NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the S&P 500 continues to grind higher, the CNBC "Fast Money" trading panel took a look at some of the stocks that led the rally in 2014 but have struggled in the past few months.
Shares of Tesla Motors (TSLA) climbed 90% from the start of the year until Sept. 4 but have dropped 20% since. Morgan Stanley significantly cut its earnings estimates in November, but didn't change its overweight rating or $320 price target, Guy Adami, managing director of stockmonster.com, said on Wednesday's show.
Lower gas prices finally seem to be weighing on the stock. As long as shares can stay above $225, investors can stay long Tesla, he reasoned.
Improved fuel efficiency among other non-electric vehicles is bad news for Tesla, according to Tim Seymour, managing partner of Triogem Asset Management. The automaker is overvalued and will likely see rising competition from its peers.
Competition will definitely be a factor for Tesla, added Pete Najarian, co-founder of optionmonster.com and trademonster.com. But not necessarily from just electric cars. Consumers who previously overlooked buying an SUV may consider doing so now that gas prices have dropped so much.
"Why would anyone buying a $120,000 car care about gas prices?" asked Brian Kelly, founder of Brian Kelly Capital. The selloff shouldn't be tied to oil prices, and he is a buyer of Tesla near current levels.
Turning to U.S. Steel (X) , the stock is down 29% since Sept. 17 after rallying 55% from the start of the year. Seymour and Adami are both buyers of the stock, which has support near its 200-day moving average.
Kelly said he would buy the stock for the next three months but not for the next year. Najarian said to buy Alcoa (AA) instead.
The conversation shifted to Apple (AAPL) , which climbed 1.1% on Wednesday. The stock still has momentum, backed by strong demand for the iPhone 6, said Tony Sacconaghi, senior analyst at Bernstein. He has an overweight rating on the stock with a $120 price target.
However, as investors get into 2015 and start to look out for additional catalysts, they may grow worried that the iPhone 6 upgrade cycle will begin to slow and over the longer term, they may worry that the overall high-end smartphone upgrade cycle will grow longer between each product. Only time will tell, but for now, Apple looks good on the long side, Sacconaghi said.
Seymour warned that Apple’s valuation is getting stretched compared to its historical average, but acknowledged that its long-term horizon still looks promising with its suite of health applications and Apple Pay.
The stock is still cheap and has “way more upside,” Najarian argued. Kelly suggested that investors who are long simply take profits on one-third of their position.
Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) , said there will likely be a pullback in rig activity in the first quarter of 2015. However, his company is “very well hedged” and has put itself in a position of financial flexibility. The company has $1.5 billion in cash and is focused on eliminating its debt, he said.
If investors are looking for a stock to short, don’t pick Pioneer Natural Resources, Kelly advised. The company is too well-run and has plenty of cash. Oil prices are likely near a short-term bottom, he added.
Adami is a buyer of Exxon Mobil (XOM) , which continues to trade well, despite fluctuating oil prices.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell