Herb's Hotline: Another Blockbuster Acquisition for Newell? - TheStreet

Cynic's Corner: Can't help but wonder if

Gillette's

(G) - Get Report

announcement yesterday that it's negotiating to sell its stationery products biz to

Newell Rubbermaid

(NWL) - Get Report

was an effort (on Newell's behalf) to float the idea to gauge Wall Street react. You just

never

see an announcement like that, and as this column

has noted previously, Newell clearly bought more than it bargained for when it took on Rubbermaid. (More subsequent charges than the company ever expected.) Would buying the Gillette biz, which includes Paper Mate pens, be buying someone else's problems? Won't know until

after

the fact. And, besides, Newell wouldn't do

that

again, would they? ...

Hey, see unemployment is on the rise? Hear there's an economic slowdown? Ready for a soft landing? No surprise here, thanks to the reams of anecdotal evidence from readers, which you read exclusively in ... The Hotline. (But warning: Complacency kills. Could it be that euphoria over a slowdown this summer will reignite growth come fall? Will the

Fed

then

be far behind?)

Hah-hah-Harley: Holy moley, and I thought message boards were bad? Merely

mentioned one analyst's concerns that

Harely-Davidson's

(HDI)

sales had fallen to the single digits, and it was like a motorcycle gang appeared in my email. Among them,

Alan Alberhasky

, who wrote: "I'll venture that very few bikers unloaded shares because of your New Economy sentence." But, Al (may I call you Big Al?),

that

wasn't the point! Nobody said

anything

about selling shares. It was a warning. A caution flag. Yellow light. Dig? ... And

Tom Sylke

blasted me for writing that a Harley official called "and (as polite as anybody from Wisconsin can be) ... " He thought it was just

another

shot at Midwesterners. But as I wrote about him, I was being genuine: I spent five years in Chicago, three in Minnesota and (as I've written previously) have been married for 20 years to the epitome of Midwestern politeness.

Speaking of Minnesota, ever hear my

Irwin Jacobs

story? Former corporate raider Jacobs, who has been

out

of the news for years, has resurfaced as a possible bidder for

Conseco

(CNC) - Get Report

. (Apparently he's a neighbor of the former head of

Green Tree Financial

, or so goes the story, which Conseco bought in the deal of the year -- for Green Tree, that is!) Anyways (as they say in NY), I was at the Brother's Deli in some Minneapolis suburb having breakfast, and I noticed this fuss going on at the cash register. It was Irwin! He was trying (no, I mean arguing) to pay for a meal that his wife absent-mindedly forgot to pay for a few days earlier. ... And that's the last time I quote a stockbroker trying to sound like an engineer.

Yesterday, I quoted

Raymond

, our resident 69-year-old broker/correspondent, as saying that the reason

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

will never sell its technology to the Chinese is because it is

too

secure and won't allow the government to intercept calls. Way too many emails telling me why he's wrong. ...

Speaking of engineers: Know any good engineer jokes? (Civil, electrical, mechanical ... doesn't matter. Not a comedian in the bunch ... actually, there was one from Silicon Valley who was so fed up with his fellow engineers that he quit the biz and became ... a comedian! Don McMillan. The

best!

)

So, a reporter for a trade publication geared to public relations emailed

TheStreet.com

asking what makes a good or bad annual report. The reporter included a list of questions, such as what annual reports we liked best, least and what the dangers were of being too eye-catching or too dull? My response: I haven't read or looked at an annual report in years ... not since the

SEC's Edgar

became so easily accessible. They ought to just redistribute the 10-K with a cover letter by management. Would save a ton of time and money ... Much appreciated the kind comments this morning by

Cramer

about this

morning's HerbonTheStreet rewrite of an older column that discussed the risks of owning Internet stocks. It should be noted that yesterday he penned 16 -- count 'em,

16

-- columns. No doubt about it, the guy is a writeaholic!

Writeaholic, I tell ya!

I give, Jimmy C: You win! ...

Finally, the weekend wrap: Nothing better to do? Took my soon-to-be 11-year-old to see the movie

Shanghai Noon

. A few good belly laughs. Mindless fun. And, gosh, we needed that ... Just like you'll need another edition of ... The Hotline (coming next week to a computer screen near you.)

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.