[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive — March 2016]
[Thursday, March 31, 2016]

Pete wants decades-long consistency in buybacks, buys AKS

In an interesting market call on Thursday's Halftime Report, Joe Terranova predicted the 2nd quarter would start OK, "but I don't think we're gonna end up OK."

Joe said there's "no clear evidence" where the dollar will be in the next quarter, and that's the most important factor for stocks.

Josh Brown said you'll never see his/Barry's shop "top-ticking" the market.

Josh cautioned against delving into any of the financials with exposure to the capital markets, which he called "highly regulated utilities," but pounded the table again for GE.

Pete Najarian said it seems like a "stretch" to see the Fed raising rates right into the election.

Pete said he wants to see a "consistency for decades" in company buybacks, then quickly added, "Yesterday, I bought AK Steel."

Joe Terranova said, "I think you hold onto gold." But Josh Brown said REITs and stocks are better forms of inflation protection. Pete Najarian said he still owns the GDX.

Pete can’t even remember if he has GDX in his Halftime Portfolio

Joe Terranova, off to a red-hot Q1 in the Halftime Portfolio contest, said Thursday he has CXO, FB, PXD and PANW in the portfolio now but isn't sure he'll get the same explosiveness as in the 1st quarter.

Sarat Sethi revealed he is ditching M in his Halftime Portfolio in favor of CERN.

Pete Najarian surprised Judge in pointing out he no longer has TWTR in his Halftime Portfolio and grumbled that just a handful of stocks had made all the difference in this contest and seemed uncertain what he's currently got.

Doc dialed in to crow about his "1,100 basis points above the S&P" performance and said he took off FB and added MRO based on April options activity.

Joe: TGT 100 before 67

Judge on Thursday's Halftime Report decided Cramer needed more attention, asking the Halftime panelists what they think of Cramer's morning tirade against the Barclays TGT sell call, which Cramer dubbed a "gift."

"Why would you sell this stock," asked Sarat Sethi. Josh Brown said TGT has had a "huge breakout," and if it climbs over 84, you want to be long. Pete Najarian said he agrees with Cramer and finds the downgrade "ludicrous" and stated Target's "inventory management is unbelievable."

Joe Terranova made it unanimous. "I don't know why you put a sell on this," Joe said. Even though the new price target is $70, Joe was fixated on $67, adding, "I would argue it goes to a hundred before it goes down to 67."

Joe delivers payback for doubters of crude-TSLA link

Jim Iuorio on Thursday's Halftime Report downplayed gasoline's rise as a "blip" but suggested continued strength would be "difficult" because of the perception of a neutral Fed.

Jeff Kilburg said 1.28 is the support level and a good entry point on a pullback.

Josh Brown said he likes Tesla as a company but not as a stock.

Pete Najarian said it's "interesting" to compare TSLA's chart to oil's chart. Joe Terranova said a couple years ago he argued there was a correlation between TSLA and crude, "and I think I was laughed at for that."

Joe questioned whether anyone can make an "informed decision" about TSLA until seeing the new car.

Josh: FIT to be sold

Don Steinbrugge visited with Thursday's Halftime Report to say hedge funds have had a "terrible quarter," but he indicated things are looking up.

He said activism may have peaked, because "a lot of the low-hanging fruit is gone."

Josh Brown said beta in the hedge fund industry grows every year and questioned paying a performance fee for beta. Steinbrugge said, "I don't think you necessarily should pay a performance fee on beta" and said a lot of the strategies gaining assets for months are those without a lot of beta.

Joe Terranova said he still doesn't want to buy MU, citing "continued inventory build."

Josh Brown said the FIT gain was a "huge favor" to longs, who should unload.

Sarat Sethi called IBM a "turnaround" and said it could do well for a couple of years.

Pete Najarian talked about MCD needing to "reduce" the menu (Drink).

Josh Brown sort of got Fast Fired on a QCOM bear call but insisted it's a terrible stock, "It's about to roll over once again." Sarat Sethi predicted there's a catalyst in the next 6 months, perhaps activists.

[Wednesday, March 30, 2016]

Dick thinks he got the shaft, isn’t sorry (cont’d)

Another chapter in the sorting-out-the-handling-of-Lehman-Brothers-in-its-final-months story occurred Wednesday when Erin Callan Montella spoke with CNBC's Kelly Evans on Closing Bell.

Montella revealed that Dick Fuld called her a while ago and used a significant word. "What he said to me was that, he was sorry about how everything had played out," Montella explained.

Unfortunately, Kelly Evans took a called strike 3, failing to seize this golden opening for the most relevant question:

Is Fuld sorry that Callan ended up in this doomed position ... or actually sorry for doing something or other, or not doing something or other, that caused Lehman Brothers to fail?

The very limited evidence available since Lehman's downfall — which included a speech partly televised a year ago during CNBC's Halftime Report — is that Fuld views the mortgage-bond crisis as part of the natural business cycle, engulfing Wall Street, sparing none of his rivals/peers, and that his shop just happened to be the unlucky hitter in the batting order the 1 time everyone decided against bailouts.

It's just an honest assessment. This page has no axes to grind.

Semantics can be a waste of time. In this case, "sorry" is important.

If Dick in fact regrets his own handling of Lehman Brothers and its effect on the U.S. economy, bluntly declaring as much would've gone a long way toward helping the country — and our government — move beyond this disaster.

If Dick in fact wonders why his industry was/is treated any differently than, say, the coal industry, then this is nothing more than a continuing legal story, one he clearly has won.

More confusion in the market since ... the last time we remember

It's not clear why Judge needed 3 panelists for an episode of the Halftime Report on Tuesday largely preempted by a Janet Yellen speech, but the crew squeezed in as many soundbites as possible.

Pete Najarian bemoaned the lack of volume. Sarat Sethi said, "It just tells you, there's no conviction."

Judge, prone to hyperbole on this day, claimed, "It's hard to overstate the importance of what is on the table today."

He also curiously asserted, "There appears to be more confusion in the market than- from whenever I can, you know, last remember."

Joe Terranova opined that it's coming down to an "inflation question" and said the Fed is "skeptical" about the pickup of inflation.

Pete Najarian told Judge the rally depends on what Yellen says, predicting a "huge reaction" to her remarks.

Sarat Sethi said commodity input prices will drive the Fed.

Judge asked Jeff Saut if the Fed has lost its credibility. "I think at the margin, it probably has," Saut said.

Saut pronounced the market "a bit stretched," but he said by year-end, he sees a higher market than Tuesday's and a higher market in 2017.

Saut said, "I think if they are gonna raise rates, they will do it in April, but quite frankly, I don't think they're gonna raise rates between now and the election."

Sarat Sethi agrees "directionally" with Warren Buffett boosting his stake in WFC.

Sethi said the VA bids are good for airline stockholders but not good for fliers.

Joe said there's a "great Goldman Sachs note" about Foot Locker.

Pete said that growth is a "real, real problem" for LNKD and questioned the "late call" to equal weight related to the February earnings.

[Monday, March 28, 2016]

12 stocks, 20 stocks,
40 stocks, 60 stocks ...

It was one of the best conversations in recent Halftime Report history, even if a bit incomplete.

Acknowledging "a little bit excessive" risk on the part of Sequoia in VRX, Mike Santoli on Monday's Halftime Report defended concentrated funds as "your best shot" of differentiating from the benchmarks.

Santoli said Sequoia's plunging into VRX is a "risk-management issue" and doesn't have to reflect a quality concentrated fund.

But Josh Brown wasn't sold. "They mostly blow up in the end," Brown said, pointing to Ken Heebner.

It's true. According to this article, Heebner went from hero to zero after 2007 (not coincidentally, derailed by a bear market).

All of which begs the question, how focused should one be in the stock market to achieve maximum return?

"The academic literature is clear in that it's very unclear what the optimal number of positions are," Brown explained, citing papers that say 12-18 and others that say "at least 30 or 40."

Exactly. It's all varying degrees of risk, except no one can quantify the risk in advance. A guy who has put all of his money in TWTR is almost certainly going to experience a greater integer of return — plus or minus — than a guy with half his money in TWTR and half in XOM.

Unless this is the year TWTR is actually flat while XOM jumps 18%.

You can put $10,000 in TWTR, but your $10,000 in TWTR does not care if your next $10,000 is in XOM or P or Bill Fleckenstein's short fund (snicker). Once multiple securities are purchased for the sake of diversification (a curious goal ... or is it a tool for a goal ...), you've got Jack Bogle's argument, just buy an index fund with minimal cost and stress.

Stephanie Link revealed "I have a portfolio of 60 names," which in the long-only world is considered "very concentrated."

Link added, "At the end of the day" (Drink), if you're comfortable with an investor's strategy, then it may be OK to ride a concentrated fund.

Mike Santoli said Bill Ackman is playing the "lightning in a bottle" game and that Ackman was doing this before Pershing Square.

Pete Najarian declared, "These guys aren't hedged in any way, shape or form most of the time, and I think it's ridiculous," explaining that Najarian Wealth Management has a "select number, about 20 stocks ... all hedged, by the way."

Judge suggested to the panel that if he were asking about these legends and their concentrated funds a couple years ago when they were hot, "your answer would probably be different, don't you think?"

"No," said Josh Brown.

Pete concluded, "If somebody who's getting 40% returns, they're gonna have negative returns of 40% just like we're seeing right now Scott. I mean, that's assured. That's what you're getting. ... You don't see people over the long haul making 40% forever."

Mohamed El-Erian says you can’t make money the old-fashioned way in this market

Judge brought in Steve Liesman to Monday's Halftime to explain some GDP revisions.

Stephanie Link pronounced economic data as "very lumpy."

Liesman agreed with Josh Brown that it's a "much more esoteric economy" than when a lot of these indicators were created.

Pete Najarian questioned the amount of GDP revisions; "why is it so off??" Liesman cited "Zootopia" and said it takes "3 to 5 years" to get the "right picture" of what's happening now.

Liesman noted, "The savings rate went up to 5.4%."

"The Fed is not really in control of global demand," said Josh Brown.

MA or V, take your pick

Judge on Monday's Halftime got right to the point with Janus' Marc Pinto, who is touting 5 stocks — BA, MA, ADBE, MSFT and (of course, everyone's pick) GOOG.

Judge said "conventional wisdom" would say that BA would "certainly suffer" in this kind of industrial/global cycle.

Pinto conceded "it's a tough sector to make money in" but said the commercial aircraft cycle is in "really good shape" and pointed to China, stating there's 1 commercial aircraft for every 50,000 people in the U.S. but only 1 for every 500,000 in China.

Josh Brown said he likes all of Pinto's names but wondered if those stocks aren't too pricey. Pinto said the multiples are all "very reasonable" given the strengths of the companies.

Stephanie Link questioned choosing MA over V. Pinto said he likes both names but that MA is better-positioned "in cross-border."

"I think Apple is challenged by the law of large numbers (Drink)," Pinto said.

Panelists’ comments on P apparently wouldn’t pass muster with censors

Scott Nations on Monday's Halftime Report said "the next stop" for crude is $44.

But Anthony Grisanti downplayed the notion of a production cut and said he's playing it to the downside, with "good resistance between $40 and 41½."

Judge noted the CEO departure at P and said the panel made a "multitude of comments" about the company during the commercial break, "some of which I can't repeat on TV."

Josh Brown called P a "great product, bad investment."

Brown said he pays P $9 a month, but Pete Najarian said "that's the surprising part" because so few people do.

Pete suggested FB has seen an "incredible" return on WhatsApp.

Steph Link said of FB, "I'm sorry that I sold it."

