This column was originally published on RealMoney on Aug. 29 at 2:22 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
When a company's contemplating going public, a critical question arises that investors, the board of directors, the founders of the company, the management team and even the
Securities and Exchange Commission
all have to consider. That question? What should the stock symbol be?
In most cases, the answer produces a jumble of four letters that may or may not become market history over time, like MSFT for
or AAPL for
(a ticker I still occasionally "misspell" as APPL). But I've been curious about whether it makes a difference what those four, or three, letters are. For instance, if the company picks a standard English word as its stock symbol, is that stock more or less likely to go up, and is the result statistically significant?
An argument can be made both ways. If a company is so focused on its stock symbol that it has to pick a real word (I'm thinking in particular of
recent decision to change its stock symbol to HOG from HDI), does that mean the company's management is perhaps too focused on the stock symbol and not focused enough on its company's earnings and revenue? Should management get their heads out of
The Wall Street Journal
The flip side is that if the company has a real word, then perhaps that ticker sticks in the heads of retail traders a little better. "Oh yeah, I love my HOG!" the biker/aspiring investor can think to himself as he pushes the BUY key on his online trading account.
Testing a Name
I scrolled down the list of
1500 stocks and picked out every common word I could find. There might be more out there; this just happens to be the list I picked:
BID, BUD, CAKE, CELL, CHIC, COOL, DISH, DNA, EAT, FAST, FILE, FUN, GAS, HOG, HOT, LUV, MAN, MAPS, POOL, PORK, RARE, ROCK, SAM, SHOE, SLAB, WOOF, YUM and ZEUS.
I then simulated a buy-and-hold strategy under which I would have bought each stock on Feb. 1, 2000, (the top of the last bull market) and held each name until now. The market indices as a whole are lower now than in February 2000.
The results were interesting. Of the 28 stocks, 24 are higher now than they were then. If all you did was put all your money in these stocks as a group on Feb. 1, 2000, you would be up 140% now, as opposed to negative for the market as a whole.
The best performer was POOL,
(we all needed pools for our new houses), which is up 623%.
Other triple-digit performers include WOOF,
, up 520%, and ZEUS,
, up 500%.
Despite the rising prices of gas and oil, GAS,
, is only up 74%, although I would take that over scrambled-up stocks like MSFT, down 46%, or RNWK,
, down 86%.
Maybe having a name that rolls off the tongue and is easy to say to a broker does offer an appealing momentum strategy.
Here's a table of the results.
Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Boston Beer, Majesco Entertainment, MapInfo, Olympic Steel and Shoe Pavilion to be small-cap stocks. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
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