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  Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009 | 11:29 AM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: TurboTax-Maker Intuit Takes Hit on Geithner Admission

Posted By: John Melloy

Shares of Inuit fell to their low on the day on strong volume after Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner reluctantly admitted during testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that he used the company's TurboTax software to prepare his returns.

Here was the interaction between Geithner and Sen. Chuck Grassley:

Sen. Grassley: Did you use software to prepare your 2001 and 2002 tax returns?

Geithner: I did

Sen. Grassley: You Didn't?

Geithner: No, I did

Sen.Grassley: Which brand did you use?

Geithner: I'll answer that question, but I will say these are my responsibilities, not the tax software's responsibilities, but I used TurboTax to prepare my returns.

The chamber crowd laughed out loud to Geithner's response, but it was no laughing matter for Intuit. The Treasury nominee admitted to making "careless mistakes" when preparing his tax return, apparently using the software. Geithner failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes earlier in 2001 and 2002.

Intuit shares have since rebounded off their lows, proving that any press may indeed be good press for the company.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Tuesday, 20 Jan 2009 | 10:47 AM ET

Fast Money First Look: New Low For Financials Today Forebode New Market Low?

Posted By: John Melloy

While Obama takes the oath, all eyes in the markets will be on the financial sector following RBS's monster loss announcement in the UK and reports of a new phase of the bailout ahead this week in the U.S.

That new phase can't come soon enough as the Financial Select Sector SPDR is just 30 cents away from closing below its Nov. 20th low point of $9.39. This breakdown may be a psychological blow the market finds tough to handle today and this week.

Citing sentiment that embodies the feeling about most of the sector, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris Mutascio downgraded shares of Bank of America to "Hold" from "Buy" this morning. His call may push the sector to that new closing low today.

"Downgrading the shares at an 18-year low and at approximately 70%-75% of pro forma tangible book value per share may look foolish to some," writes Mutascio. "In the end, we had to answer one simple question in order to maintain our Buy rating on the shares: If we had a clean slate, would we buy the shares today?"

Mutascio said the answer was "No", citing even further deterioration in bad loans for commercial real estate, along with the substantial preferred dividends Bank of America will need to pay to Uncle Sam. That's the concern about the troubled banks in this sector. Another phase of the bailout could wipe out even more equity for common shareholders.

Our debate on the show tonight will be whether or not the rest of the market can recover while financials go nowhere or lower. Tune in to see what the traders think.

ONE MORE NOTE: Also debuting tonight, a weeklong series on "Finding Yield". This was an idea from host Dylan Ratigan and comes about after observing investors and traders' thirst for anything that throws off some yield, whether it be a corporate bond ETF or so-called safe dividend-paying stock. With the markets set to churn for most of the year, any instrument that provides a higher payout than record low yields for Treasuries will be in high demand for investors wanting to rest a little easier. The gang will try to identify a few of those for you all week. Barron's highlighted one such instrument over the weekend that seemed to break out last week: the Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF .

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Monday, 5 Jan 2009 | 1:59 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: Is Biotech The Sector Of The Year?

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: Is Biotech The Sector Of The Year?

Biotechnology stocks are getting a lot of chatter already in this very young year.

A Wall Street Journal 'Heard on the Street' column over the weekend noted that cash-rich big pharma may go shopping for biotechs that have late-stage drugs, in order to cover for their blockbusters coming off patent, such as Pfizer's Lipitor. Amylin is a possible target mentioned by the paper.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times notes that Pfizer is open to a deal with a biotech rival. Although,Mike Huckman, CNBC's Pharmaceuticals reporter, maintains that this is nothing new and that Pfizer CEO Kindler has hinted at this before . Still, the buzz is picking up for the sector, which outperformed the market dramatically last year.

But what's probably the most bullish piece of news on Biotechs (see gain in iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF today) is the outlook piece by JPMorgan's Geoffrey Meacham, the No. 2 analyst in the space, according to Institutional Investor magazine.

"We are positively inclined on the sector and like 2008," writes Meacham, citing "strong fundamentals for the large cap group, a favorable M&A environment and limited economic sensitivity."

