Net earnings are commonly used to measure a company's financial performance, but when Frank C. Lanza wants to get a look at what's going on at the operating level, the metric he turns to is free cash flow. "If you don't see any free cash flow but a lot of earnings, you've got a problem," says the chairman/CEO of L-3 Communications Corp. "Earnings is great stuff for Wall Street, but if it doesn't have any cash that goes with it, it's only smoke." Cash flow also is a priority for ...

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