Our friends at JUST Capital, funded by billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, are out today with their annual list of companies that do the best job serving the needs of society. Number 1 on the list this year is Microsoft, knocking out last year’s winner, Intel, which came in at number 2. Others in the top ten: Alphabet, Texas Instruments, IBM, NVIDIA, VMware, Procter & Gamble, Adobe, and Cisco. You can find the full list of 100 here.
What earns these companies a place on the JUST list? The group’s rankings are based on public opinion polls looking at what Americans expect and want from big companies. Top of the list is how they treat their workforce – fair pay, benefits, etc. But the group also looks at commitment to customers, the benefit or harm caused by products and services, impact on the environment, commitment to communities, and corporate leadership and governance.
JUST says the 100 companies on their list:
–Pay median workers 26% more than other companies;
–Are 9 times more likely to have conducted gender pay equity analyses than other companies;
–Are nearly 4 times more likely to have diversity targets;
–And pay dramatically fewer fines for environmental, worker safety, or EEOC violations than other companies.
But the key finding is this: JUST companies have a 5% higher return-on-equity than other companies. Fortune’s Matthew Heimer has found other evidence to support that finding, and says investing in socially responsible companies could prove an especially sound strategy during a recession. (Anybody else out there sensing 2019 could be the year the next one starts?)
More news below. And you can get a taste of the interesting conversations going on this week at the Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA, by clicking here.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra is making tough decisions to make GM great again that don’t quite match President Donald Trump’s vision for making America great. GM announced last month that it would be shutting plants in Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, and Canada and cutting another 8,100 jobs elsewhere. It will also ramp up production in Mexico, which may not have been Trump’s goal when he negotiated the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace NAFTA or relaxed fuel standards. Wall Street Journal.
Step on the Gas
As global demand for oil catches up to supply, the United States will play a growing role in shaping the market. It is now both the biggest producer and consumer of oil in the world. That makes it less dependent on the OPEC oil cartel, which today agreed to lower production to try to stabilize volatile prices. CNBC.
The European Central Bank (ECB) updates its fiscal policy today and offers forward guidance at an 8:30am Eastern time (U.S.) press conference. The ECB’s Mario Draghi is expected to end a €2.6 trillion (US$2.95 trillion) quantitative easing (QE) bond buying program. Europe’s economy is not champing at the bit, with several recent forecasts lowering their expectations for growth and inflation, so Draghi must carefully follow through on the promised end to QE without undermining support for growth. Reuters.
May Another Day
British prime minister Theresa May survived yesterday evening’s confidence vote by the Conservative Party. Her win, 200 to 117, buys her another year as party leader while spelling out the size of the internal opposition she faces as she tries to push her Brexit deal through Parliament. Financial Times.
Around the Water Cooler
Hedge Wind Down
Jabre Capital Partners chief investment officer Philippe Jabre told investors that he was selling down the fund’s investments in a “disciplined manner” because the hedge fund did not anticipate the same opportunities in 2019 it had seen in the past. The decision follows those of 174 other hedge fund close-outs in the third quarter against only 30 new starts. Bloomberg.
Pelosi Accepts Limits
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who just won a nomination vote to return as speaker, has agreed to term limits for Democratic leadership. The new limits mean that she could serve at most another four years. New York Times.
Female characters who talk about something other than men may be too rare in the film world, but they correlate with profit, according to an industry study of 350 films. Big-budget films—over $100 million—that passed the so-called Bechdel Test grossed an average of $618 million compared to $413 million for those that did not. Fox Business.
China has detained a second Canadian in a possible escalation of the tensions between the two countries since Canada arrested Huawei finance chief Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the United States. CBC.