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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Mike Norman, BIZRADIO show host, and Stuart Varney, FOX Business News correspondent.
Trading Pit: War Against the War on Terror: Hurting America and Stocks?
Some are calling it a war against the War on Terror. In the last few weeks, top secret programs have been brought out in the press and the Supreme Court gave enemy prisoners at Guantanamo Bay more rights than many believe they deserve — all while we are at war. Is this hurting America and the stock market?
Mike Norman: If the war against the war results in us not being able to go after terrorists and track them down, because we are disclosing very important information, it is a danger. If the war against the war results in us pulling out of Iraq, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the U.S. Geopolitically, we will lose a lot of credibility and goodwill. It will cast us as a paper tiger that is unable to combat our mortal enemies. And it will almost certainly create an Iranian "satellite state" in the form of what is now Iraq. All of these things are worries for investors and the economy.
Pat Dorsey: If we're not going to respect the Supreme Court's decision, then there's no point in fighting any kind of war for freedom or democracy. They're upholding the law as they see it. You may or may not agree with it, but this is how the founding fathers set up our country. But, as we saw on Thursday, it has nothing to do with the market. The market is all about the Federal Reserve, not the Supreme Court.
Gary B. Smith: Anything that indirectly hurts our security hurts the market. The strength of our market depends a lot upon our security. We have the best and most liquid market in the world because we are rarely attacked on our shores. This is in part due to our war on terror. Anything that weakens our war, weakens our security, and will make our market less secure and weaker.
Scott Bleier: Every generation is faced with a challenge to our way of life. We're faced with one now. The problem is that there is a segment of the population that have gotten so spoiled with our personal freedoms—i.e. the right to privacy—that they forget we sometimes have to temporarily give up some of our freedoms in order to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Confidence is what builds our markets, and if we cannot fight the war on terror, the market will lose confidence.
Stuart Varney: In my opinion, the War on Terror is being deliberately undermined for political reasons. Can you imagine the 1950s WWII generation undermining the president, foreign policy, and the war? Can you imagine Frank Sinatra speaking out against America? Could you see Jimmy Stewart objecting to all that America stands for? The current generation is not responding to the challenge the way prior generations did. People objected during Vietnam, but this time it's for political reasons, because some have such a deep hatred of the president. If this leads to undermining the war on terror, the stock market and economy will really get hurt.
Tobin Smith: Our soldiers are fighting so someone has the right to burn the flag. So judicial branch can say to executive branch, "You've overstepped your authority." You can argue technique and that liberals hate the president, but we are watching our democracy working the way it was intended. It's not pretty, but it is working, and that is what we're defending.
Who has made the best and worst calls of the year?
In January Gary B. said that Pixar would revitalize Disney (DIS) and the stock would benefit. It's done well and is up 19 percent. Gary still likes Disney because it has been in a long uptrend. He said the only time to sell the stock is if it breaks down from its uptrend line. (Disney closed on Friday at $30.00.)
Pat picked El Paso (EP) in April and since then, this oil and natural gas company is up 25 percent. He says the stock still has room to run, and thinks it's worth $18-$20. (El Paso closed on Friday at $15.00.)
Just two months ago, Scott loved Sepracor (SEPR), maker of the insomnia drug Lunesta. It sure has been no sleeper — moving up 26 percent. Scott still thinks that the stock is cheap and has more upside. (Sepracor closed on Friday at $57.14.)
Five months ago Mike predicted ethanol was going to be the new gasoline. He thought Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) would really come out a winner. He was right. The stock has shot up 35 percent. Mike says it can run a bit higher, but not much. He still owns the stock, but has pared down his position. (Archer Daniels Midland closed on Friday at $41.28.)
In April, Toby said General Motors (GM) would really start revving up for the year. It really has been a hot rod — speeding up 47 percent. Toby still likes GM and thinks the stock will go to $40. (General Motors closed on Friday at $29.79.)
Now on to the not so good calls: