[CNBCfix.com Fast Money Review Archive, October 2011]
[Monday, Oct. 31, 2011]

Melissa’s birthday is Friday

If you're connected to Fast Money, here's something you need to prepare for.

Melissa Lee's birthday is Friday. We're virtually — not 100% — certain that Mel remains on the good side of 40 (and of course could pass for 27). Keep in mind it's been a big year; Money in Motion, Squawk on the Street, personal note from George W. Bush.

Now, this poses a TV production problem, because Melissa's 5 p.m. Fast Money doesn't air Friday, and in fact she's relegated to the more subdued Options Action and Money in Motion, where little exciting has happened since foxy Rebecca Patterson spoke of showering in gold in a bikini and where Guy Adami won't be around to lead the cheers.

Perhaps Karen could organize things on Thursday, maybe call Patrick Doyle who's always good for a delivery and see if he can send Jon Hamm in with the pies?

Whatever it takes. We're sure they'll come up with something good.

Stephen Weiss defines ‘free’ for viewers who may not understand

Joe Terranova won the Candor Award on Monday's Fast Money.

"I myself, I did a horrible job of telling you the viewers what to do with Amazon after the earnings last week. But obviously, Amazon is not broken, looks good," Terranova said.

Terranova also called APC a buying opportunity on Monday's selloff. Stephen Weiss agreed. But Weiss wasn't so hot on steel, saying it's good AKS and X have risen so much because "now you can short them again."

Weiss also said viewers can short NFLX here, which apparently would please Whitney Tilson, who stated he hopes it goes lower so he can buy more. Weiss called the YouTube announcement "another, frankly, nail in the coffin for Netflix." He added, "it's free entertainment that's out there, that you don't have to pay for."

Guest Evan Gold said the early snowstorm was actually a blessing for retailers who might've lost traffic; it means "consumers are in that winter mind-set" and are ready to shop for winter clothes.

Brian Kelly recommended Golar in Final Trade, which drew oohs and ahs from Karen Finerman, who recommended buying CF going into earnings, hopefully the market itself will be down.

So the only non-sellers left are those who bought really bad and are still well in the hole

It's times like these when chart analysis gets a little loopy.

Melissa Lee opened Monday's Fast Money saying she had spoken to Carter Worth, who reported "2 groups of seller" in the market: Those who "didn't buy well, who are finally made whole," and others who recently bought low and "now are looking to take profits here."

So the only morons still long are the ones who bought way high and still have a ways to go.

We'd simplify Worth's theory to say, more people on Monday thought stocks are going down than thought they're going up.

Karen probably thinks BK is nuts, but wanted to be nice about it

Karen Finerman sounded startled on Monday's Fast Money to learn that Brian Kelly thought the October rally was actually QE3-driven, and not Europe-driven, even though Dan Nathan agreed with Kelly.

Karen said she disagrees and flatly asserted the rally was "driven on the idea that Europe will find a way out," and that the U.S. will subsequently be OK.

And that's why they call it a market.

Dennis Gartman pelted Europe like the Northeastern snowstorm, saying the notion that China is going to bail them out "is naive at best" and that Sarkozy is fibbing when saying China won't get preferences.

Brian Kelly managed to stump Gartman with a darn good question, whether non-European nations have to buy euros to buy European bonds. Gartman first dodged the question, telling Kelly he's basically nuts to go long euro, so Melissa Lee astutely followed up with it. "Honestly I don't know how to answer that one," Gartman admitted, reiterating that if Kelly wants to go long euro, feel free.

Todd Gordon said he wants to "sell the risk trade," which means sell Aussie and buy yen.

Traders apparently thought MF Global was actually going to experience a slow wind-down

Karen Finerman wasn't just challenging Brian Kelly on Monday, but also gave guest David Greenberg more than he could handle on the subject of the markets being surprised by MF Global's bankruptcy.

"It was seen for a week, but everybody kind of feels that it wasn't gonna go within 1 day on a Monday," Greenberg claimed.

"Post-Lehman, they really think that? Post-Refco?" Finerman asked, incredulous.

"It's different on the commodity side in my mind," Greenberg said, deftly transitioning into a blame-the-CFTC moment, saying regulators and the CME erred by not allowing traders to unwind; "they added risk to the market."

Near the end of the program, Melissa Lee read an MF update that "bondholders are likely to be made whole."

"That just seems wrong," Finerman predicted.

Just another 50 to go

Chartist Chris Verrone seemed to deliver a mixed message on Monday's Fast Money, telling the panel "we think there's a pretty good floor underneath us right here," but that the "pretty attractive buying opportunity" is actually if/when the S&P regresses to 1,190-1,200.

He mentioned NKE, CSCO and PPL as stocks that appear to be bottoming nicely.

"There's still a lot of macro uncertainty out there," Verrone said.

Jim Iurio offered the same kind of down-then-up, or upside-down analysis, saying, "I'm still mildly bullish this market; I think the S&P could trade off to 1,205." Iuorio said he'd sell the JNJ Dec 60 puts for 54 cents and buy Dec. 67.5 calls for 33 cents.

Herb says no individual investors should buy a levered ETF that just rose 50% last month

One of the reasons we've questioned the expansion of the Fast Money Halftime Report to 1 hour is that it seems to have trouble filling airtime with relevant "news."

So you have situations, for example, like Herb Greenberg telling viewers out of the blue on Monday to never buy the FAS or perhaps any leveraged ETF.

"Individuals should not buy this," Greenberg said. "Big neon signs over it."

Pete Najarian thundered in agreement, "The problem with this whole industry is no one's really put that out there ... it's a day-to-day trading vehicle."

Steve Grasso offered this observation: "As long as the trade goes with you, it's great, but you get sliced in half."

As we stated earlier (see below), Jon Najarian actually defended FAS and others as a "great trade" when used as a short-term tool. (We have little to no clue about the mechanics of FAS or others and certainly no opinion on buying them; they work using derivatives, they don't match long-term performance because of recalibration, and all we know is they're available in the market like everything else.)

Few things seem as ironic as a group of traders on a show called "Fast Money" who regularly tell people to buy AMZN at 100 times P.E. or dub a permanent dog such as YHOO "screaming buy" because it's presumably in play advising viewers not to get too fast and loose with the ETFs.

Would that be the same type of fast and loose as what people got with old reliable FCX ($50s to $30 in 2 months), SLB ($90s to $50s in 2 months), MS ($20s to $12 to upper teens in 2 months), and the ever-popular, always-bullish Fast Money Ag Trade (POT, $60s to $40s in 2 months)?

The stock market is an enormous risk no matter what you own or short. To each his own. You're in it because you think you can beat it. If you don't believe that, you shouldn't own anything with a ticker symbol, levered or not.

10-year back to 2.0?

Steve Grasso had a tremendous point on Monday's Halftime about takeover speculation on oil stocks. "If you look at the deals that actually have transpired, we haven't heard one iota about it before they actually were done, the pipeline deals ... so I would err on the side of selling these rumors," Grasso said.

Jeff Kilburg, given a reprieve by the bond market Monday on his 10-year retest of 1.67, said he thinks 2.0 is back in the cards unless Europe delivers some major specifics in a hurry. "Right now, I'm skeptical," Kilburg said.

A couple features at the end of Monday's Halftime would probably reinforce the notion among some that dropping The Strategy Session didn't really create a whole lot of Fast Money Halftime value. Traders first did the Apple/cell-phone derivative trade (you know, it's always about Qualcomm) for the 500th time, then viewers got the Street Signs tease but without Mandy, a regular segment suggesting there's not enough material to fill an hour.

Zach Karabell, in a bit of a cold streak with Call the Close, suggested the market is "probably at our lows for the day," which brought near-unanimous agreement from everyone, though Pete Najarian cautioned to get protection in case it drops.

Dan Dicker’s tribute
to MF Global employees

Dan Dicker on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report saluted the crew at MF Global in a classy tribute, telling Judge Wapner that despite the presence of Jon Corzine, MF Global was not a Goldman Sachs-type of place.

"This was really a crepe-shoe, Gap-wearing, khaki group of guys who didn't dual trade, who came into brokerage and did the best they could for their clients and the traders on the floor," Dicker said.

"I'm really sorry to see them go out in this ignominious kind of way," he added.

Judge said he appreciated the remarks and that CNBC has to "cover the ins and outs of the story as it exists."

Don’t try to be a hero

Zachary Karabell spoke near the top of Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report with our favorite all-time show cliche. "I don't think today's the day to be a hero in either direction, kinda, can't believe I said that," Karabell said.

Judge Wapner also found it humorous; "you went to the well ... stay with what works." (Hmmm ... perhaps kick the can down the road?)

Jon Najarian was impressed by Karabell's use of "mellifluous."

Keith McCullough predicted "Whatever the dollar does, everything else is gonna do the opposite." Then, in a frankly honest report, McCullough revealed, "Last week if you look at my positioning, I got absolutely train-wrecked because I was long the dollar."

Judge Wapner tried to squeeze in Kim Kardashian's divorce filing with a joke in between questions for McCullough.

Judge also ran into a bit of a roadblock when asking Rich Repetto who has the most "exposure" to MF Global. "That's a pretty difficult question" that will take a long time to sort out, Repetto said.

Jon Najarian then botched a name, saying "Gepetto just talked about it," but correcting himself, it sounded like he was still pronouncing it wrong, saying "Depetto rather."

Steve Grasso said holding 1,257 is key, but as of mid-Monday, it's "high-beta off the table for the present time."

Pete Najarian and Herb Greenberg trashed the FAS. Jon Najarian offered it's actually a "great trade" for individuals on a 24-hour basis (more on this one later).

Zach Karabell cracked up the panel during a mattress discussion, saying, "As someone who prefers my mattresses dry," he's owned TPX for a while and still likes it.

Courtney Reagan spoke about high-end retail, and in the category of "don't try to be a hero," we've decided not to try to guess whether Courtney Reagan is prettier than Jackie DeAngelis (ah, not going there. No. No way).

Dan Dicker said at $3.70, copper "may be in an interim top."

And how much do you make?
CNBCfix Movie of the Week:
‘Margin Call’ is in limited release for good reason

We swore after ... what was the last one, "Too Big to Fail"? ... that we were done with this ridiculous overkill of 2008 financial crisis movies.

But given the generally decent buzz, we had to take a crack at the latest, "Margin Call," if only to make sure it gets noticed by more than just amateur critics such as Charles Gasparino.

"Margin" has the right idea but is an opportunity lost. It's reminiscent of the Jacksonville Jaguars' effort vs. Baltimore last Monday; great defense and minimal mistakes, but going nowhere on offense. Instead of wasting everyone's time with re-creations of Hank Paulson's life, it spins an alternate story for the crisis and attempts fresh drama.

Yet, the drama is thin gruel. And visuals are nil. The characters are all — every one — likable at least on some level. None are particularly sympathetic because all earn more than most Americans. If this whole thing blows up, really not a serious problem; these guys will land on their feet somewhere.

The characters are given a problem of computer data which, despite computer terminals resembling The Strategy Session background, is non-visual. Multiple times (sigh) someone pulls a Steve McGarrett and says, "Just give it to me in English." Worse, salaries are announced at every key moment. The preferred option for dealing with the problem quite frankly doesn't come across as disgusting as certain characters would suggest (why in the world would they do the alternative, continue to buy junk they believe is worthless?).

The tone for this film, and the acting, is spot-on, though characters are outrageously fresh and relaxed for a 2 a.m. crisis meeting after having already gotten drunk. One element that scores is the series of office meetings in which bosses do, in fact, mostly but maybe not always, come to the defense of their workers in scenes that feel authentic and avoid backstabbing cliches. This is better-suited as a stage production but the dialogue isn't profound enough.

There's an excellent start on a movie here; it just needs more of a problem than a computer screen.

Unfortunately when actor/producer Zachary Quinto and director J.C. Chandor visited "Power Lunch," the questions from Melissa Francis and Sue Herera and Tyler Mathisen mostly missed the boat and focused on empathy for both Wall Street and the Occupy folks, and not whether the world really needs another 2008 crisis movie.

Barton Biggs is bullish:
Scary redux of 2007?

Looking around the CNBC dial Friday for newsworthy moments including Extremely. Good. Looking. Jackie DeAngelis sightings (she capped off the day with a report on Tyler Mathisen's "Kudlow" and was presumably taken care of for dinner) or even Michelle Meyer (yes, The World's Cutest Economist was at the NYSE in an uneventful clip), we discovered Carl Quintanilla's Squawk on the Street scored something of a coup by landing famed investor Barton Biggs, still regarded as a legendary voice although maybe not quite as in vogue these days as Nouriel Roubini.

Longtime Fast Money viewers will recall a famous episode in early November 2007 (might've been Nov. 1, but we're not totally sure), when Biggs predicted a "stampede" into stocks and chided Dylan Ratigan for calling him "Mr. Biggs," wondering if that's a sign of old age.

Friday, Biggs, even quoting Jim Cramer, told Quintanilla, "I think we're goin' higher." If you're fearing a nasty edition of history-repeats-itself here, 1st, be assured history doesn't repeat itself; 2nd, note that Biggs' terminology ("higher") is not nearly as effusive as "stampede" was; and 3rd, that late 2007 call came just after an all-time market peak, not during an up-and-down year well into a deleveraging credit-crisis meltdown/bounceback.

Biggs protested to Simon Hobbs that he never used the term "catastrophic" in regard to Europe. Curiously, Hobbs, in fact, did refer to Biggs as "Mr. Biggs," and Biggs didn't complain this time.

[Friday, October 28, 2011]

Pete botched AMZN call

Lost in some of the euro-fervor this week was the performance of AMZN.

Pete Najarian said on Wednesday's Halftime, citing P.E. ratio, that "I think there's more downside" to Amazon, as it traded around $200.

Friday afternoon, it was at $214.

Now, you might say, it was just the beneficiary of Thursday's stampede. But in fact, it's up 4% on Friday as the Nasdaq is actually down and Dow & S&P are flat.

Which means Patty Edwards had one of the top calls of the week, saying Tuesday pre-earnings to scoop up some more AMZN if it trades down on a miss.

Patty practically shut out

Patty Edwards might as well have brought an iPod filled with the Talking Heads catalog to pass the time during Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Judge Wapner, as he's prone to do except for the day he rattled off every plus-$10 billion market cap company based in Seattle, barely afforded Edwards a chance to speak, handing Patty probably less airtime than even Larry McDonald got.

When actually called upon, Edwards said, rather lukewarmly, the market might go up next week but you could also avoid some downside by waiting a bit because there's a "little bit of consolidation coming I think."

Patty did manage 1 stock call, with some ticker symbol assistance from Dr. J, in the form of NEE, an alternative play to FSLR. "Look at something like NextEra that actually doesn't rely so much on government subsidies," Edwards said.

Aside from that and complimenting Steve Grasso's "beautifully straight" teeth, not even a Call the Close, or "flat as the pizza I'm having for dinner tonight."

Just one of those days.

Bove 1, Dr. J 0

Sometimes irony, as well as bad calls, abound(s) on Fast Money.

Just a day ago, Jon Najarian said he disagreed with Dick Bove and advised not to expect Lloyd Blankfein to rescue/pick-over-the-carcass-like-a-vulture MF Global, "because I don't think there's a chance that Goldman wants anything to do with this."

Lo and behold, on Friday's Halftime, Judge Wapner revealed that the Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs is indeed among the firms interested, as well as State Street and Macquarie.

The ironic part was, prior to that revelation, Najarian said Friday on Halftime that whoever does get MF Global is "getting a diamond in the rough."

Kayla Tausche, reporting outdoors from somewhere, said the "value seems to be deteriorating by the day" for MF Global.

Dr. J noted one signal of this rally was when Goldman Sachs rose off that terrible earnings report. Steve Grasso said he prefers BAC to GS.

‘Shame on you’ for not getting the market exactly right and not making gobs of money

The key question for stocks is always where do we go from here. Sadly, no one on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report really had too much of an opinion on that one, save for Jon Najarian who again said he thinks this rally has legs.

Even Dr. J, though, succumbed to playing rear-view mirror, delivering a mini-tirade about money managers who are supposed to know better and buy near the bottoms instead of chasing near the top and not recognizing opportunities back on Sept. 22 down 400 points. "If you didn't do that, shame on you," Najarian chided.

Steve Grasso said "1,275 is the level to watch here."

Abigail Doolittle, who resembles the actress Daryl Hannah, freely admitted to Judge Wapner she was caught off guard by the ferociousness of the climb toward 1,300 but cautioned there's a "strong chance that we see consolidation ahead."

"You're absolutely correct, it caught me by surprise," Doolittle admitted.

Doolittle also said she could see the dollar "bouncing up towards 80."

Larry McDonald feels comfortable enough on Fast Money these days to deliver a Brag Trade, saying he was on a month ago saying the market was underestimating the upside potential of stocks, but now it's the opposite direction, maybe underestimating the "difficulty of implementation" of Europe's plan. He thinks the market is bound to be "uncomfortable with the backstop here" and that austerity in Italy will "prove more difficult than we all think right now."

Up 8%, but bearish

Coinstar watcher Andy Hargreaves and Judge Wapner briefly noted on Friday's Halftime something we weren't aware of, that the Durbin debit thing can pinch even overnight movie rentals.

But Hargreaves wasn't down on Redbox's price hike, saying, "I don't think they shot themselves in the foot at all," and that the company could actually claim "well over 10 cents a quarter" from Netflix defections.

Dan Berenbaum talked about one of the most boring Fast Money stocks of all time, AMD, shrugging off the day's huge gain amid his sell rating with the explanation it's a "long-term view on the shares" based on the notion the company is "in danger of becoming irrelevant."

Pete Najarian said there's $2 of upside left in INTC at $25.

Have to admit, this site hasn’t been thinking about debt committee either

Tim Seymour dialed in Friday to the Fast Money Halftime Report to, like virtually everyone else in the spirit of the day, basically not take a position on anything.

Seymour cautioned that while BIDU has soared, it's in the middle of a 120-160 range, and that while things in Macau look great for LVS, the stock "looks like it runs out of gas around 50."

Camilla Sutton said the euro spike represents that "we're in a materially different place" than just weeks ago that "justifies a lot of the rally we've seen." She predicted a rangebound euro from 1.38 to 1.44. Sutton said the debt supercommittee and Fed pose a "U.S. dollar bear story" and that she recommends "short dollar/Canada."

Steve Grasso, who chided Judge with reference to a "Wapner Decoder Ring" and at one point briefly dropped out of the screen, pointed out that "nobody is even thinking about" the debt supercommittee right now.

Ron Insana made a lukewarmly positive stock call on big-cap tech, homebuilders and banks, saying it's more "mental" and not actual trading, and that people are "misapprehending (yes, that's what he said) what's going on in the banking sector."

[Thursday, October 27, 2011]

Bob Brusca wins Insensitive Business Quote of the Week Award

Given the blundering of Thursday's Fast Money, we took an extra look at some of the other notable commentary on CNBC Thursday.

And going back early Thursday morning, we found Squawk Box guest Bob Brusca opining on the public pronouncements being made by European leaders with a curious analogy: "Look what happened to Steve Jobs. He pretended everything was OK and it wasn't."

Joe Kernen mocks Fast Money’s nicknaming convention re: Joe Terranova

Joe Kernen on Thursday's Squawk Box first claimed that all the traders on TV admit they don't know what they're doing in this market.

Then moments later, he clarified, saying "Judge" brought on "Terranova" on Wednesday, and Terranova said the market is going up, so that's at least one person with a clue.

Which would've been a nice, fine compliment. Except Kernen made a point of openly scoffing at whatever Terranova's Fast Money nickname might be, first suggesting "The Procrastinator," and then after being told by Gary Kaminsky it's "The Liquidator," mockingly suggested, "The Urinator."

Gary Kaminsky said he was just at an investing conference, and "the biggest fear was not being in" the market. Kaminsky suggested there are money managers out there 30% in cash in October who will be "freaking out this morning," believing they are "intellectually correct" about what stock prices should be but getting rolled. Which underscores what is proving to be the most polarizing market probably in the history of this page (that's only since 2008), in which some on CNBC say stocks are very cheap while others insist the massive deleveraging is still to come.

Kaminsky also expressed disbelief that the allegations against Rajat Gupta could be seen as on the up-and-up. "If that's not insider trading, what is," Kaminsky said.

They couldn’t even do a Web Extra

Maybe we’ll never know what kind of technical tornado blitzed through Fast Money's studio at the Nasdaq Thursday, but you gotta wonder who's in charge of the backup plan. (Tip: Put a camera on Mandy somewhere and let it fly.)

Rich Volpe, at the very end of the program, addressed one of the most important second-tier issues Thursday, which was whether Treasury demand is taking a U-turn. Volpe said bond traders "broke the critical level of 2.30 today in 10-year yields" and he thinks that's significant; "we're looking for yields closer to 2.60." (And if that's the case, Jeff Kilburg is headed for our Top 10 Worst Fast Money Calls of 2011 List.)

Unfortunately, with very limited time for discussion, Judge Wapner spent too much time on Hewlett-Packard's non-news of its PC division on Meg Whitman's announcement, asking, "She had to say this didn't she?"

Joe Terranova insisted "Hewlett Packard is cheap." Karen Finerman said "I actually would be a buyer at this point." Guy Adami was the dissenter, saying the stock has jumped and "probably backfills" after this news.

Finerman warned against playing MF Global, saying every day that goes by without some kind of deal is bad news. "I would not get long this," Finerman said.

Guy Adami recommended AME for his Final Trade.

Dan Dicker said earlier in the program he wasn't sold on a continuing rally. "The time to have been long this market was 800 points ago," Dicker said.

Jon Najarian said 28 million option contracts traded Thursday, about 10 million more than normal.

Herb Greenberg, thrust into rare hosting duties, brought on Peter Atwater for a chat and spent the entirety of the interview trying to get Atwater to reveal some hidden macguffin in the stock market. But all Atwater really said is that "Benevolence is, you know, a bull market friend, not a bear market necessity," while pronouncing the German leader as "Anjela" Merkel.

Small correction

We said on this page Thursday afternoon that Guy Adami complained about the "echo effect" on the disastrous Nasdaq soundstage.

In fact, Adami was complaining that the camera could apparently only show the left side of the studio and that Karen Finerman and Joe Terranova were present, but offscreen.

Update: Judge rights the ship; Karen, Guy, Joe, Anthony turn up late at Nasdaq set

Viewers who put their faith in Fast Money finally putting together a real 5 p.m. show Thursday were richly rewarded when, about the 5:40 mark, Judge Wapner and a 4-person roundtable featuring Karen Finerman, Anthony Scaramucci, Guy Adami and Joe Terranova finally surfaced, albeit with a sound glitch or 2 in a production that, on such a huge rally day, can only be regarded as a technical embarrassment.

"If they only knew at home," lamented Judge Wapner, when Guy Adami complained about the echo effect.

Scaramucci said a lot of people had been under-risked amid "so much intervention," and that Europe's deal is important for preventing a disaster. Guy Adami said you have to respect the tape. Brian Stutland made a pitch for his own type of risk management in this market, saying retail investors are getting frustrated, and "our phones were busy over the last couple of months."

Karen, Tim, Joe no-shows on day of monster rally

In a bizarre programming twist, Judge Wapner couldn't even put together an on-site panel at the Nasdaq for Thursday's 5 p.m. Fast Money.

Instead he opened the show relying on remotes, which left embarrassing pockets of dead air after Herb Greenberg and Jon Fortt spoke.

"We're having some technical issues obviously," Wapner said at one point.

Herb Greenberg even had to do the heading-into-commercial "we'll be back" soundbite just 6 minutes into the program.

One "panelist" was Steve Cortes, who said "I think the euphoria is a bit extreme right now," hardly any different than his Halftime opinion, though this time he did mention AAPL underperforming on a big day.

Herb Greenberg, apparently playing contrarian, read a report from Birinyi concluding "the entire market is ... the most overbought level it's been in the past 12 months. How about that."

Judge was silent, and nobody else had an answer.

Judge Wapner apparently
fed up with Steve Cortes’
gloomy global growth outlook

We figured in the wake of Thursday's rally that a few Fast Money regulars who have been noticeably flat to negative (um, that would be Stephen Weiss, Steve Cortes, Patty "flat as the pizza I'm having for dinner" Edwards) in recent weeks while the greatest monthly rally in history was occurring would be due for some ribbing.

But we didn't expect Judge Wapner to come out on Thursday's Halftime and pound Steve Cortes like Larry Holmes vs. Randall "Tex" Cobb.

"People like you ... have absolutely been steamrolled," Wapner asserted, mockingly asking why Cortes is not a Monkee "believer."

Cortes, to his credit, remained calm, and defended at least part of the record, saying, "Now is the time to look to put out shorts ... now is not the time to get excited," and that, "I was very right in early October in saying it's time to cover shorts."

He even closed with a Vito Corleone/Luca Brasi reference about what Merkozy told European bankers, but Judge Wapner didn't find that particularly amusing.

Moments later, Judge softened just a tad, saying, "Not to pick on you ... we're gonna call you out when we think you get one wrong and we're gonna pat you on the back when we think you get one right" ... but rolling clips of Cortes explaining being short "physical" things and citing China.

Cortes admitted that's been "clearly" wrong, but "I'm not making any apologies for being bearish on China," insisting it's "paid very handsomely this year."

Jon Najarian said that China "would be one of my No. 1 longs right now." Cortes said he's Najarian's neighbor and is afraid he won't get candy when trick-or-treating, but that he sees trouble for European financials.

Stephen Weiss continues
to fight the euro

Stephen Weiss, who didn't take the same beating as Steve Cortes, said on Thursday's Halftime, "I think you could see another 15% in the market. It doesn't mean I'm all in."

Weiss remained defiant about his (horrible) trade of the month, short euro. "I think this is horrendous for the euro," Weiss said, predicting eventually it'll hit par. (And, you know what Whitney Tilson says, you make money fighting the tape.)

Brian Kelly, though, took the other side of that, calling the European deal "incredibly bullish for the euro over the next 6 months."

This is what you get when standards are low

Steve Liesman said on Thursday's Halftime Report that the Europe deal represents a "macro fundamental reset back to April." He allowed 2 qualifiers, that "the Europeans have to deliver on this ... the economy has to deliver."

Guy Adami said the market looks outstanding on a technical basis, and "all the pieces are in place right now."

"Clearly there's a lot of shorts that are caught," said Jon Najarian. Steve Grasso agreed, "the majority of it was short covering," but that there are still a "lot of catalysts to the upside."

Bank analyst Paul Miller was seeing clearer skies, saying there are "still a lot of headwinds," but "nobody really died through earnings."

