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Fly-By, Drive-By

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From the first hydrogen car made for the average Joe, to Chrysler’s beefy hybrid SUVs, the future is on display at the L.A. Auto Show. But the big question is whether the U.S. automakers can pull off their greatest feat yet: profitability.

CNBC’s Phil LeBeau told Fast Money he’s not entirely convinced that new SUV models from GM, including a hybrid Silverado and a fuel cell Equinox, will be as big a market as many anticipate. The only hybrid vehicle selling well in the U.S. is Toyota’s (TM) Prius, LeBeau said, indicating to him that consumers want hybrid cars that look different and “make a point.”

Pete Najarian disagreed, saying the major problem for the hybrid market is that the cars are simply too expensive. Consumers who want to do the right thing by buying a less fuel-dependent vehicle can’t always do it without overpaying. If General Motors (GM) could address that concern, Pete thinks it would blow open the hybrid market.

On the topic of Wednesday’s reported merger talks between United Airlines parent UAL (UAUA) and Delta Airlines (DAL), LeBeau said the proposal, which Delta has denied, is probably “too soon” but is indicative of the direction the airline industry is moving toward. A combination of United and Delta would create an airline with international exposure, which is “where the growth is.” A merger between domestic airlines wouldn’t make nearly as much sense, LeBeau said.

Finally, a report that Boeing (BA) has called a peak this year in airline sales is “totally contradictory” to everything LeBeau has heard from the industry. “The fact thay they’re saying this is curious to me,” he said.

Finerman found it odd, too. Between now and 2012 there’s hundreds of billions of dollars worth of aircraft to come, she said. And the domestic airlines haven’t even ordered their planes yet.

Finerman recommended Kaiser Alumnium (KALU) as a trade on the aerospace market. The parts-maker stock jumped Wednesday on better-than-expected earnings.

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
XCS
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DAL
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GM
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HON
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KALU
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7203.T
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UAL
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Trader disclosure: On Nov. 14, 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (DIS), (YHOO), (EMC); Najarian Owns (AMTD) Options, (C) Options, (CSCO) Options, (GOOG) Options, (GS) Options, (XLF) Options, (YHOO) Options, (EMC) Options; Najarian Owns (MER) Options And Is Short (MER); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (GS), (KALU); Finerman's Firm Owns (KSS), (NMX), (NYX), (VMSI), (YHOO), (AEO), (PLCE); Finerman's Firm Is Short (SPY), (IYR), (IJR), (MDY); Finerman's Firm Owns (LEH) Puts, (MER) Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT) Options; Finerman's Firm Owns S&P 500 December Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns Russell 2000 December Puts; GE Is The Parent Company Of CNBC