The Stocks Primed for Growth You Might Not Know About

by George Leong, B. Comm.

Are you looking for growth in the U.S. market? The Hispanic population is the biggest ethnic minority in the United States and it is expected to become even more significant. President Obama is looking at opening up dialogue with Cuba. He is already working on making the transfer of funds to Cuba easier and could see travel rules loosen to Cuba.

The number of Hispanic businesses in the United States is growing. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses is predicted to increase 41.8% to 4.3 million by 2012 with revenues up to $539 billion by 2012, according to research by HispanTelligence, the research division of Hispanic Business Inc. According to the report, the three major areas of Hispanic business include retail, wholesale trade, and construction.

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. In a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics as a group is predicted to account for a staggering 30% of the U.S. immigrant population by 2050. As an investor, there are many opportunities to play the significant growth in this key consumer group.

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For a barometer of Hispanic stocks listed in the U.S., take a look at the Ramirez & Co Hispanic index launched in December 2003 by investment bank Ramirez & Co. The index consists of about 10 companies, which have easily outperformed other indices since 2000.

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

The current economic malaise makes it difficult for all businesses but, like all things, it will eventually improve and turn higher. As links with Latin America continue to increase, we expect these businesses could benefit.

As far as U.S.-listed stocks with a Hispanic orientation go, I have provided a list and their descriptions below. The stocks should not be construed as an endorsement and the list is only for information purposes. Be aware that I have not done any analysis of these listed companies. I advise more in-depth due diligence in examining these companies and consulting with an investment professional who understands the Hispanic market and potential investments.

Those belonging to the Hispanic index are indicated in brackets.

Entravision Communications Corporation (NYSE/EVC) is a Spanish-language media company that targets U.S. Hispanics.

First BanCorp (NYSE/FBP, Hispanic index) is a financial holding company operating in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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

International Bancshares Corporation (NASDAQ/IBOC, Hispanic index) is a financial holding company comprised 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, Hispanic index) provides financial services in Puerto Rico, the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America

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