Santa's Stocks

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Santa's hypothetical stock portfolio in 2004 split the difference between big returns in 2003 and a 17-percent decline two years ago.

That's according to analysts at Houston's Southwest Bank of Texas.

For the third consecutive year, the bank's investment management group tracked yearly performances of stocks they assume St. Nick would probably hold. With a dollar invested in each stock, the retail-heavy, though slightly reshuffled portfolio reaped a year-to-date return of 26-percent -- compared to a 41-percent gain in 2003.

The bank's chief investment officer, Robert Heintz, says -- "Santa's been a good boy this year by learning the value of diversification."

Good performers in the hypothetical portfolio include Apple Computer and Midway Games, as well as longtime holdings in PetSmart, Toys R Us and Circuit City.

Santa saw losses in five of the 21 stocks in the portfolio - Tractor Supply Company, Tiffany, Mattel, Hasbro and Wal-Mart.