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Study finds no sustainability - performance link

GERMANY - A study commissioned by sustainable investment research group scoris shows no evidence that sustainable corporate behaviour leads to better financial performance.

The study, covering all DAX 30 corporations, was carried out by the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW). It compared each company’s stock market performance from January 1999 to October 2003 with its sustainability rating as calculated by scoris.

But the correlation was insignificant. The ratings used by the study are published in “Light and Shade – the sustainability performance of large German corporations”.

This is the first ever listing of comparative sustainability ratings for the biggest German companies. Each rating sums up in one number how actively a company works to find sustainable solutions.

The system makes it possible, for the first time, to compare these companies across the boundaries of industry sectors.

The best rating was achieved by HypoVereinsbank AG, followed by Henkel KGaA and Schering AG. Ratings achieved ranged between 2.6 (worst) to 7.1 (best), with an average of 5.6.

Of the 30 companies in the listing, 13 achieved a score of six or over. According to scoris principles, this means they have a solid to good sustainability performance. A further 13 companies are clustered around the average rating, indicating that they have not yet fully met the challenge of sustainable performance.

There were four companies with below-average scores, and scoris says this is where the greatest potential for improvement lies.

Axel Wilhelm, managing director of scoris, said: “The ranking shows that the DAX 30 corporations accept the challenges of sustainability to very different degrees. On one hand, there are advanced activities to be seen in the fields of environmental protection and employees.

“On the other, there are many corporations where not much attention is paid to areas such as active social engagement or the increasingly important issue of human rights and suppliers.”

Scoris’ single overall rating for companies contrasts with the ratings produced by EIRIS. EIRIS uses 250 criteria, filtered according to the policies of the fund which is looking to invest.

EIRIS’s research in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is carried out by IMUG. Kirein Franck, head of investment research, IMUG, said: “There is increasing awareness of socially responsible investment among German pension fund trustees, but it will take some time before this gets translated into practice.”


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