Will Despacito Save Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican Stocks?

Puerto Rico Sunset

If you don’t know what Despacito is, I will explain it in a minute. But first, lets talk about Puerto Rico. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. Back in 2015, Puerto Rico defaulted on $58 million in bond payments. Then things got worse with more defaults, and all these problems appear to be leading into quasi bankruptcy. By the way, Puerto Rico is Spanish for “Rich Port”.

Now for Despacito. This is a song by singer Luis Fonsi, and featuring rapper Daddy Yankee, both of whom are Puerto Rican. In early August, the Despacito music video became the most watched YouTube video, reaching over 3 billion views, and it became this leader in just over a half a year.

Amazingly, there has been a 45% increase in tourism to Puerto Rico attributed to Despacito. This is for a song that is entirely in Spanish (but the YouTube video allows you to have subtitles in English, Japanese, and many other languages).

However, it may not just be the tourism that is helping the Puerto Rican economy. Many billionaires, millionaires, entrepreneurs, and businesses are moving to the Commonwealth, primarily due to the extremely favorable tax benefits, U. S. citizenship maintenance, low cost of living, fantastic weather, and beautiful beaches.

How does no Federal taxes and a 0% tax on dividends, interest, capital gains, and Puerto Rican source income sound? Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, is one individual who is taking advantage of the benefits. During the first part of the following interview on the Joe Rogan Show, Schiff discusses the many benefits of living in Puerto Rico.

So maybe the government is in bad shape, but the economy appears to be improving. What is the best way for an investor to participate? There are over a half a dozen publicly traded companies based in Puerto Rico, most of which are banks.

For example, OFG Bancorp (OFG) trades at 8.2 times earnings and provides investors with a favorable yield of 2.7%. The stock is down 43% from where it was three years ago.

Popular Inc. (BPOP) has been around for almost 120 years. This bank holding company also operates in the virgin Islands and the United States, in addition to Puerto Rico. It has a price to earnings ratio of 10.4 and yields 2.0%. The stock is actually up 28% over the last three years.

Despacito means “slowly”, which may be a good description of the Puerto Rican economy recovery. Investing in Puerto Rican stocks may not be a quick turn-around; maybe plan on stock prices rising “despacito”.

Disclosure: Author didn’t own any of the above at the time the article was written.

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