How to invest like a racketeer
By Aaron S. Robertson
Please note that the following article is purposely written the way it is for the sake of pure entertainment value. No suggestion is being made whatsoever that these companies or funds are somehow illegitimate and/or criminal in nature. Please also understand that this article is written solely by a layperson that is not licensed in any way to provide any sort of investing or other financial advice. Invest at your own risk.
The author either holds these stocks and other investment vehicles himself, or is actively working to acquire them for himself. Check back from time to time, as there may be new investment picks presented!
Like so many others, I grew up watching plenty of mob movies and curiously reading about the major players in books and in the newspapers. It's why I fell in love with Ford's finest, the Lincoln brand (Cadillac? Fuggedaboutit!). It's why I use curse words in casual conversation, even when I'm not upset at anything. It's why I consume pasta and coffee/espresso like it's going out of style. It's why, perhaps, I see opportunity in just about everything...
Do you want to own a piece of the traditional mob rackets in a legal, fully legitimate way? Are you libertarian enough in both your moral philosophy and your investing strategy to understand that people will engage in activities and purchase products and services that you may personally disagree with, but you might as well capitalize off of all of it anyway? After all, if you feel bad, you can simply "launder" your gains years from now through your favorite charitable donations and scholarship funds, becoming an upstanding citizen.
Do you want "loan sharking" (a big emphasis on the quotation marks), gambling, porn, vending machines, gentlemen's clubs, resorts, booze, construction, and more?
If so, here's a good list to start with...
RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. (RICK) - Among other holdings, the company owns and operates upscale gentlemen's clubs and restaurants under various brands across the country, as well as an online and print media division.
VanEck Vectors Gaming ETF (BJK) - Among this exchange-traded fund's vast holdings are stocks of well-known companies with significant operations in Las Vegas, which is to be naturally expected. Perhaps making this fund a little more fun and interesting, though, is that it also holds a good-sized stake in Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.
PowerShares Dynamic Building & Construction ETF (PKB) - If you're feeling nostalgic for the days when not a single building could go up in New York (or the major metropolitan area of your choice) without mob approval, then this fund is for you. A diverse offering of holdings in major, well-known construction and building trades companies.
Full House Resorts, Inc. (FLL) - Based in Las Vegas, Full House Resorts develops, owns, and operates a number of fine casinos and resorts across the U.S.
Generation Next Franchise Brands, Inc. (VEND) - These days, more and more consumers are demanding fresher, healthier convenience foods on the go, and that's the angle that this vending machine company is going with.
Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc. (CUBA) - If you're hoping (and want to bet) that Cuba may once again become a destination playground, this fund may very well be for you. The fund's focus extends far beyond Cuba, though. From the fund's own Web site:
"The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund's investment objective is long-term capital appreciation. To achieve its objective, the Fund invests in issuers that are likely, in the Advisor's view, to benefit from economic, political, structural and technological developments in the countries in the Caribbean Basin, which consist of Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Aruba, Haiti, the Netherlands Antilles, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. The fund invests at least 80% of its total assets in a broad range of securities of issuers including U.S.-based companies that engage in substantial trade with, and derive substantial revenue from, operations in the Caribbean Basin Countries."
Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ) - Taken from its company profile:
"The Company is an international beverage alcohol company with many of its products recognized as leaders in their respective categories and geographic markets. Its wine portfolio is complemented by select premium spirits brands and other select beverage alcohol products. The Company is a multi-category supplier (beer, wine and spirits) ("Multi-category Supplier") of beverage alcohol in the U.S. It operates in three segments: (i) Beer (formerly Crown Imports), (ii) Wine and Spirits (formerly Constellation Wines and Spirits) and (iii) Corporate Operations and Other. The Beer segment imports, markets and sell Mexican Beer Brands in all 50 states of the U.S.: Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Pacifico, Negra Modelo and Victoria. In the U.S., it has five of the top-selling 15 imported beer brands."
Lending Club Corp. (LC) - This is where my "loan sharking" joke comes in. Lending Club provides a marketplace where qualified borrowers can receive consumer loans backed with funds provided by other everyday people (the peer-to-peer lending concept). Like any other reputable lender, rates and other terms for borrowers are going to depend on the borrower's credit rating.
Now, there are a couple of ways you can get in on the action with Lending Club. Owning stock in the company is one option. I do not own shares yet, but plan on purchasing some in the near future. The second path, which I am in on, is to become an investor in the company's marketplace. With this option, you do not own a stake in the company like you would if you purchased stock. Instead, the money you are investing is going directly toward providing loans to borrowers, for which you earn interest.
Happy investing, and best of luck to you!