CNBC's Huckman will be on the show tonight to discuss with the traders if and how you should play this group. In the past, Guy Adami has recommended Gilead Sciences , which gave investors a positive return last year and is currently the top 2009 pick of JPMorgan's Meacham. Karen Finerman has recommended the Nasdaq Biotech ETF in the past. Tune in tonight for updated trades.

OTHER NOTE: Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, the most-followed Apple analyst on The Street, will be on the show tonight to discuss Steve Jobs' latest health revelation (He's apparently OK), which has been an obsession of the show and this column . Kudos to CNBC's Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Jim Goldman for sticking to his guns (and his reporting) and not succumbing to the rumors floated constantly by the blogosphere. Goldman maintained through all of this that Jobs was not on his deathbed. Fast Money viewers who listened to Goldman are now better off, as the stock is poised to break above the point when those rumors sparked the aggressive selling in Apple shares.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Friday, 19 Dec 2008 | 11:43 AM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: 2009 - The Year Of The Trader

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: 2009 - The Year Of The Trader

The profit and economic outlook is the cloudiest traders can ever remember and it may remain unclear well until 2009. Many believe we’re setting up for 12 months of volatile, trendless markets as the powers that be search to find the resolution that will make this bubble pop the least painful.

After the stock market’s crash in 1987 and the collapse in Japan in 1990, markets exhibited a kind-of "crash-and-churn" pattern: a monster sell-off followed by a decade of purgatory as the great forces at work during the prior bubble period are unwound.

Staring these kinds of scenarios in the face has many investors changing their gameplan, with even long-term believers suddenly finding themselves more in the day trading camp. 2009 is setting up to be "The Year of the Trader"

I'm going to "shorten my profit horizons, keep positions light and flexible and use options more as insurance," said Joe Terranova, chief alternatives strategist for Virtus Investment Partners in New York. "At the end of 2009, I will know if my year was successful if I hit a lot of singles and doubles, drew walks and kept my strikeouts low."

Find out on the show tonight just how Terranova, a FM regular, plans to play small ball next year.

TO BE SURE: Another scenario could take place. Barclays portfolio strategist Barry Knapp sees a second half recovery. By his estimation, profits will bottom in the third quarter, with the stock market anticipating that turn about seven months beforehand, as it typically has throughout history.

"If we are right that earnings trough in (the third quarter) and we are not dealing with a repeat of 2002, we believe the market could turn some time in" in the first quarter, wrote Knapp in Barclays 2009 outlook piece released yesterday.

In either case, it sounds like you’ll need to begin 2009 on your toes and not just buy stocks in January and store them away until December.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Wednesday, 17 Dec 2008 | 12:41 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: 2008 is Effectively Over; Apple's 'One Scare Too Many'

Posted By: John Melloy

With the Fed's historic policy announcement yesterday and Morgan Stanley earnings today, the impact moments for the stock market in 2008 are over. The economic and earnings calendar between now and the end of the year is quite bare.

Now the question is, are the technical forces powerful enough to keep the S&P 500 on its current uptrend toward 1,000 or is a market with no earnings and government actions destined to drift sideways or lower. Today's action points to the latter.

To be sure, the weekly jobless claims report Thursday could move the market if it is particularly bad and we still need a resolution on the GM loan. Also, we could get a major company to release an early outlook for 2009, but many of them have already done so.

We discussed this dilemma on the morning conference call in preparation for tonight's Fast Money. Pete Najarian , Optionmonster.com co-founder and FM trader, is now turning his sights toward the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama and figuring out how to position himself for the stimulus likely to come about from the new president. More on that on tonight's show.

SIDE NOTE:Apple down 7 percent and counting today related to the company announcement that CEO Steve Jobs will not make the keynote address during the annual Macworld Expo (not affiliated officially with Apple). We highlighted this announcement last night on the show and CNBC’s Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Jim Goldman called in on the Fast Line to tell us that his sources suggest this is not related to Jobs’ health. The stock recovered in the after market, but this morning it has resumed a steady decline. It seems investors just want some straight talk from Apple about succession.

"We don't know why Steve Jobs has pulled out of his annual address at Macworld," writes Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner, in a report titled ‘One Scare Too Many’. "Maybe he's not feeling well, or maybe he just has nothing new to say," writes Reiner, who downgraded the stock. "Whatever the reason, the unexpected announcement has underscored the greatest risk to Apple's long-term success - its dependence on Jobs' health and its apparent lack of a succession plan."

