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Stocking up on romance

At this time of year, love is certainly in the air. But is it in your portfolio?

Aha, never thought of it quite that way, did you? That's because you've foolishly been thinking more about cash flows than love bites.

We bet you never even considered the romantic repercussions of your wealth-building maneuvers, have you?

"The average investment portfolio looks more like Don Trump than Don Juan," says Michael Webb, the author-husband the media dubs "the Martha Stewart of Romance."

"A man who invests in 'romantic' companies is certainly more likely to give them his business."

That's why we incurable romantics at Bankrate have come up with a list of stocks we're sure will convince your significant other just what a lovable sort you really are. They may or may not make you rich, but they could help you cash in on a totally different sort of reward.

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LVMH, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (Nasdaq: LVMHY): It calls itself the world's leading luxury-products group: Your Valentine knows it as the home of Dom Pérignon. Of course, you'll also score with this Paris-based company because you're buying into Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy perfumes; Christian Lacroix and Louis Vuitton fashion and leather goods; and Ebel watches -- all designed to set her heart aflutter.
Extra credit: Compliment her sense of fashion by mentioning you know this investment now gets her into DKNY jeans.

Victoria's Secret (NYSE: IBI): Just because your underwear is in a bunch (see Chapter 11 filings for Ithaca, Beltex and Fruit-of-the Loom) doesn't mean hers isn't smooth sailing. Picking Victoria's Secret from the pack means you recognize the difference between sexy and degrading. So slip into the habit of calling her your Dream Angel.
Extra credit: Bath and Body Works -- same company. Enough said.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF): If it sparkles in the window on New York's Fifth Avenue, imagine how it will polish your macho image. Today only Tiffany's sells its brand, which makes it a jewel in a lover's treasure chest.
Extra credit: When you're a sweetheart investor, this retailer's distinctive blue packaged gift won't leave you in the traditional holiday red.

The Ritz-Carlton (NYSE: MAR): Want her to revel in the morning after? Invest in a breakfast in bed where the feather beds boast 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. It's said diamonds are a girl's best friend -- shower her with this host of five-star diamond awards in pampering.
Extra credit: Let her know she's a keeper by using your insider information to reserve a room at the Ritz-y Grand Cayman property when it opens in 2003.

Furniture Brands International (NYSE: FBN): Speaking of beds, lay her flat with your knowledge of FBI. This parent company for Broyhill, Lane and Thomasville knows its way around a bedroom.
Extra credit: Already this year, Furniture Brands purchased Henredon, Drexel Heritage and Maitland-Smith to prove its size matters.

Russ Berrie and Company Inc. (NYSE: RUS): The company that vows to "make someone happy" can certainly light a fire in your relationship. After all, women snuggle up to teddy bears and other irresistible stuffed animals -- Russ's No. 1 merchandise product in a $20 billion business. Other lines include baby gifts -- sure to make her gaga.
Extra credit: Russ opened a Home Décor division last month, giving you a chance to demonstrate your hearth-and-home reliability.

Ralston-Purina (NYSE: RAL): Know why advertisers flock to puppies? Because women can't resist anything associated with these cute-yet-vulnerable heartthrobs. Show your soft underbelly by cuddling up to the country's largest pet food producer.
Extra credit: Impress her by letting drop that Ralston-Purina is so serious about feeding our beloved pets, it recently spun off its Eveready battery business, although according to Hoover's Online, R.P. clings to a 29 percent share of this instant energy source.

Steiner Leisure Ltd. (Nasdaq: STNR): Trust the people who operate the spas and salons on more than 100 cruise ships to penetrate the deepest layers of her skin -- and heart. And why stop there? Steiner also aspires to the spa resort niche, as well as cosmetics. Even its home base in Nassau, Bahamas, smacks of exotic.
Extra credit: Steiner employees at sea massage more than 30,000 bodies, deep cleanse 15,000 faces, blow wave 6,000 heads of hair and manicure approximately 6,000 pairs of hands weekly. Wise lovers imitate this sort of high-touch contact outside the portfolio!

Avon Books (NYSE: NWS): This division of HarperCollins often earns credit for launching the fiery historical romance genre, introducing names like Kathleen Woodiwiss (The Flame and the Flower) and Rosemary Rogers (Sweet, Savage Love) in the '70s. Prove you know your way around her covers.
Extra credit: Sexy tidbits to whisper: According to American Bookseller Association reports and Ingram's catalog of all book releases in 2000, romance fiction comprises 37.2 percent of all popular paperback fiction sold in North America. Mystery/detective/suspense grabs 28.1 percent, followed by religious/occult/westerns/male adventure/general history/adult/movie tie-ins (14.6 percent). Science fiction/fantasy captured 7.2 percent.

Steakhouse Partners Inc. (OTC: SIZL): Prove how rare your love is with this sizzler. These chefs serve approximately 6.8 million steak and prime-rib meals annually through the Hungry Hunter's, Hunter's Steakhouse, Mountain Jack's and Carvers brands.
Extra credit: A Penn State study reveals that parents who show concern about their daughters' weight and restrict their diets actually foster low self-esteem. Show her true worth by encouraging her to indulge on your livestock.

American Greetings (NYSE: AM): OK, we often credit Hallmark with inventing American's cherished holidays, but those VIPs are privately funded. Instead, let this firm's poet greet your significant other. Sometimes No. 2 cares enough to let others in on the benefits.
Extra credit: American Greetings's focus-group studies show men often feel uncomfortable with cards that are too sentimental. That's why AG crowns itself king of the pithy sentiments for you.

Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI): The movie renter claimed 48 million member accounts in 2000. No wonder a Gallup Poll claims Blockbuster enjoys nearly 100 percent brand recognition among film fans. Chairman and CEO John F. Antioco got his start as a management trainee at the 7-Eleven and later ran Taco Bell for PepsiCo, which makes him a regular Joe. Chalk up one for the common man and elevate your romance ticket at the same time.
Extra credit: Throw in shares of CFM Majestic (that's sweet nothings for Majestic, Vermont Castings and Northern Flame gas- and wood-burning fireplaces), and a handful of Frito-Lay stocks to munch (Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, Lay's, Ruffles, Rold Gold, Tostitos or Cracker Jack -- your call) to complete the seduction.

Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc. (NYSE: JNJ): Only sensitive studs dare to put their money into a manufacturer that specializes in oral contraceptives and menopausal therapies.
Extra credit: You really rise to your responsibilities when you add shares of Aussie-owned Pacific Dunlop Limited (Nasdaq: PDLPY) condoms to your game.

-- Posted: Jan. 29, 2002

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See Also
Gender spender: Sex sets your money DNA
Your mood can cost you money
7 steps to savings and love
More investing stories

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