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January 14, 2005
2004 Socially Responsible Investment Fund Performance
    by William Baue

Of the broadly-screened SRI mutual fund tracked by SocialFunds.com, two earned over 20 percent returns, and six others joined them in outperforming more than 80 percent of their SRI and non-SRI peer funds.


Two of the broadly-screened socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual funds tracked by SocialFunds.com generated one-year returns in 2004 that broke above the 20 percent barrier. Broadly-screened funds apply a wide range of social and environmental criteria to the companies included and excluded from their portfolios, as compared to mainstream funds that apply no such screens or single-screen SRI funds.

Comparing performance to peer funds (both SRI and non-SRI) with similar investing goals and styles, these two funds joined six others in ranking below the 20th percentile--in other words, performing better than 80 percent of their peers. While returns are clearly a useful way to judge mutual fund performance, percentile rankings allow apples-to-apples comparisons of how funds fare in relation to like funds across the market, not just in relation to other SRI funds.

All the statistics quoted in this article are based on data provided by Thomson Financial Network covering the one-year period ending December 31, 2004, unless otherwise noted.

The Pax World Growth Fund (ticker: PXWGX) topped our list performance-wise, generating 22.04 percent returns over the past year to rank in the 9th percentile compared to its peer domestic equity growth funds. The Pax World Growth Fund's top three holdings are Autodesk (ADSK), Urban Outfitters (URBN), and Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH).

Unsurprisingly, the other fund to break into the 20s was the Ariel Fund (ARGFX), a perennial top performer. It generated 21.97 percent returns over 2004 to rank in the 19th percentile compared to its peer domestic equity growth funds. Such performance is no anomaly; the Ariel Fund's annualized returns over the past three years (13.98 percent), five years (16.84 percent), and ten years (16.24 percent) all place it in the top quarter percentile-wise compared to its peers.

The top three holdings in the Ariel Fund are Baxter International (BXL), Northern Trust (NTRS), and MBIA (MBI).

The highest-ranking SRI fund track by SocialFunds.com percentile-wise was the Pax World Balanced Fund (PAXWX), which ranked in the 3rd percentile compared to its peer domestic balanced funds with 13.39 percent returns.

Two SRI funds we track ranked in the 8th percentile compared to their peers: the Calvert Large Cap Growth Fund (CLGAX), which generated 16.67 percent returns, and the Sierra Club Stock Fund (SCFXS), a balanced growth fund that earned 16.23 percent returns.

The best-performing SRI fixed income fund percentile-wise was the Calvert Social Bond (CSIBX), which ranked in the 12th percentile with 5.94 percent returns.

Two other SRI funds tracked by SocialFunds.com broke the 20th percentile barrier: the IPS New Frontier Fund (IPSFX), which garnered 16.25 percent returns to rank in the 18th percentile, and the Aquinas Value Fund (AQEIX), which earned 15.93 percent returns to rank in the 19th percentile.

 

 
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