15 Stock Tickers with Personality

01/25/2016 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Whether a memorable ticker translates into better performance is uncertain, but it can be indicative of a company's quirky culture or a desire to differentiate itself in the marketplace, writes Freda Ding of Kapitall.com.

Going public is a big milestone for a company.  Among the many preparations a firm must make before launching, management will select a unique stock ticker for identification. On the US Exchanges, a ticker is limited to 1-4 capital letters. And while most companies just go with an abbreviated version of their name, others have gotten notably creative with their choices.

Interestingly, studies have suggested stocks with "clever" stock symbols outperform their peers. According to the authors of Would a Stock by Any Other Ticker Smell as Sweet, a portfolio of clever symbol stocks between 1984-2004 would have "beaten the market by a substantial and statistically significant margin."

In trying to explain this phenomenon, one of the researchers writes "Perhaps a clever ticker symbol has been a useful barometer of the managers' ability.[to] repeatedly exceeded investors' expectations. Or perhaps a clever ticker matters because it is memorable and has a subtle, but persistent, influence on investors who buy the stock and on those who are considering a merger or acquisition."

With that in mind, check out the list below for a few of the most interesting company tickers. The average one-year return for this portfolio: 12%.

1. The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (CAKE): Operates upscale, casual, and full-service dining restaurants in the United States. Market cap at $1.8B, most recent closing price at $33.54. The Cheesecake Factory has grown from its namesake dessert into a chain of 170 restaurants

2. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Inc. (POT): Produces and sells fertilizers and related industrial and feed products primarily in the United States and Canada. Market cap at $34.34B, most recent closing price at $39.86. Potash makes fertilizer...for when marijuana is legalized.

3. Sealy Corporation (ZZ): Sealy Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets various bedding products. Market cap at $233.14M, most recent closing price at $2.24. For mattress maker, Sealy, soon to be a part of Tempur-Pedic.

4. Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV): Operates as a passenger airline that provides scheduled air transportation in the United States. Market cap at $6.65B, most recent closing price at $9.01. Southwest's symbol references its playfulness.

5. National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ): Develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes beverage products in the United States. Market cap at $680.15M, most recent closing price at $14.69. All that Shasta comes from somewhere.

NEXT PAGE: 10 More Quirky Tickers

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6. Olympic Steel Inc. (ZEUS): Engages in the processing and distribution of carbon, coated, aluminum and stainless steel, flat-rolled sheet, and coil and plate products in the United States. Market cap at $202.24M, most recent closing price at $18.52. Olympic sells steel worthy of the gods!

7. Cedar Fair, L.P. (FUN): Operates amusement and water parks in the United States and Canada. Market cap at $2.05B, most recent closing price at $36.99. Cedar Fair expects you to have fun when you visit one of their amusement parks.

8. VCA Antech Inc. (WOOF): Provides veterinary services and diagnostic testing through its network of 33 laboratories in 50 states that provide testing and consulting services to veterinarians. Market cap at $1.71B, most recent closing price at $19.49. WOOF is a much better ticker for an animal hospital operator than VCA

9. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD): Engages in brewing and selling beer in North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Market cap at $132.01B, most recent closing price at $82.17. They have over 200 beer brands but one overshadows the rest. Molson Coors is TAP and Heineken is.HINKY.

10. Franklin Resources Inc. (BEN): Provides its services to individuals, institutions, pension plans, trusts, and partnerships. Market cap at $27.48B, most recent closing price at $129.28. An investment management company paying reverence to a founding father.

11. NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG): Operates as a wholesale power generation company. Market cap at $4.74B, most recent closing price at $20.79. Is this a bit redundant? NRG provides energy. A close competitor: Just Energy (JE).

12. Brinker International Inc. (EAT): Develops, operates, and franchises various restaurant brands primarily in the United States. Market cap at $2.27B, most recent closing price at $30.67. They own Chili's. I want my baby back, baby back, baby back.

13. 3M Co. (MMM): Operates as a diversified technology company worldwide. Market cap at $62.64B, most recent closing price at $89.38. It stands for Minnesota, Mining, and Manufacturing.

14. Avis Budget Group, Inc. (CAR): Provides car and truck rentals, and ancillary services to businesses and consumers in the United States and internationally. Market cap at $1.75B, most recent closing price at $16.44. Straightforward ticker for an easy to understand business.

15. Gibraltar Industries, Inc. (ROCK): Distributes building products for residential, retail, professional, commercial, and industrial building markets in North America and Europe. Market cap at $388.11M, most recent closing price at $12.70. A clever nod to it's foundations.

By Freda Ding. Find more trading ideas like this at Kapitall.com.

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