Podcast: Gun-Free Funds and Eco Crypto Picks

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Gun-Free Funds and Eco Crypto Picks. Articles covered include: “Opinion: This pacifist, faith-based fund-management company is fighting gun violence in its own way”; “Values-based Investing: 3 ESG, Sharia-compliant ETFs To Know”; “This Renewable Energy Stock Is Plugging Into 2 Potentially Massive Market Opportunities”; Kraft Heinz A Top Socially Responsible Dividend Stock With 4.3% Yield”; and “The Five Best Eco-Friendly Cryptocurrencies.”

Podcast: Gun-Free Funds and Eco Crypto Picks

Transcript & Links, Episode 84, June 3, 2022

Hello, Ron Robins here. Welcome to my podcast episode 84 published on June 3, 2022, titled “Gun-Free Funds and Eco Crypto Picks” — and presented by Investing for the Soul. Investingforthesoul.com is your site for vital global ethical and sustainable investing mentoring, news, commentary, information, and resources.

Remember that you can find a full transcript, and links to content – including stock symbols, quotes, and bonus material – at this episode’s podcast page located at investingforthesoul.com/podcasts.

Now if any terms are unfamiliar to you, simply Google them.

Also, just a reminder. I do not evaluate any of the stocks or funds mentioned in these podcasts, nor do I receive any compensation from anyone covered in these podcasts. Furthermore, I will reveal to you any personal investments I have in the investments mentioned herein.

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1. Gun-Free Funds

With all the talk about the horrific gun violence in the US, investors often wonder if they can invest in gun-free funds? This article on MarketWatch provides insight into one such fund. It’s titled, Opinion: This pacifist, faith-based fund-management company is fighting gun violence in its own way. It’s by Debbie Carlson.

Here are some quotes.

“Faith-based investment funds have long tried to reduce gun violence through advocacy, with some success.

One fund family, Praxis Mutual Funds, has worked on this issue in conjunction with other faith-based groups for at least 20 years. The fund manager follows pacifist values, so it has no weapons investments in its $2 billion asset pool…

Mark Regier, vice president of stewardship investing and director of sales for Praxis Mutual Funds in Goshen, Indiana, spoke to MarketWatch about the company’s work, some of the limits of investor advocacy and a solution he wishes for.

Q and A

MarketWatch: Faith-based investment funds have tried to reduce gun violence for many years now. What are some of Praxis’ efforts?

Regier: Starting in 2018-2019, we started looking at how the credit-card companies and banks are involved. Citigroup (C) imposed new restrictions on lending to retail clients involved in the gun business. Car rental companies like Hertz (HTZ) and Alamo, national hotels like Wyndham (WH) and Best Western, airlines like Delta (DAL) and United (UAL) stopped offering National Rifle Association-related promotions.

We’ve been involved with conversations that led to Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) and Walmart (WMT) ending the sales of some of their weapons. Kroger (KR) has chosen to exit the firearms business…

Marketwatch: Many gun manufacturers are small-cap and mid-cap stocks, so the direct financial effect is limited. But it’s the cultural aspect that looms large and makes it a tougher fight — that’s what it sounds like.

Regier: … On the cultural issue, there may be lessons learned with the advocacy of reducing tobacco use, like media not making it sexy. There’s a lot to be explored there (to apply to lowering gun violence). But the hill to climb on this issue is a lot tougher because our cultural attachment to the renegade, lone-justice-seeking gunman … We also have easy access to guns and a desensitization to violence as a solution…

MarketWatch: How can investors think about this issue?

Regier: It’s an opportunity to reflect on one’s own values to understand how deeply do they go… I think then you begin to look at fund families that are out there that are not just carrying some ESG label, but that are actually working beyond that, that are doing shareholder advocacy.” End quotes.

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2. Gun-Free Funds

In this next article, you’ll find another faith-based fund as well as an ESG gun-free fund. It’s titled Values-based Investing: 3 ESG, Sharia-compliant ETFs To Know by Eliezer Toh. It’s found on syfe.com.