What's more, maybe investors fear that the cancellation by Jobs means that no new, spectacular Apple products are on the horizon for him to discuss.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Monday, 15 Dec 2008 | 12:40 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: As Goldman Goes, So Goes 2008's Last Gasp

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: As Goldman Goes, So Goes 2008's Last Gasp

As we head into the last full week of the trading year, the S&P 500 is up 17 percent from the benchmark's 11-year low hit on Nov. 20. The financial part of the index has had a large role in that comeback, posting a gain of about 24 percent.

This last gasp by the market is now in the hands of Goldman Sachs , according to traders. The recently-converted commercial bank posts fiscal 4th quarter results Tuesday morning.

And boy, has the bar been set low. At the end of November, analysts started slashing estimates left and right on Goldman and now expect the company to lose a whopping $3.50 a share, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

Expectations for a surprise beat may be wishful thinking tainted by the automatic surprise dolled out every quarter by Goldman during the go-go bull market days, at least according to recent commentary by our guest tonight, Jeffery Harte of Sandler O'Neil.

In a note on Dec. 4, Harte slashed his 4th qtr. estimate on Goldman to a worse-than-consensus $3.78 a share loss. The widely-followed analyst cites greater-then-expected asset writedowns and flat-line investment banking activity levels, not to mention the collapse in global equities.

If Goldman does manage to disappoint, Morgan Stanley may give the market a second chance if it can say business is not as bad when it reports Wednesday morning.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Thursday, 4 Dec 2008 | 12:38 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: Buying On Bad News, Everybody's Doing It

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: BUYING ON BAD NEWS, EVERYBODY'S DOING IT

A quick note on a phenomenon we intend to explore on tonight's show: Buying on bad news.
Earlier this week, we saw it in General Electric , Sears and Research In Motion . All three were beaten-down shares that rose after the companies issued lower outlooks. Today, we're seeing it in spades.

DuPont says it is going to LOSE money in the fourth quarter. Shares higher.

Nokia says global handset market will shrink next year. Shares higher.

Toll Brothers says 2009 revenues will be significantly below those of 2008. Shares 11 percent higher!

AT&T cuts 12,000 jobs and reduces 2009 capital expenditures. Shares close to breaking into the green.

The traders have said this is a "somewhat encouraging" sign. Encouraging to veteran traders like Guy Adami, because it means the market is responding more to technicals and likely has further to run on the upside. Guy has cited the mid- to upper- 9000s has the top of a range for the Dow Average.

"Somewhat" because it's still too early to call it a definitive sign that ALL THE BAD NEWS is priced in. Things can always get worse. Analyst estimates are all over the place. CEOs don't know for sure what this new year will bring.

And this week is just the first wave of 2009 outlooks. From here until the end of December, there should be a flurry of them. If the market can keep rising in the face of this barrage, then it may be time to get more bullish.

ONE MORE NOTE: Jeff Macke flagged this headline to me yesterday. He found it quite ironic.

Reuters: Fortress Suspends Redemptions For Now

I'll add this one from Dow Jones into the mix.

DJ: Fortress Invest: Drawbridge Global Redemptions Suspended

The drawbridge is indeed up. This one I did not see:

Fortress to Pour Boiling Oil on Investors Trying to Redeem Funds.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Tuesday, 2 Dec 2008 | 12:14 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: Goldman Can't Let Go

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: Goldman Can't Let Go

Goldman Sachs shares are lower, as the rest of the financials rebound, on a Wall Street Journal story that the firm may report a loss two weeks from now of as much as $2 billion. Something else that may be hurting the shares is a note from Fast Money friend (and guest tonight) Brad Hintz of the objective and reputable shop Bernstein Research.

Hintz notes that Goldman's ability to profit in the past was directly linked to the amount of leverage it was able to take. Excluding certain outliers, "the correlation between gross leverage" and return on equity is 88 percent, writes Hintz. "As a result, Bernstein expects the business models of the two surviving large-capitalization securities firms to shift more towards the institutional banking models employed by Banker's Trust and the 'old' JP Morgan pursued in the mid 1990s."

Despite repeated assurances to the contrary (which I highlighted in this blog last month ), the good old days on Wall Street are over. As Dylan Ratigan highlights repeatedly on the show, the swinging days of 40-to-1 leverage shall never return.

