more about short covering." Guy Adami said "I just don't trust it here." Karen Finerman said "this rally is very long in the tooth."

Adami later practically scoffed at Tomasulo's claim that Apple has had a "major pullback" — Adami described it as a 4% drop from $146 to $140. "I'm not the brightest bulb in the fixture, but major pullback, no," he said.

So perhaps there is potential for serious rivalry here.

In fact, they could even hold a draft to see which show gets Dennis Gartman.

And which show gets Herb Greenberg (assuming he ever returns to CNBC).

Thursday was a sorry encore to Wednesday's blockbuster episode. Melissa Lee's cues were all screwed up, graphics didn't appear when they were supposed to, there were more pockets of dead air than usual, a few teasers in the bottom text were off. (It just occurs to us, Lee hasn't taken a day off since her elevation to interim host.)

One thing that was working however was Karen Finerman's elegant sleeveless dress. She looked ready to be spirited away to a formal banquet somewhere.

One of the unseen advantages to the departure of Dylan Ratigan is that the traders have had to pick up the hosting slack — and two in particular, Finerman and Terranova, are downright excelling at asking questions, showing remarkable preparedness.

The panel had a roundtable chat with Clorox CEO Don Knauss, and Finerman asked about competition from generic brands in a tough economy while Terranova questioned if swine flu was actually a plus for sales. Knauss responded that Hidden Valley Ranch — admit it, you too didn't know that was a Clorox brand — maintains premium pricing and that the company's disinfectant brands are very strong.

Jeff Macke, while knowing his material, tends to ask questions that CEOs can't really answer but are best served to analysts. And as we've pointed out several times including his praise for Aubrey McClendon and IHOP's chief, Macke sprinkles out way too much Hidden Valley Ranch on CEO guests. Thursday he called Clorox a "tremendously well-run" company but his unanswerable-by-Knauss question of why the Street doesn't value it likes some peers drew this tired response, "We feel like we're, we're undervalued certainly."

And just how undervalued does Knauss actually think Clorox is? According to Yahoo finance, Knauss' last transaction was a disposition of 10,023 shares Oct. 2, 2008.

Guy Adami didn't exactly come across as Mr. Objective by sporting a Clorox product (GreenWorks laundry detergent) as a prop for Knauss on his desk, then saying "the stock to me is undervalued, nice dividend, I think you buy Clorox" and repeating that notion for his final trade. (It's fine for Adami to recommend the stock, but he seemed more than just a little bit on board.)

As for Melissa Lee, in introducing the Clorox CEO we could swear she called him "Don Knapp." Because when he appeared and they showed his name at the bottom, we suddenly thought, that's not the name she said. But we rewound the tape several times and honestly can't tell if she said "Knapp" or "Knauss" — there was a graphic with sound effects at the same time. We're not saying she did call him "Knapp" — only that it is possible. Her question was no better than Macke's, and Knapp, er, Knauss, responded rather vaguely, "I think people were expecting a little bit more because of commodities." (Our translation: Commodity costs hurt, and they were expected to be lower. But we're not really sure of that.)

Knauss was moderately forthcoming and comfortable on the set despite the lack of any investable information.

Back to Finerman. She got our attention not just with attire but this line, "It was our best month ever in the history of our fund," apparent validation of her sizzling recent calls on oil drillers and TBT and why she seems to be feeling it on the show in recent weeks.

She downplayed the great recent success in Alcoa, calling it "really, really" levered and pointing out the enterprise value hasn't risen so much, a description that brought "oohs" from the other panelists.

She said she likes NOK, would still go long WMT and short the XRT, and added during a gold discussion, "I don't want to bet against David Einhorn." Twice during this glitch-marred show, she was asked the same question about TBT and said to sell a third or half of a position, keep the rest.

She said something we actually disagreed with, which was "the only thing that's continuing to work right now is energy."

Depends on the definition of "continuing," but the gadget makers, Goldman Sachs, Freeport McMoran, Green Mountain Coffee, and even Finerman's longtime staple, Microsoft, have been "continuing to work" for weeks, beyond the plateauing of most of the banks in May.

There must be a contractual obligation to give Steve Cortes a certain amount of air time. We're not sure why he was brought on for a third day to deliver his firm's general thesis. "In many ways it's a return to the 1970s," he said, referencing inflation and a range-bound market.

Cortes said the S&P will trade in a range of 750 to 1,000, and that the March low of 666 is "probably unreachable." Pressed for a market call by Jeff Macke (his questions for traders are much better than his questions for CEOs), Cortes said he is "absolutely short right now" particularly in "consumer names." We found it a bit odd he wasn't wearing a jacket while in the typical guest pose next to the Pete Najarian chair. Cortes has proved to be a fine addition to the show — at least when delivering spontaneous commentary and not relying on rehearsed jokes and investment themes.

Steve Liesman showed up to talk economics. He was much more down-to-earth than Rick Santelli, but unfortunately not nearly as interesting. He said rising bond yields really only likely "hurt at the margin." He downplayed some people's fear of rapid inflation, saying it's "very, very hard to get pricing traction right now." He thinks the market might be "ahead of itself" in predicting a Fed hike anytime soon.

But he threw us when he suggested there will eventually be a Fed-Treasury split and said, "The bet to make is, will the Fed get this right?" He said, "Geithner is counting on Bernanke at the critical moment to make the changes and keep the fiscal authority in check." We don't really know what that means, except that Geithner is expecting a certain approach to rate hikes that maybe Bernanke won't deliver? Maybe Rick Santelli can come back to the show and explain it for everyone.

Daniel Clifton of Strategas discussed what the Obama administration could mean for health care. Finerman declared "there is going to be a massive overhaul of health care," but Clifton offered, "It might be a lot less, uh, onerous to the private sector than many people expect." He said winners would include generics and hospitals, while losers could be managed care and biotech. "I think all the providers are gonna take at least some kind of haircut," he said.

Guy Adami said UNH could be a decent trading vehicle and suggested $22.90, a 50% retracement level, would be a good stop for going long. But he didn't offer this one with a whole lot of conviction, so you're on your own.

Jeff Macke concluded the health care segment with a very strange quip. He said: "I haven't enjoyed his work in finance or autos, and I'm avoiding these stocks for exactly that reason."

At first we thought he was talking about Clifton. But after re-rolling the tape, we realized he is apparently talking about President Obama — and perhaps not using the president's name because of some kind of corporate directive or something.

Isn't it nice to be talking about Macke in just regular panelist terms and not as some controversial person with a future in limbo?

When the subject of "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg came up, Macke virtually growled and said "I'm positive he's a tool."

Macke praised BAC's Ken Lewis in his congressional performance Thursday. "He owned that room. He kicked the snot out of 'em. I bought some Bank of America along the way."

He said "do the math, people, and avoid the homebuilders" and by show's end was saying he's selling BAC and even Agrium. Adami twice said gold "scares me," and he added "copper may be getting a tad ahead of itself." Of X, "I say get out" after U.S. Steel's "big run." And, "I don't know where PALM goes from here."

Terranova said "I sold some calls" in RIMM and that it's time to take a little bit off. (This writer is long RIMM, which is nearing a typical CNBCfix golf score.)

Terranova took issue with oil expert Peter Beutel's call of possible sub-$40 barrels down the road. Terranova sees a pullback ahead, but "not $39.80."

Lee had a downright lousy show. When the script fails, she tends to get in trouble. Her worst moment was when her cues either disappeared or were wrong while introducing Clifton on the health care segment. Unable to ad lib like Dylan Ratigan did so well, she repeatedly turns to Adami for help.

She was also a bit too proud of her "hosed" joke about Nancy Pelosi and some representative you've never heard of, Shelley Capito, taking losses on AIG and C stock respectively. At "Halftime," Lee said this: "Nokia has 41% of the smartphone market." We were curious. That number, reported by Gartner Inc., is correct. RIMM is at 19.9%, AAPL at 10.8%.

So we credit Lee for getting it right, too.

Jon Najarian said at halftime: "U.K., recession fears have pretty much ended there."

[Wednesday, June 10, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Santelli
offers advice to Bernanke

Featuring: Rick Santelli | Monty Python | Ben Bernanke | Melissa Lee | Dylan Ratigan | Jeff Macke | Joe Terranova | Karen Finerman | Pete Najarian | Lawrence Summers | Timothy Geithner | PALM | Chris Thornberg | TBT | RIMM | HD | USO | AGU | Christopher Zook | Jon Rubenstein | Ed Colligan | Steve Cortes | XLE | XLY | Lilly | John Lechleiter | Bart Peterson | ELX | BRCM | Carrie Prejean

Who would've thought Treasury yields could deliver the monster of a "Fast Money" show we saw Wednesday. We scribbled at a frantic pace — particularly during the appearance of Rick Santelli.

Santelli said the Treasury auction is "kind of like 'The Meaning of Life'," the Monty Python movie. "Remember that stout gentleman who had a big appetite..." (Actually, we don't.)

Santelli, as he usually does in his early morning routine, made a speech, the type Dylan Ratigan would not allow but which now occur regularly because Melissa Lee is unwilling to cut speechmakers off. At one point during his spiel about how we have to eat and eat and eat and how bad the budget is, Jeff Macke was caught grimacing. Eventually Santelli came to a conclusion: "The price in the yield, that's what the rest of the world's gonna jack up right in our faces."

Pete Najarian started to say what we were thinking, then crumbled: "Most people sitting at home really don't understand most of what you're talking about, only because it's just too far out there."

"You think our leaders do?" Santelli replied.

"No, well, they probably don't, Rick, they probably don't," Najarian stammered.

Note: It's not really "too far out there," it's a rehearsed speech, and most people are interested in spontaneous, to-the-point answers that are extremely difficult to pry from Santelli. But he didn't miss a chance to jump on his politics theme, and he even got Najarian to offer that Washington doesn't know what it's doing, even though the two disagreed on the importance of mortgage rates.

In fact, the CNBCfix guess is that Lawrence Summers has been running the economy (as much as any one person can run it) for months now, that he basically convinced the White House and Fed to charge all of our problems on the nation's no-limit credit card and deal with paying it off later. He/they "understand" everything Santelli is talking about and then some. Are they making the right calls? Maybe, maybe not.

So what is all this wisdom from Santelli that he and Najarian think "our leaders" don't understand?

Karen Finerman, an acknowledged Democrat who once called Sarah Palin "terrible" on the show, asked Santelli a great question that was actually a near-miss: If you were Ben Bernanke, what would you do?

This is his verbatim answer:

"Oh, that's so easy. First of all I'd take a quick lesson in politics, because if he plays his political cards right, he could guarantee his job. The independence of the Fed is at stake here. I think the administration wants to get rid of him, and he's holding all the independent cards.

"What I would do is, I would raise the target rate by a token 25 basis points. It doesn't really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. I'd close a couple of programs that aren't destined to work anyway and show that there's some monetary restraint going on, I'd put the presidential administration and the Congress in the box on this because I don't think politics is gonna be kind to Mr. Bernanke come January."

What Finerman should've asked Santelli is this: What would you do if you were Tim Geithner or Larry Summers?

Instead by taking the Bernanke route, Finerman let Santelli play more ridiculous political cards while dodging the question. The fact is he would be doing very little differently than Bernanke, Summers and Geithner are doing now, other than playing political games.

He admits if he were Bernanke he wouldn't even be focusing on the economy, only job preservation, by taking a "quick lesson in politics" to better "play political cards" to hopefully "guarantee his job," even though he somehow is "holding all the independent cards." And oh yeah, he'd raise the target rate 25 basis points even though "it doesn't really matter that much" on his way to putting "the presidential administration and the Congress in the box on this."

So you have a prominent financial commentator who says if he were Ben Bernanke, "that's easy," his goal would be sticking it to the administration so that he won't get fired.

Given answers like that, instead of Santelli we'd be better off putting the Monty Python crew in charge of the Fed.

One frustrating element of "Fast Money" reoccurred when Lee interrupted the Santelli exchange to deliver what CNBC apparently thinks is earth-shattering PALM CEO news. We know there's a hot product involved, but we'd never heard of either gentleman and didn't appreciate why this was so important as to deep-six the Santelli segment and force Finerman to fight to get her question heard.

Finerman is mighty concerned about the yields, of course, and repeated that theme that has produced a spectacular call on her part for weeks in TBT.

"We have a huge onslaught of paper coming due ... this will be the focus now for a long, long time. This and employment are the key statistics that we're gonna look at." Of the stock market, she said, "How is it going to rally when you have this kind of action in the, in the long end of the market? I think it's gonna be very tough."

Melissa Lee asked her about the TBT, and her answer caught our attention because her firm is using a different vehicle. (There were some pauses here but we tried to get it verbatim:)

"We are still short Treasury bonds through a different, uh, something than the TBT, a different, uh, sort of over-the-counter call that Goldman created for us."

Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics (we learned he is "6-7 ... big old hoss" according to Lee and Najarian) showed up on the set and gave a much more useful take on Treasury yields than Santelli's mumbo jumbo that "our leaders don't understand."

Thornberg addressed the rising 30-year mortgage rate. He mentioned fewer refinancings, ARM troubles and commercial payments; "you add it all up and this is not a good sign."

More interesting, he took up the subject of the Fed's quantitative easing, essentially buying bonds because rates can't effectively be taken any lower. "It's not working," he said. Jeff Macke suggested the government might want a rising rate to prod people to rush out to buy or refinance. "Nice theory, but it doesn't, it's not borne out in facts," Thornberg said. "They're purchasing at the same level." Joe Terranova astutely noted we "have not heard from Bernanke in the last couple days."

Terranova is on a bigger run than West Texas Intermediate. CNBCfix is starting to see itself in Terranova. He's likely a low-budget commodity compared with other CNBCers. He doesn't always look particularly polished or smooth. But every day he shows up to play and makes the most of every at-bat. Strikeout, ground out, he'll come up swinging in his next at-bat.

Lately, he's been jacking some home runs. Wednesday he did a segment on Research in Motion, suggesting it's ahead of Apple in many measurables. "Going into those earnings, RIMM sets up beautifully," he said. He also made TBT his "Final Trade," which made this writer happy because this writer happens to be long both RIMM and TBT at the moment (note: definitely do not take stock tips from CNBCfix or you might be forced to write TV reviews to make a living).

Terranova said of oil, "The pressure is on the bears ... I'm starting to agree with what Pete is telling us because he's correct" that rising oil will hurt the economy and overall market. Once again he knocked the USO even though Macke's wife urged him to buy it. (Terranova didn't say it, but Hess and Petrobras are two names closely "tethered" to the price of oil.)

Terranova singled out "terrible price action" on Home Depot and said "I think the run in financials (was) over three weeks ago."

Jeff Macke got his Soap Box back! It showed up briefly during an entertaining mini-rant on the purported White House "pay czar," Kenneth Feinberg, who MLee insisted is really a "special master," whatever the heck that is.

Macke made the startling comment that "China's a rocket ship." Evidently he's finally on board. As a result, "get long the ag stocks," including his favorite, Agrium.

He said the HD action was negative enough that "I got out" of Target because he didn't have any HD to sell.

Macke reiterated his interesting point from a day earlier that Apple is morphing into an all-purpose cell phone retailer and is throwing itself off its game. He said that's why he sold his shares. Najarian said Nokia is the phone maker facing the biggest trouble.

CNBC Silicon Valley chief Jim Goldman said that urgent PALM report on Jon Rubenstein replacing Ed Colligan as CEO is "probably good news" and it's the "right time for the company to make a change," then something about how it all goes around and comes around with Elevation Partners.

Christopher Zook of CAZ (we think those are his initials) took up the "Bull Market or B/S" question. Not surprisingly his answer was basically b.s.

"We're going to fall on this first test," he said, adding "we're gonna pull back from here." He did say there is "so much liquidity on the sidelines" (gee, we never hear that one on CNBC) and recommended being long the energy and commodity space with tight stops or protection, and "be short the market," or use "calendar spreads." He said the OIH still does "have room to the upside" but that commodities are a "crowded trade."

Steve Cortes returned for another "new normal" segment. This one was more concise but not much more helpful than yesterday's, though we did like the "Let the Sun Shine In" intro. Cortes predicted a "bleak future for the consumer," said to buy XLE on dips and sell XLY and that oil is the "new currency." Terranova said it's the "'70s all over again." Actually, it sounds a lot more like last year all over again.

Cortes said on the "Halftime Report" that having a government "pay czar" was "quite startling, almost Orwellian." Zach Karabell countered that "the reality is, this particular crisis put the government on the hook for a whole lot of money" and that the appointment of Feinberg is a "pretty milquetoast response given populist anger."

Pete Najarian said of the VIX in the 20s, "it's still a big number." He recommended CAT for his "Final Trade."

Eli Lilly CEO Dr. John Lechleiter visited the set. The segment was titled "Set the Record Straight," but once again we have no idea what controversy he is setting straight. Melissa Lee asked him about impressive results from Byetta; Lechleiter said he was "hoping for a standard review," whatever that means. Terranova, demonstrating the kind of preparation Lee should be doing, asked about the effect of Lilly's hiring of former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson on any health care reform. "The fact he has connections within the Democratic Party certainly can't hurt us," Lechleiter honestly noted.

Like nearly all CEO interviews on "Fast Money," this one accomplished little. And as usual, traders gushed in the CEO's presence, with Jeff Macke saying he "answered every question impressively," which may be somewhat true but that's what Macke said after Aubrey McClendon essentially refused to discuss his pay package behind the litigation excuse, so take it for what it's worth. Lechleiter was a bit rigid and made extensive gestures with his left hand especially during his initial remarks. Could be a sign of defensiveness or dodging direct answers, or maybe just a sign of not being 100% comfortable on TV. Even so, we think he was a bit more engaging than most CEOs on the show and that his appearance, however slightly, was a net plus.

It can be hard to sit through one show without an example of Melissa Lee's preparation issues. Wednesday, she had to ask out loud how to pronounce the name of the fired Miss California, "Pre-gene" or "Pre-jahn." Not exactly a major news story, and not sure why it's on "Fast Money" except to provide the bikini entertainment in lieu of another Victoria's Secret runway clip, but it's obvious Lee isn't familiar with this controversy from cable television, nor did she figure out how to pronounce the name before the segment aired.

Jeff Macke made a funny joke about the purported $1 million in the mattress in Israel, saying "that was $2 million when she threw it out just last week."

For her "Final Trade," Karen Finerman offered ELX, suggesting it would be "taken over by Broadcom at the end of the day" (we think "end of the day" means "sometime," not literally end of this day).

[Tuesday, June 9, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Macke
returns, shows why he is needed

Featuring: Jeff Macke | TARP | Apple | Pete Najarian | Guy Adami | Joe Terranova | Strategic Petroleum Reserve | Brian Schaeffer | Tim Seymour | Zachary Karabell | Dennis Gartman | Jeff Tomasulo | Carter Worth | Michael Gurka | Neural Markets | J.P. Mark | Ira Jersey | Steve Cortes | Paul Sankey | CREE | JOYG | CAT | ENER | AMSC | Mary Thompson | Margaret Brennan | earrings | Charles Gasparino

Jeff Macke resurfaced on "Fast Money" Tuesday after just one appearance on the last 13 shows.

Great to see him back, even if the panel was a bit subdued.

First he had his general say: "We're pretty much indifferent to oil prices here ... it's all about the dollar, folks," Macke said.

"Steel prices are not supportive of a recovering economy," he added. "You've got oil tankers that are just kind of floating around out there. ... You simply don't have all the ingredients for a demand-driven recovery."

Macke questioned how it's determined who gets to pay back the TARP and who doesn't, specifically Goldman Sachs and Bank of America (we held our breath a bit as he discussed Bank of America again, but smooth sailing this time). He makes a good point, what was the point of BofA rushing out to raise capital and then not being allowed (apparently) to pay off TARP.

