There are many ways to evaluate a company’s value as an investor. Rather than utilizing technical or even fundamental measures such as P/E ratios or 50 day moving averages, I decided to choose criteria that might be of interest to those who are passionate about the great outdoors. I am by no means suggesting that this method should become a standard method for constructing a portfolio, but my quick “research” did produce some very interesting results. You might be very surprised by many of the names on the corporate sponsor lists of some of the better known conservation organizations that support the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Wilderness . . . and some of the names that are missing from these lists as well.
Here are the criteria I used to attempt to form my list of PNW wilderness friendly companies:
1) Publicly-Traded companies Headquartered in the PNW . . . buy local (regional).
2) Corporate Sponsor of MULTIPLE organizations that work to protect the great outdoors in the PNW.
3) Services or Products produced by the company are not potentially opposed to the mission of organizations that protect our wilderness areas.
My non-academic methods involved identifying the main non-profit organizations that work to protect the wilderness in our region. You can view this full list below. The annual reports and websites for these non-profits provided names of corporate sponsors. The first surprising discovery was that only 2 companies fit all of my criteria. Columbia Sportswear and Alaska Air were the only companies on the directories of more than 1 conservation organization! I guess we’ll call them the winners.
Other companies that met all criteria with the exception of sponsoring only 1 outdoor organization included: Costco, Nike, Boeing, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Black Diamond, Northwest Natural Gas, and Nordstrom’s. Conspicuously missing from any sponsorship are Starbucks and Amazon!
The lack of Starbucks and Amazon pale in comparison to the presence of a few corporations not normally considered friends of the environment or the great outdoors. The corporate sponsor list of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation includes: British Petroleum, Shell, Conoco Phillips, Phillips 66, The Southern Company and Monsanto! On their list as well are Walmart and Altria. Shell Oil can also be found as a sponsor of the Western Rivers Conservancy along with Exxon Mobil. Trout Unlimited has Conoco Phillips and Monsanto as proud sponsors. What does this say about the organizations accepting what some might describe as “blood money” in environmental or conservation terms? An argument could easily be formed that many of these companies are actually working against the very principals that the conservation organizations are working so hard to preserve. This association provides a means of cheap and powerful advertising. It reminds me a little bit of the anti-smoking commercials paid for by big tobacco companies, or BP’s feel good ads about how they were helping with the clean up of the the gulf coast.
I apologize for being such a downer. What I was really hoping to do with this piece was to highlight the companies that are doing good for the great outdoors. So, yay Columbia Sportswear and Alaska Air! And also kudos to the non-profits who refrain from accepting funds from companies that don’t share their ideology. Stay tuned for more coverage regarding the other topic that emerged . . . giant corporations that may not be environmentally friendly giving money to organizations promoting the environment.
Non-Profit Organizations “Researched”:
The Conservation Alliance
Western Rivers Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
The Sierra Club