Najarian implies Dick Bove didn’t know what he was talking about, but still respects him ‘a lot’

Jon Najarian on Thursday's Halftime, asked if Goldman interest in MF Global is true or false, threw cold water on Dick Bove's Wednesday night claim (see below) that Lloyd Blankfein would be interested in a buy.

"I respect Dick Bove a lot but I don't think- I would say false. Bcause I don't think there's a chance that Goldman wants anything to do with this," Najarian said.

Kayla Tausche reported that Chris Flowers has a preferred equity stake in MF Global and thus a big say in what happens.

Ron Insana never really answered the question whether retail investors are going to get back into the market, saying "they just a missed a 16% rally" that was driven by pros. But, he said, "I think the market's going higher ... it wouldn't suprise me if the market kept going up."

Steve Rattner told Scott Wapner there's "a lot of wood chop" before the recovery is pronounced to be strong and that unemployment will now be the data watched by traders, but that he's "reasonably optimistic about the stock market."

Even more for copper?

Rich Ilczyszyn, in curious choice of gray plaid tie, said on Thursday's Halftime Report there's a "disconnect" between gold and equities and that copper, after holding $3, could see even more gains because there's "such a large net position short" and "those guys might run for the hills."

But, the Ilchmeister didn't seem that excited about Steve Grasso's Valero observation.

Analyst Fadel Gheit said XOM represents "flight to quality" in the oil space. Guy Adami again recommended XCO, which he said could be in the M&A realm given its size.

Steve Cortes said his WMT trade worked great but he "did take profits though," saying despite the publicity for high end, the low end has outperformed recently.

Cortes called this an "Endless Love" market and hailed Lionel Richie.

Hottie Amelia Bourdeau in a very sharp outfit Thursday said "I do think euro could be vulnerable next week." Her trade is short euro/dollar around 1.4270, with a 1.38 goal and 1.4505 stop.

Herb Greenberg and Howard Lindzon took part in another social media discussion, with Greenberg saying social media is doing to Monster.com what Monster.com did to newspaper classifieds. Then they jabbed over Nuance, with Lindzon saying technicals of its Apple arrangement don't matter now, and Greenberg saying at one point "don't touch me."

One highlight late was Mandy in heavenly burgundy top delivering a teaser to Street Signs.

[Wednesday, October 26, 2011]

MF Global ought to hire the Dickster as its auctioneer

Dick Bove, who at the beginning of the year pledged to cut his TV appearances because they were taking up too much of his time but now can't seem to appear on the air enough since his gargantuan August get-out-of-the-stock-market call, made it sound like the assets of MF Global are lined with gold on Wednesday's Fast Money.

"I don't wanna buy the stock," Bove assured the panel. "My guess is that there are a number of people in the market trying to pick up these assets," apparently primarily Goldman Sachs, which Bove also assured would not pay a premium but rather a "significant underbid."

Guy Adami grumbled that when Goldman Sachs bought Spear Leeds (had to look that one up), it was an "unmitigated disaster." Bove said the issue is whether it's a better deal to buy the whole MF Global package, or just pieces.

Bove was sympathetic to Jon Corzine's plight. "They made some proprietary trades that didn't work out ... if we were in normal times, OK, you know, this company would've taken its loss and then it would've gone on to fight another day. But we're in abnormal times, where anything that happens to a financial company is perceived to be the greatest disaster known to mankind." (That sounds exactly like the speech Dick Fuld was probably giving the troops in early September 2008.)

Karen Finerman asked how the company rights the ship from the "quicksand" it's in. Bove admitted he got a call from a guy in Switzerland who asked, "Do I have enough time to get all my money back before this thing goes?" Bove called that an "extreme" view, but Simon Hobbs made certain to get a consensus that no one on the desk actually believes that MF Global is insolvent.

Gratuitous chance to run screen grab of Karen in smokin’ hot dress

The Fast Money gang sounded reasonably optimistic on Wednesday, though Tim Seymour offered this bit of caution: "Until the dollar is dead or put down, all risk assets have problems."

Joe Terranova made (very minor) waves by saying 1,195 would be the "bottom of the range."

Guest host Simon Hobbs spoke for everyone when he told Karen Finerman, "Karen you look fantastic tonight." Finerman, who doesn't wear glasses on Fast Money very often because she gets too many compliments, responded, "Oh well you're very sweet, thank you."

If not for Bear Stearns,
Wall Street’s had a great century

Steve Liesman guested briefly on Wednesday's Fast Money and said the question is "what this market is worth in the absence of the daily European miasma."

Which is kind of like Jim Caldwell wondering how good his team really is in the absence of Curtis Painter, or maybe something like that.

Eventually Liesman cut to the chase, conceding that he hears Europe skeptics saying "the positive momentum in the stock market has not been confirmed in the credit markets."

Once again Europe watcher Sony Kapoor dialed in to Fast Money to provide analysis, and after an exasperatingly long (almost exactly 4 minutes) interview, told a frustrated Simon Hobbs "It's too soon to tell" if Europe's pending fix will "work."

Producers need to hit
the Fast Money Rolodex

Sony Kapoor might've been exasperating. But determining the most boring guest of Wednesday's Fast Money was a tough call.

Boston Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca probably gets the nod, for telling the gang he "can't answer a specific question about a sector," specifically coal, and then complaining that in the U.S. government "they've been kicking the can down the road."

But JetBlue's Dave Barger, who always says the same thing on Fast Money (we're having a good quarter and we've got fuel reasonably hedged), might be an equally good choice after claiming Wednesday, "We're still seeing a healthy demand environment."

Poor Jonathan Chaplin only was given about 90 seconds to talk about the most boring $2 stock of all time, Sprint (yeah, we know that Dr. J says you can make money when you fight the tape and do what Warren Buffett says, but who cares), saying he agrees with Joe Terranova that it's now a credit story and not a stock story.

Thankfully, Chris Tevere held his own, despite being introduced by Simon Hobbs as "Let's bring in Steve Tevere."

"I think he goes by Chris also," cracked super-smart-and-super-funny-in-a-super-hot-dress Karen Finerman.

Tevere was skeptical of a continued climb in the euro. "I think you know, heading towards 1.45 at this point I don't think is in the cards."

China, Europe evidently
got healthy at same time

Karen Finerman asked probably the question of the day, however understated it was, on Wednesday's Fast Money, when she queried Tim Seymour about Cummins' report of softness in China and India that people hadn't heard before.

Seymour was unfazed, saying, "They didn't see this, I don't think they said they saw it broad-scale ... I think Cummins is more or less in the minority."

Brian Stutland sees strength in BP and recommended a call spread, but while the graphic this time did indicate that sub-$41 means losing money, it was another example of the Options Action chart guy not figuring out a good way to indicate something is a gain/loss above/below a certain level but also that it's capped.

For Final Trades, Tim Seymour said ACH, Guy Adami said XCO (which was applauded by Joe Terranova), Karen Finerman said GLW and Joe Terranova said CNI.

Tim Seymour said Darren Rovell has a sports program on CNBC but Guy Adami corrected him to say it's on Versus. Adami also made reference to Pete Najarian's wife's side business that often gets mentioned in Fast Money tweets. "Sort of like Pete Najarian's wife's cookies, Loopie Doops, they're worth the dough," Adami said.

Yesterday’s purchase is already a winner, unless it isn’t

Whitney Tilson joined Judge Wapner on the Fast Money Halftime Report desk Wednesday and made this statement about his business:

"We make our money fighting the tape. We make our money buying into things like BP 16 months ago, Netflix yesterday," Tilson said.

But nearly 10 minutes later, Judge revisited NFLX and asked Tilson, "How do you know you're not wrong again?"

"We don't know for sure," Tilson admitted, and it wasn't clear if the BP gain and 1-day NFLX increase offset the NFLX short-gone-awry in February.

Whitney Tilson ‘can’t comment’ on whether he has spoken to Reed Hastings

Maybe this is the future of the Fast Money Halftime Report.

Whitney Tilson, despite maybe a bit of reliance on the Brag Trade, is about as eloquent as it gets in explaining a thesis and gave Judge Wapner an hour's worth of interesting stock fodder Wednesday as co-host, if the side effect was nearly shutting out quiet-as-mouses (sic) Pete Najarian and Steve Cortes like the late-1980s Viking pass rush against the Redskins.

Wapner asked "Where the heck is Reed Hastings?" and asked Tilson if he's talked to him. "I can't comment on that," Tilson said, which means obviously he has.

Tilson's NFLX case is that "the future of this business is streaming, and their streaming subs are still going through the roof." Jon Najarian stressed that for that to pay off, Netflix has to build its streaming portfolio much faster.

Tilson twice pointed out that Hastings made a big gamble years ago to undercut Blockbuster, the stock went from $40 to $10, and so he's got a history of making unpopular but ultimately successful moves. However, "We're certainly not counting on a 30-bagger this time."

Tilson implied that he's had the yearly market forecast pretty steadily figured out all along, and the wide swings between April and October suggest the market's been late. "We went from feeling like bears to feeling like bulls," Tilson said.

Warren Buffett buys MF Global
near $1? ‘Scalps’ JPM vs. DB?

Jon Najarian explained on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that it takes "intestinal fortitude" to buy beaten-down names, specifically naming MF Global, "that's the other side that I wanna take, is that it might bounce," and that it did bounce "25, 30 cents."

Najarian said you should "do what Warren Buffett does."

Later he told Tilson — and Tilson didn't react in any way that sounded like he was impressed — that he likes "scalping" pairs trades of JPM and DB, which Najarian said "has been working like gold lately."

Steve Cortes is not corrected when claiming Italy will offer early retirement

The presence of Whitney Tilson prompted not just Jon Najarian but other Fast Money Halftime panelists to proclaim how much they like fighting the tape.

"Like Whitney, I'm not afraid to fight the tape," said Steve Cortes, who argued the "optimism of October has gotten far too ebullient."

Cortes mocked the Italian pledges but got the direction wrong in explaining they plan to "take their retirement age down (sic) by a shocking 2 years," but only in 2026, when Cortes claimed Silvio Berlusconi's girlfriend would be 32.

Dennis Gartman dialed in but was "stuck in traffic trying to get to the airport." Gartman said the euro was showing "abominable trading action" and that the "agreement is one of the silliest I've ever seen." He said gold seemed to be gaining on everything but especially the euro.

Sounds like Tilson has a great portfolio — for the 1990s

Whitney Tilson suggested on Wednesday's Halftime that Salesforce.com could be the "next Netflix" (presumably the version of a few months ago) because of a "very unrealistic valuation."

"We've made a fairly sizable bet on the short side," Tilson said, adding "fair value is probably down 75%."

A chart showed some of Tilson's big positions being Dell and Microsoft, and he specifically touted Sandisk, which he said will benefit from huge secular demand, pricing power and is cheap. However, he said it's "hard to point to one" catalyst for Berkshire Hathaway, while suggesting Microsoft could get a boost from better capital allocation.

Jon Najarian said GMCR hovering at a place where it might bounce. Pete Najarian said "I think there's more downside" to Amazon, citing P.E. ratio.

Steve Cortes said AAPL is having trouble around $400 with "island reversals" and that he's got a "trigger finger" to maybe short it again.

Actually, NFLX is still far above its pre-2010 levels

Phil LeBeau did his quarterly lunchtime interview with Ford chief Alan Mulally, who said the dividend is coming "sooner rather than later" but not necessarily this year.

LeBeau tried his darnedest to get Mulally to talk about riding in an electric Focus with Steve Jobs, but Mulally hardly said anything except it was great to be in the car with him.

Steve Cortes said he doesn't like automakers but the auto parts retailers, specifically AutoZone, which he's not in right now.

More interestingly, Cortes pointed out that Ford is around the same price as February 1994, back when Cortes was in college.

Pete Najarian said of F, "Love it. I think this is the opportunity." Pete also said the materials space remains oversold.

We thought the deal for hosting at the Nasdaq was regular interviews with the ‘landlord’

Nasdaq chief Bob Greifeld, who agreed with Judge Wapner on Wednesday's Halftime it's been a long time since they've talked, a couple times mentioned "4 quarters in a row of record earnings" and said the IPO market is picking up, stealing a page out of Patty Edwards' cliche book, "at this point in time."

Jeff Bencik said FSLR is popping because "the worst case scenario is now off the board." Whitney Tilson said he re-added to his short Wednesday because you never cover when a CEO quits, and asked Bencik how the stock has a future. Bencik said prices have started to stabilize and competitors are dropping.

Steve Cortes asked Bencik how solar can overcome natural gas. Bencik said it could.

[Tuesday, October 25, 2011]

Setting the table
for Karen

We had no idea Tuesday afternoon how good or bad Amazon's quarter was going to be. But this page did happen to note that while 2011 NFLX was being likened at Halftime to 1999 tech stocks, no one ever says the same thing about Amazon.

But Karen Finerman on Tuesday's Fast Money nearly plunged right into that theme, going back merely 10 years rather than 12 to compare Wal-Mart circa 2001 with Amazon circa 2011 and saying, to "grow into" the earnings multiple as WMT did, AMZN needs a "compound growth rate of 23%" for the next decade.

It's not just priced for perfection now, Finerman said, but "priced to perfection every year for 10 years."

Colin Gillis called Amazon an "unbelievably expensive stock" and said the possibility of losing money in Q4 "was the real shock."

Gillis crowed there's "no change to our sell rating right now."

AMZN bulls can take heart from Dan Nathan, who said, "This will not turn into a Netflix-sort of situation." Guy Adami said to focus on the "193 level" and that $190-$193 is "something to shoot against on the downside."

(This writer is long AMZN as of Tuesday afterhours.) In this site's opinion, stock multiples are like property-tax assessment multipliers and NFL time of possession, or numbers that you back into after the important stuff is taken care of. Nobody's been buying Amazon on valuation; they buy it because it's one of the world's most dynamic businesses and might be the ones with the next iPod or iPad ... or might not. K-Fine isn't talking a Dr. John Trade, but a Dr. John Thesis that's fighting years of formation. But when it does go, like they always say, it'll go.

Still would’ve been better off buying MSFT in 1986

CNBC legend and one of our favorites, Ron Insana, resurfaced on Tuesday's Fast Money and actually said it might be time to look at MSFT, INTC and even CSCO (talk about 1999).

"I still think Apple's OK," Insana said, rather halfheartedly, reminding viewers his son owns 2 shares and continues to own because its product streak is intact.

Insana says hot tech companies can be "faddish."

Insana also mentioned that he remembers getting into this business in 1984, and in June of 1984 IBM broke $100, "many many splits ago," and was an "enormous deal" and proved to be a "spectacular stock."

Tired of Europe already

Karen Finerman said on Tuesday's Fast Money that anyone making a prediction on Wednesday's S&P should know "it all hinges on Europe."

Guy Adami predicted that Europe is between a rock and a hard place; "anything that resolves it will be in my mind bearish for the broader market."

Sony Kapoor was the guest enlisted with explaining this mess Tuesday, but not only did Kapoor fail to stop talking when people wanted to ask questions, but when Karen Finerman asked how high the EFSF number has to be to "placate" the markets, Kapoor said that's an "inappropriate way of looking at it," and that those expecting that kind of fix are "not actually going to see a ring-fencing of the problem tomorrow."

Brian Kelly said that in this environment he would buy gold and commodities as an inflation trade. Ron Insana basically agreed, saying, "Deflationary pressures are far greater" than inflation concerns, and that he's been saying "many many times" for the last year and a half that the ECB needs to go to ZIRP and QE and right now is "last in line to do that."

Guy Adami suddenly
heftier than AMZN

Netflix watcher Mike Vorhaus said that Netflix is experiencing a "pretty bad situation for them," and that there "might've been a misunderstanding as to how important the low price was."

Simon Hobbs teased how Whitney Tilson was getting into the name, but viewers won't get to hear from Tilson until he takes a seat as "co-host" of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Hobbs referred to Tuesday's 5 p.m. program as the "Fast Money Report."

Guy Adami said he's losing weight and is "down to about 212."

Insana: Fed more capable of boosting the market than people realize

Jeff Hirsch visited with the Fast Money gang on Tuesday to say that simple seasonality dictates it's time to buy stocks, perhaps the Russell 2000 or the Nasdaq because it's a little higher beta. (It's also the 3rd year of a presidential cycle, so you've got that going for you too.)

Jim Iuorio said he would sell a 48-52 VIX call spread because he thinks the VIX is coming in and the market is leaning more risk-on.

Ron Insana suggested there's maybe more legs to a bull run than people think because the Fed still has more tools than people realize.

Guest Efraim Levy said Ford is in the "early stages of a multiyear uptrend" for autos and that GM has a "similar story." Ron Insana said he's "reasonably bullish on all the automakers."

Karen Finerman said if the market reverted to risk-off mode, financials would be hurt worse than a lot of other trades.

Our question: Is valuation of AMZN right now, or LNKD right now, really that much different than 1999?

Mark Mahaney was so refreshingly honest on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, one actually feels bad for his NFLX upgrade in May.

"Our call has been drastically wrong ... the stock's been a disaster; our call's been a disaster," Mahaney said.

Zach Karabell praised Mahaney for being more candid about his own results than most people, though he said they do that on the show "a bit."

Then Karabell went retro, saying it's hard to believe that "Netflix at 280 was anything other than, you know, a 1999 redux moment for a lot of us."

Nobody said anything, until Judge Wapner said, "Mark, you can respond to that."

"Oh ... in hindsight, that's a, that's a pretty good call," Mahaney chuckled.

Indeed. Rarely is a hindsight call a bad one.

Patty Edwards said she's got a little AMZN, and, "I would take any opportunity if they do have any sort of a miss to actually come in and pick up some more shares."

If a tree falls in a forest and no investor hears it ...

It seemed like Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report brought the potential for irony.

Analyst Craig Moffett turned up to point out AT&T and Verizon have "huge pension obligations," and that "as bond rates fall, that reduces the warranted discount rate that they have to use for their pension obligations," which means "their pension obligations get bigger" and boost a debt-like obligation on the companies.

But Moffett did allow that "Sprint's a completely different animal."

Here's the potential irony. Zach Karabell praised Moffett for uncovering this bit of research that investors should know about. However, "that being said, I'm not sure equity investors will in fact look to these things as much as they should," Karabell said.

Patty Edwards said later "Craig Moffett's a really smart guy" but that having flat T at 6% is "better than a bond."

Steve Liesman makes the money-on-the-sidelines argument

Fed watcher Steve Liesman decided to play a little portfolio manager on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

"There's an awful lot of cash out there that wants to be in stocks," Liesman claimed.

He said the fear would be that people are in the mode of "buy the rumor and panic on the news," and so there's a risk for Wednesday, but "I'm expecting broad agreements."

Judge Wapner said maybe "we can kick the can down the road a little bit" and that would satisfy markets.

Brian Kelly said "the German vote tomorrow is extremely important." Patty Edwards said it's clear "the economy is not going into the toilet" and that hedge fund managers are going to have to chase performance.

Joe Terranova was unfazed by the morning selloff.

"This has been a great month," Terranova said. "This is a classic turnaround Tuesday," but not a reason to sell.

Dicker: Seek higher-beta oil

Dan Dicker was suspicious about movement in the Brent-WTI spread on Tuesday's Halftime, saying, "to me that smells like a hedge-fund blowup."

"Certainly let us know if you hear anything more about that," Judge Wapner requested.

Dicker said that for XOM, "I don't think the earnings are gonna matter," but that he'd "rotate into higher-beta E&P" including names such as Apache, Chesapeake, Anadarko, EOG Resources.

Zach Karabell said "Cummins is more of a countercyclical" and not the same type of business as CAT. He said materials can jump, but that's not necessarily good for domestic steel, where "the inputs are absolutely vital."

Williams: Sell euro/Canada

Willie Williams said most people want to be short the euro, but "it's proven really difficult to remain short" and that "it can go over 1.40." His trade, he said, is "I would like to sell euro/Canada."

Kayla Tausche reported on MF Global's troubles but said she'd be cautious about linking this to European contagion. Zach Karabell said the other side of the coin is how much other businesses have not been affected by Europe.

Brian Kelly said he's in EWA because of Asia exposure; "if there is growth in this world, that's where it is."

Douglas Harter recommended 3 names, AGNC, TWO and IVR, in the aftermath of the White House homeowners program that he said will have "modest impact on refis."

Patty Edwards asked Harter to explain his thesis on AGNC because "a lot of people are misunderstood on it." Harter said it's appealing because he expects "very low prepayments."

[Monday, October 24, 2011]

Herb also had arguments with the original Fast Money gang in 2007 about how dubious AAPL was for its lack of transparency

This is why Brag Trades are generally a bad idea.

Judge Wapner spent part of Monday's Fast Money trying to salute Herb Greenberg for last year predicting that Netflix would lose 3/4 of its value in 2011, and Herb modestly went along with the tribute, only to bog himself down in so much mumbo jumbo that it quickly ceased to make any sense.

Greenberg admitted, "I didn't say from when."

Even worse, he insisted it's a matter of "if everything doesn't go just right," when the truth is it's not just 1 thing not going right, but a bunch of things going wrong.

Josh Brown capped off this farce with, "So Netflix has become the Apple Computer of missing earning estimates."

Another day for
Len Brecken to crow

Dan Nathan said on Monday's Fast Money that for a momentum stock such as NFLX, "Once it's done, it's done."

Guest Michael Pachter might've been in denial, then, when he insisted a couple times to Judge Wapner that Netflix could get back up to $4-$5 per share "any time they feel like it," though admitting, "I don't think it's done going down."

Pachter recommended users are best off with just the Netflix DVD service only, saying that for DVD streamers, "that price plan was just too high."

Judge Wapner kept referring to the afterhours session as the Netflix "horror show." Joe Terranova seized on the fact "they're gonna pause expanding internationally."

Scott Nations took the leap of suggesting that, amid a 20-plus-% plunge afterhours, it's gonna be ugly and messy on Tuesday.


Eamon Javers broke into Monday's Fast Money to explain Barack Obama's Vegas speech.

Judge Wapner was so captivated, he told Javers to interrupt again anytime the president says something "you want us to know about."

To people in the pits,
Steve Cortes must be Public Enemy No. 1

Just a few weeks ago many on CNBC were expressing grave concerns about Europe and perhaps China.

By Monday's Fast Money, it sounded like everyone couldn't shovel global growth stocks into their portfolios fast enough.

Joe Terranova, who was ahead of most of his colleagues last week in predicting straight-up markets, seemed to take recent pessimism personally, saying there's been a "high degree of frustration" with what people in the pits were hearing when in fact FCX was just fine, just look at the performance.

In China there is "obviously no hard landing whatsoever," Terranova said.

In fact, Josh Brown went so far as to praise kicking the can down the road, saying that's good for Europe.

Dan Greenhaus said a few weeks ago markets were pricing in a possible U.S. recession, and "that clearly is not the case."

Greenhaus said it's his opinion that "stocks should be closer to 1,300 than 1,200," but conceded effects of the European financial problems will be felt next year.

Dennis Gartman said China PMI "changed my opinion completely," and that people should buy steel and coal. But Gartman saved his strongest call for crude, saying, "demand is very strong," and backwardation is putting the oil market "violently in favor of the bulls."

Pete Najarian cited global growth names CLF and CAT and said "I certainly think there's plenty of upside." Joe Terranova recommended Occidental, Anadarko and the OIH.

With a preface like that,
you’ve gotta be suspicious

Scott Nations on Monday's Fast Money suggested selling an LVS 44/40 put spread with the most important comment being, it's "tough to see how you really lose money on this."

Tim Seymour protested to a Twitterer that Europe in October has been more than just words; they've established some kind of "parameter."

Todd Gordon did some chart extrapolation and said "I think the move is up to 1,307" on the S&P 500. He said he wants to be long the Australian dollar.

China. Just totally awesome.

Kimberly Greenberger, who hasn't been on Fast Money for a while, said Monday the consumers are still spending, and "orders from department stores are still quite solid."

But she's not so high on AEO and ARO, saying they're near the end of a short-covering binge and that ANF is trying hard to take market share from them, and so their "competitive position is compromised.

Echoing the theme of the day, Greenberger said of retailers with Asian exposure, "We don't think that China's a concern at all."

Scott Nations said AEO was seeing "huge call volume."

Joe Terranova revealed Monday, "I'm long Ford" and also touted HYG. Josh Brown recommended Rackspace, saying it could surprise to the upside. Pete Najarian hailed Ensco.

Dan Nathan, practically quiet as a mouse most of Monday, said the markets have been "giddy" and that you can probably wait to buy on a pullback.

‘People afraid to sell’

As the stock market continues to rise about 20 S&P points a day, the Fast Money gang continued to express nothing resembling a buy-buy-buy sentiment.

The closest was Jon Najarian, who said "I'll be the outlier" in bullishness because the Goldman Sachs number was poor and the stock still rallied, an indication there's a tailwind on stocks.

Zachary Karabell reiterated his view of continuing global growth strength, which has been reaffirmed in October, but called this "still an extremely dicey market."

Steve Grasso said right now "people are afraid to sell," and "I'd still be scaling," but said if the S&P crosses the yearly break-even at 1,257, look out above.

JJ Kinahan cautioned that Wednesday could be a "day of reckoning," and the fact people are buying into that uncertainty on Monday "makes me even more nervous."

Rich Ilczyszyn, quickly becoming a regular in the new Halftime, said that based on stocks' breakout, the "double-dip scenario is uh, on the back burner for now."

Here’s why they might do what he doesn’t think will actually happen

Colin Gillis, who unlike the Ilchmeister is quickly getting overexposed on the Fast Money Halftime Report, spent about 5 minutes talking about why Google and Microsoft would want to be part of a Yahoo deal, only to have Jon Najarian cite regulatory issues and doubt that would have a "prayer" and add the Robert Downey Jr. Trade, "I say there's no chance, as in, less-than-zero chance."

That got Gillis, who had conceded there's a lot of "heavy lifting" for whoever does buy Yahoo, but to agree, "I don't see it happening" with Google.

Zach Karabell courteously tried to pin Gillis into a backdoor call on the impact of an Apple TV. Gillis said he had to be careful answering, that it would be a catalyst, but the problem is people buy a new phone every 2 years, a new PC every 5 years, and a new TV only every 10 years.

Chandler: Euro north of 1.40

Marc Chandler said on Monday's Halftime there's been a lot of short covering in the euro, which he thinks could barely push it over 1.40, but that it'll likely go down between Wednesday and the G-20 summit.

Correlated to that, Chandler said the S&P could climb to 1,260 or 1,275 before the correction.

Zach Karabell basically scoffed at the BofA forecast of another U.S. downgrade, saying, "Interest rates are not going to be affected by this."

