61% Of French Institutional Investors Had Ventured Into Socially Responsible Investing In 2007, Up From 48% In 2006. – [COMMENTARY] “Altogether, 31% of the institutions surveyed have invested more than 5% of their total invested assets in SRI. This represents a major change compared with 2006, when only 12% of all institutional investors queried had made such investments.” The market for ethical stocks and bonds continues to grow rapidly throughout Europe.
French Institutional Investor Buy-In on SRI Continues to Increase, But Shareholder Engagement Lags Behind, November 30, 2007, CSRwire.com, France.
Environmental & Social Performance Of Luxury Goods Makers Reviewed by World Wildlife Fund, UK. – [COMMENTARY] “The WWF-UK’s report, Deeper Luxury, graded the 10 largest publicly-traded brand-owners based on their self-reported performance and views by the media and non-governmental organizations. The report looked at the brands’ actions and reputations related to environmental, social and governance issues. L′Oreal tops the list with a C+, followed by Hermes and LVMH, each of which also earned a C+. Next is Coach with a C; Tiffany & Co. with a D+; Swatch, PPR and Richemont, all with D′s; and rounding out the list is Bulgari and Tods, each with an F. Some of the brands owned by the companies include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Garnier and Louis Vuitton.” The report makes it clear that these luxury brands have yet to engage the advantages of using corporate social responsibility in a serious way.
WWF-UK Gives Luxury Companies Poor Grades, November 30, 2007, GreenBiz.com, USA.
Spending In UK On Ethical Goods & Services Up 81% From 2002. – [COMMENTARY] The figure now stands atÂ£32.3bn. according to the UK’s Co-operative Bank. “Households last year spent an average Â£664 on organic and fair trade food, environmentally-friendly and other products in line with their ethical values, compared with just Â£366 in 2002.” This is more good news for those investing in ethical stocks and bonds.
Ethical spending on the up, by Kevin Feddy, November 30, 2007, Manchester Evening News, UK.
US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Agrees Not To Change Shareholder Resolutions Process. – [COMMENTARY] It seems the massive negative response the SEC got when it proposed limiting shareholder resolutions was enough to change its mind (for now) about the proposed changes! However, its decision that shareholders cannot participate in the nomination of directors is unfriendly to shareholders. An ethical business environment also demands an ethical proxy voting process for directors.
Socially Responsible Investors Applaud SEC Decision Not To Curtail Shareholder Resolutions, But Strongly Oppose Curbs On Director Nomination Process, press release, November 27, 2007, Social Investment Forum, USA.
How Real Is Corporate Reporting Of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Issues? – [COMMENTARY] This report by Bill Baue of Social Funds is a good overview of the situation today. I believe it is absolutely necessary that we get agreed to ESG standards which are annually reported and audited — such as financial statements are now — before we can have any real confidence in what companies are telling us. For ethical investors seeking stocks that are good to invest in, corporate ESG reporting is still a minefield when trying to evaluate companies.
Environmental, Social and Governance Standards: Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full? By Bill Baue, November 27, 2007, USA.
Report Evaluates Online Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Information Of Major Company Websites. – [COMMENTARY] Jungle Rating, internet consultants, has just evaluated about 50 corporate websites of some of the world’s largest companies in terms of their ability to accurately communicate their CSR efforts. It is often difficult to know if what you see on these sites is complete and accurate. Reading this report, it is large — a PDF file of 7MB — is quite a read.
Jungle Rating, Online Sustainability Research 2007, November, 2007, The Netherlands.
Beijing Olympics’ Corporate Sponsors Criticized By Darfur Anti-Genocide Group. – [COMMENTARY] “Samsung, Kodak, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson were among the 16 out of 19 top Olympic sponsors that either failed or received a “D” by the Dream for Darfur report card.” Most of the companies cited in this report pride themselves for their corporate social responsibility practices. The Save Darfur Coalition is making a stand now in asking these companies to live up to their CSR ideals and criticize China for its support of the Sudanese government’s Darfur policies. The group obviously feels that these companies, who are major, paying Beijing game sponsors, might have some influence on the Chinese government to pressure the Sudanese government in creating a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict. Investors who believe they only want to invest in the best ethical stocks and bonds might want to also ask the issuers of their securities about their support of Beijing’s activities in Sudan.
