June 2008

Disinvestment In Zimbabwe Gains Traction. – [COMMENTARY] Many investors are now calling for disinvestment from Zimbabwe. Firms with significant interests there include, “Shell, Barclays Bank, BP, Tesco, Rio Tinto, WPP and Anglo American.” Ethical investors, particularly, may want to consider their stance concerning such investments. It is interesting that the companies cited in this article are high on most ethical investing lists.
Trading with Mugabe, by Jeremy Kuper, June 30, 2008, The Guardian, UK.

The UN Global Compact Office Delists 630 Companies For Failure To Communicate Progress. – [COMMENTARY] “The Global Compact is a framework for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.” The delisting of these companies may not mean that they are slipping on their Global Compact commitments, but simply have failed to report their progress. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile for ethical investors to review the list to see if they are invested in any of these companies. After all, ethical investors only want to invest in ethical stocks and bonds.
630 Companies Delisted as Part of Integrity Measures, June 25, 2008, United Nations Global Compact, USA.

Survey: Asian Executives See Benefits In Sustainable Investing. – [COMMENTARY] “The Economist Intelligence Unit found 64 per cent of Asia Pacific executives agreed that benefits outweighed any costs of sustainable investment. The survey found 42 per cent believed improved shareholder value was the greatest advantage.” The concept of sustainable investing is fortunately now global in its dimension. Many companies in Asia are well ahead of their U.S. and European counterparts in the products they produce. Think of the automobile hybrids!
Asia firms adopt sustainability, by Meagan Kelly, June 27, 2008, Asian Property Report, Thailand.

Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report Has Good News On Socially Responsible Investing. – [COMMENTARY] I thought that readers might like to look at the actual report. It states that the rich are becoming greener in their investing, and, “… [That] more than US$70 billion was invested globally in clean energy and clean technology markets in 2006, a 43% increase over 2005.” The report makes special mention that demand for socially responsible investments is growing among the rich. All investment advisors and financial planners should review this report.
World Wealth Report, June, 2008, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., USA.

Anglo American, The Mining Giant, Creates Uproar With Planned $400 Million Investment In Zimbabwe. – [COMMENTARY] Anglo American is taking tremendous heat from ethical investors and politicians all over the world with its plans for a platinum mine in Zimbabwe. Most other big resource players are taking a pass on the country until there is a change in government there.
Outrage over £200m UK investment in Zimbabwe, June 25, 2008, Timesonline.co.uk, UK

New India Islamic Index Launched. – [COMMENTARY] “The Eastwind Capital Advisors Pvt Ltd., the Indo-Arab Economic Forum and Institute of Objective Studies launched the EW India Islamic Index… comprises only of Shariah compliant companies equity and excludes companies engaged in alcohol products, pork-related products, conventional financial services like banking and insurance, gambling, hotels and all other business which the Shariah supervisory board considers as unethical.” Shariah compliant investing continues to grow around the world and has some similarities to ethical investing.
Shariah compliant India Islamic Index launched to tap Gulf investors, June 25, 2008, DailyIndia.com, India.

New Harris Interactive Poll Says, “Seventy-One Percent of Consumers Say the Reputation Of Corporate America Is Poor.” – [COMMENTARY] However, the Harris Interactive Reputation Quotient (RQ) survey “… found that a strong statistical correlation exists between a company’s overall reputation and the likelihood that consumers will purchase, recommend or invest in a company or its products and services… companies that pay attention to enhancing their reputation see bottom line results.” Companies perceived as ranking high on social responsibility – and thereby demonstrating good returns are: Whole Foods, Google, General Mills, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson. If you are looking for socially responsible stocks to invest in, look at the full article.
Seventy-One Percent of Consumers Say the Reputation Of Corporate America Is ’Poor’, But Consumers Will Buy, Recommend and Invest in Companies that Concentrate on Building Their Corporate Reputation, June 23, 2008, Trading Markets, USA.

