[CNBCfix Fast Money Reviev Archive]
[Thursday, June 30, 2011]

Steve Jobs’ health is ‘No. 1’ concern weighing on AAPL shares: analyst

Brian Marshall, neatly in tie, didn't have the Brad Cooper thing going Thursday, but the point he made about Steve Jobs was basically the same hangover the market's already had for years.

Judge Scott Wapner asked Marshall why Apple shares have had a relatively weak 2011.

"No. 1 is the health of Steve Jobs," Marshall asserted.

"All of a sudden they're worried so they're not buying the stock?" interrupted Judge, incredulously.

"I actually think he, he looked worse, at WWDC," Marshall explained.

Marshall also said investors are a bit concerned about the disruption to the iPhone schedule of years past. He still has a buy rating and $450 target.

Judge Wapner then editorialized a bit, asking what's in store for Cisco because the "1st half was garbage." Marshall called CSCO a "quintessential value trap."

Brian Kelly and Dr. J weren’t actually being serious — were they?

Scott Judge Wapner opened Thursday's Fast Money with breaking news on Tim Geithner's future, then sort of wearily broke up the replacement speculation by asking his panel, What does it mean for the dollar?

Tha's when Brian Kelly, somehow with a straight-faced, serious look, actually said, "For investors it means really nothing, unless you have someone in there that is going to have a very strong view about the dollar."

He had to be joking ... right?

Kelly actually thinks it's within the realm of possibility that 1) there are actual candidates for the job who actually have a "very strong view" about the dollar; 2) Barack Obama would actually appoint one of them, and 3) that person would actually singlehandedly be able to control dollar direction?

Jon Najarian somehow endorsed Kelly's line of thinking, saying that gold could go down "somewhat dramatically" if the scenario outlined by Kelly were to happen.

Maybe after that's done, Barack Obama will appoint people who wean ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil.

The belief here — one of these days we'll make it part of the mission statement — is that politics, like history class, is merely a spectator sport for intellectuals in which the discussion of the topic has long since grown even further out of proportion to its actual relevance than Charlie Sheen. Listening to businesspeople talk about the Fed is really no different than listening to sports talk radio callers carp about signing a free agent and firing the coach, except the former will try to have you believe "this is important stuff that affects people's lives."

Guy Adami a couple times in the Geithner discussion mentioned "Hubbard makes a lot of sense," and we had no idea if he was talking about Glenn, or Allan, (both Republicans), or someone else.

Judge Wapner fails to tell viewers what’s in the RIMM letter

Scott Judge Wapner introduced a Research in Motion segment early in Thursday's Fast Money with the headline involving some sort of "mutiny" about a letter to one of the CEOs.

The letter was posted at the Boy Genius Report Web site. Wapner managed to get a video appearance from BGR honcho Jonathan Geller, who said the "letter’s absolutely authentic ... 100%."

(And this is when Aubrey McClendon insists the BGR has an ongoing agenda against the Playbook and that these are old gripes and just plain "fiction" and that Geller should've called him and the myriad other experts to get the true picture of the health of the company- ... oh shoot, no, sorry, different company, totally different story.)

Geller said that the company had responded by the time of his Fast Money appearance, and that response was "very defensive, it didn’t address any of the points in the letter."

The problem was that Judge not only shuffled off Geller when there was more to talk about, but he never said what the original letter was even about or who besides BGR even got it.

(Our favorite was Point 6: "No Accountability — Canadians are too nice")

Brian Kelly impressively tried to give the other side, saying, "The bullish case is the QNX software." Mike Khouw though equally impressively explained the pain side of the equation, saying he recently tried to catch the falling knife of RIMM shares, and "What a horrific mistake that was."

Dr. J twice says some variation of kicking the can down the road

Jon Najarian reported on Thursday's Fast Money that, based on the VIXM and VIXY ETFs, there isn't that much fear in the market; "people thinking they have indeed kicked the can down the road" in Europe.

Moments later, Doctor J cited the Steve Liesman surveys from a day earlier (you know, the ones where folks were asked if their home values are going up, down or stable in the next 12 months, and then by how much) and said people are concerned about whether the U.S. has "kicked this can down the road" with its own problems.

Jim Iuorio might as well have said "kick the can ..." in his recommendation for a Toyota August 85/90 call spread, because it felt like no one was listening and Judge Wapner had to end it abruptly. Iuorio said he likes it for chart reasons and that a year ago, there was the same pattern.

David Greenberg conceded the SPR release accomplished very little, except "it did move at the pump" just before the July 4 holiday. Greenberg said he expects crude in a $90-$100 range because the government likes it under $100 and demand supports $90.

Mike Khouw said Carl Icahn's foray into Oshkosh makes sense, but "I don't get this Clorox thing at all."

Guy Adami said he thinks TIF continues to work, and he wants you to know that Stephen Bishop was the guitar player in "Animal House."

Mark Mahaney introduces potentially staggering point — and Judge Wapner doesn’t care

Superstar analyst Mark Mahaney made a closing comment on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that quite frankly seriously echoes what's been an ongoing conversation in the CNBCfix-community-land.

Around here, it goes something like this (and keep in mind we're not tech experts; just look at how this site is constructed) ... if everyone's already on Facebook, why can't Facebook just do its own search engine, and if it does that, who would need Google (or bing)?

Mahaney waded into that when Guy Adami asked for an outlook on GOOG and hinted Mahaney was probably ready to issue a buy rec. Instead, Mahaney said this:

"There's a lot of risk here, I don't think it's worth buying Google shares anymore ... watch this Facebook thing ... uh, this social search is a major change, there's a real possibility we could have a paradigm shift in how all of this search uh on the Internet in the next 3 years (sic), and if that happens, it's very negative for Google."

So, we're not alone.

See, one of the reasons we've thought about this is because Maria Bartiromo did a Google documentary about a year and a half ago in which Google expert John Battelle calls the company "the most successful company in the history of the world" largely because its AdWords amount "pure profit."

So given a "pure profit" business, why wouldn't anyone with a serious Web platform be trying their own search engine? (We've wondered about that with Drudge but don't want to give him any ideas.)

From an analyst of that stature (yes, some do have stature), that kind of "paradigm shift" comment — particularly on a show in which just recently Karen Finerman was suggesting the valuation was looking good — should be considered a potential game-changer.

Incredibly, Judge Wapner merely let it go and moved on to another subject.

Mahaney did tout EBAY on the Durbin outcome, saying it "had an overhang issue here, it was probably a black swan event, unlikely PayPal was gonna be regulated, now we know for certain that it won't be, you buy eBay."

Steve Cortes says something
patently wrong

Steve Cortes on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report sounded like he could really use a little Whitey's Ice Cream.

"I've been short ... this ag mania I think is ending," Cortes told Judge Scott Wapner. "Nobody benefitted more from QE2 than farmers, OK. They were driving Maseratis in Moline."


In Moline?

Uh, no.

Probably never.

Soybeans get rare
Fast Money mention

Rich Ilczyszyn returned to Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, pronounced himself doing "fantastic," then immediately explained the importance of the discussion.

"This USDA crop report is the biggest one of the year, so you better fasten your seat belts," he said, and while the ending there might be a cliche, at least he didn't say farmers are kicking the can down the road.

Ilczyszyn said expectations were for 90.76 million acres of planted corn, but "we came out way higher than that ... that sends everybody running to the door."

Scott Judge Wapner cut in and actually asked a good, if brusque, question, whether such news from the biggest report of the year should not be considered a "game-changer for that trade."

The Ilchmeister didn't fully sign on to that one, qualifying with, "We still have a lot of weather and a lot of time to go." But his derivative observation seemed most relevant: "If we have more acreage in corn, maybe they're drawing out of other markets," he said, suggesting soybeans might catch a bid.

Nothing, though, about the end of the ‘high-end’ and how that LULU bearishness worked out

Other than Mark Mahaney, who should've stolen the show Thursday, the Fast Money Halftime Report sort of became the Steve Cortes Chronicles.

"I am not short the market right here but I am skeptical ... a lot of danger about real industrial demand," Cortes said.

(Steve Grasso cracked, "Cortes is short a couple of buttons on that shirt," a point we've made before.)

Cortes did say "I'm short technology against the S&P," and got into an utterly pointless debate with Judge Wapner over AAPL is a tech bellwether.

Cortes also said, "I think Treasurys offer value here," and, "I'm long grocery stores."

Adami: Keep an eye on BWA

The relentless amount of S&P numbers uttered on Fast Money has grown absolutely silly, essentially meaningless when there's a new one every day, but that didn't stop Guy Adami on Thursday's Halftime.

"I now think that 13 and a quarter is our big pivot level," Adami said.

We should point out there are times when Steve Grasso, normally the savviest at this, is unbelievably relevant with these levels, usually when markets are in dicey situations, but during a humdrum, ugh-y June, they can be as relevant as Steve Cortes' analogies.

Grasso like the rest of the panel said there's no need to jump into stocks right now; "give it a week or so." Jon Najarian echoed that though he said the ag plays were noticeable enough on Thursday that he's interested.

Najarian also said July $52.50 calls in AXP were hopping, and as oil fluctuates, "the demand for drilling in particular is going to do nothing but accelerate here, I believe."

Dan Dicker said he sees oil in some kind of a slump largely because of reports of lower demand, also QE2 and the SPR. Judge Scott Wapner made a good point, that oil's back to the pre-SPR-release level so maybe it didn't matter. "I still think it makes a very, very big difference," Dicker said, in weighing on speculators.

Guy Adami said BWA is such a good story, "sometimes a tape doesn't matter."

Worth on the money

Sometimes his charts, or terminology, gets zinged here (rightfully so), but Carter Worth's assessment a week ago Thursday about another 1,270 close and the market being fine because the selling is abating looks like an excellent call.

Grasso: ‘Worst president in history’

Sometimes the boldest Fast Money calls happen not on TV, but Twitter.

We discovered that Steve Grasso on Wednesday was not only dishing it out with Steve Liesman, but ended up in a tweeting donnybrook about how the 3 branches of federal government work, and who's responsible for what.

Kelly: Zynga handing market
lower-class shares

Kate Kelly was a scoop-a-rama on Thursday's Gary Kaminsky-less Strategy Session.

"I'm hearing that Paulson & Company, the $38 billion hedge-fund company, has in the last couple of months sold a substantial portion of its stake in Bank of America," Kelly reported, saying that Paulson has been the "8th-biggest holder of record" in BAC.

Guest co-host Leon Cooperman twice noted that John Paulson is a "gentleman."

But to our ears, Kelly got even more interesting when, on a different topic, she said, "Zynga is very likely to introduce a dual class structure" in which the public will get "Class A," or a "lot less voting control."

Yes, and look at how well that worked for all the lower-class shareholders in all those media companies that Murdoch did not want to buy.

Kelly said insiders "really couldn't remember a tech stock that had this dual class," raising questions as to what Zynga really views itself as, a tech or media company, but that's actually the wrong characterization — it's a have their-cake-and-eat-it-too-attempt story that might actually work given the appetite for a social media IPO.

Kelly said "internal valuations I'm told run as high as 23 billion," and that the lockup for insider sales after the IPO may be shrunk from 180 to 60 days.

Cooperman speculated that all this is "probably building the next bubble I would guess."

Gundlach doubts
10-year climbing to 5%

Jeff Gundlach — the all-time Strategy Session guest in our view with only 1 little blemish in his series of appearances (some murkiness over the explanations of the conditions/lack of conditions on that Barron's S&P 500 to 500 call follow-up) — had to phone it in on Thursday (guess we can't call it the Fast Line because it's not Fast Money) and didn't really make a startling call on the 10-year.

Gundlach said the yields fell over the spring on the "ceaseless drumbeat of disappointing economic news."

"I kind of think that the 10-year Treasury can get down towards 3% on nervousness, but to get it down below, into the 2 handle, where it was just a few short days ago, you need fear," he said.

He seemed to downplay the recent bounce, saying the average for the year has actually been 3.3%, right where it began the year actually.

Leon Cooperman said the 10-year has "generally yielded in line with nominal GDP" and asked Gundlach if that means it could possibly double in a few years if growth does. Gundlach doubted that. "I kind of think that what you won't get is a 10-year yield of 5 or 6%," he said, pointing to the overhang of austerity. "Low bond yields would make sense if they're going to attack the deficit."

But he didn’t say,
‘down the road’

If you need a pinch-hitter to co-host a financial show, who better than Leon Cooperman.

Cooperman said on Thursday's Strategy Session that for stocks, he's on the "optimistic side, for a bunch of reasons."

"Today 20% of stocks yield more than bonds," he said, referring to the 10-year, and with a less-than-historical P.E., he says he sees "14, 1,425 is a potential target in the S&P."

Unfortunately, Cooperman repeated one of CNBC's most dreadful recent cliches, "We all know we're playing this exquisite game of kick the can."

[Wednesday, June 29, 2011]


Fast Money gang sure looked fascinated by Mike Abramsky’s AAPL commentary

There are 2 sort of unsolvable TV issues regarding CNBC programs that are capable of making someone fall out of the chair laughing.

One is when Melissa Lee has to explain the lengthy ramifications behind a trade in Options Action, and rather than attempt this wordy exercise live, it's done on tape, with all kinds of sound effects, a few graphics, and Mel's occasional attempt to dramatize the commentary as much as possible with a pun or two.

The other is when the Fast Money panelists have to listen to a Fast Line caller, and the camera has nothing to do but move from face to listening face.

Mike Abramsky somehow got to be the star guest at the opening of Wednesday's Fast Money to discuss the "free" Apple 3G phone that moved the stock a grand amount of -0.32%.

Scott Wapner asked a weak question he already knew the answer to, "Why would they do this at the risk of margins," which prompted Abramsky to say, "It's a smart way to get people hooked."

Then Judge inexplicably took that and ran with it, adding, "You're gonna get a whooooole lot of new customers, for iTunes!"

Joe Terranova asked if Abramsky had moved his lofty $450 price target on this revelation. Abramsky said he didn't change the price target on the free 3G news because the target "already incorporated the scenario," and then in somewhat of a Brag Trade, "the Street is actually coming up to those numbers."

Tim Seymour demanded to know if other names weren't better in this space. "Aren't we really talking about Samsung, HTC, LG, even Nokia," he said.

Abramsky referred to the Android names and asserted, "there's going to be a bit of a bloodbath in those other vendors."

Steve Liesman: $75,000 income
is ‘wealthy ... relatively’ in U.S.

Steve Grasso — who was somehow labeled as being on the "Prop Desk" while taking part in Fast Money from the NYSE perch Wednesday — apparently had a powder keg of thoughts about President Barack Obama's news conference, and all it took was this description by Steve Liesman to ignite them:

"75,000 or above, I know that's not wealthy for my buddies down on the trading floor down there, but it is relatively for the United States."

Liesman actually was describing a series of surveys of "wealthier" Americans, but more on that in a moment.

A Fast Money argument gets so contentious, first (and even last) names are used — and both combatants are named Steve

So what's your definition of "wealthy"?

Steve Grasso on Wednesday's Fast Money challenged Steve Liesman not on the surveys he was revealing, but on Barack Obama's lunchtime description of the "wealthy" flying around in private jets. "Do you think it's divisive at any point Steve?" Grasso demanded.

"I think it is divisive, and if you ask me what I think the right tax policy is for the country, I think it is to raise taxes on the wealthy but also to broaden the base ..."

Actually, Grasso wasn't asking for a tax policy, and wasn't really asking a question at all, but making a point in that he thinks Liesman's linking of "wealthy" and "75,000" was the type of terminology that politicians use dubiously, and that Liesman was also employing that, whether consciously or not.

"You guys call them wealthy, I call them job creators. I think that's the problem. They're job creators, Steve Liesman and Mr. President," Grasso said, in an extremely rare last-name address that brings memories of when Bill Cowher became insulted after Cleveland coach Butch Davis referred to "Cowher" in an interview, and apparently prompted Liesman to tweak Grasso's own first name as the conversation progressed.

"OK, if you wanna make a political point, have at it," said Liesman, before asserting there's a "deficit to plug."

"Deficit to plug? 50% of people don't pay taxes," Grasso bellowed.

"I agree. Broaden the base. Broaden the base. I'm a compromiser Steve-O. What are you? ... A dogmatist?"

"We came in with a debt level at 9 trillion. He added 4 trillion to it. Is he trying to solve that problem?" Grasso responded.

"Steve-O, Steve-O, how about this," Liesman argued. "I'll give you 50 bucks for every time you mentioned the word 'deficit' under the Bush administration, over 20 say; go back and find the tapes. The money's on the table."

That's when Judge Scott Wapner stepped in — much later than Mel Lee would've, we should point out — and said this is interesting stuff that brings interesting debate. (Ya think?)

Tim Seymour gets halfway there, botches the birdie putt

Steve Grasso had no qualms about scrapping Wednesday with Steve Liesman over simple terminology.

Unfortunately, neither Grasso nor his panel was equally concerned about the surveys Liesman was describing.

Liesman said the Hart/McInturff surveys, of 806 people, or 16 per state — Here's the PDF of the survey — specifically polled "wealthy people and those with money in the market," and that the survey reflects "the attitudes of wealthy people."

But the raw survey shows that 46% of the 806 adults polled have "no money invested" in the stock market, 401(k) or otherwise.

Only 29% of the 806 reported having $50,000 or more in stocks.

So when Liesman spent ample time showing that less than 50% of those with $50,000 in stocks say it's a good time to invest, he's talking about a base of 234 people.

Tim Seymour said he basically considers sentiment surveys such as this one to be contra-indicators, because "the media has been so overly negative about all that's bad going on in the world."

Liesman acknowledged there's a contrarian element to interpreting these results.

Seymour was on the right path but didn't go far enough. He should've openly questioned the public value of doing this kind of survey at all, given its distorted view of reality (if that).

How does a member of the general public define "economy," for example. If you ask your next-door neighbor to assess the "economy," how valid is that assessment ... the neighbor's answer is going to be based on some article the neighbor read in a newspaper or some family reunion conversation about a relative or even acquaintance of a relative who's out of work and hasn't found a job yet.

Incredibly, this poll asks respondents to declare whether their home will rise in value over 12 months, stay the same, or decline ... even though no one truly knows how much "value" their home has until they actually put it on the market.

Most of the questions on this laughable survey amount to asking people who haven't seen "Transformers 3" whether "Transformers 3" is a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

While Liesman's argument was with "Steve-O" Grasso, Liesman curiously saved a dig for, of all people, Anthony Scaramucci, in reporting what Liesman sees as the general public's wariness of Wall Street. "If I'm a buy-and-hold investor, I wonder if Scaramucci is just gonna take my money," Liesman said.

"Well, the answer there is yes," cracked Jon Najarian.

When did the queen
start calling him ‘Sir’?

Doug Kass apparently thinks people are going to live longer.

Actually, no, that wasn't one of his bullish arguments for the life insurers.

Rather, Kass stressed that money that might've found the banks will find life insurers instead, largely because the "capital investment" is greater, that banks are seeing some of their profitable endeavors such as prop trading curtailed while life insurers can put more money into their more profitable endeavors; also "less regulatory intervention," and generally faring better in a rising rate environment.

Kass mentioned Met Life, Lincoln National, Prudential and Hartford.

What got our attention though was when Kass opened his remarks by saying, "I'm not as bearish as David- Sir David Rosenberg was last night."


Judge Wapner says Moynihan
called ‘No Más’

Scott Wapner claimed on Wednesday's Fast Money that in settling these mortgage-security claims, Brian Moynihan "pulled a Roberto Duran, no mas."

Guy Adami then said something on Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley that didn't seem too controversial, except that Tim Seymour and Judge Scott Wapner stoked it. "No disrespect to Credit Suisse, I mean, I think they're just trying to get their price target a little bit in line, they did the same with Morgan Stanley — I'm not really all that interested in what they had to say frankly," Adami said.

"Ouch," said Judge Wapner.

"Wow. When you say no disrespect to Credit Suisse, you mean disrespect to Credit Suisse," said Seymour.

Judge Wapner then, in a glitch a host shouldn't make, muttered something to Adami that was inaudible basically but prmopted this provocative answer, "That's a longer conversation."

Adami said the end result for him is that he finally sees GS and MS as "interesting" for the 1st time in months.

Steve Grasso said banks might do well in July but to look at coal, steel and industrials for a "bigger bang than banks."

Anthony Scaramucci does not call bank stocks the Thrillas in Manila

Anthony Scaramucci took to the Fast Line to sort of promote bank stocks on Wednesday's Fast Money, once again prompting a round of curious faces on the part of the Fast Money panelists (but no need to show another batch and blow out the memory here).

Scaramucci described the BAC settlement this way: "We're coming to the end of the 2008 trauma, and this cleanup as it relates to settlements and fines."

"The beginning of the end," Judge Wapner unnecessarily interrupted at one point.

Scaramucci complained that "there's just too much debt in the system, uh, too much debt on the economy." But nevertheless, he noted that "a lot of value guys" have been long JPM, BAC, GS for a long time and aren't abandoning ship; "they're betting that kind of reflation trade."

Judge Wapner then redeemed himself by asking, if people think these banks will ultimately do well, wouldn't now be a good time to buy with sentiment low. Scaramucci, who never got a chance to rebut Steve Liesman (see above), acknowledged that but firmly disclosed that he's been in some of those names for a long time, and that the sentiment has existed for a while.

No one on Fast Money golfs?

Scott Judge Wapner seemed less impressed with Brian Stutland's options analysis on Wednesday's Fast Money than Stutland's attire.

"Helluva knot you've got going on there, is that like a Triple-Windsor?" Wapner asked.

Jon Najarian said, "I think the euro goes higher if they toss Greece out."

Najarian also pointed to Viacom as a stock to watch, as well as CBS, but more Viacom as a play on "Transformers 3."

Homeaway chief Brian Sharples said profit and loss doesn't matter so much yet because he's already got a "tremendous business from a free-cash-flow perspective."

Sharples insisted, "We are a profitable company at the moment," and that it's not a time-share-like business.

"What we are is a marketplace. We're very similar to eBay," Sharples said. "We really don't have anything to do with the time-share industry."

Judge Wapner said Callaway Golf might be feeling the effects of Phil Mickleson's non-factor in the majors this year.

Joe Terranova then remarked, "And I don't think any of us on this desk play golf," which made us wonder if the person(s) who bid $780 to play with Judge Wapner last weekend knew that.

(Maybe with the Judge it's like Al Czervik, you know, owns the clubs, the balls, the box of naked lady tees, etc., but isn't ... "good" ...)

Judge Wapner then pulled "Diablo drivers" out of ... somewhere ... which was actually a good reference but somehow brought a laugh from Dr. J.

Curiously Judge Wapner did a Final Trade and then returned after commercial for closing remarks, after which Dr. J clapped to seal the program.

Dr. J on fire

Jon Najarian on Tuesday suggested those with an appetite for risk should look at V and MA.

He wasn't strongly endorsing it, but still a helluva call.

Steve Cortes actually thinks presidents believe the things they say in press conferences

Probably most people who saw President Barack Obama's news conference on Wednesday figured, typical political show.

Steve Cortes, on the other hand, was apparently inspired.

"I will say that I personally was thrilled to hear him talk about immigration and streamlining that process," Cortes said on a truncated Fast Money Halftime Report Wednesday. "If you wanna talk about a silver bullet that can solve so many of our problems at once, it would be more immigration, in terms of demand for housing, Social Security insolvency, and number of issues."

(Our favorite silver bullet is the Coors variety at the 19th hole, which we'll be visiting today, but that's neither here nor there.)

Cortes is merely clouding a simple point that politicians never want to discuss, which is that human societies are dependent on producing slightly more humans in the future; if you don't have enough, that's a problem, and if you have too many that you can't support, that's a problem too, but nobody's ever going to suggest a national birthrate goal because that's what Mao did.

Cortes sort of tried to dismiss the market, saying, "The tone is clearly risk on right now; I think that's all about European affairs" rather than anything Barack Obama said. But Pete Najarian said the most bullish thing about Wednesday was hearing Larry Fink say, "if the accountants would allow him, he would be 100% in equities right now."

Patty Edwards and Josh Brown were shut out of the opening segment while Cortes was asked to speak twice, although The Contrarian did make it worth it with a hilarious line, "If I can get long 1 thing right here, I think it would be tear gas."

Patty described Apple's 3G iPhone giveaway as, "It's a little bit like Gillette's strategy, give away the razors, sell the blades." Brown described it as "another kick in the ribs" for a name like Motorola.

Patty at least got to call the close but merely said "I'd be very cautious," while Brown dismissed the market as "window-dressing ... it doesn't mean anything."

Cortes said he thinks crude should test the '80s, "I think oil belongs there," but nothing about where he thinks "high-end" should be in wake of LULU's $20 gain since he dissed it.

Kate Kelly was given a curious amount of time in a tiny show to sort of restate the good and bad of BAC's settlement, saying one issue is that Brian Moynihan has "changed his posture on this a little bit."

The Strategy Session was preempted by the president's news conference Wednesday.

[Tuesday, June 28, 2011]

David Rosenberg tells Judge Wapner, ‘Give me a break’

David Rosenberg was on Fast Money Tuesday and said what he always does — that there's another recession heading our way — but this time got a little chippy with Scott Judge Wapner in the process.

After Rosenberg, who prominently cited housing and what he claimed is the lack of government options beyond QE2, said to expect a recession in the 1st half of next year, Judge cut loose.

"With your forecast, you're, you're basically saying that Ben Bernanke and, and, and his, and his, and his people on the Fed don't know what they're talking about," Wapner challenged Rosenberg.

"Not at all ... Oh, give me a break," said Rosenberg, who tried to claim the Fed was actually saying it has no idea and that there's a wide "uncertainty interval" heightened by some difference between "balance-sheet recessions" and manufacturing recessions, none of which changes the fact he's still arguing a much different view than the Fed is.

Suggesting Greece vote down austerity was ‘almost tongue in cheek’

Joe Terranova is well-familiar with David Rosenberg's cottage industry of gloom.

"This is something that you've suggested over the last couple years," Terranova told Rosenberg Tuesday, before asking what it means for the S&P 500, which Rosenberg initially tried to dodge by claiming there's already been a recession based on some of the stuff he's talking about.

Terranova is about as good with the questions as anyone on Fast Money, and he reiterated that what he really wants to know is where the S&P goes if Rosenberg's "99%" scenario is actually realized. Finally, Rosenberg revealed, "If it does happen," that stocks would fall "on average by roughly 20%, so that's the haircut that you'd be looking at."

Judge Wapner then took a late crack at Rosenberg (not that he didn't deserve it) for apparently suggesting Greece should vote down the austerity package.

"It was almost tongue-in-cheek," Rosenberg first tried to say, before curiously trying to chide European leaders for not wanting Greece to default (the horror), then suggesting that the austerity plan will hurt growth, and ultimately drawing a parallel to owing your bank $100, it's your problem, but owing your bank $1 million, it's their problem, so "why not give it a flier."

Possible translation: The problem now is as much Sarkozy's as it is Papandreou's, so why punish yourself so much when you can just let Sarkozy deal with it.

Rosenberg did make at least 1 point we found constructive, that the constant Fast Money talk about how lower oil would help the consumer sure didn't seem to help in 2008 and there's a tail-dog issue, further evidence that the energy-industrials correlation touted by Steve Cortes at Halftime is no better than the wins/time of possession correlation.

But Rosenberg remained cryptic and purposefully vague in much of his commentary, summarizing the economic outlook and the Fed's options as "I think what you see is what you get," or in other words, the government, in an election season and after 3 years of this, won't do anything more to avoid a slump.

Steve Grasso was asked to summarize the interview. "It sounds like from what he was saying, that QE3 is probably coming," Grasso said.

Gartman: Grains figure
to be near the bottom

Dennis Gartman made a welcome appearance Tuesday on the Fast Money set — as Stephen Weiss pointed out, wearing a jacket during the show — and predicted something of a bottom in select commodities.

"At this point grains have been probably sold out as much as they possibly can," Gartman said.

Gartman said everything logically about the euro tells him to short it, but "it doesn't go down on bearish news."

He also delivered what should be a patented cliche: "I've been in this business 35 years, and the only thing I can tell you about steel is, once steel starts to move, it becomes relentless. There's nothing like U.S. Steel when it gets on a roll."

Joe Terranova pays close attention, chuckling, "I'm just laughing because 3 years ago you were in the business 35 years; that doesn't change."

We do think in the early days of this site (that would be summer 2008), Gartman was actually referring to "34" years in the business.

But we could be wrong.

The steel reference occurred after Steve Grasso and Stephen Weiss carried on a mostly half-hearted non-debate over being long AKS vs. short X. "I'm not bullish on the whole space; I'm bullish on electrical steel," said Grasso, who likes the long AKS version.

Grasso at one point zinged Weiss for praising Gartman as the lone jacket-wearer of the crew. "I wish you'd put on a sweatshirt," Grasso told Weiss in assessing his shirt.

Dennis Gartman said "it's a field day for the refiners" because they can sell WTI at a Brent version gasoline-wise. He also said it's long-term healthy, refreshing even, that houses have returned to what they should be, and not silly bubble investments.

Pete: Options hopping
in cyber-security names

Pete Najarian put together a spirited performance on Tuesday's Fast Money, pointing as many Fast Money and Strategy Session people do to the SALT Conference in Vegas, in this case when Mark Fisher touted ethanol (Pete even gave the date, May 12).

Najarian mentioned Celanese, Huntsman and DuPont. "This chemical space is really moving to the upside," he said.

He said the August 20 calls in SYMC and the July 48 calls in PAY have been hot as security plays gain attention. He also admitted, in a refreshing opposite-of-Brag-Trade, that he got into C and MS thinking they were most beaten down of the big banks and due for a bounce, but they haven't worked out, and he pointed to the dividend as a big reason.

Steve Grasso said, "A lot of the averages converge at 1,316."

During another too-long discussion about Fast Money's Favorite Stock (or maybe 2nd favorite, after JPMorgan), Stpehen Weiss outlined the MSFT headwind. "The biggest move will come when Ballmer steps down, and nobody really sees that happening, except for maybe Einhorn."

Chart guy Jeff DeGraaf suggested inefficient markets regarding Italy can work to your advantage. "We actually think there's still some opportunity as far as mispriced bonds and mispriced equities given their debt-to-GDP ratios," DeGraaf said.

Jing Ulrich, from Toronto, was given a couple minutes at the end of the program to argue with Judge Scott Wapner's feisty questions about Chinese analysts being all over the map. Ulrich said the Chinese stock market is pricing in a hard landing that won't happen, that inflation will peak in the 2nd half, and the government will begin to relax a bit, creating a bullish scenario.

Judge Wapner said at the end of Tuesday's show that coming up on Jim Cramer's Mad Money, Aubrey McClendon "fires back against the New York Times' accusations," when in fact the New York Times didn't accuse Aubrey McClendon of anything, and Jim Cramer actually defended the reporting.

Women’s bathroom empty
at Rush concert

A couple weeks ago, this page incorrectly speculated that Fast Money's Joe Terranova might be a fan of Rush.

One female blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle finds, in a strange post actually, that there was nobody in the women's restroom during a recent Rush concert while the lines for the men's rooms were long, apparently a sign that Rush doesn't have many female fans.

It's basically classic/hard rock, however artsy on occasion, so it would figure that Rush has more male fans than female. It's also a sign that not everyone can be U2.

How do Steve Cortes and Liz Dunn rationalize that LULU call?

The Contrarian Steve Cortes, a welcome presence always on the Fast Money Halftime Report, seemed to be grasping for a trade that actually made sense on Tuesday.

Cortes claimed that a company such as Siemens, "they actually want higher energy" because the industrials have traded upward with energy. (Which sounds a little to us like saying they want higher time of possession, even though it's an effect of a good game and not a cause, but whatever.)

But what Cortes really stressed was that Siemens' "warning is material" about problems not in some niche industry like renewables (which may be bigger than a niche, not sure), but mighty Deutschland itself.

Judge Scott Wapner tried to point out a couple times in vain, to Cortes and Tim Seymour, that maybe people shouldn't take Siemens forecasts so seriously because "they raised their forecasts 7 weeks ago and the comments from the CEO were overly bullish."

"Not from the CFO," was Cortes' ridiculous answer.

Meanwhile, the market waits for the downfall of the "high-end," as Lululemon surges $20 since Steve Cortes' potential-short rationalization just a month ago.

Wait’ll the consumer spends money on ‘Transformers 3’

Patty Edwards certainly appears to have her hand on the pulse of America's consumer.

So much so, she evidently detects changes in blood pressure daily.

"I think you are seeing a consumer that is feeling a little bit better off than they were last week," Edwards curiously said on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Edwards recommended middle-income retailers and restaurant stocks.

Steve Cortes doubted we "are anywhere close to a bottom" in housing but saw strength in PEET and SBUX.

Jon Najarian, whom Judge Wapner is now calling "Dr. Evil," suggested PNC as a banking play to possibly get long, as well as V and MA for those with a heavier risk appetite. Dr. J also reported a "very fast accumulation of calls" in PTEN.

To his credit, Najarian did not say that repulsive can-kicking cliche, but said Greece looks likely to "push that problem out several years."

Tim Seymour found himself in a mild donnybrook with an edgy Judge but insisted, "the ECB cannot be aggressive on raising rates here."

Colin Gillis didn't seem blown away by the report of 500,000 Android devices activated daily; "this is not profit right, it's just activation," said Gillis, asserting that Apple is the best of them at actually capturing profits.

Jon Najarian had a reference to Pfizer and said, "Scaramucci's smiling someplace."

Judge Wapner zings Patty
over Vancouver hockey mayhem

We were wondering a month ago if hockey was ever going to surface as a Fast Money topic.

On Tuesday's Halftime Report, it finally did — courtesy of Scott Judge Wapner, who was edgily pushing everyone's buttons all day, including Patty Edwards'.

Edwards said MSFT doesn't get the Wayne Gretzky advice of, "You skate to where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is."

Judge Wapner then followed, "Nice hockey reference there, I'm glad to see you're uh, you're not still bitter and turning over cars in the wake of the Canucks' loss."

"Yeah yeah yeah yeah; move along," Edwards said.

The whole exchange might've gotten Edwards so discombobulated as to later identify LNKD as "It's trading at only 16,750 times next year's earnings, what's not to love?," but then we tried looking up its P.E. in a few places and figured that number's actually probably in the ballpark.

Judge Wapner earlier barely let Patty finish a sentence about banking picks, after Edwards started to say, "If you wanna play in the financial industry there are places you can go," and demanding "Where?!!," before Edwards said "something like a US Bank" or Northern Trust.

For whatever reason, the Judge gave Steve Cortes a total pass on everything, even that bone-headed, anti-high-end call on LULU that if he was extremely nimble might've made a couple dollars in a couple days' flip but more likely is one of the most disastrous Fast Money calls of the spring. More on Judge Wapner and the Halftime and 5 p.m. Fast Money later.

By the end of the conversation, we were expecting someone to say, ‘Do I hear 60?’

Kate Kelly delivered another IPO scoop on Tuesday's Strategy Session, reporting, "I'm hearing that Zynga is planning to file its IPO registration documents with the SEC as early as tomorrow," at a valuation possibly from $15-$20 billion.

Kelly said Morgan Stanley has the lead, and GS the secondary, with BAC, Barclay's and JPMorgan getting a taste.

Kelly said questions will be raised as to whether Zynga is too tied to Facebook, and why it's aiming to raise debt and equity at the same time.

David Faber added up market cap of Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard and noted Zynga, if it were to reach a possible $20 billion market cap, would be the same cap as the former 2 put together.

Kelly took that even further, saying, "One person I was chatting with yesterday says they see themselves as an even more expensive company, perhaps in the neighborhood of $40 billion."

Kelly said that for the issuers, "Morgan Stanley from what I'm told is really the tech franchise to beat these days."

Gary Kaminsky questioned, "Why if the company is cash-flow positive and making money, would they be trying to do a debt offering as well." David Faber said it's "reminiscent" of 1999.

Remember Brian Moynihan’s 30,000-share buy at $13 in August 2010?

Gary Kaminsky did a segment on Tuesday's Strategy Session he called "Other People's Money," in which he noted that insider buying as a percentage of overall company buybacks is declining.

Kaminsky said he used to ask money managers if they were cooking their own groceries, and sometimes, they were actually surprised that he even cared about that.

Kaminsky questioned why investors would want someone directing their money into positions that the manager himself isn't in, and then said that when companies make buybacks a strategy for hitting numbers (such as IBM), the Street sees through that.

"Corporate buybacks is not a reason ever to go out and buy a stock," Kaminsky said.

David Faber tried to downplay the emphasis on the importance of insider buying, saying, "We should make the point, I mean, there do seem to be some insiders who are particularly good at making their purchases, and others who are as clueless as anybody else out there." (Yep ... remember when Tim Seymour and Joe Terranova recommended BAC last August on that rationale?)

Kaminsky also told an anecdote from his 2007 Greece trip, saying he encountered a cabbie who gushed about the nation's great health care system. "That was the culture there," Kaminsky said, and if people aren't careful, "this is what's really gonna happen here," but maybe U.S. politicians are seeing what's happening there and will figure it out.

Careful coming to market just when NFL training camps (are supposed to) open

LBO expert Larry Wieseneck didn't have a whole lot of earth-shattering news on Tuesday's Strategy Session but said companies should be wary of Washington wrangling.

"Probably not the best time to come to market is the 4th week of July or 1st week of August," he said.

He predicted (when have you not heard this on The Strategy Session for a while?) the pace of LBO activity would pick up in the 2nd half and told David Faber that the 2-year gains in the stock market might've put some deals out of reach for certain buyers.

Gary Kaminsky asked Wieseneck about Yankee bonds. Wieseneck said they've grown as a percentage fo the market from 37% in 2009 to 47% now.

David Faber said some people might be overthinking recent problems, but then on the other hand suggested it's not a bad thing if people vividly recall past troubles. "Seems like everybody wants to replay '08 for some reason even though it's not necessarily analogous to the current time period," Faber said.

[Monday, June 27, 2011]

Judge Wapner’s finest hour

Tony Crescenzi is generally a friend of Fast Money, although Monday, he almost veered a bit toward snarky-land.

Basically Crescenzi didn't want to discuss — at all — Pimco's public statements on Treasurys, which of course haven't been quite the most accurate for a few months.

He downplayed Stephen Weiss' excellent question about whether Pimco is jumping back into Treasurys in a big way, saying Weiss' data "essentially are snapshots" and perhaps implying there could be some window-dressing (evidently the term of the day) going on. "How they look on a particular day, who knows ... we're not as interested in owning Treasurys now," Crescenzi said.

Weiss persisted with the same question, saying holdings reportedly went from 4% to 5%, which would be a 25% move, and seem to signal a return to a more bullish view.

"It's great what people can do with numbers," Crescenzi scoffed. "These are very tiny changes you could imagine," he insisted, then again using the term "snapshots."

