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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Bob Olstein, Olstein Funds president; Joe Battipaglia, Ryan Beck & Co chief investment officer, and Jon Najarian, Najarian Capital.
A big stock sell-off hit Wall Street on the same day national security was breached with a leak in how we track terrorists. This came just as the Dow was about to push to a new all-time high. Is this bad for America and bad for investors?
Tobin: Yes, this is bad for America. We're at war. I'm terribly confused by Americans who would put the rights of Al Qaeda members above other Americans. We had 3,000 people die on 9/11. We could have prevented 11 of those 19 attackers according to the data we've since uncovered. You are kidding me if you don't think this is bad for America. It's borderline treason to say we don't have the right — in wartime — to protect our country every way we know how. There is a confidence factor in the market. It always asks, "What's next? What is the other shoe that is going to drop?" If we can't handle the NSA, what else do we not know that is going on?
Scott: The market did not sell off because of this leak. The market is obsessed with other things like oil, commodities, and interest rates. When the Fed finally made its move and said it's finally done raising interest rates, the market took that as a "sell the news" kind of event. The wiretapping issue is a factor that could hurt investors and the market eventually. If we don't have the ability to track what is going on in the airwaves, then we'll hurt investors if another attack occurs. We have to continue to follow the law and do what has to be done.
Jon: The market did not shrug off this leak. The leak was extremely negative and did have an effect on the markets. The NSA is only looking for patterns that match terrorist patterns. When you let information out that we have a wiretapping program going on, people get more focused on terrorism. Then, they'll be more focused in on what will be leaked out of the CIA or NSA next. This has a negative effect on investor psychology.
Bob: National security is very important to market psychology. If terrorists attack the U.S. again, it will send stocks into another tailspin. We do what we need to do in order to protect this country against terrorism. Inflation expectations also had a huge impact on the market this week.
Joe: This NSA news sidetracks the president's agenda. He is scheduled to make a big speech on immigration, which will come under great scrutiny while the wiretapping issue is going on. It was good news that there was an extension on tax relief, but no one will focus on it. Coming into the election, if the Democrats swing and take control of the House, watch for Impeachment proceedings to start. This will be part of the effort. Bush is going to have to push the agenda that we need proper surveillance and we need a strong economy.
Pat: The big deal to the market right now is inflation expectations. After oil and copper rallied for a few years, the market finally woke up and realized this might cause inflation. That had a far bigger effect on the market than anything having to do with wiretapping. Plus, there are worries that the Federal Reserve may continue to raise rates.
Immigration Confrontation: Big Impact on Market and Economy?
President Bush is set to address the nation on Monday night regarding immigration. If he finally takes a tough stance on the issue of illegals, what will it mean for the market and our economy?
Jon: This is crunch time for the president. He has to come out strong. I don't think he can come out wishy-washy and in the middle. He has to go more toward the House side of this, which is a little tougher. He'll have to address a lot of states like Arizona, which have a lot of people unhappy about border security. He needs to draw more people into his camp.
Tobin: The president will have to be tough in order to keep his support. I want him to keep his support so that we don't lose the tax breaks. If you are in the country for so many years and working, at some point the law has to meet reality. The immigrants who have been here a long time should get a path to citizenship. Let's build our walls to keep more from coming in and shoot the people we need to shoot.
Bob: Bush has got to straddle the fence on this thing. He's got to tighten the borders and he's got to set up a program to make them legal. He can't turn off the Latino vote. Overall, I don't think this issue will have an effect on the economy. Inflation and corporate earnings have more of an effect.
Pat: I would hope that the president takes a more independent stance and does what he thinks is right for the country and economy, rather than just do something in order to get his approval ratings up.
Joe B: Unfortunately for this president, too many big issues have surfaced during his years in office. Every time he makes a speech, it gets destroyed in the House and Senate. When he went in and talked about rebuilding New Orleans, it sounded great, but it got destroyed. The same is true for Social Security reform and Iraq.
Scott: If Bush gets tough and throws all the illegal immigrants out, our tight labor market would be bad for the economy. He needs to get on the path to legitimize everyone who is here and get tough on everyone who wants to come here.
"Deal or No Deal"? The Bulls & Bears each named the stock they say are the best deals in the market right now.
Joe: I'm opening the vault and buying a bank, U.S. Bancorp (USB). This company is growing in its territory. It's getting more fee income, rather than interest income, so the sensitivity to rates isn't the same as it is for other banks. This is a very good stock right now. (U.S. Bancorp closed on Friday at $31.37.)
Tobin: No deal! I think you are on the right track, but interest rates are going up.
Pat: My big deal stock is eBay (EBAY). Growth stocks are cheap right now and this one has amazing economics. It converts 35 percent of its revenue into free cash flow. This is one of the world's greatest companies at a great price. (eBay closed on Friday at $31.49.)
Bob: No deal! eBay is getting into undervalued territory. It is an excellent company, but I'd like it to drop a bit more before buying it.
Scott: Bet on Sepracor (SEPR), maker of the sleep drug Lunesta. Biotech stocks have gotten hammered over the last 6 months. This stock is a bargain right now. (Sepracor closed on Friday at $45.26.)
Pat: This is a very high quality company, but I don't think it's a bargain. The bigger issue is that Ambien, another sleep drug, is going off patent next year and that could cause a lot of competition.
