Wall Street Actually Does Have a Sense of Humor


Wall Street does have a sense of humorThe business world might seem like a dry and serious place, but you’ll actually find plenty of mirth on Wall Street.

Many companies display their sense of humor or creativity right in their ticker symbols:

  • Animal health specialist VA Antech (WOOF) operates veterinary offices and labs.
  • CardioNet (BEAT) monitors heart rhythm irregularities.
  • Until its recent buyout, Immucor, which specializes in blood analysis for transfusions, traded under the ticker BLUD.
  • National Beverage (FIZZ) is in the soft drink business.
  • Sotheby’s (BID) is one of the most well known auction houses.
  • Progressive Waste Solutions (BIN) specializes in waste management.
  • Dynamic Materials (BOOM) is, not surprisingly, an explosives-related company.
  • Even exchange-traded funds have gotten into the act, with the agriculture-focused Market Vectors Agribusiness (MOO), PowerShares Dynamic Food Beverage (PBJ), and the Guggenheim Solar (TAN) ETF all winking at investors.

Some ticker symbols are a bit more cerebral:

  • AngloGold Ashanti (AU) explores for and produces gold. “Au” is the atomic symbol for gold on the periodic table.
  • Peabody Energy (BTU) takes its symbol from abbreviation for British thermal unit, a standard measure of energy.
  • Micron Technology (MU) is in the business of semiconductors, which use very tiny circuits. A micron equals just one millionth of a meter — a measure designated by the Greek character Mu.

Then there are the companies with unintentionally amusing ticker symbols. Thankfully, neither Banco Santander (STD) nor energy company Denbury Resources (DNR) do business in health care, where their abbreviations might have very different meanings.

Amusing ticker symbols might not only bring a smile to your face, but also a little extra change to your pockets. According to researchers at Pomona College, companies with clever ticker symbols sport higher average returns in the stock market. Not every clever ticker will be a winner, naturally, so it’s probably not worth your while to seek out companies solely on that basis. All the same, data suggest that you needn’t dismiss a company with a silly ticker as a silly investment.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Intel, Berkshire Hathaway, and Apple, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned.Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dynamic Materials, Berkshire Hathaway, Denbury Resources, and Apple. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Dynamic Materials, Sotheby’s, VCA Antech, Intel, Berkshire Hathaway, and Apple, as well as writing covered calls on in VCA Antech, creating a diagonal call position in Intel, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple.

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