That's when Judge Scott Wapner jumped in, his best moment as a Fast Money host, cutting in to Crescenzi's non-answer and telling him, "Stephen's being nice ... I think the fact of the matter is that you guys have been on the wrong side of the Treasury trade over the last several months." Wapner asked why Pimco is getting it right this time.

Crescenzi first said "the end of QE2," then the notion that "you're getting your pocket picked" in terms of purchasing power.

Judge then impressively pressed Crescenzi to affirm Bill Gross' comments, which Crescenzi answered curiously as a case of Gross being "the decider" just like the U.S. president, and "what the president says, goes."

So ... Wapner gave his colleague ample opportunity to pursue a good line of questioning, backed up his colleague with an even better-phrased question, and concluded with some punch — all very fair to Crescenzi.

Crescenzi, who spoke in front of a background that looked like a huge map of the world in which every land mass and body of water was named "Pimco," said it's "much too soon to say if risk is back on." Tim Seymour also asked a good question, whether the Fed has pushed Treasury buyers out and whether those buyers will make up for the Fed's departure. Crescenzi sort of downplayed that, saying, "Make no mistake, when Daddy Warbucks, Ben Bernanke, leaves the store, you'd think on balance, it would have impact."

Crescenzi also wasn't too impressed by whatever "bridges" Greece is building to get out of this mess, saying, "These are bridges to nowhere."

If the article is idiotic, what does Aubrey McClendon have to fear?

While he did basically put together a stellar Monday program, Judge Wapner could've used a bit of nuance in the 2 Fast Money segments about the New York Times nat gas story.

Wapner asked Nick Pope, "Fact or fiction, the New York Times story."

There's a big — big — difference between the story being fiction and the comments in a story being wrong.

The Times isn't saying that natural gas shale drilling is a bust.

The Times is saying that some people who advise the government have been saying that for several years.

Given the documents released, there is no doubt the latter is true.

We went through it paragraph by paragraph — the version online — and can't find anything objectionable in terms of reporting, though it's worth noting not every skeptical comment is dated, and the Times apparently did not contact CEOs but limited the article to those directly connected to the government.

The article explains that the outlook accepted by the government on some level has been formulated to some extent by the energy industry. That does not mean the industry is wrong, but that the government is relying in part on estimates from people who do better when the estimates are high.

There's another factor the Times did not mention, which is that every company executive in every industry always makes the rosiest case for his company. How about Erin Callan in 2008. Maybe during 2007-08 you actually heard Dylan Ratigan quoting a homebuilder as saying the market "sucks," but that's a once-in-a-lifetime moment of negativity (and of course was nevertheless overly rosy; the correct term at the time was "armageddon").

See, human beings claim to believe nothing is more important than education, yet it's really their own sensitivities that they care more about than actually learning things, and those sensitivities are actually the biggest drawbacks in fact to learning something.

For example, note how quickly CHK CEO Aubrey McClendon posted a defensive complaint about the Times article.

If the article is so "obviously" "inaccurate and misleading," surely the policymakers with expertise in this field can figure that out on their own without requiring a post on the Chesapeake Web site, from a guy who arranged for his company to buy his map collection, to help them see the light?

In fact, John Carney's CNBC.com NetNet even has an interview with a Dallas Federal Reserve advisory council member who finds "sleight of hand" in the balance sheets of shale companies.

What's amusing is that several experts paraded onto CNBC on Monday to decry the New York Times article, including a Strategy Session guest who complained the "article" was somehow "misleading," when it wasn't too long ago that Jon Stewart was publicly roasting Jim Cramer for CNBC's purported Dow-cheering and lack of ability/willingness in foreseeing the housing/credit collapse.

Anyway, Pope, to his credit, defended the industry without slamming the story, saying the bottom line is that "Natural gas production is up 30% in the last 10 years." Karen Finerman, as she always does, pressed Pope for the variable cost of drilling for every next btu (or whatever the measurement is), and Pope finally said, "$1 to $1.50 once the well is drilled."

Stephen Weiss, spot-on all day Monday, asked a great question, that if the wells weren't so great, wouldn't that be a positive for nat gas pricing. "It would be hugely positive for natural gas," Pope conceded.

Tim Seymour also asked a good question about, article aside, what will make the price of natural gas break out. Pope admitted there hasn't been much change to the demand side (which actually was an element of the Times article that wasn't well-developed, that there are calls from investors such as T. Boone Pickens to adopt a gas-everything policy and it hasn't happened).

Pope said he likes SM Energy (SM), because it's in a "really good spot."

‘Completely misleading,’
except for 1 thing

Nick Pope wasn't alone in defending the natural gas industry on Monday's Fast Money.

EOG boss Mark Papa told Judge Wapner, "In my opinion Scott the article is completely misleading," except he admitted the observation about profit margins at current levels being low — which was an important component of the e-mails cited by the Times, suggesting many drilling operations are financially unviable — sounds accurate.

The Judge unfortunately never asked how an article revealing what e-mails said is somehow "completely misleading." But to his credit, he asked if the margin issue wasn't important.

"It is certainly in that context," Papa admitted.

But then Papa and Wapner both changed the subject to a natural resource that's more on Papa's side politically.

"The same concept applies to oil," Papa said, defending shale drilling. "You're gonna see a dramatic increase in total U.S. oil production due to the same technology that has worked for natural gas."

Papa continued, "In the U.S. today, we produce 5½ million barrels of oil a day. Total. that's the whole country." He thinks the sideways drilling (didn't we already do that in "There Will Be Blood"?) will boost U.S. oil production "by about 1½ million barrels a day by 2015."

But the article, Papa said, was "directionally I think very incorrect relating to gas."


Or in other words, instead of compiling actual reporting on a specific issue — government estimates of gas production — the Times should've instead just picked up the phone and dialed Aubrey and put a -30- on it.

Tim Seymour gave Papa props on margins. "I think he handled the question very well," Seymour said. Oddly enough, the names Papa and Pope are essentially spelling variations of the same concept.

Scott Nations picks Zune, rather than suggesting a new YHOO bid

Richard Bernstein visited the Fast Money set Monday to play contrarian.

"The emerging markets are almost the exact opposite of the United States," Bernstein asserted, saying there's a "total disconnect" between investors' faith in EM vs. the actual performance, making the U.S. much better by comparison.

Zachary Karabell wasn't available to disagree, but Bernstein argued the market is wrongly assuming better than a soft landing. "I would argue right now the valuations don't even suggest landing; people still think they're OK," he said.

Amelia Bourdeau, who looks good on TV and might have a significant other in the currency field, said, "I personally am a seller of euro on rallies as opposed to a buyer on dips," but the euro's in the middle of her range now, so her trade is short Aussie/yen.

Joe Terranova pointed to consumer discretionary a couple of times, mentiongin Saks, Nordstrom and "Chipolte (sic, that's how he pronounced it) Grill."

Scott Nations got some airtime Monday, dissing MSFT ("I don't see where, where this does that, uh, a whole lot for the stock unless they're gonna refresh the Zune") and saying expectations for NKE were rock-bottom. "The option activity today in Nike was horrible; you'd think it was headed to zero," he said.

Guy Adami revealed on Twitter he had a hankering recently for "Cars" by Gary Numan, another one to add to our Fast Money music list.

If you don’t know what Karen’s talking about, see Gary’s definition below

Karen Finerman got the first question about the market rally on Monday's Judge-Wapner-hosted Fast Money.

"I think it's the start of some big window-dressing, perhaps," said Finerman. "That can make for a very big move in the next 3 days."

"I'm still not sure, Karen," said Tim Seymour, whose newly slightly-combed-forward hairstyle looked almost borderline Richie Cunningham.

Ilczyszyn: $115 looks like
WTI high for the year

Rich Ilczyszyn suggested on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that if you're bummed out a bit by lower commodity prices, take a cue from Bobby McFerrin.

"We're taking a little bit of a respite," Ilczyszyn said, "but hold on, I think this is gonna create some great opportunities for those of you who missed the beginning part of the year ... Right short-term, uh, right here, I'm actually a little bit bearish, uh, crude oil, as well as gold, silver and things, but I think you've got some big key levels to trade against."

We'd have to interpret that to mean, if you want to be long, just wait a bit.

The Ilchmeister called the SPR release "a non-event for me," even a "sideshow," in the oil scene, but said there is a "good support between 85 and 80" for 60 days.

Finally he said oil traders would "probably not" want to be short going into the July 4 weekend, but that barring a disaster of some kind, "You've probably seen the high in oil, in WTI, at 115 for the remainder of the year."

Steve Grasso concurred about the July 4 weekend. "You have to err on the side of being long oil vs. short," Grasso said.

What’s worse: Hearing an IPO expert say this isn’t like 1999, or a Greece watcher talk about kicking the can down the road?

Marc Chandler told Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report not to expect a quick Greece collapse.

"I think that they're gonna kick the can down the road," Chandler said.

Moments later, Brian Kelly added, "You can buy FXE, I like it here, they're gonna kick the can down the road."

(We notice some people claim from time to time to keep the volume on CNBC off, and now you know why.)

Scott Judge Wapner, who offered no details about his Saturday golf score (remember, the Van Dyck event was rain or shine), opened by asking Chandler if the euro can sustain a rally. "As soon as you said it, I think it's just about over," said Chandler, who later added, "We're still probably, maybe a couple years away from a Greek default."

Who needs Investopedia?

In a Fast Money Halftime Report Monday that is best decribed as flat, Brian Kelly, like Gary Kaminsky early on The Strategy Session, did a definition distinction between "good inflation" and "bad inflation."

"Good inflation is anything that benefits your corporate spending, gets the economy going," Kelly said.

Hmmm. Rather than that mumbo jumbo, it kinda sounds like it means when you charge more for your own products, but everyone else charges less for theirs.

Maybe that one rankled Judge Scott Wapner, who proceeded to mercilessly interrupt Kelly moments later as to why MSFT can be useful.

Pete Najarian revealed "I'm a happy owner today" of Microsoft but not with a whole lot of exhilaration, pointing instead to names such as Altera, Xilinx and Intel.

Steve Grasso revealed the latest line, not the NFL point spread, but the S&P 500 level: "1,263, 1,264 — that's the one I'm looking at," he said, as well as the ever-popular flat on the year.

Moshe Orenbuch said whatever bank regulation happened means there's no need to go out and immediately raise capital.

Judge Wapner did some goofy pairing of the Najarian brothers on split screen which prompted an even goofier hands-over-face gesture from No. 386 (we think top hand signifies baldness, bottom hand goatee). Dr. J, who isn't in the NFL Hall of Fame, nevertheless had a sweet NFL Hall of Fame-like jacket. Pete Najarian said July 49 calls in DTV are hopping after the Barron's story saying it's king of Latin America, which means Ecuadoreans will probably soon be complaining about murky contract extensions they didn't know about.

Evaluating the context
of Dan Cummings’ comments

On Monday's Strategy Session, you had to strip away the speech formalities of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Dan Cummings to figure out the remarkably simple things he was actually saying, other than the tech IPO refrain (maybe a few buyers are overzealous but it's not 1999) that's been heard about a dozen times on The Strategy Session in recent months.

For example, Gary Kaminsky asked Cummings what makes a good 1st day for an IPO.

"Not to be sarcastic but everyone needs to be a little bit ticked off," Cummings said. "The people that sold need to feel like maybe they got a little less than they had hoped. And the people that bought, they probably didn't get allocated as much as they wanted, but the stock has done well. The objective is not to have 5 years of price appreciation in 1 day."

Hmmm. Sounds like all he meant was, "Closes above IPO price, moves steadily higher."

Then there was the question from Kate Kelly about whether it's "silly season" in IPO land.

"I think it's a fair concern," said Cummings, adding, "It's very difficult to value a company based on psychology and momentum."

But then he went on to stress the word "context" 3 times, saying, "I don't know that we have the context in which that's being evaluated."

"What does that mean," David Faber correctly asked.

Rather than saying "People are dying to buy Facebook shares and most can't do it yet," Cummings pointed to Facebook's potential $100 billion IPO and recently estimated $50 billion valuation, which of course is set/estimated through private placements that only a few select folks can bid on, and questioned, "what would enable a company to double its value in 6 months ... Everyone knows a lot about numbers but not as much about value."

Translation: People can add and subtract, but nobody knows what OpenTable will trade at in 6 months, so they're erring on the high side.

Kelly also asked Cummings if the "secret sauce" of OpenTable's IPO with a low float will be the model for upcoming tech IPOs. Cummings first pointed out the economy then was "coming out of a recession," accounting in part for the low float, but also that the issuers don't really need the cash. "It's people that want to avoid dilution at the time of sale ... less about a tactic to constrain supply, it's more about actually finding the right answer to capitalize the company and let it begin its public life."

Finding the "right answer" to "begin its public life."

Cummings said the difference between now and 1999 is that companies are staying private for 10-11 years and achieving profitability, rather than going public at year 3 or 4. In some recent hot IPOs, he suggested, "People are paying for what they think companies are worth in 2015, not necessarily 2011."

Darren Horowitz is maybe overly prepared for Strategy Session appearance

While Dan Cummings was employing flowery generalities on Monday's Strategy Session, Yield Hunter Darren Horowitz of Raymond James was speaking in 3's.

First Horowitz complained about the New York Times story on natural gas. "I think that the article was very misleading. I think a lot of what was in the article was unfounded," he said before identifying 3 reasons: 1) That 25% comes from the "big 5" shales; "a lot of these wells have been online 20 or 30 years," 2) that the wells have gotten multibillion-dollar investments from integrateds, and 3) they use "best accounting practices."

Horowitz also offered 3 reasons why he likes Enterprise Products (EPD) and Williams Partners (WPZ): 1) you want the most vertically integrated companies; 2) low cost of capital; 3) flexible balance sheet.

Gary Kaminsky defines

David Faber asked Gary Kaminsky on Monday's Strategy session to define "window-dressing."

"It's very simple," Kaminsky said. "Those that manage money David are paid based on what the assets under management are at the end of the quarter. So if you pull back a couple of your sell orders, you buy up a couple of things because you don't want those stocks, which create the value, to be lower at the end of the quarter, uh, it's what is typically known as window-dressing, trying to make the performance what's been as I said a bad quarter look somewhat better. And, uh, you basically take away a bunch of your sell orders, maybe bring 'em out to next week if there's a position you're trying to lighten up in, that's what we call window-dressing. Good explanation?"

"I like that, thank you. Every so often I need updates too," Faber said.

Sports business expert Sal Galatioto actually referred to Clubber Lang in "Rocky III" regarding the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I think there's gonna be a lot of pain in this bankruptcy."

That prompted David Faber to reference Mike Tyson's everyone's-got-a-plan-till-they-get-punched-in-the-face line.

Galatioto said the team remains valuable and won't be picked up on the cheap in bankruptcy partly because of the looming Fox deal because Fox lost the Lakers and can't afford to lose the Dodgers.

Gary Kaminsky asked Galatioto if David Einhorn will be watching this and maybe step back a bit from the Mets. Galatioto said no, that Einhorn has a "pretty clear path to control."

Strategy Session guest gets
chance at congressional seat

Just a few days ago, Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall was on The Strategy Session complaining about Meredith Whitney.

Saturday, she was nominated for a seat in Congress by a Democratic Party central committee in a vote that went 117-5-0, which sounds like a 4-season UCLA record during the Coach Wooden years.

Evidently this district's voters aren't as plugged into Wall Street as readers of this page are. Rather than declare a Whitney takedown, this was the best Marshall could do, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "When asked why conservatives from a rural area such as White Pine County should support her, Marshall said she found $16,000 that helped schools there hire an additional custodian."

When was the last time Guy Adami talked about gold falling $100, $150 in a day?

It hasn't happened yet with Dennis Gartman, but occasionally, people get tired of their own cliches.

Either that, or they just give up.

It started to occur to us over the weekend that it's been a while since we've heard Guy Adami explaining something along the lines of, "I've traded gold before; I've seen those days when it can go down $100."

So we checked our (unofficial) archives, and discovered the last time we noted Adami making this reference was Jan. 20.

It's also worth noting that on Feb. 3, Adami challenged Newmont CEO Richard O'Brien's bullish outlook and suggested the company might wish it really was hedged at $1,300; "God forbid it goes south of a thousand," Adami said.

After that, he became engrossed in silver's "parabolic" move.

Doug Kass predicted on the Jan. 21 Fast Money that gold will fall 26% in 2011.

Judge Wapner tees off Saturday in Dave Van Dyck outing

We never pass up a golf story.

Saturday is the day — rain or shine, the description says — for Judge Scott Wapner's appearance in the Dave Van Dyck charity outing.

Unfortunately, it's possible Judge has low expectations, as the description says, "It is not really about playing good golf. It is about having a good time." (Those two, um, aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, as anyone who witnessed the CNBCfix club throw the other day knows.)

If we hear about scores, we'll pass them along.

Further updates as developments warrant.

Worst Fast Money analyst call in recent memory: Liz Dunn

If you've ever been skeptical of the free advice you hear from stock analysts on CNBC, consider Liz Dunn's May 26 appearance on Fast Money as lending credence to that notion.

Dunn that day upgraded AEO to outperform, upgraded ARO to market perform, and downgraded LULU to underperform.

Now, what's happened to those prices, according to Yahoo finance ...

AEO closed May 25 at $13.02, closed Friday at $12.59

ARO closed May 25 at $18.35, closed Friday at $17.15

LULU closed May 25 at $97.58, closed Friday at $104.38

Had you bought AEO and ARO the night before Dunn's call, at best, you would've collected a tiny profit, and only if you'd flipped in the next couple of days.

More interesting is that Dunn's call was credited with taking LULU down a whole $6 on May 26, which seems little more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. Steve Cortes even piled into that, saying the "Lululemon party is ending; high-priced apparel is not gonna last," and "it's a name I'm looking to short."

Dunn was telling people to get out of a stock that had previously closed at $97. A month later, those shares were up $9.

So basically, all Dunn accomplished was chasing her clients out of a stock that was moving higher, and putting them into stocks that were going lower; anyone making these trades is 0 for 3. Equally embarrassing, the Fast Money "Contrarian" was all aboard Dunn's advice, when Dunn's advice is what should've been contrarianized.

[Friday, June 24, 2011]

Stephen Weiss: Stocks like the ‘soldiers in Civil War movies’

Perhaps they should've just canceled Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report and shown a "Marijuana Inc." rerun instead.

The show was crystallized (that's a lofty-sounding term) by Judge Scott Wapner's sentiments of "Who the hell can go long; who would go long in this market given anything that can happen over the weekend."

"I just don't see any leadership that's ready to emerge," complained Stephen Weiss. "It's like the row of soldiers that you see in Civil War movies."

One of the rare actual suggestions came from Patty Edwards, who, understandably, given the lack of stock calls on the program, felt compelled to ask herself her own questions. "Would I buy Dell right now? Absolutely not. Would I buy Oracle? Yes I would," Edwards said.

Edwards, unlike her colleagues, had other suggestions too. "Utilities look good here, and amazingly enough, some of the consumer names still continue to work," Edwards said. But even Patty complained about Spain CDSes widening out to January levels.

Judge Wapner, who spent much of the program complaining about how bad the environment for stocks is, pointed to "inventory accumulation" and said "that makes me nervous for chips in general across the whole space."

Steve Grasso said "we killed a lot of traders that were betting on the market going lower," and complimented Judge Wapner a couple times early for what this is all about, one of them being, "it's about $90" oil.

Buy the Singapore dollar

Daniel Fisher, who still hasn't worked out that video-hookup time delay from his home office, said on Friday's Halftime Report, "Spreads are moving from backwardation to contango in the Brent market, and it doesn't look like they're stopping anytime soon."

He said the SPR move isn't a permanent cap by any means on the oil market but he said the way to play it is short the near-term contracts and play the long-term ones. He prediced a "strong, strong rebound to the upside" once the dust settles.

No. 386's contribution to the oil conversation was, "I would say double down on Dan (Dicker)."

Rebecca Patterson (see, it was such an anemic show Friday that we're resorting to listing the Money in Motion trade) explained that the euro is difficult to trade because "it is just so whippy." She likes Singapore dollar vs. the U.S. dollar.

At least there was ample time for Call the Close and Patty Edwards once again got a chance. Stephen Weiss said the market goes lower; Steve Grasso said higher; Patty Edwards said to look at OIH as a way to buy the drillers on a bounce without guessing at an individual name, and Pete Najarian said to make sure you got protection.

Grasso, to his credit, asked Wapner at one point, "Are you sitting on a pincushion today Judge?"

We were wondering where Pete Najarian picked up that fuchsia shirt. But we've gotta give props to the Judgemeister, whose charcoal suit/navy tie outdid Bill Griffeth on Friday and was probably the network's best of the week. Those who want a longer look can apparently catch Wapner guest-hosting Options Action and Money in Motion Friday.

Maybe this is why
bank stocks suck

A member of the CNBCfix community reported a hilarious little anecdote this week that's worth sharing, and not just because Patty Edwards coincidentally revealed her own "appalling" experience with a Chase outlet.

This CNBCfixer's got a relative with some, uh, let's call it "legal trouble," and of course the relative as he's done before is going to tap the enabler spigot for a donation to get out of the county lockup, and the CNBCfixer obliged as he always does ("Well, it's not because of him, but he's got a bunch of kids, and when there's kids involved ... I wouldn't help him, but it's his kids ...").

Anyway, so this benefactor goes to the bank to make a wire transfer. He sits down with an associate and says he needs to send money to Tulsa. The associate asks, "Tulsa Arizona?"

Keep in mind that this was not a front-line teller (and by the way, many tellers are superb, very knowledgeable and helpful), but someone above that rank with an office where you sit down and talk about things over a table.

We should probably name the bank, but we'll just let that one pass.

If Meredith is right, why is she afraid to go on air and tell the Nevada treasurer?

David Faber on Friday's Strategy Session introduced Nevada treasurer Kate Marshall, who wanted to rebut Meredith Whitney's assessment of The Silver State's (bet you didn't know that's the nickname) debt obligations.

Faber ran a clip of Whitney's recent borderline-Brigitte-Nielsen-in-Rocky-IV-hairstyle commentary on Squawk Box, but then said TSS called Whitney for this interview, but "she didn't really want to comment for this particular report."

Marshall asserted, "In terms of our debt, I have 11-month reserve. That is to say if I collected no money, not a nickel, for the next 11 months, I could pay the state's debts. No problems."

Specifically, Marshall implied Whitney misunderstood a Pew report on pension obligations in which, Marshall said, the state of Nevada is only 1 of 180 employers in the plan and state employees pay half, and that Nevada's obligation is only 1/16th.

"It would be nice if she did a little homework, uh, drill down a little bit into what those numbers are," Marshall said.

"That may be where the math is off," David Faber said, which sort of implies Whitney is wrong, although he didn't actually say whose math is "off."

"I think she mixed apples and oranges there," Marshall said.

Marshall felt compelled to pile it on, saying at one point, "I can't speak for Miss (sic) Whitney, that's for sure, um, I kinda wish she'd pronounce Nevada right." Even funnier is that David Faber also pronounced it "Na-vod-a" twice in his intro.

Faber pointed out that The Strategy Session gang was recently in Vegas, for SALT of course, and we'd add that so was some of the Fast Money gang, and Guy Adami missed a chance to go to Jack in the Box.

Jefferies still yet to fix background noise problem

Kevin Lockhart of Jefferies returned to The Strategy Session on Friday.

And just like when Lockhart appeared March 16, he could barely be heard over some kind of din in which other guys were apparently having a phone conversation on the same signal.

It might've been blameable on CNBC, except there was no such din when Gary Kaminsky and David Faber spoke in the studio.

So, Jefferies needs to call tech support and get this straightened out before viewers overhear someone say "Yeah, just talked to Rajaratnam, I just put in an order for 10,000 ..."

Lockhart spoke about high-yield fund outflows and noted "investors are being cautious."

Gary Kaminsky said high-yield "typically leads" equities, and "if this is a sustainable outflow of funds out of the high-yield market, you gotta expect the same's gonna happen with the equity markets."

Vote of confidence
for French banks

Gary Kaminsky spoke early on Friday's Strategy Session about the Greece fallout for European banks, saying the market-cap losses recently have been "very significant."

While acknowledging with David Faber that Greece is a small spoke in the wheel, Kaminsky cautioned that he recalls 2007-'08, "when these things start to feed on themselves."

"Sometimes I come down to set here and I feel a little bit like 'Groundhog Day'," Kaminsky said.

Kate Kelly, in chipper new hairstyle, visited the set late to discuss whether money market funds are safely distanced from Greek contagion. Kelly said some funds have some French paper, but apparently they're not concerned, because according to Kelly, "Some think that the French banks are less likely to fail than those in the U.S."

Gary Kaminsky chimed in, "There is nothing — nothing worse in this industry of financial services than having a money market mutual fund potentially break a buck."

Kelly concluded, "I think this is a case where you can probably make an argument that some of the financial regulations put in place after the crisis have worked reasonably well so far."

[Thursday, June 23, 2011]

Mandy reveals why politicians
hold fundraisers

It wasn't until the very tiny end of Thursday's Fast Money that viewers got their greatest treat — Mandy on the sidewalk in Manhattan with oversized hoop earrings (had we expected that, we would've made it a contest for Fast Money Fashion of the Day, but Patty Edwards still would've won with a variation of the "badass" suit that Pam Grier looked so good in at the end of "Jackie Brown.")

We wouldn't be interested in this story in the slightest, and no one should be interested at all except maybe a few folks from Obama 2012, except for the fact that one Mr. C. Gasparino has seemed unfathomably obsessed with this topic recently, as if anyone should care about which political dinners Brian Moynihan is attending a year before an election (if ever).

Mandy explained, "Obviously the whole idea is to get your money."

Karen’s ‘Slow Money’ pick
jumps 6% in 2 hours

If you missed the last 5 minutes of Thursday's Fast Money, you missed a lot of the good stuff.

It wasn't till practically the very end of Thursday's Fast Money that Karen Finerman revealed an interesting "slow money" pick, Navios Maritime (NM).

Day rates, Finerman said, have "absolutely collapsed. But they have stabilized. ... I don't think there's a lot of downside left, and I think you can get some very meaningful upside."

Finerman added, "They have a lot of their capacity already contracted out; it doesn't matter what day-rates are." She concluded that you get "just under a 5% dividend yield while you wait."

As soon as Karen spoke about NM, according to Google finance afterhours trading charts, NM jumped 3.6%, and by the end of the session was up a solid 6%.

Joe Terranova didn't get any such results with HAS, nor did Mike Khouw with his bearish CLX opinion.

We still think the marketing folks need a sexier term than ‘consumer discretionary’

Joe Terranova evidently feels good about his AAPL theory.

Otherwise, he wouldn't have brought it up again, on Thursday's Fast Money, in between tandem skeptics Karen Finerman and Tim Seymour.

Apple, according to Terranova, is "the ultimate consumer discretionary play," and thus is sensitive to gas prices.

"I don't get that actually," argued Finerman. "I like Apple. I don't get it, I just feel like Apple, the Apple story isn't for, the Apple products aren't for ones who are so sensitive to oil prices, like a Target customer maybe."

The Liquidator calmly responded, "For a nominal move in oil prices, yes, I would agree with you," although 1) we're not exactly sure what a "nominal" move in oil prices would be, and why a non-nominal move would affect AAPL more than a nominal move, but whatever.

"Go back to February," Terranova continued. "Think about where Apple was when it was making those highs around 360, where was the price of oil. Once the price of oil shot from 85 to 100 in a matter of 3 days, that was the top for Apple."

We looked that up and discovered Terranova's correct about oil and semi-correct on AAPL; WTI actually went up $9 in 1 day, from $86 to $95, on Feb. 21, and reached $100 on an intraday basis in 3 days.

AAPL traded $363 on Feb. 16 (per Google finance), fell to $350 over the next 2 days before the oil jump, then after a 3-day weekend fell to $338 on the oil spike, but within about 10 days was back up to $360 as oil strengthened.

Seymour, in a rarity, remained silent for this one.

Terranova: SPR move is QE2½

Joe Terranova not only was willing to spar with Karen Finerman and Tim Seymour over AAPL, but also over the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Terranova asserted, "Clearly, everyone knew that this was coming," which was a little different than what Mark Fisher said earlier on The Strategy Session. Terranova also said Ben Bernanke had "full knowledge" this was coming.

Then Terranova said this is one of Bernanke's "unconventional tools" to help the economy.

Finerman, though, saw it as a "concerted worldwide effort ... fleeting element ... I don't see it as having long-range implications."

Seymour seemed to disagree with Finerman on the "worldwide" part, saying "the U.S. owns the IEA," though not literally.

Terranova then said he was going to disagree with both, apparently with Finerman's contention that it's insignificant and Seymour's contention that it's U.S.-only.

This is about "global policymakers that really have nothing left in their bag of tools," Terranova insisted, adding, "So I think this is nothing more than QE2½."

Pete Najarian saw value in big oil. "Some of these integrated names are still far too cheap," Pete said.

Tim Seymour concluded with something curious: "If oil prices are going to a sustainable level, that's fantastic for Exxon." (And what, exactly, is the definition of "sustainable"?)

Tim Seymour brought up Japan, but at least not the faux bad call from last year

Doug Kass' market assessment on Thursday's Fast Money sounded fishy.

"I think that we're in a trading-sardine, not an eating-sardine, market, that we're relatively range-bound," Kass said.

Kass said, "I really get a sense of panic on the part of policymakers ... the world is slowing, folks. Are we in a free-fall? No."

Finally, he made a call on bonds. "I believe very strongly that the risk/reward is much more favorable shorting the U.S. bond market than owning the U.S. equity market," Kass said.

And hopefully, 2 months from now, Melissa Lee won't grill Kass about this trade (possibly) not working out, and having Kass acknowledge losing money, and then correcting Mel later that he wasn't actually in the trade.

Brian Marshall: Matinee idol?

Brian Marshall decided for Thursday's Fast Money he was going to try the Bradley Cooper thing, unless it was a Steve Cortes/Carter Worth combo if you're limiting it strictly to attire.

(Now there's a guy who's probably not listening to John Denver right now.)

Marshall said he likes Apple, Juniper and FFIV.

"I was shocked at how low expectations are for Apple for the June quarter," Marshall said, while some kind of furious clicking was heard in the background (maybe all those people scooping up AAPL who later bought NM when Karen spoke?)

Karen Finerman, always with a great question, asked Marshall what Apple's numbers are really going to be in light of these too-low expectations. Marshall said he could see 17.5 million iPhones instead of 16.5 million, and as for the consensus 6.5-7 million iPads, "I think it could be a little bit higher than that." He predicted a possible EPS "north of $6 for the quarter," and thus, "we come up with a target of $450, Karen."

He also gave FFIV a $135 target.

Interesting how nobody talks about NFLX these days.

This segment could’ve used a little warming in the green room

Melissa Lee asked Jon Fortt on Thursday's Fast Money a good, if tough, question about Oracle's hardware weakness: "Where else do we look?"

Fortt appeared stumped, saying, "Hard to say traditionally because this is the first year-over-year comparison that we've had."

But then Fortt kept talking, managed to incorporate EMC into his answer, which was seconded by Pete Najarian, and thus sort of earned himself a save.

Later in the show, the tables turned slightly on Lee, thanks to Karen Finerman, who, were she to pursue journalism instead of hedge-funding, would collect as many Pulitzers as Jesse Eisinger and Gretchen Morgenson put together (and we all know that's true).

Lee made a dramatic point about the amount of frozen meat rising that ended in a dud when no one said anything and she had no question to ask. It prompted a humdrum, predictable Tim Seymour segue into Brazil (BFRS was the symbol this time), but Finerman had the right question for Melissa, which is, what caused this frozen meat hike.

"They didn't exactly say," Lee admitted.

Pete Najarian said, shockingly, about the ag trade which is always a buy in some context on Fast Money (basically), "longer-term, you can like some of these names."

13-point drop Friday? Fine

Carter Worth got a chance during David Greenberg's technical breakdown on Thursday's Fast Money to proclaim some measure of success in his not-too-bad-it's-a-healthy-correction theory (we didn't hear "healthy" on Thursday, by the way).

Worth said the last 2 Fridays saw the S&P close around 1,270. And so as far as he's concerned, this Friday's might as well close there too. "We're basically stabilizing — we've yet to make new lows in quite some time," he said.

Karen Finerman (who else) pointed out that Worth was on about 10 days ago and asked him how comfortable he is that the support line he indicated, which "seems like it's sort of held," will be retested. The Worthmeister said "that's the premise," that the "selling is starting to abate" and that financials have been outperforming recently.

David Greenberg finally got a connection established and credited policymakers for nailing the SPR thing at just the right time. "This timing was perfect. I mean there's nothing like hitting a weak market with a bomb," Greenberg said, adding that traders assume the governments will always be back in to rebuy the oil later, but this was conveyed as a "1-way trade. ... I think it was brilliant," he said.

Jim Iuorio recommended a BMY play of selling the August 26 puts buying the August 30 calls. This time he got no hecklers nor assessments from Mike Khouw and/or JJ Kinahan.

Karen Finerman said she's starting to like now-hopelessly-a-GDP-play-with-China/lawsuit-premium, Google, based on valuation. "Given their growth, it's just ridiculous," Finerman said. "Particularly if you compare it to something like a LinkedIn, which was, you know, the flavor of the month earlier in the month, I guess the flavor of the 2 weeks maybe, uh, at a valuation that's just- it's insane."

Judge Wapner calls on 4 people with same opinion and ignores 1 who disagrees

The Fast Money Halftime Report opinion on the SPR release Thursday was nearly unanimous.

Key word being "nearly."

"Terrible move. It's a terrible, terrible idea," said Brian Kelly. "You never want to put fear into the economy."

Scott Judge Wapner immediately tried arguing, asking, "Fear was already here, wasn't it BK," and if Wapner had been paying attention to how this debate was supposed to develop, he would've noticed Dr. J, Jon Najarian nodding in one of those windows as he said that.

Instead, Guy Adami, so dour he looked like he was taking the IEA's move personally, jumped in, insisting, "There is nothing extraordinary" about the present oil situation, and "this was a panic move done by politicians who have clearly no understanding" of what the SPR is for.

Patty Edwards, who sealed up the day's Fast Money Fashion Crown with a very similar look to that awesome "badass" suit Pam Grier buys at the end of "Jackie Brown," was invited into the fray earlier than usual, pointing to previous SPR releases for Gulf War I and Katrina. "Those were disasters," Edwards said. "This makes no sense whatsoever."

Finally Joe Terranova, after saying he would choose other terminology but it's not terminology he thinks is appropriate to be used on-air, called the move "absolutely ludicrous ... I'd love to know if Ben Bernanke yesterday had knowledge that this was coming down the pike." (He had to, but what would we do about that anyway?) "It tells you everything you need to know about spare capacity," The Liquidator said.

Judge Scott Wapner then gave Patty Edwards a 2nd at-bat, actually asking a decent question, that if the White House can get oil down to $85 for a while, isn't that a good thing, and it was almost like he had asked Patty if the Bruins were better than the Canucks. Patty twice admitted it would help on the "margin," but that gasoline "was coming down anyway," and "this is not enough to get this economy going."

Judge Wapner, utterly oblivious to real drama here, then claimed he wanted to talk about stocks, but thankfully Dr. J muscled his way in. "Since you left me out of the whole conversation," Najarian said, in a manner of excusing himself, "I completely disagree with everybody here."

Najarian said the release will stick it to speculators, and "crude oil will be trading more on demand ... this was exactly the right move, even if it was made for the wrong reasons."

"There's a voice of reason, and well-said Doc," was how Wapner judged the commentary.

Judge Wapner silences most interesting Fast Money program in weeks

CNBC hosts tend to say "Gotta leave it there," but Guy Adami had no intention of leaving Jon Najarian's analysis unchecked.

"When was it the government's job to stop oil speculation or stop any kind of speculation," Adami groused.

"They do it all the time!" Najarian countered.

Judge Wapner proved killjoy, borrowing from the Melissa Lee playbook and insisting, "I don't wanna have a political discussion now, I wanna talk about the stock market," even though it was hardly a Hillary-Clinton-vs.Rudolph-Giuliani discussion, but an interesting government policy debate, but how can that be allowed to occupy time when there are Money in Motion currency trades CEO interviews in which they're asked if they'll be independent companies 12 months from now heavy options activity from 3 hours earlier so many important other topics to be discussed?

Guy Adami responded with visible frustration ("I told you before") to Judge's change of subject, sighing, "Close below 1,249, the market's going significantly lower." Then, in perhaps a dig, scoffed, "People will come on and say 'You've gotta buy the dips,' that's very cavalier, that's very interesting," when he didn't actually mean "interesting," and as far as we know the guy who says "buy the dips" most often on the show is Dr. J.

In terms of actual impact/efficiency of this move, we don't have much of a clue, but we will side with Dr. J on whether it matters if an SPR move is officially the "government's job" or not. The government does countless things that aren't really its "job"; this is hardly out of the ordinary.

Dr. J might not've had any agreement from his colleagues, but guest Dan Dicker gave him props. "I just loved that conversation. I think Dr. J hit this on the head," Dicker said, calling the oil release a "stake at the Dracula heart of speculators." Dicker said drillers, including RIG and WFT, are being thrown out with the bathwater (a cliche that's slightly more tolerable than "kicking the can down the road") and are looking to be at "really tasty levels."

Dicker gave a bit of a facial to the GS/MS oil call over the last week "that said it was going back to 110." He said he could see "1 or 2 more releases," for a while, but then "it's Katie bar the door" on the way up when oil rebounds.

Patty Edwards said the biggest beneficiaries of the crude slide are neither the high end nor the low end. "Look at the middle-income retailers," Edwards said, mentioning Kohl's and (Ron Johnson-helmed) JCPenney, as well as Panera and Chipotle.

Guy Adami concluded with a parting shot, calling the oil release "not a sustainable policy ... and I'm surprised people think it's a good idea."

Well, compared with HPQ, CSCO, MSFT, YHOO, DELL, RIMM, we’d have to agree

Analyst Brent Thill delivered what wasn't much of a shocker on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying, "I think Oracle's strategically in 1 of the best positions in large-cap tech." Eventually he concluded, "we see a lot of support for the stock at 30."

Guy Adami said look to buy ORCL. "I think the selloff is providing you an opportunity to get long," he said.

Patty Edwards refreshingly got a rare chance to call the close and trumpeted Panera — "the chart's a thing of beauty here."

Fisher: ‘This is a layup’
for oil-trading regulators

Mark Fisher indicated on Thursday's Strategy Session that he's not exactly a big fan of the government's SPR decision.

"I'm surprised because I can't believe they actually did it," Fisher said. "Because now, the clock starts ticking."

It was hard to tell whether Fisher was more irritated about policy, or that someone heard about it before everyone else did.

