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

Bill Baldwin, editor:  I like about Fair, Isaac & Co. (FIC), a little software firm who does credit scoring.  They will look for correlations.  They try to find out who doesn't pay back their debts.  Let's take a fake example, supposing hair dressers who live in brick houses are bad.  You wouldn't want to give them a car loan, right?  So this company will disclose to the borrower and others that you've got a low score.  And sometimes they'll tell you how to improve it like paying your utilities on time.

Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor:  I like this stock too.  It's at 56 right now.  It's off the $70.52 week high.  Here's the thing though, there's a Senate bill making headway right now that would force mortgage lenders to disclose credit scores.  So banks are cornering consumers into high cost loans.

David Asman, host:  Okay, Bob Lenzner, let's talk about Enron (ENE), a spectacular disaster.  What's going on there?

Bob Lenzner, national editor:  This is a disaster that has an impact on the entire energy field.  The competitors of Enron (ENE), which are Duke Energy, El Paso, and Williams should be buys at some point because with Enron out they should be able to pick up the slack.

David Asman: But isn't what Enron was in business to do, aren't those businesses going to go down too?

Quentin Hardy, senior editor:  No, you won't see it die as a business but when you've got the biggest bankruptcy in American history you can guarantee Congressional hearings.  I wouldn't get near any of these companies until I see what the regulators are going to do. 

Bill Baldwin, editor:  I totally disagree with Quentin on that.  The time to buy is now when blood is running in the streets.

David Asman:  All right Elizabeth, you've got a homey stock for us, JCPenney (JCP).

Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor:  You want to root for this stock.  You don't want it to go the way of Orbachs or Alexander's or Montgomery Wards.  The stock is at 26, near its 52 week high.  I see this stock going to $20.  It's got $640 million and trailing 12-month losses.

David Asman:  Even if folks are buying like crazy?

Elizabeth MacDonald:  Right, they're still posting losses.

David Asman:  Okay, Quentin what have you got for us?

Quentin Hardy, senior editor:  Amazon's (AMZN) stock is coming back up.  Everyone gets sentimental for retail stocks around this time of year.  I spoke to Jeff Bezos last week and he said they would make pro forma operating profit, which means if you take out all the ugly things that are happening in the company, it's profitable.  But guess what, it's meaningless.  You shouldn't go anywhere near this stock.

David Asman:  But what happens if everyone is buying Amazon this year?  They're still not going to make a profit, right?

Quentin Hardy, senior editor:  That's absolutely right.  They still have all these debts and operational problems to handle.

Bill Baldwin, editor:  I think Bezos is a brilliant retailer but made a mistake in over-reaching.  He should've just stuck with books instead of stretching to lawn chairs.

Makers & Breakers


Patricia Powell, Powell Financial Group:  IBM (IBM) is an old war horse.  It's a stock that everyone knows.  IBM has a 12% growth rate at least over the past five years.  What analysts are not counting on though are patents.  Two years ago  IBM was receiving more patents than anybody else.  They also have a finger in every technology pie.

Bill Baldwin, editor: MAKER
IBM is a maker but it isn't because of patents.  In times of uncertainty you want to gravitate toward the provider which is big, solid and well-known.  I think this next decade will involve big plotting of solid companies.

Dennis Kneale, managing editor: BREAKER
This stock is up 33% already this year.  For five years their average revenue growth has only been 10% and it's slower than all the rivals. 


Patricia Powell:  SEI Investments (SEIC) is a completely different stock than IBM and for a completely different investor.  They manage money and control about 20% of the R.A.P. market. 

Dennis Kneale: MAKER
I think this stock is a maker.  It's down 30% this year but that means it still has room to rebound. 

Bill Baldwin: BREAKER
This stock is going to break you.  People are finally realizing that expensive money management is not a good idea.  They have competition coming from two fronts.  One is companies like Vanguard that have cheap ways of managing money.  Another thing is represented by Folio FN, a company that uses computer software to give you an automatic list of stocks and give you tax advantages.