Tony Wible said NFLX will probably "hack the cost structure as much as they can to boost margins." Jon Najarian reported a "lot of people chasing" NUAN.

Cheerful readiness for stocks

Rich Ilczyszyn said on Monday's Halftime that "I'm playing the WTI-Brent still ... looking for that to narrow." Steve Grasso said if that happens, the refiner trade is over.

Jon Najarian said "this rumor has been around for a while" about Nabors and Transocean, but that he sees it as "more fact than fiction."

Analyst Urs Dur said that FDX's report represented "fortuitous timing for us." Stephen Volkmann pointed out that CAT has been notoriously conservative.

Brian Kelly admitted "my opinion has been changed" on China because of PMI and, curiously, recent Fed statements on QE.

Zachary Karabell mentioned the "alacrity" of recent price action. Had to look that one up.

Fast Money Halftime Report
vs. Fast Money 5 p.m.

Is there really enough Fast Money to go around for everyone?

The expansion of the Fast Money Halftime Report last week was undoubtedly the trickiest part of CNBC's morning revamp ... and early returns suggest something might really have to give here, in a major way.

Carl Quintanilla's Squawk on the Street is already packing some punch, moreso than its predecessor The Call, although in fairness part of the buzz comes from the now-highly-watched European market close that Quintanilla's show has been expertly packaging, and The Call to its credit had good chemistry with Larry Kudlow surrounded by the hotties.

But that change was minimal risk. The Fast Money Halftime conversion could water down what's (apparently) a good thing, as if Harvard suddenly upped its enrollment and faculty by 25%.

Local TV news has found happy ground between the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. (roughly those hours depending on your time zone) evening newscasts; generally the premier, highest-paid talent comes on late, while the early hour is marked by a combination up-and-comers with old hands and a more light-hearted tone and banter.

While the 5 p.m. Fast Money, according to the Web site billing, remains the kingpin with the original (Guy Adami) and nearly original (Pete Najarian and Karen Finerman) cast, one has to wonder which version ultimately has more potential, and whether, as the hourlong Halftime fills time, the 5 p.m. episode will gradually be seen as redundant. Halftime recommendations can be made with specificity; "go long if the S&P dips to 1,136," while 5 p.m. trades can only be made in the fishy afterhours market when things mentioned on TV go haywire.

On the other hand, if the 5 p.m. version didn't exist, traders would never be analyzing the market close, seemingly a non-starter for a stock-picking show.

So, which time slot is winning so far? Here's the early review ...


Halftime Report: Carl Icahn, Colin Gillis' AAPL downgrade, mild GMCR debate between Steve Grasso and Stephen Weiss, Herb Greenberg and Howard Lindzon saying tips happen on Twitter, Dennis Gartman, Dan Dicker

5 p.m.: Carter Worth on WYNN, BIDU, PCLN charts signaling pressure, Phil LeBeau analyzing airline results, Fred Cannon, Scott Nations' curious GMCR chart.

Winner: Icahn's presence, certainly with his comment about Research in Motion, makes Halftime the runaway champ.


Halftime Report: Liz Dunn liking a bunch of retailers, return of Rich Ilczyszyn, healthy Rebecca Patterson (in striking green, though still no bikini as promised) debate on China with Stephen Weiss, Steve Cortes, Ed Najarian on banks

5 p.m.: Karen Finerman revealing she bought AAPL afterhours, Whitney Tilson on the Value Investing conference, Louis Hsieh, Mike Wong, Mitch Pinheiro defending GMCR, Larry McDonald on Europe

Winner: Oh man. Like a 7-6 football game here. Thanks to the timing of the rare AAPL miss, have to go with 5 p.m.


Halftime Report: David Faber interviews James Gorman, Lee Cooperman gives several quality minutes to Judge Wapner, Tristan Gerra on Intel, Dan Dicker

5 p.m.: Vic Alboini on RIMM activism, Sam Hamadeh's case against Groupon, Patty Edwards who picked up a couple "I ♥ NY" bumper stickers joining the desk, Dennis Gartman, Jeremy Wien

Winner: Hands down, Gorman was the big score of the day. However, that interview, plus Cooperman, plus Groupon discussion were generally hallmarks of The Strategy Session and not typical Fast Money programming. Alboini, who does not have the firepower nor a suitable target for activism, was a bust for the 2nd time.


Halftime Report: Herb Greenberg ignites GMCR debate; Gordon Johnson unloads on solar sector, Phil Pearlman joins the gang, Todd Gordon, Rich Ilczyszyn, Gregg Moskowitz

5 p.m.: Dan Niles on why AAPL contrarian call made sense; Jorge Beristain on FCX; Eamon Javers given a couple minutes on a curious WMT parking-lot analysis, Dan Dicker

Winner: Greenberg, who once upon a time was a fixture on Fast Money but got packaged into some unwinnable situations during a relentless bull market, kick-started some feisty arguments over Green Mountain and Scott Wapner stoked the fuel with his zeal for debate that Melissa Lee doesn't share. Johnson's solar call is bound to be one of the most significant calls of the week.


No comparisons, because there is no 5 p.m. version, but Dick Bove was a good get at Halftime.

Weekly conclusion: Not a surprise that, in its inaugural week as an hourlong show, the lineup was tilted toward Halftime. The concern is that 5 p.m. was mostly a dud all week, a sign there maybe aren't enough guests or material to go around, and that if 5 p.m. reclaims the more elite guests, Halftime will become unbearable, and that something will have to give in one of these hours in a big way.

But they've only just begun, and have time to figure things out.

[Friday, October 21, 2011]

Bove: BAC ‘screaming’ buy

Dick Bove on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report used the term "irrelevant" to describe the European financial situation on U.S. banks.

"What does USBancorp care about the French banks? What does State Street care about what goes on in Greece?" asked Bove, rhetorically basically, of Judge Scott Wapner.

At one point Bove, who rates BAC a "screaming" buy, said the company is "overloaded with excess cash," which is a fine opinion, but we gotta wonder, why in the world if that's the case did they hand Warren Buffett easy money?

Tres Knippa got a few moments to talk about how copper has been linked to China but isn't really the best indicator of where the global economy is headed.

Dow rallies 267;
AAPL falls

Steve Grasso and JJ Kinahan opened Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report expressing some degree of caution about getting caught up in Friday's rally.

But why should they, given that the S&P goes up 20 points 4 out of 5 days each week.

"Be very careful" going into the weekend, Grasso said.

However, Zachary Karabell eloquently made the other argument, that the implosion that had been priced in does not appear to be in the cards, while the ongoing strength of many growth sectors has been confirmed by recent numbers, which should all "create some sort of floor here."

Kinahan agreed there's a floor, but asked, "is the floor really this high?"

Grasso pointed to the Japan tsunami low and then the 1,257 yearly break-even level, which he said if crossed is huge because many buy programs kick in. (And, they might as well, because at the rate we're going we'll be at all-time S&P high by Thanksgiving.)

Judge Wapner started to extrapolate into a chase for performance, which Karabell acknowledged would be some kind of "beta rally," but that it's way too early to get to that point because the current rally hasn't even been officially confirmed.

Jeff Kilburg vs.
Lee Cooperman

Jeff Kilburg, who impressively has stuck his neck out in October on a bullish 10-year Treasury trade, reiterated that position on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, saying "this is a buying opportunity."

Judge Wapner told Kilburg that Lee Cooperman was on the show this week and said don't go near Treasurys, which is a fine argument to make, but we'll only say we've heard that one before, in fact several times, in the last couple of years.

Kilburg predicted 2.0 before 2.4 and stressed that the bond market has led the stock market.

George Davis of the Money in Motion stable said the euro has likely "built in that positive news" from however many summits they're having, but the trade he likes is Norwegian Kronor vs. Sweden, because it has little correlation to market risk.

Maybe it was going to be AAPL, then he saw the tape before the show

For whatever reason, Judge Wapner and Steve Grasso on Friday's Halftime had to rehash their Green Mountain discussion of a day earlier, basically repeating the same stuff they already said, Grasso insisting when Einhorn talks, people sell, then "ask questions later."

Pete Najarian said if you wanna play GMCR, ya gotta use options. He also said options in Weatherford have been heating up.

JJ Kinahan said he agreed with Pete's bull call on Intel but not his bull call on MSFT.

Zach Karabell said touching NFLX with a "10-foot pole is way, way too close."

Nick Colas, a good guest previously, was an absolute bust on Friday, suggesting stocks are only priced at 12.4 P.E. at the lowest analyst earnings estimate but refusing to name a single "technology" name for Judge Wapner.

[Thursday, October 21, 2011]

Counting cars at WMT

Eamon Javers reported on RS Metric's satellite analysis of Wal-Mart parking lot pictures showing 6% fewer cars in August and September.

Scott Wapner challenged the usefulness of car counting, saying it's no indication how much those shoppers are spending or whether they're simply making fewer trips to buy the same thing.

Jon Najarian complemented that with a stretch, saying the size of the cars is what matters.

Joe Terranova said Sept. 14 for 2010 and 2011 was in the middle of the week and weekends are what matter at Wal-Mart.

RS Metric's numbers actually might be significant. None of those explanations convincingly addresses why they might not be.

What would distort the picture is 1) weather difference year over year, not just that day but perhaps the 2 or 3 days beforehand; 2) road construction in area in 2011 and not 2010; 3) whether one of those days was a school holiday; 4) whether there was a nearby competitor (say WAG or CVS or DG or grocery) that wasn't there a year earlier; 5) whether there's been a new Wal-Mart in the last year in the vicinity; 6) whether there was an unusual sale that day; 7) whether that town had a plant closing or some setback in the last year, and that's probably enough for now.

Finerman: AAPL has done ‘horrific’ job allocating capital

Just when it seemed like Karen Finerman was content to doze her way through Thursday's Fast Money, the subject of Apple's capital allocation woke her up.

"I think Apple has done a horrific job as allocators of capital," Finerman complained, telling Judge Scott Wapner "they could either pay a dividend, they could buy back stock, they could do a Dutch offer, they could do all of those."

Wapner, eager for arguments Thursday, questioned buying shares at $400, which K-Fine shrugged off. "It's highly accretive here, even at this price, had they done this all along," with the P.E. vs. 0% cash return, it's basically unbeatable, Finerman insisted.

"They keep saying they're disciplined, I think that's the opposite of disciplined in fact," Finerman said.

She said there's an Oct. 26-Nov. 25 window for shareholders to be heard.

We're sure they will be.

Terranova: Market going
higher, ‘unequivocally’

We noted earlier in the day that the mood on the Fast Money Halftime Report toward the market and/or economy was mostly sour.

Joe Terranova flipped that on its head at 5 p.m., asserting, "Right now, unequivocally, I think this market's going higher."

Fair enough. Maybe most controversially, he added, "gold is basically telling you there is no second recession coming."

Karen Finerman said, "I don't see any clarity ... this whole thing will not be over next Wednesday. That's the only thing I know for sure."

Copper ‘entirely disconnected’ from stock market

For good measure, Joe Terranova on Thursday's Fast Money said copper as a barometer isn't reliable; "it's a market that's easily manipulated."

Dan Dicker sort of backed that up, saying, "Copper has now become entirely disconnected" from the stock market, while it "looks to take it more on the chin." But, "in the end, we want a lower price for copper," Dicker argued.

Brian Kelly said of copper, "I do think it's a leading indicator" and might go to 2.60.

FCX watcher Jorge Beristain said "at these levels I'd be a buyer." Guy Adami said he could've said the "exact same thing" when the stock was $60. Beristain said "Well, we didn't have it as a buy back then."

Dicker said gold is in a "psychedelic freakout."

Judge experiences after-hours action on his Chipotle lunch

Dan Niles dialed into Thursday's Fast Money and said it wasn't hard to be an AAPL contrarian going into earnings because basically every analyst had high expectations that Niles didn't agree with.

Niles said Verizon sales data and Asian component checks were indicators of a possible miss. He wasn't that high on MSFT or INTC, saying he prefers tablet plays to PC plays.

Judge Wapner revealed he had Chipotle for lunch and said he had "a little Chipotle action after-hours myself," which isn't the strongest endorsement. Mike Khouw said he had Chipotle tacos for lunch too and that it's a "regular treat" for his desk.

Judge takes Halftime beating for questioning Einhorn while Steve Grasso reminds him what show’s title is

Herb Greenberg crashed Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report with what's becoming his favorite subject, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, only to run into Scott Judge Wapner playing contrarian in the best fracas of the new hourlong Halftime.

Greenberg said what people are focused on regarding Einhorn's GMCR report is Pages 90-97 in which he interviews former employees who tell "consistent" stories of an "unflattering picture" of the company.

"That is what forensic short-selling and forensic accounting is all about," Greenberg crowed.

"Maybe they're just disgruntled employees, Herb," Wapner said, pointing out Einhorn is shorting the stock and that Janney put out a note "bashing" Einhorn's thesis.

"You may say they're disgruntled ..." Greenberg said.

"I'm not saying they're disgruntled I'm saying they may be Herb," Wapner responded.

Guy Adami jumped in to agree with Herb, saying analysts claimed Lehman was right and Einhorn was wrong.

Phil Pearlman jumped in to say you could still catch an up move without picking the bottom.

The show moved on, but the argument was hardly over. Guy Adami could barely wait for Gordon Johnson to finish his solar thesis to mention another Einhorn win, St. Joe.

That got Judge suddenly back in defensive mode, who stressed "I'm not saying 1 good call," but that GMCR bulls will say "maybe they're disgruntled employees ... maybe he's not right this time. That's what THAT side of the story is gonna tell."

Steve Grasso piled in against Wapner, saying Einhorn took $25 out of the stock price so "if you're short the stock, he was right. That's what we trade. The show's called Fast Money."

But even that STILL wasn't the end of it, as Judge interrupted Steve Cortes' praise of Gordon Johnson to demand of Grasso, "Meredith whitney was right on the banks. Was she right on the munis," and said if you bought on her muni pullback, you made money.

Then Phil Pearlman, apparently a bit oblivious, butted in ahead of Grasso to make a point about waiting for solar stocks.

Grasso stressed shorts give Einhorn a lot of credit. Wapner provided the service of noting that if Einhorn's wrong, people who buy the shares now will make money. Pearlman closed by saying the GMCR reaction is proof Einhorn nailed it.

Evidently there were no hard feelings, as Judge later told Grasso "I'm free for dinner next Wednesday night" if No. 386 wants to use his AmEx card, which somehow Grasso finds frustrating to hold day by day other than for rewards points, and "I'm not sure why I still have it."

But the biggest headline of the show: ‘30-40% more downside’ on solar

Sandwiched between David Einhorn, Gordon Johnson articulated a very stark outlook on the solar industry, saying the "macro's extremely weak" and that Germany and Italy are the big spenders and are retrenching in this area. "There's at least 30-40% more downside," Johnson said.

Guy Adami said Johnson has been spot-on. Steve Cortes praised that call and likened it to natural gas. Steve Grasso said solar is a subsidy-based business and this isn't the time for subsidies.

Cortes shorts BAC

Just before the opening of Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, Rick Santelli and Gary Kaminsky closed off Squawk on the Street expressing skepticism about European miracles, after Kaminsky had argued with Simon Hobbs about the veracity of European mark-to-market and whether investors and banks know "there's future capital holes ahead," a tone that seemed to only accelerate on Fast Money.

Guy Adami said if you're long expecting a Europe breakthrough, "You're playing with faith right now." But while acknowledging most of the market trades together, he said EBAY and MSFT might be outliers worth a buy and not swept up as much in macro themes.

Steve Grasso said he'd "wait a couple days" before plunging in and buying more stocks.

Phil Pearlman of StockTwits said stocks have been moving in 2-week swings and there's a "huge amount of global uncertainty," but Intel might be safe.

Steve Cortes protested "I'm long Wal-Mart" and not completely short everything, but he likes "domesticity and dividends" in this market.

"I'm short Deutsche Bank; yesterday I got short Bank America (sic)," Cortes said. "Once contagion goes, it spreads."

Patty Edwards said, "I hold Oracle."

Gregg Moskowitz said this is the "last of 4 difficult comps" for MSFT, but when Judge Wapner asked if now's the time to buy the stock, Moskowitz could only sputter, "that's a key question," saying there's lag time until Windows 8 comes out next October.

Ilczyszyn: ‘This is just the beginning’ in copper

If Gordon Johnson's call on solar wasn't attention-getting, the Ilchmeister, Rich Ilczyszyn, certainly was making waves on copper claiming "Listen I think this is just the beginning" and that $3 is the "line in the sand" that would signal a serious breach.

Patty Edwards said "No one knows what's going on at this point in time," that's why copper is getting tossed around. But Edwards later pointed to fertilizers and copper as names where "there could be some manipulation going on as far as perceptions ... at some point in time it gets cheap enough, you just gotta buy it," supplying the day's pro-ag-trade call.

Phil Pearlman said he wants to get into gold, but lower. Steve Cortes questioned being long gold, saying it should rally on a day like this. Ilczyszyn said be careful with a gold short, that $1,585 is support and "this could be a delevering before the weekend."

Cortes said, "If it's physical, I'm short it right now."

Guy Adami said of WLT, "I'm pretty convinced that somebody's gonna buy them."

Todd Gordon’s Trade School
for Steve Cortes

Phil Pearlman said "I'm long Yahoo" (this writer is long YHOO), and "I think something's in the works," but he cautioned, "it's a marathon though."

Todd Gordon said to "short the Australian dollar against the Japanese yen." Steve Cortes complained his Aussie short didn't work. Gordon advised him to stop shorting it against the dollar but instead the yen.

[Wednesday, October 19, 2011]

Undersubscribed, anyone?

Fast Money guest Sam Hamadeh made a presentation about Groupon Wednesday that you don't often hear about a looming IPO.

The balance sheet, according to Hamadeh, shows the company is "technically insolvent."

Groupon "essentially has a liquidity and funding crisis that it needs to address short term," Hamadeh said. The technically insolvent part was only the 3rd argument against the company, the first 2 being "Business deterioration" and "Insiders already cashed out."

Hamadeh said the company has raised over a billion dollars in venture capital, yet 84% of it has gone to cash out the founders and early investors.

Patty got in at the bottom

Smokin' Jane Wells delivered an update on Wynn's results, quoting Steve Wynn on the call as saying "the Democratic agenda of spend and bribe is bankrupting this country."

Ken Heinz said in the hedge fund world, macro funds did best in the 3rd quarter with a narrow gain.

Patty Edwards, rarely getting a crack at a Final Trade, said "Love Walter Energy at these levels; think it's going higher." Guy Adami said Yahoo and delivered a shout-out to the "9 people who watched the Web Extra last night." Karen Finerman said GPN; Tim Seymour said long FCX with a 30 stop.

Patty Edwards recalled the days of taking the brokerage licensing exam on the Saturday before the Oct. 19, 1987, crash and then coming into the office and seeing the Quotron and thinking the market was down 75 points and being told, " 'No dear, it's down 275.' And we just sat, and held ourselves, and rocked in front of it for the rest of the day."

All well and good, warm and fuzzy. Except Patty said, "I walked into the office that morning, a little bit after the close."

Is there any place in the U.S. where the stock market closes in the morning?

Hawaii, maybe.

Newest anti-RIMM argument:
Management is shaming their country

Vic Alboini on Wednesday made another Fast Money appearance to explain his RIMM agitation, this time on the 5 p.m. show, and this time appealing to (Canadian) national pride.

"If they want to run it as a private company, you know, let them take it private," Alboini said, calling current management "sad for Canadian public companies ... that is not the way Canadians conduct themselves in corporate governance."

Alboini crossed up Mel Lee and Karen Finerman when he said, "We have a few shareholders of the 12 that own more than 5%."

"But you represent shareholders totaling 8% of the entire company," Lee said.

"That is correct," Alboini said.

"I see where you're going with this," Finerman said to Lee.

"The numbers don't add up Vic," Lee said.

"The numbers do add up actually," Alboini said, explaining someone owns close to 5% and a few others push it over 5%.

Which does mesh with his ambiguous earlier comment. But the goat here is Alboini, who seeemed unable to figure out for the darnedest time why Lee and Finerman were confused.

Alboini also offered from Patty Edwards' cliche manual, saying "at this point in time." Edwards happened to be on the desk and said "somebody should probably come in" to Research in Motion.

1, or 2, to write off

Both Patty Edwards and Karen Finerman said they didn't see anything obviously bad about AXP's results and were puzzled by the late selloff.

Tim Seymour attempted to fill in the blanks, declaring, "These guys only have so much scale. They're falling in size relative to the bigger players and that's what people are worried about."

Guy Adami said the Morgan Stanley trade might be over.

Every 12 hours there’s a breakthrough headline out of Europe

Dennis Gartman on Wednesday's Fast Money drew a curious conclusion from the day's Europe-watching.

"Sarkozy and Merkel left their meeting today and made no statement. That's usually not a good sign," Gartman said, adding the pair "looked rather disgruntled."

Gartman revealed, "I am short a little bit of the euro."

Jeremy Wien did the VIX portion of the program Wednesday and said the VIX could move quickly into the upper or mid-20s.

Wednesday wasn’t ‘the most interesting day in the last few months easily’

Guy Adami, after succumbing to hyperbole yesterday in his prediction for an important market day Wednesday, admitted on Wednesday's Fast Money, "Frankly it wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be."

Jon Najarian said institutions kept buying AAPL right up to $410 over the last week, and it was the public that pushed it higher, but it was still worth a flier in Tuesday's afterhours and only reverted to levels of last week.

Patty Edwards though said "frankly there are cracks that are coming out at this point in time (sic last 2 words redundancy)."

Tim Seymour spent a bunch of time Wednesday defending FCX and its like; "they're not seeing any falloff in demand," and saying he listens to Jing Ulrich and believes "Freeport is ridiculously cheap if you have a 12-month view," and actually that's a reminder it's been a little while since we've heard the "might as well own the banks because 5 years from now they absolutely have to be higher than today."

Guy Adami said EBAY is appealing below $30. Patty Edwards said "I do have a little bit of eBay;" Edwards and Karen Finerman both questioned if there wouldn't be more value to a split with the PayPal side.

Guy Adami said he was getting tweets about not properly welcoming Patty to the Fast Money desk, which seems all the more insensitive given the sleeping trouble Patty's reported this week traveling 3 hours to the East. Karen Finerman, always sharp as a tack and Wednesday in stunning pearls and new hairstyle, noted, "Patty's quite a tweeter," which is true, but lately it seems like Patty spends more time blocking Twitterers than actually tweeting and entering capitalism debates, which seems to kind of defeat the purpose. Thankfully Patty didn't trash the Steelers on Fast Money, though we're going to stay tuned and update with more on the show later.

Gasparino suggests David Faber’s interview with James Gorman was ‘softball’

Morgan Stanley on Wednesday picked David Faber over Charles Gasparino.

And evidently, there might be some hard feelings.

Gasparino scoffed on Twitter Wednesday to one critic taunting him with this choice by MS, "i dont know--maybe its because jimmy likes softball pitching like all u wall street guys."

After the talking points, Morgan Stanley suggests banks will pick up where they left off within a couple of years

Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report featured David Faber doing an interview with an elite guest, James Gorman, as well as a phone chat between Judge Scott Wapner and another elite guest, Lee Cooperman. And one wonders, why did The Strategy Session disappear?

Faber spent about his first 3 questions trying to get Gorman to declare when the banks return to a "normal" environment.

Finally, Gorman said "it's a couple of years," an answer best analyzed later by Zachary Karabell, who said it raises concern when CEOs in a changing environment indicate they're not preparing for a new normal but expecting "future reversion to a past model that no longer exists."

Gorman, like many banks and sovereigns recently, pushed the meat of Faber's questions down the road, opening with (anti-GS) talking points stressing "it's nice to be profitable" and it's "encouraging" to be doing this well after undergoing about what normally (there's that old new normal reversion thing again) would be 20-30 years of change in 2-3 years.

Faber asked if the bank might be too under-risked for when times get good. Gorman obviously had an answer prepared for that one designed to convey they're not overleveraged now and won't be underleveraged in the future: "I think we've taken out the endpoints of the risk," he said.

He said it's an "important strategic prerogative for Morgan Stanley" to get more or all of Smith Barney but that the timing's not important.

He said of Occupy Wall Street, "that there's anger out there is not surprising."

Jim Iuorio liked how Gorman made it sound like ending prop trading was "his idea" rather than regulators'.

Faber did not ask Gorman about Mr. C. Gasparino's claims of receiving a "death threat" from a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, or that Morgan Stanley evidently refused Gasparino's request for interview.

Latest government attempt to make oil go lower apparently won’t work

Dan Dicker, rapidly becoming one of the most candid and quotable of the Fast Money gang, said oil traders are "yawning" at the latest CFTC limits and that it's basically a weak regulation. "They're using a hatchet when a scalpel should do," saying it'll have next to no impact on oil prices and that "only 10 traders are on their radar."

"I love RIG, Transocean," Dicker said, while acknowledging, "It's another one that's got cleat marks on the back of my neck."

Dicker said beware of copper, "sell the Freeport, right now."

Cooperman: ‘High probability that Europe’s in a recession’

Wall Street great Lee Cooperman isn't normally the type to appear on a Fast Money soundbite-fest, but Judge Wapner on Wednesday did a nice job of giving Cooperman some latitude to outline some themes, although admittedly none were particularly new or controversial.

Except maybe for the notion that Europe and its interested U.S. parties will "do what they have to do" to make it however less worse than it otherwise might be, which was Point 2 of Cooperman's 4-point scenario for the investing conference.

He said No. 1 is that the U.S. is avoiding recession but is in a "slow growth environment at worst," mentioning Jeff Immelt, and also that the president "would move to the center" which he said hasn't happened and that the Middle East is rocky but at least Brent's going in the right direction.

There is a "high probability that Europe's in a recession," Cooperman said.

He said he's not in the traditional big banks but rather Sallie Mae, MetLife, Ace and Lincoln. Pressed by Judge Wapner to name a stock he didn't mention at the conference, he finally said MetLife, though he's got 90 stocks and obviously likes them all or wouldn't own them. He also said he likes AAPL more than a day ago because it's cheaper.

"Stocks are the best house in the financial asset neighborhood," he said.

And if MSFT gets to $32, it’s Katie bar the door

Tristan Gerra said on Wednesday's Halftime that his $32 for Intel is a "very reasonable target."

But Josh Brown had the best reaction, questioning, "if Apple (sic, meant INTC) gets to 32," then "can you imagine what some of those stocks would do" in the tech space that are better growth plays.

"I'm saying Apple over Intel," Brown said.

Zachary Karabell said "I'm not sure it's an either/or."

Stephen Weiss said investors can "add Intel to your commodity list." Judge Wapner pointed out that an analyst (Craig Berger) who joined him on Squawk Box expressed utter "disbelief" about Intel's report.

