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Shareholder Values

"Forty-five percent of U.S. households prefer an environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach to investing… Among those between the ages of 30 and 39, this increases to 64%, and for those younger than 30, it is 67%."
-- Cerulli Associates
    October 2018

"The vast majority of Canadian investors are interested in responsible investments (RI) that incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and they would be more likely to choose responsible investments if their financial advisor suggested suitable RI options for them."
-- Responsible
    Association (RIA)
    June 2017

"70% of people [in UK] want to invest ethically but the financial services industry is failing to respond." Referencing research by Abundance.
-- Acquisition
(UK) June 2015


 Ethical Investing News/Commentaries: July 2008


Commentaries by Ron Robins

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Investors With $1.5 Trillion In Investments Ask US Senate To Extend Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Tax Credits. - [COMMENTARY] The current tax credit regime is set to expire at the end of this year and has been helpful in promoting renewable energy projects throughout the US. "In the letter [to the US Senate], investors cite a February 2008 study by the Navigant consulting firm that a failure to enact these tax credit extensions will result in the loss of more than 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in investment in 2009 in the solar and wind energy industries alone... Congress will support the continued development of 42,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects in 45 states equivalent to the capacity of 75 electric power plants by extending these tax credits."

It is unfortunate that governments everywhere prop up carbon-based industries. These run the gamut from tax deductions, tax incentives, and numerous other support programmes, both direct and indirect. Try adding to oil costs the US war/defence expenditures of its Middle East activities to safeguard oil supplies, and then see what a barrel of oil would cost! If it were a true even playing field, renewables, even without incentives, would be quite competitive.
Investors with $1.5 Trillion in Assets Call on Congress to Extend Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Tax Credits, press release by Ceres, July 29, 2008, USA.

Watson Wyatt Report Sees ESG As One Of Six Major Investment Trends In Next Five Years. - [COMMENTARY] ESG - environmental, social and governance - issues are coming to the fore, as they must, for properly assessing investment opportunities and obstacles. Analysing companies this way necessitates a long-term focus, something the investment industry does not, by and large, do. This report highly criticizes the industry for its short-termism.
ESG to be one of six major investment trends in next five years: Watson Wyatt, by Hugh Wheelan, July 31, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Investment Professionals Vote ESG As Preferred Term. - [COMMENTARY] "‘AXA Investment Managers and AQ Research have announced the results of a survey in which over 350 global investment professionals took part... ESG′ and ‘sustainability′ emerged as preferred terms associated with integration from a selection of 16 choices... The preference... was consistent in Europe and North America..."
Investment Professionals vote ‘ESG′ and ‘Sustainability′ as top descriptions, July 31, 2008, Accountability-Central.com, USA.

Pax Funds Fined $500,000 By US Securities & Exchange Commission For Failing To Abide By Their Own Investment Screens. - [COMMENTARY] "Pax World had violated the funds′ SRI restrictions which prohibited them from buying securities of companies that derived revenue from the manufacture of alcohol or gambling products; or derived more than 5% of their revenue from contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense or failed to satisfy the funds′ environmental or labor standards, the filing said." Though not stated, it is likely that the pressure to perform for short term goals could be a factor. Most fund managers are measured for their short term performance, even though their investors have a supposed long-term horizon. The average US mutual fund has over a 100% turnover of its holdings each year! Hopefully, as consciousness rises, both investors and investment managers will move to a longer-term focus and such misdeeds will be less.
Pax World, SEC settle non-SRI charge, by Barry B. Burr, July 31, 2008, Pensions & Investments, USA.

Ethical Investing Groups Seek End To Tar Sands & Other Unconventional Oil Production. - [COMMENTARY] "Shell, BP and other oil companies at the centre of the tar sands revolution in Canada are facing a backlash from the Co-operative [UK] and other members of the ethical investment community determined to bring a halt to these operations for environmental reasons." This has the potential to be big. Investors in these companies will have to watch these developments closely. Personally, investing in carbon related industries is something I have always avoided because of their environmental consequences.
Oil: Campaigners seek an end to production of CO2-intensive ’unconventional fuels,’ by Terry Macalister, July 29, 2008, The Guardian, UK.

Eating Less Meat & Junk Food Could Cut Fossil Energy Use By Half. - [COMMENTARY] David Pimentel and colleagues at Cornell University, New York, suggest that: 1) Americans eat less as they already consume over 30% more calories than they need; 2) reduce meat and junk food consumption; 3) move to traditional organic farm production; and 4) improvements to food processing, packaging and distribution that are known to reduce energy requirements. I expect these things to happen in the years ahead. Though it might be tricky to do, finding companies that benefit from these trends could be among the best stocks that are good to invest in over the medium to longer term. It is an area that many ethical investors might want to discuss with their advisors.
Eating Less Meat And Junk Food Could Cut Fossil Energy Fuel Use Almost In Half, July 24, 2008, ScienceDaily, USA.

