[CNBCfix Fast Money Review Archive, November 2011]
[Wednesday, November 30, 2011]

Mark Fisher apparently isn’t a fan of Lee Cooperman’s 9-point plan

Judge Scott Wapner on Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money played a clip of his Halftime interview of Lee Cooperman expressing bullishness on the stock market.

Mark Fisher, though, pointed to Cooperman's critique of the White House and suggested, "Unless you can do a better job, shut up."

Judge chuckled — the only panelist to make a sound — then cut himself off with "touche."

One term we didn’t hear on
Wednesday’s Fast Money:

This page has been pointing out how the Fast Money gang is superb at calling market moves after they happen but a little more suspect at calling them before they actually happen (where were all the buy recommendations on Friday other than Steve Cortes' "oversold" due-for-a-bounce call), and Wednesday's 5 p.m. show notably was devoid of serious conviction, with the exception of Dennis Gartman.

Gartman gushed about the "game change" early Wednesday morning and how you somehow can't fade it.

Mark Fisher said "I'm bearish overall," but he predicted a "pretty significant rally" into year-end while overall, "the fear is to be long."

Joe Terranova surmised that short-covering was a big part of the rally, and Pete Najarian concurred that fear was still a big part of bank stocks.

Mike Khouw said it's fine to be skeptical, but, "the last time we saw these types of liquidity moves," the end of July, the market went on a rally for 6 straight days.

Stephen Weiss tried to throw "cold water" on the rally and said hedge funds don't change their strategies or start "going all in" based on a couple days. He said the "easy lifting" has been done, and the central bank action is a sign of how "frozen" Europe's financial markets were. "I don't think there's going to be a bazooka," he said, and in fact, "I think they're gonna nationalize the French banks."

Nobody said anything about our Who Theory (that would be Won't Get Fooled Again), which basically says we've seen 3-4% 1-day gains in the S&P since last summer, the stocks don't permanently go anywhere, and in fact such a 1-day move is not a sign of a lasting rally, but a seriously troubled market.

Will C do its 2nd 1-for-10 before BAC does its first?

While suggesting such a big rally as Wednesday's could ride a wave into year-end, the Fast Money gang basically went around the table admitting that if not for the Chinese easing restrictions, banks would've been down on the S&P downgrade.

That is, with the possible exception of Mark Fisher, who said the downgrade was based not on individual banks but the macro conditions and indicated BAC is underpriced. "Bank of America under 5 is like Citibank when it was under 1," Fisher said.

Joe Terranova asserted that if you like BAC you've gotta like GS, which got the dander going of Pete Najarian, who said GS and MS are different than the regular banks like BAC.

X marks the spot

Fast Money panelists on Wednesday were hailing the moves in steel names, which for X was the best day in 2 years according to the screen graphic, as well as hailing the Fast Money trader most often making steel calls.

"To Steve Grasso's credit, great call on letter X," Najarian said.

Well, that's true, but ...

Grasso's point, most recently made Monday, is that December is historically a monster month for steel names, the Goldman conference, etc.

It's not December yet.

And the stock's already up 18% in the last 3 days of November.

It was a great call, as long as you didn't wait until Nov. 30 to get in. Or maybe it'll get even greater.

Stephen Weiss shrugged that "there's so much steel out there; the world's awash in it."

Joe Terranova sort of pounded the table for JOYG, insisting, "Someone's comin' after them." Mark Fisher mentioned SU (which he said he owns) and said of the Canadian oil plays, "They're all gonna get picked off."

Oh joy (and we don’t mean Global) ... more Fed easing to help us out

Guest Jim Caron said on Wednesday's Fast Money the issue isn't that the world is delevering, but the "speed of the delevering cycle," which the central banks have so kindly decided to help us all out with. "QE3 is definitely on the table," Caron said, and he predicted it'll be more "mortgage-backed," and why don't we just have the Fed buy all our loser stocks and underwater homes and call it a day?

Caron called it an "oversimplification" that Germany will "set the budgets" of its troubled European brethren, but he acknowledged there needs to be fiscal controls so that Deutschland is not "essentially throwing good money after bad."

Mark Fisher said he tends to be early, but "I think we're close to a bottom in nat gas," and that we're "within 6 months of a pretty big bull market in nat gas."

Guest Paul Hickey said people tend to think of tech doing great in December, but in fact the leader since 1990 is health care equipment and services.

Dennis Gartman explained an oddity brought up in a viewer tweet, why if the new ONN/OFF ETNs are inverses of each other, how did they both go up? Gartman said they're measured against their open price but weighed against a starting point of $25, they did what they were supposed to do.

Abigail Doolittle at the end of the show said unless the CRB breaks out at 330, then 260-280 is likely support, and it's actually "poised to make a pretty significant move down into the new year." Dennis Gartman, who at the beginning of the show was talking about how important it is now to own the stuff that hurts when you drop it on your foot, said Doolittle's chart is very significant and something to take very seriously.

John Calipari dialed in the Fast Line and said a friend told him that 10 years ago you could make money just being "lucky" or "good," and nowadays to make money you have to be "great."

Brian Kelly crushes one

A day ago on the Fast Money Halftime Report, Brian Kelly predicted names such as FCX would "rip" as soon as there's a "resolution out of Europe."

We're not sure Dennis Gartman and Mark Fisher's ETNs the central bank action constitutes a "resolution," but this was an absolute monster call.

Who knows how long it will last. But the implication from Kelly that a European headline was on its way paid off big time.

From ‘very alarmed’ to ‘hoping to get him around’

Maria Bartiromo already confronted Gene Sperling about the Lee Cooperman letter on Tuesday, but Judge Scott Wapner got the Coopmeister himself on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to explain ... and boy, did he explain.

Cooperman took up practically every subject short of Penn State, even at one point being allowed by Judge to stress a 9-point plan (that's correct, 9) for improving the country that starts with "get out of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Most curious was Cooperman's response to Judge's question about whom he's supporting for president. After considerable stammering, "Well, I know, I, uh, I would say that, uh, uh, I'm supporting, uh," Cooperman revealed, "Mitt Romney," whom he called the "most electable of the Republican side," while assuring, "I'm not a die-hard Republican."

Judge dropped the ball though when Cooperman claimed "There are no moderates left in Washington. They're all extremists," failing to ask if (in no particular order) Marco Rubio/Dianne Feinstein/Joe Lieberman/Olympia Snowe/Orrin Hatch/Kirsten Gillibrand/Jim Webb/Gabby Giffords are extremists.

Cooperman said this is the "first open letter I've ever written," but the transition of his sentiments toward the president throughout this interview was rather notable, first saying "Frankly I'm very alarmed at the direction he is taking the country" and blaming the president's "inflammatory dialogue," later saying "I think he's a great American," and concluding with, "We all wanna see the country move ahead and do well and we all wanna support the president; we're just hoping to get him around a little bit more to our agenda."

Europe solved!

As we've come to realize since August, the Fast Money gang tends to be better at calling the moves after they happen than before they actually happen.

Dan Dicker said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that "this is the first of a number moves" and that he expects a "furthering of this rally" especially as names such as Anadarko, Apache, EOG "continue to move higher."

Dicker said "The hedge fund guys are really behind the 8-ball right now," suggesting a chase into year end. Dennis Gartman and Jon Najarian both suggested getting out of the way of the locomotive.

"Don't stand in front of this freight train," Gartman said, after a 400-point Dow rally and not the day before. "This thing might continue for a while."

Steve Cortes was the panel's lone skeptic, fending off Judge Wapner's baiting about being on the wrong side, but this time Cortes didn't cite AAPL's underperformance as validation. "I've been very right so far," Cortes said, explaining he "took profits on energy today and initiated shorts across the board … this is absolutely the spot to start shorting."

‘Credit crunch is very much happening here’

Count Wednesday Fast Money Halftime guest Louise Cooper among those in the Europe-not-fixed camp.

"Probably not," Cooper told Judge Scott Wapner, saying politicians in Europe "don't have a vision," but what the central banks are doing hasn't changed the fundamentals and that the equity markets "just don't quite understand" the credit markets. "The credit crunch is very much happening here."

Steve Cortes said that the move is good for gold in the short term, because the Fed will be compelled in the discount rate to "offer the same kind of concession to U.S. banks."

Dennis Gartman said in his Call the Close that people should own gold and also pointed to $1,750 as trouble for bears. But Dan Dicker said, "I'm starting to disbelieve gold."

Jon Najarian, slightly crowing about a BAC call-buying report (how is it a good call merely reporting something that happened in the past?) from a day ago on the following day in which BAC quickly pulled back from its highs and didn't seem to maintain the overall market enthusiasm, said it's now "suspicious" as to who was buying those January 6 calls yesterday before the central bank announcement.

Todd Hagerman said the S&P bank downgrade was "pretty much expected" and that his top names are PNC, BBT, WFC, and isn't that the way to get ahead in 2011, buying bank stocks.

Whitney Tilson’s next BP

Michael Pachter guested on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report and initiated backpedaling on NFLX.

"I'm convinced this thing has a lot of downside," Pachter said, maybe not even stopping at his $45 target. "These guys could lose 2 or 3 dollars next year."

The curious thing is, Pachter was on a week ago, Nov. 22, and didn't make such a call as NFLX hit $74 that day ... but now, after it's closed in the $60s every day since, is declaring "underperform/sell" (see, that whole thing about Fast Money recognizing the moves after they happen). Judge credited Pachter for being a stand-up guy, while Pachter joked about having a "week" moment, meaning needing a week to determine whether a stock with a $45 target trading in the $70s should be rated a sell.

Dennis Gartman said if you've felt bad about some of your trades, know that he took his NFLX short off $60 ago.

Herb apparently missed the segment with Michael Pachter for clues on how this price-target thing works

Dennis Gartman got a chance to tout his snazzy new risk on/off ETNs on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report — and quickly got an endorsement from Jon Najarian.

"I love this thing," said Najarian who called it a "great contract" he will trade vs. the VIX.

Gartman conceded "this could be an extraordinarily volatile index" but said traders will find it useful. Gartman shrugged off as "minute" (that's pronounced "my-newt") Dan Dicker's contango cost concerns, saying that applies to crude and ONN and OFF don't use crude futures.

Jon Najarian speculated that "Herb Greenberg is writing something about Green Mountain," and shortly after, whether he's writing something we don't know, but Greenberg claimed GMCR was rising on a report from an analyst who didn't up his price. "If it's that good, change the stock target," Greenberg said.

Greenberg also chortled that some Twitterers claim the SODA chief sounds like Billy Mays.

Judge ramrodded Gene Munster through a quick segment on Yahoo, with Munster saying any activity for bids even if not a complete takeover "should be positive" for YHOO.

Jon Najarian called WFM "just a good stock," but more significantly, he said housing's going up.

Steve Cortes recommended "be short" the euro, while Dan Dicker touted Cameron or Superior.

[Tuesday, November 29, 2011]

James Altucher says news media has ‘responsibility’ to ‘create’ part of market psychology

James Altucher on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money told the panelists this:

"We have a responsibility here in the news and the media to create part of that psychology. People are turning on the news to find out what is really going on."

Oh man. Does that bring back memories.

Back in the winter of 2008-09, when this site could barely field a basketball team with the amount of people actually viewing the pages, bashing CNBC was a trendy thing, the whole "Dow cheerleaders who missed the big subprime crisis."

Jon Stewart even took it out on a humbled Jim Cramer.

So it's rather remarkable to hear a semi-regular guest claiming that the "news" and the "media" must "create" psychology that presumably will cause people to think the U.S. stock market is better than it currently trades at.

There's 1 word in Altucher's quote that's trouble, and it's the "c" word. Had he just said "report," "identify," "explain," not a problem. Suggesting CNBC should be engineering a part of market sentiment is the type of comment bound to end up on "The Daily Show" in the event Europe implodes.

People such as Altucher appear on CNBC dozens of times a day and write countless Web articles. They're free to opine however they like. The truth is that, since mid-summer, it's been practically 50/50 among the talking heads, on Fast Money and other shows including The Strategy Session, which took some of the deepest earliest looks at the European credit markets. Some insist Europe is a blip; others see depression. Take your pick; Steve Cortes and Stephen Weiss or Brian Kelly and Zach Karabell.

If anything, Altucher should be cheering this "psychology" that he's doubting, because he's able to pick up U.S. shares he thinks are so undervalued while they're still in his opinion cheap.

"Things in America are not doing that badly," Altucher said.

James Altucher insists
‘Italy is not gonna get liquidated’

James Altucher didn't really get into his 20,000 Dow or $1 trillion (or was it $2 trillion?) AAPL call on Tuesday's Fast Money, but he did insist, "The stock market's incredibly cheap here."

However, the first company he brought up was MSFT, so take that for what you will.

Altucher claimed only 1.7% of U.S. GDP comes from sales to Europe, and so even if Europe went completely to zero (which Altucher assured was a "ridiculous, science fiction" example), the U.S. impact is minimal, and thus, "stocks relative to interest rates are the cheapest they've been in 50 years."

Altucher even claimed Europe's problems are helping in a way; "Boeing is getting deals that Airbus should've gotten."

He said "who cares" about the S&P bank downgrade; "all of South America defaulted in 1981" and U.S. stocks began a history-making surge shortly after.

Mike Khouw took issue with several of Altucher's argument, in particular stressing that the 1.7% GDP asserting "probably understates the problem."

At one point Altucher said, that unlike Lehman, "Italy is not gonna get liquidated." Joe Terranova seized on that comment and said "How did we get here, Guy?"

How soon until Judge ups his number on his how-high-should-Facebook’s-valuation-be segment?

Guest Lou Kerner told Judge Scott Wapner and Karen Finerman in one of Fast Money's most underestimated subjects ever on Tuesday that Facebook trading with a 20-times multiple based on 2013 earnings "actually seems kinda low to us."

Notable, because someone on the Halftime Report has a $290 price target on AMZN, which is (to say the least) mature and already trades at a 99 (admittedly trailing) multiple.

Kerner shrugged off Judge's unconvincing $100 billion incredulity, calling Facebook a "once in a lifetime" type of company and saying the private markets "generally tend to underprice these."

Kerner said Facebook is a "much better buy" than LNKD but downplayed suggestions that Groupon is hopeless, saying Amazon also has "zero barriers" to competition but both boast an impressive mass of customers.

Chris Whalen is first to blame banks’ problems on bad parenting

Anthony Scaramucci on Tuesday's Fast Money used the S&P bank downgrade to take a swipe at protesters, saying, "It's a good week for the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Bonuses are gonna be down 30%," and now the stocks will get hit.

But Scaramucci said QE3 has been signaled, and as for downgrades, "that's usually the end of the bad news."

Chris Whalen said the S&P downgrade is nothing new that the markets don't already know, and that bank stocks do seem to want to go up with some positive catalyst.

But the conversation got a little strange when Joe Terranova asked Whalen if Bank of America needs capital. "They have plenty of capital at the bank level. The question is, what are the parent's cash needs? Does anybody want to put more capital into the parent company? No. No sane person would do that."

As soon as we figure out what BAC's parent company is — or what the answer to Terranova's question is — we'll pass it on.

Jon Najarian said January $6 calls in BAC were "off the charts."

Whalen did make an interesting argument that actually sounds like a pretty good deal for BAC and its shareholders and the markets in general: "I would break it up. You could sell 5, 6 banks out of Bank America (sic). Be the biggest IPOs in history," he said.

Judge actually credits Adam Parker for ‘braving’ the weather to walk ‘a few blocks’

On Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, Karen Finerman, in one of the hottest gray outfits of all time that must've cost an estimate seventy-four hundred dollars while also doing something differently with her hair, called GLW a "total dog today."

Quite frankly, it's been a total dog basically forever, at least for as long as it's been a Best Buy TV trade.

Guest Adam Parker began his appearance at the Nasdaq saying, "We're overweight utilities, health care and staples," and after that, the excitement only went downhill, even as Judge Wapner's intro implied that Fast Money is relieved when a guest simply decides to show up.

Guest Ashok Kumar — has it been more than 24 hours since Fast Money tackled the Apple ecosystem? — delivered an update on those iPhone Asia parts, calling it "less of a demand issue than a supply issue," and once again, the excitement only went downhill from there.

Anthony Scaramucci said, based in part on Walter Isaacson's book, that AAPL has a happy surprise coming early in 2012, so big that he can't even get people to speak at his conference. "I do believe they have something in store, in the first quarter, in terms of a very sexy announcement," said Scaramucci, clarifying, "it's not a rumor or anything like that."

Joe Terranova said he'd have to put AAPL in the "penalty box" until first-quarter earnings.

Marc Chandler, who spoke in a staticky phone connection we could barely understand, said the EFSF was in effect "giving people a credit default swap." He suggested the euro could go to 1.34 or 1.35.

Is Judge Wapner serious? The question isn’t Facebook $100 billion, but $200 billion

In one of the great Fast Money understatements of recent memory, Judge Scott Wapner on Tuesday's Halftime spoke about a possible $100 billion valuation for Facebook and oozed skepticism the way Peter Brady's volcano oozed lava.

But guest Michael Pachter said "100 doesn't sound crazy to me ... they haven't even begun to monetize search."

Pachter pointed to the potential of location-driven advertising possibly with the likes of Groupon or LivingSocial, such as, standing outside a restaurant and receiving an ad for that restaurant and seeing that 35 friends recommend that restaurant.

Joe Terranova and Judge Wapner suggested user growth isn't too far from capping; "they are going to have to figure out a strategy beyond the 800 million users that they have now," Terranova said, before acknowledging "100 bil yes, I think that is a good valuation" and then delivering the money quote: "incredibly strong demand to own the stock."

The thing about the $100 billion, by the time this goes public, that will have been last year's number, when Kate Kelly first suggested it.

When you talk about barriers to entry, this is the HQ of many people's Web experience, a sector of binary user outcomes, and Facebook is on the correct side of the binary. The idea of a competitor luring away this hyper-massive, hyper-marketable group of 14-35-(and up) educated consumers is like someone luring away the CME players to a new 500-stock e-mini contract.

Terranova correctly separated demand for the stock and its fundamentals. Whatever multiple Amazon — LL Bean with music — carries, Facebook will probably go double. (This writer owns zero shares of Facebook, and if he did, he wouldn't be writing Fast Money reviews.)

Um, not even Johnny Bravo
can save the euro

Unfortunately the Facebook chat didn't get the coverage it deserved, because most of Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report had all the punch of the Kansas City Chiefs offense.

Brian Kelly incredibly was making Europe's nightmare sound like little more than "something suddenly came up" with Marcia Brady's dilemma of choosing between Doug Simpson and Charley.

"You have to watch Europe," Kelly said, claiming that once there's a headline that the ECB will be the buyer of last resort, "This market will be off to the races."

Kelly said he's positive on the market "as long as the Europeans solve their problem." He even called the close saying a name like FCX will "rip" if there's a "resolution out of Europe."

Steve Cortes, who correctly forecast the oversold bounce that happened Monday (he didn't name the day in advance but was very close regardless), reiterated his "November Rain" thesis but said "I covered most of my shorts last week" and would look to re-short if the market goes much higher and AAPL lags.

Camilla Sutton made the same old point (congrats to Judge Wapner for noting it's been made before) that Europe has run out of time and predicted "lower euro in the very near-term."

For once no one spoke about the prospects of gold in this scenario, nor even the Silver Platters.

Gary Kaminsky said before Halftime, in closing Squawk on the Street, that "QE3, get ready for it."

Charley finally got the date, so maybe Greece (and Italy and Spain) will get the money.

Patty suggests Coach can get by on the cheap

Unlike many appearances, Patty Edwards was given time to speak on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report early and often, or at least at the beginning of the show and at the end.

Rather startlingly, Edwards suggested Coach could water down its product to overcome a possible slump like TIF was experiencing.

"They can change their fabrications, they can go to a thinner leather," Edwards said. (They could also start selling that tonic Oliver had that turned Greg's hair orange.)

Then Patty came through with her top cliche, saying she'd be interested in buying COH if it falls further, but "I don't have a number at this point in time," though later in the show she suggested that number could be 50.

Now the world don’t move ...

Steve Cortes on Tuesday's Halftime was invoking a sitcom theme of his own, linking "Diff'rent Strokes" to the high end.

"Nordstrom has made a lower low 9 of the last 10 days, so my thesis is, Mr. Drummond is not immune. Everyone is pulling back," Cortes said, apparently not considering the Strattons' endless wealth in "Silver Spoons."

"Whatchoo talkin' about, Willis?" said Judge Wapner, lame.

Cortes also made a Holly Golightly reference that will surely appeal to the show's younger viewers.

Joe Terranova — "literally minutes" before the show started (wow!) according to Judge Wapner — bought TRLG. Steve Cortes said, "I'm not cool enough to wear their clothes."

Patty Edwards reported that Macy's might be beloved in the heartland but has a "huge presence on the East Coast," but she didn't note at this point in time that Saks gets 25% of its sales from its flagship NYC store.

If, as expected, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich picks a woman for the ticket, is Meg Whitman a better bet than Carly Fiorina?

Guest Amit Daryanani, who unfortunately while delivering fine commentary on HPQ spent nearly his whole interview looking up or down, told Judge Wapner on Tuesday's Halftime that people are just glad HPQ is no longer talking about "transformation" of the company; they're sick of that. He's got a $32 price target.

Dan Dicker was playing the (incredibly) tired old Ahmadinejad card as support for crude, even though he's "not particularly bullish right now" and wouldn't be long or short it. "These are the kind of geopolitical events that come up all the time and make it very difficult to be short crude," Dicker said.

Dicker said RIG's dividend is "is anything but safe," but, "I am still long it."

Tavis McCourt called The Most Boring Stock on Fast Money, RIMM, a "market perform," but refused to project a price, saying, "Our target is under review at this time."

Steve Cortes said housing is improving in Washington, D.C., only because of the "ever-growing federal government." Patty Edwards said ALK could benefit from the troubles of AMR.

Cortes said to take profits if you're long AAPL. Edwards said to look at Chicago Bridge & Iron. Joe Terranova recommended MUB and LQD.

Dan Dicker tells anti-bailout
crowd to stuff it

Dan Dicker apparently is fed up with the Fed bashers on CNBC.

In a post at Real Money/The Street.com, Dicker even suggests that Fed-bashing is part of a marketing scheme. "I know how it works, from my limited exposure to the media. You want to make a name for yourself, you want to increase your brand, you want to get a hundred thousand Likes or 10,000 Twitter followers or get an invitation tbe (sic) on 'Squawk Box.' "

He continues, "You need to attack the system, you need to call the Fed a bunch of idiots, you need to deny the 3 million private sector jobs that the $800 billion stimulus created, you need to tell the world how much better things would have turned out, ultimately, if no one got a bailout."

We're not subscribers to Real Money, so that's as far as we got.

[Monday, November 28, 2011]

John Stephenson: ‘Europe is gonna blow up’ within a couple weeks, gold to $3,500-$5,000

If you enjoyed Monday's market rally, you don't want to hear John Stephenson on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

"We're facing the mother of all risk-off trades, coming down the pike anytime soon, in the next week or 2. With Europe. Europe is gonna blow up, and I think the euro, zone, as we know it is gone," Stephenson told Melissa Lee.

Stephenson said as soon as the dust settles with that, gold is headed to "3,500, maybe even 5,000 an ounce."

Stephenson also claimed, "I think oil goes to $150 within the year ... 1 calendar year," but he cited Iran, and Karen Finerman questioned that call irrespective of what happens in Europe.

Karen’s BKS short
starting to get scary

Scott Nations on Monday's Fast Money reported on one of the most notable stealth stocks of the last month that has gotten very little traction on Fast Money: BKS.

"Calls were on fire today," Nations said. "People are buying these December and Jan 20 calls."

Karen Finerman calmly explained to Melissa Lee that she's still short the stock while praising the Nook but that it's the challenge of reinventing the bricks-and-mortar concept that doesn't fly. But, evaluating her own position, Finerman cogently asked guest Ken Sena if, given the success of the Kindle Fire, whether there's room for more than 2 hot tablets, such as the Nook. Sena indicated no, "The market is kind of staked out at this point," and that the Fire has an advantage in arriving with pre-loaded content.

Sena, according to the screen, has a $290 target on AMZN with an "overweight" rating, interesting, because you know the cliche everyone on CNBC loves, "if just one thing goes wrong," and the last earnings report did go wrong, and yet we're talking about north-of-100 P.E.s again.

Melissa Lee rightly expressed skepticism on the same old years-long GLW refrain about how holiday TV and device sales will be so great when in fact the stock is grim death in 2011. "We like it, we're long, but so far, we're out of the money," admitted Karen Finerman.

Roque: Financials aren’t cheap because they keep going lower

Chartist John Roque came on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money to explain why financials will underperform the broad market, only to have the panelists try to push him into a market call.

"We think that the group will continue to work lower over time," Roque said of banks, but he added, "I think the next move for the S&P is lower."

Roque told Karen Finerman, who did something different with her hair Monday, that the big broker banks such as Goldman, Lazard look rough, and "the regionals act better."

Likewise, guest Bob Sinche figured he would speak about how Greece sort of has to stay in the euro, only to have Melissa Lee (in her orange-arced-top black dress redux) ask to know about RBS' ability to pass the stress tests. "Yeah, I really can't comment on our, uh, on our operations," Sinche said.

Sinche said a drachma is "unlikely" and then quoted Churchill in explaining why. "For Greece, uh, staying in the euro is probably the worst possible outcome, except for all the options." He said the trade is to sell the euro vs. the Canadian dollar.

Brian Nagel said, "I'm expecting another very good report from Tiffany."

Melissa mentions Debbie Downer for the first time in many months

Guy Adami on Monday's Fast Money downplayed Monday's market surge, which Steve Cortes did sort of call last week though he might've underestimated the European banks, as a "classic, classic short-covering rally," pointing to an 1,185 floor and likely peak around 1,225.

Karen Finerman, who normally pounds the table at the unbelievable valuation of all these names that have sold off, also wasn't impressed, saying, "We're only back to where we were I think Tuesday afternoon."

Finerman even played Death Star tractor beam, denouncing BAC's performance as a "gravitational pull toward 5 now ... that was a pathetic showing from Bank of America."

Tim Seymour was the lone optimist, asserting, "I think there is some allocation going on" in stocks, and "the U.S. data is very good here ... it's more than just short-covering."

But later Seymour bolstered the ridiculousness of trying to go long this market on fundamentals, noting headline mayhem that we weren't even aware of when claiming that last week, "China's got a PMI number out Wednesday night that was a flash PMI," as if having multiple Chinese PMIs makes the situation any more accurate.

Later Melissa Lee read a tweet from a disgruntled viewer who didn't like the negativity. "I still think there's a whoosh coming," Adami insisted, and Karen Finerman had to get him to clarify if he actually said "wish" instead of "whoosh."

Fast Money panel bumbles and stumbles its way through comparing BP and NFLX

Sometimes the Fast Money crew has serious trouble telling it like it is.

Melissa Lee asked the gang on Monday's 5 p.m. if they agree with Whitney Tilson's unbelievably absurd argument — a candidate for silliest of 2011 — that Netflix is the BP of 2011, and the panel proceeded to put on the type of kid gloves people were apparently buying at Victoria's Secret on Black Friday.

Guy Adami put his hands up, and with a "don't hit it to me" look, sputtered and stammered, "Whitney knows better than me ... I don't see that comparison."

Tim Seymour, in a backdoor no, claimed that the intrinsic value of BP was easy to determine because it's a "mechanical operation" whereas the same isn't true for NFLX, even though Seymour was saying during BP's spill that there's no way to arrive at an accurate valuation of the company.

