[Tuesday, March 31, 2015]

Despite what Sara said, her bracket’s nowhere to be found

It was, as always, heaven on earth.

But even Sara Eisen's guest-hosting stint couldn't ignite Tuesday's flat 5 p.m. Fast Money, which once again featured a re-Pete® performance from the Halftime Report of one of the Najarian brothers.

Chris Verrone argued the TSLA trend line is broken and suggested the slumping price of oil is no help, flirting with renewing a previous hot debate from months ago as to whether TSLA trades on crude's price, but nobody ventured into it this time.

Sara said her NCAA bracket features Duke vs. Kentucky in the final, with Duke winning, and "it's on TVNewser."

But, we searched for it on TVNewser, and only found this story listing half of CNBC's newsroom as on the same team ... and no links whatsoever to Eisen's individual bracket, and no relevant hits for "Eisen" when using the TVNewser "Search" function (snicker).

But, we'll take her word for it.

‘Pent-up frugality’

Pete Najarian, merely warming up on Tuesday's Halftime for his double-duty later on the 5 p.m. Fast Money, predicted that "outperforming" names will "sputter a little bit" in Q2.

A tepid (that's putting it nice) show got a boost from Jon Najarian, who said if there's a deal with Iran, that would maintain pressure on energy names, but if there's no deal, they'll get a lift; also he made some good points about PCLN's European headwinds.

In the day's head-scratcher, Mr. New Land suggested there's "pent-up frugality" that will unwind in the consumer-discretionary space.

Mike Santoli said the Q1 GDP print might actually be "near zero."

Jim Lebenthal contended, "Europe is poised to start to run here."

Judge came up with dead air asking panelists about old tech.

AAPL = ‘underowned’

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime insisted on updates on the 2015 Playbook Playoffs; Jim Lebenthal observed that "this really is a trading game" in which you can't rely on 5-year plans.

Pete Najarian said he's finally making a trade, dumping "piece of garbage" BAX in favor of AAPL.

Mike Santoli somehow claimed that AAPL is an "underowned stock."

Dr. New Land protested that he hasn't made 25 trades in the competition.

Doc said ARAY "could go back towards 20."

Josh Brown, taking this exercise with far too much seriousness, defended sticking to his sharp ratio.

Judge brings up TWTR, has apparently stopped questioning Dick’s job security

Scott Devitt on Tuesday's Halftime Report contended that there are "early signs" that European headwinds for PCLN are slowing.

Jon Najarian made a concise and effective point about the euro's impact on international travel.

Devitt told Judge he continues to rate TWTR a "sell."

Josh Brown said he supposes CHTR's deal will be accretive down the road.

Joe Terranova hung a 30 on DHI.

Jim Lebenthal said he likes the "long-term strategic outlook" of IBM (snicker) and said, "Buy it here."

Pete Najarian predicted "much higher highs" on TEVA.

Doc said to keep an eye on CBRE.

Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis he can't give a "definitive answer" as to the direction of oil. Jim Iuorio stressed that the euro will have an impact on oil, and he could see mid-40s.

Nobody suggests TWTR should follow the plan of its CEO In Waiting and buy YHOO

Josh Brown took a moment (or several) on Tuesday's Halftime to trumpet Twitter's Periscope, which he said is experiencing an "exponential amount of usage" and claimed "everyone" is trying to "play with" it.

(Yes, he made the comparison to Facebook buying Instagram.)

Doc said Periscope is a plus for TWTR because Dick Costolo, who might've whiffed on Instagram and WhatsApp, can say he went out and made this happen.

Doc said there was heavy put action in INVN. But Pete Najarian said RAI calls were active, and he'll hold his for "at least 2 weeks" (Drink).

Robert Frank reported on a chap who makes bicycles out of gold.

Joe Terranova offered STLD as a Final Trade. Doc said TAP.

[Monday, March 30, 2015]

Fast Money revelation: Karen prefers the basket to individual biotech

We tuned into Monday's Fast Money after paying scant attention to the show and its cliches for weeks — and despite the presence of a guest host, it was as Garth Brooks would say, the Same. Old. Story, as, what, maybe 3 years ago?

Karen Finerman — with new hairstyle and outfit that subtracted 10 years — was heard to say, "I'm in the XBI, the IBB, the FBT."

Drink, Double Drink, and Triple Drink.

Finerman conceded there's a "fair amount of overlap" in those investment vehicles, but, "Diversified, it helps me sleep much better at night."

Guy Adami punts call on hot biotech stock to JPM analyst

In what is basically the Fast Money meal ticket — an interview with a biotech CEO — Spark Therapeutics (ONCE) chief Jeff Marrazzo, who had the pleasure of a seat next to the stunning Meg Tirrell on Thursday, described his business as providing a "healthy copy of a gene, and you bring it to those patients' cells" and "correct the underlying basis of the disease."

Marrazzo pointed to a boy in trials who was using braille, and after the 1-time treatment is now playing Little League baseball.

Picking up on Will Danoff's comments last week, guest host Scott Wapner asked Marrazzo about whether society will be willing to pick up the tab for some of these treatments. Marrazzo said, "It's a little bit too early to talk specifically about price."

Guy Adami said the stock is "way too volatile" to trade and that you just have to wait to hear from the JPMorgan analyst.

Honestly, there's nothing more important to humankind than a medical breakthrough ... but on this program it's all potential, all promise, all hope, and sometime it'd be nice to put the potential cart behind the horse for a change.

Well, at least there was nothing about being in the lower-rate camp

Whaddaya know.

On Monday, given that we haven't paid close attention to Fast Money for a while and that Judge's Halftime crew was on location at another conference, we figured we'd set our sights on Mel and the 5 p.m. show for a change — only to somehow run headlong into Judge anyway as the guest host at the Nasdaq.

Judge asked how "real" Monday's rally was and whether his panelists trust it.

Dan Nathan responded, "Of course you can trust it." But then, rubbing it in, he said INTC, FB, MSFT and BABA were all down. (This writer is long BABA.)

Karen Finerman said she does sense some window-dressing Monday in part because last week was "very messy."

Guy Adami said the IWM over 121 and IYT over 168 would propel the "next leg higher" in the S&P 500.

Brian Kelly pointed to the dollar rising with the market and said there are "incongruities" out there.

Judge called the VIX level "unbelievable."

Pop artists vow to beat the system but find it ‘silly’ not to keep accepting money from it

Julia Boorstin, on this site's Mount Rushmore of CNBC Hair, had everything clicking on Monday's Fast Money in a lengthy report on the "huge number" of pop music stars announcing the relaunch of Tidal music streaming.

Boorstin said these artists have decided to "take ownership literally (sic) by owning the new systems that are gonna be offering streaming music."

Judge asked a great question, if those artists are going to pull their material from Spotify or Pandora. Boorstin at first didn't answer but said it's more of a competition with Spotify than Pandora because it's subscription-based, but then added, "I suspect that, um, these artists will continue to offer their music on other services. I mean it'd be silly to give up that revenue."

Guy Adami suggested P is a worthwhile long, citing rumors of hiring Goldman Sachs and Bill Miller's comments (which basically was about how it would be worth so much more if it was still in the private market) on Friday's Halftime; "where there is smoke, there's fire."

Grandpa Dan Nathan scoffed that P "at best" will actually get "taken under" because he doesn't think Internet radio works.

Dan Nathan evidently counts GoPro camera sightings, has tallied fewer of them recently

Charlie Anderson explained on Monday's Fast Money how he came to upgrade GPRO, citing that it's trading 25 times his "new 2016 estimate" and he doesn't feel like they're being "overly aggressive" because his model doesn't include possible new revenues.

Anderson conceded to Karen Finerman that it's a "very nichey category" populated by "very well-heeled buyers" who were willing to buy a $500 camera after the previous one only cost $400.

In the most half-hearted of endorsements, Guy Adami said of GPRO, "For the first time in a while, maybe it's getting interesting."

Grandpa Dan Nathan said "anecdotally" he sees "fewer and fewer of these things" and suggested his Fast Money colleagues have been on the slopes this winter.

Karen Finerman said she thinks she knows "3" kayakers.

Dan Nathan goes to the movies, isn’t sitting home reading stock charts all weekend

Carter Worth of Cornerstone Macro (we didn't know that was his shop now) joined Monday's Fast Money to point out the ghastly chart of DO as an indication it's going even lower, to 20.

Dan Nathan said you can buy Baker Hughes instead.

Addressing the Worst Stock in the World, Grandpa Dan Nathan only thought the new DWA movie was "OK" but suggested the pitiful takeover talks from last year remain a sign of something. (This writer is long DWA.)

"Where there's smoke, there's fire," said Nathan, but even so, he said to buy it "back towards those January lows."

(Somehow, Karen Finerman wasn't asked to opine and issue her favorite refrain, "Well, if they're trying to sell themselves, it's NOT from a position of strength.")

Dan Nathan scoffed, "if you're buying JPMorgan up 3% after it's on the cover of Barron's, you should probably be neutered right now. I mean like, I, who does that."

Honestly, he's got a good point there.

Karen Finerman, who helped Judge clarify the difference between Jamie Dimon and Jamie Dinan, insisted JPM was "overdone" last week.

Guy Adami said he likes TSLA as it bounced near that 177 level and made it his Final Trade.

Guy Adami pointed out MCD has been struggling since Jim Skinner left. Dan Nathan said "they need a redo of that menu."

Karen Finerman said of FINL's buyback announcement and share gains, "I suspect they were out in the market today."

Guy Adami hung a "north of 110" on RH.

Brian Kelly said to buy WWE "closer to 13."

Unfortunately, this being the real Fast Money, we had to sit through one of those March Madness stock-bracket discussions that's so far beyond the realm of reality (if you really want, you actually can buy BOTH Intel and Nvidia), but it did bring back memories of the first one, when Eric Bolling, Jeff Macke, Tim Strazzini and Guy Adami weighed Berkshire Hathaway vs. Apple in the finals. (We think AAPL won but can't recall.)

Dan Nathan said someone bought a bunch of XLF calls far out enough for April earnings.

Dan Nathan's Final Trade was sell INTC. Brian Kelly said SPY puts and Karen Finerman said long C.

Guest claims WSJ took quote out of context; is the music stopping, or isn’t it?

Monday's Halftime Report, which we almost decided to skip because it involved another conference, featured a claim of being ... lessee, what's the correct way to report this ... "misquoted" isn't what he said ... how about "not perfectly quoted."

It came from Mike Arougheti, who said there's a robust market for "self-originating loans direct to middle-market companies."

Judge quoted Arougheti as recently saying "the music isn't going to stop" (not quite the actual quote but close) in the corporate credit market.

Arougheti told Wapner, "First and foremost, that quote was taken out of context."

So we looked it up and found the quote in a story by the WSJ's Becky Pritchard in February (with the headline "Ares Co-Founder Says the Music Isn’t Going to Stop"):

"I for one don’t think the music will stop," Mr. Arougheti said.

But while the music may not "stop" (sic no comma) there may be changes to "the dance steps" of private debt providers, he said.

So in his rebuttal Monday, Arougheti told Wapner, "I think the point is, any good alternative asset manager has to be able to make money in any market environment." (Non-debatable and doesn't at all address the issue of a quote being taken out of context.)

Arougheti continued, "Uh, the music always stops, but it gets replaced with a different tune."

Hmmm ... "always stops," but it gets "replaced with a different tune."

Sounds like Arougheti is likening corporate credit to an LP that plays continuously, but it's not all one song like the Side 2 of "Abbey Road," rather there are breaks between the tracks.

At the risk of taking Arougheti out of context, it seems he is saying there's always music playing; it's just not always the same tune.

From Arougheti's presentation Monday, we don't see the proof he was taken out of context ... and we don't see how one can say that "I for one don't think the music will stop" (remember he doesn't say he was misquoted) and claim he really meant that it always stops.

But that's why they always say you've gotta be hedged.

Guest bought more KRFT
day deal was announced

Meanwhile on Monday's Halftime, Jamie Dinan pronounced himself "slightly more upbeat" than a few weeks ago and predicted a measured and "healthy" rise in interest rates.

Dinan said "We like the world," starting with the U.S. and Europe, then explained that a "re-equitization of the society" is happening in Japan, good for a multi-year bull run.

Dinan said some biotech valuations are "rich" and as a group "overextended" but there have been some "real, real home runs."

Dinan said he's been long KRFT since the Philip Morris takeover and said the Heinz deal is great and even, "we bought more the day the deal was announced."

Dinan also likes SJM. He admitted he's still long MCD but insisted his KRFT position is "much much, you know, more serious position" than his MCD stake.

Judge also welcomed Morgan Stanley's Colbert Narcisse, who acknowledged it's been tougher in the last couple years to sell clients on "alternative" investments and said there figures to be less focus on yield with rates rising.

Josh Brown said there's a lot of momentum and a "cult aspect" in RH. Mr. New Land said he likes the name, perhaps with puts, and "certainly would not short it."

