Hispanic-Owned Businesses Increasing

A report just released by the U.S. Census Bureau pointed to something that many of you may be or not be aware of. According to the report, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses increased at three times the national average for all companies in the five- year period from 1997 to 2002.

 The report said the number of Hispanic-owned businesses surged 31% in the five-year period to about 1.6 million businesses in 2002. As far as a percentage of all businesses, Hispanics owned about 7%, up from 6% in 1997.

 The importance of Hispanic businesses and the Hispanic consumer cannot be ignored. The trend clearly indicates their rising importance in the everyday fabric of American business.

 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.

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

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

 Doral Financial Corp. (NYSE/DRL) is a financial services company operating in Puerto Rico and the New York City area.

 Entravision Communications Corp. (NYSE/EVC) is a Spanish- language media company that targets U.S. Hispanics. First Bancorp Holdings co. (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 Corp. (NASDAQ/IBOC) is a financial holding company comprising of four banks in south and southeast Texas.

 MetroCorp Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ/MCBI) is a Houston-based bank with a Hispanic customer base.

 Popular Inc. (NASDAQ/BPOP) provides financial services in Puerto Rico, the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America

 Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. (NASDAQ/SBSA) is a Hispanic-controlled radio broadcasting company with stations across the United States.

 Univision Communications Inc. (NYSE/UVN) is a Spanish- language media company with television, music and the Internet operations.

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