E-newsletter of Investing for the Soul                                 November 29, 2008

 

Ron Robins, Editor. E-mail /705-635-3034            Latest news at: www.investingforthesoul.com

Top ethical investing news for November 2008

Books                                                                                  Subscribe/Unsubscribe 

News & Commentaries

Links may only be valid a limited time                            Commentaries by Ron Robins  

Updated Greenpeace Guide To Greener Electronics. - [COMMENTARY] The 'greenest' top four electronics companies according to their report are: Nokia, Sony Ericson, Toshiba and Samsung. If you are looking for green-electronics stocks that are good to invest in, this Greenpeace ranking is a good place to start.
Guide to greener electronics, November 2008, Greenpeace.

FORTUNE & AccountAbility List Their Top Ten Companies. - [COMMENTARY] "Fortune partnered with AccountAbility, Csrnetwork and Asset4 to rank the world's 100 largest corporations by the quality of their commitment to social and environmental goals." The ten companies that most understand and utilize the advantages of using corporate social responsibility, according to this analysis, are: Vodafone, General Electric, HSBC, France Telecom, HBOS, Nokia, EDF, Suez, BP, and Royal Dutch/Shell.
10 most 'accountable' big companies, November 14, 2008, FORTUNE, USA.

UK Journalist Ruth Sunderland Lists Her Best & Worst Companies In Guardian Newspaper. - [COMMENTARY] Always insightful, this annual review is worth looking at for anyone interested in ethical investing. It comprises a series of articles.
The Observer Good Companies Guide, by Ruth Sunderland, November 16, 2008, The Observer, UK. (On list, go to her November 16, 2008, articles.)

World Bank Begins To Issue Environmental Bonds. - [COMMENTARY] "The bond is the first product of a wider Bank effort, in collaboration with large institutional investors, to direct large-scale institutional money to tackling climate change. The Bank has raised around
$300 million in Swedish krona-denominated six-year bonds, sold by Swedish bank SEB to Scandinavian institutional investors."
Many groups around the world are advocating for such bonds and socially conscious banks everywhere are likely to begin issuing them.
World Bank issues first ‘green’ bond, November 12, 2008, Environmental Finance, UK.

Heated Debate About Shariah Finance Continues In US. - [COMMENTARY] Advocates speak of Shariah finance as a form of ethical investing. Opponents are concerned that it could be controlled by, as well as provide financing to, terrorist organizations. Shariah finance now involves about $1 trillion in assets and growing by as much as 15% a year. It is now a force to be reckoned with and both the UK and USA authorities want their respective financial markets to be open to it.
U.S. Interest in Shariah Finance Opens Dangerous Doors, Critics Say, November 13, 2008, Fox News, USA.

Switzerland's Bank Sarasin Confirms Positive Impact Of Sustainability On Share Performance. - [COMMENTARY] "Based on data provided by Bank Sarasin, statistical analyses performed by the Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Zurich (CCRS) in cooperation with the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) Mannheim, Germany, confirm that sustainable investment is a winning strategy." Sustainability has definitely become a key component in the ethical stocks and bonds paradigm.
Green investing proves a winning strategy - study, by Martin de Sa'Pinto, November 13, 2008, Reuters, Switzerland.

EIRIS Report Finds Most Large Companies Fail To Understand & Account For Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Risks. - [COMMENTARY] "The report categorizes companies according to risk in the areas of human rights, labor standards in the supply chain, environment, climate change, and bribery and corruption. With the exception of management of environmental risks, in which over 50% of high-impact companies demonstrated a good management response, high-risk companies have largely failed to mitigate risks in any area."

It seems that the boards of many companies still have their heads in the sand. I believe that as our financial system evolves with ESG factors and the evolution of corporate social responsibility reporting become increasingly important to analysts and investors, corporate boards will need to get more engaged to understand their full risk profile. Otherwise, investors will price-in those indeterminate risks and the company's stock price suffers!
Report Finds That Most Corporations Fail to Address Risks That Threaten Long-Term Profitability, November 12, 2008, by Robert Kropp, SocialFunds, USA. For actual report: The State of Responsible Business in 2008: Implications for PRI signatories, October 2008, EIRIS, UK.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) To Thrive Under Obama--Survey. -
[COMMENTARY]
"... nearly nine out of 10 survey respondents believe U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama will have a positive impact on advancing the corporate responsibility agenda." A few weeks ago I carried a link to a study that found CSR flourishes more under Democratic administrations than Republican ones. This obviously seems to be believed by US business leaders today.
Nearly 9 Out of 10 Business Leaders Believe U.S. President-Elect Obama will Help Advance the Corporate Responsibility Agenda, press release, November 10, 2008, Business for Social Responsibility, USA.

