DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING "Cost of Freedom Recap" CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS' POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF "Cost of Freedom Recap" MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.
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; Joe Battipaglia, Ryan Beck & Co chief investment officer, and Charles Payne, Wall Street Strategies CEO.
Trading Pit: Will Enron be the Last Big Scandal?
Enron: an epic scandal, an epic trial, and now justice. Will Wall Street see an episode like Enron again anytime soon?
Charles Payne: I think Enron will be the last great American scandal of this generation, but there will be other scandals in the future. It was driven by greed and ambition. The real sad part is that the scandal has resulted in thousands of victims that weren’t shareholders or corporate officers of Enron.
Gary B. Smith: I disagree. In fact, there are big scandals in the making right now. Ambition and greed is not going away. The money that these executives can get their hands on and make by pushing the envelope is just incredible. I’m sure that 99.9 percent of the executives out there are honest, but it just takes one to do something illegal.
Tobin Smith: This will NOT be the last big scandal. Greed comes out of fear. Fear that you’re not keeping up with the Jones. It always goes back to greed. As long as there’s unvested stock options, there will be greedy people out there. But there will never be another company like Enron.
Joe Battipaglia: Unfortunately this will not be the last. The next big scandal involving corporations is going to involve government spending. The government has been on a spending tear whether it is New Orleans, the Middle East, or the new Medicare program. This is ripe for catastrophe.
Pat Dorsey: Money attracts scum. If there’s money there, people will find a way to steal it. Most people are honest, but there are plenty out there who are trying to get more than the other guy. In the U.S., we have fairly lax corporate governance. There are a lot of boards that don’t pay attention. It’s going to happen again.
Scott Bleier: This is the last big scandal of the stock market bubble, but there will be more. The dark side of capitalism is trying to get more. Corporate compensation today is way out of control. It goes over and above anything that is normal. Corporate CEOs will do anything to get more. If they don’t get more, they will aspire to get there.
Is Usama Irrelevant?
Does Wall Street think bin Laden is no longer a threat? Sure seems so. His messages used to send stocks into a tailspin, but after a new tape came out this past week, stocks actually went up. Does the stock market now think Usama is irrelevant?
Gary B. Smith: Usama is no longer on the stock market’s radar. He puts out so many tapes, I can’t even keep track of them. And there has been no follow up action. It’s just become background noise for those on Wall Street and the rest of America. However, if there is another terrorist attack on our shores, he will become very relevant.
Joe Battipaglia: The U.S. has him on his heels. He puts out the tapes to remind everyone that he is still out here. The real character is al-Zarqawi, who is out there recruiting and inflicting damage. He's keeping Iraq a hot button issue and essentially leading the charge on that operation.
Scott Bleier: This last tape was a joke. We have to worry when we don’t hear from Usama. Unless he attacks again, Wall Street won’t care about him. I think he is going to attack the oil production in the Middle East. The oil market is predicting that too, which is why there’s a $20 premium priced into oil.
Tobin Smith: The guys in Iran have become way more relevant. Scott is right about the oil premium, but it has nothing to do with Usama bin Laden. Al-Zarqawi is a big threat, but I think the market is much more worried about Iran.
Charles Payne: Usama is desperate. Any time he puts out a tape, he is campaigning. He is losing a lot of his troops in the field. He’s absolutely irrelevant to Wall Street. We have him on the run.
Pat Dorsey: Every time his tapes came out in the past, the market would sell off, and then would bounce right back. Iran getting nukes is a much bigger threat. The market is more concerned about inflation and earnings. In fact, I’d argue that Usama was never really relevant at all.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. What stocks do the Bulls & Bears think are going to heat up?
Pat Dorsey: I’m in love with MasterCard (MA), which just debuted on the NYSE this past Thursday. I haven’t been this excited about a stock in a long time. It’s a wonderful business and it earns 14 cents every time the card is swiped. There is no credit risk. Now that it’s moving to a for profit company, it will have a massive operating margin expansion, just like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the NYSE (NYX). (MasterCard’s Friday Close: $44.93)
Tobin Smith: Never argue with Pat on a financial stock.
Joe Battipaglia: Losses in international market, paying too much for World Cup sponsorship, and short-term earnings will be volatile.
Scott Bleier: I’m a bull. I like this pick. Every institutional investor with a mutual fund is going to buy this stock in the next 6 months.
