PODCAST: Top ESG Funds, Stocks, Robo Advisors and More…

PODCAST: Top ESG Funds, Stocks, Robo Advisors and More…

A discerning reviewer discusses their seven best socially responsible and ESG fund picks. Two experts give conflicting recommendations on robo advisors for ethical and sustainable investors. Know the top ten stocks in ESG fund portfolios. Replacing old wind turbines with new ones leads to increasing profits and potential dividends for three renewable energy operators. More

PODCAST: Top ESG Funds, Stocks, Robo Advisors and More…

Transcript & Links November 8, 2019

Hello, Ron Robins here. Welcome to my podcast Ethical & Sustainable Investing News to Profit By! for November 8, 2019—presented by Investing for the Soul. investingforthesoul.com is your site for vital global ethical and sustainable investing news, commentary, information, and resources.

And, Google any terms that are unfamiliar to you.

Also, you can find a full transcript, live links to content, and often bonus material to these podcasts at their episodes’ podcast page located at investingforthesoul.com/podcasts.

Now to this podcast!


This episode!

1. 7 Best US Socially Responsible Mutual Funds

2. Best Robo Advisors for Socially Responsible & ESG Investors

3. Fund Managers’ Favorite ESG Stocks

4. 1 Renewable-Energy Growth Story That Dividend Investors Won’t Want to Overlook

5. 3 Clean Energy ETFs for a Brighter Future


1. 7 Best US Socially Responsible Mutual Funds

For US investors Barbara (Freedberg) Friedberg writes about her 7 Best Socially Responsible Mutual Funds. Now her seven picks are:

1) Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund Admiral Shares (ticker: VFTAX)

She says about this fund that “With nearly 500 companies, financials, health care, technology, industrials and consumer services are the most highly represented sectors… [It has] a 0.14% expense ratio… [and] this green mutual fund offers a 1.6% yield. The 21.1% year-to-date return is higher than the category performance.” End quote.

2) Parnassus Endeavor Fund (PARWX)

Quoting her, she writes, “[The] Parnassus Endeavor Fund seeks out companies with excellent workplace environments and avoids fossil fuel investments… Year-to-date returns of 21.2%.” End quote

3) Pax Elevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund (PXWIX)

About this fund, Ms. Friedberg says, “Research indicates that companies with greater numbers of women in leadership roles have better performance across multiple factors, says Daniel Kern, chief investment officer of TFC Financial Management in Boston… The fund sports a reasonable expense ratio of 0.56% and a 1.9% dividend yield.” End quote.

4) Calvert Bond Fund (CSIBX)

About which she writes, “Top holdings include U.S. Treasury notes and bonds as well as issues from Freddie Mac, Avis Budget Rental Car (CAR), Citigroup (C) and International Finance Corporation. Launched in 1987, the fund has an 8.2% percent year-to-date return.” End quote.

5) Calvert International Opportunities Fund (CIOAX)

Ms. Friedberg comments on this fund that, “[It] holds fewer companies exposed to fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and tobacco than do the companies included in the MSCI EAFE Small- and Mid-Cap Index. The fund enjoys an 11.4% year-to-date return. The expense ratio is a hefty 1.35% but with a 1.32% yield.” End quote.

6) Fidelity U.S. Sustainability Index Fund (FITLX)

Concerning this fund, Ms. Friedberg says, “[It] targets large- to mid-capitalization U.S. companies with high ESG scores… The fund has a 1.1% yield and a rock-bottom expense ratio of 0.11%. The 21% year-to-date return slams the 18.9% category average.” End quote.

And finally,

7) Ave Maria Bond Fund (AVEFX)

Quoting Ms. Friedberg on this fund she writes, “Winner of the 2019 Lipper Fund Award for the best of 42 A-rated corporate bond funds, the Ave Maria family is the largest [US] Catholic mutual fund family… The year-to-date return is 6.5% with a moderate expense ratio of 0.5%. The current yield is 1.8%, lower than many corporate bond funds, likely due to the inclusion of stocks within the portfolio.” End quote.


2. Best Robo Advisors for Socially Responsible & ESG Investors

Now, I’m going to cover a piece about robo advisors,  Though reference will be to US robo advisors, a few of these advisors might be operational in other countries too.

Well it seems that not everyone can agree on the best robo advisors though some recommendations do overlap! On my September 27, 2019, podcast, Investopedia recommended:

Now, in this article by Barbara Friedberg, titled, 5 Best Robo Advisors for Managing ESG Funds, recommends:

  • M1 Finance.
  • Betterment.
  • EarthFolio.
  • Wealthsimple.
  • Motif Impact Portfolios.

For robo advisor descriptions, go to the article’s link on this edition’s podcast page.

