E-newsletter of Investing for the Soul                                February 27, 2011


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

Top ethical investing news for February 2011

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Shareholders In US Companies Have Lodged 360 Resolutions. - [COMMENTARY] "... the As You Sow foundation [reports] nearly 290 proposals are still pending meaning that they will usually go to an  AGM vote. Of the total filed resolutions, 131 are either on environmental issues or requests for sustainability reports. A further 84 cover political contributions. Two other major issues —each with about 45 resolutions—are calls for workplace and corporate board diversity reforms and labour and human rights actions."

Shareholder activism is growing and companies have to be more responsive to their demands.
Shareholders in US companies have lodged 360 resolutions, February 25, 2011, Responsible Investor, UK.

Bloomberg Announces Its Islamic Finance Platform (ISLM) & Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) Sukuk (Bond) Index. - [COMMENTARY] "Today, Bloomberg‘s Professional division announced the launch of a Bloomberg Islamic Finance Platform (ISLM), which will provide tools and services for investors who want to be compliant with Shariah law. It also announced the launch of a Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) sukuk index to provide a benchmark for MYR sovereign sukuk investments, in conjunction with the Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia (AIBIM)."

I have written in The Rise of Islamic Finance about how Bloomberg has aimed to be no. 1 in Islamic finance reporting. Well, this proves it!
Bloomberg Introduces Shariah-Compliant Investment Products, by Teresa Rivasry February 22, 2011, Barron’s, USA.

Resource Companies Concerned About New US SEC Anti-Corruption Rules. - [COMMENTARY] "Western energy and mining companies are under increasing pressure to ensure their projects in developing countries do not become cesspools of corruption and bribery – the so-called resource curse. But those companies are also facing new competition from aggressive state-owned corporations, many of which do not have the same pressure for reporting overseas activity." Perhaps SRI-ethical rating organizations and ethical investors will favour those resource companies that do stop paying bribes. Thus, their stock prices might benefit!
Resource curse puts miners, oil companies in crosshairs, by Shawn McCarthy, February 21, 2011, The Globe & Mail, Canada.

LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability) Spending In Asia Tops $300 Billion. - [COMMENTARY] "In January 2010 LOHAS Asia partnered with The Natural Marketing Institute in pioneering LOHAS Consumer Research in Asia-Pacific, conducting an online survey across 10 countries. More than 18,000 consumers were surveyed, to provide in-depth research on the LOHAS consumer and marketplace across the following countries: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Some of the highlights show very real desire for sustainably-made products in Asia, with Indonesia, China and India leading the way."

It seems that developing countries are very keen to have healthy and sustainable lifestyles which translate into extraordinary marketing opportunities for green companies there. Perhaps ethical investors might want to see if their favourite green companies are also adequately tapping Asian markets?
How LOHAS is changing business in Asia, press release, February 17, 2011, LOHAS Asia, Singapore.

New Report Shows Private Investments In Green Sectors Top $2 Trillion. - [COMMENTARY] "Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil) released their February 2011 GREEN TRANSITION SCOREBOARD® tracking private investments since 2007 in green companies and technologies globally, now totaling more than $2 trillion... Hazel Henderson, D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, former US government technology advisor and president of Ethical Markets Media said, ’this new total is remarkable in spite of economic uncertainty. It indicates that the global transition away from the 300-year fossil-fueled Industrial Era is accelerating toward the cleaner, greener, information-rich economies
of the 21st century.’”

Hazel Henderson, a real pioneer in alternative energy and ethical investing, deserves great commendation in her efforts to help move us into a sustainable future.
New Report Shows Private Investments In Green Sectors Top $2 Trillion, press release, February 17, 2011, Ethical Markets, USA.

Mercer Provides Climate Change Report & Proposes New Asset Allocation Model. - [COMMENTARY] "On 15 February 2011 Mercer’s Responsible Investment (RI) team launched Climate Change Scenarios - Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation, a free public report. Mercer, together with 14 leading institutional investors and industry thought leaders around the world, has been working for over a year on this market-leading research into the implications of climate change for markets and investors." This is a fascinating report. Useful reading for ethical investors.
The Climate Change Report, February 15, 2011, Mercer, USA.