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Now Has 200 Companies In Its Climate Leaders Program. - [COMMENTARY] "EPA’s Climate Leaders represent more than ten percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and have pledged to prevent estimated GHG emissions equivalent to nine million cars annually... Climate Leaders, launched in 2002, is a voluntary program that works with companies to measure greenhouse gas emissions and to set aggressive long-term emissions reduction goals" Many of the companies in their program are among the most environmentally conscious major corporations in the USA.
EPA Climate Leaders Now 200 Partners Strong, Eight Companies Establish New Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals, press release, July 24, 2008, Environmental Protection Agency, USA.

SustainableBusiness Lists Their Top 20 Global Sustainable Businesses. - [COMMENTARY] If you are looking for sustainable stocks that are good to invest in, this is a list you might want to look at. Always get help with investing from a qualified professional.
SB20: The World’s Top Sustainable Business Stocks, July 25, 2008, SustainableBusiness.com, USA.

Australia’s RepuTex Rates Carbon Emissions of Companies In The S&P ASX300 index. - [COMMENTARY] The most highly rated companies in their analysis include Babcock & Brown Wind, Arrow Energy, Queensland Gas Company and Sims Group. The rating of an individual company’s carbon emissions is becoming mainstream. However, the rating techniques themselves still need to be standardized.
The potential of Australia’s top 300 companies to thrive in a low carbon economy has been assessed by market analysts, by David Gibbs, July 22, 2008, edie.net, UK.

Are US Organic Food Sales Slowing? - [COMMENTARY] According to an article in the Progressive Grocer, "... aggregate consumer use of organics dropped four percentage points from 73 percent of the population buying organics in 2006, to 69 percent in 2008." The article provides a number of reasons why a ’bump’ in the road of organic sales is occurring now.
Signs Show Possible Bump in Road for Organics Sales: Hartman Study, July 24, 2008, Progressive Grocer, USA.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Becoming Mainstream In Europe. - [COMMENTARY] "With 2007 net sales of €9.3bn accounting for 10pc of total European [fund] sales, SRI funds are rapidly moving from niche to mainstream, Lipper Feri reports." Continental Europe had been lagging the UK in buying ethical stocks and bonds. It seems they are catching the ethical investing wave now as well.
European SRI moving from niche to mainstream, by Rob Kingsbury, July 24, 2008, Professional Advisor, UK.

Guide Launched For Faith Groups On Influencing Corporate Behaviour. - [COMMENTARY] The Guide is co-sponsored by The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), responsible investment specialists EIRIS and Ethical Screening. "[It] aims to support church members, faith communities and other responsible investors in influencing companies on the basis of Christian and ethical values."
Investment and Engaging with Companies: A Guide for Faith Communities, July 23, 2008, The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), UK.

Summer Issue of GreenMoney Journal Offers Great Insights Into Organic Food Marketplace. - [COMMENTARY] Cliff Feigenbaum, founder and publisher of the GreenMoney Journal has done an excellent job in analysing the American organic food industry. As this industry grows there will be more and more opportunities for individual ethical investors to participate in companies associated with this industry.
The Organic Marketplace: From Food, Fashion and Flowers to the Future of Farming, by Cliff Feigenbaum, July 23, 2008, GreenMoney Journal, USA.

SHARE Reports On Its Company Engagement Activities In Canada.  - [COMMENTARY] The report covers SHARE’s initiatives with 87 Canadian companies, many from the resource extractive industries. The advantage of using corporate social responsibility is increasingly being seen by companies as necessary to expand their operations and as a means to show that their stocks are good to invest in.
Shareholder engagement report, Q2/08, Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE), July 23, 2008, Canada.

Sustainability Reporting By S&P 100 Companies Makes Great Gains Between 2005-2007. - [COMMENTARY] "More than half of the United States′ 100 largest publicly traded companies now report on their sustainability efforts, and more than a third now incorporate elements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines... " This is great news. I still say however, that for public companies there should be standardized environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. Furthermore, these reports should be independently audited too! Only then can investors and other stakeholders be really convinced that what is being presently is honest and comparable across companies and industries.
Sustainability reporting by S&P 100 Companies made major advances from 2005-2007, July 17, 2008, Sustainable Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), USA.

Study Of US Car Market Says Consumers Want More Green Cars. - [COMMENTARY] "In the 2008 Alternative Powertrain Study, J.D. Power has found that 30 percent of consumers think U.S. automakers should structure their vehicle lineups ’with a focus on hybrid-electric, clean diesel, and flexible fuel vehicles’ and 39 percent think the automakers should invest more on emerging powertrain technologies... 62 percent of consumers are considering a hybrid vehicle, up from 50 percent last year." Clearly, U.S. consumers are now realizing the implications of Peak (dirty) Oil.
J.D. Power study says consumers want more green investment from automakers, by Zach Gale, July 16, 2008, Motor Trend, USA.

London’s EIRIS Releases Study On Climate Change Reporting By The 300 Largest Companies In The FTSE All World Index. - [COMMENTARY] This study is worthwhile reading for all investors. How companies deal with their climate change issues will likely have a significant bearing on their long-term stock prices. Environmentally conscious major corporations may well lead in investment returns in the years ahead.
The state we′re in: global corporate response to climate change and the implications for investors, July 15, 2008, Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS), UK.

Will Wind Power Investments Succeed? - [COMMENTARY] A highly provocative study on Danish wind power says wind power may not live-up to our expectations. Any green or ethical investor invested in energy should review and assess these findings for themselves. I have always supported wind and solar power. However, I now have more questions to ask about it. Perhaps the ’holy-grail’ for these energies will be to find an efficient and effective way to store their energy.
Wind turbine marketers are full of hot air, by Neil Reynolds, July 11, 2008, The Globe & Mail, Canada.

The UK’s Business In The Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index Provides Useful Insight On CSR In UK & International Companies. - [COMMENTARY] "Since 2002, when it was launched, 280 of the largest companies in Britain have measured themselves via the index. It is in essence no more than a benchmarking tool that allows companies to assess their performance on Corporate Social Responsibility, discover their strengths and weaknesses, and compare themselves to peers... Over the past year alone, 126 companies participated."
Measuring how companies shape the world, by Ross Tieman, July 8, 2008, FT.com, UK. If you are looking for ethical stocks that are good to invest in, you might want to review the findings shown here: Latest CR Index Results, Business in the Community, UK.

G8 Communiqué "We recognize and commend efforts by private businesses for undertaking socially responsible investments. We will encourage good corporate governance practices." - [COMMENTARY] It is promising to see that even our top political leaders recognize the increasing importance of socially responsible investing.
World Economy, document, press release, July 8, 2008, Hokkaido Toyako Summit, Japan.

Mercer Survey Says 99% Of Responding Investment Analysts Use ESG In Their Analysis, Though Only 23% Label Themselves As SRI Investors. - [COMMENTARY]  ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors are now clearly in the minds of investment analysts, whether they be SRI (socially responsible investors) or not. Mercer continues excellent work in promoting and assessing what is happening in the investment world concerning these matters.
ESG ratings of fund managers - a step closer towards the mainstreaming of ESG integration, by Danyelle Guyatt, July 4, 2008, Mercer.

Ceres Addresses UN & SEC On Environmental Investments; Member Companies Investing $10 billion In Renewables. - [COMMENTARY] This article provides insight into the role Ceres is now playing in promoting environmental investment.
Ceres: the US investor coalition advising the UN, lobbying the SEC and investing $10bn in renewables, by Hugh Wheelan, July 8, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Sharia Banking: New Entrants Include Canada’s Royal Bank. - [COMMENTARY] This interesting review article also discusses the significant role and impact of Muslim scholars on Islamic banking.
RBC plans to enter Islamic finance market, by Sonia Verma, July 7, 2008, The Globe & Mail, Canada.

Green Stock Exchange To Be Launched This Summer. - [COMMENTARY] "The Green Stock Exchange (GREENSX) is the first social stock exchange in North America. We are ’empowering earth friendly and humanity friendly businesses ’, such as social businesses (also called social benefit organizations)." Such an exchange will certainly be of interest to all socially responsible and ethical investors. It will be well worth watching!
The Green Stock Exchange, USA.

ASSET4 Study Confirms Difficulty Of Funds Integrating Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Factors Due To Short Term Bias. - [COMMENTARY] "European pension funds are having trouble integrating long-term environmental, social and governance factors into their investment portfolios because of their asset managers′ and consultants′ focus on the short term, according to a survey published by Swiss ESG researcher ASSET4 and Germany′s Federal Environment Ministry." Such a bias may well harm long-term results. Pension and fund holders need to question their fund managers on this topic and re-negotiate their terms of engagement.
Short-term focus thwarts Europe plans′ SRI, July 4, 2008, Pensions & Investments, USA.

Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Société Générale Named Best Providers Of Extra-Financial Issues (EFIs) By The Enhanced Analytics Initiative (EAI). - [COMMENTARY] Extra-financial issues include environmental, social and governance factors. "The 30-member EAI initiative collectively owns or manages around €2 trillion (US$3trn) of assets."
Citi, Goldman and SocGen top for ESG research commissions, says EAI,
by Hugh Wheelan, July 3, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Trading Screens To Incorporate Real Time Environmental, Social & Governance Ratings/Information. - [COMMENTARY] "ASSET4 and France′s OpenSRI launch on-line ESG research products... ASSET4, the Swiss sustainability research house, has combined corporate ESG (environmental, social and governance) and financial data into one trading screen it says can be used alongside existing financial screens such as Bloomberg and Reuters..." Apparently, Bloomberg is also testing such a combined screen. These developments are revolutionary for investment professionals and will likely mean tremendous growth in the use of ESG factors for stock and bond analysis. This is a very welcome development.
Info providers launch real-time corporate ESG rankings, by Hugh Wheelan, July 3, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

UN Environmental Programme Says New Investment In Sustainable Energy Up 60% In 2007 From 2006. - [COMMENTARY] The total came to $148 billion for 2007. "Wind energy again attracted the most investment ($50.2 billion in 2007), but solar power grew most rapidly attracting some $28.6 billion of new capital and growing at an average annual rate of 254% since 2004, driven by the advent of larger project financings... Most of the new money flowed into Europe, followed by the USA. However, China, India and Brazil draw growing investor interest, their share of new investment growing from 12% in 2004 to 22% in 2007, an increase in absolute terms of 14 times, from $1.8 billion to $26 billion." Wind power is seen as competitive in many countries and solar power rates are coming down fast too. However, discerning the green stocks that are good to invest in is a great challenge.
Clean Energy Investments Charge Forward Despite Financial Market Turmoil, July 1, 2008, press release, United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya.

Greenpeace Produces Its New Greener Electronics Guide. - [COMMENTARY] Sony Ericsson and Sony rank highest; Microsoft and Nintendo rank lowest. If you are looking for the best socially responsible stocks to invest in among the electronics companies, this will be a good place to get some ideas.
Story: Green Electronics Scores Fall as Greenpeace Adds Criteria, July 2, 2008, GreenBiz, USA. See actual guide at: Guide to Greener Electronics.

US Graduating MBAs Say They Want To Work For Companies With Good Corporate Social Responsibility Programs. - [COMMENTARY] "A survey of 759 graduating MBAs at 11 top business schools reveals that the future business leaders rank corporate social responsibility high on their list of values, and they are willing to sacrifice a significant part of their salaries to find an employer whose thinking is in synch with their own... The study by David Montgomery and Catherine Ramus of UC Santa Barbara examines the tradeoffs students are willing to make when selecting a potential employer." Clearly, for companies, one of the advantages of using corporate social responsibility is in attracting and retaining the best workers. Companies with the best CSR programs usually prove to be the most profitable as well.
Challenging Work and Corporate Responsibility Will Lure MBA Grads, by Bill Snyder, June, 2008, Stanford Graduate School of Business News, USA.

Mainstream Fund Managers Vary Widely In Socially Responsible Investing Competencies. - [COMMENTARY] A new report by RImetrics  "Responsible Investment 2008," shows that more and more mainstream fund managers are accepting environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as important in evaluating companies. However, their competencies in conducting such analysis vary widely. There will be a learning curve for mainstream fund managers in integrating ESG factors in their company evaluations, but the fact that they see ESG becoming increasingly important bodes well for investing generally.
Mainstream Fund Managers Vary Widely on Social Responsibility, by Anne Moore Odell, July 1, 2008, SocialFunds.com, USA.

Swiss Bank, Pictet, Says Socially Responsible Companies Have Less Of A Carbon Footprint. - [COMMENTARY] "Pictet claims a socially responsible global equities portfolio would have carbon emissions 40% below those of a portfolio indexed to the MSCI global equities index." I have tried to get hold of the actual study, but have only this reference. Still, it is interesting reading.
Pictet measures “extra-financial” returns from socially responsible investing, July 1, 2008, Wealth-Bulletin, UK.

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Disclaimer: This website does not make investment recommendations. Nothing in this site should be interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation to buy/sell any securities or investments. Investing for the Soul is a source of general information and resources for ethical investing and socially responsible investing (SRI). Investors should consider their actions thoroughly and consult their financial advisers and other professionals, prior to taking any investment action. This website does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in articles on its pages or offered on the web pages to which it might be linked. Such opinions are the responsibility of the writers themselves. Furthermore, this site 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 on this, or other sites, to which it is linked. Also, Mr. Ron Robins is not an investment advisor, nor is he licensed with any professional investment related body, and thus is not able to, nor does he make, any investment recommendations.


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