This is the second article by Ms. Friedberg I’ve covered in this podcast. She’s obviously performing excellent work for the ethical and sustainable investing community!


3. Fund Managers’ Favorite ESG Stocks

So, in this podcast, we’ve so far covered the best ethical and sustainable investing funds and robo advisors. Now, let’s talk a little about the best ethical and sustainable investing stocks!

Brendon Coffey in a Forbes post titled, Here Are Fund Managers’ Favorite ESG Stocks, can help us in this regard. He also explains in his post how he went about this research.

Here are the top ten stocks he found in the funds: Microsoft (MSFT), The Walt Disney Co (DIS), Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL & GOOG), Danaher Corp, (DRH), Mastercard (MA), Verisk Analytics Inc, (VRSK), Linde PLC (LIN.L), American Express Co. (AXP), and Costco Wholesale Corp, (COST).

His post is replete with a discussion about the pros and cons of many companies held by these funds. So, his post is well worth a read.


4. 1 Renewable-Energy Growth Story That Dividend Investors Won’t Want to Overlook

If you’re looking for dividends and yield possibilities in renewable energy companies you should read Matthew DiLallo’s Motley Fool article titled, 1 Renewable-Energy Growth Story That Dividend Investors Won’t Want to Overlook. The growth story he says is that “With today’s larger wind turbines able to generate more power, wind farm operators are increasingly looking to repower legacy locations. It also certainly helps that they can earn high returns on investment with these projects, which will allow them… to increase their dividends. That’s why income-focused investors won’t want to overlook this key trend.” End quote.

Here’s what he says about three leading companies engaged in this sector.

He first writes about TerraForm Power (NASDAQ:TERP), Mr. DiLallo says that “TerraForm Power currently has three repowering projects under development… The company would replace turbines built about a decade ago with newer ones that have larger rotors, enabling them to produce 25% to 30% more power than the existing ones… [He adds] the company could increase its payout toward the higher end of its 5% to 8% annual target range through 2022 thanks to these wind repowering projects.” End quote.

His second pick is NextEra Energy Partners (NYSE:NEP). About this company he writes, “NextEra Energy Partners also has some wind repowering projects under way… These investments will generate more than a 10% return on investment, helping grow the cash flow… and increases NextEra Energy Partners’ ability to grow its dividend toward the high end of its 12% to 15% annual range through 2024.” End quote.

His final choice is Pattern Energy (NASDAQ:PEGI), which he says is “is working on a project to repower its Gulf Wind facility… The project is an essential piece of the company’s strategy to reduce its dividend payout ratio from 99% last year to a more comfortable 80% by the end of 2020. Once it achieves that targeted level, it could start growing its dividend once again.” End quote.


5. 3 Clean Energy ETFs for a Brighter Future

Now Todd Shriber has written a post titled, 3 Clean Energy ETFs for a Brighter Future on the InvestorPlace site. He says that I quote, “These clean energy ETFs have been winners this year and will keep that bullishness going in 2020.” End quote.

First, of the three ETFs, Mr. Shriber writes about is iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (NASDAQ:ICLN). About this ETF he says, “[It] is one of the oldest and largest green energy ETFs. In fact, iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, which debuted in mid-2008, has $376.2 million in assets under management, making it the second-largest green energy ETF overall.” End quote.

The second ETF is the ALPS Clean Energy ETF (CBOE:ACES). About it he says, “[It’s] about 16 months old, making it one of the newer members of the green energy ETF competition, but the fund has been a stud since coming to market. This year’s gain of more than 22% proves as much.” End quote.

The third pick is the Global X YieldCo & Renewable Energy Income ETF (NASDAQ:YLCO) which he says, “has a trailing 12-month dividend yield of 3.46%.” adding that, “These days, that’s sturdy regardless of asset class.” And then remarks that “The dividend buffer keeps Global X YieldCo & Renewable Energy Income ETF’s volatility low relative to standard green energy ETFs… However, that hasn’t weighed on performance as the fund is higher by more than 11% year-to-date.” End quote.


So, these are my top news stories and tips for ethical and sustainable investors over the past two weeks.

Again, to get all the links or to read the transcript of this podcast and sometimes get additional information too, please go to investingforthesoul.com/podcasts and scroll down to this episode.

And be sure to click the like and subscribe buttons in iTunes/Apple Podcasts or wherever you download or listen to this podcast and please click the share buttons to share this podcast with your friends and family. That way you can help promote not only this podcast but ethical and sustainable investing globally and help create a better world for us all.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the content of this podcast or anything else related.

Now, a big thank you for listening.

Come again! And my next podcast is scheduled for November 22. See you then. Bye for now.


© 2019 Ron Robins, Investing for the Soul.

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