Joan Solotar said she's not trying to "buy the market" but is looking for "bottoms up" opportunities, such as Europe, energy and financial services.

[Friday, March 27, 2015]

Pete gives students crash course in momentum trading

In the early moments of Friday's Halftime Report, students at Detroit's Engage investing conference and CNBC viewers were hearing all the right things.

Be patient, read about investing, don't overreact to short-term developments, learn what kind of advantages you have in the market, etc.

Then, there was Pete Najarian arguing that TWTR "feels Scott like it's starting to break to the upside." (Translation: It's been going up, so it'll probably keep going up.)

So, throw the books out the window.

Josh Brown had a curious take on market timing. "We should not be rooting for perpetual bull markets if we're in our 20s and 30s. We should look for those kinds of pullbacks that we- you hear so much about. We should pray for them, because we're still putting assets away. We're decades, decades away from using this money," Brown advised students.

Meanwhile, Judge asked Bill Miller if Miller is worried about XON, his 2nd-largest holding, being extended. Miller said, "It's already corrected from 50 down to 40."

Miller said he likes P because it trades at a "monstrous discount" to what its valuation would be if privately held (what was Roger McNamee saying the other day about private tech-stock valuations?).

Miller called AMZN "an extraordinarily profitable business."

Student Ryan Swor touted GILD.

Palmer Pawlusiak and Brian Scott touted PTEN.

Josh Brown listed Maryland as his alma mater; Stephen Weiss offered "St. John's University School of Law."

The biggest moment of the program came when John Harwood reported that Chuck Schumer is going to be the next Democratic Senate leader.

Viewer seems to suggest Jim Lebenthal overachieved in Thursday’s commentary

Jim Lebenthal is one of our favorite Halftime panelists, and house favorite to win the 2015 Playbook Playoffs, not just for his vigorous commentary on the stock market ... but also because he tends to be a provocative voice on national security that makes for good headline material.

In what was an incidental visit to Twitter, we happened to stumble onto a reaction to Lebenthal's comments on Thursday's Halftime that also got this page's attention (see below).

The tweeter's comment might be tongue in cheek. Or, it might not.

[Thursday, March 26, 2015]

‘Quick’ butt-kicking in Yemen

So, the Halftime Report actually can survive an episode without Pete Najarian.

Jim Lebenthal and Mike Block put together a crisp performance Thursday with some timely help from Rob Sechan and Dan Greenhaus on the state of the stock market.

The most provocative moment — unaddressed by Judge — was when Lebenthal downplayed the Yemen crisis, pointing to the rebels' "complete outmatching" by the "really darn good" Saudi Arabian military.

Then he said, "frankly," the Saudis are "not held back by the same level … of ethics as, say, U.S. military force would be" and will "clean up the situation quickly."


Lebenthal might well have a good point about ethics restrictions … but we've heard the "clean up the situation quickly" predictions in the Middle East before.

Rob Sechan called the oil market "wildly oversupplied."

Adding ... or unloading?

Just because they had a good show doesn't mean they were perfect.

Jim Lebenthal early in Thursday's Halftime Report said of his stake in WGO, "I might add to it at this level."

Later in the program, Lebenthal said "I'm reconsidering" remaining long WGO because when labor issues affect margins this way, it's a "symbol of bad management."

Fed saves us from 1937 (cont’d)

Jim Lebenthal on Thursday's Halftime Report bluntly pronounced the stock market "boring" and predicted it won't really take off until the first rate hike.

But Mike Block said the notion of raising rates is not a fait accompli because the Fed is watching the markets and is "very conscious" of the push that higher rates would give the dollar.

"I'm still the guy saying, 'They're not raising this year," Block said.

Dan Greenhaus said the notion of a "profit recession" is giving investors pause.

Rob Sechan explained how his "tactical" portfolio raised 20% cash after the Fed statement a week ago.

Sechan stumped Greenhaus with a question/assertion that rising rates are having "how much" of an impact on S&P earnings (the answer Sechan gave was de minimis) given the offset of lower oil.

123 target gets a pass

Continuing a BTIG trend recently, Judge on Thursday's Halftime welcomed Walter Piecyk to explain why he downgraded SNDK and removed his $123 (snicker) price target, stating it's about the company's execution and whether its products are adequately differentiated.

Piecyk didn't answer Judge's important question as to whether the SNDK slide Thursday is justified but said we're in "no-man's land" of margins.

"It's hard to own at this point," Piecyk said, undoubtedly true for those expecting 123.

Jim Lebenthal invoked one of Joe's doozies, stating SNDK is in the "penalty box."

Rob Sechan and Jim Lebenthal stressed that biotech has always had appeal for the potential of new drugs and for the potential of replenishing the big pharma pipelines. Mike Block said being cheap or expensive is not a catalyst and that no one suddenly wakes up and realizes that biotech stocks are not cheap.

Block also said he wanted to "warn everyone" that the last couple years people pronounced the market dead every time the Russell was slammed and that now people are asserting that biotech and transport slides are a "bad sign."

Mandy gets a haircut

Fred Tomczyk, who can probably get a CNBC interview whenever he wants given TD Ameritrade's ubiquitous sponsorship, insisted on Thursday's Halftime that when stimulus is pulled away, there is going to be volatility, but he said that isn't a way to judge whether the market's overvalued.

Mike Block said "the bar is low" for CAG's private-brands business.

Mike Block said UNP was hurt by its coal exposure.

Dan Greenhaus pointed out tobacco has been taking a beating for a couple of months. Jim Lebenthal said he gets "a lot of pushback" that is "increasing every day actually" from people who don't want him in tobacco stocks.

Rob Sechan pounded the table for small-caps.

Mike Block said he's still short the banks despite the fact others like them.

Jim Lebenthal said LULU's results are a sign of health in the discretionary-purchase area.

[Wednesday, March 25, 2015]

Who peed in Judge’s Cheerios?

While the stock market Wednesday was experiencing what Josh Brown on the Halftime Report rightly called a "run of the mill down day," Grandpa Judge was practically talking like it's Oct. 19, 1987.

Judge opened with a discussion about biotech's potential bubble ramifications, which were shrugged off by Josh Brown and Pete Najarian as not a great threat to the broader market.

Brown and Stephen Weiss pointed out what happened to biotech a year ago at this time but neither used Mike Block's term of "Dudleyed."

"I'm conflicted about it personally," said Weiss, who pointed to GILD as being "cheap" while asserting small- and mid-cap biotech is "unquestionably" in a bubble.

But Judge was hardly done, enlisting Roger McNamee to opine on the Silicon Valley bubble.

McNamee immediately stressed it's not "that big a deal" for the public markets just because the private markets are out of control.

McNamee did suggest that it would take some kind of unknown global "chaos," which he sees as "increasing exponentially," to rock the markets; "there's just so many ways the world can surprise you and disappoint you."

Judge also warned that mutual fund investors don't know what they're holding and that TWTR's valuation isn't "niche."

But nothing this time about how can any retail investor have confidence when the "machines" are taking over.

Judge discusses TWTR, makes no mention of Dick’s job security

Brian Wieser visited with Wednesday's Halftime Report to say that "at the end of the day," his downgrade of TWTR is a valuation call.

Wieser protested that he likes the company more than Judge implied he does, but he doesn't think it's as universal as Facebook.

Judge tried to stress "niche" and argued to his panel that it doesn't have a "niche" valuation. Pete Najarian punted on that subject by referring to options activity but expressing a bit of skepticism; "they've gotta show more growth in some of their numbers than they have so far." (Translation: I haven't seen any options activity that would make me go long.)

Steve Weiss said TWTR has a "faddish element that's fallen off," and he does consider it a "niche" player.

Nothing about Bob Peck's "good chance" of a CEO ouster; Dick isn't going anywhere.

Judge not exactly thrilled that small investors can get a little participation in the private markets

Mike Santoli joined Wednesday's Halftime Report to say the dabbling by mutual funds in private companies isn't enough to move the needle yet, then said he finds it intriguing that Judge presented this conversation in the form of whether investors should be worried rather than isn't it great that small investors now have some access to these companies.

Judge conceded, "It depends on which way you wanna, you wanna take it."

Stephen Weiss said it's OK when it's a large company like Fidelity that can move a "slug" of stock for a private company takes a flier, but it's a different story when a smaller mutual fund is delving into private stocks.

The panel agreed that fund managers find it appealing to scoop un non-indexed names that can help them actually beat the indexes.

Judge takes another crack at defining ‘contrarian’

Yesterday (see below), the Halftime Report crew had a lot of trouble reconciling Will Danoff's stock picks with the name of his fund, to the point they were still struggling to do so as the cameras rolled into Power Lunch.

Wednesday, risking gasoline on the fire, Judge brought in Christine Benz of Morningstar to serve up some "contrarian" fund picks of her own.

Benz touted Bill Nygren's fund and stated it has financial exposure that "isn't especially loved."

Benz also offered Vanguard Energy Value, Vanguard International Value (snicker) and the American Century Inflation bond fund.

That all sounds fair enough.

Stephen Weiss mocked the buy call on GRPN.

Pete Najarian pointed out that if you believe in the 75 target for GPRO, from 42, "there's plenty of upside."

Stephen Weiss called LL uninvestable.

Roger McNamee said Uber management has "significant limitations."

McNamee called Uber the "most amazing idea since Facebook."

Brian Stutland called the move in bonds surprising. Brian Stutland told Jackie DeAngelis, who was wearing a chic new sleeveless dress but wasn't as chipper as usual, "The rate cut (sic) that the Fed is expecting to do may not even happen this year."

Pete Najarian said there was suspicious June call-buying in KRFT shares.

Karen Finerman was heard saying a day ago on the 5 p.m. Fast Money that Simon Property has made it clear that it's going to walk away from Macerich.

[Tuesday, March 24, 2015]

Tip: There’s absolutely nothing contrarian about Will Danoff’s fund except the name

Hopefully if they ever talk to anyone about this page, they'll defend it to the extent they defended Will Danoff's loopy definition(s) of "contrarian" on Tuesday.

That term proved laughably overwhelming for the Halftime crew, to the point they were still struggling to figure out how FB meets that definition by the 58th minute.

Judge felt compelled to seal the deal with viewers as to what they had heard.

"Just because something is consensus doesn't mean that it can't be contrarian. And I think that's the point that Will Danoff was trying to make," Judge claimed, a sorry reach at parsing that made not an ounce of sense.

Mr. New Land tried getting into the act during the retail chat with Dorothy Lakner.

Lakner said "there's still room on, on the upside" for LB (above) though she admitted that by initiating coverage now, "we've missed a little bit of the party."

Judge told Lakner that Joe "literally" just bought KORS for his Playbook Playoffs portfolio on Tuesday. Lakner gave the stock a thumbs-up given that it's trading on the lower end of its valuation.

Joe tried to exploit Danoff's scattershot series of definitions to rope Lakner into endorsing KORS as "the ultimate contrarian play within the retail space."

Too much a pushover on this subject, Lakner said, "Exactly."

Josh Brown gave a final assessment to TWTR and FB and called TWTR "the real contrarian trade in the space."

When was the last time Judge brought up Dick’s job security?

Dave Briggs on Tuesday's Halftime Report said the NFL is merely trying to see what the market is for streaming a Bills-Jaguars game, which doesn't seem like the most tradeable subject in the world, but whatever.

Judge bemoaned how corporate do-gooders feel compelled to buy up unsold NFL tickets hours or minutes before the blackout deadline.

Anthony Grisanti said he's not convinced we've seen the bottom in crude. Scott Nations called Monday's low of 45.33 the key level.

Pete Najarian said March 59 weekly EBAY calls were popular.

Josh Brown and Joe Terranova hailed LNKD.

Joe also touted WHR, while Brown trumpeted ITB.

When every investment
is a contrarian one

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime Report wasted no time bringing in star guest Will Danoff, who began praising corporate America and active management of stock funds.

Danoff a couple of times referred to Facebook's 1 billion-plus users (every single one of them of course regularly clicking on ads) and hailed the Instagram and WhatsApp (but not Oculus) acquisitions and actually suggested that being long FB is the contrarian play.

Danoff, despite saying his approach is "buying down and out when things are getting better," also suggested that staying long BIIB is the contrarian play.

(So basically, anything that looks like a good stock is a "contrarian.")

But in a bit of a downer, Danoff spent time suggesting that a lot of biotech's product gains are posing a quandary for society, which will have to determine how much it wants to pay to extend someone's life from 3 months to 12 months.

Danoff also hailed Tim Cook's management and admitted he underrated Cook when Steve Jobs died.

Even though Danoff is a fine guest, this was a humdrum interview of generalities expressed towards basically the market's most popular stocks, with minimal contributions from Judge's panel.

More from Tuesday's show later.

[Monday, March 23, 2015]

Fed continues to
save us from 1937

One thing in abundance at CNBC is "Shark Tank" episodes criticism of the Federal Reserve, but few have made as interesting of a point recently as Ben Willis on Monday's Halftime Report.

