[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive — May 2015]
[Friday, May 29, 2015]

Yet another person on CNBC starts to be tough on Dick Fuld, then backs off

It's really not that surprising that Dick Fuld has not declared his own responsibility for the fall of Lehman Brothers.

Because experts on CNBC don't even seem sure what he's responsible for.

As such, maybe Judge needs to reframe his questions.

Celebrated banking analyst Mike Mayo on Friday's Halftime Report took a crack at Dick's speech, starting off with what Mayo perceived as a grievous omission.

"2 words were missing: I'm sorry," Mayo said.

In a new twist on this subject, Mayo even contended that "his comments might've made next year's Fed stress test that much harder."

Then Judge asked, "Was it Dick Fuld's fault that Lehman went under?"

That's when the sugarcoating commenced, as Mayo responded, "There were many chefs in the crisis kitchen. Dick Fuld was one of those chefs."

"Well was he the executive chef or the sous chef?" Judge demanded, a strange question given that Fuld was CEO of the firm.

Mayo assured that Fuld was responsible for ... something ... because he used to declare himself "the chief risk officer."

This has become an intriguing psychological curiosity.

Dick Fuld — based on his statements and lack thereof — views himself a victim.

The government implicitly agrees; it didn't charge him with anything.

He surely commiserates with other executives of the era, and the conversations likely go like this: "The Fed and Fannie created the housing bubble ... the media egged on the short sellers ... what Bear did was a lot worse ... we weren't the politically correct firm ... Congress wanted to make an example of us ..."

CNBC folks express the notion that Dick really does regret whatever he did or didn't do.

This chap likely thinks of himself as though he were one of the post-9/11 airline CEOs or today's coal CEOs.

And a lot of CNBC folks seem to agree with those sentiments also.

If so, what's he got to apologize for?

Mike Mayo apparently misunderstands Josh’s question; answer contradicts itself

Mike Mayo on Friday's Halftime Report contended that "Jamie Dimon's comments were ludicrous."

Mayo said U.S. board directors get voted out only 1/10th of 1% of the time, "so if anything, these proxy advisory firms aren't tough enough."

Josh Brown asked Mayo if JPM would "be in the same condition it's in now if they had a different CEO?"

Mayo first answered, "I think so," which would mean Dimon adds no value, before stating, "Jamie Dimon has made a difference for JPMorgan."

Jim Lebenthal said he can read and act accordingly on 20 proxies a year, but not 60 proxies a year.

Nothing revved up CNBC buy recommendations for KORS like a new 52-week low

Jon Najarian on Friday's Halftime Report revealed he bought KORS stock and bought puts but lamented how many retail stocks are struggling this year.

Allen Questrom said KORS has "an oversupply, uh, which they created themselves." (Makes you wonder how Dick Fuld would've run a clothing retailer.)

Questrom indicated he doesn't like KORS' chances of watch gains because people will either get an "iWatch" (sic) or just use their iPhone for the time.

But he thinks there are capable managers at KORS and it's still a great company; "this is not the same as an Abercrombie," he asserted.

Jim Lebenthal, using dubious falling-knife logic, said "after a 50% drop in a year, unless Kors is going out of business, I think you gotta buy it here."

Questrom wasn't as bullish on JCP as Jim Lebenthal was, suggesting Penney still has an uphill climb to regain the lost shoppers of the last few years, but, "I would not count them out of the picture."

Jim Lebenthal said he prefers TIF over the fashion plays such as KORS, KATE or COH. He hung a $9 on JCP.

Doc: Go all in on a Grexit

Keith Banks on Friday's Halftime Report forecast 2,200 year-end on the S&P and said any summer setback will be "nothing more than a pullback."

Banks said it's been a "joyless" bull market.

Josh Brown said "June could be rocky," but if so, it's not that big of a deal.

Jim Lebenthal said transports "are coming into buy territory" and pointed out NSC is trading about the same price he sold it at in January 2014.

"This is a stock-picker's market" (Drink), Lebenthal said.

Lebenthal suggested September as the most likely time for a Fed hike.

Doc said he's maybe 20% in cash but he'd go "all in" on a Greek exit, "because I think then Draghi floods the market with liquidity."

Not sure if the MCD menu got any less complicated today

Kate Moore evidently has a big weekend planned, implicitly invoking Bob Seger while stating on Friday's Halftime Report that she's going to be watching Japan's opening on Sunday (that would be "night moves").

Moore said she's still not touching energy stocks.

Josh Brown has had a recent Halftime Portfolio winner in SIRO.

Doc told Judge he's still got Accuray because "I do still believe it's a takeout candidate."

CNBC evidently is back in real estate mode, but at least the Diana Olick feature didn't involve guessing which home is in the Hamptons and which is in Wisconsin.

Judge said that based on a note he read that Josh thinks housing is about to go "ballistic" (as though Josh couldn't have just told him that opinion while sitting across from him for an hour).

Doc said he bought Aria ahead of the ASCO conference.

[Thursday, May 28, 2015]

‘Please continue to eat’

Dick Fuld, at least in his opening speech remarks during Thursday's Halftime Report, made the case for nothing except his own lack of a sense of humor.

But he didn't need to defend himself, given that many of the panelists on CNBC's Halftime Report and Fast Money spent the day inexplicably doing that for him.

The shoddy acoustics, lighting and angle of the broadcast — likely not CNBC's fault — were bad enough, but worse was the implication that viewers were getting a relevant speech and business "exclusive" when in fact it was only 9 minutes of clanging dirty dishes and introductory chatter.

This fellow, an undeniably dubious figure who has made virtually no argument to the contrary, before he delivered the speech at all actually had the audacity to scold some poor bloke who must've been asking him to get closer to the microphone, stating "I haven't started yet ... Actually if I got any closer to it, I'd swallow it."

Shortly into his presentation, he sarcastically told his audience, "Please continue to eat. My children always ate all the time when I was talking, so I'm used to this."

Some folks were actually heard laughing.

What viewers got from the script was Fuld praising his original bosses; "these gentlemen knew what it meant when they said 'I am your banker,'" before actually stressing that owning Lehman stock made the firm stronger.

"My people — and I will tell you that all of our employees, one way or another, owned stock. For those over a certain level, part of their compensation was in stock. For those that couldn't afford it, we gave them stock. ... I had 27,000 risk managers, because they all owned a piece of the firm," Fuld said.

27,000 risk managers ... and it went bankrupt.

What does that say about stock ownership?

Shortly after, CNBC's cameraman apparently got the hook, resulting in the image above.

Halftime host Scott Wapner originally only promised "some of his remarks live" but later revealed that "We clearly wanted to bring all of you, uh, these remarks, uh in their entirety, um, but the organizers of the conference, um, would not let us do that."

Honestly, that's Fuld's fault — or, if you prefer, chicanery. He knows the interest in this speech. He should've told the conference to allow a complete broadcast; he has that much leverage.

That a camera was allowed for 9 minutes during the Golden-Values-of-Lehman portion of the speech indicates Fuld was manipulating the media into putting his best foot forward.

Yet, CNBC apparently knew this was going to happen and went along for the ride. "We only caught the beginning of this and it's almost too difficult to judge because we were cut off in the middle as, as I think we all knew might happen," reported Andrew Ross Sorkin, who notably wasn't at the speech even though Kate Kelly was.

Giving Fuld's stage management a free pass, Sorkin said "it's almost too difficult to judge" Dick's speech and speculated that he was going to say that the financial crisis "was the perfect storm."

According to the New York Times account, Fuld not only mentioned that but painted himself as a permanent underdog, a "Rocky"-type figure still loved by his mom.

Yet, rather than express serious skepticism over these proceedings, many CNBC panelists on Thursday opted to make Dick's apologies for him.

Most notable was Steve Grasso on the 5 p.m. Fast Money, stating, "He looked like he was uncomfortable in, in front of that podium; he looked like he was uncomfortable. Let's give him a break. He had a tough- he's had a tough back half ... I don't know what he was thinking, but I'm sure he's sorry for what happened."

A tough "back half"?

Grasso clarified, "I'm not saying he did nothing wrong. What I'm saying is, let's not all hang it on his, uh, his portrayal what happened today. Because he looked nervous to me."

What other "portrayals" have there been to hang anything on?

Stephen Weiss, on the Halftime Report, actually said Fuld is "not one to shine (sic) away, OK, or shy away from the spotlight."

"For him it's a no-win situation," Weiss said. "You know, if, first of all, I'm sure there's still litigation going on."

Weiss also said he hasn't talked to Dick Fuld lately, but, "I think Dick is an honest guy. I think that maybe what happened to him is that the firm got so big, uh, so quickly, that things got away from him."

Despite conceding that "the seminal event for Lehman was buying Archstone," Weiss went on to fault other parties, stating Morgan Stanley had "a lot of the same issues" and "they had no idea ... what they owned, what their liabilities were."

Also, "I'd say Alan Greenspan's not blameless," Weiss said.

Weiss took a moment to crow about his own success, explaining the motto at Lehman was take on lots of mortgage debt "punch above your weight."

"When I ran equity sales, we were No. 1 in equity sales. Our sales force was probably half to 2/3," Weiss said.

Halftime guest Larry McDonald tried having it both ways, saying he was very critical of Fuld in his book "that's now in 12 languages" while also declaring, "I think he's getting a lot of attention uh, negative attention that should've been spread around quite a bit."

McDonald even actually said, "I want him to use his brand (snicker) to- to tell the world where we are today vs. where we were in 2007-8."

Dan Nathan on Fast Money said of the speech, "I'm sure it was some- kinda somewhat substantive."

Karen Finerman on Fast Money at first was refreshingly on the warpath, declaring, "If he was not sorry ... if not him, then who?"

But moments later, even Finerman decided to equivocate. "If you can't afford the house, don't buy the house. I mean, there's gotta be some accountability at both ends," Finerman said. (So a guy who overspent in Vegas sank Lehman Brothers.)

As Gekko might say, Why in the world are we defending (sic not the actual quote) this man; have we run out of human beings?

This page is not taking any position on Fuld's responsibility for the financial crisis or Lehman's fall or whatever it was that happened at Lehman.

Perhaps Fuld even has strong arguments in his favor on those matters.

We just can't figure out why a bona fide 1%er, a onetime rich, powerful business leader, needs other folks to say he's sorry and can't seem to do that himself.

What in the world is stopping this fellow from talking? Ideally for this site's purposes, it would be CNBC, but the messenger doesn't matter; it can be ABC News, Bloomberg, Charles Gasparino, New York Times, Anthony Scaramucci's "Wall Street Week," CNN, Vice, whatever.

He complained Thursday that he's hated. How has he given anyone a reason to think otherwise?

Here's some free advice for Fuld: Just tell everyone 1) What happened, and 2) ... assuming there is at least an ounce of regret ... that you're sorry for being the biggest reason the financial world suddenly went topsy-turvy.

Obviously, based on the evidence Thursday outlined above, this chap still has quite an edge. Our guess is that he considers himself a victim of this process on some level. No one needs to defend this man.

Someone needs to edit the
Long-Term Capital Management Wikipedia page

A curious exchange on Thursday's Halftime Report occurred between Jon Najarian and Stephen Weiss, as Najarian contended that "Bear Stearns and Lehman weren't part of the bailout" of Long-Term Capital Management.