Pete said April call-buying in GIS was active, though "it's not huge paper."

Josh Brown identified "a massive breakout in progress" in GE. "I think it goes straight to 40," Brown said, though "not tomorrow."

Pete said he's not a buyer yet of FINL.

[Thursday, March 24, 2016]

Compromise: Make Gordon Bethune chairman of YHOO

Todd Wagner, who was sort of Star Guest 1B on Thursday's Halftime (because of Brad Gerstner), said YHOO is "at a point where you have to sell the company," citing so many "do-overs."

He actually said Yahoo's struggle "breaks my heart," explaining he was offered the COO job back in the 1990s.

He said YHOO and other companies "must continue to take risks" but that Yahoo has been playing "prevent defense."

"It should have been to me the next great media company," Wagner said, but given that it wasn't, "I would've sold to Microsoft years ago."

Joe Terranova asked the important question, who would buy it. Wagner said "anybody who wants those assets," which is rather ambiguous, but perhaps a studio or anyone who wants to get into the media business.

Wagner said TWTR is "incredibly relevant" and similar to YHOO a few years ago. But he's "a little concerned" about TWTR's CEO being CEO of something else. "It is way too early to say that, that, that it's over for Twitter," he said.

Wagner gushed about the partnership between Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos.

Stephen Weiss asked if cable and television companies are losers in the Netflix world. Wagner said "at the end of the day" (Drink), Netflix will be a force "no matter how it gets distributed."

Wagner added another "at the end of the day," he likes Hastings and Sarandos.

Karen Finerman, in new outfit, said on the 5 p.m. Fast Money that, choosing between $7 or $70 for TWTR, "the stock's 16, so the chance of it hitting 7 is FAR, FAR greater than the chance of it hitting 70."

16 people on a board, sounds like an efficient outfit

Altimeter's Brad Gerstner on Thursday's Halftime told Judge, "I'm a big fan of the show."

Which explains why he had no trouble tossing in an "at the end of the day" (Drink).

Unfortunately, while Judge conducted a fine interview, Gerstner had no fireworks and mostly spoke in corporate-speak.

"This is about, first and foremost, the failure of the board," Gerstner said, citing United's performance over the last 5 years. "This board needs to change."

Tapping into the Steve Liesman train of thought, Judge asked if it isn't a "fair question" to ask where Altimeter was when Jeff Smisek was running things. Gerstner said "we've been a concerned shareholder for a long time."

Judge said sources have told him that United has been willing to settle on "several" occasions. Gerstner said, "You're a heckuva reporter, but you know, I can't go into confidential negotiations that we've had with United." (Translation: That's correct; we're playing hardball.)

Basically the conversation always came back to the board (Zzzzz). "At the end of the day (Double Drink), let's remember: the board are representatives of the owners," Gerstner said.

He said he likes the new appointees, but "2 directors out of 15 is simply window-dressing."

Nevertheless, he insists he only wants a minority percentage. "I will underscore, we have no interest in running a controlled slate for this board," Gerstner said.

Gerstner sort of defined Gordon Bethune's role. "We think Gordon would be a terrific chairman of the board," he said.

Mohamed El-Erian inadvertently lobbies against Smith Barney

Joe Terranova said on Thursday's Halftime, "Flat is- continues to be the new up" and suggested any correction is more likely in a "May time frame."

Steve Weiss said we're in a "trading range."

Jon Najarian said he's not a "permabull" but that rate talk sounds "much lower for much longer," which is good for stocks, so why fight it.

Mohamed El-Erian agreed we're in a "range-bound market." But he said the range is "big" and "will get bigger over time," which he curiously said would expose it to a breakout in either direction.

"It's too early to say which way," he said, but don't be surprised if there's a 5-10% move "the other way."

"Things in the U.S. aren't that bad" for recession, El-Erian said.

He said money in this market is made by "tactical positioning" and through "volatility trades."

"The old-fashioned way is not gonna work for a while," El-Erian said, so forget what you heard on those 1980s commercials.

Joe, who had a quiet show, said the UBS call to sell WFC is "a little bit late" because he has seen "some healing in the energy space." Doc suggested buying on Thursday's dip. Weiss also indicated he'd be more inclined to buy it than sell it.

Doc buys FB

Scott Nations on Thursday's Halftime indicated the belief — as of this moment — is 3 hikes in 2016. Brian Stutland predicted "a lot more volatility" ahead.

Todd Wagner twice said "at the end of the day" (Triple/Quadruple Drink) in referring to The Charity Network; we're not exactly sure how it works.

Doc said he "bought some Facebook" on Thursday.

Joe Terranova said health-care financials are getting on sale, while Weiss is looking at MLPs.

Brian Kelly jumped all over Tim Seymour over stagflation on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

[Wednesday, March 23, 2016]

Not sure why Judge stocked a panel of 4 plus Seema Mody on presidential press conference day

Wednesday's Halftime Report was basically preempted by the presidential press conference in Buenos Aires.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said Barack Obama on Wednesday called Raul Castro a "dictator" in Buenos Aires after simply referring to a "1-party system" in Havana on Tuesday.

Judge brought in Steve Weiss and Josh Brown for a soundbite to point out there are places around the world to invest, and you have to time it properly.

Doc said that trading sideways since the Brussels attacks is a "victory" for the markets.

Jim Lebenthal said "Nike's got it going right" and is attractively priced. Doc said he "bought it on the dip this morning." But if you had bought KMI at 12, now it's 18!!!!!!!!

[Tuesday, March 22, 2016]

Doc adds to VRX

Judge and Sue Herera helmed a smooth and informative Halftime Report on Tuesday necessarily devoted to coverage of the Belgium attacks, though it seemed the panel might've been a bit overstaffed.

Rob Sechan said the fight against terror is "impossible to predict" and said markets tend to "desensitize" to these events.

Joe Terranova said the "most important dynamic" of this event is the Brexit vote.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey said Belgium is sort of a patchwork of police agencies and that the U.S. has certain advantages against such an attack. "Thank God for customs and border protection … thank God for the FBI," McCaffrey said, saying America is "not only lucky but good" at avoiding terrorism.

Likewise, Ben Baldanza said he doesn't expect "long-term meaningful changes" in travel patterns and praised U.S. airport security, including measures the public doesn't see. "I don't think they would get more vulnerable" because of this attack, he said.

"If anything," Baldanza said, airports might be safer than other potential targets because of the amount of security present.

Mary Thompson was sent to Newark/Liberty to report on the heightened police presence and travelers unfazed by the Belgium monstrosity.

Greg Anderson said he's "a little bit surprised" at the muted market reaction but that the "big impact" is on the pound, citing estimates of a Brexit rising from 32% exit to 38-39%.

Joe Terranova asked Anderson about impact on the Fed. Anderson said, "If equities aren't gonna crash, then I don't think there's much of a central bank response."

Jon Najarian said that after the Paris attacks last year, people scrambled into defense stocks, but the "great opportunity" was the leisure stocks that got hit.

Josh Brown said stocks rallied 17% into year-end after the JFK assassination in 1963.

Rob Sechan, who has liked Europe, said he's "neutral" on European equities but not "agnostic" and that this event won't change the thesis.

Sechan told Judge he was "probably a little too early" on his bullish-MLP trade (not all, primarily midstreams) because markets need to "digest" that oil prices are going to be low for long and that the risks were a bit higher than he thought.

Joe Terranova agreed with Sechan that "midstream" MLP is fine. But Josh Brown said he's "respectfully" on the other side and doesn't think people need to own MLPs because of the sector being "hostage" to financial conditions. Sechan suggested that you'll never get outperformance if you don't buy long-term value.

"I would caution investors on emerging markets," said Sechan, recommending high yield on dips.

Jon Najarian said he bought more VRX and ZTS.

[Monday, March 21, 2016]

Steve Liesman’s breaking news bolsters Joe’s argument from last week (not the one about feeling sorry for Ackman)

In a remarkably crisp show of news developments, Steve Liesman on Monday's Halftime Report said Dennis Lockhart was making rate-hike comments about even April being possible; Judge said it sounds to him "likely" by June.

Joe Terranova decried "overcommunication from the Federal Reserve. ... I would rather they say nothing."

Liesman said the Fed went too far in implying recently perhaps no hikes this year, and thus it needed to reset expectations, and "making that call earlier is better for the market."

"I'm supposed to get excited over 2.3% growth?" Joe demanded.

Liesman admitted, "The market sniffed out the weakness in the global economy before the Fed did."

Judge said the Fed members "have not been on the ball, uh, all the way in their forecasts."

Later, Judge said Jeffrey Gundlach emailed him that "Lockhart isn't helping the Fed's credibility."

Joe predicted "heightened volatility in April, in May. It does not make any sense to move 25 basis points ahead of that."

omg, You coulda bought Kinder Morgan at 12 and watched it go to 18!!!!!

Joe Terranova on Monday's Halftime Report said there's a "bull case" for VRX getting to 40 or 50, but absolutely not 80, but regardless, "I don't wanna play that game."

"There is a lot of hair on this one," said Jon Najarian, who nevertheless asserted, "The stock could be 40 like that," and even pointed to KMI going from 12 to 18 (Drink).

Jim Lebenthal said everyone will be "scared off" from doing business with Valeant, including potential hires.

Jim said he doesn't see a "credible CEO" taking over VRX, rather, it would only be the "most incredible risk-taker" who would want that job.

CNBC superfox Meg Tirrell reported on "quite the shakeup" at Valeant. Judge said the company was throwing Howard Schiller "under the bus."

Judge did more of the reporting than Tirrell did, stating Pearson's exit was "not a mutual decision." Tirrell said, "The timing is interesting."

Josh Brown said the stock needs Carl Icahn, or any one of about 5 mega-investors, who will call the stock a "no-brainer."

Jon Najarian said there was active call-buying in CELG and hung a 105 on the stock.

Judge scoffs at Cuba as an investment angle

Josh Brown on Monday's Halftime said to ignore the CUBA closed-end fund and look to the "tourism angle" instead while cautioning "this is a very small economy."

Judge scoffed, "I don't know, cruise lines and airlines, I mean, you're telling me the stocks are gonna go higher because they're gonna start businesses in Cuba? Come on."

Jim Lebenthal shrugged that those are the "best way" to play it "if you have to have a Cuba play."

"Maybe you don't have to have one," Judge scoffed.

Evidently you don’t buy AAPL now, you buy it in 30 days and watch it go up 2-6 months from now

While Monday's Halftime was one of the best efforts in recent memory, the AAPL conversation quickly got a bit repetitive.

Jon Najarian called the stock "still a bigger buy than a sell — at 106."

Joe Terranova said "this isn't the hype" with AAPL; that's the iPhone 7 in 6 months. Joe said if you're trading for 30 days, he's "not necessarily sure" he'd buy at 106, but if you're buying as a long-term investor, you "absolutely" want to buy AAPL and look for the 6-month ramp-up ... which quite frankly didn't all seem to come out in the wash when we thought about it.

CNBC superfox Deirdre Bosa explained that "one week after Apple announces a new iPad or iPhone, the company itself underperforms a whole bunch of other technology stocks, including its competitors."

Jim Lebenthal said there's been a "nice uptrend" in AAPL and suggested the company could "surprise" in India over coming months.

But Toni Sacconaghi agreed with Bosa, stating, "History would suggest that, uh, news reports are really accurate in advance of product launches, and historically the preponderance of outperformance in the near-term is delivered in the 2 months prior to the announcement."

Sacconaghi said the SE could be priced higher than the 5S that it's replacing, so don't expect a bigger market share.