Karen Finerman was the only one close to blunt, saying, "I don't think they're similar at all," and that no one knows what Netflix's future business model is.

CNBC having trouble keeping
Dick Bove off the air

Dick Bove surfaced (as if you're surprised) on CNBC's Fast Money Halftime Report on Monday, this time to explain why his recent pro-bank call hasn't exactly panned out.

Bove cited a bunch of reasons why it should've worked, then said, "The risk premium on bank stocks has just, I'm gonna use the word (sic) 'blown out.' "

He dismissed concerns that U.S. banks are being hurt by Europe, calling it actually a "bonanza" for U.S. banks, saying they're picking up European bank loans and customers, so "Europe is giving them the business."

Stephen Weiss jumped in to argue, saying U.S. banks haven't shown loan growth, and that it's ownership of European debt that scares investors.

Bove responded, "2 things you said are dead wrong," and that according to the Fed's H8, every week loans are increasing in the U.S., and that their European pickups are high-caliber. "These are not bad loans. These are high quality loans," Bove said.

Weiss said, "No, 1, that's not what you said, but I'll give you that point, OK," but in fact, while not that specific, it basically was what Bove said. Weiss insisted loan growth doesn't match the loan loss reserve adjustments being put into earnings.

Bove praised WFC and said he can't buy bank stocks because he's a sell-side analyst, but he said BAC is "without question" the 1 bank stock he'd buy.

Evidently a lot of people are buying lingerie to give as gifts

Kimbergly Greenberger, who managed to mention The Limited and Ann Taylor Inc. about 3 times on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, called Black Friday a "resounding success."

Greenberger said JCPenney didn't participate in the midnight Thursday opening and thus lost traffic to Macy's and Kohl's.

But Greenberger admitted that in her store survey, with exceptions of Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and Gap, "every single one of them" gave away margins this year. "It takes deep, deep markdowns to drive, uh, consumers into the stores and entice them to buy," Greenberger said.

Indeed, Gary Kaminsky observed at the end of Monday's Squawk on the Street with Carl Quintanilla that retail CEOS were gushing about "sales," but, "Did you hear 1 person say to you whether or not they've hit the profit targets ... you and I could even create sales if we wanted to."

Quintanilla agreed and said, "The Fast Time (sic), uh Fast Money Halftime Report starts now."

Kilburg silent on Stanford game

Jeff Kilburg joined Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report and wasn't talking about his 1.67% 10-year target for a change, but did express skepticism of Monday's rally and said he expects "more attraction in the gold market above $1,700, back up to $1,800."

Everyone sort of agreed that copper is a significant economic indicator, but Dr. J was doing some extrapolating in terms of housing, reporting a recent number "in the 300,000s for new home sales. And that is just so pathetically low that I can't believe we're not gonna see an absolute bottom in that number this year," he said, emphasizing "this year" means 2011, and that once copper bounces from that it's "gonna be rather rapid."

Pete Najarian suggested people might want to take cash off the table in Monday's rally. Steve Grasso conceded "We're in a range-bound market" that held a 1,158 bottom. Stephen Weiss said, "I'm not buying into it."

Just what the world needs, more people gambling

We're inching ever so closer to the trade Steve Grasso has been mentioning off and on for weeks, the December steel trade (that Goldman conference, etc.), with Grasso saying on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report names like X, AKS, MT, NUE have gone gangbusters in December the last 4 years, "but there's 1 big if," that they're high-beta and to believe in this trade you have to think the market's going higher into year-end.

Guest Neil Doshi began his appearance saying there are "4 key parts to our upgrade" of ERTS, and longtime viewers know that 4 is generally too many for a Fast Money soundbite. Doshi either mentioned 3, 4, or 3½, starting with the stock coming in recently, good Black Friday activity, (either Point 3 or extension of 2) good activity at Best Buy, and the "Star Wars" game. But the graphic shown by Judge Wapner indicated opportunities in social media are one of Doshi's key parts; he acknowledge Zynga as such.

For some reason Vasily Karasyov was brought on to explain a neutral call on NFLX. "We still think that the international opportunity is much smaller than many people think," Karasyov said, but he said the stock has been beaten enough that it's not a sell. "We think $76 is where this stock, uh, can, can be," he said.

Likewise, keeping with much of the theme of the day, Dennis Forst said he likes WYNN mostly because "it has really cratered from about 160 to 107 on Friday," and he has a $145 price target.

He also said, repeating one of the earliest cliches of the Fast Money franchise, that there's another big Cotai project in the pipeline that he has assigned NO value to yet.

WYNN last week just trickled a tiny bit below even the Oct. 3 low, so either this is a double-bottom, or a disaster in the making. Nevertheless, Pete Najarian said, "I think there's plenty of upside here," though everyone agreed the Vegas casino tables aren't doing as well as the nightclub, though there's improvement for 6 straight months in the "slot handle."

Herb Greenberg said there was an inaccurate rumor floating around Monday about SINA being mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article.

No celebrating

(Sigh) We've been trying to get the y'inz off Football Night in America basically all year.

Thursday nights, they're fine; Mondays, just dynamite. It's only Sunday night when the Mark Malone squad shows up.

We figured, with the Chiefs spiraling into laughingstock-land, NBC would cut the Steelers a break and invoke flex scheduling, moving the game to afternoon perhaps in favor of the Tebowites or Bears-Raiders.


And what prime time viewers got, as we expected, was some of the shoddiest, sloppiest, suck-fest of football in a national TV game this season.

By the end, you actually had to be rooting for Tyler Palko, and wishing the Pittsburgh crew of decrepit offensive linemen and whiny receivers were 3-7 instead of 7-3 so you didn't have to care about monstrosities such as this.

We'd swear we're not watching next week, but we've taken that oath before ...

Footnote: Cris Collinsworth forgot one possibility when hammering Dwayne Bowe on the Chiefs' last play: It's possible Bowe thought the pass was intended for another receiver behind him and didn't want to obstruct the play. Definitely didn't look good. But you never know.

This page: Free of Black-Friday-mall-mayhem stories

We've succumbed to putting a couple on the home page, because you kind of have to, but that's all, be assured.

Someone shockingly punched someone at a couple of the thousands of Wal-Marts in the country jam-packed with shoppers including thugs eager to clean up on video-game deals.

Oh. Boy.

Most overrated element of football: 2nd-half timeouts

Turning Stone Age football tradition on its head (cont'd) ...

Watch a football team call a 3rd-quarter timeout, and invariably you'll get a camera shot of the coach fuming, and an announcer saying, "You don't want to waste those."

Teams with (cojones) should just open the 3rd quarter calling all 3 of them.

2nd-half timeouts accomplish one thing — extending the game by one series, maybe only 1 first down.

Maintaining your 2nd-half timeouts means you have about, oh, 7 chances to win, instead of just 6. Stop the other team at the 4-minute mark, instead of the 2-minute mark, if you can; oh what a difference.

Watch all the great teams in history, you won't see any of them winning big games by spending 3 timeouts in the last 2 minutes and miraculously getting the ball back for a miracle win.

2nd-half timeouts are best spent as 1st-half timeouts are, whenever there's confusion or perhaps if the defense needs a blow. Not only that, it's a public service — saving them for the end of the game only prolongs the misery for viewers eager for the network to switch to the next game.

Of course 1st-half timeouts, while they don't carry the same cliche/stigma, are also subject to equal if not worse absurdities, given that NFL teams' 1st-half clock management is so pathetic, coaches have no clue whether they should call them or not, playing a backwards game of chicken as to whether they should try to score with 1:31 left from their 30 or try to run out the clock so the other team can't score from 1:31 on. (Hint: Giving up is precisely what the defense wants you to do.)

These are the same geniuses who haven't realized every time an offense hands off, it's giving the defense a break.

Bottom line? Timeouts are for losers.

Bradshaw, Elway, Aikman, Manning, Luck ...

In the days since pro football became America's favorite TV show — basically the late '60s, maybe a little earlier in some places — there has come along, about once a decade, a savior prospect regarded as so overwhelmingly good that his final college season is marked by serious intrigue on the NFL level as to which loser will be lucky enough to draft him.

(There shouldn't even be a draft, by the way, but that's for another time.)

In 1969 it was Terry Bradshaw, whose arm was already legendary in high school; to this day — yes, to this day — it remains unmatched among NFL quarterbacks. At 6-3, 220, he had excellent size and was even a quality runner, an athlete so impressive he would've gotten a look in the NFL as a linebacker. The only concern was his decision to play at Louisiana Tech and whether there was truth to the "not so bright" tag.

In 1982 it was John Elway. His arm and legs were probably a 1B to Bradshaw's 1A, although overall a more polished thoroughbred in comparison. Elway was the complete package, son of a coach who would operate as a coordinator on the field. The only risk was that he would choose baseball instead.

Troy Aikman in 1988 was not quite the caliber of prospect of Bradshaw or Elway because he could not run, wasn't quite the athlete of those 2 and was initially regarded as a college bust when transferring from Oklahoma. He wasn't a character like the others. There was never a question about the arm, the size, the pocket passing or the precision, although the arm was a tiny shade below Bradshaw/Elway.

A lot of smart people in 1997 actually thought Ryan Leaf had more upside than Peyton Manning. In fact, he did. What no one knew was that Leaf was probably the dumbest person to play NFL quarterback in this lifetime. Manning had the hereditary advantage, like Elway, the best size of this group, maybe the best accuracy and a complete understanding of the NFL game, though his arm is probably a tiny shade below Aikman's.

That's your Mount Rushmore.

Is Andrew Luck about to elbow someone off? No.

Luck has good size and former-player-dad pedigree. What he doesn't have is the difference-making arm nor the type of edge that separates the repeat champions from the crowd.

Luck will be a very good NFL quarterback and might even pick up a Lombardi Trophy. He might be better than all other QBs taken No. 1 (the above 4 notwithstanding), although that includes Sam Bradford and Eli Manning and Carson Palmer and Drew Bledsoe.

He doesn't figure to be better than greats such as Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Dan Marino.

What's interesting about the Mount Rushmore is that its destiny was indeed fulfilled. Each was a Super Bowl MVP; they played in 14 total Super Bowls and won 10.

Aikman, no coincidence, helmed what this page considers the greatest team of all time (yes it hurts to say it), the 1992 Dallas Cowboys. Elway reached 5 Super Bowls spread 12 seasons apart. Manning dialed up a jaw-dropping spree of 10-win seasons rarely seen in league history.

Bradshaw led what was pound-for-pound history's greatest team (their lines would've had too much trouble with the size of the Dallas players of 1992) that realistically should've had an undefeated season every year for about 3 or 4 seasons in a row, except they incredibly turned the ball over as often as they scored touchdowns.

Over a 6-year Super Bowl span, they played 15 playoff games, won 12, but outgained the opponent in total yardage all 15 times, a staggering streak that assuredly will not be matched.

Bradshaw fought with his coach until the very late '70s. He did make too many mistakes, too many for virtually any other quarterback. When on, he threw a football like a baseball. When off, he could be dreadful. He somehow managed to light up his turnover-filled Super Bowls, 13 and 14, with MVP awards. He won a staggering amount of championships ... but was capable of winning even a staggering amount more.

It was triumph and tragedy, at the same time.

Sometimes, you have to believe the hype. Sometimes, you don't.

[Friday, November 25, 2011]

NFLX down about $30 in less than 3 weeks

Whitney Tilson explained on the Oct. 26 Fast Money Halftime Report that he had jumped into NFLX with a "small" position a day earlier, when it closed at $77.37.

Friday, it capped off Thanksgiving week at $63.86.

Tilson did indicate then he wasn't calling a bottom, actually saying he'd be interested in buying more if it goes lower. But he also didn't suggest flipping it, which was clearly the right trade within a week of his comments before a serious U-turn began.

He also spoke of a short position in CRM and called it maybe the next NFLX, a stock that screeched higher days after he mentioned it but has taken a U-turn in Tilson's direction since Nov. 15.

[Wednesday, November 23, 2011]

And the winner of the AAPL-12-month forecast is ...

This page pointed out Tuesday that Patty Edwards was on the verge of a perfect 1-year AAPL forecast.

And then came Wednesday.

And, incredibly, the winner of Simon Hobbs' 2010 call-AAPL-12-months-from-now contest is not Patty ... but Tim Seymour.

Here was the rundown again from Nov. 24, 2010:

Guy Adami — $285
Joe Terranova — $413
Karen Finerman — $360
Tim Seymour — $361
Patty Edwards — $375

Now, here is what's really remarkable ... AAPL closed Wednesday, according to Google finance and Yahoo finance, at $366.99.

That means Tim Seymour was closest, just $5.99 off.

Yet both Google finance and Yahoo finance indicate AAPL closed the afterhours session a few pennies over $368 — which actually gives Edwards the tiniest of nods.

But the 4 p.m. close is traditionally the official price, and afterhours activity is a bit murky, so officially Seymour prevails.

And, incredibly, Edwards has to settle for 3rd, because Karen Finerman's $360 is a whole $1.02 closer.

We'd already pointed out that Joe Terranova actually had the best call in terms of moneymaking; if the contest were calling the 52-week high, he was by far the most accurate.

Guy Adami was the only real miss, as the stock never saw a 2-handle. $310.50 was the low, in June, and in fact $310.87 was hit just days after these calls in November 2010. But while Adami's call seems farfetched now, keep in mind the stock's down about $60 from its peak, and given this market, who knows, his could somehow be the most realistic target by year end (that is not the forecast of this page).

Bottom line? 5 traders were asked to make a very difficult call, and 4 came up with blockbusters.

Fast Money and the NFL: You know what they say about a team that has 2 starting quarterbacks

Mel's mad.

We noticed this week that the 5 p.m. Fast Money cameras are increasingly catching Melissa Lee in frowns. Wednesday's show, instead of holiday joy, brought the most expressions of "let's hurry up and get this over with" yet.

It started when Lee was forced to give a long look while Dan Dicker spoke (see photo above) about CVX restrictions in Brazil ("in many ways the Brazilians are losing out") that increasingly went dour, and to be honest, this page has been ahead of the curve on that problem, pointing out that people on the phone make for boring television because only their picture appears on the screen and the hosts and panelists are forced to strike goofy poses.

A similar look emerged as Art Hatfield said lean retail inventories are actually good for UPS and FDX.

Bob Walker also came on, in a curiously focused appearance on RIMM "governance practices" that had the Fast gang itching for him to go further, and said "we haven't heard anybody say that to us" about agitating for a CEO change, and that with product evaluations, "we don't see that as our role." Lee abruptly ended with "Bob Walker thanks for your time."

But Mel's biggest slam, the one that tells you "Somethin' ain't right," was directed at good guy Jim Iuorio of all people, who was trying to explain how the interesting VIX-S&P 500 decoupling has been "fascinating, and very expensive for me," only to have Lee demand, "Right. So what's your playbook."

(That would be to buy the Jan. 2012 SPY 114 puts for 4.75 and sell the Jan. 2012 SPY 124 calls for 2.15, according to Iuorio.)

Please note, we're the first to concede random pictures of people's facial expressions usually don't tell anything close to the full story about anything (witness this site's harping on those ridiculous NYSE photos of traders (quite possibly short) covering their eyes that newspapers run after huge Dow plunges), but anyone paying attention to the show has to admit the pose above is a frequent one from Lee.

We wonder if the hours of Lee's now-goofy schedule are catching up in a bad way (you know, do the Squawk on the Street, then have a different Fast Money host do Halftime while you're still fresh, then get ready to do post-Halftime hours later when it should be time to go home, etc.) or if the franchise's sprawl is creating corporate Hydra-like headaches in distributing and/or promoting show assets.

This perception can't really be blamed on scary markets, as most episodes of Fast Money in September and November have contained more than their fair share of chuckles even while Guy Adami continues to say "I think we're going lower."

Whatever, hopefully we're wrong. If not, it's too bad. Whatever criticisms occur on this page, as with anyone, we would hope Lee likes doing her job(s) and is adequately compensated.

Ron Insana says China
building ghost towns

Ron Insana hinted at a Brag Trade without really an ending yet on Wednesday's Fast Money.

"I've said for over a year now that this won't end until Europe goes to zero interest rates and massive quantitative easing like the Federal Reserve," Insana asserted.

For those keeping score.

Insana moments later ended up in a debate with Brian Kelly over the sustainability of Chinese growth. "They hoarded goods," Insana said, prompting Kelly to ask, as long as they're buying, isn't that the trade. Insana responded that "it only works briefly" and that there are "65 million unoccupied homes in China."

Insana said for a Final Trade he would be long the dollar for weeks if not months. Brian Stutland said, "I see no reason why the euro goes higher."

Karen Finerman said she was surprised that the VIX was not higher.

Still wondering about that rumor of monetizing AKAM?

Karen Finerman probably had the best Fast Money line of the day Wednesday, but unfortunately it came so early in the program that the rest of the show was anticlimactic.

While others pointed out how Google is trying to monetize assets, Finerman said it would be great "if they could monetize anything ... or if they could monetize their money."

Guy Adami said, "At 570 here, it's more probably a sell than a buy right now."

Guest Kerry Rice downplayed comparisons of the Kindle Fire with other devices such as the iPad and Playbook. "It's really a media consumption device," Rice said.

Guy Adami said AMZN would be a buy if it holds $175, but something about the stock "just feels wrong to me."

Dial M for Murphy

Joe Feldman appeared on Wednesday's Fast Money in what has to be the first person we've heard of from the Telsey Advisory Group who isn't Dana Telsey.

Feldman gave a roundabout analysis of the Thursday shopping openings, saying "I think it might actually mute the sales on Black Friday itself," but still creates a longer shopping weekend and thus more sales overall.

Simplistic CNBCfix translation: Store makes $50,000 on Thursday after $0 last year, but $40,000 less on Friday, same y-o-y on Satty-Sun.

Feldman said he thinks this season will be good for Wal-Mart.

Mike Murphy, another one of the sudden new guard of Fast Money who has never really been introduced to viewers, was awfully quiet Wednesday but did say he bought Macy's.

The analyst community collides with the ratings-agency community

One of the highlights of Wednesday's Fast Money was Melissa Lee's quoting of the Oppenheimer "Hack Attack" report of Sean Egan.

Notably, Lee said of Egan, "We reach out to him, he, uh, declines to come on."

Guy Adami said to watch GBX if it holds $17.50.

Mike Murphy said IP is a good slow-money play because of the dividend, for a "rough patch in the market" such as now. He also touted TWI.

Karen Finerman mentioned PM as a slow money pick. "I am optimistic the world will continue to smoke," Finerman said.

Ron Insana admitted that the FNN gang "smoked for about 2 weeks" in 1987.

Herb Greenberg finds ‘certain things’ on LinkedIn ‘very usable,’ particularly ‘trying to, you know, find people, and have, you know, e-mails with people’

Colin Gillis came onto Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report with sort of a theory that the Kindle Fire is bad for everyone.

Bad, because Amazon isn't making money on it, and because it bites into Apple's market share.

The Fire has about 25% "cannalbizlation (sic)" of the iPad, Gillis said. AMZN, he added, "is an expensive stock that looks like it's cracking," and he has a sell rating.

For AAPL, the "momentum is broken," he added.

Zach Karabell pointed out that being able to sell a popular device that gains important market share in a key sector is a major asset down the road that few companies are capable of doing at break-even or loss. Gillis acknowledged that but said Amazon is lagging in digital media.

Karabell said that with GRPN, he could've/should've seen this tumble coming. Hopefully for stock market bulls, he does see something coming in his Call the Close, which was, "There is gonna be a bounce here, there's just too much selling."

Herb Greenberg said the social media ETF SOCL came public recently right at the top. But he admitted he's a paying subscriber to LNKD.

Irwin Simon finds a softball game at Englewood Cliffs

Perhaps those CNBC cutbacks reported by the New York Post extend to the cafeteria.

Judge Scott Wapner on Wednesday's Fast Money brought on Hain Celestial chief Irwin Simon for an interview/free advertisement that frankly was downright astonishing.

Simon apparently brought in a complete Thanksgiving spread for the network crew, and in exchange received several camera shots of the goodies and a series of "questions" that amounted to healthy pats on the back.

Those questions ranged from Scott Wapner's how big is Thanksgiving for you (It's a "big big holiday for us," Simon said), to why are things working for Hain, you're dealing with a higher-end consumer, to Josh Brown seeing fewer people dining out but seem to be sticking with Hain brands at home, to Judge concluding by asking if 2012 will be a year of acquisitions.

Meanwhile, as the Dow was cratering 200 points and bank stress tests were the leadoff topic, not a word about whether a 27 P.E. on pricey yuppie food is going to be sustainable or whether the "submerging markets" (see below) are a negative factor in the equation.

We get the perk thing. And this page isn't hard-core like some media watchdogs that need to get a semi-life. This page even lobbied for a Domino's Pizza party for Mel Lee's birthday party (but that didn't happen and the 2 people who had the audacity to even say "Happy Birthday" on-air practically got a glowering, so all we can say is, we tried). For whatever reason, this little feast was far more PR special than serious interview. It's like if Reed Hastings showed up and brought some DVDs of "Adaptation."

At a minimum, if they're going to show packages of food, at least let Jackie DeAngelis and Courtney Reagan do the modeling like on "The Price Is Right" (where the ideal contestants are, in no particular order, cute woman, military guy, Betty White-type).

Simon claimed "eating healthy's not a fad, not a trend." Around here, it's called an "aberration" whenever the Fudge Stripes are within eyesight.

Not quite a clinic
from Mayo

Mike Mayo on Wednesday's Fast Money seemed more inclined to talk about his book than about the upcoming bank stress tests.

The problem is, "We need a generational change when it comes to risk management," Mayo said, before admitting that (surprise, surprise), BAC, C and MS might have the most weaknesses of the big banks.

Mayo, who used the term "generational change" twice, said "This is a more stressful stress test" than the last stress test.

Mayo bashed Dick Parsons and the Citigroup compensation plan, calling it one of the "top turkeys" of the year and claiming it's essentially "rigged."

Zach Karabell asked a question about how maybe Mayo was focused on the wrong thing. Mayo indicated he agreed, but we don't think necessarily with the focus question, or something like that.

Steve Cortes said U.S. banks are probably due for a bounce; "I'm short BAC" which has made a "lower low 8 days in a row," but he said Europe banks particularly DB look like they should continue to be shorted.

Cortes also claimed it's silly to do stress tests gauging a bank's survival prospects and that growth is the issue. He said if you put him in the Octagon with a UFC fighter, "Chances are I'm going to survive, but it doesn't mean you want to bet on me."

Josh Brown said there's no reason to dabble in banks when there's "just as much upside" in other stocks if the market rises. James Lebenthal, who curiousl got basically no introduction on Wednesday's programl, said if unemployment were to go to 13%, government would act in ways to reduce the impact that probably would not be counted in these tests as a positive, such as OKing pipeline projects; "I'd be careful about these assumptions ... they're irrational," he said.

Stephen Weiss finally making some serious headway in the euro short

The Ilchmeister, Rich Ilczyszyn, came aboard Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report to assert that the commodities selloff will ultimately be an "extraordinary buying opportunity."

Zach Karabell said China may be affected by European demand but is not seeing retrenchment in its own domestic demand, though he allowed that Steve Cortes was "chompin' (sic) at the bit" to disagree with that.

That's exactly what Cortes did, saying, "The EM story is unraveling. They are not emerging markets, they are submerging markets." Judge Wapner asked Cortes if he spent weeks working on that one.

Dennis Gartman dialed in to explain that he got yesterday's euro call wrong, and to be honest we don't know that what he said deserved that; all he said was that he figured there were so many shorts it could go higher, but anyway, by the end of his segment he was once again speaking of buying gold in euro terms, and the planets were aligned yet again.

Chris Tevere predicted the euro would be "materially lower" in coming weeks.

People gotta eat.
(They’ve also gotta fly, so where are all the AMR buyers?)

Guest Adam Fleck (not to be confused with Bill Fleckenstein) said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that even with crop prices down "a bit," farmers expect to be doing increased planting next year, which will be good for a name like DE.

Steve Cortes objected to Fleck's mild characterization of falling prices, saying they're crashing. But James Lebenthal had an excellent rebuttal, not really to Cortes but Fleck actually, that DE sells 6-figure equipment on orders that aren't decided overnight, and "the long-term trend in agricultural prices still is up."

That gave Zach Karabell a chance to mention the Fast Money Ag Trade, which is basically a buy on the show 100% of the time (even though POT was $59 just 2 months ago and is $41 now).

Steve Cortes did an overly conditional Call the Close, implying it would depend on the 7-year bond auction.

[Tuesday, November 22, 2011]

Len Brecken implies he doesn’t really remember exactly where he covered his NFLX short, even though it was only a month ago

Melissa Lee — who quite frankly hasn't been caught smiling a whole lot on those camera cutaways since returning from her China vacation — brought on famous Netflix short Len Brecken to Tuesday's Fast Money ... but tried to prevent a deserved Brag Trade.

But it didn't matter. Lee opened by asking Brecken, "What do you do now," but Brecken couldn't resist the Brag Trade, saying, "You gotta understand what's goin' on here," leading to a re-summarization of his thesis, concluding that Hollywood has realized it's not getting its money back and that the recent capital raise is an "admission ... that that's in fact true."

But the rubber hit the road when Lee impressively asked Brecken if he made money in the short.

"Uh ... yes," was Brecken's answer.

Then he said, "I covered the short on the, uh, the leg down to the, what, the hundred-dollar level I think."

But he said he's not short the stock now, even though the root problem is "the market for them is saturated."

Peter Misek said the iPad is a popular seasonal gift.

It’s found money

Sometimes, the rush to deliver breaking news produces more questions than answers.

We couldn't figure out what Kayla Tausche meant when she dialed into Fast Money to say that $1.3 billion of MF Global money turned up at Harris — when we thought only $1.2 billion was supposedly missing — and to our pleasant surprise, neither could Tim Seymour.

"When I hear 1.3 billion is found at Harris Trust, was that missing? I don't think so," Seymour said, explaining that it's a "clumsy process" of getting all the money accounted for ... (even, apparently, money that already has been accounted for) ... and something like a "sausage factory."

JJ Kinahan called MF's troubles a "big step back for the industry overall."

Fast Fires and fox-fires

Viewers at the end of Closing Bell/beginning of Fast Money on Tuesday were presented a very difficult question:

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera in outrageously hot brown zippered top, or Jane Wells' Price-Is-Right-esque handling of the Thanksgiving ingredients with extremely straight hairstyle.

We'd prefer not to take a position on such matters, but MCC's outfit is headed to the CNBC Fashion Hall of Fame.

Wells, by the way, noted "I have cousins in Arkansas," that the country produces 248 million turkeys a year, and not just at Thanksgiving; "I buy it all the time."

Meanwhile, Ray Neidl made an interesting point that's kind of "flown" under the radar, namely that, because "the big airlines have been reducing their capacity ... the airlines, uh, despite the weak economy, will be making money in the 4th quarter and will be making money next year."

Unlike, of course, some of the banks, who don't even have to buy jet fuel.

Steve Grasso, in a similar Hail Mary to Mark Sanchez's toss at the end of that Denver game, asked Neidl if somehow his recent AMR purchase will actually pay off. Neidl said stocks trading under $2 generally do head to bankruptcy, and that's the flight plan for AMR assuming it doesn't get some massive concessions.

JJ Kinahan likewise tried to get Neidl to bite on LUV, calling it well run and due for a bounce, but Neidl unenthusiastically said he's got a hold, and "they kinda lost their mojo."