Joe Battipaglia: I’m riding away with Harley-Davidson (HDI). I own it. Big cash flow generator. This stock is going to fire up this summer. (Harley-Davidson’s Friday Close: $50.81)
Charles Payne: Get on this hog!
Pat Dorsey: This is a great company, but it’s fairly valued.
Gary B. Smith: It’s not revved up at all! The chart looks bad.
I like Brookdale Senior Living (BKD), which is the nation’s third largest operator of senior living centers. Taking a look at the chart, the stock has been climbing steadily and just hit a new all-time high. I think it's going to $75! (Brookdale’s Friday Close: $48.88)
Scott Bleier: Way overpriced. I don’t like this one.
Charles Payne: Jump in a ride the wave a little longer. Gary’s got a winner here.
Tobin Smith: Bear! Gary’s in the old folks’ home.
Charles Payne: My pick is auto parts maker Visteon (VC). This is a broken company that’s fixing itself and doing a lot of restructuring. I love it because it is a contrarian’s dream. I own Visteon. (Visteon’s Friday Close: $7.66)
Joe Battipaglia: The good days are behind them. Could be a troubled stock at this price.
Gary B. Smith: I like it too. It’s on the move.
Pat Dorsey: Ugh. This is an ugly stock.
Tobin Smith: MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) is really smokin’ hot! It produces silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry. The stock had a big pullback, but I see it going to $44 by the end of the summer. I do own it. (MEMC Electronic Materials’ Friday Close: $34.40)
Scott Bleier: Because it just had the pullback, buy it now.
Pat Dorsey: This is a pricey stock.
Joe Battipaglia: Stay away from it.
Scott Bleier: I’m going with Trident Microsystems (TRID), which makes chips for high definition TVs. It got caught this week in an options scandal and fell to the $20s. It’s going back into the high $30s. (Trident Microsystems’ Friday Close: $23.37)
Gary B. Smith: Talk about a stock going down, it’s like the Acapulco cliff divers! It’s going to the single digits.
Tobin Smith: This is a great time to buy!
Charles Payne: Too much risk in the stock right now.
Tobin Smith's prediction: Gore is "right"! Global warming helps Peru Copper (CUP) double
Charles Payne's prediction: Microsoft and Yahoo! fight for eBay; winner goes up 25 percent
Scott Bleier's prediction: They drill at ANWR! Alaska Communications (ALSK) up 30 percent
Joe Battipaglia's prediction: Sell gold stocks & buy big pharma like Pfizer (PFE)
Gary B. Smith's prediction: Forget MasterCard (MA) and buy American Express (AXP)
Pat Dorsey's prediction: Guidant's woes boost Medtronic (MDT) 30 percent in 1 year.Bulls & Bears Cavuto on Business Forbes on FOX Cashin' In
Cavuto on Business
Neil Cavuto was joined by Jim Rogers, "Hot Commodities" author; Ben Stein, "How Successful People Win" author; Mike Norman, BIZRADIO Network Host; Rebecca Gomez, FOX Business News correspondent; Jon Najarian, CEO of InsideOptions, and Jill Schlesinger, CIO of StrategicPoint Investment Advisors.
Neil Cavuto: Did the Enron jury get it wrong when it convicted Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling? They were found guilty of conspiracy and fraud and will likely spend the rest of their lives in jail. Mike Norman, you say this is a miscarriage of justice?
Mike Norman: They did nothing wrong. In the end, the government's case relied on the idea that they sold stock while the stock of Enron was already falling. But they had to sell the stock, especially Ken Lay, because his stock was up as collateral for loans.
Neil Cavuto: By the way he was found guilty of misrepresenting what he got those loans for.
Mike Norman: The most damning evidence was the stock sale, which was not illegal.
Jim Rogers: I hate to agree with Michael on this, but I do. The way the laws are written, making innocent mistakes will get you in jail. So Mike is right to some extent. But it's clear they did some things wrong. There was definitely fraud there. How much of it they were in involved in is the question.
Rebecca Gomez: If there ever was a case of corporate fraud, this was it. How could these two not know what was going on?
Jill Schlesinger: The jury said, if they oversaw this company and didn't know what Andrew Fastow was doing, then that is almost as incriminating. And these guys had no idea what was happening? No way!
Ben Stein: The defense in this trial had the most high-priced talent in defense attorneys in the United States. The fraud was extremely evident. I'm sorry Mike doesn't see it. The defense simply could not convince the jury that these intelligent high-powered men were not committing fraud.
