Capital Markets

Ticker Symbols with Pizzazz: Answers

Did you take the ticker-symbol quiz? If so, here are the original questions, followed by the answers and a brief explanation of the symbol's origins.
Joseph McCaffertyOctober 1, 2006

Answers — and an explanation of each symbol’s origin — appear below.

In August, Harley-Davidson changed its ticker symbol from HDI to HOG, the nickname for its motorcycles. “The new ticker symbol captures the spirit of what Harley-Davidson is all about—the fun of riding motorcycles,” said CFO Tom Bergmann in a statement on the change.

But will it lure more investors?

Not likely, says Bob Leahy of the Financial Relations Board, an investor-relations firm. “It may appeal to the retail community, but it will absolutely have no impact on valuation,” he says. And using a symbol that is not an abbreviation of the company name can make it hard to find on an alphabetical list, he adds.

Nevertheless, a spokesperson for the New York Stock Exchange says more companies are choosing tickers that reflect their products or brand image. “They’re easier to remember and can reinforce what a company stands for,” he says.

See if you can match these ticker symbols with the companies they represent.

1) BID A) Brinker International
2) DNA B) Nicor
3) EAT C) Gibraltar Industries
4) FUN D) Sotheby’s Holdings
5) GAS E) The Boston Beer Company
6) LUV F) MarineMax
7) MTN G) Southwest Airlines
8) RIG H) Genentech
9) ROCK I) Vail Resorts
10) SAM J) Steinway Musical Instruments
11) HZO K) Cedar Fair
12) LVB L) Transocean

1. (d) BID – Sotheby’s Holdings is a premier auction house where wealthy individuals can bid on works of art by Picasso or 18th century furniture.

2. (h) DNA – Genetech is a biotechnology company that is working on products for the treatment of cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart ailments, and hormone deficiency. The DNA ticker highlights the companies work on genetic disorders.

3. (a) EAT – Brinker International owns several restaurant chains, including Chili’s, On the Border, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

4. (k) FUN – Cedar Fair L.P., who’s motto is “fun from coast to coast,” owns 12 amusement parks and five water parks, including Dorney Park in Pennsylvania, and Paramount’s King’s Dominion in Virginia.

5. (b) GAS – Nicor is a natural gas distribution company. It also provides natural gas storage and transportation services.

6. (g) LUV – Southwest Airlines’s first flights in 1971 were from Love field in Dallas to Houston and San Antonio. LUV is a tribute to these early days, as well as the theme of its customer-relations strategy.

7. (i) MTN – Vail Resorts owns and operates five ski resorts at the Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Beaver Creek mountains in Colorado; and the Heavenly Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada.

8. (l) RIG – Transocean provides offshore contract drilling services for oil and gas wells. The massive structures that drill the wells are known as rigs.

9. (c) ROCK – Gibraltar Industries is a metals and building materials company. It takes its ticker from the Rock of Gibraltar in southwestern Europe.

10. (e) SAM – The Boston Beer Co.’s flagship line of beers carry the brand name Samuel Adams. Many pub patrons simply ask for a “Sam.”

11. (f) HZO – MarineMax, a retailer of boats and boating equipment, intends the “Z” in its ticker to look like a 2, for H2O.

12. (j) LVB – Steinway Musical Instruments has one of the most intriguing symbols. The letters pay tribute to the composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. On a related note, the New York offices of CFO magazine and are housed in the same building as the Steinway piano showroom, which lobby-level displays feature some of the world’s grandest grand pianos.

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