Make the oil go away

Meanwhile, a bunch of people doing the Fast Money Volatility Playbook recently have spoken of some tiresome range, but Alex Panagiotidis was a rarity Tuesday in claiming he still wants to be long volatility at these levels, albeit with a slightly cumbersome post-holiday machination that involves buying the February 40-50 call spread.

Mike Khouw recommended taking advantage of JWN call prices by selling the January 47's for $2.25.

Alan McKim said Clean Harbors can make money just helping customrs prepare for a possible disaster. Steve Grasso said CVX's Brazilian problem "might be an overreaction."

Tim Seymour said Yandex is now "something we might buy."

‘Rampage of transparency’

Ever since Eric Bolling, who was usually given the honor of batting leadoff by original Fast Money host Dylan Ratigan, exited the show, we've never quite understood the order methodology for who gets to talk first.

And on Tuesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, it made downright no sense that Joe Terranova was asked to give a speech on the bank stress-test situation with a crackly throat that sounded worse than Rod Stewart after a pack of Pall Mall.

Terranova said the tests are actually good for money managers. Steve Grasso called them "just another headwind for the whole space." Tim Seymour doubted they had much impact on stocks, saying, "This is proactive, this is forward-looking."

Karen Finerman was making the most sense. "I don't really get exactly why they're doing this now," Finerman said. "And do they want everybody to be liquidating assets that are deemed to be excessively risky at the same time? That often doesn't lead to a good outcome."

Seymour explained that the Fed, "They have been on this, kinda tirade or rampage of transparency."

Steve Grasso asked Fred Cannon if BAC's selloff has been a setup for a failure of some sort. Cannon said he didn't think so but that the "question mark" of the company's (snicker) insistence it's not raising capital will be a concern of investors.

"I should've been selling it at 6 bucks," Grasso said.

Patty Edwards is on the verge of the greatest Fast Money call in history

This one is so good, it's scary.

A year ago — Nov. 24, 2010, to be precise — Simon Hobbs asked the Fast Money gang to predict the price of AAPL "12 months from now."

The picks went like this:

Guy Adami — $285
Joe Terranova — $413
Karen Finerman — $360
Tim Seymour — $361
Patty Edwards — $375

Given Hobbs' time frame, Wednesday's close will be the official tally.

During Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, AAPL traded at … $375.

We should first note, in terms of money-making and general bullishness, Joe Terranova was tops, as the stock did reach $413 within the 12-month window and he was the only one with a 4-handle.

Karen Finerman and Tim Seymour have come darn close, and still have an outside chance at a bull's eye depending on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday's activity.

But nobody … in the history of Fast Money … has jacked one out of the park with quite the precision that Patty Edwards is this/close to achieving. (Have to admit, the notion of a $376 close Wednesday, which would allow this page to say "a day late and a dollar short," is also appealing.)

Barring a monster Wednesday in either direction, truly a jaw-dropping call.

Hopefully Judge will take a cue here and make sure Patty is on Wednesday's show to celebrate the pick and heighten the drama (the TV grid indicates no Fast Money on Friday, other than a likely insert during Closing Bell), but given that we stumbled miserably at promoting a birthday party for Mel Lee, our hopes aren't too high.

Guy Adami was El Busto, with a sub-$300 target.

Good strategy: Buy shares in the $200s, sell at $70

Guest Michael Pachter actually sounded on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report like he was claiming that he thought NFLX would be trading in the $40s.

"I have to admit, I had a moment of weakness last night," Pachter told Judge Wapner, explaining he didn't cut the shares to a sell despite dropping his price target from $82.50 to $45 because he figured it would open so much lower … and was he serious?

"I'll go back to my office and revisit," Pachter assured.

He said the company figures to lose a lot of money next year, and "these guys have a broken business model" (and if you're a fan of NCAA brackets and enjoy speaking in 8s and 16s, then Netflix's pricing plans are right up your alley). Pachter thinks the price is take-out-able, but doesn't expect anyone to go hostile.

Judge Wapner read a note from Whitney Tilson praising the concept of raising cash but complaining it wasn't happening 6 months ago. It's not that we wish anyone ill trading — we always want everyone to succeed — but if NFLX catches GRPN and Tilson is wrong on NFLX on opposite ends in the same year, that is almost ridiculously tragic.

Zach Karabell claimed "Netflix is like the Kim Kardashian of financial news."

Cortes: On a trading basis, stocks ‘deeply oversold’

Joe Terranova said on Tuesday's Halftime Report that this market recently has lacked catalysts, but, "potentially you get it on Friday." Judge Wapner clarified then that Terranova was basically telling people to get in.

Guest Jeff Hirsch said both that he expects at least a light Santa rally into year-end but that he's "less confident" that we'll see a turkey rally this week.

Steve Cortes, whose recent short calls on DB and AAPL and overall "November Rain" thesis have been looking good (though AAPL is up Tuesday), was sort of in Terranova's camp, saying he spent the morning covering shorts and that from a trading standpoint, "the market's deeply oversold."

Dennis Gartman (you've heard this before) said based on fundamentals, the euro should be at 1.25 with a 1.17 bid, and "eventually it's going back to parity," but because of such a crowded short, he thinks it could actually go higher into year-end.

Judge Wapner for the longest time (13 minutes) didn't afford Patty Edwards an opportunity to speak, before the common refrain, "Patty I'm sorry thanks for your patience here." Edwards said, "I am not constructive on this market over the longer term."

Steve Liesman beginning to assert himself as de facto co-host of Fast Money Halftime Report

Zachary Karabell, who noted on Tuesday's Halftime that his enthusiasm for the market (such as it is) is tempered with caution, said Europe is dealing with a string of issues but that the world is portrayed as "grim, glum and ghastly" when that's not the whole truth.

Steve Cortes was down on the prospects of a European bailout, saying leverage can't fix leverage and that there will be "steadfast opposition to any U.S. money."

Karabell took issue with the notion that leverage can't be used on a leverage problem.

Steve Liesman eventually revealed that the IMF breaking news was not a "bazooka."

Did they do an entire Halftime without bringing up RIMM?

In something of a make-up call, Judge Wapner gave Patty Edwards a shot on Tuesday's Halftime at Hans Mosesmann and his INTC downgrade.

Edwards said "I am still nibbling" on the shares, and hoping for the best possible answer, asked Mosesmann if his downgrade was merely a "market timing call for the short term?"

Mosesmann indicated yes but said, "For the next 6 months it's gonna be tough for this stock to outperform relative to its peer group."

Joe Terranova said $365 is a "great point of reference" for AAPL.

Dan Dicker buys RIG

Dan Dicker told Judge Wapner on Tuesday's Halftime, "I'm not a big fan of oil right here," but then revealed, "I actually bought more shares of Transocean yesterday" because its problems look to be temporary, an interesting call given that just a few days ago he was congratulating Dr. J for being correctly negative on RIG because it's just underperformed.

Patty Edwards Called the Close in favor of RIG, saying, "When Dan Dicker speaks, I listen."

Joe Terranova said FRO has a "balance sheet problem" and trumpeted Teekay, saying, "They appear to have found their bottom."

Zach Karabell mentioned DE in Judge Wapner's abbreviated Call the Close that was much more Final Trade than Close Calling.

To be completely honest,
we need a San Francisco win

Fast Money Halftime Report viewers Tuesday got a treat from Courtney Reagan's report in snappy black vest over dark-aqua turtleneck, but the shocker of the hit in Judge Wapner's eyes was Patty Edwards saying "I'm staying out of the retailers," aside from owning TGT for some clients.

Steve Cortes, who said Chinese cronyism is worse than in Chicago South Side Teamsters, called it a "sacrilege" for retailers to be open Thursday but said he'll be watching the Ravens-49ers game on the NFL Network.

[Monday, November 21, 2011]

Tim Seymour personally offended that people in government didn’t do what he wants

Mr. Seymour sounds like he should go to Washington.

(What was GE trading for in 1939, by the way ... higher than now?)

Either it was superb acting, or a youngster's idealism of democracy, that prompted Seymour to condemn the debt supercommittee on Monday's Fast Money with a level of vigor he doesn't even express for Brazilian stocks.

Seymour denounced the "absurdity" of what happened in Washington and asserted, "There's an arrogance going on ... I think you have a right to be disillusioned."

The Moochmeister, Anthony Scaramucci, tried his best as the voice of reason, saying, "I think the market has priced in the general lethargy from the American Congress..."

Seymour, who complained it's like giving college students 2½ months to do a paper and then they haven't started on it the day before it's due, nevertheless insisted, "I'm gonna start calling names all night ... John Kerry, Max Baucus ... everybody," and notice, those first 2 names were Democrats.

"Are you gonna go bipartisan?" asked Melissa Lee.

Scaramucci patiently tried to point out to Seymour, you gotta trade the world you've got not the one you want, and isn't it odd that a seasoned pro such as Seymour isn't considering the most likely angle, that if a bunch of people in Washington get together and opt not to do anything, then maybe the consensus is that nothing really needed to be done.

And ... why does he care?

Tim Seymour on Monday's Fast Money continued his debt-supercommittee condemnation later in the broadcast, saying it represents "lack of confidence; that's a big part of credit ratings. Uh, so, something to consider."

Anthony Scaramucci then claimed, "There's gonna be no downgrade and they're gonna kick this can down the road."

"I don't think the U.S. should be downgraded; I'm- that's not my point at all. My point is accepting politics as it is is not something we have to do," Seymour said, but if it wasn't his point at all that there could be a downgrade, why did he refer to "a big part of credit ratings" moments earlier?

Back to that Business Insider
GOOG-AKAM rumor...

Fast Money viewers may recall that on Wednesday, Oct. 12, Melissa Lee referred to a report in the Business Insider about GOOG being interested in AKAM and revealed, "I usually try to refrain from actually reading, uh, Business Insider stories on the air."

Lee on that day asked both Jon Fortt and Mark Mahaney about it. They said it 1) doesn't make any sense, and 2) has been around for years.

AKAM closed that day, Oct. 12, according to Yahoo finance, at $23.37. On Monday, it closed at $27.33.

Worth calls top in AMZN

It might be helpful if ECB people, Ben Bernanke and the guy who's trying to find the $600 million $1.2 billion from MF Global heard Carter Worth say on Monday's Fast Money that 1,165 S&P was his "worst-case" scenario until year-end.

Worth singled out 3 stocks as having 150-day moving average situations, 2 of them (AAPL, BRK-B) favorable, the third (AMZN), not so much.

Of AMZN, Worth said, "this is how stocks top out." We'd caution that this has not been a good one to bet against, but then again, it hasn't exactly been the Chuck Mangione Trade in recent weeks either.

By contrast, AAPL, according to Worth, "does not look as though it's going to break trend," and BRK-B, "by all accounts, is in the process of bottoming out."

Mel Lee asked why Worth can be so sure of AAPL. Worth said that it's been proved over history and into the future when we're all retired (retire from this page while a senior citizen? You've got to be joking), there's a "70%" likelihood that AAPL will bounce upward from this point, the 2nd time on Monday we heard 70% as a critical indicator (see below).

Worth concluded that for the broader market, he sees a "bias to the upside between now and year-end," with an 1,165 "worst-case" scenario.

Mike Murphy, rather quiet on the Prop Desk, said "I believe we do" have a floor of 1,180 on the S&P.

The world was a lot more fun with NFLX at $290

No matter his actual monetary gain or loss, Len Brecken delivered one of the most staggering calls in Fast Money history this year on NFLX (yes, we know many others were short too and said similar things) ... which Guy Adami did salute Monday, but almost in a backhanded way.

"He was early, which in our business was wrong," Adami said, but at least he brought Brecken's name in the conversation.

Brian Kelly demanded to know why the bond sale was so negative for NFLX. Anthony Scaramucci said "It's dilution though," and that it "fractionates" the stock and that the company is like a "punctured helium balloon." (Somebody also said something about the "1 thing going wrong," which will almost certainly make our top 10 list of 2011 Fast Money cliches at year-end, ignoring the fact about 5 things went wrong for NFLX since May.)

Mel Lee did give the camera a sexy look when saying "fractionates" sounds like a made-up word.

Which will be solved first:
Natalie Wood, or MF Global?

Greg Zuckerman, the excellent WSJ reporter whom we'd love to see doing some street-crime articles, spoke on Monday's Fast Money about rich guys who are actually trying to get even richer in the MF Global decline. (And, while this is certainly not something to laugh about, we can't help but recall how Jon Corzine's luck began going downhill the night he raced back to the gov's mansion for that Don Imus-Rutgers women's hoops detente meeting and his speeding driver crashed...)

"They're not risking all that much," Zuckerman said, but in the end it's high-risk. "I just find Jefferies, uh, tough to figure out ... the hedges today, uh, one worries about," he added.

Brian Kelly supported the ETF industry, revealing, "I had bought TLT last week," but sold out of it this week, adding, "I actually bought a little bit of gold today."

Mike Murphy picked TOL as his Final Trade, calling it "best in breed" (nothing terribly new there) and saying it preannounced positive orders. Scott Nations made the most confusing point about MS' range you could imagine, while Guy Adami cut off Tim Seymour to tout Gilead and Anthony Scaramucci stuck by Macy's.

Guest Brian J. White said that for HPQ, "the outlook is soft ... obviously setting expectations low," and that it's a "long-term turnaround story."

Anthony Scaramucci said he deserved a Fast Fire for his earlier call on HPQ.

Larry McDonald, who has a book of some sort, said it's unlikely automatic cuts happen, with some kind of implication that the Republicans might take over a bunch of the government in 2012 (um, we're not the sharpest tools in the shed, but that kinda sounds like the Senate and the presidency). Anthony Scaramucci complained that in 1990 the Republicans were promised cuts in exchange for tax hikes, and the hikes happened, but the cuts never did.

What the world needs is another Philadelphia Eagles prime-time game ... did you know the defensive coordinator used to be the offensive line coach?

Jon Najarian on Monday's Fast Money Halftime was essentially calling for an investigation of VRUS options trading.

Pointing to the huge Gilead-takeover gain in Pharmasset (VRUS), Najarian said someone "bought a very large print in this particular stock that has yielded a couple million dollars worth of profit on a very relatively small $50,000 investment."

"That seems to be excellent timing or perhaps something more. Again, I will leave it to the regulators," Najarian said.

We suggest checking out members of Congress.

Steve Grasso said to "wait 3 days on Gilead."

Another day for Steve Cortes to crow, but he wasn’t on the show

He wasn't on Monday's Halftime Report, but Monday was a good day for Steve Cortes' "November Rain" forecast.

Last week Cortes spoke of hearing a "funeral dirge" on the show for AAPL, but Monday, Steve Grasso indicated the whole market might go dirging.

There's a "somber mood on the floor," Grasso said, with traders feeling like they're on the "precipice of a pretty big selloff here."

Stephen Weiss said "I am net short" because of the "crisis of confidence globally."

Abigail Doolittle said if the market can't hold 1,175 or 1,163, it's looking at 1,120 in what's become "really a round of risk-off."

Pete Najarian was the lone panelist not ready to wave the white flag, pointing out that the VIX did not skyrocket, and "I think there's opportunities" in certain names such as CNI and MOS, though maybe not on Monday.

And Colin Gillis said it was going to $36 or lower

Kulbinder Garcha managed to annoy Stephen Weiss on Monday's Halftime with his 3-pronged analysis of Research in Motion that concludes ... shockingly ... with a bearish outlook.

Garcha said the carriers aren't promoting it, the QNX or whatever it's supposed to be called isn't going to kick in until mid-2012, and there's Android competition.

Weiss complained, "Everything you're mentioning is already out there" and demanded to know what's new. Garcha said it's Apple's entry into lower-priced phones.

Pete Najarian said RIMM is either like NOK or YHOO and he prefers YHOO. "I think it is a sum-of-the-parts ... somewhere in the 18 area," he said.

‘70% of all stocks’

Guest Matt Czepliewicz tried to tell the Fast Money crew a couple times that Morgan Stanley has taken a "disproportionate" amount of punishment relative to its European exposure, and that in fact Europe's troubles might actually be good for MS because they'll prompt needed change.

The panelists didn't seem eager to jump in, and Steve Grasso reminded that "70% of all stocks" move together.

Oil to mid-$70s?

Abigail Doolittle told Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime that oil could go "a lot lower," but Steve Grasso pointed out that "Supplies are running below a 5-year average."

Brian Marshall condescended to the HPQ board, saying it needs "adult supervision" from the likes of Ralph Whitworth and that his appointment is a "step in the right direction" and "another tool in the tool shed." He said for the short term it makes sense to keep the PC division and that it would've been a "non-trivial" pursuit to get rid of it now.

Debbie Weinswig pounded the table on the phone for WMT, and Stephen Weiss tapped a Patty Edwards favorite, JWN, but made no mention of Saks' 25% of sales in NYC.

[Friday, November 18, 2011]

How ‘blips’ led to an existential debate over whether gold is subsidized

Steve Grasso brought his boxing gloves to Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Grasso trumpeted the potential of gold, suggesting the troubles of MF Global as a catalyst as a new class of investors makes gold desirable in both (Karen Finerman Alert) inflationary and deflationary environments.

Stephen Weiss though shrugged off MF Global and Jefferies as irrelevant "blips" in the gold trade.

"At this point gold is a risk asset," Weiss said. "I don't think gold's gonna collapse, but I think it's lost its allure as a safe haven."

"It's just gaining it. It's just gaining it," Grasso responded.

Grasso insisted it's a "lifestyle, life change, a mental change of people not having any confidence in their currency."

That led to Weiss demanding to know what the tangible value of gold is and asserting there really isn't any and that it's an "emotional" trade that'll collapse when the emotion goes. Grasso demanded, "You tell me what the value is on a dollar."

"It's a lot- it's a relative value to the euro," Weiss said.

"Tangible assets. You just had to name something else on a relative basis. It's a tangible asset," Grasso claimed.

At that point the conversation veered into the wheelhouse of "Disco Zeke," who noted, "Now we're in the ultimate existential question, right, because if we really pursue this, nothing has any value except that to which you ascribe."

Simon Hobbs then asked Grasso what the difference is between housing and gold.

"Gold is not subsidized," Grasso said.

"Hold on, hold on, gold is definitely subsidized by the federal government, according to your argument, because it's an inflation hedge," Weiss said.

"By default. By default it's subsidized," Grasso said. "Do you wanna compare housing and gold on the subsidy question? We can do that- we don't need the full hour for that, we can do that in 2 seconds."

"Well, I don't wanna see you surrender in 2 seconds," Weiss said.

This debate has played out in various forms countless times in the last few years, and there is far more here under the surface that a TV show can only scratch, but this was the best go-round in a while.

Jon Najarian said of gold, "I see more upside from here than I do downside."

HMO headwinds, Part II

As if battling Stephen Weiss on gold wasn't enough, No. 386 took a crack at Zach Karabell over the market's time frame of significant ObamaCare Supreme Court rulings and their impact on HMOs regarding the mandate.

Grasso insisted that, even though the Supreme Court may not rule until late summer 2012, markets lead by 6-8 months on these things.

"Disco Zeke" said the mandate isn't supposed to kick in until early 2013, and he thinks this story is really a "14-month out" and not really easy to play right now.

Grasso rebutted, "same way Obamacare was hard to game out and the HMOs got hit way before ObamaCare and then rallied back hard. Just to know the facts."

Guest David Shove recommended, with government health programs possibly facing trims, that when analyzing HMO plays, to "move away from those that are exposed to the government."

Shove downplayed the importance of the purchase rule on HMO profits. "I don't think people pay attention to the mandate," he said.

Mary Ann Bartels says big banks will ‘take out their October lows’

Fast Money reported in September that Mary Ann Bartels was envisioning 900 S&P, and Bartels on Friday's Halftime once again was leaning down.

"We're really locked in a range," Bartels said, and "now I think we're gonna test the 1,200 level, and if we fail to hold 1,200, we'll go down and test in a range between 1,150 and 1,100."

More startling, Bartels said the key is the technical breakdowns in the broker/dealers and money-center banks, "and when we do measured moves on those, we think they're gonna take out their October lows."

Bartels called the dollar (not gold) a "safe haven," projecting DXY 80 or 81 and even suggesting 1.5% or 1.4% on the 10-year and possibly ultimately even 1%.

Zach Karabell asked what Bartels' upside target would be if stocks go the other way. Bartels wasn't nearly as interested in this scenario and said the S&P could get to 1,350.

Rebecca Patterson spent too much time covering scenarios that were already exhausted in show’s opening 10 minutes before getting to her trade

Rebecca Patterson, whose sparkling red jacket and necklace rekindled viewer memories of the time she suggested on Money in Motion showering in gold in bikini (that hasn't happened yet on TV unfortunately), said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime there are pluses and minuses for the euro depending on whether the ECB steps in to help.

Ultimately, after not taking a stand and having the conversation derailed by others, Patterson said "I think the ECB has to be part of the solution here."

Patterson, who said "simple Simon" to guest host Simon Hobbs, suggests selling the British pound vs. the U.S. dollar at 1.5785, with the goal of 1.5385 and a stop at 1.60.

Dr. J’s Italian bond trade, with corresponding currency hedge, sounds a little bit over the head of the typical Fast Money viewer

Guest host Simon Hobbs and the Fast Money Halftime gang spent a lot of time Friday (stop if you've heard this before) speculating about what Europe might or might not do to forge a long-term solution.

But in fact, much of the conversation was dominated by Jon Najarian and Zach Karabell expressing the benefits of buying Italian bonds.

Karabell indicated the conversation was getting a little grim, saying, "I do not share this sense of impending doom."

He said, "If Italy defaults on its debt, we're having radically different conversations about, you know, the Dow at 6,000."

Steve Grasso said the market is "Probably a little bit oversold here, so I am looking for a bounce."

Dr. J probably doesn’t eat at Red Lobster, but likes the stock

Efraim Levy said he actually has a $17 price target on Ford — a steep upgrade from the Bo Derek Trade it is right now — because it's making hybrid vehicles, and the auto sector is in the "early stages of a multi-year uptrend."

Jon Najarian complained Ford isn't making diesel hybrids, and Stephen Weiss complained that Ford should be cutting back on hybrids because they're not making enough money.

Zachary Karabell disagreed with Stephen Weiss that Buffett's investment made IBM a destination of strength. "It held well, but I don't think anyone rushed into it," Karabell said.

Steve Grasso said of oil, "It's going lower vs. higher at this point." Karabell said oil equities haven't reflected the gains in crude and suggest crude will go lower.

Jon Najarian hailed DRI and said, "If they push it to 45, I'm a buyer."

"Disco Zeke" wasn't impressed and said, "Could Dr. J order a side of fettucini with the dividend?"

Jon Najarian said people can talk gloom, but he walked by the Apple store and there was a "line out the door in the rain."

Gary Kaminsky was heard mocking our favorite CNBC cliche, "kicking the can down the road," in a Europe discussion just before the Halftime Report started, then tried to congratulate CU-Boulder grad Carl Quintanilla on the Denver victory Thursday, but Quintanilla didn't appear to hear him in signing off.

[Thursday, November 17, 2011]

‘Computers are better than humans at trading’

Destined to make our year-end Fast Money Memorable Moments list is Robert Savage's very curious interview at the Nasdaq on Thursday's Fast Money.

Honestly, we watched a couple of times, and still have no clue what Savage was talking about.

Apparently he thinks computer program trading models are wrongly based on old volume and volatility assumptions.

But he insisted, "Let's be clear: Computers are better than humans at trading generally," which ought to give some fodder to the anti-HFT crowd as well as those Flash Crash investigators (if they still exist).

As Melissa Lee grasped to figure out exactly what the point of this interview was with questions about winners and losers, Savage was happy to opine on the euro with this claim: "We know Europe's going into recession. Well so's the rest of the world."

JEF: The Bo Derek Trade

In what might've been the most serious story of the show, Melissa Lee entertained Jeff Harte (generally The Will Rogers of Bank Stocks) in a roundtable on the future of JEF.

"To me, I think Jefferies will be OK," said Harte, who acknowledged it's really a "confidence" problem right now.

He noted JEF is "more dependent on re- repo, short-term funding than, than their peers."

Harte said the company probably wishes it had issued debt 6 months ago to alleviate its present short-term needs. That brought a scoff from Mel Lee, "Woulda coulda shoulda."

Karen Finerman said, "I actually think Jefferies will weather the storm," which is fine, but keep in mind what the reaction would be if she had said the opposite.

And despite that, Finerman found herself wondering, "What is the Jefferies model" in this environment, the same type of question she had for a couple other companies Thursday (see below).

Joe Terranova, coming forward with a Fast Fire in a refreshing display of candor, said he had claimed that Jefferies had put in its lows for the year early this month, but, "I was wrong."

Mall specialty retailer, generally appeals to 20something crowd, some cheap and some not-so-cheap stuff...

Karen Finerman indicated on Thursday's Fast Money she must've missed the '90s.

"What is the Gap? What are they, to whom?" Finerman asked her panelists.

In her defense, she was actually referring to today's business model and targeted audience.

But GPS wasn't the only name Thursday flummoxing Finerman. LNKD was another; "I don't get it," Finerman said.

Finerman, whose scarf is bound to get this site some Google hits (we don't know anything about designer, etc.), said she has been long UNG but that "has not worked." She recommended for Final Trade CF in the low $140s.

Melissa messes with holiday tradition

Jimmy Iuorio on Thursday's Fast Money answered that question Gary Kaminsky always has professed to hate.

"The thing that keeps me up at night" are French 10-year yields, Iuorio said, which is fine, but the thing that keeps us up at night is Bo Derek in "10" piecing together this freakin' page.

Iuorio expects the VIX to stay in a 26-38 range but admitted he was puzzled why it wasn't higher Thursday. He recommended a sell-1/buy-2 VXX spread that we think is probably best left to the pros and, like Bo (circa 1979) and her cornrows, is basically out of our league.

Joe Terranova said of Thursday's market action, "There was nowhere to hide," and he predicted no chase for performance into year-end unless there's a surprise from the debt supercommittee.

Tim Seymour said "A lot of people are getting worn down."

Guy Adami said "it's all about European yields," that he thinks we can go to 1,180-ish, and he actually called Melissa Lee a "jerk" for comments about Santa Claus.

And we thought Brian Kelly cleared up the other day that Paulson is done unloading gold

Curtis Arledge spoke about the debt supercommittee on Thursday's Fast Money and the conclusion has to be that it's a lot of ado about nothing.

"Feels like policymakers are playing a game of chicken," Arledge said, and wasn't that the story of July?

Ron Insana chimed in that if the committee doesn't meet its deadline for trimming the deficit, "Stocks will go down, but bonds will do fine." Arledge agreed, "If they punt, it's bad for risk assets."

Insana said basically the U.S. is the "best house in a bad neighborhood."

Dennis Gartman referred to himself as the "Commodities Joker," rather than King, on Thursday, given the market beatdown, saying "they took no prisoners." Gartman said there are rumors that John Paulson will have to sell more GLD, but there are all kinds of rumors about everything.

Joe Terranova claimed there's $8-$9 of Iran premium in Brent and WTI. Tim Seymour said, "I think Brent, not WTI, breaks 100."

Richard Medley dies

Gene Munster told Thursday's Fast Money the chance of an Amazon smartphone next year is "slim to none." Then, he allowed he gives it a 10% chance.

Karen Finerman praised Ralph Whitworth's entree to the HPQ board, where leaking is a tradition, saying everyone should be happy with this.

Guy Adami said CRM might get interesting, but "I would wait a day or so." His Final Trade was RAH.

Tim Seymour made EEM his Final Trade, while Joe Terranova chipped in ARUN.

