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Report shows that vice can pay, at least when investing

Young woman smoking cigarette
David De Lossy | Getty Images

It can pay to take a ride on the wild side, at least when investing.

A new report out from investment app SigFig digs into the demographics behind so-called sin stocks: Investing in the likes of cigarette companies, breweries, casinos and marijuana. It turns out investing in sin can be lucrative.

One in eight investors have bought into sin stocks, according to the report, with 7 percent of investors buying into tobacco companies. Over 2 percent of investors have support marijuana companies; while just under 2 percent of investors go into both casino gambling and alcohol.

Turns out tobacco investors are older and generally live in the South, while investors in a new crop of marijuana companies are twice as likely to live in the New York tri-state area than the cushy hills of California.

And those who buy into tobacco are more committed. The median invested in tobacco is more than $12,000, and 6 percent of an investor's portfolio. The median marijuana investor studied had just $114 tied up with the companies, and just 2 percent of their overall portfolio.

In February, Credit Suisse detailed the performance of a so-called "vice fund," one investing in industries considered "socially irresponsible" by many: tobacco, alcohol, gambling and the defense industry. In the period 1985 to 2006, U.S. sin stocks outperformed non-sin stocks by about 2.5 percent a year, according to a report.

In times of moderate recovery, such as we're in now, people are finding the money to fuel their little demon. Alcohol stocks outperformed the median investor over the past 12 months by four percentage points, according to SigFig's analysis. Booze stocks climbed 11.1 percent over that time, while tobacco stocks puffed up 9.2 percent.

SigFig's report was based on data from 230,000 investors who own at least one stock and have synced their portfolios with SigFig.