• Our panelists give you the scoop on all the inside business information before you hear it anywhere else in The Informer segment:

    David Asman, host: Scott Woolley, fiber cable companies haven't been doing that well.

    Scott Woolley, associate editor: Global Crossing and McCloud filed for bankruptcy protection this past week. The fiber-optic networks are in some trouble. Companies like Level 3 (LVLT), Metromedia Fiber (MFNX), and Williams Comm (WCG) are all in fifteen billion dollars in debt.

    David Asman: Dennis, when are these companies coming back?

    Dennis Kneale, managing editor: What's happening now is entrepreneurs are buying assets for pennies on the dollar. Right now it's really rough waters. You have to bet on the high rollers.

    Scott Woolley: Bond holders will probably get some of their money back but the existing equity holders probably won't get much.

    David Asman: Bob Lenzner, there are other failures you want to talk about.

    Bob Lenzner, national editor: The same kind of off balance sheet scandals that hit Enron are now spreading to banks. Enron didn't tell you what its off balance sheet liabilities were. Banks do tell you but they tell you in a footnote. What happened was Enron had to have $3 billion October 25th. The banks had to lend it. That loan is worth $600 million. They lost $2.4 billion.

    David Asman: Talk about some of the banks that are in trouble.

    Bob Lenzner: Well, there are a lot of banks with problems. I wouldn't say "troubles." Some are JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), and Bank of America (BAC). When I say problems, I mean their earnings are going to be under pressure.

    David Asman: Leigh you have Olympic news for us.

    Leigh Gallagher, staff writer: Columbia Sportswear (COLM) which makes a lot of outdoor gear. They're poised to get a lot of visibility. The Olympics are starting this week and they're outfitting all the NBC people and all the Red Cross volunteers. They have good earnings growth and doing good off its 52-week high.

    David Asman: Okay, Dennis you have something that to me sounded like a "Flipside". Tyson got a bum rap?

    Dennis Kneale: The Nevada Boxing Commission wins hypocrite of the week award. They realized that Mike Tyson is a brute and a thug but hey, we pay this guy millions of dollars to fight in the ring. Should it surprise us that he gets into a fight at a press conference. MGM Mirage (MGG) is a stock that I would stay away from. It's been up 80% since September.

    David Asman: Should he be given the license?

    Dennis Kneale: Yes, he should.

    Leigh Gallagher: I disagree. I'm all for a good show but Tyson's a lunatic. He's a manic depressive, rage-aholic and a convicted rapist. What message are we sending?

    Dennis Kneale: Except for the rape conviction, most of what you said makes him a better boxer. It's great entertainment. That match will be the most watched match.

    Makers and Breakers

    Cisco Systems (CSCO)

    Charles Payne, Wall Street Strategies: Cisco Systems (CSCO) is in a great position for the tech world coming out of its current problems that they have. They've taken market share, which is smart. I think they're poised to go up.

    Jim Michaels, editorial vice president: BREAKER
    Cisco is the original emperor that has no clothes. Here's a company that grew by using an overpriced stock to make a lot of acquisitions. Now it's just an ordinary cyclical company and it ain't worth $160 billion dollars.

    Mike Ozanian, senior editor: BREAKER
    I have two problems with Cisco. First, it's got a huge inventory backlog. It's taken huge write-offs. Number two is, it's used deferred taxes from stock options to really boost its cash flow. Now way this company is going to earn its $0.25 people say it will.

    Charles Payne: I have to say, what I like about Cisco is they've set the bar pretty high in management. These are valid points but I still think this stock will be an outperformer this year.

    Medtronic (MDT)

    David Asman: Okay, Charles your next pick. Medtronic (MDT), they make the pacemakers.

    Charles Payne: With the aging of America, a company that makes stents, defibrilators and pacemakers will enjoy tremendous growth not just in the near term but in the long term as well.

    Mike Ozanian: BREAKER
    This company, almost every quarter, takes a non-recurring charge. When you back those non-recurring charges, the company's earnings and worse, its cash-flow have been trending downward.

    Jim Michaels: BREAKER
    I agree with Mike. And so do a lot of the insiders who have been selling that stock in the high forties.

    Charles Payne: You're absolutely right about the insider selling but just recently we've given carelink a way of hooking up with patients over the internet. There's a lot of innovation in this stock.