This article is part of our Rising Stars Portfolios series.
Last November, I launched The Positive Returns and Social Dividends Portfolio as part of Fool.com's Rising Stars portfolio project. My portfolio is designed to take both financial returns and social benefits into account; conventional wisdom to the contrary, I believe that companies that take many different stakeholders into account don't necessarily damage their investment returns.
This premise may have sounded like a potential feel-good money-loser, but thus far, that has not been the case.
As of this writing, the portfolio's return is about 22.8%, beating the S&P by about 8.7 percentage points. Let's quickly check in with my portfolio's holdings at the six-month mark.
: Timberland was my inaugural purchase, and -- arguably too quickly -- became the portfolio's first double within the first six months. Although many investors would have taken the profits and run, I decided to hold on. The stock plunged about 30% on last week's quarterly results, but unless I identify a serious problem with Timberland, I'm holding. (NYSE: TBL)
: I may have surprised some people when I bought Costco for the portfolio in December. Few investors might traditionally place it in the "socially responsible" universe, and the stock looked pretty pricey compared to rivals. Since then, Costco shares have increased nearly 20%. I have no regrets. (Nasdaq: COST)
: I purchased SunPower because it looked like a good value in the solar sector; an investor with my particular passion will be very attracted to renewable energy. Apparently, I wasn't alone in my affinity for this stock; French energy giant Total announced a tender offer for a majority stake in the company, pushing the stock up by about 50%. (Nasdaq: SPWRA)
: Although inflation concerns have dogged companies like Pepsi, it's still holding strong since my February purchase. (NYSE: PEP)
: This stock just can't get any respect, can it? Energy demand response management sounds like a cutting-edge, green, and profitable idea, but negative sentiment has plagued this stock since my March purchase. Still, I'm not sweating the performance of this long-term investment just yet. (Nasdaq: ENOC)
: Clean Harbors was going to buy Badger Daylighting. Then it wasn't. Ah well; I chose this stock for its emphasis on environmental remediation and clean-up efforts, so I wasn't too bummed out. With any luck, Clean Harbors will come up with more interesting ideas for business expansion. (NYSE: CLH)
: Since my purchase, Google has enjoyed additional positive press about its successful Android mobile operating system; it recently surpassed the market share of Apple's iPhone in Japan. On the other hand, Google recently earmarked $500 million in case it settles with the Department of Justice pertaining to certain advertising practices. (Breaking news suggests that this settlement may relate to online drug advertisements.) If it turns out that Google has done something particularly evil, I may have to give it the boot. For now, let's wait and see. (Nasdaq: GOOG)
Should portfolios for "good" have such a bad rap?
I'm building a Foolish portfolio I can feel good about, and right now, I can also feel good about most of these stocks' performance thus far.
For anyone following along at home, here's a word of warning: This portfolio was designed for the very long term. My first inclination will always be to hold, even when other investors might head for the hills, as with Timberland's plunge about a week ago.
I'm trying to buy good companies for this portfolio, to reduce risk and help hedge against difficult times. Still, some short-term stock moves could prove shocking if market sentiment turns more negative. Given today's economic headwinds, I find that likely. Fasten your seatbelts, prepare for a possibly bumpy ride, and please feel free to discuss these stocks, their futures, and your ideas for socially responsible picks in article comments, or on my discussion board.
I hope to help prove that over long timeframes, investing in companies that seek to do good in the world is a perfectly legitimate investment philosophy, if not a superior one. Social good has gotten a bad rap in the marketplace -- and in the minds of so many investors -- for long enough.
This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series, where we give some of our most promising stock analysts cold, hard cash to manage on the Fool's behalf. We'd like you to track our performance and benefit from these real-money, real-time free stock picks. Click here to see all of our Rising Star analysts (and their portfolios).