[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, June 2010]
[Thursday, June 30, 2010]

Kelly puts a bottom in at 840

Anthony Scaramucci on Wednesday's Fast Money provided us a quote that is so official-sounding, we're going to remember it and use whenever the moment strikes.

"The interest rates are the physical gravity of financial assets," Scaramucci said.

Meanwhile, Tim Seymour made a different quote that we also could hang onto for a long time, or maybe not. "Who listens to ADP unless they want to listen to ADP?" Seymour said.

As traders continued to take the summer off on 200-day MA grounds (or something like that), Brian Kelly offered his usual prescription, "I think the bottom is much lower; I would say 940 to 840."

Kaminsky: Rumor of XOM buying
BP is ‘absolutely crazy’

Gary Kaminsky called in to Fast Money Wednesday to make a point he made on The Strategy Session: that recent weakness in XOM is a buying opportunity.

Kaminsky addressed this rumor that's so weak, we hadn't even stumbled across it over here, but it's the notion that Exxon might be buying BP.

"Absolutely crazy. Not happening," Kaminsky said.

He did, however, say "The XTO deal was terrible." This page, sometime around February, noted that XOM was the only Dow stock down over a 12-month span, and that given its long-term chart, one had to wonder if this wasn't a staggering buy, assuming it'll someday continue that decades-long upward march.

Kaminsky didn't go that far Wednesday. But he did say the stock seems oversold, and given its dividend, is quite possibly an excellent long here.

Pete back in AKAM

We never thought we'd see the day here at CNBCfix where we agreed with a MSFT buy recommendation, but Whitney Tilson's call Wednesday that there's a promising trade here was basically backed up by Colin Gillis, and at $23, it does seem like very much worth a flier. Gillis also said Yahoo has become a value stock.

Pete Najarian meanwhile was plunging back into one of his favorite tech names, and you've probably got a 50% or at least 33% chance of guessing. "I was looking at Akamai today as a matter of fact, it got back towards that 50-day, and I used that as an opportunity to get back into Akamai, look at it, I did it through a call spread," Najarian said.

Anthony Scaramucci, meanwhile, is a believer in Citi. (This writer is long C.) "Very underanalyzed balance sheet in terms of its valuation, OK, these guys are very strong right now, they're halfway through their asset sales (one on the "done" side is that fund-of-funds unit), and it's a very cheap stock," Scaramucci said.

Big day for CNBC

Regular readers of this site (we're tempted to snicker at that one, but in fact there are at least a few and we appreciate every click) know that CNBCfix does not pass up a single chance to tout the dazzling-ness of Mary Thompson.

So we'll note here, as well as the home page, that on Wednesday, Mary Thompson and Scott Cohn picked up a prestigious Loeb Award (handed out by the UCLA Anderson School of Management) for coverage of Bernie Madoff, with producers Courtney Ford, Wally Griffith and Molly Mazilu; as did David Faber's "House of Cards," which includes executive producer Mitch Weitzner, producers James Jacoby, Jill Landes, James Segelstein, and editors Patrick Ahearn and Lisa Orlando.

We have to say we would've loved to see Charles Gasparino capture the "Business Book" category (turns out, gulp, wasn't nominated), but we can't knock Too Big to Fail.

These are very impressive awards; there should be high-fives as well as fist-bumps at Englewood Cliffs.

Or Steve Stone’s record during
brilliant 1980 season

Another Fast Money Halftime Report where everyone's down on the market, including the recent ringleader of this type of thinking, Steve Grasso ("everyone's still extremely negative on the market"), and sidekick, Brian Kelly (Europe hasn't been this unsettled since the Congress of Vienna) ... and yet, if the market's going down, and the goal is fast money, why isn't everyone recommending shorts?

Joe Terranova was gushing about oil and nat gas. "Oh, I think oil goes up absolutely over the next 6 months," he said. "I would be long those names. ... One of the names I'm playing? Ultra Petroleum, UPL, 44 bucks."

Patty Edwards said, "Like Steve, I don't like this market at this point," then went on to discuss some long positions. "Chicago Bridge & Iron is one that we've been playing," she said. "Also playing the transportation side of it with Kinder Morgan Partners." And later: "We're actually playing Ford, we're also, taking a flier here, playing Toyota, and Tata Motors."

Melissa Lee reported a curious Bespoke survey that found, of the 32 times since 1927 when the markets have declined 14.4%, only 7 times has there not been a bear market, or put another way, bear markets are 25-7.

Tilson: BP may cap well
sooner than people think

Whitney Tilson, on Wednesday's Halftime again defending his position in BP, said there are rumblings that BP is making fast progress on sealing the problem, perhaps well before the August target, which is significant because BP has every reason to be conservative (although we're not totally certain of that angle). "I think that would be a huge positive material catalyst for both the stock and for the United States and for the environment," Tilson said, sort of an understatement.

He said he's not bothered by the stock's slide into the $27 area. "We're delighted with short-term bearishness that gives us a chance to buy it at a better price," he said.

Tilson admitted he's fallen for the Microsoft Kool-aid that Wall Streeters occasionally report drinking, but he did make a fair point, that it's been possible to successfully trade the stock in the last 10 years. "It's still a great company, it's got incredible margins," he said. "The catalyst is, is Windows 7 is taking off," he said, which seems late to the party.

‘We wanna bring mom and pops into the hedge fund space’

Anthony Scaramucci said on Wednesday's Strategy Session he has lofty goals for the fund-of-funds business.

"We welcome Ray Nolte," Scaramucci said of his Citigroup unit acquisition. "He joins us with 21 people tomorrow, uh, and we refitted our office for these people, so we're very excited."

In April, when the deal was announced, Scaramucci told Reuters, "Ray Nolte was kicking our butts. We had no choice but to buy him." Scaramucci also in that article reported being sleep-deprived while negotiating the deal. "Now I feel a little like a vampire in the 'Twilight' movie," he said.

As for goals, Scaramucci on Wednesday noted that places "served coffee before Starbucks," and that MP3 players were being sold before iPods. "Skybridge is gonna try to take the fund-of-funds business to a new level, OK. Our goal at Skybridge is to push the envelope in fund-of-funds," he said.

Then, this comment that caught our attention: "We wanna bring mom and pops into the hedge fund space."

Scaramucci added, "We wanna, we wanna upstream into the pension and consulting services businesses."

Kaminsky: Consider XOM

Gary Kaminsky said Wednesday that XOM has been spurned by the closet indexers this month, and thus might be a buy.

Kaminsky said XOM should've gotten a lot of the fund dollars allocated to energy that were sold off from BP, but hasn't yet. He also said there's cost concerns and still an overhang of investor skepticism with the XTO deal, perhaps warranted. "In fact I've heard that natural gas has to get as high as $8 in order for the numbers to work given what they paid for XTO," he said.

But he pointed to the dividend yield, and prospects for dividend growth, as reasons for the stock being "oversold."

Analyst Jason Gammel likes the stock but disagreed slightly with Kaminsky. "The overpayment for XTO has already been more than priced into the Exxon stock," Gammel said. And, "I don't think they need $8 gas to make that deal work, and I think 6.50 or 7 it works just fine."

Remember 1975, NYC was in financial crisis, and all it took was Jimmy Cayne spurning the bridge table for a weekend to save the day ...

Gary Kaminsky and Anthony Scaramucci disagreed slightly on how well the government has expressed its taxation goals (if, um, any).

Scaramucci, as he did Tuesday on Fast Money, pointed to lack of "clarity" as a market headwind.

"There is no confusion- I'm tired of people saying there's confusion on taxation. What's the confusion? Taxes are going up," Kaminsky said.

"This guy's now a media guy but he used to run a business," Scaramucci chuckled.

Kate Kelly cited some D.C. think tank — allow for a brief segue here. Most of these think tanks are a joke; they exist largely for the reason Kelly cited, to analyze government spending issues, point out all the obvious flaws and sound ridiculous warning alarms in order to better promote their business, when in fact there really is no "crisis" anywhere on the state level, they are all just deferring payments into the future further than they used to, and anyone who really gets tapped out will get federal assistance, etc., and if governments are doing all these troubling things, instead of carping about it with position papers, how about running for office and fixing it — as pointing out that something like 46 of the 50 states are going to have some budget crisis of some sort; "I was in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, yesterday," Kelly said, which is fine, but that story's almost about a year old, a town of 48,000 that overspent on an incinerator, might sting a few bondholders whose firms probably got TARP cash anyway, probably not the end of Western civilization.

Anthony Scaramucci in a class act said the lapel flag pin he was wearing is a "shout-out to the troops" on July 4th week, but "I'm not running for office."

"Not yet," David Faber said.

Everyone had a good chuckle about group height. "I am the center on the Strategy Session basketball team today," Scaramucci said.

[Tuesday, June 29, 2010]

Munster: Chinese controls over
Google are ‘sophisticated’

One guy this page has sort of given short shrift to for a long time — but not for a while actually — is Gene Munster.

It used to be all the way back in 2008, Munster would pound the table relentlessly for AAPL, almost nauseating actually, even around or near the same weekend that Dick Fuld was expecting a huge check from Barclays.

The fact is, effusiveness aside, Munster was right all along, essentially charting the course AAPL has taken and proving to be perhaps the best regular analyst on Fast Money.

Tuesday, Munster told Fast Money viewers that "Google has not caved in" regarding its China dispute, but his own team's visit to Asia was revealing. "The government is very sophisticated in some of the tools that they've applied over Google," he said. He would add, "Baidu essentially has a very strong big brother, the Chinese government, that's really looking out for 'em."

Munster said Amazon is still in the right place, but he sees better value in other tech names. He mentioned Mercado Libre, which "actually does not have foreign exchange risk compared to the other companies," and perhaps surprisingly, Yahoo. "We think that their quarter is doing fine," he said.

Show gets in the way
of a good trade

Pete Najarian said on Tuesday's Fast Money he was this/close to pulling the trigger on an AAPL purchase — only to be interrupted by work.

"It did hold right on that 50-day. It was close, I was ready to do it, and then I was stuck on the train, and coming in here to do the show," Pete said.

Najarian said other tech names are looking attractive on the pullback. "The Intels of the world, back towards 19 and a half, that seems like a pretty nice entry point," he said.

Wow. The "Intels of the world" can be had for $19. Traders doing handsprings.

Gary Shilling, Jim Chanos have
something in common

Fast Money not only made a tremendous addition by getting Barry Ritholtz on the Prop Desk Tuesday, it also got a phone chat with A. Gary Shilling, like Ritholtz long a member of Larry Kudlow's power base. (But given the gig Larry's got at 11 a.m., why would he ever bother thinking about economics?) It wouldn't hurt for Fast Money to add Noah Blackstein either, but that's probably asking too much.

Shilling not surprisingly is still refusing to budge from the gloom scenario.

"The odds of a global double-dip in my view are 50% and they're rising," he said, citing "double-digits on the saving rate," as well as a CNBCfix.com favorite that you don't hear that much anymore, "They've run out of equity on their houses."

Schilling described his positions, which might as well be fetal, as this: "We are long, uh, Treasury bonds. We are short stocks. We are long the dollar against the euro and against the Aussie because that's a play on China and we're also short China. Uh, they're digging up the continent of Australia and shipping off the iron ore and copper to Australia (sic), it's really become a Chinese colony. ... We're short commodities, particularly copper."

Ritholtz said Shilling may turn out to be right, but "The data supporting a double-dip just isn't there." In what was probably something of a dig, and hilariously delivered without betraying a smile, Ritholtz added, "In the 55-and-older age cohort, um, that Gary was referring to, you know, their prime shopping days are over."

Dennis Gartman, unfortunately and likely inadvertently, indicated Shilling's new book hasn't exactly been a top priority. "I promise to get the foreword to your book to you in a couple days; I keep forgetting to get that done," Gartman said on-air.

Most of the rest of panel unable to measure up to Melissa’s outfit

Gary Kaminsky, who put in a call to Fast Money after a strong Strategy Session Tuesday, seemed impressed with the introductory 10:50 of the program.

"Missy (sic), there was so much that just happened in the top of the show, I should've actually taken down notes," Kaminsky said.

Actually, we've occasionally had just the opposite feeling, but that's what we're here for.

Kaminsky suggested that the high amounts of cash on corporate balance sheets are actually causing a "lower multiple on the market because companies are not reinvesting that money in the future." He also reiterated a point from Strategy Session (there's a small amount of cross-pollination between the shows), "Stocks can't go up until the bond market changes its tune."

Guy Adami at one point questioned if there's only so much cash on corporate balance sheets "cause they don't know what to do with it" — a very good question, actually.

"There's no such thing as a quadruple bottom," complained Tim Seymour in a non-debate with Pete Najarian over market direction.

Barry Ritholtz, citing the "dark cross" of the 200-day vs. the 50-day, sort of got to the point in backwards manner, saying "In the past this cross over the short term, has been very negative, and about half the time, a year later, stocks are positive. But it doesn't bode well for the next 1 or 3 months."

Melissa Lee unfortunately looked a tiny bit bashful and for whatever reason didn't seem fully comfortable in her eye-opening new outfit/appearance. The deal is, Fast Money could definitely use a higher bar, but there is sort of a risk in pushing the envelope and attempting fist-bumps in formalwear. The tendency to dress down is borderline out of control; even Karen Finerman on occasion looks as though she's on her way to pick up the kids at soccer practice (note we're definitely not saying she looks bad, just not always particularly formal). Lee took so long to introduce Carter Worth's point about big-market-cap charts at the top of the show, she might as well have brought Worth back on to summarize it himself. ("The presumption is, lower.")

Seymour: ‘Subprime’ is not
synonymous with ‘terrible’

Tim Seymour made a provocative statement Tuesday that we're not sure if we agree with or not.

"Subprime doesn't mean, you know, 'this is, this is terrible.' I mean, in other words, subprime mortgages are what a lot of people in this country need," Seymour said.

Barry Ritholtz pointed to Research in Motion as a possible victim of Verizon selling the iPhone, a "rumor" that Gene Munster indicated is basically true.

"I think they have 6 months to come up with a competitive product to the iPhone," Ritholtz said. "So far the Storm isn't it." Ritholtz also said AT&T has about 6 months to improve or face a "huge migration of AT&T users."

This site has complained once or twice that David Faber doesn't always express the greatest sense of humor on TV.

There's nothing wrong with that. He's certainly congenial enough on air and like many people has been a great foil for Mark Haines.

But on a day's worth of footage (between Strategy Session and Fast Money) showing Faber and Gary Kaminsky taking a Tesla for a road test, how come Faber was the only one not finding this scene — the ride and the aftermath — hilarious?

"David looked like he was car sick," said Melissa Lee, making our point for us.

Kaminsky crowed a bit about his good call on the strength of the Tesla IPO, saying it's a "story stock" that plays to desperate portfolio managers running green funds designed to tap into Obama projects that, other than maybe solar, mostly haven't come to fruition.

William Wallace: politician

"You know, Anthony's favorite movie, a lot of people probably don't know, it's not 'Wall Street,' it's 'Tropic Thunder'," said Gary Kaminsky on Tuesday's Fast Money.

Moments later, Scaramucci got the chance to respond.

"My favorite movie happens to be 'Braveheart,' OK, and 'Braveheart's' about political leadership, and the change in political leadership, and until you clear up both on the Democratic and Republican side the political leadership, and clear the way with more clarity and certainty on 25% of our GDP, the market is gonna trade in this fuzzy zone. Those are just the facts."

"Who's Siskel and who's Ebert here?" asked Tim Seymour.

Barry Ritholtz capped the subject with an intriguing pick. "My favorite movie is 'Blade Runner,' but the relevant movie to this discussion is 'Star Wars'," Ritholtz said.

One could possibly ask, if Scaramucci is unimpressed by the government, why doesn't he run for office? But as Guy Adami likes to say and as Charles Gasparino found out, it's not a political show.

The most exciting Fast Money
development in weeks

Melissa Lee has a new over-the-shoulder hairstyle Tuesday, complemented by new aqua dress.

Jon Najarian wants you to know he successfully timed the market

The first thing heard — and let's face it, we weren't really listening, we were just staring at Melissa's new Oscar-night-like appearance — on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime was a statement from Jon Najarian that he just played this market like a grand piano.

"We had that big pop on Monday last week, when China allowed their currency to float and it took the S&P to 1,131," Dr. J said. "I got out of virtually everything there."

Good day to be long BP

Carter Worth on Tuesday's Halftime repeated a recent point on the S&P 500. "The presumption is, we're going to give way," Worth said. "Uh, we're, we're guessing 980. We have one last whoosh."

Worth said an inverse-type of trade would be the gold miners, where he predicts a breakout.

Meanwhile, someone on Tuesday's Halftime actually said they were buying. It was Patty Edwards, and the stock is GLW. "At this point in time, yeah, I'll be picking some of that up," Edwards said. But she also conceded, "Everyone is sitting on their hands."

"You're seeing the commodity trade start to unwind here," Brian Kelly said.

Joe Terranova was maybe the least-convinced of the panel on Tuesday's action. "I do think this is just end-of-quarter rejiggering," Terranova said. "Why is gold only up slightly today?" Melissa Lee argued that the dollar was affecting gold. Terranova said that doesn't wash; that gold and dollar have risen together before.

Jon Najarian asked Rick Santelli about his disagreement with Gary Kaminsky over whether the consumer's dead. Santelli said he agrees with Najarian and would put the consumer thing "off on the perimeter." Santelli also said he agreed with Jeff Kronthal's comments on The Strategy Session about low bond yields for a while.

Strategy Session guest:
More good IPOs in pipeline

Jeff Kronthal, one of the heroes of The Sellout (at least, we think he's one of the heroes; you know, Charles Gasparino sort of plays the cards close to the vest), guested on Tuesday's Strategy Session. Kronthal, Gary Kaminsky and David Faber put together an excellent discussion on what Treasury rates are saying about the stock market.

"We should expect low rates for a very long period of time," Kronthal said.

He also said, (groan), "We are looking more and more a little like Japan," but we won't fault him for that too much.

Kaminsky said the notion of calling stocks cheap because the S&P simply is trading at a lower-than-historical multiple should be tossed out. Faber gave Kaminsky credit for predicting enthusiasm for the Tesla IPO.

Another guest, Paul Bard, was asked what else is there after (presumed) Official CME Target/Subsidiary CBOE and Tesla in the new-offering space. "We're pretty excited about the backlog for IPOs," Bard said.

Unfortunately, Kaminsky said neither he nor Faber plays golf. (What are they thinking?)

Advice from Pops

We were checking out The Strategy Session blog and happened to notice this interview with David Simon, coincidentally by Jaclyn Simon.

We didn't notice the latter name, until we got to the end, and saw: "*Jaclyn Simon, an intern for The Strategy Session, is the daughter of David Simon."

[Monday, June 28, 2010]

Gartman: Gold could be
nearing ‘parabolic’ move

Dennis Gartman said Monday on the Fast Money Halftime Report that when it comes to gold, maybe we ain't seen nothin' yet.

"In the last 10% of the time frame, you get 50% of the price movement," Gartman said. "I've seen it time, after time, after time, in 35 years in doing this, and I get the sense that gold is about to do that same thing. I hate, I hesitate talking about parabolic moves, but one gets the sense, when you look at this compared to other periods of time in the past, that that's what may well happen."

How about the MGM channel digging up ‘Network’ in the library instead of ‘Clambake’?

Carl Icahn is a great Fast Money guest, but on the subject of Lions Gate, he's beginning to sound like a rerun.

You know, they should be focusing on distribution, not producing; and stay away from that foolishly overpriced MGM library that no one wants to buy, etc.

Monday, he took a lengthy call from Melissa Lee to remind viewers "I've sort of lost faith in the direction that the company was going in."

Shockingly, he defended his $7 tender price. "I think it's a good premium."

He said his bid is the only reason the share price is this high. "I don't think we would be here if we didn't make this tender," he said, and if rejected, "My own opinion is, that, uh, it goes, it goes back down, because I don't know what the stimulus is."

Guy Adami tried to slide in a quick question on the heels of this statement, "68% of the shareholders rejected your offer." Before he could blurt out the question though, Icahn interrupted, "Guy, Guy, 68% didn't reject it," but we didn't feel like doing the math.

Icahn said the obsession some people have with buying the MGM library is a case of "Drink the Kool-aid."

Tim Seymour said it seems like Icahn knows something about the company, and investors should jump on the coattails.

1999 wasn’t so bad,
despite ‘Magnolia’

Any Kool-aid Jon Najarian might be drinking nowadays would definitely be Apple-flavored.

In the unlikely event AAPL happens to be peaking, investors might point to Doc J's argument on Monday's Fast Money as the sign of the top.

"It says a lot about the economy that Tom Cruise can't even get people to go out and see his movies," Dr. J said, "but we continue to have people buy these" (holds iPhone).

Let's try to put that one in perspective.

Apparently the implication is that Cruise is such box-office gold, the only way people won't see his films at the theaters is if we're in some kind of Great Recession, and so we must be in some kind of Great Recession, and given that, aren't Apple's sales just amazing?

"That's a stretch. That's a stretch, Jon," said Tim Seymour. "Maybe for back in 'The Outsiders' days, or, you know something like that, that's where we cared about Tom Cruise."

Nah. "Jerry Maguire."

Dr. J implies Fast Money gang
to blame for AAPL’s low price

As if reaching for a Tom Cruise analogy wasn't dubious enough, Jon Najarian offered an alternate theory Monday as to why AAPL is not trading with a 3 handle.

"All things being equal, I think Apple's 310 today, if it weren't for the headwinds that we're facing globally, and that is worries, and, you know, Debbie Downers on this desk and so forth."

Now let's try to put that one in perspective.

1. He says it's the "headwinds we're facing globally," in which case you might as well say, "If the world was a perfect investment place right now, not only would AAPL be $300, but Citi would be $6, JPMorgan would be $60, Cliffs Natural Resources and Walter Energy would be $85, Crox might even be $12."

2. He suggests that doom-mongers on the Fast Money desk are actually (partly) causing an oversold condition.

"This stock is poised to go well over 300 I continue to believe," Dr. J said.

Adami: Fin reg is step toward
conversion to socialism

Guest caller Ed Mills likely wasn't questioning Guy Adami's Kool-aid on Monday but instead must've wondered who peed in Guy's Cheerios.

Adami for some reason elected to launch a Larry Kudlow-esque pro-capitalism broadside once the subject of fin reg came up, and Mills just happened to be the assigned Senate vote-counter caught in the crosshairs.

"Isn't by definition a great capitalist society, aren't you gonna have great falls, isn't that what it's all about?" Adami said. "As opposed to a nice socialist society, which nothing really happens frankly. So do we want a great capitalist society, where things, we have great rises and subsequent falls because by definition, that's what happens, or do you wanna sorta, make it sort of a flatline thing where nothing happens."

"Well, I think everyone is clearly wants (sic) a capitalistic society," Mills said. "And I worked up on the Hill for a decade and I don't believe I ever once heard even the most liberal senator say that they didn't want a capitalistic society."

That settled nothing. "Almost by definition," thundered Adami, "if you have a great capitalistic system, you're gonna have these peaks and valleys. Go through history and look."

Tim Seymour and Jon Najarian basically agreed with Adami that fin reg sucks. "There is absolutely nothing in this bill that stops what just happened," Najarian said. Seymour said nevertheless, it looks like stocks are breathing a sigh of relief.

Maybe AAPL should start
sandbagging out to 2012

Guy Adami tends to repeat a lot of his lines on Fast Money.

Some of them actually are worth repeating (some are not, really, such as Chinalco and FCX recent comments, heard again Monday), including one of our recent favorites, the earnings guidance that IBM has apparently been giving out for 2015.

Adami said that if you actually believe the S&P is gonna hold around here, several tech names are cheap. "Even an IBM, frankly, given what they said about earnings out to 2015, is extraordinarily cheap," Adami said.

Tim Seymour said tech scares him a bit. "I think the beta here is extraordinary," he said.

CNBC.com's Fast Money disclosures didn't explain that sharp, heavily buttoned pink top Melissa Lee was wearing, but did include this nugget: "Adami’s wife works at Merck."

Reminder: Dr. J thinks
AAPL still has legs

Jon Najarian, a gentleman as always, evidently disagreed with Toni Sacconaghi's cautious outlook on Apple, but not without complimenting Sacconaghi's analysis.

Najarian compared today's AAPL with the circa-Y2K versions of CSCO and MSFT, saying the latter 2 got into a rut of merely updating old products. "Apple does a lot of innovation, and that seems to be why people buy the stock and hold it for the long term," Najarian said.

Sacconaghi agreed and took that even further, saying MSFT and CSCO were much farther along in their meal-ticket product cycles when they emerged as market-cap kings, whereas the smartphone revolution has just begun. (But remember, Pete Najarian will tell you to forget the iPhone and iPad and iPod, it's all about the Mac.)

