31st July 2012  Investing in Being a Superhero.

What do you need to be a superhero? Military training, a cool alter ego, a dark, brooding personality and about $600 million - $1.6 billion.


Two inforgraphics have been doing the rounds recently, The Cost of Being Batman and The Cost of Being Iron Man. You can argue (or make your own infographic) that Peter Parker needed nowhere near that type of money but unless you are lucky enough to be bitten by some random radiated arachnid this is the type of investment required to get a normal Joe Soap like you and me up to a level where we can fight Norse gods. So what companies are going to benefit when Mr. Freeze eventually breaks out of Arkham Asylum?


The Forbes list of the 25 Largest Fictional Companies places Wayne Enterprises at 11th with $31.3 Billion and Stark Industries in 16th with $20.3 Billion. Both operate broadly in the defence industry and produce a large amount of the gizmos and gadgets their respective owners utilise. However, sometimes even heroes have to go shopping.


I'm going to take it you don't have access to a large forge or a nuclear reactor, so costume design and body armour is going to be along the lines of Batman. The Caped Crusader goes into battle wearing close to $5500 worth of Kevlar Nomex Armour, produced by chemical company DuPont (DD). DuPont have developed a number of important, and famous, polymers such as Teflon, nylon and Lycra. The company recently revealed a slight drop in second quarter earnings of $1.25 per share compared to $1.29 for the same period last year and saw sales growth of 7% to $11 billion. They expect full year earnings of around $4.20, up from $3.93 last year.


All of Batman's vehicles are built by the Applied Sciences Division of Wayne Enterprises but see if you can hire some engineers from Textron (TXT) or The Boeing Company (BA) who produce the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, "the closest thing to a real life Bat Wing". Textron's second quarter earnings doubled from 2011 to $0.58 per share and Boeing has raised its forecast after strong sales.


Master Wayne again relies mainly in house for his weaponry; if you put in an order for "Bat Shaped Throwing Stars" you've pretty much given up the gig. A number of his items are produced by private companies, such as Digital Force Technologies who produce a rather large T-PLS grappling hook launcher. FLIR Systems (FLIR) manufacture and market thermal imaging systems and are currently suffering a drop in revenue. They could do with you dropping them $15k for a thermal camera.


While Wayne Enterprises outstrips Stark Industries in terms of revenue stakes are reversed in terms of personal wealth. The Forbes Top 15 Fictional Rich List from 2011 puts Tony Stark in 6th with $9.4 Billion and you too will want to play the part of "genius billionaire playboy philanthropist". Amongst a spate of more typical cars the Stark garage houses a Tesla Roadster seen in Iron Man 2. Tesla Motors (TSLA) produce electric cars and recently announced a drop in revenue in the second quarter. Tesla has assured sceptical analysts it will sell 5000 of its new Model S sedans by the end of the year. A number of big names around Silicon Valley, where the company is based, drive Tesla cars and George Clooney will auction his 2008 Roadster for charity.


There is of course a cheaper, non-lethal (read "boring") route to go down by following real-world would be heroes' such as Phoenix Jones who patrols the crime ridden streets of Seattle, Washington. He suffers the same problems that Spiderman often suffers; trying to do good while being viewed as a criminal by law-enforcement. He also has the added disadvantage of not having any superpowers. Thus he has to rely on brawn and weapons.


Jones is sometimes seen breaking up fights with pepper-spray. Mace Security International (MACE) first developed its famous pepper spray in 1965 but the company, who've had numerous owners including Smith & Wesson (SWHC) has recently moved to delist from the stock exchange. If pepper spray fails why not drive a few thousand volts through the perp? TASER international (TASR) produces various models of its famous electroshock weapon including a Taser round which can be fired from a 12 gauge shotgun! Taser saw second quarter sales jump 33% from the same period last year on strong law-enforcement and international demand. Two orders in Europe recently totalled $1.29 million. To help keep your crime fighting skills in top condition during your time off you and your sidekick can take up the beautiful and graceful sport of Taser or Tak Ball.


So, you can blind and you can electrocute...what else do you need? Ah yes, tear gas! London Stock Exchange floated Westminster Group (WSG), through its subsidiary Longmoor Security, produces and provides tear gas and CS gas for companies such as the BBC.


If we manage to add some of these companies to our portfolio we may profit the next time an evil super genius bent on taking over the city stalks the streets of Seattle. The truly Machiavellian amongst us however will buy up large holdings in these companies and then have our minions descend upon the Emerald City to cause havoc, knowing full well they will never succeed but that Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement will fight them in the name of justice, bolstering our stock positions, giving us the money we need for our true nefarious plans...



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