It is not often that one’s first meeting of the day starts with an exquisite rendering of a 19th Century Danish hymn by a quartet of professional musicians. The singing along with a crisp, cloudless but decidedly chilly Copenhagen morning served to kick-start a day-long discussion of how Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company1, should go about creating ‘sustainable value’.
There is some confusion these days about what SRI actually stands for. It used to mean Socially Responsible Investment, but then people decided that the ‘social’ bit was rather misleading, particularly when many funds in the sector were focused on sustainability, so it was changed to Sustainable and Responsible Investment. However, an article in February’s edition of the Observer Food Monthly provided yet another key to the acronym: In latest agricultural thinking, SRI stands for a new method of growing crops called System of Root Intensification.
The horse meat crisis continues to escalate since last month when Irish food inspectors announced they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by UK supermarket chains including Tesco. As it turned out, it was not only the UK and Ireland which had the problem. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands are the latest countries to confirm the discovery of horse meat in frozen meals, and millions of processed meat products have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across the EU.
Getting excited about the mass adoption of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) seemed a perfectly reasonable response to projections for the market in 2013 until a colleague pointed out that he could think of little else that would as surely send him to sleep. The comment reminded me of the quote from Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns. In the final verse of his ode ‘To a Louse’ he appeals for some power to give us the gift ‘to see ourselves as others see us’. It may indeed be that my colleague sees me as an energy efficiency nerd…
It is widely agreed that asset allocation accounts for the vast bulk of returns for most global equity funds. Within asset allocation, it is often regional bets that either deliberately or inadvertently end up driving performance. In my past experience as an Investment Trust analyst I saw this first hand as I met many managers of global funds who came to see me to explain their performance. Outperforming through stock selection in Japan was never enough to mitigate the effects of being overweight Japan whilst the market was falling in the early 1990’s.