Tobin: The RFID (radio frequency ID tags) business is getting ready to explode and I think you need to buy Intermec (IN), formerly known as UNOVA. Wal-Mart (WMT) and the Department of Defense are big users of RFID tags. The stock has really fallen back and is ready to go back up. (Intermec closed on Friday at $27.26.)
Joe: I don't see how this is a deal here. It's got a lot of competition. Plus, the margins are very thin.
Bob: Get a deal with Xerox (XRX). It's undervalued right now and generating 10 percent of free cash flow. It has some hidden depreciation and an outstanding management team. I see it going to $19-20. (Xerox closed on Friday at $14.13.)
Scott: There is no growth in this stock. You don't get any bang for you buck here.
Joe's prediction: Oil falls to $50 & gas down to $2.50 by fall
Bob's prediction: Joe's full of it! Gas goes up; buy Williams Companies (WMB)
Tobin's prediction: Bite into Apple (AAPL); up 50 percent by Christmas
Scott's prediction: Buy big pharma; Eli Lilly (LLY) up 20 percent rest of year
Pat's prediction: Buy Electronic Arts (ERTS); going up 20 percent in a year
Cavuto on Business
Neil Cavuto was joined by Jim Rogers, "Hot Commodities" author; Gregg Hymowitz, founder of Entrust Capital; Ben Stein, "How Successful People Win" author; Charles Payne, CEO of Wall Street Strategies; Gary Kaltbaum, President of Kaltbaum & Associates; Leigh Gallagher, Senior Editor at SmartMoney Magazine.
Neil Cavuto: Congress controls America's money; so before its members make another decision that impacts all our lives, should they be tested for drug use? Congress pushed laws to keep America's workplaces drug free, allowing for drug testing and even forcing Major League Baseball to clean up its act. So should Congress have to prove its members are not operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Charles?
Charles Payne: It's a great idea. Everything they do touches all our lives. They're supposedly telling us everything about them except something as important as this.
Leigh Gallagher: I agree. And while we're at it why don't we test them for ethics and intelligence as well. If an employee has a drug problem at a company they get fired. Why not prove that these people who are making the laws, abide by them?
Jim Rogers: Any law they pass they should have to abide by too. They don't have to be in Social Security, but you and I have to be in Social Security. Every time they pass a law it starts out with, this law does not apply to Congress.
Gregg Hymowitz: This is a real slippery slope. If we start testing for this, then we start testing for mental health, and it becomes a real slippery slope. Congress has authority with Major League Baseball because Congress has granted them a monopoly. And also there's a sense that if some guy is on steroids, he's really cheating. So listen, Congress isn't about our safety. It's not like they're flying airplanes. So even if you found someone doing drugs, there's nothing you can do constitutionally to get them out.
Charles Payne: But the voters have the right to know if their Congressman is on drugs or not. And this is much more important than steroids.
Ben Stein: It's impossible for them to do it because the Constitution forbids them to pass a Bill Of Attainder, which is a bill pertaining to one person or family. And this bill would be specifically aimed at the Kennedys, and I don't think that would be allowed. I think it's wrong to drug test them. This isn't a Muslim country. It's very commonplace in America for people to have a drink. And if we're going to start drug testing, let's start with this show.
Gary Kaltbaum: Members of Congress are the employees and we are the employers, and they're making decisions based on everything we do in life. They are invading our privacy. They should be tested.
Gregg Hymowitz: But Gary, they're not testing you for drugs right? I don't understand this point. Congress doesn't pass laws requiring people to be drug tested.
Gary Kaltbaum: But I'm not making vital decisions on the future of this country.
Ben Stein: But you make vital decisions for your clients. Why shouldn't you be drug tested for the protection of your clients? As Gregg says, it's a slippery slope to totalitarism and it's kind of scary.
Charles Payne: I totally disagree. We're always worried about the slippery slope, but that's an excuse for not doing the right thing at the right time.
Gregg Hymowitz: What are we going to test for? Anything? Alcohol?
Charles Payne: How about anything that's illegal. If you get caught drinking and driving you probably should get a penalty for that.
Leigh Gallagher: This would be symbolic if nothing else. There are ways to get around drug tests.
Gregg Hymowitz: Ben is right. This is one more step towards totalitarism and since this administration is so close already, I don't think we want to push them over the cliff.
Neil Cavuto: Or are you just worried that Democrats would be the ones who would be affected?
Gregg Hymowitz: Yes, mean this is an anti-Kennedy segment.
Jim Rogers: If we think it's a slippery slope to totalitarism,then why not make it voluntary?
Ben Stein: That's a very good idea.
Gregg Hymowitz: No it's not, because that's just an underhanded way. The inference will be if you don't volunteer, then you're guilty.
Gary Kaltbaum: There are a ton of businesses that make their employees take drug tests. If baseball players can take drug tests, our Congress people can take drug tests also. They make vital decisions. I don't need my Congressman making votes when they're on something. And I'm not saying they are on something.
Neil Cavuto: Unless they vote your way then they can be on whatever they want.
Gary Kaltbaum: That's true.
Gregg Hymowitz: My question is what vital positions do they really have, and how many important decisions are they really making right now?
Neil Cavuto: That's actually an interesting point.
Ben Stein: Should we drug test the president too? John F. Kennedy was high all the time.
Neil Cavuto: Well, if you have the ability to launch a strike, then maybe that isn't such a bad idea.
Head to Head
Neil Cavuto: I couldn't believe it myself when I read it, but Ben Stein wants to raise taxes on the rich! Time to go head to head. Ben Stein... explain?
Ben Stein: When I was in New York a while ago, I saw the incredible wealth of people. People are living it up, riding in limousines. I ran into hedge fund traders making millions of dollars basically doing nothing but distributing risk, which is something, but not a lot. And then I think about people in Iraq and Afghanistan getting paid $1200-$1500 to risk their lives. Something is wrong here. We've got to pay the people in the military more. The logical people to pay this increase are the people making a million dollars a year. Let's have a 10 percent surcharge on their income taxes. Have that money specifically earmarked for the military.
Jim Rogers: Ben, nobody disagrees that soldiers should have more money. But so should school teachers and so should a lot of people. The way to get there is not to raise taxes. We should cut spending.
Ben Stein: Jim, it doesn't happen. It would be nice, but it doesn't happen.
Charles Payne: Ben, I find your article despicable on several fronts. You're pitting Americans against one another. Successful Americans should pay more because they're successful? That's bad, and it's wrong. And the notion that we're mistreating our military personnel? I'm an army brat. I grew up in a military system. When I was 13 my parents got divorced, and we moved to Harlem. My lifestyle in the army was a million times better. I agree we should pay them more, but we are not mistreating our military.
Ben Stein: Charles, with all due respect this is not how gentleman do it. Gentlemen do not call each other despicable.
Charles Payne: What you wrote was despicable.
Ben Stein: With all due respect, I think you ought to think about this more clearly.
Gregg Hymowitz: I agree with Ben and Jim. We need to cut spending. Why did we cut taxes a few years ago? We cut because we had a surplus. This administration has squandered the surplus, and now we have a deficit.
Neil Cavuto: Wait a minute. We know we created more revenue, right? The problem wasn't the tax cuts, and the revenue, but the spending that Jim referred to, right?
Gregg Hymowitz: I'm not going to argue with you whether the tax cuts helped the economy or hurt the economy. I'll concede that.
Leigh Gallagher: The rich have gotten a break with these tax cuts. They focus on inheritance tax and the estate tax. They've been painted with a populace wash.
Neil Cavuto: So have them pay more?
Leigh Gallagher: Just make things more even.
Gary Kaltbaum: I would rather pay right out of my checkbook to the military. I do not trust the government to take my money and give it to them. In April our Treasury took in $315 billion. I don't need them taking more money and building bridges to no where in Alaska.
More for Your Money
Neil Cavuto: The mother of all stock picks in honor of Mother's Day of course! Let's get more for your money.
Gregg Hymowitz: A company we like is Crown Holdings (CCK). They're one of the largest manufacturers of cans to the beverage and food industry. The company is undergoing massive de-leveraging. We own this stock. Crown Holdings closed Friday at $16.24
Jim Rogers: What does that have to do with Mother's Day?
Gregg Hymowitz: It's the "mother" of all stocks.
Charles Payne: Well, this had to have been for your stepmother or somebody. I don't think it's a good pick at all. The stock looks terrible. You usually buy container stocks before the economy blows up, not after.
Gregg Hymowitz: I find that to be despicable.
Charles Payne: Well, before I start with my stock, I wanted to say to Ben, if I offended you personally, I apologize. I just don't agree with your comments in that article. I like KB Home (KBH) here for a long-term play. It's really good in terms of risk reward right now. KB Home closed Friday at $57.80.
Gregg Hymowitz: I think it's the worst time in the cycle for housing stocks. There's higher interest rates, and higher mortgage rates, and worst of all, huge West Coast exposure.
Jim Rogers: I'm short the stock.
Leigh Gallagher: What says Mother's Day more than the luxury goods. One I like right now is Coach (COH), which makes high-end leather handbags. They're attainable luxury. Handbags are the high heels. Coach closed Friday at $30.65
Jim Rogers: This stock is at 30 times earnings.
Leigh Gallagher: Its return on equity is higher than its competitors. So I think it's very well positioned.
Ben Stein: I like iShares S&P Small Cap (IJR) continuing with my pick of index funds. It's had a tremendous move and I know now it's a pretty big multiple of price to earnings. The iShares S&P SmallCap fund closed Friday at $63.75
Neil Cavuto: But they've been outperforming for a long time, right?
Ben Stein: They have been for a long time. I can see a pullback, but in the long-term I love it.
Leigh Gallagher: What are we eight years into this run now with small caps? I would be really cautious.
Neil Cavuto: All right, and Jim?
Jim Rogers: Well, for Mother's Day I would urge people to buy silk. It'll go through the roof in the next couple of years.
Gregg Hymowitz: Silk panties or lingerie?
Jim Rogers: No, futures.
FOX on the Spots
Jim: Congress should cut all taxes on savings and investment!
Gregg: Bush sinks deeper in polls; market shrugs it off
Leigh: "Da Vinci Code" can't save box offices this summer
Ben: Liberal media ignores Bush's pledge to Darfur
Charles: New life for old hotties; buy TASER and Krispy Kreme
NOTE: Charles clients own Krispy Kreme
Neil Cavuto: Tax cuts, ignore the class warfare nonsense you've heard on them... they're going to ward off a slowdown in this economy, and help us all.