Ron Insana said Eddie Lampert is a friend and that the SHLD business has been "befuddling him for quite some time."

Ron Insana delivered a nice tribute to Richard Medley, a geopolitical strategist and onetime CNBC contributor, who Insana said died late Wednesday night. We could not find an obituary as of Thursday evening.

Steve Liesman suggests the economy deserves a perfect score

Steve Liesman opened Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report with the strangest analogy we've heard yet about the current U.S. economy, likening some of the data with going to Grandma and telling her you got a 100 on a test ... and Grandma asking why you didn't get 102.

Pressed by Judge Wapner as to why the world can't just fix Europe and get ahead with all of our great stock and economic gains, Liesman devoted significant time to suggesting ECB monetization, but pointing out it's unclear whose bonds would be bought, and allowing, "It kinda may not be legal,"

He said what they need to do is "bring down the cost of capital in Europe," but that it may not happen until things get really bad, and warned, "I think this thing could get away from them very quickly."

Brian Kelly said if people try to take German bonds lower, U.S. stocks will be in a "bit of a panic mode."

Liesman at one point told Guy Adami the Marshall Plan was only 40, 50 years ago, and also that the Fed is only viewed as a solution when people have "enough scotches."

Kilburg still expecting another run at 1.67%

Jeff Kilburg, to his credit, has never flinched on his Treasury prediction even during October's monster market rally, told the Fast Money Halftime Report Thursday the best (if you're long 10-years) is yet to come.

"They are gonna come and grab these Treasurys in a way we have not seen before," Kilburg said, reiterating that elusive 1.67% target. "I think it's in the crosshairs as this European crisis persists," he said.

Steve Grasso congratulated Kilburg on his call last week on the U.S. 10-year vs. French 10-year.

Patty Edwards didn't get a generous amount of time to speak but did kick in her favorite cliche, saying stocks are basically a perfect match for an inverse dollar chart; "it is foreign exchange that is absolutely driving this market at this point in time."

Money in Motion personality Camilla Sutton said the euro is "very susceptible to headline risk and rumors," and predicted the "euro's probably in the near-term moving lower fairly rapidly" as we see the "end of those positive flows" into it. Sutton's trade was to short the euro vs. the Canadian dollar.

Guy Adami said if the selloff that hit during Thursday's Halftime crashes through levels in the 1,220s, maybe 1,180 is the destination. Steve Grasso mentioned a couple levels in the 12-teens but said 1,204 is also support.

Producers make sure clip of MCC documentary shows someone saying ‘Katrina’

Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report devoted as expected a bit of time for Michelle Caruos-Cabrera's infrastructure program, and the panelists chipped in with a few infrastructure trades that had, shall we say, far less conviction than Denver Broncos fans have for their quarterback.

Patty Edwards mentioned VMC, Steve Grasso did hail GVA with some vigor, but Dr. J's recommendation of MTW was more designed to bring out ice-making punch lines for Judge Wapner.

Despite Patty Edwards and Steve Grasso not getting much of an opportunity to talk Thursday, Guy Adami got to say "pear-shaped" 4 times.

The panel also gave energy-related trades including Brian Kelly's GLNG, Patty Edwards' NEE, and Dr. J's CLNE and TSLA.

Najarian said for AAPL, 374 will be "as low as it gets."

Judge turns his panelists
into spectators

Fast Money Halftime viewers got a treat when Mary Thompson delivered a sidewalk report on UBS, and moments later it was Fred Cannon flipping those letters to say "We like USB."

Cannon said there are basically 5 banks with big Europe concerns, MS, GS, JPM, BAC, C, (and if you didn't know those by heart, you're probably not qualified to watch CNBC), that are "very tough right now to invest in," but that USB is among those not so exposed to Europe.

Cannon bolstered that If-You-Can-Hold-For-6-12-Months-You'll-Be-Rich Theme when he said for "longer-term investors," JPM "looks very compelling right now." But he actually suggested people could "go short the Canadian banks." He added, "We're neutral on Wells Fargo right now."

Jon Najarian revealed, "I've been trading the super-regionals today."

Patty Edwards didn't receive an opportunity to speak until the 15-minute mark. Edwards didn't comment on Canadian banks, which she recommended a while back, but did manage to say, "I like the idea of a basket ... but keep it to the regionals."

Just before Patty got the call, Steve Grasso, who also got the cold shoulder for a while, told Judge Wapner, "I'm sorry I was just watching the show, great show."

Grasso said BAC has been "bulletproof with that $6 mark" but now has to be watched closely.

Dr. J touts a HERO
not named Tebow

Dan Dicker, rapidly becoming one of our Fast Money favorites, was dishing out compliments on Thursday's Halftime the way they dish out nat gas from shale these days.

Dicker credited "Joe, Steve, Scott" for "fantastic" calls on the refiners recently, then backed Dr. J's stay-away call on RIG. "I have the stock. They've done nothing but disappoint. You've been right. I've been wrong."

Dicker said Enbridge's news about how they're going to "turn around the Seaway Pipeline ... (and) continue to develop the Wrangler Pipeline" helped trigger the Brent/wTI reversal. He still likes SLB and HP.

Dicker pointed out that crude (as the media defines it) is going up while gasoline is going down.

Jon Najarian called HERO a "high-beta stock to the upside."

Some on the panel were heard chuckling when the mike with or near Dicker in the oil pit picked up someone saying "clarify that you're working on the floor."

It’s more exciting to talk about Limited Brands

Brent Thill defended CRM on Thursday's Halftime Report, saying criticism of the company spending so much for new business doesn't wash when considering the billings, "that clearly has been coming through."

Thill shrugged off a challenge from ORCL, saying, "Oracle's late to the party."

Judge Wapner momentarily called Thill "Fred," but closed with, "Brent Thill."

In something of a makeup call, Judge Wapner helped alleviate Patty Edwards' absence from the first 15 minutes of Fast Money by asking Edwards for a NTAP opinion. Edwards said fundamentally you have to stay away, but "You've got support at 35" if you want to trade it.

Edwards said there's no need to get in front of Smucker right now. Edwards also said it would be "kind of a stretch" to put Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch in the same category and that ANF has at least figured out the fashion.

Steve Grasso said MOS has the Cargill overhang lifted but to "wait till the whole space finds a floor." Jon Najarian said DNDN calls were hot.

[Wednesday, November 16, 2011]

Guest: FSLR’s parts are already worth $60

Evidently, we weren't the only ones taken aback by Gordon Johnson's Monday suggestion on Fast Money that First Solar is "potentially" a bankruptcy candidate in 1-2 years.

Sanjay Shrestha visited the Fast Money set on Wednesday to claim that FSLR actually has assets worth $60 if unloaded today, while the stock trades at $44, a point Melissa Lee asked him to reiterate at the end of the interview.

Shrestha used the term "rationalization" in conceding Johnson's point on an industry downsizing; "there's gonna be a lot of companies that are not gonna make it." But he insisted that FSLR will "generate a ton of cash" and produce "sustained earnings," and that its services which some dislike will help it get through the poly-whatever decline. Amusingly, Shrestha's throat-clearing was about the loudest in Fast Money history.

5 million and 1, if they can convince Dr. J to go with multiple devices

Julia Boorstin delivered breaking news a couple times on Wednesday's Fast Money about the Google beta cloud music service, of which we'd never say in a million years that some people will be listening to John Denver.

Rick Summer then guested and, despite some weird pockets of dead air, strongly made the case that this is merely a "small deal for both" Google and its competition.

JPMorgan analyst Chris Danely, who apparently follows Texas Instruments, had to first reference his colleague Doug Anmuth, who predicts 5 million Kindle Fires sold in Q4 and 20 million next year, before explaining that this is great news for TXN because the Fire is loaded with TXN parts.

Tim Seymour said the trading activity in Rambus and Micron in the wake of the antitrust decision shows "clearly people were caught offsides by this." Guy Adami didn't say "benign tape" or "Don't try to be a hero," but did cough up another top cliche, saying of RMBS, "If you're shorting it here that is clearly the deep end of the pool."

Adami said INTC is a buy if 1,225 holds in the S&P 500. He also liked BRCD for his Final Trade. Brian Stutland said, "I like Qualcomm."

One of these days, CNBC is bound to assign Jane to something poolside

Jane Wells, who some years has won the CNBC Triple Crown of beauty, sense of humor, hipness (without having to sit out the final game of the season to protect the average), donned a hard helmet at the RTI International Metals plant in Niles, Ohio, and struggled to shout over the din about possible government cuts.

Mel Lee asked Jane if she was safe. Jane noted the hard hat she was wearing, and, "you don't even wanna see what I'm wearing down below the belt."

Tim Seymour said that "unfortunately," titanium's biggest prize nowadays is "prosthetic devices and sort of golf clubs."

"Unfortunately?" That's the only way we can drive 200 yards.

Seymour also referred to "the subcommittee, the supercommittee, whatever this committee is."

Judge Wapner has the line of the week: ‘Disco Zeke’

Guest Anthony Chukumba at first spoke of how great the dollar stores are — winning the "convenience" battle vs. Wal-Mart for their location and average customer tab of $10 as well as scale — only to conclude that the shares are "largely priced for perfection ... I would not be a buyer at these levels."

Brian Stutland recommended selling the VLO Dec. 25 call for 80 cents. Joe Terranova said, "I think all the refiners are in play; they are M&A targets."

Dana Telsey, the perpetually cute retail analyst, said the issue for ANF is a "credibility story, about regaining credibility going forward."

Tim Seymour thinks maybe U.S. consumers are getting their "comeuppance" from Chinese goods that aren't so low-priced anymore, trying to bring a Money in Motion-caliber topic into Dana Telsey's little specialty-shop fiefdom.

Karen Finerman's Denny's-caliber waffling on the Pepsi rumor was yet another sign the new Fast Money feature called "The Mill" is basically a bust. Karen nevertheless was cute as always in noting that males enjoy discussing The Limited stock. Finerman halfheartedly recommended TGT for her Final Trade.

We try to virtually never poke fun at someone's hair on CNBC — just feels like it's kinda going out of bounds in an unsavory way — but there can be an exception for Tim Seymour, who of course has in general much better hair than far more people his age, yet somehow decided to show up for Wednesday's program with a borderline bowl cut. Seymour said get long WLT for his Final Trade.

The best Fast Money feature of the day proved to be Halftime producers' use of "Disco Inferno" after Judge Wapner noted Zachary Karabell's snazzy retro-like shirt.

Kayla Tausche did another street report on MF Global and curiously referred to every "Joe, Dick or Harry," as well as some guy in Tennessee who couldn't pay his mortgage because all his funds were somehow locked up in MF Global.

As usual, whenever market plunges suddenly, it’s HFT or a conspiracy

Karen Finerman was bursting with commentary (and a bit of sarcasm) at the beginning of Wednesday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, and why shouldn't she have been, in mesmerizing sand-colored outfit that is just the latest to make its Fast Money public debut, suggesting that Fitch is sort of grasping onto old news.

Tim Seymour claimed "it's almost as if someone set this up, 'at 3 o'clock, let's take markets down into the close,' ahead of major bond auctions in Italy and Spain tomorrow morning.

Guy Adami said the banks are "all trading instruments right now."

Joe Terranova said, "The market is absent any catalyst," but said the Fed "if need be" would put on its balance sheet "ownership of some of this European debt."

Much more from Wednesday's Fast Money later.

Analyst: Buffett’s IBM buy
‘late in the game’

Pete Najarian asked guest Shebly Seyrafi on Wednesday's Halftime what Seyrafi thinks about Warren Buffett getting into IBM.

Seyrafi said the stock has an "above-market multiple," and "I think he's getting late in the game."

Seyrafi, who told Judge Wapner Dell is getting out of some businesses in favor of margins, painted a troublesome headwind, saying "I'm worried that the April quarter, calendar of Q1, can be really, uh, more negative for, for Dell," and that there are big supplier concerns.

Dennis Gartman said he wondered if Seyrafi really did say Dell might be looking at a 5-7% margin, which to Gartman sounds like a "grocery store."

Residuals for The Trammps

There's nothing sexier than a woman you have to salute in the morning (Nathan Jessep) than Mandy Drury appearing on television, but even in stunning orange top, Drury overdid the teaser on Wednesday's Halftime that took too much background about an apparently absurd Research in Motion "25 and change" bet between Brian Sullivan and Herb Greenberg.

Judge Wapner, who is good at noticing these things, very quickly pointed out the clothing theme of the day, which was Zach Karabell's retro-look striped dress shirt. "Zeke were you out at the Danceteria last night? That old New York City nightclub."

"Danceteria, man, that is such memories, it's like Columbia 1985, goin' down to Chelsea," Karabell said.

The producers then paid tribute to "Disco Zeke" the rest of the program, unleashing some "Disco Inferno" whenever he spoke.

Zeke's Call the Close unfortunately was done in by Fitch. At Halftime, he said, "Weak in the morning because of Europe and strong in the afternoon because of either the U.S. or corporate data is becoming a really interesting pattern."

High 20s is apparently as low as CDE chief willing to speculate right now

Brian Schactman, solid anchor and reporter and likely the most gentlemanly of the CNBC crew, got some airtime on Wednesday's Halftime with CDE chief Mitch Krebs, but graciously began by complimenting Dennis Gartman's apparently captivating speech on plumbing in China.

Krebs said gold exposure is good for Coeur d'Alene (man that's a toughie to spell) but conceded silver has had a terrible chart. Shactman asked if silver could top $50 within 52 weeks. Krebs said the trade will "be choppy," but that he "wouldn't be surprised at all" if it made it, just like he wouldn't be surprised if it also trades in the high 20s.

Schactman noted the copmany is in Idaho, which prompted Judge to try to make a joke, "rather than France right," that didn't really work.

Steve Cortes said "I actually shorted gold this morning" and that disagreeing with Dennis Gartman (you know the deal, long in euro/sterling/whatever terms) on gold is "like taking on Vito Corleone on bookmaking, uh, tactics."

Was Zach under the impression Herb is unbiased?

Herb Greenberg didn't order the camera onto the body text of his computer screen on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, but he did make some observations about GMCR talking to analysts and how that might be dubious.

Zach Karabell told Herb, "Your seemingly neutral commentary is laced with a degree of skepticism and sarcasm."

Greenberg said, "That's because I have commentator in the title."

Greenberg said there are "notes flying around" as the company has meetings, starting in Boston, and that eventually it'll do a capital raise, and it's "gonna be interesting to see who does those deals."

Dennis Gartman mocked Starbucks' sudden price hike in various big cities, saying "what a great scam" to blame it on rising prices when prices are down.

Cortes shorts oil

Steve Cortes on Wednesday's Halftime revealed an oil position that ran headlong into a rebuttal from Zach Karabell.

"I did make a trade this morning Scott, I shorted crude oil," Cortes said, explaining he was "hoping we would get this 100 print out ... now that we have, I suspect oil's gonna go considerably lower."

Cortes said there are 2 reasons, first being "base metals are not at all confirming what we're seeing in oil," particularly aluminum, and then, borrowing from the Guy Adami lexicon, said the FXI is down 2½% on a day "in a fairly benign tape."

Karabell jumped in and said Chinese stocks "rarely have been indicative of underlying Chinese activity" and asserted instead, "it's automobile and driving demand" in emerging markets that is more significant.

Cortes then questioned why auto stocks have done so poorly. Karabell said that's because of the propensity for the North American market to "crater," and then asserted to Cortes, "you often make a macro argument to justify the stock trade."

Later, Karabell used ADSK's results to also rebut Cortes on global growth.

Judge Scott Wapner asked Dennis Gartman what he thought of Cortes' trade. Gartman asked rhetorically, "Why would you not be short of Brent?"

Gartman also said not to just look at WTI and Brent alone, but "people need to learn to average those 2." Pete Najarian said, "I still continue to be in the integrateds" and mentioned XOM.

Been a while since we’ve looked up the Dress Barn

Those expecting a Santa Claus rally will find themselves at odds with Steve Cortes.

Cortes said on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, "The specialty retailers are takin' it particularly hard; I do think this is going to be finally the Christmas that disappoints."

Cortes said that Target confirmed what Wal-Mart suggested about "macro-economic weakness," and, "I'm short retailers broadly."

Zach Karabell didn't jump on that like he did the oil/global growth thing, but called retail the "singular space" with a huge "distinction between winners and losers" rather than an entire sector in which names move together; thus, "you can make a lot of money in both directions."

Pete Najarian tried to talk guest analyst Richard Jaffe into recommending TJX with more upside. He didn't have to lobby, as Jaffe revealed, "I'm a fan of TJX," that he recommends it, and "I think you win twice with TJX."

Jaffe said oil's fluctuation actually "has no bearing" on the retail plays he studies.

Steve Cortes asked how much the specter of deflation hurts retailers. Jaffe said those with the "right products" can win.

Jaffe said ANF's European angle is the biggest problem with the stock, "there's clearly cracks in that story," as well as "margin pressure" both in the U.S. and abroad.

Dennis Gartman called ANF "one of the worst-looking charts I've seen," then delivered an anecdote, saying a year ago the line at the NYC store was around the block, whereas he was just passing by about a week and a half ago, and "you could walk right in the front door." "Something's going on there; I'm not quite sure what it is," Gartman said.

Jaffe said the "tourist trade in New York has slowed up a bit."

Steve Cortes was bearish on ANF in Call the Close, saying "Unlike the band LFO," girls and apparently most other people don't shop at ANF.

A lot of NFL players get a gut after retirement, but not all

As Pete Najarian hauled out the AMPLIFIED MASS XXX "snack" he apparently likes to eat (man, does that make the Fudge Stripes look like an unnecessary evil, or what), GNC chief Joe Fortunato basically made his products sound like clean water on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime.

"We rank right behind food, uh, as a, as a most necessary spend," Fortunato said, telling Judge Wapner "I believe we are" recession-proof.

Zach Karabell asked about a possible headwind from lower mall traffic. "We do very well in all types of real estate," Fortunato claimed.

Fortunato, who seemed to speak part of the time with his eyes closed or nearly closed, said they've got 300 locations in China. He assured Judge Wapner that his stock sales aren't a reflection of the company, "it's all programmed."

Steve Cortes noted, "Dennis Gartman and I were just lamenting our age."

Louise Cooper needs new lines if she wants to make this Fast Money thing work

On Wednesday's Halftime, Louise Cooper was asked in London how Italians get their bond yields under control.

"That is the 1.6 trillion euro question ... yeah, that's it," Cooper said, after someone (presumably Dennis Gartman) guessed "question" right before Cooper said it (see, even TV pros who might occasionally use their own cliches can spot the others).

But fortunately, Cooper and Judge Wapner had Steve Cortes to bail them out in the humor department. Cortes said you know Europe is "upside-down" when you have an "Italian central banker and a German pope," and less impressively, "Betting on Italian austerity is a little bit like betting on the U.S. to go over there and win the World Cup."

Cooper noted that Unicredit CDSes "have exploded upwards, widened considerably." Cortes said that's because "European banks have simply not recapitalized." He revealed, "I did take profits in my euro currency short, but I would look to put them on again higher."

Dennig Gartman complained that Monti is no technocrat, but "This is an arch-leftist." Zach Karabell responded, "Arch-leftist for Dennis is like centrist for me."

At least nobody credited Colin Gillis for an 18-month-old call

Guest Will Power spoke about The Latest Fast Money Stock That Doesn't Merit Near The Airtime It Gets On The Show, Research in Motion, on Tuesday's Halftime.

"We still have long-term concerns with RIMMs (sic)," he said, and who doesn't of course, and that there are "still real medium- and long-term questions here." But he allowed there's patent value and cash that push the price to high single digits, plus some cash flows, so it's debatable what the value is, though he doesn't know who a likely buyer would be.

Pete Najarian said the options activity in Joy Global is "definitely unusual today." Dennis Gartman said, "It's probably too cheap to sell nat gas right here." Steve Cortes said nat gas is a red flag for the solar and alternative-energy names, who can't compete with it.

[Tuesday, November 15, 2011]

Who would’ve thought Mike Mayo would channel Meat Loaf on Fast Money

Mike Mayo, a frequent critic of Wall Street banks and a frequent subject of reports from Mr. C. Gasparino, made a rare visit to the Fast Money set Tuesday, and didn't take long before invoking a '70s rock classic.

Today's big banks, Mayo said, are "all dressed up and nowhere to go."

"The U.S. is a lighter version of what happened to Japan," Mayo said. "Where are you going to get the growth. This decade should be the worst decade for bank revenue growth since the decade of the Great Depression."

"Worst decade. Wow," said Melissa Lee (see more on that word below).

Karen Finerman asked Mayo what kind of metrics to expect in the new normal of banking. Mayo said it'll be a question of "can banks exceed their cost of capital," and maybe "ROE as low as 10%."

Mayo, who according to the AP review of his book thinks he got passed over by big banks for not attending an Ivy League school, closed with a pop quiz. "Which bank performed the best for the last 3 decades? ... M&T Bank. You know where they're based? Buffalo." The message, he said, is you don't have to be flashy, "just don't mess up."

Melissa impressed by
Karen’s homework

Those watching for the daily Fast Money game of Statements That Cause Melissa Lee To Say "Wow" didn't have to wait well into the program for Mike Mayo but were rewarded earlier Tuesday when Karen Finerman started talking about Finerman's interest in Uranium Participation (that's the name of an actual Canadian company, not the system that Jong Il and Abdul Khan had worked out).

Finerman said the symbol is "U.CN, depending on what kind of trading system you use" (actually, we only found it on Google finance and Yahoo finance by trying U.TO), and that there are some tailwinds in progress from Japan, an industry bid by Rio, and "I do think nuclear will be one of the solutions down the road." Mel Lee asked if the stock is almost like a uranium ETF and Finerman said yes, "very similar to an ETF."

"Wow," Lee said. "The Chairwoman is (sic), has her fingers in a lot of different things."

Dr. J possibly sets Fast Money record for holding pose while Debbie Weinswig talks WMT

Normally we don't expect Debbie Weinswig to rev up the rhetoric, but in fact portions of her commentary on Tuesday's Fast Money were well-suited for the next WMT annual meeting (you know, where Ben Stiller comes out and makes jokes about Mike Duke, whom of course Stiller had actually heard of before being paid for the gig).

"We're seeing a very new Wal-Mart come out, and they are taking no prisoners," Weinswig told Melissa Lee and the gang.

Weinswig pointed to a decline in Sam's Club and said the pricing is the front line of the market-share strategy. "Wal-Mart has to be more aggressive, but I think they also have to be very aggressive in their merchandising and marketing," she said. "I think their peers are probably a little caught off guard in terms of how aggressive they're getting on marketing."

Weinswig said layaway sales aren't official until the last payment and many of those will be coming in the 4th quarter, and "those tend to be higher-margin goods."

But the most impressive part of this segment was the cameraman sticking it to Jon Najarian for a full 27 seconds while Weinswig talked, and Doc, despite an initial grimace (photo above), passed the test, no crack-up or even a grin.

Karen Finerman, in a sleek sleeveless outfit that might've cost an estimated twenty-three hundred dollars and probably worn on the show for the first time, didn't sound too enthusiastic about the stock. "We are long, but we sold calls against it," Finerman shrugged, complaining it only gets half of the Costco P.E.

If you take away NOTHING else from Fast Money, make sure you’re aware, they’re NOT talking about the company having trouble, only a pullback in the stock

In case you were wondering if AAPL is an outsized element of Fast Money, note that Melissa Lee and Joe Terranova opened Tuesday's 5 p.m. show speaking of the "monster" 2.5% move in the stock.

Karen Finerman said she hopes the board announcement will "push them into a capital allocation strategy that is different than the one they have."

We heard the term "poppycock" for the first time since Richard Nixon's presidency when Jon Najarian (um, he's old enough to remember Nixon well ... Nixon Now ... Nixon's the One ...) used that term to describe how Gene Munster and certain others viewed the recent Apple supplier-problem report.

Guy Adami reiterated — why not — that assuming it stays above its daily bottom of $379, "the stock should just be fine."

Ramifications continue
from a CEO’s tough tenure

Greg Zuckerman, the unofficial (or maybe it's official now) Fast Money John Paulson Correspondent, dialed in the Fast Line Tuesday to explain the implications of Paulson's disclosures, which are, "He's gettin' out of some of the 'pain' trades," and whenever you hear that, you've gotta be thinking Léo Apotheker, which was indeed the first stock Zuckerman mentioned.

He also noted C and WFC as other names for which Paulson apparently hasn't got time for the pain.

But, "he's still a big believer in gold," Zuckerman said, saying later, "personally, about 80% of his money is in gold."

Karen Finerman asked if some of Paulson's sales were based on non-fundamental factors (in other words, he really wanted to stay long, but...). Zuckerman said "In the end, redemptions weren't so bad," but that "some of it is just to free up capital."

Guy Adami, who basically could've stuck a life-sized cardboard of himself in his chair and had producers repeat all of his lines from a day earlier, reiterated that he still thinks Paulson was forced out of part of his gold position that he actually wanted to keep.

Could be wishful thinking on the part of Stephen Weiss

Peter Misek on Tuesday's Fast Money hardly laid out the most encouraging premise for DELL, saying it's going to be about cost-cutting for the company going forward.

Guy Adami wondered if it's only going to be a stodgy, narrowly range-bound stock. Misek conceded "we have a hold on it" but praised the CEO, saying "Michael's done a great job."

Joe Terranova revealed he bought HPQ today, which quite frankly has been very buyable since late September/early October.

Karen Finerman offered free advice to the current CEO. "If I were Meg Whitman I would talk it down next week," Finerman said.

Stephen Weiss noted "I'm long RIMM," and then, after a go-round that basically revealed no one knows exactly what Lee Cooperman paid for his RIMM shares or when, Weiss sounded hopeful in saying his best guess is that Cooperman has been "adding to the position since the filing."

Ilczyszyn: Oil in $95-$105 range

Few things have we awaited recently on Fast Money more than the triumphant return of Rich Ilczyszyn, and Tuesday, it happened, with the Ilchmeister listed as "independent oil trader" on the screen text.

Ilczyszyn sees a $10 range in crude that figures to persist. "Once we got out above 95, new buyers hit the market," he said, but rather than buying now, "I think you wait for a pullback ... this hundred dollars is gonna be a pivot spot."

He's skeptical of a spike to 115 or beyond, sees "resistance at 105," and is willing to buy at $95.

Joe Terranova was afforded a lengthy description of 4 reasons behind his bullish outlook on oil and oil stocks.

"Demand for Middle East crude is tremendous," Terranova said, also citing China diesel shortage, institutional buying and a 3.5% oil export duty from Russia. He said last week there were 53 tankers exiting the Persian Gulf vs. a typical 30-35. "I think you wanna own oil equities," he said, pointing to USO and Canadian names.

Surprise, surprise: Volatility Playbook includes a theory of range-bound VIX in the 20s

Ken Sena, a guest on video on Tuesday's Fast Money, unfortunately must've had Mandy Drury on a monitor over his head, because he couldn't take his eyes off the ceiling while explaining to Melissa Lee and the gang while LNKD is simply issuing too many shares to give the stock a floor.

Sena said a lot of the original IPO buyers "will actually be locked up for about another 90 days."

Joe Terranova asked about Sena's $70 price target for the stock. "I do believe in the business model," Sena said.

Tim Biggam did the Volatility Playbook for Fast Money on Tuesday and said we've been "kinda range-bound" from 27 to 45, and he predicts a lesser range of 27-23 going into year end, but don't expect a return to the "23-15 regime anytime soon."

