Where Insiders Dare Venture, Brooke's Lack of Response and Thoughts from Think's Mednick

Author:
Publish date:

Item inanity

:

Blue Light Specials?

Bob Gabele of

CDA/InvestNet

says the "tone" of insider activity has started to look better, especially in the non-dot-com cyclicals that nobody wants to hear about -- like chemicals. By "tone" he's referring to "an absence of selling with nibbling all over the place" by insiders, especially at

Engelhard

(EC) - Get Report

,

Great Lakes Chemical

(GLK)

and

Mississippi Chemical

(GRO)

. At Engelhard, for example, insiders waited until the stock spiked to 20 to buy. "If they were trying to hype they would've done it at lower levels," he says. (The stock closed yesterday at 20 1/16.)

Brooke Group, cont'd.

: Got a call yesterday from a Texas stockbroker who claims to be the sixth largest stockbroker in Bennett LeBow's

Brooke Group

(BGL)

, which owns the

Liggett

cigarette company. The stockbroker claims

yesterday's item on Brooke was wrong. The item suggested that Brooke might not be able to pay its interest of around $20 million due Friday. The stockbroker says Bennett LeBow has already escrowed the money. The stockbroker asked why I didn't get the other side of the story. I told the stockbroker I tried but the company, which I regard as the ultimate bull on the stock, didn't return my call. The stockbroker told me how the company is really worth 75 per share, etc., etc., and how at least 50 of his customers, stung by a 16% slide in Brooke's stock yesterday, to 8 1/4, called to grumble about what I had written.

What I wanna know is why, if the item was so wrong -- if LeBow has

really

escrowed money -- either he or his lackeys hadn't called to set the record straight. Why didn't they set the record straight

before

the item was written, when they had the chance? (They knew the question.) Don't execs of publicly traded companies have a fiduciary responsibility to do so?

Not, it appears, when what is public is treated as private.

Exceeding Think

: An

item here last week noted how

Think New Ideas'

(THNK)

founder, Scott Mednick, had become chairman of

X-ceed

(XCED)

when he supposedly had left Think to get involved in philanthropic activities. Mednick couldn't be reached at the time, and remained silent until yesterday, when he issued a press release that said he had intended to do the philanthropy when he happened on a "challenging opportunity." Mednick also said he's "excited" about exploring a continuing relationship with Think. (The politically correct response, don't ya think?)

Internet Insight

: Reader

Mark Burnett

says he recently downloaded a software product designed to block banner ads from the Internet. "If this technology is successful," he asks, "doesn't this have tremendous implications for those companies that rely heavily on Internet advertisements?"

Nah, because if the ads are blocked and the ad agencies decide not to use the Internet, most of the Internet sites you need and want will disappear. But that's just my knee-jerk (and some folks do say I am one) reaction. For a more reasoned response, I checked with analyst Drew Lanni of

Jupiter Communications

, who says: "As for 'banner busters,' as I like to call them, I really think it is a nonissue. Sure, some people will buy the software and it will always have editorial legs because the notion of "eliminating advertising" is good copy. But I actually believe banner-bustin' software will never sell big here in America, at least, primarily because Americans, in particular, have this odd love-hate relationship with advertising.

"We all often complain about too many commercials (watched any

MTV

lately?) but, at the same time, America is a consumer and media culture and there is this strange, almost subconscious, undercurrent in all of us that tells us that as much as ads can be a pain sometimes, they are necessary to keep this media culture paid for. My generation, in particular (I'm 28) seems particularly accepting. And things like MTV veejays and

SportsCenter

anchors cutting to commercials, saying things like 'We're going to pause to pay some bills...' goes a long way to making us realize that, hey, publishers, networks, etc., need to pay their bills or I won't be stimulated with all this great stuff.

"Also, look at what we have done with the whole

Super Bowl

commercials thing. It's an event unto itself and uniquely American. Maybe this software will be more popular in places like Europe, but I even doubt that, as the up and coming generations across the pond are consumer media hounds just as much as we are."

Adds David Simons of

Digital Video Investments

, often the first to look for signs that the sky is falling: "Unless such capability is bundled with a browser, which isn't at all likely from

Netscape

(NSCP)

NSCP or

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

MSFT, it's no real threat. The intensifying competition for audience and ad sales is a far greater threat."

Just a reminder

: Catch me tomorrow at 6:40 a.m. EDT, or thereabouts, on

CNBC's

"Today's Business" with Felicia Taylor and Bob Sellers.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com

. In keeping with the editorial policy of

TSC

, he does not own or short individual stocks. He also does not invest in hedge funds or any other private investment partnership. He welcomes your feedback at herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes the monthly "Against the Grain" column for

Fortune.