Forbes on FOX
In Focus: NSA Phone Record Program: Protects Our Safety and Stocks?
Rich Karlgaard, Publisher: In the post 9/11 world we're always going to have a balancing act between security and liberty. I give the President the benefit of the doubt. This is good for the economy and it's good for the safety of Americans. Nothing would destroy the markets like a nuke going off in Manhattan.
Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor: I'm afraid this shows just how lame our own intelligence agencies are at infiltrating terrorism. The fact that we would have to collect phone records of millions of Americans with no idea even where to begin looking, shows how bad off we are.
Jim Michaels, Editorial Vice President: This isn't about snooping, this is about using smart technology on a very primitive enemy. This is about pattern recognition. They don't care what you or I are talking about on the phone.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief: How about a pattern of a government that kidnaps people, authorizes torture, has illegal detention, won't let the Red Cross see people and now spies on its own people. That's a dangerous pattern and that is bad for the health of this free economy.
Mike Ozanian, Senior Editor: In this age we need all the information we can get. This is an important way we are fighting this war. Any advantage we can get is good.
Lea Goldman, Staff Writer: There is no high tech substitute for good old fashion human intelligence. Relying on this is ridiculous. This is dangerous for the markets. President should not be seen as misusing his power and our individual rights should not be forgotten.
Jim Michaels: This is a lot of emotional crap. All they are saying is that they want a record of the total picture of phone calls in this country. We want to data-mine it. We want to look for patterns that might help us. This is using technology. They don't care what you're saying on the phone.
Dennis Kneale: It's one thing if you're calling to Saudi Arabia 100 times a week, but they're looking at domestic calls, New York to Miami. What kind of patterns are they going to detect there? This is ineffective and it's bad for the markets because it shows Wall Street that they don't know what they are doing.
Rich Karlgaard: This is one tool among many. We have to try them all. If the opponents of this could just name one specific example of how Joe or Jane American has been abused as a result of this process, I might change my mind.
Lea Goldman: The argument that we haven't been hit since 9/11 is a specious argument. First of all, we have all these members of Jihad in Iraq fighting on that end. You can come up with a million and one reasons why we haven't been attacked. Claiming that they're collecting our phone records is helping that cause is a little hollow.
Mike Ozanian: This is the sum of many parts. The result is that we've been much more safe. None of the fear mongering is working. 60-80 percent of the American people are for the wiring tapping.
Dennis Kneale: Rich said, lets look at one time someone was hurt by this. I say let the government tell us one time that this tactic has lead to us tracking down and cracking a terrorist cell. This Bush administration is in so much trouble they would not keep a triumph like that a secret!
Lea Goldman: The problem with this is it's a pure breach of law. In 1978 Congress purposely set up these courts to approve wiretaps. The government does not have the right to know how many times I'm making phone calls.
Jim Michaels: They're not tapping wires! They are looking at the data.
Quentin Hardy: The American people don't like the government hijacking the processes or ignoring the courts. And by the way, Al Qaeda attacks have tripled since 9/11. We are not safer.
Mike Ozanian: Not in this country. We haven't been hit. That's the whole point. We don't want to leak how successful we've been because that gives the enemy an insight into what we're doing.
Quentin Hardy: You're giving your civil liberties over to a secretive government.
Rich Karlgaard: You want to lose civil liberties, think about a bomb going off in downtown Manhattan.
Dennis Kneale: The things you have to keep secret are secret sources, people you have inside Al Qaeda. You don't have to keep secret the fact that you're combing over the phone records of millions of Americans that we don't expect of doing anything wrong. That is a shameful act.
Flipside: Bush Can Lower Gas Prices and Boost Polls by Talking to Iran!
Quentin Hardy: The head of Iran played Bush like a violin this week. He sent the President an 18-page letter. Who cares what's in it. Bush blows it aside, just like he knew he would. And then the head of Iran goes to Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, and says 'look I've got Americans on both sides of me waging war and Bush won't even talk to me.' 'What can I do?' If Bush had talked to him and called his bluff, tensions would go down and so would $20 off a barrel of oil.
Mike Ozanian: That letter itself is a declaration of war. It essentially says that anyone who doesn't believe in the most extreme views of Islam is going down. We should nuke Iran right now. We should hit them from above with Tomahawk missiles and hit them underground in the bunkers with nukes.
Dennis Kneale: You don't want to do this. Even those of us who are glad that Saddam Hussein is gone, don't we wish that we did a little more talking before going in there and failing to find weapons of mass destruction? Talking never hurts us if we want to go in militarily later. The way we can really undermine them is to talk to the lieutenants under him. Yes he's crazy, but the leaders around him are not.
Jim Michaels: What are you going to talk to him about? When Nixon went to China we were bitter enemies but Nixon knew that the Chinese were ready to open up to the outside world. He only went because he knew that there was something to talk about. There's nothing to talk about here.
Lea Goldman: I say don't talk to Iran. The remaining 30 percent of Americans who favor Bush favor him because he does not negotiate with terrorists. Iran has a long history of terrorism.
Jim Michaels: In that letter he says that democracy has failed and that we should join him in Islam and become an Islamic fanatic and join him in a Jihad against Israel. That's no reason to talk.