Jim Rogers: A lot of what happened in Enron was approved by lawyers and accountants, so why aren't those guys going to jail?
Jon Najarian: The regular guys and gals who put their money into the stock market think the odds are stacked against them everyday and to see guys walk away with millions of dollars just justifies their fear. Those weather trading rooms or broadband trading rooms, those are a complete fraud. They should have pleaded insanity because if they thought we'd believe this stuff, they'd have to be crazy.
Mike Norman: This is after the fact. What if those weather trading rooms had worked? It's so easy to criticize them now.
Jon Najarian: They don't work.
Mike Norman: You are proving that what these guys did was be businessmen and take risks. And when those plans didn't work…
Jill Schlesinger: …They ran under the table and blamed someone else.
Ben Stein: These men were lying their heads off. They were also convicted on one count of insider trading. These guys were committing fraud.
Head to Head
Neil Cavuto: It's a felony to use a fake Social Security number. So why did the Senate vote to reward illegal immigrants who do it? Last week, Senator Ted Kennedy said illegal aliens who get jobs using fake Social Security numbers deserve credit for the money they pay into the system while working illegally. When they become citizens, they can collect. More than half the Senate agreed. Jon, you and I could go to prison for using fake Social Security numbers. Should illegals be rewarded for doing it?
Jon Najarian: Of course they shouldn't. The level of stupidity in the Senate surprises us on a daily basis. If you lied about your qualifications for a job at a university for example, and then you did that job and Social Security was taken out, and there was some sort of benefit at the university like a retirement plan, it's guaranteed they'd cancel all that if they found out you lied. And that's exactly what happened to George O'Leary at the University of Notre Dame. Why should illegals working here have better benefits than a citizen working here?
Rebecca Gomez: It's a tough one because they paid into the system. It was illegally yes, but it was their hard earned money. Do I think they should get it back? No I don't.
Jim Rogers: They didn't pay it in. Their employers paid it in.
Mike Norman: Maybe I'm saying this because I'm sitting in Hymowitz' seat, but I think they should get it back.
Neil Cavuto: You know, you're really nuts!
Mike Norman: If they're working in America, and it's being paid into the system, then they're entitled to it.
Rebecca Gomez: We were just talking about Enron before, right? They're not going to be able to keep that money. Any money you make illegally, you should not be able to keep.
Ben Stein: The amount these guys are paying into Social Security is pennies compared to what they cost in demolishing the school districts in southwestern states, demolishing the justice system, the health system. The social cost of these immigrants is overwhelming.
Jim Rogers: Ben, when your forbearers came to this country, did they go to school? Did they go to the hospital when they got sick?
Ben Stein: They came here legally. And there was no socialized medicine when my forbearers came here. And they were all Republicans.
Jim Rogers: But we didn't have absurd laws then.
More for Your Money
Neil Cavuto: They dropped big when the market went south, but now our gang says these stocks are ready to bounce back. Time to get bargain buys to help you get more for your money. Jill, what do you like?
Jill Schlesinger: I like iShares Silver Trust (SLV). It's the silver exchange-traded fund. We believe commodities are looking pretty good over the long term. This is a great opportunity here. The fundamentals of the silver market may be better than the gold market. iShares Silver Trust closed Friday at $126.70.
Neil Cavuto: Jon, you don't buy it?
Jon Najarian: I don't buy it for explosive growth to the upside. It's pulled back, but not nearly as much as these other stocks. I like the trust, but I don't see the same fundamentals that Jill sees. I'd hold on to it, but I wouldn't buy here.
Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein?
Ben Stein: I love iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM). I've been loving it for a long time. It's the exchange-traded fund for emerging markets. This has had an astonishing run. In a 10-year run, the emerging markets are going to be overwhelming. I love this stock for people's retirement portfolios. iShares MSCI Emerging Markets closed Friday at $96.30. Ben owns EEM shares.
Mike Norman: You go around the country and tell people to save. I'm surprised you don't believe in what you preach. If you do save, all these emerging markets are over because they depend on the American consumer.
Neil Cavuto: Then what are you doing, Mike?
Mike Norman: I like Winnebago (WGO). Guys like Jim who are retiring are going to sell that old Mercedes and ride that Winnebago across the United States. This stock has been crushed, but it's going to come back. Winnebago closed Friday at $29.14.
Jim Rogers: The reason I wouldn't do that is because gasoline is too expensive. The Winnebago gets what, 4 miles to the gallon? As long as gas stays high, they're not going to work.