Focusing on the rest of the show — and that was very difficult from the beginning after seeing Margaret Brennan in the CNBC.com News Now segment in stunning sleeveless white and black — there was the Apple discussion, which spanned a commercial break or two. Macke raised an interesting point about the cheaper iPhone and variety of models that wasn't addressed in the last couple days' worth of shows. He said the company is known for "excellent products, at high prices. Yesterday they became every other cell phone market company out there ... they distinctly changed their brands, and that's a, that's a problem. They changed what they're doing, and they'll be the first company ever to succeed at it." (Note: The last sentence should be interpreted to mean no company has succeeded at this, not a guarantee that AAPL will.)

Pete Najarian reiterated his long-standing theme that the expansion of Apple products gets more people into the Mac space.

J.P. Mark of Farmhouse returned via video link this time and said the highlight of Day 2 of the Apple conference was allowing people to "buy something within the application, which is huge for developers," who are "thrilled." We're not quite sure what that means, but Mark called it "very big for the stock going forward." He also mentioned technology that would allow the phone to read bar codes (we don't know why). And in the process, he gave a speech that was unedited by Melissa Lee. Najarian added that navigation is a key new ingredient for Apple.

Macke scoffed again regardless, saying "My 3G Apple if it went any slower would actually be going backwards on the Internet."

Guy Adami repeated the tremendous "Fast Money" afterhours call months ago when Steve Jobs stepped down temporarily — a flashback mentioned at this review (below) days before Adami started talking about it.

Brian Schaeffer of Vander Moolen made an excellent point on the "Halftime" show. "To me it seems very enigmatic at this point because you're watching equities, gold, oil, silver, you name the commodity, emerging markets, fx, everything's going higher, it can't happen, this isn't realistic any longer, and so the shoe has to drop somewhere."

If Macke hadn't suddenly returned, this theme would've topped tonight's review.

The financial world feels like a giant Best Buy stacked with TVs and stereos and washing machines — but no customers — and everyone suddenly rushed inside to buy in early March. Schaeffer's right, tons of things went higher — banks, oil, Apple, Freeport McMoran, Potash, gold, EEM, etc., and Treasurys have yet to implode.

So we agree with Schaeffer that the "shoe has to drop."

But for now, as Jeff Macke always says, we have to trade the market we've got, not the one that might make the most logical sense.

Three traders were ahead in the big picture: Tim Seymour, Dennis Gartman and Zach Karabell.

Seymour has been pounding the table on resource plays for months, insisting the China story is indeed real. (He has been bearish on steel.) Gartman since late winter has recommended buying the stuff that hurts when you drop it on your foot. Karabell defended the global growth story in December while others such as CNBCfix and Jeff Macke disagreed. Since March, in some cases earlier, that trade has paid off in spades.

The other panelists for months have mostly focused on trading fundamentals. (Gartman has too to some extent.) They might tell you how to play FCX on any given day. But if Seymour, Gartman and Karabell remain correct, then names like FCX remain a buy any day of the week.

Along those lines, Michael Gurka of Neural Markets was the latest contestant on "Bull Market or B/S." He was the first of four guests Tuesday that were allowed to give speeches because host Melissa Lee would not cut them off. His delivery was fine but his points were so conditional on if-thens and whatnots that we really lost track of what he was saying. Basically he took no position on the question of his segment. He predicts a "reciprocal fashion in how the equity markets are gonna trade versus commodities. ... I think we stall and stay in a range." He then cited holding Dow 7,907, which he called a 50% retracement from the highs, as a positive, and that if the Dow clears 9,016, that would be "breakout territory." (Unfortunately, Karen Finerman was not around to point out how "irrelevant" the Dow is.) Gurka suggested Ternium (TX) and Cat as possible plays.

Steve Cortes of Veracruz also took up the big-picture issue but took a step back from his recent impressive "Fast Money" appearances. For one thing, he opened with another scripted joke (remember Michael Bolton, "soul man" or something like that) that was so weak we don't even remember it. His theme was "the new normal." He cites a "process of deleveraging" that will include lower growth, lower employment, more savings and more government regulation (as he put it, the government is getting over-leveraged while everyone else is unwinding). In yet another sign of Jeff Macke's importance to the show, Macke asked a critical question here that Melissa Lee of course did not, which is, how do we get to extreme inflation if nobody's buying anything. This question was sort of linked from a previous segment but still applied. Cortes indicated people will still be buying some things. But he never really answered the question, the second time in three shows that a trader has been tripped up by a fellow trader on a questionable inflation call (see Karen Finerman vs. Tim Seymour Friday below). In any case, Cortes' point was too dense to be of any practical use, and we've already given it way more space than it deserves.

Pete Najarian said investors are gradually realizing that pullbacks aren't happening. "The money on the sidelines is gonna start going back into the market," he said.

Again, it seems like a shoe will drop somewhere, and the markets seem strangely similar to last year, but Najarian has a point.

Joe Terranova, who is on a decent roll recently and was the first panelist tapped by MLee after the intro, a sign of stature, made a good point about oil that's probably a bit premature but worth considering — will the Obama administration try to curb rising oil? "I think that's coming soon," Terranova said, explaining they could try regulatory probes of speculators (that doesn't seem to work, to be honest) or, more seriously, start unloading from the "full" Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Terranova says Guy Adami will say means prices would decline. "I can't believe they'd release from the SPR," Adami said, unless oil hits triple digits.

The way it's going, that could be sooner rather than later.

Ira Jersey of RBC, in what we think was a maiden appearance, made some interesting points about Treasury yields. His was slightly speechy also, but not quite as long-winded as others. "Near-term, we've probably seen the highs" in the 10-year, he said, predicting strong demand. He said the upcoming auctions might yield (that was a pun, and a bad one) different results for different issues. Guy Adami asked if an auction could derail the S&P's upward trajectory. "I really think it can," Jersey said. "People probably don't want 30-year money," he added.

Jeff Tomasulo made a comment to Melissa Lee on the "Halftime Report" that seemed a little snarky. Lee opened by asking about banks paying back the TARP and how the stocks seemed to have already priced it in.

"Exactly, Melissa, you're learning. Melissa, you're really learning here," Tomasulo said.

"Really learning?" This review points out the flaws in Lee's game. We think it's a bit condescending to say "really learning." She already knows the drill, we get that. (We think she's a bit underprepared, that's all.) In fairness Tomasulo didn't say it any mean-spirited way, and yes we know doing TV soundbites isn't easy. We think he was trying to say "you're right" or something like that and it just came out wrong literally.

Anyway, let's hope traders don't get too snarky, or we'll start defending MLee big-time.

Guy Adami went off on TXN again. "That's rich by anybody's standards for this stock," he said, recommending a short position with a very tight stop, maybe above 21 and a half. "Risk-reward here is very good," he added. Pete Najarian noted bullish call activity in NSM.

Najarian and Adami teamed up late on a few names, including Cree, based on an upcoming alternative energy conference, and on the Cat report, JOYG. Najarian also pointed to American Superconductor (AMSC) and Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), an old favorite. But Adami says CAT is a "tad ahead of itself ... I don't think you touch it right here."

Paul Sankey of Deutsche Bank for some reason was brought in near the end for a quick comment on oil and gasoline. He said of gasoline, "demand might be weakening with higher prices."

In "Final Trades," Macke listed Target but "under 40 I'm gone," Adami said to short TXN, Terranova liked ABT and Najarian touted FLR.

Carter Worth, someone we haven't seen too often lately, reappeared on "Fast Money Final Call" with Bob Pisani and said the market is a bit stuck and to try pairs trades, such as going long Weatherford and short Smith, also going long China Mobile and short Baidu. "We play for convergence," Worth said.

Mary Thompson broke into the regular show with news for the second day in a row, this time in splendid burgundy. And, she had the big hoop earrings too that seem to be a staple of the show. Unfortunately, her BofA report was way too full of legalese and they should've given her time to condense it first. Melissa Lee was also wearing a striking red (or perhaps orange, depending on your TV hue), but Margaret Brennan was not wearing large hoop earrings.

Charles Gasparino — he brings a lot of life to CNBC and it's great to see him back — delivered pretty much the same report on Citigroup throughout the day (not on "Fast Money" Tuesday, but where else are we supposed to write about it), talking about "regulatory purgatory" and giving letter grades to Vikram Pandit (he's a bright guy, A-, but didn't figure out early enough the Weill model didn't work, C-) and questioning if Sheila Bair has "the stroke" to oust Pandit. We did note it looks like Gasparino, despite his famous workout regimen, might've put on a couple pounds while book-writing (not many pounds, but a few).

[Monday, June 8, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Macke
‘mulling angles on a comeback’

Featuring: Jeff Macke | Pete Najarian | Jim Goldman | Melissa Lee | Guy Adami | Karen Finerman | Joe Terranova | Mike Abramsky | Gregory Boyce | Peabody | Kathryn Huberty | James Ragan | Crowell Weedon | Peter Schiff | Apple | Texas Instruments | Superior Energy Services | SPN | Rebecca Patterson | dollar | ReneSola | Francis Ford Coppola | Oliver Stone

We have zero inside knowledge, but we're certain Jeff Macke is done on "Fast Money." In the last 13 days, one live show appearance.

It is important to note there is no indication he has been fired or suspended in any way; he appeared in three different "Fast Money" promo ads during Monday's show.

And he writes very poignantly Monday in Minyanville: "My friends, I’ve been through pain I couldn’t imagine sharing with any but a few." He refers to himself as "an Internet Pyrrha for a week," thanks Minyanville readers, and says "I’ve been mulling different angles on a comeback since it happened. I’ll be fine because I know how to take a beating. I don’t like it, but I can take it — and ask for more."

We won't claim for a second (at least without any proof) that Macke reads CNBCfix — we hope he does — but this provides another opportunity to note that while CNBCfix may be an unheralded Web site in the middle of nowhere that enjoys satire, it recognizes that the people it writes about are real human beings and strives for 100% fairness, dedicated to the highest standards of journalism established for decades by daily print newspapers and news magazines.

CNBCfix wishes Jeff Macke the best — and hopes that somehow, he will reappear on "Fast Money" again soon.

CNBCfix regularly stresses the importance of preparation by the "Fast Money" crew.

Monday, Jim Goldman said of Apple's $99 iPhone, "Gotta wonder if Palm saw this significant of a price break coming."

