This morning's Wall Street Journal ran a story on clever ticker symbols. It points to Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG), the century-old motorcycle maker that has seen its shares soar nearly 16% higher since ditching its dull HDI ticker last month.

The article ultimately arrives at the conclusion that a near-term spike in price is possible after a witty ticker makeover -- like restaurateur Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) -- but it has little to do with where a company winds up in the long run.

That is both just and obvious. Fundamentals move the market, not some whimsical call letters. If so, some of my favorite tickers that weren't noted in the article -- like Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) and Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) -- would be top Wall Street gainers instead of merely coasting along.

When it comes to bland and nondescript tickers, it's hard to top Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL). What's with the two As in the beginning? Did it think that it was applying for some ticker symbol phone book and wanted to jimmy its way up to the top alphabetically?

Last week, Tim Beyers and I argued whether Apple should be considered a computer company or a digital music specialist. No matter where you stand on the debate, one would think that MACS or even IPOD would make a more fitting ticker symbol than AAPL. However, a ticker that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue hasn't held Apple back -- its stock has been one of the biggest market winners over the past few years.

Apple doesn't seem to be slowing down, either. Through the first nine months of fiscal 2006, the company's revenues and earnings per share are up 42% and 56%, respectively.

So let's not assume that a company like Taser International (NASDAQ:TASR), the stun gun pioneer that had an amazing run until its shares stalled two years ago, can electrify its trading by changing its ticker symbol to STUN.

And don't go jumping into the new Cendant remnant, Avis Budget Group (NYSE:CAR), just because it beat out the struggling automakers in Detroit to the CAR ticker symbol.

So what if Harley-Davidson is in HOG heaven over the past six weeks? There's a pretty good chance that it would have gotten there anyway. A day after the company's ticker symbol tweak, the company got plenty of media attention when President Bush talked up the economy at a Harley factory in Pennsylvania. Two weeks later it announced new three-wheeled Harleys, as well as helping out its cost structure with the acquisition of an Australian wheel manufacturer. Yes, the HOG is cute, but the company's been revving along enough to keep up with the buoyant share price.

Buy quality companies first. Consider a catchy trading symbol to be little more than a bonus when you see it roll by the ticker tape at the bottom of CNBC. Yikes, CNBC? That's a mouthful too.

Cedar Fair is an Income Investor newsletter recommendation. Taser is a Rule Breakers selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has found some whimsical ticker symbols in his portfolio. At the moment, that includes owning units in Cedar Fair. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.