BOSTON (MainStreet) -- What's in a name? When companies pick a stock ticker, a lot may be riding on that symbol.
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.
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).
The alphabet soup of company ticker may be even more important than the companies may realize.
Research by Gary Smith, Alex Head and Julia Wilson of California's Pomona College found that clever tickers can actually help boost the value of a stock. The easier a ticker is to remember, the more likely a company will be a go-to play for some.
The professors write that "eye-catching" ticker symbols "might be a useful signal of the company's creativity, a memorable marker that appeals to investors," even if there is a risk investors could alternately think that a "company feels it most resort to gimmicks to attract investors." Among the possibilities are that "investors recall a memorable ticker symbol when they decide which stocks to buy," the authors suggest.