Blog posts by Zoltán Nagy
Despite strong headwinds, including renewed divestment pressure,1 the tobacco industry has proved quite resilient financially and outperformed the stock market over the past 18-1/2 years. So much so, that some institutional investors are now thinking of lifting tobacco bans in their investment policies. We found that most of the gains associated with holding tobacco stocks over this period were not specific to the tobacco industry, and could have been obtained in other ways. We also show it would have been possible to divest from tobacco without taking a hit to portfolio performance during our sample period.
We see a growing number of institutional investors seeking to avoid financial risks associated with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, or even to enhance returns by investing in companies that have strong ESG track records. As we wrote in an earlier blog post, these investors are typically looking to limit the number of companies excluded from their portfolios, both to avoid sacrificing diversification and to be active owners able to engage with corporate management.