Despite that, Sacconaghi offered 2 causes for AAPL concern: "It's now approaching $250 billion in market cap ... how much more can the stock really outperform," and "Secondly, you attract unwanted attention," including a fictional example of how a textbook publisher might band together with other book publishers to support a different platform if they think AAPL is getting too powerful.

What’s the right multiple
for $240 trillion?

Brian Kelly and Jon Najarian disagreed Monday on Fast Money Halftime as to whether fin reg's derivatives outcome (whatever that is) is adequately reflected in stocks.

"This isn't new news," Kelly said, pointing to Charles Schwab as a leading indicator for retail investors.

Najarian said it's not the retail investor that's the key, but the prospect of derivatives business "that's the zip that you get out of owning CME and potentially NYX."

"I just think it's priced in to the stocks," Kelly shrugged.

"It couldn't be though! ... It couldn't possibly be," Dr. J said. "Not 240 trillion. Because that's like creating a hundred Charles Schwabs."

Tim Seymour admits
Nokia scary here

Jon Najarian said Monday that only the market is to blame for keeping AAPL from a nice round number.

"If Apple were not in the environment that we find ourselves in at the end of this, the 2nd quarter, I think Apple would already be north of $300 a share," Najarian said.

"Nokia scares me still here," said Tim Seymour, but "Intel is the chart I like."

Kelly: BlackRock ‘concerned’
about BP debt prospects

On the subject of known unknowns, Gary Kaminsky said on Monday's Strategy Session that he's hearing there's an extra headwind on BP's bond offering: Litigation that hasn't happened yet that no one knows about but is going to stem from people suffering "material damage to their business."

Kate Kelly said Pimco is interesting in the BP bond offering, but BlackRock seems "a little concerned about it."

[Friday, June 25, 2010]

Person based at CME calls
fin reg a win for stock

JJ Kinahan and Mike Khouw were tripping over each other to disagree with Patty Edwards on Friday's Fast Money, but the result was an interesting little debate over fin reg.

Edwards started it by saying she was talking to traders all afternoon and was getting negative reviews about a CME clearinghouse.

"When you are doing an over the counter derivatives trade at this point, you know who your counterparty risk is with," Edwards said. "And, you're not gonna have that if you're doing that through the CME."

Pressed for a market call, Edwards indicated to Melissa Lee that the CME and ICE had maybe gotten ahead of themselves in the afternoon on the fin reg news. "They'll certainly see some incremental volume, but the fact of the matter is, is that if you're going directly to Goldman, you know who your counterparty is," Edwards said. "If you're going to the CME, you don't know who's taking on that counterparty risk."

JJ Kinahan countered that the present system Edwards describes is actually what sank Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. "They had so many counterparties, that's what actually screwed up the market," said Kinahan, who brazenly made CME his Final Trade.

"When you have a clearinghouse as your counterparty, it's basically a best-of situation," insisted Mike Khouw, who said you're then dealing with the survivors of the clearinghouse.

Edwards responded, "Don't you then have to put up more collateral than these guys are having to put up now? And so you're gonna dry up a lot of the liquidity. And so a lot of folks who were getting into this business are not going to be playing there anymore, because the return is not gonna be there."

Seymour: Buy refiners

Mike Khouw on Friday managed to be one of the rare CNBC people not exactly gung-ho bullish on Apple.

Khouw acknowledged the company's success and deserved multiple, but argued that going forward, "They have to continue to do just about every single thing right."

Then again, that's basically what they've been doing, so keep that in mind.

Khouw said fin reg was sort of a glass half-full thing for Goldman Sachs on Friday because, "When you're trading as an empty glass, that's a good thing."

Harvey Pitt complained, as did Peter Boockvar at Halftime, that fin reg doesn't solve the problems of 2008.

Tim Seymour made a petro-call Friday. "I like the oil services, but I really like the refiners here," he said, singling out Tesoro and Valero.

Karen Finerman noted the astonishing move in BP's debt market in barely a week. "BP short term paper was 89. Now it's 83 and change. That is a monster move for BP," Finerman said, adding that "5 billion used to be nothing to them. Absolutely nothing."

Finerman, who still refuses to wear those hot glasses but donned a scarf and black dress Friday that didn't quite reach the level of Melissa Lee's crisp navy dress, lizard belt and new straight hairstyle, said after a segment on Medtronic, she prefers St. Jude, "like it better."

Ara Hovnanian: Homebuilding
pace well below future needs

Ara Hovnanian, who admittedly is one of the better CEO guests even though he rarely says anything terribly exciting, paid another visit to Fast Money on Friday, this time on the Halftime Report.

Patty Edwards asked the best question about HOV's recovery. "Where are you going to make all this money? What's the newest, hottest thing you're going to be bringing," Edwards asked.

Hovnanian responded, "The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates about 1.7 to 1.9 million houses being needed over this next decade per year. Per year. We're producing about 600,000. Last year we produced that much. So, there is going to be a bounceback, it's pure demographics."

That's interesting — but it didn't answer the question.

Edwards, we believe, was asking what the company specifically has to offer buyers that might be better than the competition. Ara Hovnanian merely said a rising tide will lift all the boats, not exactly a ringing endorsement.

In fact, this question was long overdue, because Hovnanian in basically every Fast Money appearance only talks about cash position and macro housing sales.

Off the top of the head, we're not really sure what exactly makes one homebuilder better than another. Long-term reputation matters but isn't foolproof. Consumers in general probably get what they pay for. Every development's unique and it's rarely an apples-apples choice for consumers; it's not like every community in America has a Hovnanian development down the street from a Pulte development down the street from a Toll Brothers development.

Edwards said homebuilder stocks are too volatile and instead recommends Plum Creek Timber, a "good solid company, with good solid dividends."

Friday's Halftime Report included, for the first time in a while, JJ Kinahan and Jeff Tomasulo. We figure we've gotta say something about fin reg, so we'll quote Chris Whalen, who said, "Don't assume the exchanges are gonna take the OTC business away from the top 3 or 4 banks anytime soon. That's gonna be a gradual process. I agree that CME is a winner here."

David Simon affirms Finerman’s Alcon thesis

Gary Kaminsky had the day off Friday — his first Strategy Session day off — but the rest of the gang, supplemented by Peter Boockvar, actually found a bit of momentum once the dreaded fin reg chatter subsided.

Most notably, David Simon made a prediction on the Alcon-Novartis deal, a trade Karen Finerman has been recommending for seemingly forever (this writer is long ACL, from back when Karen was trumpeting it around $160). Simon listed ACL as perhaps his top risk-arbitrage pick. "We see that deal going between 160, 170," he said. "I think you'll see news there in about 2 months."

The absence of the Garymeister opened the floor up a bit to Kate Kelly, who might've been a bit out of the loop on the Alcon conversation but otherwise did a nice job on the fin reg roundup.

Meanwhile, Steve Cortes continues to be the ideal stock pundit, offering a trade per soundbite, even if some of those soundbites are so quickly delivered, we have trouble quoting them all.

As for bank complaints about fin reg, Cortes reached deep into his bag of tricks for some Bard material on Friday. "If they are in hysterics, uh, to quote Shakespeare, I would say the Lady doth protest too much," he said.

Peter Boockvar seemed floored that fin reg doesn't really accomplish anything that helps prevent a repeat of 2008. "Every day I scratch my head ..." Boockvar said.

[Thursday, June 24, 2010]

Finerman buying BBY

In an episode marked (plagued?) by breaking news updates, Thursday's Fast Money was a lot of RIMM and a lot of fin reg and a little Oracle.

Jim Goldman said Research in Motion, long a formidable competitor in the smartphone market, "risks becoming a victim."

Tim Seymour claimed the valuation for RIMM is now pretty good. "This is not a stock you should be throwing out the window," Seymour asserted. Karen Finerman admitted the valuation is something she notices but said the company's lack of overall momentum is too troubling.

Finerman, though, was much more optimistic about Best Buy, the stock that everyone on a dubious Halftime Report (except for glowing Melissa Lee and her gray/black outfit) seemed to hate.

Finerman said she added to her BBY holdings "as recently as yesterday."

Finerman said many retailers boast strong balance sheets and, partly because they won't release much news for more than a month, are as attractive as Mandy Drury subbing for Street Signs. (OK, she didn't really say that; it's just a loose interpretation here.) "These retailers generally don't report in July; their quarter ends in July," Finerman said. "I think that the valuations here are really cheap."

CME traders worried 18 months straight about becoming the next Japan

Sometimes, business TV can be fall-out-of-your-chair funny.

We're not sure why — and no drinking on this end either — but if you didn't find something remarkably hilarious about The Strategy Session's clumsy dialogue on Japan on Thursday, then you're probably better suited for C-SPAN.

Rick Santelli, the epitome of the Policy Thinker (or is it Policy Ranter), which we pointed out a couple days ago is merely the financial/political equivalent of the sports talk radio caller who thinks the reason the team is 6-10 is because the offensive coordinator calls too many screen passes and generally turns up on the Larry Kudlow show, seriously — seriously — said that at the CME, "The notion are we turning into Japan has been something talked about on this floor for, probably a year and a half."

And to think, all this time we thought they were talking about whether to buy the CBOE.

David Faber delivered a demographic answer to that one and somehow — somehow — couldn't even crack a smile: "I mean, you know, I hate to even use this, but it's true: They sell more adult diapers in that country than they do baby diapers. Uh, we don't have that problem. Thankfully."

Faber also cautioned Santelli not to start 2 political parties at the same time.

Steve Cortes had this to offer: " 'Turning Japanese' was a bad song by The Vapors in 1980. It's a bad theory right now."


Is Ned Riley
a closet indexer?

We never thought we'd see the day on this site when we'd be running commentary from Ned Riley up the flagpole, but today seems as good a day as any.

(Actually, we wanted to post something about Trish's show-stopping pink top in the noon segue from The Call to The Strategy Session, but maybe that'll be topped on Worldwide Exchange overnight by Nicole Lapin, who in some people's minds is carrying on a Wimbledon-esque 70-68-destined fashion match with Trish daily, but really, what more is there to say, other than Larry Kudlow on The Call has undeniably the best job in the world?)

Riley, often a Squawk Box staple, guested on what proved to be, after a sluggish start featuring Rick Santelli, a semi-gangbusters Strategy Session Thursday, finding himself in a debate with Mark Fisher and a closet-index chat with Gary Kaminsky.

David Faber introduced Riley as someone who thinks now is the "best time ever" to buy stocks, and asked him why.

As always in these situations, the first answer a person gives is the most telling.

"First of all, everybody that I've listened to so far seems to hate the stock market, and nobody's even talked about a positive," Riley said.

Hmmm. Sounds a little bogus. Everybody seemed to hate the stock market in January 2008 and September 2008, and those weren't exactly great times to buy. The contra-sentiment indicator seems as much of a CNBC cliché as "The Saudi Arabia of coal/wind/natural gas."

But Riley continued. "You've chased the public away from this market totally because of all of the high-frequency trading and all of the other issues that are out there. That money has got to come back into the market at some point in time," he said.

Better, but logically flawed. The only "issue" the retail investor cares about is whether he made any money. Walk into a McDonald's, or Red Lobster, or Best Buy, and ask anyone inside if they can define high-frequency trading and have an opinion on it, and you'll get the number of World Series titles of the Chicago Cubs in the last 100 years. There probably is a lot of potential for a recovery in retail investing, but no guarantee it's "got to" come back anytime soon.

Riley also argued that slowness is a virtue. "The longer it takes to recover, the better off the financial markets are gonna be because we'll be putting the house in order as we go along. I don't want this quick-snap-up, V-shaped recovery to push inflation, interest rates to levels which are not sustainable," he said.

Gary Kaminsky wasn't arguing any of that, although he could've. Instead, Kaminsky asked why a noted stock-picker boasts 3 big ETFs as his top holdings.

Riley first said "80% of the money managers in this country can't beat the markets." Kaminsky said, "I think it's actually 90%."

Riley continued, "You don't pay high commissions, you don't pay high fees, your taxes are mitigated, and most importantly, if people did the market performance over the last 5, 10 and 20 years, they'd be a heckuva lot better off than they are today."

"Not the last 10 years," Kaminsky argued.

"Well actually they would've beaten the average money manager over the last 10 years, yeah. Because they were heavy in high-tech stocks in the beginning of that decade, and as you know, tech has been the worst-performing industry for 10 years, the best for about the last 2 or 3."

Here, at this point, we're finally on board with Riley. The gut feeling here — and we haven't done an ounce of research to back this up — is that most retail investors, day-traders or whatever they might be called, are constantly outguessing themselves, chasing the highest-beta winners, which works just often enough to prompt more of it, but never being adequately hedged and thus taking bigger hits than a lot of institutions in the tech stocks of 2000-01 and the Las Vegas Sandses of 2008 ... and that the active portfolio managers, while better, aren't really a whole lot better. Bottom line being, in our opinion, as horrible as it is to be flat over 10 years, as the S&P 500 was or has been, for most people, it's probably a lot better to be in that flat SPY as opposed to actively trading over that time.

"If a traditional stock picker like Ned Riley is telling you, that he's gotta put his money into these index funds," Kaminsky said, "that's a trend we're gonna continue to see."

Mark Fisher vs. Ned Riley

Mark Fisher had a question for Ned Riley.

"Something you said interests me," Fisher said. "You said, the market has to go up eventually. Why does the market 'has' (sic) to go up? Why does it have to? Is it because there's no place else to put anybody's money."

It's important to note Fisher slightly misquoted Riley. Riley didn't say the market "has to go up," he said the retail investor money "has got to come back into the market at some point."

Even so, Riley didn't object, so we won't either. As always, the first response is what matters.

"First it has to because profits are gonna continue to grow over the next 2 to 3 years," Riley said. "Probably above average, because of the productivity stuff that they've been putting into the company. Hey, there's been a substitution of capital for labor, and it's paid off so far in a slow-revenue environment."

The "productivity stuff" ... hmmm.

Fisher countered, "Markets go up, before profits actually recover, and when the people actually make, when companies make a lot of money, the market usually goes down."

"I'm talking sustained profit recovery," Riley said. "I'm not talking about 35% sustainable, what I'm talking about, 10 or 15% sustainable." Riley and David Faber noted that profits have risen faster than share prices, compressing P.E. ratios. "Apple's a cheaper stock today than it was 2 years ago," Riley said.

Gary Kaminsky warned that there's a lot of pent-up dollars supposedly waiting for a fin reg relief rally in banks, and it might not happen, so be careful.

Just what are those
‘worthless’ paper assets?

A few months ago, Mark Fisher appeared on Fast Money, and Fast Money couldn't tell you often enough that Fisher rarely does TV interviews.

Nowadays, he seems like he's on about once a week.

So we figured, what the heck, why not a partial transcript of Fisher's commentary on Thursday's Strategy Session.

One of the things about Fisher, he's not particularly smooth on TV, but in a way this sort of enhances his credibility, so we try to record the grammar as closely as possible...

"I think that Americans aren't as as free-wheeling and free-spending and risk- and risk-takers as we used to be. And you can see that because people are just willing to put their money in, earning nothing.

"I think the way out of this whole interest-rate environment, is we need to spend, spend, spend, but not be the government. It has to be American business and American people.

"The way, the way this works, is you need to go ahead and incentivize businesses, give 'em a put option, through an investment tax credit, so that we can go ahead and have businesses spend and create the one thing that needs this to go right, jobs.

"All that's gonna happen in the end, is that these banks, it's all gonna be passed along to, to everyone who trades, these banks are gonna be just as profitable in the end. I think that a bank, if you're Goldman, you may not be a bank anymore, OK then you know what, then you get away from all this nonsense. The point being is, in the end, all these financial regs that have come- come down, are gonna end up affecting the people who trade, and the hedge funds, and widening bid and offer spreads...

"I think I'm gonna be bullish (on energy) for the next 4 or 5 years. I mean, bottom line being, I really think energy is gonna be the place to be, it is the place to be, in terms of, it's gonna be the ultimate currency. I think what you're seeing is that people eventually are gonna migrate out of all these paper assets that are becoming, you know, in my opinion, worthless."

Fisher also said there's a "tremendous amount of natural gas being brought online ... eventually natural gas is gonna be the way out of our energy problem, but not yet."

Adami: ‘Funny’ that stocks
predicted earnings

If you'd just listened to the first few minutes of Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report and stopped there, you were probably ready to join Peter Schiff in a gold-plated bunker somewhere.

And if you had continued listening for a few minutes longer, you might've thought it was Blackstone IPO day, or whatever the heck the psychological peak of the market was.

Guy Adami perhaps summarized this curious disconnect with this observation. "What's funny is, and Patty can speak to this as well, I mean, these stocks started to fall long before the earnings have started to come out. Now we're starting to get the earnings which, have not been good."

So ... the stocks suggested earnings were going to be weak ... earnings did turn out to be weak ... and this is a problem because ...

Adami said he found the tape of euro up, stocks down to be "extraordinarily negative."

"Again I don't wanna be a scaremonger," Adami said, but "we're on the verge of really breaking down in the S&P."

Jon Najarian offered this: "Euro's going higher and crude oil's going higher. And that's not normal, quite frankly."

Patty Edwards acknowledged, "I just don't like what I'm seeing out there. I've got this basket of stocks that I watch, the only 2 up are Johnson&Johnson and Kraft ... the only things that are working? Food stocks."

"The consumer appears to be floundering right now," Adami sighed.

Then out of the blue, Jon Najarian pointed to McCormick as a retrenching-consumer play — "Why would a spice company be doing so well? Because consumers are going to be staying home more, and they're gonna be cooking at home, which means more spices being bought" — just before saying he'd like to get into Darden if it falls to $35, or Bed Bath & Beyond if he could get it at $37.

MKC, we discovered, has basically been marching steadily up since April 2009, so apparently people have been doing a lot of stay-at-home cooking in the last 15 months.

Patty Edwards, despite not liking what she's seeing in the market, still managed to tout J. Crew, Nordstrom and Costco, which as far as we amateurs can tell comprises pretty much the entire consumer spectrum. "Yeah, you know, I think you stick with the best operators, you stick with those retailers that I know have the good systems, the good management teams that can manage through this," Patty said.

Patty also said, "We've actually been playing FFIV."

Colin Gillis spoke about issues with the iPhone antenna. He suggested a "Long Apple, short Amazon" trade.

[Wednesday, June 23, 2010]

Guy Adami: Consumers maybe
have ‘fired their last bullet’

Remember that scene in "A Few Good Men," where Tom Cruise is railing to his colleagues about how their case is screwed because Markinson's dead, in what is supposed to be a devil-may-care type of character's example of overacting?

Guy Adami did sort of the same thing, in stock-market-analysis terms, in his prediction for the American consumer Wednesday on Fast Money.

"I do think the consumer — we haven't said this in a while; I haven't said it in a while — they might've fired their last bullet," Adami said. "I think what's happened, if you give me a second, last March, near-death experience for everybody, a lot of people saved money. I think a lot of people as the market went higher, regardless of whether or not they had money in the market, feel richer; I think they spent. If the market does pull back here, you watch and see how fast people (unintelligible)..."

So let's see ... people who don't have money in the stock market are watching the Dow every day to see if they "feel richer" ... when the S&P 500 in March was about the same level as Wednesday, people bought things, but this time at the same level they're going to stop ... when the market hit a 12-month high in April, they suddenly stopped feeling richer and stopped going to the mall — except for Apple of course, which remains the "singular" story of being about the only company that tightfisted shoppers are actually willing to open their wallets to; nobody is willing to buy anything unless it's got an Apple logo on it ...

We were eager to hear what the Guymeister had to say about the housing data and weren't disappointed. "It wasn't lousy housing data, it was historically bad," Adami said.

Adami at one point tried to talk viewers into Sandisk, then seemingly tried to talk them out of it on valuation just as quickly as he had been talking them into it.

Tim’s friend Diego

For some reason — who knows why; you'd think the Fast Money gang has never heard of a name in a foreign language before — Tim Seymour has been taking some ribbing for mentioning his business partner "Diego."

Wednesday, Seymour said, "Diego mentioned to me that Apple is now 20% of the Nasdaq. .. That's what he does; he's full of stats, he's the man."

While the rest of the panel clucked, Seymour said that kind of weighting, even though Apple has outperformed tech recently, makes him nervous, makes him think that if Apple should stumble, it could really take down tech.

In a strangely random Fast Fire, Guy Adami was forced to admit he was wrong about his "bit of a triple-bottom here" analysis of OII. "Gotta stay away from this one now," he said.

Nishu Sood explained the homebuilder rally this way: "I think there was some short covering here today."

Guy Adami indicated he's not a fan of the World Cup. "Thank God it's every 4 years," he said, asking why it couldn't be 40.

Kaminsky: Schwab chart
is getting broker

Gary Kaminsky, on Wednesday's Fast Money, suggested looking at the chart of "Chuckie" Schwab to get a handle on overall market valuation.

He thinks so highly of this particular measure, he went on to say, "I can think of no better stock that's an indicator of the, about the, country and the American public."

A skeptical Melissa Lee said that's "a huge leap, Gary."

We took a look at the Schwab chart, and what we found most interesting isn't the recent performance (bad, as Kaminsky said), but the fact it somehow surged during the last quarter of 2007, when many other stocks were beginning a serious downward slide.

Kaminsky told Fast Money viewers, "The data that's coming out continues to say, that consumer-related companies are taking down guidance. Simple. That's what it is." But he failed to drag Karen Finerman into a debate over Best Buy's P.E., even when he pointed to the Treasury auction. Finerman said 1 day does not a 6 month's worth of investing make.

Kaminsky closed by noting Ralph Lauren's sale of shares, which we think was mentioned on The Strategy Session recently, but apparently the Fast Money gang didn't notice, because Karen Finerman and others seemed puzzled as to what Kaminsky was talking about.

Kaminsky also made a comment about being a "loser" who likes to look at the daily highs and lows, which made Melissa Lee smile wonderfully.

Nothing to see here,
move along

Ed Mills on Wednesday was the latest daily Fast Money guest to discuss ... Zzzzzzz ... fin reg.

Tilson’s best guess:
$20-$30 billion hit to BP

Whitney Tilson on Wednesday's Halftime reaffirmed his stake in BP with similar arguments he's made for weeks.

"We look at the range of expected outcomes," Tilson said, acknowledging some bit of risk the stock could go to zero, which is why he only has a 4-5% position.

He told Melissa Lee he's evaluated costs "somewhere between 10 and a hundred billion," and pressed by Lee, offered a guess of "somewhere, 20-30 billion maybe."

Tilson told Pete Najarian he can't find anything to hedge against it, including a name like XOM, which he says is not overvalued. "If there was a cheap hedge out there, we would put it on," Tilson said.

[Tuesday, June 22, 2010]

BP owes McChrystal
some of that $20 billion

This page expressed wonderment last week — and the week before, and probably the week before that — at the news media's consensus Page 1 fascination with the BP story a whole 2 months into the spill, a fascination that 1) prompts the government to respond faster and harsher than it normally might, and thus 2) likely has proved to be an extra drag on BP shares.

Gen. Stan McChrystal has temporarily kicked that problem in the groin.

It would be almost impossible, other than a massive disaster somewhere like an earthquake, to gin up a better story for BP purposes than McChrystal's Rolling Stone interview.

Here we have a person of authority giving the president a much bigger problem than what BP has given him and returning Afghanistan to the front page.

Everyone knows that if John McCain or Mitt Romney were president, the BP situation would be no different. Afghanistan, on the other hand, would probably not be different, but could be different.

McChrystal may be off-base. He may be brilliant. (This site has no opinion on his remarks.) Either way, it's a problem for Obama, whose administration is either everything McChrystal suggested it is, or it put a crackpot in charge of the Afghan war.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Fast Money on Tuesday nearly went an entire day (that's half-hour Halftime, plus hourlong real show) without a BP stock mention. Herb Greenberg seemed adamant about making what was little more than a semantical point at Halftime, saying that BP buyers such as Whitney Tilson are not "value" investors in this name, but people playing risk arbitrage.

Dennis Gartman: This is when
Keynes had it right

Dennis Gartman on Tuesday took the opportunity to explain what drives his economic philosophy by condemning Europe's austerity measures.

"This looks very Hooveresque to me," he said, inviting people to read their 1930s history books.

"I'm an Austrian economist," Gartman added, "but at times one has to be Keynesian, and at this time I think Keynesian thinking is the proper thinking."

Gartman said U.S. stock buyers should be wary of housing weakness but should note that the big banks, according to Gartman, don't carry mortgages in their portfolios, so consider a pairs trade of shorting the "smaller regional banks," or "the banks that have the largest percentage of mortgages in their portfolio."

‘Welcome back ... Your dreams
were your ticket out ...’

Something we occasionally notice, and finally started to actually think about...

Why does Melissa Lee have to say "Welcome back to Fast Money" several times a day?

You get a commercial break generally around 5:20, then another around 5:30. Then it depends, anywhere around 5:35, 5:38, 5:40, etc. After each, you're likely to hear, "Welcome back to Fast Money."