(Please note though that only the first fund might fully conform to Islamic Law). Here are quotes from the article.

“Many people want to make sure they aren’t investing in companies that go against their beliefs and values…

This growing sector includes Sharia-compliant investments as well as funds screened through environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors… Here are three ETFs to consider.

1) SP Funds S&P 500 Sharia Industry Exclusions ETF (SPUS)

(This fund) invests in companies within the S&P 500 index, excluding those that don’t comply with Islamic law i.e. firms involved in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons, pork products, adult entertainment, credit cards, and charging interest…

The ETF also screens out companies with a lot of debt…

The top holdings (in this fund) include Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Tesla. Overall, the ETF has 215 holdings, less than half of a S&P 500 ETF like SPY…

In terms of performance, in 2021 (this fund rose) 35.2% (versus) SPY’s 28.6%…

(This fund) is offered by SP Funds, a fund manager dedicated to halal, Sharia-compliant financial solutions. (It) has an expense ratio of 0.49%.

2) iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF (ESGU)

(This fund) gives investors exposure to large- and mid-cap US stocks with favorable ESG ratings. It’s designed for… the long-term.

(The fund) has an MSCI ESG fund rating of AAA (leader) and excludes companies involved in civilian firearms, controversial weapons, tobacco, thermal coal and oil sands.

Some of its top holdings include Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Johnson & Johnson…

(The fund) has an expense ratio of 0.15%, making it one of the cheaper ETFs in the ESG space.”

3) Engine No. 1 Transform 500 ETF (VOTE)

VOTE aims to bring about transformational changes in companies through shareholder activism.

The activist hedge fund behind the ETF, Engine No. 1, came into prominence after winning three ExxonMobil board seats in June 2021…

The ETF buys shares in 500 of the largest US stocks and aims to lobby other shareholders of these companies to vote in favour of climate change and ESG agendas…

It carries an expense ratio of just 0.05%, similar to most low-cost S&P 500 ETFs. " End quotes.

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This Renewable Energy Stock Is Plugging Into 2 Potentially Massive Market Opportunities

Now, we return to a familiar theme, evident from this next article’s title This Renewable Energy Stock Is Plugging Into 2 Potentially Massive Market Opportunities. It’s by one of our great regular analysts, Matthew DiLallo from fool.com. Here are some quotes.

Brookfield Renewable (BEPC)(BEP) started as a hydroelectric power producer. It has since become a large-scale renewable energy company by adding onshore wind, utility-scale solar, distributed generation (e.g., rooftop solar), and energy storage platforms… It (is) one of the largest renewable energy producers in the world…

Recently, the company added two new potentially massive long-term growth drivers in green hydrogen and carbon capture.

The economy needs a versatile fuel like natural gas to help manage seasonality and renewable energy's intermittency issues. Many believe that green hydrogen could be the solution…

Brookfield is seeking to tap into the hydrogen opportunity. In late 2020, it agreed to supply renewable energy to fully energize a planned green hydrogen plant by Plug Power (PLUG)…

Brookfield Renewable is also joining forces with energy infrastructure giant Enbridge (ENB) to build a green hydrogen plant in Canada…

Brookfield Renewable also sees a bright future in carbon capture. That recently led it to invest in a leading North American modular carbon capture solutions provider…

These emerging industries could be major growth drivers.” End quotes.

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Kraft Heinz A Top Socially Responsible Dividend Stock With 4.3% Yield

Now many of you seek dividends from quality ESG companies. This article might pique your interest. It’s titled Kraft Heinz A Top Socially Responsible Dividend Stock With 4.3% Yield at forbes.com from the Dividend Channel. Here are some quotes.

“Kraft Heinz (KHC)has been named a Top Socially Responsible Dividend Stock by Dividend Channel, signifying a stock with above-average ‘DividendRank’ statistics including a strong 4.3% yield, as well as being recognized by prominent asset managers as being a socially responsible investment… According to the ETF Finder at ETF Channel, Kraft Heinz is a member of the iShares USA ESG Select ETF (SUSA)… which owns $4,959,267 worth of Kraft Heinz shares…” End quotes.