Neil Cavuto: Ok, Jon what do you like?
Jon Najarian: I like Goldcorp (GG) because it's pulled back 30 percent from the high of May 11th while gold has corrected 10 percent. So exponentially the pullback is much larger than it should've been. Goldcorp closed Friday at $30.84. Jon owns GG shares.
Jill Schlesinger: I like the idea, but I'm not so sure about the pick. I would stick with the exchange-traded funds, either the Mining Trust or GLD.
Neil Cavuto: And Jim?
Jim Rogers: What you should really buy is soybeans.
Neil Cavuto: How do you buy soybeans?
Jim Rogers: Just call your broker.
FOX on the Spots
Jim: Senate immigration bill is good for GOP and America!
Ben: Bigger scandal than Enron ahead as co's backdate options!
Jon: Mortgage rates pull back to 6 percent; buy homebuilders
Mike: Stocks rise as Americans start saving like never before!
Jill: Katie leaves "Today" on high; sinks tomorrow on CBS!
Neil Cavuto: I'd like to give us some perspective. On May 11th, Jill Schlesinger lost a beloved family member serving in Iraq. Marine First Lieutenant Michael LiCalzi killed in a tank accident. On this Memorial Day weekend we remember and honor those who serve and risk their lives so that we here can enjoy our freedom. To the brave men and women and the families who love them, our thanks for your sacrifice. Thank you.
Forbes on FOX
In Focus: Congress or Corporate America: Which Is More Corrupt?
John Rutledge, Forbes contributor: Congress is the only whore house in America that loses money on a daily basis. When something goes wrong in the corporate suite it's because there is a problem with governance. There's no adult home in the chairman's chair. But Congress does this stuff every day. The real test is, would you let your kids go spend a summer at a congressman's house? I wouldn't.
Mike Maiello, staff writer: It's the corruptive effect of businesses' money on politics that causes the problems in the first place. You can't accept a bribe without being bribed.
Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief: Business goes to Congress because Congress has the power and Congress puts more regulations in. When you look at over spending, over taxation, over regulation and pork projects the corporate larceny doesn't amount to an oink.
Lea Goldman, staff writer: Both sides of the fence aren't pristine. CEOs hide their ill-gotten gains overseas, Congressmen hide their's in the freezer. In both instances, the industries are dealing with buckets of money so of course they're prime for exploitation.
Jim Michaels, editorial vice president: Enron pales in significance to what a handful of Democrats in the U.S. Senate do in blocking tort reform. They get paid by the trial lawyers to do this. They're allowing the trial lawyers to pick every one of our viewers' pockets.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: Who can tell the difference? Congress is a bunch of millionaires, mostly ex-businessmen. Big corporations pay to have tax laws in their favor. They look like each other to me. It goes wrong when they stick their nose in each other's business.
Flipside: America Needs More Illegal Immigrant Workers!
Mike Ozanian, senior editor: There is no illegal immigration problem! Less than 5 percent of all workers are illegal immigrants. The amount that they contribute to the economy is greater than the amount of benefits they take out. And they provide a huge increase to economic growth. This billion dollar fence we want to build would hurt our economy and our safety.
Jim Michaels: Hundreds of millions of young people around the world dream of coming here. To them the streets are paved with gold. There is no way that we can take them all in. We've got to control immigration and we have to limit it. If we don't we'll have terrible social problems, linguistic problems and healthcare problems.
John Rutledge: I'd rather live in the place that everyone is trying to break into instead of the place everyone is trying to break out of. There's a lot of politics and hate going around. We're suppose to hate the Arabs and the Chinese and the Mexicans. We've got the richest country in the world. We're doing fine. Immigration has become a tool of policy makers. There are now people who are being denied visas to this country that are scientists that could build businesses here. We need these people.
Steve Forbes: We need both. We need more fights against illegal immigration and we need more legal immigration. Especially companies who can bring in scientists here to fulfill their needs, otherwise they need to move their facilities overseas. The quota is way too small. We have a brain deficit here. As far as the construction and garden workers, make it legal so we can do it above board.
Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor: We want the good guys to come in, but what gets lost in the immigration debate is that all the terrorists that come from overseas. The millennium plot, the World Trade Center in 1993 and 9/11 had illegal aliens as well. It's an outrage how we're not protecting our border.
Quentin Hardy: Illegal immigrants are good for the economy because they keep wages low but that means that the working poor have to work for less. The illegals send $10 billion down to Mexico every year and it props up a bad government down there.
Informer: Stocks to Buy if Market Rebounds or Collapses?
Victoria Barret, associate editor: I think the economy is roaring and evaluations are pretty good so I think the economy will do well this year and that's why I like Corning (GLW). This is a company that has impressively reinvented itself and is now behind the technology in these flat screen TVs that are flying off the shelves.
Rich Karlgaard, publisher: This stock is a momentum stock. It's done really well over the past 4 years. But you really have to depend on a rising market to get gains on this stock and I'm not sure the market is going to rise that much. I think the market is in a pause until the dollar is saved and then it is going to rise, in about 12-18 months. I like Norfolk Southern (NSC) because in a good economy transportation companies do very well.
David Asman, host: Couldn't rising fuel costs cut into their bottom line?
Rich Karlgaard: That's already built into the price of the stock.
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: I like Wal-Mart (WMT). Wal-Mart is the U.S. economy. This economy is stronger than people realize. Now the first quarter numbers show it. In April, Wal-Mart grew 6.8 percent. This is good for the economy.
Mike Ozanian: Wal-Mart is a good company but it is under siege from political terrorists. Terrorists that want to tell them what it has to pay in healthcare and wages. I think the market will drop to around 11,000 at end of the year so I would buy the Vanguard Money Market Fund (VMMXX). Last month we saw prices go up four times faster than income. Wall Street is worried about inflation. A money market fund is a good place to put your money.
Dennis Kneale: This is a fraidycat move. Shame on you.
Elizabeth MacDonald: I'm bearish on the economy in the short-term so I'd go with a manufacturing company like MSC Industrial Direct (MSM). It's becoming the Amazon of electrical components.
Victoria Barret: I like this company but insiders are selling and it has had a run-up.
Makers & Breakers
• Cadbury Schweppes (CSG)
Patricia Powell, president of the Powell Financial Group: MAKER
I think this year it's about food and drink. Cadbury is a well known company with $20 billion of market capital. You might know it as the company that produces Snapple and Dr. Pepper. I think it can go up to $52 in one year. (Friday's close: $38.82)
Dennis Kneale: BREAKER
The stock is pricey. Revenues fell last year. Snapple is over and when was the last time you had a Dr. Pepper?
Rich Karlgaard: MAKER
It's got great cash flow and great operating margins.
• Constellation Brands (STZ)
Patricia Powell: MAKER
Worldwide consumption of booze is up and this is a $5 billion company. They have a finger in every kind of alcohol. Good free cash flow. It's time for this stock. I think it can go to $32 in one year. (Friday's close: $24.39)
Rich Karlgaard: BREAKER
I don't like the numbers of this company.
Dennis Kneale: BREAKER
The company's got only $10 million to its name when it makes $5 billion in annual sales.
Patricia Powell: This is a solid company with strong sales. We'll all have a drink of their product this time next year when the price is way up.
Our "Cashin' In" crew this week: Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers and Company; Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management; Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News; Jonas Max Ferris, MAXfunds.com; Leigh Gallagher, SmartMoney.com, and Chris Lahiji , BigTrends.com.
Stock Smarts: President Clinton: Global Warming Worse Than Terror
A red alert from former President Bill Clinton about global warming, saying it could be a bigger threat to America than terrorism.
Should Wall Street be more worried about terror or global warming?
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: Terror. Terror is a real threat. The quote (from President Clinton) is almost asinine. Terrorism is a real threat to American lives. Iran is a real threat to American lives. There's no scientific proof that global warming even exists. To be honest, it's a bogus consensus dreamed up by the greens because they hate industry. They hate advancement and technology. And whether it's drilling in ANWR or any type of medical research on animals, greens will lead us back to the stone ages. Wait, what's so funny? The quote is almost idiotic.
Wayne Rogers: You're wrong, Jonathan, about the global warming, but you're right about the comparison. The comparison is ludicrous. Why would he confuse global warming with terrorism or even make the comparison? It's like saying, ‘oh, gee, we shouldn't have sex because that's terrorizing.’ You know, it's crazy what Clinton said. But one has nothing to do with the other. And there is global warming. It's also a geological fact. We had an ice age 25,000 years ago. The Earth gets warmer; we go through that through geology. Carbon monoxide and dioxide in the atmosphere does create this. It's a fact.
Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News: Wayne, you're right. We should be thinking about global warming, but not today. Terrorism is a threat to the entire world tomorrow morning, the next morning. One terrorist strike is just a matter of hours away; that's what we need to be frightened of. It could wreak havoc on the world and the global economy.
