[Street.com] Gift Registry Offers Investable Alternative to Toasters and Gravy Boats

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From: Linda (joelinda1@home.com)
Date: Sun Jun 04 2000 - 18:17:36 PDT

                        [This is a neat idea. What I find interesting, though, is that a couple would ask for
                         shares in MSFT, CSCO, and... ROBO?! Eshed Robotec (ROBO: Nasdaq) is a barely profitable
                         maker of industrial robots; a $4 stock with a market cap of just 50M.


                         Gift Registry Offers Investable Alternative to Toasters and Gravy Boats
                         By Ilana Polyak
                         Staff Reporter
                         6/3/00 10:00 AM ET

                                  Who needs another toaster when you can get shares of Cisco (CSCO:Nasdaq -
                                  news - boards) or Intel (INTL:Nasdaq - news - boards) for your wedding instead?

                                  Since February, StockGift.com has offered newlyweds-to-be and others
                                  celebrating special occasions the opportunity to register for gifts of stocks and
                                  mutual funds. Why bother lugging home delicate finger bowls for 12, when you
                                  can jumpstart your financial future?

                                  Take Bill McCafferty and his bride-to-be Jennifer Smith. As the Denver couple set
                                  about planning their wedding, which will take place in October, they still signed
                                  up for the standard linens, silver and china at Crate & Barrel to appease older
                                  relatives. But they also wanted to ask for something to build on the future they
                                  were entering together: negotiable securities.

                                  "Getting stocks has a more profound effect on your future than some china,"
                                  says McCafferty, a software engineer.

                                  They're asking friends and family to pitch in and help them buy Coca-Cola
                                  (KO:NYSE - news - boards) and shares of the Vanguard 500 Index mutual fund.
                                  McCafferty, 25, says he and Smith, 26, will add some small-cap stocks to their
                                  wish list as soon as they do some more research. They chose Coca-Cola
                                  because "Jen drinks a ton of Coke," McCafferty says.

                                  StockGift.com is the brainchild of Gino Heilizer, a Washington-area business
                                  school grad who proposed to his wife in 1998, while pursuing a master's in
                                  business at Georgetown University. Having lived together for several years
                                  before their wedding, the Heilizers realized they already had many of the
                                  household items most people request at the time of their wedding.

                                  "We figured we'd cut through the niceties and
                                  the use this life-changing event to help us with
                                  our financial future," says Heilizer.
                                  Unfortunately, his site wasn't up and running in
                                  time for the wedding, and the couple still got
                                  stuck with a few toasters.

                                  Here's how StockGift.com works: Users open a
                                  registry, which is essentially a brokerage
                                  account (the site has a brokerage license), and
                                  pick the stocks or mutual funds they want. They
                                  then choose the date on which they want the
                                  shares bought. A couple having, say, a June
                                  wedding may want the securities purchased in
                                  early July after the honeymoon once the
                                  slowpokes have had time to fork over a gift.
                                  While the money waits to be put to work, it's
                                  invested in a master money-market account at
                                  Federated Investors.

                                  After purchase, the securities are moved into a brokerage account run by
                                  StockGift.com, from which they can be sold, transferred or supplemented with
                                  new investment. The company hopes that, even if customers move the assets to
                                  another account, they'll still keep a "shell" account with StockGift.com for
                                  gift-giving occasions later on. How long will it be before many of these brides- and
                                  grooms-to-be are registering for shares of McDonald's (MCD:NYSE - news -
                                  boards) or Walt Disney (DIS:NYSE - news - boards) for Junior?

                                  The site charges $19.95 per stock bought and nothing for buying shares of
                                  mutual funds. The average registry stays open about nine months since most are
                                  for weddings. Births, graduations and bar mitzvahs also prompt well-wishers to
                                  drop some dough in the form of equities and stocks.

                                  There's no minimum dollar investment. The $19.95 charge on stock purchases
                                  comes out of the account's assets. If they're so inclined, gift-givers can give
                                  stock certificates they already own by filling out an online form, known as a letter
                                  of instruction.

                                  The company also provides a tactfully worded insert that customers can slip into
                                  their invitations and announcements to inform their guests and loved ones that
                                  they'd like shares instead of sheets.

                                  "You wouldn't ask for stock because it's gauche," Heilizer says. "But saying
                                  you're registering somewhere is completely acceptable."

                                  So far, about 300 people have signed up, says Heilizer. It will be a while before
                                  StockGift.com will see steady revenue, much less profit, he admits.

                                  The stocks registrants ask for most are Cisco, America Online (AOL:NYSE -
                                  news - boards) and Disney. The site also offers 50 no-load mutual funds from
                                  Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and Janus.

                                  Daniel Bernstein and Brad Reppen of Seattle, who are planning an August
                                  wedding, are using StockGift.com to finance a down payment on a house that
                                  they hope to buy soon. Like other modern couples, Reppen, a help-desk staffer
                                  at a computer company, and Bernstein, a computer consultant and
                                  photographer, have been living together for four years and they've simply run out
                                  of room for any more household items.

                                  They've cancelled other registries at Target (TGT:NYSE - news - boards) and a
                                  local department store. Instead, they're asking for three stocks: Microsoft
                                  (MSFT:Nasdaq - news - boards), Cisco and shares of an Israeli robotics
                                  company, Eshed Robotec (ROBO:Nasdaq - news - boards). They also want to
                                  become shareholders in the Janus Growth & Income fund.

                                  "We've always wanted to invest in stocks, but we didn't know what to do or how
                                  to get involved,'' says Reppen. Besides, "we're not experienced wedding planners
                                  and we didn't like the pushiness of the traditional registries."

                                  That may very well be, but asking for securities strikes some etiquette experts as
                                  a bit crass. Maureen O'Sullivan, a psychology professor at the University of San
                                  Francisco, bemoans the decline of manners in modern life, though she says
                                  registries draw on the dowry tradition. "Traditionally, a woman brought a dowry or
                                  a hope chest, and this is sort of a bastardization of that ritual," she says


                                  Most Requested Stocks at StockGift.com:
                                  1. Cisco
                                  2. America Online
                                  3. Disney
                                  4. General Electric
                                  5. Oracle
                                  6. Microsoft
                                  7. Wal-Mart
                                  8. Lucent
                                  9. AT&T

"Successful speculation is about anticipating the anticipators." -- Bernard Baruch

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