"The governments are bringing a knife to a gunfight," he complained, and "you don't do this if you have anything left in your arsenal."

Fisher then predicted that for regulators, in terms of price anomalies in the oil trade over the last day, "this is a layup ... somebody knew something ... somebody from the IEA leaked this to somebody."

Apparently gradually making TV appearances has gotten the best out of Fisher physically, as Gary Kaminsky praised Fisher's appearance. "Unbelievable how svelte you look," Kaminsky said.

7¾%, next 20 years

Calpers CIO Joseph Dear revisited The Strategy Session on Thursday, but his interview was so light on news peg or controversy that we're not really sure what he was there to talk about.

David Faber asked if there were any parallels to California and Greece. Dear said Greece is a "huge mess," that they're better off tackling the problems now, and that California's not in the same boat.

Faber then cited what sounds like a semi-interesting Northwestern University study claiming that New York for example would have to return 12% a year for 30 years to meet its pension obligations.

Dear said studies like that help further the dialogue but then on the backhand implied they're useless, saying, "California does a pretty good job (of) being realistic, and not taking holidays on contribution rates ... our target is 7 and three-quarters percent. We've been able to do that over 20 years, I think 20 years in the future, we can do that."

And we thought it was a reach for IBM to already issue its 2015 EPS.

Gary Kaminsky asked how true it is that the pension funds have been able to muscle down hedge fund and private equity fees. "I'm so glad you raised this question," said Dear, who indicated that he takes fees very seriously and does consider them negotiable and once again had to take a 2 and 20 jab from David Faber.

Can’t say the same
about GM

Gary Kaminsky, who said his hair got shorter during his short TSS break, said Thursday that the closet index industry would have you believe that you can't afford to be out of the market because your returns since last August would be severely lower if you missed the 10 best days of the market. Kaminsky said "It's nonsense. It's garbage in, garbage out," and that investors have decided "they are better than the market" and shouldn't always be fully invested.

Kaminsky also said he expects European CDSes to move higher on temporary bailout.

Youku boss Victor Koo took part in a very uninteresting and uninspiring interview from Beijing (hopefully this feature ends Friday) in which he shrugged off David Faber's concerns about Chinese TV viewing censorship tendencies between 6-9 p.m. Koo also appeared unfazed about his stock performance: "It's important to know that our current trading price is still very much higher than our IPO price," he said.

[Wednesday, June 22, 2011]

With industrial production
at 13.3, how could you possibly go wrong?

This site has complained seemingly since the beginning of time that Tim Seymour might actually just know too many facts about things, which might explain why he seems hell-bent on informing you about every one of them during what should be simple soundbites.

On Wednesday's Fast Money he hit a new low in this regard by commandeering Brian Kelly's perfectly fine observation about China with unnecessary inside baseball that can only be described as know-it-all.

Kelly said there are 2 things happening in China that got his attention. First was the Chinese government taking bad loans off the banks at a rate of what Kelly said is 1.5 times TARP. (Or in other words, TARP for the original TARP purpose, which impressively was a significant component of "Too Big to Fail.")

"This is a huge, huge bailout that not a lot of people talked about," Kelly said.

Kelly said also, "They're now allowing the governments, the local governments, to issue municipal bonds, which they didn't before."

The result, Kelly said, is, "I think it's gonna be massively bullish for commodities. I think it's massively bullish for copper. I bought some FCX."

Seymour then felt compelled to add, "To complement what Beeks said," before pointing to the yuan at a 20-year high ... M2 growth at about 15% ... fixed asset investment of 26% ... industrial production of 13.3 ... "I think I'd be owning China here."

Good grief.

It's kinda like someone saying, "I think the Steelers defense might struggle a bit this year," only to have this page say "Yeah, and to complement that, part of the problem is that Lawrence Timmons and Jason Worilds are notorious quick-twitch guys who struggle against the run..."

Has there ever been a time — in 4 years — when people on Fast Money have not recommended the ag trade?

Tim Seymour said on Wednesday's Fast Money, "We've owned Mosaic here ... I think you can start to buy this. You can Fast Fire me on this now because I've been talking about this probably for the last 10 bucks."

Joe Terranova had another idea. "Darling International. Corn substitute. That appears to be right now the best trade out there."

Seymour rightly played the skeptic. "But why would you need a corn substitute if corn prices are coming down?" Terranova, though, was adequately prepared with an answer, saying, "Corn remains the 1 crop valued at 66 billion here domestically in the U.S. where the potential for supply shortages are there in the 2nd half of this year."

ProPublica writer again fails to convince Fast gang of gravity of what banks have done

Despite being an occasional Fast Money guest, Jesse Eisinger still after nearly 3 months has not been congratulated on-air by Melissa Lee for his Pulitzer Prize.

That trend continued Wednesday on Fast Money, when Eisinger spoke briefly on Wednesday's Fast Money about JPMorgan agreeing to a mortgage-security settlement.

Quite frankly, what we've found most interesting from that news is the lack of concern from anyone on the show, particularly given that JPM just might be the most-mentioned stock on the show in terms of what people have just bought.

So we'd have to say 1 of 2 things is occurring:

1. The Fast Money gang doesn't think JPMorgan (or Goldman Sachs previously for that matter) did anything wrong at all in the buyer-beware business of mortgage securities. (In which case, they should be venting outrage at this government railroading of a perfectly legitimate business practice.)

2. The Fast Money gang does think JPMorgan did something wrong here, but because everyone's collective expectations for good corporate behavior are so ridiculously low, it doesn't merit any angst. (Which should make panelists think twice before scolding "underperforming" managements whose sin is not deploying cash reserves adequately enough but who at least aren't forced into SEC settlements.)

Anyway, Eisinger said, "I think that the overhang from the financial crisis continues ... we've got billions and billions more to come in settlements for mortgage-fraud-related charges."

Eisinger said the fines paid by GS and JPM are nothing, relatively, but "Goldman's reputation I think has been really damaged." (And once again, we'll suggest, order Goldman to ship cash to Greece and solve the euro bailout and restore that once-prime Goldman reputation and solve 2 problems vexing the stock market at once.)

We thought Eisinger might get a moment to discuss his Pulitzer, but Lee said, "Gotta leave it there."

Either Karen’s question isn’t relevant, or Dr. J artfully avoided giving an answer he didn’t have

Jon Najarian reported on Wednesday's Fast Money about the ETF (or is it ETN?) you can play to sort of mimic the VIX.

It's the VIXY, which Najarian pointed out is probably going to be in demand from people looking for something that tends to go up when stocks go down.

But the VIXY, he said, is not a duplicate of the VIX. It's a "weighted 1-month average, rather than the spot." And so he said it makes only "20-50%" of the actual daily VIX move.

That prompted a question from Karen Finerman. "What makes some of the difference, or is it all of the difference, that it's the 1-month vs. the longer or is there some other difference in weightings, or how they, how it trades?"

Keep in mind this is the deep end of the VIX pool for laymen like us and we don't know anything about options. Our interpretation is that by "difference," Finerman was referring to the 50-80% of the actual daily VIX move that is not reflected in the VIXY according to Najarian.

If we actually "get" what Najarian meant, we think it's merely a lower-beta VIX tool that dilutes the impact of a sharp 1-day move.

Instead of answering Karen's question, Dr. J merely restated some of the basic facts he initially mentioned and then compared it with an even longer-term version, the VIXM, that he doesn't like very much, finally concluding that VIXY has a lot of liquidity; "it's not a roach motel."

But he never did explain what happens to the "difference."

It’s AMZN vs. GOOG for title of Most Targeted Company by State Authorities

Anthony Scaramucci offered Best Buy on Wednesday's Fast Money as the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week, a term that's been trademarked, according to the grapevine at SALT.

Scaramucci totally anticipated the top question he was going to get, whether Best Buy can still be a preferred destination over Amazon. Scaramucci said his team looked up prices for a Samsung 32-inch TV, a Blu-ray, a Frigidaire air-conditioner and a black-ink cartridge, and found that "Best Buy has the best price on all of those items."

He said David Einhorn, SAC, Citadel and Whitney Tilson are in BBY.

Meanwhile, Fast Money guest David Strasser visited the Nasdaq to say Amazon's offer to put jobs in Texas in exchange for a 4-year window of not being forced to assess sales tax "opens up a can of worms here" for the company.

Karen Finerman, as always, asked a great question, as to whether a forced sales-tax assessment on every or most purchases would deter Amazon shoppers. Strasser said the company says no, but he's skeptical in light of stories such as the Texas one, because "I just see the actions that are taking place at the same time."

Strasser also did a good job of pointing out that the taxes at least in most states are legitimately owed by the buyers; it's just a matter of whether Amazon must be forced to collect them.

Karen Finerman complained that Ben Bernanke "managed to say absolutely nothing." A. Gary Shilling, on top of his bee hive story (see below), said, "We may be at the beginning of a, of a considerable selloff in stocks."

Melissa Lee gave a very nice mention to the very generous gift of Karen Finerman and husband Lawrence Golub for Parkinson's stem-cell research, reported in the Wall Street Journal. Karen as modestly as ever said nothing but thanked Lee. There's a link to the WSJ article, apparently accessible to non-subscribers, on this site's home page.

Guest says ‘literally,’ government’s only solution is to blow up empty houses

Dan Greenhaus visited a tiresome, Bernanke-laden Fast Money set Wednesday and saved his best for last when Brian Kelly asked for his thoughts on housing.

"I have a sure-fire way to solve the housing problem although it's politically impossible," Greenhaus said. "I think the government should be blowing up houses because at this stage of the game, that's literally the only thing it can do."

"Wow," said Melissa Lee.

"I don't think he meant that," said Guy Adami.

"No, I think he did. I think he did," bellowed Tim Seymour.

"Not with people in them," Greenhaus assured, before saying Joe Terranova's budget-constraint concern is off-base. "There's always room in federal, state and local budgets for blowing things up," Greenhaus said.

"What about giving them to returning veterans, let them live in there," Kelly asked, a bit too seriously perhaps for what was happening here.

Watch ‘Ulee’s Gold,’ awesome effort by Peter Fonda in early Jessica Biel movie, learn how not to get stung

A. Gary Shilling, on the Fast Line on Wednesday's Fast Money, took credit for a Brag Trade that is certainly far from actually being decided.

Bernanke, according to Shilling, "took a victory lap this afternoon," because he forecast that inflation would be no worse than previous Fed estimates. "He and I are about the only 2 guys that said this is a commodity bubble and it was gonna go away. I think they're gonna be talking about deflation by the latter part of the year."

But then again, Gary needed a pick-me-up, because he reported, "I just got back from, uh, taking care of a bunch of my beehives; I got stung probably 20, 30 times."

Shilling told Melissa Lee, in sharply conservative blue jacket, "I don't think it'll be QE3."

Shilling also said "I think we're in a hard landing in China," but Zachary Karabell wasn't around to argue, so it was left to Joe Terranova to say, "To me that just does not make sense."

Shilling also told skeptical Tim Seymour that silver fell off a cliff the same way Wile E. Coyote always used to.

Mel Lee said cold compresses and calamine lotion will heal bee stings.

Guy Adami said of stocks, "I think the next 2 days will tell the tale for the next couple months."

[Tuesday, June 21, 2011]

Fast Money struggles to fill commercial-lite hour of people in Athens sitting in chairs

Tuesday's Greece-watch Fast Money was so dull, not only Karen Finerman's stunning slim look in sleeveless black dress could save it.

Tim Seymour, in his intro speech, said some version of "rallied" 5 times. (But he never said "the reality is," as far as we could tell.)

Brian Kelly used a term we would love to never hear again — ever — on CNBC: "kicked the can down the road."

Joe Terranova borrowed Gary Kaminsky's line from The Strategy Session a few days ago, saying it's "maybe more of a Bear Stearns type of moment for the marketplace."

Karen Finerman put a twist on that, saying, "It sort of reminds me of TARP."

But Finerman at least contributed to a meager amount of actual trades, explaining she bought the SPYder July 126 puts.

Brian Kelly also had some activity to report, saying, "I bought some VIX calls today ... I bought 'em at about 18.30." Kelly said some U.S. banks have been thrown out with the bathwater while for European banks, "The risk of loss is essentially infinity ... I bought JPMorgan today; I bought Wells Fargo."

Joe Terranova said trends suggest you should be thinking about "silver and gold, and I think more silver than anything else."

Tim Seymour semi-apologized for using the phrase "the pain trade really was the VIX," then said Tuesday's market was "moving down on the dollar and rallying in risk assets."

Maybe not the
greatest terminology

Sean Egan spoke on the Fast Line throughout Tuesday's Fast Money and at one point delivered this eye-opening comment as Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and her camera were getting zinged by green lasers: "Papandreou has dodged a bullet but there's a machine-gun heading at the, uh, the Greece, uh, politicians."

Egan initially argued that "the European banks don't have the ability to absorb the losses that are coming down the pike," earning him a 2-question argument with Karen Finerman over whether the markets have already priced in the scenario Egan was describing. Egan insisted, "The triggering event is the number of people who have been deeming it a default."

Fast Money graphics guys
unbelievably go 0 for 3

During Tuesday's Fast Money, this graphic appeared on the screen:


Wrong on each line, and missing the hypen to boot.

8 x 10 professionally printed photo of Melissa Lee for sale on eBay

A funny thing happened while checking out eBay for the final price of Scott Wapner's charity golf round in the Dave Van Dyck outing.

(Note: It's a very fine thing for Wapner to do and we wish him the best, but given that the Rebecca Jarvis outing fetched north of $2,000 a couple years ago, we gotta think someone like Mandy needs to get involved if they really want to goose this donation into 4 figures.)

We discovered that one seller is offering an 8 X 10 of "CNBC REPORTER & JOURNALIST" Melissa Lee.

It's the photo you've seen on some Web sites of Melissa with that "bring it on," arms-folded-in-hot-red-top look.


You can also buy a used golf ball with a CNBC logo on it, for $2.99. (Could it have once been Joe Kernen's?)

Roubini group expert
delivers a Brag Trade

Shelley Goldberg of the Roubini group, which seems to be flooding CNBC nowadays with pundits, got extensive time on Tuesday's Fast Money to talk about ... basically everything.

On oil, Goldberg said, "I think that we have good support between 80 and 85 dollars," before suggesting that 15% of the crude price has been in "risk premium."

Just to be helpful for all those who do backdated trading, Goldberg said, "We pointed that out in the, uh, the earlier part of May."

Simon Hobbs is asked by
Tim Seymour the longest
‘question’ he has ever heard

The wait for the Greece vote on Tuesday's Fast Money put Melissa Lee's skills as a time-filler to the test, and let's just say she might not have passed it quite as well as William Hurt during the Libya incident in "Broadcast News."

Basically, Lee evidently decided to let Tim Seymour and Shelley Goldberg to run out the clock.

Lee did have to direct a little traffic but saved her own commentaries for a couple of afterthoughts.

Joe Terranova carped about the Greece voting system; "2011 let's get electronic, folks," which prompted Tim Seymour to note, "These were the founders of the world's political system."

"Cradle of democracy here," chipped in Lee, who recently gave Harvard University an A-minus for teaching her about government.

Later, Brian Kelly noted that in Athens, there were only "about 7,000 people in that square," or about half an NBA crowd.

"The metaphor is always, is always useful as well," Lee said.

Tim Seymour at one point asked a question for Simon Hobbs that turned into an interminable spiel about how this vote is really going to be felt in the German regional elections. (Mark your calendars now.)

Guy Adami did say a couple of things, one of them being that the Athens background noise "Sounds like a Black Eyed Peas concert," and also observing that "Greece is sort of like Vermont. Nice place to visit, but not that relevant."

Tim Seymour said in Greece, "500 claim they make more than 500,000 euros a year," and that only 10 people claim to earn more than a million euros a year. "People live very well over there," he said.

Dr. J: More likely Greece gets ‘pushed out’ of euro

Jon Najarian on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report analyzed the developments from Athens this way:

"Tells me at least in my mind that it's more likely we're gonna see Greece pushed out of the euro rather than staying in it," Najarian said.

Judge Scott Wapner then turned to Steve Liesman, who reported on an assessment from Mark Grant about the possibility of a Greece default, which Grant predicts would cause "global financial mayhem" in an e-mail that according to Liesman was "all-caps."

Liesman said the banks are being told to determine potential losses, and "if any number equates to infinity, it's sell and sell hard."

Brian Kelly said if Greece and some weaklings exited, "you'd wanna be long euro."

Steve Cortes, from London, took issue with that. "Brian, I just, I have to completely disagree with that," Cortes said, pointing to the downside of "disintegration" and adding, "that would make Lehman look like child's play if that were to happen."

"It's not disintegration," Kelly asserted, in a too-long rebuttal. Cortes got the last word, saying "Spain is the key."

Cortes says he’ll pick strawberries to make up for RIMM trade

Steve Cortes, from London, made a lame Wimbledon joke on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime (actually in London it would've been "prime time," not Halftime, but whatever) but at least was a stand-up guy about his disastrous RIMM purchase.

"You might remember I lost some money on RIMM last week," Cortes told Judge Scott Wapner. "I got a job for a couple weeks over here picking strawberries in the field, gonna make up for those RIMM losses."

Speaking of fresh food, Jon Najarian spent a couple segments explaining his AAPL trades of the last 2 days, and while we were heartened to first hear the opposite of a Brag Trade for a change, it sort of crept into Brag Trade land. "Yesterday I was trading like an idiot; today it's working out much better," Najarian said, claiming the bad price he bought at yesterday actually would've been a good price today, and that he improved with call spreads.

Brian Kelly revealed, "I bought Toll Brothers," and Joe Terranova said of housing, "I would say we're closer to the bottom than we actually thought we were a couple months ago."

Steve Cortes couldn't resist arguing with Kelly about everything. "I think the double-dip is already here in reality," Cortes said.

Terranova said there was short covering in the huge market pop Tuesday, but Kelly said, "I do think this is a sustainable rally."

Cortes claimed in Call the Close (everybody got a chance today; too bad Patty Edwards wasn't on) that China is in a "tailspin" and to sell commodities.

Joe LaVorgna said, "To me, QE3 is so unlikely because none of QE2 really, I think, worked," and that the Fed simply must stand pat. "Short of literally buying equities, I mean, what can they possibly do?" he asked.

FedEx analyst Justin Yagerman said the stock looks good because sentiment has been terrible, but everyone he talks to sees an "improving freight environment." Scott Judge Wapner brought disorder to the court with a useless and time-wasting Jagermeister joke.

Fed saves AIG gobs of cash

Kate Kelly, relating an interview with AIG boss Bob Benmosche on Tuesday's Strategy Session, brought up something interesting about Maiden Lane in a conversation with David Faber that strayed a little bit into the deep end of our AIG knowledge pool.

Kelly said AIG offered to repurchase some Maiden Lane assets a few months ago, and she asked Benmosche about it. "He said, 'You know what, it is a disappointment to be sure that the Fed turned down our original offer for that portfolio.' I think AIG was offering just shy of $16 billion for it, and since then that market has dropped 25% or possibly even more, so, you can make a pretty convincing case that the Fed would've done better to take that offer."

So, without trying to come across like a numbskull, we wondered, why in the world is AIG "disappointed" that its $16 billion offer was rejected for something evidently worth less than $16 billion?

We're not exactly sure, but some cursory research reveals the offer was indeed $15.75 billion, it was made in March, and it was turned down by the Fed, which apparently thought it would do better selling the parts piecemeal, or perhaps didn't want media questions over whether it should sell the whole parcel to AIG in the event the price had gone up.

Perhaps Benmosche is disappointed not because of the price but because AIG somehow views these assets as important, and simply wasn't allowed to regain them ... although if they can now be had for less than the offer price ...?

Or maybe Benmosche is concerned that if the Fed ultimately sells at a much lower price, it'll make the overall "return" on the government's AIG bailout look bad and tarnish the whole process, since the whole combination is really just an accounting carnival anyway.

As a consolation prize, Kelly reported the AIG still has "cherry-picked some important assets" from the group.

Benmosche report
needed 1 more minute

Kate Kelly also reported Tuesday on TSS that there's an extra float of AIG shares available just in case the demand was huge, but "the green shoe is not going to be exercised in this case."

Robert Benmosche, in his interview with Kelly, said that for further unwinding, think year-end at the least. "You'd wanna wait until November ... wait for the full quarter to be achieved," he said.

Kelly then showed a clip asking Benmosche about "contention behind the scenes" of the recent AIG offer price. Benmosche indicated that one problem was, "Nobody expected us to be where we are," and because David Faber had to end it there immediately after the clip, we have no clue if Benmosche was referring to the stock price when he said "where we are" (which would be likely below expectation), or the company's turnaround (which in his mind is undoubtedly above expectation).

Guest co-host David Simon, in for Gary Kaminsky, said "AIG is basically dead money."

Guest carps at title of weeklong Strategy Session theme

David Simon asked Renren chief Joseph Chen the best question, better than the pair offered by Herb Greenberg, on Tuesday's Strategy Session, which was basically why Facebook can't just enter China and mop up the floor.

"First of all I never called ourself the Facebook of China. We prefer to call ourself the Renren of China," Chen said, before insisting that the competitive environment in China is tougher for Facebook than people might realize. "The local companies will still have a very strong competitive advantage."

Chen also told Herb Greenberg in regard to Groupon that, "The group-buying business in China is much more competitive than those in U.S."

Greenberg asked Chen how he feels about accounting standards, and isn't that a sexy question. Chen said his company has done "U.S. GAAP for the last few years ... I'm not familiar with Chinese GAAP."

David Simon said Temple-Inland is basically saying it would only be bought north of $40 and that IP is only making an offer as a "placeholder" to keep Georgia Pacific from swiping it away.

Simon said the stock market feels like it's been down 15-20% while it's really only been down 3% because "everybody's selling the same names to de-risk."

[Monday, June 20, 2011]

Underperforming hedge funds off the hook for a day; Judge Wapner gets recess

Folks who plan their weekdays around CNBC coverage should know that Wednesday's Strategy Session and Fast Money Halftime Report will be preempted by the Carl Quintanilla/Melissa Lee-hosted special, "The American Economy."

Maybe Dan Nathan is getting those angry AAPL e-mails that Guy Adami gets

Sometimes, definitions can be a curious concept on CNBC's Fast Money.

Guy Adami for example was insisting to Tim Seymour on Monday's Fast Money that "Apple is absolutely a value stock."

But much more curiouser than that was Dan Nathan's assessment of AAPL.

"I'm not negative for any fundamental reasons," Nathan said.

Yet, as recently as June 6 (see below), Nathan in fact was trashing the whole Apple cloud project.

"I see a whole host of problems in the cloud," Nathan said then, even telling Melissa Lee that getting more people into the Apple "ecosystem" isn't necessarily good. "It's a very commoditized product, I'm not really that impressed with what I saw ... Let me tell you something: For that 1st person who got, wants to synch everything up, and they go and lose their whole calendar that was on their iMac, and that will happen to plenty of people, it's happened to some very smart people I know who use MobileMe, frequently, OK ... I think you sell into the strength."

Just 2 weeks later, there's apparently no longer a "fundamental" problem with the company.

Or does it just mean the cloud is not a fundamental, just Fibonacci-esque mumbo-jumbo?

Nathan, as he did last time, pointed to the $300 level, but this time in a good way.

"When that thing breaks 300, it's gonna be quick, and you better get in there if you wanna buy it, if that's your level," Nathan said.

Joe Terranova said he would buy more AAPL when it gets below the 200-day MA.

Nathan had a troubling outlook for RIMM. "It's lights out for these guys," he said. "It's not Apple that, that took them down, it's their own management."

She doesn’t bat 1.000

This one hurts to say. It really does.

But if this page isn't honest about the material it reviews, then how will anyone ... um ... ever (gasp) take it seriously?

And the truth is, on Monday's Fast Money, we didn't have the foggiest idea what it was that supercharmer Jane Wells was talking about.

Something about a guy named Lil Jon, who was on "The Apprentice" (NBC promotion alert), who's got a hangover-cure potion.

According to Wells' Twitter, Lil Jon asked Jane, "How's Tarzan?"


Mel Lee, unusually chipper Monday, tried her best to declare the segment a winner, pointing out that Jane's features are "always educational."

"I'm going long Jane Wells," said Guy Adami, who, after Karen Short made a smartly dressed inaugural Fast Money appearance Monday to essentially say Whole Foods is too great for its competitors, totally cracked up Melissa into giggledom with, "Whether they're eating Whole Foods, Cheerios or my Cheerios, I mean, they all benefit from fertilizer."

Who (urinated)
in Dennis’ Cheerios?

Getting a smile out of Grumpy Dennis Gartman on Monday's Fast Money was about as difficult as getting a profit out of BAC shares.

Gartman asserted "Greece is going to fail; it's only a matter of time," while admitting the whole European financial thing has remained cobbled together longer than he expected.

We still don't understand why the people who run the world haven't figured out the easiest possible solution to all of this, which is to force Goldman Sachs to ship billions to Greece, and then give everyone a clean slate and Bobby McFerrin-ize and be happy.

Gartman said he looks to the base metals and suggests being long gold/short copper, "long of gold, short of the euro, continues to make sense."

Afterwards the panel had a small amount of fun with Gartman's tie, with Mel Lee even revealing, "It's one of my favorites of Dennis Gartman's tie wardrobe."

Lee didn't offer an opinion on panelist Dan Nathan's tie, other than to say, "I don't think I've ever seen him in in a tie, actually."

Honestly, the question is always ‘Where do we go from here?’

Dr. Mark Schoenebaum got maybe 2 minutes at the end of Monday's Fast Money to explain why Biogen might "triple in the next 5 years" after he missed the runup that put it at its current level.

"That's a fair question," Schoenebaum said. "The question is, where do we go from here ... this company can actually quadruple earnings per share over the next 6-8 years. That kind of earnings trajectory is unparalleled within large-cap biotech or large-cap pharmaceuticals."

Yet, his 12-month price target is a mere $116.

Probably out of range
for a delivery driver

In one of those endless promos CNBC does for the Jack & Suzy show airing Mondays, Fast Money viewers got a clip Monday of Jack complaining that Domino's Pizza doesn't do a good enough job of selling in its recruitment literature that hires can earn a million dollars within 10 years.

"It crystallizes for me, and I don't mean to be crude here, but it crystallizes to me about everybody making more money and having better lives, that is the message, and how do we do that," Welch says.

Um ... not to make any suggestions or anything ... but if they're wondering how to do that, maybe they should just print on the literature, "At Domino's, you can earn a million dollars within 10 years"? Or would that not be "crystallized" enough?

Unless, of course, it's not exactly 100% true.

Terranova: LULU looks ready to ‘break out well north of a hundred bucks’

Guest Nick Colas on Monday spoke about a subject that Fast Money viewers are no doubt dying to discuss:


Colas said the "biggest spike for sure is in high-yield bonds."

Guy Adami, in some of the most blatant wishful thinking seen on Fast Money in some time, asked Colas to "connect the dots real quick" and possibly say that high-yield is a predictor of stocks and thus stocks are headed down.

Interestingly, Colas answered Adami in the affirmative, but then did not specifically say that stocks are headed south, only that the same kind of "complacency" dogging high-yield would surface in stocks (see, we started this whole Monday thread on some of the Fast Money word-parsing related to "fundamental" and "value"). "I think we're gonna see that spill over into the broader market over the course of the next month," Colas said.

Adami said at one point, "I do think we go a lot lower at a certain point in the next couple of weeks." Joe Terranova was pointing to high-end retailers, including Nordstrom ("I think you can own it) and LULU ("looks like it's gonna break out well north of a hundred bucks"). Stephen Weiss said he likes VZ ("that's a great pickup over any government bond yield") and, for about the 3rd time in a week, NS.

Melissa Lee, who must've been inspired by all the golfers' slacks at the U.S. Open, dazzled in a new white outfit on Monday, but quite frankly, Amelia Bourdeau, who is on a McIlroy-esque TV-appearance tear, carried the day (even a day with a Jane Wells sighting) with pearls. Bourdeau said she's inclined to let the euro/yen reach 115.95 and then "short it there."

Ilczyszyn: Could be
‘massive unwind’ in Brent/WTI

Rich Ilczyszyn returned to the Fast Money Halftime Report Monday and suggested crude might be looking at an 8 handle.

"I gotta tell you that I'm bearish WTI," Ilczyszyn said. "I'm looking to 85 to 95 as the new established range."

Then he revealed his customers never take a day off. "I've got clients calling me every single day, 'How do I play the oil'," Ilczyszyn said, recommending people play a retrenchment in the Brent/WTI gap.

"I think this could be a massive unwind in the next 30 to 60 days," he said.

Judge Scott Wapner asked Ilczyszyn why oil is flagging. "I think it went up too high, too fast," Ilczyszyn said, though he did flirt with Brag Trade territory in explaining he's been an oil bull and it went up in the first quarter.

Judge Wapner closed with "Later Ilch," and the Ilchmeister responded with almost a Chuck Woolery-esque point.

Iuorio: AAPL on the short end of a pairs trade

Jim Iuorio on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report offered the kind of trade you don't hear very often.

Short Apple, long Motorola Mobility.

None of his colleagues seemed to have an opinion on Motorola Mobility, but nobody seemed to disagree. Stephen Weiss said he won't buy AAPL yet; "I'm waiting for it to bottom. I don't wanna catch a falling knife."

Josh Brown pointed out the analyst community remains very bullish and has pretty much exhausted its upgrades for now, leaving a dearth of catalysts. "The average price target is 458. ... I'm not getting excited about it at 315 at all," Brown said.

Pete Najarian, when Judge Wapner finally let him speak about options, pointed to September 18 calls in CRUS as "very active."

Brian Kelly said, ahead of Rich Ilczyszyn's WTI forecast, "You don't want oil to go lower," because "that'll be a very short-lived benefit to the consumer."

Kelly also offered, "I do not think the global economy is slowing down ... I think China's accelerating."

Scott Judge Wapner revealed he and CNBC's Nick Dunn are auctioning a round of golf in the Dave Van Dyck event this year. While we wish Wapner the best in this regard, we've gotta think the Rebecca Jarvis outing a couple years ago was more appealing.

Why does Goldman Sachs issue a report afterhours Friday?

Journalists and journalism watchers are well aware that companies and organizations tend to release embarrassing news late Friday afternoon in hopes it will be largely ignored in the extremely condensed weekend news cycles. (If you're one of those people by the way who thinks the news cycle truly is "24/7," you've never tried to fill airtime or a newspaper on a Saturday.)

But why in the world would Goldman Sachs be so embarrassed about a presumably honest assessment of the U.S. economy?

CNBC.com's Jeff Cox explained on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Goldman's 2.0% Q2 GDP forecast, which he first flagged online Friday evening, "is the most bearish outlook yet on the U.S. economy."

He described the release this way: "Goldman Sachs coming out with what was essentially a happy hour, Friday-night report."

Here's our rough guess: Goldman Sachs is so sensitive about its position in Washington, D.C., these days that it fears being associated with any information that does not have a smiley face on it.

(Alternate guess: GS wanted to remove any chance for critics to claim it's trading ahead of its own reports, and a report released late Friday afternoon would be the type that is least likely to be traded on, because any number of events over the weekend would figure to have a bigger effect on markets.)

In any case, Brian Kelly twice tried asking Cox why this report matters because everyone has already assumed these factors, and Cox never really had a good answer.

Kelly: This will be the quarter commodity traders will hit it big

Brian Kelly might've had a good question for Jeff Cox, but he didn't have a good answer for an equally good question about the banks from guest host Scott Wapner.

Kelly was claiming the banks are going to rebound thanks to profitable trading in commodities.

Wapner wondered where all those great commodity-trading results were in Q1 when commodities were surging.

Kelly explained, or tried to, "Well that was the first quarter, you're talking about Q2, and you're talking about this downside that we've had over the last 6 weeks. People have really pulled back, the, uh, pulled back their reins."

Stephen Weiss touted "the regionals, that's where the real money's going to be made." Pete Najarian said he owns some banks for the long term, but, "in the shorter term, I see nothing that's gonna be the catalyst to push 'em higher."

Judge Wapner interrupts
Pete’s heavy options chatter again

Scott Wapner cut off Pete Najarian again on the first commercial break of Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Hopefully, that will not be the most exciting part of Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report and Fast Money.

More details to come later.

We’re tempted to call
this statistic b.s.

Eamon Javers led off Monday's Strategy Session with what Gary Kaminsky conluded is "just an unbelievable report."

Javers said, "Academic studies show that House members on average beat the market by about 6%, Senate members beat it by about 10%, and the SEC says part of the reason why that might be happening is that insider trading laws don't generally apply to members of Congress."

Javers, in fact, said members of Congress are privy to "outsider trading," which David Faber described as meaning "material" knowledge of things affecting stocks, but nothing that's illegal.

Kaminsky said that when you consider how many money managers can't beat the indexes, and then see this ... this page has made the "inside job" reference about 5 times this month (what was the name of that movie again?); guess we need to do it again.

But we'll have to give Javers' point a little more scrutiny. The reason is, we're skeptical that at any given time that anybody really knows the true value of the holdings of members of Congress, and there is an incentive among media who report financial disclosures to list net worth as high as possible. Even Politico.com notes "accurate estimates are nearly impossible."

But if our suspicions are wrong, and in fact U.S. senators are actually outperforming Dr. J, Jon Najarian, on a regular basis, we'll gladly admit it and post.

Gary Kaminsky said oil and stocks may be trading in their perceived correlation Monday, but that "has not been the case for the last, uh, 30-some odd days."

Kaminsky credited an offscreen hedge fund expert who was not on the show Monday for pointing out stocks were getting a boost from the EFSF, or the TARP of Europe, floating the prospects of going from 440 billion to 780 billion in loan guarantees to Greece.

David Faber grumbled that some hedge funds do well, but "there are also quite a few of them that aren't probably worth the money."

Gary Kaminsky pointed to Carlyle's self-definition as to whether it's P.E. or asset management (which carries about double the multiple). "This is gonna be positioned, I'm told, as an asset manager firm," said Kaminsky who said asset managers get a 15-20 multiple traditionally for their recurring revenue, and that Lehman wanted Neuberger for this reason.

David Faber’s 1st question
for Peggy Yu Yu goes awry

David Faber, introducing a Strategy Session feature he called "the blank of China," spoke with previous TSS guest Peggy Yu Yu, who's some kind of honcho (we think chairman) of Dangdang (which would be China's Amazon.com).

Faber began by asking Yu Yu, "Why is the company already buying back its shares?"

Yu Yu pointed out, "Management together with some family members are buying the stock, not the company," and that she thinks the company is strong enough that they say, "I cannot resist buying it."

"I stand corrected, I'm sorry, I misspoke there, right," Faber admitted. "You and your family decided to repurchase."

Faber asked for Yu Yu's thoughts on wild swings in the IPO market. Yu Yu, who somehow managed to communicate despite the drone of Beijing's version of I-95 in the background, said, "It's very difficult for me to comment on stock performance ... the performance of the stock deviates from what's going on in the reality in companies as Dangdang."

Then Yu Yu made her most interesting comment, and something perhaps John Chambers should take to heart: "What I do is to make sure that our employees are not disheartened by the fall of the value of their stock options," Yu Yu said.

Yu Yu said the "last couple quarters," business has been great, including "books, movies, video, music, general merchandise."

Gary Kaminsky asked Yu Yu about accounting concerns. Yu Yu insisted for years Dangdang has had "very strict accounting standards" and has used Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young.

David Faber closed by noting a nasty Sina/Tweet from Yu Yu's husband toward a Wall Street Journal reporter but said he couldn't mention the tweets because "they're not even fit for cable television," even though the screen graphic showed it. Yu Yu said her husband like some executives sometimes expresses his opinions strongly and with spouses it tends to be "50/50 — we take the good parts and the not-so-pleasant parts as well."

Meredith Whitney not mentioned by name, but ...

Ben Thompson was ushered onto The Strategy Session set on Monday curiously as a "Yield Hunter," even though, despite another good showing, in the category of offering yield, he really didn't offer anything.

Thompson characterized the muni scene as, "Defaults over the last 6 months are certainly lower than they've been in the last 3 years."

He added, "The vast majority of the municipal marketplace, the $3 trillion, is in the strong investment-grade area."

David Faber asked whether tax collections are a problem. "Frankly, this has been a good year. State- state tax receipts are up, are up, quarter over quarter, for 5 quarters now," Thompson said.

Gary Kaminsky asked Thompson what's really going on in the state of Nevada. Thompson said there's "misinformation" because it's difficult to break down government specifics. "Recently it was said that Nevada's debt service plus pension costs plus health care liabilities is 50% of its general fund budget. Which is wildly inaccurate. It's 8.6% of its budget," Thompson said.

But when the rubber came to meet the road, David Faber asked Thompson for some Yield Hunter picks. Thompson said you can't look at a specific credit, but regions, and to look at resilient areas such as Texas, mid-Atlantic, D.C. area, New York area, and for essential services, namely water and sewer bonds and transportation bonds. Which is kind of like recommending stocks that are plugged into the global growth story.

[Friday, June 17, 2011]

Stephen Weiss suggests Wall Street analysts are credited for predicting selloffs after they happen

Judge Scott Wapner handed down a nasty verdict on Citigroup's RIMM recommendation on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"You've got Citi coming out, cutting the stock to a sell, which, look, let's, let's just call it how it is. Calls like that to me are just disgraceful," Wapner said. "Talk about being late to the party."

That's a gripe you hear occasionally on CNBC, but Stephen Weiss cranked it up several notches when he suggested that the analyst making that downgrade will be credited for the stock's performance from the close of Thursday's regular hours (and man, you didn't think the game was rigged?).

Last year it was only $4, now it’s $38, so talk about a huge gain

Jeff Harte, who always seems to be recommending banks when he speaks on Fast Money, said on Friday's Halftime, "The banks are definitely cheap," partly because of a "defensive rotation" out of cyclicals.

Most intriguing was that Harte blamed the perceived global economic slump on Japan "going offline" after the quake.

Much of Harte's discussion involved himself and Stephen Weiss talking over each other. Harte insisted the banks will do OK by year's end, so Weiss wondered why they wouldn't be buys now. Harte said he can't say that if you buy it now it won't be down a month from now. But Harte pushed back at Scott Judge Wapner's argument that the banks were purportedly cheap a year ago, saying that trade worked through year-end. "It worked last year; I would expect to see it work again," Harte said.

Harte indicated his top pick is Citi, because it has less correlation to U.S. consumers.

Looks like Steve Cortes’ RIMM
gap theory was a bust

Stephen Weiss and Steve Grasso on Friday's Fast Money Halftime weren't gung-ho about a rally, with Weiss saying, "I'm still in the position where I'm selling the rallies" and indicating he's still short the engineering names.

Grasso concurred, saying, "They're not buying the risk assets today ... they're not buying high-beta plays ... net-net, you're looking at more selling to come."