Terry Keenan: Shouldn’t we, perhaps, think about both?
Leigh Gallagher, SmartMoney.com: The important thing is that we are using the word ‘threat’. Of course terrorism is an immediate threat, but global warming, sorry, there is scientific proof. It is happening now, not that we should go crazy. It's probably not going to affect the stock market
Jonathan Hoenig: The data doesn’t support that.
Leigh Gallagher: Global worming is like the frog on the stove that heats up. It's going to die of the water boiling before it knows to jump out. It's really happening and it is a threat. Where do you think monster hurricanes come from? It's happening now.
Terry Keenan: Well, it might just happen by law of averages, and some years are worse than others.
Leigh Gallagher: The difference is the evidence is a lot stronger now than 10 years ago. It's no longer tree-huggers talking about saving the penguins.
Dagen McDowell: Well, 30 years ago they were talking about global cooling. That was the frightening thing in the 1970's, which is embarrassing.
Chris Lahiji, Dailytrends.com: I agree with Wayne. I agree with Leigh. It's been a fact that the rising CO2 emissions have been causing temperatures to rise. And out of the last 14 years, 10 have been the hottest on record. Keep in mind, this affects shrinking ice caps, shrinking glaciers, more hurricanes. I mean - the problem is real.
Terry Keenan: Is it something investors should worry about?
Chris Lahiji: Not right now, but if we don't fiend a way of generating alternative energy and keep burning these fossil fuels, it will ultimately be a problem.
Jonas Max Ferris, MAXfunds.com: To say global warming doesn't exist is like saying there are no dinosaurs. We can debate what causes it, and if you can solve it, that's debatable, but it is ridiculous to pretend it doesn't exist in Jonathan’s fantasyland. As far as Wall Street, it is not an immediate threat, and Wall Street tends to care about the next few years, not 50, 60, 70 years out there. But the environment is a big threat, a bigger threat than terrorism. Earthquakes, for example, are a bigger threat than terrorism. It doesn't mean we can do anything about it necessarily. But to say that changes in the global ecology, you know, more mosquitoes from the world getting warmer, possibly more hurricanes - it's debatable; those are real threats that could affect everybody.
Wayne Rogers: With all due respect, you're wrong on that, because it affects insurance rates. Right now, you cannot get insurance, for example, on the Gulf Coast at any price. It has to be mandated by the state of Florida to get insurance here. So you don't know that that doesn't affect the economy. Of course, it affects the economy, and it does affect the stock market, and you're wrong.
Dagen McDowell: And the terrorists want to affect our way of life. They want to oppress the world and force every person on this planet to live the way they want us to, and that is ridiculous. It’s bigger impact than global warming, much bigger.
Wayne Rogers: Wait a minute. We're not talking about whether it is terrorism. Of course terrorism affects us. Of course it affects us every day. But you don't deny global warming at the same time. That's why they're two unrelated subjects. It's stupid to be sitting here trying to compare them. They're unrelated subjects.
Jonathan Hoenig: I've seen data from the University of Virginia that says, yes, temperatures have risen in the last hundred years, but they rose before 1940, and that's when industry really took off.
Leigh Gallagher: Everything is happening faster and to a more significant degree now. Americans like to think about the immediate. We don't like to think about what's going to happen. It’s not like the Hamptons are going to melt from the polar ice cap.
Terry Keenan: Then we'll really get serious.
Leigh Gallagher: More people are going to start passing away from skin cancer, it's very subtle, but that's its power.
Dagen McDowell: Leigh, what keeps you up at night, terrorism or global warming?
Jonas Max Ferris: The reality is that things like drunk driving, things like earthquakes, things like cancer are way bigger killers, but we have irrational fears towards the sun, which is what terrorism is.
Dagen McDowell: I worry about all of those things.
Wayne Rogers: Jonas, hold it just a second. Jonas, you want to tell that to the people of New Orleans who just suffered an enormous catastrophe?
Jonas Max Ferris: Environment is a way bigger threat than terrorism: my point exactly.
Wayne Rogers: Excuse me. Please let me finish. The cost of that is enormous.
Jonathan Hoenig: Wayne, is that global warming? Terrorism is the real threat. I’ve got to tell you, my number two threat isn't global warming. It's the environmentalists themselves. It is. They hate industry.
Cashin’ In: Attacking Wal-Mart Is the Same as Attacking America?