Judge said, being "frank," Sacconaghi didn't sound that excited. Sacconaghi basically indicated that's correct without saying so.

Sacconaghi praised the panel for their descriptions of how the stock trades in these times. "I think you've all articulated it very well," Sacconaghi said.

Don’t tell Weiss, someone else thinks C should be broken up

Joe Terranova on Monday's Halftime said he likes SHW's acquisition but said the VAL price indicates the regulators will force divestitures.

Josh Brown explained why KBW believes in a C split. "I think there's merit here," Brown said, but he sees no evidence the company is listening to such calls.

Jon Najarian said he likes TSLA and said he detailed his great trade on CNBC Pro.

Jim Lebenthal praised the JPM analyst's addition of NKE to the bull list and removal of LULU.

Judge told Sue Herera he hadn't heard the Djokovic comments on female tennis pay. (What really matters is when Karen Finerman hears them and says, "I can't believe he said it. I can't believe he said it. I can't believe ...")

[Friday, March 18, 2016]

Not sure if anyone on Friday had broken up the regulators (but nobody was feeling sorry for Ackman)

In a quiet Halftime Report on Friday, Andrew Wellington made the case for ARRS, calling cord-cutting a "fake issue" for that company.

"Arris is the arms dealer to the cable companies," Wellington explained.

He told Josh Brown that his firm does better with the good and simple businesses than the harder-to-understand ones.

Wellington also called Uber a "fake issue" for car-rental companies. He said the average car rental is 4 days and 450 miles and that only 3% of car rentals are for 1 day and only 3% are for 50 miles or less.

Wellington called STX a "great stock" but thinks WDC is better and said the disk-drive decline is "another overstated controversy."

Stephanie Link questioned whether EOG needs or wants to do a secondary.

Matthew Benkendorf indicated the stock-market rally is running on fumes. "We're gonna get a reality check here," he said.

[Thursday, March 17, 2016]

Joe on Ackman: ‘I just almost feel bad for him’ (a/k/a why doesn’t Bill ship CNBC some updated video so they don’t have to use this 5-year-old (at least) picture?)

We always thought Wall Street hosses elicited fear and respect.

Evidently, we can add pity to that persona, after Joe Terranova on Thursday's Halftime Report lamented the toll of stress on aging activist investors.

"I've only met Mr. Ackman once," Joe revealed. "I just almost feel bad for him. He must be exhausted. He's got to be burnt out. ... We're all getting older on Wall Street. ... Who needs the headache?"

That stuck in Pete Najarian's craw. "But he put himself there!" thundered Pete. "You're saying, 'I feel bad for him.' He put himself in a position to go in front of everybody and plead his case, time and time and time again."

Joe said "Why go through this? Why take the volatility?"

Pete was twice heard likening Ackman to Cam Newton.

All of this came after Judge opened the program with "breaking news" of his chat with the Pershing Square boss.

Judge said Ackman said, "We don't use margin leverage — never have and never will."

"Valeant is a problem, but we know what to do," Ackman apparently told Judge in what has to be the least-believable comment of the program.

Judge said Pershing Square is down 9% for the week and 26% for the year.

Judge also said Ackman believes he is being portrayed as a "pariah" in the media.

But Steve Weiss scoffed, "Bill invites the press."

Joe Terranova said most of Ackman's positions are "asymmetric."

Jon Najarian said the piling-on-Ackman trade is past its due date. "The professional investors that Pete and I talk with and that ping us back and forth all day Judge; those guys were basically slamming into these short positions weeks and months ago. Not now."

Weiss said VRX might still be a short for fundamental reasons and not just a "piling on" short.

Judge said Ackman is irked at being the "public face" of Valeant. That happened "because he was in front of the story," said Pete Najarian.

"He made 'em his partner when he went after Allergan!" said Steve Weiss. "So that's why; he's in bed with 'em."

Weiss asserted, "He destroyed the company. He built it; he destroyed it. It's been terribly managed, the entire process."

CNBC superfox Meg Tirrell said it's a "weird thing" that Valeant hasn't hired a "crisis-management firm."

Weiss is personally offended by anyone correctly stating Citigroup sucks

Whatever his motivation, he's got an interesting point.

Bart Naylor endured the carping of Stephen Weiss and others on Thursday's Halftime Report for having the audacity to suggest JPM and ... drum roll ... almighty C ... should be broken up.

"They're too big to manage," Naylor contended, adding, "The banks' arithmetic of assets minus liabilities is a number that's bigger than the share value, which means I think even the shareholders agree that these banks are worth more in parts."

Judge also had Mike Mayo handy.

"Bart is half-right and half-wrong," Mayo said, stating C and other large banks "have failed to achieve returns above their cost of capital." But he thinks Naylor is wrong about JPM.

Naylor said the London Whale "informed us that this so-called 'best-managed bank on the planet' can lose money even under management scrutiny."

Naylor also said Mayo "parrots" JPM's management line of a "fortress" balance sheet. Naylor said in fact it's "living near the edge."

Steve Weiss chastised Naylor with a drastic overstatement, asserting, "You make a compelling case to break up every single company on the planet that's not trading at their asset value or has lost money."

"I'll give you my solution: My solution is don't break it up," said Weiss. "Break up the regulators," who have created "barrier after barrier ... that's the real issue."

Will breaking up the regulators improve the yield curve and make more people demand loans from banks?

"I"m sorry that the facts simply don't support your, your prejudice about regulation," Naylor told Weiss, saying community banking is doing better.

Weiss then reverted to the Jock Rebuttal (You Guys Couldn't Hit Big League Pitching, So Don't Write Negative Stories About Guys Batting .192), asking Naylor, "How often are you involved in the market?" and insisting there's "no liquidity."

Naylor said liquidity is a "vague term."

Weiss also accused Naylor of a "Bernie Sanders stump speech."

Mayo, refreshingly, was the voice of reason.

"I'll be supporting Bart's proposal for at least some form of breakup of Citigroup," said Mayo, who said he's not sure whether he's going to the Citigroup or Comerica meeting.

Here's the deal. Naylor may not have capitalistic tendencies. However, a breakup might well make mountains of financial sense. This is an absolutely god-awful company in an industry that's in a bear market. Defending C is like trumpeting the management of the Cleveland Browns, which no one would ever do-

Oops, scratch that. Weiss actually said with a straight face, "Corporate's done a very, very good job with a very difficult situation."

Also, what kind of Dimon premium is in JPM shares; in other words, if he wasn't associated with this company, would anyone actually talk about it in glowing terms?

Joe Terranova piled on with Weiss, stating, "Just wonder if Bart wants to break up the FOMC? Are they too big to fail also?" Actually he would get a lot of nods from right-wingers on that one.

Notice CNBC's graphics crew had trouble converting an apostrophe (below).

Sara in sneakers

Tony Dwyer put on a "Chinatown"-esque performance on Thursday's Halftime Report, apparently sneaking in some bullishness while purportedly on to discuss bearishness.

Dwyer supposedly was there to float a possible 3-5% drop in the near term but mostly trumpeted how all the gloom of January-early February is being reversed.

Dwyer said his birthday was Feb. 11.

Steve Weiss said he finds this dubious thesis (if what was discussed on TV even qualifies as such) of a potential 3-5% drop "difficult" because "you can have that at any point at any time for any reason. That's meaningless ... now it sounds like you're a bull because absent that, everything's positive."

So there you go.

Joe Terranova credited Dwyer for nailing the lower-dollar call. Joe predicted earnings as a catalyst for moving the market higher.

Jon Najarian gloated about FDX driving the "best day of the year for me," and "I hope a lot of you had it too."

Stephen Weiss chalked up CAT's gain to short-covering.

Pete Najarian said he likes all the names in the cloud space, which apparently now includes AAPL. (This writer is long AMZN.)

Joe Terranova, skewered for mentioning GPS going from 7 to 28 about 5 times a day earlier, said, "Williams Sonoma does not have a strategy in place, unlike Gap Stores, to turn around."

Scott Nations said the OPEC meeting in a month "is gonna mean something." Jim Iuorio said "crude looks good."

Judge said they'll be doing a "Halftime Market Madness." This page ignores Halftime Report/Fast Money bracket games.

In a classy profile, Joe said he has supported the New York Islanders Children's Foundation over the last 10 years.

[Wednesday, March 16, 2016]

Buy the bottoms,
sell the tops

On Wednesday's Halftime Report, Adam Parker, citing the Chinese economy and the dollar, told Judge "the probability of the bull case seems low."

In one of the better lines recently, Parker said the presidential candidates do not appear to be "massive multiple expanders at the current (sic redundant) moment."

Pete Najarian (no) and Joe Terranova (yes) bickered over whether GPS is any good. "At the end of the day, they sell commodity goods," said Steve Weiss. "Gap is addicted to coupons," Doc said.

Everybody called NKE a buy.

Guy Adami on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money said to stay with the gold market. Brian Kelly appeared to claim to have bought the bottom and now this is the top.

Fed ‘too transparent’

It's a day of Fed decisions, which means the Halftime Report is usually a bunch of predictions and if-thens that have a shelf life of about 45 minutes.

Judge decided to ask Wednesday's panel if the Fed has lost its street cred. A couple panelists said yes; a couple didn't.

"The Federal Reserve has become ultimately too transparent Scott. And I think that's the problem," said Joe Terranova, citing "too much unknown, too much lack of clarity."

Steve Weiss said the Fed is "culturally adrift as an organization. ... Every day of the week you can get a different view." (They should probably be more like the New England Patriots.)

In an impressive bit of credit, Steve Liesman actually told Judge that the panelists "have done a better job of forecasting than the Fed" and that to "maintain" its credibility, the Fed "has to at least start to get its forecasts more right than wrong."

Scott Mather of Pimco said the Fed has been "a little bit too optimistic." He said that in the "high-quality space," he likes inflation-linked Treasury bonds.

Steve Weiss decided, "I'd rather have them be patient and take their time than not moving too quickly."

More from the Halftime Report and Fast Money, in a bit.

[Tuesday, March 15, 2016]

Mark Trudeau won’t let Andrew Left showdown be Mel’s Carl-Ackman moment

Andrew Left, who usually makes the rounds on Judge's circuit, joined Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money for a victory lap on VRX (which he's no longer shorting) and set his sights again on his less-convincing MNK case, calling it the "complete poster child for price-gouging."

Mark Trudeau then suddenly called in and insisted "Mallinckrodt is absolutely not Valeant" and trumpeted a "diversified" model and momentum from raised guidance. Left said that's the same response that could've come from Valeant a year ago and then rehashed his argument about no drug trials for 50 years on Mallinckrodt's top drug; "You should be off CNBC and you should be with the scientists."

Trying for the Carl-Ackman dynamic, Mel, who did look dynamite in black, pressed for Left and Trudeau to start arguing directly, halfheartedly stating, "I encourage you guys to talk to each other." Trudeau, to his credit, in a remarkably cool performance, ignored any reference to Left and simply spoke as though Lee were the only person on the line.

Trudeau didn't even bite on Left's bait that Trudeau has been shopping Acthar to patients at "Maggiano's," "Olive Garden" and "Applebee's."

Left, also not quite sold on a one-on-one, mostly referred to Trudeau as "he," not as "you."

Karen Finerman, also looking great in black, wondered afterward, "Are we at a monumental shift in the drug industry's fortunes right now. I- I think we are, actually."

Dan Nathan called Donald Trump a "political terrorist."

What’s the status of that 12th-year-in-a-row audit of Donald Trump?

Star guest of Tuesday's Halftime Report Lee Cooperman told Judge, "I'm not a fan of the 2 leading contenders for different reasons."

