What is Socially Responsible Investing?

Social investors recognize that every financial transaction has social implications as well as monetary ones. While traditional investing is aimed exclusively at maximizing financial value, social investing takes account of both financial and social bottom lines. Socially responsible investing can be a catalyst for positive social change or merely a way to help the investor sleep better at night. See our services »

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News & Blog

Vermont Pension Board Rejects Fossil Fuel Divestment

July 29, 2015

Citing a conflict with its ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Initiatives policy, the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) voted unanimously to reject fossil fuel divestment on July 28. Vermont’s state director of investments dismissed divestment as a mere “publicity stunt” in the Burlington Free Press, while VPIC’s chairman told the Vermont Digger, “We were not created as an agent of social change.”

Regular readers of this blog know how deeply we disagree with VPIC’s reasoning, analysis and conclusions. Clean Yield’s Chief Investment Officer, Eric Becker, has testified repeatedly in favor of divestment and did so again on the 28th, accusing the treasurer’s staff of dodging the committee’s May 2015 request for a narrow study on the portfolio’s coal holdings in favor of a meaningless, flawed analysis of divestment from the whole energy sector. “From the start this report is only useful as a straw man for the staff to argue against divestment of any kind,” he told VPIC.

The staff report claims that the foregone return of divesting from energy stocks could be on the order of $9 million annually, based on trailing 10-year historical performance. Eric continued:

I am dismayed that the treasurer’s staff, headed by a CFA charter holder, would issue a report that states in bold type that the foregone return from divesting from energy stocks could be on the order of $9 million annually. Read more »

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General Mills Updates Pollinator Policies

July 8, 2015

Clean Yield Asset Management was pleased to withdraw a shareholder proposal at General Mills, co-filed with As You Sow Foundation, after a constructive dialogue resulting additional commitments by the company to support beleaguered pollinator populations. In so doing, General Mills has become the first major packaged foods company to improve policies to protect bees and other pollinators from the impacts of pesticides.

Since 2006, nearly one-third of all honeybee colonies in the US have vanished due to Colony Collapse Disorder. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which reviewed more than 800 peer-reviewed studies, neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) are causing significant harm to bees and ecosystems. Over the past decade, neonics have grown to roughly 25% of the global agrochemical market. Read more »

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Company Profiles

Century Bank (CNBKA): Good Business for Investors and the Community

May 22, 2015

Megabanks nearly ruined the U.S. financial system in 2008. What short memories we have. Today the heads of those institutions that were dubbed “too big to fail” are pressuring their congressional allies to dilute the reforms that were enacted (albeit weaker than reformers sought). As investors, we reject the notion that companies have to be global heavyweights to be attractive investments, and we also favor companies, either with our impact investments or publicly owned companies, that care about the communities where they do business.

Century Bank logoIn banking, some might consider community banks to be an anachronism in today’s complex, fast-changing world. We disagree. We think well-managed community banks can be good for both shareholders and their communities.

Century Bancorp was founded in 1969 by Marshall Sloane and is headquartered in Medford, Massachusetts. It has $3.8 billion in assets and 27 offices in 19 cities and towns in the Boston area. The bank is controlled by the Sloane family, with Marshall the chairman, son Barry the CEO, and daughter Linda Sloane Kay an executive vice president. Read more »

Symantec (SYMC): Cybersecurity for an Insecure World

May 22, 2015

Symantec is the world’s largest independent provider of information security products. It serves the consumer, business, and government markets, with its Norton consumer security products perhaps its best-known segment. The company operates in over forty countries and derives more than half its revenues from outside the U.S.

Symantec | United States Cybersecurity and data storage (and management) are two growing areas of technology spending. Symantec expects the overall security business to grow at a 10% annual rate over the next several years, while cybersecurity services could grow by 30% annually. Mobile and managed security services opportunities are particularly promising. The industry has shifted away from its historic reliance on “anti-virus” products, as they are too reactive. Instead, newer companies such as Palo Alto Networks and FireEye are taking a more proactive approach, monitoring networks for unusual activity to detect threats before they cause damage.

Symantec is offering new products to stay competitive in advanced threat protection.

In its recently released, annual Internet Security Threat study, Symantec found that cyberattacks and cybercrime against large companies rose 40% globally in 2014. Attacks on small- and medium-sized companies, which accounted for 60% of targeted attacks, increased roughly 30%. Notably large hacks occurred at Home Depot, JP Morgan, Staples, and Sony last year. Read more »

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