April 2011 Newsletter

April 2011 Newsletter

News & Commentaries by Ron Robins


Greenpeace Ranks Tech Giants On Their Data Centre’s Coal Dependency. – [COMMENTARY] “The report ranks operators of major data centers — Apple, Facebook, Google, etc. — according to a number of factors, including their source of electricity, i.e. whether the cloud is powered by coal, natural gas, wind, hydro, or other energy sources.”

Yahoo! comes out on top, with Apple being the worst. However, there are caveats regarding the quality of the data.
Dirty clouds: Greenpeace ranks tech giants on their data centers′ coal dependency, by Todd Woody, April 25, 2011, grist, USA.

European Firms Failing In Carbon Emissions Reporting.– [COMMENTARY] “Less than half of Europe’s top 300 firms are publishing full and verified carbon emission data, with French and Swiss companies ranking worst at greenhouse gas reporting, a study showed Tuesday. British financial services company Aviva placed first in the rankings based on emissions and levels of disclosure and verification, while Polish mining company KGHM came in last, according to thenon-profit Environmental Investment Organisation (EIO).”

European companies generally lead in carbon reporting, so the reporting problem is probably worse elsewhere.
Majority of European firms fail on carbon reporting: study, April 26, 2011, AFP, UK.

Much US Corporate Political Spending Undisclosed.
“Despite mounting calls for greater transparency, only a few of the country’s 75 leading energy, health care and financial services corporations fully disclose political spending, according to a review of company records and state and federal campaign finance reports.” What a sham. No wonder the US voting public feels so
disenfranchised and that the US is declining in stature by almost any measure. And why ethical investors increasingly consider putting funds in non-US investments!
Much corporate political spending stays hidden, by Noam N. Levy and Kim Geiger, April 23, 2011, Kansas City Star, USA.

Bolivia About To Enact A ’Mother Earth’ Law. – [COMMENTARY]
“…the law requires the government to transition from non-renewable to renewable energy; to develop new economic indicators that will assess the ecological impact of all economic activity; to carry out ecological audits of all private and state companies; to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to develop policies of food and renewable energy sovereignty; to research and invest resources in energy efficiency, ecological practices, and organic agriculture; and to require all companies and individuals to be accountable for environmental contamination with a duty to restore damaged environments.”

Well done Bolivia! This small country might be setting the standard for all other countries to eventually follow as countries everywhere realize the full implications of global climate change.
The Law of Mother Earth: Behind Bolivia′s Historic Bill, by Nick Buxton, April 21, 2011, readersupportnews.com, USA.

UPDATED: Allianz Global Investors’ Study Says ESG Reduces Portfolio Risk. – [COMMENTARY] “The study found the tail risk of an ESG risk neutral emerging market equity strategy defined by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index can be reduced from -64.5 p.a. to -38.8 per cent. The same is true for corporate bonds defined by the Merrill Lynch Global Broad Market Corporate Index, it added, where the tail risk ‒ measured as conditional value at risk (95 per cent) of the default strategy ‒ can be reduced from -8.1 per cent p.a. to -4.9 per cent. ESG risk factors are also important for core asset classes such as developed market equity.” This is highly useful information. Source document now available.Click here.
ESG Strategies Improve Efficiency, April 19, 2011, Benefits & Pensions Monitor, Canada.

SolarWorld Earns Highest Green Score Among Top 10 PV Makers. – [COMMENTARY] “German PV maker SolarWorld earned the best environmental grade of the 10 largest manufacturers in the industry with a score of 91 out of possible 100 points for practices in four categories: recycling, green jobs, toxics and disclosure. Trina Solar, based in China, followed in second place with a score of 89. Tying for third place with scores of 87 were two firms among the top 10 largest, REC of Norway and First Solar of the U.S., and another U.S. firm, Abound Solar.” Most investors are unaware that the making of PVs can be quite environmentally unfriendly. So if you’re an ethical investor interested in this sector, you might want to read this article.
SolarWorld Earns Highest Green Score Among Top 10 PV Makers, by Leslie Guevarra, April 12, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

World′s First Halal Food Index. – [COMMENTARY] “The halal food industry has now become an asset class within the investment community with the launch of the world′s first halal food indices, called SAMI (Socially Acceptably Market Investments) Halal FoodIndex and SAMI Halal Participation Index… The SAMI Halal Food Index comprises 200 companies listed in Muslim-majority countries with a total market capitalisation of over $100b. Of the 200 companies in the index, almost half (95) are Malaysian with market capitalisation of $53b, while others are from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Nigeria.”

With the huge economic growth of the Mid East and Asia, western ethical investors will want to keep an eye open to possible new and unusual ethical investing opportunities.
World′s first halal food index, April 13, 2011, Emirates24/7, UAE.

Unilever, General Electric, Interface, Wal-Mart And Marks & Spencer, Top SustainAbility’s 2011 Sustainable Leaders List. – [COMMENTARY] “Some 559 sustainability experts from corporations, government, non-government organizations, academia and entities that provide services, such as consultancies, participated in the online survey last month that focused on perceptions of sustainability leadership… conducted by research firm GlobeScan Incorporated and SustainAbility Ltd.” One useful study would be to see if there is any correlation between SustainAbility’s rankings and their relative stock market performances. Nonetheless, it is an interesting survey to review.
Unilever Tops List of Sustainability Leaders, by Leslie Guevarra, April 11, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

Bloomberg Markets Magazine Ranks World’s Greenest Banks. – [COMMENTARY] “Banco Santander, Spain′s biggest bank, got the first place… Goldman Sachs took the second place and Italy-based holding company UniCredit ranked third.”Unfortunately, for the entire list and commentary a subscription to the magazine is required.
World′s top 10 greenest banks ranked, by Jen Balboa, April 7, 2011, EcoSeed, USA.

One-Third Of UK Wealthy Interested In Social Investment, Says Nesta. – [COMMENTARY] “The research… quizzed 505 people with investment assets ranging from …50,000 to …1m on their interest in social investment… Those under 40 years of age were more likely than those over 55 to be receptive to social or ethical investments. The research also found that when considering making social investments, two-thirds (67 per cent) of wealthy individuals are likely to invest in a financial product that benefits society as well as giving a comparable return on their money.”

This research adds to the already significant body of evidence that investors want to invest socially responsible and ethically.
New research shows wealthy individuals are engaged with social investment, by Vibeka Mair, April 7, 2011, Civilsociety.co.uk, UK.

New Proxy Monitor Site. – [COMMENTARY] “ProxyMonitor.org—shedding light on shareholder proposals submitted to publicly traded corporations via the annual proxy process. This site is sponsored bythe Center for Legal Policy, part of the non-partisan and non-profit Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.”

This is another useful site whereby ethical investors can research to see the results of environmental, social and governance initiatives among the world’s largest companies.
ProxyMonitor.org, USA.

FTSE4Good Launches Corporate ESG Ratings. – [COMMENTARY] “A decade after the launch of the FTSE4Good Index Series, FTSE Group has launched a new FTSE4Good ratings system that is designed to measure environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. FTSE Group claimed this new data service provides a comprehensive, transparent and objective system to measure ESG practices of over 2,300 public companies worldwide.” FTSE4Good is likely to be a formidable competitor in this space. However, it’s good for ethical investors!
FTSE4Good launches corporate ESG ratings, by Donia O’Loughlin, April 6, 2011, FT Advisor, UK.

Latest Commentaries by Ron Robins on Alrroya.com

Short Term Gain, Long Term Pain, March 31, 2011.

Eliminate Corporate Taxes and Spur Economic Growth, April 7, 2011.

Financial and Economic Modelling – A Waste of Time? April 21, 2011.

New Books

Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change, by L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, Hill and Wang 2011.

Valuing Corporate Responsibility: How Do Investors Really Use Corporate Responsibility Information? By Rory Sullivan, Greenleaf Publishing 2011.

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