February 19, 2021
With Black History Month drawing to a close, we want to highlight some of the publicly traded companies that are either majority Black-owned, were founded by an African-American, or led by a Black leadership team. While this list is a fairly short one, there are approximately 2 million Black-owned businesses across the country that collectively employ about 920,000 people. Some 30% of these ventures are owned by Black women.
These Black enterprises often create opportunities in communities often overlooked by banks and big companies and investors. Some manage to attract investment capital, scale up and eventually go public with shares trading on the major American exchanges. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Axsome Therapeutics, Inc. (Tii:AXSM)
Founded and led by Dr. Herriot Tabuteau, an African-American M.D. who earned his Doctorate from Yale University School of Medicine and his Bachelor of Arts in molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan University, Axsome Therapeutics is a pre-commercial stage biopharmaceutical company. Axsome develops novel therapies for the management of central nervous system disorders for which there are limited treatment options. These therapies treat major depressive disorder, migraines, fibromyalgia, and narcolepsy. The expected approval of two new drug therapies that will hit the market later in 2021 could create a $9 billion global market opportunity for the company while helping people who suffer from agitation caused by Alzheimer’s Disease and major depressive disorder.
Carver Bancorp, Inc. (Tii:CARV)
Historically, the big-name banks would avoid investing in black communities, opting to open branches in more affluent white neighborhoods and engaging in redlining and other discriminatory lending practices. Founded in 1948 by M. Moran Weston, an African-American Episcopal priest, Carver Federal Savings Bank was created primarily to help Black homeowners obtain first mortgages when other institutions would not approve them. Now one of the largest Black-owned banking institutions (Boston-based OneUnited Bank now holds the distinction of the largest), Carver Bancorp continues to provide banking products and services to Black communities that remain underserved by other traditional banks. The Treasury Department has named Carver Bancorp as a Community Development Financial Institution for its work in servicing underserved people.
Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (Tii:GBT)
GBT is working to discover, develop and deliver life-changing treatments for people living with grievous blood-based disorders, starting with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease affects millions of people worldwide. It is particularly common among those whose ancestors came from sub-Saharan Africa, occurring among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births. Founded in 2011 and led by President and CEO Ted W. Love, M.D., GBT’s medicine is the first treatment approved by the FDA to target an underlying cause of sickle cell disease. The company is currently developing additional investigational therapies.
RLJ Lodging Trust (Tii:RLJ)
Founded by African-American billionaire Robert L. Johnson, RLJ Lodging Trust is a real estate investment company that, like most in the lodging industry, is currently facing challenges from the pandemic. With 103 hotels in its portfolio that includes Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place, Residence Inn by Marriott, and Wyndham, RLJ Lodging reported revenues of $319 million for the first nine months of 2020, compared with $1.03 billion for the same period in 2019. Unsurprisingly, the revenue decline was a result of shuttered locations throughout part of the pandemic. However, by the end of RLJ’s third quarter, 93% of the portfolio was operational. The company will report financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year after the markets close on February 25, 2021.
Urban One, Inc. (Tii:UONE)
Urban One is probably one of the most well-known media, broadcasting and publishing companies aimed at the Black community. Formerly known as Radio One, the company was founded by prominent African-American entrepreneur Cathy Hughes and now consists of 53 radio stations, a cable channel, digital media operations, and a news channel. Last month the company raised its estimated 2020 consolidated adjusted EBITDA from $125-$130 million to $137-$139 million. The estimated results represent an increase of 2.6%-4.1% year over year. While not immune to the pandemic’s economic fallout, the company’s resiliency and strong viewership still make it the top media company to distribute content to its predominately Black audience.
While there remain very few public companies to highlight this Black History Month, the spending power of this community -- estimated at $1.3 trillion in the 2018 Multicultural Economy Report from the University of Georgia – may well give rise to more Black-owned public companies in the future.