WASHINGTON. — Barack Obama might seem an unlikely investor in the firearms industry. But the US president, a fierce advocate for gun regulation, has money in a pension fund that holds stock in gun and ammunition companies.
Although Obama’s stake is minuscule, worth no more than $30, it reflects a much larger surge of investment.
The president is among millions of Americans buying into gun companies — often unwittingly — as mutual funds have increased such holdings to record levels, according to a Reuters analysis of institutional investment in firearms companies.
Since Obama was elected in 2009, mutual funds have raised their stakes to about $510 million from $30 million in the nation’s two largest gun manufacturers with publicly traded shares, Smith & Wesson Corp and Sturm, Ruger & Co. That means such stocks are now common in retirement and college savings plans.
The influx has helped to boost both companies’ shares by more than 750 percent during the Obama presidency; each now has a market value of about $1 billion.
Beyond mutual funds, such investments also are held in the portfolios of hedge funds and public pension plans, which are harder to track.
The White House declined to comment on Obama’s holdings in the Illinois General Assembly’s pension plan, which he earned while serving in that state’s senate.
The president has disclosed between $50 000 and $100 000 in the plan.
Other indirect investors in firearms companies include advocates for gun regulation in the US Congress and several parents of children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut — site of the 2012 massacre of 20 students and six staff members.
Fund managers are drawn to the stocks by surging sales. Buyers are arming themselves, analysts said, in response to mass shootings and calls for tougher gun laws.
By the end of 2015, more than 150 mutual funds owned Smith & Wesson shares, up from 53 at the end of 2008, and nearly 130 held stock in Ruger, up from 52, according to data from Morningstar Inc. — Reuters.