FairPensions Says F&C, Insight, Hermes, and Aviva Investors Lead In UK Responsible Investment Practices. - [COMMENTARY] "The bottom five, starting with the poorest ESG performer, were Credit Suisse, Artemis, Scottish Widows, State Street and Goldman Sachs. FairPensions said bottom of the table managers often gave no indication of any coherent approach to ESG and some failed to meet industry best practices such as the UK combined code on corporate governance." This is an extremely insightful look into responsible investment policies and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as they are dealt with among UK investment firms.
ESG improvements, but ‘striking’ disparity between best and worst UK managers: FairPensions, by Hugh Wheelan, November 10, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK. Click here for asset managers rankings. And for the FairPensions Investor Responsibility report, UK.

Survey Says Bank Bailouts Significantly Increasing 'Moral Hazard.' - [COMMENTARY]
"The global response to the credit crisis has actively encouraged moral hazard – the belief that financial services companies will take more risk if they think that governments will step in and bail them out – according to 64% of respondents from the institutional investment industry to a survey by the Network for Sustainable Financial Markets (NSFM)... As a result, just 7% of the investment specialists who answered the open survey during October said they believed the response to the crisis should come from government."

These are fascinating results representing the views of investment professionals in the green/ethical investing industry. They certainly contrast markedly with those of the mainstream financial elites who begged for government bail-outs!
Bank chiefs more responsible for credit crisis than governments: investor survey, by Hugh Wheelan, November 10, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Citi Investment Research, Société Générale, and Cheuvreux, Rated Tops In Europe For Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Research. - [COMMENTARY] "The [Thomson Reuters Extel/UKSIF 2008 Socially Responsible Investing & Sustainability Survey]... is considered an industry benchmark in European buy-side and sell-side developments, represents the views of over 300 investment professionals from 19 countries."
Thomson Reuters Extel names Europe’s best SRI research and fund management houses, November 6, 2008, by Hugh Wheelan, Responsible Investor, UK.

United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment Sees Big Funds Signing-Up To It's Six Principles. - [COMMENTARY] "In the past month alone, owners representing more than $1,500bn (£914bn, €1,160bn) of assets have signed up to the six principles of better long-term equity ownership, bringing the total above $18,000bn." Increasingly, huge institutional investors are backing ethical investing principles. This will make ethical stocks and bonds even more attractive over the long term.
Investors sign up to a better world, by Sophia Grene, November 2, 2008, FT.com, UK. (Site may require you to sign-up for free subscription.)

KPMG Says US Companies Issuing Sustainability Reports Have Doubled Since 2005. - [COMMENTARY] "Of the top 100 U.S. companies by revenue, 74 percent published corporate responsibility (CR) information in 2008 either as part of their annual financial report or as a separate document, up from 37 percent in KPMG International’s 2005 research. Globally, 80 percent of the Global Fortune 250 companies now release CR data, up from 64 percent in the last KPMG International analysis in 2005." Apparently, the primary driver behind companies issuing sustainability reports is ethics! In 2005, economics was the driver. If you have not done so, I recommend you read my editorial, We Need Mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reporting.
KPMG Analysis Shows Number of U.S. Companies Reporting Sustainability Data Has Doubled Since 2005, October 27, 2008, KPMG, USA.

New Book Release

Investing in a Sustainable World: Why GREEN Is the New Color of Money on Wall Street, by Matthew J. Kiernan, AMACON 2008
"Investing in a Sustainable World offers clear proof, through facts, figures, and hard documentation, that 'going green' leads directly to better stock market performance...and that investors and companies who ignore it will, in fact, lose money."—Book description.

Note: Articles are linked to the original source. Some sites may require registration, and may, or may not, archive stories. All links were active at the time of publication.

Disclaimer: Neither The Soul Investor nor Ron Robins make investment recommendations. Nothing in this newsletter should be interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation to buy/sell any securities or investments. The Soul Investor is a source of general information and resources for spiritual investing, ethical investing, and socially responsible investing (SRI). Investors should consider their actions thoroughly and consult their professional advisers prior to taking any investment action. The Soul Investor does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in articles in its newsletter or offered on the web pages to which it might be linked. Such opinions are the responsibility of the writers themselves. Furthermore, The Soul Investor does not offer or provide any warranties, representations, guarantees, implied or otherwise, as to the accuracy, legality, copyright compliance, timeliness or usefulness of the information, materials or services in this e-newsletter, or other sites, to which it might be linked.

The Soul Investor is a publication of Investing for the Soul, a registered business name in Ontario, Canada. Copyright © 2008 Ron Robins. All rights reserved.