Karen Finerman and Jon Najarian touted TGT in Final Trade. Stephen Weiss predicted a great forecast from QCOM. Guy Adami suggested Brocade, and Joe Terranova hailed True Religion. Guy Adami got Melissa Lee to admit (3 times) they don't read "all" the tweets they get but "a lot of them."

Dr. J seems 10 days early

Judge Wapner decided to stick it to the WMT players on Tuesday's Halftime.

Chuck Grom, who got royally dissed but not by name on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money by Guy Adami, was reiterating his negativity toward WMT, saying "there's about a 70% correlation between Wal-Mart comps and food inflation."

Judge pointed out, "You missed the run that Wal-Mart did have."

Grom conceded that, blaming it on a "reaction to what's happened with Target" and people not wanting to own both, even though TGT is also ahead of its price on the date of Grom's Sept. 15 Halftime appearance, as far as we can tell.

Patty Edwards, who did say "at this point in time," said dollar stores have "location, location, location," and "Wal-Mart can't compete against that." (They also according to newswires attract a fair amount of strong-arm robbery thugs, but that didn't come up in the program.)

Grom agreed with Patty and said "Wal-Mart's losing market share."

Judge also tried to zing Steve Cortes with an "ouch" because WMT went down Tuesday, even though it has been rising beforehand, prompting Cortes to respond, "It's actually not an ouch," because he only lost money on the most recent buy and profited from the whole trade. "This was very dour" commentary by the WMT CEO, Cortes said.

"I am short retail in fact," Cortes said, citing JWN's possible double-top at $53.30. "Selling retail for underperformance into the holiday season." He pointed to ANF as a name that "looks like it's going even lower," and the "whole group is far too overvalued."

Jon Najarian said the typical retailer trade is be long from Labor Day to Black Friday, and "only the greedy are holding onto 'em." And if Dr. J is crowing on Black Friday's edition of the Halftime Report that he finally unloaded all his retail names on reports of strong mall traffic that day, we'll be sure to give him heck about the "greedy" part.

Herb once again thinks viewers can read the 12-point font on his screen

Obviously, Herb Greenberg and the Fast Money Halftime crew don't follow the suggestions on this page.

On Tuesday Greenberg once again directed the cameraman to "zoom on in here" and do a close-up of the StockTwits gibberish on Herb's computer (we say gibberish only because the exact words can't be seem by the viewers at home), which purportedly contained all sorts of comments about GMCR.

But then, regarding the stock move, Greenberg, admitted, "What is going on with Green Mountain? Have absolutely no idea." He said it seems like it's just traders "doing what they tend to do."

Steve Cortes tried to get Greenberg to nibble on the notion that the Groupon insider selling story is finally getting absorbed by the markets. Herb mostly shrugged that off, saying it's all a secondarymarket thing, and "now we're seeing selling before the IPO."

Judge Wapner and Brian Sullivan did a tease-to-tease that became as wretched of an inside-joke-upon-inside-joke as either (take your pick) "Ocean's 12" or "Smokey and the Bandit 2."


Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was not on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report. But her devilish red top/black skirt combo seen throughout afternoon CNBC programming was absolutely heavenly.

Panelist detects change in tone among colleagues

AAPL, as usual, got an extended discussion on Tuesday's Halftime.

Steve Cortes said until recently people on the Halftime Report sang of Apple like "Endless Love," but what he heard on Monday's program sounded "more like a funeral dirge."

As for his own short, "I didn't cover all of it, but I covered most of it today," Cortes said. "It's amazing to me how fickle the market is right now."

Cortes said the fact Apple hasn't led this fall is "significant and profound and bearish."

Jon Najarian shrugged that the only way he'd add a Kindle Fire to his iPad arsenal is if he carried "multiple tablets."

Brian Kelly warned no one really but himself that "I'll probably get a lot of emails on this" but said if you're looking for a retailer, consider AAPL.

Brian Kelly finds Willie Williams’ yen trade reckless

Money in Motion currency staple Willie Williams got an earful from Brian Kelly during Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Williams' trade was to sell Aussie dollar vs. the yen at 78.50, with a target 72 and a stop at 81.50.

Kelly claimed, "This seems like a very high-risk trade to me."

Williams said the yen is a "safe haven" compared to Europe and also cited "a lot of credit contraction in China" affecting the Aussie.

Williams said that if the euro breaks through 135, it's not an important breach and that the "significant break" would be below 132, 131, "before we really started to build up momentum."

Brian Kelly said "I have no position in the euro," while Steve Cortes admitted, "I am short the euro currency," citing EWP at a 7-year low, though he does believe "you have to be nimble … I think this trade is a little crowded," and of course Stephen Weiss has been crowding it singlehandedly for weeks.

Cortes and Kelly sparred over European banks, with Kelly suggesting that if the ECB comes in (stop if you've heard this before), "that takes away the armageddon trade," and that he's interested in "European banks that have exposure to emerging markets" such as Santander.

Cortes said "I'm short both sides of the Atlantic," whether it's Deutsche Bank, Santander and Bank of America, but his BAC position was qualified at $6, "I really think that is becoming a major support point" and that the shares seem to bounce big off that level. "I'm short it," he said, but he "might have to cover that short."

When was the last time oil traded on fundamentals?

Stephen Schork came on Tuesday's Halftime Fast Line to deliver the Denial Trade.

Schork admitted that $100 for oil seems likely at this stage, "It's kinda hard not to expect to see that." But at the same time, "there is no fundamental justification for this kind of move," calling it an MF Global-driven "illiquidity trap right now."

"It. Makes. No. Reasonable. Or. Logical. Sense," Schork flat-out declared.

Patty Edwards said she thinks "people have been too negative" on refiners. Brian Kelly said "I like Valero and Tesoro" and would also look at the "liquid natural gas space."

The theme of if-you-can-hold-for-6-to-12-months-you’ll-be-richly-rewarded gets another boost

Toni Sacconaghi was given the longest, most formal title on his Fast Line graphic icon on Tuesday's Halftime, but all he really talked about was "uncertainty" regarding Dell and Thailand.

"I think it can continue in the sense earnings can go higher," Sacconaghi said, but because of the flooding, "there's more uncertainty than usual." He said if you can hold for a few quarters, it's a "very inexpensive stock."

Brian Kelly asked a good question who else is affected by Thai floods. Sacconaghi said it's Lenovo and Acer.

Steve Cortes questioned the impact of government spending and insisted "I see austerity as the rule from Athens, Georgia, to Athens, Greece," a reminder that some guys from Athens once claimed "it's the end of the world as we know it."

Jon Najarian said enough people are positioned for a negative Dell reaction that he might take the other side of that.

Ron Insana on Tuesday,
a bust

Usually we expect great things from Ron Insana, but Tuesday's Halftime appearance must by any standard be written off as a clunker, even though Insana actually called it an "interesting time to do this."

Insana said that with a "slow money" perspective, he recommends high-grade munis, TIPs and very high-grade corporate bonds," and that for stocks, he likes domestic names "focused inwardly" such as large-cap industrials.

Patty Edwards seized on that analysis, saying for a lot of U.S. big-caps, "the vast majority of their profits are coming from overseas."

Insana insisted those names will be helped by an improving U.S. economy and then suggested Boeing parts suppliers.

Edwards said Saks is evidence that the "high-end consumer continues to buy." Steve Cortes, for a Final Trade, did a Steve Miller play, take the money and run.

Jon Najarian said there was activity in UXG, NGD and so "I am buying calls."

INTC, suddenly hot

Seeing Judge Wapner actually turn to Patty Edwards near the top of Tuesday's Fast Money Haftime Report, we figured, this is one time Patty will get ample opportunity to speak.


Patty did get to say, "I did buy Intel last week," and continues to "nibble," but it's a "slow money trade" with a "lot of upside potential."

And other than a little bit on dollar stores, pipelines, Saks (but without the 25% sales in NYC) and Ron Insana's dubious U.S. company observation, that was about it.

Steve Cortes said "I do like Intel; I wish I owned it." Brian Kelly said the 3% dividend provides a "free look at their mobile strategy."

Jon Najarian said a Buffett boost on INTC is not quite the same "bang bang" you get from maybe someone like Einhorn.

Cortes said what's interesting is that it's "all of old tech that's massively outperforming."

Doug Freedman was asked by Judge Wapner what it says when the likes of Buffett buy INTC. "I think it says a lot," said Freedman, that nontraditional chip investors are buying the names. "I've got a $30 price target on it," he said.

[Monday, November 14, 2011]

Melissa troubled by negative viewer response to constructive observation

Here's a suggestion: Maybe CNBC on-air personalities should make like David Faber and stop reading viewer e-mail.

Melissa Lee — who had the hair, not to mention black top and enchanting necklace, working perfectly on Monday's Fast Money — complained that earlier on Squawk on the Street, they pointed out the recent troubles with AAPL's share price, and "the hate mail poured in! The hate mail poured in!"

So Lee made sure on Fast Money to say, at 100 mph, "I want to make clear, we're sitting on (sic, actually 'at') this desk; we're not talking about necessarily the fundamentals of the company, unless you're saying specifically we're talking about the fundamentals of the company."

Guy Adami sympathized and said "You make an interesting point," and that it's OK to say something skeptical of Caterpillar, Bucyrus or Joy Global and no one apparently minds, but say something about Apple and "forget about it."

So Adami stressed somewhat sarcastically that AAPL is "fine" as long as it holds $363.

Steve Grasso called this a "huge point" by Adami and Lee and opined that "product integration" is the reason people tend to e-mail more about AAPL comments.

Joe Terranova said AAPL earnings in January will be "blockbuster," but that price action suggests reducing your position. Pete Najarian using hand motions as a visual aid blamed Apple's selloff on hedge funds selling to cover other losses.

Guy Adami just barely stops short of saying ‘benign tape’

Guy Adami on Monday's Fast Money could barely cloak his lack of use of any Warren Buffett revelations as a catalyst for stock buying.

"I don't think we've talked about anything on this show with a 10-year time horizon," Adami said, explaining he hopes Buffett lives another 30 years.

As to whether Buffett's is advice is better for trading than Mark (I'm in cash) Cuban's, Adami said, "For our show, it's absolutely Mark Cuban ... without question, unequivocally, Mark Cuban."

And with that we were reminded of Adami essentially once mocking Julia Boorstin's Fast Money "fun fact" that Buffett and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams are both "from Nebraska!"

Adami did give the Oracle some credit with General Dynamics, saying it looks to have bottomed around $60, and "I think Buffett's onto something here."

Finally, Adami indicated that IBM could in fact go north of $200, "if the tape sort of helps out," a departure from his favorite adjective and terminology that implies a little more of that 70%-move thing from Steve Grasso than flat-out outperformance.

Joe Terranova said, "I truly don't believe it's a Warren Buffett market anymore."

Guy Adami has an
awesome memory

Patrick McKeever guested on the Fast Line on Monday's Fast Money and said Wal-Mart is expected to have its first positive comp in 9 quarters, but everyone knows this because "the company let the cat out of the bag" in October.

McKeever allowed that "I think we're pushing at the top end of the range here" in WMT shares. Pete Najarian said "I would rather be in any of the dollar stores" than Wal-Mart.

Guy Adami though delivered maybe the most impressive research of the day, telling McKeever that back on Sept. 15, a "Thursday" (which is correct), a Deutsche Bank analyst spoke on the Halftime Report about rating WMT a sell with $48 price target.

What this site noted that day (see Sept. archive) was only that the analyst, Charles Grom by the way, had rattled off 6 pairs trades including long COST/short WMT.

"I'm not looking for you to bash one of your competitors," Adami told McKeever Monday. McKeever didn't. Score one for sportsmanship.

‘Marrying ... valuation factors with momentum’

One of the cuter Fast Money features tends to be "Statements That Cause Melissa Lee To Say 'Wow'," and Jim O'Shaughnessy's "shareholder yield" thesis Monday favoring consumer staples did the trick.

In a 40-year study, O'Shaughnessy said, "If you looked at buying the 20% from consumer staples with the highest shareholder yield, your average annual return went up to about 17.8%."

"Wow," Lee said.

O'Shaughnessy, who got a book shout-out from Lee, said "IBM is one of our biggest holdings," and who wasn't saying that Monday. O'Shaughnessy said he saw in Bloomberg that "buybacks are at a 4-year high."

He mentioned CAG and CALM as stocks he likes, "valuation factors with momentum." O'Shaughnessy flirted with the Fast Money Ag Trade, saying in tough economic times, "People still have to eat," and that there aren't guys in garages in Palo Alto trying to beat Coca Cola, but Google.

And in tough economic times, people still have to fly. Should we all buy airlines?

Fast Money declares
gold overhang over

Steve Grasso said at the top of Monday's Fast Money that the biggest takeaway from David Tepper reducing or eliminating his stake in a bunch of banks is "that he lost money," and that people aren't really expecting banks to lead, but for "high-beta to kinda take you out of this."

Pete Najarian said the banks just have no clarity, and, "Your beta's gonna come from the materials space."

Fast Money viewers got a treat when Mary Thompson, who looks absolutely fab in a blue vertically ribbed sweater, delivered updates on John Paulson's holdings.

But no one could get Mary to actually look up while reading the disclosures, denying everyone a clear look at the Prettiest Hair on Cable Television.

Thompson reported that Paulson reduced his stake in the GLD "by a little more than a third." Guy Adami didn't hesitate to opine that Adami has "more a sense that he was forced to get out of it" than actually wanting to sell.

Brian Kelly called the news "pretty positive for gold," because concern over Paulson's position was "hanging over the market." Melissa Lee clarified that Kelly was regarding it as a positive because the selling presumably has already taken place (a future Trade School perhaps, if they do that anymore).

Melissa plays Mad Libs

Very-good-looking Amelia Bourdeau delivered a Money in Motion trade on Monday's Fast Money, saying, "I do like to be short the Australian dollar, vs. the Kiwi." Bourdeau said the euro reaction to last weekend's news was "lackluster."

Pete Najarian said that AMD, a stock we can't fathom why it gets so much occasional mention on Fast Money, "consistently hits on the drop side of things" during Pops & Drops.

Guy Adami said CRM appears to have "based around this 130 level." Scott Nations said that in owning INTC, Warren Buffett is a bit out of his ... Melissa Lee said "wheelhouse" before a pausing Nations could say "field" ... and Nations added that fading the bounce is in order, "I probably would a little bit."

Nations' Options Action trade was selling the GRPN Dec. 26 call for 65 cents, if you own the stock. He suggested getting out of YHOO for a Final Trade on the Tepper news.

First Solar: Perhaps not one of those stocks with a 10-year horizon

Gordon Johnson, who already delivered recently a somewhat alarming thesis for those who believe in the solar sector, told Melissa Lee on Monday's Fast Money that "absolutely" some companies will go bankrupt.

He said his best short idea is FSLR; "I think it goes potentially into bankruptcy" in a "year to 2 years."

Scot Ciccarelli, who got kudos from the gang for having 1 "t" in his first name, called Home Depot and Lowe's "pretty similar animals." He said the home improvement industry is "showing signs of stabilization," and that HD can be owned going into earnings.

Pete Najarian mentioned HD for his Final Call, saying he thinks it goes "a lot higher than 39."

Steve Grasso said of WLT, "When you see a rumor, it's probably false." Brian Kelly said "you can buy" gold here. Joe Terranova said CCL goes to $40 before $30, which Melissa Lee called "interesting." Steve Grasso stuck with KEG while Guy Adami insisted Amylin has "turned the corner."

Tim Cook: George Seifert,
or Ray Handley?

Judge Scott Wapner is getting pretty good at this pushing-the-envelope thing, and on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, he shockingly pushed it toward someone we mistakenly thought, at this still slightly tender business moment in time, was untouchable:

Tim Cook.

Judge fought through an annoying video time delay to twice try to get special guest Fusion-IO's Steve Wozniak to make a call on Cook's leadership, asking "should there be doubts" and whether "faith and confidence" is there, but Wozniak declined, saying the product line is "as strong as ever," Cook gives "wonderful interviews," has a "good head and knowledgeable on the products," and "has bosses," which are the customers. Wozniak also unleashed this gem: "I guarantee you every single day, of the year, of every single year, the stock's either gonna go up or down, whether it's a penny or 5 bucks or whatever."

Wozniak complained that he's not interested in getting a bunch of Google hits that might lead to a link with an answer, he wants to type in a question such as "What are the 5 largest lakes in California" and get the answer.

Judge chuckled that it sounded like a "backdoor plug of Siri."

Judge even tried to get Wozniak to opine on a dividend. Wozniak said believe it or not, there are people who don't care about stock prices and don't read financial media (translation: Don't know, don't care, but probably more aware of my net worth than I'm letting on).

Steve Grasso tried to make a joke by answering Wozniak's question as "Lake Tahoe," but Wozniak was first silent because of the time delay, then practically bolted out of his chair to insist his question was the top 5.

Maybe ideal for 1 role, and not necessarily another

It's not often the Fast Money gang seems net negative on AAPL shares, but that appeared to be the case Monday when Judge Wapner opened Halftime asking if the story's broken.

Steve Grasso said the trading activity "leaves the door open to 362 on the way down," and that people could try dabbling now, but "maybe you wanna sit on your hands ... I think it's goin' lower."

Stephen Weiss basically agreed with that but insisted "Over the next year or so it's gonna be a great stock."

Zach Karabell again stressed the difference betweeen company and stock, and the problem of large numbers, but noted, "I'm actually short some Apple puts at 360 for December."

Pete Najarian was the only admitting "I tend to be one of those buyers" on an AAPL dip, and that he did so "as recently as Friday."

Steve Cortes, a recent critic of AAPL's trading range, wasn't on the show Monday but proved to be not only needed on that wall (see below) but victorious on that wall as the stock is down about 30 bucks in a week from his roughly $410 short call.

Of course, what no one on Fast Money has said, at least that we recall, is that Tim Cook might've been installed a while ago as interim CEO because that is precisely the type of person Steve Jobs preferred to deal with during his on-again/off-again leadership, which may not be the same type of person that is best-suited to lead this particular company going forward in the permanent absence of Steve Jobs.

Supposedly to talk about IBM, biggest praise is for the shares he owns

Sometimes, you can't believe everything you hear.

Or maybe, it's everything you read.

Whitney Tilson dialed in the Fast Line on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying, "Berkshire is already a supersize position for us, by far our largest position."

But that didn't necessarily jive with the chart shown by Judge Wapner above.

Tilson also said Berkshire's "intrinsic value" is actually "$172,000 per A share," so "this is a 65-cent dollar."

But he said Buffett's IBM stake doesn't change a whole lot of value; just that IBM is "a remarkably good business."

Tilson said of GMCR, "We have not covered any of our short."

Priced for perfection,
as an economic hedge

Brian Marshall made one of the more curious statements we've heard recently on Fast Money, saying on Monday's Halftime that Warren Buffett's stake in IBM is a sign of a defensive outlook on the economy because IBM in Marshall's mind "is priced for perfection."

So ... Buffett apparently is buying a stock priced for perfection because he thinks the economy is getting worse?

(We're just the amateurs who write what they say.)

Zachary Karabell was also skeptical of that assessment, suggesting Buffett might think it's "intrinsically undervalued" and that anyone really defensive shouldn't put money into equities. Judge Wapner tried to hijack that observation, saying "That's exactly where I was gonna go Zach."

Marshall shrugged and said "In a vacuum, you could look at that." Then he complained about the IBM revenue/EPS disparity in recent years, saying, "We wanna see some more juice on the top line."

Pete Najarian, apparently grasping for an MSFT supporter, tried to link MSFT to IBM and suggesting the only reason Buffett can't buy MSFT instead is because he claims he's too close to Bill Gates. Marshall damned with faint praise, saying MSFT might work because of a "pretty good product cycle coming up ... repatriation law changes ... kind of interesting at this point in time."

Marshall said he's got a $500 price target on AAPL. And, he revealed, "I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska," so he's likely a Husker fan.

Brand, product, structure, etc.

Liz Dunn, who actually apparently had an outperform on ANF on Oct. 18 when it traded $71, surfaced on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report to say that JCPenney has "3 problems: ... Brand problem ... product problem ... structural issues."

Given that, what's not to like?

Dunn said the 4th quarter is "a wash at this point" for JCP. She said she hasn't met Ron Johnson, but it "seems like he brings a lot to the table."

Stephen Weiss questioned why Ron Johnson gets more credit than Tim Cook when Steve Jobs probably had more to do with Johnson's department than Cook's.

Flattery has never gotten this page anywhere, sadly

Showstopping Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (don't you think she just looks off-the-charts when in black or navy blue?) joined the Fast Money Halftime Report Monday to talk about Spain's 10-year topping 6%, and count Stephen Weiss among the impressed.

"Michelle does great work here, the best work on-air, even on the Street I think personally," Weiss offered."

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Caruso-Cabrera said.

"And I'm not one to throw out compliments," Weiss continued.

"So you got the check from Michelle," cracked Steve Grasso.

Weiss reiterated his Europe thesis; "I still think the euro goes down to par."

Herb’s idea of pointing to tiny tweet words on his computer screen maybe needs to be deep-sixed by the Fast Money producers

Herb Greenberg on Monday's Halftime spoke about the drop in Ctrip, calling it a "Chinese sort-of Priceline.com," which was always kind of a Strategy Session punch line.

Zach Karabell defended the company; "This is actually a pretty well-run company ... it is not by the way really a dot-com ... it's a lot of call centers."

"Low margin with those call centers by the way," Greenberg chipped in.

Dan Dicker said the liquefied natural gas has been affected by all the shale plays. "Cheniere is one to look at ... most direct that you can get," he said.

Pete Najarian was the lone Call the Close (how does Judge keep short-changing that; doesn't he keep track of time?) and said to keep an eye on HD calls.

Zach Karabell got GMCR in Pops & Drops and said, "It certainly helped that Whitney was on our show, talking it down."

Rich Ilczyszyn rarin’ to go

One of the things in the back of the mind around here the last couple weeks was the status of Rich Ilczyszyn, whose Twitter account until just recently had "mfg" in the title.

No one put together a better impromptu tribute to MF Global's boots on the ground than Dan Dicker a week ago, so we won't even try. It would be especially sappy when we barely have a clue what we're talking about, which is kinda the case with the MF unwind (as well as occasional other subjects that cross this page, unfortunately).

We'll just say, we've been hoping to see the Ilchmeister back in the Fast Money groove, and that's apparently the case, given this encouraging tweet over the weekend: "I'll be back next week bigger and better..."

Shout-out: Seattle Seahawks

Many struggling NFL teams are trying the Suck-for-Luck thing. On the contrary, the Seattle Seahawks deserve huge credit for staying focused on Sunday and, quite frankly, delivering the most useful victory in franchise history.

Congrats to Pete Carroll, and the squad, and the great fans of the Pacific Northwest for hanging in there and proving the importance of the axiom (not movie) "any given Sunday."

[Friday, November 11, 2011]

If you buy the Marines, that would have to be a Corps holding

Ron Insana, one of our favorite CNBC legends, said on Friday's well-done Halftime Report that he likes stocks right now in part because it's a "seasonally favorable period."

That is, "unless Europe goes in the tank," Insana said, and ... hold on a sec ... is that a new theory?

Actually, Insana was on the show to promote some "Slow Money" trades, explaining, "I'm more of a 3- to 5-year type of person."

He singled out Valero, calling it a "very interesting trading vehicle" for buying in February and selling in May — which, um, doesn't really help people in November — but it "seems relatively inexpensive," and crude demand might be higher than people think.

That was all well and good, until Steve Grasso came out of nowhere to blindside that suggestion, saying the rumor mill of the takeout being denied and the cyclical nature of the company makes for a "bunch of" macro and micro headwinds.

To that, Insana only said "Valero's best in class," and that there are tailwinds too.

Insana also twice referred to DIS as a "core holding" in media.

Be honest: Do you really care about Jack Abramoff?

Judge Wapner devoted a few moments from Friday's Halftime to Eamon Javers' interview with Jack Abramoff, who complained that in Congress, "too many it seems wind up making some trades" based on regulatory-type information not widely known, and Abramoff even claimed "12 members of Congress" spoke of successful insider trades, mostly for smaller amounts but one boasted making "several hundred thousand dollars on a trade."

Javers said that analysts have concluded that trading on such information by Congresspeople is "not necessarily illegal" and that it's a "free-fire zone for insider trading."

Wonder what the rules are for Greek and Italian politicians re: playing the stock market

Notice that whenever the S&P goes down 25 points (which is about twice a week nowadays), a lot of Fast Money people tend to warn of dire straits, and we don't mean the sultans of swing.

Judge Wapner on Friday's Halftime chided Brian Kelly for taking basically that approach Wednesday. "You were basically calling for, if not the end of the world, uh, something fairly close to it," Wapner goaded.

"Yeah, I still think that," Kelly said, acknowledging "political volatility in Italy and Greece has been taken out of the picture."

Kelly complained the market is going up because people are "chasing performance." Wapner said, "Whatever the reasons are BK, the fact of the matter is, the market's up, and it's up pretty big."

Kelly admitted that's true; "we're not trading BK's ego; we're trading the market."

But Judge might not want to zing too soon, because when the opposite direction happens (about 2-3 times a week nowadays), the pendulum can more than swing the other way, as Zach Karabell indicated on Friday's Halftime Report.

Karabell said the market was reacting to the political overhang of Italy and Greece, and "if that clears, uh, we are well-poised for a significant end-of-the-year rally, I'm talking, you know, 10-plus%."

Steve Grasso's solution for the apparent Kelly-Karabell disparity was, "They're both gonna be right."

James Altucher’s $1,500 theory once again sort of put to the test

Toni Sacconaghi, dubbed No. 1 analyst a couple times on Friday's Halftime by Judge Wapner, took some time to get to it but evaluated the Apple supply-chain debate this way: "This does not appear to be a demand issue."

Sacconaghi in fact feels so good about the company that he's able to tout a $575 price target. "Fundamentally I think Apple stock is really attractively valued at current levels," he said.

Josh Brown said there's a difference between the stock and company and that for "momentum stocks in general ... it's been a slaughterhouse over the last couple of months." Brown speculated AAPL might be getting sold by holders who are "getting hit in other positions."

Zach Karabell agreed with the stock-business distinction but cautioned about expecting massive growth from a company at or near the biggest market cap in the world. "Apple may be the first to do it," Karabell said, but it would still be the first.

Tony Wible, who usually joins the show to bash Netflix, stressed that DIS is "starting to see slowness in the scattered market." Steve Grasso said Brian Kelly might've had trouble with Space Mountain because "I don't think he could fit."

Zach Karabell channels
a little Gordon Gekko

One thing we can't claim, for a change, about Friday's Fast Money is that Patty Edwards wasn't afforded enough opportunity to speak.

In fact, Edwards got too much extra time courtesy of Steve Grasso that she wasn't quite prepared for, and in the process the extra moments went squandered.

Edwards wasn't even a panelist, but actually dialed in the Fast Line to explain her JWN exit, saying the company has "fabulous management" but might not move much for 3-4 quarters because the tailwinds have plateaued such as improving credit trends, and there's "maybe even a few headwinds."

That put Patty and Judge Wapner in a curious go-round contrasting whether the company's lack of update on the improving credit trends really should've spooked people as Judge claimed and Patty rebutted, even though, in the end, both Edwards and the spookees were exiting the stock, so does it matter?

Wapner also asked Edwards if she'd buy if it goes lower, but Edwards curiously said, "You know, if the stock falls more, yes, I would be getting back into it, but I wanna see a little bit more upside than I do to the stock at this point in time."

