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CONSIDER GIFT THAT PAYS SEVERAL TIMES A YEAR

SHARE CONSIDER GIFT THAT PAYS SEVERAL TIMES A YEAR

Stocks can be good stocking stuffers.

Instead of giving a scarf, fancy tie or the latest video game this Christmas, consider a gift that pays dividends over time.A little impersonal, perhaps, but stocks can turn out to be a valuable way to show you care.

For example, one share of Atlanta-based Home Depot bought for $12 in October 1981 would now be worth about $3,600.

Stock in a good, solid company also is a one of the best ways to teach young people about money and investment, adds Todd P. Ehret, research analyst at Personal Finance newsletter in Alexandria, Va.

That's because the recipient also gets the company's quarterly and annual reports, offering insight into how a business operates.

Some companies also dispense perks to stockholders. Anheuser-Busch, for example, gives discounts to its Sea World and Busch Gardens amusement parks. Wrig- ley mails 20 packs of chewing gum to stockholders each December. This year's flavor: Freedent Winter Fresh.

Gifts of stock needn't be costly.

One share usually is enough to buy entry into the hundreds of company-sponsored dividend reinvestment plans, including Home Depot's and Coca-Cola's. Most of the plans permit more shares to be acquired at little or no fees or commissions.

Some full-service brokers will permit existing customers to buy one share at a commission as low as 10 percent of the cost of that one share. Pacific Brokerage Services 1-800-421-8395 charges $28 for purchases of up to 300 shares of any stock.

The stock certificate probably won't arrive in time for the holidays. But the enterprising gift giver can stuff a stocking with a sample of the company's product and an inscribed blank stock certificate available at Artlite Office Supply for 75 cents.

Mutual funds also make excellent gifts. Morningstar Inc., which tracks mutual funds, recommends three top-notch no-load funds with low initial investment minimums: Monetta ($100; 1-800-666-3882), Financial Industrial Income ($250; 1-800-525-8085) and Nicholas ($500; 1-414-272-6133).

Some other gift ideas:

- "Making the Most of Your Money" by Jane Bryant Quinn (934 pages, Simon & Schuster, $27.50). It offers a well-organized, readable guide to budgeting, insuring and investing.

- Prodigy ($49 or less at retailers) allows investors to share ideas with others through its Money Talk electronic bulletin board. Prodigy also provides the latest stock prices.

- Managing Your Money, Version 9.0 (MECA, 800-288-6322, $39.95). Many home finance computer software programs help balance your checkbook, but MYM offers a comprehensive portfolio management system that also analyzes your goals.