Dennis Kneale: The encouraging thing is that he sent it at all. This is the first time an Iranian leader has reached out and said lets start a dialog.
Lea Goldman: The guy is nuts! He's got his finger on the button. There's no negotiating with him.
Mike Ozanian: In 1998 Al Qaeda issued a similar type of memo basically declaring the intent to destroy the West. Clinton ignored it and he ignored the USS Cole being bombed, he ignored our embassies being bombed. He kept hoping to talk and work it out. It doesn't work with these types of people.
Quentin Hardy: We don't talk to Cuba or to North Korea or to Saddam. Every one was a failed experiment. When we do talk to people and they do see our ways, they trade with us and it works out better.
Jim Michaels: What do you want to talk about?
Quentin Hardy: You can kill thousands in Iran, but they are not going to roll over.
Dennis Kneale: The first thing you talk about is business and economics. You table the nuclear thing for a couple of months. Put a Starbucks in Iran. If you give these kids a job they'll be much less likely to strap a bomb to their chest. Israel can go in and bomb that place whenever it gets too serious. And even by the most aggressive estimates, Iran won't have anything for another 5-10 years.
Quentin Hardy: A lot of the gas prices are based on the fact that we are not going to talk and we're going to go in with our overstretched army. Gas prices would go down if we talked.
Informer: Bet on America!
Jim Michaels: I wouldn't necessarily bet on Warren Buffett's bet that U.S. dollar is going to lose more value because he was wrong on the dollar last year. The FED looks like it's defending the dollar, which could help the dollar remain strong this year. I'd buy Wal-Mart (WMT), which Buffet is also buying. Wal-Mart does well whether the dollar is strong or weak. It's growing overseas and will bring in the money if the dollar is weak.
Rich Karlgaard: Wal-Mart is a great company and Jim is right more than often than I am on stocks, but this is a stock market that is not favoring large companies. It favors small and nimble companies. I have to be skeptical on this one. I like the chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). They've always been the underdog against Intel but it's made great inroads. Plus, I believe in globalization and free trade and AMD is global.
Jim Michaels: The stock tripled in the past few years while Intel (INTC) has been hitting new lows. As a value investor, I'd go with Intel.
Lea Goldman: I like Citigroup (C). I think over the long run this company has produced great returns for its investor. It's a long-term play.
Mike Ozanain: I don't like this one because it's too expensive relative to its peers. And it's profitability has been declining. Any smart investor doesn't want to have all their money in one stock or country or one sector. That's why I like Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B). This is Warren Buffet's company. It's a great way to hedge and diversify.
Lea Goldman: Investing in Berkshire Hathaway is essentially investing in Warren Buffett. Buffett is 76, you have to wonder what's going to happen to that company post Buffett.
Makers & Breakers
• Paccar (PCAR)
David Trainer, President New Constructs: MAKER
Paccar is an international truck maker. When you're working with a just-in-time economy, it's trucks that make the world go round. And these guys are very well positioned, plus the stock is super cheap. It's trading at a discount to the value of the business based on its existing cash flow. So any growth, the stock will go straight up. I think it can go to $100 in one year. (Friday's close: $77.76)
Lea Goldman: BREAKER
Next year there are emission standards that trucking companies have to abide by and I think it's going to take a big chunk out of their expenses.
Dennis Kneale: MAKER
Trucks move the economy and the economy is roaring. Retail sales at Wal-Mart were up 6.8 percent in April. This is a good stock.
• CIGNA (CI)
David Trainer: MAKER
This health insurer's stock got really beat down, too much, when it missed earnings recently. The market overreacted. It's super cheap and very well positioned in global benefits. I think it can go to $120 in a year. (Friday's close: $93.50)
Lea Goldman: BREAKER
It's super cheap because enrollment is down and health care costs are up and that story is not going to change for CIGNA. I don't like this sector, but specifically CIGNA is the dog of the dogs.
Dennis Kneale: MAKER
This stock is really cheap. Pound for pound, based on its earnings, it's only 1/3 the price of the entire stock market. Health care is moving everywhere. People are getting older and getting more aches and pains. Buy this stock.
David Trainer: CIGNA is really involved in the implementation. They're helping the employers set up these plans. That's something that is always going to be going on especially as we see the world become more developed with more employees and more benefit plans.
Our “Cashin’ In” crew this week: Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers and Company; Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management; Jonas Max Ferris, MAXfunds.com; Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News; Stuart Varney, FOX Business News; Rebecca Gomez, FOX Business News.
Stock Smarts: Bubble Fanta$y?
Talk of a housing bubble has been going on for years. Yet, here we are without any kind of meltdown in home prices. So is the bubble pure fantasy?
Stuart Varney, FOX Business News: Pure fantasy. It was not a bubble. When a dot-com stock goes up five-fold in five months, that's a bubble. When your house goes up 50 percent in value in two, three, four, five years, that's not a bubble; it's just a solid rally. No bubble, no crash.
Terry Keenan: Even when your house goes up that much and your leverage goes up accordingly?
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Company: Well, first of all, some houses have gone up 50 percent in the last year, until we had this period here of gestation.
Stuart Varney: Very few.
Wayne Rogers: Wrong. All you've got to do is look at the auction notices in The Wall Street Journal for example, Stuart. By the way, real estate is local. It's not national. And there are places that are definitely slowing down. This is in the first phase. That's where the absorption rate lengthens out from one month to three months to six months. Then prices begin to decline. We're just getting into the price decline part right now.
Stuart Varney: Very few prices went up 50 percent in one year. And the decline in prices that we are seeing in the hot market doesn't mean we've got a crash in housing. It's an orderly retreat from very lofty levels. Sorry, Wayne.
Wayne Rogers: I think you're very smart, but you couldn't be more wrong here. There are plenty of markets where houses have gone up 50 percent in the last year. Look at Florida, look at southern California there are plenty of places. By the way, New York in the last year has gone up 500 percent. Right in Chelsea, where we have a building, they were selling for $200 a foot. They're now selling for $1200 a foot. So don't tell me that.
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: Wayne is on to something. I think it is a localized market. And I don't know if the condo market in Miami or Vegas is going to be as hot or cold as Omaha for that matter. But when I look at real estate as an asset class, Terry, I've got to say a lot of the factors I saw in the early 2000's aren't there now. How do the homebuilders look, Terry?
Terry Keenan: They look pretty bad.
Jonathan Hoenig: They look like "dreck"; the stocks look terrible.
Terry Keenan: You're not short them, are you?
Jonathan Hoenig: I would certainly rather be short than long. The trick here is not to be overleveraged in real estate. That's where people get hurt on the way down. Not because they own it, but they own too much.
Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News: Both to Jonathan and to Wayne's point, there is definitely a bubble. The air is not going to pop, Stuart like the NASDAQ. The air is going to come out of it. And that's what you're seeing. To both Wayne and Jonathan's point, it is not just local, it looks like there's national weakness, because you've heard from a couple of homebuilders recently that orders were down double digits in the most recent quarter and there's broad-based weakness among buyers out there.
Wayne Rogers: Wait just one minute. In the city of New York you still have the bubble going on, because people are still paying those prices. So it is local to a certain extent. But Jonathan is absolutely right. All you have to do is look at the house-building stocks, they've gone south and you shouldn't touch them.
Jonathan Hoenig: And interest rates have gone north at the same time.
Jonas Max Ferris, MAXfunds.com: Jonathan brought up Omaha. Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha", the greatest investor of all time, just had his annual meeting and he said it's a bubble. The high-priced markets are going to crash. It's a question of how much. He owns one of the largest real estate brokerage companies in the country. So he not only has a good opinion, but he has firsthand information. All the fundamentals are there; the only thing that hasn't fallen yet is the price. We've seen interest rates go up, inventory, etc. Prices last, Wayne just said it. It's going to happen hardest in the hottest markets. If your house isn't up a lot, don't worry. If it's a condo in south Florida or Vegas, you're done.
Rebecca Gomez, FOX Business News: I know that Stuart has been to Phoenix, Arizona and I spoke to a realtor just yesterday who said she drove through one neighborhood and there were 12 homes up for sale in just a few blocks. She says, that there are sales galore. And these are a lot of the flippers.
Terry Keenan: They're picking on you, Stuart, but they're also picking the hottest markets, though.
Rebecca Gomez: Yeah, Phoenix, Arizona is considered one of the bubble markets. And I mean it's taken at least six months to sell a home. Now as far as Jonas said, it's correct. The prices aren't falling as dramatically as you would expect and that is because the buyers do have interest rates on their side.
Stuart Varney: I don't deny for a moment that we've had a wonderful boom in single-family homes in the United States of America, especially in some hot markets. It was not a bubble. And yes, we are slowing down. And yes, there are reductions in selling prices in some of the hottest markets. But this is a boom. And it's a rational boom. It's a flip out of stocks, after the NASDAQ crash. And it's a move into hard assets, with cheap money. It's a rational boom. It's not a bubble.
Terry Keenan: Dagen, when the NASDAQ bubble burst, it went down 75 percent. You're not saying home prices will go down 75 percent, do you?
Dagen McDowell: We'll more than likely not see a crash like that, even in the hottest markets. But you could see a double-digit price decline from Miami to Phoenix and Washington DC.
Terry Keenan: In stock market terms; that's a correction, isn't it?
Jonas Max Ferris: It's a correction if people bought houses with cash. But a 20 percent pullback, when you've got no money down, is way worse than any dot-com stock. You don't buy that with "no money down."
Stuart Varney: I'm a real estate investor and I'm no longer buying. I'm waiting for prices to come down. I'm waiting for the next up cycle, which could be many years from now. Prices will fall. Granted. But this is not a bubble.
Terry Keenan: So you're not buying. You're in good company with your friend, Wayne. Wayne, I know real estate is local and you're totally right about that, but how much do you think prices could fall in the national level?
Wayne Rogers: I can't tell you that. I'm not that smart. But I can tell you this; Stuart is right in one sense. We're into a cycle. If you want to say it's a bubble or not, we're into a cycle. We have just passed through the high part of the cycle. And the cycle is now turning down. And as I said before, you're going to have this absorption rate before you have the adjustment in prices. Eventually, in the next three to six months, you're going to have the adjustment in prices. Ultimately you'll have some foreclosures and that tells you that's the bottom. At that time, you can get back in.
Stuart Varney: The key question, Wayne, if you agree with me on the cycle business is, we had stocks in the late 1990s, and we had real estate in the first five years of this decade — where to, now? What's the next up cycle? Where do we put our money?
Jonathan Hoenig: I have some ideas.
Wayne Rogers: Obviously the market has already told us the up cycle is in natural resources; in oil and in steel and those things. Now, is that a bubble? Yes, we may be approaching a bubble there, too.
Stuart Varney: I think the word "bubble" is being used rather loosely, quite frankly.
Jonathan Hoenig: Markets generally don't fall 50 percent in one day. And the truth is, tech stocks got hurt in the early part of this century. But the NASDAQ didn't go from 5,000 to 1,500 in two days. It took over a year. So my approach with real estate is to wait for some strength. The only strength I see in REITs right now are the M&A deals with the big-egoed financiers wanting to take each other out at a higher premium. I wish I saw some more real estate stocks doing well. Until I see that, I'm sitting out.
Terry Keenan: Let's look at the good side for people looking to buy their first home. Bargains ahead, perhaps?
Dagen McDowell: Bargains ahead and you've got interest rates even right now, Terry, the highest in a few years, but still low compared to previous decades. If you're willing to live in the doggone house for 10 or 20 years, then there's no better time to buy. Just don't plan to flip it in three.
Cashin' In: Cuba Drilling for Oil Offshore: Should We?
Cuba is planning to drill for oil on its side of the Florida Straits, leading some here in the US to reconsider the ban on offshore drilling. Is it time to follow Fidel Castro's lead and start drilling there?
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Company: Well, it's time to follow Castro's lead in the following sense; we should be drilling on Cuba's side, too. It's crazy for us not to. As far as in this country? No. We should not. We've got too many other alternatives. There's enough oil in the sands in Colorado and Wyoming to supply us for 15 years. We should be developing alternative fuels. We should be doing all of these other things…. And we should be buying smaller cars.
Stuart Varney, FOX Business News: What? What? Wayne, listen. Listen please. There's 100 billion barrels of oil on the outer continental shelf… 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. And it's ours and we can't get it because Congress won't let us? That is a disgrace on Congress' part.
Wayne Rogers: Really? Well you know, there's all of this gold down in Kentucky, too. But you're not supposed to go down and rob it, you know
Stuart Varney: Don't we need oil and natural gas right now?
Wayne Rogers: No, wrong. What we need is a little discipline. We should be buying smaller cars, we should be conserving, and we should be looking for alternative fuels.
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: Why, Wayne? That turns us into Fidel Castro. The government says you only get meat twice a week or you have to buy a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon…
Terry Keenan: Jonathan, do you like being dependant on Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro for your oil?
Jonathan Hoenig: I think, to Stuart's point, if we open up the OCS, we wouldn't be dependant on these awful communist, socialist dictators.
Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News: Yes, we would.
Jonathan Hoenig: All of that land should be sold to private enterprise. Sell it to the next Andrew Carnegie or Sam Walton.
Dagen McDowell: Once we ran through all of that oil that we've got out of the ocean, off our shores, it would only last 16 years. And you know what would happen? We would suck up all of that oil. To Wayne's point, figure out a way to conserve oil. We would just use it all.
Jonas Max Ferris, MAXfunds.com: Castro destroyed his tourism industry in the 1950's, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain from exploiting the offshore oil. Florida has a lot to lose, which is why Jeb Bush doesn't want these things drilled.
Rebecca Gomez, FOX Business News: But Jonas, we drill in the Gulf of Mexico, so what's the difference? We drill offshore, already.
Jonas Max Ferris: The 100 billion barrels that you brought up is our nation's number-one asset. If we wait to drill it, in 30 or 40 years, we'll be the last provider. We'll be Saudi Arabia and it will be worth 20 times as much.
Rebecca Gomez: The US is obligated to find any means necessary to wean us off of this foreign oil dependency. And that includes conservation, hybrids, and ethanol. But it also includes using our own oil, our own natural gas. We already drill offshore.
Terry Keenan: But, Stuart, we're now in a situation where American companies can't even participate in this Cuban oil because we have sanctions and we're letting the Chinese go in there.
Stuart Varney: This is an absolute outrage. This is our oil and our natural gas and we need it. With gas at $3 a gallon, we need it.
Dagen McDowell: Wait a minute. Didn't we learn one lesson from last summer with the hurricanes where you had hurricane after hurricane wiping into the Gulf of Mexico? Let's put some more oil wells and drills in the middle of hurricane alley. That's real smart.
Stuart Varney: The democrats won't even allow us to go and survey ANWR to find out how much oil there really is. There hasn't been a survey done in 15 years. Can you believe this?
Rebecca Gomez: What's go to happen is the Cubans are going to steal our oil and natural gas.
Terry Keenan: And they're going to sell it and hold us hostage.
Rebecca Gomez: And they'll try to sell it to us at sky-high prices.
Jonas Max Ferris: They're willing to sell it, that's great. If the Saudis, the Russians or the Cubans want to sell all their oil, that's great. We want to own the last oil in the world so we're the future Saudi Arabia. We want to be the last one owning oil.
Terry Keenan: 30 years from now, do you think we will even need these fossil fuels?
Wayne Rogers: Terry, you're right. We should be drilling in Cuba's territory. That's what we should be doing. The fact that our policy does not allow us to drill in Cuba's waters is crazy. If you're going to let the Chinese drill there, let us drill there. It's our own policy that is hurting us. We can drill in Cuba's waters without having to mess up the Florida Straits. So it's easy.
Terry Keenan: Any chance that's going to happen?
Jonathan Hoenig: Wayne, you say that, but in the next breath you say we should all conserve. We should drive smaller cars and sacrifice our own lives.
Terry Keenan: Is it going to sacrifice your life, Jonathan, to drive a smaller car?
Jonathan Hoenig: It is, Terry. I want to drive a major car in America. It's about progress and moving forward. You know, not cutting back and conserving. Of course that property should be drilled. It should be drilled by private companies. Jonas is idiotic on this, the government should horde commodities?
Jonas Max Ferris: It's own only major asset.
Wayne Rogers: But, but, by the way, the government is already hording commodities; they have a huge oil reserve that the government is responsible for.
Best Bets: Un$inkable Stocks
The new movie, "Poseidon" set sail this weekend, a remake of the 1970's disaster classic about a sinking cruise ship. But Wayne, Jonathan and Jonas are here with the names they say are so good, they could be unsinkable.
Wayne's Un$inkable Stock: Barnes Group (B)
Friday's close: $42.98
52-wk High: $47.95
52-wk Low: $28.62
YTD Return: +31 percent
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Company: I like Barnes Group, an old-fashioned manufacturing entity. It makes springs, hydraulic systems, things like that. And the earnings have been up for the last three years. And I think it has a way to run. I don't think anything is unsinkable. But I think this is a good bet.
Jonas Max Ferris, MAXfunds.com: A cyclical company like that? If the economy tanks, it will be as big a bomb as an Earnest Borgnine movie. It's just not a good idea in a recession. It's not unsinkable.
Wayne Rogers: Are we in a recession? I didn't realize that.
Jonas Max Ferris: We'll see if the housing market flops.
Wayne Rogers: I didn't think we were in a recession.
Jonas' Un$inkable Stock: Pfizer (PFE)
Friday's close: $24.50
52-wk High: $29.21
52-wk Low: $20.27
YTD Return: +7 percent
Jonas Max Ferris: A truly unsinkable stock is a drug stock. They'll make money in a recession. Pfizer is cheap, down from the old days, but they just came out with a cigarette cure that can be good for a billion dollars. I think it's bottomed out.
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: How many times have people picked this stock? How many times in the last five years have people picked this stock? It's one of the names that can go into the single digits. If you want to go into a drug stock, buy Bayer (BAY), Novartis (NVS), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), buy a European drug stock. Jonas, what's to like here?
Jonas Max Ferris: It's not unsinkable, because their earnings are even higher than four or five years ago, which shows that through up and down cycles, they'll earn money. That's the definition of an unsinkable company.
Terry Keenan: Wayne, you don't like this one?
Wayne Rogers: No. Thumb's down. Next?
Jonathan's Un$inkable Fund: Aberdeen Asia-Pacific Income (FAX)
Friday's close: $6.12
52-wk High: $6.44
52-wk Low: $5.08
YTD Return: +7.9 percent
Jonathan Hoenig: Once thought to be unsinkable, the dollar is looking so weak. Now is a good time to get into assets that are going to do well if the dollar declines. The Aberdeen Asia-Pacific Income Funds own Australian government bunds. It's a currency play. I don't like the fact that it has interest-rate exposure. I happen to be short bonds on the side.
Jonas Max Ferris: Is it an unsinkable stock?
Terry Keenan: It's not a stock. But he thinks it's good.
Jonathan Hoenig: The point is to make money.
Jonas Max Ferris: The point is to pick an unsinkable stock like a drug stock.
Jonathan Hoenig: This trades like a stock, Jonas. Just like General Electric (GE) or Pfizer or any of the junk that you like to buy.
Jonas Max Ferris: It doesn't make it a stock.
Terry Keenan: Wayne, you're rolling your eyes at the two of them or FAX?
Wayne Rogers: I like this pick of Jonathan's I think it's a defensive pick and I don't think you can lose.
Question: "I've got two Latin America funds in the ‘Challenge': Merrill Lynch (MALTX) and T. Rowe Price (PRLAX). I might buy them for real. Thoughts?"
Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News: Both are 'muy caliente' — (very hot). They're a little too hot, actually. I wouldn't jump into Latin America right now, but if you have to pick one fund versus the other, definitely go with the T. Rowe Price fund. It's a no-load fund. If you're doing it on your own, you never want to sock your money into a load fund that will take a sales charge like the Merrill Lynch fund, unless you're using a broker who's giving you great advice. So, if you've got to buy one, buy T. Rowe Price.
Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig Asset Management: I used to be all over Latin America, and I worry now, that the word is out. Everyone I know is talking about foreign investing; the growth in Brazil and Mexico. I'd rather own in Latin America than the US right now, but it's not a trade that we're participating in, in terms of my hedge fund.
Terry Keenan: And the socialists are moving into power in lots of big countries there. What do you think, Wayne?
Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Company: Like Jonathan, I've had a lot of Latin American stocks in the past, and I've only got one left in my portfolio, Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A. (EOC), which is a Chilean public utility. I'm like both of them. I think the curve is probably topping out.