Earlier this week, Federated Department Stores
This may not seem like big news, but in the arcane world of stock-exchange ticker symbols, it's huge. As Foolish pundits previously pointed out, Wall Street's prevailing urban legend had the NYSE reserving M in hopes of luring Microsoft
At one point, companies with single-letter ticker symbols represented the cream of Wall Street's crop. Even now, these 15 companies include no shortage of high-profile stocks, including Citicorp, Ford, AT&T, and U.S. Steel. Yet you'll also find several smaller, less familiar companies. Industrial metals manufacturer Barnes Group
Meanwhile, companies that used to hold single-letter tickers have had mixed success. Sears Holdings
Not just for stocks anymore
You can't even count on single-letter tickers being regular stocks. Realty Income, which carries the symbol O, is a real-estate investment trust. Like most REITs, it has done well in recent years, combining rising share prices with a strong dividend.
In the end, of course, ticker symbols have little to do with a business's success. In Macy's case, few would argue that the retailer lacks the appropriate pedigree to take on the coveted single M. And if Bill Gates is disappointed, no one can say he didn't have ample opportunity to grab the ticker long before now.
Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation, while AT&T was a former Stock Advisor pick.