Willis said the Fed is "trading with the market," and "quite frankly it appears they're not exactly sure what they're doing."

It's the latter point that resonates. We're not sure they know what they're doing either, other than it seems like the primary goal is to not make the stock market go down.

Jim Lebenthal warned that if the Fed doesn't do a rate hike, then it's "really playing with fire," although we've heard dire prognostications along those lines before ... and we're all still here.

Jim Lebenthal clashed with Judge over whether every sector of the market has priced in a rate hike for either June or September (Judge argued they haven't).

No follow-through on MCC’s suggestion of financials being a ‘long-term short’

Pete Najarian on Monday's Fast Money did the "Yeah ... yeah" while Judge tested Pete yet again with the Charlie Rose routine of asking his question then extending his question just as the respondent is about to answer; Pete implored viewers to buy protection in this market.

Josh Brown said an occasional market tantrum is desirable, and he doesn't know why anyone's into complacency.

Dr. New Land said the markets are getting comfortable with a "rake (sic) hike" (he corrected himself) (at least it wasn't "rate cut" (Drink) this time) and asserted it's a "healthy condition for equities."

Jim Lebenthal cited "very few pre-announcements" as a good sign.

‘Contrarian’ standards maybe aren’t what they used to be

Dan Kozlowski of Janus enthusiastically joined Monday's Halftime to declare ETFC a premier "contrarian pick," one that works as a new-management play as the mortgage stuff has gotten "run off."

He said the stock represents "consolidation opportunity."

Kozlowski also likes the old Bruce Berkowitz staple, JOE, citing "tremendous fundamental improvement at St. Joe."

Josh Brown asked Kozlowski about when he decides he's wrong, suggesting that contrarians can end up with stocks going to "zero" and having to do a "postmortem."

Kozlowski told Brown that there are "2 pieces," that his team members aren't "simple-minded contrarians" but researchers who seek out viable catalysts.

Kozlowski likes UAL, but Judge said he doesn't get how that's a "contrarian" pick.

So far, Rich Greenfield’s DIS downgrade looks like a bust

Hardeep Walia said on Monday's Halftime Report that the latest hot investing Motif is connected-car plays.

Jim Lebenthal suggested this trade might be "cannibalizing" an "Internet of things" play.

Walia also said Pacific Life is supporting cause-driven Motifs that benefit charities.

Mr. New World said he likes HAL and SLB and too many refiners to mention.

Pete Najarian said he likes SPLS because it's had huge call-buying recently (Drink).

Joe suggested THC is more of an exit at this price than an entry.

Pete and Jim Lebenthal both blessed PFE.

Pete Najarian said the Stifel downgrade of BIIB was a reasonable assessment of the ride the stock's had and noted the downgrade was to hold and not sell.

Joe hailed TM and Josh Brown hung a 50 on TWTR.

[Friday, March 20, 2015]

Man interviewed in Times Square calls Mel a ‘good-looking lady’

Guy Adami, proving he gets it, finally on Friday's Fast Money cut to the chase with his sidewalk interviews.

Adami happened to ask some bloke about GOOG vs. FB, then after suffering through a recitation of P.E. ratios, somehow elicited a pro-Fast Money comment from the gent to the tune of, "I like Melissa Lee. I think she's a, a good-looking lady."

Of course. This page has been saying it for years and has been at the forefront of this topic; the only thing preventing Melissa Lee from dominating the NYC society pages is Melissa Lee. She's extremely photogenic, very well-read, and undoubtedly interesting.

Our problem is when we get Sara Eisen and Dakota Johnson calling at the same time, and we're never sure which one to take first.

AMZN’s purported drone program is mentioned again on CNBC, mission accomplished

Tyler Vernon, guest panelist on Friday's Halftime Report, dubbed Amazon's drone program more "hype" than anything, then tossed in an "at the end of the day" in suggesting Amazon is putting pressure on the shipping companies.

But the real eye-opening comment related to the subject was when guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said that over time, we're going to see how Apple and Facebook and others have "chipped away at" traditional payment and banking systems, suggesting "some kind of long-term short for the financial sector as we see technology eat away what they do."

Our gut says that after 2008, Congress isn't about to let Facebook start making home loans, but MCC has a decent point.

Vernon confused MCC by offering NVDA as his "spring cleaning" trade. Stephen Weiss suggested NDLS and TCS. Doc took the opportunity to uncork a Brag Trade in ESPR, but Weiss said he bought more the other day.

How come CNBC doesn’t have a house band, let Steve Liesman and Tim Seymour jam just like the ‘Tonight Show’ crew

Steve Liesman, undoubtedly gearing up for the Dead in Chicago in July, reported on Friday's Halftime Report that centrist Lockhart of the Atlanta Fed is talking about a possible "liftoff" in rates this summer.

Kate Moore predicted "a lot of volatility" around Fed comments this year.

Tyler Vernon said, "At the end of the day," the Fed is "behind this market."

Stephen Weiss said he likes stocks, citing German bond yields, and suggested HEDJ to minimize currency risk, a vehicle he recommended throughout the program.

Jon Najarian actually recommended gold miners, AUY, GG, and everyone's favorite, GFI.

‘Gotta be nuts’ to buy TIF

Jon Najarian, accepting a dubious bull-case assignment on Friday's Halftime Report, called TIF's report "pathetic" but said he likes rising sales in Asia and Europe.

Stephen Weiss said he likes the company but thinks the stock is overvalued at 80 particularly with a strong dollar. (But he didn't say it's better than COH which won't succeed at creating a lifestyle brand (Drink).)

Tyler Vernon bluntly declared, "You gotta be nuts to buy the stock" and actually likened TIF to MCD.

Geoff Dennis described the dollar as a "big concern for EM investors for some time."

Dennis likes India, China and Mexico.

Steve Weiss thinks Russia stepping on Poland is ‘farfetched’ but brings it up as an investment concern anyway

Stephen Weiss said he finds the notion of Russia encroaching in Poland "farfetched" but wonders if it's worth the investment risk nonetheless.

In a nice tribute, guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera called Kate Moore "Julianne Moore," whom she resembles, a few times.

MCC praised Simon Hobbs' pronunciation of "Andalusia."

MCC lamented that buying a German stock with an appropriate currency hedge is cost-prohibitive.

Stephen Weiss said to avoid steel stocks. Tyler Vernon likes NKE. Jon Najarian said BIIB still has "significant ramp" ahead of it.

Tyler Vernon's Final Trade was VLO. Jon Najarian said ZIOP and Steve Weiss said HEDJ (Drink).

[Thursday, March 19, 2015]

Not really sure, but might’ve gone an episode without hearing ‘patient’

Sort of invoking a "Caddyshack" reference — or perhaps a swimsuit reference — Anthony Grisanti on Thursday's Halftime Report told Jackie DeAngelis that in an apparent rising-rate environment, bond holders aren't going to want to be the "last one out of the pool."

But Jim Iuorio doesn't think anyone's worried about cutting short their swim, and he hung a 1.85% target on the 10-year.

Later, Michael Chuang said lack of liquidity in the corporate bond market is on everyone's radar, and that when the Fed finally does hike, it could bring a "rush out of bonds" posing a serious liquidity problem.

Guest host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera acknowledged that viewers already understand liquidity but — and this is an underrated concept on TV — gave a primer on it anyway; it was well-done and a nice rehash of the basics.

Mr. New Land didn't seem so worried, stating it's a "very deep market" but advising viewers to know what bonds are in the bond ETFs they might own.

One thing CNBC needs is a few more predictions as to when the first rate hike happens (and then how many more during the year)

Offered a chance for an opening statement on Thursday's Halftime Report, Pete Najarian stumbled a bit in saying you might as well stick with what's working, such as big biotech and health care.

Joe Terranova said he agrees with Pete on health care as a good choice and stressed the high-yield energy market as the "biggest near-term risk to the market."

Josh Brown said "the bond market was already telling you September or later."

Ed Yardeni said it sounds like the Fed might do one-and-done or even none-and-done and that it's "stymied" from doing any more than that.

Gene Munster on EBAY gets same reax as Rich Greenfield on DIS

Gene Munster on Thursday's Halftime Report said he downgraded EBAY because its businesses will be used less a couple years from now.

Yet, Munster predicted "exponential usage" in Apple Pay.

Munster failed to sway Pete Najarian — who cited 3 reasons (we can't handle any more) — or Josh Brown, who agreed that EBAY is poised to break out north of 60.

LULU is discussed, for once without a mention of see-through pants

Pete Najarian on Thursday's Halftime took a victory lap on RAD and predicted it goes higher.

Josh Brown said LEN is as good a name as any in the space.

Jon Najarian played down the move upward in BIIB.

Mr. New Land (that's correct, that's what MCC called him) marveled that there's not even "a hint" of activism around FCX.

Morgan Brennan, who delivered a purple-outfit encore Thursday (see Jane Wells below), identified some energy stocks that, according to FactSet's survey of analyst ratings, might have a lot of upside. Doc said, "A lot of folks are looking for that 40 number" in crude.

Dana Telsey called GES still "a work in progress" and said she likes GPS better.

Telsey likes TIF, LULU, KATE, LB and KSS.

Pete Najarian said he likes LULU. Joe said he's eager to buy KORS.

Josh Brown made a case for CRI.

Brown said he replaced AET with JBHT in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio.

Brown introduced his intern, Will Hassell, who likes SBUX.

[Wednesday, March 18, 2015]

Java Jane

We don't know what the hottest beans are at Starbucks, but nothing was scorching like Jane Wells in purple sweater at the Starbucks meeting Wednesday. (Sorry couldn't get the right picture with a smile; did the best we could.)

Wells detailed Howard Schultz's #RaceTogether idea on both the Halftime Report and Fast Money.

Melissa Lee on Fast Money said Schultz's idea sounds like a "huge liability" to her.

"It just takes one barista to say — by accident — say something quote insensitive," Lee asserted (thankfully no one offered any examples of what might constitute "insensitive").

Stephen Weiss on the Halftime Report stumbled to make a circular non-point that SBUX is kind of expensive but it's always kind of expensive.

Steve Weiss: Jack Ma could
‘be gone in a heartbeat’

Youssef Squali said he's a "little bit" surprised that BABA was flat on Wednesday, but he predicted a "bumpy ride" over the next several months. (This writer is long BABA.)

Mike Block said that if BABA dips below 80, his "radar" would go off.

Grandpa Steve Weiss insisted the counterfeit issues haven't gone away, that you're buying the Chinese government, and even floated a new outcome, "Jack Ma could be gone in a heartbeat."

Doc said that OptionMonster clients got BABA on the IPO and then "we had 'em sell" as the stock ran up; Doc even said Pete and he were thinking the stock would get to the "130s" (nope) or "140s a share" (closer) when it was "150" that Pete actually said a few times.

Doc said he agrees with Block, that the stock is interesting under 80.

Doc’s previous suggestion of 10-basis-point move superseded by hint of 12½-basis-point move

Unless we post this review in real-time, this particular element is always hopelessly anticlimactic.

Judge on Wednesday's Halftime enlisted his panel for predictions on the Fed statement.

Steve Weiss said he wasn't convinced that "patient" is coming out.

But Jon Najarian said it's coming out.

Mike Block muscled into the conversation and asserted "data dependence is bunk," then declared, "I don't think they're ready to raise rates. I don't think they're doin' it this year," a stark contrast to Paul Richards' projected merry-go-round of rate hikes in 2015.

Steve Liesman contended that it's all about market reaction, not about "an 8-letter word or a 12-point Scrabble word," while we thought he was going to say it's all about "Sugar Magnolia" at Soldier Field in July.

Joe Davis predicted a "fairly dovish" statement from the Fed and even suggested it could possibly move in eighths.

Stephen Weiss said this isn't like 1937 because (among about several hundred other relevant comparisons) in the 1930s, it was government spending that supported the economy.

While ISIS is being degraded, men’s and women’s NCAA brackets are filled out

Jon Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime Report joked that Joe Terranova, who's had a startlingly quick hook this year, has already exhausted his 52 trades in the Playbook Playoffs contest.

Joe wasn't around to explain.

Pete Najarian said AXP has "plenty of room to the upside."

Mike Block said ORCL looks good, and he thinks it can clear the Chinese hurdles longer-term.

Jeff Kilburg predicted bond yields are going lower. Scott Nations said that would be true if "patience" stays in.

Pete Najarian said the April 70 calls in SAP were hoppin'.

Mark Benigno told Judge he sees a "3 handle" in oil's future and suggested it could bottom around 32½.

Stephen Weiss said the Dow is "increasingly irrelevant."

Pete Najarian didn't think much of Barack Obama picking Kentucky in the NCAA men's tournament.

[Tuesday, March 17, 2015]

Super Bowl 50 still on

In a curious — but highly interesting — topic for the Halftime Report, Judge brought in NBC Sports reporter Dave Briggs to assure football fans that there will indeed be 1,500 or so individuals willing to strap it on for a 16-game season in 2015.

