We contended previously that membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership does not speak well of a company’s mission or strategy, although there are admittedly good performers on the list. This is because a well-managed corporation does not need government mandates to force businesses and individuals to buy its products (e.g. alternative energy sources, compact fluorescent lamps). As an example, if General Electric was up to the job of engineering cost-effective wind turbines and solar panels, it would probably not be able to make them quickly enough to keep up with demand even without tax credits to encourage their purchase. When Henry Ford engineered an affordable alternative to horses and their solid waste, he did not need government mandates to sell his product either.
As an experiment, we created a hypothetical stock portfolio that assumes the purchase of $1000 worth of each USCAP corporate member’s publicly traded stock on January 2, 2002. (It does not include Duke Energy, DUK, because there appears to have been a stock split of some kind, Shell Oil, which has multiple symbols, or NRG, which was not listed in 2002.) This gave us $18,000 in eighteen stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 10,073.40 and the Standard and Poor 500 closed at 1,154.67 on January 2, 2002. March 9’s closes were 6,547.05 (down 35%) and 676.53 (down 41.4%) respectively. Our hypothetical $18,000 worth of USCAP stock (18 companies) would be worth $10,555.58 (down 41.36%) on March 9. In other words, a portfolio of equally weighted USCAP publicly traded corporations underperformed the Dow, and just about equaled the S&P 500. Had we also purchased $1000 worth of former USCAP members Lehman Brothers and AIG, our $20,000 investment would now be worth about $10,556 or so, i.e. down 47 percent from January 2, 2002. (more…)