Wal-Mart Watch, a group powered by labor unions taking out a full-page ad in the "New York Times" this week calling for America’s biggest employer to change the way it does business.
Are these attacks valid or just a big smear job on Wal-Mart (WMT)?
Jonathan Hoenig: I think they're a smear job. The truth is Wal-Mart deals with its customers and its employees voluntarily. Despite all these union attacks, a lot of people want to work at Wal-Mart. They opened one in Chicago. 25,000 people showed up for 350 jobs. Wal-Mart is an American success story.
Chris Lahiji: Of 1.6 million employees, half don't have health insurance. Here's the thing, though. The people that do have health insurance are making $19,000 to $25,000 a year on average.
Jonathan Hoenig: Wal-Mart’s wage is $10 an hour.
Chris Lahiji: That's before tax.
Jonathan Hoenig: Well, for unskilled laborers, these people get profit sharing, they get a 401(k), and they get life insurance.
Chris Lahiji: Are you kidding me, 401(k)?
Jonathan Hoenig: They do, Chris. How many jobs did your union buddies create last year? Wal-Mart created 125,000. How many jobs did the unions create? Zero!
Terry Keenan: Wayne, I know you've been no big fan of Wal-Mart here, but what about these ads? Are they fair or smear tactics?
Wayne Rogers: Well, once again, it's a totally different question here. You're talking about whether the unions like or dislike Wal-Mart. My beef with Wal-Mart has never been about their economic story. It's been a great success story, and Jonathan is right. Have they treated all of the employees properly over the years? That's a moral and a judgmental question that has nothing to do with the economics. The fact of the matter, my beef with Wal-Mart has been the fact that they have come into small-town America and ruined small-town America.
Dagen McDowell: Wayne, that is the evolution of business in this world. That's the way it works. If you can't figure out a way to innovate and compete, then you are going to go out of business, and Wal-Mart has brought retailing and discounts to much of America that would be back in the agrarian days of us walking around with no shoes on.
Leigh Gallagher: I agree. And if Sam Walton were worried about putting his competitor out of business, Wal-Mart wouldn't exist. We're talking about a free market. I do think Wal-Mart deserves some of the criticism it has had for being inhospitable to unions, for health care. But Lee Scott has really changed some of these things in the past year alone, and he said he's looking at these in a different light.
Terry Keenan: Do you agree with that or is it an image makeover? Has Wal-Mart really changed its ways?
Jonas Max Ferris: It's 85 percent image makeover. There's nothing anti-American about taking out an advertisement in The New York Times to put your point through. Maybe to any American, what California did, with eminent domain taking over Wal-Mart; that is sort of anti-American. Mobil, for years, put ads in the paper with their wacky political views; there's nothing wrong with some union-led group doing the same thing. It’s not anti-American.
Dagen McDowell: It's a bit comical that this union-funded group is moralizing and telling a big company how to behave.
Jonas Max Ferris: But the other 99 percent of the ads are paid for by corporate America with their propaganda. It's not anti-American for people to boycott Wal-Mart.
Terry Keenan: Jonathan, you don't mind when Exxon takes out those full-page ads.
Jonathan Hoenig: And I don't mind when the unions do. Anyone can take out any ad they want. But the fact is Wal-Mart has every right to open up a business anywhere they want to. Wayne, if you don't want to support Wal-Mart, don't shop there. But, you know, you know who hates Wal-Mart? Frankly, rich people who live in Hollywood. Small-town America; they love Wal-Mart. It saves them $2,000 a year.
Dagen McDowell: It saves people money. It's a success story because it's done a service to this country.
Leigh Gallagher: That's true. Like it or not, people love $10 deck chairs. Everyone does.
Terry Keenan: Couldn't they be just as successful and give their employees a better way of life?
Chris Lahiji: Absolutely right. If they raise each product they have by one cent in the store, they could raise the employees' salary by $1 an hour.
Dagen McDowell: To Leigh's point, Wal-Mart is making changes; they've expanded their health care program and given cheap insurance to a lot of employees.
Leigh Gallagher: You have to think about the consumer. I mean - a lot of that is lost.
Chris Lahiji: Listen, I understand there's low cost affiliated with their products. The problem is they end up losing jobs in this country. 61,000 suppliers; all of them are shipping overseas now.
Stock Smarts: All-American $tock$
All-American picks for our Best Bets.
