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TheStreet Open House

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

LUV is in the air
Among the more colorful tickers is Southwest Airlines' symbol, (LUV). Though an obvious use of the word "love," the connection to the budget airline isn't all that obvious.

The origin involves a bit of trivia: The company is based in Dallas, Texas, at Love Field. As the researchers from Pomona University found, the company also used the ticker to reflect its random, open seating policy and the claim that it has led to romances among passengers whom fate seated together. Early on, in-flight snacks and drinks were called "love bites" and "love potions."

In a 2004 story, Reuters reporter Jon Herskovitz wrote of how the airline "has received thousands of letters and scores of wedding invitations addressed to top executives from couples who met on one of its flights." An airline spokesman was quoted as saying: "At times we feel that we are the love brokers of the sky."

Other transportation-related companies went with more obvious choices. Avis uses (CAR) and the Guggenheim Shipping ETF sails with (SEA).

Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson's old ticker, HDI, didn't quite capture the company aesthetic. So in 1996 it started trading by the symbol (HOG), the nickname for the style of bikes it specializes in as well as a homage to the Harley Owners Group.

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