Our society's grown increasingly environmentally conscious in the past few years, but some investors may worry that eco-friendly companies will yield less than flourishing returns. However, the Winslow Green Growth Fund (FUND:WGGFX) has managed to keep both its picks and its returns abundantly green. As of the end of 2007, the fund's five-year average annual return was 27.4%, while the 10-year average was 16.8%. That performance handily beat the fund's Russell 2000 growth benchmark in every one of those periods.

Fund facts

  • Inception date: May 3, 1994 (open to public April 1, 2001)
  • Net expense ratio: 1.45%
  • Net assets: $344 million
  • Investment minimums: $5,000 regularly, or $2,000 for an IRA
  • Portfolio managers: Jackson W. Robinson; Matthew W. Patsky

Fund specifics
The fund seeks to hold a focused portfolio of 30-40 small growth companies with market caps between $50 million and $2 billion. The companies the fund chooses have a positive or neutral impact on the environment, including those in the organic-foods or renewable-energy sectors.

Currently, the fund's top sectors include green building products, clean energy, and sustainable living, which together make up about half the portfolio. Winslow Green Growth's largest holdings include LSB Industries (AMEX:LXU), Green Mountain Coffee (NASDAQ:GMCR), and First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR). Winslow founder Jack Robinson and Matthew Patsky co-manage the fund, and each has more than 20 years of investment experience.

Environmental outlook
Eco-friendly and socially responsible investing used to be seen as something you did to feel good, not to make money. But companies like Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI) have subsequently shown that being green can be profitable, too. Today, green investing has moved toward the mainstream, with so much money pouring into clean and green companies and funds that some observers have compared it to the late-'90s Internet boom. That’s important to keep in mind, since some companies in this area have become extremely overvalued.

Portfolio fit?
Winslow Green Growth is fairly volatile, having experienced many swings in performance. Its beta of 1.72 makes it highly responsive to market movements. In addition, the fund's turnover has averaged a high 113%, which can generate capital gains tax liability. Keep that in mind if you're allocating this fund to your taxable portfolio.

With an expense ratio of 1.45%, the fund isn’t cheap. In the past, extraordinary returns have made up for that burden, but there's no guarantee the fund will continue to perfom so well in the future.

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to appreciate green -- money, that is. If environmental investing keeps bringing home good returns, then you can expect that Winslow Green Growth Fund's day in the sun will continue.

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