Greece Rattles U.S. Stocks; Twitter CEO Speculation Continues

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks are being hammered and falling lower on Friday, with the S&P 500 down about 0.6% but off its lows for the session. Despite rallying for several days, stocks are moving lower on continued Greek debt drama -- a situation that is starting to get old for Jim Lebenthal, president of Lebenthal Asset Management. 

Lebenthal told the other panelists on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report" show that he hopes investors will start to focus on the improving U.S. and recovering global economies.

Jon Najarian, co-founder of Optionmonster.com and Trademonster.com, said it's unfortunate but the Greek financial crisis will likely hinder the market all throughout the summer.  He expects for the near term that bond prices will recover as investors move to what are perceived as safer assets. 

"We definitely stand on fairly fragile footing," said Dubravko Lakos, head of U.S. equity strategy and global quantitative research at JPMorgan. He said a rate hike by the Federal Reserve could cause a stock market correction of 5% to 10%. According to Fed funds future rates, investors appear to believe there is a 60% to 65% chance of a rate hike in September and fully expect higher interest rates by December. 

Equities have traded pretty well, given the sharp rally in bond yields, Lakos added. While earnings expectations are low, he said they could become too low, setting up U.S. companies to do better than expected. He said investors should avoid utility stocks while he prefers the financial, technology, health care and energy sectors. 

Josh Brown, CEO and co-founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management, asked why a 5% to 10% correction would be such a bad thing for investors. In October, stock prices dropped 9.8%, granting investors an amazing opportunity to buy more shares. 

Brown observed that the prices of financial stocks are still holding up relatively well compared with those in most other sectors. It's important for this sector to continue to do well, if the rally is to continue, he said. 

The conversation turned to Twitter (TWTR), which made headlines on Thursday evening when CEO Dick Costolo announced his resignation, to take effect July 1. This could be a positive catalyst, according to Bob Peck, Internet analyst and managing director at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. 

"We feel better" about Twitter's prospects now "because we think this is a catalyst for change," Peck said, adding that new products, better ad targeting and increasing user engagement are necessary for the social media company to succeed. 

Previously, Peck named his top CEO candidates and now added Adam Bain, president of Twitter, to that list. 

While Peck has become more optimistic on Twitter's long-term opportunities, he cut his price target on its stock from $44 to $40 and maintained his neutral rating. He also said monthly active user growth in the short-term could be negative for the current quarter, which would be a first for Twitter. He doesn't expect Twitter to be acquired in the short term, he added. 

Najarian said he would be a buyer of Twitter shares at prices from $30 to $32. Investors can look for Michael Kors (KORS) shares to climb to the mid-$50s in the intermediate term, while SanDisk (SNDK) stock is also starting to look attractive, he said. 

Michael Kors has received a "complete shellacking" and its share price is now down almost 50% from its 52-week highs, Lebenthal said. He likes the stock on the long side, but is unsure of when the best time to buy would be. 

Brown countered, arguing that investors shouldn't be looking to buy stocks at or near 52-week lows when the S&P 500 has approached near all-time highs.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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