Maven: Takeover Fad

Beware of those improbable linkup theories.
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Lucky for investors, corporate earnings are strong, and the economy is residing in a sweet spot. That spot's obviously not too hot -- but also not too cool. The Business Press Maven says "luckily" because one of his indicators that a positive trend has reached the point of ridiculous is flashing red this morning: Nine of the first 10 stories

on Yahoo! Finance in the wee hours

this morning were on announced and potential takeovers.

Any time nine of 10 stories are on one particular sort of happy development for investors, you need to be pretty careful about assuming that things can get any better in that regard. But there is little restraint in evidence.

Barron's

, for one, went the increasingly typical route this weekend.

Coca-Cola Enterprises

(CCE)

,

Coke's

(KO) - Get Report

largest bottler, has had a tough go of late. The soda business has not been great, and its profit growth is stuck in the mud. But in too many articles lately (which means, in the minds of too many investors), there is a simple out:

Coke can take it over.

The

Barron's

article

starts with a supposition from Bill Pecoriello, a Morgan Stanley beverage analyst, that Coke can simply buy Coca-Cola Enterprises. Never mind that this flies in the face of how Coke has set up its entire business model, to sell concentrate to its bottlers.

We read about current negotiations, though the annual talks about beverage strategy apparently have been quite contentious, not lovey-dovey. Sure enough, halfway through the article we get a gem of a line, one that calls into question how you can center the nut graph around Pecoriello's contention that the "probability of a deal -- and the rationale for doing it -- is growing."

At the midpoint of the article, we get this downer: "The problem with Pecoriello's argument is that Coca-Cola has shown no inclination to buy Coca-Cola's Enterprises."

Uh, that's quite an understatement. In any case, from near-fictional accounts of how Coca-Cola should swallow Coca-Cola Enterprises (read it quickly and you might actually think there's a chance it'll happen) to the sight of stock exchanges themselves swallowing each other, The Business Press Maven is reminded of a scene from the Beatles' movie

Yellow Submarine

: A vacuum-nosed creature sucks up everything it can find. Finally, he is alone. After a pause, he inhales himself and nothing is left.

The point is not that there will be no companies -- or stock exchanges -- left, but that we have started to hit comic proportions with this takeover fad, and investors should be well-advised to make sure that what they read, see and watch on the next purported takeover has some basis in fact, unlike the

Barron's

story.

And while we're on the subject of

Barron's

, the paper made a good call a few years ago on

Monsanto

(MON)

and its move into genetically modified farm commodities. This weekend,

Barron's

made essentially the same call on

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

, highlighting the company's successful genetic seed business, relatively inexpensive multiple and decent 3% dividend. DuPont will meet with Wall Street next week, and The Business Press Maven might attend, if only in hopes of obtaining free handouts of various Frankenfoods.

Using his patented blend of deadpan humor and extraordinary insight, The Business Press Maven has been

trying to convince you, the investor, to act against the conventional wisdom that the Democratic win bodes poorly for pharmaceutical stocks.

The reality will be quite the opposite, and there is opportunity, as always, in the misperception between the business media's party line and reality. The

Financial Times

has now

joined me

with a wait-a-minute piece. The

FT

points out that "no other sector is expected to face as hostile a reception on Capitol Hill after the Democrats take over in 2007."

But wait. First off, the pharmaceutical industry has a new breed of powerful Democratic lobbyists in the hou-use, including John Breaux, the powerful former senator from Louisiana. Moreover, the Democrats' narrow victory in the Senate, which another Democratic lobbyist rightly describes as a "killing chamber" of legislation, means that nothing draconian will pass. And a changing of the guard at pharmaceutical companies such as

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, where Hank McKinnell, a big Republican donor, was replaced by Hank McKinnell, a big Democratic donor, means there is that byproduct of political donations: hope.

Let's end today with a quick span of the business world, from jailhouse stock advice to retail prognostication. You're probably aware that 1990s-era Internet analyst/scamp Henry Blodget has a

blog

, but if there is one opinion I value less than his, it may be that of L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive of

Tyco

(TYC)

.

Blodget, as his blog's name suggests, is writing from outside the securities business, from which he has been banished. Some feel he should be writing from the

inside

, of the big house. That's left to Kozlowski, who

grants some of his interview time

to a

Bloomberg

reporter, letting her know that he thinks the Tyco breakup is a good idea -- but was his originally. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. For the record, we are told Kozlowski is jailhouse trim. Will miracles ever cease?

Committing justifiable homicide against corrupt penny stocks is combat business for journalists, who tend to get hate mail up the wazoo when they do. But there are few better at it than Chris Byron, who does his best to put

Bodisen Biotech

(BBC) - Get Report

out of your misery. Before you rush to buy (

not

), take a look-see at

his latest

.

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

,

at least in the eye of Meg Whitman

, is well poised. And the entire retail industry, sez

Women's Wear Daily

, in the week of Black Friday -- now the first of many defining days of the holiday shopping season -- is

poised for a good 'un

.

No word on how brisk a business Kozlowski is doing trading cans of commissary tuna fish for protection.

Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Bodisen Biotech to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.

A journalist with a background on Wall Street, Marek Fuchs has written the County Lines column for The New York Times for the past five years. He also contributes regular breaking news and feature stories to many of the paper's other sections, including Metro, National and Sports. Fuchs was the editor-in-chief of Fertilemind.net, a financial Web site twice named "Best of the Web" by Forbes Magazine. He was also a stockbroker with Shearson Lehman Brothers in Manhattan and a money manager. He is currently writing a chapter for a book coming out in early 2007 on a really embarrassing subject. He lives in a loud house with three children.