Little-Noticed Index of African-American Companies Is Soaring

Article excerpt

Although much less known than older, well-established cousins like the Standard & Poor's 500 index or the Dow Jones industrial average, a little-noticed market measure has outstripped the performance of both for the last 18 months.

Inaugurated in December 1994, and available on Bloomberg Financial Markets, the Bloomberg/Color of Money index tracks the performance of nine public companies owned and operated by African-Americans.

None of these companies, which collectively had revenue of less than $50 0 million last year, is a household name. But investors more concerned about results than fame would do well to consider that so far this year the index of these stocks has risen 39.3 percent, compared with a gain of 11.6 percent in the Dow Jones industrial average and a 9.1 percent rise in the Standard & Poor's 500.

A moving force in creating the index was Kelvin Boston. Boston produces "The Color of Money," a personal-finance show syndicated on PBS and Black Entertainment Television. He found a willing collaborator in Burton Waddy, a media-syndication executive at Bloomberg.

Boston, a former financial planner for IDS/American Express, said: "Most African-Americans have been taught that investing in stocks is like gambling. That is just not true, and through the index we will be able to share with the public some exciting stories."

Two of the nine stocks in the index trade on the New York Stock Exchange, two are on the American exchange and five trade on Nasdaq. Some of these companies have produced staggering returns this year.

Pyrocap, a tiny specialty chemical manufacturer, has seen its stock price double so far this year. But that run came after a two-month suspension from trading on the American Stock Exchange; the suspension ended Feb. …