He noted "the wealth for Romney worked against him, and the wealth for Trump is working for him." (Exactly. It's a popularity contest.)

Cooperman said his problems with Hillary Clinton are "substantial, in all honesty."

Echoing a CNBC slogan of a few fiscal cliffs past, Cooperman explained, "To me, I'm looking for a politician that can rise above," stating he doesn't want someone to "pander" to the 99%. "The wealthy people are not creating the problems for the less wealthy."

Cooperman called Bernie Sanders "detached from reality," pointing to the difference between Cubans in Florida and Cubans in Cuba and suggesting Sanders represents the latter system.

Coop said he's not for Trump, calling it "an issue of style, uh, basically," then said "it's beyond style," citing building a wall, not releasing tax returns, treatment of Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush.

The 1040 particularly rankled. "It's ridiculous. He should be releasing his tax return," Cooperman said. "My guess- and I don't want him suing me, but my guess is he doesn't want to release his tax return because maybe his income is different than people think."

Cooperman said he has given money to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and hasn't given money to Kasich but would be OK with all 3.

Josh Brown suggested the stock market likes Hillary because she represents the "status quo" and that the market doesn't believe her anti-Wall Street rhetoric because she's fending off Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Cooperman said he agreed and that she's a "less risky" candidate, then mentioned "some people" think she might not even be able to run if she's "indicted."

"I don't like the idea of gridlock," Coop told Joe Terranova, who had a very quiet show. Fair enough. But there's nothing to do.

Coop: 1,810 bottom

"1,810 was in all likelihood the low for the year," Lee Cooperman declared on Tuesday's Halftime Report, predicting the year ends "modestly higher" than where it began.

Cooperman asserted, "We've been in a stealth bear market, not for the major averages but for the average common stock; that means a lot of damage is behind you, not ahead of you."

He maintained a long-running theme, that bonds simply aren't attractive.

Coop floated AIG and AER and their valuations, briefly mentioned ASH and outlined NAVI's buyback potential.

He also praised the "very good value" of MSFT.

Pete Najarian asked Cooperman about not being in KMI. Pete wanted Coop to say "DID YOU SEE WHAT THAT STOCK DID AFTER THEY CUT THE DIVIDEND?!!?!!?!!!" Coop didn't answer the question but said U.S. energy producers and the Saudis are running a negative cash flow at this price of crude and that it's "not sustainable" and that he could see 50s or 60s in crude in a couple years.

Coop offered "the rise of the machines" and "series of regulatory changes" as the leading causes of heightened market volatility.

He also decried the elimination of the uptick rule.

Josh Brown suggested to Coop that buying and selling stocks has gotten cheaper for retail investors. Coop conceded narrow spreads and low commissions but suggested that if you try to sell a stock, it might be down 5%.

Judge pointed out that HFT critics aren't talking or aren't heard when markets are going up.

Steph Link asked about Coop's trimming of JPM and new position in SYF. Coop said the regulators are "crazy," which is why he trimmed JPM, and said nothing about Synchrony or Link's suggested interest-rate shift and also mentioned that the disclosures don't fully explain his positioning.

Coop told Joe Terranova he's "uninvolved" in AAPL because he doesn't see much beyond the iPhone, "which will become more of a commodity."

Brian Stutland told Jackie DeAngelis he's "still a little concerned" about crude holding current levels. Jeff Kilburg said he's looking at $42 in "the next couple weeks."

Judge didn't ask Cooperman about Omega's announcement last year about regulators, which Cooperman graciously discussed on the program last May. A Web search turned up nothing on the subject since April 2015.

Analysts apparently reeling off reports while Halftime Report airs

Meg Tirrell on Tuesday's Halftime reported that Valeant execs admitted in the conference call, "Oh, yeah, sorry, there's a typo in the press release on our guidance," and now people have "serious questions" about the company.

Judge said "some are downgrading it literally (sic) as we speak," then he said, "the stock is literally (double sic) falling out of bed as we speak."

As they speak.


Lee Cooperman said of VRX, "We've all seen this movie before," without really clarifying what movie that is ("The Big Short"?), adding, "We got out quite some time ago."

Pete Najarian called VRX a "no touch."

Josh Brown said of VRX, "There was more smoke around this thing than any stock I can remember going back at least 15 years," noting the debt load was above its market cap.

[Monday, March 14, 2016]

Buy C (cont’d)

Spending the hour Monday in what unfortunately proved to be one of the sleepiest Halftime Reports in recent memory, Rich Pzena added a bit of spark in trumpeting a handful of stocks.

Citing 70% tangible book, Pzena said C is trading at "quasi-bankruptcy level," but while people are grumbling about return on equity, the company has actually done a "spectacular job" in reaching the level it has.

"To me, this is a no-brainer," Pzena said.

Pzena also touted MUR, which he said "doesn't have the imminent bankruptcy risk" and whose valuations represent "big mismatches" with rival names.

Judge noted "it's up 40% in a month." Pzena said it got a boost when others in the space were able to raise capital.

Pzena's big call was STX, stating he has followed the stock "literally my whole investment career" and noted the sector of "2 remaining players" is now like an oligopoly.

He noted how far it's down recently. "It's becoming more and more an enterprise company" than a PC device company, Pzena said, while there's always more and more stuff to back up. "We are just proliferating what we store," Pzena said.

"This is sort of like what Microsoft was," Pzena said, pointing to people not realizing it's about more enterprise than devices. Steve Weiss said "the yield's safe" at STX, but the stock likely won't trade above 10 times earnings.

Judge asked why this name over WDC. Pzena said WDC just made an acquisition at a "very, very, very high price."

Long SPLS, Pzena said that stock is cheap enough that longs don't have to care about the retail side. And if the deal fails, there's still little downside.

Judge closed asking Pzena why XOM is his top holding. Pzena said they bought it originally for the "massive investment" the company was doing but now finds it a "good place to hang out" in energy during the slide.

Not sure if they’ve got as many bazookas as 4-for-5 Draghi

Taking part in a most non-committal episode of the Halftime Report Monday, Melissa Otto, who is cute, told Judge, "We're not really speculating here" about the Bank of Japan meeting.

Otto also wouldn't say if more QE is on the way; "we'll see how it goes."

"There's just a lot of confusion in the market," Otto said, predicting "continued volatility" on the subject of negative rates. She said she's just "standing on the sidelines."

Otto said she's happy with her stock picks, and "We like companies with pricing power." She mentioned Oriental Land and Ajinomoto (hopefully the spelling is correct). Stephen Weiss questioned if exporters aren't the best move in Japan. Otto said doing that, you're "ultimately buying the yen trade," and "it's not a lot to hang our hat on."

The VIAB salary structure

Tackling what was actually the most interesting subject of the show, Josh Brown on Monday's Halftime Report said there are "perverse incentives" by companies such as CMG linking executive pay to share price.

Stephen Weiss said if he was CEO, he's not sure about this approach because there are many things CEOs can't control, suggesting instead they should get paid on "operating metrics."

Someone mentioned how YHOO went up after Marissa Mayer took over, and Josh Brown wasn't particularly impressed. "She's throwing costume parties," Brown said.

Steve Weiss said Phillippe Dauman gets paid as "FOS," or "Friend of Sumner."

Rich Pzena offered his own strategy. "The best way to do it is to have them own the stock," Pzena said.

Both, both, both, both value and growth (Zzzzzzzzzz)

Taking up one of Judge's favorite subjects, Rich Pzena on Monday's Halftime said it's "hard to say" that value is back after only 3 weeks, but the spread with growth has widened to levels that historically have been promising.

Josh Brown pointed out there's "nothing cheap" about staples and that utilities aren't cheap either.

Pzena said what's gotten cheap are the energy and commodity and certain cyclical companies.

"In every value cycle, it's different," Pzena said.

Steve Weiss said he doesn't regard commodity stocks as values but there are "definitely" some values in energy.

Pzena said there's clearly a recession in commodities but he observed that the rig count can't keep falling at recent levels and will "probably bottom out somewhere close to where it is today."

Pete Najarian said he's not sure crude has bottomed but maybe has moved into a higher range. "There's still debt there," Pete said, pointing to the XLE.

Pete said he wants "both" (about 4 times) value and growth.

Steve Weiss asked Pzena if Google is a "value" stock. Pzena said "Google's fine" but pointed to a much lower multiple a few years ago and said banks and energy are trading well below multiples they should be trading at.

Susan Li sighting

CNBC's Susan Li on Monday's Halftime tackled the Chinese move on Starwood and how it has a coveted license and how one of the investors is married to a granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping.

"That makes it a lot easier to get a license," said Stephen Weiss, who added the yuan is one of the most crowded trades out there and to put it aside for 6 months.

Josh Brown didn't agree with the Barron's call on KORS, saying those who buy stocks after these kinds of short-term returns are likely going to be a "serial underperformer."

Weiss said he sold KORS a couple weeks ago as a trade. "You can't chase it," agreed Pete Najarian.

Brown questioned if KORS can "transition" from an elite brand to mass-market brand with cachet, prompting the gang's usual lamentations about COH.

Weiss said he and Brown have "different views" over how "high end" KORS is.

Brown said TSLA has been up about $100 in 3 weeks and there's a "double top" at 290.

Pete said GWPRF is "probably underpriced" if it gets drug approval.

Stephen Weiss chalked up DDD's rise to short interest.

Pete Najarian noted TFM's slide but said it's a "great opportunity going forward," presumably for Apollo.

Pete said someone is rolling up March 48.50 calls in DAL to April 49s. "I'm in it," Pete said.

[Friday, March 11, 2016]

If DPZ’s international story is such a great one that investors have missed, shouldn’t they have been talking about it on the Halftime Report?

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis on Friday's Halftime Report that he doesn't think gold's run is over and wants to be long over 1,235.

Jeff Kilburg said the momentum in gold is higher, and he likes buying it here and sees 1,300.

Kate Moore, who had a quiet hour, said she's not invested in gold or commodities.

Jon Najarian said he loves X and wished that he owns it and predicted outperformance this year in PSX.

Stephanie Link said prices are "starting to firm up" for X.

Josh Brown said investors haven't gotten a "handle" on how good DPZ's international business is and predicted the stock goes higher.

Doc said he took off COP and IR in his Halftime Portfolio and trimmed DVN and added RIO, PDS and ETP. Josh unloaded OA.

Doc said March 27 calls in JD were popular. "It's a short-term play though," Doc said.

But Doc said you can own BOJA for "a long time."

Josh Brown said he doesn't want to be long LOCO.

Stephanie Link wasn't too impressed with AXP. Doc said it's a higher beta play on the V trade. Link though insisted it's more "defensive."

Josh Brown agrees with Lee Cooperman that this is an algo-driven market and cautioned "not to turn a narrative out of something that's really just robots trading with each other."

Kate Moore said there's nothing "firm" in the biotech pipeline that should make the sector underperform.

Judge suggests Adam Jonas
might be a little late

Adam Jonas, who apparently hasn't been on CNBC for a while, told Judge on Friday's Halftime that the car-rental model has "a lot of issues," but "we think that the market's kinda caught up here," so he likes HTZ.

Judge questioned if it gives Jonas pause, "in and of itself" (Drink), that the stock has done so well in such a short time. Jonas said there's "liquidity issues," and maybe things get "crowded."

Jonas said management and culture at HTZ is changing, namely "recognition" of Enterprise being "the Saudi of car rental" and putting pressure on the higher-cost producers.

Judge turned his attention to another of Jonas' calls, TSLA. Jonas cited the "very significant decline" in oil prices as driving his TSLA price cut from 450 to 333 in February.