[Tuesday, October 18, 2011]

Do as I say,
not as I just did

Karen Finerman said on Tuesday's Fast Money of people interested in buying AAPL, "I actually would wait a little too even though we just bought some in the aftermarket."

Guy Adami predicted AAPL would get a "mulligan" for its miss. (This writer is long AAPL.)

Surprising because ... people thought he’d open with a joke about Charlie Sheen instead?

Jon Fortt reported shocking news on Tuesday's Fast Money: "The first words out of Tim Cook's mouth, a tribute to Steve Jobs."

5 yards on the market

Skeptics say Herman Cain is just doing this president thing to sell a book.

If so, he might want to catch Larry McDonald's Fast Money appearance Tuesday for tips on how to get the job done.

McDonald was brought on to discuss the situation in Europe, including the breaking news over Moody's Spain downgrade.

McDonald pointed out the markets have gone up for a couple weeks ahead of the downgrade, and so unlike others that were expected, "maybe the market was caught offsides a bit."

As for solutions, McDonald said "you have leverage on leverage," which isn't really a good way to attack a problem, something he covered in his book about Lehman whose title he mentioned.

He later mentioned his Twitter handle.

It was understandably breaking news, but Mel Lee had a lot of trouble sorting out the number of "notches" of the Spain downgrade, before the situation was turned over to Mandy, and everything for a moment was heavenly.

When you have to beef up the accounting dept., that doesn’t necessarily sound like a good thing

GMCR watcher (who isn't these days) Mitch Pinheiro described the company's "nickel's worth of overstatement" as "relatively de minimis in our view."

He said, rather enthusiastically, that Green Mountain has "bulked up their accounting at each division level."

Guy Adami said you trade it now by being long with the "$80 level as your bogey."

That might've sounded fine, until Whitney Tilson showed up and revealed "We actually added to our shorts" in GMCR as David Einhorn spoke at the value conference, and that Einhorn made a "pretty compelling circumstantial case" for "pretty substantial accounting fraud" that included suggestions that obsolete inventory was removed before auditors arrived, and then put back after they left.

Plain-pocket jeans:
another growth story

Whitney Tilson said on Tuesday's Fast Money that hot retail kingpins, and not a legacy of a decidedly non-elite brand name that unlike Courtney Reagan isn't getting any sexier, will determine the future of JCP, which he said presently has a "lot of low-hanging fruit there."

More interesting is what Tilson did not talk about, which was the text on the screen that said "Tilson: Berkshire Hathaway is cheapest we've ever seen it."

Fair enough. But it's worth noting Tilson also liked STX in April, when it traded over $16.

Monday was a shocker — the rare day the S&P didn’t go up 20 points

Guy Adami, prone to exaggerating the influence of any particular day in ultimate stock market direction, claimed on Tuesday's Fast Money, "Tomorrow sets up for I think the most interesting day in the last few months, easily."

There's a good-news-Europe story every day, so expect 1,400 S&P in about 2 weeks.

Guest Louis Hsieh apparently made a case for his company, New Oriental Education, but basically sounded like it was more a Q&A about how his students are like China's Harvards.

But he did say, "The high-end consumer has money."

Mike Wong painted a bullish case for MS, of all names, decrying the "largely baseless and unfounded rumors."

Note those are "largely" baseless. (So why did the spokeswoman issue a "death threat" to Gasparino?)

Wong said MS is more appealing than GS because it has "more revenue tied to equity sales and trading" and less to fixed income. JJ Kinahan agreed, saying (after rising about 43% in 2 weeks) there is enthusiasm for the stock and it's probably worth a buy.

Mike Khouw at one point sounded like he was talking in a phone booth.

Is there anyone actually
bullish euro?

Sizzling Rebecca Patterson, who once promised a Money in Motion appearance in a bikini (OK, she didn't actually promise that, but suggested it, and it's OK to think that), joined the elongated Fast Money Halftime Report crew Friday in an interesting green jacket type of ensemble and walked smack into a China debate with Stephen Weiss.

"This is great. I'm glad we're having this conversation," Patterson said, as Weiss pointed out what he called signs of a housing bubble and government aid to banks.

Patterson insisted that China is unique among nations because "it can snap its fingers, and guess what, the economy decouples from the stock market."

"That has never been an effective solution for economic problems," Weiss said, after Judge Wapner brazenly shouted him down from an interruption.

As far as currency basics, Patterson said, "I still like playing the euro as a sell on any bounce we get." But her trade for Tuesday was to sell the U.S. dollar against Canada.

Why does AAPL even need to bother to report?

Sometimes a stock just gets too good to be true, and that might've been the case with AAPL Tuesday as Brian Kelly offered this self-fulfilling prophecy theory on the Fast Money Halftime Report.

Even if it's not a blowout quarter, "We already know that the iPhone 4S is selling out like crazy," so people will buy the stock anyway, Kelly said.

Patty Edwards said IBM's reaction shouldn't be a factor with AAPL because AAPL is a consumer play and not really international like IBM.

Stephen Weiss defended owning RIMM because everyone else hates it; "I've not seen a bar this low since I was high-jumping in nursery school." Steve Cortes said you can get long AKAM; "put a stop below 22.50."

Patty had the right idea

Ed Najarian made what was probably a fine appearance on Tuesday's Halftime Report to discuss banks, but when the camera panned around Fast gang, it caught Patty Edwards with eyes closed looking asleep and Stephen Weiss with a borderline stupor look.

Weiss shrugged off the banks, suggesting "this was just a relief quarter." Steve Cortes said "if this BAC rally persists I am going to short ... but I do like GS and MS." However, he hasn't bought GS yet because of China exposure.

25% in New York City;
0% in Pittsburgh

About 5 months after her wretched LULU call, Liz Dunn finally resurfaced on the Fast Money Halftime Report, this time to talk about 4 outperforms, which are COH, ANF, M and JWN.

Dunn is also neutral on Saks.

Dunn's appearance prompted Judge Scott Wapner to twice call on Patty Edwards for a retail opinion. Of course, this site is a champion of Patty getting more time to speak in general on the Halftime Report. But given that Tuesday brought about the 10th pro-JWN refrain in 2 months, as well as the 3rd or 4th reference recently to SKS' 25% sales at flagship NYC store to Europeans, well, maybe the Fast Money Halftime Report doesn't necessarily have to be 60 minutes long.

In a stunner, Rackspace chief Lanham Napier is bullish on his industry, asserting, "We are the early days of this adoption."

Steve Cortes suggested shorting gold. Brian Kelly said to stay away from HOG.

Stephen Weiss has concluded the Occupy Wall Streeters "really don't know the issues."

If nothing else, intervening in currencies gives governments something to do

Steve Cortes, The Contrarian, said the new scare in Europe is French bond yields, because "the periphery is now growing" to everyone but Germany, and "it's incredibly bad news for the euro currency."

Patty Edwards concurred, citing Japanese currency intervention and noting, "It was a really great couple of days, and then poof, it was gone."

The best thing about Tuesday's Halftime is that it marked the return of The Ilchmeister, Rich Ilczyszyn, who said "When China speaks, commodities listen," but that the equity market in the U.S. "is a good barometer of risk" and that copper isn't driven strictly by China. But he wasn't exactly Mr. Clarity on gold, first saying the low was in for the day, and only revealing at the end of the show he likes Steve Cortes' short gold call.

[Monday, October 17, 2011]

Let’s roll the dice and play a little Monopoly; what square does a euro short land on?

Brian Kelly on Monday's Fast Money said "I think the euro goes much lower," a position that Pete Najarian and Stephen Weiss also claimed earlier on the Halftime Report.

Aside from the fact it makes you wonder if another short squeeze is possible, there's a bigger picture. The euro has recently correlated inversely with the S&P.

There's no such thing as a perfect correlation of course, but we've gotta think if you're firmly committed to a euro selloff, you'd get more bang for your buck just shorting banks or perhaps the materials.

Todd Gordon said he wants to short Canadian dollar vs. the 1,225 and 1,230 levels in the S&P 500.

Guy Adami said IBM, which had been starting to resemble NFLX (in its good times), "maybe ran too far, too fast." Karen Finerman said "I would wait a little while" to get back in. Tim Seymour said "I think it's a crowded trade."

How come this is just a natural selloff and nobody blamed it on high-frequency trading?

Guy Adami actually said on Monday's Fast Money that "it's a question of what happens from here" in the stock market.

Really. Because normally it's a question of what's already happened?

Adami said maybe Monday is a "harbinger of things to come (sic redundancy)" and that we're probably headed "towards the 1,150 level."

Karen Finerman was not the least bit surprised at the strength of the selloff Monday and simultaneously said it's totally orderly and natural but still not something to fight for a few days. "It's still been a very big move; I'd wait" to get back in, Finerman said.

Joe Terranova asked Finerman if we're finally seeing a return to the stock picker's market. "I would hope," said Finerman. It's been "quite a while." But she chuckled at the thought it's actually arrived.

Brian Kelly said "I got more short today" and then added, in a twisted way, "I'd say this pullback is a bear market rally," making us wonder how a "pullback" can ever be considered a "rally."

"I bought some TLT," Kelly said.

"I would categorize today's price action as concerning," said Joe Terranova.

Wonder how a long GMCR/
short NFLX trade would work

Tim Seymour on Monday's Fast Money waffled more than L'eggo my eggo on Green Mountain, saying "this stock has got an absurd valuation on it" but then said he wouldn't be "running for the exit though" just because David Einhorn has "initiated this type of a move."

But it was the chart accompanying Scott Nations' suggestion to sell a GMCR call spread that was most puzzling and perhaps most misleading.

Nations said he would want to be short GMCR, but by selling a call spread to define his risk.

He said he would sell the November 85 call for $7.50 and buy the November 90 call for $5.50.

Not only are we stock market amateurs, but we're actually less than amateurs when it comes to options. So we couldn't help but notice that the chart above, in spite of the "losses capped" line, sort of implies there is no loss above $90 because there is no red. Yet the green space below 85 implies unlimited profit. Is there some way it gets to be less than worthless?

It's still an interesting and appealing trade, a bet the stock remains under about $88 or so with capped loss. It's the chart that's a bit dubious.

Nations said there was "huge put volume today" in GMCR at November 45, 50 and 60 levels. "Huge longs being initiated," he said.

Melissa Lee talked about how it's curious Einhorn questions the expensiveness of K-Cups when it comes out to being cheaper than Starbucks. Someone asked if Lee is speaking from experience and Mel admitted, "Yes I am."

Hate to admit it, but we couldn't help but remember the story we saw in a British tabloid last year about another kind of K-Cup, and ... uh oh ... borderline blushing starting here ... we'll let it go at that.

All those AAPL doubters,
raise your hand

Carter Worth offered a couple thoughts about the stock market on Monday's Fast Money that sort of collide with each other, if you believe (as we basically do) the Steve Grasso argument that 70% of stocks move with the overall market.

Worth indicated that Wynn, Baidu and Priceline recovered to trend lines after recent healthy plunges, and the trend line is where those people will start to unload again.

But yet, Worth was shrugging off Monday's selloff and said, "We think the downside is very limited, 1,160 if that."

Given how much WYNN, BIDU and PCLN all roared with the 2-week rally, one would have to think, if they tank, this market is gonna suck.

Worth also made this claim about AAPL being just fine to own right here. "There are a lot of doubters in Apple, actually, and so that's what keeps it healthy."

A lot of doubters? Seriously?

Guy Adami predicted RIMM is going to the high teens and said Colin Gillis thinks so too. Brian Kelly said of GameStop, "Where is the growth; there really isn't any." Karen Finerman said, "Totally, totally agree."

Tim Seymour thinks now’s the time to buy coal stocks on valuation

Guy Adami had probably the line of the day on Monday's Fast Money noting Bob Seger "is a hundred years old as well" as the freak marathon man.

Guest Frederick Cannon said GS valuations might be tempting, but "I'd wait till after the report though." (We think you could probably wait a long time, given that we've heard this spiel countless times for the last year and a half.)

Cannon agreed with the notion of a long GS/short MS pairs trade, saying MS "is a restructuring story."

Brian Kelly isn't a fan of GCI. "I would stay away from this name," Kelly said.

Karen Finerman said "I like Cummins here." Tim Seymour said of WLT, "Buy this company on valuation," and is that even possible in this market?

Joe Terranova recommended APC for his Final Trade while Guy Adami suggested XCO, whatever the heck that is.

Guy Adami tried to make a "CAT call," but was interrupted by hooting and sound effects, including from Karen Finerman.

Phil LeBeau plays
airline analyst

Thanks to a good question from Guy Adami, Phil LeBeau on Monday's Fast Money revealed part of the reason his Boeing Dreamliner documentary of a couple weeks ago was a bust.

"I have not flown on it yet," LeBeau admitted, saying non-Boeing employees have not been allowed on it.

LeBeau was actually on the show to talk about what to expect in the airlines' quarterly results, but he even played stock-picker for BA, saying, "I'm very surprised at what's happened with the stock over the last 6 months" and implying investors apparently aren't aware of a "7-year cycle" of production that's under way, when the chart really doesn't look much worse than a bunch of stocks in the last 6 months.

Lebeau also said bankruptcy is "not in the immediate future" for AMR.

Ronnie Moas, founder of Standpoint Research, also designed the firm’s Web site

Guy Adami offered an interesting shout-out on Monday's Fast Money to Standpoint Research.

"They did something amazing," Adami said, upgrading CROX on Oct. 4 but downgrading it just on Friday.

Tim Seymour said of CROX, "I think the numbers are not that bad" and that the stock was "overly punished."

Joe Terranova predicted some selling through the sector and said "Deckers is a name you look at" assuming it gets thrown out with the bathwater.

It depends on what the definition of ‘listen’ is, apparently

Scott Judge Wapner launched the expanded hourlong Fast Money Halftime Report with a crisp, informative discussion, though there were few new wrinkles.

The program produced an outside contender for Top 5 Most Contentious Fast Money Debates of the Year when Steve Grasso and Stephen Weiss butted heads over GMCR and the influence of David Einhorn, although it actually wasn't very testy.

Grasso asserted, "There's no way a respectable money manager is gonna get in when Einhorn is saying he's getting out."

Weiss disagreed, saying money managers have a more fundamental thesis that isn't swayed by people like Einhorn speaking out.

"I would love to agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong," Grasso said, claiming it's "point blank" a fact that "when David Einhorn speaks, people listen."

"Steve I'm not saying they don't listen. While you cover them, I talk to them confidentially, and I'm telling you, they're not paying attention to what he's saying," Weiss said.

Pete Najarian said in a curiously twisted way that he'd avoid GMCR, "unless you really have a, a flair for somebody who wants to be in something volatile."

Fast Money suggests it just learned about Twitter yesterday

One apparent new wrinkle on Monday's Fast Money Halftime, a segment with Herb Greenberg, seemed to fizzle when it started to sound like the gang had never heard of Twitter until recently.

Guest Howard Lindzon said, "We can all try and beat the news, but Twitter is the news."

Greenberg revealed, "I actually get stories out of it."

Greenberg also helpfully pointed out that volatile stocks such as GMCR are subject to big swings. Einhorn, said Greenberg, is "articulating his comments here ... reminds you what happens if everything doesn't go quite right."

OMG — someone has the audacity to make AAPL a hold

Colin Gillis milked as much publicity out of a "hold" call as can possibly be done when he opened Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report with his contrarian thesis.

Gillis cited 3 areas that he thinks are problematic, the September quarter comp, educational discounts at this time of year, and a possibly overstated iPad refresh cycle against cheap Kindle competition.

Gillis claimed the iPad could be a "couple million below" expectations.

Steve Grasso said that's all well and good, but "perception is reality," and money managers have seen the lines at the mall at the Apple stores.

Jon Najarian said "I don't disagree with Colin's call" but recommended buying on any "hiccup."

Patty indicates Japan
is growing at 9.5%

Dennis Gartman said on Monday's Halftime that copper turning back down is "very disturbing" and near some support levels.

He said, "You really don't know what the numbers are out of China."

Patty Edwards told Judge Wapner she is watching copper, but "You've got to be watching the Japanese economy ... we do have GDP coming out tonight. It was 9.6, they're expecting 9.5." Which oddly enough went uncorrected, and would certainly be news to Japan bears such as Kyle Bass.

BHP has trouble getting the sweet spot of these M&A prices

Dan Dicker said the Kinder-El Paso nat gas deal is "very, very, very big" and is a play to go "right through the Marcellus." But, he admitted "the premium kind of knocked me for a bit of a loop," though it wasn't like BHP and HK, which "obviously was a bit too much."

Dicker said "El Paso's definitely a one-off" but suggested, somewhat halfheartedly, similar plays in Williams (WMB), which he said Marathon might want, Enterprise, and El Paso Partners (EPB).

Dicker called Richard Kinder "the godfather of natural gas transport."

Judge Wapner referred to Dicker as "Dan Dickers."

Steve Grasso suggested NOG and KOG in the space.

Pete doesn’t exactly offer the most enthusiastic bank recommendation

Among the other oddities on Monday's Halftime was Judge Wapner expressing disbelief that 1 bank (C) could actually trade up on earnings while another (JPM) could trade down. (Tip: That's why they call it a market.)

Stephen Weiss correctly noted it has something to do with "expectations."

Pete Najarian said to buy banks only if you're not planning to read about them in the paper or watch CNBC for 6-9 months. Patty Edwards quipped, "Don't you think it needs to be more like 6-9 years than 6-9 months?"

Steve Grasso said Goldman Sachs is not interesting because it remains the "poster child for political theater." Grasso also made a rare Fast Money reference to Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying, "They haven't even found Wall Street, how are they supposed to find jobs."

Icahn: RIMM ‘not on our radar screen’

Carl Icahn dialed in to the inaugural hourlong Halftime Report Monday and said of the big El Paso deal, "We like the deal," calling it a "win-win for both of 'em."

"The values in these pipelines aren't just natural gas," Icahn said. He shrugged off regulatory concerns. "I think it goes through," he said, pointing out "I was reading the Wall Street Journal today" and that Kinder will make it happen.

Icahn mumbled a lot while saying virtually nothing about his Navistar position, explaining the thesis is that truck fleets are getting old. Eventually, he said, "I really can't talk about, uh, any of this publicly," while a smirking Judge Wapner tried to coax more.

Icahn did say that RIMM is "certainly not on our radar screen."

Pete Najarian sort of indirectly criticized Judge's line of questioning for Icahn, saying Pete wonders if Icahn sees more M&A in the energy space or even biotech. Steve Grasso cautioned that MLPs are still subject to government review of tax treatment.

Trying the EUO again

Money in Motion trader Amelia Bourdeau said on Monday's Halftime, "I wouldn't be long euro here," but her trade is long Canadian dollar vs. the British pound.

Stephen Weiss and Pete Najarian both spoke of being long EUO, the double-short euro (and hasn't that been a wonderful trade for the last 2 weeks). Weiss said all the bailout/stimulus measures will take a toll, "it's gonna drive the euro down to par."

The Mill needs work

Despite jetting all the way out to the Big Apple, getting a load of the Occupy Wall Street crowd and a sharp new 'do, Patty Edwards was somehow limited on the new hourlong Halftime Fast Money to about the same amount of time she got on the half-hour Fast Money in Seattle.

Edwards called the market "a balloon that got a little bit overinflated" and that a selloff is a "healthy thing."

Steve Grasso said the key level is 1,204; "if we break here, it could get sloppier."

Mike Khouw said on Monday's Halftime he sees a "lot of call activity in Nordstroms (sic)," as well as USU.

Judge Wapner also referred to "Nordstroms (sic)."

Edwards said if you believe in high-end retail's strength and want to avoid foreign exposure, consider JWN, "purely a U.S. play."

Judge Wapner introduced "The Mill," a curious session right near the end of the program on various rumors, which basically just featured Jon Najarian saying of a suggested AAPL-NFLX purchase, "I don't buy this at all," and Steve Grasso offering a run-of-the-mill comment on AMR, "Unfunded liabilities is a trader's worst enemy ... I'd still stay away."

Things worth mulling ... Does CNBC need a vibrant NYSE trading floor more than anyone else?

Last week this page posted some thoughts on CNBC's programming changes that include the end of The Call and The Strategy Session, the latter being chronicled on this page since inception.

The Strategy Session emerged in June 2010 in what was an interesting experiment for CNBC — cramming 3 programs into a 2-hour window.

At the time, we figured something ultimately would have to give; it's just a lot of hosts/anchors (6), a lot of producers, and several sets for 2 hours of daytime programming.

People who have dealt with business media are well aware of one giant problem: Finance is not a visual medium.

You'll have a stock market rally, and the newspaper will show a picture of a trader or specialist clamoring to make a trade ... or you'll have a debacle, and you'll get the pictures of traders covering their eyes. (Regardless of whether their particular expression at the moment actually was based on what was happening in stocks.)

The ticker is important, but it only goes so far.

Making business programming interesting for hours on end with people sitting at a desk is not easy. One factor probably working against The Strategy Session was that it was not very visual. 2 people standing, then sitting, at a table, sometimes joined by a 3rd person, in the studio, not on a trading floor. That probably explains the unusual decor of background screens and oddly shaped table that Steve Liesman liked to poke fun at. There were interviews by video, but also by phone. Probably the most uninteresting moments on any CNBC program are the guest caller, speaking while the show host stares and nods into the camera next to a mugshot of the caller.

The latest moves by CNBC suggest the NYSE floor remains, sort of, king.

So now, where do we go from here ... Fast Money gets 2 hours a day. Can the Halftime version work for an hour with Scott Wapner and one panelist in a studio? Or does Halftime also have to relocate to the Nasdaq Marketsite, which would figure to preclude regular participation from some of the show's stalwarts and where, uh, to be honest, there aren't exactly a lot of hustling and bustling traders on the "floor" but presumably a computer server or 2. (But if nothing else it provides a Times Square cut-in from every commercial break, a slightly more interesting scene than Sylvan Avenue in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.)

Will there be more niches? Fidelity is the prime sponsor of the Halftime Report. Forex.com sponsors Money in Motion, ProShares sponsors Volatility Playbook, and thinkorswim (that's TD Ameritrade) sponsors Options Action.

TV shows are complicated and get expanded or canceled for many reasons. This site if you haven't noticed tends to be pretty simple. We'll continue to take a crack at Fast Money, 2 hours or more. We're grateful to have a steadily growing audience and appreciate the good-natured panelists who put on the show and even occasionally perhaps play along. We're here because you are. Like stocks, watch CNBC. Telling it like it is. Fighting for every click we get. And hopefully delivering some shout-outs to the print media world, which is fighting for every subscription it gets. Best wishes to Scott Wapner and the expanded Halftime crew and congrats to those receiving new regular assignments. Looking forward to it.

[Friday, October 14, 2011]

Steve Grasso nails short-term call, but now longer-term call put to test

Steve Grasso said on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report that 1,221 is the key level for S&P upside, and for downside, "look at 1,208, 1,204."

Grasso said breaching either would be "good for 50 handles in the S&P one way or another."

Interestingly, Grasso correctly Called the Close, saying we go higher despite being at the top of the range, which proved precisely correct.

We'll presumably learn next week if that extra 50 handles is also in the cards.

Maybe it’s time for Stephen Weiss’ short-euro trade to work

Greg Troccoli, who hasn't been a Fast Money face for a long time but does surface on other CNBC shows, said the euro is in a 1.35-1.40 range, and it's getting toppy.

He wants to sell euro with a stop of 1.4005, and then take profits around 1.3510. "I am definitely fading this move," Troccoli said. "I think the market definitely got ahead of itself."

Even Brian Kelly, who just Wednesday suggested the euro could hit 1.50 (see below), is on board. "As of this morning I am short the euro," Kelly said. "It's a complete disaster, so I think you'll see a flight from the eurozone," as the camera caught Patty Edwards distracted by something else.

Suddenly we’ve gone
from 2008 to 2007 ...

Youssef Squali put on one of the best analyst shows on Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, starting with his Street-topping $850 price target on GOOG.

"It's all about mobile now," Squali said.

Squali said if Yahoo actually hires a CEO, expect investment pain for 18 months while the company finds itself. He maintains a buy on the stock, because "we think a deal is gonna happen" in 3 to 6 months ... I would not see the appointment of a CEO as a positive," he said.

Pete Najarian said he likes YHOO stock, where "I think your downside's very limited," but not the options. (This writer is long YHOO.)

Squali said of NFLX, "These guys are not out of the woods yet. Steve Grasso said "it's a dangerous name," and he'd hate to be caught with his "pants down."

Squali said "I would be buying" AMZN at its current level. Patty Edwards revealed, "We do own some Amazon; we're gonna be owning a little bit more of it." Pete Najarian insisted "Amazon just does not go down."

... or maybe 1999

Patty Edwards said on Friday's Halftime she's got some Qualcomm and Oracle and that QCOM has a "lot more to go" as Apple (once again) drives Christmas sales.

Another name that surfaced was TriQuint Semiconductor.

"On the TriQuint, um, you know, I have to disclose that my kids each own about 4 shares of the stock that they've had since uh, I think it traded about 56 bucks. It's been a long time coming for them to have a nice winner like this," Edwards said.

Unlike Edwards, Steve Grasso claimed "I'm not smart enough to do 2nd-derivative plays Judge, you should know that by now," and that's why he sticks with AAPL.

Pete Najarian though is not opposed to a 2nd derivative, suggesting Cirrus Logic.

Edwards: $112 GMCR realistic

Patty Edwards said the $112 GMCR price target from Longbow is probably accurate, and "long term I think it's a phenomenal growth story."

Pete Najarian sees bullish activity in Weatherford. Edwards said she likes the name and recommends also looking at Southwestern and Range Resources.

Steve Grasso isn't big on Navistar; "I'm a little wary of going in where Icahn is." Patty Edwards said of MAT, "I'm long," and "I would not be betting against it."

So was it a hard landing,
or wasn’t it?

Tim Seymour said on Friday's Halftime Report, as he said later on Trading the Globe, that in China, "You are seeing policy ease up."

Seymour said talk of sluggishness is wrong, and that according to people he's spoken with, there is "not only no falloff but in fact they're, they're filling up iron ore and coking coal both as fast as they can get 'em over there. ... I don't see any slowdown."

Judge Wapner asked if the performance of China stocks is not an indicator. Seymour insisted "China stocks move on policy" as opposed to fundamentals.

Halftime Report expands
to 1 hour on Monday

Judge Wapner said on Friday's Halftime that not only were Pete and Jon Najarian on the set, but so were 2 other Najarians. "Quadruple ponytails. In. The. House," Judge said.