Pete Najarian said much later in the show, "We all knew the iPhone, everybody was expecting the iPhone to be cut back to a price level to get themselves into that smart phone market."

So if we were forced to guess, we'd have to think the answer to Goldman's question is "yes," even if Goldman himself didn't know it.

Later, Mike Huckman broke in with a biotech update, reporting that Novo Nordisk claims its Victoza, a one-injection-a-day drug, is more effective in a study than the Lilly-Amylin Byetta (a twice-daily blood sugar drug).

Melissa Lee looked sheepishly at the camera and said, "Petey, you follow these names, right?" And then Najarian impressively pointed out Novo Nordisk's share decline Monday and recent beating of the shares and said he thinks there is great potential for the company.

We have no idea if Lee was blindsided by Huckman's report, or whether there was any advance warning of the Novo Nordisk statement. What was clear from her look was that Lee had zero idea what to say about this report, whereas a more prepared host might note, "Pete, you've mentioned both Novo Nordisk and Amylin several times in the past; what does this mean for both and was this completely unexpected?"

Najarian had a big day ... and perhaps he took a CNBCfix suggestion last week to heart. We pointed out a very confusing debate between Pete and Joe Terranova over analyst oil calls (different firms and different analysts in the same discussion) in which there was at a minimum confusion, and possibly an inaccuracy, and suggested that the panelists be specific about analyst names and price targets.

Monday Pete said to Jim Goldman about this not-so-secret iPhone price cut, "Kathryn Huberty was out there talking about, if they drop this price by $100, that would move 100% in the demand for the iPhone."

Pete is right-on. That is exactly what Huberty, of Morgan Stanley, said, in this report on May 26. Props to Pete for a clear, relevant and accurate point that shows quality research into the subject matter.

Guy Adami was once again recommending profit-taking in just about everything.

"JPMorgan impressively holds above that secondary price ... I still don't trust it here," he said, plus Texas Instruments had a "great couple months" but "can't get that excited at TXN at these levels," plus, on PALM's direction, "my sense, it's lower," plus SLB, "if crude comes back off like I think it may, Schlumberger goes down," plus Apple should reach "low 130s before you see it higher.

There was, actually, one stock he liked: MCD, in his "Final Trade."

Despite the glitch by Jim Goldman, who sounded like he was broadcasting next to a waterfall in San Francisco, the "Fast Money" coverage of Apple was solid if not particularly full of original material. Mike Abramsky of RBC discussed why he thinks the stock might have another $20 in it, saying "innovation is alive and well" and that "pricing is still premium" despite Najarian's concern about a price cut for the Mac. Abramsky said, as previous guests have said, that AAPL, RIMM and PALM aren't so much battling each other as they are cannibalizing the formerly Nokia/Motorola/Sony Ericsson market. "That remains the major upside" with a "lot of runway ahead" for AAPL/RIMM/PALM. (This writer is long RIMM because, why not, everyone on "Fast Money" seems to be.)

Lee claimed her show "Options Action" on Friday pointed out how AAPL tends to drop 8% in the week after a conference. Adami said it was heard on "Fast Money," and Lee suggested rolling the tape.

Macke, in his Minyanville piece, also wrote, "My Apple stop is tighter than the underwear I wore in high school."

Rebecca Patterson of JPMorgan discussed the dollar. (We would like to get a CNBC legendary guest, David Malpass, to do that, but he's more of a Kudlow-type guy.) Patterson said the dollar has gained from overextended shorts, problems in Europe and non-farm payrolls creating some talk of a possible Fed hike. She called chances of a Fed hike this year "close to zero" with an "output gap as large as it is."

"I would prefer the Aussie, Australian dollar over the euro any day," she added. "European fundamentals stink."

Monday's rising star stock came from Joe Terranova, who despite a recent run of impressive momentum seemed a little discombobulated from the gang Monday. His rising star was Superior Energy Services (SPN) and his description had too much cumbersome text that even Terranova tripped over a bit, including that SPN "perfected the model of rig-less well intervention."

We noted the SPN mention came at the 37-minute mark of the show, and the stock that had closed at $22.01 appeared on the CNBC ticker moments later at $22.77, then $22.89. (Notice it is not a sub-$5 stock like previous "rising star" nominees that jumped about 7%.)

Terranova did make an interesting call to "buy Intel off of this Texas Instruments move" and even almost convinced Adami that was a good idea. He also said something we didn't know about nat gas and why the oil/nat gas gap is near a 20-year high: "horizontal drilling" that has boosted supply.

Terranova said everyone wants to own AAPL because it's a "good fundamental story." His call on HOG as some kind of weight-loss anti-play was a little weak, especially since the HOG chart looked a bit double-toppy. He said to cover the pound for his "Final Trade."

Karen Finerman's most interesting call came in her description of bank capital-raising and why Wells Fargo seems to be lagging. She said it gives her actually a "very bullish interpretation" that WFC does not want to issue gobs of common stock at prices that may be too low, and that the company might aim to earn its way through this.

She also called the news of the P&G change in leadership from A.G. Lafley to Robert McDonald "fairly uneventful."

Finerman said, during the rather dubious "Hide the Fat" trade that allowed the show to run clips of bikinis and Playboy bunnies, that "we actually do own Warnaco ... I like the valuation, uh, I like the margins ... I like the shapewear."

CNBCfix would've been pleased to hear a longer discussion of shapewear and swimwear by Finerman and Lee — neither of whom needs any shapewear in the slightest — but things didn't quite get that far. (Lee had on eye-catching gray and large hoop earrings, which are becoming a staple of the show.) Finerman did make a funny; saying you could get long Kraft for its diet products but it also makes fatty foods so it's a "virtuous cycle."

She also discussed a tape of Peter Schiff's dismissal of Treasury debt auctions (he said "there is no real private demand for this debt"), saying that Schiff rather humorously in a recent speech called the government money-printing a "Ponzi" scheme and that the Treasury should be run by Bernie Madoff.

James Ragan of Crowell Weedon discussed CSCO joining the Dow. "Yes, it does matter ... Their business appears to have bottomed. ... We think it goes to the mid-20s here."

Najarian talked about another solar name, ReneSola (SOL), as one to watch.

CNBCfix complained a week ago about the "Fast Money" CEO interview when Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm was on. Usually CEO interviews are too soft with no news.

Monday's actually was pretty good, if only because Peabody CEO Gregory Boyce spent the time downplaying the Wall Street Journal coal story suggesting we might only have enough minable coal for 120 years and not 240.

"It all depends on the technology, and the cost structure, and the price that you apply," he said. He noted "strong demand for coal" from China and India despite a weak U.S. market (unfortunately Tim Seymour wasn't on hand to cheer).

On the downside, he initially said something about how thrilled we should be that the U.S. is the "Saudi Arabia of coal," which ranks in the top three of terminology on CNBC we are so tired of hearing, the others being "so much money sitting on the sidelines" and, from a certain stock picker's commercials, "you ... need ... to ... get ... in ... the ... game."

Also, Lee as usual let Boyce make too much of a statement without interrupting him for more focused answers.

On the "Halftime Report," Jon Najarian suggested movements in the TBT and EUO were a signal that oil could be plunging. Terranova disagreed, saying a rally in the dollar might just be temporary. "Dollar rolls back over, oil's going well above 70 bucks again." Dan Fitzpatrick said the dollar gains might just be short covering.

CNBCfix was able to review the tape of Friday's show and has expanded on a curious debate between Karen Finerman and Tim Seymour below (we originally had troubles between HD and video and seeing the show only piecemeal in a squeezed time frame and actually had to visit a famous computer maker's store for help). We apologize for not delivering a more thorough review of Friday's show(s) the first time around.

A (mostly) unrelated point ... this review has made a couple of "Godfather" references recently for no reason other than the first two films are legendary. CNBCfix has never seen more than a few minutes of "The View" but noticed Francis Ford Coppola was on Monday, and stopped to watch. He has a new film but of course the ladies asked all kinds of "Godfather" questions. Anyone who hasn't seen Francis Coppola discuss "The Godfather," whether it's TV, or DVD special features, etc., is in for a treat. The modesty with which he discusses the film, and straightforward talk about how it came together, is extremely impressive — especially considering he has probably answered the same questions thousands of times.

Oliver Stone was once on "Fast Money," actually, to discuss the impact of "Wall Street" two decades later, something CNBCfix has taken up in a big way. Maybe someday "Fast Money" could be so fortunate to land Coppola as well.

[Friday, June 5, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Where
did name ‘Drakon’ come from?

Featuring: Jeff Macke | Guy Adami | Karen Finerman | Tim Seymour | Joe Terranova | gold | Brian Marshall | Broadpoint AmTech | Dana Telsey | Wal-Mart | Addison Armstrong | Larry Kudlow | Jed Babbin | Steve Jobs

If Karen Finerman is willing, we'd be happy to let her write some of the "Fast Money" reviews at CNBCfix.

Finerman, in snappy orange, grilled Tim Seymour Friday over something CNBCfix hadn't caught in recent days.

Seymour has been trumpeting gold vociferously for months as an inflation antidote. In the last week or two, he has suggested rising Treasury yields are attractive — which they probably should not be if you believe a major inflation spike is ahead.

Friday he first said, in discussing Treasury yields, "the 10-year's 40 basis points higher than it was last week; that's a lot more attractive to fixed-income investors so, I, we're, uh, you know, I think, I'm of the camp and I have been of the camp that actually, Treasury yields are rising because the economy looks stronger, not because people are running away from Treasurys."

Moments later, on gold, he said, "People forget that this whole reason gold is going up is because people have some long-term expectation on inflation. ... Gold is still your play on the longer term."

Finerman asked, "Wouldn't you have to have the Treasury ... you'd be short Treasurys as well, longer-term Treasurys?"

"Yes," Melissa Lee chimed in.

"Well there's two different things," Seymour responded after a cumbersome exchange. "I mean next week we have an auction, where, I think, you know, dedicated Treasury buyers aren't looking at Treasurys as a, as a spec trade. They own Treasurys, and a, 10- or 15-point-basis-point move in the 10-year is very important for them ... if gold is going up, it's because expectations on inflation are going up, and that is shown in the 10-year part of the curve. So I think you can own them both and actually be on the same side of the same trade."

