A Weakness for 'Sin' Stocks

Markets like these are enough to drive most investors to drink. That's what a new fund is hoping, anyway.

The Vice Fund, the latest brainchild of mutual fund broker Mutuals.com, invests in a wide swath of "sin" stocks. After all, the theory goes, such stocks are recession-proof -- no matter how bad the economy gets, people will always drink, smoke, gamble and well, you get the idea.

The fund will focus primarily on four areas: alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and aerospace and defense, according to portfolio co-manager Dan Ahrens. At least 90% of the fund's assets will be invested in these four areas.

"Aerospace and defense isn't really a vice, although some people think weapons are," Ahrens says. The industry's inclusion in the Vice Fund is purely by dint of the fact it's generally excluded from socially responsible funds.

"Socially responsible funds have many different definitions of what they consider socially responsible," Ahrens says. "So we can extend our definition a little."

Ahrens is "very confident" the fund will own Philip Morris ( MO), Anheuser-Busch ( BUD), Harrah's ( HET) and Lockheed Martin ( LMT) once trading begins on Sept. 3. (The fund is currently raising assets through subscriptions at $10 a share.)

Aside from those stalwarts of vice, the fund will also likely own Adolph Coors ( RKY), MGM Mirage ( MGG), General Dynamics ( GD), as well as lesser-known companies like Gtech ( GTK), which designs the technology for state lottery systems.

In addition, the fund will look at companies such as Microsoft ( MSFT), which does a lot of defense work, and Harley Davidson ( HDI). "Harley hogs probably drink and smoke a lot," Ahrens notes.

The fund will include companies of all sizes and won't employ any blanket valuation criteria. "It won't be pure growth or pure value," Ahrens says. "Those terms are misnomers anyway." The fund has a $2,500 initial minimum investment and no load.

Clearly, this fund should not be a core holding in any portfolio. But if your vice is towards quirk investment shticks, well, get out your checkbook and mix yourself a drink. You just might need one.

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