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What's in a Name? For Stock Tickers, Plenty.

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- What's in a name? When companies pick a stock ticker, a lot may be riding on that symbol.

The prime real estate of stock tickers belongs to the one-letter IDs of top companies -- (T) for AT&T, (C) for Citigroup and the like.

Then there are companies whose tickers either help pronounce the company name or trigger instant recognition -- (MSFT) for Microsoft, (GOOG) for Google and (YHOO) for Yahoo. Others come close, but for whatever reason don't go with the obvious. Hence (AAPL) for Apple, instead of APPL or APPLE.

Sometimes a company will even change its formal name to better match the trading ticker. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. was quite a mouthful, until, taking a cue from its MMM exchange name, it renamed itself as the much catchier 3M (MMM).

Then there are the corporate punsters and clever fund managers who have some fun with the name game.

Mattress maker Sealy chose that old comic strip trope for a snoring character when it picked (ZZ) for its trading symbol. Magma Design Automation played off its name with (LAVA).

Internet America, an ISP, broke out the pocket protectors when deciding to brand itself with (GEEK). Dynamic Materials went (BOOM), a reference to its "explosive metalworking" segment.

Natus Medical, which specializes in pediatric and newborn healthcare products, went with (BABY). Auctioneer Sotheby's chose the apropos (BID).

Harris & Harris Group is (TINY), a name meant to remind you that that the venture capital firm specializes in nanotechnology. Piano maker Steinway chose (LVB) in honor of Ludwig van Beethoven.

A few others of note: the specialty of Advanced Medical Optics is summed up with (EYE); online game company Shanta scored with (GAME); Footwear company Steve Madden tied up (SHOO); amusement park owner Cedar Fair has (FUN) and Olympic Steel dug into mythology with (ZEUS).

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