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Halftime: Without Steve Jobs, Is the Apple Trade Safe?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs will attend a meeting in California on Thursday with President Barack Obama, according to Reuters.

The timing of the meeting coincides with a report in the National Enquirer with pictures purporting to be of a frail Jobs arriving at the Stanford Cancer Center. The report cites doctors, who are not treating Jobs, saying he has six weeks to live based on the photos.

After Wall Street learned Jobs' health may be failing, Apple shares slipped 1 percent. Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, stepped away from Apple on medical leave last month. It was the third time in seven years that Jobs has taken leave for health-related reasons.

"Clearly, if Steve Jobs were not able to return to Apple, you know longer-term, you know Apple is not the same," said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein. "He's an iconic and visionary leader."

In the near-term, however, Sacconaghi said Apple's product pipeline is largely baked for the next two years. Sacconaghi said the company has proven it can execute, even in Jobs absence and he doesn't think that will change.

On Wall Street, Sacconaghi said most investors don't think Jobs will return to Apple. If he didn't come back, Sacconaghi thinks Apple shares would fall by 5 to 10 percent. In the weeks that followed, however, Sacconaghi thinks the stock would recoup its losses.

Institutional Investor recently named Sacconaghi the No. 1 analyst in information technology hardware.

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POPS & DROPS

Stocks held slight gains after a slew of economic news, including rising inflation and strong regional manufacturing data. The "Fast Money" traders, though, are following these market movers.

Pops (stocks that went higher)

J.M. Smucker (SJM) popped 3.5%: Earnings slipped 2.6 percent on restructuring and merger charges, as higher sales in the company’s coffee business boosted revenue. Guy Adami of Drakon Capital said he's not "running out" to buy this stock.

Weight Watchers (WTW) popped 40%: The weight loss company saw shares surging after fourth-quarter profits more than doubled. It said revenues grew in the U.S. and online. Najarian likes this move, but is no longer in the stock.

Drops (stocks that went lower)

Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) dropped 3%: Bank of America cut its rating on the stock to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’ because of valuation, but author Stephen Weiss thinks its a buying opportunity.

Dreamworks (DWA) dropped 4%: This stock was downgraded to ‘sell’ from ‘hold’ at Stifel based on valuation. Steve Grasso of Stuart Frankel would stay clear.

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CALL THE CLOSE

Before the "Fast Money" traders wrapped up Thursday's program, they offered their thoughts on the market and how they plan to play it.

"Resistance in the market is incredible," Adami said. "You still gotta be long the S&P right here."

Weiss, Najarian and Grasso all think the market could go higher.

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Trader disclosure: On Feb. 17, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders; Guy Adami Owns (AGU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE) and (BTU). Stephen Weiss Owns (AAPL), (CSCO), (MSFT), (HBAN), (JPM), (FAS), (DVN), (COP), (HK), (TXN), (QCOM), (SMCI), (SWC), (BTU), (MEE), (CNX), (AGU) and (IPI). Jon Najarian Owns (AKAM), Is Short (AKAM) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (AMD), Is Short (AMD) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (ANF), Is Short (ANF) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (CSTR), Is Short (CSTR) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (JNPR), Is Short (JNPR) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (JOYG), Is Short (JOYG) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (RAX), Is Short (RAX) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (X), Is Short (X) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (WMB), Is Short (WMT) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (APA), Is Short (APA) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (CLF), Is Short (CLF) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (NBR), Is Short (NBR) Calls. Jon Najarian Owns (NVDA), Is Short (NVDA) Calls. Steve Grasso owns (ASTM), (BA), (BAC), (BWC), (C), (CSCO), (JPM), (LIT), (LPX), (MT), (MHY), (NDAQ), (PFE), (PRST) and (S).

Comcast is the parent company of CNBC
Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal
GE owns 49% of NBCUniversal
GE owns 49% of CNBC

GUY ADAMI
Adami's wife works for (MRK)

STEVE GRASSO
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (ABX)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (AMGN)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (CSCO)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (MSFT)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (PFE)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Are Short (QQQQ)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Are Short (AAPL)
Stuart Frankel & Co. And Its Partners Are Short (TIF)

RICH ILCZYSZYN
***NO DISCLOSURES

TONI SACCONAGHI
Sacconaghi Owns (STX)
An Employee Of bernstein Owns (AAPL)
Accounts Over Which Bernstein And/Or Affiliates Exercise Investment Discretion Own More Than 1% Of (AAPL)
Bernstein Is Market Maker In (AAPL)
Bernstein Or Affiliate Expects To Recieve/Seek Investment Banking Compensation From (AAPL) In Next 3 Months

CNBC.com with wires. Reuters contributed to this report.

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
DWA
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HBAN
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WTW
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AAPL
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