Jon said he and Pete are going to the Columbia game rather than choosing a Cal game this year.

Judge Wapner briefly hailed the expanded Fast Money Halftime Report coming Monday, saying "We're gonna bring actionable trades," which is a good plan, as well as more insight.

Patty Edwards last Friday said she was going into the weekend "flat as the pizza" she was having for dinner. Unfortunately, the stock market was hardly stuffed, rallying like few weeks we've ever seen. Edwards' recommendation this time was that we're at the top of the range and so best to not worry about the markets but just go watch football.

Is there a difference between a solution and a quote-unquote solution?

Barbara Matthews unfortunately didn't quite grasp the sense of history of being the star guest of the last episode of The Strategy Session on Friday.

The best question for Matthews, asked by Gary Kaminsky, pointed out that Europe warnings have been a Strategy Session constant for 18 months, and so what will Europe look like 18 months from now.

"I'm not sure a quote-unquote ultimate solution is really where we're headed," Matthews said, crackling the airwaves with, "18 months from now we are stil going to be looking at volatility."

Kaminsky came back with a sharper follow-up, will all the big banks in Europe still be around in 18 months. "I think so, yes," Matthews said.

Matthews then thanked David Faber for asking about the IMF role, saying "It's a rather tricky thing" between the amount of money and "mechanisms" for the system. Matthews said Reuters reported Friday that someone going into the G-20 meeting said $350 billion was on the table, and that Geithner said on CNBC that the IMF resources total $500 billion, which is "some fairly serious money," so take your pick.

Poor Matthews, who didn't seem very comfortable giving longer answers, initially told Faber that some package is going to happen, but "will it be enough, I think that's a much better question."

But by the end, she said, "The money isn't the answer necessarily, the question is how are they going to deploy it."

Matthews said the "mood music" indicates Europe is in "solution mode."

If you’re eager to read about transformational M&A, your time is coming

M&A expert Mark Shafir said on Friday's Strategy Session, "It's still about confidence," but not quite like late 2008 and 2009 when people saw an "unbelievable buying opportunity."

Shafir, though, said there are indeed people aggressively looking at deals like the UTX-Goodrich one. "I think you'll see more transactions like that," he said.

Gary Kaminsky asked Shafir if there isn't historical research indicating that doing deals at uncertain times like this ultimately really pays off. Shafir said his financial strategies group in fact is "putting out a report on transformational M&A in the next few weeks."

The Strategy Session
signs off swinging

Judge Scott Wapner shockingly made an amateur faux pas on Friday's Strategy Session, going to the well a 2nd time with a Karl Lagerfeld zinger for Gary Kaminsky's glasses that Wapner already used on Squawk Box.

David Faber said as "crazy" as Kaminsky's glasses are, he's OK with them. Kaminsky said he went tie-less as a nod to Faber.

Faber, as it turned out, offered maybe his most thoughtful commentary on The Strategy Session Friday when he explained that, as he entered the business, Michael Milken was the "premier financier" on Wall Street and probably the highest-paid person.

Faber pointed out that Milken developed the junk-bond market that entrepreneuers such as Steve Wynn, Ted Turner, Craig McCaw and John Malone have used to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Faber drew a contrast with today's richest guy, perhaps John Paulson, who got rich merely by betting against people paying their mortgages.

Gary Kaminsky said that when he started at JRO, it used to be, "you eat your own cooking," and in recent years it's become "so much of this OPM — other people's money." When you win, you keep the profits; when you lose, you don't eat any of the cooking.

Faber closed by noting it's the last episode of The Strategy Session, and that he and Kaminsky will be delivering Strategy-like reports on Squawk on the Street next week in "newly expanded morning roles."

Kaminsky joked that when they first knew each other, they figured they'd ultimately go into the hedge fund business together. Faber said that might be tough given how hard the show is on fees, but Kaminsky suggested, "Maybe we'll go in and reinvent the model."

Gary Kaminsky graciously said "our thanks to all of you that helped us bring the content." David Faber graciously thanked the show's guests, and viewers.

This page will hopefully be doing its own "What have we learned today" regarding the end of The Strategy Session and the upcoming revamped Squawk on the Street and Fast Money over the weekend.

[Thursday, October 13, 2011]

Beware your own ecosystem

Karen Finerman on Thursday's Fast Money said something about Google's quarter that we typically say about Karen herself; "impressive all the way around."

Gene Munster, who quite frankly has been dynamite on AAPL for about the entire run of Fast Money, said the details in Google's report indicate he'll be moving his price target up, but that there is a downside to the results, that in the shift to mobile, price per click declined.

Joe Terranova refreshingly admitted he's tried trading GOOG several times but he's done it "horribly ... to the point where I've stopped trading it."

Guy Adami uttered one of our favorite cliches (there are a few actually worth repeating), saying Google for a while now has occasionally spiked in these quarters and fallen back, so "We've sort of seen this movie before."

But, he allowed, "The tape was very impressive today."

Stephen Weiss cautioned against drawing conclusions for the general advertising market and names like CBS and DIS from Google's results. Much later, on Friday morning's Squawk Box, Joe Kernen pointed to Google once being around $700 as an analogy to AAPL with the law of large numbers. Gary Kaminsky noted that they used to say not only Google, but even Exodus, had its own "ecosystem."


Dan Dicker:
Emperor of the north

It's impossible not to like Dan Dicker. Enthusiastic, borderline fiery, quick with a soundbite, opinionated, remarkably candid about the bum steers.

(And so, Dicker becomes the latest Fast Money star to join our Hollywood resemblance series.) (They're not perfect matches; we do what we can.)

Thursday on Fast Money, Dicker pointed to what he said are a couple under-the-radar stories on China copper, that letters of credit for inventories have been removed, and that $3 a pound is really the bottom, a point where "Chinese will buy until it hurts."

Amid all that, he doesn't like copper or the miners. "I feel more comfortable being short all of these, at least the metal itself, and having a neutral position towards the miners," Dicker said.

Stephen Weiss practically scoffed at the letters of credit story, saying it may have just been reported in September but started 6 months ago. The bigger China issue, Weiss said, is "it's a property bubble. It is bursting."

Dicker talked about some index rebalancing from WTI to Brent, and as a result, "You're gonna see that, that Brent-TI spread actually go out more from here."

Benioff also referred to JPM and BAC as ‘great’ banks

Marc Benioff proved to be quick with the 1-liner and glib on television, but unfortunately the Salesforce.com chief wasn't breaking anything remotely controversial on Thursday's Fast Money.

He crowed about Oracle, "Last week we uh really stole the show at their show," but insisted his rivalry with Larry Ellison is professional and like tennis.

Guy Adami had the audacity to ask Benioff if he gets worred when the stock falls from $160 to $100 in a month. Benioff insisted, "It doesn't worry me because, you know, all I focus on is the customer success."

Yeah. Right.

Karen Finerman made fun of the CRM P.E. ratio.

JPM, quiet down

Brian Foran offered this sorry assessment of the state of the U.S. banking industry on Thursday's Fast Money.

"I think even the idea of passing along the FDIC fees to the underlying customers, and effectively charging a negative rate of 15 basis points is on the table at this point or will be over the next year," Foran said.

He said the problems hitting the big banks now are coming for the regionals, but for them it will be a "2013 issue."

Foran said the problem with JPM is "the uncertainty about when the banks are ever gonna grow again," which people really didn't need 5% less to figure out, did they?

Karen Finerman said to her, the problem was, "The quarter was actually quite noisy; when you backed out the noise I sort of thought it was a tiny bit of a miss."

Stephen Weiss said he bought JPM around the lows Thursday because it just felt too cheap. Guy Adami shrugged that people can try playing for a pop like that, but there's not much hope in sight for banks.

Joe Terranova revealed, "I have been playing Wells Fargo from the long side," and will hold it into earnings. Karen Finerman said one takeaway from the JPM report is that it doesn't seem like a good quarter for MS and GS.

Awfully big range there
for doing nothing

And to think of all the things we do around here (generally in vain) to attract positive attention from women, Jon Najarian said on Thursday's Fast Money all you need is a French accent to be an "animal with the ladies."

The guest happened to be VIX watcher Philippe Trouve, who said that just over 30, things appear to be getting better, but uncertainty remains. His VIX strategy is as follow:

Above 32 — Sell Options
Between 16-32 — Do Nothing
Below 16 — Buy Options

We don’t think we heard Guy Adami say AMD exists to keep INTC from an antitrust case, but we might’ve missed it

Guest Dan Derenbaum on Thursday's Fast Money spoke of AMD the same way Jonathan Schildkraut spoke about Sprint on Tuesday (i.e., not with a French accent, but with so much information we quickly had no clue what he was talking about).

Basically, Derenbaum just said AMD is "getting squeezed on both ends."

Guy Adami said, "I still like Akamai here." Stephen Weiss said NIHD is "worth buying right here."

Brian Stutland recommended selling the December 85 put in V for $2.75.

Karen Finerman jokingly mocked Carl Icahn's interest in Navistar, pointing to Clorox and trying to make up her mind whether "I'm scor- I'm spurned." Joe Terranova asked how Icahn could do that to a girl who loves turcks. Finerman stressed, "A Jewish girl that loves trucks."

Thankfully Judge kept the recitation of Seattle-based public companies to a minimum this time

Judge Wapner seemed heck-bent on starting some arguments on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, and a favorite target happened to be Patty Edwards.

Judge sort of played contrarian with RIMM, claiming the massive publicity about its outages is proof it makes devices people can't live without.

Edwards shrugged and said most of the carping is probably coming from Android and Apple users who are actually online, and if you own a BlackBerry, "You're probably not communicating very much right now."

Guy Adami said he expects the stock to "drag along this 23 level."

Steve Cortes ready to short basically any European bank

David Trone told Judge Scott Wapner on Thursday's Halftime Report that "it wasn't a disaster" for JPM, but the 4th quarter outlook raised eyebrows. "People are a little spooked about that," Trone said, message being, "We're not out of this for a while yet."

Guy Adami told Judge no way on buying banks on weakness; they've had "more false starts than they had in the Monday Night Football game."

Steve Cortes said he's short Deutsche Bank and thinks shorting European banks is the way to go because the Merkozy bump from last week is more likely a high point than a springboard to a breakout on a recapitalization plan, and he's also looking at "UBS, RBS, any of them."

Who are these ‘others’?

After making a pro-RIMM argument, Judge Wapner turned his focus to Chuck Grom and his sell opinion on WMT, insisting Grom "defend that call."

Grom said it's still lagging rivals' comps, but with 2 headwinds: "Not opening smaller stores quick enough," and Web activity that pales to AMZN. Grom has a $48 target.

Patty Edwards said she'd basically agree, that international isn't so hot for them and neither is domestic. "I just don't see that Wal-Mart's doing the right things at this point in time and I think that they'll have a business but it's not gonna be a growth business," Edwards asserted.

"Wow, I mean, there are others who say clearly that they've turned a corner," Wapner countered.

Steve Cortes said that coincidentally enough, he's short Grom's bank and playing the opposite of Grom's call, going long WMT.

Patty: WLT rumors actually seem like they’re true

Steve Grasso said on Thursday's Halftime that closes above 1,228 would mark a crossover in sentiment from bear to bull.

But he also recommended that with "China sort of a wild card," to "take your profits now."

Jon Najarian said "I like Cree right here, and Intel." Guy Adami said if CSCO gets above $17.50 or $17.75, it would reverse a very long trend, but he still thinks the broader market is ultimately headed lower.

Steve Cortes isn't willing to step in front of the tech freight train and short it, but "international risks keep me bearish." Cortes said, "I shorted the Australian dollar," as sort of a China copper play.

Patty Edwards described her risk-on situation "fairly minimal; we are sitting fairly well hedged," but she's got a couple names including QCOM and ORCL. For Call the Close, Edwards suggested WLT: "Watch Walter, it looks like the rumors this time are backed up by action," Edwards said.

Steve Cortes said "I bought SVU," while Guy Adami reiterated that YHOO is interesting.

In hindsight, Jordan Rohan
might want a redo

Analyst Jordan Rohan told Scott Judge Wapner on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that "sentiment has shifted big-time on Google" and so it's not undervalued going into earnings.

Judge Wapner, like we said trying to provoke a testy debate on seemingly every question, scoffed at the idea of people caring how Larry Page does on the call and insisting that was last quarter. Rohan disagreed, saying investors "absolutely 100%" are interested in how Page does.

Rohan added, "Some parts of the advertising ecosystem have already started to roll over."

The right call, it turned out, was taking the opposite side of Rohan's trade, but Steve Grasso ("I'd rather be a seller here") and Jon Najarian ("I'm with Grasso on this one") both echoed the fumble.

Jeff Gundlach doesn’t want to own S&P over 1,200

Bond king Jeff Gundlach, who might get this page's vote as the best guest in the history of The Strategy Session, made something of an equity call on Thursday.

"I just don't think that the S&P above 1,200 is something that I would want to own," Gundlach said, saying he shorted high-end retailers a day earlier.

He also described Treasurys as so low they're not really an investment anymore, but articulated that "they make sense as a hedge" for countering the volatility in high-yield and non-government-backed issuances.

Mortgage credit: The quiet loss

Jeff Gundlach not only had the market calls going Thursday, but also the humor, especially when it came to his newfound beard that Strategy Session host David Faber noticed.

"I wanna be Burl Ives I think for Halloween; Jim Cramer maybe," Gundlach cracked.

He noted a couple times that bear market rallies look better than the real thing, and that just about everything has rallied in the last week, except mortgage credit, which he said has "been kind of a quiet crash." He said, "I think there is value" in MBS, but "secretly, people are losing money in mortgage credit."

He also served up some inside baseball, saying, "The Primex Index has been persistently overvalued," but that it's one area people can go with leverage, resulting in a curious inefficiency; "leveraging an overvalued asset seems like a uniquely bad idea."

Gundlach said housing trends aren't particularly good and are "pretty much locked in a stable mode." And, "There's too much home ownership in the United States anyway."

Kaminsky: Others should’ve gotten Rajaratnam-like punishment

David Faber had to momentarily interrupt Jeff Gundlach on Thursday's Strategy Session to show fresh video of Raj Rajaratnam leaving court and getting into an SUV.

Evidently, some viewers didn't like that, and e-mailed the show to express their feelings.

Faber noted that Gary Kaminsky was checking the inbox and there was viewer mail, "some of them objecting to our taking that video."

It wasn't really clear if Faber said "our take on that video," which could mean their comments about it, or "our taking that video." But there was nothing polarizing about their earlier comments, so it had to be the latter.

After a brief discussion about the sentence, Gary Kaminsky added this: "I wish that a lot of people that I know, sat there during the mortgage crisis, knew that they were mismarking assets, knew that they were essentially helping destroy companies. They're just walking free, playing golf, walking around the beach. Uh, there's a lot more people that should've been in the same position as, uh, Raj was today."

Some see clearly,
others not so much

David Faber on Thursday's Strategy Session came up with a new one in regard to JPMorgan, saying the quarter raises issues about its "earnings capacity generation."

Among the things Gary Kaminsky has heard is that people are upset that the Fed-allowed buyback of JPM shares is basically exhausted.

Guest Miles Nadal, who reported a "Great segment today with David Faber and Gary Kaminsky!" on his Twitter account afterwards, expressed stock market optimism, saying even if there's a 20% haircut in earnings, the market is "still only trading at 15 times," and that most people predict 1,250 or 1,300 S&P for year-end.

Yet, unfortunately, Nadal used the catchall of "uncertainty" to describe how Europe is a headwind on stocks. That didn't stop him from moments later citing Coach, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany as examples that in high-end, "you are seeing good visibility."

Not surprisingly, as someone involved with social media advertising Nadal said, "I like Google ... I still think they have an extraordinary franchise and it will only get stronger."

[Wednesday, October 12, 2011]


Whew! Turns out Abigail Doolittle is familiar with the concept of an outside reversal

Abigail Doolittle, in what we think is a maiden Fast Money voyage, provided the chart analysis Wednesday and said, "We're really very much looking at a sideways trade here more than anything else," and hopefully that doesn't mean buy pinot noir in reference to that tediously obnoxious Paul Giamatti film.

Doolittle said it's more likely there will be "another swipe down" rather than a breakout up from here, but then, in one of those comments that doesn't really say anything about anything, suggested that 1,075 may actually be the bottom of some kind of inverse head and shoulders but if so the big gains won't happen for a while.

The trouble for Doolittle came when Joe Terranova asked if October can be an outside reversal month." Doolittle first said she didn't hear the question, so Terranova repeated.

"Uh ... I'm sorry, I- I-" said Doolittle, trying to convey on live TV that she didn't really understand, but after a lengthy explanation by Terranova, suddenly started nodding and offered, "I would be very surprised if that occurred," saying it's more likely in November.

(See, we're big believers in preparation around here, and if you're going to be on Fast Money, you might as well read this site to make sure you know what these people are talking about.)

Speaking of Hollywood-actor implications from Doolittle, who had no ring on left hand, has anyone seen Daryl Hannah at Occupy Wall Street?

The euro: On the cusp of Mariano circa 2008

Probably the most startling call of the day on Wednesday's Fast Money seemed like an afterthought near the end when Brian Kelly said he wouldn't be surprised to see the euro hit 1.50.

Joe Terranova, pointing to the 10-year, insisted, "Money's coming out of utilities. I think this is a market right now you wanna play from the long side."

Pete Najarian though quibbled with that and thundered, "It's time to take some off" given the 150-point-or-so gain in the S&P in about a week.

Meredith pinning her hopes on this one is like Dick Fuld pinning his hopes on Barclays

Alexandra Lebenthal on Wednesday's Fast Money hemmed and hawed herself halfway to Poughkeepsie on the subject of whether Harrisburg general obligation bondholders (and you know you're out there) are going to take a beating from the town incinerator.

"Right now, you should not be concerned about getting paid," Lebenthal said, in long, drawn-out voice, stressing it's a fluid situation.

It's early, basically. "This is inning 1, and a half," Lebenthal said.

Melissa Lee asked Mark Mahaney about social shopping on eBay, and quite frankly who wouldn't want to take Melissa shopping (the real way, not online way) particularly when she had the hair going that she had on Wednesday?

Mahaney said it's a nice idea but "don't buy eBay for Facebook."

It’s not often the world gets a 10-month-old copper scoop

Dennis Gartman on Wednesday's Fast Money was trying to trade ahead of an apparent Financial Times scoop, saying the word is that China at the end of 2010 had 1.9 million metric tons of copper, not the previously believed 1.25 million. But "this is at the end of 2010, not now," Gartman stressed; however, an increase in copper inventory would introduce "a new concept into the market."

Karen Finerman drew an unusually hearty round of laughs with deadpan humor on AA. "You know, Alcoa, I just never expect much from them, and they delivered once again."

Finerman responded to a Twitterer not the way C. Gasparino typically does but by reasserting "I am bullish" on drybulk rates and that she owns a couple of the Navios stocks or something like that. However, "Dryships is not one that I would own."

Thank goodness she refrains from CNBCfix stories. We’d never hear the end of it.

Melissa Lee explained on Wednesday's Fast Money her strategy for handling Internet material.

"I usually try to refrain from actually reading, uh, Business Insider stories on the air," Lee said.

But she had to make an exception this time because the Business Insider Google-Akamai rumor churn did move markets, so she allowed herself and viewers a couple of lines.

Jon Fortt declared, "For Google, this makes next to no sense." Mark Mahaney would add, "That rumor though has been around for several years," and "I'm skeptical of the deal" happening.

Pick up some MSFT too

There's nothing Fast Money needs more than another person calling JPMorgan best in breed and a great buying opportunity, and that's exactly what viewers got Wednesday in the form of Gerard Cassidy.

"This is a cyclical downturn, not a secular downturn. This could be a good buying opportunity if it trades off tomorrow," Cassidy said.

Somehow, a couple traders sounded like they were calling Cassidy "Jerod" as opposed to "Gerard."

Karen Finerman was tickled pink over the CNBC graphic showing her fondness for Jamie Dimon. "Make me a CD of that," Finerman said.

Quickly becoming one of the most boring companies in the world, but admittedly, there’s fast money to be made in the stock

RIMM watcher Mark McKechnie called the RIMM outage sort of a 6- to 12-month thing similar to "Halley's Comet" — and not really a material financial issue but just a case of "bad timing" given the problems the company has.

Melissa Lee got a healthy chuckle out of the Halley's Comet stretch.

McKechnie made sure no one got the wrong idea; "I'm defnitely not pushing the stock right now."

Brian Kelly said there is a "100%" chance he will consider switching from RIMM whenever his next billing contract comes up. Joe Terranova revealed, "I use iPhones only."

What exactly is the
warm smell of colitas?

David Hilder posited on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley might just try to get out of the "banking" business, given that the Volcker Rule "would impose a significant additional compliance burden" on any bank trying to be a market maker.

But Hilder allowed that there's a "Hotel California" provision somewhere in the gobs of banking regulation we've got that says Goldman Sachs can't completely remove itself from being under Fed oversight.

Stephen Weiss said he doesn't see the "climate being right" for Goldman Sachs to make such a decision. Josh Brown flat-out said of GS and MS, "neither one of them can be owned with a straight face."

Steve Cortes said he agreed with Weiss but still thinks if one has to own banks, GS and MS are better options than all the others tied to housing, and "I think it would absolutely be a catalyst if Goldman could get away with this."

Hilder said of MS and GS, the regulatory provisions are more relevant to GS.

Relax: The greatest business of 2011, the dollar stores, are safe

Few stocks (think MSFT) are more uninteresting to talk about than WMT, but that was precisely the topic for part of Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report.

Patrick McKeever said Wal-Mart has bounced thanks to categories such as tires and fishing while it's tried to "attack some of the weaker areas" of its merchandising. He said the dollar stores haven't been losers in this, which Judge Wapner noted is probably because they don't sell tires and hunting gear.

Steve Cortes said "I wanna defend Wal-Mart here," largely for the impact on importers by the dollar, which, um, hasn't exactly been on fire in October.

Stephen Weiss skeptically asked McKeever if WMT isn't just correcting recent marketing mistakes and grabbing low-hanging fruit. McKeever insisted they get credit for "better management" but conceded there is some low-hanging fruit here.

Probably would’ve made more money shorting something besides AAPL, but whatever floats his boat

Colin Gillis took a page out of CNBC of the early '90s, doing a buy-sell rundown on Wednesday's Fast Money Halftime Report like Sue Herera and Ted David used to specialize in (though they called it "Buy Sell or Hold," and quite frankly if you weren't buying and/or holding throughout the '90s, you were generally on the wrong side).

Gillis was most enthusiastic about GOOG, saying he's not gonna love it forever but did boost his price target slightly and likes it here. Josh Brown agreed, calling it "probably the best of the large cap Internet stocks," but also said he doesn't like to buy it before earnings.

Gillis reiterated on RIMM, "we still have a sell on this," prompting JJ Kinahan to add, "I couldn't agree more on this one." Stephen Weiss said "I own RIMM," for the reasons that everyone like Gillis and Kinahan hates it.

Gillis said his firm is "still buyers of Apple" but he gets cautious over $400. Steve Cortes bragged of making 10% in just over a week shorting it recently, then insisted that for AAPL and the whole market, "I think the optimism is getting to be very obsessive."

We too wonder how Europe went from near depression to not a problem in about 8 days (see John Brynjolfsson below). But whatever's going on, if one has been net bearish on Europe in general or U.S. stocks (this writer is net bearish), this week is El Sucko.

Kinahan: MOS to $60

Dennis Gartman said on Wednesday's Halftime Report that "we shouldn't have had the rally that we had yesterday" in corn and wheat, which explains the selling on Wednesday.

JJ Kinahan said there's more to go in MOS; "I think you can play it all the way up to 60," yet another bullish call on the Fast Money ag trade.

Steve Cortes actually mentioned WMT in Call the Close. Josh Brown, JJ Kinahan and Stephen Weiss all agreed with each other that the market will test 1,220.

Judge Wapner picked coffee,
Phil LeBeau picked Boeing,
but nobody picked unemployment

Strategy Session guest David Shulman on Wednesday challenged CNBC's long-form and/or business news programming divisions.

"Where's your special on unemployment? Haven't seen it," Shulman told Gary Kaminsky and David Faber.

Shulman said he went to the Occupy Wall Street protests because "I just wanted to get a sense of what was going on," given that we're in the "4th year of an unemployment crisis, and nobody really cares about it."

Shulman, like protesters, harped on the old student loan refrain, but also claimed we've got a "school system that doesn't deliver what it's supposed to."

He said, "I don't know what the social purpose of credit default swap is."

Guest Wendy Schmidt called her oil cleanup challenge an "exceptionally good use of money" and said the winning crew succeeded at clearing 4,720 gallons per minute, well ahead of the industry norm of 1,100 gallons per minute.

Comforting words for bears,
as S&P jumps about 20 points every day

While the stock market scoops up shares at a torrid pace this week, Strategy Session guest John Brynjolfsson on Wednesday was not convinced.

"I'm very skeptical of this risk-on move," said Brynjolfsson, saying we've "got a lot of wood to chop ahead of us."

He said Slovakia is "symptomatic of the kind of schizophrenia that's going on in Europe," but there's "challenge after challenge after challenge," and that the Fed has little "dry gunpowder" to help the "tightrope" U.S economy that is vulnerable to the "slightest tip to the downside."

Gary Kaminsky pointed out an intriguing New York Times article saying that while analysts have raised holiday shopping expectations, the Port of Long Beach isn't seeing peak shipments that would justify that. Guest host Brian Sullivan said he's got a buddy who's a broker for Landstar and deals in trucking and who claims to have gobs of business. Gary Kaminsky wondered if that's because the buddy has capacity after the 2008 crisis that other truckers have lost.

[Tuesday, October 11, 2011]

Right on, Tim Seymour

Tim Seymour said something on Tuesday's Fast Money we couldn't possibly agree with more: "The nice thing about Fast Money over the last few days is we have not beat the Alcoa, uh, earnings preview silly."

Only problem was, while they weren't talking AA to death, they weren't talking very much about anything else useful either in the first 2 shows of this week.

So, we'll pin Tuesday's headline on Jeff Kilburg, who predicted 1.67% on the 10-year is "still in the crosshairs."

Kilburg said every time the 10-year yield has jumped this year, it's been a buying opportunity, and Merkozy hopes aside, "I don't see anything that's changed, specifically in Europe."

Guy Adami, showing insider knowledge of college football, asked Kilburg if Notre Dame would be 9-2 entering the Stanford game. The truth is that Notre Dame in Kilburg's own Holtz era played the nation's toughest schedule and now plays a mid-major-caliber schedule, SEC teams nowhere to be found, and so what's the point of 9-2?

