Barack Obama arrived in Havana, Cuba Sunday, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to visit the country in 88 years. President Obama hopes to influence the Communist government of Cuba to grant more freedom to its people.
Many American companies hope that freedom comes with a yearning for U.S. made products and services. To that end, investors keeping their eye on Cuba might want to watch these 11 stocks representing companies already doing business in the reclusive island-state or planning to do so very soon.
The president’s visit brought with it news that Google plans to bring affordable Wi-Fi access to Cuba. It should be noted that Google’s Wi-Fi offerings in Cuba will be under Alphabet and not directly related to Google Fiber.
In 2015, U.S. issued American Express cards became valid for transactions in Cuba – at least by Americans. Very few Cubans have the ability to use credit cards.
Direct telephone communications between the U.S. and Cuba also got the green light last year when the Cuban State Communications company (ETECSA) first allowed IDT to set up the link.
A limited number of Apple products and software were offered for sale as of early 2015, raising speculation that an Apple presence was coming soon. Apple has not, so far, confirmed any plans to open an Apple store in the country.
Despite the fact few Cubans have Internet access and broadband is almost unknown, Netflix began offering its service last year. Of course, if Google (mentioned above) makes headway, Netflix’s early arrival may turn out to be a stroke of genius.
MasterCard joined American Express in agreeing to process U.S. credit card transaction in Cuba in 2015. To date only non-U.S. banks are involved.
Tyson began doing business in Cuba 16 years ago. The company’s frozen chicken makes up a large chunk of the $350 million in farm products sold to Cuba by U.S. agri-business each year.
Carnival is just one of several Caribbean cruise lines that hunger for a chance to make Havana a regular port of call. The company aims to get a head start with “cultural exchange” cruises recently approved by Cuban authorities.
Already the largest foreign airline in Cuba, Copa stands to gain rapidly as flights are added to the 6 daily visits the company already makes to the island.
Although many U.S. companies have maintained a “wait and see” attitude, Sprint is not one of them. Sprint negotiated and signed an agreement with Cuba’s Etecsa in 2015, adding an agreement on roaming services shortly thereafter.
Just this week Starwood announced it had become the first U.S. hotel company to sign a hotel deal in Cuba in more than half a century. Beating out several other U.S. companies, including Marriott (NYSE:MARC)(which has tried to buy out Starwood), the company signed a deal for three hotels in key locations.