As most of us rush to get our holiday shopping done over the next week (or chose to do so while sitting with our tablets at the kitchen table), we’ll be checking off our lists of who has been naughty or nice. You know who you are! One item to possibly check off your list is to figure out which companies in your portfolio are being naughty or nice.
SustainVest Management continues to monitor sustainability criteria for clients’ positions in their portfolios, keeping a keen eye on which companies are performing well and also the ones that are doing poorly. The below is referenced from a recent Consumer Reports list. After reading the info below, you can show off at your family holiday gatherings with some interesting information, both good and bad!
|COMPANY||ISSUE||YTD 2014 STOCK PERFORMANCE (as of 12/10/2014)|
|AT&T||Ol’ big blue. Federal Trade Commission sued AT&T for allegedly misleading millions of smartphone users who signed up for unlimited data plans, claiming the carrier failed to adequately disclose that data speeds would be dramatically slower if customers exceeded a certain amount of data in a billing cycle, a practice known as throttling. The case has yet to be resolved.||-6.91%|
|M&T Bank||Malicious and Tricky Bank. This Northeast bank, advertised “no strings attached” free checking accounts. When consumers failed to meet the requirements, M&T automatically switched them to accounts with fees. The bank will have to refund $2.9 million to the approximately 59,000 consumers.||+8.44%|
|Marriott Intl.||Hotel, Shmotel. Federal Communications Commission hit the hotel with a $600,000 fine for violating the law by jamming mobile hotspots at Convention Center in Nashville. Guests couldn’t log onto to their personal networks. At the same time, the hotel charged from $250 to $1,000 per device to use the Wi-Fi service in the conference facilities.||+58.00%|
|Overstock.com||Fragile, must be Italian. No returns, no refunds on television sets 37 inches and larger, the policy says. The company advises customers to “carefully inspect the package” when it arrives and refuse delivery if you spot damage or defects.||-13.8%|
|Spirit Airlines||How about another bag of peanuts? The low-priced carrier, which famously nickels and dimes passengers for everything aside from the basic ticket, has hiked baggage fees by $2 per bag for the holiday season. They characterize the fee as “temporary.”||+65.73|
|CVS||Put out the smoke! More than 7,700 CVS pharmacies became tobacco-free as of Sept. 3. Putting an end to the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use.||+27.39%|
|Discover Cards||Discovery has landed. Urging consumers to be vigilant about checking their credit scores, Discover made it easier by becoming the first major credit-card issuer to provide free FICO scores on monthly statements. The data is from TransUnion, one of the big-three credit reporting agencies.||+14.44%|
|Starbucks||Kiss a barista today! More than 70 % of Starbucks’ employees are students.The company is offering them the opportunity to finish their bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement. Full- or part-time, benefits-eligible workers can choose from among 40 undergraduate-degree programs through Arizona State University’s online program. And they’re not obligated to continue working for the company after graduation.||+6.67%|
|UPS||High five a UPS delivery person today! Few things are as aggravating during the holidays as missing a package delivery because you’re not home or having to travel out of the way to drop off a package. Enter UPS Access Point, an innovative service from UPS that allows customers to drop off and drivers to deliver goods to a safe, preapproved nearby location—The UPS Store, supermarket, convenience store, and the like.||+5.61%|
|Whole Foods||Now this is a grocery store! A Consumer Reports poll earlier this year revealed that 92 percent of Americans want to know if their food is genetically modified. Whole Foods became the first national grocery chain to commit to mandatory labeling of products that include GMOs. The company already labels many products, but will require transparency among all such products by 2018.||-17.36%|
Dale Wannen is President of Sustainvest Asset Management, an independent investment advisory firm that specializes in socially and environmentally responsible investing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.