Patty Edwards, who on Friday finally got more than a token delayed soundbite in the opening 10 minutes and for the first time in a long time was allowed to Call the Close, said "Expeditors looks like it's putting in a bottom. The rail stocks look like they're putting in a bottom," and also lumped in her own holding of TAL International as perhaps "at least a short-term bottom," all while warning you've gotta be careful in this market.

Scott Wapner introduced Atmel chief Steve Laub with an edgy question rattling off tablets of a bunch of non-Apple companies and whether anyone buys those. Laub insisted the Android tablet is "having a big impact" in a market that basically didn't exist a couple years ago.

Steve Grasso cautioned against shorting RIMM, which did not trade with a 3 handle Friday, because of M&A possibilities. "You can get your face ripped off to the upside," Grasso said.

Dr. J comes back,
makes money immediately

Patty Edwards, refreshingly given extended commentary Friday in what was actually a crisp, well-run opening 10 Halftime minutes by Scott Wapner that didn't end with a commercial cutoff during an options point (he only does that when Pete Najarian sits there, not Guy Adami or Stephen Weiss), kinda took the Dan Dicker approach to crude.

"You know, I am hearing from people who trade this on a regular basis that we could be looking at $85 oil," Edwards said.

She said airlines — her favorite is Alaska — are generally winners with falling oil, but in retail, "I think you look more at the middle markets than you look at the specialty retailers frankly. And I would be looking even at a JCPenney, a Kohl's, maybe even a Target at this point."

Steve Grasso said July tends to be a good month for ANF, and he wouldn't short it here. "Play it for July," Grasso said.

Dr. J, Jon Najarian, thankfully got more air time Friday from Judge Wapner, but unfortunately allocated some of it to a Brag Trade, explaining, "I came back from vacation, had some dry powder, committed it yesterday, the stocks popped," and that he sells the rips and buys the dips.

Todd Gordon said he was gone for 2 days at a traders expo and given what he'd heard about Greece, expected to see the euro in free. But instead, he realized, "This is all you've got for downside in the euro?" So he said the "euro technically is fine." He suggesting shorting the U.S. dollar against the Norwegian krone.

Brian Sullivan update

This site has been planning for a while to get something up about Brian Sullivan, who isn't quite as exciting maybe as Mandy but is nevertheless on some kind of path to CNBC prominence.

Sullivan's not on Fast Money, but Friday he did guest-host The Strategy Session in place of David Faber.

Really, the early reviews in television tend to be useless, because rapport matters about as much as anything, and that doesn't happen overnight. It's not until the people on the set are fully comfortable with slingin' it at each other that one can really tell how entertaining they'll be.

Sullivan so far has more than held his own, especially effective in lobbing out questions in those 6-window or 8-window screens that a lot of people claim to hate.

If there's a problem, it's a voice that's a bit aggressive and takes some getting used to. It's fine for the breaking news and raucous conversations, but even the best pitchers can't throw fastballs all the time; Sullivan needs an off-speed pitch for less over-the-top subject matter.

There are a lot of TV evaluation factors that go beyond our scope of (snicker) expertise, such as whether a person appeals to younger viewers and/or female viewers, or whether a person is low-maintenance and always available or high-maintenance and occasional trouble. As he showed Friday on The Strategy Session, Sullivan "gets it," and seems bound to succeed on some level.

(We did find it notable that, according to the CNBC memo, Sullivan's bachelor's degree is in poli sci but he has "a certificate in journalism from New York University School of Continuing Education.")

Kelly: Living Social
has the IPO bug

Kate Kelly, who's really cleaning up this week on the IPO scene (in terms of journalism, not investing), reported Friday on The Strategy Session, "I'm told that Living Social ... is seriously considering a public offering sometime soon" for about $3 billion.

Kelly also said Skullcandy (we had to look that one up) "plans to go on the road shortly after the July 4th holiday I'm told" and has plans for a $125 million offering, although Kelly said the former CEO recently got in trouble for "improper workplace conduct," which makes you wonder what's going on there.

Gary Kaminsky asked Kelly about Carlyle. Kelly said it looks like Goldman Sachs isn't really in the club, that the leaders figure to be JPMorgan, Citi and Credit Suisse, but that Goldman's still in the pole position for the crown jewel, Facebook.

Kaminsky: Greece is like
Bear Stearns, not Lehman

Gary Kaminsky opened Friday's Strategy Session by drawing some 2008 parallels to Europe.

"I say Greece is more like Bear Stearns," Kaminsky said, pointing to recovery in the S&P 500 after the March 2008 sale.

But, "I'm not sure Greece will find a buyer," countered guest host Brian Sullivan.

"They're gonna hope that China, is in some way, shape or form, is JPMorgan, using that analogy," Kaminsky said.

Sullivan took up, with guest Mark Thierfelder, what's become a curious bit of intrigue for both Greece and America's municipalities: what exactly consititutes "default."

"You're basically either gonna make a payment or you're not. That's gonna be a default," Thierfelder told Sullivan, in regard to Greece.

Sullivan asked, "What about if you extend the maturity?" Thierfelder said that would come down to a vote of the bond holders, generally requiring a "supermajority."

"They can extend the terms, and there should not be a default at that point," Thierfelder said.

Gary Kaminsky said these are lean times for bank workers. "The European banks are getting ready for significant, significant headcount reduction," Kaminsky said. Sullivan argued that some units of the banks could still be going gangbusters, such as commodity trading.

The $6 million man

Silicon Valley real estate honcho Ken DeLeon was basically all smiles on Friday's Strategy Session, even if his interview with Brian Sullivan ended up a little bit discombobulated.

The "Silicon Valley market really has come back," DeLeon said, with "a lot of multiple offers."

"The new market is becoming the old market," DeLeon said, referring to the 1990s and, in what's only a fantasy in the rest of the country, reporting "homes going several hundred thousand above list price."

However, after his initial remarks about doing over $200 million in sales, DeLeon evidently misunderstood a joke from Brian Sullivan about calculating 3% of $200 million and clumsily interrupted to restate the first point he already made.

DeLeon told Gary Kaminsky the prices are surging in part because the supply is low because people are waiting to sell to the Facebook crowd next year. He pointed to one home purchased for $5 million that's going to be torn down by someone building their "dream home." He also seemed to pronounce Palo Alto as "Palto" twice.

The "dream home" reminds us of another recent Strategy Session appearance, by Jeff Gundlach, in which Gundlach complained that owning a house is "incredibly expensive" and related how the gas company nearly blew up his place.

For-profit education company gets a thumbs-up

Yield Hunter Michael Weilheimer told Gary Kaminsky and Brian Sullivan that "Credit risk is a little bit ahead of duration risk. I would say if interest rates backed up more than 50 basis points, then you'd have to start worrying about duration."

But, he said, "If rates actually went up 50 basis points, we'd probably see the height of the market rally because the economy's getting a little stronger."

He recommended Arch Coal bonds he said are not high single B, but actually low double B. He also said he liked some Biomet issuance because it can be refinanced in a year or 2.

Finally, giving Herb Greenberg undoubtedly something to chew on, Weilheimer touted a for-profit education company you've never heard of, Laureate. He said "Three-quarters of their business is outside the U.S. ... they look like State University of New York ... we think it can IPO in the next year."

Gary Kaminsky's son Will delivered some Father's Day cheers. "Normally he's got a little more edge," Gary cracked.

[Thursday, June 16, 2011]

Greenfield: P should’ve
priced IPO at $4.50

Superstar Fast Money guest Rich Greenfield, whose name was spelled "Greenfied" part of the time on the screen, visited the Nasdaq Thursday to explain his $5.50 price target for Pandora.

Actually, it took a couple questions from Karen Finerman before Greenfield really explained the nuts and bolts of $5.50. Hopefully we got this all correct, but it goes something like ...

"Get to a billion (revenue) in calendar 2014 ... 80-plus million of EBITDA. If you put a 15 multiple ... that would get you to 7 and a quarter in 3 years ... discount that back."

Greenfield pointed out that for the IPO, "the original range was 7 to 9." He suggested they should've looked to "price this at 4.50 so that you could benefit from upside over the course of the coming year."

He indicated the biggest drawback to the business is, "The more people listen, the more they actually have to pay."

Tim Seymour attempted a halfhearted trade on the Denmark jewelry company Pandora, despite the fact it has a horrible chart. Guy Adami said he's got jewelry that says "I heart Mel Lee."

Maybe RIMM could buy P?

Colin Gillis, who's getting plenty of credit on Fast Money these days for his $36 price target on RIMM but no mention at all of his $95 price target on AMZN, didn't take quite as much of a victory lap as one might've expected on Thursday's Fast Money.

Gillis did describe the stock as "a house on fire" and "it's entering into the abyss." And he said buybacks were a bad idea because they just cost the company capital it needs to reinvent things. But he didn't bite on Guy Adami's suggestion he could drop the price target to $25 tomorrow, didn't bite on Melissa Lee's flier about whether the company would exist in 12 months, and told Karen Finerman that the company can maybe regain a little traction by slowing its U.S. decline and reducing some costs.

Steve Cortes, who previously was semi-defiant about his terrible RIMM trade Thursday (see below), continued that theme with Gillis, saying, "Thankfully I bought it today Colin; it's not like I've been riding it down since $50," and then tried to get Gillis to dis AAPL. Gillis said AAPL is the "best company from a price to growth perspective."

Jon Fortt reported that RIMM execs on the conference call were sort of "undermining" the next product cycle by promoting what they've got in 2012, and even worse, in regards to back-to-school reductions, "Some of the things that they're saying here don't add up."

Scaramucci: RIMM
‘feels a little bit like AOL’

Melissa Lee couldn't resist a bit of a facial regarding Research in Motion near the top of Thursday's Fast Money, saying, "Think of Avian Securities, they upgraded RIMM during the session ahead of the earnings. Not a good move there."

Karen Finerman demanded, of no one in particular, "What happened to the business between April and now?"

"This is beyond disappointing," said Guy Adami.

Anthony Scaramucci went so far as to say, "It feels a little bit like AOL, in terms of its declining market share."

Tim Seymour described RIMM's share plunge as "almost a liquidation type of move, and for a stock that's already been liquidated."

Guy Adami didn't see much use in Steve Cortes' plan to hold on to RIMM shares (see below), saying, "Hope is not an investment thesis."

Scaramucci: ‘Whole default thing’ is ‘priced into the market’

Chris Whalen said on Thursday's Fast Money "it's really anyone's guess" as to who's got what in terms of Greek exposure, and somebody doesn't really want to find out which banks are most on the hook.

"We put the risk with the dumbest guy in the room. Who is that?" Whalen said. "This is why they want a voluntary restructuring, because they don't wanna find out. They don't wanna ask that question."

Anthony Scaramucci said, "I'm very worried about this whole default thing; I know it's priced into the market," the latter remark prompting Melissa Lee to ask others on the panel if that is true. Guy Adami made sure everyone knows he thinks "the market's going a lot lower" while suggesting in fact, for the short term, the Greece "default thing" might really be already priced in.

Tim Seymour and Anthony Scaramucci at one point seemed to briefly disagree over a European contagion thesis in which both actually seemed to be saying the same thing.

Daniel Fisher called $92.50 a "key area" in oil's trajectory. Guy Adami once again mentioned that IBM expects to earn $20 a share 4 years from now.

Anthony Scaramucci was apparently double-parked and needed to bolt, so he had a ringer deliver his Final Trade, JNJ, a "metamorphosis" situation of "Franz Kafka," according to Guy Adami.

Steve Cortes tries to turn horrible RIMM call into overall Brag Trade

Steve Cortes, who just revealed on Thursday's Halftime that he bought Research in Motion as it hovered around $35, conceded Thursday afternoon on Fast Money that it didn't quite work.

He did that by implying this is what happens to hot players.

"Sadly I am long RIMM. Uh, you know, I've traded the market very well lately so this is some needed humble pie, probably," Cortes said.

To his credit, Cortes offered some very calm unofficial Trade School commentary about why he'll hang on for a bit longer that viewers should probably think about. "Historically, certainly in my trading career, it has paid, when a market gaps badly against you, to not concede immediately on that gap, but to take a bit of additional risk," Cortes said.

Dicker: Oil to low $80s

Just a couple days ago, Mark Fisher said on The Strategy Session that he'd be "shocked" if oil ever again trades south of $80.

Thursday on the Fast Money Halftime Report, Dan Dicker suggested it'll get pretty close. Soon.

"I think that it's headed down to about the low to mid-80s," Dicker said, saying it'll be a while until the next sweep upward, and "I'm looking for that next sweep to start in October."

Dicker in his short-term bearishness cited comments from Glencore's "Glasenberg" (that would be Ivan, we discovered, a fact Scott Wapner didn't bother to mention) that might've opened the "kimono" a bit too much about global commodities demand.

"What Glasenberg is basically saying is that he's seeing an enormous slowdown in Chinese demand, not just in oil, but in copper, and he expects it to continue," Dicker said, a comment that found resounding agreement from Steve Cortes.

Vegas: The SALT top?

Tim Seymour spoke on the Fast Line at the beginning of Thursday's Halftime Report, and while he was talking about Greece, he actually sounded like he was marking the end of the hockey season in Vancouver.

Through a horrible phone connection, Seymour could be heard saying, "At the end of the day, resolution has to happen because the contagion effect is way too big ... and ultimate I think this gives you an opportunity to see markets rally a bit."

Guy Adami said, "I hope he didn't get dragged down in one of those Greece riots," before essentially agreeing that "we have a bit of a double-bottom ... maybe for the short term at least, the bottom's been put in."

Steve Grasso acknowledged the market was impressive Thursday off the opening, but "I don't think it's lasting more than a couple of days."

Guy Adami, who loves to reference his trips to Las Vegas, pointed to Dan Niles' not-terribly-enthusiastic views on Intel during the SALT gathering, which got us wondering ... did the market go south once SALT opened?

A week before the conference started, the S&P 500 hit 1,370 on May 2.

A week later, the honchos met on the Bellagio patio on May 10, a day the S&P hit 1,359.

Then Mel Lee and David Faber flew out that night, and the S&P hasn't seen that level since.

We'll call it the Kyle Bass Effect.

Panel seems to agree that dollar, stocks can rally together

Steve Cortes chided Scott Judge Wapner on Thursday's Halftime Report for, heaven forbid, actually asking him a day ago to disclose his position on the banks he purportedly liked.

"You all but questioned my manhood on the fact that I was short, or excuse me, flat yesterday on the banks, even though I liked them," Cortes said. But Cortes was crowing Thursday, saying he did indeed get in, and "I think Morgan Stanley at 22 is a bargain," even though it was trickling back to nominal gains shortly after the program ended.

Cortes also said GS below $140 is a bargain.

Wapner insisted that he's been giving Cortes props about his long-dollar thesis for a while.

Fast Line guest Marc Chandler said once we get over Greece, look at Ireland, because "The Irish government has guaranteed bank bond holders, senior bank bond holders, and the new government wants to renege on that promise," which is a very indirect way of getting a Gerry Adams reference onto this page.

Cortes said, "I think that the dollar is due for a rally throughout the rest of the year." That prompted Judge Wapner to ask Steve Grasso how that can coincide with a stock rally that many others predict.

"I think relationships are all out the window," said No. 386. Guy Adami concurred, "The 2 are not mutually exclusive."

Judge Wapner basically issues a gag order to Dr. J

We were excited to see Jon Najarian return to the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday ... only to have Scott Wapner barely give Dr. J any chance to speak.

Najarian actually had the most interesting trade of the day, suggesting that a number of global hotel giants could benefit from Europe's problems because assets will be for sale on the cheap. "This is the time when the smart money comes into buy," he said. (This writer is long HOT.)

Guy Adami complained that "I think we spend way too times (sic) speaking about Pandora ... It's not a stock that a lot of people out there are probably trading."

That elicited the 2nd and last comment of the day from Dr. J, who said of the IPO, "I'd say rather than mispriced, it was engineered ... they bring out way too few shares," and "this could've priced at around 20." He predicted P shares drift around the mid-teens.

Steve Cortes had an interesting stock call of his own, saying, "I actually bought RIMM today ... I think the negativity is a bit too pervasive." He said $35 is important as a multi-year low. "I do think it's worth at least a flier here," he said.

‘We’re very close to where we were in August of last year’

Strategy Session regular Thomas Lee said Thursday that the stock market has likely had enough pain for now.

"In terms of oversold ratings like RSI or investors' sentiment, we're very close to where we were in August of last year," Lee said. "I think it means that we're gonna rally over the summer."

33% gone in a day

Gary Kaminsky on Thursday's Strategy Session wasn't quite able to take a victory lap on his Pandora predictions of a day earlier but was still claiming a measure of validation.

David Faber said Kaminsky had forecast a close below the IPO price, and "You lost the bet technically."

"Yeah but I think that had a lot to do with some of the underwriters trying to make certain that it printed above the, uh, above the IPO price at the close, so we'll call it a draw," Kaminsky said.

"The sad thing here," Kaminsky continued, is that "a lot of retail investors jumped into this thing between 10 a.m. let's say and 11 a.m. yesterday, hoping that there was gonna be a, sort of LinkedIn-type effect ... unfortunately the movie doesn't repeat itself that way. ... If you bought this at 24 yesterday, and you're holding it, you've got a significant capital, capital hole."

Kaminsky moments later asked Silicon Valley investor Richard Wong, "Did Morgan Stanley price this thing right yesterday?"

Wong claimed a couple times it's too early for him to judge. "The exact story has yet to be seen," he said. "It's only been 24 hours."

Wong said there's more "quality control" in tech land these days, so it won't be like the late '90s, but "I do think you're gonna see a resurgence of technology IPOs."

Better yet, just
hope for a bailout

Sean Egan spoke for a long time about Greece on Thursday's Strategy Session, but his ultimate advice seemed a little bit short of conclusive.

"What investors should be doing is probably evaluating what their exposure is and seeing if whether or not it's reasonable that these, uh, entities can absorb their liabilities, pay them on time and in full," Egan advised.

Egan said that when you do the analysis, "You find out which banks are the most vulnerable and it actually is not the French banks."

So David Faber asked which ones are the most vulnerable.

"Um, the, it's interesting, it's the U.K. banks; it's the sovereign banks themselves ... and then it's the U.K. banks, and it's the German banks," Egan gradually revealed. "The U.K. banks we're concerned about."

Egan said the U.S. banks are slightly caught in this too, but it's "manageable exposure."

Important ground rules for Melissa Francis’ interview apparently were not established

Gary Kaminsky opened Thursday's Strategy Session pointing to European bank exposure to Greece government debt and concluded, "On the surface, these numbers don't appear to be that large."

Kaminsky mentioned listening to Lehman unwinder Bryan Marsal just moments earlier on The Call describing Greece as "very similar to what he saw with Lehman, and how it's just 1 entity begins the whole domino effect. I don't know. I'm somewhat confused."

Kaminsky suggested that if the Greece haircut finally comes, "it's gonna be what is the interconnectivity" throughout the financial system.

But notably, just moments earlier at the end of The Call, Larry Kudlow asked Melissa Francis what she thought of how "Byron" (that's how he pronounced it) Marsal "compared Greece to Lehman," and Francis said this:

"Well, I, I, what he said to me off-camera, which I don't know if I'm supposed to share or not, was that he's not quite as worried about this situation as Lehman because the fix might be quicker on the other end."

[Wednesday, June 15, 2011]

The Money in Motion gang wades into the deep end of the Fast Money pool

Tim Seymour complained early on Wednesday's Fast Money of "the absurdity — everybody's a Greek analyst suddenly."

Then lo and behold, minutes later, Andy Busch came on the set to provide some Greece analysis.

Busch said "The easiest trade is to sell euros," then, as he is prone to do, issued a Brag Trade for Melissa Lee's 3rd show. "On Money in Motion, we talked about that, we gave a great trade to sell euros, it's worked out very well," Busch said.

Karen Finerman, not quite as razor-sharp as Tuesday, questioned Busch over why Monday is "the magic day" for a Greece/euro debacle. Busch offered a long series of facts about Greece needing to reassure people at some meeting it can meet certain funding obligations to receive further aid, and K-Fine chose not to press further. But then Melissa Lee followed with a way-too-long question for Busch that seemed more like a know-it-all kind of thing that even included a reference to Papandreou (correct, we had to look up who Papandreou is and verify the spelling).

Carter Worth continues to play Whack-a-Mole with 150-day MAs

Carter Worth is presumably never going to agree with us on one of our favorite CNBC/business cliches, so we'll just have to continue to play watchdog every time he brings it up.

(Side note: Hopefully Worth doesn't hate our guts, because we're the first to point out his masterful diction and wardrobe, which seriously elevate an all-too-casual world that exists even in the upper echelons of Wall Street.)

Wednesday on Fast Money, Worth said, "Now it gets interesting, and now it gets hard, meaning, to some extent it's perfectly normal to have corrections, pullbacks; that's what keep things healthy."

See, there's that word again.


It just doesn't make any logical sense. Not in this context.

Given the presumption that most people tend to be net-long most of the time — and in the case of the general public, it's basically all the time — it just defies reason that the opposite scenario of what they're wishing for can be "healthy."

What Worth is implying is 1) a pullback strengthens the market's longer-term immunity, with "longer-term" of course undefined, like a person getting a cold today so they don't die of a virus tomorrow, and 2) that an occasional small pullback is what avoids a huge one; let the sellers trickle out now so they won't flood out later. Either way, he's making completely arbitrary judgments about market "health." If you only expected S&P 1,365 this spring, it's a very healthy correction. If you were projecting 1,375 and still have all your longs, this is awful.

We're not market technicians by any means, but we agree with Gary Kaminsky, technicals must be respected. That only goes so far though. The experience here, strictly observational, is that stock markets are priced far more on the current assessment of economic/earnings trends than on what the chart has showed for the previous 150 days. In other words, the only thing that would be "healthy" is a robust or potentially robust, improving economic climate.

Worth did manage to get a dig in at the wafflers who tend to be all too common on CNBC during market scenarios such as the May-June swoon. "You have to pick your spots here, rather than saying, 'However, on the other hand, we're cautious but long-term optimistic,' that's all nothing," Worth said. "You're either buying, or selling." (Actually you can hold too, but we don't want to detract from his point.)

Worth declared, "We are buying, taking advantage of this weakness."

Not the greatest advertisement for MarketSmith

The markets may not be looking up, but MarketSmith chieftain Scott O'Neil certainly was when outlining his bearish scenario on Wednesday's Fast Money.

For whatever reason, instead of looking into the camera, O'Neil kept redirecting his glance up and to the right, which reminds us of one of the many good lines of "The Candidate," but no need to go there.

O'Neil began by reciting a lengthy resume of great bearish calls and claimed he's been making "points of concern" bearish blog posts on Feb. 23 and May 18 and then indicated stocks right now are like a little boat taking on all kinds of water.

So Guy Adami asked where the S&P goes.

"I think we're trending- we're gonna go down," O'Neil said.

"Yeah, I know, I, I, I surmised that, but, but, yeah, but what level do you think?" Adami said to chuckles from his colleagues.

"Uh, we're not in the predicting business; we're in the interpretation business. I think it is prolonged though," O'Neil said.

Sounds like if anything, he's in the semantics business.

What exactly does
market cap represent?

Guy Adami on Wednesday's Fast Money was hailing Colin Gillis' $36 price target on RIMM, which was indeed a good call.

But here's the problem when people on Fast Money only tell half the story.

Gillis' $36 RIMM target was made known on Nov. 24, when it closed at $59.

But it was also made known that day that Gillis had a $95 target on AMZN, which closed that day at $177.

So, if you were smart enough to know which one he really meant, and which one he was just playing around with, you would've done great.

Otherwise, benefitting from Gillis' RIMM call amounts to throwing darts at the board.

Steve Grasso warned Wednesday that crazy things can happen in terms of M&A, etc., when a stock is as beaten as RIMM. "I wouldn't be long it but I'd be afraid of being short," Grasso said.

Karen Finerman made an interesting point about the amount of Pandora market cap that was wiped out in the latter half of the trading day Wednesday. Tim Seymour acknowledged that was a good point but stressed it's only 1 day of trading, in a hellacious tape.

Which made us think about all those stories you read during rough stock market days/months/bear markets, when writers will point out that "$XX billion in value was wiped out," etc.

But what really is market cap other than a mythical notion of what shares of a company are worth, given the expected economic scenario of that moment. Gordon Gekko was partly wrong. Money isn't lost or created or wiped out, but nor is it simply transfered. It's merely inferred.

AAPL's $302 billion "value" (or $2 trillion if you believe James Altucher) isn't a lockbox of cash stashed somewhere in the North Carolina cloud factory, but merely a consensus opinion, like a football point spread.

Mark Montagna, on the Fast Line Wednesday, said Dollar General has achieved "price parity" with Wal-Mart," and, in an unbelievable coincidence, he even one-upped Strategy Session guest Kevin O'Brien's Chips Ahoy! price comparison from earlier in the day, saying Dollar General shoppers get Red Bull cheaper than Wal-Mart customers do.

Karen seems floored
by CSCO’s price

Guy Adami, who said on Wednesday's Fast Money that S&P 1,249 is key, added, "I've been of the belief for quite some time that there's a selloff of a larger magnitude than this on the horizon."

"Quite some time" = something like 2 years, but maybe that's overstating it.

If you're a traditional "value" player, it probably seems like Christmas Day, according to Karen Finerman, who said, "God, a name like Cisco ... I think at some point you've gotta just step up."

Tim Seymour sort of congratulated himself on saying yesterday that the rally doesn't matter until Wednesday confirms or rejects it, but we gotta admit, he and Guy Adami were exactly right about that Tuesday.

More on Wednesday's Fast Money later.

Judge Wapner mostly recuses himself from the most relevant question of the day

It took Scott Wapner about 25 minutes to finally get it — he was busy beforehand figuring out a new way to cut off Pete Najarian — but by the end of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, he actually got to the most important question of the day:

What changed so radically in the stock market world from Tuesday (up 16 on S&P) to Wednesday (down 22)?

Wapner, citing yesterday's China data, ultimately posed this question to Dennis Gartman, who resembled Bud Grant in Super Bowl 9 and said of Tuesday, "I think it was just 1-time data."

Gartman predicted strength in gold, which is fine; he called the Standard Chartered $5,000 prediction "absurd" but said by year-end, "in dollar terms, I guess we can see gold at $1,650," but unfortunately he spent a healthy amount of time (Zzzzz) referring to buying gold "in non-U.S. dollar terms." (And, here's a guess ... eventually the Germans are gonna get sick of propping up the Greeks and their lavish lifestyles and the euro will split into northern/southern zones.)

Steve Cortes makes one of the weakest bull calls ever heard on television

If you believe the banks are a buy, you probably don't want to link to Steve Cortes' Wednesday Halftime Report video on your site.

"Banks tend to be fairly domestic" and immune from global problems, Cortes said, as a rationale (along with the fact they've been beaten down a lot longer than the general market) for finally going long.

Scott Wapner demanded, "When you gonna put your money where your mouth is?"

Cortes responded, "Perhaps this afternoon, perhaps tomorrow."

But Pete Najarian jumped in, complaining people could make those arguments about the banks a week ago, 2 weeks ago, 3 weeks ago, so what's the catalyst now.

"It's a great question; I really don't know what the catalyst is right now," Cortes said.

But he said if MS gets to $22, he'll be all over it.

Went up $1.42; seems
like a win to us

Steve Cortes, who apparently hasn't witnessed that many NYSE interviews, called Pandora chief Joe Kennedy's turn Wednesday with Melissa Lee and others "about the most sanguine, obtuse interview that I can think of on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange."

And, so, despite being the contrarian, Cortes agreed with his panelists that P shouldn't be touched (and you can take that in humorous ways, if you like).

Zachary Karabell had a couple decent 1-liners, but maybe more B quality than A, saying, "Someone should've mentioned that on a day where there's a massive Greek crisis, a company named Pandora having an IPO is probably not auspicious."

"Yeah that box is opened," said Scott Wapner.

Joe LaVorgna: Stocks nearing levels ‘not unlike’ March 2009

Joe LaVorgna, on the Fast Line Wednesday at Halftime, said, "I think part of the growth slowdown is in part a result of inflation, namely the big run-up in energy and commodities ... we think that's transitory."

LaVorgna said sellers of this market, around these levels, basically have to be believers in a double-dip, and that shares right now are "not unlike what we saw in March of '09."

Currency guy Win Thin said he thinks the short euro/long Swiss trade remains viable. Steve Cortes was down on the euro, saying, "I believe it's formed a massive macro double-top."

Pete falls for Judge Wapner’s cutoff gag 3rd time in 4 days

It's more than a week since D-Day, but Steve Cortes was making WWII references on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, referring to Pacific and European theaters.

"I am waving the flag and buying the U.S. dollar," Cortes said. "We've got China fighting a dreadful inflation problem" in the Pacific, while he pointed to BBVA as the strongest indicator of Spanish risk on the European side.

Zach Karabell cited Churchill in saying, "Never, never, never, never give up ... this is not a market that I think one should bail on, simply because the bailing out of Greece has yet to occur."

Nobody was heard to say "I shall return," or that Wednesday's a day that will live in infamy.

Karabell, perhaps the best Fast Money show historian, adequately pointed to 2010 as a good example of how we've seen this movie before.

"We could probably replay our shows from May and June of last year and find that we're having almost the same conversation," Karabell said, though conceding, "I actually lightened up a little bit yesterday."

JJ Kinahan said, "It's amazing, right out of the gate today, we saw buyers of VIX calls ... There is quite a bit of fear out there right now."

Karabell was asked to explain the jump in Boston Scientific and gave an answer that would make Patty Edwards cringe: "It could also just be a 'Go Bruins' pop," Karabell said.

Scott Judge Wapner did another tease into the first commercial by asking Pete Najarian a question about heavy options activity, which Pete earnestly began to address.

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on ...

Robert Rodriguez:
‘The 3% is an illusion’

Robert Rodriguez of First Pacific said on Wednesday's Strategy Session that those startlingly low Treasury yields are just a mirage.

"The 3% is an illusion. It's a manipulated market," Rodriguez said. "History shows that interest rates can change very dramatically in a short period of time."

Rodriguez acknowledged in David Faber's question that by being over 30% in cash and avoiding bonds, he's missed a decent run, but he expects that view to be validated by the "weakening of the economy this year going into next year."

Rodriguez faulted the government for "arbitrary" and "capricious" (we had to look that up actually though we've heard it before) moves regarding GM and Chrysler as the basis for his opinion that "we view the high-yield market as being extremely overvalued presently."

Mostly though Rodriguez is in the long-term debt disaster camp. "Here we're debating about various types of music that are being played on the ship USS Titanic," he said, while we approach the "fiscal calamity iceberg."

Gary Kaminsky asked Rodriguez about companies producing record cash. Rodriguez dismissed that as coming in an "environment which is unprecedented," and that corporate cash is coming from overseas and in the case of financials, "reduction of loan-loss reserves."

"I believe we have to start cutting today," Rodriguez said, asking viewers to "please listen to Dave Walker" as the leader on this issue (and we thought it had been Peter Schiff).

Does WMT carry Fudge Stripes?

Stock-picker Kevin O'Brien followed Robert Rodriguez on Wednesday's Strategy Session with much less of a doomsday scenario, though he allowed, "We agree with more of what he said than disagree."

O'Brien laid out a bull case for Wal-Mart, which he said is "gushing cash," but unfortunately it sounded like a lot of catalysts that are already long baked in and brought echoes of the Steve Cortes "new normal" thesis that didn't exactly work in summer 2009.

O'Brien said Chips Ahoy! at Wal-Mart cost $2 vs. $3.69 in the supermarket. "I think the battered consumer who's beaten up by high oil prices is gonna come back to Wal-Mart," he said.

He told Gary Kaminsky that he thinks WMT buybacks are a good idea, and that with the dividend, holders can "financially engineer our way to a low-double-digit rate of return."

O'Brien also said he likes reinsurers, because "they're totally not economically sensitive."

"Take Platinum, our largest holding," he said, "This is a company that belongs in the Hall of Fame of capital managers," in part on its ability to engineer a buyback.

Gary Kaminsky called O'Brien an "amazing stock picker."

Robert Rodriguez should’ve questioned Charles Grassley about the debt ceiling

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) got a few moments on Wednesday's Strategy Session, to clarify whether he's after SEC or SAC. (One option we can rule out is the Southeastern Conference.)

Grassley, who represents the ironic notion that Americans tend to think advanced age should be the primary qualification for admittance into the world's greatest deliberative body while at the same time many of those same Americans agree with Robert Rodriguez (see above) that people we keep reassigning to that job aren't doing very good at it, explained that he's on the SEC's case; "I don't have any control over SAC."

Grassley complained of the SEC, "they wrote me a gobbledygook letter" saying to "trust us." "If they say they're doing their job, I wanna know if they're doing their job," Grassley said.

Kate Kelly had another in her spree of IPO reports, saying Wednesday that Carlyle is looking at a "relatively small float" in pursuing an IPO that would, among other things, give it an additional tool for compensation.

Gary Kaminsky called the interest in Pandora "stupid." He said overall, "Continue to raise cash; market's going lower."

[Tuesday, June 14, 2011]

How does a movie theater put a butt in every seat?

Sometimes, news and news concepts collide.

Ever since Richard Gelfond visited the Fast Money Halftime Report on Monday (see below) to talk about IMAX, and ever since we saw Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" clunker (see below also), we've had some greater notions of how a movie theater should work despite no experience at all in the industry, not even the Mark Ratner variety (that's a "Fast Times" reference; see below also).

All of those empty seats for so many shows — it's a tragedy really, of lost value, that should bother any person interested in business.

See, the deal is that those seats would be filled — if only there was an adequate way to price them.

Consider a matinee showing of "Midnight in Paris" in which 15% of the seats are filled. (That may be a little harsh, but the level in our experience likely was not as high as 20%.)

The other 85% are essentially spoilage. It's almost the equivalent of Subway making sandwiches to sell to 15 customers, then making 85 more to throw away when no more customers walk through the doors.

What a waste. In the theater, unlike Subway, there is virtually no additional cost if those other 85% of the seats are filled. Once the movie starts, the cost is the same whether 15% or 100% of the seats are filled. Same amount of projectionists with the same salary, ushers, managers, etc.

There would be a tiny incremental marginal cost increase based on the food/drink consumption of the latter 85% that, to this point, we still haven't gotten into the theater. More popcorn to be made, more soda poured, more candy bars purchased. But that's exactly what we want — as many customers as possible purchasing our $4.50 popcorn and $4.75 soda pop at gargantuan margins.

Quite simply, a theater that has sold only 15% of its seats for "Midnight in Paris" would make more money if it simply filled up those remaining 85% at no charge.

Obviously, there are many restrictions in this industry and we wouldn't even want to bother looking them all up. Most theaters do charge matinee prices for at least some showings. But they don't charge different prices based on the demand for the movies; for example, there's no reason "Midnight in Paris" should cost the same as "The Hangover Part II" when far more moviegoers prefer to see the latter. No doubt we've got studio rules, contractual obligations, union rules, DVD-time-frame rules, etc., in play here.

So, this is where a Fast Money Halftime Report interview collides with an IPO in the making. We don't have a clue whether Groupon is truly a great company or a flash in the pan, or what the mechanics of Internet advertising consist of.

What we would guess is that the potential of social media discounting and advertising rests in unlocking massive amounts of hidden value in entities such as movie theaters — offering seats for fair market value that presently isn't happening. What couldn't happen 10 years ago can easily happen now. Like the airlines, they should be offering seats at different prices. A theater estimates late Friday afternoon it will sell 75% of its "Hangover Part II" tickets that night at $11.50 face value, so that's where Groupon comes in, offering $8 tickets if a couple hundred people agree to do it, and bingo, the theater is full. As a consumer, if you're eager to go, you can buy early and assure a ticket, or take a chance at getting in on a Groupon deal and perhaps missing out. There's an incentive either way.

Sooner or later, theaters will realize there's an atrocious amount of value being wasted here and the goal should be the same as a hotel's or jet's, which is fully booked. Once they get good at actually filling the seats, they can specialize in even more value creation, which is selling specific seats at premiums and discounts (most people hate sitting near the front and consider it a waste of money; no reason that person at the end of the first row should be paying the same price as the person who sits halfway up in the middle), and tackling the problem we know you're thinking about, which is, what's to prevent someone from buying a $2 ticket and going to an $11.50 movie, and the answer is simply to hire enough ushers (at roughly minimum wage) for each theater to ensure everyone entering has the proper ticket.

Whether it's Groupon or something else, the Web is bound to revolutionize pricing in ways we haven't seen. Golf courses on slow/bad weather days will suddenly offer afternoon rounds at half price (can't wait for that one); so will amusement parks and museums. Anything in which the next marginal customer adds little to nothing in costs but represents critical additional value. Should be a win-win for everyone and a more effective economy — the notion of an inefficient, flat price for a fluid, time-sensitive event becoming as old-fashioned as some of those characters in "Midnight in Paris."

From ‘perhaps’ to ‘bar none’
in only 9 words

Whitney Tilson spoke with Fast Money on Tuesday with so much JCPenney fervor, perhaps he should've paused a bit to unscramble some of his initial thoughts.

First, Tilson called Ron Johnson "Perhaps the best retailing guy on the planet. Literally. Bar none."

Note the "literally." How exactly would it be taken "non-literally"?

Tilson then told a curious Bill Ackman anecdote related to being chairman of Howard Hughes Corp. that quite frankly, didn't make any sense to us. Literally.

Karen Finerman, as she usually does, asked the $64,000 question, with the preface that it's different selling iPads vs. plain-pockets jeans (thanks to Tim Seymour for identifying the most well-known JCP product).

"What is it that he can really do?" Finerman asked.

Tilson's answer was to repeat the "square-foot-sales" stats that had already been discussed, resorting to the he's-got-a-great-track-record answer.

Tilson also conceded, "We didn't buy any today," even though in his opinion the "market underreacted today" and the stock is even cheaper than a day earlier given the news developments.

K-Fine then poured it on, like Tom Osborne in the 4th quarter of so many Husker routs, pointing to AAPL for another touchdown and saying, "There didn't seem to be any loss of Ron Johnson built into the Apple stock."

We were slightly embarrassed to realize we couldn't recall the Ron Johnson character from "Fast Times," as mentioned by Tim Seymour. But that reference does allow yet another shout-out to one of the most senior members of the CNBCfix community, who claims that Robert Romanus (that would be Damone) was known in college as "Romanos." (At least, we think he still claims that. We haven't heard that story in a while.)

Guy Adami shrugged a bit at Target and perhaps — not literally, but perhaps — damned with faint praise. "For the short term at least, it looks like the bottom's in here," he said.

Karen Finerman stumps
Kate Kelly

Occasionally, live TV reporting can be a high-stakes game of gotcha.

