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The Effect of Socially Responsible Investing on Portfolio Performance

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  • Alexander Kempf
  • Peer Osthoff

Abstract

More and more investors apply socially responsible screens when building their stock portfolios. This raises the question whether these investors can increase their performance by incorporating such screens into their investment process. To answer this question we implement a simple trading strategy based on socially responsible ratings from the KLD Research & Analytics: Buy stocks with high socially responsible ratings and sell stocks with low socially responsible ratings. We find that this strategy leads to high abnormal returns of up to 8.7% per year. The maximum abnormal returns are reached when investors employ the best‐in‐class screening approach, use a combination of several socially responsible screens at the same time, and restrict themselves to stocks with extreme socially responsible ratings. The abnormal returns remain significant even after taking into account reasonable transaction costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Kempf & Peer Osthoff, 2007. "The Effect of Socially Responsible Investing on Portfolio Performance," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 13(5), pages 908-922, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:eufman:v:13:y:2007:i:5:p:908-922
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-036X.2007.00402.x
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    1. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
    2. Bauer, Rob & Koedijk, Kees & Otten, Roger, 2005. "International evidence on ethical mutual fund performance and investment style," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1751-1767, July.
    3. Paul Gompers & Joy Ishii & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Corporate Governance and Equity Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 107-156.
    4. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
    5. N. Kreander & R.H. Gray & D.M. Power & C.D. Sinclair, 2005. "Evaluating the Performance of Ethical and Non-ethical Funds: A Matched Pair Analysis," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(7-8), pages 1465-1493.
    6. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
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