I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it's only a matter of days before your Friends will be leaving you. Oh, sure, you'll always have syndication, but after 10 years of sitcom bliss, the popular series on General Electric-owned (NYSE: GE ) NBC comes to a close Thursday night.
The stars of the show should be set after collecting years of beefy paychecks. As long as they learn to invest it well, how can they lose? However, the characters they play should leave one a little more concerned as to their financial well-being. Most have gone through a series of odd jobs. One has gone through a series of odd marriages. Yet, through fiscal feast or famine, they always found a way to imprudently pay up for overpriced lattes at the show's Central Perk coffeehouse.
That's why I've taken it upon myself to help these six oft-misguided souls. To get their priorities straight and start thinking about the future, I scoured through past Motley Fool stock recommendations to come up with the ideal investment for each of the sitcom's characters. You know, the type of stocks that gel with their personalities, ride their career aspirations, and belt out an "I'll be there for you" when needed the most.Phoebe
When she wasn't strapping on her acoustic guitar for a set of silly folk songs or making a better living as an eclectic masseuse, Phoebe lived the bohemian lifestyle that makes me think that she would be the one to miss the Central Perk the most. So, in a nod to the java buffs in Seattle, Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) to you, Phoebe.
The stock was a popular purchase back during our Rule Breaker days. The stock that always seemed as overpriced as its cappuccinos wound up delivering the goods as cool as a Frappuccino. Last week the company reported yet another margin-widening quarter as earnings grew by 53% on a 30% spurt in sales. Proving that there isn't a Starbucks in every global corner, the company is looking to open 1,300 new stores this year. Like a bolt of caffeine, Starbucks has been a real eye-opener when it comes to growing a company -- from the "grounds" up.
What do you give the culinary chef who knows how to cook everything? Edible perfection, of course. Krispy Kreme (NYSE: KKD ) is my choice for Monica. Profiled in Motley Fool Stock Advisor and wolfed down more than 5 million times a day, it's a sweetly glazed growth story. No one can resist Krispy Kreme -- even Warren Buffett! While the company has only been public for four years, it's been around since 1937. However, expansion had been slow until the company tapped the market and came out swinging on this side of the millennium.
Last year Krispy Kreme saw its earnings surge by 45% as revenues climbed by 35%. Chasing the Atkins ghost of low-carb dieters may have kept the stock in check, but with same-store sales continuing to grow due to the company's radical following, it seems as if there's still some dough to be made in this tasty doughnut treat.
Fashion coordinator with a one-way ticket to Paris, Rachel may have never quite gotten over Ross -- or Joey for that matter -- but she knows how important it is to buy the right merchandise at the right time. But what happens when you miss, Rachel? What happens to those corduroy poodle skirts or the Nehru leisure suits?
That's where Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK ) comes in. It buys the marketable overruns, closeouts, and clearances of others and then delivers huge deals to its Web shoppers through its namesake site. As one of last year's Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendations, the e-tailer has had no problem rewarding the show of faith. It may seem like an easy model with little in terms of barriers to entry, yet Overstock.com managed to grow its gross merchandise sales by 94% over last year's seasonally potent holiday quarter. The company also has a welcome rarity down Wall Street: a straight shooter who, unlike Rachel's choice of beaus in the past, knows how to commit.
As the one character who will continue to live on in the small screen thanks to a timely spinoff, Joey's got to aspire for more than his soap opera stints. He should be thinking celluloid. To that end, I suggest a look at Marvel (NYSE: MVL ) . For years, this was a sleepy comic book company that dabbled in toys, but now it has finally started to cash in on the fruits of its superhero content. Thanks to the success of the company's Spider-Man, Blade, and X-Men franchises -- and be on the lookout for The Fantastic Four next year -- Marvel has become a power broker in the blockbuster-hungry world of Hollywood.
Being in demand gives this Stock Advisor winner growing bargaining power. That translates into thicker royalties from the action flicks that have been filmed based on Marvel stars, like The Incredible Hulk and Daredevil. Operating profits doubled for the company last year on a modest 16% uptick in revenues. With Spider-Man 2 now just months away, Marvel's web continues to be woven as thick as it is sticky.
Who knew that paleontologist lecturers were babe magnets? As the marrying and un-marrying kind -- or "Divorce-o," as Phoebe once called him -- Ross has bounced around relationships throughout the show's run. Always on the prowl for good deals on wedding rings and vintage bridal dresses, this one's easy. Ross, let me introduce you to my pal eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) .
Even though I had my sights set on marrying the company earlier this month, I'll let Ross have a crack at the world's most ubiquitous online experience. As big as the Internet's online auction specialist has become, the Stock Advisor pick still managed to grow its revenues by 59% this past quarter, while doubling earnings. Ross probably has more than a few keepsakes from his former loves that would fetch tidy sums on the site. He might need to think about that. Weddings aren't exactly cheap.
What to bring for Bing? The data-processing whiz with the frazzled water cooler demeanor would probably appreciate Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI ) . As the metered mail giant, saving penny-pinching companies time and money with their mass mailings is an easy sell. Thanks to the stock's 3% yield, it was also an easy buy for our Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter.
While not in the same speedster league as the other assigned stocks, the company's strong free cash flow and laser focus have made Pitney Bowes chug along, steady but true, like the Pony Express.
So, there you have it. If these six recommendations don't pan out, we can always square things away at the reunion show.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz hates having to switch between Friends and Survivor. He has no idea what his Thursday nights will look like come June. He owns shares in Krispy Kreme but none of the other companies mentioned in this story. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.