Our panelists give you the scoop on all the inside business information before you hear it anywhere else in The Informer segment:
David Asman: Victoria, tell us about Tiffany (TIF).
Victoria Murphy, senior reporter: I think now is the time to look at Tiffany (search). Their jewelry is expensive, but the stock isn’t right now. It’s relatively cheap right now at 22 times forward earnings. And as the US economy picks up, as well as Japan’s, where Tiffany gets nearly a third of their sales, people are going to buy more luxury items, and as many of us have learned the hard way, some of the best things in life aren’t free, they come in a little blue box with a white ribbon around it. So, I like Tiffany right now.
Pete Newcomb, senior editor: I actually like it, and here’s why: You know, Forbes just did a cover story recently on a billionaire who’s breaking the diamond cartel. He’s extracting huge diamonds, which the women love, and Tiffany is the place to buy them.
David Asman: And one of the ways you might be able to afford one of those baubles is by winning at the casinos, but casinos have been going through some tough times. However you’ve found one that’s a winner. Tell us about it.
Pete Newcomb: It’s one that you’ve never heard of before. It’s called Station Casinos (STN).
David Asman: Why haven’t we heard of Station?
Pete Newcomb: Well, they run about a dozen or so small casinos outside the strip. They don’t cater to tourists; they cater to the local crowd. Vegas is a city growing by about 60,000 or so a year, and they really cater to the local crowd.
Bill Baldwin, editor: Well, the motto of the casino industry is, “Never give a sucker an even break,” so I definitely would, if I were into crapshoots, speculate on that one.
David Asman: All right, two winners for Station Casinos. Now Bill, DaimlerChrysler (DCX): Everybody was really excited about DaimlerChrysler, when they got together, but now they’re thinking about splitting?
Bill Baldwin: Well, I think it would be a great little stock if you could erase the second half of the name. It would be as simple as this.
David Asman: Get rid of Chrysler? What would Lee Iacoca do?
Bill Baldwin: Wait a minute now. You’d have the Germans back in Germany with a superb brand name, Mercedes Benz. And you could declare victory in the United States and go home. Just spin it off to shareholders.
Victoria Murphy: I think the split would be a great idea, especially for Daimler, but I would avoid all US automakers right now, simply because of the labor contracts that they’re under. Japanese automakers have at least a $1,000 cost advantage going into every car. And they’ve got 60 percent of the US market, so I don’t like any of those guys.
Bill Baldwin: Very legitimate with regard to Chrysler, which I’m not sure I would want to own after the split off, but back in Germany you’ve got $70,000 cars, labor is not as big an issue.
David Asman: Pete, which would you rather have, a Chrysler or a Mercedes?
Pete Newcomb: I actually like the Chrysler Pacifica, but, you know what? Every analyst report I’ve read does not expect these guys to be making any money over the next year or two. I’d just stay away.
Makers & Breakers
Sam Lieber, portfolio manager of the Alpine US Real Estate Equity Fund: MAKER