Fidel's Out, Investors In?  He Thinks So

Andrew Fisher

News that Fidel Castro plans to step down as Cuba's head of state after nearly half a century in power raises more questions than it answers.

Will things really change that much, with Castro's brother assuming power and Fidel holding onto the leadership of the Communist party?

How much of a chance is there that the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba will be lifted?

Castro Steps Aside

While investors wait for answers, there are ways to play Cuba right now.  No one knows better than Tom Herzfeld, a veteran investor in the region through his Caribbean Basin Fund


The fund surged on the news.

"It's a significant development," Herzfeld told CNBC.  "It's, I think, a step closer to resumption of U.S. trade with Cuba."

Fund components that gained sharply include maritime freight companies like Trailer Bridge

and Seaboard, and cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

"We've been shifting our portfolio over the last six months, since Fidel became ill," Herzfeld explained.  "We started shifting the portfolio away from companies that we thought would do well regardless of if the embargo would be lifted to companies which have more of a Cuba focus, and may not necessarily be doing well now."

And Herzfeld is ready for even bigger changes.

"The third phase of our strategy will be direct investment in Cuba, once we're legally free to do so," he said.