Fortune 1000 CEOs Say Sustainability Is A Moral Imperative. - [COMMENTARY] "... in a recent survey of senior leadership at Fortune 1000 firms commissioned by Schneider Electric, almost 90 percent admit to feeling a ’moral responsibility’ to addressing sustainability at their companies... 61 percent of those executives said that the single biggest driver for energy efficiency and other sustainability projects is the potential cost savings from increased efficiency." What a turnaround this is from say ten, or even five years ago!
Top Execs Feel ’Moral Duty’ to Sustainability, ROI Still Main Driver, February 9, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.
See also, Study Reveals Gap Between Sustainability Leaders, Laggers, February 10, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

More Than 45 US Companies To Face Proxy Initiatives On Disclosure & Accounting For Political Donations. - [COMMENTARY] "Since such resolutions were first filed in 2004, shareholders are increasingly inclined to support them. Last year saw an average 30 percent vote in favor of 28 resolutions on contribution disclosure resolutions; votes above 40 percent were reached at Coventry Health Care, CVS Caremark and Sprint Nextel. Proxy advisers, public pension funds and mainstream mutual funds are getting on the bandwagon. Even business leaders oppose secretive political spending, according
to a recent poll."

No companies should be able to make political donations unless approved by stockholders. And whatever donations they make--and the reasons for them--should be available for full public scrutiny.
Corporations Make Political Donations At The Risk Of Shareholders’ Wrath, by Jeff Cossette, February 4, 2011, Business Insider, USA.

Norway, New Zealand & Sweden, Most ’Shariah-Compliant’ Nations! - [COMMENTARY] "Think of two of the most common problems highlighted in today’s news: the state of the global economy and violence at the hands of Islamists. Here’s a possible remedy to both: a sovereign sukuk [Islamic bond] rating system."

This is not a news item, but it provides an insight into, and understanding of, Islamic finance principles and how they could be applied to rating sovereign debt. This is a useful piece for all ethical investors as shariah-compliant investing becomes more common.
Is your economy sharia compliant? By Imaduddin Ahmed, February 2, 2011, The Guardian, UK.

Eurosif Says EU Close To Making CSR Reporting Mandatory. - [COMMENTARY] "The European Commission (EC), the executive arm of the European Union (EU), is edging closer to making environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures mandatory for companies, according to the head of the European Sustainable Investment Forum (Eurosif), the SRI lobby group."

Mandatory CSR reporting is something I have long advocated. It is all about transparency and honesty in reporting what is really happening in companies. See my posts: We Need Mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reporting, and A Call for Mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting.
EU “close” to making corporate ESG disclosure mandatory – Eurosif, by Daniel Brooksbank, February 2, 2011, Responsible Investor, UK.

Powerful Japanese Union Federation Issues Formal ESG Guidance To Money Managers. - [COMMENTARY] "RENGO, the powerful Japanese trades union confederation whose members influence a significant part of the country′s institutional retirement savings, has issued one of the most far-reaching ‘guidelines′ by any union in the world outlining how domestic pension plans should incorporate ESG factors into their investment decisions. RENGO-linked pension plans account for almost half of the schemes in Japan′s corporate pensions sector, which as a whole manages more than JPY50 trillion (€450bn). The influence of RENGO in Japanese pensions could make the new guidelines a game-changer in the take up of ESG by retirement funds in the country."

This is big news for ESG in Asia, and correspondingly, Asian interest in ethical investing.
Powerful Japanese union, RENGO, issues formal guidelines to pension funds and managers to adopt ESG, by Hugh Wheelan, February, 1, 2011, Responsible Investor, UK.

Latest Commentaries by Ron Robins on Alrroya.com

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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. 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.

The Soul Investor is a publication of Investing for the Soul, a registered business name in Ontario, Canada. Copyright © 2011 Ron Robins. All rights reserved.