SOCIAL INVESTMENT FORUM: CLEAN ENERGY/GREEN TECHNOLOGY FOCUS GROWING IN MUTUAL FUNDS, OTHER INVESTMENTS
Social Investment Forum Survey Finds 100 Percent of Respondents Report Growing Demand; 10 or More New Clean Energy/Green Technology Mutual Funds/Other Investments Expected
WASHINGTON, D.C.///October 16, 2008///Mutual fund families and financial professionals offering clean energy and “green technology” investment vehicles to investors are seeing strong demand for such offerings and plan to make available several new related investment vehicles by the end of 2009, according to a new survey of the 500-member Social Investment Forum (SIF), the U.S. membership association for socially and environmentally responsible investment professionals and institutions.
In detailed findings from a cross-section of 14 SIF members, the survey found:
* 100 percent of the respondents reported “clean energy/tech investing” demand is up among clients.
* 72 percent either responded “yes” (36 percent) or “possibly” (36 percent) when asked if they “have plans to introduce new clean energy/tech investing opportunities before the end of 2009.” (Based on the responses, this would result in a total of 10 or more possible new clean energy/green tech investment vehicles, including several mutual funds, ETFs and indexes.) Only four of the respondents indicated that they have no such plans.
* 17 mutual funds or other investment opportunities offered by the respondents now focus “exclusively on clean energy/tech investing.” The assets reported for these investment vehicles are in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars.
* Eight mutual funds or other investment opportunities focused “exclusively or partially on clean energy/tech” were identified as having been launched since January 1, 2007.
The group of core survey respondents were (in alphabetical order): Calvert, Eric Smith and Associates, First Affirmative Financial Network, 1st Portfolio, Green Century Capital Management, Troy Hunter (Walnut Street), KLD Research & Analytics, Krull & Company, MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, Pax World, Progressive Asset Management, SJF Ventures, Trillium Asset Management, and Winslow Management Co.
“As energy prices continue to fluctuate and the need to address climate change becomes ever more urgent, many investors want to blaze a trail for clean energy solutions that meet demand and respond to the impacts of climate change,” said Lisa Woll, chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based SIF. “Our new survey confirms that Social Investment Forum members are at the forefront of ‘green technology’ and clean energy investing, which is rapidly becoming a major element of the mainstream American investment marketplace.”
Jack Robinson, president of Winslow Management Company in Boston, MA, and portfolio manager of the Winslow Green Growth Fund, said: “Winslow has been involved in green investing for over 25 years, and the level of interest in our investment offerings has never been higher. Investors now recognize the growth opportunities that are available to companies that tackle climate change and develop clean sources of energy. The recent passage of sweeping federal tax incentives in support of clean energy will only serve to accelerate the already exciting growth within this sector.”
Bennett Freeman, senior vice president for social research and policy, Calvert mutual funds, Bethesda, MD., said: “We at Calvert believe that clean tech investment strategies are essential to address global sustainability challenges. That is why in the last year we have introduced two new funds: the Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund, and the Calvert Global Water Fund – to do just that.”
Adam Seitchik, lead portfolio manager, Green Century Balanced Fund, and chief investment officer, Trillium Asset Management, Boston, MA., said: "Clean energy stocks have been crushed this year despite the fact that revenues and profits are growing rapidly. However, we believe that despite the increased risks associated with the credit crisis, the fundamentals of these firms are so strong that they will find necessary financing to continue rapid growth. Among solar stocks we follow, revenues are likely to rise between 60 and 140 percent this year and between 45 and 200 percent next year, and most of the companies are now solidly profitable. Plunging stock prices have improved their valuations dramatically to between 10 and 20 times earnings. These are extraordinarily attractive valuations for fast-growing companies even if the earnings estimates come down due to slowing economies and the credit crisis."
Other key Social Investment Forum findings include:
* The percentage of investments managed by the respondents that are “in vehicles that contain a mix of clean energy/tech and other screened investments” ranges from 20 percent to 100 percent.
* The percentage of “investments (that) are in vehicles focused exclusively on clean energy/tech” runs from a low of 2 percent to a high of 25 percent.
* Nearly two out of three respondents (64 percent) said that it is “very important” to them “that clean energy/tech investment options be combined with shareholder advocacy and activism work to help move company policy and practice towards” better practices.
ABOUT THE ONLINE SURVEY
The online survey consisted of 14 questions and was conducted during September-October 2008 among the members of the Social Investment Forum. Of more than two dozen unduplicated responses, 14 were found to be complete on all major questions and used as the basis of this survey. The SIF survey is a membership poll and is not being put forward as a scientific survey that can be projected to include non-respondents.
ABOUT THE SOCIAL INVESTMENT FORUM
The Social Investment Forum (http://www.socialinvest.org) is the national membership association for the social investment industry. It is dedicated to the concept, practice, and growth of socially responsible investing. SIF's 500-plus members include financial planners, banks, mutual fund companies, research companies, foundations, and community investing institutions.
CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or email@example.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the October 16, 2008 news event will be available on the Web by 6 p.m. EDT on October 16, 2008 at http://www.socialinvest.org.