Worldwide Leaders Sustainability

Worldwide Leaders Sustainability

The Worldwide Leaders Sustainability strategy launched in November 2013 and transitioned to become a dedicated sustainability strategy in October 2016. 

The Worldwide Leaders Sustainability strategy launched in November 2013 and transitioned to become a dedicated sustainability strategy in October 2016. The strategy invests in 30-60 high-quality global companies that are particularly well positioned to contribute to, and benefit from, sustainable development.

Leaders simply means that this strategy is focused on companies with a market cap value of at least USD5 billion. 

Strategy highlights: a focus on quality and sustainability

  • Companies must contribute to sustainable development. Portfolio Explorer >

  • We invest in high-quality companies with exceptional cultures, strong franchises and resilient financials. How we pick companies >

  • We avoid companies linked to harmful activities and engage and vote for positive change. Our position on harmful products >

  • Our approach is long-term, bottom-up, high conviction and benchmark agnostic

  • We focus on capital preservation as well as capital growth – we define risk as the permanent loss of client capital

Latest insights

Proxy voting

Proxy voting: Q4 2023

Worldwide Leaders Sustainability proxy voting: 1 October - 31 December 2023

Proxy voting by country of origin

Proxy voting by proposal category

During the quarter there were 52 resolutions from six companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against one resolution.

We voted against the appointment of the auditor at Copart as they have been in place for over 10 years and the company has given no information on intended rotation. We believe rotating an auditor on a relatively frequent basis (e.g. every 5-10 years) helps to ensure a fresh pair of eyes are examining the accounts, and follows best practice. (one resolution)

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Proxy voting: Q3 2023

Worldwide Leaders Sustainability proxy voting: 1 July - 30 September 2023

Proxy voting by country of origin

Proxy voting by proposal category

During the quarter there were 51 resolutions from four companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we did not vote against any resolutions.

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Proxy voting: Q2 2023

Worldwide Leaders Sustainability proxy voting: 1 April - 30 June 2023

Proxy voting by country of origin

Proxy voting by proposal category

During the quarter there were 385 resolutions from 27 companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against 35 and abstained on one resolution.

We voted against the appointment of the auditor at Arista Networks, Beiersdorf, bioMérieux, Cognex, Constellation Software, Edwards Lifesciences, Expeditors, Fastenal, Fortinet, Graco, Markel, Old Dominion Freight Line, Roper Technologies, Synopsys, Texas Instruments and Watsco as they have been in place for over 10 years and the companies have given no information on intended rotation. We believe rotating an auditor on a relatively frequent basis (e.g. every 5-10 years) helps to ensure a fresh pair of eyes are examining the accounts, and follows best practice. (18 resolutions)

We voted against Edwards Lifesciences’ request to remove personal liability from certain senior officers. We believe such an amendment is unnecessary and do not think the company’s reasoning holds merit. (one resolution)

We voted against Fortinet’s request to remove personal liability from certain senior officers. We believe such an amendment is unnecessary and do not think the company’s reasoning holds merit. (one resolution)

We voted against a number of proposals relating to Philips. We voted against the allocation of dividends as we believe the company needs to pay back debts before paying out dividends. We voted against the company’s remuneration report as we believe the remuneration structure needs a complete overhaul which is not being addressed in the proposal despite there being an opportunity to do so. We voted against the election of the CFO and Chair of the Audit Committee given the precarious position of the company’s finances and in our view little has been done to improve the quality of the financials. We voted against the request to suppress pre-emptive rights of shareholders as the use of readjusted metrics to overlook accountability for acquisitions and other restructuring decisions is not something management and the Board have earned in our view. We also voted against the request to repurchase shares as we believe the company should use cash flows to reduce leverage. (six resolutions) 

We voted against Roper Technologies’ request to remove personal liability from certain senior officers. We believe such an amendment is unnecessary and do not think the company’s reasoning holds merit. (one resolution) 

We voted against Synopsys’ executive remuneration and amendments to their Employee Equity Incentive plan as we believe it is subject to adjustments to facilitate payments to management. (two resolutions) 

We voted against Texas Instruments’ executive remuneration, as we believe the absolute pay-outs for the CEO are high compared to other executive directors and the median employee. We also disagree with the vast majority of remuneration being discretionary and believe it is in shareholder interests for management to be measured against a few key metrics that hold them to account over the long term. (one resolution) 

We voted against WEG’s request to recast votes for the amended supervisory council slate, as we preferred to vote in favour of the female candidate nominated by minority shareholders and who has been on the fiscal council for two years. We abstained from voting on the election of the supervisory council as we preferred to support the minority candidate. (one resolution against, one resolution abstained)