Briggs told Judge and the panel to "pump the brakes" on the notion that all kinds of NFL players will follow the lead of Chris Borland, because there are "thousands of guys" who would take Borland's spot, at half the pay.

It's more like tens of thousands of guys, at 1/10th the pay.

No question, recent understanding of head injuries is alarming and troubling for anyone who relishes the competition of football.

What Briggs didn't say is that successful NFL players from the beginning of time have occasionally called it quits at an early age — in the late '60s, early '70s there were Jim Brown, Don Meredith, Mike Reid and George Sauer (though Sauer returned in the WFL) — and nowadays, with the enormous salaries (relative to the general public) involved, it's all that much harder to step away at a young age, though that is what Borland is doing.

Honestly, Borland's move gives us an even greater appreciation for the guys who put it all on the line for the sake of competitiveness, for making a living, for their teammates and fans.

Don Meredith met his 3rd wife, who was the ex-wife of "2001" actor Keir Dullea, while walking down 3rd Avenue in New York City on April 17, 1971.

Brian Stutland ‘big buyer’ of oil

It's not often that a Futures Now panelist makes headlines on the Halftime Report.

But Brian Stutland did so on Tuesday when he advised taking up new long crude positions. "I'm a big buyer here," Stutland said.

Jim Iuorio said of crude, "The chart looks awful to me." But he said if the Fed "starts backin' off," crude could hit 55.

Pete Najarian said there's still "extreme" volatility in the oil market.

Sarat Sethi trumpeted VLO, MPC and HFC, and Pete Najarian trumpeted airlines.

Karen Finerman on Tuesday's Fast Money took a Fast Fire on SDRL.

Melissa Lee and Sara Eisen both went sleeveless Tuesday, but Kayla Tausche in zebra stripes had the CNBC outfit of the day.

Why get CNBC Pro if Judge tells you about the articles on-air?

Judge opened Tuesday's Halftime Report touting CNBC Pro for having a "phenomenal article" explaining the "hidden bear market in the Dow" that Judge said he hadn't even thought about, which is a third of the stocks being in a 52-week-low "phase."

But he didn't really get anyone to bite that this market is in trouble.

Joe LaVorgna predicted the Fed drops "patient" and said "the easiest way" is just to drop the whole sentence.

Josh Brown said that in general, Fed meetings have been a "non-event" for stocks.

Steve Liesman clung to the notion of February weather shaking up economic activity but didn't receive any rebuttals this time.

Doc predicted we won't see further acceleration in the dollar vs. euro to the same "extent" we've seen thus far.

Josh Brown said materials stocks had been up 7% this year but are now clinging to a gain.

Those kids with BABA

Jon Najarian on Tuesday's Halftime Report predicted AAPL's streaming plan is going to be "big" and impressively acknowledged that NBC Universal isn't part of the negotiations because of Comcast's dispute with Apple.

Sarat Sethi wasn't too enthusiastic about AAPL but did gush a bit about Comcast.

Scott Devitt, sounding a bit like Rich Greenfield a day earlier, called the AAPL news "very positive potentially" for Netflix.

Devitt also told Judge he's not convinced the BABA lockup expiration is a big deal. "It's as likely that it's up that it's down tomorrow," Devitt said, calling the stock's reaction a "coin toss." (This writer is long BABA.)

But Judge sounded flummoxed as to whether Devitt was recommending people buy the stock Tuesday (that was really never made clear), and Doc tried to argue that a Chinese "kid" with BABA shares is more likely to unload than a San Francisco "kid."

Devitt said, "It depends on who that kid is."

Neither Judge nor his panelists wore green on St. Patrick’s Day

Judge couldn't resist asking Sarat Sethi midway through Tuesday's Halftime Report if the U.S. is the place to "be" (sic he sorta used air quotes). (Drink.)

Dom Chu pronounced Macerich as "May-search;" we're not sure if he's right or not.

Pete Najarian said to keep an eye on BURL. Sarat Sethi was heard to say "Nordstrom's" (sic).

Doc said August 8 calls in ATML were hot.

Judge cut off Doc's storytelling on Carl's history with EBAY and Marc Andreessen.

Pete Najarian called GPRO's Xbox downloads a "meaningful number" but didn't endorse the stock. Josh Brown predicted GPRO takes out its IPO lows and called it a "falling dagger."

Sarat Sethi predicted GM will do well in pickup trucks.

Doc said there's "pent-up demand" (Drink) in BBY so he bought stock and calls.

[Monday, March 16, 2015]

Dennis Gartman: President
of Venezuela is a ‘lunatic’

Around here, just to be as well-versed as possible, we like to be able to keep a passable knowledge of world leaders just because you never know when you'll get a pop quiz at a cocktail party it's good to be informed.

Thanks to Dennis Gartman on Monday's Fast Money, we got a refresher on Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro, who leads a remarkably polarized country that has dropped out of headlines given Ukraine/Middle East and other hot spots.

Gartman pronounced Maduro a "lunatic" with no business/econ background and no one in his cabinet with any such background.

Obviously things aren't so hot in Brazil either, though no one on the panel went so far as to make a decent suggestion: that the term "BRIC" perhaps isn't a status symbol.

Brent Thill said this time of year tends to be "black ice" for tech stocks because multiples can experience a "mini-avalanche."

Guy Adami had a great show, noting NFLX's slide from the possible double-top and pointing out TSLA's 52-week low ($177) and suggesting a possible retest.

Judge takes the high road, Charlie gets points on humor, but ...

Encouraged by a seemingly well-intentioned Twitter follower on Monday, Judge was revealed as actually believing a simple Twitter exchange from an account containing the letters CNBC with Charles Gasparino is possible.

Attempting to sound reasonable, Judge poured gasoline on Charlie's competitive fuse by suggesting Judge doesn't have to defend his reporting just because Gasparino is trying to raise another Twitter ruckus.

That didn't work, as Charlie erupted that he crushes the "s---heads" and "worthless crew" in Englewood Cliffs "everyday."

Apparently the source of dispute (using that term is being kind) is whether Wapner's interview with Bill Ackman last week merely rehashed old news on HLF reported by Gasparino in January.

Honestly we don't have the time — not even close (this exchange wasn't on our schedule for Monday) — to rehash these reports on video and keep a scorecard of this frivolous exercise.

Charlie's Twitter hecklers pounced, some asking if he was fired by CNBC, compelling Gasparino to declare "I left that s--- hole in NJ 5 years ago ON MY OWN and never looked back," though he definitely looks forward to any tweet or any mention of his name from those 4 magic letters.

Wapner and all CNBCers who feel slighted can certainly stand up for themselves. Sigh ... as Gekko would say, Why are we defending this man? Have we run out of human beings? (That's only a joke) ... we don't know Gasparino, but we do know that not only is he the Funniest Individual in Business Television, but under the combative exterior, he's actually extremely accommodating to journalists, or practically anyone who wants to ask him something, and he did bring life as well as scoops to CNBC and stir the pot in ways it's not being stirred now ... but we doubt Hoffman's going to make him an offer tomorrow.

If we get a response from Ackman declaring the winner of this exchange, we'll post it.

Panel seems to think Rich Greenfield’s DIS downgrade is useless

Rich Greenfield, a star analyst and excellent TV guest who once made our Fast Money Analyst All-Star Team that we created a few years ago during baseball's All-Star break, found the going tough on his DIS downgrade on Monday's Halftime Report.

Greenfield said BTIG has had a buy on DIS for 5 years. But given the expectations, "there is just increasingly little room for error," and he cited "better upside" elsewhere in the sector.

Goosing the channel's golden goose, Judge asked Greenfield to opine on Jim Cramer's clumsy earlier assessment of Greenfield's call in which Cramer grumbled about whether someone would sell DIS and get back in at 101. (Doesn't sound particularly sexy, but is there something wrong with executing a winning trade?) Being polite, Greenfield didn't question what the heck Jim was talking about.

Greenfield does like NFLX. But Dr. New Land protested that portfolio managers won't jump from DIS to NFLX, as Greenfield implicitly suggests, because those companies are massively different sizes. Greenfield suggested FOX as an alternative.

Josh Brown and Joe agreed that Greenfield is merely making a "hedge fund call" on DIS and that retail investors can easily continue to own it with puts.

Late in the program, Brown said that a DIS downgrade such as Greenfield's that's "not really based on anything" represents a great opportunity to buy, but he wishes the stock was down.

Seems like Steve Grasso has been predicting pullback since Jan. 1

Given the opportunity to open Monday's Halftime Report, Joe took viewers down Memory Lane.

Mr. New Land analyzed his claim of just last week that either oil would take stocks down or banks would take stocks higher and concluded that prediction was, um, accurate "to a certain extent," because the S&P 500 is going higher "on health care, it's going higher on consumer names, and it is going to a certain extent on- higher on financials over the last couple of days."

OK. We think we follow. (Zzzzzzz.)

Adam Parker, whose corporate brand is always behind his appearances, said there are times stocks rise when the dollar strengthens and times stocks fall when the dollar strengthens, and he also differentiated between Metallica and Hemingway.

Steve Grasso said Parker makes a "convincing" case for whatever he's advocating, but Grasso said he doubts the market can withstand a strengthening dollar just yet, so "sit on the sidelines."

We thought we were going to have a scoop that Joe’s attire was questionable, but Judge broke the story late on the show

Everyone's picking Kentucky, but nothing was more dominant on Monday's Halftime Report than Joe Terranova's wire-to-wire penchant for point-making — to the degree that Pete Najarian was practically shut out.

Dr. New Land said the "short-term dynamic" in oil is that they're running out of storage (he actually said ambiguously that storage was "burgeoning") and will have to unload supply, but he sees "opportunities" longer term.

Joe backed PXD and VLO and said "I believe in those names" but observed that OAS and XCO are painful. Josh Brown said to focus on the XLE but said there's "absolutely no reason" to get aggressive.

Joe cautioned TSLA shorts that there might not be much downside left.

Joe said there's "no reason" to get out of DD yet and disagrees with the downgrade.

Joe said he wanted to apologize for his HIBB bungle of last week and admitted, "I'm (sic missing "in") a little bit of a cold spell right now," but he nevertheless tried again by suggesting health care — which is kinda where he began the program.

Pete Najarian said XLNX calls were hot and he'll be in probably until Friday, unless they double beforehand.

Eric Chemi joined the panel and said to play the market in March.

Chemi observed that GME does great in March-April; Judge questioned why that is.

Pete Najarian trumpeted TEVA and MYL.

Joe said a lot of ladies were coming to his defense on Twitter over his questionable getup. Pete Najarian had a good dig, asking "Who needs mustard?"

CNBC and SALT: Playing
defense instead of offense

A few days ago (see below), this page faulted CNBC's apparent decision (based on a report in Henry Blodget's Business Insider) to spurn coverage of the 2015 SALT Conference over a rift with Anthony Scaramucci.

This seems a remarkably defensive move — ignoring a newsworthy financial event and freezing out a long-welcome contributor simply because that contributor happens to be launching a television program.

But venturing near CNBC turf isn't always adversarial.

Consider the channel's strange approach to the click-bait-content demands of Business Insider.

Over the last few years, numerous CNBC hosts and reporters — among them Sara Eisen, Scott Wapner, Mandy Drury, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Jane Wells — have supplied an interview and a series of "a day in the life" photos to Blodget's rival Wall Street portal.

Why this material is not exclusive to CNBC.com instead — and handled by skilled writers and editors there who could do better than a lot of out-of-focus, dark iPhone photos — is a head-scratcher.

Something like that is small potatoes.

What's not is a business-day ratings free fall so bad that the messenger — Nielsen — is being killed while a new "partner" aims to find some metric demonstrating growth of CNBC's saturation (and surely will, or it won't be a partner for long).

This site posts the ratings revelations but doesn't take pleasure in them.

It's a challenging environment for television. There's just so much of it out there, and much of it's actually good. Beyond that is the Internet, engulfing viewers' leisure time, opening the universe to a platform such as this one or (much) bigger entities such as Business Insider, Re/code, countless Apple-related sites, Facebook, etc.

There remains a robust, permanent appetite for business and economics reporting and commentary. Not too long ago, CNBC was the real-time monopoly of such discussion. Sites such as this came about as 2nd or 3rd derivatives, assessing how Maria Bartiromo, Dylan Ratigan, Jim Cramer, Mark Haines, Erin Burnett, Larry Kudlow, Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and many others presented the day's developments in M&A, interest rates, the S&P 500 or the dollar.

In 1999, everybody and his brother was buying tech stocks, the Internet was largely undeveloped, only a (relative to today) small number of cable channels had traction. It's a different landscape now, and it's hard to believe CNBC can reclaim its daytime heights of that time.

But can't it at least be trying?

It's natural that organizations focus on what's working. CNBC identifies as much as "the fastest-growing network (sic) in prime time" as "first in business worldwide."

