Lou Dobbs: An Eye on Eisen

02/27/2004 12:00 am EST


Lou Dobbs

Anchor and Managing Editor, CNN News

"We believe that everything starts at the top and that management is the most important variable," says Harvey Eisen in an interview in The Lou Dobbs Money Letter. " Here, the money manager from Bedford Oak Partners, discusses some top stock picks.

"American International Group (AIG NYSE), which we put into the portfolio at $55.69, is now around $70. We think the outlook for the insurance business continues to be quite positive, and so we continue to be quite positive about the outlook for the company in 2004. You've got a great manager in Maurice 'Hank' Greenberg, and you've got a premier company in a business where being the premier company with a AAA rating is very important. So we like American International. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A NYSE), to me, is the ultimate investment because you have the best manager in the world working for you, Warren Buffett. The things that I said about AIG apply to Berkshire Hathaway. Again, we recommended the stock around $2,359, and it's around $2,850, but we think that's a core long-term holding.

"Ivax (IVX NYSE) is a company that I think is in the sweet spot of the medical area because it's one of the dominant companies in the generic health business. It's managed by Dr. Phillip Frost, who I believe is an excellent leader and manager. I think Ivax, while it's moved up substantially (68%), has significant upside from here. Leggett & Platt (LEG NYSE) is probably one of my favorites, simply because it has lagged. Leggett is an outstanding industrial company that supplies the retail industry with store fixtures, and the furniture industry with component parts. I think 2004 will be a much better year for Leggett. Leggett is led by another world-class manager, Harry Cornell Jr. WebMD (HLTH NASDAQ) is run by Martin Wygod, who is one of the greatest wealth creators of modern times. This is the man who built Medco and sold it to Merck for $6 billion. The company stumbled in the third quarter with some operational problems, so now I would put that at the top of my list for 2004 as a buy."

In addition, Lou Dobbs also asks Harvey Eisen about Bank One (ONE NYSE), which recently merged with JP Morgan (JPM NYSE). Eisen responds, "There is no way for me to be more pleased. I know Jamie Dimon, who is one of those premier managers. His greatest strength is to turn around problem companies. And I think that the cost savings and the economies that can be realized from this merger are just staggering. I would also place that one as one of my top favorites for 2004."

Lou Dobbs also offers his own commentary on the merger: "Bank One remains attractive after the merger announcement. It's easy for us to applaud the Bank One merger with JP Morgan Chase. After all, we've been championing Bank One and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, since our first issue. But now Jamie will be COO of the second-largest financial institution in the country, which will have combined assets of more than a trillion dollars.If there is one person who can seriously challenge Citigroup's position as the largest financial concern in the US, Jamie is the perfect person for the job. His ability to orchestrate this merger and have it viewed as a positive move by investors is a testament to the fact that Jamie did it for all the right reasons. As a numbers guy, Jamie knows what works and what doesn't. And I'm confident he is going to do some remarkable work in the coming months."

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