When Did it Become a Sin to Invest in Guns, a So-Called ‘Vice Stock’?
Susannah Breslin at Forbes asks if Apple now also counts among the "vice"-worthy commodities.
September 7, 2012 - 10:25 am
Is Apple (AAPL) a sin stock?
That’s the question Gerry Sullivan, portfolio manager of the Vice Fund (VICEX), raised in his interview with Forbes capital market reporter Abram Brown in “Guns, Booze and Gambling: Sinful Stocks for a Recession-Proof Portfolio.”
Brown asked Sullivan if the vice industries-focused fund was considering adding any new sin stocks.
Here’s Sullivan’s response:
I’d consider video games an addiction. Apple products too. We’ve actually gone through and asked, is Apple a vice stock?
So, is it?
I asked tech experts, sin stock specialists, and a Jesuit priest.
What’s a sin stock?
The Vice Fund concentrates on four sectors: alcohol, tobacco, gaming, and weapons/defense. Investopedia defines a “sinful stock” as “Stock from companies that are associated with (or are directly involved in) activities that are widely considered to be unethical or immoral.” More broadly, vice industries tend to have higher barriers to entry, may or may not produce products that are harmful or addictive, and could have complex legal and tax issues.
The way investor James Altucher sees it, Apple is a “spice stock,” somewhere between a vice stock and not.
“I would not think of [Apple] as a vice fund, but I certainly use the iPad as an escape, so it depends on how we define vice,” Altucher says in an email. “Although I guess the best thing would be if I just meditated on planes, instead of played Temple Run the entire time.”
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