So we still need to look up what stocks did in ’75, and see if we can find any parallels to 2005

Speaking of football, quite frankly, we often just can't get enough.

So the reason we've enjoyed Jeff Saut's recent appearances on Fast Money is that we're close to rounding out the Steelers' Super Bowl sextet.

You hear about 2008 ad nauseam on CNBC, and occasionally will get 1974 references. Saut is the only person linking today's market to October 1978 and October 1979, a theme he revisited on Tuesday.

Basically the theory is that there was a sharp drop, we're past that or moving sideways, and it'll be smooth sailing.

The accompanying graphic showed that when the S&P falls 14% or more in a quarter, the average gain the next quarter is 5.3%, and Saut suggested, "This thing could surprise a lot of people on the upside."

And of course, the 1978 chart is just as relevant to today's stocks as Dr. "When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman" Hook is to today's Top 40.

Potash, like the New England Patriots of the 2000s, always the favorite

While Tim Seymour noted that Fast Money isn't beating Alcoa to death, it's back to beating the Potash trade to death, with Mark Gulley doing the honors Tuesday.

Gulley explained that for Potash, (only) "3 things drove our call, uh, on Monday; what we call up, over and higher."

Basically that means he thinks the stock overcorrected, that corn that it's based on overcorrected, and that the market's underestimated its aggressive expansion plans for the potash commodity. (However you can get "up," "over" and "higher" out of that, more power to you.)

He could've just said POT is always a buy on Fast Money, and recommending it on the program is like punching a clock.

Joe Terranova asked Gulley which fertilizer name has an M&A premium. Gulley halfheartedly suggested IPI, maybe, but not the big names, "I have some doubts," although Karen Finerman keeps complaining about Apple's cash horde, so maybe that's an idea.

Tim Seymour said for Final Trade that MOS is worth a look. (Pete Najarian said a couple weeks ago he thought you could buy it under $50 $60.)

Guy Adami made some goofy inside-joke reference that even we don't remember to Agco's symobl now AGCO. "Good thing I remembered that; a lot of people would send me hate mail," Adami said, before actually tapping the "world population 2050" argument for an ag trade.

K-Fine suggests Anthony Scaramucci’s recession probability is a sell

Tim Seymour on Tuesday's Fast Money did his darnedest to scoff at whatever kind of politics are going on in Slovakia, while Karen Finerman could only offer, "I hope it's a non-event."

Peter Boockvar claimed, "This is all just political horse-trading."

While Joe Terranova remains the most bullish on the panel this week, Anthony Scaramucci stressed caution, saying that SkyBridge research has lowered its 80% recession chance to 67%, but even if we don't officially have one, it'll feel like recession because incomes aren't rising; "it is a balance-sheet recession."

Karen Finerman asked maybe the best question of the day, whether Scaramucci's recession indicators might include high-yield stats that are distorted by redemptions. Scaramucci said it's possible those numbers are so affected but that it wouldn't change his outlook, then asked Finerman what risk she would give recession. "I wouldn't put it as high as 2 out of 3," Finerman said.

Sprint should basically hire Jonathan Schildkraut and see if he can’t straighten it out

Analyst Jonathan Schildkraut is soooo knowledgeable about Sprint, quite frankly we had little to no clue what he was talking about on Tuesday's Fast Money, other than the company's got a lot of subsidies and costs ahead.

Nevertheless the screen said his price target is $2.75.

Mike Khouw said S options are pricy but appealing to people who see basically a "binary outcome" on the stock within a few months.

Karen Finerman was very nice, but reading between the lines was basically wishing Halftime guest Vic Alboini "good luck" in a way that doesn't convey the expectation of success when she said on the 5 p.m. show she interpreted his call for change as not the equivalent of running an internal slate of candidates but basically making a push from outside; "that's very difficult to do."

Tim Seymour was a bit skeptical of GOOG at $550, calling it a "bit of a value trap."

Looks like Karen’s Final Trade is below that magic $500 million market cap

Joe Terranova CVI might be getting a bit toppy and where he'd like to buy it is around $23.80 or $23.90.

Incredibly, Bank of America went all of Tuesday without a mention after virtually the same thing Monday, but Tim Seymour managed to bring up a company called ICL and Karen Finerman managed to recommed JAKK.

Guy Adami made GIS his Final Trade, while Joe Terranova suggested SJM.

Guy Adami was somehow incredibly fascinated with the Twitter handle of Randyfix2 and praised the name "Randy." Randyfix2 is no relation to CNBCfix.

Investor wants Eric Schmidt
to take over RIMM

Vic Alboini of Jaguar Financial on Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report made a case for changes at RIMM that didn't sound much different than the complaints heard for months.

Alboini said to "appoint an independent chairman," get new CEO leadership and look to alternatives such as possibly splitting into 3 companies. "You cannot have a co-CEO spend 3-4 years chasing a hockey team," Alboini said, adding that in an M&A scenario, "you could see a stock price north of $40."

Pressed by Brian Kelly to name a hoped-for CEO or someone like that, Alboini said he wouldn't complain if Eric Schmidt got the job, and that quite frankly doesn't seem too likely.

Jon Fortt, at the table, said this kind of talk suggests "a long protracted fight that really hurts the company." Judge Scott Wapner seemed hell-bent on tracking RIMM after Alboini's appearance and pointed out shares dipped from +4% to +2.5%, prompting Joe Terranova to conclude maybe it wasn't an Ackman-like performance.

Diane Geissler probably should’ve compared notes with Patty Edwards before going on-air

David Grossman said on Tuesday's Halftime that IBM is a buy because "we think the margin expectations are too low." Steve Cortes called it "the antithesis of RIMM," but it's also partly a currency play and thus the dollar rally is problematic. Patty Edwards, barely afforded a chance to speak on Tuesday's program, said "I would not be jumping in right now" because the company over the last 8 quarters has tended to dip during announcements, even with positive earnings reports.

Steve Cortes was unfazed by the climb in FCX, insisting, "The biggest risk to the global economy is still China," and so he's inclined to go short copper, short FCX or short anything Aussie-related. Cortes in Call the Close said to be careful because "copper is rolling over."

Dan Dicker predicted some "tremendous surprises" in earnings from commodity-related stocks, all to the upside.

Diane Geissler said she likes YUM for its breakfast gains among other reasons and MCD for its resiliency, but ran into a buzzsaw from Patty Edwards after asserting that SBUX is near full valuation because its sales generally track consumer confidence. Edwards claimed there are 2 things Geissler is not factoring in, that there's expected to be a "big announcement on Tuesday" probably involving K-cups, and because of coffee prices, "margins are gonna be going up." But by that point Geissler was off the air and unable to respond.

Brian Kelly said in Call the Close that it's risk-on until Nov. 3. Patty Edwards had a different view, saying, "Can you say top of range? I knew you could."

Asher Edelman: On the
side of the little guy

Asher Edelman, in a remarkable Strategy Session on-location interview Tuesday with Gary Kaminsky at the Occupy HQ (or somewhere nearby), explained why he's on the side of the protesters.

The big banks, he said, operate as "one large hedge fund … that was not the banking system of the 1980s."

"We are on the verge of another banking crisis," Edelman claimed, citing 2 banks as hanging on the precipice. "One little derivatives mistake, they will both go under again," he said, adding that QE basically gave the banks immoral profits, while "they do no good for the economy whatsoever."

As for protesters, "I'm trying very hard to help them get direction," he said. "We're all rooting for them."

David Faber, from Englewood Cliffs, expressed some incredulity that Edelman, cited by "Wall Street" filmmakers (the original, not II) as part of the basis of Gordon Gekko, is so firmly on the side of the little guy and wondered what caused the change. "Part of the Michael Douglas character is based on you," Faber said. Edelman said, correctly we believe, that he was merely the model for Gekko's art and analysis tendencies, that he made money and that's OK, and that he's not proud of everything he's done, but nobody is, and that people have simply been ripped off by the current establishment.

Gary Kaminsky earlier also interviewed a protester named Thorin, who said next week "we start presenting logistical solutions," but had some interesting comments on starting his own organic gardening business with capital, saying he didn't think he would qualify for a bank loan with little savings, but "I did go to family members."

David Faber gets in some of the last Strategy Session digs at hedge fund fees

Calpers exec Joe Dear told David Faber on Tuesday's Strategy Session that he, like Asher Edelman, sort of agrees with the protest crowd. "I think people are waking up that the game appears to be rigged," said Dear.

That included an agreement with Faber that there's a "contradiction" in dealing with pricing models of hedge funds and private equity in a system that purports to rely on efficient pricing, though Dear implied he's not getting screwed on private equity fees.

Faber noted the reserves are now "back to 2006 level," but Dear said compared with then, "we created a significant liquidity reserve" to be far better protected in an environment like this, where it "becomes very challenging in the near term" to meet that 7.75% goal.

Faber also noted that Nouriel Roubini's firm is for sale, has lost money, and that "many of the firm's clients are corporations."

[Monday, October 10, 2011]

Nik Deogun, pull up a chair

It's risk off at CNBC.

The quiet revelation Monday that the network is expanding the Fast Money Halftime Report while dropping 2 business-day programs, The Strategy Session and The Call, apparently isn't explosive enough to grab the attention of mainstream media or even the omnipresent Business Insider.

But for CNBC critics, this is a big deal.

A skeptic might say the network is running dry in the Ideas Department.

Many viewers regard CNBC as one continuous daytime program with some nighttime documentaries and infomercials. Evidently, the brass agrees with that sentiment, opting for more of the ensemble-driven material it already has that features people not at Englewood Cliffs. One undeniable conclusion is that stock-picking and opining is king, given the ever-increasing exposure of Fast Money, the gradual entrenchment of Options Action and Money in Motion, and Nik Deogun's memo specifically noting increased visibility of Gary Kaminsky and Rick Santelli.

We have no doubt — none — that people in the Fast Money realm are wondering about the coexistence of an hourlong noon program with an hourlong 5 p.m. program featuring different hosts and mostly different cast members. Will the 5 p.m. program seem anticlimactic? Will Halftime traders be able to sacrifice double the time of their day? It seems a bit of a reach, but then again, maybe it's no different than the 6 p.m. local news team and the 10 p.m. local news team.

What's curious is that 90 minutes of airtime that included the network's most recent concept is being turned over to time-tested, already well-entrenched, shows.

The Call wasn't very innovative and seemed a half-hearted attempt to get Lawrence Kudlow back into a daytime slot (surrounded by very pretty women) and perhaps reward longtime gamer Melissa Francis with an anchor post. The Strategy Session, however, might've debuted with too much pizzazz, a no-chairs format around a table of geometric shape we can't define, with funky electronic ticker boards resembling a trading pit implying the show was more schizophrenic than it actually was, and billing that included Steve Cortes, who was probably only a regular for a couple months and whose initial appearances often weren't at the table and didn't quite fit in.

Where The Strategy Session succeeded was in drawing a high caliber of Wall Street guest interested in having considerable time (by TV standards) to discuss his or her market outlook without being peppered for soundbites or badgered into a debate. The standing, the table, the background might've fizzled. At least it was an attempt at something different, and it established credibility.

Hosting — we say this with all due respect — might not be David Faber's cup of tea. Famously skeptical of the hedge-fund and dealmaking process, he didn't express the wonderment and reaction at revelations on his own show that one would hope to see and that has elevated Scott Wapner on Fast Money. He clicked with his co-host, Gary Kaminsky, but unfortunately mostly opted against the type of sparring Kaminsky often carries on with Steve Liesman. Faber's questioning — fair, tough, and solid as a rock — is more in "60 Minutes" mold, but his guests are not typical "60 Minutes" characters.

The issue isn't really that a network changed its TV lineup — that happens in television practically weekly or monthly — but that there is little new about CNBC's changes, save for the promotion of Kaminsky and professed elevation of Santelli. No bold new format, no Erin Burnett-esque hire. It feels as defensive as high-dividend-paying stocks.

One wonders, what is CNBC's goal and what is Nik Deogun's goal. Can things really get any better for the network than the past dozen years, with massive bull/bear markets, an epic Wall Street crash, Jim Cramer and Maria Bartiromo becoming household names, all with virtually no competition until very recently (that's assuming you count Gasparino as competition). The bull/bear binges may be behind us for a while. The hustle and bustle of business TV's favorite location, the NYSE, is dwindling. Yet reinventing CNBC is clearly not in the cards. Maintaining its stature is. Deogun is protecting a lead, intending not to fumble. Those willing to wing a few post patterns will take note.

Fast Money credits NYT for Greg Zuckerman’s WSJ article

The most interesting thing John Paulson watcher Greg Zuckerman said on Monday's Fast Money was, "He himself has all his money in gold."

So much for "diversification."

Zuckerman spoke about his wsj.com article that was mostly chock-full of stats, none of them very promising, about Paulson returns for 2011.

But the article didn't really get into the GLD, which was a topic on Fast Money. "It's not really an investment for him, it's to denominate his various gold funds," Zuckerman said, and quite frankly we don't really have a clue how that works.

The big picture is that "people clearly are frustrated," Zuckerman said.

Brian Kelly then proceeded to offer a new definition of Paulson, saying he's known as a "home run hitter, and that's the reason why you're in his fund."

Zuckerman said actually, "He's had low volatility his whole career." Tim Seymour seconded that, saying Paulson is regarded as reliable by institutional investors who don't expect enormous volatility from him; "you don't expect this from this guy."

Gartman: European dickering
is ‘quite silly,’ will take months

Dennis Gartman on Monday's Fast Money shrugged off the momentum provided by the Sarkozy-Merkel statement, saying "This plan for a plan I think is quite silly" and will take 6 months to get approvals for all the treaties that need changing.

Gartman said the move in gold reflected lack of belief in an immediate "solution" to whatever the problem in Europe is.

Sexy currency trader Amelia Bourdeau also said "I think it'll be a bit of a rocky road" for Europe to dig itself out of its hole, but the euro rallied because it's "just been so oversold." Her trade is to short the Aussie dollar vs. U.S.

Josh Brown said emerging markets will be the place to go when it's time to buy again, though it won't feel like it at the time.

David Dunlap of Superior spoke about the CPX deal and said we're in the "very early stages" of U.S. oil development on land. "We are agnostic towards commodity," Dunlap said.

Stephen Weiss suggested for his Final Trade KEG, because Superior might be interested in buying that one, maybe as interested as people were in buying the euro last week and this week.

Brian Kelly: ‘Hope’ will keep market up for 3 weeks

Sentiments on Monday's Fast Money toward the strength of the stock market rally ranged from good for 3 weeks to nervous already.

Brian Kelly said that thanks to the Merkel-Sarkozy announcement, "You have this hope, that should keep the market up for the next 3 weeks or so."

Stephen Weiss, who twice last week recommended buying EUO, agreed. "So I think it's OK from here on out, for the next 2 weeks." (This writer is long EUO.)

Joe Terranova was maybe the most enthusiastic of the bunch, claiming the market has decided there's no recession and pointing to something that hasn't happened yet but might: an outside monthly reversal. "That's incredibly bullish," Terranova said.

JJ Kinahan said "I'm actually nervous the next couple of days," but later said in response to a tweet question, "There's no real reason to fade this range right now." Josh Brown also declared the trading range intact and said at S&P 1,210 or 1,220, "if you're not taking things off, you're fooling yourself."

Chartist Chris Verrone, who said there were more 52-week lows last week than in early August, said bulls could take the S&P to 1,230 or 1240, but that's a key resistance level where a lot of people will finally be made whole, so "they will be sellers in that neighborhood."

Brian Kelly claims banks
are ‘actually fairly safe’

A few days of an S&P rally, and Melissa Lee is even asking if Dexia (we'd never heard of that until last weekend when we took a break from football) is the "Lehman moment" of Europe.

Brian Kelly actually said on Monday's Fast Money, "I think the banks actually are fairly safe at this point."

Scott Nations said that volatility has fallen in banks because "people feel a lot better about these financial names." Yet, nobody on Fast Money pronounced BAC a raging buy, which would figure to be the case if the lows are behind us.

Joe Terranova sort of came close, though, saying he's got trades in American Express and WFC, but suggested 3 others related to financials: Knight Capital (KCG), Blackstone (BX) and KKR (KKR).

Melissa Lee asked if that type of call on WFC shouldn't also be bullish for homebuilders. Terranova said no, not for new houses, "it's just existing homeowners refinancing."

Stephen Weiss isn't convinced, at least not like he was about EUO last week, but called banks' gains the "path of least resistance trade."

Brian Kelly shrugged off volume concerns Monday. "I didn't have any problem finding liquidity," Kelly said.

Basically every stock went up Monday except Netflix

Joe Terranova said to stay out of NFLX on either side. "They've tarnished both the brand and their reputation. There's no trade right now in Netflix," Terranova said on Monday's Fast Money.

Brian Kelly shrugged, "I just think the business model's broken."

JJ Kinahan said there's "no reason" to fade IBM's strength, but to keep playing it.

Joe Terranova said, "They told you what they're going to earn," and of course how can any company not know what it's gonna make in 2015?

Brian Kelly seconded that notion, saying, "I'm long IBM ... IBM has pretty good earnings visibility." To say the least.

JJ Kinahan grumbled that Cisco's John Chambers should do what IBM's Samuel Palmisano does, say his company is going to do something and then do it. Chris Verrone though suggested CSCO might do better than IBM in the short term, predicting possible gains to $19 or $20.

Melissa Lee claimed she wanted people's Twitter questions but then didn't read a question, but statement on Sprint. Tim Seymour said to be careful thinking the price is so low that it's low-risk; "You can still lose 20% like that."

Fast Money Halftime Report
expanding to 1 hour

Starting next week, the Fast Money Halftime Report occupies the whole noontime Eastern hour, which undoubtedly means raises for Steve Grasso, Patty Edwards and Steve Cortes as well as Judge Wapner.

We'll have much more on this programming development throughout this week.

Was Amazon set to buy
Netflix’s streaming service?

Michael Pachter said on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that the Netflix breakup plan was all about a sale to Amazon.

The Qwikster idea "made no sense unless you were a tax lawyer," Pachter said, "and it was clear that they were posturing to sell the streaming business to Amazon. I was convinced that was going to happen, and I am convinced now it is not going to happen."

What happened? "I think the share price dropped so much that Amazon got cold feet," Pachter said. "I'm guessing there is a breakup fee involved," which he later said would begin with a "b."

Stephen Weiss, who said he's also been a tax lawyer, insisted, "I don't think Amazon was ever going to buy them."

1.40 euro possible

Stephen Weiss said he found Monday's rally an ideal time to "add to my euro short against the dollar long."

"How's that feeling right now Weiss?" demanded Judge Scott Wapner.

"It's feeling fine, I took half of my exposure off on the trade last week," Weiss assured, referring to one of the worst Fast Money calls of the year.

Brian Kelly said, "I think you can stay long the euro until the G-20 meeting." Currency watcher Axel Merk trumped that, saying, 1.40 is possible. "The risk is that you squeeze the short traders, the risk is to be against that trade," Merk said, saying the ECB isn't nearly as inflated as the Fed.

Stephen Weiss was adamant that it's headed lower. "Ultimately it's a troubled currency," Weiss said.

China: ‘Growth growth growth,’
or ‘potential disaster’?

Pete Najarian assured viewers on Monday's Fast Money Halftime Report that China is merely embarking on a "controlled slowdown."

Stephen Weiss, the day's contrarian, disagreed. "China is a potential disaster waiting to happen," Weiss said.

Najarian insisted that of absolutely everyone he talks to who returns from China, "every one of 'em talks about growth, growth, growth."

Najarian also said, "Down at these levels, Scotts Miracle-Gro (which has nothing to do with Judge Wapner) is a buy." Zach Karabell said of POT, "I definitely think this is a buy and the pop is merited," and as we always say around here, when has the ag trade ever not been a buy on Fast Money?

Rare Brag Trade from Pete

Most of the Fast Money Halftime gang on Monday in Call the Close thought the market would actually dip between Halftime and the bell.

But, it didn't.

Steve Grasso said 1,204 S&P is the key level for bulls.

Pete Najarian crowed about making 25% in JOYG since last week and revealed he "took the entire thing off today."

Steve Grasso also said he played AA for a quick bounce, but "I'm already out of the name," and that before Nov. 3, "I think there's a lot of room to fall."

Zach Karabell said last week's reversal looks huge. "That could well prove to be that moment of turning, and it does feel that way to me," Karabell said, before Judge Wapner asked him if he visited the barber over the weekend, another good one-liner from Judge.

Stephen Weiss revealed, "I don't own JPMorgan anymore," while Karabell said, "I bought a little bit of Morgan Stanley next week." Weiss recommended NIHD as opposed to Sprint.

‘Safely’ getting 8-10%

Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said on Monday's Strategy Session that unlike hedge funds that shoot for the mid-teens, he's only trying to "safely get 8 to 10%" returns for his investors, and he sees leveraged loans as one way to do that.

"The credit markets broadly speaking we think are presenting some opportunities here," said Attanasio, citing a "timing thing" in saying spreads are reflecting pre-Lehman levels and that there have only been 6 times in history with spreads at these levels, and buying has always brought healthy returns.

Attanasio explained his theory as, "When others don't like to invest, we do, and when everybody likes to invest, we don't."

He also asserted, "There's no more juice to squeeze out of the orange in Treasurys."

Attanasio delivered a shout-out to Crescent Capital's new hire for Europe, who he said was "Christine Vander Beukel." However, we did a quick LinkedIn check and realized the middle word is actually "Christine Vanden Beukel."

Gary Kaminsky heaped praise on Milwaukee's Miller Park, where the place is so clean you could eat off the floor. Attanasio said the team has a $94 million payroll, which is about 17th in baseball, and that the remaining teams rank 11-17 in payroll.

‘Short euro is probably the most overcrowded trade’

Peter Boockvar said on Monday's Strategy Session that "short euro is probably the most overcrowded trade on Wall Street," hence the rally on Monday. He said the reality of the credit-spread differential between market and ratings agencies is "probably something in between."

Gary Kaminsky opined that the credit markets are probably the ones to get it right, and eventually the ratings agencies will come around.

Apparently referring to Pete Najarian on the Fast Money set, Kaminsky sarcastically declared "Everything has been solved in Europe over the weekend!," which was actually a line this page was planning to use sometime Monday.

David Faber said "communications professionals" might be telling companies they don't have to pre-release poor quarterly announcements, which would explain if there happens to be a lot of bad quarters without that many announcements. Gary Kaminsky said it's another ambiguity of Reg FD, which is, "You don't necessarily have to, legally, pre-release."

David Faber noted the Renaissance hedge fund was spelled "Tenaissance" by the graphics gang; he and Kaminsky pointed out that there's a "make-whole provision" or "high-water mark" in hedge funds that keeps investors from having to pay fees on losers.

Kate Kelly: ‘Only a B+’
for ‘Ides of March’

Kate Kelly revealed she went to the movies last weekend, and the destination evidently was George Clooney's "Ides of March."

Kelly said the "Story is too small, contained; don't see why it should have been adapted for film."

Best guess here is that it's a perfect fit for Clooney's massive government cynicism, where there's conspiracy or extortion around every corner; that's why he wanted to do it. While not very visual, the worst part isn't the scope, but that Ryan Gosling is not believable as either 1) the character he starts out as or 2) the character he becomes. What does work is the "All About Eve" theme, except with none of the charm of "All About Eve."

"Ides" is worth a C+ and should be avoided by most. The best film of electoral cynicism remains "The Candidate," where politics is at least occasionally fun.

Possible bust of the year:
John Stephenson on silver

One Fast Money guest we haven't heard from in a while is John Stephenson.

Stephenson on May 19 predicted silver would be at $50 or $60 by year-end. But by June 6, he was backpedaling from that forecast, saying, "I think that may be a stretch by the end of the year but certainly you'll see it early next year."

Maybe ... or, if you tend to take charts seriously, maybe not.

However, in the category of gold, Stephenson did predict on May 19 it would "exit the year at 1,750," well within the realm of possibility.

[Friday, October 7, 2011]

Thankfully they’re not beefing up the extended-warranty-sales team

Patty Edwards, always well-prepared, had maybe the best line of the day on Friday's Halftime, saying, "Best Buy is uh, I guess putting its Geek Squad on steroids and hiring more IT professionals ... I'd stay away."

Steve Grasso said he wants to see SWHC hold at $2.55 first, "and then I would lock and load."

Michael Murphy, who, if he were Steve Cortes while handling Freightcar America would've said something like "the rails haven't been this scary since 'Under Siege 2' " (yes, we'll let the Cortmeister use that one sometime without complaint; we're here to help), said "there is a replacement cycle coming," and that the stock in a "13 range here can go a lot higher."

It turned out that Willie Williams, and not Rebecca Patterson, was the Money in Motion guest Friday, which is too bad, because we're still waiting for Patterson to make good on her showering-in-bikini-in-gold suggestion of a couple months ago during Money in Motion's "Gold Gone Wild" segment. (Forget the gold, we'll more-than settle for the bikini.) Williams said, "I think we're gonna see the euro trading lower," and that he'd go long Canadian dollar vs. the euro. (This writer is long EUO, no thanks to Stephen Weiss.)

The mythical European ‘bazooka’ is reaching the 2007 Citigroup ‘kitchen-sink quarter’ proportions

Michael Murphy, who apparently quietly settled in as a new regular on the Fast Money Halftime Report Friday, said "There's fear in this market ... Europe is still leading the show."

Steve Grasso said it's basically a requirement now that for trading stocks every day, "You first look at the eurozone."

The best Jon Najarian could offer was that people maybe should've started buying the lows of a week ago and think about lightening up here, because you should "buy on those dips and you sell on the rips."

Patty Edwards, who is noticeably nicer to Yankee fans than Steeler fans, pointed to a labor stat that the "number of people working 2nd jobs increased by 267,000." She still likes Target and said "high end is still doing OK, and I still like my Nordstrom."

Judge Wapner made the obligatory, basically-every-single-month observation you hear on CNBC, that the jobs report maybe isn't as good as the headline because of some below-the-radar one-time events that influenced it.

"I think I'm worried about the consumer here," said Steve Grasso.

Grasso revealed he bought Alcoa during the show (which Judge Wapner seemed to think is some kind of first, when it isn't). Then, interestingly, Jon Najarian and Mike Murphy had differing views on whether to buy going into the close, with Murphy predicting there could be a European "bazooka" over the weekend.

Patty Edwards said she'd be "flat as the pizza" she's having Friday night, a regular Friday theme, and presumably not deep dish.

But it does beg the question, what exactly is ‘status quo’ from AAPL?

Judge Wapner asked Steve Grasso a very good question on Friday's Halftime, whether it's possible the death of Steve Jobs could mark the top of Apple among institutional buyers.

