Professionals reveal their top trades
Stocks declined on the final trading day of August, with the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 index poised to log their worst monthly declines since May 2012, following a mixed bag of economic reports.
Some professional traders, though, still saw opportunities in stocks. Here are the top three trades from the pros on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report."
Salesforce.com: After posting better-than-expected quarterly results, including a revenue beat and improved guidance, the cloud computing provider saw its shares skyrocket to an all-time high on Wednesday.
In turn, a number of firms upgraded the technology stock. Salesforce also benefits from the leadership of Marc Benioff, whom pro trader Jon Najarian called "one of the most respected CEOs in the space or perhaps anywhere in America.
"I know it's a tough buy up here at new, all-time highs, but I don't think you can sell it," said Najarian, co-founder of OptionMonster. "You can take some profits, but you can't be short the name."
Nuance Communications: Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said he had raised his stake in the speech recognition software maker, sending shares sharply higher Friday. Josh Brown said Nuance is "a perfect Carl Icahn stock" because he thinks the underlying company is ripe for change and has a lot of opportunity for improvement.
"They've got great technology, but it's a bad business," said Brown, a wealth manager with Fusion Analytics overseeing $400 million in assets for high-net-worth individuals, retirement plans and charitable foundations. "They've got areas they can shed. They can be more efficient. They could do a much better job at communicating their value proposition," he added.
If the technicals are any indicator, Brown thinks NUAN is a "really easy trade." The stock has found support at $18 a share all year, so he recommends putting a stop just below that level and then just letting "Carl Icahn do his magic."
Apache: The oil and gas producer is selling a 33 percent stake in its Egypt oil and gas business for $3.1 billion to state-owned Chinese oil giant Sinopec, reducing its exposure in the country amid the recent political unrest.
"The overhang has always been in their Middle Eastern assets, and this helps them get out of that because obviously it's a tough place to do business," said Stephen Weiss of Short Hills Capital. "I'm not bullish on the energy space, but if I were, this is what I would buy."
—Reuters contributed to this report