Jonas said that if AAPL and GOOG get into automaking, that's "not good" for TSLA. (However, if YHOO gets into it, nothing to fear.)

Jon Najarian said "phenomenal" short interest created "one of the best V-shaped bottoms I've ever seen" in TSLA, but he suggested playing it only in the short term.

"I trade this name; I don't own this name," Doc said.

Josh Brown said HTZ is not for "casual traders."

Draghi’s 5th bazooka (cont’d)

Keith Banks on Friday's Halftime Report said people went risk-off "big time" on a global growth scare, and now we're just "unwinding" those bets.

Banks suggested 2,050 is fair value in the S&P 500, and maybe we'll get to 2,100.

Banks predicted 2 rate hikes in 2016, though not in March, and he sees a 4.6% unemployment rate.

Jon Najarian said he thought Thursday's trade was an "overreaction" and contended Draghi was saying much lower for longer and that means higher for stocks.

But Josh Brown cautioned, "Short-term we could be very overbought here."

Doc said it's "unbelievable" the trades he has been adding that have already worked and that you can't make anymore, citing FIT, and also DVN, "already took that one off."

Stephanie Link said Draghi's commentary "confused some people."

Kate Moore said after some scares, "things aren't so bad."

Doc gushed about the VIX hovering around 16, so if you're concerned, "Buy some insurance."

Josh Brown pointed out the "mean reversion" of how last year's dogs have surged in 20 days while last year's darlings are slumping.

Stephanie Link said, "I gotta tell you," she was impressed by DG.

Judge briefly brought in Brian Sullivan, who said "Jon Najarian is a good friend of mine" and that Sully liked what Doc said early in the program about the linking of oil to stocks.

Sully said that during boom times in oil, "literally, people were lightin' cigars with hundred-dollar bills."

[Thursday, March 10, 2016]

Judge evidently has a foundation

Judge on Thursday's Halftime noted Rich Ross was bummed by the morning reversal and called for selling global equities and commodity currencies and buying gold.

"Liquidate your 401(k) too as well?" asked Joe Terranova.

"That was somebody else, not him," Judge said.

"It's a trading environment ... it's a sideways market," Joe explained.

Pete Najarian insisted again it's been a "dash for trash."

"This is a nothing move," said Jon Najarian about U.S. stocks on Thursday.

Pete Najarian said stocks still seem tethered to oil.

Joe said he would "wager a, a dollar to the, to the Scott Wapner Foundation" that Gundlach "made money" on crude's rise from 26 to 38 because of "tactical" trading.

Judge said Lee Cooperman would be on next week to complain about algorithms.

Brian Kelly on the 5 p.m. Fast Money took heat from Tim Seymour for calling for 1,620 S&P over some period of time.

Guy Adami pointed out that no one's going to rush to the defense of higher prescription drug prices.

When oil gets to $70-$75, it’s going to start to hurt stocks (cont’d)

According to Judge on Thursday's Halftime Report, Paul Sankey said in a note he put a buy on CVX after conducting a "contest" between that name and XOM and CVX.

Chevron provided "a lot more disclosure," Sankey said, and "more importantly ... Exxon over the last 15 years has really been all about trying to develop Russia. And really through no fault of their own, that's gone quite badly wrong."

Sankey also praised CVX for cutting capex but to a level that still produces growth.

Pete Najarian questioned Rex Tillerson's interest in making acquisitions as a possible XOM catalyst. Sankey conceded it's an "opportune time" to make a deal but shrugged that it "tells you that they're short barrels. You know, Chevron doesn't need to buy anything."

Pete argued that at this time, whatever it buys, XOM is getting "as big a discount" as is possible in the last decade. Sankey said "oil people are very smart, and what's attractive is very expensive still," citing PXD.

Judge said "what jumps out" to him is that "everything has a buy" in Sankey's coverage except the "sell" on XOM, and Judge asked whether that's a statement on the dividend. Sankey insisted he sees no problem with the XOM dividend.

The panel questioned where the M&A is, but Josh Brown said the difference between XOM and CVX is that XOM is the risk-off crude play and CVX is the risk-on crude play, but the 2 stocks are highly correlated with "really no difference over the shorter term."

Pete Najarian said if oil's over 40, he wants to be in COP because of the "torque" in that name.

Was that Lulu, or Lula?

Steve Liesman on Thursday's Halftime Report said of Draghi, "He fired the bazooka 4 times and hit his mark. But he misfired on the 5th one."

That "5th one" according to Liesman occurred during the press conference, when Draghi said something about not anticipating a need to further reduce rates.

Judge suggested the "efficacy" of central bank policy is more doubted than at any other time in this cycle. Liesman said "that's possible."

Josh Brown said "what's weird" is that S&P futures fell, which "further, um, institutionalizes this new mind-set."

Jon Najarian said the DAX "screamed" up to 10,000 on Draghi's comments, then sharply pulled back.

Judge brought in Rebecca Patterson, who claimed "we are morphing into a new world" in which European and Japanese policymakers will have to settle for "stable" or "range-bound" currencies. "I think at the end of the day (Drink), this is not bad news."

"At the end of the day (Double Drink), the Fed is still diverging from these other central banks," Patterson added.

Pete seems to think all-day breakfast at Taco Bell is feasible

Pete Najarian on Thursday's Halftime Report really found it funny that Judge called on Josh Brown to talk about Taco Bell's breakfast.

Brown said YUM is "not even close" to being as far along in this endeavor as MCD and that breakfast is not a reason to buy YUM.

Joe Terranova said people don't think of Taco Bell for breakfast. Pete Najarian said he disagrees. "You're not thinking it only because they've never done it," Pete said.

Josh said he doesn't see Taco Bell's breakfast becoming as big as MCD's breakfast. "It doesn't have to become as big as McDonald's breakfast," Pete stated.

Joe scoffed at Taco Bell's breakfast becoming "all day." Pete bellowed, "Joe says that in jest, but it's like, 'What are you talking about,' that's exactly what McDonald's did."

Josh Brown suggested CMG will launch breakfast; "I hear it's gonna come with a tetanus shot."

Still waiting for that ‘cadence’ of new products from TWTR

Josh Brown on Thursday's Halftime Report questioned the compensation boost for TWTR staff; "I can't imagine that they're underpaid engineers as it is" and that this approach in Silicon Valley is "misguided."

Joe Terranova said he likes SQ at "10½-ish."

Pete Najarian gushed about DG and the "discount space."

Doc explained what EXPE was doing without saying whether to buy or sell the stock.

Pete said if he sells his position in gold miners, he'll "roll up" because he wants exposure.

[Wednesday, March 9, 2016]

Jim Lebenthal: ‘Can’t rule out’ Trump making nuke threats

Viewers of Wednesday's Halftime Report heard a stark assessment of international politics.

"What I'm worried about in particular, you guys know I'm ex-military, is foreign policy with Donald Trump," said Jim Lebenthal. "This is a guy who's prone to saying really off-the-cuff, off-the-wall remarks."

Lebenthal noted pronouncements from North Korea and asserted that for our presidency, "You really want the most, uh, serious person in that office to respond in a way that won't give the world the impression that maybe we're going to nuclear war."

"I can't rule that out," Lebenthal said.

Guest David Lafferty told Judge "it's a bit counterintuitive," but he thinks Hillary Clinton "brings far less uncertainty" to Wall Street than the "wild card" of the Donald Trump campaign.

Trump represents "far more volatility and far more uncertainty" than Clinton, Lafferty said.

But Stephen Weiss pointed to Tuesday night's elections and Wednesday's stock action and suggested the market was saying, "with basically no other news, that it prefers Trump."

Lafferty downplayed the significance of that and said "we're probably in more of a holding pattern waiting for the ECB."

Jon Najarian predicted Trump "goes more towards the middle" as the convention nears.

Jim Lebenthal said he hopes that's right but that "hope is not a strategy."

Jon Najarian insisted of Trump, "Overall he's a centrist."

Stephen Weiss said of Trump, "He's a smart guy, and that's what candidates do. You cater to the extremes, like Obama did, right. He catered to the extreme, and then he got the nomination then he catered to the center, and then went back to the extreme."

Weiss mocked Hillary Clinton's history in the futures market and recent speechmaking. "She outtraded Goldman, 2 speeches for a million 3," said Weiss.

Lafferty said financials have "far too good of a valuation to ignore."

Oil at $70-$75 (snicker)

Mike Santoli on Wednesday's Halftime Report addressed at "what price level" rising oil would hurt stocks.

Santoli suggested rising oil would "nudge" inflation indicators higher, which could prompt the Fed to get more aggressive, which "the stock market doesn't want to hear."

Steve Weiss pointed out that inflation wasn't an issue at 80 or 100 a barrel. Santoli said it's not about a "genuine" inflation scare but that market expectations move right with crude oil and that Fed watchers will see rising oil as giving "clearance" to Fed members who might want an "excuse" to hike.

Pete Najarian actually said oil at $70-$75 would hurt stocks.

Jim Lebenthal said oil will hurt stocks the "instant" companies start suggesting a headwind on earnings.

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis the gold run is "mostly over" and that he has exited 2/3 of his position and that he's fully out at 1,235.

But Scott Nations said the rally is "completely over" because of a "double key reversal."

"I think we'll be at 1,175 by the end of April," Nations said.

Pete Najarian disagreed with Nations and said everything in options activity "is telling us a completely different story."

Carcinogenic buys

Bonnie Herzog on Wednesday's Halftime Report said she did a "deep dive analysis" and "basically" arrived at PM as her new top stock pick. She also upped her price target on MO.

Jim Lebenthal questioned if Herzog is concerned about "so many forces aligned against smoking right now." Herzog said people have smoked for a very long time and that technology that reduces the risk for existing smokers is a "win win" for health and for manufacturers.

Herzog told Pete she still likes RAI, but "I've just switched up my batting order" to PM.

She said "there's some chance" that PM and MO "reunite."

Steve Weiss said he won't be involved in tobacco stocks "from a social standpoint." Jim Lebenthal agreed.

‘You can’t buy the market’

Jon Najarian opened Wednesday's Halftime Report without hesitation, telling Judge, "The bull market is not done."

Pete Najarian said he agrees but that it's "getting fatigued."

Stephen Weiss curiously said, "You can't look at, at markets anymore, the top line. I think those are driven by machines."

Judge asked why biotech hasn't come back yet. Pete Najarian said "because of the polic- politics that are going on right now on both sides in my opinion."

Jim Lebenthal said market participants have given up on the notion of a U.S. recession; "we are no longer talking about that."

Jim said the S&P 500 is at its level of 20 months ago. (Which around here evokes Joe's famous refrain of a "sideways correction.")

Lebenthal cautioned that "you have to be sector-specific going forward (sic last 2 words redundant)."

But Steve Weiss took that even further, stating, "You can't buy the market; you gotta buy individual stocks."

The panel struggled with the former Brazilian leader's name, "Lulu" or "Lula."

Doc: YHOO ‘rocks’

Jon Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime said someone bought "a million shares of stock in Yahoo (snicker)" and 30,000 puts.

"I think this stock rocks," Najarian said.

Doc said the "good news" about the latest CMG health report is that it wasn't customers getting sick, but employees. "It's not over yet for Chipotle," Doc said.

Jim Lebenthal said GIS has had a good run, "but it's time to get out."

Stephen Weiss said VRX is "not even cheap," and he'd "rather go elsewhere."

Pete Najarian said BUFF's forecast impressed the Street, and he thinks it "can go higher."

Pete said he bought into the XOP and plans to hold for a couple weeks.