According to another Business Insider report, CNBC President/prime-time mogul Mark Hoffman recently has been rewarded with a higher status on the corporate ladder for overseeing an impressive nighttime transformation that has gained traction in viewership and pop culture.

Finding the value added in the daytime bread and butter isn't so easy.

A lot of well-known talent has left.

Impressive in-house documentaries (dozens have been reviewed on this site and can still be found here), airing nights, weekends and holidays, have nearly disappeared.

Like the distressed retailers it often reports on, CNBC is practically becoming a real-estate play — building a sharp new set every couple years and devoting time to reporters showcasing million-dollar homes and asking viewers to guess which cities they're in.

According to the Business Insider article, Hoffman "has it easy" and believes "I don't need headaches in my life."

There's seems to be an issue here with playing offense.

That's at least what Scaramucci is doing with SkyBridge's reborn "Wall $treet Week."

Instead of Turtle Mode, this is an opportunity for CNBC to mobilize the troops. Here comes competition; it's up to you to break the stories and land the guests. Instead of a SALT stiff-arm, Hoffman should deploy a show of force in Vegas.

Scott Wapner and Melissa Lee and Kate Kelly are among many who have done this drill with excellent results. Why wouldn't their bosses want to send them to a premier conference and give them a chance to make headlines?

If Scaramucci had instead launched a reality-TV company, he'd probably have Hoffman ordering up 3 dozen episodes.

Scaramucci won't comment on this topic publicly, but people close to him have heard him say to this effect: "CNBC still thinks the best policy is evisceration rather than cooperation," and he believes its approach has created "internal strife" and job-security concerns.

Hoffman still has some aces.

CNBC's ticker remains the gold standard. A staggering amount of information in a tiny scroll. We'd actually watch it during every television program, even football. Why is NFLX up 5% today; look at how much CLVS moved during "Fast Money."

CNBC graphics convey a prestige sorely lacking from rival Fox Business Network, whose screens hurt the eyes and, despite landing several prominent ex-CNBCers, can't seem to get out of its own way. Rival Bloomberg is fine and preferred by some but struggles, frankly, to be "sexy."

Stalwart anchors and reporters remain, reliable and reassuring and sometimes polarizing, and young faces are getting a chance.

But the channel's standard-bearer, "Mad Money," is now 10 years old, and the person who developed it, Susan Krakower, is presently on the "Wall $treet Week" team.

So it must be asked at Englewood Cliffs: If we didn't have Cramer, would we be OK?

This page wishes the best for Hoffman and CNBC's talent.

Judge, Gasparino heckling each other over HLF coverage

There's nothing that Charles Gasparino likes more than goading a CNBC personality into a Twitter dust-up.

He got one last week after serving up bait on Herbalife, claiming he had the story from January (we haven't had the opportunity or inclination to verify).

"u got friggen crushed watch the tape yesterdays news warmed over at @ScottWapnerCNBC @CNBC @jimcramer #SmokedPurple," Gasparino tweeted.

Wapner twice told Charlie, "#delusional."

If nothing else, Charlie plays offense.

[Friday, March 13, 2015]

Lumber Liquidators founder says company’s wood has been defamed since days of being a small warehouse

Halftime Report viewers got a treat on Friday as Scott Wapner delivered a tour de force of an interview with beleaguered Lumber Liquidators founder and chairman Tom Sullivan.

Wapner was patient, allowed Sullivan to talk, and asked tough but fair questions.

The strongest of which Sullivan obviously never saw coming — how come he hasn't bought LL stock in a long time.

Sullivan seemed to waver between suggesting he can't buy more stock or can't talk about buying more stock.

Wapner asked if Sullivan would buy once the "blackout period" ends.

Sullivan's answer was anything but firm. "I will look at it then- I- uh, I will look at it. I don't think I can comment on that either for, uh, being a public company."

But the biggest eye-roller might've been Sullivan's claim of a permanent smear campaign against his company.

"When I first started," he said, "a small warehouse in Boston ... even back then, you know, the big distributor in town was making up stories about our wood, saying it was this and that."

Sullivan said it's "very possible" Lumber Liquidators will sue either CBS or Whitney Tilson.

"Our laminate is safe," Sullivan insisted. "'60 Minutes' did a great job of scaring people, making up this story."

As for Tilson, "This guy is connected to Barry Minkow," Sullivan said.

In what could've been a clumsy intro, Scott Cohn before Sullivan spoke delivered the background on the story, got tripped up over "method" (as "message" a couple times), and only sorta helped differentiate the difference between California standards and the actual test.

Cohn said Lumber Liquidators may not like the test "60 Minutes" performed, but "That test is the standard that they are subject to."

Josh implied Walt Disney was CEO, but according to Wikipedia, Roy was CEO; Walt was president and chairman

Josh Brown on Friday's Halftime Report pointed out that Disney has a history of great CEOs.

"The last CEO was iconic. The CEO before that was iconic. You know, it's- Walt Disney died at some point," Brown asserted.

Actually, according to the handy-dandy fact sheet that is Wikipedia, the 3 Disney CEOs between Roy Disney (1971) and Michael Eisner (starting in 1984) were Donn Tatum (5 years), E. Cardon Walker (7 years) and Ron W. Miller (1 year) — none of whom we've ever heard of before.

Jim Lebenthal said of Iger, "He is a great CEO. He's not Steve Jobs."

All aboard S&P 2,000

Keith Kelly on Friday's Halftime Report said the bearish news in the crude markets "just doesn't seem to stop."

But, Kelly said he finds the storage issue "overdone."

However, Steve Weiss, observing a chart showing oil production climbing while rig counts are falling, said those storage fears are "legit."

Kelly insisted there's "limited downside" for crude.

Kenny Polcari said that a breach of 2,035 would lead to a test of the 200-day and that "it needs to go there."

Jim Lebenthal said the S&P below 2,000 is an appealing level to buy stocks.

Stephen Weiss clarified the Fed's dual mandate vs. the ECB's single mandate.

Jim Lebenthal said the notion of people spending on travel and experiences rather than clothing is "coming home to roost really hard with Aeropostale."

Alexandra Lebenthal, in the conversation for Mount Rushmore of CNBC Hair and a relative of one of Friday's panelists (bet you can't guess which one), said that when it comes to muni bonds in an apparent rising-rate environment, "You have to be strategic about how you invest in them."

Sara Eisen delivered the Power Lunch teaser.

Josh Brown, not heeding the Pete Najarian lesson of a while back, said he likes LOCO and made it his Final Trade.

Jim Lebenthal's Final Trade was TGT and Steve Weiss said VXX.

[Thursday, May 12, 2015]

Guy Adami not impressed by the ‘hubris’ of Whitney Tilson

A week ago, Whitney Tilson made the LL short sound as automatic as 60 homers from Barry Bonds during an appearance on the Halftime Report.

This page was not sold on that notion and questioned the call ... only to admit, as of right now, Tilson has continued to be extraordinarily correct.

But at least one 5 p.m. Fast Money panelist was turned off by this spectacle.

Guy Adami on Thursday's Fast Money, declaring he was repeating himself from a day earlier, scolded Tilson for his remarks, stating, "You know, when you have a big short position, keep your mouth shut. I mean, you should've learned from Bill Ackman, I think, it's just- to me it's just hubris."

Halftime panel actually agrees with something the government is doing

They never turn down a visit from the bourbon-whiskey guys for an on-air toast ... but they sure don't sound very interested in Palcohol.

Thursday's Halftime crew presented a united front against Palcohol creator Mark Phillips, who said the controversy and bans surrounding his product are "silly."

Josh Brown demanded "let's keep it real," stating the issue with the product is that most people drinking Palcohol have no idea "what their limit is."

Phillips insisted it's "very clear" on the label how the product should be mixed.

Judge asked what's in the powder and pushed Phillips to declare what's in it besides alcohol. "I can't comment on what's in it," Phillips said, saying the process is a "proprietary secret" and the ingredients are on the label.

"Scott the secret ingredient is love," cracked Josh Brown.

Doc defies Karen Finerman’s advice, reveals he bought LL on Chapman day

Just a day ago (see below), we heard Karen Finerman state on the 5 p.m. Fast Money that it would be a "huge mistake" to buy LL on the heels of Robert Chapman's comments.

Yet, Jon Najarian revealed on Thursday's Halftime Report he did exactly that. "I bought it and sold calls," Najarian said.

The LL update featured a refreshingly familiar CNBC face, Scott Cohn.

Cramer takes both sides of Joe’s groundbreaking AAPL trade

Judge devoted a portion of Thursday's Halftime to a really tough CNBC get: Jim Cramer.

Among the highlights was Judge asking Cramer for an opinion on Joe's Epic Sale of AAPL In His Playbook Playoffs Portfolio.

Cramer said "there's nothing new" about the Watch, but the stock is "too cheap."

Joe asserted, "It's a classic example of tell me something that I don't already know."

At the end of the interview, Judge actually told Cramer he doesn't want it to be 10 more years before his next visit.

Cramer got a call from Tim Cook, according to the 5 p.m. Fast Money.

In a nice tribute, Guy Adami said of Cramer on the 5 p.m. Fast Money that "without his success, there's no Fast Money."

(We don't address it much here, but in fact, Jim's presence and brand and staying power or whatever you choose to call it are remarkable in television and worthy of acclaim, in any era.)

Doc cracked that he really wants an Apple Watch so he can have "another heavy thing on my wrist that I have to plug in every night," a joke that really got Pete chuckling.

Doc: Fed statement will matter for ‘24 hours or less’

In what could be the overstatement of the year on the Halftime Report, Judge claimed the Fed meeting next week "could set the direction for how the entire rest of the year trades."

Jon Najarian impressively shot that down, stating it will only matter for "24 hours or less."

Najarian said the market "mispriced" employment data last week by jacking up the 10-year yield, and he predicts a continued bond rally.

Grateful Dead fan Steve Liesman said the Fed could leave the word "patient" in but make a move in September.

Echoing Mr. New Land's glitch from this week and further cementing the era we're in, twice Liesman said rate "cut" rather than rate "hike."

Josh Brown and Steve Liesman tangled over whether the winter weather constituted an unusual event for the Fed to consider as far as impact on growth. Judge, in a neat cross-promotion, ordered the 2 to leave that conversation to "Al Roker and our friends at the Weather Channel."

From the overstatement of the year to the understatement

Judge on Thursday's Halftime Report actually said, "We've asked this question for weeks, whether the best place to be is in the U.S. or elsewhere."


That was after Meb Faber told the gang, "there's no question that we think U.S. stocks are expensive."

"There's a lot of opportunity elsewhere in the world," Faber said, citing "incredible opportunities" in Europe and smaller countries.

Dr. New World said the moves in the dollar, stocks, rates and oil were inconsistent, that "confusing, uh, continues, volatility continues," and either oil will "take us down" or financials will "ride us up."

Pete Najarian said "these financials are off to the races" but qualified things as being "a little bit heated up right now," so he wouldn't chase just yet.

Gotta admit, it’s mouth-watering

In an interesting discussion of SHAK on Thursday's Halftime Report, Josh Brown said, "The market wants to own this name," and it "has the potential to be a very big business."

Brown said every analyst is dying to upgrade the stock but can't because of valuation, however, Brown said the elite restaurant names of recent years were never cheap.

Joe was hard-pressed to find anything wrong with SHAK's price action and virtually scoffed that the stock is telling us "it wants to go to 50."

Brown opined that Box has been around too long to not make a profit, and it's not nearly cheap enough now.

Brown suggested CIB long would be a "great" trade despite being in a "massive downtrend," but he's not in it.

Pete said UNH 115 calls were hot.

Jackie DeAngelis said she was distracted by the singing in the gold options pits without speculating as to whether those individuals were distracted by her stunning outfit.

Jim Iuorio told DeAngelis that oil might have more room on the downside. Jeff Kilburg said he's short crude.

Doc said SGMS October 15 calls were active.

Judge balked at Joe's suggestion that sporting-goods retailer HIBB is worth a "relatively small position."

[Wednesday, March 11, 2015]

Karen Finerman slams news value of Bob Chapman’s Halftime Report declaration

Bob Chapman, a semi-regular in the deep-end-of-the-pool contrarian space, joined Wednesday's Halftime Report to make the long case for ... (snicker) ... Lumber Liquidators.

Chapman said LL is already regarded as "the Wal-Mart of flooring," but its U.S. penetration has barely begun.

Then, rattling off a series of big-box retailing margin gains, Chapman said the idea that all of LL's margin gains are attributable to Chinese laminate is "preposterous."

Tossing in the ever-popular cherry, Chapman asserted, "This thing could get taken over," stating he plans to hold the stock "for years."

At least one person on the 5 p.m. Fast Money was unimpressed. Karen Finerman told Melissa Lee, "To buy it on the heels of Chapman buying it would be a huge mistake."