Most Olympic Sponsors Flunk Darfur Report Card, by Ethan Cole, November 27, 2007, Christian Post, USA.
Standard Life Investments Finds Over 80% Of Its UK Investors Are Mostly Concerned About Environmental Issues. – [COMMENTARY] Related to these environmental concerns were forestry practices and operating in countries with poor human rights records. Surveys like this show why we are getting so many new green funds being launched around the globe, all looking for the best socially responsible stocks to invest in. Hence, the values of such stocks have risen so much in recent years.
Environmental issues key for SLI′s ethical investors, press release, Standard Life Investments, November, 2007, UK.
UK Social Investment Forum Organizing National Ethical Investment Week For May 18-24, 2008. – [COMMENTARY] This promotional week is to bring green and ethical investments to a wider investing audience. Ethical investing in the UK has increased six-fold in the past year.
UKSIF urges financial community to get behind ethical and green investments, by Mark Banham, November 26, 2007, The Financial Times, UK.
Shariah Compliant Funds Top $500.5bn & Grew Over 30% In A Year, According To The Banker Magazine. – [COMMENTARY] Also, another report cited in this article says that Standard & Poor’s believes that Islamic funds now have about $400bn. in assets. It is clear that Shariah oriented investment funds are making big waves in global investment flows. These investments will continue to enhance the value of ethical stocks that are good to invest in.
Growth of Shariah-compliant funds to be addressed at GAIM, November 24, 2007, AME Info, United Arab Emirates.
TerraChoice’s Guide To ’Greenwashing’. – [COMMENTARY] Do you wonder if the companies you invest in are really selling green products? Or are they simply adjusting their marketing message to provide an image of being green, that is, ’greenwashing.’ If you are looking for green stocks to invest in, you might want to check-out the products they produce according to TerraChoice’s six sins of greenwashing. TerraChoice examined over a thousand North American products with environmental claims.
The Six Sins of Greenwashing, November 2007, TerraChoice, USA.
Study Finds 82% Of World’s Largest Companies Issuing Sustainability Reports. – [COMMENTARY] This is a good report for ethical investors everywhere to read. What the report makes clear is the necessity for standardized reporting guidelines. I would add that such reports need to be uniformly audited as well, so investors can have faith in what is being reported!
GRI Reporting – aiming to uncover true performance, survey by WestLB Bank, Germany.
’Say On Pay’ Shareholder Resolutions Gain Momentum. – [COMMENTARY] Christian Brothers Investment Services garnered shareholders representing 48% of CISCO shares in supporting a ’say on pay’ proxy resolution. This will allow shareholders to vote on whether they believe current or proposed executive compensation is merited. However, it will not override compensation decisions, but is advisory only. Such resolutions are gaining momentum across the US and from my viewpoint help create a more ethical business environment.
Christian Brothers Investment Services: Cisco ’Say On Pay’ Shareholder Resolution Garners Strong 48 Percent Support, November 15, 2007, PR Newswire reported on CNNMoney.com, USA.
Faith Organizations Urged To Back Ethical Businesses. – [COMMENTARY] Joost Douma, Secretary General of the International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG), is encouraging faiths to “walk the walk” concerning their investments. He was speaking at a conference in Paris representing ’two dozen Christian, Jewish and Buddhist faith organisations, with combined assets in excess of 135 billion dollars’. It seems absolutely logical that faith organizations use their immense investment funds to promote the very aims of their faiths. Yet, so few of them do that. It seems to me that most faiths today are driven by rich status quo elites, rather than by their spiritual convictions.
Faiths will use their billions to back ethical business, by November 14, 2007, Ekklesia, UK.
BBMG Survey Shows What Matters To ’Conscious Consumers’. Rates Companies. – [COMMENTARY] The advantages of using corporate social responsibility policies that marry with the concerns of the conscious consumer are illuminated by this BBMG report. For ethical investors, they might glean some insight into ethical stocks that are good to invest in. Of course, it is best to always get help with investing from an investment advisor.
BBMG’s conscious consumer report warns companies of ’green trap’, November 8, 2007, press release, BBMG, USA.
