Recap of March 15: Put America First?

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Neil Cavuto was joined by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric; Gregg Hymowitz, founder of Entrust Capital; Jim Rogers, president of; Ben Stein, economist and former speech writer for President Richard Nixon; and Meredith Whitney, FOX News Business Contributor.

Is it time to put America and our market first, and the United Nations last?  Even with this week's rally, stocks have fallen more than nearly 10 percent since we went to the U.N. last November and began trying to build a coalition against Iraq.  Sure seems like all that diplomacy has hurt us, not helped us.  Jack, is it time to put America's interest first?

Jack Welch:  I think trying to get a coalition is a good idea but as long as we have this uncertainty we're going to have trouble in the markets.  I think going in there quickly will be good, but there will be uncertainty of governing Iraq after the war and the uncertainty of whatever backlash there is here at home in terms of another terrorist attack.  You're going to have a rush of enthusiasm tempered by what is a really weak economy when realism sets in.

Jim Rogers:  Even if we don't get a coalition, this war is going to go on and on and on.  I don't think that going to war with Iraq is good for America.  I'm not here peace mongering but I don't think it's good for America.

Gregg Hymowitz:  People want certainty now.  Even people who might have been on the fence about this war are now saying if we're going to do it, then let's just do it and get it over with.  If we don't get a coalition I think you risk a decrease in globalization.

Meredith Whitney:  Watching our administration's diplomatic policies is like watching a train wreck.  We increase dissension the longer we wait and we're putting valuable allies at risk.

Jack Welch:  When Saddam Hussein is deposed, we are going to have uncertainty like we haven't had before. Let's not kid ourselves, we'd love to have a coalition.  That's the best game in town.  On the other hand, we're at the point of no return.

Jim Rogers:  But wait, we shouldn't go in there just to make a mistake.  It's a mistake to go in without a coalition.

Jack Welch: In the end, I believe we have to do it whether we have a coalition or not.

More for Your Money

Making money on Wall Street is all about profits, but does Wall Street need to kick its addiction to profit estimates before we can all get more for our money?

Jack Welch:  Profit estimates are nothing more than what corporate executives tell the analysts what they’re going to do.  Everyone says you met estimates, but you met them because you tell them what they were going to be.  It's the craziest thing in the world.

Jim Rogers:  Why should management give estimates in the first place?  They should be focusing on running the company.

Gregg Hymowitz:  Management doesn't want to give out estimates because now there's too much liability on that.  That's due to all the litigation that's going on now. I think a better way to value a company is by looking at its cash flow.

Jim Rogers:  I say get rid of all these phony analysts who don't know what they're doing anyway.  A better way for investors to pick stocks is to Look at a company’s assets, sector trends or other corporate developments such as takeovers, break-ups and changes in laws.  They all lead to earnings for shareholders.
Ben Stein:  Management has to tell the stockholders, how the company is doing.  It's a basic part that keeps shareholders informed.  The real question is are short term estimates meaningful.  Cash flow is a number that is full of flaws and that number is really available to stockholders.  Earnings estimates are an evil, but a necessary evil.

Jim Rogers:  Many times though management gets those numbers wrong.

Ben Stein:  You're right.  There were many times when I was writing for Barron's that I could point out that the numbers were going to be totally different than management said.  But overall, management will know the numbers better than anyone else.

Gregg Hymowitz:  I don't want to defend analysts but earnings estimates represent only a small part of what an analyst does.

Jack Welch:  The thing that always bothers me is when shows put up on the screen that a company beat estimates by a penny.  That doesn't matter.  What matters is how the company is progressing versus a year ago or more. That's important.

FOX on the Spot

Jack Welch:  Dividend tax will be cut despite doubters in D.C.

Jim Rogers:  Lock in fixed rates now!  Floating mortgage rates rise soon.

Ben Stein: War will happen!  Anti-war nations still lash out at U.S..

Gregg Hymowitz: Quick victory in Iraq does not turn into victory for economy.

Meredith Whitney: Lower oil prices and lower rates do not boost economy.

Neil Cavuto: We're about to discover just how much France is financially tied to Iraq, and that's the reason why Paris has put up the stink it has about everything from Iraq's nuclear industry to its energy business, and it's going to get ugly.