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Moody's Has Some Explaining To Do


Ratings agency's "one-off" glitch not the first.


Greetings from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where I like to show up at CNBC HQ at least once every few weeks, if only because it makes the locals just a little nervous. Here's what I'm watching with the two eyes I keep in front of my head when around these parts:

  • Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS); we hardly knew ye. I'm having a bit of a challenge
    describing the nature of the beating the company is getting. After all, they sell guns,
    bats, boxing equipment, golf equipment and all sorts of other implements of destruction. Let's just say this: the beating is severe and the retail environment remains brutal. We'll have Dick's CEO Ed Stack on Fast Money tonight to tell us how he's going to try win back investor trust (beyond his being the type of stand-up CEO who would go on our show with a stock down 20%).

  • Also being clubbed today is GameStop (GME). The game seller's quarter actually looks pretty good, at first blush. The Street has two problems with the stock. 1) The video game console cycle is getting mature; meaning the rate of growth will slow (as demonstrated by the conservative annual EPS guidance). 2) Specialty Retail is Where Love Goes to Die. It doesn't seem to matter if that love is active or couch-based.

  • Moody's (MCO) is presumably also surly, grumpy, sullen and crabby about being down more than 7% today as the rating agency comes under scrutiny for a "computer error" leading to incorrect pricing on an untold number of exotic debt instruments. My position on the ratings agencies remains this: It doesn't have to justify the myriad "one off" mistakes it's made over the years but rather its very existence. I'm not remotely kidding.

  • A day after announcing severe capacity cutbacks in response to fuel expenses, the airlines are moving higher, led by AMR Corp. (AMR) up 8%. Ford (F) is down about the same amount after CEO Alan Mulally announced that screaming high fuel prices are crimping SUV sales. When reached for comment, crude oil, currently resting like Joe Willie Namath before Super Bowl III after a torrid run, smiled confidently and said "Mark my words: I'll kill both the Airlines and Autos before I'm through," then tried to lay a boozy kiss on a startled reporter.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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