You never forget your first love -- the free cash flow that set your heart aflutter, the returns that left you swooning, and those divine dividends .

OK, some of you may have a slightly different definition of "first love." But on this most romantic of days, our Foolish writers are thinking back to the first stocks they ever fell for, and they're checking in to see how their old flames are faring these days.

This year, the subjects of our reminiscences include an entertainment giant with a whole new lease on life; a return appearance for the company that transformed the humble cup of java from an ugly-duckling commodity to a sophisticated swan; a fund pick from Russia with love; an Internet search site that's fallen on tragically tough times; a retirement fund for the ages; a jet-setting conglomerate that's now off the market; and the heartbreak of half-heartedly following -- and then abandoning -- the Foolish Four.

Break out the chocolates and the hankies -- or, for the guys, recall that tragic scene in The Dirty Dozen where Jim Brown is tossing those grenades into the foxholes -- and feel the love with this year's romantic roundup:

  • Vanguard Target Retirement (FUND:VTIVX)
  • Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)
  • Disney (NYSE:DIS)
  • Miva (NASDAQ:MIVA)
  • Primark
  • ING Russia A (FUND:LETRX)
  • The Foolish Four (sort of)

Stocks Fools loved last year
Love has its rapturous heights and miserable lows. In 2004, Krispy Kreme's sweet tooth concealed a sour truth, dragging down the returns of its fellow picks. But for 2005's crop of Foolish valentines, the highs happily won out. As a group, these stocks captured our hearts with an average 11.28% return, compared with the S&P 500's sad, lonely 4.78%.

Company Name

Price Last Year

Price Today


Cendant (NYSE:CD)




Steiner Leisure (NASDAQ:STNR)




H.J. Heinz




FormFactor (NASDAQ:FORM)




Fidelity Spartan Total Market Index Fund (FUND:FSTMX)








Redwood Trust (NYSE:RWT)












Average Return


True, there were some losers on that list, but it seems that love still conquered all. Stay tuned, faithful Fools, to see what next year brings.

On to the love stories:

Heinz is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Steiner Leisure is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Cendant is a selection of Motley Fool Inside Value , and several Vanguard and Fidelity funds have been recommended in our Motley Fool Champion Funds newsletter.