First of all, do viewers need a fresh greeting after every commercial break? Second, what's with the "welcome"? Is it because the traders are inviting you into an elite world and trying to let you know it's OK to listen to them? Aren't you actually the one letting them into your home and giving them your time?

The part about "live at the Nasdaq Marketsite," we get that; that goes with the hosting/sponsorship. The "welcome back" reminds of the hideous number of "good mornings" one hears when watching the "Today" show or "Good Morning America" or virtually any local TV morning news broadcast, when the weatherman, the reporters and the anchors have to say "good morning" to each other before every other sentence.

We're not being Debbie Downer here; we're glad we're welcome and that every TV newsperson wishes us and their colleagues a good morning. At some point it just regresses from a warm greeting to a dreaded cliché.

One person who probably could've used a "good afternoon" on Tuesday was none other than Mandy Drury, who capped off the 4 p.m. Closing Bell with not exactly a look of radiant happiness. Attention then quickly shifted from Mandy to Melissa Lee's summery, symmetrical orange dress, complemented exquisitely by a gold ringed necklace. Hopefully you got to see Melissa's parting pose for the camera after the Final Trade.

Mark Mahaney:
Google is top pick

Many times we find ourselves agreeing with the analyst calls on Fast Money; typically it's consensus type of buy ratings.

Darned, though, if Mark Mahaney didn't surprise us Tuesday by declaring GOOG his top pick.

This is a stock where, quite frankly, we don't understand the Fast Money fascination at all. Admittedly, no one's really been cheering it for a while. Karen Finerman has backpedaled (at least in her commentary) since pounding the table at the end of 2009, and Joe Terranova was recently gloating about calling it a sell in the upper $500s. Even so, it seems every couple weeks somebody will come on the show and declare it undervalued relative to tech, etc.

We can't imagine a tech company with more headwinds than this one. (BP or GS, yes, but BP and GS are not tech companies.) It's on the way out of China. It's being investigated by several states and several countries for data collection. It does remarkably well in many other countries, but how much higher can its market share reasonably expect to grow from this stage. It doesn't seem to know what to do with its cash. Its Android rollout wasn't as impressive as many hoped. Most of all, despite being one of Jim Cramer's "4 Horsemen" that Pete Najarian always liked to cite, the stock peaked in late 2007 and hasn't sniffed within 10% of that since.

Mahaney, to his credit, acknowledged as much. "The market believes it's broken. It's trading like it's broken," he said. But based on his "rolling thunder" thesis that has presently rewarded Akamai and Netflix, he said, "I love the stock here, it's our top pick," because given the impressiveness of new devices and the growth in search, it's "the one play that hasn't responded to that." He also mentioned Amazon.

Scaramucci: Like copper, coal

Anthony Scaramucci said the word he's getting from China is a positive one.

"We really believe that they're gonna increase the value of the yuan by 2 to 5% over the next 12 months," Scaramucci said Tuesday. "Over the next 3 years, he said, he predicted a possible "6 to 15% over that period of time."

As a result, "We're quite bullish on basic materials like copper, Alcoa, things like coal," he said, but he singled out Intel, the latest in a line of steady, if stodgy, hedge fund plays that in our opinion aren't exactly "fast" money, but whatever.

Worth picks on APA

Carter Worth, whom this page just recently praised for his seemingly accurate 2010 range-bound call, told Fast Money viewers Tuesday that he expects a bit of short-term sinking in the market. "I'd say our downside ... is 980," Worth said, comparing the broad market to APA, which he said was "failing where it should."

Guest Robert MacKenzie said the market might've had a false start in celebrating the judge's ruling against the 6-month drilling moratorium. "It really changes nothing short term," MacKenzie said, adding the "Interior Department has tons of other ways" to prevent drilling.

Guy Adami: This is what
I’m talkin’ about

Guy Adami, seizing again on some negative market action, said he thinks S&P 1,040 will be tested again, and "it will not hold next time down." He said Monday's close was "lousy," but the "price action today was worse."

Pete Najarian made an interesting point about the Debbie Downer crowd, saying that they love to point out when volume is down on days the Dow soars, but nobody is talking about light volume on Tuesday. "People seem to have an interesting focus on volume all the time," Pete grumbled.

Joe Terranova felt emboldened enough to declare the "consumer discretionary trade" is "toast" for the 2nd half of the year.

Jeff Harte said (yawn) that major derivatives changes in fin reg are unlikely. "I just don't think the politicians go down that road," he said.

Jon Najarian on Halftime discussed an OfficeMax rumor but said it lacks "oomph." He added, "I like the stock around 16."

Brian Kelly recommends out of the blue buying LQD and selling AFL.

Presented with a botox segment, Guy Adami said, "How about jsut going to the gym, folks."

The CNBCfix.com prediction:
Sub-7 in 2012

Gary Kaminsky and David Faber put together a little discussion about the consumer in Tuesday's Strategy Session.

Faber said Kaminsky was able to connect the dots between Best Buy, FedEx, Walgreens, Dean Foods and Ralcorp, based largely on CEO comments, suggesting headwinds for the consumer.

Kaminsky in a blog post also referred to a Guy Adami Monday selection, California Pizza Kitchen. "With the notable exception of i-products, we are seeing a clear pattern when it comes to spending," Kaminsky writes.

Kaminsky's measured analysis notwithstanding, we always get a chuckle out of CNBC's typical conversations about the consumer, or at least the ones between the Republican economists and Democratic economists on Larry Kudlow's show. When the consumer spends, it's always either 1) they're tapping their home-equity line of credit, or 2) refusing to buy anything but seriously marked-down merchandise. When the consumer is flat or even temporarily dips, it's a sign that 70% component of the economy might be "dead."

Faber was reluctant Tuesday to pronounce the consumer as retrenching. "We talk about it all the time. It's a big 'if,' by the way, a very big 'if'," Faber said, quite the understatement.

Steve Liesman, who is making a mini-career out of some spirited, spontaneous arguments with Kaminsky, took that much further. "I'm seeing greater hours worked, Gary, I'm seeing a higher, uh, better, better pay out there."

"Show me the evidence, other than buying iPads, iPhones, and iTouches, where do consumers actually increasing (sic) their spending," Kaminsky responded.

We gotta side with Liesman in this one. Our random amateur guess is that Best Buy has run out of HDTV mania hype and FedEx is always warning about something or other. For Walgreens, according to the company, a "sluggish economy" was only 1 of 4 official reasons, the latter 3 including "prescription reimbursement pressure compounded by a slowdown in the rate of introduction of new generics, and a lower incidence of flu compared with the beginning of the H1N1 pandemic a year ago" not sounding like they're going to keep anyone away from the Dress Barn this summer; in fact less flu probably means more healthy shoppers.

Guest Howard Lutnick cautioned that consumers "haven't forgotten 08 and 09 yet." True. They probably haven't forgotten the day after Thanksgiving of that horrible year 2008, the worst economy since the Great Depression, when "Several stores — like Wal-Mart — opened at midnight and were already being raided." (But likely only by deal-conscious consumers tapping their home equity line and accepting nothing less than 50% off.)

This site, quite frankly, sucks at predictions. But here's one we feel rather confident about: People getting tired of not working, the unemployment rate plunging below 7% within a couple years as the Federal Reserve rains money, the incumbent president waltzing right back into office for another 4-year term.

If the government’s selling,
should you be buying?

Reuters correspondent Rob Cox visited The Strategy Session Tuesday to put the brakes on GM IPO talk. Cox made several references to the age of GM CEO Ed Whitacre and questioned if the company is really ready to go public yet, calling it a "big risk for taxpayers, for government."

So let's see, the government will sanction an IPO ... what would the effect on government be if the IPO buyers got stuck with another bankruptcy?

Cox introduced an amusing new term, "EBITDAPO," which includes "pension obligations" to the first 6 letters.

Steve Cortes told Gary Kaminsky he shared Kaminsky's concern about the consumer no matter how many iPods Apple sells. "Apple is a singular story," said Cortes.

Brian Kelly said he's gone short FCX.

Like most CEOs who go on TV, Howard Lutnick of Cantor Fitzgerald wants everyone to know he's hiring. "In our business, we're in a massive growth spurt, so we're hiring, hiring, hiring," he said.

Gary Kaminsky tried to inject some realism into that statement. "Howard's in an isolated pocket right here," Kaminsky said.

Lutnick said we're never going to pull out of our debt unless we start investing in the dreaded (and we do mean dreaded) infrastructure, "which we're not doing." (Unless you happen to drive on just about any of the nation's roads this summer, that is.)

In the entire history of CNBC and beyond, we've evidently never invested nearly enough in our infrastructure, but somehow, incredibly, we're all still here.

Steve Liesman questioned the background graphics on the Strategy Session set. "The question is, what are these numbers behind me, and what do they mean," he said, noting this was his 2nd appearance on the show. "By the 3rd time around, I'll get it."

[Monday, June 21, 2010]

Peter Schiff actually discloses
a trading position on-air

Joe Terranova said Monday, "I did get out of Apple," simply because of "the culmination of all this positive news." He said he would look to get back in somewhere around $250, $255.

Terranova also sees short-term trouble in gold. "I actually have GLD puts for a trade," he said.

Karen Finerman said she doesn't want to sell any AAPL right now because she's nearing a long-term gain for tax treatment. She semi-apologized for that being a "wonky" position, but didn't explain why she won't wear those hot glasses on Fast Money. She did, however, unveil a new top with striped trim Monday.

Gene Munster recommended Mercado Libre.

Peter Schiff called in the Fast Line to say he's short Treasurys; "I've been short for a while." Asked how he might be wrong, Schiff basically said gold will always go up, so he's going to be on the right side.

"0% chance that he is wrong in any scenario," sniffed Melissa Lee.

Guy Adami sticks to a thesis

On Friday (see below), this page noted the S&P closed at roughly the same level as May 19, which was about the same level as March 3, or in other words, a dreaded months-long trading range.

Even so, we speculated that "no matter, Guy Adami most assuredly remains convinced the next big leg is going to be down; when it breaks through 1,040, oh man, that's when you're gonna see a plunge where you'll have to pull the ripcord, etc...."


Monday, the S&P 500 fell a grand total of 4 points. Adami went grasping for evidence of capitulation, suggesting the real tell of the day was Meredith Whitney's bearish comments on housing, even though that market rose in early trading, and even though "you could say all right, Meredith hasn't been on top of things or at least she hasn't been right yet over the last few months..."

Then, Adami actually cited forecasts from California Pizza Kitchen in order to make the point, "You wonder if the U.S. consumer is starting to break down."

We'll take the other side of that comment in spades. The truth is, the American consumer has basically never broken down. Maybe in the 1930s. The American consumer hiccuped for about 6 months, if that, between September 2008 and March 2009, not because LIBOR and Lehman Brothers had anything to do with going to the mall, because they didn't, but because people were told by the media and their quarterly stock statements that everything sucks, and they completely believed it. Even in spite of that, Amazon bottomed a whole 2 months later in November 2008, so did Best Buy, so did Nordstrom, you get the picture...

Whitney? That sounds a lot like the commercial real estate mumbo jumbo we heard 2 years and 1 year ago, when expert after expert (even Karen Finerman for a while, but she quickly ended her short position well before many others) paraded onto CNBC and proclaimed there's nothing that could save commercial real estate, no way, all kinds of other shoes to drop, and then they all started raising gobs of capital regardless, even General Growth of all names, and anyone who was shorting Vornado, Simon, etc., got smoked like a Tiparillo.

Karen is long JCG, short ANF

Karen Finerman revealed Monday she has put on a pairs trade of long JCG, short ANF, because after the yuan news shook retailers, "I think the reaction was really excessive."

Patty Edwards suggested a couple other names: Gap and American Eagle, which she said have sources in other places besides China. Melissa Lee asked if those sources were in Asia because aren't other Asian economies tied to the yuan. Patty said India was one location, and "We're hearing a lot more about going down into the Caribbean area."

"Months back, we were actually short Wal-Mart," said Anthony Scaramucci, but now, "Wal-Mart looks very attractive."

Please: How about a moratorium
on fin reg discussions?

In a very impressive recent call, Guy Adami nailed a short-term bottom around $70 in Visa, something he referenced Monday. (This writer is long V.)

Even so, he said he thinks V might've gotten ahead of itself with its big jump Monday, and he'd take the other side of the bullishness of Joe Terranova, who recommended "stay with it."

Nevertheless, even Adami conceded, "This was clearly encouraging news today."

Karen Finerman said maybe the news lifting Visa and Mastercard is a sign fin reg "won't be as bad as the stocks fear right now."

Doug Sipkin said "The name that's best positioned for a new world is BlackRock."

Scaramucci: Hayward should quit

McDermott CEO John Fees, asked by Guy Adami why the market has punished his stock recently, said "Occasionally the market will put a broad brush on a particular sector."

Melissa Lee asked Fees how much exposure MDR has to the Gulf. He/she concluded it's 5% from the Gulf, "so maybe it is, that the stock is a little bit misunderstood."

Patty Edwards and Guy Adami were mildly bullish. "The stock makes sense at these levels," Edwards said.

Anthony Scaramucci said "Many hedge funds have been caught in a short squeeze" of natural gas.

Scaramucci also joined the chorus of criticism of Tony Hayward, saying a key CEO responsibility is "symbolism."

"This is Tone-Deaf Tony, and uh, it really is time for him to go," Scaramucci said.

Lee, who went with the straight-hair look all day but seemed to jazz it up a bit between Halftime and 5 p.m., wore a ravishing black V-neck dress, which is sort of a page out of the playbook of Nicole Lapin, who overdresses daily for Worldwide Exchange, with very impressive results.

Khouw: RIMM could be ripe
for a name like MSFT

Remember a couple months ago when Gary Kaminsky suggested Microsoft should buy Research in Motion, only to be stonewalled by others on Fast Money?

Monday, Mike Khouw said RIMM's "relatively cheap multiple" could make it "potentially an acquisition target for somebody who has a lot of cash, maybe a Microsoft, something like that."

Nobody vocally disagreed. Khouw said RIMM has to get back to thinking ahead of the game and realize it's competing with the iPad.

Anthony Scaramucci said RIMM is still the "keyboard mavens" and has 2 new products coming out to compete with AAPL, so don't write them off just yet.

Nothing to see here,
move along

David Riedel said Monday that at this point in time, the yuan can't be played in the stock market. "It's nothing; no one knows how to read it," he said, before asking, "Question back to Tim is, is it really gonna depreciate?" even though "Tim" wasn't on the Fast Money set Monday.

Riedel said he likes BIDU as well as Zhongpin (HOGS), "a stock at 6 times P.E. ... I don't know what people are looking for." He also mentioned CHL. "I'd be nimble in these names."

Riedel concluded, "The best thing to do in this environment is buy Hong Kong property," which coincidentally is exactly what David Barse told The Strategy Session last week.

Brian Kelly floats a currency theory past Peter Schiff

Peter Schiff argued with Brian Kelly on Monday's Halftime as to whether China's demand for U.S. Treasurys will actually increase.

Kelly said the market has it wrong. "I see money flowing into China, which actually could put a bid into Treasurys," he said.

"I don't know where you get a bid from," Schiff chuckled.

Kelly said the currency float would also bring investment into the country. "Companies wanna get that domestic demand," he said. "I think that the rate of inflow may increase, which will offset that Treasury buyer."

"They can't simultaneously spend and loan the same money," Schiff argued.

Schiff was asked who will buy Treasurys if China backs off. "The Federal Reserve. I mean, that's the problem. They're gonna be the last buyer," he said. "I think people are gonna be surprised by the magnitude and the speed with which the RMB appreciates."

Seymour: RIMM a bit
behind the Curve

Joe Terranova on Monday's Halftime declared that Research in Motion, as we presently know it, needs to go back to the drawing board.

"I think RIMM is a broken model; I don't own it, I have no interest in it," Terranova said.

Tim Seymour noted RIMM has entered China, but didn't sound highly optimistic, saying, "I think the Curve's a little expensive for the average Chinese consumer." Melissa Lee said that's what they said about the iPhone. Seymour said he thinks RIMM is late to the party and behind Apple.

Brian Kelly said the Chinese currency move is actually "not a massive game-changer today."

But he said to keep an eye on LFC. "A lot of Chinese are gonna have more money to spend on life insurance," he said.

Tim Seymour pointed to SINA and Shanda. "You're actually seeing these guys come out with new applications," he said.

Melissa Lee pointed out a "big reversal in the price of nat gas literally in the blink of an eye."

Dave Barger apparently said, in a roundabout way, that enhanced investment from Lufthansa would be a good thing for JetBlue.

Cortes: China outperforming
since start of May

Steve Cortes said on Monday's Strategy Session that China has actually been moving for a couple months.

"China has been outperforming the United States since the beginning of May," Cortes said, crediting the gains to "Beijing taking its foot off the brakes."

Gary Kaminsky said the short-term bottom in European markets occurred when "the Chinese said they will continue to invest in the euro bonds."

"They are the world's bank," David Faber said of China.

Peter Boockvar said of the Chinese currency float, "My initial reaction, it's great news for China." But he said it would bring less demand for U.S. Treasurys, and maybe more importantly, "We just put a tax on the American people. Anything made in China is gonna cost more money here."

Who knew reverse-mergers
could be so interesting?

Wall Street worrywart Herb Greenberg identified the sector of Chinese names that concern him for viewers of The Strategy Session on Monday.

"The Chinese stocks I'm worried about are reverse-mergers," he said, which are stocks that "come public through the back door of the United States."

Not so fast, said Gary Kaminsky. "If you can buy them right, if you can sell them right, take advantage of the hype," you can profit, he said. "Look at this, uh, BMP Sunstone ... don't just shut out every single reverse merger because within some of these there might be real companies."

David Faber was mildly incredulous, asking how you can get long a stock when you can't even analyze the fundamentals. Steve Cortes said that only applies to certain names. "There are some Chinese companies that have been very vetted," Cortes said, such as PTR, Baidu. "I'm not trying to be Nostradamus; I'm trying to make money."

Guest Jeff Lane, who we learned was once Gary Kaminsky's boss, said if he had to pick between Goldman Sachs and Jefferies, he would pick JEF. "I think Goldman is suffering from success. They're a target, and it's very difficult to analyze targets," he said. Lane said there is "plenty of room under the umbrella" for other financial companies. But he said it's not a call on basic business model so much as what Washington is doing. "It's politics, not fundamentals," he said.

Kaminsky drives home reminder
of closet indexers’ absurdity

Herb Greenberg said Monday that on the one hand, Tesla Motors has sold some electric cars; on the other hand, a lot of people have contracts to buy Tesla that they can cancel.

Greenberg said his biggest concern about the Tesla IPO is that "this is right now still currently pie in the sky for broad rollout."

Gary Kaminsky said "there's a lot of that money that's still waiting to find green tech investments," and that, with no public GM or Chrysler shares to buy, there are still closet indexers that will turn to a name like Tesla to get in the space.

"Oh come on," said David Faber, questioning that someone would buy Tesla just because GM isn't available. Kaminsky said he's made this point to Faber several times, this is what closet indexers do, and many of them have sold Toyota.

Jeff Lane said of Tesla, "If they can't prove they can make money, it's gonna be another bankrupt company."

Gartman praises Hayward, Barton

More in the Catching-Up Dept.: According to CNBC.com, Dennis Gartman in Friday's Gartman Letter unloaded on the congressional grilling of Tony Hayward, who Gartman says was "subjected to idiocy of the first order, expected to remain gentlemanly and in complete control ... (despite) hopes, apparently, that he'd make one slip of the tongue that would doom BP to a legal hell. He did not."

Gartman also wrote that Rep. Joe Barton "was the only one on the committee with a sense of fair play."

Dr. J expands chat room

We're a couple weeks behind on this one, but better late than never.

According to this article at chicagotribune.com, Jon Najarian is selling viewing rights to his exclusive trader chat room for $2,500 per year.

According to the Tribune, the chat room, co-run by Jamie Lissette, is limited to 190 pros, many from hedge funds, personally ID'd by Dr. J. The new subcribers will be able to read the material but not participate in the chatter.

This forum, which we'd never heard of until now, is prestigious enough to go by 2 names: Hammerstone Institutional Forum, and Stockmonster. Lissette tells the Tribune, "The relationship has benefitted from the fact that Jon is a marketing machine. He's on CNBC. He has a 55-person organization. I'm a one-person organization."

Movies of the week: ‘Giant’
& ‘There Will Be Blood’

Long before there was oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf, there was a small little gusher on a tiny parcel of the Reata Ranch that proved to be big trouble.

"Giant," the 1956 epic about the emergence of the Texas petroleum economy based on the novel by Edna Ferber, compares old money with new money and introduces a dramatic wrinkle to the notion of greed.

The Benedicts are ranchers. That's what they do, that's what their land is for, even though they're sitting on something probably far more valuable. The story requires a leap of faith to believe Jett Rink, with a tiny allotment of property, could quickly turn himself into the state's oil kingpin, but that's artistic license. The crucial decision is made by Bick, who has to choose whether to mar the landscape with oil derricks and join Rink's new society, or steadfastly accept the limitations and consequences of the old economy. Life makes the decision for him.

Arguments as to the peak of Elizabeth Taylor's appearance would likely range from her 19-year-old depiction in "A Place in the Sun" to "Cleopatra," filmed nearly a decade later. "Giant" stands tall as Taylor's entry into that small collection of nominees of the greatest beauty the world has ever seen, though fleeting, as the character rapidly ages beyond Taylor's 24 years at the time.

"Giant," like "There Will Be Blood" of 50 years later, suggests that oil wealth is always going to be dubious and requires a hollowness to pursue. This is not a ranch economy sustained and strengthened over generations through renewable resources and family commitment. There is certainly enormous value in the mobility oil provides, but nothing permanent except the expectation of more, vaporizing upon use, thus requiring more and more drilling, deeper and deeper, further and further away, to sustain this critical economic catalyst. If there is a message, it's that we need it, but don't have to like it.

[Friday, June 18, 2010]

If there wasn’t oil spilling in the Gulf, what would we talk about?

Friday's 5 p.m. Fast Money was essentially a continuation of the endless BP chatter heard on the expanded Halftime Report, which was really only notable for the sizzling new dress of Melissa Lee, who sent the unspoken message that not even Rene Russo on Friday night's CNBC airing of "The Thomas Crown Affair" was going to outdo her on this day.

(By the way, the lucky gent who gets to squire Russo to restaurants, charity events, etc., is Dan Gilroy, her husband since 1992. Russo is apparently from the "wrong side of the tracks" in Burbank, had scoliosis as a girl and wore a back brace to school, is 5-8, and dropped out of high school in 10th grade. Her sister Toni was married to Elton John's songwriter Bernie Taupin in the 1980s.)

(Sigh) OK, that was the fun stuff. On Friday's Halftime, Doug Kass said BP buyers are going to make money, pointing to Whitney Tilson.

"If you're patient and a value investor, you're gonna make a lot of money," Kass said.

Tilson, in fact, e-mailed the show, saying, "We continue to own BP and ... we increased our position this week." Panelists speculated Tilson saw the dividend cut and escrow as bullish. Someone said Tilson's been buying the shares below Friday's level, but we're not sure that's accurate. Some of the shares, maybe.

"A lot of day traders are playing BP," said Steve Grasso.

Kate Kelly spoke about the BP bond issue seemingly all day, but maybe it was just on The Strategy Session and the 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Kelly and Melissa Lee indicated the issue would be unsecured, ranging from 5-10 years. "The yield here might be like 8, 9%. I even heard 10%," Kelly said, but she's also hearing that the company is adamantly planning to avoid a double-digit rate. "5 billion's the goal," Kelly said.

Karen Finerman asked a question we hadn't thought of, which was, exactly what corporate entity is going to be issuing these bonds. Kelly said it would be the BP corporate entity in the U.K.

Patty Edwards said "They are pricing this thing like junk bonds," and as far as stocks go, she would be looking at "anything but BP." She said the problem is "the shoe that hasn't dropped."

Doug Kass we think was actually supposed to be talking about other market things (like that ever happens now) on the Halftime Report before being cut off with breaking news. Kass was just beginning to say that the world, "It's increasingly complex."

Our customers are No. 1

Clean Harbors chief Alan McKim made the type of comment you don't hear often these days.

"I've been doing these spills for 35 years and I've never seen the kind of effort that, uh, BP really is putting forward here," McKim said.

That got our attention, but then it did occur to us that BP is apparently purchasing services from his company right now, so it kinda makes sense.

Honestly, the ongoing Page 1 fascination with this story leaves us dumbfounded. We looked up Time mag covers from a year ago at this time and found health care, Sonia Sotomayor and how Twitter is changing the way we live (that's correct, that was the June 15, 2009, cover). An oil spill would've trumped those subjects also. BP needs some big news to happen, capture bin Laden or something.

David Faber said on The Strategy Session that everyone is "transfixed" with BP right now.

