Business Insider recently posted an article entitled “Big U.S. Companies You Might Not Know Are Religious” which listed two “Mormon stocks” (or rather stocks founded by Mormons), JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU) and Marriott International Inc (NYSE: MAR), while some further digging revealed other stocks such as Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ: ZION) and Huntsman Corporation (NYSE: HUN). However, its probably safe to say that any company with origins in Utah was probably founded or is run by LDS members while the Salt Lake Tribune/Bloomberg Index has a total of 26 stocks and that index is up 29% since the start of the year and up 48.3% over the past year. I should also point out that there used to be something called the Mormon Stock Index listing companies owned or run by Mormons, but the webpage looks like it has not been updated in over a decade. Moreover, there are urban legends that the Mormon Church owns PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE: PEP) and/or The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) which aren’t true (but the church apparently holds big chunks of stock in these or other publicly traded companies).
With that in mind, might Mormon business practices or perhaps higher rates of investment by the LDS church and its members or maybe even god be helping the investors in Mormon stocks? Here is a quick look at the four mentioned above:
JetBlue Airways Corporation. Known as New York's Hometown Airline™ with other focus cities in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles (Long Beach), San Juan and Orlando, JetBlue Airways Corporation serves 79 cities with 800 daily flights. Business Insider noted that JetBlue Airways Corporation’s founder David Neeleman was featured in a book titled "The Mormon Way Of Doing Business" where he said his missionary experience “obliterated class distinction” for him and that’s why his airline emphasizes customer service. So maybe all airline founders or CEO should be Mormons who have done missionary work. JetBlue Airways Corporation is up 14.7% since the start of the year, up 28.3% over the past year and up 64.9% over the past five years.
Marriott International. A lodging company with more than 3,700 properties in 74 countries and territories worldwide, Marriott International lists its core values as: “put people first, pursue excellence, embrace change, act with integrity and serve our world.” Business Insider noted that Marriott International’s founder John Willard Marriott was a devout Mormon who held leadership positions within the church plus his hotels are known for putting the Book of Mormons along with Bibles in hotel rooms. Moreover, Marriot has recently announced its dropping pay-per-view pornography in its hotel rooms, but not for religious reasons as in-room porn profits have apparently steadily declined because the porn industry has moved online. Marriott International is up 11.9% since the start of the year, up 7.48% over the past year and up 37.7% over the past five years.
Zions Bancorporation. Based in Salt Lake City with its origins dating back to 1873, appropriately named Zions Bancorporation had approximately $55.5 billion in total assets, 10,200 employees and 480 banking offices in ten Western and Southwestern states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington) at the end of last year. No doubt many Mormons are encouraged to do banking with bank named “Zions” whose history is no doubt intertwined with that of the LDS church. Zions Bancorporation is up 29.2% since the start of the year and up 46% over the past year, but its still down 21.8% over the past five years as god probably spared no bank from the housing bubble out West.
Huntsman Corporation. Mitt Romney was not the only Mormon in the last election as Jon Huntsman, Jr, whose father founded Huntsman Corporation, was also a contender in the GOP primaries. Huntsman Corporation is global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals with 2012 revenues of over $11 billion. These chemical products number in the thousands and are sold worldwide plus the company operates more than 75 manufacturing and R&D facilities in 30 countries and has 12,000 employees. Huntsman Corporation is up 15.7% since the start of the year, up 38.6% over the past year and down 14.4% over the past five years.
The Bottom Line. While the above Mormon stocks may not be the market’s best performers, they certainly are far from being the worst and it probably doesn’t hurt to have some biblical influence in the board room or the CEO’s office.