Tuesday on Fast Money, Kate Kelly had just finished delivering a seemingly thorough update on the Pandora IPO, saying it's expected to be "several dollars above the range of 10-$12 per share," and perhaps $15.

But in fact, Kelly had just opened a Pandora's box, as Karen Finerman issued the pop quiz: "What does that make the overall enterprise value?"

"I think they're actually looking at something like a $2 billion valuation at this level. But I don't have the numbers in front of me," Kelly said.

Joe Terranova evidently thought it should be a lot closer to $0. "The model that they're presenting right now for those that are gonna buy this stock, there's no way it can succeed," Terranova said.

Melissa indicates little respect for traditional Wall Street standards

Joe Terranova brought up an excellent point on Tuesday's Fast Money: Why in the world is Pandora getting a single-letter ticker symbol?

(One answer is that the stock-trading business surely isn't what it used to be. But whatever.)

Unfortunately none of Terranova's colleagues had the inclination or wherewithal to defend/explain it, but Melissa Lee seemed downright offended that Terranova would even question it. "What do you mean if they deserve it?" Lee demanded, before moving on. (And somewhere, Dick Grasso is shaking his head.)

Fast Money music update:
Kings of Leon, Supertramp

On Tuesday's Fast Money, we learned a lot more about what people don't listen to than what they do (and no one provided any hints about what we can pin to Nicole Lapin the next time we do a speculative list).

Tim Seymour did speak affirmatively of Kings of Leon as a top-50 staple, but Guy Adami said he'd never heard of them.

So Seymour mentioned Supertramp, while Adami said he'd be all ears if the talk was about Molly Hatchet.

Melissa Lee revealed she actually doesn't know what "Sugar Magnolia" is.

Karen has one of those days that even the superstars can only rarely dream about

Karen Finerman held court pretty much all day Tuesday in a virtuoso performance, completing the Triple Crown of Fast Money questioning when she successfully grilled Peter Boockvar as to why June 30 would suddenly be the market's precipice and forcing a clarification of Boockvar's explanation.

It never gets tiresome, but this page compliments Karen so often, we sometimes just run out of things to say. Honestly, we've never been that excited about most (not all, but most) of Karen's "value" stock picks, basically JPMorgan and Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, but it's all the other things she does, effortlessly, that make us think, Surely this person should be running part of the country instead of just a hedge fund, right?

(See, here's the deal ... money's actually overrated.)

Finerman delivered a rather rare long-form point about a fairly obscure bank, FXCB, which she said has a "ton of excess capital" as well as a big catalyst in being "reweighted in the Russell 2000" and being eligible for buybacks soon.

Finerman said Mike Khouw's Visa options play was interesting, but "I see the chance of them winning anything in court is low."

Didn’t Melissa Lee tell Brian Lamb it’s not a political show?

In what's fast becoming an endangered species — the Fast Money viewer question being answered on-air — @BrainDeadLibs came up big Tuesday, getting a full spectrum of suggestions for his question about the best dividend, REIT and MLP plays.

Karen Finerman started it off with Kinder Morgan Pipeline, while Stephen Weiss added NS, and others chipped in VZ, T and MRK.

Afterwards, BrainDeadLibs congratulated the gang on Twitter: "Glad you all had fun w my handle. Good picks. I had picked up KMP today. Looking hard at NS. Thx - I hate Libs BTW."

Guy Adami and Tim Seymour shrugged off Tuesday's rally, saying we have to wait until tomorrow to know if it matters.

Joe Terranova said he bought FCX Tuesday because he's only looking for the markets to "stabilize where we are right now."

CNBCfix movie of the week:
‘Midnight in Paris’
(Warning: spoilers) Wouldn’t Gil rather just look up Jim Morrison and find out how he really died?

Every so often a movie comes around that is not terrible, but wholeheartedly unrecommendable.

One can only wonder what Woody Allen was trying to accomplish with "Midnight in Paris," which has garnered B+ to A- ratings from critics who don't seem to accept that it's a waste of time.

Movies about book-writing are dubious at best and can be awful (think "Wonder Boys"); there's nothing visual, so you have to show the writers doing something interesting. Woody brought a lot of nostalgia for "Paris" but forgot to pack any drama, and so we get a relationship you don't believe for a moment topped off by a time-travel cliche of a protagonist spending tedious moments wondering what he just saw and whether he's insane. "Paris" is at best a lit heroes crowd's answer to "Field of Dreams" and another reminder, writers are generally boring people.

Brian Kelly: $5,000 gold call
‘could make sense’

Scott Wapner asked Brian Kelly to explain Standard Chartered's $5,000 gold forecast, and Kelly did a nice job of delivering the whole rationale — so nice that Wapner (correctly) assumed Kelly actually is open to it.

"Are you actually telling me that that call makes sense?" Wapner said.

"I, I, well listen, if you, you would have to assume, for," Kelly stammered, "if you don't think that gold demand is going to increase over the next 5 years, yeah, I think it certainly could make sense."

Steve Cortes was having none of that. "Scott I will tell you that that call is absolutely insane," Cortes said.

David Riedel seems to call out Steve Cortes, though not by name

Scott Wapner asked Steve Cortes on Tuesday's Halftime if China's numbers had saved the day.

"I don't think so," Cortes chuckled. "9 out of the last 10 days the S&P made a lower low from the previous day so a bounce was very badly needed."

Cortes then delivered his traditional spiel about how the Chinese are communists. "It flies in the face of history; command economies do not work long-term," he said.

But moments later, David Riedel came on the show and asserted, "There's no evidence anywhere except for some people who don't know anything about China that China's headed towards a hard landing ... they are managing that transition well."

Riedel recommended a couple high-margin plays on the Chinese consumer, TenCent (0700.HK) and Alibaba (1688.HK).

Cortes later said, "Soft landings happen on the Hudson River, not the Yangtze. Buy the dollar."

Patty Edwards said in general, "We have been too pessimistic about some of the data that's been coming out over the past 4 weeks." But she said she'd "perhaps get a little bit long," but not too much, because "I don't trust this market."

Brian Nagel wasn't sold on Best Buy, calling Tuesday's action "primarily a relief rally ... I think the company still faces significant challenges."

Joe Terranova though said one BBY factor people are overlooking is improving inventory growth.

Patty Edwards said the stock is trouble without a hot product cycle. (And then the camera stayed on Patty for too long, which prompted a raised-eyebrows look.)

Patty finally got a Call the Close, saying to "watch 1,290."

Evidently Ron Johnson was a hire at any price, because nobody complained about his compensation

If you're a struggling company, should your strategy be to hire the best CEO possible, no matter what the price?

One wonders, given what happened Tuesday, if Best Buy, upon hearing what JCPenney gave Ron Johnson, should've just tacked on an extra $50 million and given him a call.

Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime gang agreed, basically unanimously, with the stock market that JCPenney is somehow suddenly formidable.

Jeff Klinefelter said "I think it's a great move for JCPenney," calling Johnson a "rare breed" of executive.

Scott Wapner questioned Johnson's experience in "soft" lines of retail. "How does he know how to sell women's blouses for example?"

"Absolutely great question," Klinefelter conceded, but he said "Ron had a lot of experience in soft lines at the apparel category at Target."

"It's a coup," Klinefelter concluded.

"Over the last 10 years, he's been critical," said Gene Munster. "This is definitely a loss for Apple."

Munster said Johnson is the architect of the Apple store, which among other things specializes in "getting you checked out as fast as possible," although we're not sure that's totally true, but at least you don't have to line up near a register.

Patty Edwards, as usual, was hardly given a chance to speak in the opening 10 minutes (though if you really wanna hear from Patty, you should check out her Twitter feed during the Stanley Cup playoffs), finally getting the nod after nearly 9 minutes. "I think this is a phenomenal move for JCPenney," Edwards said. "Apple's retail is the best retail on a sales-per-square-foot basis that is out there."

Edwards also said she wouldn't plunge into JCP on a day like this, but "it is still fairly cheap."

Munster: Tim Cook is staying, but everyone else ...

Gene Munster spoke mostly on Tuesday's Halftime not about JCP, but AAPL, warning that its execs are in demand.

Munster insisted "Tim Cook's not going anywhere," but "you just never know beyond that."

He said he couldn't name Johnson's successor because it hasn't been announced, but it's someone who "shared an office with Ron Johnson for a number of years."

Brian Kelly also wondered "how deep is Apple's bench," but stressed the near-term product cycle is great, "over the next couple quarters, you're OK," but after that it's the "growth trajectory" that's an issue.

Steve Cortes was the big AAPL skeptic, as usual (wonder if he gets as many negative e-mails as Guy Adami always complains about for saying much less). "The law of large numbers is starting to take effect on Apple," Cortes said. "I like middle- and lower-end retailers very much right here," because of lower commodity prices.

For some reason, even though Joe Terranova correctly said "Ron Johnson," Scott Wapner felt compelled to later interrupt him and say "Ron Johnson."

Ron Johnson was once a cornerback for the Steelers, and a running back for the Giants.

Kelly: Pandora may
price above $12

Kate Kelly took a victory lap on Tuesday's Strategy Session around her much-picked-up Facebook $100 billion report of a day earlier and offered a few more scoops.

Kelly said Pandora "may price at or above the top of its upward revised range of 10 to $12," and that Zynga "may file for a $1 billion-plus offering within the coming days or weeks."

Gary Kaminsky asked Kelly if Silicon Valley once again looks like a place where a lot of 21-year-olds are driving Ferraris and buying homes. "I didn't necessarily get that sense," Kelly said, saying it "seems like a little bit of a more mature industry."

Kaminsky followed later with, "I'm just thinking about all of those businesses in Northern California that are hoping that Kate is wrong. They're hoping that it's just like it was 11, 12 years ago."

David Faber chuckled about Andrew Mason's interview shenanigans and said, "This guy in a road show I would pay to see," reiterating that Mason is welcome to come on the show.

Fisher: Crude below $80, never

Mark Fisher made one of those predictions on Tuesday's Strategy Session that can resurface in the archives, although he's made it before and it still doesn't seem too risky.

"I'd be shocked if you ever see a number below $80 again in crude," Fisher said.

He explained the Brent/WTI gap as temporary, at least at this size, and said someone's probably taking a bath. "Obviously there are market participants that are pricing in WTI but their cost basis must be in Brent," Fisher said suggesting they're getting their "socks blown off."

"This isn't gonna last, you know, more than an extended period of time," he said, until it's "sub-$10, sub-$5 again."

David Faber showed a chart of European reserves being put in U.S. banks, which Gary Kaminsky noted a couple of times bears some similarities to 2008, but for now we don't know for sure what it means. Faber said "it's a measure of confidence in the European banking system."

Wealthy people buy
expensive homes

Slow news day, so CNBC spent time on a housing purchase by Petra Ecclestone, who bought Aaron Spelling's old place.

Brian Sullivan closed out Tuesday's Strategy Session with a brief bio of who Bernie Ecclestone is, namely a Formula One chief who put the sport on cable and who already bought a pricy home in London.

While Sullivan didn't bother to show a picture of Petra Ecclestone, he did make at least 2 references to Bernie not being very tall.

David Faber said, "What really is exciting is cable TV, that's where he made the money, I didn't know that."

[Monday, June 13, 2011]

Doug Kass claims Eli Broad, Bob Toll, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke locked in a room would solve the housing problem

Doug Kass on Monday's Fast Money seemed to have a merry-go-round of points, and quite frankly, we weren't sure where to get on or get off.

The theme of Kass' chat was "Screwflation," which, given his 30-year timeline, was yet another variation of the life's-getting-worse theme, that there's no way a consumer with flat wages can compete with a housing debacle, surging oil and stagnant stock market, and wouldn't we all be so much better if this was 1975 or 1966.

"We must address this middle class problem," Kass said, identifying the stats he prefers to look at, and then he claimed "focusing on corporate profits of $95 misses the point," or ignoring the stats he doesn't want to look at.

Then Kass recommended a Marshall Plan for housing and said the White House should call Eli Broad and Bob Toll and lock them in a room with Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner and then we'll get a housing "solution."

But isn't "Marshall Plan" synonymous with "aid" or "handout"? So isn't Kass' implied "solution" merely throwing money to homeowners and artificially propping the housing market so it won't bottom and just be done with it?

Kass also said, "We need a definitive and focused jobs policy," which sounds like something out of Beijing, but whatever.

Karen Finerman, just as skeptical as this page, asked Kass, "How do you create jobs?"

"I'm a money manager, not a policy maker," Kass first protested, despite laying out a series of policy thoughts, before offering 2 suggestsions: "Extending the payroll tax cut," and "I would allow tax-free repatriation of U.S. corporate earnings made abroad if they are earmarked for the creation of American jobs."

So another corporate tax break, so that companies with tens of billions of dollars already in the bank can have more without helping to level off the deficit, overseen by another government division that would have to be created to ensure the repatriated money really does go for American jobs (how exactly is that verified?), to help the dying middle-class American who propelled "Hangover II" to an all-time Memorial Day weekend.

Steve Grasso asked Kass how to play "Screwflation." Kass recommended, "The average investor, um, should err on the side of conservatism and have above-average cash reserves," or, he said, making the first of his 2 references to stuff he previously talked about on Fast Money but not including in that the Japan trade he first admitted he lost money on then said he didn't, for those being a little more aggressive, maybe "short the consumer stocks."

Kass told Joe Terranova, "I am shorting aggressively Treasurys through buying the TBT."

Gina Sanchez doesn’t know
Fast Money host’s name

One of the more unfathomable mysteries of CNBC is not that people happen to get Melissa Lee's name wrong — although she does seem to be on the receiving end of more mistakes than any other CNBC host — but that when they do get it wrong, it's always "Michelle."

Gina Sanchez of the Roubini group was the latest to go down that path, on Monday's Fast Money, after Lee expressed a bit of skepticism toward Roubini's 2013 "perfect storm" theory based on a 33% chance.

"How do you come up with a 1 in 3 chance?" Lee asked.

"I mean, we're using our best judgment on that, Michelle," Sanchez said.

Moments later Steve Grasso broke into the conversation with a joke, "She actually had a 1 in 2 chance of getting your name right," but it only drew a little forced laughter before Sanchez, oblivious to the mistake, carried on.

"1,350 probably makes sense" as a 2011 target, Sanchez told Joe Terranova. ETF expert Andy McOrmond had no troubles with Melissa's name but did have trouble with patience, not even waiting for Melissa's question before plunging ahead with, "We think the play is in fixed income," in ETFs such as CSJ and LQD.

Karen sees HPQ exec’s
demotion as a negative

HPQ long Karen Finerman didn't seem terribly impressed by Léo Apotheker's moves Monday.

"Ann Livermore I actually think is kind of a negative, her being kicked upstairs," Finerman said.

Finerman again reiterated the used-to-be-big-caps-never-got-below-10-P.E-but-now... argument that unfortunately is almost sounding as familiar these days as Dennis Gartman's "I'm long gold in pound sterling terms, not dollar terms" and said, "We're long Hewlett; I have 35 puts against it because at some point you just don't wanna lose any more money."

Nevertheless, Finerman said HPQ remains a matter of show me the numbers, or even "2/3 of the numbers," and the stock is worth it.

Steve Grasso didn't see a catalyst. "I don't see real money coming into a name like Hewlett," he said.

Guy Adami noted that the stock traded in such a way as to make people think something was up Monday. "Here is a company that we know is a sieve" in terms of board leaks, Finerman said.

Why Money in Motion
is worth a look

Steve Grasso said on Monday's Fast Money that 1,268 is the next big S&P level, then 1,257, while Melissa Lee noted 1,234 is the level for a 10% correction.

Brian Kelly said he was most distressed Monday about selling in gold and silver, "that tends to be the leading indicator of sell what you can." He said, "I shorted copper today via JJC." He also said he was long the Hong Kong exchange, partly because of its currency situation.

Dennis Gartman said Monday, "Brent is now the mark of crude. WTI has lost all, all of its cachet."

Amelia Bourdeau, who happens to look really good on television, said, "I actually like being short the euro, but against the yen, a safe-haven currency."

Scott Wapner evidently
is skeptical of 3-D

Scott Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report was trying his dangedest to get IMAX chief Richard Gelfond, a friend of the show, to say something silly about 3-D.

"Here to defend the growth of 3-D is IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond," was how Wapner introduced the segment, but after launching into a question, Gelfond set him straight.

"Well Scott, not to disappoint you but I'm actually not here to defend 3-D," Gelfond said.

Moments later, Wapner countered, "You can defend it whether you want to or not, I'm still gonna ask you about it."

Gelfond basically said he thinks 3-D will find a niche as people weigh whether the higher price is worth it and studios realize where it succeeds best.

Gelfond said maybe 3-D didn't set the world on fire because "last year wasn't exactly a runaway economy," although notice he didn't explain how the May economy produced the blockbuster "Hangover II" turnout. "I think it comes back to the movie," Gelfond said.

Wapner asked a good question about theater concession sales directly linked to IMAX, but Gelfond didn't have that information and said that's up to theaters, a reasonable answer.

This is one boring market

On a subdued Monday Fast Money Halftime Report, Brian Sozzi gave the VF Corp deal a thumbs-up, saying "there's significant opportunity within the Timberland portfolio."

But playing this from here, Sozzi wasn't quite so definitive, suggesting viewers could maybe go long Wolverine, or "maybe you would short something like Columbia."

Steve Grasso said he couldn't identify another retail target but suggested food instead might be ripe for a takeover, something like a Cheesecake Factory.

Grasso said if you're going to be long, keep an eye on the sectors that have held their averages, such as staples, health care and utilities, in particular the XLV.

Pete Najarian pointed to the VIX and acknowledged "there is a bit of fear that's coming into the market." Brian Kelly said he could "easily see it go to $90 a barrel on the WTI," and that "I still am long dollars." Pete Najarian said look to oil for the stock market's direction.

Stephen Weiss said, "My bet is, the market goes lower."

What in the world
is Scott Wapner doing?

As if Friday's ridiculous cut-off embarrassment wasn't enough, Scott Wapner went to the well again on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, asking Pete Najarian about option activity before heading to a commercial.

This time Pete was far more prepared, substituting "kiddin'" for a different term from Friday. "Ya kiddin' me? Again?" Najarian said.

Just wondering: What does Wapner accomplish from this gag?

Facebook $100 billion:
Not so shocking

Kate Kelly reported on Monday's Strategy Session that Wall Street is starting to envision a Facebook IPO that "could value that company at north of a shocking $100 billion" and "could happen in the first quarter of 2012."

Kelly singled out 1 catalyst — "The issue here is that employees of Facebook since last spring have not been permitted to sell their shares to other investors," she said, calling it "almost a perverse incentive" for employees to leave.

Kelly told David Faber, "The betting does seem to be David that Goldman is in the pole position on this one," which will certainly fuel some conspiracy theories.

Gary Kaminsky asked if Facebook might actually adopt that Google Dutch auction that proved a complete disaster. Kelly said, "I've not heard any, uh, traction there, and it seems that that, that model has kind of been abandoned."

Kaminsky warned that not even Facebook might surge in a slumping tech-stock market. "It's almost sort of irrelevant what the market is doing," Kaminsky said. "But to sort of say that if we are at significantly lower levels, for overall tech valuation, I really wonder whether or not they'll be able to get that type of hundred billion valuation that they think."

If there's another crash, we'd have to agree. Short of that, the gut here says Facebook is viewed as Microsoft circa 1980s, and that you might as well take the most outrageous market cap you can think of (which apparently now is $100 billion), tack on $25 billion for the offer price, and tack on another $25 billion for the first day of trading, and there you go.

For a moment, we actually thought there was a banking conference going on in Oakland

Tim Backshall of Capital Context (we learned via the Internet there's also a "Context Capital," for those keeping score) spoke Monday in what has to be considered the deep end of The Strategy Session pool.

Quite frankly, Backshall spoke about stuff that we're clueless about.

David Faber pointed out that credit markets are saying "stay away" from the banks, citing credit spreads.

Backshall said the spread shows, among other things, "Goldman Sachs 35% riskier in the last 6 or 7 weeks" (that must not factor in the "pole position" possibilities of Facebook).

Backshall said "it's really about 'too big to fail' being lifted a little bit," as well as the "need to roll their TLGP paper," which he said is "looming large."

He stressed that the size of the Term Loan Guarantee Paper of Goldman that's coming up is an issue and has a "26-basis-point average yield. Not spread. Yield."

He said the "fundamental pressure is gonna be one of increasing cost of capital."

In over our heads on this one, we were most intrigued by the little graphic under Backshall that noted he was speaking from Oakland. Which of course is one of this site's favorite cities — maybe most favorite, actually — not because of anything bad, but just because it's ... so ... newsworthy.

Could Oakland actually be hosting some elite bankers and strategists?

Evidently, no. Apparently Backshall is based in the Bay Area and used an Oakland studio.

Gary Kaminsky pointed out some financial/economic stats since the guy who's in charge of Britain now (we had to look a couple times to remember it's David Cameron) took over a year ago and found unemployment, home prices and debt projections not much better in the U.S. or U.K., bottom line being, "the credit markets don't like either strategies (sic)."

Kayla Tausche (sorta)
makes a stock call

Continuing the esoteric trend of Monday's mostly quiet Strategy Session, Kayla Tausche paid a visit to the set to say that activism is bound to be heating up.

Tausche said the "ground (is) getting very ripe for these activists," largely because of high numbers of corporate cash, unwilling sellers and a middling equity market.

Gary Kaminsky asked Tausche about investors who try to play these situations by jumping aboard once they see from a filing that a prominent activist has taken a position, and whether that makes sense now. "I think only if you're ready to be a long-term investor," Tausche said, saying it often leads to a settlement involving representation on the board.

David Faber had to rattle off a promo for the Jack and Suzy Welch show, which among other issues (one problem with it seems to be the whole program involves people sitting around a table) has a problem of a lousy title, "It's Everybody's Business," which Faber pointed out is also the e-mail address followed by @cnbc.com, except the e-mail address Faber recommended evidently, according to the screen text, doesn't include the word "its" as Faber said.

LeBron vs. Lew

Gary Kaminsky on Monday offered a "Strategy Session shout-out to our good friend Mark Cuban, Mark reminding people in this country you cannot buy a championship. Congrats to Mark Cuban, and by the way LeBron, don't forget Kobe has 5 rings."

Few things are more gratifying to people than when the world's most hated team gets its comeuppance, whether it's the 2007 New England Patriots, 1993 Michigan Wolverines or 1986 Miami Hurricanes.

The Miami Heat crept into this realm because of one absurd TV "interview" show last year — which suggests it may have been shoddy PR, but amazing television.

One of the reasons that interview was so toxic was that LeBron James is not just a basketball player who happens to be great, but that he is likely the second-most-hyped player to ever enter pro basketball.

Back in the day Lew Alcindor didn't have the luxury of picking his own team; that's the antiquated pro sports outrage of a draft that sent him ... the most anticipated athlete to ever enter any pro sport ... ever ... not to his hometown of New York or college town of L.A. or cherished NBA cities of Boston or Philadelphia, but ... last-place Milwaukee.

And he didn't get an ESPN show to announce it.

Alcindor, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, turned the Bucks around immediately and won a title in Milwaukee in year 2, although Oscar Robertson had to be brought aboard. He also made the Finals in '74 but lost.

However, his real title spree didn't start until he'd been in the league a decade, when he finally got to L.A., and he entered the league much later than James did, so keep that in mind.

Probably the most anticipated NFL draft pick ever came around the same time as Alcindor — O.J. Simpson — although Red Grange came well before the draft and made the biggest impact, when college football was far more popular than pro ball.

Mark Cuban was a guest during the inaugural week of The Strategy Session, on June 10, 2010.

[Friday, June 10, 2011]

Pete says ‘Sh-----’ me?!’

It's a Fast Money first!

Approximately 12:44:33 p.m. Eastern time Friday (note: we initially left off the 44 and said 12:33, in case anyone went to the tape), Pete Najarian was briefly asked by Scott Wapner about options activity in an oil name.

But Wapner was smirking, and merely pulling that gag he's developed where he makes panelists start talking just before he cuts away to a commercial.

He tried that with Najarian Friday, and Pete bellowed "Shittin' me?!"

The closest we've heard to a Fast Money censorship problem was Tim Seymour's "Fast Times" reference a while back to "dick." Dylan Ratigan even once took pains to say that he was using the word "sucks" because a CEO said it, "that's his term, not mine."

(Newspaper style-related note: We spelled out the word in the body text of this item only to make crystal clear what we heard Pete say. As always, we pride ourselves on keeping this site safe for 9-year-olds — assuming 9-year-olds watch Fast Money of course. Apologies for any discomfort.)

We'd post video, but the CNBC.com clips of the Brad Hintz segment end not only before the bad word, but before Pete's commentary on Morgan Stanley.

This has happened before on CNBC and as far as we know doesn't get a penalty; we think Gasparino and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera have done it a couple times and maybe even Bill Griffeth back in the day. TV can be stressful. Censors are more understanding of live news shows, particularly when the term is part of the background noise.

Grasso: S&P 1,228

Steve Grasso on Friday's Fast Money Halftime ushered in a new low — er, that would be a new mainstream low prediction ("mainstream" meaning something beyond Jeff Gundlach's if/then 500 in Barron's a little while ago) — of 1,228 in the S&P 500, which he said would be the 50-week average.

"I think that we're gonna be down there shortly, but nothing happens in 1 fell swoop," Grasso said.

Patty Edwards, pressed to find someplace to make some money, told Scott Wapner, "If you've got money to put to work, you have got to pick your spots very carefully." Edwards suggested Exelon as maybe one of those places but cautioned, "I don't think that I would be going long too much."

Grasso, who wore the Mark Haines tribute tie, said he concurs with the notion of a "utility play" in this market.

Najarian: Consider
Brent/WTI unwind

Pete Najarian, we swear, made something of a rare oil call Friday, saying, "It certainly looks like it wants to return back to that $92 level at some point in the very near future."

Najarian suggested something of a contrarian play in the elongated Brent-vs.-WTI curve. He said it's reached a "stretched level where now you almost wanna reverse that."

Najarian though wasn't quite so committing on Scott Wapner's opening question about whether we're in the midst of a global economic slowdown. "That's the presumption that we all have to read through this," Najarian offered.

Stephen Weiss insisted there's a "delinking" of the dollar to commodity prices. But Steve Grasso said global supply constraints are the issue. "Even if a barrel was oil was $500 a barrel, Iran couldn't pump any more oil," Grasso said.

Weiss said "I'm staying short," specifically the engineering names, Fluor and Foster Wheeler.

It seems like ages since Patty Edwards got to Call the Close. On Friday, only Pete Najarian was afforded the opportunity.

Brad Hintz: Morgan Stanley needs to unload some ‘very highly paid people’

Brad Hintz is sometimes interesting, sometimes not, but on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report laid out a pretty good review of Morgan Stanley.

One of his suggestions was to adjust the compensation ratio not for the whole company, but trading.

"There is no shortage of very smart people who wanna work on Wall Street," Hintz said, suggesting, "We don't need to, to let go large numbers of people, you just need to go, to let go very highly paid people."

Hintz came on the show to defend his outperform rating that hasn't worked. "This stock's trading at a 13% discount to its tangible book value, so, you look at this thing and say, 'Hmmm, couldn't I just buy the entire company, shut down the equity and the fixed-income division, and, and, and take all those securities and make money,' so that's fundamentally what the call does," Hintz said.

"The parts are worth more than what you're paying for," he added.

He conceded, "This is an outperform that certainly has not worked."

Scott Wapner said, "Right, I mean $31 is basically where you think the stock should be valued," before asking, "Gorman the right guy?"

"Yes," Hintz said, resolutely. "There's no one who can take expenses out of retail better than Gorman."

But then he complained that someone with Gorman's background has indeed been very slow to cut costs and called that "one of the frustrations with the stock."

Pete Najarian nevertheless agreed, saying "I think Gorman is the right man" and saying he owns the stock. (But he didn't call it a "sh----" stock, thankfully.)

Scott Wapner asked Patty Edwards if banks have gotten so ridiculously low, you just have to buy.

"I'll let you know if that happens, but we are so not there," Patty chuckled. "I, you know, I have said it over and over and over again, it's the greater cockroach theory, fumigators have been through here twice, I think they're coming again."

More from Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report later.

Did Herb already know the answer to his own question?

Joe Kernen is always capable of knocking a good question from nowhere out of the park, and he sort of did this Friday on an unusually quiet episode of The Strategy Session marked mostly by Mandy's humdinger of a vertical blue-paneled dress on the lead-in from The Call, but basically Kernen's "Too Big to Fail" commentary on Squawk Box proved to be the most exciting thing he said all day.

Kernen was moderating a discussion between Chinese IPO skeptic Herb Greenberg and Taomee CFO Paul Keung, who seemed like a reasonable CFO as far as we can tell, when he put Herb on the spot about one of Keung's answers.

Greenberg tried to make at least 2 points at once, complaining about the amount of entities involved in the IPO before finally pointing to the $10 million sold by 3 Taomee executives as the deal commenced.

"Why would they sell at that point? Why would they basically get out of the company?" Greenberg asked.

"I hope you read a lot more into it," Keung said. "They sold specifically to Saban Capital. Saban wanted to invest in the company. They could not invest in the IPO ... the only way to get them involved was to find a seller ... so the 3 co-founders" sold shares, he said. "They still own a lot of stock."

Herb dismissed it all as "so darn convoluted" with these "opaque structures."

Kernen, though, asked Greenberg, "Did you know that? You knew it was sold to Saban?"

"Absolutely," Herb said, protesting, "I think it's still an issue when you still have them sort of, at that point in time, tied to the issue, selling ... they're getting some cash on the deal."

One of the things that occurs to us here is that, while there are occasions when a host will and should ask a question he/she already knows the answer to, to see how the interviewee responds, in this case Greenberg just wasted time and allowed Keung to get ahead of the story, if there even is a story. In fact Greenberg didn't really have a question, just an editorial comment he didn't feel comfortable making unless it was in the form of a question.

This isn’t exactly Facebook

Too bad David Faber wasn't around Friday to mock Taomee's description of "The Disney of China," which does seem quite bogus, but Paul Keung gave an adequate explanation/defense.

Keung called it "China's largest online community for children" with "84% gross margins."

Herb Greenberg asked why people should trust the financials. "You look at our financials, look at our balance sheet, cash is there. Cash doesn't lie," Keung said.

Gary Kaminsky stuck Keung with a better question that Keung didn't have a good answer for — why go public.

"It's a good question," Keung said. "Uh, we went public because it's an important milestone for the company ... In China, being public is very important when it comes to employee retention ... it helps raise our profile."

The likely answer was, "The money was there, so we're taking it."

Joe Kernen uses 2 of 3 guests on The Strategy Session to promote his book

Australian sovereign fund chief David Murray kept waffling Friday on The Strategy Session about whether U.S. inflation or deflation is the biggest problem.

"I keep drifting between the 2," said Murray, who insisted he's glad he doesn't have to make that call. "We're not a macro hedge fund," he said.

But pressed, he allowed, "The lack of any, uh, inflation in wages in the United States is more indicative at the moment of a weaker outcome."

He told Gary Kaminsky he's not underweight U.S. stocks. "We don't see much difference between the developed market, the developed economy problems in the United States and the developed economy problems in Europe," he said.

Guest host Joe Kernen described Murray as a "controversial figure" because he had "unmitigated audacity" to suggest government and not just banks was behind the financial crisis, which was merely background research by Joe to enable him to hold up his book and say, "My daughter kept coming home talking about the banks and Wall Street, according to her teachers that caused the financial crisis, and I said, what about Freddie, what about Fannie, what about Barney, what about the zero interest rate policy..."

Jim Gilmore lists 3 ideas that all sound the same

Jim Gilmore showed Friday he was "getting it" and actually held up a copy of Joe Kernen's book before his interview on The Strategy Session even occurred.

Instead of an interview, it was sort of an Andy Rooney-type episode on Joe's part to rail against Craig Becker, one of the "top lawyers at the SEIU," joining the NLRB.

Kernen also insisted that if the government doesn't like Boeing putting jobs in a right-to-work state, Boeing could just as easily move the jobs out of the country.

Gilmore agreed and denounced what he said is an effort to "Balkanize the country."

"I think your book goes a long way toward defining that problem, and that problem is, that we're just anti-business in this country," Gilmore said.

Gary Kaminsky once again asked the best question, asking Gilmore for "1 thing" that would improve the nation's climate for business.

Gilmore's answer, though, was actually "several things .. expense investment quicker ... able to repatriate money back in here ... gotta simplify the tax code."

To us, those "several things" sound like ... tax cut ... tax cut ... tax cut ...

And while we should note we're not disagreeing with the premise of this whole conversation — the extent, probably, but not the premise — what in the world do a lot of these companies need with more cash? More Google moon trips?

Kernen complained that Obama's chief of staff Bill Daley was on the Boeing board when it made its decision to relocate. "How this all works is beyond me," Kernen grumbled.

Oh well, here's hoping Kernen makes it to the course Friday, always the destination after the Fast Money Halftime Report.

[Thursday, June 9, 2011]

Mandy seeks suggestions
for July 4th outfit

Apparently, if you've ever dreamed of seeing Amanda Drury in a specific ensemble, now's the time to speak up.

Mandy notes on Twitter,"Loved all your suggestions for my 4th July outfit (to be worn Fri July 1st on air)... i will pick one that won't get me fired!"

Joe Kernen watches only
5 minutes of ‘Too Big to Fail’

Joe Kernen announced on Friday's Squawk Box that "Too Big to Fail" can't hold his attention.

"I haven't seen enough of it to, uh, to like it," Kernen told Carl Quintanilla, saying he'd already discussed it with Becky Quick. "I only saw about 5 minutes."

Kernen complained that he couldn't accept well-known actors in these roles, saying he kept expecting to see Paul Giamatti "take a big vat of wine" and dump it on his face, and that Topher Grace belongs in "Spider-Man."

"James Woods, I've seen him in so many things, he just looks like he's always ready to either cry, or use like a terrible 2-word expression for an either an m-something or c-something," Kernen said, adding he also thinks Ed Asner is too fat for Warren Buffett, and that the movie's flurry of CNBC clips shouldn't have been restaged to be "dramatic" if they weren't dramatic enough when they originally happened.

Presumably like Kernen, we expect to be on the golf course Friday afternoon.

Guy Adami comments
on the Clintons’ marriage

Melissa Lee mentioned during Thursday's Fast Money that according to Reuters, Hillary Clinton is seeking to be World Bank chief.

And then, Guy Adami got a bit carried away. (Which put Melissa Lee's I-don't-want-politics-on-my-show mantra as told to Brian Lamb at risk, because it could sorta be considered political commentary.)

"Would that require her to live overseas?" Adami asked.

"Why?" Melissa Lee asked, skeptically.

"Because if it is, then Bill is saying, 'YEAH BABY! Get her out there!'," Adami said.

"Don't you think he would go with her?" Lee incredibly asked.

"Oh, no shot," Adami said.

Eamon Javers reported that if Hillary departs, "John Kerry's the obvious selection." Lee later read a statement from Hillary's camp saying the Reuters report is "absolutely untrue." Joe Terranova unfortunately tried to credit Doug Kass for suggesting a Hillary job change within 6 months about 6 months ago, but what Terranova didn't note is that Kass said she'd be switching to VP, not looking for work at the World Bank.

CNBCfix.com meets 2 of 3
criteria for Microsoft buyout

Jon Fortt, in New Jersey this week, noted that people have suggested Microsoft buy Netflix or Research in Motion and took a crack — for free, it should be noted — at advising Steven Ballmer how to create value for his company.

Fortt said anything Microsoft buys should have 3 things going for it: 1) "Market cap well under $20 billion," 2) Price revenue well under 10x, and 3) "Healthy software margins."

Fortt said the companies that make the most sense in his mind are BMC Software, Websense and Adobe.

Melissa Lee suspicious of CEOs appearing on her show

Coupons.com CEO Steven Boal apparently had to talk the Fast Money producers into letting him onto Thursday's show.

Because host Melissa Lee asked right away if Boal wasn't there just to gauge reaction to an IPO. "Everything is for a reason, Steven. So why are you coming on TV?" Lee asked.

"That's a fair question," Boal said. "You know an IPO is actually something we've considered for the company for a long time, and it certainly is, uh, is an option for us today, but we do not have any immediate plans to take the company public."

"What does 'immediate' mean?" Lee followed.

"We actually don't have anything on the schedule," Boal said, while promoting his actual business of coupon-clipping. Brian Kelly wondered if manufacturers will simply stop issuing coupons, while Boal said that's not likely.

Ilczyszyn: 9.17 is big
resistance for corn

While the Fast Money gang was basically giggling away the Word on the Street on Thursday (admittedly, "go to beans" was funny), Rich Ilczyszyn was drawing something of a line in the sand about corn.

Guy Adami had hinted of corn going "parabolic" from an "8 handle to, dare I say, an 11 handle."

Ilczyszyn responded, "I don't think it's gonna go that high, and I'll give you that reason, uh, you know, there's a big trend line that comes in play between 8.50 and about 9.17."

Furthermore, he said, "I think that if we have sustained corn prices between 8.50 and 9, you're gonna see a reduction in, uh, demand," adding that "corn has 4,500 different uses," which prompted Tim Seymour's popcorn revelation (see below), and "4 out of every, uh, 10 rows of corn goes to ethanol."

Ilczyszyn described Thursday CME pits this way: "Some call it Protein Gold today."

Joe Terranova recommended a little-followed name, Darling International (DAR). "It's up over 35% this year, $2 billion market-cap, phenomenal free cash flow, and in essence what they do is corn substitutes," Terranova said. "They take waste material, and they convert it into corn substitutes."

Terranova said they call it "bakery feed," which drew chuckles from his colleagues. Brian Kelly said, "I bought some Monsanto today."

Anthony Scaramucci gives
HPQ $80 price target

It's totally understandable given many of the names that emerge as Hedge Fund Trade of the Week selections, but we were nevertheless slightly taken aback by Anthony Scaramucci's call on HPQ on Thursday's Fast Money.

"This is a very cheap stock," Scaramucci said, saying "The market is pricing this thing as if it's in secular decline, uh, when in fact it isn't."

He said "the catalyst is an $8.6 billion share repurchase that's going on right now" and called it a "classic value story" in which the management team is being overly punished.

Basically the argument is that its businesses are far from dead, and there's going to be plenty of money for shareholders.

Melissa Lee though wasn't on board.

"Kinda late to the game aren't they?" Lee said.

Tim Seymour went further, arguing, "That's the vision, I mean, what's the vision, that's, Anthony I think the problem is there's no catalyst for the stock because nobody knows what they do anymore."

Scaramucci said that may be a consensus view, but consensus might be wrong, and there are well-known contrarians taking the other side of that. "We have an $80 price target on this name," Scaramucci said, and acknowledging what a gain that would be, wondered, "Is that a Fast Fire?"