One has to figure that LL's best weapon against a government probe is to publicize its number of employees — something its consultants should be elevating on its website, which only says "over 1000."

Chapman also conceded to Wapner, after first assuring everyone he made money on multiple HLF trades, that in the summer of 2014, he took a long position in the name only to be "dead wrong," and given where the stock is at since Ackman's short, "the guy's gotta be called right at this point."

Whitney Tilson a week ago sounded a little overzealous on his LL short position. But, given where the stock has gone since hovering around 40 the day of Tilson's comments, you'd have to say, like Ackman, he's gotta be called right at this point.

MCC would’ve noted that she gets AMZN stuff in 2 days but Jet stuff may take 5 days to reach her front door

AMZN fan Ken Allen on Wednesday's Halftime Report said the stock has been the largest position in his portfolio "by far" over the last 6 months.

Obviously OK with the valuation, Allen thinks Amazon's retail business might become "even bigger than Wal-Mart" and that Amazon Web Services can become eventually "bigger than IBM."

Addressing another stock he likes, CRM, Allen said Marc Benioff "seems like he's on Cramer every other week."

Allen also said there's "a lot of similarities" between AMZN 10 or 15 years ago and VIPS today.

Hard to beat a gadget that’s ‘essential for all people’

Toni Sacconaghi indicated on Wednesday's Halftime Report he's not that impressed by the Apple Watch right now, but in 4-5 years it could become "potentially a health-monitoring device that is essential for all people."

That's a bit loftier than John Sculley's opinion that "The key thing is not to be embarrassed."

Sacconaghi predicted "the next generation of the iPhone, the iPhone 6S per se, will have better margins" because "Apple should be able to ride component cost curves."

Jim Lebenthal, who had a quiet show, said of the stock, "I'm not in it for the iWatch (sic) at all."

Doc said the Watch is not the reason to own or sell AAPL.

Judge, as expected, brought up Joe's exit of AAPL at 128 and asked Joe for an entry point. "Not sure, but not yet," was Joe's answer.

No feedback from panel on whether BK head count is alarming

Mr. New Land opined at the opening of Wednesday's Halftime that the market is "suspecting" that potentially, the Fed could be in "the beginning process of making a Trichet-style mistake."

Steve Grasso illustrated a strange head-and-shoulder chart that suggests to him that shorts are trying to press the market lower. Pete Najarian pointed out there's also potential for a spring-loaded jolt upwards.

Jason Brady suggested rates aren't really going that higher but that the Fed is hiking because "they wanna maintain some credibility."

Brady asserted, "What we're seeing is a lot of imported deflation."

Doc suggested he'd hit the gas if the S&P hits 2,030.

Weiss’ SLXP call a good one

Jim Lebenthal on Wednesday's Halftime Report contended that there's more downside than upside to Citigroup's CCAR outcome, but he sees "more probability" of C passing rather than failing; hence the stock was his Final Trade.

Judge said if C fails again, "Look out below!"

Doc advised buying the brokers rather than the bankers.

Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis, "I'm a seller" of nat gas.

Joe thinks Virgin America is a "$40 airline," so he put it in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio.

Dom Chu mentioned the potential bidding war for SLXP, which more than validates Stephen Weiss' recent Final Trade suggesting a minimum floor of 160. Dr. New Land said one of the worst trades he ever made was buying SLXP at 36 and selling at 23.

Pete Najarian's Final Trade was ABT. Doc said TTWO and Joe said PNC.

[Tuesday, March 10, 2015]

CNBC should be at SALT

Business feuds can be entertaining.

The frostiness between Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman accusing each other of trying to be the other's friend at an Italian restaurant ended in a hug and a T-shirt distribution moment (wonder what's happened to those) for Scott Wapner on an episode of CNBC's Fast Money.

But other times there is only unnecessary aggravation, as seems to be the case with the recent revelation by Linette Lopez of Business Insider that after years of being the exclusive television partner, CNBC will not be broadcasting from Anthony Scaramucci's SALT Conference in May.

This curious rift, which must be unprecedented — a financial-television guest developing his own TV franchise — stems from the purchase by Scaramucci's SkyBridge Capital of the classic "Wall $treet Week" brand a year ago, a move that evidently came as a surprise to Englewood Cliffs.

TV's a feisty business.

That something as dormant as "Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser" could disrupt a valuable partnership is a testament to the fierce battle for the limited but elite turf that television has always represented, perhaps now more than ever in the Internet age.

However lofty its own status, CNBC guards it like a pit bull. Numerous news articles have suggested a constant game of hardball with elite guests who tend to be told, "First here or else."

That, in many ways, is impressive.

But what Scaramucci is doing is even more impressive.

He's actually got ideas.

While the hippest thing at CNBC is outsourcing new programming (some of which is good), SkyBridge is hiring highly regarded CNBC veterans outside its money-management specialty to come up with what it hopes might be the next big thing.

CNBC's response to SkyBridge's purchase of "Week" is best described as uncertain. SkyBridge announced the acquisition in a press release with no comment from CNBC the same afternoon Scaramucci mentioned the transaction on air in Vegas.

Nevertheless, Scaramucci continued to appear on CNBC for a few more weeks. Then, he suddenly stopped appearing in June, prompting Business Insider to report hard feelings on CNBC's side but with a curious caveat that insiders expected the situation to be resolved, presumably by chief Mark Hoffman.

It hasn't. And that's too bad. SALT is a special event. It's not a stodgy, traditional conference or a government program. It's a self made destination (Scaramucci credits SkyBridge partner Victor Oviedo with the concept) that's thrived on its original defiance of Obama-suggested austerity and celebration of hard work and networking.

It could probably benefit from scheduling presentations, roundtables and interviews later in the day and fostering more spontaneous interaction in the mornings. While presentations are generally excellent, absorbing dozens of opinions on interest rates can wear thin over several days.

SALT isn't quite "renegade," but there's a vibe.

CNBC needs such a vibe. Chippiness actually can go a long way. History's greatest partnership, Lennon-McCartney, was simply healthy competition. Hoffman needs to tell Scaramucci, "We're comin' out there, and you better be ready for us."

Pretending when miffed that a mover & shaker doesn't exist surely has to be the quickest way backward in today's media landscape.

Scaramucci, now a Fox Business contributor, has long been featured on CNBC, perhaps the channel's most ideal contributor. Photogenic, as comfortable on television as most of the anchors, he's plugged in to the hedge fund community and many of the "whales" whose opinions drive traffic in Wall Street media.

This long-term association should not end this way.

We'll leave it at that.

As for "Wall $treet Week" ... this is no cakewalk. SkyBridge faces a challenge in gaining traction. Scaramucci revealed last month that the production will pay local TV affiliates, most of them Fox, to air the show.

There needs to be a buzz, or it's only going to be seen by post-Denny's diners at 3 a.m. Sundays.

That means Dick Fuld, it means Chuck Prince, it means Warren Buffett, it means Vladimir Putin.

It could also mean landing, say, Dakota Johnson, to get Suzy Orman-esque advice on her assuredly newfound "Grey" wealth.

If all of those names sound farfetched, keep in mind there is no person in this space more capable of landing such gets than Anthony Scaramucci.

This is going to be interesting.

Evidently, Bank of New York Mellon has too many employees

In a good get, Kate Kelly landed Mick McGuire for his first CNBC interview.

This event on Tuesday's Halftime Report was deemed important enough to put Kelly and McGuire in director's chairs (that seemed kinda far apart) for a discussion that unfortunately had nothing to do with movies ... but the exciting entity known as Bank of New York Mellon.

McGuire said he's had a "pretty extensive dialogue" with BK's board about how the company can achieve its potential, but he thinks it needs a "meaningful change" in leadership.

"All shareholders are frustrated" despite BK's share performance, McGuire contended, saying the management team doesn't have the "sense of urgency" to make the head count reductions and other changes that will improve market-share gains and margins.

After a commercial break, McGuire took a seat at the panelist table and Judge got into the act, asking McGuire "what's so broken" about the company.

McGuire pointed again to the "core operating metrics ... particularly the expense base of the company," citing a meager 4% gain in core revenue since 2007 while headcount since then, according to McGuire, is up 22%.

He said the bank has only brought its expense growth rate from "truly alarming to unsustainably high."

McGuire said consultants determined that "the company's perceived as an old, bureaucratic, slow-moving company."

Meanwhile, at Sotheby's, "the financial strategy has been essentially nonexistent," McGuire claimed, suggesting decisions are being made that aren't always in the best interests of the company.

Judge suggested McGuire was putting "the cart before the horse" at BID, wondering why they shouldn't get the CEO figured out first before replacing the CFO and doing a buyback.

McGuire conceded "there's some element of reasonableness to that point of view."

Judge noted that McGuire once worked for Ackman but asked the worst possible question: "What was that like?"

Former AAPL CEO implies that Watch expectations are kinda low

John Sculley visited with Tuesday's Halftime Report and had a curious opinion on what he said Tim Cook's Apple Watch expectations should be.

"The key thing is not to be embarrassed," Sculley offered.

Now those are high standards.

Sculley said the Watch serves to boost Apple's "ecosystem expansion," and that the company "will and should" return more cash to shareholders.

Judge said Joe's move to exit APPL at 128 "looks pretty good." Pete Najarian suggested 118 may be an AAPL bounce level.

Steve Weiss said, "I get what Joe did, but I've got taxes to worry about."

What happened to partying like it’s 1999?

Kenny Polcari said on Tuesday's Halftime Report there was nothing new to justify the market's bounce Monday and suggested the S&P could find itself at 2,025 or 2030.

Josh Brown said the stock selloff is "still a fairly normal shake-out" and called the dollar "technically overbought."

Stephen Weiss said he has taken off a little exposure, "not a lot," but a little.

Doc gloated that he bought cheap protection a couple weeks ago, predicting a "20 reading" on the VIX soon.

Josh Brown cautioned about the "velocity" of moves down in emerging markets.

Brown also called 50 "probably a stretch" for GM in the short term.

Doc said URBN deserves the "upgrades galore."

Pete Najarian likes HPQ. Stephen Weiss said he still likes THC.

Jon Najarian's Final Trade was IMAX. Pete Najarian said INTC and Josh Brown offered DE.

[Monday, March 9, 2015]

Halftime Report in matter of days goes from Party Like It’s 1999? to Jeremy Siegel’s Cautious

Mohamed El-Erian told Judge on Monday's Halftime that it's "pretty obvious" that the Fed will make a move by September, perhaps in June.

El-Erian suggested the question is whether to try the "beta trade" or "relative trade," then in follow-up answers indicated where his heart lies (that would be the "relative trade"). (See, it's a stock-picker's market; you can't just buy the whole market willy-nilly (Drink).)

El-Erian said it's time to "focus on specific stories in the equity market."

Joe Terranova hailed the spread differential between the U.S. 10-year and German 10-year as "incredibly important" and asked El-Erian if he thinks it can get even wider. El-Erian said he thinks it can get wider, but "at some point you want to fade it."

Pete Najarian, practically shut out on the day after the opening moments, hailed the banks, but Josh Brown grumbled that they "have all this litigation hangover."

Liz Ann Sonders, who is beautiful, suggested the market's due for a "pause."

Pete Najarian urged Judge and the panel not to try to "overanalyze" what happened on Friday.

Pete stressed that Jeremy Siegel sounded "cautious but not nervous."

Nobody said anything about the merits of being included in the Dow

Alex Gauna, the analyst who resembles football great Jim Kelly, visited with Monday's Halftime Report crew to opine on the significance of the Apple Watch.

"This does not need to be a watershed event, around the watch, in and of itself" (Drink), Gauna said.

He followed that up with, "The Apple Watch, in and of itself (Double Drink), I think will be an interesting first foray into this field."

Gauna told Judge that everyone's bullish on the stock for "good reason."

Mr. New World, on record as a Coldplay fan dating back to quite likely this page's Most-Objected-To Post of All Time (presumed favorite music of the Fast Money panelists — all we really said was that Patty Edwards, who claims Talking Heads and U2, seemed a prime candidate for certain '70s hotshots such as (oh enough already), and we hung a Van Halen on Pete Najarian when we should've hung a GN'R — defended AAPL's strength by pointing out he was trying to download a One Republic song.

Karen Finerman on the 5 p.m. Fast Money said, "I don't think people know what to make of it" but that you don't have to fear AAPL sliding in the event the Watch is a bust.

We sorta get the impression that Bob Peck thinks AMZN’s multiple on free cash flow is too high

Bob Peck dialed into Monday's Halftime to tell Judge that he senses AMZN investors have become "almost euphoric" and are underestimating the multiple they're paying, from 40 times free cash flow to 70.

Judge questioned why the "expensive" argument resonates now and didn't resonate 8 months ago. Peck reiterated that the multiple on free cash flow has risen.

For whatever reason, Joe questioned if AMZN's last quarter should be dismissed. Peck said he wouldn't go that far, but the question gave him the opportunity to say for the 3rd time that 70 times free cash flow is too expensive.

