5 Stocks for 420
On Friday, April 20, millions of people across the world are celebrating counterculture's biggest holiday - 420. The term "420" dates back to the early 1970s and a group of high school kids who used the term as a reference to smoking marijuana.
Over the years, the number has become synonymous with cannabis subculture and 4:20 in the afternoon is a common smokeout time and 4/20 is observed at a number of events across the world. These include annual celebrations at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district and a large gathering at the University of Colorado at Boulder campus, among many others.
With marijuana becoming more and more mainstream every year, investors have become intrigued by the potential profits that could accompany full-on legalization of the drug - which could be a reality in the next decade.
Unfortunately, most of the marijuana related companies that currently trade on exchanges in the United States are merely tiny penny stocks without a lot of promise at this point. Nevertheless, some of America's most prominent companies benefit tangentially from pot smoking consumers and their affinity for munchies, video games, movies, and more.
Below, Benzinga highlights five stocks for 420.
Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) - One of the oldest stoner stereotypes has to do with junk food. Like many stereotypes, there is some truth to it. Marijuana is known to increase appetite and this is one of the reasons why cancer patients use it while being treated with chemotherapy. Yum! Brands has potheads covered in the food category. The company operates and franchises three popular fast food concepts - KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Thanks in part to marijuana smokers around the world, YUM has been tremendously successful with their business of selling pizzas, fried chicken, and chalupas to the hungry (and often stoned) masses. Over the last 52-weeks, YUM shares have risen more than 43% and year-to-date, the stock is up more than 25%. On Friday, YUM shares have surged another 3.37% to $73.82 after a strong earnings report and are sitting at a new all-time high.
Pepsi (NYSE: PEP) - Another junk food kingpin is Pepsi, which in addition to their line of beverages, owns snack maker Frito-Lay. As many consumers have discovered, few things go better with a fat joint than a cold Pepsi and a big bag of Lay's potato chips. Pepsi is one of the leading blue-chip consumer staples companies in the world, and at least a portion of their success can be attributed to stoned high school and college students. Pepsi stock has risen a little less than 1% in 2012 and has largely been range bound since last August. At current levels, PEP is yielding a very healthy 3.09% and is a name that should be particularly appealing to long-term investors.
Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) - While pot smokers are oft-maligned for being junk food addicts, the fact is that older, health conscious smokers are more likely to shop at Whole Foods for organic produce than hit up the Taco Bell drive through on a daily basis. Granola-munching, Prius-driving neo-hippies and the pot-loving yuppy set have made Whole Foods a Wall Street darling. On 4/20, Whole Foods shares are sitting very close to new all-time highs. Over the last 52-weeks, WFM has added nearly 30%, including almost 23% in 2012 alone.
Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) - If there is one thing that stoners can almost unanimously agree upon it is that video games are awesome. Activision is the publisher of the uber-successful Call of Duty franchise which has compelled many a pothead to ditch the day's responsibilities in favor of marathon online gaming sessions. In addition to Activision, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) has a seriously hardcore following among the stoner set with games such as Madden football and FIFA soccer. The bottom line here: Marijuana and video games go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if video game retailers see a spike in sales on Friday.
IMAX (NASDAQ: IMAX) - Most people would agree that watching a movie in an IMAX theater is really cool. Know what is even cooler? Watching a movie in an IMAX theater while high. Seriously, isn't this the reason that James Cameron made Avatar? Toking up and heading to the closest IMAX for a far-out flick is high entertainment for the younger generation and who can blame them? Certainly not IMAX investors, who have seen their shares rise nearly 26% already in 2012. This is a very hot stock, and IMAX has added more than 350% over the last 5 years. Given the growth of 3-D movies, combined with an army of marijuana buzzed consumers looking for novel entertainment, and it is little wonder that IMAX is viewed on Wall Street as a growth stock for the next decade.
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