Q: Can I give single shares of stock as holiday gifts? If so, how?

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Q: Can I give single shares of stock as holiday gifts? If so, how?

A: You sure can, and it’s a gift idea that could transform your loved ones’ financial futures.

You can buy one share of a stock as a gift at Web sites such as www.registerstock.com and www.oneshare.com.

It’s not the smartest way to invest for yourself, though, as you may pay $15 or more in fees to buy one $30 share of stock (that would cost you 50 percent from the get-go). But if it’s a gift, the recipient ends up with a $30 stock that might be worth $60 or more one day.

When buying stock for yourself, take commissions and fees into account. Learn more about how to invest effectively with just a few dollars via direct investment plans or dividend reinvestment plans (“DRIPs”) at www.dripcentral.com.

The Motley Fool take

Kimberly-Clark

The recent earnings release by Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB) is a classic illustration of price elasticity. Lower prices sell more goods, allowing a company to lower prices again — igniting a virtuous cycle.

But the cycle also works in reverse, as Kimberly-Clark has discovered. It recently increased prices to cover higher commodity costs, but management may have taken it a bit too far.

Consolidated prices in the third quarter were 4 percent higher, but case volume ran down 1 percent. What’s worse, consumer tissue-case volume declined 7 percent. Even toilet paper obeys the basic laws of economics.

This price-elasticity game is nothing new to consumer-products companies. With the steep rise in commodity prices over the past year, many firms are exercising as much pricing power as they think their brands will bear.

Kimberly-Clark — whose brands include Kleenex and Huggies — still managed to make its estimated numbers for the third quarter. But management lowered fourth-quarter earnings projections, which promptly clobbered the stock.

It’s true that the consumer-products companies are a (relatively) safe investment during tough markets.

Still, it’s smart to be picky even among defensive plays. With choices such as Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive also trading close to 12-month lows, perhaps wait for Kimberly-Clark to get its pricing algorithms more finely tuned.

Visit www.fool.com or write The Fool, c/o The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.