Dr. J doesn’t believe
the Anadarko rumors

Jon Najarian said Friday that Anadarko was rising because of takeover rumors, but "I'm not really believing it." He said the June options were moving, and generally if a takeover rumor has merit, it would be farther-out options such as July.

Dr. J did recommend Rowan on a healthy day in oil services. "I think you see consolidation from the deepwater space and you see outperformance from the jackups," he said.

Much of the half-hour 5 p.m. Fast Money was devoted to the breaking news of Anadarko declaring itself judge, jury and truth squad as to culpability and liability in the Gulf spill in a finding that notably exonerates itself.

Karen Finerman, who won't wear her hot new glasses for some reason but did have a hot new hairstyle for the 2nd day in a row, said she was attracted to the July 45 puts in RIG that are "just over a buck."

Dr. J: AAPL over $300

Jon Najarian on Friday made the type of Apple prediction that is quickly becoming old hat. "This thing's gonna nudge over 300 in the not-too-distant future," he said.

Patty Edwards was also bullish. "I've been nibbling on Apple all the way up," she said, again citing "325 price targets."

Carter Worth is the man

According to Yahoo Finance, we began the year at S&P 1,115.10.

Friday, it closed at 1,117.51.

Which is basically at the May 19 level, which was also the March 3 level, but no matter, Guy Adami most assuredly remains convinced the next big leg is going to be down; when it breaks through 1,040, oh man, thats' when you're gonna see a plunge where you'll have to pull the ripcord, etc....

One person not sharing that view is longtime Fast Money friend Joe LaVorgna, who predicts S&P 1,375, providing GDP matches his healthy forecasts.

"I think the market is unbelievably bearish," LaVorgna said. But, "If GDP weakens, no, then the stock market call is off."

It wasn't clear from the program what time frame LaVorgna is giving the 1,375.

"Light volume has me concerned," said Steve Grasso, who pointed to resistance at 1,115, 1,116.

Patty Edwards called the general market "pretty much a snooze."

The guy who has nailed the 2010 market is Carter Worth, who spent the end of 2009 predicting a flatline this year (at least as early as Oct. 1, if not earlier), based on what we thought at the time was faulty logic (the 2003-'04 pattern) but now appears to have merit.

Grasso: Goldman nearing
‘point of closure’

Speaking of snoozes, the BP-fueled production that Fast Money panelists turned in Friday at 5 p.m. deserves a drilling or 2.

Tim Seymour, like Steve Grasso and Joe Terranova, was basically sitting on his hands the whole time with little more than a bullish-oil trade offering, unless you count his Final Trade of the U.S. soccer team.

Steve Grasso said he thinks Goldman Sachs may be starting to rally because traders can somehow now see a "point of closure."

John Carney tried to explain on Friday's 5 p.m. show about GS getting an extension to respond to the SEC case — something about aligning its timetable with Fabulous Fab — but faded out on the cell phone.

Peter Boockvar said that contrary to what you might think, the dollar sucks, and is just a "nicer house in a bad neighborhood."

Ben Thompson,
you must be joking

We know enough not to underestimate The Strategy Session's capability of exploring every economic nook and cranny.

But quite frankly, we were surprised Friday to find ourselves suddenly hearing chatter about the State of Illinois' debt problem.

Steve Cortes, who works/worked out of Chicago when not on The Strategy Session Prop Desk, explained the problem as he sees it. "I can't tell you how many folks I know in Chicago are holding down jobs and collecting 1 or even 2 state pensions," Cortes told guest Ben Thompson. "Is the state willing to get serious about pension reform?"

"They're gonna have to," Thompson said.

Sure. One former governor is presently in jail while his successor is on trial. You've heard that cliché so often around election time, from both parties, where they'll say "it's time to put government back on the side of the people instead of the people in government." It'd be hard to find a state government that served its politicians any better than the one in Illinois.

Meanwhile, we're always curious what states facing a fiscal "crisis" are doing with the money they've got.

The California State Library, according to this report, is sending $5,000 to the Orland Library, which "hopes to purchase between 8 to 10 laptops to be used solely for job activities." That sounds like a fine idea, until you read, "Those looking for jobs now can still use one of the library's regular computers, but they may have a longer wait."

Cortes' home state of Illinois managed to pony up $6 million for a broadcasting museum that its organizer has been struggling with since 2003, apparently unable to land significant state or private cash during the years when even Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were swimming in money.

The organizer defends the state funding mechanism in a way that's probably better suited for The Strategy Session blog than this page: "There's a big difference between operating dollars and capital dollars. Capital dollars come from a completely different fund. They're totally different. ... Those capital projects are funded by the sale of bonds to an international market that buys state and municipal bonds to build things and create jobs. I don't think the general public understands the difference ... and I would hope the journalists would explain it."

We're trying.

David Faber, on The Strategy Session, said swap stats show "some traders betting on a 1-in-3 chance of a default in the next 5 years for Illinois."

If you’re longing for HCA shares, there’s probably gonna be a deal for you

Scott Sperling, a pretty good guest on The Strategy Session Friday, unfortunately repeated a refrain we've only been hearing on CNBC for about, oh, 20 years — the notion that taxes everywhere are going up massively as soon as next year, even though they're generally well below the levels of the Reagan glory years.

David Faber even states this as fact in The Strategy Session blog; "taxes are assuredly going higher for wealthier Americans."

David Faber asked Sperling if private equity fears getting socked in 2011. Sperling said yes. "There's certainly an incentive to do November with this ... uh, piece of legislation hanging over everyone's head," Sperling said.

Gary Kaminsky and Faber pointed out that it's hard for the small investor to get in to a truly desirable IPO such as the CBOE proved to be and that those jumping in to private equity offerings sometimes face a "lid" on share prices because of the threat of the private equity group flooding the market with a stream of stock. "There's always the possibility that shares continue to hit the market over a long course," Sperling agreed.

Steve Cortes decribed Apple Inc. as the "anti-Hyman Roth," because "Apple makes money for Apple."

[Thursday, June 17, 2010]

Gartman: Oil won’t see $100
‘again in my lifetime’

On an abbreviated Fast Money Thursday, Dennis Gartman made a startling crude oil prediction — so startling, it's the type of thing that could conceivably be untrue within months.

"I don't think we're gonna get past $100 again in my lifetime," Gartman said. "I doubt we're gonna get past $100 again in my kids' lifetime. I doubt that seriously. I think there'll be new supplies of other things coming onstream. I think we're smart enough to be able to find new things to power-"

Karen Finerman was the first panelist to cut in. "But to me it would seem like it has to be over 100 to get the new things," Karen said, arguing that alternative energy funding was cut off as soon as oil went south in 2008.

Gartman said he understands that reasoning, but he's looking at futures, and "On balance, you still have a very large contango."

Melissa Lee asked about the "kids' lifetime" angle. "That's probably a bit of a stretch," Gartman admitted.

The alternatives were ‘The View,’
‘Days of Our Lives,’ ‘Dr. Phil’

The Fast Money gang seemed unanimous in its impression of the congressmen at the BP hearing Thursday.

"Well, you know what, everything you needed to learn was in the first few minutes when one of the questions was, 'Is your presence here today somehow impeding the progress of cleaning up the spill?' Which was an actual question. Which was beyond asinine," said Guy Adami. "The smartest person in the room by a multiple was Tony Hayward."

"I think we learned that the Congress feels more entitled than ever," said Tim Seymour.

Karen Finerman said that from the whole day's worth of testimony, she learned "Pretty much nothing" about the spill situation. "I'm always amazed at what a circus these things turn out to be," Karen said. "It seemed like a huge waste of time."

Pavel Molchanov, who has become the regular Fast Money go-to guy BP analyst, said he'd be on the sidelines with BP and Anadarko. "Among the supermajors, I think Chevron is the single best-positioned company," he said, citing "low exposure to refining, low exposure to North American natural gas."

River Twice hedge fund
raises $8.4 million

According to this report citing an SEC filing, Zach Karabell's new hedge fund, the River Twice Fund, raised $8.4 million for its debut, minimum investment being $500,000. The fund launched June 1.

Esoteric programming

We caught up with an esteemed member of the CNBCfix community on Thursday and asked his impressions of The Strategy Session. "It's over my head," he complained.

All it needs to do is fall 10%, and he likes it

In an abbreviated Strategy Session Thursday (Tony Hayward's testimony was the preempter), Steve Cortes talked about a stock he said he likes — Teekay Shipping — but only if the price is right.

"I'm looking to buy, if it pulls back," Cortes told David Faber. Faber asked how much of a pullback he needs. "Not much, you know, $25, certainly be interested, but maybe as aggressive as 26 or so," Cortes said.

TK was trading around $28.30 at the time.

Gary Kaminsky, Kate Kelly and Fadel Gheit spoke about BP being heavily into the trading side of the oil business, beyond the other integrateds. "They make a tremendous amount of money in their trading business," Kaminsky said.

[Wednesday, June 16, 2010]

‘Guy, it’s very simple’

It took a while to really get "in" to Wednesday's Fast Money, probably because heavenly Trish Regan in aqua sweater turned our knees to Jell-O in the previous hour.

But then Steve Liesman kick-started a 3-way debate involving Guy Adami and Pete Najarian as to whether Fin Reg might include a mandatory bonus pool, "for years," that would be a "buffer" of sorts to protect firms for when trades start to go bad.

It seems like Liesman might favor this proposal because he called it "one really interesting idea."

"It's interesting," said Guy Adami, though we think he didn't really mean that. "But again. I've asked you this question before. If I'm a trader, that in the 3-week period which is not uncommon makes a quarter of a billion dollars fliipping around some jet-fuel spreads, why should I have to wait a couple years for my bonus? I mean, how are they gonna start parsing through that stuff? And that's not a 1-off, I mean, things like that happen."

Liesman countered with this rebuttal:

"Very simple Guy. Guy, it's very simple. OK, very quickly, it's very simple. How much of your flipping around a jet fuel contract — and I'm really happy you're making all that money by the way — but how much of that creates risk for the institution and the system in years to come? If none, you get all your bonus today. If the risk is residual for years to come, hold it back so the risk is either gone, or otherwise accounted for."

This level of trading commentary is frankly out of our league. The gut, though, says if it's really a great idea, you'd think maybe it would've been unleashed a year ago or more.

Anyway, Pete Najarian sort of split the difference, under what we think is an argument that the government shouldn't be doing this because firms already should be doing this and probably are.

"I disagree with what Steve's saying and what Guy's saying to some extent," Pete said. "When you're talking about the whole bonus package, you have to hold on to some of that bonus. I don't care if he closed his positions or not. That guy's taking risk. He's got an appetite for risk. It's not his money he's got an appetite for risk for, it's my money, if I'm the bank, or my money if I'm the trader backing the folks in the pit. I wanna hold onto that because he's gonna take risk again. And the next time, if he gets burned, it's gonna come out of some of his bonus that I've held."

Liesman briefly actually tried to play trader, suggesting that identifying the banks inside the European "ring fence" would be helpful.

"Those are the ones where there's a floor on them," Liesman said. "The key is to find the ones that are inside the ring fence."

What in the world
is happening to Nokia?

In the last 3 months, Nokia has undergone just about a BP-size haircut.

And it didn't have to spill any oil.

Sometimes, it's more interesting what you don't hear than what you do hear. Nokia "absolutely just cannot get out of its own way," thundered Pete Najarian, but the stock's greatest Fast Money defender, Tim Seymour, said nothing about it. (Admittedly, he might've been cut off by a Steve Liesman report on ... Zzzzzz ... Fin Reg, but it is what it is.)

BP bet is a tossup

Gary Kaminsky said early on Wednesday's Fast Money that his bet with Anthony Scaramucci over BP stock reaction to a dividend cut might be inconclusive, because a "this is a suspension," when "technically we were looking for a dividend cut."

Kaminsky told Melissa Lee, "You're gonna have a difficult job here" determining a winner.

Later, Lee told Scaramucci that Kaminsky was "grasping for straws."

Scaramucci apparently was conceding on some level, with the same "short arms" joke we've heard before. "Given the fact that Gary has short arms, I think we're going to McDonald's," Scaramucci said. "If I'd won, I was taking you guys to uh, you know, Four Seasons, or something like that."

(This site has gotten queries about this bet, so that's why we mention it.)

Scaramucci had a hedge fund trade too. "We are recommending today Reynolds (RAI), which is a very low P.E., value stock, it's got 30% of the market share as it relates to tobacco in the United States, it has a 6.9% dividend yield, it's trading at around 9 times earnings, it's a very defensive name," he said.

Kaminsky said an important angle to the BP escrow is that it can be funded over time and doesn't have an immediate deadline.

Trade ya BP’s $20 billion
for Wall Street’s $2 billion

Brad Hintz probably didn't make any mainstream media headlines on Fast Money Wednesday when he said, "My top pick remains Goldman Sachs ... I honestly think this thing is, is, is way undervalued."

He said the outlook is still rosy for a name like Greenhill. "Bob Greenhill told me that he's, he's getting people walking in the door that he never anticipated would ever leave their firms," Hintz said.

Hintz spoke after breaking news from FT reporter Francesco Guerrera (tough name to spell), of the FT (one of those media companies that apparently has succeeded with a "metered" Web site). Guerrera said U.S. banks are going to be stuck with a $2 billion tab for the exchequer this quarter, which might amount to $600 million for Goldman Sachs. We've been saying all along, just punish Goldman Sachs by forcing it to send cash to Greece and Spain and then cure a couple problems at once, but that apparently isn't the plan. Hintz said he'll reduce his estimates accordingly.

BP analyst Philip Weiss said BP essentially is suspending the dividend for political rather than financial reasons, though he did allow that the company is "trying to make sure they're protected" in case the costs are worse than anticipated.

Patty basically shut out

Many days, Patty Edwards gets the time and inclination to deliver one of those famous mall-walk reports or identify one of those surging obscure retailers you haven't yet paid attention to.

Other days are like Wednesday, when Patty's stint on the West Coast Prop Desk amounted to hesitancy toward banks until Fin Reg passes, and lack of direction from Nishu Sood as to whether his analysis on home sales has any bearing on Home Depot.

BP dividend-cut bet
looks like a draw

Fast Money viewers are aware of the dinner bet between Gary Kaminsky and Anthony Scaramucci as to whether BP would rally on the announcement of a dividend cut.

Fortunately, we happened to be watching Erin Burnett's Street Signs just when the BP chairman made this announcement outside the White House, and Burnett helpfully ran a real-time BP chart.

That chart initially showed the shares dropping 40 to 60 cents, then minutes later trending positive, to the point the shares were up $1 on the day. The stock was actually in the $29 range before details of the escrow started surfacing around lunchtime.

Overall, looks like a positive day for BP stock, so maybe it's a win for Scaramucci. But there was no immediate rally on the dividend-cut announcement, per Burnett's chart.

Dr. J: BP can easily
raise $20 billion

Jon Najarian on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report made an interesting comparison of BP to the shopping-mall and commercial real estate owners of 2009 such as Simon.

Dr. J noted that as those stocks tanked and the outlook seemed terrible, those companies were nonetheless able to raise cash. He said BP's U.S. assets are worth far more than $20 billion, and thus, in a debt offering, "They'll easily be able to raise the $20 billion that this fund is going to contain."

Strategy Session guest David Barse previously concurred with that. "Talk about an offering that's going to get an over-subscription," Barse said. "It's a company that's certainly a survivor."

Patty Edwards said if Apple sells off on the next big announcement, it's a great time to buy. "The price target I'm using is about 325," Edwards said.

Greenberg: Oasis Petroleum
IPO is hot

Kate Kelly delivered an interesting little statistic to us non-bond traders Wednesday during a Strategy Session discussion of the impact of Gulf Coast muni bond issues.

"Muni bonds though are traditionally considered quite safe. The default is under a, a percent, historically, compared to say corporate bonds, which is like 12 or 13%," Kelly said.

Gary Kaminsky said he thinks the federal government is going to prevent any defaults in Gulf Coast munis.

Herb Greenberg said there's a lot of enthusiasm for the pending Oasis Petroleum IPO, what he called one the "gutsiest" deals in recent memory. "I talked to oil guys today, who say, they want in, they don't think they will be able to get in, they think this thing will price later today at the high end of the range."

Guest David Barse advised viewers to look at Hong Kong property plays.

[Tuesday, June 15, 2010]

Never been a better time for
$16 bil. on a government program

Melissa Lee, asking a question of Chad Holliday on Tuesday's Fast Money, said something that just sort of gnaws at the gut.

"Obviously this is somewhat of an opportunity for our country, this tragedy, to change the course of our energy policy," Lee said.

Note the ending: "Change the course of our energy policy."

It's the "p" word that is so useless. It's a sign of an advanced society, we think/hope, when people tend to believe poor "policy" decisions are the source of our dissatisfaction, whether it's the 3rd down pass coverage scheme, school vouchers, flat taxes, or the Fed's interest-rate statement.

Notice you rarely if ever hear people, not T. Boone Pickens nor Warren Buffett, on CNBC or any other networks saying "You know what, the world's people just haven't been smart enough yet to figure out a better internal combustion engine that doesn't require drilling for oil and is environmentally friendly and efficient and cheap. They haven't been smart enough yet to make solar and wind power cheap and useful (other than a few small instances). They haven't been smart enough yet to eliminate the hazards of nuclear energy."

Instead, it's always presented as a mere policy failure, superior talent and product blunted by incompetent management decisions. Teams finishing in 4th place because the offensive coordinator didn't run the ball enough. We rely on foreign oil only because Dick Cheney and decades of others failed to gin up an energy "policy." The government doesn't "invest" enough in T. Boone Pickens' natural gas (his favorite hobby, when he's not trying to buy Oklahoma State into the Pac-10 athletic conference, a fine tribute to what is undoubtedly one of the greatest ideas of the 20th century, the spectator sport) or solar and wind farms, partly because of the grand conspiracy of big oil, and that's the only reason all of these clearly superior energy sources are not being allowed to flourish and instead are rejected in favor of gasoline.

Yeah. Sure. And the Yankees are tied for 1st because Girardi is great at ordering the hit-and-run, not because they've actually got better players than all the other teams.

Mr. Rockefeller, how’d you like a little government cash to help make this gasoline-engine thing work?

Chad Holliday, who we learned Tuesday is actually the chairman of Bank of America, is also one of the big business do-gooders who was bending the government's ear last week claiming for a more lucrative "policy" of some sort on alternative energy.

"We've had great sessions with the Congress and with the president and his staff last week," Holliday said. "We described to 'em that you can re-allocate some of your current R&D spending for the government. And that would be 1 of the first approaches."

What, exactly, is the goal here? "What we're proposing is increased research and development," Holliday said. "Do it in a multiple way. Do it in a market way, where we let the market decide the winners."

A "multiple" way, where we just now start letting the market decide winners.

Guy Adami, in a surprise to this site, seemed fully on board with this only-management's-holding-us-back thinking, asking Holliday how could there be a better time than now to get $20 billion allocated to new kinds of energy plans by the government, and what exactly is the approach.

"First make sure we get the $16 billion. It's important that we don't incrementalize this," Holliday said.

Yes. The last thing anyone would want to do is "incrementalize" a government program.

Where’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
when you really need her?

We found the New York Times article on Holliday's group. Holliday actually says, "We know from our business experience that if you only give a fraction of what's required to be a success, you will not be a success." Really. How many billions did Microsoft require to get off the ground. How many billions did the Google guys start with. How many billions did it take for Ray Kroc to open a restaurant.

In a BusinessWeek profile of this group, there is this paragraph: "Policy makers should copy the example of GE, Immelt said. GE will increase its own investments in clean energy, and the government must do so if the U.S. is to keep up with countries such as Brazil and China, Immelt said."

So even though this particular company's equipment produces, according to the article, 1/3 of the world's electricity, the government absolutely must spend $16 billion on its own to help out and invent things that GE somehow can't, or else China is going to defeat us in the clean-energy space.

Thank goodness
for Steve Grasso

At the end of Holliday's Fast Money conversation, we heard this from Steve Grasso:

"I'm a little tired of the government spending money on this. Solar companies, 80% of their revenues are based on subsidies. I think we're scaling back at this point, not ramping up."

Joe Terranova, though, disagreed. "If I knew it was gonna solve the problem, I'd be- I'd pay a tax. No problem with it."

What problem, exactly, is that?

Karen thwarted

For all of those who subscribe to Warren Buffett's stated disdain for derivatives, Jon Najarian offered some uncomfortable analysis on Tuesday's Fast Money.

"The good news for the CBOE is that the derivatives volumes are growing just exponentially," Najarian said.

Melissa Lee, who didn't have her greatest day as an interviewer but did look pretty good, asked CME chief Terrence Duffy about any "potential intentions" (interesting term) he might have regarding the CBOE.

"Obviously we don't comment on speculation when it comes to M&A activity," Duffy said.

Karen Finerman had a much better question for Duffy. "Can you tell me, what's your most profitable line of business, and what's happened to the pricing in that line?"

"You know, our average rate per contract, Karen, it, it goes up and down depending on what product line it is," Duffy said.

First BP, now BBY, GME ...

Folks on Fast Money have recently been doubling up on Debbie Downer, at least in their remarks on certain sluggish (for lack of a better term) companies.

"This is an unbelievably disappointing quarter," Guy Adami said of Best Buy. "If you see this again next, you know, Best Buy might become the next Circuit City. I'm not saying that could happen, but, this quarter was an atrocity."

The next Circuit City. Ouch.

Dan Niles is apparently branching out into retail stock analysis (we could probably find it on his Web site) and has concluded that Best Buy is a short. "I don't agree at all," said Karen Finerman.

Scott Nations had a bearish options play on ERTS. He said he would sell a July call spread, selling the 17 for 40 cents and buying the 18 for 15 cents.

Finerman wasn't really viewing GME through rose-colored glasses. "I don't love GameStop anyway, just because I'm afraid of, it becoming technologically, uh, obsolete," Karen said.

More on those
‘Last Days of Lehman’

Curiously, this site has gotten a handful of queries since last weekend as to "De Niro" appearing in CNBC's airing of "The Last Days of Lehman Brothers."

Based on visual evidence, we think these readers were taken by the John Mack character, who is not played by De Niro, but Henry Goodman.

There's definitely a strong resemblance. But De Niro clearly is not in any of the cast lists, including the all-important one that scrolls up on the screen at the end.

Brian Kelly has figured out
the BP tab

Gary Kaminsky joined the Fast Money crew Tuesday and said he's puzzled why so many people seem "obsessed" with BP stock these days.

Guy Adami offered this answer: "For day traders or for just people that sort of job around, it's a fantastic stock," Adami said.

Perhaps. But we can't imagine too much money has been made recently playing it on the long side. The ideal example for what Adami's talking about was Las Vegas Sands about 3 or 4 years ago, when it could go up 50% over weeks, then pull back 25%, etc.

Kaminsky reiterated a point from Strategy Session about BP hiring Goldman Sachs and Blackstone to deal with unwanted suitors, and he questioned why anyone would mess around with the stock now. Moments later, he emphasized he's not trying to sink the shares. "I have no position in BP. I'm not short the stock. I'm just trying to basically say it like it is," Kaminsky said. "I expect that the data, as Guy just pointed out, will continue to get worse." He said people looking for a tell in BP should "focus on the bonds."

Melissa Lee seized on a breaking Reuters story saying Bank of America Merrill Lynch traders have been told not to deal with BP trades past June 2011.

"That's not bullish BP in my opinion," Guy Adami said.

"It's clearly not a good thing; it's hard to know exactly what to make of it," Karen Finerman said.

Brian Kelly again offered up his curious BP damage cost estimate (as if anyone has the slightest clue at this point about the total amount of money BP will spend) that he said was based on the Exxon Valdez's $40,000 a barrel a day result. "You sure it wasn't 43 hundred?" asked Karen Finerman. Kelly said no.

Analyst Pavel Molchanov told Fast Money, "I think that any costs for Valdez should be seen as a floor rather than a ceiling."

Dan Niles sees a win-win

Gary Kaminsky said Tuesday of the market rally, "This is not a full-blown melt-up." Then he predicted, "This mini-meltup will continue for the next 2 weeks."

Melissa Lee curiously asked which sectors would fall the hardest after this mini rally. "I have no idea," Kaminsky said, which made us chuckle.

Steve Grasso grumbled, "There's no volume here."

Dan Niles scoffed that the rally merely "gives me a chance to sell stocks higher." Like Guy Adami, "I think the worst is definitely in front of us," Niles said.

Niles had an alternative energy play that maybe will do well if only the government will spend $16 billion on the concept. "Our favorite name in that space is a company called Power One," Niles said.

Ron Insana reads Ron Paul’s
Web site comments

Remember yesterday, when we noted that Ron Insana and Scott Wapner had gone off on Ron Paul's ownership of gold companies. (When we branch out to other shows, we'd prefer to stick to Trish & Mandy's outfits on the Larry Kudlow show in the morning, but this one got our attention.)

