Some Investors Betting on Enron

Shares of Enron Corp. are climbing, bank financing has been secured, and the company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy a viable business. But analysts aren't betting that the fallen energy giant will be back to its old form anytime soon.

Enron stock jumped 118 percent to 87 cents on the New York Stockonomics," said Mike Greenberger, a bankruptcy and securities professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. "It could go either way, but my bet is that this is not going to be enough to resurrect their apparent reliability as a counterparty."

Analysts said the surge likely shows that shareholders are gambling that Enron's stock might be worth something after it completes Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"The only reason it makes sense is if you think this is going to come out of Chapter 11 and it comes out a viable entity," said A.G. Edwards & Sons analyst Mike Heim.

Heim added that A.G. Edwards is not recommending that people buy Enron, "so I'm speculating as to why people are doing it."

John Olsen, director of research at Houston securities firm Sanders Morris Harris, said the embattled energy trader could emerge with a second life as a smaller trader with different management and a supporting bank as a partner.

"The trading company did not bring Enron down. The energy outsourcing and pipelines did not cause Chapter 11. It was an egregious and overly aggressive financing strategy that blew up in their faces and everyone else's," Olsen said.

In a related matter, House Energy and Commerce Committee staff met for several hours Tuesday with Securities and Exchange Commission officials over the Enron implosion, said Ken Johnson, spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., the committee chairman.

Tauzin plans to ask the SEC for documents related to Enron's books and records, Johnson said. In addition, a team of committee investigators plans to go to Enron's headquarters in Houston later this week.

"Sorting through this mess is going to take some time," Johnson said. He said the off-balance-sheet partnerships Enron used "created a sort of accounting black hole. But one way or another, we intend to get to the bottom of this."

SEC spokesmen had no immediate comment on the meeting.

Just months ago, Enron was the country's seventh biggest in revenue. But investors and traders alike evaporated amid revelations of questionable partnerships that helped keep billions of dollars in debt off its books and the company's acknowledgment that it overstated profits for four years.

The company's credit rating then fell apart, and one-time suitor Dynegy Inc. backed out of an $8.4 billion buyout. Enron filed for Chapter 11 on Sunday, and 5,000 employees were laid off a day later.