Andy Serwer Commentary:
Street Life by Andy Serwer Column archive
Serwer: Break-up, breakdown and junk
Tyco is better apart, blame AOL, and don't believe what's in the mail.

NEW YORK (Fortune) - My thoughts are on two big boys and junk mail this morning.

TYCO: Comes the break-up? The company that was once called the baby G.E. may be looking to dismantle itself. The Wall Street Journal says the company assembled by Dennis Kozlowski (he of eight to 25 years in jail) is said to be considering breaking itself up. The board will be meeting in Bermuda this week (the Bermuda angle to avoid paying U.S. taxes is another matter...) to decide. Well, well, well. Wall Street builds 'em up and then yanks 'em apart. All about making fees. TYC (Research) has gone from $60 (in its salad days) to $8 (nadir!), back up to $29. Bet that if/when the company breaks up, the parts will be worth more than the whole. Mergers like this don't make any sense. You don't need to buy a cow to get a quart of milk.....

TIME WARNER, #34: Nice bit of research by Sanford Bernstein's Michael Nathanson, refuting Steve Case's case that the problems at Time Warner are due solely to mismanagement by TWX (Research) execs. No, says Nathanson, many of the problems come from another source, AOL! AOL made it certain that any Time Warner product would not be able to sell a 'Switzerland product' that other cable companies would use. AOL execs dismissed broadband. AOL thought it could change the culture at TWX. And, "it was AOL that committed fraud," the report says. If Time Warner hadn't merged with AOL, Carl Icahn wouldn't be rattling the company's cage, Don Logan wouldn't be retiring, and all those lay-offs at Time Inc. and Warner Brothers wouldn't be happening, Nathanson opines. In conclusion, if not for the AOL deal, the analyst says, the stock would likely be up. Speaking of those recently laid off TWX employees, Nathanson says: "I think it is incumbent to remember that they are the victims of poor decisions by a few men." Hear! Hear!

SNIFFEX: Got an intriguing bit of mail at home over the weekend. Company called Sniffex (ticker SNFX (Research)). The piece of mail was titled "Hot Stocks on the Street." This company has a product which produces "a unique explosive detection device which is able to locate its targets even behind concrete walls of metal barriers up to 100 feet away." It goes on to say that the product is "too good to be true." Well then, maybe it is. The mailer lists all sorts of impressive contracts it says the company has.....but check around and this investment looks a little dicey. The stock is on pink sheets. One Web site simply blasts the company, saying not to touch this puppy with a ten foot pole: But even more than that, any company that (1) is recommended to you in a piece of junk mail, (2) plays off of terror fears like that, and (3) actually says "too good to be true," (yes it was in quotes, but by whom?) should be avoided!

Loose Change: Best new candy bar: KitKat in White Chocolate....Saw "Crash" over the weekend, pretty cool, love Don Cheadle....Best moment of the weekend, watching Redskin game with sound off while listening to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone..."


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