10-basis-point-hike theory takes a day off

Judge on Monday's Halftime Report said he'd be "shocked" if Ackman's stake in VRX is anything but passive.

Brian Stutland told Jackie DeAngelis he's in "total agreement" with Goldman Sachs' 40-to-65 range on crude.

Josh Brown said show panelists talked to Mario Gabelli the other day about the "quintessential sign" of bullishness when a stock rallies on bad days, such as MCD appears to be doing.

Brown's Final Trade was WETF. Joe said EMC and Pete said GM.

Karen Finerman said on the 5 p.m. Fast Money that she's "getting a little annoyed" at the repeat opportunities to buy more KORS at lower and lower prices, but she bought more on Monday.

Guy Adami suggested there's a chance NFLX has double-topped.

[Friday, March 6, 2015]

Did biotech get ‘Dudleyed,’
or ‘Bullarded’?

Now we're really confused.

On his last couple of Halftime Report appearances, Mike Block (not pictured above) has mentioned the notion of biotech stocks getting "Dudleyed" last year around this time by the New York Fed chief.

But Friday on the Halftime Report, with Block not present, Jon Najarian (pictured above at right) claimed that last year, "we had Bullard talking about, uh, biotech stocks of all things, and that sector fell apart, uh, the very next month."

We did a little research (snicker) (not nearly as extensive as the Laszlo Birinyi variety) and found that in March 2014 Dudley did indeed make comments about biotech that Dr. Mark Schoenebaum distributed to clients ... but our searches for "Bullard" and "biotech" were a bust.

Bullard was quoted last month as warning about the "boom time" of low rates.

But that's not the same thing as getting "Dudleyed"®.

At a minimum, Doc's wrong; worst-case scenario, he's not paying attention (unlike he does to Heather Bellini's MSFT ratings) to what his colleagues are saying on the air.

Mike Mayo’s previous suggestion that it was Gerspach on the hot seat continues to be forgotten by Judge

Not too long ago, he claimed the Banamex-or-whatever-it-was scandal should call the CFO into question.

This time, he's warning about the CEO.

Mike Mayo on Friday's Halftime Report warned that Michael Corbat, who Steve Weiss thinks is one of the greatest execs of all time, could be jobless soon if the stress test doesn't work out, but "We think the odds are in Citi's favor to pass the stress test this year."

With measured rhetoric unfortunately dialed down from the refreshing Karen Finerman-tell-it-like-it-is pronouncement of a day ago (see below), Mayo said that the stress test shows a "resilient" banking industry but that it can be a "false positive and a false negative for individual banks."

Laszlo Birinyi, gushing as always with a fountain of data (see below), said that at this point in the cycle, banks traditionally don't outperform.

Doc suggests the 10-basis-point hike is still possible

We thought it was fading to oblivion, where it belongs.

Yet, Jon Najarian on Friday's Halftime Report resurrected his recent claim that it's "still an unknown" as to whether the Fed eventually raises a quarter-point ... or 10 basis points (yes, he actually said it again).

No one addressed this possibility, or whether the Fed might raise, say, 17 basis points.

Steve Liesman said that, despite Friday's selloff, he can't believe that the stock market hasn't priced in some upward trajectory on rates.

Laszlo Birinyi said that even though the market expects higher rates, there's always a "dislocation" when it happens.

It's "still a bull market," Birinyi assured.

Pete Najarian said people are "running away" from yield now.

Stephen Weiss insisted the Fed remains dovish. "We're still gonna be accommodative for years," Weiss said.

Dan Greenhaus: Dow ‘worthless’

Few subjects bring unanimity on the Fast Money/Halftime Report sets, but one that does is the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

"The Dow's basically irrelevant," scoffed Stephen Weiss on Friday's Halftime.

Jon Najarian said that dating back to 1929, stocks removed from the Dow do better than those that are added.

Dan Greenhaus said he agreed with Doc and Weiss and said the inclusion of AAPL Friday is a sign of how "worthless" the index is.

Laszlo Birinyi was the only participant taking this semi-seriously, observing that the Dow becomes more technology-oriented with AAPL's inclusion, which will bring it closer to the S&P, but that AAPL will have less weighting than several others including IBM.

Judge unprepared for pop quiz as to when Dow crossed 1,000

This time, he didn't bring his scrapbook of headlines.

But, you know that whenever Laszlo Birinyi, mentioned in Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker, appears on television, some stats are going to be heard. (Sorry he's not smiling in the image above; it was the best we could do in limited time.)

Birinyi on Friday's Halftime Report pointed out a couple multi-year eras in which stock returns differed widely with earnings growth, explaining it's impossible to predict market direction based on earnings.

Far more curious, Birinyi also claimed that the Dow Jones people say the Dow crossed 1,000 in 1966 — but that it didn't actually do it until 1972.

Judge, presumably caught off-guard by this revelation, was unable to muster even the simplest follow-up question, which would likely be, "What the (bleep) you talkin' about?"

Or it could be rephrased as, "What does that, if even true, got to do with anything?"

Who knows.

Judge didn’t bungle any producers’ names this time

Laszlo Birinyi on Friday's Halftime Report told Judge that his picks offered on the show aren't necessarily his "best" picks "because my customers are gonna call me and say, 'Why don't we own more of these things?'"

(So, he's only sharing his not-so-great picks.)

But, Birinyi likes MSFT, which he said "won't hurt you," and he likes BRK-B.

(*Jon Najarian was not heard opining about whatever Heather Bellini's recent MSFT rating is.)

Steve Weiss noted that such a call sounds like Birinyi's "worried about the market" rather than picking some beta play. Birinyi insisted he's not worried but thinks that MSFT is a place to get "started" with new money.

Divya Narendra explained the contest he's running about guessing what Warren Buffett will buy next.

Pete Najarian said weekly 85 calls in FB were hot; the stock was his Final Trade.

Doc said April 85 calls in PRU were suddenly taking off. "I'll probably be in for 2 weeks (Drink)," Najarian said.

Pete Najarian said he still likes LULU and called the Goldman Sachs downgrade "an outlier." (But he didn't say anything about Heather Bellini and MSFT.) Steve Weiss said LULU is "ahead of itself" and said the same of COH, which he hates.

In what could've been a great 15-minute interview spanning old Hollywood and current lifestyles of the jet set, Judge welcomed Bret Lopez, who explained that his grandfather was "literally (Drink) like Employee No. 2" of Louis B. Mayer.

But Judge, while impressively giving Lopez a chance to tell his grandfather's story, cut off the conversation too soon for a bunch of extraneous Final Trade comments.

Lopez said Scarecrow Wine is "so high end" that it's not impacted "hugely" by the market, though it was in 2008.

During this conversation, Judge said "in and of itself" (Drink) twice (Double Drink).

Jon Najarian's Final Trade was PRU. Stephen Weiss said VXX.

[Thursday, March 5, 2015]

Not to nitpick, but Mark Cuban needs an editor for his blog; ‘absolutely not (sic) doubt in my mind’ ... ‘Everyone was in or new (sic) someone who was in ...’

And we thought all Mark Cuban cared about was HFT.

Rob Sechan, a guest for the hour on Thursday's Halftime Report, said he agrees with Cuban that there is at least some kind of tech bubble, citing clients' questions about Uber and Airbnb investments.

But Sechan pointed out that in the public markets, the Nasdaq 100 earnings have tripled since 2000.

Aswath Damodaran, meanwhile, one of our all-time Halftime favorites, said he agrees and disagrees with Cuban.

Damodaran, who lumped "tech" companies into 4 age categories (we can only handle lists of 3 or less), said 40% of "tech" companies are more than 25 years old, and the "old tech" names actually look like some of the market's best bargains.

But he said the "baby tech" names are what Cuban is talking about; Damodaran said that "collectively" the baby techs are overvalued but that there will be some individual winners.

An apparent contrarian, Damodaran said the fact so many people think oil is going lower makes HES, CVX and XOM appealing.

Steve Weiss thinks Damodaran is early, but Pete Najarian said XOM in the mid-80s is a "great opportunity."

John Fichthorn needs to get his positions on ‘60 Minutes’

It was a day of bubbles on Thursday's Halftime Report.

There were Mark Cuban's kind ... and John Fichthorn's kind.

Fichthorn asserted "the bubble exists in Canadian housing," despite what Canadians have said for years, and suggested falling oil is the "pin" that will pop it.

But his top short idea is actually GPRO, based in part on the notion that we're beyond all the holiday gifting, and by the way a competitor's got a $60 phone that's just as good.

Judge said, "I can't imagine" that a $60 camera is just as good as a $400 GoPro, but Fichthorn insisted that when you "literally" (sic) look at them on Amazon, "you can't tell the difference."

Fichthorn also referred to the "media business" of GoPro as a "YouTube channel."

Finally, Fichthorn said we're seeing "maybe a saturation point in the demand for Tesla," claiming Tim Seymour says it's overvalued that rising finished-goods inventory doesn't jibe with the company's assertion of supply constraints.

LL, which Whitney Tilson insists is going to zero, was not part of the discussion.

Mark Cuban’s blog didn’t say anything about a stress test

Karen Finerman, in chic black turtleneck, suggested on Thursday's Fast Money that the stress tests are laughable.

"We will look back on this and say, 'This is just absolutely absurd'," Finerman said.

Karen also said the GPS numbers are "yuck."

Karen said that in the 2000 tech bubble, "there was no value anywhere to be had, at all, in any- any company."

Najarians more familiar with CNBC producers than Judge is

Stephen Weiss said on Thursday's Halftime Report that it's hard to justify selling the market when "these players" (i.e., central bankers) keep adding liquidity.

Rob Sechan said "we're still constructive on risk" and said he doesn't think markets are pricing in an early tightening.

Doc said shorts have bet against the central banks and have lost.

Scott Nations basically told Jackie DeAngelis that if you're long euro, there's no hope.

Doc said GLNG is on fire, and he thinks it goes higher.

Judge botched the name of one of his producers during a baby announcement, didn't seem to know he had it wrong, and had to be corrected by Pete Najarian.

Rob Sechan's Final Trade, as Judge struggled to kill time in the mismanaged final 10 minutes, was Europe. Pete Najarian said BMY, Doc said MRVL and Steve Weiss said HEDJ.

[Wednesday, March 4, 2015]

Guest unable to answer Judge’s good question about WEN vs. MCD

David Palmer visited late with Wednesday's Halftime crew and said MCD is selling chicken sandwiches and hamburgers (tip: they sell fries too) and those products are selling well elsewhere, just not so well at MCD.

Palmer thinks they can fix it, which is why he upped his price target to $115.

Judge asked Palmer why WEN is succeeding and MCD is not. Palmer didn't answer that question, stating WEN is "doing OK" but that the regionals are doing better and that MCD can succeed if it closes the quality gap, whatever that means (different recipe for Big Mac, new ingredients for Chicken McNuggets, etc.).

Joe said he's "suspicious" that the stock can get to 115 and said MCD needs to do more "strategic things in terms of leveraging and real estate."

Jon Najarian said BOBE had a "trifecta of bad."

Panel seems to think Paul Sankey’s oil thesis is backwards

Kate Kelly on Wednesday's Halftime Report told Judge that "gross shorts" in WTI are at an all-time high.

Kelly also reported that Rex Tillerson was "speaking somewhat bearishly" about crude fundamentals.

Kelly said the "consensus seems to be" for further short-term weakness in crude.

Paul Sankey praised Kelly and Morgan Brennan (at Cushing, all day on CNBC) for explaining the varying views on oil but asserted, "We're bearish" — a comment that raised some eyebrows among Judge's panel.

Sankey predicted U.S. oil production will "continue to surprise somewhat to the upside."

Things got dicey when Sankey said his top pick is HES, based on XOM's potential interest. He also likes EOG though not for the same reason.

To nods from Dr. New Land, Pete Najarian questioned the amount of buys in Sankey's coverage universe and his price targets, including $96 for APC, given that Sankey is bearish on the spot price of oil.

Joe said, "I'd rather be buying oil here rather than selling it," and in bad news for Mets fans, Joe said he disagrees "that this is '86 all over again."

Doc said he doesn't want to fade Andy Hall and also sees the record shorts in crude as a buy signal.

Starting to hear a 3-handle in conversations about the 10-year again

Dr. New World got things off to a dubious start on Wednesday's Halftime Report when stating "Maybe the rate cut (sic) comes faster than we expected."

Joe then predicted that if yields keep rising, money will go "heavily" into financials.

Brian Stutland said that if 10-year rates cross 2.20%, they're on their way to 3.0%.

Anthony Grisanti said that under the original conditions, the Fed could hike this year, but "the Fed has moved the goal posts a little bit."

Paul Richards (above), who had a great suit, asserted QE is boosting stocks worldwide, except in the U.S., because "we're done" with it.

Richards predicted that "tomorrow will be a good day" for European stocks.

Doc said he'd have a "vast majority" of assets in the U.S. because of "liquidity issues" with foreign stocks.

