Going Long On Latinos
By Kate Bonamici

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Finally, a way to literally diversify your portfolio. In early February, Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., the country's oldest Hispanic investment bank, launched a unit investment trust based on an index of Hispanic companies. Shares of the trust, which functions much like a stock index fund, can be bought through a broker and give investors a stake in ten publicly traded mainland U.S. and Puerto Rican firms. The best part is, Latino companies are thriving.

The bank created the Ramirez & Co. Hispanic index, the first of its kind, after its own analysis found that publicly traded Hispanic companies (which Ramirez defines as having either more than 51% Hispanic ownership or more than 51% in revenues from Hispanic customers) were growing revenues four times as fast as the average company. Combine that with the fact that the Latino population in the U.S. is growing seven times as fast as the non-Latino population. Says managing director Jay Garcia: "We knew we were onto something." His group narrowed down a list of 19 companies to the ten largest and most liquid, then tracked them back to August 2000, when the last of them went public. Turns out the index, made up mostly of financial services companies (like Banco Popular) and broadcasters (like Univision), is up 144% as of Jan. 30, compared with a 21% decline for the S&P 500 over the same period. --Kate Bonamici