We voted against two shareholder proposals relating to Expeditors. The first proposal requested the company seek shareholder approval for severance payments valued at 2.99 times the sum of salary and short-term bonus. The company has a very different remuneration culture to its peers. Managers are not paid bonuses if the company generates operating losses until all the losses are recouped. We believe the Board has also provided sufficient explanation that under no circumstances will executives be paid severance of that magnitude. The other proposal requested the company conduct further quantitative analysis and publish a report assessing its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. We believe the company’s approach to diversity is reasonable and that the Board has provided enough evidence of a responsible and progressive attitude to DEI matters. (two resolutions)

We voted against a shareholder proposal relating to Nestlé which would have enabled an independent proxy to vote on additional or amended proposals from shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting. We consider ourselves active shareholders and voting an important responsibility in our investment management duties. (one resolution)

We voted against a shareholder proposal relating to Synopsys which would enable shareholders with a combined 10% share ownership the right to call a special shareholder meeting. (one resolution)

We supported a shareholder proposal relating to Edwards Lifesciences which requested that the company separate the roles of the Chair and CEO. (one resolution)  

We supported shareholder proposals relating to Texas Instruments which requested the company report on its process for customer due diligence, by outlining sanctions and export control compliance, risks associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more information on the know-your-customer due diligence process, and an assessment of legal, regulatory and reputational risks to the company. We also supported a request for the company to adopt a 10% threshold for calling special meetings as currently the Board’s threshold is a shareholding of 25% which appears high. (two resolutions) 

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Proxy voting: Q1 2023

Worldwide Leaders Sustainability proxy voting: 1 January - 31 March 2023

Proxy voting by country of origin

Proxy voting by proposal category

During the quarter, there were 75 resolutions from six companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against two resolutions.

We voted against the appointment of the auditor at Costco and Infineon Technologies as they have been in place for over 10 years and the companies' have given no information on intended rotation. We believe rotating an auditor on a relatively frequent basis (e.g. every 5-10 years) helps to ensure a fresh pair of eyes are examining the accounts and follows best practice. (two resolutions)

We supported a shareholder proposal relating to Costco which requested the company provide a report on the risks caused by state policies restricting reproductive health care beyond litigation and legal compliance. Following a meeting with the company to discuss this proposal, we understand that the company has already done the work on this for their employees, so it is not a big ask for them to publish it, and we believe it would be useful for shareholders to have more information and clarity on the technicalities of the company’s healthcare policy. (one resolution) 

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Portfolio Explorer

If you are unable to view the portfolio explorer, please re-open in Google Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari or Opera. IE11 is not supported.

For illustrative purposes only. Reference to the names of example company names mentioned in this communication is merely for explaining the investment strategy and should not be construed as investment advice or investment recommendation of those companies. Companies mentioned herein may or may not form part of the holdings of Stewart Investors. Holdings are subject to change.

Certain statements, estimates, and projections in this document may be forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon Stewart Investors’ current assumptions and beliefs, in light of currently available information, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual actions or results may differ materially from those discussed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. There is no certainty that current conditions will last, and Stewart Investors undertakes no obligation to correct, revise or update information herein, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Source: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. Securities mentioned are all investee companies* from representative Asia Pacific Sustainability Strategy, Asia Pacific & Japan Sustainability Strategy, Asia Pacific Leaders Sustainability Strategy, European Sustainability Strategy, European (ex UK) Sustainability Strategy, Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Strategy, Global Emerging Markets Sustainability Strategy, Indian Subcontinent Sustainability Strategy, Worldwide Sustainability Strategy and Worldwide Leaders Sustainability Strategy accounts as at 31 March 2024. *Assets that the strategies may hold which an active decision has not been made, and sustainability assessment does not apply, include cash, cash equivalents, short-term holdings for the purpose of efficient portfolio management and holdings received as a result of mandatory corporate actions. Holdings of such assets will not appear on Portfolio Explorer.

The Stewart Investors supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The full list of SDGs can be found on the United Nations website.

Source for Climate Solutions and impact figures: © 2014–2024 Project Drawdown (drawdown.org). Source for Human Development Pillars: Stewart Investors investment team.

Source for climate solutions and human development analysis and mapping: Stewart Investors investment team. Contributions are defined by the team as demonstrable contributions to any solution, either direct (directly attributable to products, services or practices provided by that company), or enabling (supported or made possible by products or technologies provided by that company).

Investment terms

View our list of investment terms to help you understand the terminology within this document.