Cocktail Chatter

I’ve been to 46 parties in the last four days, and I’ve only heard the name “Greenspan” mentioned twice. If there’s a message in this, it’s beyond me. (The message is probably that I was at the right 46 parties.) Nonetheless, as Sir Alan prepares for what could be the final full year of his tenure as Fed chairman, the bull market that he has shepherded so nicely is limping and yet still alive. So you still have a week to take advantage of the wealth effect, and to insure that The Gap lives up to its now hefty price-to-earnings ratio. Spend wildly. Corporate America needs your love.

In any case, here are your seven tidbits for this weekend’s innumerable cocktail parties. Once again, if you meet anyone who owns shares in, insist that she buy the drinks. In honor of Amazon’s dazzling run-up, more than a few of this week’s bon mots concern it.

1. “ soared 46 points, to $289 a share, on Wednesday after an analyst said that he thought the stock would hit $400 in the next 12 months. Why didn’t he just say Amazon would hit $1000? Then the shares could have jumped 100 points, just in time for the holidays.”

2. “Normally, when a company’s as successful as everyone thinks Amazon is, other companies will enter the market, taking advantage of the opportunity for profit. But Amazon is making no profits. So I guess other companies need to enter the market, taking advantage of the opportunity to run up huge losses.”

3. “iVillage, the Web community for women (or something like that), filed for its IPO last Friday. It’s looking to raise $46 million, not bad considering the company had $9.1 million in sales and $32.4 million in losses through the first nine months of 1998. With another $46 million, they might be able to lose only twice as much as they make by the year 2000.”

4. “It was eerie hearing a CNNfn commentator today say, “Defense stocks are mixed” on news of the bombing of Iraq. Although I suppose that’s better than hearing him say ‘Defense stocks soared as investors celebrated the possibility of a protracted conflict.’”

5. “Golden Books, run by Richard Snyder (formerly of Simon & Schuster), violated its agreements with its bondholders this week. But the bondholders didn’t even blink. I guess since Golden’s stock is now at $0.25 a share, the bondholders figure, ‘Do whatever you want. The company’s ours next week anyway.’”

6. “Citigroup confirmed that before it pays former president Jamie Dimon $30 million it owes him, he has to agree not to hire any Citigroup employees for three years. He also has to move to Mombasa, agree to work only in the fields of glassblowing, dry-cleaning, or journalism, and promise to say a prayer for John Reed and Sandy Weill every night before he goes to bed.”

7. “The least inspiring pull quote in the history of mankind (from SmartMoney): ‘Dutch stocks are going to do very, very well because we have a history of looking beyond our boundaries.’ “