So ... hmmmm ... (grimace) ... OK, we're just the amateurs ... but that kinda sounds like she's going to get back into it if it goes down while merely hoping it's worth more ... or perhaps would also get in at Friday's price if her $55 ceiling looks expandable.

(Sigh) ... This is the kind of interpretation that tripped us up on another Edwards comment (see below).

Steve Grasso, who did say "Nordstroms (sic)" twice, savvily noted that Edwards, in her opening commentary, said she was reallocating out of JWN and wondered where she'd put that ex-JWN cash. But Edwards had to admit apparently there's no new home yet; "I am looking at Costco, I have not yet pulled the trigger on it."

Zachary Karabell revealed he's long TGT/short JCP because there isn't a real big pie for anyone and, "this is a zero-sum game."

Brian Kelly claimed "Target, too, is one of my favorite retailers, uh, just because the stores are fantastic," then after saying that had the audacity to rip Steve Grasso's Wal-Mart outfit.

And if every trade went the direction we expected it to go, wouldn’t we all make money 100% of the time?

Amelia Bourdeau, who is good-looking, said a lot of people are short the euro, which has occasionally jumped largely because of short squeezes, which is kind of an alternative way of stating Andy Busch's blockbuster range-bound euro call of late that continues to basically hold.

Bourdeau said she aims to "use those squeezes to my advantage."

After Brian Kelly complained that the euro seems to go up on news that should make it go down, Bourdeau said she wants to play not the euro but a better extension of the risk-off scenario by going short Aussie dollar at 102.80, target of 0.99 and stop of 104.30.

It’s not that it wasn’t authentic, but Judge seemed to be grandstanding a bit

Judge Wapner found himself in a little donnybrook on Friday's Halftime with Herb Greenberg over the apparently destined-for-success Evolution buy.

Wapner questioned if SBUX isn't watering down the brand, and then cited Greenberg's own analysis, at CNBC.com, as saying Starbucks could screw it up, "based on history, it won't."

"What history are you reading," Judge demanded.

"Ha ha ha. Look. Everybody's," Greenberg non-responded.

"Look. In the end here. Scott. It's all about execution," Greenberg continued, and that's a line they could use on Texas' death row.

Wapner questioned Greenberg's contention that Howard Schultz wasn't involved in the mistakes. What was he doing as chairman, "just sitting on his couch eating Cheeto's, or playing golf," Wapner scoffed.

Zach Karabell said this is mostly a deal about getting their own "juices in the cases" and downplayed the risk of experimenting with juice stores.

Wapner semi-condescendingly closed by telling Greenberg, "Nothing, nothing is a given."

"Scott, nobody raises the issues better than you," Greenberg said.

Judge said it like ‘sued,’
rather than ‘sud’

Nishu Sood, whose name drew a polite correction from Judge Wapner by the end of his segment, said DHI is a blue-chip name in homebuilding (like a blue-chip name in the AFC West) for longer-term investors, but "I like Pulte on a near-term basis," citing an "absence of the negative" as one catalyst.

Steve Grasso rattled off a host of E&P and oil-service names to think about getting long, HAL, BHI, KEG, BAS, CJES, "all of those names have run."

Josh Brown said "this year it's so obvious" that a Santa Claus rally is in the works; "without a doubt, that's happening."

At one point Brian Sullivan referred to Brown as "Zach." Zach Karabell then said he always gets called Josh.

Brian Kelly recommended MON (because we had to have a Fast Money Ag Trade). Grasso reiterated KEG, "this one goes a lot higher." Brown mentioned ARCO, and Karabell suggested NVDA.

(Slight) correction

It's come to this page's attention that there was a slight error in one of our recent characterizations, on, (sigh), the weather-retail complex.

On Nov. 9 (see below), we noted the double-edged-sword thesis of retail analyst Michelle Clark, who thinks the "very warm weather" will hurt November sales but perhaps help December.

We said then, "Which makes us wonder how exactly that meshes with Patty Edwards' recent comments that the Lord & Taylor boss was complaining that the weather was too cold."

In fact, back on Nov. 3 (see further below), we explained that we found Patty's account of the concerns of the Lord & Taylor chief over dinner somewhat ambiguous, and weren't sure if he was complaining about the weather being warm or the weather being cold. Either one, to our understanding, could've been correct, because Evan Gold cited on Oct. 31 the snowstorm as a positive for prompting shoppers to buy winter clothing.

Unfortunately, referring to this comment without adequately looking it up, we picked, on the 9th, only the second of the 2 possible options, without knowing for sure what the Lord & Taylor chief actually said over dinner. (Hey, we have to crank this stuff out; how much pain would there be if we actually decided to re-read it??)

There was nothing wrong with the original item — we weren't certain what Edwards meant — but the 2nd item didn't reflect the ambiguity.

But now, we've been made aware that the Lord & Taylor chief was complaining about warm weather, not cold.

We hope the Lord & Taylor chief wasn't offended. Hopefully this posting, and a correction to the original item, will satisfy.

And, many thanks to the "spotter" out there who detected the glitch. Quite frankly, with this kind of stuff, it takes a village.

[Thursday, November 11, 2011]

A stock that says,
‘I’m 18 and I like it,’ as well as,
‘I’m in the middle without any plans’

Melissa Lee looked marvelous in a new racy, red vertically striped dress on Thursday's Fast Money, but her assessment of public perception of her stock-market questioning with both hands pushing toward the camera had the ring of melodrama; "I don't want to be called an Apple-basher because I have been called that puh-lenty (not to be confused with Tim Pawlenty) of times," Lee said.

Quite frankly, no self-evaluations on AAPL biases are going to come close to Steve Cortes' "You need me on that wall."

Joe Terranova was the savvy panelist who got to tell Lee "you look lovely in red" before anyone else attempted it.

Tavis McCourt said "the economy's clearly slowing," but Apple is a company that can be counted on for double-digit growth in such an environment.

On the other side of the coin, guest James Faucette predicted that "3 to 5 years from now you're gonna have a hard time going into a store in the U.S. and buying a BlackBerry." Yet, Faucette said the stock doesn't have a negative catalyst for a couple quarters and will pull in value investors.

Tim Seymour first praised Faucette for resembling Alice Cooper, then claimed, "if Wall Street doesn't use the BlackBerry, nobody will. 4 or 5 years, this thing is gone."

Might be overstating it a little bit

Tim Seymour in his opening remarks on Thursday's Fast Money said the stock market close was unimpressive, and Joe Terranova shrugged that we're "basically in nowhere's (sic) land."

But it was Guy Adami piling on the (melo-)drama, asserting, "Tomorrow's a big day in the market ... I think it's make-or-break time tomorrow."

Um, OK.

We'll see.

Most Disliked Companies
on CNBC’s Fast Money:
1. Research in Motion
2. Barnes & Noble ...

If you regularly watch Fast Money and you're under the impression people like dissing the Barnes & Noble business model more than actually talking about the stock, you'd be correct.

After the panel Thursday stumbled through several versions of the Guy Adami refrain, Brian Kelly capped things off with, "To me they're a library masquerading as a public company."

But Joe Terranova at least tried to explain why the stock goes up from time to time. "It's a classic short squeeze," Terranova said.

For whatever reason, can’t get really charged up about this one

Dan Berenbaum spoke on Thursday's Fast Money about NVDA and identified a couple possible headwinds.

Berenbaum said, "We have a neutral rating on the stock, but I have a $13 price target."

Now, that initially had the Spider Sense tingling "satire possibility," because according to Yahoo finance the stock closed at $14.47, so a drop to $13 is a decent percentage (we think around double-digits, but we tend to be knuckleheads about basic math), and not really what we'd consider a "neutral" outcome.

However, Yahoo says the stock did trade in the mid-$13s just about a week ago, and analyst ratings don't change daily, so it's not really off-base.

Guy Adami said to ignore the rhetoric and take a look at E-Trade on any dip. Tim Seymour said one key for DIS is that "ESPN is just a juggernaut; you can't stop it."

Howard Schultz: The 2010 version of Reed Hastings

Alex Panagiotidis visited the Nasdaq set to do the Volatility Playbook and predicted the VIX will be "moving a lot from now until the year-end, uh, given that the European situation is unraveling faster than many had anticipated." Panagiotidis expects the VIX to have a 26-27 floor through year-end and recommends buying the December 35/45 call spread and selling December 27.50 puts to help finance it.

Dan Dicker, who wondered recently about the quality of Vanna White's meals (see below), is getting so good at this TV (and Twitter) soundbite thing that they'll even bring him on when he doesn't really have that much to say, which was the case Thursday, when he said oil's move isn't that impressive if just looking at Brent, and "buying TI doesn't make a lot of sense," though he wouldn't short the market either.

That sort of sounds like Joe Terranova's "nowhere's land."

The Coffee Trade is about as common on Fast Money these days as the AAPL Trade, the AAPL Derivative Trade and the Ag Trade, and Thursday, it was Joe Terranova trumpeting Starbucks' purchase of Evolution, saying it will boost the jamba juice model, and "They'll get their return and more on this."

Tim Seymour hijacked the gold-miner Twitter question originally directed at Brian Kelly (Kelly said buy GLD and skip the miners but didn't mention the "wake up and learn a mine's flooded" like Dennis Gartman always says) and said South African has currency issues that make the miners appealing and to look at GFY and HMY.

Thank you, veterans

Melissa Lee on Thursday's Fast Money welcomed to the Nasdaq James Regan and Robert Hotarek, who run the Lead The Way Fund, which supports U.S. Army Rangers who have suffered disabilities or are in harm's way, and their families. Here's a link.

Steve Cortes on fire

In a market in which many are flailing, Steve Cortes has a winner with his AAPL short.

It may be that the stock is bumbling because of these stories Gene Munster and Peter Misek claim are bogus, but whatever the case, the short AAPL $410 has worked like a charm, as Cortes reiterated on Thursday's Halftime.

Cortes revealed later in the show "I have a book coming out in a month," so if you're impressed with his AAPL call, you might want to give it a shot.

Colin Gillis said expectations have been maybe a little high, and "I think Tim Cook hurt himself by giving such robust guidance." Steve Grasso openly speculated that in the Steve Jobs era, the company was always given the benefit of the doubt and maybe now it's not.

Anthony Scaramucci refreshingly admitted he was wrong a while back when he said the stock would struggle to go higher because of the law of large numbers, but thinks, given 6-12 months, people who hold it now will do fine.

Judge sticks it to Patty
once again

Analyst Mark Astrachan explained on Thursday's Halftime why he was reiterating his sell on GMCR, but when Judge Wapner asked him what could happen that would make his thesis wrong, Astrachan didn't really answer the question, but only said the valuation is trading probably higher than what actual sales are going to be, and that the K-Cup hasn't had competition yet, which are basically reasons why he's going to be right, not reasons why he might be wrong, as Judge's question sought to clarify.

The best thing about Astrachan's appearance is that it finally prompted Judge at a whole 11 minutes into the show to call on Patty Edwards, who despite giving Judge the compliment of a lifetime a couple days ago (see below) once again was not afforded extensive opportunity to speak, although Judge did manage to play catch-up later in the program.

"Thanks for your patience by the way," Judge said, before Patty said, "If you want growth you can go to Starbucks, and if you want valuation, you can go to J.M. Smuckers (sic)." Edwards said GMCR is in "no-man's land with some accounting issues; I think you stay away." Later she said that with high-momentum stocks, "your first trade is your best trade."

Italy bonds: bargains?

If nothing else, Ewen Cameron Watt delivered the Fast Money Halftime Headline of the Day Thursday with a bold call on Italy's 1-year yielding 7%.

"Feels to me like a pretty interesting bet," Watt said, compared with 0%-like rates in the U.S.

Steve Cortes (he's got a book coming out) scoffed that he wondered if Watt had been advising Jon Corzine and called that an "incredibly dangerous trade," saying the "periphery is expanding" in the European maelstrom. But Cortes did allow, "I did cover my euro currency shorts," which means that trade is working just like Andy Busch says it does and not so much like Stephen Weiss and Pete Najarian predict it will.

Marc Chandler said "the correlation today is the highest it's ever been, just above 80%" between the euro and U.S. stocks. "I wanna be short the euro," Chandler said, at 1.3650, with a stop at 1.38, predicting it will finish the year at 1.30.

Anthony Scaramucci suggests Cyber Monday is a bigger deal than Black Friday

Patty Edwards revealed on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that she doesn't really wake up early/late to do actual shopping on Black Friday, but instead takes her chances doing research talking to the folks (who often tend to be 20-something thugs seeking video game deals) camped out, presumably the ones who don't cut at Toys R Us.

"I probably won't be in line but I actually do make the rounds just checking with people in lines to see what sales are doing," Edwards told Judge Wapner, but she said one trend is that retailers seem to be pulling out all the stops this season to get sales (which, yes, caused us initially to wonder, shouldn't they always be trying anything to get more sales, but Edwards pointed out layaway being restored among other measures). Anyway, given that, Patty said she doesn't have a "big warm fuzzy feeling" about this holiday season, but retailers will "try and bring out everything that they've got in their arsenal."

Edwards also told Anthony Scaramucci she doesn't think promoting a Cyber-Tuesday or beyond will help much.

Edwards addressed the rumor that JCPenney's Ron Johnson is hiring Apple execs; "I hope it's true."

Steve Cortes pointed to ANF as slumping for fundamental macro reasons, "I think the trade-down effect, uh, is going to accelerate," while Steve Grasso warned that the lower it gets, the more susceptible it is to takeout rumors.

Anthony Scaramucci actually said "I'm bullish on Barnes & Noble," contrary to what Karen Finerman always says.

Herb tries to make a current-events funny, fizzles because it took too long to develop and also only made 2/3 sense

Herb Greenberg began his Fast Money Halftime segment Thursday with a joke.

He said there are "3 M's" that are getting raves at KSS ... "inventory management, margins," and he forgot the 3rd one ... "marketing."

That brought in Steve Grasso, who noted the current president once spoke of "all 57 states."

Patty Edwards said KSS isn't in the income sector she likes now, but "you cannot bet against this management team."

One thing you can bet against is Herb Greenberg's abbrevation formula, since we didn't realize "inventory" begins with an "M."

Can’t CSCO do a buyback?

Brian Modoff told the panel on Thursday's Halftime that Cisco isn't dependent on government sales and that there are "trends that will help the company grow organically."

Anthony Scaramucci said he likes Modoff but "he didn't really capture a super-catalyst," and so Scaramucci isn't that high on the shares.

Scaramucci said of RIMM, "it's gonna trade below its liquidation value, that's my prediction."

Everyone’s gotta eat (cont’d)

Patty Edwards delivered the (basically daily) Fast Money Ag Trade of the day on Thursday's Halftime, The Andersons. "I like the Ag Trade," Edwards said.

Guest Rehan Rashid said he sees "4, 4.50 over the long term" for natural gas. "Our favorite name is Southwestern Energy," he said, but we have to agree with Steve Cortes (he's got a book coming out, if you didn't know), nat gas has been grim death.

Steve Grasso noted that "Chesapeake lost its luster, it's been, uh, definitely on the short list on a lot of hedge funds."

Jason Bazinet made it sound like DIS wasn't going to knock people's socks off in any direction. "There's not gonna be a massive beat or miss I don't think on the quarter," Bazinet said.

[Wednesday, November 9, 2011]

Should Maria Bartiromo have been standing on that Republican stage instead of facing it?

We were dying for Mitt Romney to talk about a "benign tape," but he didn't.

Wednesday night, the CNBCfix "community" (some of whom never actually watch CNBC) staged sort of a group debate-watch, and the reaction to the CNBC panel was unanimous:

Excellent job.

The big success was using a deep bench led by Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood that brought great variety to the questioning. There was some grumbling about Cramer's gyrations, but the consensus was that every question was relevant (we particularly liked Cramer's, in fact), and more than 1 viewer (who had no idea they might be quoted on this site) wondered why "these guys can't run every one of these debates."

One setback was the absence of Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a natural for this type of event.

The only CNBC disappointment was in the postgame, in which the analysis was left basically to Lawrence Kudlow and Jim Cramer (who both did fine, but where were Gary Kaminsky, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Joe Kernen, Herb Greenberg as well as top-notch, thoughtful contributors such as Zach Karabell, Karen Finerman, Jon Najarian and Ron Insana), and too much extra time was devoted to candidate interviews (we'd already heard enough from them).

Maria Bartiromo quite frankly was gorgeous and easily held her own with the candidates, which should cause many in the unconvinced Republican Party to wonder if their best option is asking people at 4 p.m. where their money is.

Newt Gingrich actually says America needs a pair of 3-hour debates on health care

The headline from Wednesday's Republican debate was the Rick Perry gaffe. But that's insignificant given his decline.

Often the most relevant observations are the things that were not discussed. Incredibly, no one spoke about the price of oil, or whether we need more drilling or solar. No one spoke of climate change and carbon taxes.

There was, incredibly, only token chatter about too big to fail and Dodd-Frank but nothing about the Volcker Rule or Prop Trading or Goldman Sachs, which should've been an automatic question, "Mr. Cain/Romney/Gingrich, What is your opinion of Goldman Sachs, is that firm good for this country or bad?"

In fact the dialogue got loopy when Rick Perry claimed that whether it's a corporation or a European nation, "if you are too big to fail, you are too big." (What's Italy supposed to do, sell Sicily?)

This page will also say that it's a travesty that no one was asked about the merits of 401(k) plans as America's mutual-fund-industry-induced retirement savior, though that's still got great entrenchment in the establishment so we certainly weren't expecting it.

Michele Bachmann elicited viewer comments along these lines: "If my wife looks like that at 55, there will be no complaints here ... whatsoever ... nada ..."

Newt Gingrich, who has been a breath of fresh air through this process but quite frankly had moments of jaggi-ness Wednesday, tediously took the "blame-the-media" shtick too far and then actually claimed the public needs 7 debates of 3 hours apiece between the Republican nominee and President Obama, including 2 on health care, because nobody can explain 18% percent of the economy in 30 seconds except to recite his book titles, before actually proving moments later he really can give an outline in 30 seconds.

It appears part of the Romney strategy was to elevate expectations for Gingrich

Anthony Scaramucci on Wednesday's Fast Money delivered a teaser to the CNBC debate, in which, um, he sort of has a horse in that race, given that he has hosted a fund-raiser for Mitt Romney this year and now, according to the text on the Fast Money screen, is a finance chair for the Romney campaign.

Melissa Lee, who had trouble several times with Scaramucci and herself speaking at the same time, didn't mention that until the end of Scaramucci's remarks, when she said "Anthony is the finance chair for the Mitt Romney campaign." (Note the difference between "the" in Lee's remarks and "a" on the screen.)

What was by far most interesting about Scaramucci's comments is not that he said Romney is "the most attractive candidate," but as Melissa Lee tried to end the interview, he forced in a seemingly off-the-cuff footnote, "I expect Newt to do well tonight," a comment that just oozed "talking point."

So, if we can allow ourselves a little inferring, the guess here is that the Romney camp has concluded Perry's toast, Cain is practically the same, and Gingrich is the last hurdle, and so, hurry up and create some hype to make Newt miss the whisper numbers.

Scaramucci also joked that his town hall question for the president is something that will "live in infamy" for himself personally, somehow.

Daniel Clifton, unrelated to the debate, told Melissa Lee that the debt supercommittee will get at least $600 billion of savings, and if you cared about much more than that, you are way overthinking these bureaucratic things.

Whitney Tilson says he’s thinking about shorting more of GMCR

Whitney Tilson, who cheerily admitted scooping up NFLX last month during its train wreck, isn't so eager to do the same with GMCR.

Tilson said on the Fast Line on Wednesday's Fast Money that "this really smells to me like channel-stuffing," and he's skeptical of management's outlook.

He said rather than cover amid the afterhours free-fall, T2 would decide "if anything to add to our short ... this company could be in real trouble."

Joe Terranova was very kind, telling Tilson, "Congratulations, you're 1 hot trader right now."

Herb Greenberg later reported on how the GMCR call was going and said there have been "a lot of softball questions."

1,225: Good place to up,
also a good place to go down

Guy Adami cracked probably the Fast Money line of the week Wednesday when Melissa Lee opened the 5 p.m. program stressing the importance of Italy.

Adami said that means Lee should be talking to "myself, half of Tim, or all of Joe."

(A quick-thinking producer would've inserted Senator Geary's pro-Italian speech to that Senate witch-hunt of Michael Corleone, but it didn't happen.)

Adami ended up waffling as much as L'eggo my eggo, saying he thinks the market's going down, but at the same time, at S&P 1,225, "this is an interesting level to trade around the long side."

Tim Seymour likewise in a lengthy spiel took about as hard of a stance on stock direction as Rick Perry did on closing government agencies, saying "I don't think the market can withstand the European headlines," and that stocks were basically floating down until a rough landing: "it was the break at 1,240 that came on major volume."

Jim Iuorio said he thinks front-end volatility might've gotten a little ahead of itself and recommended selling the November VXX 50 calls for $1.50 and buying the December VXX 54 calls for $4.20.

John Chambers’ job status no longer is front and center

Given its bucking of what's been an outrageously skewered tape for 2-3 months, CSCO for the first time this century is actually an intriguing stock.

But it's not intriguing to talk about, as Colin Gillis proved on Wednesday's Fast Money when he noted "the guidance was fine" and that the turnaround is occurring faster than many expected, a nod to John Chambers. "Ya gotta give him props for this," Gillis said.

AMLN: Your prescription for an ailing market

Daniel Holland said Wednesday on Fast Money that Siemens is getting beat up unfairly, but as Guy Adami and Tim Seymour noted, if the S&P is going south, neither Siemens nor virtually anything else is a buy.

Brian Kelly said "I'm short copper," and also delivered a well-presented answer to a viewer's tweet about the difference between Italy's economy and California's economy.

Guy Adami said it's a Fast Fire risk, which it really isn't because Mel Lee and Judge Wapner don't do Fast Fires anymore, but he thinks Amylin could bounce.

Einhorn didn’t call analyst whose report he attacked

Judge Wapner had a star guest — GMCR proponent Bill Chappell — on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

But explaining the timeline of how Chappell and David Einhorn are at loggerheads proved too much for Judge, who did recover fairly well but nevertheless tried to cram too many twists and turns into a single question.

Apparently the issue is Chappell's suggestion that Einhorn is getting information from an old lawsuit, and Einhorn contending the suit was just the beginning of his own research.

But the pain seems to actually stem not from disagreement but from a bit of a dis, breach of professional courtesy, and hurt feelings.

"He started with my analysis, and my report," Chappell said. "He failed to actually call me up to ask about the puts and takes to that and then used that as a pinata for the next 110 slides of his presentation."

Chappell said he simply doesn't buy the notion of hidden inventory. "Hard to believe ... the auditors had to miss 3 or 4 warehouses full of product in a given quarter," he said.

Chappell predicted GMCR could climb, "if they can clear the air ... I do think they'll have a sizable beat."

Steve Cortes makes an awesome movie reference ... but isn’t the show an AAPL pep rally anyway?

Judge Scott Wapner went to Steve Cortes for another AAPL contrarian view on Wednesday's Halftime Report — and maybe went to the well once too often.

Cortes told Wapner, "Do you know how much grief I take out there in the world for saying negative things about this, this cult of Apple? But you know, you need me because otherwise this show would be 1 big Apple pep rally. So, like Col. Jessep, you need me on that wall."

That's reassuring, because we've figured for a while that we're the only ones who fully appreciate the value of "A Few Good Men" (of course we're not alone in "Road House," but that's one the commonfolk get as opposed to bigwigs on CNBC who roll their eyes).

We've noted that Aaron Sorkin/Rob Reiner have troubles with Jessep's motivation (why is he so adamant about getting disrespected; he's been promoted much faster than Markinson and is in line for a big position with the National Security Council, so the system works) and that realistically, he probably won't get more than a reprimand for ordering the code red; he never admitted ordering a poisoned rag or specified what the order was ... but why was Santiago writing letters to military hierarchy reporting the guy who's defending him at the base ... and where was Santiago's family throughout the trial ... oh boy, those are for another time ... but yes, we agree, we need Cortes on that wall, in fact, we just don't need him, we WANT him on that wall.

Peter Misek rejected the DigiTimes story on Apple supplier cutbacks. "This is flat-out wrong ... Why on earth would they be slowing down production if you can't get one for 2 weeks," Misek said.

Judge inadvertently gives
a shout-out to Denny’s

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on Wednesday's Halftime delivered a lovely and extremely intelligent report on the European stock-market cycle, saying it's been "crisis ... policy response ... crisis" etc. She said it might take a $2 trillion ECB debt buy and blood in the streets in Germany to effectively calm the markets.

Brian Kelly said it's "illegal" for the ECB to buy that much debt, citing some Lisbon Treaty or something like that.

Judge Wapner said Kelly reads about this stuff over his "grand slam breakfast," which is a trademarked term.

Stocks in ‘1st inning’ of a crash ... to the levels of almost 1 week ago

Judge Wapner on Wednesday's Halftime proved to make the most ... lessee, it's either truthful, ironic, or prophetic ... comment at the opening, saying markets at Dow -200 "could be down a lot more severely than they are."

Pete Najarian seemed heartened by the early reversal, saying people were "finding some of that appetite right now for some of that risk-on."

Brian Kelly and Steve Cortes were Gloom and Doom, with Kelly saying "there's no way to hedge it ... why would anybody buy Italian bonds at this point."

Cortes claimed it's the "first inning" of a "long" and "ugly" game in global markets, and "I'm short the euro currency."

Cortes said "I'm short Deutsche Bank, and I'm short Santander." (This writer is long DB.)

Mike Murphy, who had a very quiet day, said stocks are "trading on a lot of headlines," which is kind of an understatement. Murphy asked Kelly if stocks aren't poised for a big bounce on positive news from Europe. "I don't think Italy is going to be saved," Kelly said, arguing Italy is "past the point of no return."

Like they say in the "Road House" strategy session, "Man, that sure sounds good." But a lot of these bull rallies, we can't handle 1-on-1, even 2-on-1. And, when you start hearing things are "past the point of no return," that's when you have to get skeptical. Quite frankly, Cortes and Kelly tend to gloat at the bottom of these bear plunges, since mid-August these plunges have tended to reverse almost as quickly as they happen, it's become a complete range-bound trade gradually moving upward for 6 weeks, and basically since early October you've been in face-ripped-off land if you tried to ride these selloffs, so maybe this will be the time the wolf is there when the boy cries, but we'll pass.

Pete: Take your China-slowing theory and stuff it

Pete Najarian on Wednesday's Halftime Report sounded basically fed-up with the China critics.

Najarian said it's a "leap" to say that China has "cooled off," that the Chinese government isn't sitting around, "but they've tried to control that."

Oil expert Stephen Schork admitted what a difficult season it's been for trading actually not just oil but basically anything. "Probably been one of the most frustrating 4 weeks of my career," Schork said, before curiously linking outrage over $4-a-gallon gasoline to bailing out Europe.

Mike Murphy recommended Titan International, TWI, as the daily Fast Money Ag Trade.

Pete Najarian said December 29 calls in X are hot.

We think Judge was referring to someone at Motley Fool

Herb Greenberg said on Wednesday's Halftime people on Twitter are tweeting about Sodastream, and that he's been hearing from critics of his own criticism.

Judge Wapner pointed out "Somebody took you on, I won't, I won't mention their name."

Michelle Clark, another pretty retail analyst, predicted November will be a rocky month, with "the weather very warm," and that a lot of winter-clothing sales will be delayed until December.

Which makes us wonder how exactly that meshes with Patty Edwards' recent comments that the Lord & Taylor boss was complaining that the weather was too cold not helpful.