Wayne’s All-American Pick: Foundation Coal (FCL)
Friday's close: $45.28
52-wk High: $57.36
52-wk Low: $23.70
YTD Return: +19.3 percent
Wayne Rogers: I like Foundation Coal. They've improved their outlook for the year. The stock has come off in this kind of intermediate correction, and I think its bottoming out right here, and it will have a nice run.
Terry Keenan: So you're not worried about some of these commodities continuing to get killed?
Wayne Rogers: I’m not worried about the commodities, certainly, in the field and energy area, it's still going to be very strong.
Chris Lahiji: I think it's a great company, but it’s already had its run up and I would pass it.
Chris’ All-American Pick: Microsoft (MSFT)
Friday's close: $23.72
52-wk High: $28.38
52-wk Low: $22.45
YTD Return: -8.6 percent
Chris Lahiji: I like Microsoft. It’s trading at around 15 times estimates. If you take out cash, the stock has hit $23 seven times in the last five years. They're bringing out new products. I think the stock goes back to $27 by the end of the year.
Terry Keenan: Whoa, $27 on Microsoft. It's been dead money for five years, that's the problem.
Leigh Gallagher: It’s been so dead. And maybe it was “American” 20 years ago when it was growing and entrepreneurial. Now, it hasn't done anything. Even if Vista does a huge hit, what's the stock going to do, 10 percent?
Chris Lahiji: That doesn’t matter because the market's going down.
Leigh’s All-American Pick: Genesee & Wyoming (GWR)
Friday's close: $29.50
52-wk High: $36.75
52-wk Low: $15.93
YTD Return: +17.9 percent
Leigh Gallagher: I really like Genesee & Wyoming; it's a short line railroad. What's more American than railroads? Some of the founding fortunes in this country were made on railroads. It transports coal to Wayne’s point. It's kind of the future of energy in this point, and it's got steady earnings growth.
Terry Keenan: These transportation stocks have been red-hot. Wayne, you liked this one a few months ago. You still like it?
Wayne Rogers: I still like it and I still own it, yes. It's had a big correction here, but I think it's a good buy right now, yes.
Terry Keenan: Chris, what do you think?
Chris Lahiji: Always buy low and sell high. You guys are just front-runners.
Question: "Will the Enron verdict teach greedy CEOs a lesson and make them think twice before ripping off shareholders?"
Dagen McDowell: It will make a difference, Terry. Not every corporate crook is going to turn into a good guy with these guilty verdicts. But with Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling facing their lives behind bars, at least the rest of their lives, then it is certainly going to scare a lot of people straight.
Terry Keenan: Wayne, this caps off a whole series of CEOs going to jail after they took the stand in their own defense. Do you think other CEOs are going to get the message?
Wayne Rogers: Yes, I do. You had it with Dennis Kozlowski and you had it with Adelphi. You've had it with these guys. This is sending a message, yes, to corporate America that you better straighten up and fly right. By the way, Sarbanes-Oxley, which a lot of people object to, would not have happened if you didn't have this. They've got to police themselves or otherwise this is going to police it for them.
Jonathan Hoenig: Isn't that the problem? Fraud is a fact of life, but it's not a way of life. Out of 12,000 public companies, there's maybe, you know, a dozen that serious fraud actually occurred. I'm just sorry we got Sarbanes-Oxley, because it essentially persecutes all CEOs for the wrong things of a few.
Wayne Rogers: Jonathan, that's all fine and dandy, but all you need is several of those big frauds and you're going to wipe out a lot of people who have pension plans there, people who were employees. It's like saying, it's ok, ‘we just had one big hurricane that wiped out a city, so let's not do anything about it.’
Jonas Max Ferris: Is a life sentence a deterrent for white-collar crime? I think if you get a chance to make $40 million, you might still take it. It is like capital punishment. I don't think it actually stops crime, but it makes everybody else feel good about it, because everyone got justice.
Terry Keenan: It is the one thing that these CEOs are scared of is going to jail. They're not afraid of anything else.
Dagen McDowell: Let's remind everybody about Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, they are in state prison, 8 1/3 to 20 years behind boards, and that is no country club.
Question: "I caught Hoenig on 'The O'Reilly Factor' talking about oil. Jonathan did great; Bill is incapable of getting it on this issue."
Terry Keenan: Jonathan, you did pretty well. But how can you say that gas is cheap at over $3 a gallon?
Jonathan Hoenig: It is, Terry. Adjusted for inflation, it's cheap. Bill is just flat wrong on this issue. The fact is we owe oil companies a big debt of gratitude.