Our conclusion? No, it's not the same side of the same trade. It's entirely possible there might be a good reason why gold and Treasurys could rise together. Inflation would not be one. He seems to be saying that gold buyers see inflation and Treasury buyers see growth. But clearly if there is a high inflation expectation, Treasury buyers (not just the "dedicated" ones) will see that too.

Jeff Macke remains out of sight, out of mind.

When you watch "Fast Money" every day like CNBCfix does, things can get a bit repetitive.

So was the case Friday, when Guy Adami and Finerman repeated their long-standing ("long" meaning a couple weeks or so) theme that the market’s a bit overcooked.

Joe Terranova thinks the big gains of March and April and May are being consolidated or something like that or whatever. "Element of uncertainty" was his term Friday.

And Seymour repeated his own theme, that the commodity/emerging market/China story is indeed real, but a lot of market data is terrible, so it’s a mixed bag, but because the market is holding up as well as it has, there still seems to be bullish life left, but at the same time steep inflation is eventually coming so keep a stake in gold. "There's obviously a lot more people speculating in commodities again," he said.

Brian Marshall, analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, disagreed with Guy Adami and Joe Terranova as to whether AAPL is a buy right here. Finerman asked him a great question, what's the difference between the $99 iPhone and the $199 iPhone. He called the $99 version a "watered-down iPhone."

The show has had many guests discussing Apple, but Marshall might've been the best. Very understandable, concise answers.

Few hosts have more trouble with names than Melissa Lee, who referred to Marshall's firm as "Broadcom AmTech."

Adami made according to Melissa Lee a "great point" — referring to a famous “Fast Money” trade already recalled here this week (see below) — that the time to buy AAPL was on the news of Steve Jobs’ temporary departure. And now that he’s apparently coming back, Adami suggests it’s time to bolt.

Tim Seymour owns AAPL, according to disclosure.

Addison Armstrong, a longtime no-frills type of oil guy whose analysis is generally praised here, said on the "Halftime Report" he thinks oil could hit $79 this summer and produce over-$3 prices of gasoline at the pump. (Side note: Sometimes we do wonder where CNBCers get their company names. Zach Karabell once made an eloquent statement to Dylan Ratigan about the meaning of RiverTwice, but Virtus? Drakon? Tradition Energy (Armstrong’s firm) is OK but a bit of a head scratcher, guess it refers to a tradition of energy. Seygem makes sense to us, and of course we “get” Metropolitan Capital.)

Karabell discussed the jobs report on the "Halftime Report": "It was a lousy report that just wasn't quite so bad ... this is a market you've gotta be in, it's a market that clearly has momentum, and it's earnings that are gonna start to I think show some growth on the upside when we head into July," he said.

Finerman did join the Seymour bandwagon on one level — getting long PBR. (The commercial used to say, “PBR me ASAP,” but that was a different kind of PBR, one they might think about serving on “Fast Money” sporadically.) Guy Adami suggested a strengthening dollar could push oil down. Joe Terranova brought up a fascinating angle that unfortunately is left to the Larry Kudlow show only and has involved Jed Babbin saying we better bomb and a bunch of other people saying no, wait (nothing wrong with it on Kudlow, but it would be great to hear people on “Fast Money” discuss it), which is the U.S.-Israeli response to Iran. "It does not look like Netanyahu and Obama are on the same page," Terranova said. Our completely uneducated guess? No response.

Brian Overby, of TradeKing, is the latest in the long line of “Bull Market or BS” participants to call for a pullback, if not outright declaring it little more than a bear market bounce. Overby cites the Vix-S&P tandem move as cause for concern. "When we see the VIX actually start acting differently than we expect, that kind of says something to me about the marketplace," he said. But he says Visa could still be a winner.

Finerman mentioned the homebuilders as an end-of-recession play, while Terranova sounded a similar theme with Weyerhaeuser. Seymour repeated his interest in the global auto trade of recent weeks, and Adami suggested HPQ. Finerman repeated her bullish views on Wal-Mart and RadioShack.

Dana Telsey says “value is here to stay” and agrees on some level with Finerman and Pete Najarian and probably others (such as Guy Adami in Final Trade) that Wal-Mart is in a sweet spot right now. Telsey also mentioned M, KSS, GPS. We did hear Melissa Francis raise an interesting point earlier in the day: Why is notoriously frugal Wal-Mart paying celebs like Ben Stiller and Miley Cyrus to entertain at its annual meeting?

Charles Gasparino, whom we haven’t seen much of recently, explained that FDIC chief Sheila Bair hates Vikram Pandit. Frankly, when we heard Pandit as part of Maria Bartiromo’s prime-time business roundtable show a few weeks ago with Jack Welch, Larry Fink, Marc Morial and Mohamed El-Erian, he sounded far more like a government bureaucrat (think HUD chief or something) than a real CEO. Given the government’s stake in his business (it’s easy to post a profit when the federal government is covering $300 billion worth of your losses and spots you an extra $45 billion, by the way), he’s more or less a Cabinet undersecretary or something anyway.

Gasparino's new book will be called The Sellout. He says it'll be out in October/November; CNBCfix will have a review.

Terranova got Fast-Fired for his recommendation of the dreaded Fortress Investment Group, pretty much a widowmaker for CNBCfix. Incredibly, he said he’d still be a buyer between $3.50 and $3.75.

Sounds like Bing is off to a good start at least compared with Yahoo. We know that at least one person has found CNBCfix with Bing, and we’d give him/her a prize, if we had the foggiest idea who it was.

[Thursday, June 4, 2009]

Fast Money Review: No talk
of CEO ‘clawbacks’ anymore

Featuring: Dylan Ratigan | clawbacks | David Faber | Angelo Mozilo | Jeff Macke | staycation | Trader Radar | global warming | Minyanville | oil | Goldman Sachs | Jeffrey Currie | David Greely | Arjun Murti | Morgan Stanley | Richard Berner | Ole Slorer | Melissa Lee | Pete Najarian | Joe Terranova | Karen Finerman | Tim Seymour | Maxine Waters | Brad Hintz | Sanford Bernstein | Lehman Brothers | Morgan Stanley | Tavis McCourt | Morgan Keegan | Apple | Palm | Pre | Nokia | Radio Shack | FLIR | Brian Gesuale | Rising Star | UAL | Boeing | OIH | Abercrombie & Fitch | TIE | Dan Fitzpatrick | YGE | DLTR | specialty retail | Gap | Old Navy | Kohls | Chris Thornberg | Beacon Economics | Unemployment | foreclosures | Lon Juricic | Streetinsider.com | Wall Street 2 | Michael Douglas | Shia LaBeouf | Visa | Treasurys | Jeff Tomasulo | S&P | Wal-Mart | Guy Adami | Jared Levy | silver

Since the end of March, when Dylan Ratigan exited "Fast Money," we don't think we've heard the word "clawbacks" on the show.

Not even Thursday, when David Faber reported the SEC "building a case on e-mail" against Angelo Mozilo.

Looks like 300% gains in the likes of BAC and WFC and 50-point pops in the likes of GS and AAPL can do a lot to quell people's outrage over supposed atrocities by bankers.

Also not heard Thursday was ... not a surprise anymore ... Jeff Macke. So he takes seven days off, announces it was a planned staycation, then returns for one day before missing three more.

He did appear in a "Trader Radar" segment.

We're hardly TV experts. But it looks to us like his contract will elapse, and the network does not want to 1) fire him, 2) give him a lot more air time in which another controversy could happen, or 3) give him a lot more air time in which he'd be advertising himself for a gig on a different network.

Falling behind by a day or two on our Macke reading, we notice he posted this comment at his Minyanville site: "I’m a shameless opportunist and don’t believe in human-caused global warming."

Interesting. Please note CNBCfix has never studied global-warming, doesn't know much about it and doesn't have any opinions on it to offer, and is not expressing any opinion on it here. It's just an interesting statement, that's all.

The "Fast Money" crew Thursday could stand to upgrade its own discussion of various recent oil calls.

GS analysts Jeffrey Currie (London) and David Greely (New York) upped their year-end oil target to $85 and 12-month forecast to $90. They also added a $95 prediction for year-end 2010, in case anyone doesn't get the point.

Pete Najarian wasn't terribly impressed. He said last year Goldman predicted $200 when oil was at $130 and it didn't happen.

In May 2008, analyst Arjun Murti said oil might rise between $150 and $200 in two years. According to Bloomberg, Murti was the analyst correctly predicting in 2005 a future "super spike." He was not an author of the Currie-Greely report, but has according to Bloomberg raised his own fourth-quarter forecast from $60 to $70.

Then Melissa Lee and the chart people apparently started comparing notes with Morgan Stanley oil calls. Joe Terranova said "June 6th of last year, everyone remembers," and actually we didn't remember, so we looked it up. Analyst Ole Slorer wrote, "We are calling for a short-term spike in oil prices" and predicted $150 by July 4 — a "beautiful call" according to Terranova.

Slorer's forecast came barely a week after a previous $150 Morgan Stanley call by Richard Berner, its co-head of global economics.

"A lot of these times the calls are right," Terranova said Thursday.

"Joe's right but they did move it up again," Najarian said.

We couldn't find any evidence that Slorer or Berner raised their $150 target later in the year. We did find examples of Asia analysts on Morgan Stanley's Web site last year discussing the possibility of $200 oil, but no definitive calls.

Bottom line? If "Fast Money" panelists are going to throw around various oil calls and judge them — something that tends to happen frequently — please try to be specific, and accurate.

Karen Finerman asked Terranova, "Do you read that as Goldman Sachs is long a bunch of oil?" Tim Seymour responded with what we are fairly certain is the first "Fast Money" dig at a well-known California congressman: "Maxine Waters would ... absolutely would."

Brad Hintz of Sanford Bernstein, another No. 1-ranked analyst, obviously approves of what Goldman Sachs is doing. "Fixed-income market is going to continue to be a positive thing for them," he said, downright gushing about "revenue return on assets" and how it's just like 2003 and 2004 and this time there's no Lehman or Bear Stearns to cramp GS' style. He upgraded Goldman to "outperform." We're happy for him.

Tavis McCourt of Morgan Keegan said "Apple's still to me a relatively cheap stock." When Pete Najarian moaned about Nokia, McCourt said, "Do you really have one of those phones?" He said Nokia's problem is losing market share in Europe. During part of his discussion, a stray camera caught Melissa Lee in a smile-laugh with a panelist. Probably not a big deal, but a reinforcement that she doesn't always take the show very seriously.

Traders warned again and again how dangerous it is to own PALM stock. "Be very careful ... This Pre is, absolutely ... phenomenal," Pete Najarian said. But Joe Terranova said PALM would "have to hit a home run" to justify the valuation. Lee pointed out later that PALM is up more than 333%, and Najarian explained "it all started in January" when it took off.

Karen Finerman made the most interesting point in the segment, that there "could be an interesting little bump for Radio Shack" in all this phone excitement.

Finerman delivered a rising star segment on FLIR, which makes military night-vision goggles among other things, already mentioned on the show recently by Brian Gesuale. FLIR jumped to $23.75 shortly after Karen's talk about 5:47 Eastern time, according to the CNBC ticker. It closed the regular session at $23.12, so not even a 3% gain this time.

Finerman suggested UAL might be making a smart move by ordering jets when times are bad. She again decried Abercrombie & Fitch, which fell Thursday, saying "specialty sector is way overdone to the upside." She said the run in the OIH has been so good, you have to think about taking profits.

Seymour said he liked TIE as an airplane play and that BA is basically fairly valued. Najarian said "You can wait" for a Boeing pullback, which put him slightly at odds with Dan Fitzpatrick from the "Halftime Report."

Najarian said to "keep an eye on" YGE, also DLTR, and pounded the table for Visa during a retail discussion in which Seymour (there is no angle to the market he can't discuss) talked about Gap's boost from Old Navy and Terranova mentioned KSS.

Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics joined the gang and made this intriguing point: "You know what's good for consumer spending? Foreclosures." Interesting. He also said "employment doesn't drive the economy" and that oil won't be the economic shock it was in the '70s. He expects unemployment to hit "9.1, 9.2 percent."

Lon Juricic of Streetinsider.com must've gotten the wrong instructions. Melissa Lee introduced him during a cumbersome explanation of CEOs doing some kind of "secret selling" of company shares through hedged positions. Juricic said "Hi Melissa thanks for having me on" and proceeded right into a speech as Lee initially tried to ask him an actual question. By the end of his comment, we couldn't figure out what was going on, only that he said "I just don't like these contracts at all." We probably wouldn't either, if we had any clue what he was talking about. Lee suggested someone else like a brokerage is taking the opposite side of this trade and thus couldn't that be bullish, but Juricic said those people would be hedging that position with their own short position, which didn't make a lot of sense to us, as though the stock in general would have two short hedges to every long position. Joe Terranova said he hoped the boards of directors at companies where this happens don't know about this and Karen Finerman corrected him to say they most certainly should, but that these transactions could easily be hidden by puffy terminology.

OK. Whew. We knew writing that paragraph would be trouble. And we still really don't know what the heck it's all about. But Juricic needs to wait for the cue next time.

A brief discussion of "Wall Street 2" (actually it's going to have a different name) starring Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf brought all kinds of Megan Fox and Marisa Tomei and Guy Adami jokes, which the panel liked so much, they celebrated with fist bumps at the ensuing commercial.

Karen Finerman, who easily caught our attention at the top of the show with that extremely bold yellow sleeveless outfit, reiterated that Treasurys are "scary" to her and the "next looming crisis." Tim Seymour wasn't so concerned. "Yields are going up because of the positive stuff we were talking about," he said.

On the "Fast Money Halftime Report," Jeff Tomasulo sounded a bit like he was auditioning to be Tim Seymour's agent.

"Tim brings up a really good point about the S&P," Tomasulo said, then a few moments later on Wal-Mart and the retail trade, "Well you know what, Tim brings up a great point..."

Tomasulo also said Dan Fitzpatrick had a "great point. Great point."

Friendly tip: Let the likes of CNBCfix congratulate the panelists on the great points. Just give us a trade, something we don't already know.

"I like that stock, Goldman Sachs," Tomasulo said, though not quite as effusively as Brad Hintz would later.

Fitzpatrick said at "Halftime" that "it's often the case where there's no fundamentals to back up the move ... that's just trading." Indeed.

Jared Levy said "silver is an interesting commodity to look at ... if you believe it's an inflation trade, you might want to look there." He said options players in general are betting on big moves in either direction with straddles.

Terranova in the "Fast Money Final Call" said the second-half recovery is the "only thing missing from the oil equation right now."

[Wednesday, June 3, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Macke
guessing game is back on

First thing we noticed, and who wouldn't, was the absence again of Jeff Macke.

So let's see, he misses seven days of the show under intense speculation, returns from "vacation" for one day and everyone's happy ... and then he's gone again for a couple days?

Something not quite right is going on here.

However, Macke did appear on a show promo ad at the end, after the "Final Trade."

A brief discussion on AAPL Wednesday reminded us of what might be the greatest "Fast Money" call of all time.

If you ever doubt the credentials of the panel, consider that a few months ago, Apple made an afternoon announcement that Steve Jobs would be taking a leave of absence. This was viewed as an unsettling flip from a previous statement insisting Jobs was fine, and the stock — we think trading was halted for maybe a half hour, during the "Closing Bell," but can't remember for certain — got pounded from about $85 to $77-$78 in afterhours. Jim Goldman came on and said he expected it to hit $75 overnight. Jeff Macke and at least two others (sorry, we don't remember who else) almost automatically announced the pullback a buying opportunity, and a day later it was in the $80s.

That was instinctual trading, as good as it gets.

Wednesday the big AAPL news was an upgrade and $170 target from Collins Stewart (a "boutique" firm we hadn't heard of either). Guy Adami said "it's a little late to be getting into Apple." Pete Najarian advised buyers to wait for a pullback to $125.

What Melissa Lee didn't mention in this segment was that the Collins Stewart analyst, Ashok Kumar, initiated AAPL at "buy" with a $117 price target on Jan. 7 — a day the stock closed at $91.01.


Adami teamed up with Steve Grasso at the opening in an interesting debate with Tim Seymour over moving averages. Adami insisted that trading for one day over the 200-day MA doesn't mean anything, and Grasso agreed: "You need a week." Seymour, who according to Adami brought his "bad shirt and A game," insisted the market reaction for the day looked like a positive and that the S&P has been trading above its 200-day MA.

Nevertheless, "I still think the market heads lower from here," Adami said, repeating a common theme of his.

Pete Najarian backed that up. "We're probably a little bit overbought," he said before pounding the table on V, MCD, WMT.

Seymour asked a question that caught our attention. Pete Najarian was discussing the new Microsoft search engine, Bing (Guy Adami said "Fast Money" producer John Melloy "loves Bing") and pointing out the endless quest to deliver the most "relevant" search.

"What do you mean by more relevant?" Seymour asked.

Seriously? Maybe it's just a topic of obsession for Web sites such as CNBCfix. But here's an example. If one goes to Google and types in "Tim Seymour," first you get the "Fast Money" Wikipedia page, then a Seymour Wikipedia page (fair enough), then Seymour's profile at CNBC.com. Then a couple hits for his company, Seygem, fair enough, and "zoominfo." Lower on that first page includes two posts from January 2008 on a "Fast Money"-related Web site, not real journalistic authorship of anything but user comments, one of which says "The guy practically stated that he believes in the decoupling theory. I would not give him a penny to..." Another says "FINERMAN DOESN'T ADD ANYTHING TO THE SHOW." (THANKS FOR THE ALL-CAPS EMPHASIS.)

Where do we finally get a CNBCfix page link to Tim Seymour? On the 14th page in this simple Google search. Our fingers got tired from clicking so many times.

That, some of us would say, is the problem of search-engine "relevance."

Natural gas trader Bill Perkins, who looks a lot like NFL star Jason Taylor, said "I'm positioning myself to be short" and offered what felt like an extremely glum natural gas forecast. Oil? "I think it's going down," he said. (This writer is long DUG.)

Jon Najarian on "Halftime Report" (and replayed in the real show) touted Western Refining and Valero, "you can buy 'em on the dips here," but got a double-barreled disagreement from Lucas Rosen at lunch ("they're in terrible shape ... all that is negative for crack spreads ... I wouldn't want to be anywhere near 'em...") and later on the real show Tim Seymour, who said he's in Tesoro for the long term but wouldn't be buying here.

Joe Terranova wasn't around, but there was good discussion about the cratering of Hess. "At 50 bucks Hess would be a great buy," Seymour said. Jon Najarian said he thinks "the fundamentals do not support" even $60 a barrel for the price of oil.

(Terranova did in fact commit what we consider a confounding "Halftime Report" mistake that happens regularly to everyone who is the call-in person: They talk way too long on the phone and force Melissa Lee to cut them off. Who knows, maybe it's their first group chat of the day and they're just so excited to talk. But why do they keep rambling even after she cuts them off?)

Curiously, Jeff Tomasulo — for some reason donning the full suit for his "Halftime Report" studio appearance — mentioned selling the USO. Terranova said yesterday (backed implicitly by Tim Seymour) never to buy it. Again, an instance where Melissa Lee could've/should've pointed this out to Tomasulo and asked him to defend it. (Further note: Tomasulo explained how he told Lee "off-camera that I took some sales of my USO." Announcing to everyone that you previously told this story privately to someone only serves as an implicit acknowledgment to the someone in question that "sorry you have to hear this again." This is a TV show, Lee is the host, it's not necessary here. But that's OK, even the "Fast Money" regulars often tell us about the "green room" chats.

An utterly lousy segment on oil took place with guest Peter O'Brien, VP at Rosneft. Talk about an interview that was overpromised and underdelivered. More time was spent introducing it than actually asking questions (and getting any answers whatsoever). Who booked this? O'Brien said "medium-term we're confident fundamentals are strong." He said China's good, yada yada yada. When Tim Seymour asked him if he'd buy oil here, he paused and said he would have to "see how the next few weeks goes."

So he'll be able to make up his mind after several weeks as to whether he would buy now. And if oil is higher, chances are his answer would be yes, and if lower, his answer would likely be no. Sounds like a savvy trader.

Adami said "think you might've seen a reversal today" in the dollar. Pete Najarian singled out ArcelorMittal as a stock that's "gotten way ahead of itself" and has some put-buying activity.

Patricia Edwards of Storehouse Partners made what we think was a "Fast Money" debut, and easily passed the test. She was very good, very well-prepared, and should be brought back soon. A recent retail expert (we think it was Deborah Weinswig but don't recall for certain) spent way too much time describing how her firm arrived at an earnings estimate for Wal-Mart, Zzzzz. Edwards merely said WMT has "got a lot of good news to report ... hitting on all cylinders."

She also mentioned Nordstrom ("gotten inventories under control") and the Buckle, where apparently you can design or build your own clothes or something. (Note: enough people have mentioned the Buckle recently on "Fast Money" we do think there might be something there, even though it's maybe the dreaded "specialty retail.")

Seymour said we've "surpassed Japan in terms of the savings rate in this country," perhaps as some kind of economic headwind.

Alex Hamilton of Jesup & Lamont appeared for what we think is the first time. He wasn't given a whole lot of time as Melissa Lee somewhat stumbled through a clumsy SAIC (SAI) earnings and afterhours trading report. Hamilton did well, offering concise and understandable soundbites on names not very well-known, though his terminology was a little more exciting than his delivery. He said SAIC had a "terrific quarter," said CACI has "terrific free cash flow yield, best in the space," and that NCIT is "very well-positioned at the NSA." He told Lee in the abrupt closing it was "fantastic" to be on.

Some tend to wonder occasionally if the CNBCfix satire/digs go a bit too far. Well, today we saw a feature on Latvian blondes and heard Melissa Lee say of Tim Seymour, "bullish on the blondes, not a surprise." Then we saw, for about the third time in two weeks (rough estimate), Guy Adami in his UPS uniform. And then about every other day we get Victoria's Secret lingerie show catwalk scenes during "Pops & Drops."

So let's just say we're hoping that our own sense of humor is as wide-ranging as that of "Fast Money."

An early discussion on overall market P/E was a massive dud. We almost dozed off. Pete Najarian was heard using the term "consolidation." Uh, yeaaaaah.

Seymour pulled a mild takedown on Melissa Lee that wasn't flagged as such by John Melloy's team. Lee suggested that the ISM number was a bigger deal than the jobs number. Seymour made an articulate point on the ADP number and how last month was revised to be worse than reported. Karen Finerman is also very plugged-in with various data reports, but no one seems to do their homework on this subject quite as well as Seymour. (Other than maybe Joe LaVorgna, who gets paid to read data and doesn't have to trade Gazprom and Stillwater and Gold Fields for eight hours a day.)

"Suddenly the British pound is the risk currency," Seymour said, a point he repeated from a day earlier.

Steve Grasso could probably use five straight days on the show, not choppy intermittent scheduling, to get into a rhythm. He didn't seem quite in synch Wednesday as during his impressive opening week. Most notably, he attempted to give a speech on Aeropostale for his "Final Trade," which came across rather weird. Adami liked Merck, Seymour said to "short the iron ore guys" and Pete Najarian also, unfortunately, made a mini-speech between BIIB and (apparently his real pick) CELG.

Oh yes. Margaret Brennan wore gray with fairly large hoop earrings in the pre-"Fast Money" "CNBC.com News Now" segment, then very enthusiastically introduced "Fast Money."

[Tuesday, June 2, 2009]

Fast Money Review: The CEO
interview is waste of time

A day after a very satisfying "Fast Money" experience, Tuesday was subdued. The amount of vigorous recommendations was small, although there was good discourse going around for everyone. Almost every trade was couched with a "be careful" or "wait for the pullback."

One thing that can be definitively said is that "Fast Money" should not interview CEOs. There is never any news, traders can't be objective on the stock and they spend way too much time congratulating the boss just because he/she appeared on the show. The Aubrey McClendon disaster was Exhibit A. Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm was a fine guest Tuesday, but again, there was nothing meriting a trade from this interview.

Guy Adami offered maybe the most interesting suggestion, that one could play JPM either long or short, around $35.25. If you're a bull, "buy it on a close above 35 and a quarter," he said, and essentially do the opposite if you're not a bull. (Only beef is, we generally want the traders to tell us the direction, not make us guess.)

Adami pulled some extended duty with a studio appearance on "Halftime Report" followed by the regular show (which might explain why he described "Clear and Present Danger," a most unremarkably average film, as a "great movie by the way"). "I do think financials got ahead of themselves," he said. Ford came up throughout the day and Adami said "absolutely" he would buy, "think letter F works at these levels." He also mentioned BNI but only "in the low 70s."

Karen Finerman is in a zone. "I will never be long an airline," she declared. She scoffed at specialty retail, mentioning Abercrombie & Fitch and J. Crew: "I can't believe how expensive they are," but she's tried shorting through XRT and it hasn't worked yet. She said F was "overdone" to the upside. She said you shouldn't buy Cisco for its Dow inclusion, but on its own merits, she would be a buyer. Of FDO, she said, "Don't short it; I tried that last year, didn't work." Finally on Web Extra (yes, we rarely watch it), she discussed maybe her most popular subject, the TBT: "I would not add to the TBT here."

Then there was the currency chat. CNBCfix is no expert on currencies by any means but would like to hear more of this. "I can't understand why the pound has been this strong," she said, and Tim Seymour jumped in: "It's a risk currency." Adami and Joe Terranova noted the FXA and FXC were strong commodity-fueled currencies but that if the dollar rallies, those would face a headwind.

Terranova, who thankfully didn't mention "consolidating the gains" this time, made an interesting case for biotech as the new leadership group. He said XBI, "I own that," and the group has "pricing power." He also mentioned Genzyme. His final trade was curious: buy biotech, sell Freeport — even though his disclosure lists him owning FCX.

Terranova is building on the momentum we cited from last week. Tim Seymour asked him, in a question that unfortunately did sound rehearsed, what is the point of the USO when it's only up 9% on the year vs. West Texas Intermediate's 55% gain. "Never buy the USO," Terranova declared, and interestingly added, "Petrobras is actually a better benchmark for oil" (he might've not used his favorite oil-"tethered" stock, Hess, as an example this time because Hess would appear on "Pops & Drops" with a $7 drop).

Unfortunately, the "Halftime Report" still insists on a regular 5 p.m. panelist calling in for some superfluous reason, and Tuesday it was Terranova, who wasted too much time on greetings and mostly unnecessary comments (repeated at 5 p.m.) on "allocation" and "money flow." Just a trade, that's all.

Brian Schaeffer was also on the "Halftime Report." CNBCfix remembers Schaeffer — we're pretty certain he's the guy, though it's been ages since we've seen him — as the one who mentioned THC, and Dylan Ratigan accused him of making a marijuana joke, then he later got chided by Ratigan for bragging too much about a recent good call and we basically never saw him again. No issues at all with his picks Tuesday: "I'm long the FAZ," he said, concurring with Adami that financials are a little toppy, and he pointed out that rising lumber futures are bullish for rail names.

Brian Kelly of Kanundrum, certainly one of the more animated "Fast Money" guests, was the one who really brought the lumber, recommending "timber-rich paper names" Plum Creek (PCL), Weyerhauser (WY) and Rayonier (RYN). He said the markets now represent "a rally in a bear market." At one point Tim Seymour jumped in with a point about China and the dollar, but it kind of went over our heads.

We think we figured out the issue with Kelly: He's simply too fidgety and moves his head too much. Yes, it's an artificial-type gripe but that's what TV is about, those kinds of little things. He's pretty good at making a point, just needs to refine it a bit for television.

Seymour is so good at articulating points about foreign market situations, he might be too good. Quite simply he rattled off too many obscure international names to keep track of. If "Fast Money" would ever let its people talk about politics we'd love to hear him take up Georgia, Cyprus, etc.

He said to go long Giant Interactive (GA — we'd never heard of that one before actually). But earlier when he mentioned Cemex (as always) and Gafisa, we didn't know if he meant to short them or go long, only that Gafisa was "a great place to fade" some recent gains. He rattled off foreign timber names that we didn't recognize. For the overall market, he make a good point that has only been hinted at recently on "Fast Money," that there may not be much downside to trades for a few weeks."Until we get second quarter earnings, I don't think you have a lot of issues," Seymour said.

Jim Suva of Citigroup said he expected the Palm Pre to sell out this weekend, but he's "really concerned about availability of supply there." Leading — you guessed it — to his favorite pick in the space, Research in Motion, which he noted (this part we haven't heard before) apparently monopolizes less of the network space than other smart phones.

Yikes. There was a really bad sound hookup with J.P. Mark of Farmhouse Equity that, in the older days of "Fast Money," would've prompted Dylan Ratigan to give the show crew a slightly hard time, and we kind of liked that actually, not because we want to dump on the show's techs, but we like high standards. Once the beep ended and Mark talked, the graphics were messed up. We did note he said Microsoft is a bit of a question mark in the gaming space, and he briefly discussed Gamestop, a stock Eric Bolling's son once discussed on the show.

Guy Adami called the homebuilders again "basically a lottery ticket."

Matthew Albrecht of S&P Financial came on the show because he is a "newly crowned top-ranked analyst according to the Wall Street Journal," which is the quickest way for anyone to get on "Fast Money." Albrecht was OK, but the segment amounted to yet another incremental banking update. He said "valuations are quite fully priced" in the sector and he's not exactly bullish. Again, time that could be much better spent having Seymour explain the Georgia-Russia situation or something.

What really jolted us was the screen text saying "S&P HAS A 'BUY' RATING ON FORTRESS INVESTMENT (FIG)" (this writer wishes S&P had bought his Guy Adami- and Pete Najarian-recommended FIG about 5 seconds after he foolishly "chased").

