A Key Consumer Group Could Win Big for Stock Holders

The market for Hispanics in the United States is growing, and you may want to take advantage of this. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses increased three times the national average for all companies in the five-year period from 1997 to 2002, which was the most recent period reported.

 The report said the number of Hispanic-owned businesses surged 31% in this five-year period to about 1.6 million businesses in 2002. As far as a percentage of all businesses, Hispanics owned about seven percent, up from six percent in 1997.

 The importance of Hispanic businesses and the Hispanic consumer cannot be ignored. The trend clearly indicates the rising importance of both. Hispanics, as a group, accounted for just over 13% of the U.S. population in 2002. As an investor, there are many opportunities to play the significant growth in this key consumer group.

 In December 2003, Hispanic-owned investment bank Ramirez & Company Incorporated launched the first major index of Hispanic stocks listed in the United States. The Ramirez & Co. Hispanic index comprises about 10 companies.

 The fact of the matter is, the Hispanic community is significant, and stocks that cater to this consumer group could win big going forward.

 As far as U.S.-listed stocks with a Hispanic orientation, I have provided a list with their descriptions below. The stocks should not be construed as an endorsement and are only for information purposes. I advise more due diligence in examining these companies.

 Entravision Communications Corporation (NYSE/EVC) is a Spanish-language media company that targets Hispanic Americans.

 First Bancorp Holdings Company (NYSE/FBP) is a financial holding company operating in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

 GRUMA S.A. de C.V. (NYSE/GMK) produces and distributes corn flour and tortillas.

 International Bancshares Corporation (NASDAQ/IBOC) is a financial holding company comprising four banks in south and southeast Texas.  MetroCorp Bancshares Incorporated (NASDAQ/MCBI) is a Houston-based bank with a Hispanic customer base.

 Popular Incorporated (NASDAQ/BPOP) provides financial services in Puerto Rico, the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin   America  Spanish Broadcasting System Incorporated (NASDAQ/SBSA) is a Hispanic-controlled radio broadcasting company with stations across the United States.

 W Holding Company Incorporated (NYSE/WHI) is a financial holding company operating in Puerto Rico.