Many Goldman lovers have been to reluctant to realize this, betting that the firm is still a bastion of strength in the industry. "Like Apple, there is a cadre of 'true believers' among the Goldman Sachs equity holders," writes Hintz. He believes Goldman isn't different, rating the shares a 'market perform'.

And Hintz should know better than any of us. He used to be the CFO at Lehman Brothers.

ONE LAST NOTE: With the Big Three hearings set to begin Thursday, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who reportedly vowed to DRIVE to the hearing this time, better get started soon. Google maps puts the drive from Detroit to DC at nearly 9 hours, longer if Mulally, in true road-trip fashion, stops over for beers in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. We have many questions about this trip. What car is he taking? Will he use EZ-Pass? Fast Money vows to get you these answers by tonight.

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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

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  Monday, 1 Dec 2008 | 3:59 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: Despite Today's Setback, Some Investors Believe in This Bounce

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: Despite Today's Setback, Some Investors Believe in This Bounce

The vital signs of the mighty rebound over the previous five trading days are quite impressive. From the close on Nov. 20 to the close last Friday, the S&P 500 gained 19.1 percent. That move cut its bear market loss down to a more palatable 43 percent, from a stomach-churning 52 percent.

Still, it became a running joke on Fast Money to mark the might of this rally. In all the seriousness I could muster, I would tell host Dylan Ratigan to make sure he points out that it was the best 4 days since the 1930s. The next day, I would tell him to make sure he points out it was the best five days since the Great Depression.

The traders weren't "feeling" the rally for a number of reasons. Namely, because it came immediately after a two-day collapse where the S&P 500 shed 12 percent and hit its lowest in 11 years. Also, this bounce came during the light trading period surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday.

While Jason Trennert is not ready to "divine a long-term trend" on the overall market from the last five days of trading, the Chief Investment Strategist at Strategas Research Partners is ready to pronounce that a few playable trends may have made themselves known during this bounce.

Trennert, who founded his New York-based firm after gaining a strong reputation on the Street while working for Ed Hyman's ISI Group, notes that aluminum, gold and steel were among the top 20 performing industry groups since Nov. 20, along with global infrastructure groups like engineering and construction materials. In his note to clients this morning, Trennert calls this a "reflation trade" due to the fact that the "Administration and the Fed both appear to be training all available firepower against the prospect of deflation."

Catch Trennert tonight on Fast at 5 p.m. to find out the best ways to put this trade on.

ONE LAST NOTE: If you thought you had a rough Thanksgiving with the in-laws, check out Pilgrim's Pride shares. Turkey sales last week apparently weren't large enough to keep the poultry producer from filing for bankruptcy today.


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Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! If you'd prefer to make a comment but not have it published on our website send your message to fastmoney@cnbc.com .

Trader disclosure: On Dec. 1st, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Macke Owns (WMT), (MSFT), (UUP), (DIS); Macke Is Short (YHOO), (TM); Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IYR), (IJR), (MDY),(SPY), (IWM), (COF), (BBT), (USO), (VNO), (EQR); Finerman's Firm Owns (DSX) And Is Short (GNK); Seymour Owns (AAPL), (AA), (BAC), (F), (MER); Seygem Asset Management Is Short (EEM); Seygem Asset Management Owns (EEV)

GE Is The Parent Company Of CNBC; Charles Schwab Is A Sponsor Of "Fast Money"

CNBC.com with wires

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  Monday, 24 Nov 2008 | 12:38 PM ET

BEHIND THE MONEY: After a 50% Drop, Stocks Could Still Be Overvalued

Posted By: John Melloy

BEHIND THE MONEY: After a 50% Drop, Stocks Could Still Be Overvalued

After a 50 percent decline since the S&P 500 set a record last year, are stocks finally cheap? It's the question everyone is asking. Playing around with the "Trends" feature on Google, I found that the number of news articles with the words "cheap stocks" have surged. More than 5,000 articles around the world today alone use those terms. I know in my world, the Fast Money traders are getting tired of me asking that question on our morning conference call.

It's a natural inclination to ask that question as share prices tank by this magnitude. If you look at the "cheap stocks" reference chart provided by Google, it is a mirror image of the the S&P 500 over the last 2 months.

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