New Canadian Investment Portfolios Screen For Inclusion Of Women In Executive Positions. – [COMMENTARY] “Guylaine Raby, Vice-President and
Assistant Portfolio Manager at Desjardins Securities and her team are
innovating with the launch of three new portfolios that link financial
performance with corporate values that favor the presence of women in high
executive positions at publicly traded companies…The composition of these portfolios is backed by a series of studies which indicate that companies with women in decision-making positions generate higher financial returns. A recent study carried out by a HEC MontrÃ©al research group showed that these companies’ returns were 6% above the average between 2001 and 2004.” This is fascinating research. If you are looking for the best socially responsible investing stocks to invest in, you might like to check to see the number of women in executive positions!
Desjardins Securities: New Funds Screen For Women Executives, press release, November 13, 2007, Desjardins Securities, Canada.
Report Suggests UK FTSE And Conflict Securities Advisory Group (CSAG) Are Partnering To Create A ’Terror Free’ Stock Index. – [COMMENTARY] I have not seen any official announcement of this new index. Indeed, as of the time of writing, nothing was being said on the FTSE site about this rumored index. The idea of such an index would be to incorporate companies that have no — or very restricted — activities in countries promoting terrorist agendas. This is certainly something that could appeal to those interested in morally conscious investing.
Invest terror free, by Frank J. Gaffney Jr., November 13, 2007, The Washington Times, USA.
Goldman Sachs, Barclays Criticised For Not Doing What They Preach, Says FairPensions Report. – [COMMENTARY] Both Goldman Sachs and Barclays have been publicly in the forefront among investment firms in advocating sustainable investing — except their own analysts do not follow along, according to this FairPensions report. Frankly, this is not surprising to me. The mainstream investment analyst still finds it inconvenient to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis in their work. Most of these analysts are primarily concerned with short term stock price movements, whereas ESG is largely about longer term issues.
Socially responsible investment â€“ Do asset managers mean it? ByTobias Webb, November 12, 2007, Ethical Corporation Magazine (Europe), UK.
New Free UK Charities Site That Monitors Companies For Unethical Practices. – [COMMENTARY] “Investment analysis firm Ethical Screening has launched a free online search facility that allows charities to identify unethical companies so they can monitor their socially responsible investment policies. The service, which has been given three years’ funding by charity investment managers UBS and Rensburg Sheppards, allows organisations to search the top 350 UK firms according to ethical criteria, and then to decide which ones they wish to exclude.” This is excellent news for UK charities. Nothing is said though about charities outside the UK, who may also be investing in UK shares, whether they would be eligible for the service?
Free online ethical company monitor is launched, by Helen Warrell, November 14, 2007, Third Sector, UK.
Venture Capital (VC) Surges Into Sustainable Investing. Al Gore Joins Major VC Firm In Sector. – [COMMENTARY] Just look at the chart in this FORBES/CNN Money piece! Total VC investment in sustainable investing is expected to be close to $1.9 billion this year. So Al Gore wants in at the VC stage and is joining Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the famous US VC firm. This is also an interesting article to get an idea on what is developing in alternative energy and sustainable investing, generally. It might also give you some ideas as to green stocks that are good to invest in.
Al Gore joins Kleiner Perkins to save the planet, by Marc Gunther and Adam Lashinsky, November 12, 2007, FORTUNE article reproduced on CNN Money, USA.
According To londonstockexchange.com, The Guardian Newspaper Reports That, HSBC’s Global Climate Change Index will have produced returns of 125 per cent since the beginning of 2004, compared to a 55 per cent rise in the MSCI World Index over the same period.” – [COMMENTARY] See short article at Green funds are on the increase, November 12, 2007, London Stock Exchange, UK. Some observers cite green mergers and acquisitions’ activity pushing run-up in green stock prices – Green M&A′s drive performance of SRI funds, November 9, 2007, Easier Finance, UK.
For UK Ethical Investors, An Easy Way To See Which Ethical Funds Match Your Personal Values. – [COMMENTARY] Hargreaves and Lansdown have created a simple matching device for UK ethical investors. Simply ’tick’ the values that are important to you, and their computer will display to you online what funds use your criteria when selecting their investments.
Ethical Fund comparison | HL’s ethical fund comparison tool, Hargreaves and Lansdown, UK.
Big Interest In Renewable-Energy Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). – [COMMENTARY] “Iberdrola Renovables SAU lists on Madrid’s stock exchange next month, it will be the world’s largest renewable-energy flotation. The company, a world leader in wind energy, aims to raise between â‚¬4 billion and â‚¬5 billion, or $5.8 billion to $7.3 billion.” (See full article linked to below.) Merrill Lynch says that demand for renewable-energy offerings far exceeds supply. Furthermore, this article also provides information on forthcoming IPOs in the renewable-energy sector.