But Clark likes Macy's, saying, "I would be a buyer on any weakness."

Nikos Theodosopolous said CSCO and JNPR aren't the same because of their differing exposure to the "carriers" or "service providers," which is soft.

[Tuesday, November 8, 2011]

Why not have the HPQ board probe the Herman Cain allegations?

Who would've thought on Tuesday that instead of getting AAPL recommendations, Fast Money viewers got Herman Cain saying, "I seriously doubt if I'm gonna have an ah-ha moment later and say 'Oh yeah, I remember that'."

This page will note: The allegations made against Cain are serious. Whether they're true or not, we have no clue. The only chuckling around here regards the political theater, not the nature of the allegations.

Anyway, the only Fast Money equivalent to Herman Cain's press conference that we recall would be the infamous August 2010 departure of Mark Hurd, but Hurd didn't bother to defend himself in a press conference, presumably because he actually made money on that deal and got a better job.

Herman Cain complained that government has been "kickin' the can down the road."

Karen is not bearish, but is lone panelist not in bull camp

Guy Adami on Tuesday's abbreviated Fast Money said at 1,275, the market needs to "prove itself, close significantly above 1,275, and then there's no reason why we shouldn't make another push towards 1,350."

Tim Seymour, trying to sound profound or something, claimed "We've digested, in some sense, the abyss already."

Joe Terranova hailed MA, with a $336 "reference point," and AXP, and also said "watch the exchanges here" for a boost, namely Knight Capital and the Nasdaq.

Karen Finerman, in an extremely attractive new red outfit that cost an estimated fifty-eight hundred dollars, said on the one hand if Europe pulls through then U.S. stocks look cheap, but if Europe doesn't, there's gonna be some serious unwind. "There is spring-loading everywhere," Finerman said, but she's not sure which direction will prevail.

Jon Najarian said WFC, USB, DB and UBS seem to be the banks people are picking to carry gains into year-end. (This writer is long DB.)

Joe Terranova said to look at ADBE if it pulls back to $26 or $27.

Melissa Lee squeezed in Amylin's Dan Bradbury at the end of the show. Not surprisingly he portrayed the Lilly news as a positive, saying "we will repartner outside the United States" and that investors know his company has great control of expenses and is "very disciplined."

Patty in rare form; over-the-top punch line nearly knocks Judge speechless

Patty Edwards on Tuesday's Halftime Report scored some serious points on this page's Fast Money Sense of Humor Meter, quite frankly a far more important metric than whose stock picks are the best.

It happened after Judge Scott Wapner reported well into the program that a lot of charts weren't showing up on the screen, because "We're having a little bit of an issue with our system."

Judge noted many viewers were likely seated by a computer and could just go to CNBC.com or get the iPad app working for stock quotes, etc., which, to be honest, sounds like a high-maintenance way of watching one's program, but whatever.

At that point, Patty cut in (perhaps the producers were tipped this was coming), saying, "You know, Scott, with, with the charts not working, the viewers have the opportunity to just stare into your loving eyes."

All Judge could do was look down and mumble, "They would much rather go to CNBC.com or the app I'm sure."

Now, whether women who see Judge on the street think he has "loving eyes," we have no clue. But the best guess here is that if Judge were still single, he'd do well, and quite frankly, we'd trade our own potential in this arena for his (with, quite frankly, no hesitation).

For his part, Judge jabbed Steve Cortes on his purported Dunkin' Donuts coffee/McRib diet and then clarified, "I'm not saying anything, I mean ya look good. Not going anywhere on that."

Once again, a Fast Money Halftime panelist tries in vain to get Herb to opine

Herb Greenberg's Twitter subject of the day on the Fast Money Halftime Report is becoming more of a dead-end street than anything Lou Rawls ever sang about.

Greenberg on Tuesday spoke about the Lilly-Amylin split and how, shockingly, people were mentioning this on Twitter.

Patty Edwards invoked her locale again and told Greenberg, "Every time I have seen this happen, and I'm by far no expert in biotech; I've seen a lot of the companies up here in Seattle, every time this happens, if the big company is walking away, usually means that there's not so much goodness going on in the biotech side of things," and so, does Herb think it's smarter to look at Lilly now than Amylin.

"If you're asking me, I don't know," Greenberg said.

Everybody still seems to love that AMZN-priced-for-perfection-every-year-for-the-next-10-years story

Mark Mahaney admitted on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that for PCLN, "there are a lot of headwinds here," but the fact the company is doing so well is a sign of how great it can be if those headwinds were lifted. "It's the most attractive name in our space; it's our No. 1 pick," Mahaney said.

He said No. 2 is Amazon.

Zach Karabell asked if PCLN has a monopoly on the sector or whether others can climb the barriers to entry. Mahaney admitted it is not a monopoly and that years ago Expedia would've been the hot name, "this stuff can turn," and in fact "We like Expedia" because he doesn't think the TripAdvisor spinoff is valued correctly.

Steve Cortes reiterated that he's short AAPL at $410 because of the "island top." Dennis Gartman said he'd take the other side of that and is presently long AAPL and short NFLX.

Ugh. Unoriginal. Ugh.

Tim Seymour said on Tuesday's Halftime Report about China's inflation policy, "It's not your father's easing."

Later, Steve Cortes said on Tuesday's Halftime Report about domestic business, "This is not your father's Wal-Mart."

Maybe it’ll take a return by Bob Seger to bring Patty and others into the GM camp?

George Davis, perhaps not realizing he was speaking at the end of Tuesday's Halftime Report where the soundbites are limited to about 18 seconds, tried to deliver a treatise on the Swiss franc vs. the yen, and frankly did pretty well, but eventually Judge had to just cut to the chase and get the trade, which is sell CHF/JPY at 87.25.

In Europe, Davis said, there are "risks that perhaps the market runs out of patience later this week and starts to mark the euro lower on the back of that." He still thinks it's range-bound from 1.35½-1.40.

Speaking of treatises, David Miller had his own, regarding Disney's fiscal '09 and whether the blame goes completely on the theme park, a subject that comes up often during dates. Miller has a $45 target on DIS and said it's spotty trying to play it around earnings (particularly when they get released hours ahead of time.

Tim Seymour claimed "inflation peaked in July" in China. Dennis Gartman said gold is simply going "higher." Patty Edwards looked over the stable of picks by David Einhorn and indicated CBS is the only mildly exciting one, because of next year's political ads, which means they actually benefit someone. Patty, who has heard the music of Bob Seger countless times even if it's not on her future iCloud, also said, "I really have no interest in GM." Zachary Karabell experienced a quiet day.

Iranian nuke report gives oil bulls something to talk about

Sometimes when watching Fast Money, you can't always be sure if this is 2011 ... or 2006.

Dan Dicker stressed a couple times on Tuesday's Halftime Report that Iranian nuclear fears are actually driving the oil markets. (You can probably catch all kinds of hard-liners on The Kudlow Report explaining why George Bush Barack Obama has to strike now before the facilities are finished.)

Moments later, Patty Edwards recommended people "look into the ag sector," including POT, because "people always have to eat."

Dicker pointed out among his 4 factors in today's oil market that "there's been a lot of distillate, a lot of diesel shortness in the Asian market," and closed with some observations on MF Global margins. But Dennis Gartman shrugged off the latter, insisting "those margins have to go back to where they were" and let's not get carried away with bullishness over that.

Dicker said "cruve" a couple times and repeated his thought that oil might be trending lower over time but that would change "if something happens with the Iranians."

Steve Cortes, who didn't open the show predicting "November Rain" this time, said "I'm remaining short" in the euro. He also called Silvio Berlusconi a "wonderful" prime minister aside from the personal issues.

Zachary Karabell said that for the first time since the summer, he's "a little more able" to evaluate companies on fundamentals.

Analyst David Palmer said MCD is "getting share with high-margin platforms" (we don't recall that item on the menu), but, despite being heard loud and clear by viewers, got interrupted by Judge Wapner, who said he couldn't hear Palmer at all. Palmer concluded, "Feels like we might be moving sideways in the very near term."

We'll have more from Halftime and the 5 p.m. show later.

The Steelers lose a game, massively proving our point in the process, causing us to wonder why any NFL team ever uses a running back

Every word of this post is gonna hurt.

This site humbly claims that no CNBC/stock market/media site covers the NFL prevent defense as thoroughly as this page.

Sunday night, Dick LeBeau's Steelers handed us another turkey that only bolsters that notion.

See, the Ravens trailing 20-16 had to go 92 yards in 2:17, and the Steelers decided to rush 4 on virtually every play.

No sacks occurred on the drive.

Yet several times, wide receivers got single coverage on the sidelines or end zone.

Worse was that LeBeau was still trying to fool the offensive linemen by regularly putting 6 defenders on the line and dropping 2 into coverage.

At that stage of the game there is no deception.

Consider: What if the Ravens announced in the first quarter they would not call a single rushing play and would not kick a field goal and would not punt and would attempt to score within a 2-minute window. Surely that would be a huge advantage to the Steelers defense — no need to play the run, just contain the passing game for a couple of series.

Yet that was exactly the plain-as-day scenario at the end of the game, and a shoddy Ravens offense somehow couldn't be stopped.

The undeniable truth is that passing — on every play — is by far the best option in the NFL, and otherwise mediocre teams will continue to be unstoppable until defenses figure that out.

A far better option for LeBeau in that situation is a 2-man rush and 9 pass defenders. Remove the useless run-stuffing linebackers. If Baltimore wants to hand off in that situation, let them.

LeBeau could also try a 5- or even 6-man rush. This is highly effective because it reaches the QB in a hurry and makes interception more likely. But it's also riskier than the 2-man rush, possibly enabling single coverage on the 1 guy the QB sees before getting hit.

Either option is superior to the 4-man rush, which is too easy to block in most cases.

The greater question is why Baltimore insisted on calling handoffs throughout the game given its easy success in the last 2 minutes. Handing off in the NFL 40% of the time is like the AAPL owner on Monday who switches to MSFT on Tuesday, then back to AAPL on Wednesday, then back to MSFT on Thursday, then back to AAPL on Friday, because he foolishly thinks he needs some kind of "balance."

Think about a fabulous comment Karen Finerman made a while back on Fast Money ... if you were starting an electronics retailer now, would you really call it "Radio Shack"?

And if you just learned of the sport of football today and read the rulebook and watched a game for the first time, how would you ever conclude that doing anything but passing the ball to be the ideal offensive strategy on every snap?

The rules of the game ridiculously favor passing. On EVERY play, including 4th and inches. Far easier to move the ball downfield. Far more likely to produce a catastrophic defensive penalty. A do-over feature of getting the ball back at the line of scrimmage for any incompletion no matter how far back the throw was made. Players (QB and "defenseless" receivers) who are far more protected from punishment than plodding ballcarriers who get pounded into the line of scrimmage.

A few teams have long since figured this out. The Packers, the Saints, the Colts, the Patriots, and much earlier, Bill Walsh's 49ers.

Why do/did those teams even keep running backs on the roster? Probably for 2 reasons; 1) Coaches generally disdain unconventional strategies because they perceive that as likely to get them fired (notice they never go for a 2-point conversion with a tying TD late), they'd prefer the players lose it on their own, and 2) the stigma of the "run and shoot," which was basically a college/CFL/USFL novelty and sneered at by the NFL, who saw the Houston Oilers unable to win playoff games or even keep a 35-3 second-half lead.

Running the ball does not "keep the other team's offense off the field." That's accomplished by your own defense making stops.

NFL coaches are an old-school, stubborn lot. That's why the Miracle at the Meadowlands occurred. Change to these guys comes around about as often as an ice age. Sooner or later somebody with nothing to lose, in places like St. Louis or Arizona, is going to ditch the RBs, ditch the useless linebackers who can neither rush nor cover, and watch the wins take off. And then we'll reach the next stage of significant NFL rule changes, marking incompletions at the spot of the throw, not line of scrimmage ...

[Monday, November 7, 2011]

Dan Dicker finds intrigue
in ‘Wheel of Fortune’

If you've wondered how a woman can sort of last 30 years as a TV hottie, know you're not alone.

Dan Dicker observes in a recent tweet, "For no good reason I'm watching 'wheel of fortune' and it occurs to me: Vanna White probably hasn't had a solid meal in two decades....."

Finally got around to reviewing Leah McGrath Goodman’s book about the Nymex

It was many months ago when Leah McGrath Goodman got about 90 seconds to describe why oil prices are what they are to Melissa Lee on Fast Money.

We finally finished the actual book McGrath Goodman was promoting, The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market, and concluded one of the last things we'd ever want to be is Nymex chairman.

‘Benign tape’ sighting*

Other than "Don't try to be a hero," we basically would have to say Guy Adami's "benign tape" is our favorite Fast Money cliche.

After a notable absence, the expression resurfaced on Monday's 5 p.m. Fast Money, when Adami predicted PCLN could hit $550 "on a benign or good tape."

He also joked that Priceline's celebrity endorser stole his nickame, but, "He's an old man; I'd kick his rear end."

Guest caller Fred Moran is also on board the PCLN story. "I think it's still very compelling, and we recommend purchase of Priceline," Moran said.

(*It's true that "benign tape" is not a "sighting," but something that is heard, but "sighting" sounds snappier.)

Andy Busch, who did arms crossed on Simon Hobbs’ show, tries new body language

Andy Busch and the BMO squad may not have yet figured out the most relaxed remote video setting for Busch's TV appearances (Monday's Fast Money was apparently an attempt at calling offsides), but Busch is quite comfortable in his euro thesis of range-bound trade, a thesis at odds with several vocal others but basically correct recently as far as we know.

Busch said "the euro's been in a fairly tight range, uh, 1.36½ to 138.75," and that he wants to buy near the bottom, around 1.3675, and look to sell near 1.3825.

Steve Grasso conducted a little debate later with Karen Finerman and Joe Terranova as to whether Jefferies' remaining European holdings are still a problem. Finerman said they might actually regard them as good investments but simply feel they can't afford to hold so much given market worries. Terranova said 6 months from now the stock will be fine and that the lows from a week ago are history.

But Grasso persisted, even drawing into the discussion Anthony Scaramucci, who said the "catalyst" that Grasso doubts will be an improving U.S. economy. Scaramucci admitted he'd been seeing a "70-ish% chance" of recession in the first half of 2012, but the data are no longer showing that, and you have to trade the facts as they exist.

200-day, 50-day
seen as important

Something about the markets seems stormy basically every day (consider the Dow -200 futures one sees almost nightly), but Steve Grasso noted the lows have been higher since October, and he predicted on Monday's Fast Money "1,300 or above" by year-end.

Guy Adami basically concurred, saying "Technically the market looks fantastic," but also noting that Europe seems "literally on the precipice."

Chartist Ari Wald said the key leves are the S&P 200-day and 50-day, not exactly an earth-shattering statement, and predicted resistance at 1,275 which would be the "signal to take some profits." After hemming and hawing, he arrived at 1,320 as a possible new high if a break through 1,275 occurs. He said 1,220 is the level to watch on the low end and said 1,100 is possible with a breach.

A decent, if not groundbreaking, defense of $32 GRPN

Fred Moran, whose name was initially pronounced "Morren" by Melissa Lee on Monday's Fast Money, has a $32 price target for Groupon and defended it against the criticisms noted by Lee.

"I for instance get e-mails every day from Amazon with very similar offers that Groupon would send me as well," said Lee, who didn't take us up on our offer to take her out to dinner for her birthday last week (but admittedly we never figured out how to formally present it).

Moran rattled off high numbers of Groupon employees and subscribers and claimed it's "very difficult to duplicate that type of reach ... I truly believe that Groupon is here to stay."

Scott Nations said the GRPN float is so small, it "might be just impossible to borrow and short."

Which is worse: Discovering your Pringles are all cracked, or your Fudge Stripes are broken and stuck to each other?

Karen Finerman gave PLCM shareholders an after-hours treat Monday in recommending the stock on Fast Money.

Finerman said Polycom does voice and video conferencing, not just negating some business travel but happening on an "every-desk level." There are "only 2 big players in the business," Finerman said (the other being CSCO), and she predicts investors will "continue to see tremendous growth in this area."

All well and good, but given those gains, it has to feel like this one's returning to earth later this week.

Finerman addressed the rumor of DMND's Pringles deal falling apart over accounting issues. "This isn't crazy," Finerman said, but "I think it's a little premature."

Jason Trennert brought the best suit to Fast Money recently but little else, besides predicting a 2-step approach by the government's debt committee.

Scott Nations said to sell a call spread on BKS.

In an example that Fast Money isn't exactly being bombarded by good Twitter questions, Mel Lee ran a query from Aileen Markowsky, who wondered "why buy a unitasker" such as the Amazon or Barnes & Noble tablet when you can buy Apple's multitasker. Steve Grasso said "The Kindle Fire is not a unitasker," and Karen Finerman said the Nook isn't either.

Something about the holding company being declared insolvent instead of the stock, or something like that...

Karen Finerman gave David Einhorn credit for ability to identify gold miner plays vs. the metal itself, but admitted "I'm not on board of the trade though" because she's not into gold.

Joe Terranova suggested getting long Silver Wheaton (he called it SWL and wasn't corrected) and FCX. He also pointed to Suncor and Noble Energy.

Melissa Lee called Peter Thornton to explain the Dynegy scenario. It's "kind of a confusing situation," Thornton said, and that's about all we could understand from it.

Brian Kelly says
EWI is a short

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, surging in popularity as the go-to American financial reporter on Europe, said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that she's heard the Silvio-Berlusconi-is-done rumor before.

"I'll believe it when I see it," Caruso-Cabrera said, but nevertheless, "The higher the yields go, the tougher it's gonna be for him."

Later, guest Louise Cooper spent way too much of her precious airtime repeating the Berlusconi news that MCC had already reported and conceded if he does exit, which she doesn't think will happen, markets "could see a continuation of that slight Berlusconi rally."

Futher complicating her time-wasting problem, Cooper dodged Brian Kelly's question about what Europe is going to do by explaining what she thinks it should do (hire some corporate turnaround specialists and sell off a bunch of assets, the type of stuff that ought to go over well with the European population).

But she doesn't really think that's likely. "I'm very very very gloomy I'm afraid," she said.

Brian Kelly admitted of EWI, "this is a name that I'm short ... I would stay short."

While short there, Kelly says he wants nothing of the euro. "I have no position in here ... If the bailout fund can't raise money, then Europe is done," which sounds like what we were hearing 2 months ago at 200 S&P points lower.

"I'm very very comfortable with my short euro position," claimed Stephen Weiss.

Herb Greenberg invokes
‘Amityville Horror’ to characterize Best Buy strategy

Herb Greenberg, an essential voice on CNBC who somehow continues to have little to say in his niche on the Fast Money Halftime Report, was asked Monday whether the Twitter reax to Best Buy's latest move is bullish or bearish.

"Based on the stock price, it's bearish," Greenberg said.

And like Panos in "Wall Street" says, "ThankyoufortellingmewhatIalreadyknow."

Greenberg didn't seem that impressed with Best Buy, claiming, "They're throwing spaghetti at the wall."

Guest Scot Ciccarelli admitted he's had a "contrarian buy call" on BBY on valuation.

Steve Grasso fails to convince Brian Kelly the crack spread will sink Valero

Stephen Weiss said on Monday's Halftime that oil-service names are looking good. "I added to Key Energy, and also added to RIG," Weiss said.

Brian Kelly got into it with Steve Grasso over refiners. "I am long Valero," Kelly said, adding "Valero trades on its own" and isn't going to be victimized by crack or Brent spreads.

"But it's coming in," said Grasso. "Crack spread's going the wrong way."

"But if you look at the distillate demand it should change," Kelly claimed.

Kelly said the stock market could rally off Chinese CPI tomorrow. Grasso made a good point, that it seems the market continues to shrug off some of the grim daily fears and that the biggest fear appears to be missing a 4th-quarter rally.

Incredibly, no one talked about QCOM as the AAPL Derivative Trade

Brian Kelly isn't interested in tablet wars.

"Barnes & Noble selling a tablet? Who cares," said Kelly, on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report. "It's a Hyundai to Apple's Porsche. ... It's like ExxonMobil selling you my car." (Wonder if the crack spread there would be irrelevant.)

Jon Najarian was forced to muscle his way through several observations about the iPad being more of a computer than the devices Amazon and Barnes & Noble are selling, and that it's a question of whether the computing ability is worth an extra $300. Stephen Weiss said he understands.

Dr. J said he is reading the Steve Jobs book. (Presumably not on a Nook.)

So basically, trade’s over
as KWK-ly as it happened

Guest Josh Levin seemed to indicate to Judge Wapner on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that his bullish homebuilder call is based basically on the "seasonal housing trade."

Jon Najarian revealed "I am long Pulte" (PHM), but only because of the hot options activity.

Later, Scot Ciccarelli said his rationale for upgrading Home Depot is "positive industry data" from the GDP report that indicates a "bottoming process" for home improvement, at the "front end of an industry inflection."

Judge Wapner pinned Dr. J into admitting that KWK had taken a bigger slide than he expected. Najarian chuckled that compared with Spain, "I think Sprint is a better risk."

[Friday, November 4, 2011]

The mysterious ‘she’ appears to be Kimberly Greenberger

Judge Wapner on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report introduced what proved to be a 4-minute segment on a high-end retail downgrade from Morgan Stanley.

What he didn't introduce was the name of the analyst who made the call.

So viewers got 4 minutes of "She" did this, "She" did that, while not really knowing exactly who we're talking about.

The call was on COH, TIF and JWN, for valuation purposes. Jon Najarian was a prominent skeptic, saying the markets weren't reacting to it.

"I respect the (anonymous) analyst, but this is not making a big splash to the downside in these names," said Najarian.

Patty Edwards, who only made 1 Halftime appearance this week, then joined the fray on the Fast Line and first said it's important to separate that JWN is a U.S. retailer while Coach and Tiffany get significant revenues from outside the U.S.

Then Patty said the thing "the analyst missed in her call" is that since 8/15, Macy's is already up 20%, Ann Taylor is up 13% and JWN is only up 12%.

Then Patty went on to parse the unemployment data and suggested the middle-income consumer is affected by jobs, unlike the high end and net worth, and a bunch of them are taking 2nd jobs. But Patty did sorta like at least 1 name on the analyst's list, URBN, suggesting it could be dicey but has "really easy comps, it's a turnaround situation."

Brian Kelly didn't seem to like the retail notion at all, saying if he owned here he'd be selling, and he probably wouldn't be buying on a dip.

Judge Wapner’s contrarian questioning comes across as mockery of Rick Summer

Pete Najarian revealed on Friday's Halftime Report that he doesn't shy away from controversial IPOs such as Groupon.

"I am in it," Najarian said. "In the near-term, certainly there is some momentum."

Jon Najarian said he's not in it but if he was, "I would've flipped it ... I don't like it at all."

Then in a curious kicker, Dr. J said, "sounds like Reed Hastings all over again."

Groupon skeptic Rick Summer explained to Judge Wapner that management cluelessness is why the stock is only worth $8. "I equate it to a 6-year-old running a 1-mile race," Summer said. "The old customers are slowing down their transaction velocity by about 50% over the last 2 quarters."

Brian Kelly asked if Google or any other biggie would buy Groupon to get into the space, or just create their own versions. Summer called that a "great question" but didn't really answer, other than to say right now Groupon is probably too pricey but might be a lot cheaper in a while.

Judge Wapner then took the other side of Summer's call to the extreme by bellowing, "the Google guys then were out of their minds, I guess ... they make terrible acquisitions, they don't know what they're doing."

Summer called that a "great point" as well and said Google and Facebook are the winners.

Judge Wapner thanked "Summers" in ending the segment.

Isn’t the show called
‘Fast’ Money?

Pete Najarian — the guy who didn't really believe in Groupon on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report but happily owned the shares — proceeded to do a 180 just moments later in complaining about owning bank shares because the longer-term clarity is poor.

But, "In the short term, yes, you can trade some of these financials on the in-and-out," Najarian admitted.

Dr. J had a bad trade

Speaking of banks, Jon Najarian admitted on Friday's Halftime that 1 trade actually didn't work out for him this week.

"This week I took some pain in Deutsche Bank," Dr. J said, but allowing that gains can be made when catching them on the right pullbacks. (This writer is long DB.)

Steve Grasso said it's no surprise BAC went down on the goofy capital-raise exchange plan; "People are gonna sell first, ask questions later."

He admitted he owns the stock as a long-term play and that "I've become a hoper."

Kind of like AAPL is the place to be if you believe in the iPad story

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera looks stunning in any outfit but especially so in the navy blue sweater/skirt combo she donned Friday, both for Squawk Box and the special treat she delivered on Greece.

The gist of MCC's report was that if Papandreou wins the no-confidence vote, Greece essentially passes the bailout and gets the money. But if he loses, government is in limbo for weeks, and no bailout cash at least for a while.

Jens Nordvig continues to steadfastly fight the euro's gains, saying his "year-end target is 1.30," that he'd get into it at 1.37 and put a stop at 1.40.

Brian Kelly, who's been all across the board on this one, admitted Friday, "I have no position whatsoever in euro" (probably until Sunday night).

In an odd feature, Judge Wapner asked Kelly if he's interested in the EEM on vaulation. Kelly gave a description of how EEM is where you'd want to be if you believe in the global growth story.

"You just told us that global growth was slowing," said Steve Grasso, referring to Kelly's comments on retail.

"Well that's why I'm not in it," Kelly said.

Mary Thompson sighting

Judge Wapner on Friday's Halftime once again went to Herb Greenberg for a basically pointless discussion about some stock people have tweeted about, PANL, which Greenberg called a "really serious tug-of-war stock."

Guest David Flynn of Fusion-IO (FIO) told the gang after an enormously long question/statement from Jon Najarian that "We have a very diverse customer base," and "The surface isn't even being scratched yet."

In another sign the Halftime Fast Money lacks material for an hour, Mary Thompson was shown aboard a barge off Bayonne, N.J., likely to show off how lovely the Prettiest Hair on Cable Television looks in a breeze, but purportedly to talk about the state of cruise ships, which Thompson said are doing OK because they're "still a good value" price-wise relative to other forms of entertainment. But nevertheless, she said, they're watching Europe.

Guest Sanjay Shrestha on the Fast Line talked up First Solar, with a cliche, "at the end of the day," and claimed investors can "probably get $70 of cash out of this company," but he spoke so quickly and with a slightly jagged connection that we didn't get all of his premise.

[Thursday, November 3, 2011]

Kaminsky: No capital raise
for Jefferies

Gary Kaminsky, mostly seen mornings on CNBC now in the post/expanded version of The Strategy Session, roared back into action on Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money with an update on Jefferies.

"Leucadia did buy a million shares today," Kaminsky said, and despite rumors, there was "no insider selling."

Kaminsky said "there will be no additional equity raises" and then singled out the August bond offering of MF Global, that these were "sophisticated, vanilla accounts" of insititutional investors.

Kaminsky said he respects Sean Egan but, "I think on this one, as far as capital raise, I can tell you 100%, there will be no capital raise."

Anthony Scaramucci, who was caught giggling as Kaminsky spoke about no insider selling, perhaps explained later when he said people at the GoldenTree conference were complaining that Gary's photo on the screen looked like high school circa 1982.

Joe Terranova said Jefferies management has more skin in the game than MF's execs. Karen Finerman revealed, "I actually bought some Jefferies calls today."

Jeff Harte, the Will Rogers of bank stock-picking, defended Jefferies as expected but, unexpectedly, didn't really call the stock a buy because he said it's more expensive relative to its peers. Harte said the risk with a name like Jefferies illustrated Thursday was that "perception becomes reality" and leads to a "self-fulfilling prophecy."