Mining Industry Fights Back Concerning Its Environmental Image. – [COMMENTARY] This is a fascinating response to the environmental and social challenges facing the mining and extractive resource industries. It is published by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), based in London. Whether we like it or not, with over 3 billion more people becoming consumers, demand for resources is growing at frantic rates. We just have to agree on how resources can be extracted in ways that minimize their environmental impact, while maximizing its social benefits and returns to investors.
Sustainable Development in the Mining and Minerals Sector: the Case for Partnership at Local, National and Global Levels, by Kathryn McPhail, ICMM. For an overview of the paper see: The Dutch Curse of Mining, by Jack Caldwell, June 23, 2008, Mining and Resources, USA.

India’s Accountants Creating New Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Rules. – [COMMENTARY] With so much interest in India these days, it is truly welcome to see the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) making mandatory CSR reporting. New guidelines will be issued to companies. When implemented, it will make evaluating environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities in Indian companies much easier than it is now. By doing this, India will be among a select few countries making CSR reporting mandatory. Others include Singapore and Malaysia. If developing countries can do this, why not developed countries?
Editorial: Measuring CSR, June 24, 2008, Business Standard, India.

Solar Power Capable Of Contributing 10% To US Power Needs By 2025. – [COMMENTARY] The just released Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study by Clean Edge and Co-op America says that solar power will cost no more than conventional energy production within a decade. We are indeed heading for a major power revolution. With predictions like these, it is no wonder that so much money is going into green energy.
Solar Power Could Reach One-Tenth of Energy Supply by 2025: Report, June 17, 2008, GreenBiz, USA.

New FTSE/Impax Group Environmental Growth Companies Index Launched. – [COMMENTARY] “The new index, called the FTSE Environmental Opportunities All-Share Index, will be made up of 450 constituents, each demonstrating a minimum 20 percent of their business comes from environmental markets or clean technologies. The index will cover companies working in alternative energy, energy efficiency, water treatment, pollution control, waste technologies and resource management.” This index is obviously something different from other environmental indexes as companies are only required to have 20% of their business in environmental markets.
FTSE, Impax launch second environmental index, June 19, 2008, Reuters, UK.

Of French Companies With Profit Sharing Schemes, Half Offer Socially Responsible Investment Funds. – [COMMENTARY] “More than half the French companies offering profit share savings schemes include at least one socially responsible investment (SRI) fund and 20 percent of those who do not will consider SRI options in the short term, according to a study sponsored by Axa… At the end of 2007, SRI profit sharing assets amounted to 2.8 billion euros versus 2.3 billion euros gathered at the end of 2006. More than half of these assets were invested in equity, while bond investments amounted to 23 percent last year.” It is clear that in France, as in many other countries, investors are increasingly favouring ethical stocks and bonds.
Half of French profit sharing savings schemes offer SRI – Axa study, by Cecilia Valente, June 19, 2008, Thomson Investment Management News, UK. (Access to article requires subscription – which is free.)

Norway’s $400 Billion Oil Fund Reluctant To Ban Investments In Blacklisted Countries. – [COMMENTARY] So far this fund has been a leader among the sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) concerning ethical investing. It might be back-tracking a bit here. Nonetheless, in most of its investment policies, it is ahead of other major SWFs.
Norway says oil fund reluctant to blacklist states, by Aasa Christine Stoltz, June 18, 2008, Reuters, India.

GlaxoSmithKline & Novo Nordisk Lead In Access To Medicines For Poor In Developing Countries – Study. – [COMMENTARY] The Access to Medicine Index has now been launched rating twenty of the world’s top drug manufacturers as to how they help the poor in the poorest countries get medicines. If you are looking for ethical stocks and bonds in drug companies, you might want to review the information compiled in this index.
2008 Access to Medicine Index, June 16, 2008, Access to Medicine Index, The Netherlands.

France′s Société Générale Ranked By Peers As Top In Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Research. – [COMMENTARY] In addition, the Thomson Reuters Extel survey of 7,500 investment professionals from 63 countries found that “87% of respondents said they expect increasing SRI involvement over the next 12 months.”
SG wins best SRI research award as sector booms: Thomson Reuters Extel Survey, by Hugh Wheelan, June 13, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Most Canadian Mutual Funds Overwhelmingly Support Management In Proxy Voting — Except For Socially Responsible Funds. – [COMMENTARY] This result is not unexpected. A thank you to Shareholders Association for Research and Education (SHARE) for keeping tabs on these votes.
Proxy Voting by Canadian Mutual Funds, June 12, 2008, press release, SHARE, Canada.

New Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Standards Likely To Be Soon Adopted. – [COMMENTARY] The need for standardized corporate ESG reporting may well be given a major push by the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies, whose membership comprises 14,000 European investment professionals. This is most welcome news! I would like them to go further to encourage appropriate governing bodies in all countries to make such reporting not only mandatory for all public companies, but to also include independent auditing and reporting of this information and then made available to all.
New European ESG company performance indicators could herald mainstream investment analysis, by Hugh Wheelan, June 13, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Responsible Investment Market To Gain 35% In Two Years. – [COMMENTARY] That represents $700 billion and will bring such assets managed for their environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, up to $2.94 trillion globally. This is according to the RI Landscape Asset Managers 2008 Survey which included 98 fund managers with $19.4 trillion in assets. It was conducted by IPE and Responsible-Investor.com earlier this year and just released.
Fund managers predict $700bn rise in RI assets by 2010: RI landscape report, by Hugh Wheelan, June 10, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.

Motorola Tops List Of Cell Phones With Most Radiation; LG Has Lowest Emissions. – [COMMENTARY] If as an investor or user of cell phones you are wondering how different phones perform with regard to radiation emissions, then read this article and follow the links.
How Much Radiation Does Your Phone Emit? By Tara Parker-Pope, June 11, 2008, The New York Times, USA.

Which Are The Best Pharmaceutical Companies Granting Access To Drugs For World’s Poor? – [COMMENTARY] A new index to be launched June 16, tries to do exactly that. “The Access to Medicine Index is designed to provide standardized information on pharmaceutical companies with regard to their efforts to improve global access to medicines… The Index is construed from a framework of 28 ‘indicators′ which are grouped into 8 main ‘criteria′. All have carefully fine-tuned weightings.” Ethical investors looking for pharmaceutical stocks that are good to invest in might want to review the information presented.
Click here for the index. Also see: New guide to help investors target ethical Pharma, June 11, 2008, NewScientist.com, UK.

US Congress Still Faltering On Backing Credits For Alternative Energy. – [COMMENTARY] I have seen this item come-up in several news sources. It seems that after the present credits expire at the end of the year, there is not anything to replace them. This creates uncertainty for those in the US alternative energy markets.
Republicans Block Two More Bills With Green Investing Impact, by Mark Langner, June 11, 2008, Green Street Investor, USA.

Whole Foods, Burt’s Bees, In US; Body Shop, Marks & Spencer In UK — Named As Greenest Brands. – [COMMENTARY] The 2008 ImagePower Green Brands Survey also found that Americans believe the environment is worse now than five years ago. But the survey further determined that the economy and energy had surpassed the environment as the main concerns of consumers.
Economy and Energy Edge Environment as Top Consumer Concern: Survey, June 5, 2008, GreenBiz.com, USA.

Study Says That Investors Rank Low In Influencing Corporate Environmental Policies. – [COMMENTARY] This is one of the findings of a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit. It also found that regulators and government exert the most pressure after management on corporate environmental activities.
Managing Environmental Risk by Looking through the Rear-view Mirror, by David Wigder, June 1, 2008, GreenBiz.com, USA.

Ethisphere Issues Its 2008 List Of World’s Most Ethical Companies. – [COMMENTARY] A case can be made that stocks that are good to invest in are usually ethical stocks. Ethisphere shows an interesting chart that the shares of companies they rate as most ethical continually outperforming the S&P 500 Stock Index. They also show the names of companies they deem as the best in their industry groupings.
2008 World′s Most Ethical Companies, June 3, 2008, Ethisphere, USA.

Obama Selling Investments Tied To Iran; McCain Still Deciding. – [COMMENTARY] US law forbids investment by US companies in Iran. But companies elsewhere have no obligation to do the same. The importance of ethical investing and business ethics in the global society is coming to the fore.
Candidates tied to Iran-tainted investments, by Matt Kelley and Ken Dilanian, June 3, 2008, USA TODAY, USA.

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