Tickled Ticker Symbols

by W.E. Reinka, March 31, 2010

Back in the days of stock ticker machines, stan­dardized company abbreviations or ticker symbols reduced the costs of quotations ticked across tele­graph lines. Although ticker tape was an early casualty to the electronic revolution, ticker symbols remain. Most are staid abbreviations: WMT for Walmart, LLY for Eli Lily and MAT for Mattel.

But a few companies show a fun-loving spirit.

Take Steinway Piano whose LVB ticker symbol honors Ludwig van Beethoven.

When you’re ready to invest in the Avis Budget group, look to what it rents—CARS. Likewise, Barnes and Nobles reminds us that they sell BKS. The scien­tists at the genetic engineering firm Genentech showed that they can crack a joke as well as the hu­man genome when they settled on DNA for their ticker symbol.

Restaurant chains seem hungry for laughs: PZZA (Papa John’s), BUNZ (Schlotzsky’s deli) and YUM for Yum Brands which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s. Or maybe you’re just hungry. In that case, EAT with Brinker International which includes Chili’s and Maggiano’s among its restaurant brands.

How about a beer with your meal? Ask for one by name. There’s BUD (Anheuser Busch) or SAM (Bos­ton Brewing, maker of Samuel Adams). If you like draft beer, get it on TAP (Molson Coors Brewing).

Vroom vroom. Kick start your portfolio with HOG (Harley-Davidson). Sotheby’s Auction House’s symbol (BID) explains how they make money.

With a heart in its logo, Southwest Airlines (LUV) must love its ticker symbol, too. Shuffle Master (SHFL) makes what else? Automatic card shufflers.

FACE stands for Physician Formula Beauty Prod­ucts, CHIC for Charlotte Russe women’s wear shops and EYE for Advanced Medical Optics. Majesco Entertainment (COOL), a video game maker, has been anything but cool for investors lately. TILT might be a more accurate symbol based on its stock prices.

“Pet Sounds” is not just an old Beach Boys’ album. They emanate from Wall Street through veterinary chain VCA (WOOF) and exchange traded fund Mar­ket Vector Agribusiness (MOO).

While the ticker symbol theoretically has no effect on a company’s performance, some people believe that a clever symbol helps to draw attention to a stock, like an enticing book cover attracts a browser. Not every analyst agrees. Hugh Johnson of Johnson Illington Advisors is quoted as saying “It’s interesting. But not much more than that.”

Sometimes investors just want to have FUN. In that case, they should check out Cedar Fair, LP which runs amusement parks across the country.

(W.E. Reinka may be reached at wereinka@ix.netcom.com.)


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