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Tickers in this Article: ADM, CAL, XOM
When it comes to going green there are basically three corporate outcomes that I've seen.

• The Good - The companies that go green and win.
• The Bad - The companies that go green and lose.
The Ugly - The companies who ignore this green talk altogether.

The Good
Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM)
Although the company's environmental record hasn't always been stellar, it is a large producer of ethanol-based fuels. Ethanol is a fuel that can be made from corn, and can be used to run engines like the one found in your car.

In any case, there's been a great deal of interest in the company recently because there is hope that this innovative fuel will become much more prevalent in the future. Proponents say that it has the potential to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, and that it is more environmentally friendly to produce than fossil fuel.

Shareholders are certainly excited. The stock has done quite well over the last couple of years, due to the increasing popularity and use of ethanol-based fuels, as well as its vast array of successful products ranging from food ingredients to wood preservatives.

On the earnings front, Wall Street figures the company will earn $2.53 a share this year and $2.94 next. In addition to that growth, the stock already pays a dividend, with a current yield of about 1.3%.

The Bad
Continental Airlines (NYSE:CAL)
Continental Airlines was recently selected by Fortune Magazine as one of its "10 Green Giants". And it is clearly a company that has taken strides to make itself green in recent years.

However, have its eco-friendly efforts actually lured a new customer base? I don't think so. In fact, I think most consumers would fly virtually any airline as long as it was considered safe and the airfair was cheap. And as far as its shareholders are concerned, they can't be too thrilled with the stock's performance over this past year, which has seen CAL shares slide steadily lower in value.

Wall Street is expecting the company to earn $4.55 a share this year, and $4.97 next, which is good. However, high fuel prices, a lack of demand for travel, increased competition and a slowing U.S. economy have dampened the outlook for both the December and March quarters. Continental proves that going green doesn't automatically produce greater profit, lead to a higher stock price or even increase the popularity for a company's products or services.

The Ugly
Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM)
The oil company has done a number of things to make sure that its oil is transported and distributed in a safe manner. However, it is still the subject of many an environmentalist's wrath, as it continues to fight punitive damages it was ordered to pay for the Exxon Valdez spill and lobbies for permission to drill in the Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

However, one thing is for certain, the world-renowned explorer and producer of black gold has done right by its shareholders over the last year. It's up more than 20% in the past 12 months. Plus, it carries a dividend with a current yield of 1.5%. Not too shabby!

The company has an extensive relationship with politicians and business leaders around the globe and over the long haul this should help ensure that it continues to be in on major finds. I also believe that the company has satisfactory assets and infrastructure to weather the boom and bust cycles that characterize this industry. Going forward, Wall Street expects the company to earn $7.02 per share this year and $7.16 per share next. For a company trading just north of $85 a share, that's pretty attractive.

However, if the price of oil does decline (due to a resolution of the ongoing conflict with Iran, for example), the stock could take a hit. (To learn more, see Unearth Profits In Oil Exploration And Production.)

Bottom Line
As you can see, there are instances where going green has helped companies, and instances where going green (or not going green) didn't make much of a difference. A company's investment merits should not be judged solely on how "green" it is. a company may be is just one of many factors investors need to consider, at least in my opinion.

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