Below are the returns of companies featured in last year's Halloween Special. Given the market's surge over the past year, it shouldn't be surprising that the "Treats" ended in positive territory -- one soundly beating both the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq, one losing to both but still providing a decent return.

As for the "Tricks" -- the companies we thought were due for a fall -- they give a whole new meaning to "taking it in the shorts." One provided a modest positive return, but the two others were downright scary. Not ones to miss a chance to learn (and teach others) from our mistakes, note that the return on the JetBlue Trick was a negative 129.3%. This demonstrates one of the risks of selling a stock short: Theoretically, the greatest return you can gain is 100%, but the most you can lose is limitless. In reality, since investors can only short stocks in a margin account, such a loss on a short sale could prompt a margin call from your broker, meaning you'd have to cough up more cash or sell investments. So, as your mother always told you, keep an eye on your shorts.

Our Halloween Special is partly for fun. Fortunately, our "serious" sources of investment ideas -- The Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Hidden Gems -- have provided market-beating returns. And we have similarly high hopes for our newest newsletter, Motley Fool Income Investor. Check them out if you're looking for thorough analysis without Halloween puns.

    Price 10/24/02   10/24/03   Return 

    Apple                $14.69      $22.60     53.9% 
Tootsie Roll         $29.78      $32.28      8.4% 

SHORTMcDonald's           $18.45      $24.19    -31.1% 
JetBlue Airways      $24.60      $56.40   -129.3% 
Research Frontiers   $11.01      $10.75      2.4%

S&P 500              882.50    1,028.91     16.6% 
Nasdaq             1,298.71    1,865.59     43.7%

The Motley Ghoul's Tricks or Treats represent the opinions of each Fool only and should in no way be taken as the opinion of either The Motley Fool, Inc. or any company in question, or as representative of anyone or anything other than that specific Fool's thoughts. So do your homework and review The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.