Anyway, Paul turned up on Erin Burnett's Street Signs Tuesday and said this:

"You know this idea that this may, may be a conflict of interest is sort of like if I owned a newspaper and I defended the First Amendment, it was a conflict of interest, you know, to defend the First Amendment because it protected my right to publish a newspaper."


Maria Bartiromo later played that clip on her own show. Wapner railed again about congressmen being able to own stocks. Insana said maybe he shouldn't have been so harsh on Paul personally, because he read 100-plus comments about his own remarks yesterday on a Paul Web site, but he still thinks the idea of returning to the gold standard is ridiculous, or "quixotic."

AT&T boss defends dividend

AT&T Chairman, President and CEO Randall Stephenson was the latest marquee guest of The Strategy Session on Tuesday, and Stephenson got a healthy round of tough questions from Gary Kaminsky and David Faber.

Faber pointed out that it's possible another carrier in the future could have the iPhone. Stephenson responded, "70% of our customers are on a family plan ... and if you look at the iPhone itself, 4 out of every 10 iPhones sold are in a business relationship with us, so these are very sticky customers, very sticky relationships, and so we feel very good about where we are at."

Faber also pointed out the switch to tiered pricing. Stephenson said he merely wants users to pay for the bandwidth they use. Faber and Kaminsky questioned if it might cost AT&T some customers. Stephenson said net-net no, and that over the long term it's a sustainable pricing model.

Kaminsky asked Stephenson if paying such a high dividend yield (6.6%) rather than buying a company or doing broader investment in organic growth is a good idea, given that the market doesn't view the company as a growth stock. Stephenson essentially argued that the dividend is more or less gravy, that the company is doing plenty to increase organic growth.

Faber asked if inevitably, AT&T is going to have to buy something like DirecTV. Stephenson sidestepped that one.

Stephenson said that in the landline space, "the rate of decline has slowed. Considerably." Kaminsky asked if he meant a slowing from last year, or a slowing from his expectations from last year. Stephenson said he meant a slowing from last year's numbers.

One early advantage of The Strategy Session is starting to emerge — the 2-person interview team.

With 3 people or more (Kate Kelly happened to be off), the questions are going to be fine but tend to be broad-based, and there's not always enough time to follow up. Working as a team, Faber and Kaminsky can repeatedly harp on the relevant subjects without having to worry about the sensitive questions that can ice the 1-on-1 interviews. Stephenson did OK. These were some great questions that every AT&T shareholder should see, on the Web if they didn't catch the show live.

What did Erin Burnett
do to Randall Stephenson?

Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer, during Cramer's Stop Trading! segment on Burnett's Street Signs show Tuesday, chuckled about Burnett meeting Randall Stephenson on the CNBC set and having a nice chat.

Apparently, there's an inside joke somewhere about Cramer and/or Burnett recently dumping on AT&T and perhaps angering Stephenson. This site got some queries about it. We don't have a clue, to be honest, but will try to find out.

Next hot IPO: Tesla

Gary Kaminsky said on Tuesday's Strategy Session that BP has likely hired Goldman Sachs and Blackstone not for a capital raise, but in case someone tries an "unwanted approach" to buy some or all of the company.

Kaminsky said Blackstone would be a specialist "if there's got to be a subsidiary bankruptcy."

Faber said he thinks the notion of someone buying BP at this point, unless they somehow were able to cherry-pick liability-free assets, was absurd.

Guest Kevin Giddis spoke about BP bonds and said, "Almost no, uh, no good buying going on in BP right now." As to a capital raise, Giddis said, "I think it'd be a very risky move right now."

The CBOE IPO apparently is a success. "I honestly much prefer the ICE ... or the CME," said Steve Cortes, repeating his belief that "The bullish position here on CBOE" is that it will get taken over by the CME, which we think means the CBOT guys would be part-owners again, which is kinda like going full-circle.

Gary Kaminsky said the Tesla is the "next hot IPO that people are gonna be focused on."

We couldn't find much to shout about on the Fast Money Halftime Report. Patty Edwards was asked if she's feeling better about Tuesday's market. "Not so much," Patty said. "Corning. I like Corning."

Pete Najarian again clamored for Teck Resources, which he said he owns. "I still think there's plenty of upside. It moves like Freeport McMoran but even more violently," he said. He also recommended Canadian National, which Brian Kelly scoffed at.

[Monday, June 14, 2010]

This is how conspiracy
theories get started

We flagged the New York Times scoop about the vast minerals of Afghanistan for this site's home page on Monday, because, after all, everyone was doing it.

And it did sound significant.

Then, we started to feel like maybe we (and all others of significantly more Web traffic and presence) were possibly getting played like a grand piano by the master Gekko the Great.

Apparently, others had the same notion also.

"It's a great story, makes a great headline, and it's certainly a very interesting, um, you know, conspiracy theory, when you, there's a lot of people that are very cynical about the role we play in Afghanistan right now," said Tim Seymour on Monday's Fast Money. "This only makes the area that much more contested."

According to the New York Times article, Soviet geologists first noticed the potential of large mineral deposits. They opted to leave their charts in Afghanistan offices when the Soviet army withdrew. Then Afghan geologists took the charts home to protect them during years of civil war and brought them back to the Geological Survey library only after the Taliban "ouster" in 2001.

At some unknown point between 2001 and 2006, American experts studied the charts, according to the Times. By 2007, "The handful of American geologists who pored over the new data said the results were astonishing. But the results gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments."

So 3 years ago, we knew of these "astonishing" results that will make Afghanistan the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," but only just now are taking it seriously.

Dennis Gartman for one seemed to be taking it seriously. "It does create a political circumstance where the United States and China are going to be butting heads very clearly over these minerals in ... Afghanistan," Gartman said.

Somehow, Tim Seymour managed to milk a "trade" out of this. "The names I would talk about? Ivanhoe Mines, IVN," he said, because it's in Mongolia. And then there's First Quantum ...

We’re starting to agree
with Whitney Tilson

"Normally I love CEO testimony in front of Congress," said Karen Finerman on Monday's Fast Money during a BP discussion. "To me that signals a bottom, just the crescendo of negative press. I don't think that's gonna be the case here."

Karen added, "I just don't think the stock trades on the dividend issue anymore."

Mike Khouw said the pros are now giving 50% likelihood to BP next dividend being "cut or, uh, you know, suspended entirely," and a 75% chance of that outcome for the dividend after that.

Based on the accounts of the Obama-Cameron phone call over the weekend, we get the feeling that BP actually will still be in existence by October, contrary to what some Fast Money guests say.

Sounds like a no

Around here, we never pass up a chance for a Victoria's Secret conversation.

Mike Khouw on Monday's Fast Money actually rolled out an options trade in Limited Brands. "After it fell about 10%, in line with the market, it has basically been bouncing around in this area" of $23-$27, Khouw said.

His suggestion is to sell the July 26 LTD call for $1 and buy the August 26 LTD call for $1.60.

Karen Finerman was asked her opinion. With a bit of a sly smile, K-Fine, wearing new crisp collared ensemble for the first time on the show, said, "You know, I don't really follow Limited Brands," and turned to the males, who begged off.

Patty Edwards, on the other hand, was more than happy to supply the Najarian Reaction©: "Management seems to be doing a lot of things right there. I don't know if I'd take that, uh, range-bound bet or not," Patty said.

How to complicate
your 1040

Darren Horowitz, expert on master limited partnerships, spoke on Fast Money about the safety of the dividends of these entities. He recommends EPD, PAA and WPZ.

Fortunately for those interested, Lee Brodie at CNBC.com has put together an informative description of the difference in tax treatment for MLPs vs. common stocks. The only thing Lee left out that is relevant is that those K-1s sometimes don't arrive until April — not exactly convenient if you're expecting a refund and would prefer to file in January/February.

Maybe he needs to know
whose ass to kick

Jon Najarian spoke about the CBOE IPO on Monday's Fast Money.

It's "so popular in fact that they've got 18 investment bankers on this offering that's headed up by Goldman Sachs," Najarian said.

Najarian said he thinks fin reg will be good for all the exchanges, for the "transparency" it will bring, a "very positive thing."

Karen Finerman asked fin reg watcher Edward Mills a good question. "I'm confused," Karen said. "Does the Obama administration support Lincoln or not?"

"I think that is an open question," Mills said.

Gartman: Watch oats

"Consistency is a moving target," Guy Adami said on Monday's Fast Money.

Dennis Gartman found evidence supporting near-term resiliency in the euro. Belgium, Gartman said, is "ostensibly being torn apart because of language concerns ... the euro was able to hold very well in the face of that."

Even so, he said, "The long-term trend is that the euro's gonna be demonstrably lower 6 months, 8 months from now." But he doesn't want to short the euro or sterling until the euro hits 125 or 126.

Gartman pointed to oats, which he said have "always been a precursor to what goes on in the grain market, and the oats have gone skyrocketing." But, he said, "Gentlemen do not trade oats."

Patty Edwards described Monday's stock market action this way: In the morning, "took my hedge off ... I had it back on by the end of the day."

Karen Finerman actually gave a somewhat-legit endorsement of the UNG. "For the same reason it can be really bad, it can also be really good, trading at a premium to where it should," Karen said.

Finerman agreed with Patty Edwards on Philip Morris. "People still smoking," Karen said. "I'm optimistic that they'll continue."

Ron Insana stakes his career
on a gold argument

Some of the most intriguing commentary one hears on CNBC often comes from Ron Insana, when he takes part in that Maria Bartiromo team panel on Closing Bell.

Monday, Insana took up Ron Paul's ownership of gold mining companies apparently on the theory that the U.S. will inevitably have to shift monetary policy.

"That has to be one of the single dumbest trades in history," Insana said. "We're never going back on the gold standard, I would stake my entire career on that. It's wildly deflationary, it's not possible to do in an economy of this size."

Scott Wapner seemed beside himself over congressional stock holdings.

"Financial journalists can't own shares of, of things because of, uh, potential conflict of interest," Wapner complained. "Ben Nelson, the senator from Nebraska, is able to argue for an exemption for derivatives legislation, yet he holds $6 million worth of stock in Berkshire Hathaway. Anybody telling me that that's OK?"

"It's beyond the appearance," Insana agreed. "It's corrupt."

Bob Pisani was the only panelist apparently trying to give Congress a break, saying there's a need for a "de minimus exemption" when a congressman, for example, has a $200,000 portfolio with $5,000 in United Healthcare and a health-care vote comes up. "Does that mean I can't vote on a health care piece of legislation?" Pisani asked.

The others weren't particularly convinced. So Pisani asked, if he were a congressman, "Should I not be allowed to own Treasurys" because there are votes on monetary policy.

Ted Forstmann finds profit
in spectator-sport business

The Strategy Session kept up its momentum on Monday, unveiling a slightly new opening where only David Faber and Gary Kaminsky are standing at the table. Kaminsky said the technicals suggest there could be an end-of-quarter rally triggered by the closet indexes.

Wall Street legend Ted Forstmann was the guest. Forstmann came on with Kate Kelly after the opening segment. Forstmann, unlike the last couple of guests, happened to be reserved and maybe not particularly comfortable. (That's not a criticism, just an observation; the show is new and guests are feeling their way too.) Forstmann undoubtedly has a lot of interesting things to say but was overly measured in his comments Monday.

Forstmann spoke about IMG and talked about opportunities in the spectator-sport business abroad, namely India ("The deal is a 50/50 joint venture with Reliance Industries") and China, where he mentioned a 20-year arrangement with CCTV. (We're not quite sure what any of that means, but whatever.)

He talked about the famous LBO/private equity boom of the '80s that he either pioneered or co-pioneered. Famously a critic of junk bonds, he wouldn't take any swipes at rivals such as Henry Kravis. "There was no name for what we did. We didn't do it for fees. We did it to create value," Forstmann said. David Faber, for the record, pointed out that Kravis and others would say the same thing.

The spectator sport:
The world’s entertainment junk bond?

People often talk about legendary stocks, how names like Berkshire Hathaway or ExxonMobil have created long-term massive value.

But has any business created as much long-term value as the premier pro sports franchises?

One wonders when, if ever, the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys or Los Angeles Lakers have ever experienced a year-over-year decline in perceived market value.

Right now, what is the world's leading headline, the one that even tops the Drudge Report, which delivers The World's Most Important Headline daily ... it's the World Cup, the world's No. 1 spectator sport.

A couple months ago it was the Winter Games, and a couple years ago it was the Beijing Games, which would be the world's No. 2 spectator sport.

You'd probably need a pop culture analyst, rather than a Wall Street analyst, to identify the fascination with sports adoration. It used to be, incredibly, that a lot of pro sports owners feared putting games on television because it would hurt the gate. The NFL still even blacks out local games that don't sell out, despite the fact the pro football championship game has become the greatest television show in history and has been for a long time.

People used to just root for the local team whenever they could. Now they sell out many games, they buy jerseys, they pay a fortune for beer and hot dogs, they subscribe to premium sports cable TV packages, they play "fantasy" sports, they drop everything for NCAA basketball games, they have huge city-wide rallies during big wins, etc.

One wonders if any entrepreneurs sit around not trying to invent products, but new sports that people would find more exciting than football, baseball, soccer, basketball, etc., and would fill arenas and pop culture for decades ... or whether the human race is stuck with these particular sports forever.

Is this type of long-term growth sustainable? The franchise known as the "New York Yankees" has existed for less than 100 years. A hundred years from now, will it still be the gold standard in America's spectator-sport universe? Or will it be some other franchise in some other competition that we've never even heard of yet?

Kaminsky: CBOE pricing
at the higher end

Speaking of spectator sports, Federated high-yield expert Joseph Balestrino, who appeared on The Strategy Session on Monday, has no doubt been immersed in a certain NFL quarterback's troubles, given that Balestrino, per the show, is based in Pittsburgh.

Everything about this one night in Georgia was deplorable. But we're glad the NFL is turning its season into not just a war of football, but a war of moral values, and your team will win more games as long as your QB doesn't behave atrociously in bars.

Anyway, Balestrino had this to say about high-yield: "The fundamentals are actually fantastic," he said.

Gary Kaminsky said he's hearing that the CBOE IPO, which Steve Cortes had previously said is really a long play on the notion of the CME buying it, which would pretty much take it right back to its days as a CBOT offshoot, will price at the high end of the range, or apparently around $27-$29.

Kaminsky said there's sort of a "negative arbitrage" for firms stuck holding cash nowadays.

Kaminsky also said "Price increases are sticking" in the airline sector.

Steve Cortes said, "I am warming up to the U.K."

After the segue to Fast Money, Steve Grasso said he disagreed with Anthony Scaramucci that BP would jump on a dividend cut. "It's a sell signal no matter how you slice," Grasso said.

Tim Seymour said the market might be bouncing off a double bottom, with 1,150 in the sights.

Fred Thompson
was in it, too

Interesting that Ted Forstmann would appear on The Strategy Session a couple days after we referenced "Barbarians at the Gate" on this page.

Forstmann was played in the movie by David Rasche, a veteran actor who recently appeared in "Flags of Our Fathers" and "United 93."

"Barbarians" was a great effort by James Garner, a legendary actor who (unfortunately) is probably most well known for "The Rockford Files," a fine TV series that overshadowed a great film career of more substance.

A story that requires
more than an hour to unFuld

"The Last Days of Lehman Brothers," a curious BBC project airing in CNBC's new Friday night movie series, probably promised more than it delivered.

Appreciating this one requires an unusually deep knowledge of the backstory. This viewer recognized all the VIPs involved (what reader of this page hasn't scooped up both The Sellout and Too Big to Fail?), but most people probably won't, including many who regularly watch CNBC.

Officially 60 minutes, per the Internet Movie Database, CNBC's airing included short commercial breaks, so overall it's about 50-55 minutes of a depiction of a staggering weekend that took years to happen. Little more than a re-creation, it's just a bunch of guys in a meeting, Hank Paulson pacing hallways and Dick Fuld going ballistic in his office. (Oh yes, there is an alternate version of the Dick-Fuld-got-punched story, which has essentially been debunked.)

Movies are visual. It's always about what you can show. Showing toxic assets declining in value is not particularly easy. One reason HBO's "Barbarians at the Gate" was a big success — really, the only reason — was its focus on characters. You see their world swimming in money; Ross Johnson figuring he could just buy whatever, while the buttoned-down Kravis Group determining it needed this silly overleveraged prize for reputation purposes.

"Last Days," at 55 minutes, doesn't give itself nearly enough of a chance. There probably is a worthwhile drama here, something about Fuld, after the Bear demise if not before, ignoring the welfare of his 25,000 employees by refusing investments/bids he felt somehow undervalued the company, for reasons of his own tenacity and arrogance. But Fuld isn't even a particularly colorful character, and the potential of that theme seems limited. There's nothing wrong with "Last Days," but nothing particularly useful either.

John Mack, after the
Lehman bankruptcy

After seeing "Last Days," we did a little recap on the subject by visiting www.nytimes.com. We saw a Sept. 18, 2008, article on Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, days after the Lehman bankruptcy, in which John Mack purportedly made an appeal to Vikram Pandit: "We need a merger partner or we're not going to make it."

At the end of the article is this correction: "After the article appeared, Morgan Stanley vigorously denied that Mr. Mack had made the comment, as did Citigroup, which had declined to comment on Wednesday. The two people whom The Times cited now say that because they were not present during the discussions, they cannot confirm that Mr. Mack in fact made the statement. The Times should have asked Morgan Stanley for comment and should not have used the quotation without verifying that the two people had direct knowledge of any comments made by Mr. Mack."


Oddly enough, the original article includes this notable complaint from Mack: "Mr. Mack has been in contact with regulators about what he views as abusive short-selling of the company's shares. On Wednesday, he sent a memo to employees assuring them of the bank's strong capital position and blaming short-sellers for driving the stock down 'in the midst of a market controlled by fear and rumors'."

And evidently, inaccurate reporting.

[Friday, June 11, 2010]

Patty Edwards: Shorts trying
to push BP down to $25

Patty Edwards, who barely had opportunities to speak on Thursday, took it to the hoop Friday on the Fast Money Halftime Report as well as the regular Fast Money. (This page, obviously, is doing a lot of cross-pollination these days between The Strategy Session, Fast Money Halftime Report and Fast Money.)

Notably, Edwards said on the 5 p.m. show she's been hearing a couple things about BP:

"First of all, the shorts are really pressing on this thing at this point. I've heard a lot of talk and chatter about them pushing it down to 25 by early next week," Edwards said.

Then, there is dividend strategy. "Maybe they just suspend a dividend for this year, wait until next year to pay a big special dividend while they're cleaning up the spill, and it gets taxed at the new, probably higher dividend rates in 2011," Edwards said. "Government wins on both counts in that one, and I think it's got some merit."

Hmmm. If that well is suddenly capped — and we're not saying for a moment it's going to be capped tomorrow, just pointing out that if/when it is — that $25 becomes $40 in a hurry.

Najarian: Bonds could
signal BP buying opportunity

Pete Najarian had another angle on Friday to the BP story.

"Look at the bonds right now," Pete said. "If you start to get 'em into the mid-80s, the low 80s ... that's when you could actually put yourself into a position with the options."

We didn't grasp the specifics of Pete's trade; he talked of hedging with puts and looking all the way ahead to January 2012. He said this could pay off "as long as they don't go to complete zero."

Karen Finerman did a mea culpa she didn't have to do, saying she was wrong weeks ago about her estimates of BP damage and spill costs, at least compared with how the market views them. Finerman pointed out that one remedy would be for the U.S. subsidiary of BP to file bankruptcy and not the whole company, but we're hardly lawyers and don't know how that works.

Najarian made an interesting observation: BP's yield at present may be soaring, but "the yields are nothing like the financials" from 2008.

Playing referee for this bet
is going to be tough

Anthony Scaramucci reminded viewers Friday on the Fast Money Halftime Report that he and Gary Kaminsky have a bet on BP's price reaction once a dividend cut is announced.

Evidently, even Melissa Lee had forgotten the details of this bet.

"I said the stock would go up," Scaramucci said, which is true. Kaminsky said no.

The problem is, the BBC report Friday said BP is planning to "suspend" the dividend, which to us unsophisticated amateurs doesn't necessarily mean "cut." The stock went up Friday, but it doesn't seem like the clincher for Scaramucci.

Steve Grasso dismissed the notion people were buying BP on Friday on the dividend suspension report. Instead, it was "people talking about the breakup value," Grasso said.

"That's not being a good wingman, Grasso," Scaramucci said.

Kaminsky actually said Thursday on The Strategy Session that BP should've announced a dividend suspension a while back to affirm the company's ability to pay for the cleanup.

Melissa Lee showed a graphic with a "back of the envelope calculation" by Brian Kelly that, compared with the Valdez, sticks BP with an $80 billion cleanup bill. Sure. Whatever.

Joe Terranova does a journalism no-no, but then again, he’s a trader, not a journalist

Domino's Pizza chief Patrick Doyle, a Fast Money Friend, told Halftime viewers Friday that the secret for McDonald's success is that in 2004 they "fixed" their food.

(Is the Big Mac and fries and Coke really any different than 30 years ago? Hmmmm.)

Anyway, Doyle says that's just what his company has done this year.

Joe Terranova told Doyle he likes Domino's, and to "feel free" to send some pizza to the Fast Money desk.

Strategy Session guest:
‘Your show is interesting’

BlackRock President Robert Kapito on Friday seemed to be a little unimpressed with the previous caliber of discussion on The Strategy Session.

"Everybody's a deal junkie here," Kapito complained. "I'm the first non-deal junkie" to appear on the show.

But when pressed by host David Faber if he didn't like the show, Kapito said, "Your show is interesting."

Nevertheless, Kapito wasn't as interested in the GM IPO talk as we were. "Who cares who's underwriting this deal," Kapito said.

Kapito wasn't quite Mr. Excitement, stressing a "back to the basics" approach to investing and celebrating DuPont for its dividend. Even so, he and the Strategy Session crew carried on an interesting half-hour-plus conversation. TSS is starting to click.

Kate Kelly does look good on television, and we've gotten some inquiries here about whether Kate Kelly is married. According to the Business Insider, Kelly is married to New York Observer editor Kyle Pope and was on maternity leave this winter (profile here).

During the dealmaking talk that Kapito apparently disliked, there was speculation as to whether Goldman Sachs would handle a GM IPO. Gary Kaminsky said, "This will be a global deal."

Later on the 5 p.m. Fast Money, Kaminsky referred to Kapito's comments from businesses. "They keep getting the word that earnings are looking good," Kaminsky said, "and I think that, if we go through next week and we don't get a lot of, uh, language out of companies that they are concerned ... it looks like we'll probably be in the all clear for the 2nd quarter earnings reporting period."

Tim Seymour countered that he's talked to a lot of businesses, and "they've said the opposite."

Kaminsky said on TSS that a guy like Warren Buffett, who makes a living in equities, will say "Stocks are cheap."

Wikipedia put to the test

BlackRock President Robert Kapito said on The Strategy Session Friday, "What people don't know is that 46 states have to have a balanced budget."

Actually, the Wikipedia page on balanced budgets says, "Every US state other than Vermont has some form of balanced budget amendment; the precise form varies."

Our last look at the L.A. Times said the purportedly legally required "balanced" California budget is actually $26 billion in the hole, New York apparently is around $9 billion, and Illinois is somewhere in the $13 billion ballpark, and all they're doing is borrowing against revenues further and further into the future until they hope the economy roars back, and what else needs to be said about this subject than that?

A great idea for CNBC

Anthony Scaramucci happened to mention on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that, while he's not in Friday's showing of "The Last Days of Lehman Brothers," he's looking forward to a certain movie in September.

That would be the "Wall Street" sequel, "Money Never Sleeps." It got great reviews at Cannes. People on CNBC seem even more excited about this franchise than we are.

So, we've got a great idea ... CNBC should do a "Money Never Sleeps" premiere for charity in which people bid for tickets to watch the movie with many of their favorite CNBC stars, maybe even a reception afterwards. You'll be greeted at the door by Mandy Drury, you'll chat with Trish Regan, you'll get Melissa Lee, you'll get Karen Finerman, you'll get Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, you'll get Maria Bartiromo, you'll get Nicole Lapin, you'll get Mary Thompson, you'll get Jane Wells, you'll get Melissa Francis, you'll get Courtney Reagan, all in formal wear; you'll probably also get Anthony Scaramucci, Larry Kudlow, Jon Najarian, Guy Adami, Steve Grasso, Gary Kaminsky, Bill Strazzullo, etc., and maybe someone can pull some strings to get Charles Gasparino in there (though we doubt it), and the folks who appear in the movie can talk about it, and maybe Oliver Stone & Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones will show up, and everyone will have a blast, and a lot of cash will go to a good cause.

Just a thought.

Even the pros get it wrong:
Sometimes, massively wrong

Steve Cortes was nearly shut out during The Strategy Session on Friday, but offered this interesting nugget in regard to the pending IPO of the CBOE.

He said the long bet "is that the CME in fact will purchase the CBOE."

Once the CME has bought every other exchange, is there anything that can happen to it besides tougher CFTC regulation, or whatever they gripe about on Fast Money?

Jack Bouroudjian (profile here) is one of those CNBC pundits who reports from the CME, usually early in the morning and not often seen by many viewers.

Bouroudjian wears the "GOP" badge, which makes people think he's a Republican (he is), but his given name happens to be Hagop. (We get inquiries on that too.)

Bouroudjian wrote a 2007 book, Secrets of the Trading Pros. Near the end, he writes of the CME's spectacular December 2002 IPO: "There were some full CME seat owners who were given 18,000 shares of stock and sold everything at the IPO price of $35 a share. As of the writing of this book, shares of CME were priced around the $450 level."

Could people actually survive
without Best Buy?

Patty Edwards on Friday's Halftime questioned the implication that you can expect fistfights over parking places the next time you visit the mall.

"You've gotta have a job before you can go out and feel good about shopping," Edwards said. "And while the consumer is not dead, the consumer is not going out to any wild parties and especially none that are being held at the malls."

Edwards first made the observation that people will reduce themselves to eating macaroni & cheese before giving up their Apple products. Then, repeating a recent theme, she said you can't just buy the whole retail sector anymore, but the sellers of products that people just won't do without. "You have got to play the retail companies different going forward," she said. "Something like a Best Buy ... wanna look at J. Crew, maybe a Nordstrom."

"How is Best Buy selling things that people need," asked Melissa Lee.

"People will spend on the things that are most important to them," Edwards said, which likely means HDTVs.

"I think the consumer's in a bit of trouble," said Tim Seymour.

"I bought an iPad," said Gary Kaminsky, "so I'm gonna have crackers for dinner tonight."


Anthony Scaramucci, pointing in part to lower oil, predicted Friday "The market is gonna start to trade higher here."

Scaramucci again trumpeted PFE as a steady hedge fund play, a stock he predicted would return to portfolio growth stock status "quite soon."

Steve Grasso was (once again) pointed to technical levels. "1,087 is the level you wanna watch. We have to close above that," said No. 386.

Joe Terranova said he owns SWN and XTO. Patty Edwards recommended ERF.

Meredith Bandy spoke about the coal sector on the 5 p.m. show. "Consol does not look as compelling on valuation as, as Alpha and Peabody do," she said. "We long-term are very bullish on China ... they need a lot of coal."

Pete Najarian tossed a Hail Mary in Bandy's direction, seeking an endorsement of Teck Resources. Bandy waffled back and forth as to which metrics it's expensive and which it's cheap, and suggested it might be getting near a value play. "They're trading really close to book," she said. "It's getting there."

Karen watches ‘The View’

Jeremy Zirin showed up on the 5 p.m. Fast Money set to suggest the S&P 500 possibly has another 10% to fall, citing, in part, the VIX surge over 45.

"It's only happened 3 times in the past 20 years," he said, referring to not just 2008 but the Long-Term Capital Management situation of 1998 and the 9/11 attacks, and given that overwhelming sample body of evidence, found that traditionally stocks drop 20% in those situations but are only down 10% now.

Meanwhile, a "Shrek"-looking individual in pink shirt stood outside the Fast Money studio and mugged for the cameras while Zirin spoke.

Yesterday we failed to note Melissa Lee's shapely maroon dress. (Sometimes one can reach the point of falling asleep on the keyboard.) Friday, she matched it with ruffled purple.

Pete Najarian said volume was ridiculously low on Friday, partly because everything stopped in Chicago when the parade for the Chicago Blackhawks (whom Patty Edwards has been rooting for) started around 11:30.

Karen Finerman, who wore her semi-regular blue outfit, joked, "I had on 2 screens, the Blackhawks and the Thai, whatever, World Cup..."

Finerman later joked about the show feeling like "The View."

Melissa Lee promoted the movie airing on CNBC Friday, "The Last Days of Lehman Brothers." Anthony Scaramucci is not in it. Gary Kaminsky said if he's in it, then George Clooney is playing him. Whichever, "This is a great movie to check out," Kaminsky said.

[Thursday, June 10, 2010]

If the spill were completely stopped today, what would happen to the stock?

We were happy to see Barry Ritholtz, who posted on his blog a while ago that he was sort of on the outs with CNBC, resurface on Thursday's Fast Money.

Ritholtz articulated a few arguments in favor of BP, though not with the type of advocacy of Whitney Tilson this week.

He said he's been analyzing BP — and really, who isn't these days — in part because "it's the single most requested chart in our Fusion/IQ system."

Ritholtz pointed to volume, and some other stats. "This is now reaching the point where it's 40% below its enterprise value, we're trading about 40% below its 200-day moving average, a 5 P.E. a 10 dividend yield," he said. "It's reached the point where, we're beyond the value trap, now this is either a dirt-cheap stock, or it's something that's going out of business. And we're not willing to make the latter bet."

Melissa Lee, as she's been doing all week, told Ritholtz people were making similar arguments a couple weeks ago. Ritholtz said he would only recommend buyers "scale into it over time."

Obviously, what's dogging BP isn't really the liability costs, which have been estimated probably fairly accurately for months now and which we think Whitney Tilson explained very well Wednesday. It's the fact the well is still leaking. That is what's driving this ridiculous daily headline race to the bottom; Thursday's winner apparently being the notion that PetroChina is going to buy BP.

Overnight, we didn't see any commentary from Ritholtz on his blog about his Fast Money appearance.

SEC suit, Day 55

There are plenty of interesting things to talk about regarding Goldman Sachs, but in the last week or 2, we've been starting to tune out the refrain.

You know: Gee whiz, a settlement would do wonders for the stock, but a settlement probably isn't imminent at this point, but traders are scooping up the stock on Fridays in case there is a settlement over the weekend, the stock is leading the S&P 500, they haven't done a very good PR job, and maybe the government will demand a few heads roll, and maybe it'll cost $1 billion or $5 billion, but the other big banks were doing this too, and you know fin reg is also hanging over the financials, cut and paste this paragraph in every day's review ...

Guy Adami said he thinks Thursday's tape in GS was an aberation, given its correlation to the S&P 500, which means a snap-back of some kind will happen Friday. "I don't think it's gonna decouple like it had today," he said.

Anthony Scaramucci again pointed out the stock seems cheap compared with book value.

Brian Kelly on the other hand is negative on the stock. "I think the next 6 to 12 months, trading is not gonna be that great. That's why I'm short GS," Kelly said.

Fin reg, Month 3 or 4

Almost as useless as the daily Goldman Sachs roundup is the daily fin reg roundup.

Analyst Edward Mills spoke on Fast Money Thursday, saying "The provision that requires you to spin off your prop desk is like a bad zombie movie: It just won't die."

Anthony Scaramucci said investors are fearing too much of the worst. "I don't think the regulation is going to be as stringest as the Street fears, and I think you can see it in the market," he said.

Guy Adami uses one of our
favorite Fast Money clichés

Guy Adami said the closing action Wednesday didn't square with Thursday's rally, and he thinks the stock market might have whipsawed many a trader.

"I got my face ripped off today," Adami said. "Very odd day to me." He recommended MDR as an engineering name caught up in the BP or other rationale selloff, though he couldn't get analyst David Heikkinen to bite during the Halftime Report. Heikkinen said MDR is beyond his area of expertise.

Anthony Scaramucci said "Ensco is a name that's gotten thrown out with the bathwater of BP."

Patty Edwards, who didn't get much of an opportunity to speak on the Halftime Report other than to explain for about the 3rd or 4th time that you could probably own BP if you're willing to tuck it away and not look at the portfolio statement for years, but her clients don't, and thus she had to sell, touted Ormat, ORA. "We're in on it already."

There was news on Fast Money about Michael Dell in talks with SEC over his company's relationship with Intel. Jim Goldman, of all people, delivered the ouch: "Michael Dell, some are comparing him to Steve Ballmer," Goldman said. "I don't necessarily see how Dell gets out of its own way."

Best Strategy Session thus far

The Strategy Session got a lift Thursday from Mark Cuban, who proved to be a fabulous guest. Cuban repeatedly pointed out there's a great market right now in tech startups, that it costs a lot less to launch a tech startup than 10 years ago, but for whatever reason, the IPOs and 2nd level of financing isn't happening.

Cuban also called Goldman Sachs the ultimate financial system "hackers," a strange term in our opinion but not one that sounds very flattering. He said he did a lot of business with the company in the '90s, but the company is now different.

His comments on BP, about getting out in front of the problem, were just the typical refrain that everybody says, but no big deal. What BP really needs to do is stop the damn leak, and until that happens it doesn't matter if they're as far in front of everything as Usain Bolt.

The rest of the Strategy Session crew was clicking, delivering a well-rounded analysis on BP. Guy Adami, in the segue to Fast Money Halftime, praised the show as the best yet and was correct.

Kaminsky on the blog noted an e-mailer's suggestion that Microsoft should've invested its cash pile in AAPL stock.

We're still not big fans of the background on TSS. All of these trading prices that look the same, but you can't even tell what instrument is the subject of the trades. Just seems distracting.

[Wednesday, June 9, 2010]

Whitney Tilson: ‘We always hope things we buy get cheaper’

Whitney Tilson, challenged indirectly by Gary Kaminsky, made a very eloquent argument for buying BP shares on Wednesday's Fast Money.

Just a day earlier, Tilson reported buying the stock. Melissa Lee asked if he did so again on Wednesday.

"We sure did," Tilson said. "We were sort of worried that in talking about yesterday and saying we thought it was cheap- you know, we, we, we always hope things we buy get cheaper, and uh, the panic and rumors and speculation all just so ill-founded in our opinion gave us a chance to uh, add materially to our position today. ... We took it from a 4 to closer to a 5% position."

Tilson continued: "The idea that this business is somehow gonna file for bankruptcy is the silliest thing I've ever heard, frankly. If they do, it would be a strategic thing like Texaco did years ago where shareholders would be protected.

"I'd say there's a 10% chance that this thing could go to zero or very severe permanent impairment, even from here, um, and so, but I, we think there's a better-than-even chance you're gonna double your money if you're just a little patient here," Tilson said. "Classic, panic, rumor-filled uh, speculative, uh, market panic.

"The only thing that really blows this up is, is, untold, uh, legal judgments, but those things take years. ... We do not have an insane legal system and we actually have a fairly conservative Supreme Court."

Kaminsky challenges value managers to defend BP valuation

Gary Kaminsky preceded Whitney Tilson's interview Wednesday by knocking the closet indexers whom Kaminsky feels have made very poor reasons for owning BP.

"This is a situation that was completely mismanaged by many people," Kaminsky said. "No. 1, I told you last week, I wrote something up there, you don't buy a stock for income. If you want income, you buy a bond. .... No. 2, it was irresponsible of these closet index value managers to come out and say that this is a value cheap stock. Garbage in, garbage out ... you don't know what the value is of BP right now. ... No. 3 ... They should've been thinking about cutting that dividend 4 weeks ago and made it very clear to the marketplace they were gonna maintain capital."

Kaminsky concluded by saying he'd love to hear how some of those "value" managers who have been defending the stock in recent days claim to have determined an accurate valuation.

Tilson responded to that point when relayed by the panel. "We can read an income statement, we can read a balance sheet, and this is one of the most profitable businesses on Earth."

Pete Najarian: ‘This looks so much like Bear Stearns, so much like Lehman’

Gary Kaminsky and Whitney Tilson were hardly the only folks on Wednesday's Fast Money who had an opinion on BP.

"It felt as though there was some forced selling out there," said Guy Adami. "After 20something years in the business, that's what it felt like to me."

"I'm seeing speculation, I mean, this looks so much like Bear Stearns, so much like Lehman, just by the paper that I'm seeing," said Pete Najarian. "I'm not saying this is the exact same case," he clarified, but he said there are actually $7.50 puts trading.

"What bothers me is that the entire space is getting obliterated right now," said Joe Terranova.

What the world ... needs now ...

At some point, it's inevitable, something will have to replace the oil spill as Page 1 news.

That is not to diminish its significance by any means. Everyone should care ... and everyone should also get on with their lives.

This is getting to be like the evenings of 9/12/01 and 9/13/01, when people who had already seen images of planes crashing into buildings dozens of times couldn't stop themselves from watching more images of planes crashing into buildings, inadvertently making themselves feel as miserable as possible.

And so every day is becoming a ridiculous race to put forward the most outrageous oil-spill headlines, whether it's nuclear bombs, or "ass to kick," or BP bankruptcy, or senators ordering dividend cuts, or ceasing to exist by October, or Florida beaches ruined for decades, or all drillers pulling out of the Gulf, etc. Enough already.

Guy Adami calls out Jim O’Neill

Melissa Lee, in white pantsuit, might've looked sizzling Wednesday, but her decision to open Fast Money with unanimous euro analysis was anything but.

Except that Guy Adami took the opportunity to disagree with a celebrated economist.

"Jim O'Neill, I think it was Jim and I apologize if it's wrong, but he's the guy that basically said, all, the talk about the euro is overdone, it's a lot of hype," Adami said. "I disagree with him, I still do ... I believe it's going to parity with the U.S. dollar, which is 1."

Joe Terranova says that unnoticed in Goldman Sachs' euro call is a recommendation of "exposure to Russian equities," which he backs.

But Guy Adami seemed to think that's not for the little guy. "The people watching our show, I think that's a tad dicey," Adami said.

APC options hopping

Don't you like how Melissa Lee these days is gliding from The Strategy Session into the expanded Fast Money Halftime Report, coolly taking the extended reins from the new show and setting up the Fast gang.

Wednesday's Halftime was actually a little flat, the first of the week that didn't pack a whole lot of pop.

Randall Stilley, CEO of Seahawk Drilling (that sounds like an alternate name for Super Bowl 40), said "I haven't seen anything that would indicate that we have a moratorium on shallow water."

Jon Najarian said there was "strong unusual call activity" in APC. "Somebody might be looking to pick up oil and gas in particular because of what the president's talking about," he said.

That 9-out-of-10 merger thing

One of the most interesting comments heard on Fast Money in recent months was Gary Kaminsky's suggestion that Microsoft buy Research in Motion.

Everybody on the panel that day sort of disliked the idea, and even around here, we decided that train had left the station, maybe a good move in 2006 but not now.

The point is, it was an idea. A legit idea that certainly execs at a place like Microsoft must regularly consider.

Wednesday's discussion about CVS Caremark on the fledgling Strategy Session made us wonder if TSS doesn't need more of those MSFT-RIMM types of conversations, and whether a show could be built around that. It's fine, and interesting, to discuss the M&A that didn't work, but how about potential M&A that might?

Going backwards is the key. In other words, if we were to pick a random Dow name ... let's do DIS for kicks (and remember, this is just random mumbo jumbo for entertainment purposes only) ... what kind of deal announcement would make DIS stock go up? If it bought IMAX, would DIS rise ... if it bought DTV, would DIS rise ... if it bought AMZN, if it bought AKAM ... at some point, there must be a target that the Street would like to see DIS acquire. If not, maybe we could assume the opposite, that it needs to spin something off.

Microsoft, which did get Strategy Session mention Wednesday, is in a 10-year-long Gulliver's Travels horror story, enormously powerful and cash-rich with seemingly nothing it can do but flail at a chunk of Yahoo. The Strategy Session crew could probably put together a solid 30 minutes on MSFT alone.

David Faber and especially Kate Kelly need to get a bit more into the flow. Gary Kaminsky and Steve Cortes have the Fast Money groove down, but then again, we're a bit partial to the Fast gang on this page.

Good call, CNBC

As part of its new Friday night movie series, CNBC will be showing the BBC film "The Last Days of Lehman Brothers," an hourlong production originally airing in September 2009.

"Last Days" stars James Cromwell, an undeniably great actor, as Hank Paulson. Cromwell was featured in a charity stock-picking event on CNBC a couple years ago, a class act.

We look forward to watching, and perhaps concocting a review of some sort.

Just call her angel ...
of the morning ...

It's a little earlier than most Fast Money viewers are awake. But those who catch CNBC's Worldwide Exchange, which airs from 4 to 6 a.m. Eastern time, are bound to be noticing that Nicole Lapin is putting on a fashion show. Like previous U.S. correspondents in that position (Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Margaret Brennan, Brian Schactman), Lapin gets a small desk in which to operate, but unlike the others, often has a financial bigwig pull up a chair. Quite frankly, Nicole Lapin is cute.

Worldwide Exchange also features Britain's Ross Westgate, one of CNBC's best anchors who many viewers never see. Christine Tan has managed to achieve legend status, but her sense of humor generally rings about as vibrant as Nurse Ratched's.

[Tuesday, June 8, 2010]

Matthew Simmons: BP won’t exist
by end of summer

A week after Matthew Simmons suggested a nuclear detonation to stop the BP spill, Simmons returned to Fast Money with another curious claim.

"I think BP's not gonna last as a company more than, more than a, a matter of months," Simmons said. "I'd be surprised."

Guy Adami wasn't sure he could believe his ears, so he asked Simmons to verify, that he's saying BP won't exist as a publicly traded company by the end of summer. Simmons said that's exactly what he means.

"These are very extreme comments," Adami said, in a bit of an understatement, asking Simmons if that type of outcome wouldn't defy the U.S.-British relationship.

"What BP's management tried to do is basically create a fraud," over some sort of drilling-rights claim, said Simmons, who last week essentially said that BP was the equivalent of Satan with a drill, one reason this segment was ringing our b.s. meter, along with the notion of a company of that size being dissolved within a couple of months.

Adami said, "That's on tomorrow's newspapers," such a comment coming from a "very well-respected person" such as Simmons.

Joe Terranova said that if BP somehow disappeared it would send a terrible message to oil production. "What would be the incentive to go out to the Gulf and look for new oil? I think that would be catastrophic for the oil industry," Terranova said.

This is what happens when you go on TV a little unprepared

Matthew Simmons actually said something more interesting on Tuesday's Fast Money than the notion of BP disappearing before October.

"I saw that actually Goldman Sachs has upgraded BP to a buy," Simmons said.


According to this MarketWatch.com story, Goldman Sachs actually downgraded BP just a day earlier.

Then we tried to give Simmons the benefit of the doubt, acknowledging of course that upgrades and downgrades in volatile situations can happen quickly.

But in fact, the last Goldman upgrade of BP apparently happened back in mid-December, which we first discovered at Zero Hedge.

So on the one hand, Simmons claims a gigantic corporation will cease to exist in September. On the other hand, he is rattling off an utterly false statement, apparently designed to point out that either 1) Goldman Sachs is stupid, or 2) there's a conspiracy at work. (If it's 2, then certainly the company's not folding.)

According to Simmons' Wikipedia page, he told Dylan Ratigan (um, that's another Fast Money guy, emeritus) in May what he sort of told Fast Money on Tuesday, that the BP spillcam isn't showing the real leak. The page also says that Simmons in 2005 bet John Tierney and Rita Simon that the average price of oil in 2010 would top $200 in 2005 dollars.

Melissa Lee, who on Tuesday with Anthony Scaramucci noticeably raised eyebrows over the Goldman Sachs claim, asked Simmons about his own firm's rating on BP. "I'm retired," Simmons said. But as for the firm, "We have no rating."

Simmons says this spill is going to bring down BP but only BP. "I think the service companies are gonna be exonerated when this is all through," he said, apparently after we're done nuking.

David Threlkeld stands by
$1 copper prediction

David Threlkeld, who argued on Fast Money back in February that copper was in a bubble and was headed to $1, stood by that claim on Tuesday.

"It's falling the way any market which is in a fundamental surplus should fall," Threlkeld said, referring to the production/consumption analysis he mentioned in February. He said there has been an "accumulation probably since 2005."

"I don't think the Chinese are hoarding copper, I think the Chinese are speculating on copper," Threlkeld said.

Guy Adami shrugged. "There's a 25-30% chance he's spot-on," Adami said. "That won't be good for the broader equity markets frankly."

Colin Gillis’ grim RIMM

Colin Gillis on Tuesday's Fast Money predicted a long-term squeeze on Research in Motion, saying more businesspeople will be demanding their companies start supplying them with the iPhones they carry personally.

"You're gonna be seeing, you know, a 2-year, 3-year cycle of pain for RIMM while Apple and Android continue to make gains," Gillis said.

Guy Adami said that to him, that's not necessarily a raging endorsement to buy Apple, but "RIMM can't be happy with Colin's comments."

Dr. J: Europe not so bad

Jon Najarian on Tuesday's Fast Money once again balked at those who say Europe's in a tailspin.

Dr. J said the PIIGS group may have its troubles, but "I am seeing very robust spending in Europe."

Karen Finerman said that Tuesday, unlike Monday, she "didn't buy Citi," which apparently will become one of those binary topics that Fast Money loves.

Karen said of BP, "It's really unknowable what the downside is."

Anthony Scaramucci reminded viewers of "the Kaminsky bet that I've gotta live up to," which was the argument over whether BP stock rises on the announcement of a dividend cut. "When that dividend is cut, I do think it'll be a sign of the bottom for BP," Scaramucci re-asserted.

Scaramucci again talked about GS settlement rumors. "I don't think any settlement will reduce book value," he said.

Analyst Chris Caso discussed his lowered expectations for Intel. "Just a great degree of uncertainty out there right now," he said, though he wasn't calling the margin-contraction possibility suggested by Guy Adami a slam dunk just yet.

Manitowoc CEO Glen Tellock did a fine job of handling questions, but nothing extraordinary came out of it.

Scott Nations suggested GLD traders consider a July 122/132 call spread. "I can pay $2.40 for that," Nations said.

Whitney Tilson is buying BP

The most interesting angle from the new hourlong tandem of The Strategy Session and Fast Money on Tuesday came right at the very end:

Whitney Tilson is buying BP. (Although he says it's only about 4%, not 10% of the portfolio.)

"It's just too cheap," Tilson said. "Truly one of the most profitable businesses on the planet. ... It's hard to imagine the headlines getting any worse."

Melissa Lee countered that one "could've made that argument a couple weeks ago."

Tilson said yes, but there's a point where it just gets "so ridiculous." Also, unlike Dennis Gartman yesterday, he said he doesn't expect an interruption to the dividend, citing all the "widows and orphans" in Britain who rely on it. (Note: This page was ahead of the game on that Britain-dividend-dependency angle, see below, noting a London news article last year explaining that 1/6 of the dividends collected by British pension funds are from BP.)

"It's hard to imagine the headlines getting worse," Tilson said. "Today's headline was one of the worst I've ever seen in the New York Times." He brought up Andrew Ross Sorkin's provocative NYT article Tuesday that suggested some vultures are considering a possible BP bankruptcy. Tilson addressed an issue this site wondered about when posting Sorkin's article on the home page, what happened to Texaco's stock in the Pennzoil lawsuit. Sorkin, Tilson said, "Forgot to mention shareholders weren't harmed when Texaco filed for bankruptcy," a prepackaged situation.

Tilson also pointed out that with BP cleanup costs, "All the damages are paid for with pretax money."

Spill reports scare Patty
out of Diamond Offshore

Patty Edwards on Tuesday reflected on her recent calls to buy and then hold BP when the stock was a wee bit higher. "That was a poisoned carcass," Patty said.

She reported owning Diamond Offshore going into Tuesday's trading, but not any more after leakage reports. "Maybe it was the BP. I dumped it. I'm out," Patty said. It's always refreshing to know that sometimes the pros get a clunker too.

Brian Kelly said uncertainty is the hardest part. "You can't really anticipate what a politician is going to say," Kelly said. (Actually we think you can, unless it's "kick a--" on the "Today" show, but whatever.)

On the other hand, "Nat gas I think is breaking out," said Guy Adami.

Melissa Lee is in
the ‘Wall Street’ sequel

Melissa Lee and the Fast Money gang put together a pretty good halftime edition on Tuesday, including a chat about the movie business with IMAX chief Richard Gelfond.

Gelfond stressed a couple of times that people tend to draw big conclusions from a single movie, whether "Shrek" or "Avatar," when everything in the end is really just about that 1 movie. He said he thinks IMAX shares have pulled back on simple profit-taking just because they've risen so much in such a short time, a point we probably agree with. He also said IMAX isn't contingent on 3-D, that it still does 2-D as well such as with "Iron Man."

Pete Najarian excitedly asked if the "Wall Street" sequel will be in 3-D. "2-D I think is enough for that one," Gelfond said.

"As someone who's in the movie, you don't wanna see me in 3-D," said Melissa Lee, but maybe we do, and maybe people are wondering what outfit she lined up for that.

We looked up the full cast list at IMDB and didn't see Lee or any CNBC/TV stars listed, but we know from media reports they're in it, so we'll just have to wait.

‘You tell those spineless a------ we’ll self-insure if they don’t write it’

Day 2 of The Strategy Session featured J.P. Morgan Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee, and for the 2nd day there was talk about the capital markets, which Lee said are wide open for business.

"The signs ... are all set for a lot of M&A activity," Lee said, pointing to CEO confidence and cash on corporate balance sheets that he said is the most, adjusted, since 1952. He said much of that is "trapped in Europe" right now.

Lee notably made this comment about offshore oil producers: "Some of these companies may not be able to finance themselves outside of 11." The "11," as Kate Kelly pointed out, refers to "Chapter 11."

"The cost of doing business offshore is going up," said Gary Kaminsky.

Kelly noted that insurance can be a problem for these companies, sometimes you can't get it and thus have to self-insure, prompting the Gordon Gekko headline to this item that ties it in with the passage above it.

Strategy recap

In Day 2 of Strategy Session, we found the dialogue a bit more crisp and quicker points being made. We are starting to think the set's background is a little distracting, also maybe a bit dark at least in the shadows.

We'd like to hear more from Steve Cortes, who is only getting about 2 at-bats a game. Tuesday, Cortes said the real damage to DO shares might've been done by Goldman Sachs overnight, and he said the boost to natural gas might be a short squeeze stemming from hedge funds that have been short suffering losses in other areas and needing to cover the nat gas positions.

Cortes also urged viewers to stay away from private equity type stocks such as BX and KFN. "If Steve Schwarzman is selling something, I'm not buying," Cortes said, which we think isn't the most perfect argument, but in the case of BX shares it's definitely been true.

There remains a bit of a thematic issue in Strategy Session as to how much will be devoted to stocks, or general economy, or specifics of the guest's business. Lee made a point of backing away from a GM IPO question on the grounds he didn't come on the show to pick stocks. Lee, like John Mack yesterday, probably could've delivered a very interesting 15 minutes talking about Goldman Sachs' image problem or what Congress might do to banks. Notably, neither Strategy Session nor Fast Money got who we found to be the most interesting lunchtime guest, Andrew Ross Sorkin, who explained his BP bankruptcy article fairly eloquently (but still not addressing the Texaco stock issue) on old reliable Power Lunch.

[Monday, June 7, 2010]

Dan DiMicco introduces a point we couldn’t possibly verify

Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco opened his Fast Money Halftime interview Monday as many people do, referring to Melissa Lee as "Michelle."

We can't figure out why that happens, other than people might be confusing Melissa with Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. But they don't really look alike. (They both look good, just not alike.)

Anyway, DiMicco eventually got to weightier stuff, including this head-scratcher: "I think the administration has done the best job since Ronald Reagan in dealing with, uh, enforcing rules-based free trade."

Dennis Gartman grimaced and was heard to say "Rules...?"

DiMicco stopped himself to explain what it was. "Basically says listen, there's a set of rules the world agrees to to trade, and people are out there breaking those rules and breaking the laws," which requires "law enforcement" to correct.

We think we lost our presidential scorecard on enforcement of rules-based free trade. Maybe during the Clinton administration. So, we'll have to take DiMicco's word for it. Now, are we inclined to express the same sort of skepticism toward this concept as Dennis Gartman? Yes, we are so inclined. But like we said, just have to take DiMicco's word for it.

Munster AAPL target: $330

Longtime AAPL bull Gene Munster evidently liked what he saw in the iPhone 4 rollout.

"Clearly this is a leap forward in terms of mobile technology and Apple's gonna run the table again," Munster said. "We think 330 is fair" for the stock.

Since when does a stock ever trade "fairly" anyway, but that's an issue for another day.

Jim Goldman was also enthusiastic about the Steve Jobs presentation, though perhaps not quite as emphatically as at other times. Goldman said to expect benefits from a "cool" Netflix app, and that iAd is a "major shot across Google's bow."

Joe Terranova went to great lengths to tell viewers he was not recommending an AAPL short, only that he sold some of his shares on Monday based partly on the "tepid" response to the iPhone 4 presentation.

Pete Najarian pointed again to AKAM, saying wait for a buying opportunity, and that if it gets below $40, that's when he'd put on a call spread.

Dennis Gartman said he's "long of Netflix."

Tech writer David Kirkpatrick said Apple's pipeline isn't as risk-free as people think. "iTunes could be vulnerable" to a company like Spotify, he said, which in Europe has seized on the music business, reached contracts on every song ever made and "taken it over."

Joe Terranova suggested that the iPad could be cannibalizing some of Apple's products. Pete Najarian disagreed. Pete asked Gene Munster for a ruling. Munster said there's some cannibalization in the netbook market, but not much. Karen Finerman asked if the cannibalization matters if people are still buying Apple products. Munster said no, it's a "net" win. Terranova took that to mean both he and Najarian were right.

The Najarian Reaction© for this
Mike Khouw trade is positive

Mike Khouw put together one of those whiz-bang options trades on Monday that we think was a play on the volatility premium, or something like that. It amounts to selling the SPY September 94 put and buying the SPY September 112 call.

Pete Najarian almost — almost — gave it unconditional approval, calling it a "great trade," but then tossed in the caveat, as long as people know when to get long and understand the risk.

It was David Threlkeld,
on Feb. 9

Dennis Gartman, discussing Monday where support in the price of copper might be, suggested "a long way down."

That prompted Joe Terranova to recall that a Fast Money guest a while back called for a $1 price for copper. (One of the quotes from that analyst was, "I'm saying that copper is like the Madoff moment.")

Melissa Lee was then heard to say the unnamed analyst was "more right than wrong. Where does that get ya? I have no idea."

Gartman: No way $101 crude

Dennis Gartman, who disagreed with Doug Kass on the Halftime Report prompting Kass to quote Coach Wooden, said on the 5 p.m. show that recent market activity is "the hallmark of a bear market."

Melissa Lee pointed out that a Squawk Box guest predicted $101 crude. "Ya gotta be kidding," Gartman chuckled. "So crowded out there in the pipelines."

There's nothing Melissa Lee likes to say more than silver isn't really a precious metal but is actually an industrial metal, a point she made again on Monday. Gartman (mostly) concurred, saying it's about a 60/40 split in terms of industrial/precious metal.

Karen Finerman finally caves
to her own advice

Gary Kaminsky, fresh off the maiden voyage of The Strategy Session, criticized some of the recent negative analyst calls on the banking sector. "Where have the analysts been for the last 2 months?" Kaminsky wondered. "They obviously have not been watching Fast Money."

Joe Terranova explained that "Last Friday I bought some Visa," but on Monday was thinking maybe Mastercard is really where he wanted to be. (This writer is long V.)

Karen Finerman announced she's finally taken the plunge. "The one thing I did buy today in my personal account was some Citibank," Finerman said, though acknowledging she bought in the $3.70s and that she'd already lost money on it by the end of the day. (This writer is long C.)

Brian Kelly said a little volatility in the markets is great for exchanges, but a lot of volatility is a signal of trouble. That's why he sees a "great entry point on the short side here" in CME, as well as going short GS.

Hain Celestial CEO Irwin Simon came on the show to discuss the Icahn interest. "Carl's a smart man," Simon said. Honestly, we had barely even heard of this company. Aside from complaining about Melissa Lee putting him on the spot with a pretty standard question about M&A, Simon seems like a pretty good CEO who's got his act together.

Initial review of
The Strategy Session

The Strategy Session, featuring David Faber, Gary Kaminsky, Kate Kelly, Steve Cortes and guest John Mack, debuted Monday at noon.

Probably a bit too much speechmaking, the uninterrupted questions and commentary from all parties tended to be longer than what happens on Squawk Box or Fast Money or Larry Kudlow. That type of rapport does take time.

We think a ticker down the side, Pardon the Interruption-style, listing each topic would be a big help. A couple times we weren't quite certain where the conversation was at.

The massive table chart sometimes took a little too long to show and appear in focus. The huge amount of electronic tickers in the background would seem to be more useful if the show participants were looking at them and citing them.

Standing up is unusual. For the 1st day, not bad. It seems like a way to give the show some urgency, but can also leave people looking a bit uncomfortable. Probably the dialogue needs to be faster to get in synch with that.

Topic-wise, we wouldn't have minded the show devoted to just 3 subjects; Mack discussing Goldman Sachs, Cortes taking up gold, and everyone getting a crack at BP and the dividend. Mack as usual was a fine guest, though most of his thoughts were conventional. Ideally the guest interviews would be provocative enough to prompt articles from Reuters, Dow Jones newswires, but it won't happen every day and didn't Monday.

Mack said of the present financial world, "This doesn't feel like, uh, the crisis that I went through." Cortes said he doesn't see new money going into gold. Kaminsky said if BP's cleanup costs (which have mostly been downplayed by analysts) continue to rise, the company could require a capital raise.

We expect, as with every show, some tweaking. There's a lot of talent on this set. If they can attain a Squawk Box-caliber of rhythm, Strategy Session will be a success.

Grasso: ‘Very negative’

The Strategy Session on Monday barreled in (or waded in?) to the new expanded Fast Money, in which Steve Grasso reported it's "very negative on the floor" and that the market's trading strictly on the 200-day moving average. Dennis Gartman said he's still a gold bull, doesn't want to be, but is, and explained again how to own it in foreign currency (Melissa Lee, who did look dynamite, said she still gets a lot of questions about how to do that). Gartman said BP has no choice but to do something with the dividend. Brian Kelly said he's starting to put out shorts again in the market.

Ace Greenberg calls out
Charles Gasparino

There is nothing — nothing — we like better around here than a good old-fashioned brouhaha that happens to involve Charles Gasparino.

We stumbled onto one after picking up an early copy of Ace Greenberg's The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns at a discount table somewhere and taking a peek.

About midway through the book, Greenberg, criticizing the media portrayal of Jimmy Cayne, complains about CNBC "correspondent" Charles Gasparino's "sycophantic" article in Trader Monthly that apparently said Cayne "built Bear Stearns from the ground up, brick by brick." Greenberg writes, "I didn't even bother sending a corrective letter to the editor." Apparently, the Trader Monthly article no longer exists online. Greenberg describes it as "a lifestyle magazine aimed at young Wall Street hotshots (that is) no longer with us."

Greenberg also reflects on the famous Wall Street Journal article about Cayne's pot-smoking, which happened to be written by Kate Kelly, now on CNBC's "The Strategy Session" team.

A big reason this site exists: Just about everyone watches CNBC. It only takes Greenberg about 3 pages before he mentions CNBC, and some of his closing chapter deals with CNBC's coverage of the meltdown and his own notable response to a question from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

Greenberg's book was short enough, and interesting enough, we gave it a review here.

Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your losers. Sell your ...

Consider this a public service announcement from CNBCfix.com.

You've heard it from Guy Adami and many others on Fast Money. Like the CNBCfix community, you probably struggle mightily to do it. Maybe this bit of motivation will help. We came across this passage in Ace Greenberg's The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns: "This sane, simple advice — unload losers, ride winners ... Why didn't more investors embrace it? ... When a stock starts acting badly relative to the market, it's either an anomaly or a sign that something's really wrong. Whichever, it's time to get out."

Go long ‘Fast Money’
against the market

Monday, as Melissa Lee has been telling you for the last week, the Fast Money Halftime Report will expand to a half-hour.

Rather quietly, this is becoming a remarkable television success story.

Very few TV programs are expanding in Year 4. The history of Fast Money — and we thank the good people at Wikipedia for part of this, because we didn't watch in the first few weeks — goes back to 2006. Originally a weekly segment on the nightly On the Money, then made into a non-live prime time show, then tested in the Larry Kudlow 5 p.m. slot, then made into a live 5 p.m. show.

No question, people like stock picks and market calls. The risk, in our opinion, is that stock-picking shows (such as Wall $treet Week) are bull-market shows whose audience dries up when the Dow goes south. Fast Money has stomped all over that notion. In spring of 2009, Fast Money not only survived a horrifying bear market but the departure of its co-founding host, Dylan Ratigan, and actually expanded by 10-15 minutes into Power Lunch territory, where it brought some life.

This page nitpicks with Fast Money all the time. One thing we don't argue with is its willingness to try. Early Fast Money viewers saw Gene Simmons on videophone demanding someone recommend IBM, a farmer in the Dakotas explaining every other week that he was paying gobs more money for potash fertilizer, MBA students trying to make a stock argument in 30 seconds, Herb Greenberg arguing with panelists over certain companies — oh wait, that was just last week ... Some features work, some don't, but in general when you're willing to give a bunch of things a chance, at least a few good things are going to happen.

One angle we wish would be tried more would be getting Joe Theismann back on the show, or any celebrity who actually cares about stocks, tracks them daily, can just talk about what they hold and make some reasonably informed comments and otherwise just sit back and ask questions. A lot of these celebrities, particularly daytime ones, bring their own massive audiences; if you get Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Phil, Ellen on there talking stocks, you'll get a lot more people talking about Fast Money. There are probably legalities somewhere about amateurs talking about stocks on TV, but we heard Larry Kudlow ask Robert Redford about his holdings once, so what's the big deal?

Anyway, the show doesn't need our tips. Congrats to Melissa Lee, and her gang, for taking Fast Money to a new level.

Susan Krakower co-founded the show with Ratigan, and John Melloy, per CNBC.com, is executive producer. Lee Brodie writes many of the show recaps at CNBC.com.

Strategy Session debuts Monday

This site has been getting a steady trickle of inquiries about The Strategy Session, which launches Monday.

We didn't realize, Strategy Session already has a home page at CNBC.com in which Gary Kaminsky and David Faber have begun delivering commentary and outlook.

As you've probably seen in the commercials, David Faber and Gary Kaminsky are hosts, and Kate Kelly and Steve Cortes are contributors. They've lined up guests for Week 1: John Mack, Jimmy Lee, Donald Drapkin, Mark Cuban and Robert Kapito.

The commercials and Web site suggest an emphasis on deal-making and Wall Street trends with commentary from guests not often quoted in the financial press. We think the cast looks strong, and look forward to watching.

[Friday, June 4, 2010]

Mickey Drexler’s persuasion
causes Karen to reconsider

The stock market sure stank Friday. But Melissa Lee showed up on Fast Money in sleeveless red and black, and new hairstyle, so just about all's well with the world.

(Though we must admit, the CNBC outfit of the day probably goes to Trish Regan's Danica Patrick-esque ensemble, guaranteed to rev up your engines... See, this page always looks at the bright side.)

As for most interesting Fast Money trade recommendation on a day like this ... um, gulp ... unless you consider plowing into cash (which unfortunately seems like a great idea now) to be exciting, we'd probably single out Karen Finerman's embrace — at least to just study it — of a certain specialty retailer.

"I will revisit J. Crew," Karen announced Friday. "I've always thought it was too expensive. I just had a chance run-in with Mickey Drexler, who I didn't know before 2 days ago ... he said, 'Yeah, you guys on Wall Street are looking at it, you know, so short-term, I look at this company, where could it be in 5 years..."

Karen said it's hard for her to look at a company 5 years out, but there you go.

Patty Edwards again trumpeted JCG, saying "They've got the right stuff on sale at the right price and that can't be beat." She added, "Apple is a must-have item."

But Edwards warned, "This is not the market where you go into an Abercrombie & Fitch. This is not the market where you go into a JCPenney."

"I am long TJX, I am long Best Buy, TGT, WMT," Finerman said.

Guy Adami finds he’s not exactly preaching to the choir

Much of Friday's Fast Money involved Guy Adami defending a cash or short position.

"I heard somebody say on Maria's show this afternoon that nobody makes money selling on down days," Adami said. "I completely disagree. For about 8 months, people made a lot of money doing that."

(We heard the Maria show but can't recall who made that comment.)

The Guymeister said he understands most viewers are long-only, but "I do believe you can make more money on the way down than you can on the way up."

Gary Kaminsky said, "You're gonna continue to see a tremendous amount of defense being played," and he urged viewers, "Cash is OK."

Adami said "I'll get bullish again if we close above maybe 1,110. If we close below 1,040 I think all bets are off and I think we're headed to the low 900s."

Dr. J paints bleak picture

Joe Terranova echoed the universal Fast Money theme of the day, saying "Don't go for the go-go names, those go-go names right now, they're not the ones you want to own." He singled out safer names such as CVS and Best Buy.

Terranova said of nat gas, "it's clearly underowned."

Guy Adami said nat gas and gold look like the only sectors that are going to work. Gold, Adami conceded, "has been working, it's undeniable."

Melissa Lee pointed out that some people have had "faces ripped off" over UNG.

Karen Finerman said "I do like IBM, I do like uh, HP, I like JNJ." But she's reluctant to jump into the market on a day like this when it happens to be Friday. "I would rather buy, this same market, on a Monday ... if there's value here, I'll buy it," Finerman said.

Jon Najarian drew a stark analogy between Europe and a "cancer ward," saying some investors are walking through and trying to determine which patient isn't going to make it, and perhaps now it's Hungary, and "that's the real risk over the weekend."

Guy Adami didn't really agree with Todd Gordon's earlier prediction of a euro buying opportunity at 1.15. "It feels to me that 1.15 is just a resting spot," Adami said.

Anthony Scaramucci said 2 factors continue to dog banks. What would end that? "Goldman either settles with the SEC, and the overhang of financial regulation is removed from the marketplace," he said.

K-Fine said she's got June calls in GS, so "they got 10 days to get it together."

Iuorio: Go for the gold

Joe Terranova opened Friday's Halftime Report with a not-particularly-exciting call: "You take risk off the table and you do get defensive."

Terranova said people were looking to the jobs report as a catalyst, but "that failed."

Meanwhile, Gary Kaminsky offered an explanation for Goldman Sachs' Friday strength. "I'm gonna purely speculate here," he said. "Every Friday there's a sort of idea, maybe on Monday, we get some sort of settlement with the SEC, so there's this idea of maybe you wanna be long Goldman into the weekend because you may wake up on a Monday and get a settlement."

Todd Gordon spoke of the euro and said "I think the path of least resistance is lower." He pointed to 1.15, which he said would mark a capitulation and be "actually a buy point."

Jim Iuorio said gold looks like the best option now. "I like ABX, Barrick Gold, I bought the calls on that," he said.

Terranova said natural gas is what looks promising; "you'll probably get more bang for your buck being in that space right now." But Iuorio pointed out that for a year, nat gas has been a "pig."

Analyst Clayton Moran discussed speculation about an AOL sale (mentioned in this Silicon Alley Insider article in re: Microsoft), calling it "pretty unlikely in the near-term." He pointed out that before its spinoff, "obviously nothing happened." Moran said it still is a potential turnaround story, "the brand has some decent value."

Kaminsky said "The capital markets continue to be very challenged, and that is your dictionary for what's gonna happen in the equity markets." He said whenever there's talk about derivatives, "SG's (SocGen) name always pops up," people thinking, "there's gotta be some losses." Kaminsky also pointed to a "week of redemptions" in mutual funds and money market funds.

[Thursday, June 3, 2010]

Analyst: Oil spill only
‘might be a giant fertilizer shot’

Oil watcher Paul Sankey made some remarkable comments on the BP spill on Thursday's Fast Money.

"Oil is really sunlight plus plants," Sankey said. "You know, if we're lucky this spill might be a giant fertilizer shot into the Gulf. Probably not, unfortunately, but we've had a bigger spill than this in the Gulf in the '90s (sic), the Mexican well, that spilled more for longer, and no one remembers any environmental impact. You can't read about it. We've tried to find it. So hopefully it's not as bad as we feared."

Actually, you can read about it, like everybody does nowadays, at Wikipedia. Unless we're mistaken, Sankey is referring to the 1979 Ixtoc 1 spill by Pemex.

As Sankey notes, there is only about 1 paragraph on environmental impact. Corexit 9527 was used, though not above a certain latitude. According to the page, "Pemex claimed that half of the released oil burned when it reached the surface, a third of it evaporated, and the rest was contained or dispersed."

Sankey referred to something this page pointed out a couple days ago, when BP last cut its dividend, over corporate turmoil. "In '92 BP missed its dividend," Sankey said. "It was a very bad moment for the company," and he said many veterans don't want to go through it again, out of an "idealistic point of view."

For trades, he said, Exxon has "more or less avoided" the reservoirs that BP is now struggling with. By contrast, he pointed to Chevron, "which is very long the super-deep-water ... I think that that's a real concern." So he said a possible trade would be "long Exxon, short Chevron."

Sankey said the location of this disaster is a "huge story for global oil supply." He said "The fastest-growing area of global oil supply is deep water. The fastest area within that is the U.S. gulf. And that's just gonna wait."

When will the worst of BP news finally be priced in?

Melissa Lee brought up BP execs' comments regarding the dividend on Thursday in which Tony Hayward spoke of the company meeting all of its obligations.

As for dividend reductions, "I don't think we know. I don't think they know," said Tim Seymour. "Anybody that's taking a shot at BP at this point is throwing darts."

"Don't buy it based on the dividend yield," cautioned Pete Najarian, who used to in fact cite dividend yield as a big reason to own it months ago. "I would do a call spread," he said.

"I think oil's going to 95," Seymour said, regardless.

A key concept for trading BP is likely the headline outrage. No one on Fast to our knowledge has speculated over what might be the peak of the bad publicity.

It's possible — possible — that happened on Monday, after a 3-day weekend of no other news besides the death of Dennis Hopper (who had his own "tragedy" in the Gulf area when that redneck pulled up alongside in "Easy Rider"), after a much-ballyhooed plug attempt failed.

The reality of the news business, and the Washington business, is that people inevitably will tire of a story. Newspapers want something different on Page 1. Right now the Chuck Schumers see Page 1 and grasp for every bit of leverage they can; in a few weeks senators will stop caring about BP's dividend, and they'll move on to Harry Reid's re-election bid or whatever Rand Paul just said, etc.

Yaneverknow, as Joaquin Andujar used to say. If Texas and Florida beaches start turning black, then it really will get worse. So far, that hasn't happened.

Herb Greenberg picks up where he left off

It says something about a TV show's endurance when one of the guests is able to perform a 2nd act.

Herb Greenberg was last seen on Fast Money probably about 3 years ago. Back then Dylan Ratigan used to pit Greenberg vs. either Jeff Macke or Tim Strazzini (neither of which has pulled off his own 2nd act on Fast yet), arguing why some hot stock was going to go kaput because it wasn't disclosing enough of its potential problems.

Greenberg left CNBC to do proprietary research, and we knew at the time that he'd be coming back at some point, but no need to gloat or anything like that.

So Thursday, Greenberg showed up on Fast Money and returned to a favorite topic from 2006-07, Apple.

Greenberg said sure, the stock has done great ... "until it misses" ... and if so, then "Wheeeeeewwwwwwwww ..."

The old argument used to be, the company wasn't forthcoming enough about options, etc.

Greenberg questioned the notion the market trades on fundamentals.

"It did trade on fundamentals? Well uh, I really want to know how anyone would actually know that," he said. "It's beginning to feel like nothing wants to trade on fundamentals."

He added, "I believe this is an ETF, computer-driven market in general." That doesn't sound like such a crazy notion, but beyond our expertise here.

Melissa Lee described Greenberg as a "senior stock commentator."

Kaminsky: Citi defections
sign of a healthy Street

Melissa Lee spoke of Citi starting to lose a larger amount of staff while hedge funds continue to accumulate the shares. (This writer is long C.)

Gary Kaminsky said it's because the job market is simply better on Wall Street nowadays. "The traders that are leaving aren't necessarily the smartest traders, or the heavweight traders. But the people that are leaving are the same people that might not've left 6 or 9 months ago because of what was happening on the Street," he said, explaining that people with 3-month noncompetes can now be sure their new job will still be around when it's time to bolt the beach and go to work.

As far as hedge fund interest, Kaminsky said there's an expectation that once the stock levitates over $5, all the institutional managers that are undeweight will have to buy it. "That's a quick 20 or 30% and it makes these guys a nice trade," Kaminsky said.

Then, contrary to Steve Grasso's opinion, he said, "I don't believe anybody that bought this stock thinks that they're gonna own this thing 3 to 5 years."

Chance for another shout-out
to Clay Jones

Pete Najarian said options traders have been eyeing LCC and UAUA. "Those stocks have been in flight, going higher; people's expectations are, June, July, these stocks are going even higher," Pete said.

Guy Adami pointed to Precision Castparts, and an old Fast Money favorite, Rockwell Collins. "COL's the other name you wanna go."

Biderman: Income-tax collections rate decelerating

Charles Biderman wasn't too bullish on the jobless situation.

"Employment growth is actually slowing if you back out census hiring," Biderman told Fast Money on Thursday. "Income tax collections, the growth rate continues to decelerate, and uh, it doesn't look good here," he said.

Steve Liesman, on the other hand, interviewed Tim Geithner, and said on Fast Money that GDP may be on the upswing. "I've seen a lot of forecasts around the 4% range for the 2nd quarter," he said.

Melissa Lee, in splendid turquoise dress, said that was a "fine interview done by you."

‘Crazy’ to short volatility

Pete Najarian, returning to the Fast Money table Thursday, said "The major indices are trading very, very heavily on the put side" in the options market. But that's a good thing, he said. "That puts a little bit of a floor, maybe, on the market right now."

Tim Seymour said it would be "crazy" to short volatility, and Najarian agreed. "I don't think there's a lot of volume, I don't think there's a lot of real players."

Najarian pointed to 3 market indicators. "The XLF just cannot get above the 200-day," he said. Then there is Goldman Sachs, and "Cliffs is another one." (Funny we don't see Steve Grasso lately reminding everyone of how the Fast gang has been telling people about Cliffs for months.)

Joe Terranova said he thinks the "junkier names" are going to be shunned, with a flight to technology and oil.

He added, "Natural gas right now is the trade in the energy space ... I don't like the UNG." And in the automotive space, "I think Ford has bottomed, and you gotta own it."

Melissa shops at Nordstrom Rack

Deborah Weinswig was on the Fast Line Thursday and discussed "almost bizarre data coming out of sales today."

Weinswig said "Men's suiting was strong," and so were women's accessories, which would seem to be at odds, that men are willing/able to buy new clothes but women aren't. Weinswig called that reflective of "equity market volatility."

She also said, on the high end, "We're seeing a pickup in returns."

Weinswig said the "hourglass theory" has continued to work, but has narrowed. "It's kind of the Saks and the dollar stores ... far end of the hourglass," she said. "Also the turnarounds are working, such as the Macy's."

She concluded that a lot of retailers have gone lean on the inventories and now are finding they don't have enough good stuff on the shelves. "Inventories in my world are too weak," she said.

Melissa Lee then chimed in, while she and the boys on the desk got the giggles. "Did notice when I was at a Nordstrom Rack over the weekend that the inventory was actually lean," Lee said.

China going gangbusters,
Novellus CEO says

Novellus CEO Rick Hill visited the Fast set on Thursday and said "We have fundamental drivers we haven't seen since the mid-'90s."

"Consumer spending in China is growing at an unprecedented rate," Hill added, saying they aren't spending on homes but are spending on electronics, which is "nothing but good for the equipment business."

He said not to worry about troubles across the Atlantic. "Europe is not the hub of semiconductor activity," he said.

Guy Adami noted "extraordinarily bearish" CEO comments from Chinalco Thursday over copper, which may not bode well for China.

Doug Kass credited for not particularly exciting call

Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report wasn't exactly full of buy recommendations.

Guy Adami repeated a point he made a day ago, that going back to December 2008, he sees a "technical double-bottom here in RIG." He said he thinks buyers could get "another 5 to 8%, then you pull the ripcord."

Guy Adami and Zach Karabell briefly debated whether Goldman Sachs has become the leader of the S&P 500. Adami said the charts seemed to look that way. Karabell said GS is trading on unique news.

"Goldman has been helped by BP as well," in terms of headline risk, said Steve Grasso.

"I don't think the financials are where market leadership's gonna be," said Karabell.

Mike Gurka pointed to the copper turn and said "I like copper, I'm staying away from zinc and aluminum at the moment." But Karabell said there tends to be seasonal trading in that space. "Summer's often been weak here," he said.

Gurka said "I'm looking for a 4 handle on the jobs data."

Analyst Greg Badishkanian said McDonald's gets 38% of sales in Europe, and maybe fast food is a good place to be in Europe right now. "Fast food is, is, uh, perfect for trading down when you're at casual dining," he said.

Guy Adami offered "Kudos to Dougie Kass," because apparently yesterday morning, Kass said buy, then this morning, Kass urged caution. But with lots of optimism built in over the jobs number, "I wonder out loud is there any way the market can rally," Adami said.

[Wednesday, June 2, 2010]

Brian Kelly expands
concept of whale-watching

Brian Kelly actually suggested on Wednesday's Fast Money that gold investors maybe could get their cue from 2/3 of the Axis of Evil.

"If Iran and/or any other hostile nations, let's say North Korea, starts buying up gold, then you have every other central bank, for political/strategic reasons, are going to have to buy gold as well," Kelly asserted.

Tim Seymour questioned, "Since when are we following North Korea and Iran though?"

Kelly said he's talking about gold becoming a political goal, not just a central bank goal. "What if gold becomes a strategic asset for national security's sake?" he asked. Seymour agreed that's a valid concept.

Beeks then closed with the type of comment that can come back to haunt. "We're not even close to, to outrageous valuation prices, something like an Internet bubble, so you could certainly go a lot higher before we would say, 'Gold is in a bubble'," he said.

Lessee. Taxpayer dollars splurging on gold to prevent North Korea from buying it all first. Ugh.

Econ pundit uses ‘D’ word

David Levy (not Jared Levy, but David Levy), who apparently is a global economic watcher of some sort, makes the likes of Peter Schiff sound bullish.

"We're already in a kind of depression in the United States," Levy said, saying Japan has already experienced it and Europe is entering it. "If and I can't put a probability on this, but if the Chinese real estate bubble also goes, the same time, we could have an awful lot of dominoes falling at the same time."

Tim Seymour didn't agree. "Where is the economic data that's backing this up?"

Levy said there was "tremendous job growth" even during "periods during the 1930s," apparently making the point that you can't take recent macro details seriously.

"In Europe, they're switching to Hooverism," Levy said.

In closing, Melissa Lee noted that Levy predicts a "60% chance that the U.S. will see a recession in 2011."

This segment turning up at the end of the show, we were inclined to sort of laugh it off. But we looked up Levy's bio page, and in fact he's got some pretty good credentials, namely being a Clinton appointee in 1997 (the part about being on the "Today" show we didn't think was too big of a deal). He also claims to have coined the term "the contained depression." According to his bio page, "He graduated from Williams College Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in mathematics and received an M.B.A. from the Columbia University School of Business."

In a year or 2, we'll know whether he's right.

Jon Najarian is 52

Jon Najarian said on Wednesday's Fast Money that apparently the president and vice president already know what the jobs number is, which seemed to floor him.

"This is a first for me!" he said. "I believe that these guys know it's gonna be a great number."

Joe Biden didn't call the Fast Line. But apparently he's tangled with Dr. J before. "I've had nice arguments with the vice president back when he was a senator," said Najarian, who also revealed his age. Melissa Lee said he looks great for his age.

"They're concerned about 2 numbers," said Tim Seymour. "They're concerned about 10% on the unemployment rate and they're concerned about 10,000 on the Dow right now."

"The line in the sand there is 150,000, that's the figure you focus on," said Joe Terranova.

As the oil leaks ...

Nalco CEO J. Erik Fyrwald turned up on Fast Money on Wednesday to defend his company's Corexit 9500, which has become something of a key player in preventing the Gulf of Mexico from becoming the Gulf of British Petroleum.

"It is by far the most-used oil dispersant because it's safe, and it works, and it's available," Fyrwald said. He said it has been used more than 15 years and is approved in over 30 countries. "There are 6 ingredients in Corexit 9500," he added, and "each of those ingredients is used in everyday household products."

He emphasized that Corexit is a small revenue driver for Nalco, only "about 1% of our projected sales for this year."

Melissa Lee asked about litigation risk. Fyrwald implied it's more with the users of the product and not with the maker. "We think we're in a good position," he said.

Guy Adami said Nalco has taken a bit of a hit and may be unnecessarily punished.

Fyrwald's comments did seem a bit press-release-y and formal. But he's involved in a tense situation right now and certainly can't be winging it. We know virtually nothing about Corexit 9500. He did a good job of defending it.

Terranova gives RIG a chance

Joe Terranova said on Wednesday's Fast Money, "I did buy RIG today," and there are "several reasons why."

Terranova said now we "finally have a couple of analysts that basically have said uncle" instead of trumpeting the lower valuation, which he finds to be an "intuitive trading element."

Guy Adami expressed astonishment at RIG only recently trading around $92 and right now touching its December 2008 low, when oil was around $30 a barrel.

Tim Seymour wasn't so gung ho. Seymour said the threat of liability is grounds for other oil companies to cancel their contracts with RIG under force majeure.

Chuck Schumer makes
headline-grabbing statement

Analyst Colin Gerry spoke on Fast Money Wednesday about separating the oil drillers. "All stocks were kinda thrown out with the bathwater here" in the energy space, he said, saying he likes Rowan and Hercules. Despite the recovery Wednesday, "I don't think we've fully captured that upside."

Joe Terranova said, "I think this is the right environment for natural gas."

Guy Adami noted we "almost had a reversal today in Apache. First time I've seen that in APA in a while," he said.

Tim Seymour said people are wrong to be bearish on oil, the "fundamentals in WTI have improved."

Melissa Lee noted that Chuck Schumer has called it "unfathomable" for BP to pay a dividend. Karen Finerman suggested "that kind of stuff may already be priced in."

Melissa brings A game

Wednesday's Fast Money just wasn't as compelling as Tuesday's. Karen Finerman showed up in a dazzling new navy blue sweater and new hairstyle, but Melissa Lee's smartly contoured navy dress was the show's highlight.

It's been a while since Fast Money took up Monsanto, which used to be the kind of name that people on the show would trip over each other to recommend but now is in a stunning decline. Goldman Sachs put it back on the radar Wednesday.

"So much bad news has been priced in with Monsanto," said Tim Seymour, who said the stock offers good valuation.

The discussion also involved JPMorgan, and Jon Najarian was far more enthusiastic. "I couldn't wait to get back into 'em," he said, meaning both Monsanto and JPMorgan.

A day without mentioning C

Guy Adami said Wednesday he had "Visa on my radar screen all day today." (This writer is long V.)

"I think you saw a capitulatory bottom on May 18," he said, noting a Stifel Nicolaus upgrade and $86 price target. "I think Visa looks interesting."

Otherwise, "Everybody's trading backwards right now," Adami said of the general market. "Not a lot of people have played in the last couple of days," agreed Tim Seymour.

Karen Finerman said that for those calling Wednesday's surge a rally, "dead-cat bounce might be a little more appropriate."

Seymour said Wednesday marked a "huge technical reversal in euro/yen."

Brian Kelly said people should think about getting long for a few days because the market seems to be in the "eye of the storm."

Mike Khouw suggested an options play in CHK. "You could sell the July 20 put for about 60 cents, and you could use the proceeds to purchase the July 24 calls, also for about 60 cents," Khouw said. The "highlight of trades like this," he said, is "you participate to the upside more quickly than you participate to the downside."

Halftime delayed

The Fast Money Halftime gang had to spend a scheduled extra half hour in the locker room Wednesday, thanks to the Warren Buffett hearing, which quite honestly isn't particularly interesting.

Update: We gave up. Between the Buffett hearing and Obama speech, looks like Halftime got scrubbed.

Karabell launches fund

This article in HFMWeek reads a bit dated, but apparently came out yesterday, explaining that "Zachary Karabell ... has made a foray into the hedge fund industry. Having formed New York-based River Twice Capital Advisors earlier this year, Karabell will now debut the River Twice Fund on 1 June. The offering is a global long/short equity strategy which will use fundamental research. It will invest in all sectors and market capitalisations."

Also, Karabell gave a wide-ranging interview to DailyFinance, which describes him as "eclectic and full of counterintuitive insights."

[Tuesday, June 1, 2010]

Google AdWords: Do you get more, or less, than you pay for?

Late on Tuesday's Fast Money, a Google executive actually showed up on the set to talk about a mysterious "report" issued last week that we didn't even know existed until Tuesday.

Melissa Lee said what she found most interesting in the fine print was the assertion that every $1 sold in Google AdWords delivers $8 in business profit.

We found that interesting too — to the point we don't actually believe it.

Indeed, finding this mysterious report at Google.com, we see this: "We conservatively estimate that for every $1 a business spends on AdWords, they receive an average of $8 in profit through Google Search and AdWords."

The report also says this: "We rely on two conservative assumptions. First, that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords — that's $1 profit. ... Our second assumption is that businesses receive an average of 5 clicks on their search results for every 1 click on their ads."

More: "If search clicks brought in as much revenue for businesses as ad clicks, these two assumptions would imply that businesses receive $11 in profit for every $1 they spend on AdWords. ... However, clicks through search results may not be as commercially valuable as ad clicks, so we want to be conservative: we estimate that search clicks are about 70% as valuable as ad clicks."

Meanwhile, Washington Post blogger Cecilia Kang last week wrote about this report and said nothing about the $1/$8 tradeoff, only that "Google said Tuesday that the search goliath generated $54 billion in economic activity in the United States last year," and, "The assumption made here was that for every $1 spent on AdWords, a business generates $2 in revenue — or a net profit of $1."

We don't doubt at all that Google has value and helps many businesses. But the notion — and we're trying to sort all of this out in the melon, as Anthony Scaramucci would say, which definitely could use some Crown Royal right now — that Adwords alone delivers a profit of $1, while Adwords plus free search delivers a profit 8 times that, suggests to us that your best deal is the free search.

We get the impression that if you're trying to order a pizza and happen to use a Google search to get the number, Google is crediting itself with a 70-cent sale. (Or maybe a $1 sale, or maybe an $11 sale; this kind of math tends to do us in.)

Put more bluntly, it all sounds a bit like the voodoo of the NCAA Tournament's 1st round costing businesses $5 billion (or something like that) every year in "lost productivity."

Eileen Naughton, the Google exec on Fast Money, said "The real goal was for us to assess the economic impact that Google has on businesses large and small."

Karen Finerman, who basically started pounding the table for GOOG late last year right at the top, questioned why the search giant suddenly feels the need to issue self-promoting reports now. Naughton said it was a "yearlong study."

Joe Terranova crowed that he argued against GOOG on its last quarterly report, and "I was firmly ridiculed at 580 bucks."

Oil analyst: Companies that can plug spill only want to work for military ...

Tuesday's Fast Money was already getting good when Gary Kaminsky launched a debate over dividend-paying stocks (more on that below).

Then petroleum watcher Matthew Simmons showed up and dropped a bomb.

Or 2.

Simmons strongly implied, without saying directly, that a bunch of oil-services companies could plug the spill, but are sitting around right now because they don't like BP.

"Throw BP out of this project and put the military in charge," Simmons bellowed.

Tim Seymour said the military doesn't have the technology and questioned what it could do that BP can't.

Simmons then rattled off 4 names — Transocean, Cameron, Schlumberger, Halliburton — that he said the "technology belongs to," but apparently instead of helping plug the leak now, those companies would "far rather work for the military."

Seymour then asked if those companies should be "brought to the table." Simmons somehow misunderstood this as meaning "punished." Oh no, he said, "these companies are clean as a whistle." Then he predicted a "sad" boom for their business.

... but maybe the nuclear option

Matthew Simmons, in his brief Fast Money appearance, also managed this shocker: That a nuclear weapon may be the only way to stop the leak.

Simmons claimed the "Soviets did it 3 times in the '70s." He said on similar wells this deep, a nuclear detonation was the "only thing they found how to do."

Simmons accused BP of being beyond horrible, calling the company "Totally witless or deceptive" and actually saying "I'd rather own Enron back in 2001."

So, let's try to add this up ... the only thing that can stop this spill is a nuclear blast. But meanwhile, Transocean, Cameron, Schlumberger and Halliburton all have the "technology" to tackle the situation, which they would do if only the military took it over from BP.

So apparently the schedule is this: Military takeover, nuke blast, then the 4 other companies go down there and do something or other to a leak that's already plugged by the nuclear blast.

Tim Seymour noted the Soviet Union's environmental record isn't exactly a good prototype. Anthony Scaramucci noticeably was shaking his head over Simmons' nuclear option, saying it would "kill the Southeastern economy."

Yes or no — Buy a stock
for the dividend?

What might've been a major Fast Money debate Tuesday turned into something a bit less than that.

Gary Kaminsky declared that "buying stocks based on a dividend yield is a loser's game."

He added, "Don't buy equities for income. If you want income, buy bonds."

That raised the eyebrows of Tim Seymour. "You've made a very controversial point here so let's talk about that," Seymour said. "That is a strategy ... people buy oil companies for dividends." And of course, he pointed to Total (as he does about every day) yielding 7%.

Melissa Lee was even more disagreeable with Kaminsky's point, saying the dividend is merely the reason people will take a chance on the stock while the spill still flows. "So you're not buying it for income, you're buying it as a flier, and then you get the actual bonus being paid," Lee said.

But Kaminsky didn't argue. He told Seymour, "That's a fine strategy," which seemed somewhat at odds with his initial point, and said that what he's referring to is a "derivative event" that apparently might be company specific such as in the case with BP.

We spent a moment mulling it and sort of decided that Kaminsky was actually right, but that all the parties were sort of right. By degrees.

Someone intent on income should probably skip stocks, illustrated mightily by the BP/integrated oil situation.

Someone seeking capital appreciation could buy, for example, Mastercard, but should not be buying Mastercard for its dividend, which shows up in Yahoo finance as .30%

However, there's plenty of room in between. EXC, XOM, JNJ are all popular places for people who want a mix of income and capital-appreciation risk, which doesn't seem like a poor strategy.

It's possible, had the segment been longer, that Kaminsky might've been arguing against that. Should someone seeking both income and capital appreciation put $10,000 into an XOM/CVX/EXC/JNJ basket, or should that person instead put $5,000 in bonds, and $5,000 in his growth stock of choice, whether MA or AAPL or whatever. There maybe isn't a correct answer. Note that Kaminsky did not actually make this argument. It's just interesting food for thought.

Dinner on Scaramucci?

In a day of remarkable commentary, Anthony Scaramucci was Fast Money's Mr. Steady, speaking rarely but packing a punch on the day of another apparent book party.

Scaramucci argued that with BP, the "stock will rally on the dividend cut." He said that from a "trader's perspective," that's the "news event" that tends to signal a bottom. He said similar action happened with the banks.

Gary Kaminsky was taken aback. "Let's get real here," Kaminsky said. Later in the show, he challenged Scaramucci to a bet over that claim, that Scaramucci will have to take the Fast Money gang out to dinner if the stock doesn't rally on news of a cut.

"I'm a hundred percent on," Scaramucci said, then made a joke about Kaminsky being "like a T. rex."

BP, according to this 2009 article, did cut its dividend in the 2nd quarter of 1992. There was concern it would have to cut in 2009, but according to financial statements we found (and you'd be amazed how long it took to find this info via the great Google), BP did not cut the dividend in 2009.

More about that possible
BP dividend cut

This Times of London article from 2009 notes 1/6 of the total dividends received by U.K. pension funds comes from BP. (This writer has no position in BP.)

Finerman: Maybe U.S. won’t let
BP buy back shares

We were thinking for several days that we've heard about all that can be said about BP stock, only to hear about 4 or 5 more interesting points on Tuesday's Fast Money.

Joe Terranova said BP itself could perhaps be considered the buyer of last resort. "I don't understand why they just don't come in and buy back their own shares," he said.

Karen Finerman congratulated Terranova for his initial bearishness on BP, APC and RIG shortly after the spill, saying "Joe was spot-on."

Then Finerman openly speculated that even if BP agreed with Terranova that buying its shares back would be a great idea, the U.S. government might be insisting at this time, "No money out the door." If so, she said, it "wouldn't be shocking to me."

Tim Seymour said whatever BP's troubles, it shouldn't be spooking the broad market this much.

Scott Nations said there's a good way to play the "doubt" with BP — by selling the June 40/42.5 call spread. He said he would sell the 40 for $1.35 and buy the 42.5 for 70 cents. We do sort of question, if one is as confident as Nations sounded about BP unlikely to push above $40 by June expiration, why not just sell the 40 call. That would amount to uncapped risk.

A little bit Téa Leoni,
a little bit Drew Barrymore

Here we were all excited about BP talk and Soviet Union discussions, yet the real fireworks of Tuesday's Fast Money happened in the 2nd half of the show, when KBW exchange analyst Niamh Alexander made what we think was her first appearance on Fast Money.

Behind a beautiful smile and featuring white jacket over black top, Alexander said she recommends the Nasdaq for reasons that are "primary valuation" but also involve market volatility.

Karen Finerman questioned the seemingly endless pricing pressure on exchanges. Alexander said that has "probably about bottomed."

AAPL: Too big?

Anthony Scaramucci returned on Tuesday to a point he is making, quite honestly, very well: That AAPL shares at $250 billion market cap simply can't grow as they previously have.

It's a "headwind," Scaramucci says, a "big speed bump."

He hasn't gotten into many specifics. We've mulled that concept in bits and pieces. On the one hand, the market cap shouldn't affect future revenue and profitability growth. On the other hand, we wonder if it's true that at some point, every fund manager has bought the stock and simply has to allocate the rest of his money elsewhere. In other words, it's not the $250 billion alone that matters, but the fraction of $250 billion divided by total stock market or S&P 500 capitalization.

Brian Kelly, who barely had a chance to speak Tuesday, declared "1,050 is my line in the sand."

Melissa Lee, who was kinda sluggish for the entire show, looked positively surprised to find the camera on her after the half-hour break.

Analyst: Less than 20% chance
of BP dividend cut

Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov was crunching the numbers, but apparently not the headlines, on BP on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Molchanov said that on an annual basis, after the spill and dividend, he finds the company with "$5 billion of true free cash flow left." As a result, "I see, uh, no readily apparent reason for BP to cut the dividend in its current situation."

Gary Kaminsky asked about the price of oil in this model. "We're using $85 oil for the second half of 2010," Molchanov said, but even at $75, he said BP could still cover those costs.

Molchanov told Melissa Lee he sees "less than 20% odds over the next 6 months" for a dividend cut.

BP’s march to $0

Barely 6 weeks ago, even Pete Najarian was regularly touting BP. The dividend was great and it looked as good as the other integrateds in the seemingly improving energy space.

And if you bought it then, you've somehow managed to flush 40% of your money down the toilet in little over a month.

Patty Edwards said on the Fast Money Halftime Report that if she were holding for herself, she would definitely not sell Tuesday, but because she's managing money for clients, "I actually got out this morning."

While her advice is no doubt sound, there's another element in play, of those people who've bought it in the last couple of months who can no longer stomach the $2-a-share drop every day, who think the risk of more of that kind of pain and having to worry about the daily "BP underestimated this or that" headline outweighs the stock market game of likely expected volume-related technical bounce that will be cited by Guy Adami and didn't happen Tuesday so will probably happen Wednesday. (So, this writer is long BP no more, like Patty Edwards adding to the 100 million changing hands Tuesday.)

Amateur analysis suggests that the spill was the only major news of last week, which happened to be the week that a plug-attempt failed, and soon the news media will move on to other lede stories. But we're done here suggesting the bad news is already in the stock. Not gonna do that again.

Because the whole company is certainly too big to fail, it will probably be carved up by the other integrateds. After prosecutors and Congress are finished, who knows where that price will be, the $20s, $10s, maybe the Bear Stearns type of outcome.

(Sigh) Every time one of these things happens, you always say never again. Never should've held Citi at $30, never should've held Las Vegas Sands at $100, never should've held Exodus at (gasp) $50...

If not for AAPL, we’re really talking Debbie Downer

Gary Kaminsky and Zach Karabell indirectly sparred over the importance of Europe's ash cloud on Tuesday's Halftime.

For the near-term stock market, "The real question is, will we start to see the pre-announcements related to Europe," Kaminsky said.

Karabell described the ash cloud as a "past-tense event" and questioned why it would matter on forward-looking models if it's already done and over with. Kaminsky said it was a 2-week hit to business and that companies will still be inclined to issue warnings, so be prepared.

Patty Edwards pointed to Europe-sensitive copmanies, such as McDonald's ("40% directly tied to the European Union"), Ford, Electronic Arts, Itron and Activision.

On a happier note, Edwards said of AAPL, "I think that this thing's got a lot further to run."

Kaminsky agreed, citing the closet indexers. "The pain of not owning Apple is greater than the dealing with, 'I don't own it.' "

Kaminsky, referring to BP, said "Don't buy stocks based on dividend yields ... it's a very dangerous strategy."

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Fast Money cliches

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Movie review:
‘Wall Street’

Gordon Gekko:
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CNBC/cable TV
star bios

♦ Jim Cramer
♦ Charles Gasparino
♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Karen Finerman
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Zachary Karabell
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ Nicole Lapin
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
♦ Bertha Coombs
♦ Mary Thompson
♦ Trish Regan
♦ Melissa Francis
♦ Dennis Kneale
♦ Rebecca Jarvis
♦ Darren Rovell
♦ Carl Quintanilla
♦ Diana Olick
♦ Dylan Ratigan
♦ Eric Bolling
♦ Anderson Cooper
♦ Neil Cavuto
♦ Liz Claman
♦ Monica Crowley
♦ Bill O'Reilly
♦ Rachel Maddow
♦ Susie Gharib
♦ Jane Skinner
♦ Kimberly Guilfoyle
♦ Martha MacCallum
♦ Courtney Friel
♦ Uma Pemmaraju
♦ Joe Scarborough
♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
♦ Donald Luskin
♦ Herb Greenberg
♦ Robert Reich
♦ Steve Moore
♦ Vince Farrell
♦ Joe LaVorgna
♦ A. Gary Shilling
♦ Joe Battipaglia
♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett