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

    David Asman: Melanie Wells, I hear you’re the foremost authority of Coke at Forbes, what’s the deal?

    Melanie Wells, senior editor: Coke’s (KO) got its groove back.  The company had lost its way after Roberto Goizueta died in 1997.

    David Asman: He was the former Cuban American head who was really dynamic, made it a great company….

    Melanie Wells: He was a marketeer.  Now they have a new marketeer and he is repairing relations with bottlers, with consumers, rolling out new products.  They’ve got a water deal which will help them out in the price war that’s coming in bottled water, they’re doing well.  It’s a good buy now.

    David Asman: Pete, what do you think of Coke?

    Peter Newcomb, senior editor: Melanie wrote a cover story about Pepsi (PEP) a month ago and how they’re going great guns.

    Melanie Wells: Pepsi is losing it’s focus.  They’re worried about getting caught in the obesity trap, so they’re talking about healthy stocks.  Coke is not having to worry about that.  They’re focusing on what they do.  They do beverages.

    David Asman: All right, speaking of comebacks, Quentin.  How about the tech sector?

    Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: That’s right.  In the latest issue of Forbes, tech sector is all about the big tech companies, IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) have their act together to bring hardware, software and consulting strategies to bring bigger efficiencies to the data center.  H-P now guarantees in some contracts a 20 percent cost savings in what the customer was paying in their old internet technology spending.

    David Asman: IBM?  Sun W?  What do you like?

    Peter Newcomb: I like H-P.

    David Asman: What would you pick if you had to pick between those three, Quentin?

    Quentin Hardy: I would pick H-P because they got beat up this week, and I want the bad news baked in when I buy a stock, right?  Now I think H-P has a good strategy here, and I think they’re going to have some contract wins in a big way off this strategy.

    David Asman: Chana Schoenberger, let’s talk about shoes.  Sneakers.

    Chana Schoenberger, staff writer: Reebok (RBK).  Reebok is the number four sneaker-maker, and they are having somewhat of a comeback.  They’ve decided that a big part of their strategy is urban males.  Those are boys between the ages of 12-18.  And it’s really important to get those kids to buy your really high-priced sneakers (over $100.)

    David Asman: For this, they need Jay-Z, the rapper?

    Chana Schoenberger: That’s right.  He has inked this deal with them that he is going to be designing a shoe that’s coming out in April.  It’s sort of a white, European-style number.

    David Asman: Quick Melanie, what do you think?  You’re shaking no.

    Melanie Wells: Reebok is trying to be too many things to too many people.  Jay-Z may be a hot rapper, but he doesn’t say performance.  At the end of the day they are a sneaker company, and even if I am wearing sneakers as a fashion statement, I want to know that they can help me do sports.