Doc added DVN to his Halftime Portfolio.

Weiss predicted Draghi comes in "in line."

Doc said he likes SQ, in a "sweet spot," and BOX.

[Tuesday, March 8, 2016]

Weiss fails to adequately explain why he doesn’t understand Phil’s question

Phil LeBeau sat in with the Halftime Report gang on Tuesday to knock the UAL activism by Altimeter and PAR.

"There is a fight looming here," LeBeau said, noting Gordon Bethune told David Faber that "it's not about Oscar" but the "country club" board.

"Where have PAR and Altimeter been for the last 5 years???" LeBeau bellowed. "Where were they when Jeff Smisek was in charge of this company? ... And oh by the way, for Gordon Bethune to say, 'Well, in the dark of the night, they got rid of Jeff Smisek,' they didn't get rid of him in the dark of the night, they got rid of him after a federal investigation showed up that he was basically exchanging a route for um, what was- all the work that needed to be done at the Newark hub."

"They did get rid of him kinda like overnight," Judge said.

"But let's be clear here: Under Jeff Smisek, United Airlines really, really struggled relative to their competitors," LeBeau said.

LeBeau added, "My question is, where were you for the last 5 years."

"I don't really understand that question; I'll tell you where they were," said Stephen Weiss. "Altimeter has done very well as a hedge fund ... they were there making money ... PAR has a phenomenal reputation ... My point is, they go where they see the opportunities. So they didn't have to be there."

"Relative to their competitors, they were not doing as well," LeBeau insisted of UAL.

"I know, I'm not talking about United, I'm saying they found other opportunities to make money," Weiss said. "That's not their job to be the watchdog of the industry."

LeBeau, rightly unconvinced, asked again of the activists, "Why weren't you saying something 2 years ago, 3 years ago?"

Sarat Sethi said he doesn't disagree with LeBeau but thinks the issue is getting the UAL comps up to DAL, and what's important is "we have somebody watching the store to say, 'Margins should be up to where your competitors are. Why are you still flying routes that are unprofitable.'"

Sethi said the activists are playing "a little bit of a PR game."

"This is the perfect time" for the activists, said Pete Najarian.

LeBeau mostly seemed offended that Oscar Munoz hasn't been given a chance. Weiss was right to criticize LeBeau's question but he should've had a better response, presumably as Pete Najarian stated that this is more easy pickin's than it would've been a couple years ago, for example, scheduling USC now instead of in 2010.

Possibly limited sense of humor at Miller Tabak

Sarat Sethi on Tuesday's Halftime Report said he, like Stephanie Link, likes JWN; "we bought it at the end of last year, probably too early."

Joe Terranova said of JWN, "Buy it."

Pete Najarian exploded at the Miller Tabak sell JWN call, "What's the story with the premium valuation? I mean I'm looking at this thing trading, what, 15, 16, 17 times at the high end? I mean it- it- I don't agree with the call at all," Pete said, citing its "trifecta of great things."

"They are managing expenses better than anyone else," Joe said.

Alluding to Phil LeBeau's previous and unrelated gripe about PAR and Altimeter, Sarat Sethi cracked about the Miller Tabak analyst, "So I would say, Where was he when the stock was 70?"

Weiss joked, "He was flying in a United jet."

Evidently watching this previously teased segment but not realizing that the panel's "70" criticism was a dig at Phil LeBeau, Miller Tabak sent Judge a noted moments later stating, "Rick Snyder did tell people to sell the stock when it was at 70. He was just at another shop."

omg if you bought KMI when they CUT the dividend a while ago you woulda made gobs of money!!

Steve Weiss, skeptical, said on Tuesday's Halftime that the rally has been "massive short-covering" and noted a day after Jim Lebenthal that iron ore is rallying with no end in sight to the supply.

Pete Najarian said he agrees with Weiss that it has been a short-covering rally and "very very short term" in nature.

But Joe Terranova said he still sees "further upside" in oil and that he'd be wrong at 33½.

Joe said, "I still think the pain is above $40."

Sarat Sethi predicted a "temporary pause" in commodity stocks.

Judge and Weiss tangled over Judge's comment about short-covering figuratively having an expiration date.

Stephen Weiss said he owns some MLPs and finds some of them "way, way oversold."

Sarat Sethi said he likes the refiners, specifically VLO and MPC. But Weiss questioned if the "seasonal trade" isn't over and if long-only funds have been "hiding" their energy exposure in refiners and might transition into other things.

Judge mentioned Pete Najarian's newfound favorite stock, KMI (Drink), but at least Pete didn't mention it.

Joe pointed to banks with high-yield exposure, IBTX, TCBI, ZION, CFR, and suggested those are names to buy if there's "stabilization" in that space. But Weiss called that a "fool's rally."

Judge depicts steepening yield curve with a visual aid

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime said David Tepper told him that the Vivint-SunEdison breakdown is "probably a very good thing for Terraform."

Then Judge zipped right on to the next topic; apparently Weiss had nothing to add.

Josh Brown dialed in to say SHAK had a great quarter "by any objective measure" and said the issue is where does the stock belong (which is basically the question for every company mentioned on the program), maybe not 96 but maybe not 36 either. Brown said he's not "particularly perturbed" that guidance for the rest of the year is conservative.

Sarat Sethi, who ramped up his game on Tuesday, said you have to "wait some more" for a better buying level in SHAK.

Anthony Grisanti said he's not expecting a big move in the dollar after the ECB meeting and predicted it will be "range bound." Brian Stutland said to buy below 96 and sell above it.

Steve Weiss explained Goldman's rationale for downgrading AN and said he doesn't like the auto industry.

Pete Najarian said not to chase URBN.

Joe said to keep an eye on SAM and watch for possible "overwhelming negative sentiment" that "bottoms (sic verb) the stock."

Jon Najarian called in say FIT call-buying has accelerated recently. Judge shrugged that he read something about "wild speculation" of M&A.

"There's rumors about that," Doc conceded, revealing he bought April 13 calls.

Pete said FIT speculation is not "completely ridiculous" because of its "relatively reasonable sort of a valuation level."

Weiss admitted, "Citi, I'm lookin' to get out frankly at around 50." He questioned the selling of C on Gerspach's comments because "that was already in the market."

Sarat Sethi dropped BWA from his Halftime Portfolio in favor of HAR.

Stephen Weiss said in the hedge fund space, "2/3 of all equity exposure is now in the U.S.," the highest concentration since 2007.

[Monday, March 7, 2016]

‘Tradeable and roll-uppable’

Joe Terranova contended on Monday's Halftime Report, "This is a massive, short-covering rally," then clumsily said it's about 2 questions, whether the bottom is in (that part wasn't clumsy but the qualification of "exogenous event" was) and where do we go from here (which is the question at every moment of every program), which Joe said is "higher" thanks to the "Goldilocks formation" of central banks.

Jim Lebenthal said he disagrees because "we haven't solved any of the fundamental issues in the commodity space."

"Who cares," Joe said.

"Eventually everybody cares, Joe," Jim said.

But Joe insisted short-covering is "accelerating."

Mary Ann Bartels said she's watching 38 on WTI but asserted that the "long-term major downtrend" for commodities hasn't been broken.

Pete Najarian gushed about how much COP is up since cutting the dividend and how KMI (Drink Drink Drink) did the same. Pete said his disclosures list (snicker) consists of "names that are absolute trash names!"

Jim Lebenthal noted the spike in iron ore and said "you can't sustain that sort of move" and added that the oversupply is "terrible."

Pete said FXI and EEM were hopping in the options space.

Pete called the rally "tradeable and roll-uppable."

Joe suggested that if you've been riding CXO since 80 or 85, "you're a seller, 100 to 105, half the position."

Bartels: ‘Terrible rally’

While some (namely Joe, and halfheartedly Pete) were endorsing the trash rally on Monday's Halftime, Mary Ann Bartels, in chic outfit, was playing Debbie Downer.

"From a technical standpoint, this is a terrible rally," said Bartels. "I think it's too early to celebrate."

Bartels said if the S&P breaks 2,020, then expect a run to 2,050, but "this is a lot of overhead to get through."

Analysts are still taking down their numbers, Bartels contended.

But Bartels observed that consumer staples are breaking out to record highs.

Bartels decried the "old leadership" of the "significantly broken" energy and materials sectors.

Jim Iuorio said if the euro breaks below 1.09, that would hurt copper, otherwise it's a "green light." Jeff Kilburg said he doesn't think copper is overbought and predicted China will restrict supply, so look for the October high of 2.42.

Pacific Crest knocked AAPL from $132 to $127

On Monday's Halftime Report, Pete Najarian trumpeted JWN because of its Rack exposure and ecommerce (he didn't say "omnichannel"). Stephanie Link said she likes it because it's a "best in class retailer" and even twice suggested it might even be able to "monetize" its real estate (snicker).

Speaking of realty, Pete Najarian touted MCD, not just all-day breakfast (Drink) but the real-estate angle and the "restructuring" of the drive-thru.

Mary Ann Bartels says consumers are reaping a windfall from lower gasoline, and "where they're spending is in the restaurants," which is different than Brian Sullivan's 6-month-old 9-month-old contention that it's all being spent on convenience-store cigarettes.

Jon Najarian said he still owns LVS and WYNN for clients but he sold out of MGM for his Halftime Portfolio. He said he added IR, in part because "these guys present" at a JPM conference Tuesday.

In a strange dialogue, Judge said "Pacific Crest has cut Apple's price target." Then Jim Lebenthal curiously said the headline could easily be, "You have a 25% uh increase to their target." Judge never clarified.

Jim and Judge also bickered over whether SHAK has been doing well or not. (Depends on whether you're talking about 1 month, or longer.)

The gang said "meh" to the stalled FANGs, though Pete Najarian suggested maybe caution in NFLX is well-placed. (This writer is long AMZN.)

Joe Terranova shrugged at DNKN and suggested it works long term and predicted SONC, WEN and JACK "return once again," then touted YUM and DPZ.

Pete Najarian thinks UAL has "plenty of room to the upside."

Jim Lebenthal said ESPN is fully priced in and you should own DIS.

Joe said he'd start taking profits in YHOO.

Mary Ann Bartels hung a $1,400 on gold.

Joe said DRAM production needs to be cut to help MU and that he wouldn't touch the stock. Pete Najarian said he prefers AAPL and CRUS to MU.

Judge aired a clip of Cramer's WYNN bull call. Pete said WYNN is benefiting in Macau by "relaxing a little bit on some of the bans that they've had in the past, including smoking" and visas.

Mary Ann Bartels said she likes the banks "from a very very long-term perspective."

Pete Najarian said there was very aggressive buying in April 50 HOG calls.

Pete said DKS "always seem to blame something about Golf Galaxy or something in their earnings call."

Pete Najarian referred to "some of the stories that are coming out" about Peyton Manning.

[Friday, March 4, 2016]

Brazil for growth; who knew

A monster year — in 1 week.

But mostly on Friday's Fast Money, viewers only heard about the great trades that already worked, not the great ones that haven't happened yet.

Josh Brown said this is the strongest 15-day run for stocks since 2011.

Pete Najarian conceded that FCX, which he said he thought was going to zero, had rebounded with the price of copper and by selling some assets.

Jon Najarian gushed about how much some "trash" and non-trash energy names had been rocketing.

Jim Lebenthal said "you have to be selective" in the stocks that are playing catch-up.

Later in the program, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reported on Brazil's latest controversy, the Lula investigation, and white-hot Brazilian stocks. Doc said he bought EWZ and PBR.