Peter Schiff once again
doesn’t make a stock call

Melissa Lee on the 5 p.m. show ran a clip of Howard Lutnick's QE3 prediction for Peter Schiff.

"Well I think he's right, I mean, we're gonna have QE3, and I think that's a bad thing," Schiff said. "If we didn't have QE3, the economy would collapse."

Tim Seymour tried to trap Schiff with one of his own theories, asserting "the weaker dollar is in America's best interest right now."

"It's not in our best interests," Schiff protested. "It's not a good thing," although he acknowledged it's the reality. "We now have to export more to pay for our imports."

When K-Fine misses Thursday,
it’s a 4-day weekend

Once again Thursday, it took Tim Seymour a bit too long, but he eventually did get to the nut graf: "I think this rally could last you through expiration next Friday, but nobody thinks this is sustainable."

Steve Grasso, gathering evidence for his nothing-more-than-a-dead-cat-bounce thesis, said the fact that "everything worked" Thursday just adds to the notion it's merely an unsustainable blip upward in a downward tape.

Grasso also said, "I used to look like Chachi, now I look like Joanie A. Chachi," which brought hoots from Tim Seymour, but we didn't really get it or get the whole thing.

Joe Terranova, undaunted, pointed out "exports record high ... that got me to buy some Caterpillar today."

Guy Adami once again touted JM Smucker, saying, "It's a coffee trade." Tim Seymour said, "Nice call, nice call. Nice pronunciation."

Mike Khouw explained that someone playing BAC bought August 11 calls while selling the 14s against it, and then selling the Aug. 9 puts. The traders seemed to think it was foolish to get 5 cents for an upside call, and if there were such a thing as equal time, Jim Iuorio would've been on to explain what he dislikes about that trade.

Another thinker predicts disaster for a government that’s not doing what he wants it to do

CNBC.com writer Jeff Cox has written a book about debt problems and got a chance to mention it before the Final Trade while pointing to Greece a couple times.

Cox asserted that we've always heard about how it's a problem for our grandkids, but now we're the grandkids, and "It's coming home to roost now."

The problem with Cox's thesis is what he said after that: "The problem is, we don't have any political will right now to stop it." And doesn't that sort of answer the question of how pressing this really is?

Fast Money music speculation
is trickier than we thought

Call it a healthy correction.

It's come to our attention that Joe Terranova, contrary to what this page suggested a couple days ago, is not a fan of Rush (the band, we're not talking about Limbaugh), but rather The Fray and Coldplay.

What was really bone-headed about our assessment is that Terranova, very awesomely graciously we should add, has indicated he actually "couldn't name one song" of Rush.

While it is a bit hard for us to believe anyone in the Fast Money age bracket is not aware of "Tom Sawyer" — and we don't even like "Tom Sawyer," can't stand it actually — it's entirely possible someone could be aware of the song but not recall the artist.

What started as a total afterthought in which we tried to hand Patty Edwards a compliment with a Lightfoot link (Denver, OK, not so much a compliment but likely reality; you couldn't turn on a radio or TV from 1973-76 without hearing it before he faded to "Muppet Show" land ... and OK, we admit, there was a bit of satire in the original entry only because we're under the impression Patty isn't as keen on "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" as some others rightfully are) now seems more relevant than ever, and we're planning to make this a semi-regular feature.

See, the problem is, ask anyone of prominence what music they've got in the iPod, and you're generally going to get either recent favorites and/or a hipness-politically-correct answer (if you don't think the "Mr. Vice President what are the last 2 albums you've listened to" question wasn't thoroughly anticipated by Donna Brazile, Chris Lehane, Karenna Gore Schiff and 15 other people in advance, you aren't paying close enough attention to how the system works).

We're not talking about last week. We're speculating on people's lifetime of "core holdings," many of which come from early ages. We're not gonna get everyone right, but we trust we'll be close. Keep in mind there is no wrong answer here, there is no such thing as a bad music collection; we've pointed that out to the tangential member of the CNBCfix community who suffered through middle school with Julian Lennon and Big Country tapes.

We're going to skip the already-declared, including Guy Adami and the Allman Brothers, and Doug Kass and Three Dog Night, the latter not a hard one given that Kass probably hasn't listened to any music made after 1987, and who knows, maybe someday we'll attend a Tim Seymour concert and learn firsthand (that is, provided the reality isn't that he doesn't instruct the bouncers to throw us out because we complain that he talks too much on Fast Money).

As for last weekend's picks, we have no doubt Pete Najarian's music collection is as diversified as his stock and options portfolio, but it defies belief that an elite high school/college football player from 1980-1986 was not hearing and liking Van Halen at least occasionally. (We coulda said AC/DC, but that didn't seem quite right.)

Karen Finerman's the hippest of the Fast Money gang (though she does a good job of concealing that) and for all we know, Karen attends Nick Cave concerts when not on Fast Money ... but how in the world did we leave Leif Garrett out of the K-Fine equation?

Quite frankly, we expect to have other "I've never listened to this group in my life" reax, which only makes it all the more entertaining.

So how about ...

Scott Wapner — Pearl Jam

JJ Kinahan — Smashing Pumpkins

Joe LaVorgna — Radiohead

Mike Khouw — The Pixies

Meredith Whitney — U2

Dennis Gartman — The Eagles

Rebecca Patterson — 10,000 Maniacs

Colin Gillis — Flaming Lips

Kate Kelly — Arcade Fire

Andy Busch — The Clash

Whitney Tilson — Springsteen

Mary Thompson — Duran Duran/Prince (tie)

James Altucher — Green Day

Herb Greenberg — Steve Earle

Amelia Bourdeau — Dave Matthews Band

Jared Levy — Sublime

Bill Fleckenstein — The Dead

Alexandra Lebenthal — Pink Floyd

Notice there's no country, an outrage but that's what you get with a New York-centric list, and we couldn't find a home for Lou Rawls. Maybe Kayla Tausche will surface for the former.

Further updates as developments warrant.

Thursday’s Fast Money:
A bushel of laughs

Rich Ilczyszyn, whom we don't think has been on Fast Money since May 18 unfortunately, ended the drought Thursday and roared back into action Thursday, only to have to deal with an overly giddy Tim Seymour reviewing his commentary while he spoke to a Fast Money panel eager for comedy.

But we have to admit, in a very thorough report that we'll have to get to later, Ilczyszyn and the Fast gang produced a borderline fall-out-of-your-chair moment when Ilczyszyn referred to tardy corn farmers who may have to "go to beans."

Guy Adami, incredibly with a straight face, referred to "parabolic moves" a few years ago in corn and wheat and asked Ilczyszyn if that can happen again, even though Adami assured viewers, "Hate to call for those things" ... which of course he "hates" calling for so frequently, he said it about every other day regarding silver a couple months ago.

Tim Seymour even interrupted Ilczyszyn to point out popcorn is a use of corn.

"I feel like a schoolteacher today," said Melissa Lee.

We'll have more on Thursday's Fast Money later.

Howard Lutnick prefers ‘insurance’ to ‘derivative’

Scott Wapner's early "questions" to BGC's Howard Lutnick amounted to a series of congratulations for being the right size and also for being in the same sector praised by Bruce Berkowitz.

The actual interview began when Wapner, to his credit, started questioning the Newmark acquisition and asking Lutnick to defend. In cases like this, we always highlight the initial response, which was, "We are a brokerage company, we have 1,720 brokers and you know no one has ever successfully linked the commercial real estate business with the finance business."

So, they have 1,720 brokers. Must be a winner.

Wapner then impressively followed up, "In other words you're gonna trade derivative contracts based on commercial rents, is that right?"

Lutnick responded, "Think about it much much smaller. Think about it more like, uh, rent insurance."

Elsewhere, Lutnick said, trumpeting his dividend, "We're really in a great position because we're in the service business ... I like the stock, I'm buying the stock, you know, my employees are buying the stock."

He also made a Fed call: "QE3 is coming, it's coming so much sooner than everyone expects."

David Riedel calls debt-ceiling talk ‘irresponsible’ while Scott Wapner says no one believes it anyway

Scott Wapner welcomed David Riedel onto the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday to address the likelihood of a debt-ceiling problem in the wake of stated Chinese fears.

"A lot of it's rhetoric, but there has been some discussion about, um, the, from certain sides of the aisle about the idea of a default for a couple of days forcing, uh, serious spending cuts-" Riedel said.

"I really don't know how real that is," Wapner said.

"OK. Well, even talking about it I think is irresponsible," Riedel said.

We think both are actually right here, moreso Wapner actually, but if you tend to fall more into Riedel's camp, guess all you can do is write your congressman.

Zachary Karabell said he agreed with Riedel and that the Chinese may be diversifying from Treasurys but not from American investment.

Karabell said of Thursday's market activity, "obviously it's a bounce," coming after "6 selloff days, the worst in 2 years."

Steve Grasso was more definitive. "This is nothing but a bounce. I'd like to see us above 1,315 before I'd think it was anything but a dead-cat bounce," Grasso said.

Treat at the CME

Jane Wells' Midwestern tour delivered another bonus Thursday to Fast Money viewers, who got a live report from Jane at the CME with Scott Shellady.

Jane was mostly all business though, impressively discussing with Shellady the ramifications of corn's move based the low USDA stock report.

"I can't remember the last time that they've had a drop that large," Shellady said. "The markets reacted the way it (sic) should."

Shellady also told Wells, "I would not wanna be short wheat against long corn at this moment in time."

Steve Grasso got a bit derailed by ag puns, but Zachary Karabell was all business at least for a moment, saying, "I'm gonna channel Dennis Gartman, lightning channeling of Dennis Gartman, the world of necessity doth need food, it needs wheat, it needs corn," and thus he recommends CF, MON and DD, "particularly in a supply-constrained world."

"And short the cerealmakers as well," No. 386 chimed in, as both Stephen Weiss and Karabell made a crack at Grasso's jackets.

Moynihan goes from ‘great job’ to ‘good job’ in moments

Bruce Berkowitz on Thursday's Strategy Session gave Bank of America management a couple of votes of confidence.

"I think Brian Moynihan is doing a great job," Berkowitz said, saying the CEO and his management team are "being kicked around like a dog."

Gary Kaminsky extended that theme, asking Berkowitz, "You've gotta believe that part of the issue with Bank of America, whether it's right or wrong, part of the issue has gotta be, the idea that a lot of participants do not believe Moynihan is the right person for that role ... are you essentially endorsing?"

"I think he's doing a good job. Tangible book value is up; they're making money. ... They are priced for disaster already," Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz also said he actually raised his position in AIG by participating in the offering and, after another general banking question, suggested ("insisted" would be too strong, he's such an agreeable, low-key chap) he'll be proven right. "I'm smack-dab in the center of my circle of competence," Berkowitz said, pointing to gains he made a while ago in Wells Fargo. "They're very cheap, they're priced to fail, I'm goin'- and we're gonna make some good money."

Bruce Berkowitz interview
painful to hear

We've gotta give Bruce Berkowitz serious props.

Berkowitz was apparently delayed Thursday in his trip to Chicago's Morningstar conference by air travel (whether he was flying private or commercial is not clear, and even Herb Greenberg was questioning if he should be flying commercial, and you know what Gordon Gekko says, it's important to be "rich enough ... to have your own jet. Rich enough ... not to waste time") and for a moment based on what David Faber said, we wondered if Berkowitz was somehow still up in the air while The Strategy Session was airing, but obviously that proved not the case, and rather than mailing this one in, Berkowitz ended up getting seated and miked up just in time to squeeze a few minutes out of the Fast Money Halftime Report.

However, Berkowitz's voice was so scratchy, we were feelin' the pain on every sentence that was scraping across the throat.

He said he thinks he'll eventually be proven right on financials though unfortunately used a modified horrid cliche. "It's very much deja vu all over again with the financials, uh, this is exactly what I did in the early '90s. It's very reminiscent of the early '90s," he said.

David Faber cautioned, though, "Well, you may have to wait a while," pointing out that a lot of the pro-bank arguments were being made a year ago.

"That's why my voice is bad. I'm suffering from premature accumulation," Berkowitz cracked, getting delayed laughs from David Faber and Gary Kaminsky who weren't expecting such an edgy joke.

Gary Kaminsky noted, "Even in private jets, you may have issues" with air traffic.

Sometimes interviews require more context than a soundbite

Gary Gensler, a nice guy as far as we know, on Thursday's Strategy Session delivered an utter snoozer of a Dodd-Frank-BASEL-etc. interview in a hotel hallway in which the most interesting part was watching the maid in the background guard the door. Unfortunately the questions for Gensler basically required viewers to have already read the WSJ editorial to be able to "get it" and figure out what in the world this interview was about.

Gensler said of the editorial, "I was honored to be, uh, uh, there with Chris Dodd and Barney Frank ... it's far more than a Web posting though," and you'll just have to go read the editorial to figure out what dis he's talking about.

Gensler concluded that he's looking forward to the days when "we shift to lower risk and greater transparency," while his hallway emptied out.

Curiously in one of those CNBC promos Thursday viewers saw a clip during The Strategy Session of the Larry Summers comments on the "hostage" of U.S. creditworthiness amid the debt-ceiling debate. This remark was deemed "market-moving news" in the promo, because it became a blog post at the Huffington Post.

This page actually thought that question was a bad use of the limited interview time given that Summers' response, and the opinion of essentially 100% of informed observers of this subject that we've heard, is entirely predictable, and that viewers would've been better served with a more provocative question about which Summers hadn't already rehearsed a talking point.

But the HuffPost gets paid for doing this stuff. We don't.

Herb says ‘smart guys’ have fallen for reverse mergers

With Bruce Berkowitz running late Thursday, Herb Greenberg was brought into The Strategy Session set to fill time Squawk-esque.

One of the things Herb lamented about Chinese reverse mergers was that not only "lots of smart people were nailed in this thing," but "think of all the little guys who get taken in by the promotion of China."

Is the fact that both "smart people" and "little guys" are choosing to blow their money on SINO reverse merger stocks really a pressing national problem? Herb might as well go out and warn junkies about what that next round of heroin will do for their health.

Herb stressed that he's been talking about this subject for 3 years, more than 3 years actually, and "no one seemed to care back then." He quickly corrected David Faber's suggestion as to why it's in the news now, the Muddy Waters report, but they're "not my friends at Muddy Waters," in case anyone feared Herb was tapping a short seller in some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Steve Liesman at the beginning of Thursday's show rattled off so many debt stats, it made our head spin, but we did note he said that according to the Fed's Q1 report, state and local government debt was down 2.9%, the biggest decline in 15 years.

[Wednesday, June 8, 2011]

Jane Wells elicits Brag Trade
from Iowa farmer

Fast Money viewers got another treat Wednesday when Jane Wells turned up again, this time from the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, and Melissa Lee said, "couldn't think of a better correspondent to send."

Wells, in a moment of way-overdoing-it self-deprecating humor, said, "I'm the only pig in this room wearing lipstick."

Wells had fun with slaughter devices with funny names such as the Ecodrum Animal Mortality Management, when "you don't wanna call it like it is." But she also talked corn prices, showing a clip with Randy Spronk, who said nowadays he'd have to pay $7 or more, but he bought last year, when "I think harvest price last fall was $5."

Wells later revealed that after a flight to Chicago for a CME appearance Thursday, she had scallops for dinner, with a "crisp California chardonnay."

Translation: If the offer
is high enough, sold

Brocade chief Michael Klayko was asked immediately by Melissa Lee on Wednesday's Fast Money whether he'd be interested in being bought by Dell.

"Well I think it's flattering, but, I actually have to look at it from the shareholders' perspective," Klayko said.

Klayko claimed at 1 point that, "If you go out and Google 'cloud computing,' you'll find over 20 million references to 'cloud computing'." (We got 92,000,000 per Google.)

Joe Terranova pointed out that one potential glitch in a Dell takeover of Brocade is that Brocade has customers including EMC that may be inclined to bolt if Dell gets in the way.

Steve Grasso noted the strange motherboard pictures in the conference room where Klayko was speaking from in which somebody had obviously just delivered a PowerPoint. "I guarantee you that if Dell gets a sight of that freaky picture in the back of Michael, they're not buying that company," Grasso joked.

Brian Kelly finds no takers
for QE2 illiquidity theory

Brian Kelly unfortunately on Wednesday's Fast Money still seemed to be under the notion that there's all this untapped productivity in this country just waiting to be unlocked by the proper governmental scheme.

"There is another catalyst out there. It's $1.5 trillion in excess reserves," Kelly said. "I think Ben Bernanke should free those benjamins, get 'em into the economy, and then you'll have some economic growth."

"Or is it just another shell game," asked Steve Grasso, who wasn't buying it, and suggested instead, "let's have a flush-out" in June and stop the financial engineering for a while.

But Kelly protested, "You need that liquidity to come into the system. All the money from QE1 and QE2 is still in the Fed vault."

Stephen Weiss shrugged. "Liquidity has not been the problem," Weiss said. "Nobody's lending, and people aren't spending."

Karen Finerman, who catches everything, was maybe most skeptical, saying, "Beeks I'm not quite understanding how that creates ... that, that they're not lending because of the reserve issue."

Kelly still refused to waver, citing the headwind of "regulatory issues" and saying the Fed can "encourage the banks to take a little bit more risk."

Really, if you think about it, who needs a bank anymore; maybe there are just too many. We still think the easiest way to get the regulatory headwind to go away is to punish Goldman Sachs by having it pay off Greece's debt — kill 2 birds with 1 stone that way — but evidently that one isn't on Carl Levin's agenda right now.

Scott Nations getting closer
to a spectacular call

In all of the carping about Nokia on Wednesday's Fast Money, Brian Stutland had the most interesting theory: That at the "5 or $6 mark," Nokia has assets that would lure a buyer.

That reminds us of one of the most provocative calls in Fast Money history, from Aug. 31, when Scott Nations proclaimed Research in Motion a takeover target only at $5.

Nations still has a ways to go. But that one could be a dandy.

Karen implies TXN analysts stunk

Karen Finerman, who catches everything, asked Jon Fortt — who is getting pretty good at this live/impromptu TV thing and managed to keep an overserving of Texas Instruments interesting Wednesday — how everyone could miss the apparently large Nokia component to TXN's success, given that Nokia's most recent problems have been known for days.

"I think we're still getting a sense of exactly how big a Nokia problem this is," Fortt said, not really answering the question which really has no good answer.

Joe Terranova said that for buyers who get TXN at $29.50, $30, "you will be OK 6 months from now."

Melissa Lee curiously said at one point, "Obviously, there's an ecosystem associated with Nokia."

Stephen Weiss said that while Microsoft didn't buy Nokia, they're excited about the partnership, "they're pinning a lot of hopes on it," which ought to scare MSFT longs as much as that YHOO bid did.

But maybe it would help prevent all those smart acquaintances of Dan Nathan from losing their calendars

Citi analyst Glen Yeung spoke on the Fast Line Wednesday to defend his potential AAPL-INTC relationship call while conceding at least a couple times that everyone else — at least the "majority" — disagrees.

But, Yeung said, "A discussion is happening."

Joe Terranova, like most, seemed confused about how this relationship would work, as to which company would change for the other.

Yeung responded, from Intel's standpoint, "If a relationship were to form, the premise, underlying premise, would be, yes, we'll start with you on ARM, but we would hope, uh, that we could potentially migrate you to X86," while Terranova noticeably grimaced and shook his head.

Steve Grasso tries to get Carter Worth to predict direction Worth doesn’t believe in

Steve Grasso, new Twitter king who indicated in a tweet a week or 2 ago that Carter Worth didn't sound all that convincing in his last Fast Money "we're OK" call, reiterated those doubts on Wednesday's Fast Money after Worth's 11th-hour thesis suggesting a bounce with averages around support levels.

"You spoke about the smoothing mechanism," Grasso said of the last appearance. "You didn't sound so convinced to me. I thought you sounded a little bit bearish." He asked Worth where we go if we break 1,275 and 1,257.

Worth responded, "It's how you behave, once you're down to support," which almost sounds like a bedroom comment (gosh, are we that bad? We need that Fast Money bad joke sound), and added that speed is essential. "You need to basically bounce within a, sort of, 4- to 6-week period. The longer you don't bounce, the implications are that you are not able to bounce."

How about they go for broke
and do QEπ?

Jeff Kilburg, who played football with Ron Powlus (currently QB coach for University of Akron, which is Dennis Gartman's home town/alma mater), explained the bond rally as, "I think we've actually seen the Street get caught short here."

He added, "I really think there's gonna be a QE2½ coming."

Brian Kelly asked for reassurance that his TLT long is still safe. "I think there's still buyers. There's more to come," Kilburg said.

Terry Duffy, adequately hedged

Melissa Lee reported on Wednesday's Fast Money that CME boss Terrence A. Duffy said at the company's meeting that the company has "explored a stock split."

For some reason, Lee and Finerman thought this was jaw-droppingly goofy.

"OK. Do they need like a whole banking team to come in and show them, how the stock split would work ... how it creates value?" Finerman scoffed. "I hope the stock doesn't react on that."

Well, here's the deal ... it's an annual meeting. Have you ever seen those questions that get asked at annual meetings? You'd think, of all people, Finerman would be well-familiar with this exercise. People wondering about stock splits strikes us as one of the more reasonable queries on the agenda. (Part of it is that people think splits make stocks go up, and part of it is that grannies want to buy 1 share for their grandkids' birthday parties, currently a problem for any grannies wanting to keep the tally to 2 digits.)

Karen makes mockery
of Pops & Drops

Joe Terranova said early on Wednesday's Fast Money that in this market, "Inaction is the best play," a theme seconded by Steve Grasso.

"There's nothing wrong with sitting on your hands until the end of June," Grasso said.

Fair enough. But what about all those people trying to be a hero?

Terranova pointed to the Gulf a couple times as the place to be, saying "Hornbeck is greatly positioned here." Grasso concurred on some level, saying, "Services are where you wanna put your money" and mentioning SD, CXO, DNR.

"We're long Ensco," said Karen Finerman.

Terranova later mentioned XOM also and cracked it was based on "the law of simple thinking in which I have a Ph.D."

Karen Finerman was given MOS for Pops & Drops, but someone forgot to clear it beforehand. "Uhhhhh ... I don't know actually, it's sort of a Green Mountain moment for me. Just generally down, I didn't know there's anything specific to Mosaic today," Finerman said. Later, she got a Fast Fire for it.

Cortes: Gasoline
‘for sure’ is a sell

Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report delivered a variation of the "new normal" thesis without saying "new normal," but rather, even OPEC can't jack up oil.

"I think on the whole, lower energy beckons," Cortes said.

"Oh wow, I don't, I don't know Cortes, I mean, there's not gonna be another OPEC meeting for, for maybe another 3 months or so," said Scott Wapner, saying that the Fed's improvement forecast relies on lower gasoline, and without it, it can't happen.

Cortes was unfazed. "Scott I think you're giving too much credit to OPEC No. 1. I don't know that they matter that much," Cortes said.

"They just showed how they matter Cortes. Did you see the spike in WTI right after that happened?" Wapner said.

"They have certainly mattered for the day," was all the Cortmeister would acknowledge. "We'll see if they matter more than today. My guess is no." He said crude is a sell, and gasoline "for sure" is a sell.

Joe Terranova has adequate comeback for Scott Wapner

Brian Kelly said OPEC's decision doesn't matter, "they're already cheating," and it merely "changes the longer-term calculus of the oil market."

Zachary Karabell then dusted off the George Gobel routine (that would be The Hollywood Squares) but not with as much panache as usual, saying, "I was so enjoying the Cortes-Kelly match, I almost forgot what I actually think."

But he credited Scott Wapner, "You do a good job, Judge, making everyone mix it up." Karabell said that like Kelly, he sees "very little sign" of a "substantial global weakening."

Joe Terranova said oil futures aren't the way to go, but "I think you can't lose owning an Occidental, you can't lose owning an ExxonMobil," and he also recommended Synovus as well as Gulf player Hornbeck (HOS).

Scott Wapner, who apparently set a goal of challenging 50% of everything his colleagues said Wednesday, which made things interesting, bickered over that one, asserting energy is down 6% over the last 3 months.

"And up for the year though Scott," said Terranova, who reiterated Synovus, plus Newfield.

Apple-Intel thing
‘ain’t gonna happen’

Dennis Gartman revealed on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, "I'm just not an angry kind of guy," but he does find the euro's recent strength "bizarre, absurd and patently illogical."

Gartman said if the euro ever gets momentum in the direction it should be going, look for 1.35 over 6 months.

Brian Kelly jumped into the WMT-as-a-gas-price-fluctuator play but it was late in the segment so it got no reax, saying, if gasoline rises, "You probably wanna look at the lower end, a Wal-Mart, that type of thing, that's where you're gonna get hurt."

Pete Najarian reported strong "buying of the June 29 weekly calls" in GM.

Jon Fortt spoke briefly about Intel and Apple, and Brian Kelly said that on a possible AAPL partnership, "I wanna buy Intel," which Fortt quickly tried to douse, "This Apple-Intel thing, it ain't gonna happen ... Apple has put its money on the ARM horse."

Scott Wapner asked Fast Line guest Timothy Horan what's the difference in sentiment between a perform and outperform rating. "Investors seem to like it a lot," was Horan's answer, saying it's rare when he's made a VZ upgrade.

Pete Najarian asked for an opinion on AKAM. "We're still cautious on Akamai," Horan said, citing LVLT.

Angry viewers actually call The Strategy Session when hearing pessimism

Gary Kaminsky on Wednesday's Strategy Session revealed that the viewing public generally likes good news.

"Just the fact that we mention a couple of factors that we're looking at that may be negative, or may sort of indicate, uh, further weakness in the equity markets, the nasty e-mails, the nasty phone calls come in," Kaminsky said, which makes the viewership sound a bit like Dick Fuld, but whatever.

Gary disses job description of guest just before guest speaks

Gary Kaminsky early on Wednesday's Strategy Session said there have been 3 indications of economic trouble, including performance of financial stocks, the bond market, and his favorite, the distinction between strategists vs. portfolio managers.

"A lot of people come on the network, and they come on, or they, or they send out blast e-mails ... they're strategists — they don't have any skin in the game," Kaminsky complained.

Coincidentally, Matthew Fabian happened to be the next guest.

"With a caveat, I am a strategist Gary, so, I mean, I, so, so I know that you might have a problem with, uh, you know, with my research here, so um, but I don't have skin in the game, you know, we are an independent research group," said Fabian, who tended to speak in a way that was hard to quote although his comments were on point.

"I know you're a strategist but you do some good credit research and analysis," Kaminsky later reassured Fabian.

They were discussing, with David Faber, Meredith Whitney's loopier-by-the-day muni forecast, including a clip from Squawk Box in which Joe Kernen asked Whitney to identify specific CUSIP numbers that will default as an example of ground-up research, and Whitney responded, "That's not a political, um, you know, football I'm gonna take."

"Bizarre, the clip that was played," Kaminsky reflected, before concluding, "There has been a call for massive defaults, and to this date, it hasn't happened."

(Really, the thing we couldn't get over — warning, potentially horribly catty remark ahead — is which hair stylist gave Meredith's new look the go-ahead for Squawk Box, sort of a derivative of Brigitte Nielsen's look in "Rocky IV.")

Fabian joined the bandwagon, even protesting that his firm would actually be doing better if munis really were collapsing, but calling the muni scene a "very heterogeneous place" in which the "g.o. defaults" expectation isn't scary. "The most likely scenario is that, is that we will have zero defaults rather than any," Fabian said.

He also noted from a Kaminsky question that states such as Illinois have a lot of technicalities built into the covenants to essentially ensure there is no default.

Really, Whitney answered her own question just by asking it, if that's not an oxymoron, when she said, according to CNBC.com, this on Squawk Box: "I can't believe I'm the only person talking about it. That doesn't make any sense to me."

While some CNBC hosts/shows are appealing to Whitney, The Strategy Session might not be high on her list given the tagline Wednesday of "MEREDITH'S MADE-UP CRISIS?"

QE2 at work

Charles Kaye of Warburg Pincus might've had interesting things to say Wednesday, but David Faber blunted any potential impact with the standard opening "game-played" question of what are you seeing in the economy.

Kaye, (Zzzzzzzz), said he's seeing a "weak recovery" but with trends "reasonably positive," for example in Neiman Marcus "high-end luxury sales."

Kaye touted the benefits of not being public. "There's something good about having to go out every few years and prove to people you deserve to exist," he said. (Oh man ... does CNBCfix actually have to do that? Trouble ahead ...)

He said of China, "It's been a far better economic success story than it has been a financial investor's one."

Kaye said he's not buying sports teams, but "I like going to the games."

Gary Kaminsky noted that he and Kaye realized Wednesday that a while ago, "We were on a plane together coming back from South Africa," which Kaminsky called 6 degrees of separation though it probably doesn't meet that definition.

Biotech investor Terry McGuire got the "Well-Endowed" portion of the show (i.e., the last 3 minutes) and said being a successful biotech company takes time. "It's likely to be up to a decade before that idea turns into a therapy which ultimately turns into a product on the marketplace," he said.

[Tuesday, June 7, 2011]

Oil traders ‘are very bored’

Sometimes Melissa Lee would practically have you forget she hosts a TV show called Options Action.

Lee actually introduced Jimmy Iuorio's play on presumed oil volatility that pays off if oil moves steeply in either direction as a strategy "that sounds too good to be true."

Iuorio briefly seemed surprised at such a lowest-common-denominator tease, explaining, "No, well, it's not too good to be true, it really does exist."

And of course it does; the reason it's not too good to be true is that it doesn't work if oil remains flat, which is something even mopes like us know and we don't trade either options or oil (thank God).

Iuorio recommends buying the USO July $1.05 40 calls and $1.10 38 puts, partly based on the rationale that oil traders "are very bored over the last couple weeks" and will quickly jump on momentum in either direction.

Iuorio this time didn't run into JJ Kinahan's polite buzz saw of taking an extended time frame to enjoy the volatility, but Mike Khouw was the designated wet blanket, first noting that USO options are in line with crude options, but then mentioning Joe Terranova to give himself cover in case he was wrong about that, which would hurt Iuorio's suggestion; then saying he's not a big fan of the USO, then finally getting to what he really wanted to say from the beginning, diplomatically, that "I'd probably prefer to pick a direction."

Joe Terranova said he thinks the OPEC decision will have "zero impact on the price" of oil and that he recommends Holly and Frontier.

A. Gary Shilling never fails to mention buying bonds in 1981

A. Gary Shilling predicted (sigh) an upcoming slowdown on Tuesday's Fast Money, although this time Tim Seymour wasn't around to hector him on whether he's got any of his own ideas for improving the economy.

Shilling said "QE2 didn't really work," not a surprise since he said Oct. 11 that QE "may be a slow boat to nowhere." (See, there are self-fulfilling prophecies, and there is wishful thinking.)

Is QE3 ahead? "I don't think so," Shilling said, reminding viewers that in 1981, "30-year Treasurys yielded 15 and a quarter percent" and so by now have returned a massive profit.

Melissa Lee asked Shilling to "connect the dots for us."

Shilling said, "I think we're gonna- we're probably headed for a recession next year."

But if you’re not gonna really parse, it was just a vote of confidence

Karen Finerman, as she often is, was a voice of reason about the banks on Tuesday's Fast Money.

Rather than just expressing phony shock over the multiples in big banks (although ... admittedly ... to be honest ... she actually did do some of that too ...), Finerman suggested, "I don't know if there is just also lack of demand" for bank loans that, more than Chris Dodd or BASEL this-or-that, is really what's dogging the sector.

Guy Adami congratulated Jamie Dimon's commentary in advance of actually seeing it. "He's finally sort of drawing a line in the sand; I'm glad somebody is frankly," Adami said.

Melissa Lee later played a clip of Dimon's question for Ben Bernanke: "Has anyone bothered to study the cumulative the effect of all these things?" Dimon asked, before Bernanke responded with a joke.

Joe Terranova neatly got it right away. "If you listen to what he said, 'bothered to study,' that implies that he truly believes they have no strategy, no plan," Terranova said.

Melissa Lee, though, somehow wanted to couch that. "Right. Well, if you're gonna really parse the words, then yeah, absolutely," Lee said.

"Parse"? What about "anyone bothered" was parsing?

Karen Finerman (see, sorry, we had to bring this up) still managed to say that it's "astounding" that BAC could be trading below book value this far into the housing/credit crisis.

Scaramucci: Banks
are not a ‘value trap’

Anthony Scaramucci said on Tuesday's Fast Money that the hedge funds are like Vegas blackjack players who vow to double-down 12 hands in a row until they win still believe the bank trade will come around.

Scaramucci said hedge funds have been "long the banks on the reflation trade, the quantitative easing," and hoped for a housing floor in Q1, but "it does not look like it's bottomed yet."

Nevertheless, "The general consensus is that we are going to see this recovery, and it's still worth holding onto these names. They are the worst-performing names in the S&P sectors right now. But I don't think that they're a value trap," he said.

Karen Finerman noted, as she always notes important things her colleagues say, that Scaramucci lumped in Goldman Sachs with the money center banks despite seemingly having a different business model. Scaramucci said it's being hit too, if for different reasons such as headline risk. But, "I think as Andrew Sorkin pointed out this morning, that the firm will probably generally be exonerated, and that stock looks very cheap."

Guy Adami said, "I will never say anything bad about Goldman- I love the place."

Nat gas watcher says hurricanes ‘not even relevant’ but fails to answer Brian Kelly’s question

Natural gas forecaster Rehan Rashid was very articulate during his Fast Money interview Tuesday, even if he had to throw in a potential Brag Trade.

He said it'll be "actually not too long" for nat gas fundamentals to improve, and "a couple of months ago we raised our 4th-quarter gas-price average to 5.50 when everybody else was at 4.50."

Brian Kelly then asked Rashid what the catalysts would be, because his bullish outlook "implies some extra demand coming on."

"Good question," Rashid said, before initially saying nothing about demand. "Just like most things in life, you get contributions from a whole host of different, um, variables. So near, term, it is going to be simply, production declines from non-shale sources, then we start ... exporting gas, and a lot of domestic chemical companies are, um, setting up plans to come back home, and, and, and restart either older plants or build new ones."

So there's apparently extra demand coming from chemical companies, at some point.

And what about this mumbo jumbo about "most things in life" getting "contributions" from a "whole host of variables." (Which sounds like he's preparing for an Oscar speech ... for what we're not sure, but probably not "Gasland.")

Guy Adami asked Rashid how many hurricanes he has factored into his model.

Hurricanes, Rashid said, are "candidly, not even relevant."

Adami protested, "I'm just trying to get around if the hurricane's modeled or not, because you would see a spike in the price if you saw some catastrophic hurricane there."

"Only for you. Otherwise there's no relevance to hurricanes, because it does not impact supply/demand at all. But if you like it, I give you some," Rashid said, prompting a wink from Adami.

"I like that. 'If you like it, I'll give you some'," Melissa Lee said.

"Southwestern is our favorite name," Rashid said.

Back up the truck:
60/40 odds of a bull case

Jeff DeGraaf wasn't exactly going out on a limb on Tuesday's Fast Money, saying the "weight of the evidence" suggests it's "60/40 in favor of the bull case."

The evidence DeGraaf cited was "20-day lows in S&P 500 — when that number spikes above 50%, you're usually very close to some kind of interim low."

Nevertheless, DeGraaf said he expects a choppy, range-bound market all year and wouldn't get excited unless we burst through 1,375, and "I think you're gonna have a heckuva time doing that, probably the remainder of this year."

At one point Guy Adami asked Melissa Lee if she won spelling bees. Karen Finerman said "I'm sure she did." We couldn't quite understand what Lee said, but it sounded like, "I did."

Mike Khouw congratulates someone for a good call on a different program

We were hoping for fireworks from Zachary Karabell on Tuesday's Fast Money Prop Desk, but Karabell's screen time was limited with the new "extra" Prop Desk person (Mike Khouw on Tuesday), and unfortunately he resorted to cliche, however accurate, when assessing the banking sector.

"This still remains the tale of 2 economies," Karabell said, saying housing is "just a very weak portion of the economy" and not the same as "the Apple economy, the iPhone economy."

Or put another way, there are some things people want (iPad, "Hangover Part II"), and other things people don't want (a house).

Karabell later said, and was given a long stare by the camera crew, that for Talbots, "This was pretty bad."

Khouw was given NKE on Pops & Drops and congratulated Carter Worth for something Worth said on a different program, "Carter about 10 days ago made a bearish call, he covered that last week, well-timed there," as Fast Money appears to be giving more significant air time to options trades lately and little to no time to viewer questions/tweets, for those keeping score at home. (Khouw, impressively, simply credited Worth, and not the fact this was apparently his trade also.)

Kelly also explained why JDSU options were hopping Tuesday. "Part of that was associated with one of the Web sites, Briefing, which, you know, sort of brought up some chatter on the name, I'm not gonna speak to the veracity of that too much," Khouw said.

Joe Terranova said, "I'm long Apple, I'll add to my Apple position on a break below the 200-day."

3 organizers announced at the end of Fast Money that The IronMan U.S. Championships will be held in New York/New Jersey in 2012 and will benefit Robin Hood.

Finerman on Steve Jobs:
‘He did look thin’

Karen Finerman said on Tuesday's Fast Money that she wasn't sure if AAPL investors were "disappointed" by Steve Jobs' cloud announcement, but said, "I think it's good that he appeared, that's good, uh, you know he did look thin."

Guy Adami pleaded with viewers, "Please don't send the e-mails; I don't hate Apple."

‘The bar for QE3 is quite high’

Guest host Scott Wapner gave quality time on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to Marc Chandler, who says it doesn't matter what he thinks about QE2, only that Ben Bernanke & Co. think it's working.

They "think QE2 has been effective," Chandler says, so QE3 is not off table. But he allowed, "The bar for QE3 is quite high."

Scott Wapner said that among the things the Fed can't seem to do is "solve the unemployment problem." How come when it's 4.5%, it's not a problem, but when it's 9%, it's a problem? Is there something extra special about that 4.5 percentage points of people?

Joe Terranova asked Chandler if there's anything the Fed can do besides QE3. Chandler first dubiously answered, "word cues, sending the markets signals," then suggested the Fed could "cut the interest rate we pay on reserves" from the 25 basis points it presently doesn't have to pay, and "cutting the margin requirement" for buying U.S. stocks.

Scott Wapner observed that if the Fed only thinks this is a "soft patch," there won't be QE3.

We groaned at the screen text that said "THE HANGOVER QE2," but thankfully no one on the show actually said that, as a lousy movie moves into its 3rd week towards oblivion.

Analyst suggests 2 stocks
that he rates neutral

The Fast Money Halftime Report got a rare "appearance" (on the Fast Line) from Melissa Francis, who reported that OPEC is going to raise its production quota, "first time in 2½ years," from its present 24.845 million barrels per day.