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1. Eco Crypto Picks

Numerous investors today are buying cryptocurrencies. For ethical and sustainable investors, which ones should they favor? This article might help you. It’s titled The Five Best Eco-Friendly Cryptocurrencies by Justin Freeman. It appeared on asktraders.com. Here are some quotes from Mr. Freeman.

“One of the biggest challenges facing cryptocurrencies is the amount of energy needed to operate the blockchain systems which support them. Bitcoin and Ethereum currently use as much energy each year as Argentina, Malaysia, and the Netherlands…

The accounting methodologies of Cardano, Polkadot, Ripple, and Tezos have been designed to use less energy. They also offer faster processing times and a range of other features which make them better equipped to take crypto to the next level.

1. CARDANO (ADA)

Cardano was founded in 2015 and launched in 2017 by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson. The aim was to take the best bits of Ether but use ‘Proof of Stake’ (PoS) protocols to manage the blockchain. PoS is a much more eco-friendly methodology than the ‘Proof of Work’ (PoW) system used by Bitcoin and Ether.

2. RIPPLE (XRP)

The Ripple network cuts down on its carbon footprint by using trusted validators to confirm transactions and keep track of its XRP tokens. The fact that all XRP coins have already been mined also helps, and Ripple has a stated aim to be carbon neutral by 2030…

An SEC lawsuit hangs over Ripple. The case was brought against the firm in 2020, but when it is resolved, the price of XRP can be expected to rise.

3. TEZOS (XTZ)

Tezos uses Liquid Proof of Stake protocols to manage its consensus mechanism. The energy savings are substantial and have also been audited by the internationally recognised accounting and auditing form PwC.

4. POLKADOT

Polkadot uses PoS protocols to take energy efficiency to another level. The Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute (CCRI) found that Polkadot emerged as the network with the least electricity consumption compared with Ethereum, Solana, Bitcoin, and other top cryptos.

5. BITGREEN (BITG)

BitGreen was created to offer an eco-friendly alternative to Bitcoin. It uses Proof of Stake protocols, and there is no need for energy-intensive mining of new coins. Energy saving is part of the coin’s DNA, and it draws on behavioural science to encourage behaviour which is good for the environment. Users are rewarded for actions such as drinking sustainable coffee, carpooling, and volunteering.” End quotes.

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2. Eco Crypto Picks

Now some thoughts from a crypto enthusiast who is also a socially responsible investor.The article is titled Here's Why I'm Putting My Crypto Investments on Hold by Emma Newbery in The Motley Fool. Now some quotes from Ms. Newberry.

“I'm passionate about cryptocurrency… More recently, I've paused my crypto purchases, at least for a little while.

To be clear, I'm not selling any of my existing investments. I plan to hold for at least 10 years, and probably more, and I'm earning decent rates of interest on many of my crypto assets. However, for me, it's a good time to take a step back. Here are four reasons why.

1. My portfolio is out of balance.

2. I want to see what regulation will bring.

3. The market may well fall further.

4. I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the shadier side of crypto.

I am extremely conscious about the way I spend and invest my money. I opt for fair trade products and prioritize socially responsible investments.

In crypto, I'm a big fan of Cardano (ADA), which has a mission to use blockchain to make the world a better place. But there are still too many elephants in the room to think that crypto is an ethical investment.

Here are a few:

  • Money laundering.
  • Ransomware.
  • Lack of transparency.
  • An overreliance on stablecoins.
Bottom line

Cryptocurrency remains an exciting and fascinating industry with huge amounts of potential. However, it also carries a lot of risk.” End quotes.

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Ending Comment

Well, these are my top news stories with their stock and fund tips -- for this podcast: “”

To get all the links, and stock symbols, or to read the transcript of this podcast -- and more -- go to investingforthesoul.com/podcasts and scroll down to this episode.

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Contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for listening.

Talk to you next on June 17. Bye for now.

© 2022 Ron Robins, Investing for the Soul

90 episodes