Weiss insisted, "Lehman was part of the bailout; Bear Stearns was not. Lehman did participate, not to the extent the other firms did, but Lehman was definitely there."

Hmmmm. The Wikipedia page for Long-Term Capital Management somehow indicates both. In the intro, it lists Lehman and Bear Stearns among 16 firms making an "agreement" on the bailout.

Farther down the page, it says "Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers declined to participate."

Other stories we found (too many to link here) indicate Lehman "ultimately" contributed $100 million to the bailout, validating Weiss' point, while others contributed $300 million. It's clear Bear took a pass.

Karen reduced stakes

We happened to catch the entire Thursday 5 p.m. Fast Money, and it was just like we'd never left.

Karen Finerman revealed, "Well- I've been in the same, IBB, XBI, FBT (Drink), but we did take some off recently."

We'd probably carp about that more, but not when the person saying it looks as gorrrrrjus as Finerman in white blouse.

Karen Finerman indicated she's not sure why GM would have to do an acquisition/merger of Fiat.

On the non-Fuld Halftime Report, Pete Najarian gushed that the GPRO guys are developing content and claimed the forward P.E. is "under 30."

Doc revealed that BRCM was in OptionMonster Wealth Management clients' portfolios.

Pete said, as he virtually always does, that there's still plenty of upside in the chip space.

Stephen Weiss endorsed MU.

Doc said he replaced OC with EBAY in his Halftime portfolio. "I like what he's doing," said brother Pete.

Doc said he bought the momentum in GLD.

Judge linked "the rise of Elizabeth Warren" (snicker) to the financial crisis.

Both Larry McDonald and Andrew Ross Sorkin said "at the end of the day" (Drink).

[Wednesday, May 27, 2015]

Oddly enough, Karen’s recommendation for KORS is basically the same on Wednesday as it was on Tuesday


It wasn't just Dana Telsey defending KORS recently.

Karen Finerman on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Biotech looked forward to the earnings report, suggesting the stock was "trading like a broken company" when she doesn't think it's broken; it's cheaper than RL, COH and KATE; and most damning, the market "has really really really (sic 3) lowered the bar."

Fast forward to Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Biotech.

Karen admitted it was an "absolutely painful day," explaining, "My least favorite thing is the- what feels the worst as a money manager is losing money for other people."

Karen said it wasn't the Kors earnings or guidance; "the big problem was the North American comp sales which actually went negative."

Yet, Karen also stated that the stock's plunge was "so excessive relative to what the news was today," to the point that, "If I owned none, I would start buying today."

Guy Adami said, "You have to wonder out loud if this is a capitulatory bottom," and then in not the most convincing endorsement added that in terms of risk/reward, "it sets up OK here."

Dan Nathan though said he's not a buyer and would give it a couple of days and even suggested the P.E. could plunge.

Pete Najarian said he'd only be in the stock if he had puts with it (that means he's not in it).

Possible instant bust: Joe’s prediction a day ago of falling-knife correction

Yesterday, a grim Dr. New Land suggested that buying Tuesday's drop was catching a falling knife and asserted, "I do believe the market is due for a correction."

On Wednesday, it was practically due for a new high.

Which made Jim Lebenthal's suggestion Tuesday that the washout would be over in a day look quite good.

Josh Brown on Wednesday suggested the dueling Tuesday-Wednesday moves happened because it's a "nothing week." Stephen Weiss suggested maybe Greece was having a bigger impact on stocks than people think.

Bust: Dana Telsey defended
KORS less than a week ago

But if Joe was off a bit on his correction, at least he was right a week ago (as was Josh Brown) in pressing Dana Telsey over her enthusiasm toward KORS (see below).

Evidently, given Wednesday's action, KORS will have to be even "more choosy about real estate locations going forward" (sic last 2 words redundant).

On Wednesday's Halftime, Pete Najarian declared, "They opened too many stores too fast ... they cannibalized themselves."

Josh Brown trumpeted how he followed the technicals in KORS and got out 2 years ago and insisted there "has not been any sign" to buy this stock for a couple years."

Doc claims he thought TIF was cheap and lamented that he didn't buy it.

Brown said "I'd be a seller" of TIF on the pop.

A warning about rates’ impact on stocks is made, but no one mentions liquidity in the bond market

Peter Boockvar joined Wednesday's Halftime Report to declare stock markets overvalued and commodities appealing.

"I'm in the opinion that this is the 3rd bubble in the last 15 years," Boockvar said, insisting stocks will feel the "collateral damage" of the bond market.

But, giving himself some runway, Boockvar asserted that "overvalued can stay overvalued" and that the collapse will happen when rates spike or earnings stumble.

Stephen Weiss wasn't convinced. "Where else you gonna go," asked Weiss.

"Right. Well, that- that works in bull markets," Boockvar said.

Boockvar wasn't all gloom. "My favorite sector is the commodity space," he said.

"But the argument you're making on commodities you could've made each of the last 4 or 5 years," countered Weiss.

But Boockvar asserted that plunging oil is "the final phase of a 4-year bear market in commodities."

Judge moments later brought in an old favorite, Barry Bannister, who has a 2,350 (snicker) price target for 2015 and admitted, "Clearly, we need some global growth."

But the 2,350 isn't even as curious as Barry's projected "sharp" drop in stocks happening in late 2016/early 2017. Bannister said that means "more than 20, less than 40%."

MCD’s menu is somehow too complicated for people (cont’d)

Jon Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime Report told Judge he's bullish on MCD because it's such a great brand and in fact, "McDonald's throws away more burgers every day Judge than all of their competitors make combined." (That's an appealing thought for ... well, the whole notion of not wasting global resources, or something like that.)

Josh Brown on the other hand insisted MCD is so big that "they can never move the needle" and that stock buyers are getting no discount right now.

Pete Najarian called MCD a "utility" and once again brought up the notion that it somehow needs to start "simplifying the menu."

Pete explained that people looking at too many options on the drive-thru menu is slowing down the drive-thru. (So ... do they really need a new CEO to call up franchisees and ask them to walk out to the sign and take down the salads?)

Josh Brown said MCD is telling 2 stories; "they're telling Wall Street and they're telling their franchisees, 'We're simplifying the menu.'" But Brown said they're adding kiosks and customized burgers and touch screens for millennials.

Wouldn’t the Icahns want AAPL to buy TSLA given that the 2020 car business justifies a $240 price target?

Scott Nations on Wednesday's Halftime Report told Jackie DeAngelis — who has a new outfit seemingly every day and on Wednesday, a new hairstyle — he doesn't think gold's going to get a bid. Brian Stutland agreed and suggested $1,100 for gold.

Stephen Weiss suggested Dick's buy Finish Line. He also said PFE would make a "great acquisition" if it buys ESPR.

Josh Brown hauled out the old Google-buying-Twitter notion. "I think Google is gonna get killed in real-time search," Brown predicted with no conviction or else he'd be urging people short the stock in droves.

Doc said he'd prefer Google buy Viacom to gain content including MTV (snicker).

Pete Najarian suggested AAPL take out NFLX and GPRO. (Apparently there are no other momentum stocks at the moment that are more appealing.) Stephen Weiss said AAPL doesn't need to buy GPRO or at least doesn't need to pay a premium.

Pete Najarian said TOL has "plenty of runway" and mentioned the quality of its numbers "each and every (sic middle 2 words redundant) quarter."

Josh Brown predicted a breakout for CVS. But Brown said he wouldn't step into WDAY; it's "kind of a mess right now."

Pete Najarian said HRL goes "a lot higher."

Stephen Weiss touted LPL and SCHW; "I think they're both great buys here."

Doc pointed to unusual activity in NVDA; he owns the calls but not the options.

[Tuesday, May 26, 2015]

Mandy Drury in green

We always say it's rare when folks on CNBC are unanmious, but Judge found such a consensus on Tuesday's Halftime when panelists agreed that Wall Street CEOs are "underpaid."

Judge countered that everybody in America thinks they're overpaid.

Joe Terranova called that perception "media rhetoric."

Josh Brown suggested BBY's Hubert Joly deserves to be very highly paid (Brown didn't say he was worth the most money). Joe offered Howard Schultz and Jim Lebenthal offered Tim Cook. Pete Najarian said Bob Iger. (Lot of suspense with that segment.)

Jim Lebenthal pronounced Leslie Moonves as "Leslie Moons (sic)."

Meanwhile, Scott Nations told Jackie DeAngelis, who had a new outfit, that it's not just the dollar hurting crude; there was also the Iraq production forecast of a 25% increase. Anthony Grisanti said we'll see 55 before 60.

Scott Stuart told Judge how GPRO has been a "great, great deal for us" and that there's "a lot more to come" from the company.

Tackling Judge's favorite nuisance question, are we in a bubble, Stuart conceded that when rates are this low for this long, "You do tend to get ebullience in certain markets."

Pete Najarian said June 5th calls in BMY were popular.

Jim Lebenthal mentioned "Nordstroms (sic)" and said he sees "further gains" for that name, TGT and JCP.

Mandy Drury made a splash delivering the half-hour news update.

Joe: Buy Tuesday,
catch a falling knife

He was smilin' at the jokes, but not at the Dow.

In a remarkably understated pronouncement, Dr. New World on Tuesday's Halftime Report delivered a stark assessment of the stock market.

Saying that buying the day's dip is just catching a falling knife, Joe asserted, "I do believe the market is due for a correction," and that the bull case is dependent on "the need for a bad unemployment figure."

But Jim Lebenthal suggested that Fed concerns will be baked in as of Tuesday.

Then, Pete Najarian virtually mocked the notion of bailing out because of Tuesday's action, stating "there's plenty of opportunities."

In a very roundabout recommendation that was sort of like you shouldn't buy but don't have to sell, Eddie Perkin said investors are playing "chicken little" with Janet Yellen and that they should "stay defensive."

Perkin said there's complacency but also "money on the sidelines."

Perkin's most pointed comment involved questioning the euro-hedged HEDJ and said rather than "hedged," it's actually a "double bet" on a weaker euro.

Josh Brown called that comment "a Wisdom Tree dis."

How the Fed works

Steve Liesman on Tuesday's Halftime Report assessed Stan Fischer's remarks this way: "By telling markets that there could be a tantrum, it's part of the effort to avoid a tantrum."

Jim Lebenthal told Judge that the notion of PRTY having a moat to competition "is a hard one to defend," likening the stock to GRPN or ZNGA and suggesting you can get all the same stuff at Wal-Mart or a grocery store.

"Folks, be very careful with what Wall Street sells you," Lebenthal advised.

Josh Brown said he agrees with Lebenthal, but Judge suggested they were "underestimating" this name.

Josh Brown said he's staying long FSLR but he's "not thrilled" with Tuesday's action.

Judge reported that everyone on the panel is bullish on homebuilders.

Jim Lebenthal cited "pent-up demand" (Drink) in the housing space.

Josh Brown said that at the first hint of higher mortgage rates, all these 30somethings who are paying lofty rents are going to race to buy homes.

Joe said there are "secular tailwinds" in the homebuilding industry.

More from Tuesday's Halftime later.

Wilfred Frost: CNBC’s next star?