"No, absolutely not," Grasso said, saying they buy it for other reasons. "We just need status quo coming out of Apple."

That seems like the correct answer, but this is one that's hard to know for sure.

Jon Najarian (see, he had a lot of helpful trade calls Friday) said if you were in Sprint, you should've sold early Friday morning. Najarian did say that he spotted some "pretty decent upside bets" in GMCR, where people were selling 82 puts and aggressively buying 100 calls.

Michael Murphy said JPMorgan's earnings report could be overshadowed by Europe news; "I think it's gonna be a sell-the-news event," but nevertheless he suggested that "this earnings season could mark a bottom for the market."

Patty Edwards, who did unveil a sharp new hairstyle Friday, said companies that import more items are going to be better off than exporters, which JWN reflects. Edwards said Estee Lauder does have international sales but there's "the old lipstick theory" about women buying lipstick to feel better about tough times, which is also kind of the Steve Cortes Starbucks theory, which will help the stock. Edwards said she knows "Dr. J uses it too," though we're not sure if she meant the lipstick or the theory. Dr. J said he prefers the hemline theory.

China on Aug. 7 told U.S. to ‘cure its addiction to debts’

China watcher David Riedel told Judge Wapner on Friday's Halftime, "We're big believers in a slowdown but not a meltdown."

Riedel said "I'm not a big believer in the property boom" just yet because only 47% of the country's population lives in big cities. He said "the banks are an extension of the government," so they'll always have a backstop.

As for stock picks, Riedel said "We really like China Mobile."

Steve Grasso spoke about Wynn and said he likes the casinos but you have to have a "real strong stomach for them."

Steve Grasso explains secret
to Halftime Report success

Steve Grasso reveals on Twitter this week how he calls 'em on Fast Money: "my strategy on tv is if u cant state your position in 15seconds or less u probably dont believe in it."

QE2 again under fire

Friday's Strategy Session once again pitted Gary Kaminsky and Steve Liesman, perhaps the network's best team for their spirited, feisty debates anchored in mutual respect, over the jobs report, which Liesman called an "NRI" — Non-Recession Indicator.

Liesman said "there is a growth story but it's a tepid growth story."

Kaminsky challenged Liesman with an interesting question about how the Labor Department would forecast its results if it had to do so as a company does. Liesman said it would be "slow, steady growth in the absence of a major shock. Liesman also pointed to declines in government hiring, "largely states" but a "little bit of federal government."

Kaminsky finally got totally under Liesman's skin by asking what the "Mark Zandis of the world," i.e., the people who have backed QE2, would've predicted the results of QE2 to have been. Liesman snapped, "If you wanna sit here and do another one of these economists-are-all-screwed-up-and-a-bunch-of-idiots, I'm not gonna sit here and defend 'em." But he said it would be something like by March or April, 130,000 to 150,000 private sector jobs a month.

Scott Schaevitz’s debut
is a good one

The first thing we couldn't help but notice before Scott Schaevitz's first TV appearance ever Friday on The Strategy Session was that the CNBC graphics gremlins made a key misspelling (see photo above).

Schaevitz said REITs aren't immune to jobs, because they bring office workers and mall shoppers, but that they've outperformed in part because of dividend strength. "In 2010 folks went on offense," Schaevitz said. "I like anything with elderly or the Internet."

He said the servers are "in data center REITs" or just owned by tech companies. He conceded that after 2008, "you had a lot of lenders kick the can" and that there are headwinds now in that "it's taking longer for tenants to sign leases," but "the supply is not a problem."

David Faber said it was Schaevitz's first time on TV, that he's a close friend of Steve Liesman and that he graduated the same year at Tufts as Faber, though they haven't known each other very well.

Gary Kaminsky and David Faber noted the Italy and Spain downgrades, and Faber spoke about the sentiments from the Barefoot conference this year as opposed to last. The conferencegoers are "more pessimistic than they were last year," Faber said, though maybe not as pessimistic as Kyle Bass. They said one of the biggest changes from 2010 is that money managers who used to think Europe could be just an isolated problem no longer see it that way.

[Thursday, October 6, 2011]

The longer James Altucher’s interview went, the less sense it made

James Altucher revisited his AAPL-trillion idea on Thursday's Fast Money but this time ran into some tenaciousness from Melissa Lee, dressed to the 9s for what must've been a big evening on the town.

Altucher first claimed, "I think for a very long time Steve Jobs hasn't really been running the company."

Lee came back with, "At the same time James, you've told our guest bookers, our crack staff back at Englewood Cliffs, that Steve Jobs has actually played a role in new products, in the new products and the next products for many years to come; just now you said that Steve Jobs hasn't really played a role. What is it in your thinking that Apple will still be a trillion-dollar company?"

Altucher's response? "Chances are, in 2002, that the iPod, the iPad, the iTouch, all of these things were already on Tim Cook's whiteboard." A couple times, Altucher mentioned Jony Ive; "He's been the primary innovator on products like the iPad." So why is everyone talking about this Jobs person?

Karen Finerman told Altucher she flat-out didn't believe AAPL would reach his targets. Altucher insisted, "Given a P.E. of 40 or 50, closer to its earnings growth," the company will be worth not just a trillion, but trillion and a half. "I think this thing goes to $1,500," he said, citing "basic math."

Guy Adami broke in, "or it could go to like a gazillion too ... I love James. I mean, my, my pushback would be, if it's not trading at a 20 multiple now, why would it be- ever trade at a 40 multiple, ever?"

Tim Seymour articulated why he think Altucher's assessment is wrong. "I think Steve Jobs was a social, uh, visionary ... Samsung and LG are gonna come in here and basically copy these products and make 'em almost as good for cheaper money ... I think the competition is gonna overtake these guys without someone that can really look at the world from a social perspective."

Flash: Wall Street bank exec at risk of losing job if company loses money

Guest Rob Cox told the Fast Money gang Thursday the most remarkable thing he's found about Goldman Sachs is how "unremarkable Goldman Sachs has become today."

"It's not all Lloyd's fault," Cox insisted, explaining Blankfein was at the helm for the firm's most lucrative year ever.

Karen Finerman questioned if all the banks aren't in the same boat. Cox said GS is more affected by regulatory changes. Finerman asked what they should do. Cox said, "I think you might have to take out the principal investing and asset management business."

Cox said losing money, and not the Wall Street protests, is what would cost Blankfein his job. He predicted Goldman Sachs employees will find his book a "balanced read."

Tim Seymour is calling companies and not hearing that things are falling off

Not surprisingly given what we heard on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report, the 5 p.m. gang was suddenly declaring all sorts of things buys, on the heels of a 90-point, 3-day move in the S&P that brought the index to the same level as ... a week ago.

Pete Najarian gushed about FCX, CLF and WLT, trumpeting, "They've been the early trigger," and not only that, but "each and every day this past week, JPMorgan's gone green."

Tim Seymour said, "We've gotta get on the phone to companies and find out, how is your business, how is your 4th quarter shaping up, and I'm not hearing anybody saying it's falling off either." (So get on the phone with your broker and start scooping up stocks with both hands.) (By the way, if they did tell Seymour on the phone it was falling, and didn't tell everyone else, isn't that kind of a disclosure issue?)

Seymour noted that commodities are up, and "I think there's more to go here too," as well as "possibly a policy shift in China."

Emerging markets, Seymour said, had a "fantastic rally back off" the recent low, and "technically, there's a lot of things that have turned this week."

Even Guy Adami tossed his hat in the ring, saying, "For the first time in a very long time, FCX has put in at least what seems like a somewhat sustainable bottom," which it's actually been sustaining for ... 2 ... whole ... days, and that Morgan Stanley "put in a reversal that you can trade around," and isn't that a curious move, plowing into MS after, what, a 35% run in 3 days?

Dan Dicker professes
his own Dr. John Trade

It's been a while since we've reported a Dr. John Trade on Fast Money, but it was none other than Dan Dicker who re-introduced the concept Thursday.

Dicker explained he's been carrying Alcoa for a while; "I have the marks on the back of my neck to prove it."

"I have been a little early to the game here," he admitted, claiming it's really more of a 4-5-year thesis.

"I'm on the wrong show to really talk about aluminum," he said, because it's slow money, but it's based on the substitution theory of copper and steel being spurned in favor of aluminum.

That's a "strategic kind of thesis" that "makes just total sense," Dicker said.

Tim Seymour made ACH his Final Trade.

David Greenberg’s call for federal gas-price investigation is sounding more intriguing

Guest Paul Sankey insisted on the Fast Money set Thursday that refiners are a "multi-year" play that is "fundamentally undervalued," but this week has been "really just a relief bounce."

Sankey said basically they're getting crude cheap relative to the pricy gasoline they're selling. "Oil demand is saying that the economy's a bit better than people fear," Sankey said, while a lovely raven-haired woman mugged for the cameras in the background in Times Square.

Mike Khouw asked Sankey about CVR. Sankey called it "extremely cheap." Sankey also claimed the Saudis are motivated to keep prices high because of domestic challenges (and when haven't you heard that one before?). Guy Adami said HES may have a double-bottom with 2010.

It’s that time of year
for Gore-Tex

Mike Khouw on Thursday's Fast Money reported hoppin' November 44 calls in DD, the first hot call-buying in the name "for quite some time."

Guy Adami said EMN is not unlike a WLT. But he picked CSX for his Final Trade.

Jeremy Wien explained on options trade for betting on a higher VIX if you think there's more market trouble ahead, or lower VIX if you think we're in the clear, and wouldn't it just be simpler to play the S&P up or down?

Is Karen Finerman suggesting that the U.S. or China will end up holding the European bag?

Karen Finerman was the most guarded and realistic-sounding of the bunch on Thursday's Fast Money and perhaps — aside from Doug Kass, of all people — the lone voice of restraint.

But note the adjective she used before the word "solution."

"I still think that it is all gonna come down to what's gonna happen in the eurozone, are they going to be able to come with some sort of global solution to the issues there, and if not, then I think that none of this other stuff matters," Finerman said.

Finerman reported selling upside calls in CMI, and made it her Final Trade, because of the big run. "You've gotta take some money off the table in this extreme- it's only a 3-day rally, but my God, it's enormous," Finerman said.

First we’d heard of the
prime RMBS downgrade

While the Fast Money gang on Thursday talked more like it was 1999 than 2008, an interesting little point-counterpoint surfaced as to the relevance in this market of the word "Lehman."

Pete Najarian said this time around, he's not seeing the deep out of the money put buying in banks like he did in 2008 when people loaded up on Bear Stearns 35 puts just before the stock went to 3.

Karen Finerman, though, said Fitch on Thursday downgraded prime RMBS, and "apparently it's just getting clobbered. We didn't see any reflection of that whatsoever in a Bank America (sic), and so I think what was going on today, nothing to do with fundamentals at all," but if this was an ordinary day, might've had a huge impact.

Tim Seymour also noted the 30-year mortgage rate falling under 4%, and "there's no demand for mortgages," so for banks, "there's big problems in the core business model here."

Doug Kass says previous 4 rallies have given back, but low is in for the year

Stock traders tend to be a quick-twitch type of group, evidenced by the tendency of many to call yearly bottoms practically within hours of key reversals.

Doug Kass on Thursday's Fast Money initially said "I think you could color me Market Agnostic," but then claimed, just as he did Aug. 9, "the August lows, which were slightly undercut Tuesday, are gonna hold for the balance of the year."

In fact, on Aug. 9, Kass claimed on Fast Money, "We're now as oversold as we were when Germany invaded France in 1940, or after the October '87 crash."

So, oversold, and got oversolder, perhaps equivalent to Operation Barbarossa.

Kass did express restraint, however, on Thursday, pointing out that since the early August plunges, there have been 5 steep bounces, yet ultimately "they were all given back, the prior 4 rallies." Kass also called the jobs number "basically irrelevant."

Tim Seymour demanded to know what's different this time that would keep the lows in. Kass' answer wasn't too convincing, that the sentiment plunge in August hasn't translated yet to the economy.

Kass told Melissa Lee, "Yes I would be a seller into a jobs-related bounce. But he did say his favorite long position is E-Trade because Ken Griffin is looking for a buyer, and "I think either AmeriTrade or Schwab buys the company around 16 bucks."

Mel Lee showed that goofy chart from Halftime showing all those ridiculous S&P year-end targets that Karen Finerman said she pays no attention to, which should tell people something. Guy Adami scoffed at the importance of Tim Geithner's remarks, saying, "He had to say exactly what he said."

HPQ on fire since Léo ouster

Tim Seymour made a rather startling claim on Thursday's Fast Money. "Intel, who everyone universally accepts as being cheap ... this is a stock that actually looks vulnerable," Seymour said.

Everyone "universally" thinks it's cheap?

Karen Finerman said, without the greatest enthusiasm actually, "Google here is attractive actually." Guy Adami concurred that it seems to be at the "lower end of the range in Google," and Pete Najarian said it tends to find buyers around $500.

Adami praised CSCO for its recent run and said somewhat cryptically, "Probably gonna get above 17 and a quarter, 17 and a half to break that."

Tim Seymour, the day's "BFM," said of GLW, "stock's going higher." Pete Najarian said to keep an eye on Sprint.

Europe evidently cured

The stock market goes up 2 days in a row, and suddenly we're going to be up for the year.

Steve Grasso said on Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report that "if we do see a positive headline coming out of the Eurozone, we can get to that 1,250, 1,300 area by the time year ends," though he said he's doubtful that "17 different unions" can agree on something.

Patty Edwards practically qualified herself all the way to Saskatchewan, saying 3rd year of the presidency (we haven't heard that one for a while) is almost always up, except in 1939 which has similarities to 2011, and "If we don't take out the lows, I do think we can hit 1,253."

However, not everyone Thursday was in the bull camp. Guy Adami subtly scoffed at a chart of what looked like ridiculous year-end S&P 500 forecasts by the major banks, saying, "By definition I'd say 9 out of 10 of these guys always will think the market's gonna be higher at the end of the year," and suggesting people start selling after Friday's Labor report. Peter Boockvar said Ingersoll-Rand is kind of the canary in a coal mine, and "We're gonna remain in a trading range at best."

Steve Cortes said right now we're mid-range, but "if we get up to 1,200, I'm gonna be interested in selling again," and that the bond market is telling us there's a "serious massive global slowdown."

2 Fast Money traders admit they don’t know the Labor Department numbers before they’re released

Thursday's Fast Money Halftime Report included a pair of stark admissions on the jobs report from Patty Edwards and Steve Cortes about the extent of insider knowledge of the system.

"I honestly don't know what the number is going to come out at," Edwards said.

"I don't know what tomorrow's report is gonna be," Cortes said, bringing Lady Gaga into it.

Despite hectoring from Judge Wapner over making a trading call on retail names ahead of the report, Edwards insisted, "I would rather be flat going into it and make my move afterwards." Edwards explained, "I am long Nordstrom and I am long Target, but I do have a hedge against those at this point in time."

Edwards also pointed out that the stronger retailers are the ones releasing monthly data while others are only going quarterly.

Steve Grasso said he'd take the other side of Edwards' suggestion to wait on retail. "I would say that it's all front-loaded today ... I would short 'em off today's pop," Grasso said.

Guy Adami: Traders ‘caught wind’ this week of how ill Steve Jobs was

Guy Adami claimed on Thursday's Halftime there was chicanery in AAPL trading this week, apparently the first chicanery in recent memory not involving high-frequency trading. "I think somebody caught wind of how ill Mr. Jobs really was this week," Adami said.

Steve Grasso made an interesting observation about AAPL, saying, "The longer you eulogize, uh, Steve Jobs, the more weak the stock will become."

Dan Nathan insisted "The next 5 years are not gonna be nearly as easy for this company."

Because of the president's press conference, David Faber got a grand total of 4 minutes on the LaRue, Texas, ranch with Barbara Matthews, who said "absolutely this is a significant reversal" in Angela Merkel's comments, cementing Stephen Weiss' absolute bust of a call of being long EUO this week. (This writer is long EUO.)

[Wednesday, October 5, 2011]

Given what emerged later in the day, obviously a busy day at All Things D

At the beginning of the one of the shoddiest, most slipshod episodes of Fast Money in recent memory, Melissa Lee and Kara Swisher managed to open with a correction.

"Let's bring in Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal," Lee said.

"Actually I don't work for the Wall Street Journal; it's All Things D," Swisher said.

Carol Bartz, Sallie Krawcheck not on the list at Most Powerful Women Conference, but Barbara Bush (the young one) is

Kara Swisher went on to explain on Wednesday's Fast Money that "Microsoft isn't bidding, um, bidding for the company. It's just watching from the sidelines" to see what's happening with YHOO.

So Melissa Lee asked if MSFT is mulling a bid for parts of YHOO. Swisher first said "No. No," then said, "That could happen, certainly, any of that could happen."

That's a good way of being hedged.

Karen Finerman said "I like the risk/reward still" in Yahoo, but as an MSFT holder, "I prefer Microsoft not buy them."

Guy Adami actually made about the day's only useful call on Fast Money, asserting, "I still think Yahoo is a screaming buy."

We couldn't figure out exactly what guest Ken Sena was asserting at the Nasdaq, whether he was trying to say Microsoft or some other company should or should not buy YHOO while throwing around $12 and 50% discounted valuations, other than saying the value of Alibaba may not be reflected in YHOO stock. "We value Yahoo at about $18 ... the valuation here at least is in the mid-teens if not 20s I think when you look at the value of the Alibaba asset," Sena said.

Brent Thill, whose phone connection was so bad at one point Brian Stutland was heard talking, and then at the end of Thill's last comment it sounded like Thill was talking to someone else, said YHOO shouldn't be an appealing target for MSFT: "There's a laundry list of other transactions I would want to do at Microsoft," he said.

Ever wonder exactly
what ‘money’ is?

Brian Kelly, arguing at the end of Wednesday's Fast Money that banks are essentially public utilities, said this: "They're there for the public good so you can store your money in them."

The word we'd like to focus on is "store."

What exactly are banks "storing"?

You punch a clock. Every couple weeks, your company payroll department sends a computer blip to your blank. (Or sometimes, issues a piece of paper.) Your bank inputs that number into the computer. That's the "store" of your "money." That bank is regulated and its accounts insured by the government. The key is not the paper bills or zinc coins, which are mere tokens, but that the government upholds the legality of what the bank's hard drive says your number is; in some extended way just a number on file with the government, like your SSN. That number represents the extent to what the rest of society will do for you.

Basically, Gordon Gekko was right, it's not really lost or transferred, just a perception of some kind.

1,101, take it or leave it

In trying to get a handle on the volatile S&P moves, this is what the Fast Money gang came up with Wednesday.

"Definitely use 1,101 as your point of reference," said Joe Terranova.

"Well I don't use 1,101 as my point of reference really," said Karen Finerman.

Finerman did claim, "We're also gonna see equity funds chasing returns."

Brian Kelly agreed, "You're definitely seeing this rotation coming out." Which it apparently has been. For an entire day and a half.

Apparently, C quality tends
to underperform A quality

Debbie Weinswig spoke about retail expectations on Wednesday's Fast Money, but her Fast Line connection was so muffled we couldn't really get the whole picture.

Karen Finerman asked if a re-inventing of JCP is possible. Weinswig said about 5 times they do have a great management team now, and some loyal customers, but we never really got what her conclusion was.

Finerman revealed she's been in a Friendly's once, last summer.

Craig Leupold, who twice used the term "biforcation," said he's not that concerned for mall REITs, at least the good ones with elite clients.

There's "bifurcation between performance of high-quality portfolios vs. low-quality portfolios," Leupold said, lumping them into A quality, B quality and C quality, and for a moment we thought he was discussing bras.

Karen Finerman asked a good question, then, wondering if a pairs trade is in order. Leupold stopped short of endorsing that but said that's what people are doing.

Stephen Weiss then asked if people might be hiding out in REITs for the yield, viewing them like bonds, and would that be a negative catalyst if there's a shift from bonds to equities? Leupold at first sort of ignored the question, saying the REIT "supply is significantly in check" so prices are "fundamentals-driven," but then finally sort of answered it, saying, "They're at a high valuation relative to the S&P 500" but "fairly attractively priced" vs. bonds, so it depends on your view.

Melissa Lee at one point revealed "me not being on Facebook," but Guy Adami found the "CNBC Melissa Lee fan club" which had "300 likes."

"But that's not me," Lee said.

Isn’t it entertaining when the gang can’t share what it is they’re laughing about?

Brian Stutland on Wednesday's Fast Money asked RIMM watcher Tavis McCourt what the boundaries of the stock will be in the near-future. McCourt cited a "mid-teens number as probably about as worse of an outcome as one can imagine over the next 6 to 9 months," but also that it would be hard to get much above $30.

Melissa Lee referred to "Dodds-Frank (sic)" when asking Karen Finerman if she was surprised by Brian Moynihan's comments to Larry Kudlow. Finerman said yes, she was surprised Moynihan would peg the number at "billions" of dollars lost.

Joe Terranova said it's a classic case of "overregulate ... reminiscence (sic) of 1937 all over again."

The show, already well off the rails, got downright loopy when Lee explained "I hardly ever call Brian Kelly 'Brian'," prompting Kelly to crow, "You're looking for BK not b.s., you came to the right place." But it was Brian Stutland explaining he always tells it straight to viewers and his clients, recommending buying the AKAM Nov. 26 call and selling the Nov. 18 put.

Finally, the capper was Lee reading a Twitter question about S&P direction from @TheBigBeaver, which had to be chosen by Guy Adami because he apparently was the original recipient, and the entire panel cracking up to the point of barely being able to speak when Lee said, "Guy what do you say to The Big Beaver?" We were going to do another arrangement of the Michael Corleone-Sollozzo-McCluskey plan chuckles (see below), but frankly, we just don't have enough time or inclination to collect all the images.

Forecast for S&P 500:
‘100, 150 handles down
on the next swing’

Bullishness has become the show-me strategy, evidenced by Adam Grimes' appearance on the Fast Money Halftime Report Wednesday.

Grimes, in his first appearance as far as we know, said after a day like Tuesday, a bullish case would suggest 25 handles higher on the S&P, but "the fact we're not seeing that today" and that the fairly weak, single-digit creeping "is not an ordinary bounce to us" suggests that this is "not a time to buy" on the dips.

Far more sobering, Grimes said he'd actually look for "100, 150 handles down on the next swing," though that's "certainly not a call for a crash" because he sees it happening over a month and a half or 2 months before we'd "get down, maybe a thousand, 950 or so."

After Grimes' interview was over, Pete Najarian openly wondered if a close over 1,135 wouldn't change Grimes' mind.

Gartman: QE in Europe

Dennis Gartman said on Wednesday's Halftime that the euro chart is lower lows.

"The banks who bought sovereign debt are being bailed out by the same sovereigns. That sounds to me like monetization of the first order, and as long as they’re doing that they’re creating more euros, simply put. It looks like QE1 or QE2 to me," Gartman said. (This writer is long EUO.)

Zach Karabell asked Gartman if the market hasn't already priced in the so-called monetization. Gartman said this is just the rational, orderly reaction to what's happening. "I think we're just pausing on the way down," he said.

Judge Wapner opened the dialogue by claiming the euro was at 1.29, then interrupted Gartman to correct himself, "so people don't think I was on something," which was actually a pretty good line.

Dr. J rationalizes why he’s not playing RIMM higher

Unfortunately Judge Wapner devoted a huge portion of Wednesday's Halftime Report to 3 of the most boring subjects we can think of, Microsoft, RIMM's future and Apple's new phone, but tradition suggests we've gotta list at least a few things people said.

Jon Najarian claimed he told Judge Wapner last week that RIMM and NFLX were the 2 most undervalued stocks going into the end of the quarter and as for RIMM, "I did buy the stock," and it might go higher, but he's a trader, "if the queen had you know what she'd be king."

Zach Karabell thankfully said "I am completely uninterested" in RIMM, although unfortunately he was also completely uninterested in Calling the Close, but not a problem. Josh Brown said of RIMM, "Things have to get worse before management is gonna consider any kind of deal." Dan Niles said, "At some point I think the company will cease to exist," but who knows when that will be. As much as RIMM chatter is annoying, admittedly, it does qualify as a Fast Money stock because it's capable of delivering big money on short notice in either direction, but quite frankly people are just throwing darts.

Karabell called the Stifel downgrade of GOOG "really, really bad" and mocked that apparently they were thinking, "because we're not clear about the economy, we're gonna downgrade Google ... no one's gonna be on Facebook forever."

Karabell also wasn't excited about MSFT, fortunately, saying "If you're a 20-year horizon, Microsoft is probably a good name." Dan Niles said something good came out of the iPhone thing yesterday; "I like the speech technology that they put onto the phone."

Josh Brown said to watch MS and AAPL for a signal to where the market's going.

Note to CNBC.com: Any video with a Courtyard by Marriott ad is not working and locks up computers.

Just so they know.

Kyle Bass mocks Buffett’s
call for higher taxes

Obviously, not all rich people are on board with Warren Buffett's tax ideas.

Kyle Bass expressed his feelings this way on Wednesday's Strategy Session:

"If Buffett and Gates were to write a check to the U.S. federal government for their entire net worth, we'd have October covered. So who we gonna go to for November. Let's, let's think about the Forbes 400. Let's confiscate the wealth of the entire Forbes 400, we might balance the budget for 2012, and then what are we gonna do in 2013."

"Right," said host David Faber. "But I don't think anybody's talking about confiscating the entire wealth-"

"I'm, I'm just, you have to put it in perspective," Bass said.

‘I personally believe that Germany won’t go all in’

Kyle Bass offered an interesting little anecdote to his Greece thesis during his Strategy Session on-location interview Wednesday at the Barefoot Economic Summit.

Bass said Greece was initially told to only hire 1 new government employee for every 5 that retired, then told it could only be 1 for 10. Instead, just recently, 18,000-20,000 people retired ... and 24,000 new hires were made.

That sounds a little bit like Solla Sollew. (But not quite Boola Boo Ball.)

Bass told David Faber the EU is having a "chicken game with Greece," which is "completely broke," and right now the EU is "forcing Greece to prioritize payments."

Bass' most significant call of the day was to answer his own question, "Does Germany go all in ... I personally believe that Germany won't go all in," likening it to the lack of inclination of a person to help out his debtor relatives.

Bass, who thankfully didn't bring up Japan diaper sales this time, threw around the terms "recipients" and "guarantor" to the point we got a bit dizzy, but he did argue with Faber that "Germany isn't a creditor nation" because it has 80% debt to GDP and hasn't recapitalized its banks, and had problems in the previous century, and that for Europe ultimately, "the money has to come out of more borrowing ... I just don't think many people have thought that all of the way through."