Eddie Perkin said there are "a lot of signs" that the economy's in better shape than people were thinking, so he wants cyclical exposure.

For value plays, Perkin likes UTX, TGT and USB.

Pete Najarian said that "at some point in time (sic last 2 words redundant)," there will be M&A in the energy space.

But Pete said he's "leaning more and more towards great assets that are out there rather than whole companies," citing FCX as "the best example," but we're not really sure what that means for stocks.

Pete said someone sold out of the XME "May" (sic) 16 calls and moved up to the "March" (sic) 19.50 calls.

Josh Brown pointed to a ray of light in DE, "a Class A business, uh, in a really tough sector."

Ridiculous O.J. story is getting traction, possibly because of screen words such as these that (so far) overstate the story

Jeff Kilburg on Friday's Halftime Report said this is "the best start in gold since 1980" and predicted a boost from the ECB.

Anthony Grisanti said if he were long gold, he'd stay long, but he wouldn't buy now, he'd wait for a dip to 1,240 or 1,250.

Josh Brown said he's not sure March was ever off the table for the Fed.

"We don't even know what data they're lookin' at anymore Josh," rebutted Pete Najarian.

CNBC's Eric Chemi reported that FB is in the top 20 of institutional ownership, up to 16th from 35th a year ago.

Jim Lebenthal said FB has been "unfairly" lumped in with the FANGs because the other FANGs are high multiple and FB is "not that expensive anymore."

Lebenthal doesn't like JPM's bull call on LNG. Pete Najarian said LNG needs to sell some assets to reduce debt, and then maybe it can go higher.

Doc said he loves CRM, then mentioned other great recent trades in the past tense such as DIS and DATA.

Jim Lebenthal said JCP is still in his personal and client portfolios, but he did remove it from his Halftime Portfolio. He added AAPL to the Halftime Portfolio. Doc said, "I bought it today as well," because someone was buying June 115 calls.

Josh Brown said he doesn't understand the AMBA shareholder base and has "no interest" in the stock.

Pete Najarian explained why AMC bought Carmike theaters but didn't explain whether to buy or sell either stock.

Doc explained why HPE was higher but didn't explain whether to buy or sell the stock.

Jim Lebenthal said you have to be "nimble" if trading NMBL.

Sue Herera reported on the ridiculous knife that purportedly was found sometime in the last 18 years at the site where O.J. Simpson once had a home.

[Thursday, March 3, 2016]

Aubrey McClendon, 1959-2016

It is not a surprise that Aubrey McClendon was a popular person around CNBC circles.

He was a newsmaker often — or always — willing to share his thoughts, or even investments (see below), with CNBC hosts, reporters and panelists.

McClendon apparently was so willing to talk, Jim Cramer even said on Wednesday that there were times he had to tell himself, "Just don't put him on."

Strictly from observing news accounts over several years, this page has had reason to view McClendon with skepticism — before he was ever indicted.

His business dealings seem similar to other notable entrepreneurs (who won't be named here because not many have faced charges) who built empires that thrived when times were good, then left a mess when the tide went out.

Some cases are a reach, even frivolous. Whether the indictment against McClendon, if true, represents a run-of-the-mill business breach, or serious offense against society, is difficult to determine.

The post-death dialogue in the business community seems tilted toward the former. We understand that people in business media have reason to like McClendon, and if he were a friend of ours, we'd surely be standing up for him also.

Aubrey McClendon tried to recruit Weiss into Haynesville investment a couple weeks ago

Stephen Weiss revealed on Thursday's Halftime Report that he — like apparently everyone else at CNBC — was recently in touch with Aubrey McClendon.

"A couple of weeks ago, uh, I got- I was emailing with Aubrey and he asked if uh if we would be interested in investing in, in a lease bank, in, in uh Haynesville and SCOOP (sic we had to look that up) in Oklahoma, 25 to 50 million dollar size," Weiss said. "We don't do direct investing, but clearly he was working on another deal."

One wonders what happens to the money of someone who invested with McClendon just recently.

Weiss explained that McClendon was "one of the chapters of my first book" and was apparently contacted by Weiss but didn't want to be in it.

Weiss said he told McClendon, "'I'm not asking if you wanna be in it or not; I'm asking if you want to cooperate.' And he wound up cooperating and was like an English teacher, correct all the punctuation, too much so." (Note to page; Weiss apparently doesn't like overly correct grammar.)

"I think he really is to energy what Steve Jobs was to iPhones, to phones, to technology," Weiss said, before casting doubt on what has to be the overwhelming theory of McClendon's death.

"Look, I don't know what caused the crash. But I would doubt somebody that was that close to the edge all the time and just stared financial death down so many times would do anything to himself," Weiss said, calling McClendon "the nicest guy, pure gentleman."

Judge brought in the WSJ's Greg Zuckerman, who slightly differed with Weiss, stating, "I do think he was a pioneer, he was an architect, he didn't care about shareholder value quite as much as, uh, Steve Jobs did."

Crediting McClendon "in part" for the abundance of gas and oil in America now, Zuckerman asserted, "He probably should've run a private company from the get-go." (Perhaps. But quite frankly, he wanted to be as wealthy as possible, which seems to be the crux of his problems.)

"He was gung-ho on America," Zuckerman said. "He hardly had ever left the country."

Zuckerman said too often characters are made black or white. "I'm a big believer in gray characters, and he was a real gray character," Zuckerman said.

Judge at least once on the program referred to McClendon's death as a "car accident." Is anyone sure this was an accident?

In overbilling a news report, Scott Cohn claimed there was a witness to McClendon's crash, but when they played the 911 tape, it was clear the guy barely saw anything.

Doc offended by Mitt’s ‘terrible act,’ insists Romney is not play by play

Well, viewers wondering who Jon Najarian might be voting for in November were possibly given a hint on Thursday's Halftime Report.

Najarian called Mitt Romney a "sore loser" and a person with a "short list" of positives.

"I think this was just a terrible act that he did because somebody else has got the spotlight," Najarian said.

"I disagree with that completely," said Stephen Weiss, lauding Romney's speech. "I don't think those are his interests ... there's no hope for getting the spotlight back ... he didn't go after anybody else."

Weiss added, "I think he's coming out as somebody that's responsible in the party, pointing out a lot of policies. The only thing I was surprised about was that he could actually point to policies, because I'm not aware that Trump's put any out there."

Weiss also called Trump's handling of the David Duke situation a "travesty."

Doc bellowed, "If this was a football player Steve and he retired from the game and then he comes out and criticizes the guy ... that is winning..."

"So you're calling Phil Simms and every other sportcaster a putz?" Weiss asked.

"No no, I'm not," Doc insisted. "They don't do that. Most of them don't do what he's doing to Donald Trump-"

"Every time somebody throws a bad pass, that was a terrible pass," Weiss said.

"That's play by play vs. criticism," Najarian said.

"He's play by play," Weiss said.

"No he's not play by play!" Doc said. "And he hasn't been involved at all in any of this, Mr. Romney that is, and all of a sudden he comes out because the party says we don't like Donald Trump, uh, the establishment guys are worried about holding onto power, that's what this is all about."

"He does not want to see Trump in the White House," Weiss concluded.

Mike Mayo: Bank bears
making ‘epic’ mistake

Bill Gross made a provocative call on banks, but Thursday's Halftime crew was having none of it.

"He's right in his thesis; he's wrong on the entry point," said Stephen Weiss.

Jon Najarian said it's "easy" to side with Jamie Dimon's buy-banks call over Gross' sell call, saying the selling should've been done months ago but not now. "You don't sell at that level; you buy," Doc said.

Pete Najarian said Jamie Dimon and Steve Wynn are the insider buys to watch. Pete said Gross' premise is "negative rates," and if you believe that, then Gross' call is "probably right."

But Pete said, "Janet Yellen doesn't even know if it's legal."

Joe Terranova said, "There's an expression — money talks, and you know what the rest of it is. And Jamie Dimon very silently pushed the button and bought a tremendous amount of JPMorgan stock. What Bill Gross is saying is off-base. ... Negative rates in the U.S. are not happening ... no chance for that."

Joe added a curious analogy. "Think about where technology was, 2000-2001. Poster child. Anybody want to buy technology stocks in '03, '04, '05. Left for dead. Where are they now?" Joe asked. "Same thing for financial institution (sic singular). Time heals all. They will be fine. They are a buy."

Well, to be honest, a lot of those names "left for dead" as a matter of fact are still rather dormant. AOL, Dell Computer, Yahoo, Exodus, Flextronics, Nokia, even CSCO and INTC.

Mike Mayo called in to say what Judge had already read in an email, "I think this is an epic disconnect between the negative sentiment on bank stocks and the fundamentals."

Mayo added a bit of wishful thinking. "The banking industry is like a coiled spring that's waiting to uncoil on the first sign of higher rates, higher oil, higher stocks, higher capital market activity."

Mayo added, "We have a free call option on higher rates, higher oil, higher stock market or higher capital market activity."

Yes, and C was a free call option on all of those things about $10 ago.

Stephen Weiss suggested Gross maybe should've "confined" his comments to the European banks.

Doc revealed another awesome trade that's too late for viewers now, stating he bought "cocos" on DB and other banks in Europe. "They're already up 25%; wish I'd bought a lot more," Doc said.

DIS, better than VIAB

Judge on Thursday's Halftime began with Piper Jaffray's Stan Meyers by asking why Meyers upgraded DIS with a 120 target when he's had a neutral rating since 2009.

Meyers said the company is "entering a very new growth stage," shifting from ESPN and "towards the core," which is the studio, which he expects to grow 12% over the next 3 years, up from 8%.

Meyers said ESPN subs are declining, not because of cord-cutting but "skinny bundles."

Stephen Weiss asked a good question, how much of the 12% studio growth is from new movies and how much from the library.

Meyers said, "Library, is, is, less than 30%. It's not a growth, it's sort of maintenance ... more importantly is the leverage. By 2000- by fiscal 2018, we believe they're gonna dominate, they're gonna take home 25% of domestic box office."

Joe: Buy KR

Stephen Weiss said on Thursday's Halftime Report, "I wouldn't go near" HLF, "it's unanalyzable."

Doc said HLF had 3 times normal put activity a day ago.

Pete Najarian questioned the restatement of HLF's new or active member growth. "They're the ones who created it; how did they screw it up this bad," Pete said.

Pete said COST's multiple is "a little bit high."

Stephen Weiss said he wouldn't rush out to buy INTC, but there's not much downside.

Doc said LB numbers were "right in line."

Joe said to buy KR on the "overreaction."

Hardeep Walia said rental REITs are a good way to play millennials, as is social media and ecommerce; "they spend more money online than any other generation." Also Walia included GPRO in the Millennial Motif because "48% of wearables are consumed by millennials."

Pete Najarian said June 32 calls in GM were popular, and he put it in his Halftime Portfolio. Joe noted SCHW has been going up all week, but Pete said there hasn't been any additional options activity in that name.

[Wednesday, March 2, 2016]

Scott Cohn reports Aubrey McClendon is ‘fighting back hard’ hours after McClendon died

In an unfortunate instance of bad timing, CNBC's Scott Wapner brought in correspondent Scott Cohn to Wednesday's Halftime Report, which airs noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time, to explain the legal situation of Aubrey McClendon, who it was later learned apparently passed away around 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Cohn noted that the indictment indicated an unnamed co-conspirator and suggested perhaps it could involve Sandridge but that it was not known who that party was, before concluding the report.

"In the meantime, Aubrey McClendon is fighting back, as you might expect characteristically, and fighting back hard," Cohn said of a man who had driven into a wall a couple of hours earlier.