Most viewers have probably regarded CNBC's Worldwide Exchange as merely the place to catch up with Seema Mody and Carolin Roth and Louisa Bojesen and Julia Chatterley and Hadley Gamble and previously, hypercute Beccy Meehan.

But there's a potentially bigger star (hard to believe, yes) in their midst.

This fellow Wilfred Frost, the replacement for everyone's favorite bloke Ross Westgate, is living up to his last name.

He graduated from Oxford in 2008, which gives you a rough idea of his age, yet barely 9 months on the job, is at least capable of bringing a Bill Griffeth/Carl Quintanilla-esque gravitas to the proceedings.

Ensemble rapport is tough to build and takes time. Frost was thrown together with Mody (oh, the thought), who had been doing reporting for several years in Englewood Cliffs, and, with occasional others mixed in, the results for a long time were passable but stiff.

Frost and Mody are clicking, but too much of Mody's banter is about weekend plans. She still needs an edge. Frost is her ticket; if she can successfully push his buttons, the two could experience a lengthy run.

But Frost, who could stand to sharpen his own edge, might be lapping the field. With a rich accent, his American potential — assuming he's interested — might be limited for now. One wonders if he wouldn't be an ideal fit for Kelly Evans' Closing Bell gang.

British tabloids are well aware of this chap. Pops made his mark with Nixon. What Frost needs to do is demonstrate why this type of stuff makes him tick — assuming it does — and careers will take care of themselves.

[Friday, May 22, 2015]

Imagine how they feel when they think the Fed is not helping them out

Dan Greenhaus, who is not a regular Halftime Report panelist but who is more than holding his own in select appearances, had an interesting take on Friday as to the popularity of the Federal Reserve.

Greenhaus said he talks to many people "of varying degrees" of wealth who downright "hate" the Fed's "misguided" approach to monetary policy that has boosted stocks, because the wealthy don't need the help.

(Still, he didn't explain what the Fed could do tonight to help the minimum-wage worker.)

Steve Liesman, brought aboard again but this time not under a birthday ruse, contended, "Over the last 10 years or so, the stock market has become more central to policy." (Honestly, we're not sure the same thing wasn't true in the 1990s, but whatever.)

Liesman suggested a July hike is possible. Stephen Weiss insisted, "That's not gonna happen."

Weiss predicted a "narrow range for the rest of the year."

Josh Brown said that everything in stocks is going to plan, and that foreign stocks are outperforming, and that nobody should really get excited about a pullback for interest-rate or any other reasons.

"Why is it so terrible to have a 10% correction?" asked Brown.

Dan Greenhaus used a chart to point out that stocks didn't crash in 2004 before the rate hike.

Greenhaus also had the punch line of the day, wondering if the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce venue was actually the Batcave. (Judge was a bit slow to catch on.)

Josh concedes: ‘I don’t know anything about Foot Locker’

Normally it's not this blunt, and unfortunately we don't mean Emily.

Occasionally, Fast Money/Halftime panelists will outline a trade based on technicals, the ever-popular Guy Adami/Jon Najarian washout, for example.

Usually, however, they purport to know at least a little bit about the action in the company.

On Friday's Halftime, Josh Brown, hung out to dry a bit harshly by Judge for his recent innocuous FL recommendation (see below), took no responsibility for steering anyone into a long-term position in the stock.

"This is(/was) a technical trade," Brown asserted. "I don't know anything about Foot Locker. You're talking about supply and demand for the company's stock."

Judge prodded, "Now you're only a technician?"

Brown said making a determination on a stock over the course of a week is a much different conversation than evaluating it as a years-long holding.

Steve Weiss said "there's lots of upside" for Finish Line.

No updates on the AAPL TV scorecard; Carl and Mario Gabelli yes, Gene and WSJ no

Josh Brown on Friday's Halftime Report said SHAK "could be the biggest short squeeze I've ever seen."

Stephen Weiss though said no funds that he deals with are short. "You don't buy it; you don't short it here," Steve Weiss said.

Weiss and Brown did slightly the same go-round on DE later in the program.

Brown, who recommends every ag stock these days, hung a $100 on DE without really much of a catalyst. Weiss contended "it's not a cheap stock" and said he wouldn't short it and wouldn't buy it.

Weiss did find something he liked, making ESPR sound like a sure thing on the grounds that some firm he has never heard of came out with a sell rating, which disproportionately hit the stock on a low-volume day.

Happy Memorial Day weekend

In a nice touch for the holiday, Judge on Friday's Halftime brought in former Marine Capt. Wes Gray, who said, "We try to buy the cheapest, highest-quality stocks that everyone hates."

To do so, "We use an algorithm ... and we're just totally computer-driven," Gray said.

He touted BBY and BBBY.

Gray told Dan Greenhaus his model is "proprietary but it's fully transparent," then he said "it's a 5-step process" and proceeded to rattle off the 5 steps, but longtime readers of this page know we can't handle more than 3.

Stephen Weiss said he's not big on tobacco stocks and shrugged off the apparent LO merger approval.

Josh Brown is "not a fan" of HPQ.

Dom Chu revealed that Alexion is the lone S&P 500 stock up each of the last 10 years between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Josh Brown wishes SAM didn't do a Raspberry Ale. Stephen Weiss and Dan Greenhaus suggested big biotech/health care as summer trades.

Outdoorsman David Farbman, as enthusiastic as any guest, said Carbon Media Group is a media company of "about 500 Web sites," but honestly, we couldn't really figure out why Farbman was on the show. (Kinda like, if you didn't already realize Bass Pro Shops was a big deal, then you're a bit out of touch in the retail space.)

Josh Brown said, "I used to do some mushroom hunting back in high school, but mostly at Phish shows." Dan Greenhaus cut in to say he was going to make precisely the same joke.

Dan Greenhaus made several cogent comments about the diminishing importance of volume.

[Thursday, May 21, 2015]

Shouldn’t Judge tell us when that AAPL TV is coming?

And we thought just a couple days ago that we were done with this.

Mario Gabelli on Thursday's sleepy Halftime Report actually was heard to say, "Apple TV is here to come."

Even Gene Munster threw in the towel on that subject, but apparently not everyone else has.

For the 2nd time this week, Judge told a guest that he's privy to how much money the guest made, stating Gabelli earned "88½ million dollars."

Unlike Carl, Gabelli didn't bother with an initial protest, merely shrugging and stating, "I'm called a, a liberal in, uh, Wyoming and a conservative in New York."

KORS, unlike Uber apparently, doesn’t have enough investors in it for ‘career-risk reasons’

In what constituted about the only highlight of Thursday's humdrum Halftime Report — Jackie DeAngelis in new outfit — Anthony Grisanti said with Memorial Day nearly here, "I'm a seller of gasoline."

Brian Stutland said he thinks gasoline will fall back, but he likes it on any pullback.

Dana Telsey, permanently cute, pinned retail's Q1 on West Coast ports, weather and foreign tourist spending.

Telsey told the gang she's a buyer of URBN but that GPS will "tread water."

Pressed by Joe Terranova and Josh Brown on KORS, Telsey called the company "still a share-gainer" but said it's victimized by tough comps.

Brown asked Telsey if she's bothered by "pictures online surfacing" of Kors merchandise at off-brand retailers. "You don't want to see that," Telsey agreed, but, in a bit of a dodge, said KORS is being "more choosy about real estate locations going forward" (sic last 2 words redundant).

Happy birthday, Steve Liesman

Nothing could better summarize Thursday's half-hearted, lukewarm Halftime Report than Jeff Saut's apparent skepticism of stocks because of weakness in transports.

Saut said the "big surprise" would be to have the Dow industrials and S&P 500 rally while people are trying to figure out what's going on with transports. (For whatever that means.)

"If you fail here, it's really disheartening," said Josh Brown.

Mario Gabelli said Europe looks to be in an "improving trend" and that Japan has the "animal spirits" back.

Pete Najarian said "at some point in time I think there's an explosive move" in the financials.

Mr. New World opened with a stark revelation, stating he's been "losing a lot of money in the last couple of days."

Judge unfortunately beat the already dead horse of his notion of Etsy marking a bubble. But Mario Gabelli said he doesn't see anything "unusual" about the IPO market.

Things got borderline comical when Judge asked Gabelli about Citigroup's upgrade of NFLX.

"We own some Citibank," Gabelli revealed, before Pete Najarian pointed out that Judge was asking about Netflix.

"I broke down the other day. I bought a hundred shares," Gabelli responded.

Pete said 720 is "not a ridiculous number" for NFLX.

Gabelli spent a decent chunk of time touting CVS. Pete Najarian pointed to call activity in RAD.

Gabelli said "broadband" is the "plastics" of this generation.

Steve Liesman was brought over for a Dead-logo birthday cake but didn't reveal his plans for early July. Judge somehow got Pete to crack up over his non-joke; "today's show is proof you can have your cake and eat it too."

[Wednesday, May 20, 2015]

Judge evidently thinks a draft is a good way to distribute NBA talent

Judge asked sports expert Rick Horrow an interesting question on Wednesday's Halftime Report:

"Does the NBA need the Lakers and the Knicks to be great, or not?"

"It certainly doesn't hurt," Horrow said, adding it "certainly would help" if the Knicks had better headlines.

Really. Ya don't say.

Judge never bothered to ask whether it's 1) a good business idea or 2) even morally defensible to tell the year's most promising young basketball player that he has to go to Minnesota, or forget about playing.

You'd think a free-market business program would have an opinion on that, but no.

This dubious concept extends back many decades from when a lot of folks (there are some still out there) thought that jocks should feel lucky to make a living playing sports and should go wherever the grownups running the leagues told them to go.

Somehow folks weren't swayed by 1969 ... possibly — to this day — the 2 most hyped college athletes of all time entering the pro ranks ... both from California ... and the NBA put its superstar in Milwaukee, where those tape-delayed NBA Finals games surely drew big TV ratings, while the NFL dispatched its prodigy to Buffalo, where he was virtually never seen by anyone else in the country watching football until his knees were shot and he was finally shipped to his hometown team (which, coincidentally, was bad enough at the time to "earn" the No. 1 pick).

The business equivalent of a pro-sports draft would be sending Steve Schwarzman to North Dakota and Jeffrey Gundlach to West Virginia because there are private equity and bond shops in those states that need parity with the big cities too.

The TV equivalent would be sending Judge to Topeka because Kansas deserves elite anchors too.

Hard to figure.

Judge focuses on ETSY, doesn’t mention the Icahns hanging a 240 on AAPL because of TV sets and automobile forecasts (oh but if those don’t happen it doesn’t matter anyway)

Judge opened Wednesday's Halftime stating ETSY "literally" (Drink) doubled on Day 1 and wondered if its stumble is a sign the "Ghosts of 1999 may be back."

Josh Brown said he disagreed with that; "I genuinely believe" that the ETSY problem is an "idiosyncratic issue" with the stock.

Stephen Weiss said ETSY was a case of the "retail investors chasing the hot names" and that ETSY's problem is "meaningless frankly."

Jim Lebenthal said there's a lot of "crud" in the IPO process mixed with the "1-hit wonders" (or perhaps the 1-hit wonders are part of the crud, we're not totally sure).