Demand Is High for Renewable-Energy IPOs, by Dawn Cowie, November 8, 2007, WSJ.com, USA.
US Investment Management Consultants Association Says Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Offers As Good, Or Better Returns, Than Traditionally Managed Portfolios. – [COMMENTARY] This article should spur even more American investment managers, financial planners, and other investment professionals, to include SRI in their investment strategies. Due to studies and reports such as this, it is likely that over time, recognized ethical stocks and bonds could outperform their general, respective markets.
IMCA Journal of Investment Consulting Publishes New Paper on Socially Responsible Investments, November 7, 2007, Marketwire.com, USA.
One-In-Three Canadians Now Believe That Socially Responsible Investing Is More Important Today Than It Was 5 Years Ago. – [COMMENTARY] The Canadian Investors Group just published an exciting new survey of Canadian attitudes towards socially responsible investing (SRI). The survey offers insight into Canadians’ attitudes on a number of SRI and ethical investing issues. Investors Group was an SRI pioneer in Canada when launching its SRI, Summa Fund in 1987. The firm is now offering two new SRI funds.
Canadians weigh social and environmental factors in investment decisions, November 6, 2007, press release, Investors Group, Canada.
Investors Appetite For Ethical Stocks And Bonds Grows Unabated In UK! – [COMMENTARY] Ethical investing fund inflows were up 600% in the third quarter of 2007 over year earlier period. At Â£5.8bn. as of September 30, 2007, investments in UK ethical funds increased by 28% from a year earlier.
Ethical fund inflows up 600% on Q3 last year, by John Kenchington, November 6, 2007, Investment Week, UK.
New Hong Kong Islamic Index Launched. – [COMMENTARY] “Dr A S Johan, a well respected financial guru and member of the Shariah Advisory Council of the Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Hong Kong, today announced that the Arab Chamber has developed a HK Islamic Index to make it easier for Islamic Funds from the Middle East and elsewhere to invest in Shariah Compliant Hong Kong and PRC companies.” We have here another milestone in the development of shariah compliant investing. Shariah law forbids the charging of interest. In most other aspects, it mirrors ethical investing.
Arab Chamber develops HK Islamic Index, November 6, 2007, PR-inside.com, Hong Kong.
Investopedia.com Has A Comprehensive Feature On Green Investing. – [COMMENTARY] This is interesting reading for all US green investors.
Green Investing, by Investopedia.com, USA.
More Environmentally Conscious Major Corporations In UK. – [COMMENTARY] A Guardian newspaper survey shows 48 of the largest 100 UK companies are publishing plans to address their carbon emissions. The paper seems to think that this is a poor showing. Personally, I believe this is a great showing. Consider that only a few years ago the management of most of these companies was aghast at even the idea of collating and reporting such information!
Half of UK’s top firms fail to publish plans to cut carbon emissions, by Murray Armstrong and David Adam, November 5, 2007, The Guardian, UK. For Guardian’s list and analysis of the world’s largest polluters see How green are the world’s biggest corporations.
Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Issues Gain New Focus In Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). Mainstream Firms Attracted – [COMMENTARY] The Wall Street Journal’s online web site carries this interesting analysis of how ESG and SRI is gaining in mainstream investment analysis.
For Money Managers, A Smarter Approach To Social Responsibility, by Carolyn Cui, November 5, 2007, WSJ.com, USA.
Brief Overview Of US ETFs Focusing On Green Technologies. – [COMMENTARY] This is a useful review for US investors looking for a simple way to invest in a diversified portfolio of green tech stocks.
Green: The Color Of Money — ETFs, by Kenneth Stier, November 2, 2007, CNBC.com, USA.
Some Ideas For Green Living In The Years Ahead. And Possible Investments To Research. – [COMMENTARY] This blog by Alison Benjamin, deputy editor of SocietyGuardian, has some ideas of low-carbon products consumers might be using by 2022. If you are looking for stocks that are good to invest in, especially from an environmental perspective, it is worth looking at different, though sometimes radical, ideas.
How will we be living in 2022? | Ethical Living | Guardian Unlimited, November 1, 2007, a Guardian newspaper Blog, UK.