Judge finds Andrew Left’s statements on VRX far more newsworthy than his statements on TSLA

The star guest of Wednesday's Halftime Report proved again to be Andrew Left, the provocative short seller who is expressing skepticism of Tesla.

Previously, "I completely underestimated the momentum of the stock, the fanaticism behind the stock with the car, uh, the research that came out of Wall Street over the past two years," Left told Judge, who has established a quality rapport with the Citron chief.

Left said he was motivated to short TSLA by indications the stock was rising with oil; "I said no, 'This is just wrong,'" and he thought it would be a "great time" to re-establish a short position.

Left asserted "Tesla speaks very closely with the analysts that cover the stock" and called Adam Jonas "a complete table-pounder on the stock" who nevertheless arrived at lower numbers than the company.

Offering a shout-out to the digital team, Left said, "On the CNBC website, I gave a plug to the website right there if you went, you would see, a story put out just 1 hour ago had uh talked about competing technologies from ARPA, a division of the DOE that discussed Tesla technology as saying that it's outdated technology."

But Left didn't offer any exclusive research or anything convincing, in fact sounding like his flat-as-a-pancake Mallinckrodt case in November, and Judge seemed more interested in discussing VRX.

"I don't have a position in Valeant right now," said Left, who wouldn't tell Judge when he covered. "Oh come on, I don't like to talk about my trading, especially in Valeant."

Left called VRX "uninvestable."

Judge asked how Left might be fitting in with an SEC inquiry of VRX. "Everything that I wrote was quite transparent. Uh yes, I've shared information with the SEC. Uh, I really don't want to go any farther beyond that. Um, obviously I don't have a lawyer next to me right now to discuss that," Left said.

Judge also asked Left, "Do you still stand by your question of is this the next pharmaceutical Enron?"

Left responded, "Enron was the creation of off-balance-sheet vehicles in order to alter financial statements. But then I put a 50 price target. If I ever thought this was gonna be a bankruptcy like Enron, the price target would obviously be zero, OK. But I never said that."

Jon Najarian said Left's "don't-touch statement" on VRX is "pretty accurate."

XOM should buy shares of FB or GOOG, not a decrepit, flailing energy producer

XOM watcher Doug Terreson sat in with Wednesday's Halftime Report to provide a real-time update of Rex Tillerson's presentation.

Terreson said "probably the most interesting part of the meeting today" was questions about XOM's cash hoard. "We think that acquisitions may be forthcoming," Terreson said.

The funny thing about that is that moments earlier in the program, Josh Brown said XOM doesn't "have a great history of making big acquisitions."

Jon Najarian even took that further, suggesting XOM could do a form of dollar-cost averaging with cheap stuff now to dilute the XTO debacle.

"Being able to basically spread that out a little bit and buy several companies down here on this very significant dip I think makes all the sense in the world," said Doc.

So let's analyze that for a moment.

If an airline drastically overpays for a fleet of jets that are going to fetch a series of lower and lower ticket prices ... and then buys another fleet of jets at 1/10th the price of the first disastrous order ... it's coming out ahead?

Back to Terreson's appearance. Josh Brown asked if it was "ironic" that activists have urged the oil majors to ditch "midstream" and refinery assets while those would've offset today's production problems. "Were the activists wrong?" Brown wondered.

Terreson curiously said, "Well no the experts (sic unclear if he meant "activists") weren't wrong" and said the refining and marketing business is only 10-15% of big oil companies.

Jon Najarian, apparently with nothing to add this time about past trades in which if you bought when XOM was 68 when Rex Tillerson purportedly did and you sold around 80 that you would've made a profit, asked Terreson if it was "odd" that Moody's chose "now or just days ago" to downgrade XOM from stable to negative.

Terreson said "the timing was interesting" but that Moody's had suggested this was coming with "a lot of the different companies in the industry."

Outdueled by Pete Najarian on this subject (but Pete didn't mention this Wednesday), Terreson admitted, "We didn't think that ConocoPhillips was gonna cut the dividend. We were wrong about that," explaining he's recommending the supermajors because "those dividends are safe."

The ‘Jackie D bottom’

Pete Najarian opened Wednesdays' Halftime saying that if 26 isn't the bottom in crude, "we've come very very close to what I would perceive to be the bottom."

Perceive to be the bottom?

Guest John Spallanzani referred to the "Jackie D bottom" but stumbled over the description, which was unintelligible, of what that is, though presumably it involves something Jackie DeAngelis did or said on Futures Now.

Jon Najarian said "trading sideways is a good thing" for oil.

Andy Lipow predicted "we'll hear the word 'freeze' for the next several months."

"This week's stats were just terrible for the oil market, another 10-million-barrel build, so I still think that we could go down another 3 or 4 dollars before we kinda make that substantial move to the upside," Lipow said.

Josh Brown said "the equities act better than the commodity" in the oil space and pointed to "higher lows" in the XLE and even singled out Rex Tillerson's company.

John Spallanzani said "there is healing" in the space.

Meanwhile, Pete Najarian said American Express is still in decline while MA is "exploding globally."

Doc said "I think you're early on AAPL" but would buy UNH, MA and ALLY.

Leigh Drogen of Estimize explained an intriguing app game in which users are handed a list of stocks and must rank them for the week.

Drogen said "the sell side publishes ratings in buy-sell-hold, which has no actual meaning ... and that data set is basically worthless."

Josh Brown called the app a "great entryway" for "young people."

But Judge concluded, "I do have somebody emailing me right now that says, 'If this is not a sign of a bubble, I don't know what is.'"

[Tuesday, March 1, 2016]

Halftime panelists don’t mind raining on whistleblower parades

The check is ... sorta in the mail.

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime Report introduced Nanex CEO Eric Hunsader as "receiving a $750,000 whistleblower award from the SEC" for apparently flagging NYSE microsecond disparities in timestamps.

But "receiving" is perhaps a microsecond or more premature.

Hunsader said he was notified of his award last June.

But he hasn't seen it yet.

"I think it's being wired any day now," he told Judge. (That is, unless Hillary tweets about it.)

"So literally (sic), almost as we speak," Judge suggested, as though "any day now" actually means seconds or minutes before or after the conversation.

But whenever the money literally arrives, Hunsader apparently won't get to keep 100% of it, given his answer to Judge's question about whether he'll owe taxes on it.

"Oh yeah, sure, yeah," Hunsader said.

Judge pinned that one on the crew. "Those were some questions here, um, on- on the desk about that," Judge revealed.

Hunsader wasn't lamenting that in the slightest but in fact taking victory laps. "Sorry about that, NYSE," he crowed.

Hunsader said he found "distinct delay of hundreds of milliseconds" in the NYSE direct feed timestamps vs. what the public sees.

Josh Brown asked Hunsader if long-term investors need to worry about milliseconds' effect on the markets; "aren't they always rigged to some degree?"

"Oh yeah. ... Yeah, sure. They're always rigged," Hunsader said, but he advised retail investors to "demand microsecond resolution time stamps on all your trades. And then you can check up and see if you truly got the best price."

He also urged everyone to read Page 16 of Reg NMS.

Najarians launch
wealth-management firm

It was big news on the entrepreneurial front. (As opposed to just opining about stocks on television.)

Judge on Tuesday's Halftime revealed that Pete Najarian and Jon Najarian have a "new company name."

"We are no longer part of OptionMonster media," Pete explained. "And now we are Najarian Family Offices as well as Najarian Advisory Group. One of which is private wealth management, and the other one is advisory on option strategies."

Indeed. We checked out the Najarian Family Offices website and the bios. (Unfortunately, we couldn't help but find at least one mistake in the first line of Doc's bio, which is missing an "a.")

While this page might note panelists' official firms from time to time (actually we hardly ever mention them) and occasionally offer a wisecrack, we wish the Najarians the best in their new endeavors.

Everybody & his or her brother on Fast Money thinks S&P will fail at 2,025

It was practically unanimous.

Fresh off a roaring day of trading Tuesday, the gang on the 5 p.m. Fast Money seemed to think the party's about over.

"I think we will fail at 2,025," said Guy Adami, who was backed by Grandpa Dan "To Me" Nathan.

Nathan grumbled that sentiment has gotten "overly complacent." (Translation: Every day the S&P is not down 30 points, people are getting it wrong.)

Even Karen Finerman was expressing skepticism. "I feel like this rally is kinda long in the tooth," Finerman said. "So we bought some S&P puts today."

Pete Najarian (yes he was on the 5 p.m. show as well as Halftime) said the only thing that bothered him about the rally was "low volume."

On the Halftime show, in what was an opening free-for-all that really arrived at zero suggestions for actual trading, Pete said, "We've gotta have the financials" to drive the stock market higher.

Moments later, Pete said he's not so sure he'd agree with the notion that "the worst is over."

Josh Brown suggested transports as the sector to watch. Steph Link said it's "encouraging" to see the transports leading.

Joe said the financials have reflected "none of the above being the best candidate."

"It's almost like Goldilocks is back again," Joe observed.

Dan Nathan may be concerned about exuberance, but Judge revealed at Halftime, "I still hear people coming on the- the network saying we're going down to 1,600 on the S&P."

Marco Rubio finally wins a primary, breaks tie with Jeb

It was sorta Round 2 of Judge's newfound interest in the presidential race.

Stephanie Link on Tuesday's Halftime Report said if you think Hillary will be president, "you can't" buy stock in a drug company.

But Josh Brown predicted Hillary will "lighten up" a bit when she's done battling the "Marxists" in the primary because she's not exactly committed to what she's saying.

"This is about, 'What do I need to say to outflank Bernie to the left of me,'" Brown said.

Pete Najarian said the problem with anti-drugmaker rhetoric is, "Innovation stops."

But Judge seemed alarmed by the nonchalance toward Hillary's politicking. "I think you guys are just way off base in thinking that these ads are just gonna disappear once she gets the nomination," Judge said. "A mere tweet sank the sector!" (Drink)

Steph Link alarmed Josh Brown by calling Trump "more pro-growth" than Hillary Clinton, whom she sees as no different than Barack Obama. "She's gonna be status quo. She's gonna be exactly what he is," Link said.

Kevin O’Leary never said if he waits for Rex Tillerson’s signal to buy XOM

Stephanie Link on Tuesday's Halftime said she's been buying AAPL, because it's cheap and because there's a "cash event" coming up and the iPhone 7 will be "great" in the 2nd half.

Judge said he could've made all of those arguments 6 months ago. But Link insisted, "You're past the bad quarter; you're past the bad guidance."

Joe Terranova said the "opportunity" is there for a pullback in AAPL because of the "negativity" in the "mishandled" FBI situation, "but I don't think you're gonna get hurt."

Jim Iuorio said he's "90% sure it was James Bullard," but "whatever it was" from the Fed offered "some dovish rhetoric" on CNBC last week, which means the central bank doesn't think it can tighten, and if so, the dollar doesn't rally, "and gold becomes the buy."

Anthony Grisanti agreed that "gold still has room to the upside."

Josh Brown scoffed, "Gold is not telling us anything."

Pete Najarian said he has GDX exposure and has sold into the rally but is holding onto "more than 50%" of the original trade.

Pete said UAL April 62.50 calls were popular.

Stephanie Link said the auto stocks have "corrected enough," but, "I would focus on the auto parts (Drink) though."

Stephanie Link called GPRO a "no-touch" right now.

"They need a new product," said Joe.

Josh Brown asserted, "It's actually worse than that ... they need people to have a reason to go buy it" or upgrade to a new one, "especially if it's sitting in a drawer (Drink), as I suspect many of them are."

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