Our Worldwide Sustainability strategy was launched in November 2012. It is an unconstrained investment strategy, by which we mean it is not restricted to certain countries, and is able to invest in between 40-60 companies all over the world. As with all of our strategies, we are interested in finding only the very best businesses; those with high quality management teams, franchises, and financials, that are well positioned to contribute to, and benefit from, sustainable development.
Proxy voting: Q4 2023
Worldwide Sustainability proxy voting: 1 October - 31 December 2023
During the quarter there were 42 resolutions from five companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we didn't vote against any resolutions.
Proxy voting: Q3 2023
Worldwide Sustainability proxy voting: 1 July - 30 September 2023
During the quarter there were 79 resolutions from eight companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against two resolutions.
We voted against the appointment of the auditor at Advanced Drainage Systems and Vitasoy 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. (two resolutions).
Proxy voting: Q2 2023
Worldwide Sustainability proxy voting: 1 April - 30 June 2023
During the quarter there were 449 resolutions from 32 companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against 30 and abstained one resolution.
We voted against the appointment of the auditor at A.O. Smith, Arista Networks, Beiersdorf, bioMérieux, Cognex, Constellation Software, Edwards Lifesciences, Elisa, Fortinet, Markel, Synopsys, Texas Instruments, Veeva Systems, Watsco and Zebra 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. (16 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 Natura’s remuneration policy as we do not believe it is particularly long-term and the absolute pay amounts have increased significantly, especially in the context of recent poor performance. We voted against the establishment of a supervisory council as at the time of voting the company had not disclosed the candidates that would be up for election. We also voted against the election of a candidate, appointed by minority shareholders, to the supervisory council in alignment with our vote against the establishment of the supervisory council and we do not believe the candidate is truly independent. (four resolutions)
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 Zebra Technologies’ executive compensation as we believe there is a large disparity between the CEO’s pay and the other executives. (one resolution)
We voted against a shareholder proposal requesting A.O. Smith report on racism in company culture. We believe the company is committed to diversity and inclusion as reflected in its Board which is 50% female and/or from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. The company began tracking racial diversity in leadership roles in 2021, has enhanced its inclusivity training for leaders and continues to promote and discuss the topic heavily. (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 voted against a shareholder proposal at Veeva Systems which requested amendments to bylaws. We believe the company is shareholder friendly, and the proposal would breach the Company’s Certification of Incorporation. (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)
Proxy voting: Q1 2023
Worldwide Sustainability proxy voting: 1 January - 31 March 2023
During the quarter, there were 86 resolutions from six companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against six resolutions.
We voted against the appointment of the auditor at Infineon Technologies and Nordson 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 voted against Nordson’s remuneration proposal, as we have done at the previous three annual general meetings. Our preference is for schemes that are reasonable and simple, and while we do not disagree with any of the chosen metrics in their own right, we think five separate performance metrics split across various payment methods is overly complex. We also voted against the company’s request to eliminate the requirement for supermajority support for proposals, such as mergers and takeovers, as we believe the supermajority condition makes it more difficult for would-be acquirers with short-term agendas to enact a takeover. (four resolutions)
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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 December 2023. *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).