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

David Asman: Chana, let's start with you. Retailers are really a key part of this economy. How are they preparing for the coming holidays?

Chana Schoenberger, staff writer: For a lot of retailers, it won't be a Merry Christmas. However, there are some sectors that may do very well. Home goods, such as Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) are expected to do very well.

David Asman: What about electronics?

Chana Schoenberger: Electronics will also do well but not as well as last year. Last year those companies released products like X-Box. This year we don't have that.

David Asman: Okay, Dennis let's talk America Online Time Warner (AOL). CEO Steve Case is keeping his job, by the skin of his teeth, right?

Dennis Kneale, managing editor: Here's a guy who has the vision to take that AOL online service and merge it into the old media stuff. What this is basically is a temper tantrum by old time Time Warner executives. They had options worth tens of millions of dollars and a lot of them didn't sell. And that's why they want Case out.

Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor: My question is, why doesn't Steve Case just up and leave?

Dennis Kneale: Why would he leave? This guy took a little known company, Sierra Online, and turned it into the biggest player on the internet in the world. It's not about the money anymore. He's got something to prove.

David Asman: Elizabeth, let's move on to you. You've got news on Honeywell (HON). It looks good but some people say it might just be smoke and mirrors.

Elizabeth MacDonald: Wall Street really wants to love this story. Remember when GE tried acquiring this company it was torpedoed by European nay-sayers. Now the question is, can Honeywell do it alone. I think GE was smart to leave this turkey behind. They have massive reconstructuring prices, raising the question whether they're overstating profits.

David Asman: Okay, Leigh Gallagher you're here to tell us a little bit about trailer homes.

Leigh Gallgher, staff writer: Tech is down and old hum-drum businesses are in. A great example is 366 on our Forbes Richest People in America list, James Lee Clayton. He's the maker of Clayton Homes (CMH). They make and sell mobile homes. They've just reported their twenty-eighth year of earnings growth.

Elizabeth MacDonald: Didn't Citigroup take a 5% stake in this company? Do you think that's a good sign?

Leigh Gallagher: Yes, I think that's a good sign.

Makers & Breakers

US Smokeless Tobacco (UST)

Brady Willett, FallStreet.com: MAKER

US Smokeless Tobacco is a sin stock but two of their most popular brands generate 30% margins. They pay dividends on the quarter every quarter. And the yield is over 60% right now.

Jim Michaels, editorial vice president: BREAKER

This is about chewing tobacco and that ain't exactly an upscale image. They have an anti-trust against them. They have the tobacco stigma against them. I would stay away from this one.

Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor: BREAKER

I find this to be a snore of a stock. It had tepid earnings growth since 1998. You can do better with a bank CD. Also, that $1 billion anti-trust suit is a problem.

Brady Willett, FallStreet.com: The anti-trust suit is a joke. They can cover that overnight. They make $500 million or so a year in free cash.

Heartland Express (HTLD)

Brady Willett, FallStreet.com: MAKER

It's a short haul trucking company. They have margins above the norm, at 13%. We believe that if the economy does pick up, it will do well.

Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor: BREAKER

I know you don't own this yet, but here's a little bit of advice, don't buy it. Earnings have been extraordinarily flat while expenses have risen. Also, I don't like the practice of dead-heading. Heartland pays their truck drivers to make empty return runs with their trucks.

Jim Michaels, editorial vice president: BREAKER

At 20 times earnings, three times book value, a very competitive business. Railroads are starting to win some of that back. I wouldn't go for this one

David Asman: Brady this one is a hard one to win over. But you're not actually ready to buy it at this point right? You're waiting for it to come down to what?

Brady Willett, FallStreet.com: 15 or lower.