Pete Najarian called DB one of Europe's appealing stocks. (This writer is long DB.)

Mel wore thin-Tiger-striped dress on Wednesday

In Wednesday's installment of People Who Were Around in 1999, Stephan Paternot told the Halftime Report that his reaction to the Nasdaq crossing 5,000 this week was "not much actually."

Doc said RHT April 72.50 calls were hot, and he'll be in the trade "about 2 weeks" (Drink).

Pete Najarian said someone was buying April 5.50 calls in EXXI, which actually was Doc's Final Trade.

Pete said he likes the firearm names.

Joe said teen retailers are in a "tough spot."

Sue Herera called the Irish prime minister Enda "Kennedy (sic)."

Karen Finerman on the 5 p.m. Fast Money said she likes the IBB rather than individual biotech names (Drink); Steve Grasso pointed out he's long Clovis (Double Drink). Melissa Lee on Wednesday reached into the closet for an old favorite.

Prior to Final Trades, Judge delivered a new feature called "The Payoff" in which Judge recaps what was said on the program in hopes viewers learned something. (If they had done that last night, they'd have to point out that Dustin Johnson is more "religious" about lifting weights now than he used to be.)

Joe's Final Trade was ESRX. Pete Najarian said JNJ.

[Tuesday, March 3, 2015]

Double bogey: Judge/Dom’s
golf-weightlifting interview downright embarrassing

It wasn't all Judge's fault.

But if the series of interviews on Tuesday's Halftime Report were a meal, they would've been sent back to the kitchen.

David Strasser, the purported star guest who upgraded LL to buy with a 47 target, was run off the rails by Stephen Weiss' egomaniacal personal backstory.

But it wasn't just Weiss. Strasser suggested "60 Minutes" used a different test than is required to meet standards, but before he could articulate any larger bull case (if there is one), Judge scoffed and told Strasser "You sound like a company spokesperson" and then recited Whitney Tilson's case with additional detail.

Speaking of company spokespersons, Judge and Dom Chu carried out a stumbling, rambling remote interview with Jason Day and Dustin Johnson and their workout routines; we sort of tuned it out and by the end of it didn't have any clue what they were talking about other than Johnson spending time in the weight room in a more "religious" way than before, and oh, by the way, they're going to be on the Golf Channel this week.

Then there was the difficulty Judge experienced in struggling to get his satellite-delayed first question across to Wealthfront honcho Adam Nash, asking how an automated system (whatever that really means; it was never made clear) can succeed in a stock-picker's market.

Nash didn't answer the clumsy question but responded with generalities, first saying Wealthfront is the largest automated investment adviser and then saying most pros have a hard time beating indexes and that being diversified and keeping costs low is the sound approach.

Nash asserted that Wealthfront doesn't use an algorithm but "automates those strategies" of Burton Malkiel and others.

"How is that not active management," demanded Stephen Weiss, a great question that wasn't satisfactorily answered before an abrupt ending.

Dan Greenhaus’ clients apparently enjoy a healthy disagreement

He can't even resist bringing it up OFF the air.

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime revealed that he takes the World's Most Boring Business Television Question — whether the U.S. is the best place to invest in the world right now — and actually brings it up at charity events.

He evidently found an audience at his Monday night engagement, where bigwigs apparently were suggesting non-U.S. markets were more appealing than the U.S.

Judge mentioned Stan Druckenmiller's belief in overseas markets, outlined on CNBC earlier in the day, and asked Steve Weiss, "Does that jive (sic) with what you're hearing."

Weiss said those playing Europe and Japan are "coining it there," but he doesn't think you can just buy the indexes.

Dan Greenhaus complained to Judge that he's been "debating with clients for quite some time" about the impact of QE, but, "No one's really been able to fully articulate for me uh exactly how the liquidity purely based argument drives stock prices higher over a cycle."

Attempting to re-acquaint the show with a term that could possibly be trademarked, Mike Block reminded viewers of biotechs being "Dudleyed" but admitted that in Tuesday's down market, "there's really not a lot happening here."

Stephen Weiss marveled at "how cheap vol has gotten."

Jim Lebenthal said Congress inviting Benjamin Netanyahu, at odds with the White House, is "so emblematic" of the Obama-Boehner government.

Andy Hall: 1%er

Way back in the day of the post-financial-crisis era, Dylan Ratigan on Fast Money brought up the news story that Andrew Hall of PhiBro might not get the $100 million or so he was supposedly due for savvy oil trading because of either TARP-related restrictions or some kind of congressional watchdogging regarding whichever bank owned PhiBro at the time.

Guy Adami practically pounded a hole through the desk at this outrage, demanding, "Pay the man his money!"

On Tuesday's Halftime Report, Kate Kelly reported that Hall thinks the bottom may be in for crude.

Jim Lebenthal hung a 65 on crude. But Stephen Weiss said it's a "mistake" to buy the drillers.

Mike Block said "I'm a little concerned still" about oil demand and the "cost structure" of the E&P names.

Pete Najarian said oil seems range-bound right now.

Kelly said Hall likes EOG and the "good assets" in the Permian Basin.

Pete unable to explain why he still owns BABA

After Judge on Tuesday's Halftime unentangled himself from Steve Weiss' ridiculous mess of an LL interview with David Strasser, a few comments were actually made about trading this most-tradeable stock of the moment.

Mike Block said, "I wouldn't be jumping in with both feet" until he knows what HD and LOW are thinking.

We think the original HLF slide took about 2-3 days after Ackman's presentation and then the covering rally began; LL already started spiking on Tuesday but it might still be buyable on Wednesday or Thursday.

Steve Weiss pointed out that YUM took a long time to recover from tainted Chinese chicken.

Pete Najarian, who never says "BABA to 150 giddyup" anymore, still won't admit that this stock is an embarrassing disaster but conceded that the company's troubles are "startin' to shake me a little bit." (This writer is long BABA.)

Unfazed by China, Pete said he's got an open order for MPEL calls, but it hasn't been filled.

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis, in chic new striped dress, he sees "a little bit of a break" for the dollar.

Jeff Kilburg said a continually strengthening dollar will continue to hurt commodities.

Judge continued his strange obsession with Dr. New World's fictional-portfolio exit of AAPL, suggesting it was a good move.

Judge at least in his pitiful golfer interview in which viewers learned "DJ" is more "religious" about working out than he used to be when he was already buff trumpeted the Masters, which is on a different network.

Stephen Weiss and Jim Lebenthal shared a Final Trade of C. Pete Najarian said AAL and Mike Block said TLT.

[Monday, March 2, 2015]

If interview had lasted a few more minutes, Whitney Tilson would’ve linked LL to Chernobyl, JFK assassination, Titanic ...

If George Bell was the star guest of Monday's Halftime Report (see below), Whitney Tilson (on the phone) was certainly 1B.

Tilson gushed that he's in "awe" of the "60 Minutes" story on Lumber Liquidators, which he said he presented to the CBS watchdogs only to have them discover things he didn't know about.

"It's a perfect short now," Tilson said, claiming "the stock's still expensive."

Here's the problem. We know little about this company, and for unfortunate reasons didn't even see the "60 Minutes" report.

Yet Tilson's I'm-so-sure-of-myself presentation on this subject coincidentally sounded hardly any different than what dot-com blokes were saying in late 1999.

Tilson, who apparently is with Kase Capital now (we didn't know that), said "toxic" a bunch of times and predicted a price of zero and lumped in LL with "the asbestos companies."

Yet despite this iron-clad certainty, Tilson told Judge he can't get any more shares to short from his broker, a claim prompting Pete Najarian to roll his eyes on the 5 p.m. Fast Money given the availability of options.

Mr. New World wasn't convinced and grumbled as much, using the term "marry" about 4 or 5 times and suggesting that Tilson's purported moral outrage and financial interest in this outrage aren't totally compatible.

The apparent early opinion of Google: Nothing special (a/k/a why didn’t Judge ask WHY Google is the No. 1 search engine)

Whew — it didn't sound as bad as, say, turning down Sara Eisen for a date about a week ago (in that case you rip out any technology you want).

Judge on Monday's Halftime Report basically (despite a serious lapse) lucked into one of the most thoughtful conversations one will ever hear about big business.

Former Excite.com CEO George Bell, as Wapner explained, was offered the chance to buy Google for less than a million dollars near the end of the dot-com bubble.

Apparently expecting an aw-shucks type of conversation, Judge opened by asking Bell "if there's not a day that goes by" that he doesn't lament passing on this deal.

Bell patiently explained that the offer came with a demand from Larry Page: "Rip out all of the Excite search technology and replace it with Google."

That's a major overhaul. So Bell said that Excite "for about a month" performed a lot of testing of search terms on Google's engine and Excite's engine and "concluded that there really weren't" many "substantial differences" in the results.

So, it wasn't worth the upheaval. "We would've actually had to rip out a lot of the central parts of our culture as a company," representing a "people risk" Bell says he didn't want to take.

"I chose culture over that opportunity," Bell said.

Here's where Judge took a called Strike 3.

Bell's points weren't very compatible.

On the one hand, he suggested that Google, with all of 5 or 6 employees at the time, would've upended the culture at Excite.com.

On the other hand, he suggested that the product was essentially the same as his own.

If the Google product was impressive, then Bell would have had a serious choice as to whether to change the "culture."

But the product delivered very few "substantial differences" from his own, according to his comments ... so why did he even entertain the notion of giving this operation 1% of Excite and taking on a "people risk"?

What Bell was really saying is that Excite did not find Google's product impressive. And, given the early stage of Google's development, that quite possibly might've been a very valid opinion shared by brilliant observers at that time.

But it 1) sounds embarrassing to say that now, and 2) probably isn't a good idea to say that Larry and Sergey really didn't have anything going in 1999.

Judge, oblivious to this situation, merely asked Bell, "What do you make of Google today?" as though Bell's opinion on that subject is any different than a 7th-grader's.

"It's a machine. It's done enormously well," Bell pointed out.

Judge should've asked Bell the most important question: What was it about Google that made it the No. 1 search engine?

Honestly, we ask that question all the time ... (Does Consumer Reports ever evaluate this stuff?) ... is Google actually "better" than bing or whatever Yahoo's got or any others we haven't heard of ... and no one's offered a good answer.

And it seems none is forthcoming anytime soon given this lapse on Monday's Halftime Report.

In a nice gesture implying 15 years of unfair press, Bell twice indicated appreciation to Wapner for the chance to discuss the topic ... indicating he has somehow NEVER been interviewed about the subject.

The first thing Bell said was, "I've never been asked my views of it ... so I'm glad you asked."

Later, he said, "I'm actually happy to have a chance to talk about it; it's interesting how much has been written about it, but no one asks."

However, Bell proved capable of an "at the end of the day" (Drink).

Joe Terranova credited Mark Cuban with getting out at the perfect time in the 1990s.

Pete bungle — falls for the this-is-the-year-of-the-grand-bargain-reform-of-corporate-taxes mumbo jumbo

Pete Najarian was heard on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money asserting that the next leg up of the tech rally is some breakthrough in the federal government in which companies will "eventually" be able to "repatriate that money."

OMG Joe sold AAPL in his fictional portfolio

In the Sleepy Portion of Monday's Halftime Report, Judge brought in a trio of observers to opine on (yes) (sigh) (drum roll) whether the Nasdaq Composite is overvalued.

Paul Meeks said he's been a "net seller recently."

Steve Milunovich said, "I don't think it's a bubble."

Walt Piecyk conceded it's been a "bumpy ride" to Nasdaq 5,000 Part II.

But Meeks said FB has "a lot of room on the upside."

Judge pointed out none of his Monday panelists own FB. Pete claimed he did up until Friday.

Jim Lebenthal said he ditched JCP in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio and added BP (his Final Trade) and cited "optionality" a couple of times.

Judge thought he was being cool asking Joe if he was "pissed" (sic) that he sold AAPL. (Can you believe, the answer was "no"?)

Karen Finerman (above), in her first appearance on the 5 p.m. show since turning a still-young (don't you dare say the number) last week (yes we're mixing both shows here), wore a new set of pearls with a new hairstyle, had a quiet show and was heard to say "Bank America" (sic).

Joe Terranova's Final Trade was FRC, Josh Brown said CME and Pete Najarian said Happy Birthday to a viewer.

Grasso: AAPL to take dip

Monday's Halftime Report crew paid typical lip service to the (sigh) valuation of the Nasdaq in March 2000 vs. the valuation of the Nasdaq in March 2015, concluding it took 15 years for those 2000 hotshots to grow into their valuations and there might be some overvaluation now but it's not nearly the same.

Josh Brown even contended that when you look at PEG rates for the big Nasdaq names, "they're cheaper than the broader market, for the most part."

Steve Grasso had the audacity to call AAPL "overbought" and suggested the "120 range" is in order, though he's staying long the name.

More from Monday's Halftime (and perhaps Fast Money) later.

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