Steve Cortes said he's "very bearish on energy," and then pointed to the gasoline drop and claimed, "I think it's very good news for stocks like Wal-Mart," which is one of those comments people make unchallenged; lower gas is good for lower-end retailers and middle-end retailers and who knows, maybe even higher-end retailers too, and don't forget airlines and FedEx and UPS.

Speaking of which, analyst Urs Dur said of the OPEC news, "in general it should be pretty good for large tanker owners, so companies like OSG, Frontline, where I have a neutral, and Nordic American Tankers, also a neutral, but OSG I have a buy."

Dur said "There's about 75 ships available" in the Gulf region, a "moderate number." But he told Joe Terranova he doesn't recommend any ETFs based on this news, just OSG, in what really wasn't the most overwhelming, table-pounding endorsement you've ever heard.

Dur also pointed to "FedEx, UPS and other shippers."

Terranova: Low RPMs for F’s rise
over 12, 18 months

Phil LeBeau opened Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report with an update on Ford and its aggressive sales goals, insisting, "they are attainable."

Joe Terranova said Ford share growth will be "slow, methodical ... it is gonna rise over the next 12 to 18 months." But he recommended Toyota for those seeking faster money.

Brian Kelly doubted the Ford sales projections. "There are an awful lot of headwinds," and as for a catalyst, "I don't see it in the auto industry."

Patty Edwards, again barely given a chance to speak Tuesday and once again denied a Call the Close, said, "Alan Mulally is one of the best, and if he believes that he can do it, I actually believe that he can do it too." Edwards said the auto stock she's held, Tata Motors, has been "painful," but "it's now oversold also."

Steve Cortes said he's getting close to buying Pep Boys, because people aren't buying cars but are fixing them. (We didn't hear him say "new normal," but that's the angle he's getting at.)

NBC wins chance to lose
Comcast’s money

Darren Rovell reported on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that NBC has apparently won a batch of Olympic broadcasts, which Rovell called a "surprise."

If we actually cared about Olympic broadcasts, we'd devote more time to it.

Steve Cortes said he's inclined to sell the euro, because "I think that this is a very temporary pause in the selling that will continue and will persist." He said he likes the dollar because "the pessimism is so pervasive out there right now."

Joe Terranova asked rhetorically, "D.C. policymakers? They're nowhere near any form of a fiscal policy," but in fact they're undoubtedly very near the same fiscal policy we've been doing for decades, until they're done with the "jobless recovery"-et al. squawking.

Brian Kelly said, "I'm still both long silver and gold." Steve Cortes said, "I'm on the other side of that trade, I am short silver."

Joe Terranova said of Talbots, "That's about as bad an earnings report as you can come up with."

Patty Edwards, allowed to comment on a couple things, said of Best Buy, "They thrive when you have stuff that needs their help to install it. This is not the time for 'em." She also wasn't so high on CLF, saying, "Look at Walter instead, better chart."

401(k): Necessary financial tool ... or one of the most dubious ideas for the American workplace?

For several weeks, for various reasons, this page has been mulling a little examination of America's 401(k) concept.

Tuesday, Gary Kaminsky sort of beat us to the punch on The Strategy Session, although what Kaminsky spoke about is not exactly the direction we're going.

Kaminsky pointed to an article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal and said, "Almost 1 out of 3 individuals are borrowing money against their own 401(k)." (As always, if you're not a subscriber and don't get the whole article, just clip a paragraph into Google and you'll get the whole thing.)

"What does that say to you?" David Faber asked Kaminsky.

"What does it say to you?" Kaminsky responded.

"It doesn't say anything particularly good of course," Faber said. "You don't know necessarily, is it maybe they can't get credit elsewhere."

Actually, Faber's not quite right. One thing the article points out is that there are, in fact, some advantages to borrowing from your 401(k), and it's the "financial advisors" (of course) who argue it's better not to borrow than borrow.

When something is as universally praised as 401(k)s have been, watchdogs should probably be suspicious. But for decades, the concept has basically been taken for granted as a godsend.

What, exactly, does a 401(k) accomplish? Primarily, it locks up a long-term, often large, stream of money for the financial services firm that has succeeded in landing the business' account.

Equally important, it satisfies people's bizarre fascination with beating the tax man, a dubious and widely celebrated goal often discussed on CNBC that suggests every American from the day of birth is being screwed by tax rates. Healthy skepticism of government is an important part of our culture, but tax rates take it to a new level.

Finally, it's provided ample rationale for companies to ditch defined benefit plans in exchange for defined contribution plans.

Now, how about something it does not accomplish ... if it is presumably an awesome idea for getting Americans to preserve so much money for their retirement, how come Social Security and Medicare can't be made solvent? If people have more money in their golden years because of this concept, then shouldn't Social Security and Medicare need less?

It is actually possible to save money and live within your means and be able to take on a project here or there without making dubious 40-year "vineyard" strategies and without a formula for an end-run around the tax man. We don't disagree that, with regular allocations and (this is important) stable or rising markets over long periods of time, people can do well in 401(k)s, but in general they mostly just serve to goose already successful people a little bit and aren't really a difference-maker for anyone.

Of course, it provides tax-free growth. But you don't get to take a capital loss when it goes down. In 401(k)s, amateurs are trusting themselves to successfully play the stock market with money they've put out of their own reach — barring penalties — for 20, 30, 40 years, when they could presumably use it from time to time on, who knows, college fund, launch a business, in case they get unemployed, etc., in hopes of eventually cashing in a windfall at a time they're already getting Social Security and Medicare, which are basically, apparently, uncuttable.

Sounds like a plan.

‘There aren’t many companies that can take you public today’

On Tuesday's Strategy Session, Alan Patricof explained, in too long of a curious answer, why many tech companies are not going public.

"There aren't that many companies that can take you public today," Patricof said.

Really? Sounds like the wirehouses and boutiques need to beef up those underwriting departments.

Patricof said there are about 10 or 15 obvious examples of companies that could be public or just did, such as LinkedIn, Groupon, Facebook, Zynga, etc., but then "it would fall off a cliff" as to who else can do it.

He said in digital media, "the subscription area has not succeeded," pointing to the New York Times.

"Unfortunately for us in the content business that remains something of a conundrum," David Faber said.

John Harwood reported at the top of the show on the Barack-Angela press conference, saying of Obama, "He is not concerned about a double-dip recession."

Gary Kaminsky and David Faber celebrated The Strategy Session's 1-year anniversary all too briefly in an end-of-the-show, rapid-fire elocution about the goals and successes of the program.

[Monday, June 6, 2011]

Dan Nathan: Lost calendars in Apple’s cloud ‘will happen to plenty of people’

Options guy Dan Nathan explained on Monday's Fast Money why he's not impressed by AAPL.

"I see a whole host of problems in the cloud," Nathan said. "It's a very commoditized product, I'm not really that impressed with what I saw, and so I think the stock clearly is gonna go back to 300."

Melissa Lee protested that it's not so much about cloud profitability, but getting more Apple buyers into the ecosystem.

Nathan said that's not necessarily a good thing.

"Let me tell you something: For that 1st person who got, wants to synch everything up, and they go and lose their whole calendar that was on their iMac, and that will happen to plenty of people, it's happened to some very smart people I know who use MobileMe, frequently, OK ... I think you sell into the strength."

Dan Nathan said in October,
Steve Jobs has ‘lost it’

Monday's Fast Money wasn't the first time we've heard severe skepticism from Dan Nathan regarding Apple.

In fact, back on the Oct. 29 Options Action, Nathan actually said, "After listening to Steve Jobs on their conference call a couple weeks ago, I think the guy's lost it."

Nathan went on to say that when AAPL begins to crumble, it'll crumble big-time.

That day, AAPL closed at $300.98, per Yahoo finance.

Monday it closed $338.04, or a 12% pop for the 7 months since.

So, we have no idea if Nathan's right.

We just know, we've seen this movie before.

It’s got a better shot
than AAPL $2 trillion

James Altucher's presumption of Dow 20,000 in 2012 may or may not be true.

But something else he said on Monday's Fast Money sure was.

"You know, every single recession ever has had the phrase 'jobless recovery' associated with it," Altucher said.

Oh man. He is so right about that one.

See, that's one of those talking points by the out-of-power party, enabled by their associated economists, who have deemed it to somehow be an effective tactic for negating any kinds of optimism from an economic recovery, which is generally good news for an incumbent.

These are the folks who justify their cottage industry, which is no more complicated than a 5-5-2 goal (unemployment, GDP, inflation), with warnings for every possible economic/financial scenario and constant gloom predictions about how we're about to fall behind the standard of living of our parents if wages/dollar/rich-poor gap/deficits/M2/taxation/inflation/commodities/entitlements/interest rates aren't all in perfect alignment, even though virtually all Americans live better today than John D. Rockefeller ever did by virtually every metric except one, how many people we have to wait on us, and frankly most of us should be doing most of that work ourselves anyway.

Unemployment is no happy situation and often happens to good people. It's curious that experts will speak of 4.5% unemployment as "full employment," but then they'll decry 9% as meaning, "the real number is closer to 18%." Those magic 4.5 percentage points apparently make all the difference in the world. And meanwhile, "The Hangover Part II" just smashed a box-office record for an R-rated film, and the Memorial Day weekend box office went bonkers while the stock market assumes the "economy" has just fallen off a cliff in May.

Altucher gets that. "Consumer spending is at an all-time high, so that seems to be unrelated to unemployment, But then again, temp workers being hired at an all-time high, layoffs at an all-time low. What happens next? Full-time employees are hired," he said.

James Altucher
vs. Larry Summers

There's something to be said for timeliness.

Hours after Lawrence H. Summers appeared on CNBC's The Strategy Session on Monday to explain why he is in more fear of a deflation than inflation scenario, James Altucher turned up on Fast Money to argue the opposite.

Altucher claims the much-mocked QE2 is actually a sleeping giant, while arguing with Brian Kelly over the delayed reaction.

"QE2 goes straight into the banks, but then it takes quite some time before it gets into the hands of the average American consumer," Altucher said. "I'm actually worried of too much of a boom simply because I don't think we need a QE2."

Altucher even said, "I think we're gonna have a bubble by 2013, 2014."

Melissa Lee asked Altucher what his 20,000 in 2012 theory means for stock valuations.

"I think we would start looking at reasonable valuations," Altucher said, for some reason having microphone trouble that made him sound like he was in a cavern initially while asserting Apple "should be trading for 2 or 3 times the level it's trading at right now ... these companies can't go lower; they'll just buy back all their stock."

Melissa Lee asked Altucher if the whole Dow 12,000 slogan was a "publicity stunt."

"Well, Intel at 8 times forward earnings, was that a publicity stunt on their part?" Altucher responded.

Lee then tried to goad Altucher into buying banks because they're trading at "historical discounts to their book value." Altucher said he's looking primarily at the highest-weighted companies.

"I'll take Dow 13,000 at this point," Joe Terranova said.

Altucher for some reason promised to reward the Fast Money crew for being skeptical of 20,000, not if he's wrong, but if he's right. "I'll buy the whole Fast Money team steak dinners if we hit it, because we'll all be happy," Altucher said. Joe Terranova said he'd have to give his steak to Pete Najarian because he goes organic. Altucher said "I'm a vegetarian." Pete Najarian told Altucher, "I'll take yours."

Expert declines to answer
Guy Adami’s great question

Peru watcher Luis Oganes said Monday on Fast Money the election-related selloff should "provide a very good buying opportunity," perhaps in a couple days.

Guy Adami, though, asked a wonderful question, actually a concept this page floated shortly after the Flash Crash before anyone on Fast Money brought it up, that maybe what authorities care about is not "wild market swings" ... but simply people losing money in a financial market, which just can't be tolerated.

"Would they have closed the market if it was up 12%? I'm actually asking a serious question," Adami said.

Oganes completely dodged that one, instead saying the rebound might not happen until Wednesday or Thursday.

Gartman: Almost all of market’s gains in a year have occurred on Monday

Dennis Gartman thankfully avoided discussion of the euro on Monday's Fast Money but made an interesting point about the title of a Mamas & the Papas song.

"I think today was very disappointing because Mondays have been, since last July, almost all the gains that we've had in a year have occurred on a Monday," Gartman said, so this Monday's action was "atypical to what we have seen." He thinks the markets could see "another 5 or 10% to the downside."

Gartman said he took a chunk of his gold trade off into the jobs number, then realized it was time to put it right back on. But of course he owns gold not in dollar terms, yada yada yada.

Pete Najarian asked Gartman if the gold miners were ever going to rally. Gartman said there's no reason to play them thanks to the presence of ETFs and other pure-play vehicles, and then (see, almost every comment Gartman made except the Monday thing was the same comment he's made on the show for years) wondered who would want the risk of owning a mine that can flood when you get a pure play on the price of gold. "There's just so many different derivatives that one can, can, can use to gain acceptance or to gain a position on the gold market," Gartman said, calling it an "amazing" divergence between miner performance and commodities performance.

Prospects for Jack & Suzy show apparently so bleak, CNBC has to run promo of Jack saying ‘s---’ to hook viewers

Amelia Bourdeau — who we're starting to quickly realize looks very good on television (and sorry for being slow on that one) — visited the Fast Money studio on Monday to make this gut-wrenching prediction about Ben Bernanke: "He's likely to stay on message."

Onyx CEO Tony Coles spoke to Fast Money from ASCO with a patience and eloquence rarely seen from even top CEOs. He said "we right now have more than 2 dozen clinical trials in various stages," and praised one drug, Nexovar, which he said has been shown to triple the survival rate of thyroid cancer.

Nevertheless, Pete Najarian wasn't fully on board, saying "they haven't earned money yet" unlike other popular names in biotech. Stephen Weiss said he likes the sector, but "I'd rather own the basket than the ETF ... 5 or 6 of 'em, maybe 10."

Stephen Weiss said he added to his TWM position. Guy Adami recommended Church & Dwight, which was up 1%, which for some reason made Melissa Lee snicker.

Guy Adami said of AAPL, "I think if the broader market does what I think it may do, then I think we can see 285."

CNBC viewers probably saw every usable clip imaginable Monday from the Jack/Suzy Welch show promos. Guy Adami wondered how Jack can get away with calling someone's title of "coordinator" a "s---" title.

"It's called, because they can bleep it, and edit," Melissa Lee explained to Adami. "If we did that, we would be fined."

"Excellent point by you," Adami conceded.

"Yes I try," Lee said.

Melissa warns/chides Grasso
over Citigroup stake

Melissa Lee, in sharp maroon, mentioned John Roque's 1,227 S&P call on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Steve Grasso said "I like flat on year, which is 1,257," but then somehow explained, "I don't disagree with the gentleman."

Lee demanded Grasso tell her how long he was willing to stay in C; "this is opportunity cost here," Lee said.

Grasso said it's a "personal" decision to hold the shares until the "smoke clears" in banking, which "could be a 5-year event."

Stephen Weiss said Wells Fargo is being punished not by Dick Bove's rationale, but Wall Street chatter about capital rules. "I like JPMorgan," Weiss said, acknowledging he'll have to be patient.

Steve Grasso was criticized for blindly recommending Apple

Brian Kelly said on Monday's Halftime that "probably the other companies," and not Apple, will be most affected by the cloud announcement, and "I wouldn't be surprised to see a sell-the-news scenario here."

Steve Grasso revealed, "Gone are the days where you could close your eyes and buy 'em, I caught a lot of heat for that on Apple ... I still like Apple straightforward."

Stephen Weiss said Apple's event Monday was bound to be a success simply because Steve Jobs was coming back.

JJ Kinahan reported "weekly options have been very active, particularly the June 350 calls of this week," and thus, "I do think there could be a pop in this stock."

Gene Munster, so pro-AAPL for so long but basically so right, said, "I think you buy it today," because it has the "best value relative to growth in really all of tech stocks."

Munster said the cloud is only the 3rd or 4th reason to buy AAPL. He said the reason the multiple is not higher is because investors don't see how it can continue to grow on top of the "staggeringly big numbers" it has already produced.

John Stephenson backpedals
from 2011 silver forecast

John Stephenson said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that his $60 silver call might've been a little overzealous.

"I think that may be a stretch by the end of the year but certainly you'll see it early next year," Stephenson said, recommending miners such as First Quantum.

Brian Kelly discussed Peru and said, "I would stay away from the miners" and buy SLV instead.

Seattle Genetics boss Clay Siegall gave one of those interviews where you recall Jack Lord telling the physician, "In English, Doc." Melissa Lee suggested a lot of good things about the new drug are priced in and asked Siegall what will drive the stock higher. "We're the leaders in antibody drug conjugates — we're making empowered antibodies," Siegall said, which sounds like quite a catalyst.


Last week this page suggested that some of the tunes Patty Edwards might place in the Apple cloud could include those of John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.

Evidently, no.

We've gotten word that Edwards, in fact, insists it would be U2 and Talking Heads, although even that was qualified by "these days."

We've gotta think that, given Patty's approximate age (we don't know Patty's age but basically the Fast Money gang is about all within 5 years of each other and has the same musical recollections) and hipster status (she has noted being from San Diego), that Patty surely owned vinyl of "John Denver's Greatest Hits." (As well as issues of Tiger Beat and posters of David Cassidy, but that wasn't part of the earlier item.)

Guess we're the only ones who get a tear over "Annie's Song."

Now, had we said Christopher Cross, that would've been a dis — even though there's absolutely nothing wrong with Christopher Cross, just adequate light stuff that got way ahead of itself like "You Light Up My Life" — but we always figured being associated with Lightfoot is a compliment, which is why this site will continue to post Lightfoot links (and it's really not hard, given that he gives a local newspaper interview about twice a week ... every week ... every year ...).

Karen Finerman, from Beverly Hills, is probably the ultimate Fast Money hipster and she reveals nothing about music, unfortunately; there's probably some U2 there but The Police come to mind as a likely favorite. Prior to that, undoubtedly some Andy Gibb, maybe a little Supertramp, maybe even Rick Springfield, who recently had a rough legal incident.

Rich Ilczyszyn? Nirvana.

Joe Terranova? Rush.

Pete Najarian? Van Halen.

Stephen Weiss? Sinatra.

Brian Kelly? Phil Collins, "No Jacket Required," (but we all did that, not a problem).

The holy grail here is Mel Lee, but even Brian Lamb couldn't elicit a music call out of the C-SPAN interview.

Nothing has to be mutually exclusive. At least one person reveals discovering U2 while listening to Lightfoot.

Larry Summers zings Congress
for keeping stimulus too small

David Faber on Monday's Strategy Session interview with Larry Summers said there are several things hurting confidence right now, but, overly deferring to his guest, added, "I don't need to tell you that, you're the economics professor."

Summers then identified 4 things as the "basis for sustained growth": "Profitability of business ... the consumer's balance sheet ... the increase in take-home pay associated with the payroll-tax cuts ... current level of interest rates."

Gary Kaminsky asked Summers if the 2009 stimulus was truly big enough given the economic headwinds. Summers said they could've done more, but still accomplished a lot. "The president put forth a significantly larger program than the Congress was, uh, willing to pass."

Summers said, using that sample size of 3 that is bound to produce a repeat, that the debate has been whether we're overdoing it like in the '70s or underdoing it like Japan of the '90s and the Great Depression of the '30s. "It's been my view all along that the latter is the greater of the 2 risks," Summers said.

"Look I think the basic judgment that the economy is in a recovery phase continues to be the right one," Summers said. "I'd expect, uh, this recovery to continue for a substantial period of time ... I'd expect that it will be accelerating before too terribly long."

David Faber unfortunately spent precious time on a predictable debt-ceiling exchange.

"I trust that it will be extended," Summers said. "The consequences would be catastrophic ... I find it very surprising, uh, that people in positions of authority are prepared to use the credit-worthiness of the country as a hostage to try to drive any agenda."

People apparently still buy suits

Gilt Groupe boss and Internet wunderkind Kevin Ryan visited The Strategy Session on Monday and happened to tout a product line that we kind of figured doesn't have a whole lot of life left in it.

Ryan said he's doing an "enormous amount of volume" in suits.

David Faber was a bit skeptical. "People are buying suits, buying high-end suits, without fear in terms of fitting and everything else?" he asked.

"Absolutely," said Ryan, who said "online is the same thing" as the traditional catalog. "We'll move through a thousand high-end suits," he asserted.

Sounds great, but if he had said something about men's hats flying off the shelves, then the b.s. detector might start to ring a little bit.

Ryan told Gary Kaminsky that e-commerce's total of all purchases is headed toward the 10-20% range from 4-5% now.

Ryan told David Faber that Gilt Groupe is not going public, "not anytime soon," but more likely in a 1- to 3-year range. He said nowadays you can raise a lot of cash as a private entity without paying big fees, though he concedes of going public, "It's easier for acquisitions, that's one of the advantages."

Ryan said "In general I don't think we're in a tech bubble," and really how could we be when you look at Cisco. He said LinkedIn and Facebook are special cases, companies in a great niche that are "gonna own that space for the next 20 years."

Accountants take a beating
on The Strategy Session

Herb Greenberg tackled the rebuttal of Sino-Forest against the Muddy Waters allegations with not a particularly clear focus, leaving the impression he was just gathering his notes and thoughts moments before stepping onto The Strategy Session set Monday.

Greenberg said what he noticed first from the Sino-Forest press release was that it identifies Muddy Watters as having a short position, as a way to "diminish the impact" of its research.

"It's a strange delivery mechanism," agreed David Faber. Then Greenberg pointed to the reference to being audited by Ernst & Young. "All of the big companies that have had problems have been audited by great (sic)," Greenberg said, before cutting himself off.

Gary Kaminsky chuckled and added, "Go back and look at some of the financial companies that Ernst & Young audited during 2008, and I'll leave it at that."

Greenberg concluded in choppy fashion that all he wants to know is whether the Muddy Waters research is right or wrong.

Didn't he already get his answer from the press release?

Gary Kaminsky pointed to anniversaries — The Strategy Session's is coming up Tuesday — for QE and resulting bond reactions, and noted, "The idea that we're even debating QE3 has already been factored into the market."

Kaminsky also told David Faber that the curious drop in Google bonds don't reflect the company's balance sheet compared with the Treasury spread. "A lot of these bond funds David are so fully invested that they're selling the new issues, many of them that they bought, regardless of fundamentals, because they gotta raise some cash," Kaminsky said. "That's what this is about."

Shout-out: Pam Grier

No matter which cable movie channel(s) you subscribe to, certain films tend to air over and over and over again.

For example, if you're ever in the mood for "Cocktail," now 23 years old, generally not a problem finding it.

One of our favorites in this genre has to be "Jackie Brown," partly for this reason: One of the greatest opening scenes of any film ever made.

You see Pam Grier statuesque, in something of an airport moving-stair homage to "The Graduate," en route to work while Bobby Womack's spectacular "Across 110th Street" sets the tone in just under 4 minutes. She is first wooden and stiff, leaving adequate space for the opening credits in blaxploitation font, then suddenly harried, late, but still under control. You can't help but want to fly with her.

Inadvertently, you happen to realize that airport security has been tedious, time-consuming, silly and important for decades, in an actually poignant reminder that we really were trying prior to 9/11.

Incredibly, Grier never even got an Oscar nomination, for this movie or any other. The best actress winner for films of 1997 was Helen Hunt in "As Good as It Gets," which you've never seen more than once. Grier's co-star Robert Forster got the only "Jackie Brown" Academy recognition, losing the best supporting actor nod to Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting."

[Friday, June 3, 2011]

But for the first time in days, nobody mentions ‘The Hangover’

Zachary Karabell indicated on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that he has grown weary of the monthly economic hand-wringers.

"My take is that a lot of this discussion is a continual merger of 'Casablanca' and 'Groundhog Day'," Karabell said. "There is constant shock about, 'Oh my God, the American job market is anemic and Oh dear, we're not gonna have the kind of economic activity we thought we would have,' and every month this seems to come as a surprise."

(He could've also thrown in the propensity of Larry Kudlow's program and other CNBC shows to have a once-a-month roundtable on whether China can apply a soft landing to its fast-growing economy as though it's a new topic, a level of conversation probably equivalent these days to "Pirates of the Caribbean Part IV.")

Karabell said CAT has been dinged, but is a good example of a company that's more reflective of the global growth story than monthly U.S. jobless numbers.

Later, though, guest host Scott Wapner, who actually spent most of Friday's show arguing with an unusually combative Steve Grasso, told Karabell that recent data is showing "the manufacturing economy has almost fallen apart."

Karabell practically sighed in responding, "If you're looking to U.S. manufacturing jobs as a source of inspiration and, and, and help for you to plunge into the market, you're absolutely looking in the wrong place ... if you believe in the global growth story, yada yada yada, that is where you oughta be looking."

Wapner wasn't finished, asking what people should do if they're worried about more than U.S. jobless numbers, but overall global growth.

"Then I think you're wrong, so that's a whole other issue," Karabell said.

Wapner at least got Pete Najarian to admit on the record, "I do not think we're going into a double-dip."

Wapner tried coaxing some sunshine out of No. 386, sort of taking Karabell's argument in saying, "Corporate earnings have been strong. Have we forgotten that already?"

"Right. Maybe margins have peaked. Have we forgotten that already?" Grasso grumbled.

Patty fears music on Apple cloud will get hacked or disabled

It seemed like it took forever Friday for Patty Edwards to get a chance to speak on the Halftime Report.

When she finally did, Edwards went on to churn up WMT, AAPL in her rocky road cone of stock/economic skepticism, along with upstart Diamond Foods.

Perhaps as punishment, Edwards was the lone panelist denied a Call the Close.

"I don't think we're in a double-dip, I think we're on a rocky road frankly," Edwards said. "We've gotta get that employment up."

(Side note that this page will address in-depth later: It's a soundbite, and not necessarily the type of grammar someone would use if, say, writing a report. But the notion of "We've" gotta get employment up ... maybe it's not so much about government having to do it, but regular joes finding what works for them and making it happen on their own ... or is that notion too old-fashioned?)

Edwards said, "The thing with Wal-Mart is that they are so big that they can't grow at this point in time ... they really are all about cash flow." Thus, she is "not so excited about the story."

Edwards was wary of Apple's new project, saying she prefers to get John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot by more conventional methods. "Based on the fact that Sony has had these hacking episodes, the idea of me taking my music, moving it out onto the cloud, and perhaps not being able to get it, is not inspiring awe with me," Edwards said. (OK, she didn't specifically say Denver and Lightfoot, so we're employing artistic license.)

Edwards said of DMND, "People have been absolutely nuts about this stock. It's been overbought ... we're sellin' 'em for now."

Maybe SAP can develop a street interview system with no time delay

The Fast Money Halftime interview with SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott was plagued by a devilish time lag, but McDermott actually gave a pretty impressive accounting of where his company stands and vindicated Scott Wapner's "question"/prop of being in the sweet spot.

McDermott said SAP is successful because "We follow 3 big trends," which include the whole world going mobile, "the world's data is doubling every 18 months," and the cloud, or "economies of scale."

Maybe most importantly, after Wapner dialed down the effusiveness and asked a good question, McDermott said, "We are hiring ... we're hiring everywhere," even mature markets.

Zachary Karabell told McDermott it sounds to him like SAP is doing great in "CorporateLand," but does McDermott think the company can continue to thrive that way if the overall economy flags.

"Indeed I do," McDermott said, not a big surprise.

McDermott added, "I feel very good about strategy IT spending."

Serious currency traders apparently only work 4-day weeks

On Friday's Halftime, Scott Wapner, kind of impressively actually, stuck it to Amelia Bourdeau, who looks good on television, on why the dollar isn't weaker.

(Bourdeau could've stuck it to Wapner if she had a better answer, but after being asked the question twice, she didn't).

"I think it's tough heading into a weekend, uh, you know to push too far on these, on these dollar ranges, quite frankly," offered Bourdeau, whose trade is long Aussie dollar, short New Zealand dollar.

Scott Wapner forgets there’s no episode of Fast Money on Friday afternoon

Steve Liesman interrupted Pete Najarian very early on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying the Fed's Daniel Tarullo has issued a bunch of warnings/recommendations about a 3% capital charge for big banks' capital (as if TARP isn't the new standard-accepted precedent for any future scares, but whatever).

"My guess is this 3% or a little bit lower, may be a bit higher than the market expected," Liesman told Scott Wapner.

Steve Grasso, in probably his only ray of sunshine Friday, said "The banks have been oversold," though he still scoffed at reaction to this kind of Fed report, because "the market is the best leading indicator" and has already indicated banking weakness.

Scott Wapner mentioned Steve Grasso's Twitter handle a couple times, prompting Zachary Karabell to mention his own.

"If you're not gonna toot my horn, I've gotta toot it for myself," the Zekemeister said.

"I'm not even goin' there man," Wapner said, in an undeniably good line that completely derailed Karabell's attempt at Pops & Drops.

"Forget it, Morgan Stanley's going up. I don't really care about it," Karabell had to laugh, as Pete Najarian chortled.

"Friday, brother," Wapner said, impressively finding brevity to be the soul of wit.

Wapner, though, talked about the new Fast Money Twitter account and somehow said, "We also promise to read your tweets on the big show later today."

Fast Money gang agrees economists are getting paid for useless work

Steve Grasso on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report unloaded on the cottage industry of economists making forecasts.

"They got the ISM wrong, they got ADP wrong, they got payrolls wrong," Grasso said, then he demanded guest host Scott Wapner explain, "Who can tell whether it's a double-dip or not?"

Wapner, to his credit or not, feebly tried to be positive, saying, "The ISM services today lends credence to the idea" that there's a "ray of sun" on the horizon.

"You're naming 1 thing out of, out of a world of events that have taken place this week," Grasso scoffed.

Moments later, Grasso endorsed Alan Greenspan's morning remarks on the futility of the accuracy of economists' projections.

"They can't. it's all smoke and mirrors. They can't. So we're listening to guys who have no idea until it's in the rear-view mirror. They'll tell us about what happened, 3 years from now," Grasso said.

Zachary Karabell couldn't wait to jump in and take that thread further, suggesting people look at real-world, real-time data such as "rising iron ore prices which I've said several times," which comes "without the rear-view guessing game that economists are paid to do."

Even Pete Najarian got in the act, sorta, pointing to Joy Global's forecast as a more realistic economic indicator.


Mandy’s smokin’ hot pants-top combo brings clickers to this site wanting to know age, husband, etc.

CNBC viewers got a triple-treat Friday afternoon during Street Signs with Mandy hosting, then back-to-back segments featuring NBC's Michelle Kosinski and CNBC's Jane Wells.

Viewers of The Call also got a head-to-toe look at Mandy's outfit along the Heat Map wall at the end of the show with Ed Ponsi, and the sound crews caught Mandy off-camera telling Ponsi, "Thank you! Great energy!," and is there anything better than doing a TV segment with Mandy?

Notre Dame endowment chief implies greed of asset managers has gotten out of control, then calls his fund a ‘charity’

University of Notre Dame endowment chief Scott Malpass capped off The Strategy Session's "Well-Endowed" week with a strong implication, which he later confirmed, that his $7 billion fund has been muscling down fees assessed by its asset managers.

"Fees have come down somewhat, particularly in the hedge fund world. Not, not so much in private equity," Malpass said.

He said that 20 years ago, when he started at Notre Dame, they'd get a proposal from the general partners that "covered their costs and a modest salary."

Nowadays, Malpass said, "The management fees far exceed their infrastructure needs," and so Notre Dame has been trying to "Remind these folks that we're charities and we're supporting students and faculty, and that's where the money goes."

Has Notre Dame endowment outperformed Treasury notes?

One of the things about "Well-Endowed" week on The Strategy Session is that the charts showing university investments aren't all uniform.

So for Notre Dame on Friday, viewers saw asset allocation by percentage, but it wasn't until David Faber asked at the end of the interview that Scott Malpass addressed his hedge fund exposure, saying, "We're comfortable. We're at about 30% in hedge funds."

The chart did show, however, that ND has got 28% in private equity.

David Faber asked Malpass what his projected return is each year.

"We don't do an annual projection, because we're a long-term investor," Malpass said, which of course is something of a cover, but more on that later (on top of what we've already said this week, you know, the "marathon-sprint" thing about rocky years not being a problem because in the long run it's always going to be higher).

Malpass said that over time, "We can generate a low-double-digit return net of fees."

But notice the valley-shaped bar chart of Notre Dame endowment returns (above). It looks fine on the bookends. But what about that 10-year return? It looks, if we're allowed to estimate, suspiciously between 5% and 6%.

Is 10 years considered a "sprint," or short-term investing?

We wondered, in fact, if Malpass would've outdone himself simply by buying 10-year Treasurys 10 years ago.

Figuring out Treasury note-value returns — as opposed to just the interest rate chart which of course moves inversely to the value of the note — proved trickier on a Friday afternoon than we thought.

But according to Yahoo finance, the 10-year yield on June 30, 2000 (the beginning of Notre Dame's 10 year annual return according to its as-of-June-2010 fiscal year data) was 6.02%. Today it's about half that.

We're not smart enough to compute all those Rule of 72s calculations, etc. But isn't it reasonable to conclude that "long-term investor" Malpass could've actually done better for Notre Dame over the last decade simply by buying a bunch of no-fee Treasury notes, disbanding the overhead of his department, not paying hedge funds or private equity a dime, not losing money in 2008, and heading to the golf course?

Nah. Can't be that easy.

David Faber actually endorsed the "long-term" analysis, saying Malpass' fund is "long-term in nature which certainly can be helpful if you can hang in there."

Notre Dame in April declared endowment director ‘without question, the best chief investment officer in the world’

Scott Malpass, unlike some of his peers this week on The Strategy Session, apparently thinks global markets remain in great shape.

"We're active investors, so we're always making changes ... we are playing more offense today than, than maybe investors were able to the last couple of years," Malpass said Friday.

Malpass told David Faber and Gary Kaminsky that he's even now "including more illiquid strategies than, than maybe we were able to a couple of years ago."

When David Faber questioned difficulties of illiquidity, Malpass claimed, "Historically, illiquidity has been a positive if you're partnering with the right people."

Illiquidity is a "positive." That's one we haven't heard for a while, if ever.

Among the stats, Malpass has 18% in real assets, 13.5% in marketable alternatives. "We're about 40% international," he says, and the fund has $7.2 billion total.

The screen text said Malpass was speaking from "Notre Dame, Indiana." The official Notre Dame dateline is a curious subject that occasionally comes up for debate, given that the university's official municipality is indeed "Notre Dame, Ind.," and not South Bend. However, the university appears to prefer the "SOUTH BEND" dateline on news stories, given its historical flourish.

Gary Kaminsky, who indicated he gets text messages during the show, told David Faber, "My wife says you look good without the tie," then concluded the segment with an observation that "Well-Endowed" week is showing university managers are not doing closet indexing, and it's proof of "active management alive and well."

Evidently a little light on modesty, Notre Dame issued an official press release on Malpass in April that declares, "Scott Malpass is, without question, the best chief investment officer in the world."

Why Peter Boockvar is wrong about the motivation of QE2

Peter Boockvar went off on QE2 on Friday's Strategy Session.

"All it's done is raise asset prices in nominal terms," Boockvar said, making plenty of sense, before this woeful line: "It's just destroyed the standard of living for lower middle class."

Even David Faber bought that. "I tend to agree with much of what Peter said," Faber said.

Gary Kaminsky was also on board. "I'm speechless because I don't think anything that Peter said is debatable."

"It's certainly debatable, but you and I wouldn't necessarily debate it," Faber said.

Boockvar's wrong. The middle class standard of living has not been destroyed. Not even close. That's Dan DiMicco land. America's "lower middle class" today lives far better than Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford or John D. Rockefeller ever did. If Boockvar thinks America's "lower middle class" has been destroyed because of $4 gasoline, perhaps he can explain why a lousy movie like "Hangover Part II" just broke box office records because more than just Kate Kelly saw it while theaters in general enjoyed a historically monstrous weekend of folks spending $10-plus a ticket.

Boockvar also was wrong when he complained of the Fed, "What they will do and what they should do will be different as long as Bernanke, Dudley and Yellin are pretty much running the Fed."

Rather, the Fed is a massive consensus body whose decisions are based on the prevailing views of scores of bigwigs in government and Wall Street and hardly has anything to do with 3 prominent people whose job it is to publicly defend the consensus decisions that it is forced to make.

What Boockvar is also ignoring is a more prevailing national policy than America's rightful disgust with debt.

What Americans have proven to want more than just about anything is consistency. That's why our government since WWII has been a bipartisan political combine. Pure capitalists (perhaps like Michelle Caruso-Cabrera) would say we should let the free markets get us from Point A to Point B; sometimes we'll go 100 mph and other times 20 mph but overall it's the most efficient way of progress.

The general public won't admit it, but it demands 60 mph the entire trip.

The public would gladly accept 70 mph on occasion, but the nation's bigwigs have concluded for the longest time that once you go 70, you'll always get a reversion to 50 or less, which they absolutely do NOT want, so that's why the Fed in boom times goes out of its way to avoid 70 mph as well. Basically, 70 ultimately equals 50, in their minds.

So that's what we use debt for — to ensure those potential 50 mph stretches remain 60 mph stretches even if there's not enough real gas in the tank to sustain that, with the idea that the real 70 mph stretches can also be harnessed down to 60 mph when the need arises.

There's no right or wrong answer. It's philosophy. Boockvar's long been outvoted by the public and the people it chooses as representatives. He either doesn't get that or hasn't thought about it. The public demands we go to the hospital. Boockvar wants us to suffer at home in a survival-of-the-fittest test. Most people aren't as successful and educated as Boockvar and able to find new jobs and able to maintain their 2007 standard of living in a 2009 environment. The nation's policy leaders acknowledge that and believe at some point people will get off the sick bed and redirect themselves to more productive uses of capitalism where they should've been migrating to anyway. Boockvar and Caruso-Cabrera and many CNBC voices would get us to that stage a lot more quickly, and that's admirable, but that's not what people have demonstrated they want, and certainly isn't the unilateral doing of the Fed.

Gary Kaminsky nevertheless agreed with Boockvar on the merits of of QE2 as reflected in jobs data, GDP and commodity prices. "If this is what's been a result of QE2, I say QE2's a failure," Kaminsky said.

MLPs sound more
exciting than BDCs

Gary Kaminsky, in a rarity wearing a sharp suit on the normally jacket-less Strategy Session Friday that even drew a mention from Brian Schactman on the show's lead-in, gave the camera a great stare at the beginning of the show before David Faber, in tie but no jacket, took the cue.

"I am tempted to take my tie off, sort of the yin and yang thing," Faber said.

Kaminsky began the commentary by saying "A number of mutual fund companies have started to see some net equity, equity-fund outflows," while he seemingly battled a curious left-arm twitch. But he said the outflows are not enough of a pattern yet for a major reversal.

Michael Tokarz, the "Yield Hunter" guest Friday, was part of a snoozer about Business Development Companies, but in fairness to Tokarz, David Faber didn't help by launching a 3-part question about the lending void.

Tokarz said "That vacuum is being filled," only to have Faber interrupt before Tokarz could get to parts 2 and 3 with another question about whether bank lending's coming back.

Tokarz said of his business, "The market's pretty strong," with only a couple companies recently restructuring covenants.

He mentioned some of his positions but generally not by name, including U.S. Gas & Electric, and holdings in "consumer food processing, food distribution ... consumer products .. if you're wearing an anti-perspirant today, there's a 70% chance you're wearing one of our products from that consumer company."

David Faber noted Greenhill is at a "new 52-week low."

[Thursday, June 2, 2011]

Tim Seymour makes fun
of JCPenney shoppers

Tim Seymour told Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money, "Reiterating that you are not shopping at Tiffany's, but, but speaking of JCPenney where you might be ... um ... not that there's anything wrong with that, no."

While Seymour feebly grasped for "Caddyshack"-esque humor, Steve Grasso jacked one out of the park with one of the best Fast Money 1-liners in months.

Michael Darda had spent a healthy amount of airtime calmly explaining the jobs situation. "We're not falling off the cliff, we've hit a bit of an air pocket," Darda finally said.

"I think Michael Darda sucked up that whole air pocket," Grasso said.

Where in the world does
Guy Adami truly stand on S&P 1,300?

Just as we pointed out from the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday (see below), Guy Adami sounded a bit confused on the 5 p.m. show as to whether he thinks the S&P is actually going north, or south, of 1,300.

Adami noted that the market's resiliency for a long time has been impressive, that it keeps bouncing back from trouble spots.

But he said maybe that won't last forever, and, "I think you gotta fade the rally, especially if you see one tomorrow. I do believe that we're headed lower."

Tim Seymour and Steve Grasso exhibited no such indecisiveness.

"I still maintain we're going lower in June and we're gonna go through these lows that we hit last week," Seymour said.

"I'd be shorting this market right now. The volume is terrible," Grasso said, explaining that the Libya bottom is 1,294 and the Egypt bottom is 1,275.

Even Stephen Weiss, who said generally when so many people get bearish is the time he likes to buy, said he's got a short bias because there's a "lot of complacency with investors out there."

So for optimism, we turn to JJ Kinahan, who doesn't believe the market is making a serious downward move. "I think we have to close under 1,300 convincingly" to believe in that, he said.

Joe Terranova said, "I bought IBM today," and even Guy Adami said "Affluence across the planet right now is probably at an all-time high, which is why I think Tiffany's is gonna continue to do well."

W. presumably told Mel
she did a great job

Anthony Scaramucci said on Thursday's Fast Money that the Hedge Fund Trade of the Week is Motorola Solutions (MSI). But his colleagues seemed more interested in talking about the SALT Conference.

Guy Adami mentioned Melissa Lee's interview/conversation/chat with George W. Bush and noted, for the first time, "you got a handwritten note" — presumably from Dubya (and not Karl Rove).

"I did, I did. I treasure it," Lee said.

"Gucci" at first didn't offer enough MSI catalysts for the Fast gang other than to say Icahn has been in the name, but pressed, he said it will initiate a dividend around 1.5% "in line" with the S&P, and there's also likely to be a 1-time buyback around $4 billion. "Our forward value over the 12 to 18 months is somewhere between 57 and 69," he said.

Stephen Weiss didn’t mention that controversial chart also supposedly factored in the stimulus

Stephen Weiss suggested on Thursday's Fast Money that Ben S. Bernanke basically has to do something, because the economy can't thrive without intervention.

To prove that, Weiss offered several charts, including one (above) Weiss said was from the objective CBO that, as best we could determine, is supposed to show that GDP is "5% below potential," but if not for quantitative easing and the stimulus (Weiss mentioned the former but not latter), it would actually be somewhere, if our eyesight is still halfway decent, around negative 15 percent (-15).

Thank you, nonpartisan CBO, for that objective advertisement for the Federal Reserve.

"I challenge that chart," said Steve Grasso, and from the sound of her voice, Melissa Lee was clearly in the skeptic camp.

JJ Kinahan claims Jim Iuorio’s trade is giving volatility short shrift

Jimmy Iuorio and JJ Kinahan ended up in a mild debate Thursday on Fast Money strictly because Kinahan didn't think Iuorio's trade was giving users enough time to fully "enjoy" the volatility that could happen.

Iuorio said he's expecting a significant pullback in the markets and wants to target the highest-fliers, so "the trade is to buy a put spread in the QQQ," which is a June 57/54 put spread.

"Jimmy, you know, I like it," Kinahan said, "But this to me seems a little bit more of a directional move. The one difference I would maybe do if I wanted to harness volatility is I would sell a nearer-term and buy a further term, I might buy all the way out to September."

"And I considered that," Iuorio jumped back in. "Yeah. No. I considered that but I was thinking I am right now negative, and I think negatives lead over the next 3 weeks. Your way I like a lot too but it wouldn't be good for me."

Kinahan nevertheless concluded, if we do break down, his trade can enjoy more volatility.

Nations: Goldman Sachs is
‘probably too big to kill’

Kate Kelly, still wearing the eye-catching necklace, repeated on Thursday's Fast Money the same SAC report she delivered on The Strategy Session, saying Stevie Cohen has granted "only 2 significant interviews" during his business career (one of 'em was probably at SALT) and that despite several clouds, the firm has actually boosted its AUM this year from $12 billion to $14 billion.

Guy Adami asked Kelly if the Galleon score is enough for the feds or will they still seek a bigger fish. Kelly didn't have a decisive answer, saying, "We really don't know how far along the DoJ is into this probe," perhaps 50%, 85%.

Scott Nations said of Goldman Sachs, "I don't know if it's too big to fail, but I think it's probably too big to kill," and so, "I like buying the August 140/150 call spread for $2.70."

Kaminsky: Hot Pockets
inventors made billions

Evidently CNBC producers think the "Well-Endowed" series is so great, they can't bear to mention it any time other than the last 3 minutes of a program.

Gary Kaminsky dialed up the Fast Line Thursday afternoon to briefly discuss the feature with the Fast Money gang. But first Kaminsky added an anecdote to Guy Adami's earlier Hot Pockets commentary, saying the family that invented the product "pocketed several billion dollars for that entity" and ended up investing with him. "That was one of the most profitable pocketing trades ever," Kaminsky said.

But regarding university endowments, Kaminsky pointed out what Strategy Session viewers are already well-familiar with this week, that with everything in correlation these days, endowment managers are looking more to hedge funds and alternative investments and long/short strategies to break out of the pack.

"It is very reminiscent of the same thing we saw in 2007," Kaminsky concluded.

Friday, The Strategy Session will talk business with the Notre Dame endowment chief, whose job is basically (we're only speculating here but you know we're right) to figure out what to do with the cash NBC pays for Notre Dame football.

We're still trying to get over David Branigan's contention Thursday that everybody at Penn State is on "the same page" as far as "transparency." (Translation: PSU is happy to give you every detail about its successful investment results, even if it would prefer you didn't know about/mention the 31% raise and $230K bonus it gave a university employee during the 2009 supposed worst American financial crisis since the Great Depression.)

Moreover, we're trying to figure out exactly what Branigan logically meant when he declared, "This is a marathon, not a sprint, that we're trying to do here" ... isn't the goal to have as much money as possible at year-end, or is he actually trying to save some returns for later? Is it Branigan's contention that, say, a 3% return through December is better for his endowment long-term than a 13% return?

Melissa Lee wryly noted it's an "aptly named series, 'Well-Endowed'." Gary Kaminsky clarified it was named by Max Meyers. Lee added, "We look forward to the final installment of 'Well-Endowed' on tomorrow's Strategy Session."

Guy Adami takes both sides of S&P 1,300 in matter of moments

Normally Guy Adami is not someone who often gets flagged on this page for loopiness.

On Thursday's Halftime Report though, Adami said, "I do think we hold 1,300."

Moments later, he said, "Especially if you believe that 1,300 holds in the S&P, which by the way I don't."

He does.

And he doesn't.

Grasso: Heading to 1,257

Steve Grasso said on Thursday's Halftime that the "1,311 mark from May 24th, that was critical ... to me I think we're heading down to 1,295 and ultimately 1,257, which is flat on year."

Grasso reiterated a well-worn but we have to admit, important, theme, that "70% of all stocks trade with the overall market."

This time Mel Lee asked a great question about that: what are the other 30%?

"Those are individual names, probably low under-radar names that we probably never speak about here," Grasso said, and certainly not the AAPLs of the world.

Fast Money celebrated Guy Adami's tweet from Chad Ochocinco (how about those 2005 NFL playoffs), but the show Thursday didn't note that Adami also ended up Wednesday in a happy little snit with @FreakingAnnoyed, who predicted Adami was going to say "we're going lower" Wednesday. (That's a good call, because he often does.) The tweeting ended in mutual respect, as Adami stressed, "I have never and will never be 'I told ya so' type of person."

If we never have to hear Dennis Gartman talk about the ultimate euro split again, it will be too soon.

Jive boss: ‘At some point, we’re gonna have to make a move here’

Josh Brown said on Thursday's Halftime that retailers are dead money for now. "I don't see any reason to be in these names ... you might get some bounces along the way but the trend is lower," he said.

Brown also said Case Shiller makes most of the big banks "uninvestable."

Steve Grasso said there's no catalyst in general before Friday's data. "Why would you wanna be buying stocks here?" he said.

Dr. J, Jon Najarian, said "The panic Melissa is not really there," and that he'd be buying the markets on a weak jobless number but if it's decent, he'd be looking to the AAPL conference as the next catalyst.

Najarian also said GNW options were hot, possibly on a rumor of Einhorn interest, but there's been "no news from Mr. Einhorn."

Guy Adami complained about the bizarre seating arrangement that left him solo at Englewood Cliffs. "I'm by myself ... it's like senior prom," Adami said, to "awwwws" from Melissa Lee.

Jive CEO Tony Zingale spoke with Jon Fortt Thursday and was given 45 seconds to make the case for his company. It was fairly sterile, so we'll just note the first thing he said was, "Clearly the new wave of business, we are in fact bringing the paradigm of social networking to the workplace." Fortt asked a couple of good questions, whether the space is getting attacked by too many biggies and whether the Jive product is a luxury that companies will scale back on in tough times.

Melissa Lee asked Zingale if he's "happy" being a private company at this point. "We're, we're very happy being a private company at this point," Zingale said, warily, before noting the size of his competition, and "at some point, um, you know, we're gonna have to make a move here."

Penn State employee — not Paterno — got 31% raise during Great Recession year of 2009

There's a reason we're not TV pros.

What's quickly become our favorite Strategy Session segment — "Well-Endowed" (horribly bad name, but whatever) — has head-scratchingly been deemed so marginal by the producers that it's only getting barely 3 minutes of airtime at the end of the show, in that little "gutter" (not meant negatively) of time before Fast Money when many folks are probably reaching for a Coke and a sandwich.

Penn State's David Branigan on Thursday took the full (tiny) allotment of time before uttering the "T" word, which really perked up our ears.

"We're very transparent when it comes to donors and our development staff, and our administration, our board of trustees, everybody's on the same page," Branigan said.

But isn't it interesting how non-transparent the university was last week in complying with a state law that merely mandates that a public university simply report the salaries that its people are paid.

Indeed, it seems like everyone at the university was "on the same page" in drawing as little attention as possible to, and avoiding comment as much as possible on, the fact that Hershey Medical Center executive director Alan Brechbill saw his Penn State compensation in 2009 rise 31%, including "$230,892 in bonus and incentive pay."

Once again, it's unbelievable what some of the things our nation's universities stand for.

If a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer called the PSU Math Department and said "I think 2 + 2 is really 5, can you straighten that out," somebody surely would take his/her call.

But try getting answers as to how someone got a 31% boost in 2009, how a football coach is paid more than the neurosurgery department chair, how salary data is somehow only known through the end of 2009 even though we're already 6 months past the end of 2010, and absolutely no one will return a call.

You'd think that, because they purport to be the beacons of light in our world and the gateway to knowledge, that if anything universities would trip over themselves to release as many facts about themselves as possible. We're the clueless idiots, you're the educated elite; just tell us why we don't get it and what the intellectual basis is for health-care execs getting $230,892 in bonuses and 31% raise during the Great Recession.

What's even more unbelievable is that, according to the Post-Gazette, "for decades" the state's flagship public university didn't have to disclose any salaries at all, until the law was enacted in 2009.

Guess no one was supposed to ask.

‘All the President’s Men’
as a money-making metaphor

Another of the interesting comments made by David Branigan Thursday was this:

"This is a marathon, not a sprint, that we're trying to do here."

So the question would be, what, and when, exactly, is the finish line?

But more on that in a moment. David Faber asked Branigan why "you're going to increase your allocation to hedge funds" from 9%.

Branigan said that for years the endowment had focused on long-only U.S. equities (which, by the way, didn't have the greatest 2008) with about half of that devoted to "passive strategies and index funds." But he says now, "We just don't have the horsepower, the manpower on our, on our staff to get into all the due diligence, and turn over every stone, and, and, uh, all of the, uh, It's a lot of work to hire managers in the hedge fund space."

Yet, if Penn State, according to Faber's introduction, is "one of the country's best performing endowments" using this passive strategy, why would it need to change to a hedge-fund model?

So Faber astutely asked if Branigan's answer means he's hiring more people to help do the due diligence. Branigan responded, "We're looking for maybe some focused help in terms of consultants," and then, in a very bizarre movie reference, "I'm kind of reminded of the, the movie 'All the President's Men,' where Ben Bradlee asks Woodward and Bernstein, uh, in one particular segment, 'Get better information' " (perhaps Branigan was referring to things like knowing about the release of for-profit education rules in advance yesterday before the general public knew, which could've made PSU a fortune in options).

"It's a very important thing," Faber said like he didn't really mean it, in dismissal before turning things over to Gary Kaminsky, who asked our type of question about whether donors would, like David Faber, potentially balk at giving cash to hedge funds: "When people give money to a university ... do they have any say in how that money that they've given to a university gets managed at the endowment level?"

"Not as far as the investment management," Branigan said, but yes they do, in the "spending part, the program support," in which 4.5% of the "moving 5-year average market value is, is available for spending or program support."

But Branigan quickly moved to dispel any notion that donors would actually ask if part of their largess would actually go into a hedge fund's 2 and 20 compensation plan. "We almost never get that challenge at all from donors. It's quite frankly the other way around," Branigan said. (What does that mean — hedge funds dislike the caliber of dollars they're being paid?)

Interesting. And we figured that if, say, Stan Druckenmiller wanted to send a check for $10 million, the university probably would not say "we'll make the call on 95.5% of that," but maybe we're wrong.

It's "a marathon, not a sprint" ... which hopefully doesn't mean that the entire kitty is exhausted and spent when it's all over.

Life is great if you’re a successful early tech investor

If this site was ever going to attract venture capital (snicker), one of the first people we'd be calling would be David Sze.

Sze spoke on Thursday's Strategy Session in front of a picturesque beach scene in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and said nothing but reasonable, enthusiastic thoughts about the potential of social media and other tech upstarts.

The hook for Sze's segment apparently was an examination of all the private market investment in the big social media names and the resulting LinkedIn explosion and whether we're in bubble-land.

But Sze didn't seem to notice any problems, bubble or otherwise, other than suggesting there should be "caution" in dabbling in these private stock markets because he said they're dominated by ex-employees and investors.

Gary Kaminsky asked, "Is it too much capital chasing these private deals right now?" Sze said, "You know, I almost think it's always too much capital chasing deals because there's so many deals and so many investors."

Kaminsky also asked for a name of a small startup that we'll all be hearing about years from now. Sze said, "We've got a very interesting company," and then he gave the name, which sounded to us like "Telpart," but that name was not shown on the screen, and according to numerous Web searches of variations of that name, there is no such thing ... but for what it's worth, Sze continued to say, "uh, that is doing things around, folks from Google that are doing the matching of, uh, users and their interests to transactions and commerce, for commerce sites."

So it's some company that sounds like "Telpart" run by former Google people involved in commerce sites.

Sorry, that's as specific as we can get.

Gary Kaminsky spoke briefly about the upcoming Fusion-IO offering. "We've heard that the book is building real nice here," he said.

Kelly: SAC up 9% YTD

Kate Kelly, with eye-catching necklace, visited The Strategy Session set Thursday to talk about SAC and Stevie Cohen thriving amid the pressure.

"Apparently also the SEC itself has been looking into whether or not there was insider trading going on at the hedge fund in recent years in health-care stocks," Kelly said, but nevertheless, "SAC's year is off to a really great start ... fund's net performance is up 9% year to date, I'm told."

The screen text said AUM has actually grown from $12 billion to $14 billion, and that according to Kelly, they wanna do a "soft close" to new investors, "and they plan to start a quantitative fund in the 3rd quarter."

Gary Kaminsky explained, "We all saw Stevie at SALT several weeks ago ... If I had a pair of sneakers for every time I've heard over the last decade about some situation with somebody trying to get something with a portfolio manager at SAC, I'd have a lot more sneakers."

Kelly said for investors, "I think there's a level of fatigue that sets in."

The most entertaining part of the segment was when Kelly, after her last comment praising SAC's returns, made the same type of wink expression that Gordon Gekko makes to Bud and his staff after delivering his Teldar paper speech.

Kaminsky: Good time to take a short-term loss in HPQ

Gary Kaminsky complained Thursday on The Strategy Session that elite economists, even those from Goldman Sachs, who revised their jobs forecast are merely telling you what you already knew. "Essentially economists did what Jonathan Faber or William Kaminsky would've done after looking at the ADP number," Kaminsky said, referring to his and David Faber's sons.

Kaminsky said this choppy market is a reminder to people to "keep your winners, sell your losers." He pointed to HPQ as a stock that's done poorly over 9 months, and you now have a good opportunity to "harvest the tax loss" because the stock seems unlikely to soar in the next 31 days.

"I slept very well at night," Kaminsky said of his strategies as money manager. David Faber poked fun at Kaminsky's use of the word "harvesting."

[Wednesday, June 1, 2011]

How does Doug Kass not know when he put his trades on?

Melissa Lee and Doug Kass curiously spent part of Wednesday's Fast Money trying to one-up each other on corrections.

"We discussed 2 weeks ago EWJ in Japan and, um, you erroneously said I had bought the position late last year and had a loss. Actually I bought it, um, in early May, and had a profit," Kass told Lee Wednesday.

"OK, well that's why I said at that time that I pointed that out Doug, I'm gonna point this out, I said, 'Correct me if I'm wrong'," Lee countered.

"I made a mistake," Kass said.


We went to the tape of May 19.

But before we reveal what was said, we should note that Lee's rebuttal Wednesday citing her verbatim comment, "Correct me if I'm wrong," really makes it sound like this issue surfaced during the daytime preshow chatter, and Lee prepared for the possibility Kass would bring it up during the program by re-watching the tape.

Or, maybe she just recalled it 100% because she's got a great memory. Whatever.

Back to May 19: Lee opened with, "Correct me if I wrong, I feel like you came on sometime at the end of last year and said buying Japan was one of your best trades for 2011. Is that true?"

"Uh, that's correct," Kass said.

Later, Lee said Japan has been down 5-6% since Kass' original trade. Kass responded, "It was really hard to forecast or expect the nuclear accident."

Finally, in a 3rd reference at the end of the interview, Lee asked how long Kass would stick around in this trade because it hadn't worked.

Kass responded, "It hasn't worked, because we had a nuclear accident on March 11," and that like GS, it's a long-term trade for him.

So on May 19, asked 3 times about being in a losing trade, Kass somehow answered affirmatively each time and laments the effects of the disaster of early March.

Even though, he says now, he was never in that trade until early May ... even though he managed to indicate to Lee 3 times on May 19 that he had lost money on it.

He also claimed Wednesday that Lee "erroneously" said he "bought" the position late last year and had a "loss." In fact, as you can tell from the quote above, Lee on May 19 didn't actually say that. Lee said that Kass said that buying Japan was "one of your best trades for 2011" then said he was bullish Japan 5 or 6% ago and then asked how long he would "stick" with the trade because "it hasn't worked out in your favor so far." She didn't use the term "loss;" she said it was down since he recommended it.

If you think Kass is pulling a fast one, no, that is not the opinion here. We were suspicious back on May 19 because our archives (see, every once in a while they come in handy) from November-December had nothing about Kass making a Japan call — and in fact, Lee on May 19 almost assuredly confused Kass with Barry Ritholtz, who did in fact make a pro-Japan call in December that Anthony Scaramucci famously doubted.

But we figured, on May 19, that since Kass was acknowledging it on-air, he must've said it at some point and we somehow didn't bother to write it down.

Best guess is that Kass has been speaking/writing/twittering about Japan in positive terms for several months but couldn't recall if he had ever mentioned it on Fast Money, which is why he was inclined to accept Lee's mistaken premise that he, not Barry, had backed the EWJ in 2010. (Except if he had only started buying in early May, you'd think he wouldn't be lamenting the impact of the tsunami. But whatever.)

What happened with Kass is like someone recommending "buy CSCO today because it's so beaten down," then somehow accepting the blame for what the stock has done the previous 12 months when they were not in it and not recommending it.

It would be bad enough if someone was claiming credit for gains they didn't actually make ... but when they start acknowledging phantom losses that never happened?


4 days left for Kass to be proven right on Hillary-Biden switch

One of the reasons Doug Kass might've been confused May 19 about his Japan play is because he made so many predictions in December, even this site can barely keep track of them all.

But here are the highlights. On Monday, Dec. 20, Kass claimed that gold would be "among the worst asset classes of the new year" and experience "unprecedented volatility."

On Monday Dec. 6, Kass predicted that "Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton switch jobs by mid-year 2011, actually in less than 6 months."

On Monday, Dec. 6, Kass also predicted, "Microsoft is gonna launch a tender offer for Yahoo and ultimately gain control of the company at $24 a share."

On Monday, Nov. 29, Kass predicted that global warming (timing indefinite) will lead to "geometric" food price increases.

Maybe that's harsh. But Kass on Wednesday referred to a potential housing double-dip call he purportedly made on Fast Money a couple weeks ago (we looked that one up; he did say something about that actually although he made a point of stressing to Steve Cortes not to short Toll Brothers because the homebuilders have figured out how to run their businesses in this environment), and if you're going to brag about the good ones, you can only expect the watchdogs of the world to also look up the potentially bad ones.

If anything, the Barrymeister was the one in a groove in December, other than maybe the Japan call, suggesting that the markets might be "entering the final quarter of the rally."

Kass: Bulls hit in ‘groin’

Doug Kass on Wednesday's Fast Money offered a painful stock market analogy.

Kass said that Wednesday's action was a "reality blow ... to the groin of a largely bullish investment community."

Kass said most telling Wednesday was the "profound weakness in financials" and said the market is having "an a-ha moment with regard to a double-dip in housing, which I cautioned back on the show a couple weeks ago."

"I think we're approaching Hangover 3 and not QE3," Kass said.

But Guy Adami asked Kass a good, if irrelevant, question, which is, what will the market multiple be, 10 or 13?

Kass responded, "I'm gonna beg your question (sic)" and complained that bulls look at S&P profits "in isolation."

"I think history rhymes, it doesn't repeat itself," Kass said, and if you were starting to think you're really being put on here on some level, you're probably right.

Kass said he still finds asset managers an "intriguing short." Melissa Lee pointed out he recommended that short last year too and it didn't work. (She didn't note, as this site has, that he also recommended that short at the end of 2009.) Kass responded, "I covered them and put 'em out in the last couple of weeks."

Did he actually think they were throwing darts at a board?

One little sector of the stock market was not having trouble Wednesday. Mike Khouw spent a decent chunk of Wednesday's Fast Money trying to explain the furious option-buying in for-profit education.

Khouw said pros were expecting some kind of clarity and/or relief in regulatory overhang for the sector. He said the buying was "all near-dated, all June expirations mostly ... this isn't retail people just going out and saying, I think I'll take a flier."

Lo and behold, early Thursday a.m. comes an embargoed article from USA Today leding with, "The Obama administration is set to release a controversial rule Thursday that will cut federal aid to for-profit colleges if students in particular programs graduate with too much debt and worthless degrees." (This item was posted well after Fast Money aired Wednesday.)

So to spell it out: Some people with connections knew an announcement was coming Thursday and decided the stock reaction would be favorable.

Before the general public was aware of any announcement.

What's the name of that Charles Ferguson movie again ... "Inside Job"?

You’d think Karen would’ve dumped JPM for NFLX months ago, but no

This page has long been uncertain as to whether to constantly chide Karen Finerman for her week-in, week-out declaration of how great the valuation on JPM is — for years — while it remains one of the most useless stocks in recent history based on the most ludicrous mainstream argument of P.E. ratio while stocks she despises such as Amazon continue to thrive relative to market during basically the entire 5-year history of Fast Money ... or to compliment her on her honesty.

Wednesday, Finerman said, while pointing out that the environment for thrifts is actually the worst of all the banks, "JPMorgan is our biggest position, and Bank America (sic) LEAPs, which are now out of the money and increasingly irrelevant every day."

Joe Terranova offered Finerman consolation. "Feel better about your JPMorgan position; I got stopped out today," Terranova said.

Tuesday we noted that Karen simply had one of the most awesome sweater/T-shirt combos, only to discover today that Melissa Lee on Wednesday sported her own version of the orange/red sweater and appeared to be running the table ... until NYU grad student Courtney Reagan mysteriously made a rare Fast Money appearance at the 51-minute mark and stole the show in stunning white top while discussing Limited Brands.

K-Fine on fire. Torridly.

In the category of paying attention on television, Karen Finerman can be just jaw-droppingly good.

K-Fine warmed up against Brian Kelly, who said he sold FCX Wednesday. Finerman asked about disparities between Shanghai copper and London, and what does that mean to him.

Kelly said, "People are paying up for Shanghai copper," and that Shanghai is in backwardation.

"So isn't that bullish?!" Finerman blurted.

"That is bullish. Absolutely," Kelly stammered. "And that's why I bought FCX prior to this. Selling it today was only because it's part of the stocks."

So he bought the stock on bullish fundamentals ... but sold the stock because it's a stock.

But Finerman saved her Sunday punch for Mike Khouw, who opened his Dollar General options chat by reporting a "tremendous amount of activity in the July 30 calls."

He went on to make a bearish case, prompting Finerman to correctly wonder, "The puts or the calls?"

"That was the puts, the July 30 puts," Khouw said, unlike Finerman unaware of what he had said.

A stray camera at the beginning of that segment caught Mel Lee fixing her hair with a little hair flip; last person on Fast Money seen doing that was Jane Wells, who apparently appreciated this page's coverage of the incident.

Guy reads text messages and/or e-mail during show

Guy Adami revealed at the top of Wednesday's Fast Money that he's conscious of complaints.

"Bathed in skepticism is what somebody just typed to me. I'm not, I'm just sort of looking at the tape," Adami protested.

Tim Seymour was the only Fast Money panelist seemingly ready to hit the eject button. "We haven't seen ... this kind of reversal on the first day of the month," Seymour said, calling it "almost like an options-expiry hangover today."

"I think 1,295, we might even test this tomorrow," Seymour said. "Forget QE3, you've got guys that are looking to hike into this slowdown, and that is really scary."

He also said, "I think the dollar's gonna be a wrecking ball."

(Whew.) Karen Finerman said if there actually is a QE3, "I don't think it would be good," but Finerman suggested Wednesday debacle really amounted to little more than an "undoing of the window-dressing."

Guy Adami pointed to JM Smucker as a stock that's working with a great chart.

Clowns outside Nasdaq get plenty of air time while Joe LaVorgna speaks

Joe LaVorgna sounded practically out of breath on Wednesday's Fast Money, when he predicted a year-end unemployment rate of 8%.

He's predicting 160,000 new jobs, admitting "the numbers just have been a mudslide to the downside."

Tim Seymour demanded to know, "Why are we listening to ADP" only when it's convenient.

LaVorgna said it's because, "That move was so large."

Karen Finerman asked what was the most important piece of bad data recently released. "I would say jobless claims," LaVorgna said.

Douglas Sipkin on the Fast Line said BlackRock is "the one name we are recommending" among financials.

Brian Kelly said the USO may be counterproductive for playing oil long, but "I would short it through 39 and a half."

Patty bonding with JNK

While the Fast Money Halftime gang — in an admittedly crisp show — on Wednesday was mostly reactive to the market onslaught Monday, Patty Edwards stood tall with a flurry of ways to play offense.

Edwards first mentioned JNK, which she said has a 60% correlation with the S&P 500 but also an 8.24% yield. "I think that's actually a fairly decent place to be," she said.

Edwards said there are still viable ways to play the global growth story. "I'm in Chicago Bridge & Iron," and "something like Coke," saying viewers could "let this thing, the knife fall to the ground, then look at picking it up."

Edwards also said MCD has been a great defensive play, but you better order your Big Mac to go. "I took half my profits off the table a couple of days ago," she said.

Guest Chris Verrone of Strategas was downright rosy, asserting, "We think the market's just fine right here," and citing as 2 reasons what he called the resiliency of copper, and that sentiment indicators have hit the top bearish levels of last summer.

"We think that the crowded trade is the defensive trade right here," Verrone said, adding that Dow transports "makes sense to us."

Cortes shorts DE, CAT

Steve Cortes might've had just as many picks as Patty Edwards on Wednesday, but his have to be considered more dubious and so this page will have to make them second fiddle.

"Frankly I think people should panic a little bit more right now," Cortes said, before revealing he's short CAT and DE, and that "Lumber is in an absolute free-fall."

"In my view copper's not fine, it's just been boring lately," Cortes said, and "the bond market is clearly telling us that we have slow growth and contained inflation ahead."

We actually don't disagree with most of that on the surface. The problem is, in terms of shorting stocks in this market since March 2009, we've seen this movie plenty of times before, the "new normal" just ain't happening and basically as soon as you really start getting excited about a short in a stock market the government is determined to prop, that's when you enter face-ripped-off land.

Cortes did say he actually likes MU and INTC.

Zachary Karabell said "I would do a 'whoa' to Steve Cortes," pointing to manufacturing data, which according to Karabell, "all that it shows is that the rate of expansion has slowed, it doesn't show a contraction."

Karabell once again doused financials, saying "writ large," they "are in a really, really difficult spot."

Karabell chose not to unleash his sense of humor on Melissa Lee's query about the Roubini woman's prediction a day earlier of S&P 1,300, which drew a heightened chuckle from Pete Najarian in anticipation of a great joke that never materialized.

"I wouldn't exactly call this a correction to end all corrections," Karabell said. In Call the Close, Karabell predicted, "I think we'probably at the lows for the day" (this review was posted after market close).

Guest reveals Yale honcho rejected Strategy Session invite

The most interesting thing said by Bruce Zimmerman on Wednesday's Strategy Session came right at the beginning of his tiny segment — and it didn't have anything to do with investing.

"I'm sorry that Yale's David Swensen wouldn't, didn't accept your invitation, you had to settle for me," Zimmerman said.

As Strategy Session producers undoubtedly pointed fingers at each other and mouthed "too much information!"

It's good for Zimmerman to feel dissed. Bill Cowher made a career out of running the Steelers that way. It's healthy. Motivation. Zimmerman happens to be a good Strategy Sesssion guest, so despite the commentary you've seen on this page this week and will continue to see through the end of the week about higher education cash reserves, Zimmerman represents pretty good television, which is really what this is all about.

Zimmerman's appearance, at the end of Wednesday's show, was short, and could've been longer if not for a dubiously overlong intro showing (what else) the Texas football team, because what greater goal does a university have than running a minor league sports outfit.

One thing that caught our attention this time was that the pie charts shown on TSS for these endowments don't always reflect the same things; for example, the Texas chart had the type of investments, not the conduits of them, so it wasn't until Gary Kaminsky asked Zimmerman about overall liquidity percentage that Zimmerman revealed, "We only have about 22% of our assets in private equity and about 30% in hedge funds, about a third of which is not liquid in a year."

Interestingly, asked to describe the global financial situation, Zimmerman offered, "Our view is that we're in a long workout," that the developed world continues "to labor under huge amounts of debt," and that "Our base case is this a 7- to 10-year phenomenon."

But then a moment later, asked to explain how his portfolio reflects that view, Zimmerman said, "My comments notwithstanding, we don't know what's going to happen in the future."

The University of Texas, according to David Faber, is the "country's 2nd-largest endowment" among universities, at $27 billion, and has $1 billion in gold.

David Faber told Zimmerman, "Forget David Swensen — you are our man."

Question for the Penn State guy: Why is university afraid to reveal its salaries?

According to The Strategy Session's Web site, Thursday's guest will be David Branigan, the executive director, Office of Investment, at Penn State University.

Readers of this site will know that on Friday, this site's home page flagged a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story (link is still up there, we kept it high) that noted Penn State, legally required to release income information of its highest-paid employees including coach Joe Paterno, did so minutes before the close of university business.

On a Friday.

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

And thus the reporter's calls for details went unreturned, and the article appeared in a Saturday print edition of a holiday weekend.

The Post-Gazette headline of course merely said, "Paterno still highest paid at PSU, but his pay fell." (Zzzz.) Readers of this site got the real headline and scoop right away — for some reason, Penn State is uncomfortable about the salaries it pays. Some of which, presumably or possibly, comes from endowment income.

And how come the data "generally" reported by PSU on Friday is for fiscal year ending June 2010 — that's a year ago — but somehow the salary information is only for calendar year 2009 — or 1½ years ago, and perhaps not an accurate reflection of what Paterno makes now.

So our question: Why should a public institution with taxpayer support be apparently so embarrassed about the compensation it pays its employees that it has to make a mockery of its legal obligation to disclose it?

Is there anything that smells here ... or is our b.s. meter just in need of fine-tuning?

We know what Branigan will say: "I'll have to direct you to the university's communications office." (The folks who departed minutes after handing out the legally required information.)

Manufacturing companies
are ‘all short their products’

Guest Tom Lister got extended time on Wednesday's Strategy Session and pronounced the world in better shape than many people think.

"The industrial businesses around the world are better than what you would describe today," Lister said. "So you talk to manufacturing companies, they're all short their products. Hugo Boss ... is doing incredibly well right now."

On high-yield, Lister said, "We have been a big issuer of debt over the last 6 months," and the market "feels less good than it felt a couple months ago."

He defended Freescale's IPO, which his firm backed. "They've done a wonderful job since 2008," he said, and he expects "Several years plus of us backing this company."

Lehman Brothers surfaces in discussion about Greece

Tom Lister on Wednesday's Strategy Session said Europe isn't all bad, contrary to the headlines.

"Germany is very good," Lister said. "The less consumer-facing businesses you have, the better off you are."

Lister said Greece is just "3% of the Eurozone ... this is a long game. This is not a 24-month game," and that it wasn't a 24-month game in the U.S. either.

He said that given the strength of Germany and France, "The euro is pretty fairly valued today."

David Faber though questioned the Greece and Ireland 3% thing, saying people said the same thing about Lehman Brothers, "it was a small percentage of whatever you wanted to measure it by."

Steve Liesman followed that by asking Lister if Greece and France "can make the problem go away by writing a check, right?"

Lister acknowledged that but said, "The difference here is you have a social situation, right?" The end game, Lister said, "Takes longer than you think to, costs more than you hoped it would've, the euro sticks around." Which we gotta agree with on all counts.

Lehman Brothers surfaces
a 2nd time

Gary Kaminsky illustrated, with help from the CNBC wall map, what he called the "Wall Street Circle of Life" on Wednesday's Strategy Session.

First Kaminsky spoke about Archstone: "Guess who's thinking about coming back to the public market," he said of Lehman Brothers' last big deal that helped collapse the firm.

Then Kaminsky said Mark Walsh, who "orchestrated that transaction," is back raising capital, according to news reports. (Meanwhile, the screen text referred to "commerical real estate" as Kaminsky spoke.)

Finally, Kaminsky noted that David Einhorn, who made a big chunk of his money shorting Lehman Brothers, enabling him to take a stake in the New York Mets (if it goes through).

It's "The only on Wall Street Circle of Life," Kaminsky said.

"I always wondered why Lehman didn't pull the plug on that deal. They could have," said David Faber.

David Faber, who's become a 1-liner machine even more prolific than Karen Finerman and rattling 'em off every day, said Wednesday that guest Steve Liesman "has to be on every 20 minutes or less on this network."

Liesman pointed to banking deposits in Greece and how they reflect skepticism. "This is not a bank run," Liesman said, but a strong indicator that the "marginal depositor" in Greece is saying, "I'm more concerned about conversion than not."

Gary Kaminsky noted the visuals depicting work on the Parthenon. "I cannot believe that they still have the scaffolding up," Kaminsky said, because he saw it when he was there 3 years ago.

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Fast Money’s
great moments
of 2010

A call on BP looks particularly good

Fast Money review

FM archive: May 2011
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FM archive: Dec. 2010
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FM Viewers Guide
Fast Money cliches

CNBCfix capsules:
Movie of the week

♦ Bonnie and Clyde
♦ Rain Man
♦ The Paper Chase
♦ The Cooler
♦ Giant & There Will Be Blood
♦ Return of the Jedi
♦ Rocky II
♦ The Last Picture Show & Friday Night Lights
♦ She's Out of My League
♦ Con Air

Movie review:
‘Wall Street’

Gordon Gekko:
The Michael Corleone
of Wall Street

CNBC/cable TV
star bios

♦ Jim Cramer
♦ Charles Gasparino
♦ Maria Bartiromo
♦ Lawrence Kudlow
♦ Karen Finerman
♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
♦ Guy Adami
♦ Jeff Macke
♦ Pete Najarian
♦ Jon Najarian
♦ Tim Seymour
♦ Zachary Karabell
♦ Becky Quick
♦ Joe Kernen
♦ Nicole Lapin
♦ John Harwood
♦ Steve Liesman
♦ Margaret Brennan
♦ Bertha Coombs
♦ Mary Thompson
♦ Trish Regan
♦ Melissa Francis
♦ Dennis Kneale
♦ Rebecca Jarvis
♦ Darren Rovell
♦ Carl Quintanilla
♦ Diana Olick
♦ Dylan Ratigan
♦ Eric Bolling
♦ Anderson Cooper
♦ Neil Cavuto
♦ Liz Claman
♦ Monica Crowley
♦ Bill O'Reilly
♦ Rachel Maddow
♦ Susie Gharib
♦ Jane Skinner
♦ Kimberly Guilfoyle
♦ Martha MacCallum
♦ Courtney Friel
♦ Uma Pemmaraju
♦ Joe Scarborough
♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
♦ Donald Luskin
♦ Herb Greenberg
♦ Robert Reich
♦ Steve Moore
♦ Vince Farrell
♦ Joe LaVorgna
♦ A. Gary Shilling
♦ Joe Battipaglia
♦ Addison Armstrong
♦ Jack Bouroudjian
♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett