Stewart Investors Sustainable Funds Group invests in the shares of high quality companies that are well positioned to benefit from and contribute to the sustainable development of the countries in which they operate.
This client update provides strategy-specific portfolio changes and proxy voting details for the quarter. It also links to our latest articles and videos which explore our thinking on sustainable investment. Highlights include our climate change statement, the launch of our European Sustainability strategy, and company interviews with Dr. Reddy’s and Chr. Hansen on how their products and services are contributing to a more sustainable future.
We launched our first sustainable investment fund in 2005. At that time we were convinced all companies would need to adjust to operating in an increasingly carbon-constrained world, and more companies would need to develop solutions to make economies less carbon intensive. Our conviction has never waned, nor has the urgency of the carbon-reduction challenge.
This quarterly update provides links to our latest articles and videos which explore our thinking on sustainable investment. Highlights includes a company CEO interview on the importance of culture and articles on the sustainability of an imperfect giant and why we believe Payable Days matter.
The Fund did well in 2020, thanks in part to the generosity of central banks globally, while the real economy tried to shake off a pandemic. However, we believe that the real opportunity for investors in the subcontinent should be in the decade ahead. We are optimistic for two reasons.
Agricultural techniques have changed dramatically over the last 50 years, particularly in more developed nations. More efficient farm machinery, genetic modification of seeds and the use of fertilisers and agrochemicals have all helped to increase crop yields significantly. However, while the industrialisation of farming has brought a multitude of benefits, it is also contributing to an array of unintended negative consequences, particularly for the environment.
In the sequel to Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Alice climbs ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ and finds another fantastical world, absent of reason and where everything is reversed. This crisis of logic is all too evident when in investing in Asia Pacific.
If asked to list climate change solutions, many of us would start with renewable energy. It is obviously a key one given the use of fossil fuels for energy is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally.
We recognise the existence of inequality and institutional racism across the world – we share the horror felt by so many as we have witnessed events that highlight the inequality, prejudice and sheer injustice faced by members of the black community the world over.
Growing investor concerns about climate and societal crises have contributed to the burgeoning demand for ‘sustainable investment’ funds that take into consideration environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating personal and economic impact worldwide and there is an urgent need for governments, companies and individuals to play their part in helping to slow the spread, protect the vulnerable and minimise the human and economic toll.
Following our letter of 19 March 2020, we would like to provide further details about the transition of the Stewart Investors Asia Pacific Fund, as it becomes the Stewart Investors Asia Pacific and Japan Sustainability Fund. These changes officially take effect on 22 May 2020.
Highlights include a commentary piece on active versus passive investment in achieving sustainable development, a company profile, an India trip report, and a feature article on companies supporting the fight against COVID-19.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a clear and vital framework around which investors and the broader business community can unite to achieve a collective goal of cleaner business practices. One goal which many investors and businesses are placing emphasis on is SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Our philosophy at Stewart Investors is to invest in ‘quality companies’ and our process for identifying them has incorporated a rigorous evaluation of ESG for over three decades. However, our analysis of ESG has never stood in isolation, and must be taken together with assessment of management, franchise and financials.
In 2019, we commissioned a research project with the University of Technology (UTS) in Sydney to compile a set of recruitment and retention policies that have been implemented across geographies, industries, and organisations and can be tied to tangible improvements in diversity outcomes. This report, entitled Improving Gender Diversity, was completed a few months ago. It lays out a list of 13 tools that have been successfully used to recruit and retain women in organisations.
Emerging markets are usually seen as a risky asset class. News headlines in recent years of street protests, rapid currency devaluations and corporate governance blow-ups have done little to dispel these impressions.
As it is just over 12 months since we instigated the plastic pellet loss investor initiative, we thought we would take the opportunity to provide you with an update and summary of progress since our last update in March 2019.
This rule of thumb was coined in order to combat a common challenge facing teams trying to solve complex problems. In pursuits like investing, there is a tendency to increase the number of people providing input to the point that the team gets bloated and functions less efficiently.
We have often been asked how we narrow down a universe of 15,000 Asian and Emerging Markets companies to a portfolio of approximately 50. It’s a good question, particularly as now that we invest globally, giving us an investible universe of 65,000 companies, the challenge has become even starker.
We used to send letters to companies and stock exchanges extolling the virtues of single share classes, tag along-rights and ‘one share, one vote’. Today, we actively seek out companies with dual share classes. What has changed?
Sustainability issues – climate change, global food shortages, water shortages, and poverty, as well as safety, management and governance scandals – are now daily news headlines. Sustainability is relevant to making any allocation of capital. It is not intangible; it can be assessed at all levels of an investment process to allow for identification of elements of quality as well as less obvious risk. Ensuring your investment process incorporate these sustainability factors all adds up to better outcomes.
Sharing resources has gone on for as long as humans have been living in tribes. But without the enabling role of the internet or mobile devices it is hard work in a large complex society with a myriad of goods and services. The internet is now helping to solve this problem.
In 2010, Puma pioneered a new form of corporate reporting. The German sportswear company produced an environmental profit and loss account, which estimated the company and its supply chain to have caused €145m of environmental damage that year, relative to €202m of net profit.
At first glance, there is little about the current financial system that makes sense. The more one looks, the less sense it makes. In theory the financial sector is supposed to support the long-term growth of the real economy. In practice, it has become so detached from the real world that it is more akin to a fantasy land, inhabited by a growing number of peculiar characters undertaking nonsensical tasks. Lewis Carroll’s Alice would be very much at home.
Plastic is wonderful stuff. It is lightweight, so less carbon intensive to move around. It is durable, mouldable and less energy intensive to make than aluminium or glass. It helps reduce food waste and decreases the risk of food contamination.