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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Lt. Col. Oliver North, host of "War Stories"; 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, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield, WWE superstar & nationally syndicated radio show host
Trading Pit: Does Wall Street Want Hezbollah Destroyed?
Does Wall Street need Israel to eliminate Hezbollah?
Col. Oliver North: Israel will not be able to eliminate all of Hezbollah. This organization will be able to continue as a political and social force. But Israel must eliminate Hezbollah as a military force inside Lebanon. Failure to do so is potentially disastrous. Hezbollah has killed Americans since 1982 and other than al-Qaeda, which got lucky on September 11th, it has killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. They are still a threat to the U.S. and are very dangerous. Everything Israel can do to stop it now is very important.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: Wall Street and America wish that every country in the world were killing terrorists. Wall Street loves certainty. And if you have a dead terrorist, you are certain he will never commit another crime against another human again. I don't know why anyone would want to stop Israel. They are doing something that benefits us. If there's a cease-fire, Israel is going to have to go back in and do this all over again. It's good that we have someone on our side that's doing the work we would have to do on our own.
Tobin Smith: Wall Street is looking more for containment. Colonel North is right. Hezbollah will not totally be destroyed. The United States cannot go in because we have too much going on. Israel must take care of this. Everyone is saying that a tie is a win for Hezbollah. But Wall Street really wants most of all is to keep Iran out of this situation.
Gary B. Smith: Wall Street is focusing on whether this will be a threat to the U.S. The worry is if Hezbollah makes big inroads. Let's say for example it destroys a large part of Tel Aviv. This would scare Wall Street because it would mean this is not just a bunch of guys with rifles in the jungle. They have some serious firepower. Any kind of win for Hezbollah and the stock market will sell off. But if anything else happens, Wall Street will be fine.
Pat Dorsey: If Iran gets involved, all bets are off and this situation changes entirely. But until then, the market is focused on the Fed, inflation, and earnings. Economically speaking, Israel and Lebanon are small countries with little economic power and little influence on the US market.
Scott Bleier: Hezbollah must be destroyed. Think about the flip side. If Hezbollah defeats Israel confidence in the ability to fight terror would be undermined. The market and probably worldwide markets would take a dive.
Which stocks will shoot up when the Mideast shooting stops?
Gary B. Smith: Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA), whose headquarters are in Israel, will really get a big boost when the fighting stops. The stock had been selling off for months. It reached a bottom when the conflict started, but the stock has been going up ever since. It broke up through a downtrend line and now looks set to take off. (Teva Pharmaceuticals closed on Friday at $34.31.)
Pat Dorsey: Teva's problem isn't that it is based in Israel. The problem is that other big pharmaceutical companies are launching generic versions of their own drugs, and can do it cheaper. Teva is facing a lot more competition. I would wait for it to fall to the mid $20s before buying. The stock's future doesn't look as bright as it once did.
Scott Bleier: I really like DSP Group (DSPG), a small-cap semiconductor company. Its big thing right now is Bluetooth communications systems. Now is the perfect time to buy. (DSP Group closed on Friday at $24.03.)
Tobin Smith: The problem is that the people the company is selling to are buying less. They are not going to be indulging in Bluetooth systems. I wouldn't want to own this stock right now.
Pat Dorsey: I love Cemex (CX). It sells cement and makes about 20 percent operating margins from it. Cemex has cement assets all over the Mideast. When the fighting stops, there will be a lot of rebuilding and this is the company you want to own. (Cemex closed on Friday at $29.18.)
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: Interest rates are rising around the world and money is tight. I don't think now is the time to invest in infrastructure.