Mike Santoli said, contrary to what Judge asserted at the top of the program, "it's almost the anti-bubble" because IPO volume is low, and many of those going public are the "JV companies."

Judge quoted Cramer as stating Etsy is "run like a flea market."

Steve Weiss said Etsy buyers "did the old Peter Lynch way, which doesn't really work this much- that much anymore."

Josh has curious explanation for why Uber is worth $50 billion

In a windup approaching Stu Miller's, Josh Brown on Wednesday's Halftime Report said "this is really important," then stressed that what makes Uber worth $50 billion "is the amount of people that have to be invested in it for career-risk reasons."

"That's ridiculous," said Steve Weiss. "There's more career risk in somebody buying Round D and Round F at $50 billion valuation ... they think there's a greater fool out there."

Actually what makes it worth $50 billion is the prospect that taxi medallion owner-inspired government resistance to Uber fades like the Seattle defense in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl and Uber drivers start taking over airports and anywhere else they're presently personas non grata.

Given that, Jim Lebenthal was a bit short-sighted in stating he'd decide if Uber is worth $50 billion if they "show me the financial statements."

Pete’s advice to graduates:
‘Put your ego to the side’

Pete Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime Report actually was heard wondering, "Is the discipline starting to dissipate" among airlines?"

But he said he still likes them. (Whew.)

Jim Lebenthal invoked an old Patty Edwards staple, ALK. (Speaking of which, wonder if whichever hockey team that's in the Seattle area is still playing at this time of year.) (#goodthingtheyhavedraftssothebestplayerscanbethepropertyofWinnipeg)

Courtney Reagan brought in Target CFO John Mulligan but didn't quite ask the greatest question, "What exactly happened in the quarter."

Mulligan said everything went great in so many ways but next year they'll have a "better idea" of what grocery customers want.

Pete Najarian stressed that WMT has a "far lower-income-type base" of shopper and called TGT a "must-own stype- (sic) type of a name."

Jim Lebenthal also touted TGT, stating lower gasoline is starting to sink in. Stephen Weiss observed that WMT is always overvalued because it's already built out.

Pete Najarian called YHOO a "must own" as long as it's "anywhere near 40, 41."

Steve Weiss said Pep Boys has been on P.E. radar for a long time but he doesn't know what it's worth.

Josh Brown said he'd avoid SPLS. But Jim Lebenthal said that when SPLS merges with OfficeDepot, the stock goes up 15-20%.

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis that he doesn't think the downward pressure on the euro will continue. Jeff Kilburg insisted Draghi will continue to take the "bazooka" to bring the euro to parity.

Pete mentioned the chip names but this time didn't harangue the market for its reaction to Microchip's cautious guidance a while back.

[Tuesday, May 19, 2015]

So who at AAPL dialed WSJ to point out the TV is dead?

It looks like Carl Icahn's vision of 55- and 65-inch Ultra HD Apple television sets dominating living rooms next year probably isn't going to happen.

But Carl's only blaming the messenger.

"I read the article, and, I don't know why the headline is what it says," Icahn said on Tuesday's Halftime Report.

Reading the WSJ article aloud, Icahn explained, "'Apple didn't officially kill the project to make television (sic singular) according to people familiar with the matter.' ... It's almost as if some guy who's short the stock, uh, you know, decided to say all this." (Or, some guy who has a high-ranking position at the company is setting the record straight so he won't keep getting pestered about this subject.)

Then, Icahn continued to stress both that 1) the article appears to be wrong and 2) if it is wrong, it doesn't matter anyway.

"I don't think it's important whether they're doin' a TV, or not doin' a TV next year, although this article to me, I have to say, I don't even know what it says, I mean, at the beginning they say they're not doin' it but later on they say, uh, but they, but they may do it," Icahn said.

"The headline, I think, is relatively misleading," he concluded.

Judge pressed on whether Carl has consulted with Tim Cook about this subject. Other than the answer obviously being no, Icahn would only say, "I am certainly not gonna talk to you about what I say to Tim Cook."

Icahn also took issue with a mystery writer of some publication. "One guy, one, you know, one writer said yesterday I called, uh, fund managers stupid for not owning Apple, and that's not true," he said, explaining he thinks fund managers in general are smart, even ones who don't own AAPL.

Somewhat hilariously, Carl protested, "We are not here recommending stocks."

Carl also protested Judge's suggestion that Carl has made more than $3 billion on AAPL.

"We're not talkin' about me and I'm certainly not gonna comment on what I made, but you can figure it out," Icahn said.

"I did figure it out," Judge said, congratulating Icahn, who chuckled.

Sign of a top when elite investors suggest a computer maker is going to dominate the car market?

Nobody had the brass to bring it up on Tuesday's Halftime Report, but when he hear the type of projections about a company made by Carl Icahn, Brett Icahn and David Schechter, we gotta wonder if we're not approaching the "e" word (that would be "euphoria").

Schechter admonished Judge that it's "dangerous" to assume AAPL is "not" going to introduce new products.

Brett Icahn affirmed, "We believe they're gonna do a car, and we believe that we're- they're gonna do a TV."

And, they pointed out how big the automotive market is.

(So, why not load up on GMCR because of all that great stuff they're gonna do in a few years.)

Meanwhile, Carl Icahn said he invested in Lyft because "I think there's urbanization happening before your eyes," though "admittedly it's a risky investment."

In the end, "If Uber is worth 50 billion, Lyft is worth a lot more than 2 billion," Icahn said.

Judge said he gets a lot of tweets and emails from folks asking him to ask Carl about HTZ. Carl said he can't say too much because he has a board interest but that he doesn't buy stocks to lose money.

Icahn said "it's almost reprehensible" that DD shareholders voted against Nelson Peltz.

Joe: 2014 all over again

Joe Terranova offered a stark testimonial at the top of Tuesday's Halftime, telling Scott Wapner, "Listen, I don't know whether you want to be the Judge, whether you want to be the priest or whether you want to be the rabbi, but I'll go to confession with you."

The apparent sins being, "I own no financials; I've traded energy horribly ... I've traded absolutely awful the last couple days," Joe revealed.

Stephen Weiss, strongly considering Pete Najarian's advice to graduates a day ago (snicker), said he likes the market quite a bit "because there's a healthy doth- dose of skepticism out there, and no euphoria" (sic that was before the Icahns came on).

"I thought the Wal-Mart numbers were horrific," said Jon Najarian, who hung a "parity" on the euro.

Mr. New World likened 2015 to 2014 and noted that a year ago, we broke out in May and didn't correct until the 2nd week of July.

"The easy money in energy for 2015 has been made," Joe reaffirmed.

Tom Stemberg said the WMT results suggest consumers aren't spending "on consumables at retail."

Stemberg said he likes HD, LOW, KMX, LULU but apparently is on the boards of a few of those. "But in general, retail's probably not the place to be right now," he said.

Rick Rieder said "the economy's actually in pretty good shape," before predicting "I think September is the likely outcome" for a Fed hike.

Rieder said they'll do a "couple of 25-basis-point moves" and then maybe a couple more.

Steve Weiss said LL is no cheaper than it was before being cut by two-thirds.

[Monday, May 18, 2015]

Too bad a lot of folks on CNBC don’t take Pete’s advice for graduates

In a neat little feature on Monday's Halftime Report, guest host Mel, who looked dynamite in blue, asked panelists for some advice for graduates.

Josh Brown curiously offered "pay your dues, No. 1." We'll try to analyze that at a later point.

Brown then suggested grads "start off your career in as big of a company as possible."

Joe Terranova said to "trust yourself and rely on your own instincts."

Pete Najarian said to "put your ego to the side" and mentioned "each and every (sic last 2 words redundant) day" in referring to his specializing in options.

Halftime panelist actually invokes the very relevant subject of presidential politics; Mel still doesn’t bite

Patrick O'Shaughnessy, who has a book about building a fortune involving a "smart beta" strategy, said on Monday's Halftime Report it's about marrying elite picks with the consistency of passive investing.

O'Shaughnessy said the key is to not let emotions override the model in picking value stocks and that value investing "is really all about finding mismatches between perception and reality."

Or, in other words, buy stuff that is going to rise in value.

O'Shaughnessy, a good guest regardless, told Josh Brown that chemicals and insurance have a combination of valuation and momentum, and he also had some advice for today's graduates.

"Read more books than you read Twitter," he said.

Joe Terranova wondered if coal stocks are signaling the potential of a Democratic presidential victory in 2016. (But Mel didn't bother asking panelists what the race means for tax rates and Yellen's future because apparently it's irrelevant.)

Another line drawn between holding and chasing

Carl Icahn's latest AAPL price target proved to be the lede story for Monday's Halftime Report.

And viewers immediately got conflicting advice from Dr. New World.

"If you own Apple, you feel good about owning Apple," Joe said, before adding he's "not necessarily sure" that now's the time to re-enter the trade.

Josh Brown said that if AAPL reaches 240 it doesn't necessarily mean a near-doubling of market value because part of the rise will stem from buybacks.

Brown claimed of EBAY, "above 60, there are just no sellers left in this name."

But Joe said he's "not necessarily sure" (Drink) that EBAY hits the mid-60s.

A day without Peltz, Steven Wright

Pete Najarian took up an old (150 handle) favorite on Monday's Halftime Report, stating BABA is a buy on "1 more pullback." (This writer is long BABA.)

Mr. New World asserted that BABA's problem is "they are not able to attract that institutional passive-type of investor."

Josh Brown said that's because it's not in indexes but that the stock is "buyable."

Mel said she finds Goldman Sachs' downgrade of LVS "a little late to the game." Joe said to "ignore where it is currently (sic extra word)" and look for a fundamental catalyst (but he didn't say he's not necessarily sure it's going lower).

Regarding GMCR, Josh Brown actually suggested there are people who "love the name."

Pete Najarian thinks there's more upside in GPRO.

Phil LeBeau was really excited over purported NHTSA-Chrysler meeting

Mohamed El-Erian — ever wonder if he listens to the Dead or sits around quoting "Road House" to his buddies? — said on Monday's Halftime that the "probability of an accident" involving Greece is "high."

But he said the markets have noticed "the amount of cash coming in" and have deemed Greece "contained and isolated."

Josh Brown asked El-Erian if Greece is evidence that "sometimes kicking the can works."

"You're right that for a small country, you can kick the can," El-Erian said.

Pete said SIG is worth a look even though he's not in it.

Joe said predicting oil by 2020 as Goldman Sachs is doing is "pretty hard to do."

"I think the easy money in energy has been made for the year," Joe said.

Joe touted EOG (Drink) and PXD (Drink) though he doesn't own either.

Pete Najarian said he still likes HFC's potential.

Josh Brown said FL could break out but that GPS looks the worst of this week's retail.

Fast Money, Halftime Report haven’t figured out we’re in a presidential election cycle

As the curious standoff between CNBC and Anthony Scaramucci's "Wall Street Week" continues, Scaramucci is at least getting ahead on one front:


Sunday's edition of "Week" included an assesssment from Mike Novogratz as to how the current president is doing.

Fast Money and Halftime Report viewers know Mel and Judge won't go near such topics, even though we're definitely going to have a new president who is going to have a say in tax rates and the future of Janet Yellen.

Perhaps they think Wall Street isn't interested.

[Friday, May 15, 2015]

Sarat Sethi fails to note that (with some tax-related exceptions) ‘holding’ and ‘chasing’ are basically the same thing

(Sigh) It's 13f time.

Mike Block on Friday's Halftime Report wasn't too excited about the new MCD position from Barry Rosenstein's shop.

"125,000 shares from Jana; that's what we call a placeholder for them," Block said.

"I think it's way too early" to know if the MCD turnaround will work, said Jim Lebenthal, who advised Jana to take "some level of warning" from Nelson Peltz's experience with another big target, DD. (Translation: "Be careful of your geographies.")

Sarat Sethi said YUM's China outlook is now "actually granular" and even if there's no spinoff, there's a floor under the stock.

All well and good, until Sethi taunted basic logic in his advice for the stock: "I think you hold it right now. I would not chase it at these levels."

That's basically the same thing.

But Mel called that description "very interesting."

(We know Karen agrees with us on that subject, and Karen's a fox, so that's something to hang our hat on.)

Josh Brown said not to chase NFLX. Doc reminded everyone of his great long position when Mark Cuban said to get in.

Dom Chu said Loeb has taken new positions in FDX, MXIM and "JM Smuckers (sic)," and he is out of BABA. (This writer is long BABA.)

"I'm not really all that hot on BABA," said Jon Najarian.

Mel looked great in chic leather dress but on the 5 p.m. Fast Biotech didn't set the greatest example for the kiddies with her (purportedly fake) cigarette tribute to "Mad Men."

Steven Wright: Not exactly
on CNBC’s ‘Disruptor’ list

One of those ESPN sportswriter shows features the host scoring panelists with points; if we had such a tool we'd surely have to hit Mike Block with a (-3) on Friday's Halftime Report for invoking Steven Wright.

Referring to the consumer and gasoline, Block asserted, "It's almost like retail investors are chasing their tail like Steven Wright's dog, 'C'm here, stay. C'm here, stay,' back and forth all the time."

Value is "stuck," Block added.

He said a couple of sentiment surveys came in "very cautious," but at the same time, "there's a lot of false signals out there."

Josh Brown suggested the market is more likely to break out than fall back.

Jim Lebenthal suggested dabbling in retail or "old-line tech."

"It's not just a stock market. It's a market of stocks," Lebenthal said.

Maybe this is why the SEC decided to ring Lee Cooperman

Guest host Missy Lee on Friday's Halftime revisited the VIPS debate of a day earlier with Ron Geffner, who explained how sometimes a probe by the SEC would get under way, courtesy of your print media.

"I would routinely come in in the morning, open up the morning newspaper, and every once in a while I'd find a story that, if there wasn't an investigation on, tickled my fancy, as they would say, and I would look into it further."

Jim Lebenthal crowed that this is why "I don't do individual international stocks."

Geffner said of the Avon hoax, "I'm not familiar enough with the facts."

Doc said he took half of his UPS options off; "If you can take 400% out of a trade, I think it's time to move on," Doc chortled.

Josh Brown said he likes DE despite the JPMorgan downgrade.

Doc said there was serious LOCO put activity for June.

Josh Brown touted MOO but said you might not want to chase the breakout.

Jim Lebenthal touted SJT as a nat gas play.

Doc said he was in Avis and Hertz and he's still in Hertz.

Josh Brown endorsed ADM, and Jim Lebenthal said expectations are too low for TGT.

[Thursday, May 14, 2015]

Mel identifies CNBC’s investigative-journalism shortcomings

Wonder if anyone important was listening.

Guest host Melissa Lee, addressing the Avon hoax on Thursday's Halftime Report, suggested to no one in particular, "We should try and file something with Edgar to see how easy it is."

On the 5 p.m. Fast Biotech, Lee said she was "joking" about that comment, but then said "I'm serious." #soundsabitcontradictory

She should be serious. Then CNBC, a news organization, would be making news on the financial-regulatory front rather than waiting for it to come from research firms or hedge funds.

There is a fine line in that CNBC would not want to make a fictional filing that could disrupt the financial markets. The trick is to file something innocuous to see if it goes through and acquires any kind of traction from the algorithm blokes.

Kinda like on "60 Minutes" when reporters used to try to sneak into nuclear plants without actually scaring anyone.

Hey, if there are flaws in the system — and obviously there are — it's the news media's obligation to point it out, as opposed to, for example, having meetings to decide who to put on the next "Disruptor" list.

Jon Najarian said Thursday that the information revealed about PTG Capital is "pretty much red-flag material."

Bob Pisani took the opportunity to grumble about some total inside baseball and make a pro-bureaucracy argument on how the NYSE can't step in and halt AVP for commonsense reasons, for all those whose accounts were getting whipsawed.

Karen Finerman said on the 5 p.m. Fast Biotech (above), "This is, uh, you know, our market at its worst, really."

Check out the grammar in the company response obviously written by a non-American

Mel gave VIPS short John Fichthorn such a grilling in the early moments of his appearance on Thursday's Halftime, it practically made our head spin.

By the end, after old reliable Gene Munster came on, we sorta figured out what they were talking about.

Fichthorn revealed he has a "sizable" short position in VIPS and contended that it's possible that VIPS is "completely fake."

"There is a bigger pattern here of companies completely misrepresenting their numbers in America," Fichthorn asserted.

Munster, though, practically claimed that it's irrelevant.

"At the end of the day" (Drink), Gene said, it's "next to impossible" to do adequate forensic work on Chinese regulatory statements unless one is an insider.

Pressed by Mel as to whether he's troubled by the apparent discrepancies in what VIPS is telling the SEC vs. Chinese authorities, Munster actually argued that "the order of magnitude is so wide it actually creates less concern."

Borrowing from W.'s terminology, Munster admitted, "There's a 5% chance I'm dead wrong, and this could be nucular (sic)."

Munster even defended VIPS' non-English response to the research note(s), saying it's a "Catch-22" for companies to acknowledge negative research.

Honestly, after all we witnessed on this program, we'd have to think Fichthorn is overblowing this problem (this writer has no position in this security and had barely heard of it until now), especially given the question from Dr. New World (who was otherwise practically shut out on the day) as to whether Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs and other underwriters were "all misled" in VIPS' March 2012 IPO.

"I have no idea," Fichthorn said.

"Don't you think you should though?" Joe pushed.

"No. I'm debating a situation now," Fichthorn said.

Presumably those folks who paid $800 for a Rangers ticket found it worth it

In a bit of a Halftime highlight film Thursday, guest host Mel, who looked dynamite in red with new hairstyle, brought in Sara Eisen and concurred that the euro/dollar trade is a lot better for Americans visiting overseas than last year even if it's not at all-time lows.

Joe Terranova warned against utilities, and Doc warned against deep-sea drillers getting overextended in the short term.

Doc predicted that if you buy WFM, TFM or RL, you'll be happy 6 months from now.

Jeff Kilburg said gold has momentum, while Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis that 1,222 is the key level and if it holds, expect 1,250.

Joe said CSCO goes north of 30.

Pete Najarian said he likes JCP "near 8."

Doc said KSS had high-inventory issues.

Hardeep Walia said the buyback Motif has been a winner, and "we think there's still room to grow."

Doc said he and Pete call a company that makes a big buyback a "share shrinker."

Pete said MT June 12 calls were hot and he'll hold them "at least a few weeks."

Doc cited "a lot of rumors swirling around" UPS, so he bought some calls and already traded out of ones he bought in the morning and then bought next week's offerings.

Joe hung a $100 on FB.

It wasn't clear if President Barack Obama told the crowd at the Gulf summit during the 5 p.m. Fast Biotech that "Every time I go to Camp David, the weather's great."

[Wednesday, May 13, 2015]

In case you missed it

Karen Finerman said on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Biotech that she's "hangin' on to XBI, IBB and FBT." (Drrrrrrrink.)

Karen also called M a buy. (Double Drrrrrrrink.)

‘Be careful of your geographies’

We were expecting the worst (that would be "boring") from Judge's DD roundtable on Wednesday's Halftime ... but actually the conversation proved snappy and informative, even though it would've been more impressive if Judge had produced guests predicting a Peltz defeat last week.

Fabio Savoldelli said there's a "new phase of activism" of gaining board seats that is more difficult than the old "balance-sheet activism," in other words, Peltz took on too big of a challenge.

Robert McCormick said "it's a pretty high hurdle" to win a proxy contest.

Savoldelli, who proved a good guest, suggested DD's plunge on Wednesday might be related to concerns that Peltz will unload his stake.

While discussing Hess (like Joe always says, it's tethered to the price of oil), Savoldelli heightened his street cred with a reference to "dude." (But he didn't say anything about the tethered part.)

Doc, sounding suddenly skeptical of Peltz's interference, contended "this changes nothing" about DD despite the stock's slide Wednesday. Josh Brown said, "I think it's more of a buy the dip than oh my God, Nelson's gonna make a sloppy sale."

Jim Lebenthal contended that DD has a "strong geographical base" centered in Wilmington, Del., and "The lesson is, be careful of your geographies."

Despite the outrage, shaky retail report fails to convince anyone to turn bearish

Jim Lebenthal on Wednesday's Halftime said he's "surprised and troubled" by the retail sales report and that "something needs to be explained here."

Steve Liesman said the data gives "concern" that Q2 isn't so great.

Josh Brown pointed out that San Francisco growth is at 5%.

Doc pointed out that gasoline prices are rising.

Russ Koesterich pointed to the "divergence" between stocks and the "real" economy for 6 years.

As for stocks, "I think you trim a little bit of the U.S.," Koesterich said. But Pete Najarian countered that there's "parts of the U.S. you want to be in."

Wonder if anyone congratulated Ackman on HLF today when he was walking down the street

Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis on Wednesday's Halftime Report that it was "time to take some profits" in crude.

Scott Nations cited the "IEA" (sic) forecast on reduced shale capacity and hung a 65 on July crude. (There is both an EIA, which Jim Lebenthal mentioned a day ago (see below), and IEA, but Nations apparently had the wrong one.)

Doc and Pete said CS June 27 calls were hot. Doc said he bought the stock and will "probably hold it about 2 weeks" (Drink). Judge actually asked for Doc to restate that holding time because he couldn't hear it the first time (and somehow didn't already know what it would be).

Doc ditched ALLY in his "Halftime Portfolio" in favor of CSLT.

Jim Lebenthal said Delta's gains are "man bites dog sorta stuff."

Josh Brown credited Mark Zuckerberg for a "huge win" in being handed N.Y. Times copy.

Eric Chemi said the Rangers-Capitals Game 7 tickets actually are going for more than the NBA Finals.

Jim Lebenthal endorsed CSCO; Doc did too. Pete Najarian suggested none of them are in it because they're waiting for a pullback.

Josh Brown admitted he's concerned about SHAK because it has tripled from the IPO.

[Tuesday, May 12, 2015]

Not sure if there’s been any progress on changing the FB supervoting share structure in case a board member goes off ‘the deep end’

Eric Jackson, the only person in the history of the Halftime Report interested in AOL stock, on Tuesday praised Tim Armstrong for his "really smart M&A decisions" and said he wishes Marissa Mayer was "half as smart" with her M&A decisions.

Judge called that "kind of a pot shot at Marissa Mayer."

Jim Lebenthal questioned why VZ didn't buy YHOO instead of AOL given that YHOO is supposedly trading for less than the business is worth. Jackson said it's because Mayer has "basically 2 poison pills" of Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.

Judge asked Jackson, "Why not just sell out of Yahoo if you're so unhappy" with Mayer.

Jackson didn't have a good answer but said, "This should be a stock that gets to $80 a share."

Josh Brown conveyed what many viewers were likely thinking; "I can't even believe we're talkin' about this."

Pete Najarian said that on April 16 someone loaded up on AOL 42 calls.

Every time Barack Obama goes to Oregon, the weather’s great

Stephen Weiss on Tuesday's Halftime Report disagreed with Judge's assertion that if rates keep rising, stocks will stumble; "you still have a year to a year and a half before stocks start taking it on the chin," Weiss said.

Weiss said he's concerned that Europe's move is an "extremely obvious trade" and that sometimes the obvious trades don't work.

He decided to repeat that hedge funds he's dealing with think Europe is ahead of itself and that 2 of them are net short Germany (Drink).

But Josh Brown scoffed at how easily people identify trades as "crowded," pointing out that Japan is up this year.

Brown stuck with his projected "megabreakout" in regional banks and said he'd exit utilities.

Jim Lebenthal contended that the continent is driving the stock market; "this is Europe getting back on its feet economically ... this is where Europe would have been a year ago if Russia hadn't invaded Ukraine," Lebenthal said.

Paul Richards said that a 2.3% 10-year yield will be seen by some as an alternative to stocks.

Kenny Polcari said the S&P traded right down to support at 2,080 and then came back.

Pete Najarian said we're in a "grind" of people trying to figure things out.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera delivered breaking news on Ukraine's debt, which is bound to prove just as exciting as all of those reports about Greece's financial crisis.

Asking again: How come there aren’t any congressional hearings over the movement in the price of oil?

On Tuesday's Halftime Report, Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis, in new outfit, that crude was going higher with the euro. Brian Stutland suggested 65 as the next stop but doesn't think it'll get above that.

Jim Lebenthal said the EIA is finally predicting a decrease in shale production, which can provide a tailwind for crude.

Josh Brown suggested commodities can be hot in 2015 and that it's already started and that the DBA is a place to look.

Stephen Weiss said a commodities move is "overdue," but he's not sure it's sustainable.

Wonder if Rob Lowe
made the ‘Disruptor’ list

Jim Lebenthal on Tuesday's Halftime Report revealed he's playing "small ball" in his Playbook Playoffs portfolio regarding his switch from C to SPLS.

Steve Weiss had to be reassured that Lebenthal still likes C long term. Pete Najarian for some reason was given extended time to opine about his portfolio despite showing zero interest in participating in this dubious contest.

Pete suggested GPS is now a buy. Jim Lebenthal said to let PLL go.

Stephen Weiss said to take a "closer look" at RAX.

Josh Brown predicted the car dealers won't stop Tesla.

Steve Liesman, who still hasn't revealed his plans for early July at least not on this program, went out of his way to paint San Francisco Fed chief John Williams as not much of a hawk.

Twilio's Jeff Lawson appeared on the program because that's what folks named in CNBC's annual "Disruptor" list do. Judge floated a "lickin' your chops" reference to Lawson regarding going public, the second "chops" reference in a week (see Doc and James Dolan below).

Morgan Brennan said she's been doing boot camp for her decathlon and is a "little nervous" about benching 75 pounds, which is kinda cute.

[Monday, May 11, 2015]

Pick your television poison: DuPont board battle ... Bank of New York Mellon board battle ... Grexit

Oh my.

We spent much of Monday's Halftime Report wondering when the Nelson Peltz interview would finally end ... only to see it followed by a resumption of Mick McGuire's equally uninteresting campaign against BK, two efforts that leave most observers scratching their heads not over the merits but the uselessness.

Judge of course was hoping to enlist some DuPont board types into a live re-creation of the Ackman-Icahn showdown that remains Judge's Signature Moment, but while admitting that the Double-D's declined, Judge was left with the same 1-trick pony that he's been trying to entertain viewers with for weeks.

Judge made the mistake of asking Peltz for his "level of confidence" at winning DD board seats and only managed in the process to trip up Peltz, who stated, "Scott, I can't; my lawyers will not allow you to uh, for me to allow, uh, allow me to share my level of confidence (sic grammar)."

Peltz also stumbled over whether CalPERS or CalSTRS supported or opposed the Heinz battle. But, Judge allowed him a do-over.

But Judge got kudos when asking why there is resistance here if Peltz is so collaborative; "You know Scott, that's a very good question," Peltz replied.

Peltz lamented that "no one from DuPont ever picked up the phone" and dialed Bill Johnson and asked him what it was like to deal with Trian.

"I think the prospects for a last-minute settlement are very dim," Peltz added.

In the all-important subject of DuPont's R&D, "The returns that we've gotten on R&D over the last 5 years have been negative, Scott, negative," Peltz claimed.

Judge brought up Bill George and asked for Peltz's opinion; Peltz asked, "Scott do we have until 5 o'clock." (Thankfully no.)

Judge, who makes a living asking questions, refused to answer one posed by Peltz: "Where do you think the stock goes if we lose." (Yeah, sure, Judge has no idea on that one.)

McGuire (above) explained his appearance as stemming from Bank of New York Mellon's "inaccurate" statements since McGuire's appearance a month ago, and "We wanna set the record straight."

McGuire's irked that management has apparently set the bar too low for its own expectations. "The main uh agenda that we have for the company is to set much more ambitious targets for the business," McGuire said.


On Monday, no one seems too disappointed over Friday’s jobs number

Josh Brown on Monday's Halftime Report cited the TLT as reason to be short-term bullish and contended that the KRE is on the verge of a "massive breakout."

Mr. New Land attributed a lot of last week's gains to short covering and said, "I'm focused on what are rates gonna do."

"We need 1 of the sectors to stepped (sic) up and be the leader," Joe said.

Stephen Weiss actually said the Greece "overhang" has to be put to bed to clear the way for stocks.

Jerry Storch suggested that one of the headwinds facing consumers is that "increasingly we have anxiety geopolitical stage (sic grammar)."

But he said he's not going to doubt American consumers' inclination to spend, and that COST and JWN and TJX and ROST are executing well.

Jon Najarian, on location in Chicago, said it was "kind of odd" to see a lot of upside-call speculation last week in ZU.

Pete Najarian recommended DIS on any pullback.

Josh Brown said "the general trend" for Chinese equities is higher.

Stephen Weiss said DF guidance was higher, so the stock "probably keeps goin'."

Kenny Dichter trumpeted golf-tournament exposure for Wheels Up. Judge called it "invaluable advertising." Mike Murphy, who mentioned investing in this company a while back, is no longer on the program.

Josh Brown said CME is going over 100.

Given that the commercial runs all day, do you really have to be one of the first 250 callers?

For weeks, CNBC viewers have been seeing a commercial from the Najarian brothers touting their "entire" book, How We Trade Options.

The book, a purported $29.95 value, is offered for "free," only to 1) the first 250 callers and 2) provided those callers pay for shipping & handling.

The commercial airs so often during a single day, one can safely assume that the Najarians would gladly ship this book to 500,000 people if that many actually called the 250 meter is reset about, oh, every 5 minutes.

Pete warns that you should act quickly — "only while supplies last."

[Friday, May 8, 2015]

Barack Obama borrows a line from Albert Hammond

Warning to would-be politicians: The following is unfortunately part of the job description.

Judge relentlessly promised Halftime Report viewers on Friday that they'd get to see President Barack Obama speak live at Nike headquarters ... only to finally produce footage of a gentleman spending minutes struggling to crack jokes about a sunny day.

"It never rains in Oregon, doesn't (sic) it," the president chuckled, hearing a helpful dude in the crowd chant "California."

The thing about that job, let's say someone pees in your Cheerios, as happens to everyone all the time including Dr. New Land on Thursday with PXD and quite possibly Tom Ricketts also, but then you've gotta go somewhere that morning and stand in front of folks whooping it up for no reason while you read profound teleprompter lines that include, "I've come to Oregon to talk a little bit about trade, which, initially may have had some people thinking, what is, Mariota goin' someplace that we didn't know about?"

Not to mention the trouble pronouncing "quarterbacking" not when discussing Mariota but when haplessly trying to explain why Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden somehow wasn't at this event. (Hint: embarrassment, doesn't want to be seen here.)

So, we're actually sympathetic. Except, leaders of the free world should at least be able to say something real, rather than phony talking points about as convincing as his purported favorite movie (he enjoys "so many" of the scenes in "The Godfather" but especially the first in which the "caretaker" approaches Vito for a favor.)

Judge, who should feel sheepish for putting this tripe on live television, pretended the president was going to say something about the jobs number.

Judge never asked Jay Bowen what type of ‘legal action’ he might take

Jay Bowen has been an infrequent guest on Judge's Halftime Report and dubbed the "Oracle of Tampa," but honestly we never paid a whole lot of attention.

On Friday, Bowen was a guest of the show only to run headlong into Judge's line of questioning about a recent article in CIO magazine about Bowen's unusual status as the single manager of the Tampa police and fire pension fund.

"We were absolutely flabbergasted," Bowen told Wapner, and "shocked at the reckless and irresponsible nature of the piece."

The article quotes several observers as questioning the risk of the firm's low-key arrangement.

Mostly, it raises the same question over and over — given the outstanding long-term performance of Bowen's oversight of the Tampa funds, why aren't they getting paid more for this kind of management, and why don't they have a lot more clients?

Bowen on Friday conceded of the arrangement, "Now it is unorthodox, and it is unconventional."

Nevertheless, Bowen told Wapner, "I can't say too much because we're contemplating legal action."

That's where Judge dropped the ball, failing to demand what is purportedly defamatory about the article.

Honestly this doesn't sound like big news given that this issue came up in 2009.

Meanwhile on Friday's Halftime, Bowen said the U.S. stock market "could very well be range-bound." He said he likes UN for its emerging-markets exposure.

Mike Block: Still room
in high yield

Paul Richards on Friday's Halftime said the rally was merely "Goldilocks for a day" and expressed disappointment in the 223 number.

Kate Moore admitted, "I was a little disappointed myself."

Sarat Sethi called Friday's action a "relief rally."

Jim Lebenthal said the jobs data puts the Fed on track for a September hike.

"Overall, this is a very good report," said Mark Kiesel, predicting a September Fed move.

Sarat Sethi said to "stay away" from MCD.

Mike Block doesn't see what the "rush" is to buy YELP.

Block said, "I'm not cautious on high yield," stating it's still got room to run.

Jim Lebenthal said you should "stick with Alibaba." (This writer is long BABA.)

Steve Grasso said "most guys" think energy names are overpriced because they're pricing in $85 a barrel, and they don't think it's getting there.

Anthony Grisanti told Jackie DeAngelis he sees $65 oil by Memorial Day.

Observing VE 70th year festivities, Jim Lebenthal summed it up nicely, stating, "I can't give words to the magnitude of what happened 70 years ago."

[Thursday, May 7, 2015]

Whew — Rob Lowe didn’t
ask Joe about PXD

He was waiting for it the entire show.

And when Joe Terranova was finally afforded the chance to explain why he suddenly ditched PXD in his 2015 Playbook Playoffs (we're not even sure if that's still the official name of the contest now) portfolio, he immediately demonstrated he's taking this stuff WAY too seriously vented at poor Judge — to the point of redefining his purpose for being on the program.

"I'm here to make money," Joe bristled. "I'm not here to make sure that the headlines that we make are correct."

Urging Judge to show the clip of his Monday recommendation, Judge obliged, but Thursday, Joe stressed that he was expecting a better quarter than he got, and now, "There's more potential downside in PXD than there is upside."

Joe revealed that he consulted with Fish and sees a potential top in crude and added, "I no longer have the same degree of confidence that oil can continue to go higher," reiterating that he does think some fracking names would be in trouble but he's not going to name them.

Moments later, smiles abounded when Judge brought in Rob Lowe for a hard-hitting interview (were you surprised at how popular your DirecTV ads were; what's your next project) in which Lowe noted with a straight face (presumably, he was on the phone not on television) that "ironically," it's a Comcast (ding-ding-ding) project.

Tom Ricketts: Mr. Excitement

Judge didn't quite get everything he might've bargained for when a remarkably stoic Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts entertained some questions on Thursday's Halftime.

Ricketts told Judge "I don't know" when the Fed moves, but that there needs to be "sustained growth."

After that blistering start, Ricketts said that when discussing high-yield, you have to be "careful and specific" about what you're discussing, and, "I think anyone getting into high-yield anytime should be careful, particularly now."

On top of that, "I don't have a strong opinion on, uh, what's gonna happen next in Greece."

Ricketts said the Wrigley Field renovation is "a few years away" from completion.

Doc revealed, "We're doing some business with Tom, full disclosure, with Tom and InCapital, comin' out with some UITs," as OptionMonster's apparent march to hedge-fund glory perhaps takes another step.

Joe asked Ricketts if he wants to buy some PXD how to keep youth interested in baseball, perhaps even with World Series day games (snicker). Ricketts opined, "We do pretty well with kids up until about 12 or 13," and "every sport has that challenge."

Is bond market liquid
or illiquid (update)

Thursday brought a breakthrough in the long-running Halftime Report stalemate that Judge has refused to address for weeks.

Dr. New World took it upon himself to bring up liquidity in the fixed-income space and said he has changed his mind.

"Pete was concerned about it; I wasn't. I'm now concerned about it, based on what I'm seeing," Joe said, citing "significant outflows right now" in HYG.

Joe told Judge, "People are searching for yield in asset classes that they do not have their expec- uh, expertise."

Tom Barrack opened the program telling Judge, "Real estate is a slow-moving train, so it doesn't really respond to daily increases or decreases in interest rates."

Joe’s not there to ensure headlines are correct (but he’s predicting rates rise on Friday)

Thursday's Halftime Report produced dueling jobs-report predictions.

"I'm thinkin' we're gonna have another weak report tomorrow, and I think the yields will be down," Doc asserted.

But, "I believe that rates are gonna rise tomorrow," Mr. New World said.

Scott Nations said a good jobs number Friday would pressure the euro. Jeff Kilburg claimed the Maxwell Street cart guy was talking about the euro going to parity, then set 1.1546 as "great resistance" and a place to short again.

Doc said that to play BABA just before its big spike, "I bought Yahoo 2 days ago," which he saw as "much better value" than risking a BABA free fall through 75. (This writer is long BABA unfortunately.)

Pete Najarian, who spent last winter relentlessly hanging a 150 on BABA, carefully told Judge, "Ultimately this stock does return over 100, back towards 120. I'm not su- I'm not giving you any kind of timetable."

Doc and Judge said Whitney Tilson did "materially increase" his LL short.

Joe suggested playing ANN on the debt side but not the equity side.

Pete Najarian called WFM a buy.

Doc said GMCR had "the triumvirate of bad," and "I wouldn't touch it."

Tom Barrack, as much a gentleman as any guest of this program, closed with, "Don't get lost in asset diversification."

[Wednesday, May 6, 2015]

This just in: Karen Finerman
is long XBI, IBB, FBT (Drink)

It really is remarkable.

On Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Biotech, Karen Finerman, apparently believing there are still a handful of viewers out there (or guest hosts such as Mandy Drury) who haven't heard this story about, oh, a few dozen times, revealed that she's ... long XBI, IBB and FBT.

"The reason I own the ETFs is, I am not prepared to stomach the volatility of owning a 1-drug company that, you know, has a, a failed trial and trades down by 75%," Karen explained.

(And people wonder why we stopped making this monthly program a nightly appointment.)

Also Wednesday, Guy Adami was in the day-off camp.

Asking again: Where’s the outrage in Congress about big moves in the price of oil?

Milking the Einhorn play for a 3rd day, Judge on Wednesday's Halftime brought in Paul Sankey, who contended that Einhorn is "partly right" on the frackers but that EOG is the "premium takeover play" for XOM.

Mike Block questioned how desirable an EOG bid would be if crude prices come in; "why would Exxon bid against themselves."

Sankey conceded "it's ExxonMobil or nobody," but he said XOM is a "highly motivated buyer."

Like Dr. New World always used to do, Sankey put BP in the "penalty box" (Drink).

Later, Jim Lebenthal said to pay attention to the rally in oil and predicted that BP "will come out of the penalty box" (Double Drink).

Is bond market liquid
or illiquid (update)

Pete Najarian fanned the flames a couple weeks ago, and nobody has touched it since.

That is, until Rich Saperstein turned up on Wednesday's Halftime Report and told Judge that "liquidity is very thin" in the bond market.

But that's as far as the subject went, though it's fair to note that Saperstein said, "We're still maintaining our full fixed-income exposure."

"On the equity side, we're cautious in the short run, but we're long in the long run," he said, hardly the first time that's been uttered on CNBC (Drrrrrink).

Steve Liesman said "the story" with Yellen's remarks is that "she's using this time to try to take some of the bubble or the edge off of some markets."

Jim Lebenthal observed, "It feels a lot like uh Greenspan in 1996 with irrational exuberance, and we had several years of, of market highs after that."

"I'm not sure we're in the same environment as '96," said Liesman.

Jon Najarian revealed, "I've sold a lot over the last 2 days," then took it upon himself to clarify Janet Yellen's remarks on stocks, claiming she meant that "on a relative basis, against a safe asset, um they're not stretched."

Mike Block said he's shorting financials and remains in the "lower for longer" camp.

Pete Najarian suggested Joe Terranova should've bought the VIX a couple days ago rather than Wednesday.

Judge hasn’t figured out yet that programs devoted to asking about bubbles are Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In a moment of understatement, Dr. Mark Schoenebaum on Wednesday's Halftime Report actually said it's "reasonable" to say that biotech valuations as a whole "are not cheap."

But, it's not like 1999; "we're curing diseases," Schoenebaum asserted, stating the types of cautious conversations people are having about valuations and drug progress are not indicative of excess.

"Seeing a bubble when you're in one is very difficult," Schoenebaum added.

He said that when he got word of the Alexion/Synageva deal, "I had to actually recheck my iPhone to make sure I was reading the premium correctly." But he said the deal is in the "ultra-orphan space" in which price points can be extremely high, and there's "a lot of activity" in the space.

Schoenebaum said worst-case scenario, he sees $5.50 in earnings for ABBV with "explosive upside" possible; he also said management wanted to talk about their drug elagolix that they say is misunderstood and is partnered with NBIX.

Pete Najarian said there's "not a huge bubble" in biotech and then touted GILD.

Mike Block said nervousness over biotech makes some companies ones you might want to "buy opportunistically."

"For the record, I love Janet Yellen," Schoenebaum said.

James Dolan didn’t appear to be licking his chops about anything

He promised a lot more than he delivered.

Judge spent much of Wednesday's Halftime hyping a pair of interviews with James Dolan and Pat Esser that proved about as dramatic as that Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

Dolan told Julia Boorstin that the NYC cable scene has a "lot of opportunity" to benefit from some consolidation, but CVC is "doin' just fine" on its own.

He indicated backing for Comcast's TWC bid; "I certainly was not against it."

And, Dolan told Judge he's "not really bothered, to be honest," by Net Neutrality rulings.

Doc said it seems like CVC could do a deal "and probably should," suggesting Dolan is "licking his chops" over the chance of TWC being back in play.

Jim Lebenthal pointed out MSG has been "on a tear."

Mike Block cautioned that he could see a CVC/TWC deal but that regulators could "stick a microscope where the sun doesn't shine."

Later, Pat Esser told Boorstin that Cox is "extremely thrilled where we're at."

"Scale never hurts," he said.

Esser indicated he's got no problem with Net Neutrality; rather, he thinks "Title II" regulation is "the wrong way to try to solve a problem that does not exist."

[Tuesday, May 5, 2015]

FB investor is afraid that a board member might ‘go off the deep end’

Tuesday's Halftime Report featured an interesting revelation from Stephen Weiss about what makes a guest inclined to appear on the show.

Julie Goodridge told Judge she wants a recapitalization of FB shares so that each share gets 1 vote.

Judge asked Goodridge why, already knowing about the B-share differential, she bought the shares anyway, calling that "the most obvious question that there is."

Goodridge's argument — and we're taking some license to finish it — apparently is that the company is appealing but that the ownership structure is impairing returns. "If you look back in history," Goodridge said, companies with an "unequal, uh, share structure tend to underperform."

Rich Pzena said people with the supervoting shares tend to demand lots of cash in order to give that up, and he wondered if Goodridge is OK with that kind of resolution.

"I don't really think that that's the perfect situation," Goodridge said, suggesting the Facebook B holders are wealthy enough already.

Judge pointed out the returns in FB and asked Goodridge what more she really wants. "I would be even more thrilled if I had some authority to choose board members should somebody, you know, go off the deep end," Goodridge said.

Stephen Weiss was unimpressed, declaring, "If they did this, it'd still be trading at 77," and claiming this was an issue "10, 20 years ago. It's not an issue now."

Weiss told Wapner, "Call this for what it is — she's trying to raise the profile of her firm."

How come there haven’t been any congressional hearings on why oil has moved so much?

About the last thing we'd want to do is haul out the old Econ 101 textbook and (for the first time) try to learn something from it.

But, Rich Pzena on Tuesday's Halftime Report made a phenomenal observation about oil pricing that bears running up the flagpole despite the fact it went unaddressed by Judge and his panel.

"If it used to take a hundred dollar a barrel to make these fracking projects work and now it's 65 or 70, how does the oil price ever get above 65 or 70? It can't," Pzena said.

That came after Pzena asserted, "If oil stays here where it is, these stocks are definitely going down ... you need much much higher oil prices than we are at today to, to justify the valuation of the frackers."

There's some chicken and egg here, but we think we get it.

Fracking projects were undertaken on the necessity of $100 oil. They are now apparently viable at 65 or 70 oil. That increases the valuation but indirectly drives down the crude price that affects the valuation.

Or something like that.

Perhaps what he is saying is that the price of crude is permanently aligned with whatever minimum price it takes to make a fracking project work.

In any case, "I agree with Einhorn. Absolutely," Pzena said.

Joe vs. Einhorn, Day 2

One guy who's not agreeing with Einhorn is Mr. New World.

Joe Terranova on Tuesday's Halftime asserted, "PXD is not going to $78 as Mr. Einhorn suggested if oil stays at 61."

He said Einhorn's thesis on fracking would be correct if oil slides below 40.

Jon Najarian said the frackers have a lot of high-yield debt coming up in the fall, then said that his friend in Williston reports that prices for everything in shale land are coming down.

Expressing continued frustration with Einhorn's argument, Joe said there are "so many other names" in the space that are better short candidates, but he didn't want to name them on the air.

Joe contended that PXD and EOG are "survivors" in the space that is due for consolidation.

Rich Pzena disagreed that fracking names are appealing consolidation targets. He contended that the integrateds became out of favor amid the excitement over fracking while the integrateds are more interested in longer-term LNG and deep-water drilling projects, and that the fracking names are overrated as growth stocks.

Rich Pzena consistent with his April 23 commentary

It's rare to hear AAPL skepticism on the Halftime Report or Fast Biotech.

But Rich Pzena on Tuesday's Halftime said he wouldn't own AAPL because he questions if it can sustain its margin structure that he said is unprecedented for a consumer-electronics company.

Even Dr. New Land seemed uncertain (again) on this subject; "I have no clue where it goes from here."

Elsewhere, Pzena called stocks "fairly priced."

Pzena stressed, just as he did a couple weeks ago (a day famous not for Pzena's stock calls but that picture we achieved above of Jackie DeAngelis that, if it doesn't stop you in your tracks, you're not human), that low-beta stocks are trading at "all-time record high valuations relative to the market" while high-beta is trading at lows.

Stephen Weiss said that unlike Gundlach, "I'm not so sure we've bottomed" in rates.

Joe Terranova asserted, "I would not own utilities right now."

Stephen Weiss said a couple European hedge funds that he has allocated money to are net short Germany because they think it's ahead of itself.

Jim Iuorio told Jackie DeAngelis that he doesn't see a breakout in gold; Anthony Grisanti said it's range-bound. (Note: DeAngelis wore a chic black dress Tuesday, but we're not doing 2 photos in the same day.)

Michael Peltz told Judge that hedge funds had a down year, and about half the managers on the "Alpha" list didn't beat the S&P.

Chris Bosh delivered an impressive assessment of the social-media space and the potential of wearable technology.

[Monday, May 4, 2015]

Bill Ackman claims people congratulate him on HLF while he walks down the street

He actually mentioned Burger King during his Ira Sohn Halftime Report interview Monday, but it was famed investor Bill Ackman who seemed to be serving up the whoppers in regard to his interaction with regular Joes.

"I actually think the public has rallied behind us," Ackman told Josh Brown. "I- I mean, we have enormous amount of support. I walk down the street and people tell me, 'Bill, you're totally right on Herbalife, and everyone in L.A. knows it's a fraud, et cetera. Uh, it's really the media, which, you know, wants to have a balanced, uh you know sort of point of view ... and they make it about a battle of personalities."

That last line sounds like a bit of a jab at Judge's Signature Moment (Ouch).

Oddly enough, since we're discussing whoppers, Judge began the interview actually telling Ackman with a straight face, "A lot of us are tired of this story."

Ackman conceded "it's not an attractive way to make money" but asserted, "The government may do nothing, but I think the business goes away anyway."

Ackman suggested Marty Lipton was being "indirectly supportive of Nelson Peltz" despite Judge's protestations.

Karen: Long XBI

Missy Lee capped off a busy day at CNBC on Monday by delivering a 5 p.m. Fast Biotech episode live from Miami at some (noisy) conference somewhere in which bullishness notably had some legs.

"The market doesn't wanna go down right now," said Guy Adami.

Karen Finerman suggested M&A is "soooo interesting" these days and can take the market higher.

Tim Seymour called the bottom for oil.

Karen Finerman said she'd rather play a David Einhorn position long than short.

Karen made XBI (Drink) her Final Trade.

We're hopeful/confident that Mel and Karen packed swimsuits, though the teaser commercial footage didn't quite demonstrate that.

Just like on ‘Wall Street Week,’ Barry Rosenstein does not rock the boat

Barry Rosenstein, who just made the rounds a week ago on Anthony Scaramucci's "Wall Street Week," visited the Halftime Report set Monday to tell Judge he thinks QCOM is "heading in the right direction."

Rosenstein said of WBA, "I don't think it needs to do a deal," but, "We're lookin' at everything."

Making sure he didn't say anything remotely controversial, Rosenstein said he's encountered Marty Lipton "numerous times" and they've arrived at settlements "virtually every single time."

Joe takes opposite side of Einhorn’s big Ira Sohn presentation

Judge allotted a decent amount of Monday's Halftime Report to David Einhorn's speech only to cut away once Einhorn really started getting into his case against "motherfracker" PXD — an argument that wasn't sitting well with Dr. New Land.

"I disagree with what David is saying right now," said Joe, predicting, "I think it's gonna be a solid quarter" and adding he'd "look to buy some if the decline continues."

On the broader market, Joe said, "I think a correction's probably coming."

Stephen Weiss said he likes Europe and he wouldn't be spooked by a 5-10% correction in the U.S.

Josh Brown observed that "volatility has dropped off a cliff."

Lee Cooperman, whose best comments were directed toward federal subpoenas and charitable giving (see below), said he finds the market at a "fair" and "full" valuation although like basically everyone else these days including the guests on "Wall Street Week" he thinks "the bond market is overvalued" (Drink).

Cooperman cracked that Gross was "quite negative when the market was 700 on the S&P."

Lee Cooperman: Feds depriving kids of chance at college

On location at the Ira Sohn Conference for Monday's Halftime Report, Scott Wapner mentioned the recent subpoena of Omega Advisors by the U.S. attorney in New Jersey and SEC and asked Leon Cooperman for "the latest."

According to Cooperman, in a remarkably pointed response, the latest is a blow to charitable giving.

"Yesterday I had tears in my eyes," Cooperman told Wapner, explaining that he has just launched the inaugural program of Cooperman College Scholars, which will supply 75 young inner-city students with $10,000 of financial aid toward tuition.

But, Cooperman said, if not for the feds, it'd be a lot more.

"The amount of money, the legal fees, it's gonna cost us [will] deprive a bunch of kids of a college education," Cooperman said. "I gave $25 million to this program, I'd like to give 50, 75 or a hundred million dollars, my legacy, OK."

But that wasn't all. Cooperman likened the subpoena to an overarching "hostile" environment toward the wealthy.

"I took the giving pledge with Warren Buffett. I'm not giving half away; I'm giving all away. But my idea was to give it to people that need the money, not the legal profession," Cooperman said.

"Unfortunately no matter how hard you work for your money, and no matter what social good you do with your money, if you have money today, you're out of favor," he said, before getting political.

"Look at Hillary Clinton. I got nothing negative- too negative to say about her. But basically, she's already on the stump, attacking hedge funds, attacking wealthy people, and she's probably as wealthy as all the people she's attacking," he said.

As for the subpoena, Cooperman asserted, "We did nothing wrong ... at the end of the day, we'll be exonerated ... this information is not inside information ... we play by the rules."

Steve Weiss, who said he has known Cooperman for over 20 years, concluded, "Everybody knows that he does everything so far above the line, that it's not even an issue."

More from Monday's Halftime Report later.

[Friday, May 1, 2015]

It’s not like you thought after airing breaking news from Barack Obama that Judge was going to ask his panel to opine on the state of policing today in African-American communities

Judge on Friday's Halftime Report said that Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, among others, will be making an appearance on the show next week.

Judge "cannot wait" for the interviews with Ricketts and the others.

Neither can we, given that Ricketts just issued an apology on Thursday for linking a certain type of undershirt to a particular Italian slur. (You know exactly what we're talking about, but for those who somehow don't, it's a 4-letter word beginning with "D," followed by "tee.")

The Halftime/Fast Money sphere includes some participants of Italian heritage — some of our favorite folks in the history of CNBC (and it's not the Najarians, who are Armenian).

We'll see if Judge brings it up.

Karen Finerman always wondered how gold could work in an inflationary environment and also work in a deflationary environment, etc.

After a slight delay/glitch, Brian Stutland on Friday's Halftime Report told Jackie DeAngelis that if the 10-year breaks 2.1%, then gold goes "a lot lower" than 1,140.

Jim Iuorio, no man-fur needed for a long time now, said he was doing a "complete 180 from yesterday" when he was looking at a weaker dollar and not higher 10-year yields as the real determinant of gold.

Mike Block said he's a seller of gold because the inflation story is a "crock" (sic not "Kroc" as in Ray; that's a MCD story).

Tyler Vernon said he sees no bull case for gold. Doc admitted there's nothing going on with gold miners.

Kate Kelly is the only person keeping a scorecard of CNBC year-end predictions

Scott Devitt on Friday's Halftime Report shrugged off LinkedIn's problems as "mostly transitory in nature" and also curiously said they're related to "some miscommunication around the accounting of the recent acquisition of lynda.com."

Devitt said the stock should be down just 7-10% on pure fundamentals. Jon Najarian said the stock will be fine if it settles, but if it breaks 183, "then all bets are off." Tyler Vernon called the stock a "great buy."

Kate Kelly reported that Larry Robbins scored with big positions in HMOs.

Kelly said that one of her CNBC predictions for 2015 was that "one of these major players" in the activist space would target an E&P name, and Dan Loeb is paving the way with DVN for such a move.

Mike Santoli said nothing "decisive" has happened with stocks.

Tyler Vernon isn't a fan of selling in May this year.

Jim Lebenthal grumbled that he doesn't really believe the "sell in May" theory.

Mike Block said a former colleague came out with a note about how not much is going to happen in May. But Block said, "It's time to really be alert here."

Melissa Otto, who is cute, backed the Japan trade. Mike Block said there are "2 big catalysts" for being long.

Judge thanked Jane Wells for "literally (Drink) getting in the ring for us" on location at the Mayweather fight; Jane had a good "Rocky" line (but far from the best), "Cut my eye."

Dom Chu sat down with Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen to help cross-promote the Kentucky Derby. Oddly enough, Carstanjen refused to predict a Derby winner but demanded Chu make a pick.

Doc said he bought AER.

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special report: CNBC ‘Fast Money’ trader positions often go undisclosed

♦ Daily online recaps often omit certain traders' holdings, appear voluntary, unenforced, no requirement for accuracy or timeliness, no description of the size of position or whether positions are for clients or traders' own accounts

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CNBC/cable TV
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♦ Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
♦ Jane Wells
♦ Erin Burnett
♦ David Faber
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♦ Tim Seymour
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♦ Martha MacCallum
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♦ Uma Pemmaraju
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♦ Terry Keenan
♦ Chrystia Freeland
♦ Christine Romans

CNBC guest bios

♦ Bill Gross
♦ Dennis Gartman
♦ Diane Swonk
♦ Meredith Whitney
♦ Richard X. Bove
♦ Arthur Laffer
♦ Jared Bernstein
♦ Doug Kass
♦ David Malpass
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♦ A. Gary Shilling
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♦ Stefan Abrams
♦ Warren Buffett