Joe Terranova is lone Fast Money panelist to wish Mel a happy birthday

And we thought we were doing the CNBC community a favor.

Given that there's no 5 p.m. Fast Money on Friday, we figured a hearty birthday party for Melissa Lee was in the cards Thursday as a way for the gang to have a little fun and show Melissa a nice tribute with a nice party.

To help ensure such, we promoted Mel's birthday on this site.

But no.

It wasn't till the Final Trade when Joe Terranova brought it up, and Melissa doused the conversation as quickly as that Greece referendum.

Maybe tomorrow on Options Action (yeah, right).

Don't blame us; we tried.

Dicker gets long gold

Dan Dicker, rapidly surging to the top as one of our favorite Fast Money stars, strode onto the Nasdaq set Thursday bluntly telling it like it is.

Dicker said he can't figure out this stock market, and that in his opinion the rally of the last 2 days "had absolutely nothing behind it."

The best thing he can think of is a long gold position that eventually could possibly be unwound around $2,200, but he warned, "I have been the worst at trading this particular commodity."

Tim Seymour was skeptical, saying "gold has not responded well to the European crisis."

Dicker said Europe is basically doing "constructive can-kicking." He said crude also looks toppy because of the curve in recent rallies, and "technically at least oil has a cover on top of it."

Seymour: People ‘confused’

Tim Seymour said on Thursday's Fast Money that confusion was the order of the day.

"Had a couple of my brokers call me today and saying, the activity they're seeing from clients was as confusing as they'd seen," Seymour said.

Anthony Scaramucci said stocks look like the best valuation in 15 years but everything's "responding only to the macro," not fundamentals. "The hedge fund industry's missed the rally; they've been way defensive through October."

Karen Finerman said "totally agree" with every one of Scaramucci's points.

Remember when CAT pronounced the world all-clear a week ago?

Joe Terranova said on Thursday's Fast Money that if nothing else, the global growth story is still kicking, evidenced by Caterpillar's report last week.

"I increased my position in Joy Global today," Terranoa said, also touting MDR, which he said goes to $14 and should have a $10.38 stop.

Karen Finerman said some people thought Carl Icahn "a little bit of a joker" with Clorox and is somewhat reluctant to follow him into things, but that she does like the truck space.

Later, Karen and Melissa discussed whether Icahn is cute, prompting Tim Seymour to suggest that should be left to the green room, and why again did they have no time to celebrate Mel's birthday?

Kayla Tausche might have underestimated intelligence of Fast Money viewers

Guest Anupam Palit, whose name and walk onto the set thoroughly flustered pre-birthday-girl Melissa Lee, was parsing about on Groupon, a stock that's about to trade on $5-$10 ranges for days, saying "$18 I think that's really where we're comfortable," and "at 19 to 21 we do think it's overvalued."

Kayla Tausche, amid a couple of reports, handed viewers a helpful definition while warning "investing in this one might be a case of caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware."

"Love the use of Latin, Kayla" in that hit, said Melissa Lee.

Tim Seymour complained that he would never buy LNKD on valuation and that it's "very much a momentum stock here" (as if virtually every other stock on the planet is not a "momentum" name now (have you seen QCOM lately?)).

Seymour did get rightful credit for touting MELI on yesterday's Web Extra (so useless they've stopped promoting it, probably because it's 30 seconds of commercial followed by about 90 seconds of inside banter).

"This stock ultimately is a hundred-dollar stock," said Seymour, despite cautioning people not to buy it Friday on such a pop.

Tim Biggam dialed in with a bad connection apparently that brought back memories of Judge Wapner's last Thursday attempt at hosting 5 p.m. at the Nasdaq. Biggam, the Volatility Playbook guy, predicted a "slow bleed lower" in the VIX and rangebound from 32-25 for the next 2 months.

HPQ bull Vitaliy Katsenelson said near the close that the story with HPQ was not a broken stock, but a "broken board of directors, which is not the case anymore."

Weather and retailers evokes comparisons to that gold inflation/deflation scenario

Sometimes, Fast Money conversations leave us slightly guessing.

Judge Wapner asked Patty Edwards on Thursday's Halftime about retail sales and whether she's hanging in there.

"I am absolutely not giving up," said Edwards. "I think that a lot of this had to do with weather."

Then Edwards said she had lunch, er, dinner a couple weeks ago with the chief of Lord & Taylor, who was complaining about the weather. But Edwards said that the cold weather should be a plus for retailers as it gets shoppers to start buying wintry gear.

So then, we decided 1 of 2 things must be true.

Either 1) the Lord & Taylor chief was complaining that it was too warm in October and was looking for a cold snap to turn things around which Edwards says is now here;

Or 2) the Lord & Taylor chief was complaining that the October weather was cold and nasty, and Edwards thinks he's wrong about that impact, or at least thinking too short-term and not realizing the longer-term benefit.

However it happened, the Edwards long-JWN call surfaced like clockwork, with Patty pointing to EL as a sign of strength in little luxuries in the higher end, "so that leads me more toward something like a Nordstrom."

Looks like Steve Cortes’ ‘November Rain’ thesis is quickly turning into a drought

Judge Wapner must've heard us on Friday.

Patty Edwards finally returned to the Fast Money set Thursday, and Judge provided Patty more than ample time for soundbites, including this not-quite-terribly-decisive assessment of the day's market.

"You know, I have not yet done anything. That being said, I am legging in over the past couple of days into more dividend-paying stocks, taking a little bit of my hedge off," Edwards said, one of 2 times the term "legging" came up.

Readers of this page know how we tend to single out the Brag Trades, and Steve Cortes' bearish crowing from Tuesday is surely an example of why they're not such a good idea.

The truth is October was majorly face-ripped-off land for shorts, and suddenly, just after Cortes hailed his 2-day success, the same looks to be happening this week.

(We don't claim to know any better than Cortes, but we don't get paid to make stock picks on TV.)

Cortes on Thursday's Halftime said nothing about shorting all kinds of European banks, etc., on any pop, but meekly claimed, "I'm adding to shorts on the euro currency," apparently spooked by the European rate cut. "I will concede that yes, I think it's a positive sign," he said.

Steve Liesman said the markets should be "cautiously optimistic" about what's happened in Europe.

AAPL Derivative Trade was in full swing, but incredibly, an hour goes by without the Ag Trade

Nothing makes the Fast Money gang more excited than a QCOM, and that's precisely what the Halftime gang got to talk about on Thursday.

Patty Edwards explained she's long the stock, and "ya gotta listen to what the guy said this morning on CNBC."

Craig Berger said "Qualcomm is firing on all cylinders right now," and come to think of it, so is Bank of America, though it depends on your definition of "firing."

Berger said he likes BRCM as a buy but has a hold on INTC, because it "has a real hard time getting over that $24 level," even though Pete Najarian said last week it's got $27 in its sights.

Patty Edwards admitted that with INTC, "I have a buy, I actually have been legging into it over the past little bit," basically because of the dividend, a "chicken's way to play technology."

Berger said AMD is a buy but only a small stake.

Steve Cortes, not so cocky Thursday, waited until the end of the program to reveal he's short AAPL and that below $410 he sees trouble for it.

Thankfully, no live
reports on MF Global

No one — absolutely no one — wears a striped blue jacket like CNBC's knee-buckling Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, and MCC was in fine form on Thursday's Halftime in reporting on the "amazing political feat" that Papandreou apparently pulled off.

Caruso-Cabrera, who earlier gave the cutest compliment to CNBC Europe's Carolin Schober on Thursday's Squawk Box (see this site's bio page for details), said indications are that Papandreou's call for a referendum was genius because it ultimately forced the opposition to make a deal.

Judge Wapner paid MCC a nice compliment, saying Fast Money won't believe anything out of Greece until Caruso-Cabrera reports it.

Mandy Drury gave the Street Signs in chic short sleeves and attractive gold necklace.

Groupon apparently no deal (and how many times do you think you’ll see a headline like that?)

Steve Cortes said on Thursday's Halftime he won't buy Groupon because of "how much insider selling there has already been."

Jon Najarian flat-out insisted, "any pop should be sold here" in the name.

Najarian also said $67.50 calls in GMCR were hot.

Steve Cortess hoped to put some snap, crackle and pop into his portfolio, admitting he "took a flier here" on Kellogg on weakness; "I stepped in and bought it today."

Guest Chuck Grom pointed to what he sees as strength in Costco, Kohl's and Big Lots but that he's not high on JCPenney (remember how great it was gonna be with Ron Johnson), saying he's "surprised that stock's up today." But the nut graf of Grom's commentary seems to be, "The October numbers were softer at the high end for the first time in a long time."

Another Fast Money Halftime addition that seems like a Strategy Session thing

Patty Edwards on Thursday's Halftime Report explained she owns both EPD and Kinder Morgan but curiously put guest Darren Horowitz on the spot to "compare and contrast the 2" rather than simply making the distinction herself.

Horowitz impressively proved more than up to the challenge, talking about location of assets and relative cost of capital in such a fact-laden explanation we frankly couldn't keep up.

Horowitz recommended 3 MLP names for yield; EPD, NGLS and PAA.

Steve Grasso asked the obligatory but good question about MLP tax/regulation concerns. "Everything that we see right now does not lead us to believe that this asset class, uh, is in jeopardy of a structural overhaul but nonetheless it's something that you have to keep an eye on," Horowitz said.

Cortes out of gold short

Jon Najarian could barely contain himself on Thursday's Halftime gushing about ANR, saying despite the gains, "Alpha is less than half the 52-week high."

"I'm long letter D," said Steve Grasso, who also said he'd look to get into RIG only at $53.11, which is its 50-day.

Steve Cortes, in what could be a string of future "stopped out" revelations, revealed Thursday, "I was short gold yesterday, wrongly so, got stopped out this morning."

[Wednesday, November 2, 2011]

George Goncalves has different take on dozable Fed report than Dennis Gartman does

Credit George Goncalves for having the guts to suggest aloud on Wednesday's Fast Money what the stock market has implicitly been saying for a month — that the bond market got this one wrong.

Goncalves told Melissa Lee that current macro conditions don't support a 2% yield in the 10-year. "There's a disconnect now going on where bonds potentially could be wrong and the equity market and TIPS as well are telling you that inflation is coming and you need to asset-allocate out of bonds."

Certainly Jeff Kilburg would beg to differ.

Another signal that 2 hours daily of Fast Money might be a little much

Evidently, Andrea Jung watches Fast Money.

Avon analyst Bill Schmitz spoke with Melissa Lee and the gang Wednesday, and when Karen Finerman asked about the performance of the CEO, Schmitz couldn't run away fast enough.

"She's as disappointed as anybody else, I'll probably just leave it at that, don't wanna get myself in trouble," said Schmitz, sounding far more like a company spokesman than independent analyst.

Finerman said she'd like to get interested in the name, but it seems to have "non-recurring items all the time."

Finerman, however, did say of Research in Motion, "I actually think it's starting to get interesting. On the buy side."

She also expressed curiosity at hhgregg's ticker of HGG.

Hain Celestial's Irwin Simon was allowed to decorate the Fast Money desk with enough samples to make the whole production look like an infomercial. Simon said at one point, "When you're green, you're growing, when you're ripe, you rot."

Joe Terranova said buyers can get long Andarko, Occidental and Suncor, and also got in the show's obligatory daily pro-ag trade, in CF. Brian Kelly touted the GLD, while Guy Adami suggested Yamana. Tim Seymour said to play emerging markets long vs. the S&P, which we think is probably the same trade that Steve Cortes said has only worked in October but not the rest of the year.

Melissa Lee filled time near the end of the program with a strange interview with someone named Stuart Hughes, who makes iPad covers out of T-rex bones. Guy Adami did ask about margins, but the shocker was that no one mentioned Qualcomm as a derivative trade.

Karen scorches Fast Money set with hot new outfit

Tim Seymour said on Wednesday's Fast Money that MF Global isn't going down quietly.

"Look at how the markets have reacted to this, and it tells you that the tentacles of this could reach because of the leverage all over the world, and I think that's a lot of the way the market traded yesterday."

Sure. And Wednesday the Dow went up 178.

So in other words, just another Autumn 2011 thesis that works until it doesn't.

Karen Finerman, wearing a stunning new black outfit dotted in white that cost an estimated ninety-three hundred dollars, said MF Global clients learned the lesson from Lehman, when things get bleak, "You've gotta be moving your money out ... as quickly as you can."

Guy Adami makes himself ineligible for jury duty

The most startling Fast Money comment Wednesday about MF Global came as an afterthought from Guy Adami, who mumbled, "People going to jail on the back of this one, no doubt."

No doubt?

Guest Anthony Catanach said of Groupon's accounting, "There's nothing improper about them at this point," but he wishes they'd do a better job of disclosure.

Sadly, the subject of Apple's capital allocation came up, with Karen Finerman complaining, then Tim Seymour asking, "What is enough, I guess is the question. What would make you happy Karen?," which sounds like Bud Fox's demand of Gekko. Finerman said something above zero would help.

Peter Misek predicted an Apple dividend or buyback within 6-12 months, with "odds at over 90%" of doing that.

Guy Adami said if there's a "beneficial tape" (that's correct, "beneficial" and not "benign"), QCOM could zip through $60.

Melissa Lee, whose birthday is in 2 days, asked Karen Short about rising prices for rump roast.

Things the Fed didn’t comment on: Apple’s capital allocation, Green Mountain’s accounting, Netflix’s pricing plans

Judge Wapner put on a goalpost-style Fast Money Halftime Report Wednesday — 10 minutes at the beginning of the hour, 10 minutes at the end, with Diane Swonk and Bill Gross and A. Gary Shilling in between — that essentially wrapped up with Stephen Weiss reiterating his euro short.

Dennis Gartman, after Judge Wapner apologized for teasing early to Gartman's call, weighed in on the Fed, offering, "We had a change in the dissent ... that's a huge change in my opinion."

"If you thought QE3 was on the table, it's probably not. If you thought tightening was on the table, it's not till mid-2013," Gartman said.

Judge Wapner claimed there's a "push and pull" between QE3 bulls and economic bulls, and if you're one of those people who really have no clue whether the Fed is saying good things or bad things, you're not alone.

Steve Cortes said "I think this is a disappointment for those who thought that QE3 was imminent," saying it's "off the table" at least into year-end and perhaps into 2012.

Cortes said the theme is "when doves cry."

Gartman said gold goes "probably quietly higher in dollar terms" and "materially" higher in euro terms. Abigail Doolittle revealed "I am a gold bear" and sees a trade to "1,650 or so."

With Dow up triple-digits, Steve Cortes not quite as audacious

Abigail Doolittle, quickly becoming a Fast Money fixture, said on Wednesday's Halftime that the key S&P level is 1,218.

"If it can hold that level, maybe there's a chance that it's gonna try for 1,260 and to move higher altogether. I tend to think though that we're gonna see the S&P go back down toward its 50-day, around 1,192 or so," Doolittle said.

Stephen Weiss explained Wednesday's bull rally this way: "They're hoping for a beatdown of the Greek president."

Steve Cortes, more subdued with stocks up than a day earlier with stocks majorly down, revealed, "I added a bit to my U.S. dollar longs today," and then claimed that on Halloweed, "I saw a lot of Captain America outfits. I didn't see anyone wearing Captain Germany or Captain Europe."

Zach Karabell found that not terribly surprising, pointing out there's "not a lot of Captain Americas in Paris, Berlin and Rome; more like Caligula, Bismarck and Tintin."

Karabell also took a swipe at Bill Gross' curious assessment of bank capitalization. "It'd be great to be Bill Gross, manage a trillion dollars on Newport Beach, but I really wonder about, how do you even know what the right capitalization levels; it all depends on what risk scenario you run," Karabell said.

Brian Kelly spoke of low bond yields, whipped out the crystal ball and claimed, "30 years from now, returns are gonna be much better."

Stunner: Fast Money Halftime discusses QCOM as an AAPL derivative play

You'd think in a shortened, 10-minute version of the Fast Money Halftime Report Wednesday that viewers could've escaped the AAPL and AAPL-related trade for a day.


Colin Gillis said Apple could give 11 bucks to everyone on Earth, but there's a drawback to AAPL buybacks because "most of this cash, 2/3, is offshore cash."

"What is more reasonable would be a dividend," said Gillis, suggesting 5%.

Zach Karabell said that move actually could hurt perception of the stock, because "it's not a dividend-paying story." Stephen Weiss said, "I don't see a dividend happening."

Abigail Doolittle agreed with Brian Kelly's caution on INTC (which Pete Najarian claimed a week ago had $27 written all over it), seeing the stock as "a little bit toppy here" and trading down to $20 or perhaps even $19.

We gotta wonder what happened to Patty Edwards, who was barely afforded a chance to speak on Friday, hasn't turned up this week and has been opining far more recently about hockey (Zzzzzz) than stocks these days.

[Tuesday, November 1, 2011]

Just wondering: How in the world does a firm run by an ex-Goldman ace and ex-governor go belly-up in this regulatory environment?

Goodness only knows why the United States needs another injection of quantitative easing.

Yet that's exactly what Tom Porcelli suggested on Tuesday's Fast Money.

"You have 2 core uh, FOMC officials coming out, again, lending tacit approval, uh, to QE, again, all under the guise of housing," Porcelli said.

Porcelli said he hates to disappoint everyone, but the only real cure for U.S. sluggishness is "time."

Guy Adami asked if the 10-year could go to 1.5%. "I don't think it is out of the question," Porcelli said, joking, "Let's invent a negative European headline and we're on our way."

Karen Finerman handled AMT's big jump on Tuesday but admitted, "I've actually thought this stock was expensive for, like, 11 years."

Jon Najarian, making a face or 2 while waiting for his cue on Final Trade, said to keep an eye on XRT as a signal retail might be rolling over.

Joe Terranova said he never recommends gold, but the "price action today was favorable." Guy Adami said HGSI is too cheap, Karen Finerman touted CFN, and Pete Najarian said call options are hopping in AKS.

Jeremy Wien did the VIX trade and admitted it's "kind of a copout to say it's gonna depend on, on Europe," but that the VIX is unlikely to break higher out of its range unless Europe falls apart. Of course that's unlikely, it's on rock-solid ground.

‘At the end of the day,’ guest says same cliche 4 times on Fast Money

We're pretty sure Brett Sheets is a newcomer to Fast Money, and the first thing we couldn't help but notice were the hands, which seemed almost a combination prayer mode/can't wait to feast on these questions Melissa's about to hurl at me.

Everyone's got their own little tics. For example, Michelle Meyer, The World's Cutest Economist, clasps her hands together for CNBC interviews when seated. Andy Busch is prone to cross his arms like a badass.

Quite frankly, a lot of folks aren't totally sure what to do and can't fully relax, hence the awkwardness.

Sheets did a fine job of defending retail REITs, even in the face of Karen Finerman's assertion that the "dynamics" are "very negative actually" for the sector given online growth and the problems of big-box retailers, shrugging off concerns and declaring that retailers that don't need 50,000 square feet will just be split into 2 lots and someone else will take the other 25,000 feet.

But where Sheets stumbled was in cliche patrol, including 3 times in 1 answer for Karen Finerman, an indication that maybe he's still finding his groove at this TV thing.

Proving the point

This page complained over Tuesday's Halftime (see below) that during these monstrous market moves, the Fast Money gang does a lot more wait-and-see than actual stock recommendations.

Guy Adami evidently couldn't agree more, opening Tuesday's 5 p.m. show by saying "shrugoff" about 4 times, as in the market shrugged off the 1,074 low in early October just like it shrugged off the 1,292 high on Thursday.

And when it came to picks, the best Adami could do is claim "history does repeat itself" in regard to GOOG, and that while Karen Finerman said it might be appealing at $560, "it tends to overshoot" and $540 might be more likely.

That sounds like a blockbuster.

MF Global serves early Thanksgiving feast to Occupy crowds

So much for that "outside monthly reversal."

The Fast Money gang was somewhat shell-shocked Tuesday by the 2-day debacle, with Joe Terranova conceding of MF Global, "It has more impact today than I thought it did yesterday."

Guest Jim Bianco said 85% of stocks now are trading with the whole market, the highest level since 1926, and by definition higher even than 2008. Bianco said this tends to happen in times of meltdowns, and that the least correlated was the 1990s, which was generally happy happy joy joy, so the inference we're drawing from that isn't too great.

At least one panelist was mildly interested. "I did start nibbling on Deutsche today," said Jon Najarian.

Fred Cannon said MF Global wasn't snagged a while back by Volcker or other rules because it was in a "regulatory blind spot" and a financial system "anomaly."

Karen Finerman said she wouldn't be surprised to see the investigation of MF Global get "a little wider, or a lot wider."

Jon Najarian said the problem with MF wasn't not-enough regulation, but "horribly oversighted regulation … that audit over at MF, something was really wrong there."

Also early Thanksgiving feast for securities lawyer industry

As investigations begin, lawyers often urge people to refrain from a rush to judgment.

On the contrary, Jake Zamansky strode onto the Fast Money set Tuesday to declare MF Global basically culpable of … everything.

Zamansky said MF "broke the cardinal rule in this industry," investors are scared to death, and "I think there are gonna be criminal and civil fraud charges filed," and lawsuits starting by the end of the week.

Zamansky said Jon Corzine will be spending the holidays with his lawyers, that there are all sorts of questions over the audit, the customer accounts, the due diligence on the August bond issue, and any shorting or insider selling. "This is a real mess," Zamansky said.

It's hard to argue with that (and this is actually the ideal time for Dennis Gartman's "there's never just 1 cockroach"), but unfortunately, Melissa Lee didn't press Zamansky on why he didn't really answer Mike Khouw's excellent question, about whether there could be a misinterpretation of money transfers among the customer accounts. Zamansky's answer, that he's sure it had to be wrongdoing, bolstered the implication he might not only be rushing to judgment, but rushing for clients.

Time for Fast Money
to slow down a bit

Just a week ago, all we were hearing on CNBC is how the numbers show there is no global-growth collapse and that Europe has finally signaled it's all-in on a solution.

Suddenly Tuesday, neither story is fixed, and Steve Cortes on the Fast Money Halftime Report in fact was predicting China's demise again because of its "inability to export to a weakened Europe."

Brian Kelly, who flip-flops these days more than the Seattle Seahawks quarterback situation (euro's going gangbusters … euro's fading to oblivion … China's as strong as ever … China looks like a hard landing), explained that his recent effusiveness for China "had to do with that original PMI," but, "if Europe implodes, everything is going to implode."

Steve Cortes insisted the short-China trade has worked basically every month this year except the last one, which is like saying the Colts are always great every season except this one. "I think that was the October Surprise," said Cortes, predicting "November Rain" as a sequel.

Cortes disagreed with Zach Karabell, saying in China, "the domestic consumer is just not showing up" and "the savings rate is skyrocketing."

We don't really want to rank on the expanded Fast Money Halftime Report. But this page continues to notice that the extra half-hour is adding little to no value. And it's particularly bad as massive daily market swings do not elicit many fresh trades, but sit-on-the-hands strategy and AAPL derivative-play filler. The Strategy Session wasn't "American Idol," but unlike Fast, it presumably might've taken this remarkable market whipsaw into new territory — for example, whether retail investors are ready to call it quits for a long time because they're likely taking instant losses all autumn long … and which side to believe in the disparity between the credit market and stock market.

Judge makes sure The Killir doesn’t claim too much credit

Ongoing Treasury bull Jeff Kilburg, who by late last week was seriously on the verge of ending up in our Worst Calls of 2011 list, now looks like a genius as the 10-year came storming back below 2.0% on Tuesday.

And, he didn't have any problem gloating about it on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, crowing "Killir's a tough nickname to live up to here in Chicago, so I deliver."

"MF Global is the 1 catalyst that kicked everything off this week," said Kilburg, adding, "that 1.67 is gonna be tested again," and if that happens, one has to think S&P another hundred points lower.

Kilburg said the thing that would save Europe is a euro bond, but that's a quarter away in his opinion.

Jon Najarian said you want to "own option premium," not sell it.

Judge Wapner evidently took issue with Kilburg's Brag Trade, insisting at the end of the segment that Kilburg wasn't predicting the return to 2.0% wasn't going to happen so quickly but credited him for a good call nevertheless.

A currency trade, for 2031

As Greece was almost singlehandedly blowing up the markets on Tuesday, Jon Najarian on the Fast Money Halftime Report sounded borderline personally offended.

It's a "complete abdication of responsibility," Najarian said, adding that if they want to get out of the euro to play currency inflation games, "they're gonna get it in spades," even using a "Zimbabwe" parallel of "double digits for at least 20 years … you have my word on it."

Can a Fast Money panelist truly guarantee double-digit inflation of a country for 20 years?

Judge Wapner credited Steve Cortes, after a disastrous late October, for so far doing well in November. "We're calling this Cortes' revenge," Wapner said.

"You beat me up like a pinata," Cortes crowed about last week, but now the bottom's falling out in Europe; "this process is full of rancor and suspicion and secrecy."

Cortes said if Greece nixes its referendum and European banks such as DB jump, "I would use rallies to add to shorts … European leaders don't get it."

Foxy Rebecca Patterson, asked to make a call on the euro, said "lower, how's that."

Patterson didn't see Greece as a big catalyst this time; "it's just more of the same." Her trade was actually to sell euro/yen because Japan weakness is a fade; "unilateral intervention does not work."

Skeptics always say, you can’t believe what you read on the Web

Brian Sullivan did a short turn on the London Clearinghouse margin rules (straight from "the Web site") on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying this is what happens when there is "no faith in the credit default markets," a concept that got significant attention earlier in the day between Andrew Ross Sorkin and Gary Kaminsky on Squawk Box.

Later in the program, Sullivan walked around the CNBC newsroom to pat Herb Greenberg on the back while Greenberg was concluding his StockTwits update, quickly emerging as a useless time filler despite the fact Greenberg is a quality addition to any hour of CNBC programming.

Guest Jacques Cailloux addressed the London Clearinghouse spread issue on Italy bonds and whether it's locked into the Web site chatter that Sullivan cited, saying there's "room for maneuver." But he said 1 option for Europe, hitting up the emerging market economies for some kind of bailout help, will probably find the emerging market countries not particularly "enthusiastic."

Cailloux said he thinks there will be a European rate cut, saying in his opinion 50 basis points would be the right move.

Brian Kelly admitted "I'm still long Banco Santander" but with $7.80 as the stop, and said Tuesday's news might be a game-changer.

Fast appearance is
rare bust for Steve Liesman

QE3 expectations have got Steve Liesman royally flummoxed.

Reporting on the CNBC monthly power survey during Tuesday's Halftime Report, Liesman, who stressed a couple times that he's been viewing QE3 as an option that's not on the front burner right now, said the numbers show more people are saying yes to QE3 within 12 months and fewer people are saying no.

"Ask me? I'm confused," Liesman said.

Banks, meet Qwikster

Zach Karabell spent more time Tuesday talking about what he didn't like rather than did like. "Bad news is not done when it comes to the financial sector," Karabell said, adding he's not excited about PFE, and that LEAP is not a stock to jump into "with no real revenues."

He also thinks automakers' sales expectations are too high, but for now, "I wanna see how much this market uncouples from Europe by the end of the day."

Brian Kelly — this is the difference in how the stock market and consumers look at things — said the debit and credit card fees were actually a "glimmer of hope" for banks, but given the retrenchment of those plans, "I don't see how you buy these banks at all."

Steve Cortes said, "I have no position in gold here … I would just stay away entirely."

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