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While it is of course a subjective decision to label any one company socially responsible, the Dow Jones Sustainability United States Index provides investors who are interested in making socially responsible investments an easy way to produce a shortlist of companies that are generally regarded as among the most socially responsible public companies. The index is reviewed quarterly in order to stay up to date with the changing business environment.

This can be particularly useful for individual investors, since researching all the aspects of a large company's operations and business practices in order to rule out the existence of any socially responsible activity can be quite time-consuming. In other words, limiting your investment selections to companies listed on an index such as this will likely not create an investment portfolio that perfectly matches all of your political and ethical concerns, but it will ensure that your investment capital goes into companies that are regarded as socially responsible on average compared to most companies. (To learn more, check out Change The World One Investment At A Time.)

Responsible But Still Profitable
Investors, however, don't want to suffer losses on their investments, even if they are socially responsible ones. With that in mind, here are five stocks currently listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability United States Index that have produced positive returns over the past year.

Company 52-Week Price Change Market Cap
Abbott Laboratories
12.1% $89B
1.02% $24.4B
29.4% $42.8B
0.52% $124.3B
8.67% $50.9B
Data as of market close August 27, 2008

Abbott Laboratories
Illinois-based Abbott Labs has been around the block a few times having been incorporated a little more than a century ago. The company develops, manufactures and markets a host of well-known healthcare products ranging from Vicodin to Biaxin.

Abbott Labs coming off a solid second quarter, where it saw worldwide sales rise 14.8% from about $6.4 billion in the comparable period last year to $7.3 billion. Meanwhile its earnings rose from 69 cents per share in the comparable period last year to 84 cents in the quarter, a 21.7% jump.

The company also increased its guidance for the full-year to $3.24-$3.28 per share from $3.20-$3.25 per share, excluding special items. The middle of these new expectations reflects growth of approximately 15%. The Street is looking for $3.27 a share. (For more check out Measuring The Medicine Makers.)

As far as social responsibility goes, according to the company's website Abbott has received, for the 10th time, the annual Illinois Governor's Pollution Prevention Award for outstanding environmental excellence. The award recognizes company's that have reduced gaseous, liquid and solid waste. In addition, the site states that Abbott was "recertified in 2007 by the Wildlife Habitat Council Wildlife at Work SM/International Accreditation Program, which recognizes meaningful wildlife habitat management programs, including environmental education programs."

The Downside
Abbott trades in the upper end of its 52-week range. Any stumble, including an earnings miss or litigation, could send the stock lower.

What do you think of socially responsible investing? Are any of these socially responsible stocks prudent investments? Join in the FREE Stock Picking Community to share your thoughts and see what other investors are saying.

To learn about investing the anti-corporate way, read Extreme Socially Responsible Investing.

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