Back in April 2007 we had a post, "Moral Judgment On 'Sin Stocks' Means Higher Returns For Vice-Friendly Investors" where we explained:
...Prof. Hong lists his research interests as: "Asset pricing with less-than-fully-rational investors; differences of opinion, short-sales constraints and asset prices; social interaction and financial markets; career concerns, biased forecasts and security analysts; organization, performance and mutual funds; asset pricing with asymmetric information and other market imperfections."This apparently tickled the fancy of Mark Gongloff who at the time was both Markets Editor of the online Wall Street Journal and proprietor of the journal's Energy Roundup blog. He titled his post "Blog Roll: The Wages of Sin" and although he was very verde, agreed with the thesis.
Hey! Mine too!...
...The fact that an individual investor (or hedgie) won't be elbowed away from the trough by CALPERS means your entry price into a name won't carry a societal approval premium. On the other hand your exit price will be lower to the extent your universe of buyers is limited to vice-savvy investors (hedgies).
And what does this have to do with global warming investments?
One-as social pressure builds to be perceived as green, see Yahoo yesterday ("Our numbers suck but we're carbon neutral!) we should see an expanding green premium.
Two-as the dirtiest, filthiest, vilest, Hitlerian energy sources are shunned (at least in polite company) their risk premia will shrink. At least until I join my brother Greenshirts in a Night of the Longknives at BTU headquarters, 701 Market St., St. Louis, MO 63101.
Ahem. Excuse me. Got carried away.
See you at the face-painting booth Sunday, Earth Day.
Here's a three year comparison (from BigCharts) of Peabody Energy, the largest coal company in the U.S (BTU); the S&P 500 index; the Vice Fund (VICEX) and the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW). Over the period since the vice post, only BTU shows a profit, up 14-point-something percent, the S&P and VICEX are down approx. 20 and 25% respectively and the clean energy ETF (PBW) is down almost 50%:
Mr. Buffett knows the pleasures of sin, witness BRK's ownership of KO, See's Candies, BNSF- the nations largest coal hauler, Dairy Queen*, etc. Here's the headline story, from DealBook:
Berkshire Hathaway announced late Monday that McLane, its subsidiary, had struck a deal to acquire Kahn Ventures, which distributes wine, beer and spirits in Georgia and North Carolina. The company did not disclose how much it had agreed to pay.
Kahn operates through a unit called Empire Distributors. True to custom, Berkshire will keep the management of the distributor in place, saying that “the only change to Empire’s business will be new access to enhanced resources, operational best practices and intellectual capital.”
In the statement, Warren E. Buffett raised the possibility of more such deals.
“We expect that the Empire acquisition will provide us with a solid platform for potentially acquiring other similar high quality wholesale distributors,” he said.
The Berkshire unit, McLane, is a wholesale distributor in the food service sector, and supplies more than 60,000 locations, according to the statement.
DealBook links to the press release that came out over BusinessWire (a Berkshire Hathaway company).
*Speaking of sin, here's Warren explaining credit default swaps during the roll-out of the Thin Mint Blizzard at an Omaha DQ:
Okay what he actually said was:
“The biggest suggestion I have is to avoid credit cards. Interest rates are very high on credit cards. Sometimes they are 18 percent. Sometimes they are 20 percent. If I borrowed money at 18 or 20 percent, I’d be broke… So if I had one piece of advice for young people generally it would be to just avoid credit cards.”
-From the Dairy Queen blog.