A FOR APPLE?

RUMORS HINT AT AGILENT TAKEOUT FOR TICKER SYMBOL

Apple is preparing a hostile takeover of measurement technology maker Agilent, for the sole purpose of appropriating its single-letter ticker symbol, A, according to rumors that roiled weekend markets.

“It makes sense,” said an analyst at Hale Yessai Sherwood.

“What’s an agilent, anyway?  Any first grader knows A is for Apple.”

Apple has traded under the symbol AAPL since its initial public offering in 1980.

Based on Friday’s close, Agilent carried a market capitalization of $12.8 billion.  Any takeover premium could raise Apple’s purchase price to $15 billion or more.

The analyst insisted the cost would be worthwhile.  “Look, Apple has no interest in owning Agilent.  They do the takeover, change the symbol, and spin it back out with an IPO next year.  It should only cost them two, three billion in the long run.  That’s lunch money.”

Representatives of the two companies could not be reached for comment.

The Apple/Agilent rumor immediately turned speculation to Facebook and Ford.  A spokesperson for Ford—which has been represented by F since first going public in 1956—said, “We cannot comment on market rumors, but we believe the letter F is synonymous with Ford Motor Company and see no reason to relinquish it.”

“What a load of crap,” said the analyst.  “When people think of Ford, they see the blue oval, not the letter F.  Everyone knows [Facebook founder Steve] Zuckerberg wants that F.  The only question is, how many billions is he willing to pay for it?”

Ford carries a market capitalization of $41.4 billion.

Other single letter companies which might become targets include Barnes Group (B, market cap $1.3 billion) by Boeing (BA), Genpact (G, $3.4 billion) by Google (GOOG) and Netsuite (N, $2.9 billion) by Nike (NKE),

“These are companies which understand the power of a strong symbol,” said the Hale analyst.

“How many billions is the Nike swoosh worth?  Now, what’s the N worth?”

Single-letter ticker symbols have represented both corporate juggernauts and sideline players over the years.  For every fondly remembered G (Gillette, acquired by Procter & Gamble in 2005) and S (Sears Roebuck, acquired by Kmart, also in 2005), there remain oddities like X (US Steel) and Z, which once represented Woolworth’s.  Some historians believe the single letter tickers connote prestige and significance, while others consider their importance trivial.

An analyst at Noah Dunne Finkso said, “Look, C didn’t save Chrysler [from its 1998 acquisition by Daimler] or Citigroup [from its near-collapse in 2008].  Just this year, you’ve got Pandora [ticker P] cut in half from its IPO.  Think Pepsi would pay a dime for P now?”

On-line music service Pandora, which has never earned a profit, carries a market capitalization of $1.7 billion.  Representatives of Pepsico (PEP) and Pandora could not be reached for comment.

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