Like most investors, you probably aim for the best possible return when picking potential investments. But as consumers increasingly clamor for companies to embrace social responsibility, good corporate citizenship is fast becoming a vital part of any business or stock's success.

Corporate Responsibility magazine recently released its "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list, in which it rated members of the Russell 1000 large-cap index on more than 300 different elements related to responsible behavior. In recent weeks, I've delved into six of the seven categories that contribute to a company's overall score: Environment, Climate Change, Human Rights, Philanthropy, Employee Relations, and Governance.

Today, we'll look at financial performance, which receives a 12.5% weighting. Among the overall top 100 companies, here are the 10 with the best financial ratings:

  • Cummins (NYSE: CMI)
  • Lubrizol 
  • Philips-Van Heusen
  • Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX)
  • Nike (NYSE: NKE)
  • Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP)
  • Ball
  • Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL)
  • Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY)

To earn relatively high financial scores, these companies needed to post numbers that serve their stakeholders well, including reporting positive income, paying dividends, sporting a positive current ratio, and posting a positive three-year stock return. Check them out in a little more detail:


Dividend Yield

Current Ratio

3-Yr. Avg. Annual Return

Add to Your Watchlist

Cummins 1.0% 1.9 25.9% Add
Lubrizol 1.1% 3.5 32.9% Add
Philips-Van Heusen 0.2% 2.0 22.1% Add
TJX 1.5% 1.6 18.8% Add
Starbucks 1.4% 1.7 26.5% Add
Nike 1.6% 3.2 6.8% Add
Union Pacific 1.5% 1.2 14.5% Add
Ball 0.8% 1.7 13.4% Add
Oracle 0.7% 2.9 16.9% Add
Occidental Petroleum 1.9% 1.7 8.1% Add

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

That isn't enough information on which to base a decision to buy, so dig a little deeper into the companies that interest you. Engine specialist Cummins has robust profit margins, as do Occidental Petroleum and Union Pacific. Philips-Van Heusen sports a 15% average annual revenue growth rate, which is rather impressive for an apparel company. After downsizing a bit, Starbucks is on the upswing again, growing revenue and earnings.

Nike's stock may not seem like a bargain right now, but the company is performing well, particularly in emerging markets, and it bears watching. Oracle is a longtime grower, and its massive cash hoard could help the company benefit from rising interest rates.

Companies that do the right thing can boost your portfolio. In its first nine years, companies on the "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list outperformed the Russell 1000 over the ensuing three-year period by more than 25%. That's a great motivation for even the most coolly rational investors to take social responsibility to heart.

Looking for promising stocks? Grab our new special report, "6 Stocks to Watch From David and Tom Gardner." Click here to get started.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Starbucks. Nike and Starbucks are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Oracle and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.