He said the world's GDP is growing at 4%, while debt is growing at 12%, and that "sovereign defaults happen in clusters."

Gary Kaminsky, from Englewood Cliffs, told Bass that "every 3rd or 4th guest" who comes on the network predicts an "orderly default" in Greece with "kick the can down the road." Bass responded, "I don't understand what an orderly default means ... we think the write-down is 75 or 80 cents, and can the European banking system take that, I don't know."

Buy Double-B’s

Steve Tananbaum also guested on Wednesday's Strategy Session, in Texas with David Faber, and said signs point to "0 to negative" U.S. growth in 2012.

A credit expert, Tananbaum said the Double-B's are a buy, but distressed represents good value but bad timing at the moment.

Gary Kaminsky asked Tananbaum the same question he asked Kyle Bass, if a European default can be orderly. "I think that orderly is somewhat, uh, you know, depends on your definition," Tananbaum said, despite having apparent problems with his earpiece (probably getting feedback or hearing someone else while he was talking), repeating that "definition" qualifier to David Faber when Faber noted that's outside the norm of the Barefoot conference.

Gary Kaminsky said seeing Faber at that LaRue ranch and not being there feels like being a high school senior and not invited to prom. Kaminsky said "insane is the only way one can describe" how much stocks are ripping up and down daily, that company values don't change that much so quickly. "I think today is sort of a, let's wait till Friday," Kaminsky said.

[Tuesday, October 4, 2011]

David Greenberg calls for federal investigation of gasoline prices

Joe Terranova embarked Tuesday on Fast Money's precious metals conversation with this head-scratcher: "The people watching this show, they can't stomach the volatility, and I think that's what's happened in gold."

What exactly is that — everyone got a stomachache?

David Greenberg said oil and gold were caught in the same trap. "You had deleveraging of almost everything," Greenberg said, but as for oil, "I really think once it hit the $75 level today and held, I think you saw a bottom."

Greenberg then complained that given the price of oil, gas in New York should be $3.25 to $3.40, but it's much higher. "If there's anything that this administration should look into it's why the gas prices haven't come down," Greenberg claimed, which will certainly be a popular theme around the oil pits.

He would add that the mid-continent refiners are "bringing the oil out of Cushing, and instead of selling at the Cushing price, they're selling it for a very big profit."

"Ah. OK," said Melissa Lee, letting that one go without follow-up.

Gotta ask ... How in the world is Karen Finerman not at the Powerful Women Conference?

Jing Ulrich made some eloquent comments about the Chinese economy for Tuesday's Fast Money, but her greatest accomplishment was conducting her interview at the Powerful Women's Conference in Dana Point indoors after the Marissa Mayer fiasco Monday (see below).

Ulrich didn't really break new ground or take the Steve Cortes/Brian Kelly-vs.-Zachary Karabell debate any further, but did say, "Finally the economy's responding to all the tightening program (sic). However, the consumer economy is still very strong."

Ulrich conceded Lee had a "valid" point about the Shanghai market even though it was a 2-pronged question as to what significance it had or whether it has (as Steve Cortes insists) any relevance. Ulrich said, "I don't think confidence will immediately return to the stock market until the global economy stabilizes."

How about ‘confused,’ ‘cockamamie,’

Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor of Financial Times, helped Melissa Lee deliver breaking news on Europe's financial situation on Tuesday's Fast Money, but basically it was nothing more than Chapter 76 of a nearly 2-year-old story; something about another bailout in the works.

Except this time, Tett said, there are 3 "c" words: "concerted, coordinated, capital."

Karen Finerman said, with a straight face, it wouldn't be shocking if this didn't come to pass.

Guy Adami said, "I think the financials you sell into rallies."

Joe Terranova said JPMorgan (Zzzzzzzz) is best in breed. He said, "I also tried to buy Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs last week and quickly lost money."

Dan Nathan, who unfortunately was quiet as a mouse for most of Tuesday's show, offered near the end, "I think you get your most bang for your buck in Bank America (sic). I have my, my finger on the trigger if this thing touches below $5, because I think, you get Buffett back in at some point in a very distressed situation, and you know, in a lot of ways, you can see this thing back at 10 in a year from now."

Tim Cook faces Steelers-like
crowd in first start

Colin Gillis on Tuesday's Fast Money uttered some of the most exciting words ever heard about AAPL: "It's clearly not a home run, right, but it's adequate."

OK. Maybe not the most exciting words ever.

"We're still buyers, right here, right now," said Gillis, who added, "our target is 450."

Dan Nathan, who hasn't hesitated in the past to slam Apple or its top leaders despite being perhaps the best stock of the decade right through basically this day, opined, "This is kind of a vote of confidence, or lack thereof, in Tim Cook." (So who's he calling for ... Terry Hanratty?)

Guy Adami said SFLY might've been pounded too far and is intriguing for a bounce. Joe Terranova pointed to NUAN but insisted, "I'm not specifically putting out and saying that you go out and buy the stock."

Gillis said he thinks RIMM's co-CEOs are not sellers, and someone would have to "pry their hands hard off the wheel."

Nothing makes our day more than a call spread in Dow Chemical

Jim Iuorio, who should be on Fast Money more often because he tends to deliver the most electric of options commentary (if that's not an oxymoron), noted the "stunning close today" and said, in one of those comments that could be awesome, or could come back to haunt, "I tend to believe that that was the real move."

As a result, he likes buying the November 26/29 call spread in Dow Chemical.

Fast Money likes rare earths almost as much as it likes Microsoft's dividend, and guest newcomer Chris Ecclestone put together almost a borderline tour de force of commentary on Tuesday, candidly articulating, "A few of the stocks will ultimately recover," but to expect "severe attrition in the vast mess of the rare earth stocks that are out there now."

Karen Finerman who is undoubtedly one of the funniest people around, questioned that if there's a new discovery of "rare" earths, "then what are they?"

Melissa Lee made a suggestion that was unintelligible because someone else was talking, then repeated Joe Terranova's suggestion of "common earths."

Terranova said MCD's disappoints only in that the McRib isn't available all the time. Terranova also predicted, "The slightest rebound in the energy space, Apache goes higher with it."

Finerman said she got into Yahoo for a few reasons, partly because "I would not be surprised if we see something happen here."

Stephen Weiss recommended buying EUO. (This writer is long EUO.)

Joe Terranova put Guy Adami on the spot with a good question about seeing the APKT chart without knowing the ticker name. "I think this is no-man's land right here," Adami confessed.

Payden & Rygel ad
might need an update

One has to wonder about the effectiveness of financial-management television commercials featuring specific market calls.

In particular, we're referring to the regular Payden & Rygel ad on CNBC, which feels like it's been on-air all of 2011, in which several crisply dressed money managers (specifically the chap in the picture above, although that image is from a different ad because we couldn't find the ad we're talking about online) assert, "We believe that this is an attractive time to invest in emerging markets."

Um, that hasn't actually been the case for a while.

Maybe it works on either level; as the right call during bull times and as a contrarian call during rough times.

Or, maybe viewers who have been seeing it for months will simply conclude, these guys don't know what they're doing.

Steve Cortes is on fire

Good calls (and bad calls) are being made daily on Fast Money, but no one is quite feelin' this market like Steve Cortes.

"The gloom is pervasive; I have covered all of my shorts," Cortes reported on Tuesday's Halftime Report. But he warned against getting carried away with European enthusiasm. "I do think the ECB is going to disappoint. I think this is the gang that can't shoot straight," Cortes said.

Likewise, Cortes reasserted, "I'm incredibly bearish on China," an opinion bolstered by the recent "vicious selling in Chinese-listed names here."

"I suspect these Chinese companies might be Enron times 1,000," Cortes said. "The opacity of China is incredibly troubling."

Judge for some odd reason insists on pestering Patty over geography

On Tuesday's Fast Money Halftime Report, host Scott Judge Wapner sure was fascinated by the fact Patty Edwards lives in the Seattle area.

Edwards said there are probably too many regulatory issues for Alibaba to buy YHOO, but that Microsoft or News Corp would be a possible buyer. "I personally would feel better if Microsoft were to go there. That being said, I'm not sure what it brings to Microsoft," Edwards said.

"Wow, you're in their backyard out in Seattle, Patty, so you're in the know," Wapner said.

"Let's put it this way, Ballmer and I didn't have coffee this morning," Edwards said, going along with this goofy theme.

"Maybe you had it with Howard Schultz, that's the problem," said Judge, a bizarre quip perhaps reflecting his own recent confab with Schultz for his "Coffee Addiction" documentary.

Later, Joe Terranova noted Edwards likes Alaska Air.

"She likes it because it's based at, uh, Sea-Tac, right Patty," Wapner said.

Edwards, a bit chippy by this point, responded, "No I like it because I think it's one of the best ones out there, thank you."

If that weren't enough, somewhere in between, Dan Dicker piled onto Edwards' comment about whether to buy MS, "Thank you very much, anyone else who wants to buy 'em, have a nice time. I'll be over doing something else that doesn't cause my brain to bleed," but revealing he bought MS on Monday, so "my brain is starting to hemorrhage."

Analyst doubts AMR bankruptcy

Dan Dicker, when not hemorrhaging on Tuesday's Fast Money (hopefully he's not hemorrhaging his short-term trading cash), said he thinks oil services names could be ridiculously cheap because their prices suggest oil bottoming far lower than the mid-$70s he's predicting.

Joe Terranova said, "I'm long the OIH, I'm long Occidental, and I'm long HOS."

Guest Stephen Wilder said one reason for the AMR panic a day ago was a report that 10 times more pilots retired in September than is usually the case. Even so, Wilder thinks pricing will outdo fuel costs, and so, "I don't see them declaring bankruptcy anytime soon."

Mike Abramsky said the Apple gala is "likely to result in a near-term pullback."

Brian Kelly said "Windows 8 could be a game-changer," and didn't we hear that all the time a couple years ago about Windows 7. Kelly said of Tuesday's markets, "A lot of it is a short-covering rally."

Steve Cortes Called the Close with a "buy Conagra" recommendation." Brian Kelly said to cover shorts and look up that buy list. Patty Edwards told everyone to move to Seattle get hedged. Joe Terranova, who called the day "Turnaround Tuesday," said to look at high-end discretionary TIF, RL and LULU with new reference points.

Gundlach: Distract this

Jeff Gundlach, possibly the greatest Strategy Session guest, took part in a Fed-abbreviated show Tuesday and asserted, "Junk bonds are actually cheap now ... I think that this thing is going to get a little bit cheaper," but then will be a buy.

Gundlach also chided money managers who sold bonds to get into high-dividend-yielding stocks, saying a year ago in a room full of money managers there were 2 things everyone was nodding at, one was buying emerging markets in local currencies, and the other was selling bonds for dividend-paying stocks. "It disrespects the obvious mismatch in volatility," he said, pointing to the difference in loss if yields double overnight. "Bonds have much, much lower volatility than stocks," he said.

He also said he's completely avoiding Europe. "There's a huge loss that is emanating out of Europe," he said.

Gundlach insisted the findings of his TCW trial are irrelevant to the dollar amounts awarded. "What really matters in a civil trial is where the money flows, and uh, 67 million my way, and zero the other way," he said. "If there's no damages, there's no harm. If there's no harm, there's no breaches."

Gundlach also delivered, in completely deadpan without breaking a smile, some sort of facial to those who have suggested he's been too "distracted" by the trial to adequately call the bond market.

Steve Liesman stunned that Obama’s ‘pass this bill’ jobs package isn’t going anywhere

Steve Liesman seemed rather exasperated on Tuesday's Strategy Session with the utter lack of congressional questions for Ben Bernanke about the Obama jobs plan, suggesting that's a sign there's "no momentum at all in Congress" for it. They also, Liesman said, "almost barely didn't ask him about Operation Twist ... sounds to me like there's nothing going on down there."

And, a lot of people might consider that a good thing.

Gary Kaminsky chortled that Bernanke was asked the "what kept you up at night" question.

[Monday, October 3, 2011]



Stage crew glitch: Google great Marissa Mayer forced to adjust hair at least 14 times during Fast Money interview

Google, some say, is so powerful it can control the world.

However, it's apparently not powerful enough to control the breeze while Marissa Mayer is speaking on CNBC's Fast Money.

Mayer, sporting a very pretty haircut and sparkling fuchsia ensemble, had to fend off a minimum of 14 times (we counted) a fussy breeze that was wreaking havoc with the left side of her hair during a 4-minute-plus Fast Money interview Monday (a couple times the camera cut away to canned shots while Mayer was speaking).

(For the sake of thoroughness we should identify the type of hairstyle Mayer has, but unfortunately it's just beyond our scope of knowledge.)

Mayer presumably has an assistant(s), and quite frankly, this is one of those occasions where the assistant has to step up to the plate and say, "You know what, I'm going to stand way off to the left here and hold up a giant tarp to block the breeze from Marissa."

(Gosh, are we actually giving Marissa Mayer's team advice? Bad move. Trouble possibly ahead. De-listed from search now.)

Mayer, by the way, spoke with enthusiasm about adding Zagat (Mel Lee had trouble pronouncing that one) and the value of Google Maps and how she uses them. "Pulling together our Street View images, we can actually show you what your turn will look like before you make it," said Mayer, who presumably will order up her next Dana Point on-location interview indoors.

Karen Finerman and Melissa Lee quickly chided Guy Adami for questioning why Lee had to call Mayer "one of the most powerful women out there" and stress the word "women." The reason, they said, is because it's a powerful women's conference ... and don't you wonder how much talking/strategizing must occur on the part of each participant for choosing an outfit for such an event?

What Carter Worth didn’t say Monday during his 1,065 analysis

Around here we always root for folks to succeed, and in the rare cases where the Fast Money gang doesn't, well, it's our self-appointed job to note that here and there.

One of the things we found curious shortly after the Aug. 8-9 plunge is how many people were immediately calling it a bottom, and "lows in for the year."

2 of the most prominent on Fast Money were Doug Kass and Carter Worth.

Worth returned to the show a couple times afterward to defend this call, including Aug. 16, when, in the face of carping from Steve Cortes about such a range-bound forecast not being significant, Worth argued that the lows-in-for-the-year opinion was an "important judgment" because he was hearing from a lot of people who said we'll be retesting the lows in October.

Obviously, all those people were right, and Worth's "important judgment" was not.

But the fact he didn't mention this Monday leads one to wonder how "important" it actually was, as Worth seemed to use a bevy of needless small-cap charts to illustrate how the S&P had broken and how only the major big caps were keeping it ahead (which is kind of why you buy the big caps, we always thought, but whatever).

Monday, Worth said that now the "worst-case objective" in the S&P 500 is a "3-4% break below the Aug. 9 low," which would take us to 1,065 and even "could happen on tomorrow's open." Worth also defined what constitutes a "test," which he said is if we drop "more than 1% below" that August low.

They say it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish

Tim Seymour began his remarks on Monday's Fast Money by saying, "I think we are going lower," and then quite soberly, "This is 2008 type of potential."

Yet, for his Final Trade, he said emerging markets have just been obliterated and are due for a bounce, and look for "33 in the EEM to start buying big." (Emphasis on "big.")

(Of course, it's not mutually exclusive that this could be 2008 while emerging markets simultaneously regain their mojo, but ...)

Guy Adami said, "I still think we're headed to 1,020." Joe Terranova said, "The data doesn't matta."

What’s going on with James Altucher’s $2 trillion AAPL market cap right now?

Brian White of Ticonderoga articulated several facts about AAPL trading history around the time of its product launches, saying previously it's been up about 6% in the 2-week period preceding a launch and this time is down 9%, in line with the present S&P 500.

White said this is a "very very different kind of iPhone launch," because of the October timeframe, that it's Tim Cook's 1st, and because it's 2 versions of the phone.

White's price target is $666. Guy Adami said he had to be the one to ask where White got that number. White stressed a couple times it's based on a 20 multiple, but didn't say the obvious, which is that savvy analysts have all kinds of methods for getting their forecasts publicity.

"I think it's a good buying opportunity," White said of the stock.

Karen Finerman asked White if the bar is high or low for Tim Cook. "I think the bar is a question mark," White initially said, before concluding, "I would say the bar is somewhere in the middle."

White said to expect a new iPhone not until early next year; "I don't think there will be a new iPad at this launch."

What’s going on with James Altucher’s 20,000 Dow before 2013 prediction?

Karen Finerman on Monday's Fast Money offered a couple of curious thoughts early on the banks, first that "perception becomes reality," then moments later, "I would be scared to death to be short these things."

She's probably got a point, but right now it seems about as scary as shorting NFLX.

Guy Adami tried crediting Jim Cramer for some sort of irony (although it doesn't quite meet that definition), saying banks are extremely cheap but they're still shorts.

JJ Kinahan basically agreed with that, cautioning, "If you're gonna pick a bottom you may get burned here."

Tim Seymour said a big problem with Europe is that "No banks trust each other."

First he mistakenly said ‘2 cents’ on copper, which hopefully isn’t a Freudian slip

Dennis Gartman opined on Monday's Fast Money that "I think you're actually getting a very real slowdown" in China, and that "all the base metals have broken."

As for copper, "there's nothing underneath this market right now to stop it," Gartman said.

Gartman said 2 factors are driving the market, first being that "data doesn't matter," and second being that "everything seems to have broken," saying copper, tin and zinc inventories are too large. Gartman told Karen Finerman that "the clearing price on copper may well be under ... $2."

Karen Finerman saluted Lawrence E. Golub, the luckiest man on the face of the Earth the president of Golub Capital, for her Final Trade: "Happy birthday to my husband, you drive me crazy but I do love ya," and then recommended out-of-the-money calls on AAPL.

Like Kayla Tausche, attended the University of North Carolina, although Kayla Tausche presumably didn’t declare family hardship and turn pro

Airline expert Robert McAdoo tackled the sudden American Airlines cratering that was occurring Monday, telling Melissa Lee on Fast Money that most of the airlines restructured and/or got the new paradigm figured out a few years ago but AMR is "the one that hasn't turned around yet."

McAdoo said the airline hurt its cause issuing a press release that "wasn't particularly well-worded." (They can always outsource that to this site, we'll word it like heck.)

Melissa Lee, who defied convention for a change with a spirited, seasonal frock with curved top in Halloween orange and chocolate bodice, asked McAdoo who might be helped in a possible American bankruptcy. McAdoo said airline bankruptcy "really hasn't helped anybody that much."

Karen Finerman said it's hard to see how shorting AMR is good risk/reward at this point. Tim Seymour warned, "They are burning through cash."

Guy Adami asked Lee if she preferred the Bob McAdoo version with the (Buffalo) Braves or Knicks? Karen Finerman recommended Lee just tell Adami it was before her time. Actually, despite McAdoo's blistering seasons for the Braves, the correct answer is "Lakers," when he finally claimed an NBA title as a highly effective 6th man.

Gordon: Long dollar is the
currency trade of the year

Todd Gordon said on Monday's Fast Money that "China is leading the way down, believe it or not," and in correlation with that recommends selling a bounce in the Aussie dollar, beginning at 97 and working your way into it up to 99.85. Tim Seymour asked if Canada wouldn't feel a similar effect. Gordon wasn't as high on that one, citing "Canada's proximity to the U.S." and how it's "kind of a dead trade."

Gordon said he's been long U.S. dollar. "That's the trade this year," he said.

Tape not so benign

Guy Adami said on Monday's Fast Money that Coke could "trade 60 bucks" given this tape. Tim Seymour said MCD also could face some China-related headwinds; "I think Asia's in some trouble."

Adami, who recommended LO for his Final Trade, said he's "hard-pressed" to see how there's much more downside to Cablevision. Adami also said "Harvard is the Georgetown of the Northeast."

Scott Nations said NFLX could be overdone to the downside and recommends a call spread, buying Jan 120 and selling the Jan 150, although the graphic got it wrong and said he was buying both options, which Melissa Lee did correct.

Joe Terranova was asked if LQD is a buy. "Yes, it absolutely is," Terranova said.

JJ Kinahan said he's looking to get into INTC around $20.50.

Katie Stockton: If 1,100
breached, look out for 935

Katie Stockton, who hasn't been on Fast Money very much for a long time, surfaced on Monday's Halftime to report, "September was really important in that we got a monthly MACD sell signal."

Stockton said the line in the sand is basically S&P 1,100. She said a breach — which she defined as consecutive weekly closes below that level — "would project a pretty scary downside target of about 935."

Steve Grasso asked what her near-term level would be below 1,110. Stockton said 1,045.

Currency watcher Jens Nordvig predicted "significant downward pressure" on the euro in Q4, perhaps even a test of the 1.18 low of 2010.

Brian Kelly fortunately doesn’t hear Judge’s pestering

Judge Scott Wapner on Monday's Halftime asked Brian Kelly (on the Fast Line) about his "hard landing" theory on China and whether today's PMI data would change that and as soon as Kelly said an innocuous "Not so much," Judge barreled in, "You sound like you're hedging!"

But Kelly continued talking, apparently oblivious to the bait, and insisted, "You're starting to see money flow out of China."

Zachary Karabell said he disagreed, with all due respect (and really means the respect), arguing "there's very little way for money to actually leave China."

Stephen Weiss, vying to "break the tie," asserted the "property bubble is starting to burst" in China.

Grasso: WLT, ANR capable
of being ‘obliterated’

Pete Najarian said he has bought some of the rails, naming UNP and CSX, and said some coal names are getting to the point of looking interesting.

But Steve Grasso said there is "still some room to really fall" and that while he's also eyeing WLT and ANR, "these things could get obliterated if met coal prices continue to fall."

Guest Jorge Beristain defended his pro-FCX/anti-AA call amid Judge's hectoring channeling Dan Dicker as complaining Beristain is late. Beristain said the calls are changing because of "how quickly the global environment has unraveled" and that growth prospects in the U.S. are no better than a "pre-election sideways move."

Beristain said regarding FCX he's "circling the wagons" in terms of gold exposure and a strong balance sheet.

Pete Najarian defined that as "essentially calling a bottom now in copper."

Steve Grasso, who until recently had occasionally argued that the banks were holds because they're bound to be higher years from now, revealed Monday, "I actually sold my Citi, my JPMorgan last week" so he could free up cash for trading around BAC.

Zach Karabell said it makes total sense for Alibaba to be interested in YHOO; it would be "almost like an internal buyout."

‘Serious slowdown’ coming down the pike in China

Gary Kaminsky opened Monday's Strategy Session listing several things the market has probably priced in, and one possibility it hasn't — a China manufacturing crash.

Guest Peter Baum said he wouldn't necessarily call it that, but a "serious slowdown that's coming down the pike."

Kaminsky said Baum is someone aware of what's really happening on the ground in China. Baum said he sees "less people working the factories," and that factories that had been stable "have to declare bankruptcy" because of commodity and labor cost increases.

"We just don't see demand picking up at these places, and if anything, we see factories rolling over," Baum said.

Yield Hunter Gary Ran spoked of leveraged credit structures, including "closed-end funds that sell auction-rate preferreds" as well as "some of the mortgage REITs." Specifically, he recommended NLY, adding "senior bank loans we think are attractive."

Scott Minerd, a regular, added little on Monday to the Europe chatter."It's a Chinese water-torture test," Minerd said, saying political will is the issue; "this is a big enough war chest to stop the problem" but that it should be issued with structural conditions for Greece. He said the high-yield market has "built in recession," but he thinks lower commodity costs could provide a "tax cut for the American consumer."

Jane Wells sees ‘Sideways’

Within the CNBCfix community, discussions of best movies and worst movies occur all the time.

The consensus for a while now is that "Adaptation" is the worst movie of this century.

(Note: "Worst" is defined here from a sample size of fairly well-known films seen by many people with at least some critical presence, quite possibly an award nominee, so we're not counting "Scooby Doo 2" caliber.)

"Sideways," however, gets a lot of votes from certain parties. Thus it was a bit troubling to find that Jane Wells just watched it, possibly with a degree of satisfaction, though her Twitter assessment is rather cryptic: "Watching Sideways. Merlot has never fully recovered."

Mandy actually re-tweeted it, a sign of interest in this film. All the more disconcerting.

"Wall Street II" is "Citizen Kane" compared with this effort.

It's a free country. Everyone's entitled to her opinion.

Patty issues clarification
for Friday Halftime remarks

Watching Friday's Fast Money Halftime Report, we figured Patty Edwards was as crystal clear as Col. Nathan Jessep.

Evidently, no.

Edwards took to Twitter to make this statement: "Just to clarify comments from Halftime: doubt China will be horrid... but you can't stand in front of the freight train either."

Now you know, and can plan accordingly.

The NFL running back:
On the verge of extinction?

CNBC's Fast Money regularly takes up the future of certain declining business models such as those of Barnes&Noble and Best Buy.

They might want to start including NFL running backs in that dialogue.

As passing and points accelerate in the 2011 season, one slowly emerging concept is becoming clear: The NFL running back is nearly history.

The truth is that teams have slowly realized in this century that the running game means nothing anymore. If you have a good running back, great. You win by throwing. Throw, throw, throw.

A running game requires a significant commitment teams are no longer willing to make. In the 1970s and early '80s, when many quarterbacks barely completed 55% of their passes, running more than 50% of the plays was a sound strategy for advancing the ball and avoiding mistakes. Now it's a dinosaur, an afterthought. Passing is too easy. It's also much faster. Running teams can not outscore the passing teams.

Teams have seen the Packers and Saints win Super Bowls, as well as the decade-long dominance of the Pocket Robots in Indianapolis and New England. The serious question for coaches now is why run on any down ... including 4th and 1.

To get ahead of the curve, coaches should accept the inevitable. Shotgun snap, every play. Even 3rd and inches. 5 linemen, plus 5 receivers every snap. 3 of those receivers will be speed guys. The 4th will be a possession guy. The 5th will be an H-back who generally sits near the QB to block but could also catch. The trick is to have an H-back capable of plodding into the line on short-yardage plays. So yes, there will be an occasional handoff, although many of the running plays will be simple quarterback sneaks.

At some point, the "quality control" coaches are bound to realize that every running play results in less value than the average passing play. For now, head coaches are afraid to change and be called out as foolish. Someone overhauling a bad team with nothing to lose will be the first to empty the roster of RBs and realize the future. And for a while, they'll get ahead of the defenses still insisting on using the obsolete linebacker.

Pour yourself a cup o’ java and check out the CNBCfix review of Judge’s ‘The Coffee Addiction’

Expanding his repertoire, Scott Judge Wapner moonlights in the CNBC long-form programming department with a broad view of the world's coffee obsession in "The Coffee Addiction," which premiered this week. In this salute to capitalism, pretty much everyone seems to make money, no one seems to get hurt, and now you'll know why Starbucks baristas can't turn their backs on you.

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