Melissa Lee looked wonderful, even topping her appearance from the day before, with a very short-sleeved outfit, and she hosted with a refreshing high degree of confidence. Adami cut her off with a strange Aerosmith reference we didn't quite understand and for a change she ad-libbed pretty well. Between the show and Web Extra, Adami made two references to the Yankees. In our ongoing effort to elevate "Fast Money," Adami should nix last night's box scores and discuss, say, whether the 1998 Yankees would beat the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, a discussion that once nearly landed CNBCfix in a bar fight.

Adami recommended JBLU as a bearish bet on oil, and Finerman questioned why not just short oil.

Terranova rather obviously touted the show's sponsor, Charles Schwab, as a way to play the rising Dow chart Melissa Lee showed.

Jared Levy of PEAK6 guested on the "Fast Money Final Call" with Bob Pisani, who questioned why people aren't buying more puts. "Unfortunately people are optimists; the controlling emotion is greed here," Levy said. Pisani persisted, and Levy's best answer was that people are bullish and just aren't cautious enough. "VIX at 27, that means puts are cheap," he said, but "the retail trader is the last one to buy." Pisani asked Levy if First Solar is his solar pick because it uses semiconductors, not silicon wafers. "I don't know enough about the technology to make that ruling," Levy said, but analysts he talks to feel that way; Levy likes how the stock trades. He liked DV and APOL as "slow money" plays on education.

Oh yeah ... how could we forget? Just before "Fast Money" began, Margaret Brennan delivered the CNBC.com "News Now" segment in a dazzling new pink outfit.

[Monday, June 1, 2009]

Fast Money Review: Macke
returns from vacation

Monday's "Fast Money" was perhaps the most heart-warming we'll see.

Jeff Macke returned after significant time off and rampant speculation about his CNBC future. Not only that, the entire "full" cast of the show was on, including Tim Seymour who guested with analysis of China.

It felt much like that famous flashback scene with Sonny at the end of "The Godfather, Part II," even down to who wasn't there, Vito (Dylan Ratigan) and Clemenza (Eric Bolling).

The crew seemed relaxed, happy, in rhythm. We hope rumors of a Macke contract expiration are untrue. It would be a major loss to the network.

Melissa Lee welcomed Macke back "from vacation," and Macke replied, "I feel like I never left, I'm right back at home."

He launched right into the markets without missing a beat: "You're getting pretty late in the rally ... looks like it's going a little bit parabolic ... I was a seller of stocks at the end of the day..."

Macke also told of buying a Hummer. Honestly, it doesn't quite seem like his type of vehicle, but hey, whatever floats your boat. He said he checked out a number of similar vehicles but the Hummer people were most enthusiastic, and gave him "33% off list price. ... I'll take that all day and twice on Sunday," he said, invoking a not-so-famous line from a movie not really great but still judged one of the enduring "10 Most Watchable" on TV these days, "A Few Good Men."

We hope that if Melissa Lee reads only one passage of the CNBCfix Fast Money Review all year, it will be this one. (And, if she has actually read many of our passages, she probably isn't a big fan ... but it's nothing personal, honest.)

Monday was Exhibit A as to the "laugh problem." She had been promoting an interview with celebrated forecaster David Rosenberg of Gluskin, Sheff as a big deal. When the time came, she introduced him, on video from Toronto, rather stiffly. He replied casually, "Thanks for the invite." Then, her Achilles heel — a forced laugh.

Why?? Was it funny that he said "Thanks for the invite?" It conveys not only her trouble with semi-awkward-dead-air transitions that are too common, but a bit of discomfort with these interviews in general, and/or a nervous tic, a sense that she thought it was all kind of silly (evidenced by her "crystal balls" joke at the end that was already overdone by that point), or, perhaps the most discouraging negative if true, a lack of adequate preparation.

Preparation might have been an issue when Jon Najarian, one of CNBC's most articulate and concise speakers, was allowed to give what was undeniably a speech that had more if-thens than a Boolean loop (or something like that, that was Comp Sci long before HTML and all the other good stuff). Lee just let him talk, and talk, and talk. If you're highly prepared for what your guests are going to talk about, you can more pointedly direct them (as Dylan Ratigan was so good at) to get to their point faster for the audience.

Nevertheless, we did note Lee was wearing an exciting turquoise top and should've been able to show it off walking around the set for chartology or something like Dylan Ratigan used to.

Lee's best moment on "Fast Money" remains her cat-quick question recently to Howard Dean to name a specific "inefficiency" in health care, a claim made endlessly about the "system." He did, one thing that was a test or procedure of some kind we can't remember.

In our splendid HD version of "Fast Money," we're often treated to fact boxes while panelists and guests are speaking. We happened to note the Jon Najarian fact box reads much like his OptionMonster bio: "Jon Najarian was a linebacker for the Chicago Bears before he began..."

This is an exaggeration we don't think Jon needs and wish he would drop. He played in the 1981 preseason for the Bears, one of hundreds of players around the league signed every year to compete for a roster spot and provide competition of some sort in training camp. Based on every source we've found — including his own book — he was cut, did not play in a regular season game, and never made the roster, which is the standard definition of being an "NFL player" or someone who "was a linebacker for the (insert team here)." Brother Pete Najarian, yes, did make NFL rosters and played in games for the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over three years. That Jon Najarian made the Bears' training camp is an impressive feat. But this wasn't exactly a player who was sacking QBs in the 46 Defense.

Tim Seymour made a brief comment that we think says a lot. He was discussing the Chinese PMI manufacturing report and said if you were unaware of this report, you've got no business managing money in this space. He either had kind of an extra-cool collar/hair look going, or maybe got rushed through the makeup section. In any case, while articulate as usual, he talked a bit fast for us this time. But a great lesson, if you think you can top the "Fast Money" folks at playing things like the EEM and/or EEV, 1) you're likely wrong, and 2) if you didn't know the Chinese PMI came out, you're extremely wrong.

Speaking of emerging markets, Jeff Macke said this: "China story ... may or may not be true."

Is he now yielding somewhat on his claim since about a year ago or more that this story is a fraud? We've agreed with him most of the way. And in fact this writer agreed much too long (i.e., bearish position deep into March). Jon Najarian said during the "Halftime Report" that the China trade, specifically pertaining to fertilizer stocks, is back "in spades." Do we think China is going to take over the business world? No, no way. Do we think there is more there than an Olympics spending binge? Yes. Macke has said, "it's no sin to be wrong, just staying wrong."

Few elite traders or money people could be as down-to-earth as Guy Adami. "I've missed the last 40 points ... so I've been wrong," he said of the rally, but he has indeed delivered some winning picks along the way (not FIG, but whatever), so we're cool with that. We're beginning to find BWA a most curious stock. Virtually every day someone on "Fast Money" tells us it's way overheated, then it goes up another 8%.

Karen Finerman is one of those skeptics. Monday she said it is "fear of being left behind" propelling the entire market up. She also urged viewers to read Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, known for his characterization of "Black Swan" events. It does sound like interesting reading, though at least one panelist was heard scoffing.

Finerman also said of TBT, of which she now provides nearly a daily update of her thinking, "You know we took some off the table," but she still sees it as the right call for the long term. She said to play rising oil not with solar stocks, but by being long oil. "I like natural gas." She said CSCO was an excellent choice for the Dow but the Dow is still becoming irrelevant. She wore an eye-catching top.

Dan Fitzpatrick may be entering overexposure mode. Perhaps he's just on too often. Monday he discussed something that sounds utterly ridiculous, the "Coppock Curve." He went off on something of a tangent that we got MLee's favorite cliche ("Got it. Got it.") twice. We don't know what he was talking about, except the curve is signaling major bullishness apparently and there were some "Love Boat" jokes. Fitzpatrick said there are samples "23 times since 1928, so statistically it actually works." Sure. Whatever. He said followers could "join Isaac on the 'Love Boat'." Perhaps Fitzpatrick and his Coppock Curve have been spending too much time on fantasy island.

Amid all of the discussions about GM, Pete Najarian noted something soberly, "Toyota's losing money hand over fist and that doesn't get talked about."

CNBCfix has wondered for a couple months now what exactly Fritz Henderson brings to the table that Rick Wagoner didn't.

The "Fast Money Halftime Report" was nearly all about GM and auto stocks. Katie Stockton of MKM said of Autozone (AZO), Advance Auto Parts (AAP) and O'Reilly (ORLY), "I'd be a very aggressive buyer right down by their 200-day moving averages across the board," and that Ford "looks like it could test $8."

Stockton said for oil she has a "long-term target in the low $80-per-barrel range."

Jared Levy said he'd be a "huge seller" of GM, not exactly a high-risk position there. But he wouldn't go long Ford either.

Zachary Karabell said at "Halftime" that "Being in a U.S car business or a U.S. parts business for U.S. cars is a really dicey proposition in a world where people are undercutting us." He said he bought MON last week, as several "Fast Money" traders have trumpeted. He pulled something of a doubleheader by appearing a couple hours later on "Fast Money Final Call" (when they start doing "Fast Money With Suze Orman," that's when we say enough's enough) with Scott Wapner and continued the auto theme. He pointed to "incredibly hungry growing appetite for automobiles in India, and in Brazil and in China, and you've got companies who are gonna be poised to sell into those markets." He said Ford is not so appealing because of its heavy U.S. exposure but that the emerging markets automotive industry has "innovative products" and one obscure name, Byd, is worth looking at as well as Tata Motors and Johnson Controls. At one point he said "Oh my God, we're just, you know, pun a minute here," which is actually the unstated goal of CNBCfix (and sometimes we hate it too when we succeed).

Guy Adami made a plug for Warren Buffett, saying the rails are just cooking. But so is everything else.

Nishu Sood, an impressive analyst from Deutsche Bank, said the "housing market continues to be soft."

Macke offered TGT, Adami YUM, Finerman NOK and Najarian NBR as final trades.

Because it was Macke's day, more or less, we'll close with this interesting point he made about previous additions to the Dow. AT&T, Microsoft, Intel and Bank of America have all been dogs. Cisco fans, careful what you wish for.

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