Our panelists give you the scoop on all the inside business information before you hear it anywhere else in The Informer segment:
David Asman: Jerry let's start with you. Ford making a big announcement this week.
Jerry Flint, columnist: Ford (F) is giving up a million units of capacity. They're saying basically Toyota, Honda, BMW, they've taken a million units from us and we can't get them back. We're gonna shut enough plants to make a million units. We'll cut the capacity. It'll take 18 months for them to come up with a new product. The old management got caught up with all the fads of globalism, e-business, hiring all these strange people that don't know anything about the business.
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: Jerry, doesn't Ford itself already own a bunch of foreign brands? Haven't they kind of off-set their risk by doing that?
Jerry Flint: That was one of the fads, spending $6.5 billion on Volvo. They'll never get that money back.
David Asman: Dennis, AOL had news this week.
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: AOL (AOL) says it's going to reduce its balance sheet by as much as $60 billion. That would be the largest single charge taken by any company. Wall Street says forget about it. It's just a paper charge. There's no money flowing out. But what I'm saying is yes it does matter. What AOL is saying is that we paid $60 billion more than we should have. That shows you bad management.
David Asman: But bottom-line, will it survive?
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: Sure it will.
Lisa DiCarlo, Forbes.com senior editor: But from an investor's standpoint Dennis, isn't it better to take this one time hit now rather than drag it out for years and years.
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: That will boost quarterly earnings for AOL but this company wants to be known for its cash-flow, not on its after tax earnings. If you look at this stock after its after tax earnings, the stock looks more and more expensive.
Jerry Flint, columnist: Are we saying the guys at Time overpaid $60 billion for nothing at AOL?
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: What it's really saying is, the guys at AOL are saying that we paid $60 billion too much for the guys inside Time Warner. But I think the reverse can be said as well.
David Asman: Okay, iMac was on the cover of Time, Bruce. Did it deserve that honor?
Bruce Upbin, senior editor: No. It's got a weird look to it and it's not going to save Apple Computers (AAPL). It isn't worth the stock price either. At a time when people are looking for lower priced computers, it doesn't make any sense to introduce a product selling between $1300-$1900.
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: I use an iBook and I just bought my wife an iPod for Christmas. iPod s this cool MP3 player that holds 1000 songs in a hard drive the size of a quarter. It really is fantastic.
David Asman: Okay Lisa, let's get to you.
Lisa DiCarlo, Forbes.com senior editor: I think two information technology companies are going to bounce back this year, Affiliated Computer Services and Cognizant Technologies (CTSH). Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) is kind of pricey but their earnings are supposed to be up 40% this year, 40% next year. Cognizant is a great business model because they have off - shore development in India. They're small with a $175 million in sales.
Dennis Kneale, managing editor: The I-T industries have been surprisingly strong despite the downturn in tech. So they're on to something.
Makers & Breakers
John Eade, Argus Research: MAKER
I like Pfizer (PFE) for a number of reasons. It's down 15% from its highs. Some of its peers in the industry like Merck and Schering Plough have announced problems. Pfizer doesn't have any those problems. This company is on track to deliver 15% growth for the next 2-3 years. I think it's a good opportunity to buy on the down side.
Bill Baldwin: MAKER
I think Pfizer is a classy company saving a lot of lives but I think there's one thing wrong with your logic that Pfizer doesn't have problems. The whole industry has a problem, Hillary Clinton. I think Hillary and her buddies are going to find a way to wreck this industry.
Bruce Upbin: BREAKER
I like Pfizer for the reason that John said, most other companies are facing patent expirations. There's one catalyst to watch out for and that's the diabetes litigation. If it spirals out of control it could spell problems.
Bed, Bath & Beyond
John Eade: MAKER
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) is my second stock. I really like this industry. I think consumer spending for the home will increase. The company is very decentralized. They give a lot of power to the store levels. I think they have consistent growth.
Bruce Upbin: BREAKER
This is one of those stocks I wish I had bought 5 months ago. I think I'd rather buy in the mid 20's rather than the low 30's which is where it is now.
Bill Baldwin: MAKER
I love this stock and I'll tell you why. Who could not love a company that's headquartered in a dump like Union, New Jersey.
John Eade: I went down to those offices and they're located right above one of the first stores that they started. And these guys are down in the floors stocking the shelves when I met the chairman.