Ethical Partners had the immense pleasure of meeting with James Bartle, the CEO and founder of Outland Denim earlier this year. Outland Denim is a amazing company that not only makes premium jeans but also provides sustainable employment and training opportunities to women in Cambodia, pays a living wage, and is committed to sourcing the most ethically and environmentally sound raw materials from the pocket linings to the zippers, dyes, leather patches and recycled packaging. They were the only Australian brand to be awarded an A+ in all four areas that are assessed by the Ethical Fashion Guide, which is published by Baptist World Aid, one of Ethical Partner’s NGO Panel, which conducts excellent research in this field. The areas that are assessed by Baptist World Aid, and in which Outland Denim excelled, are policies, transparency and traceability, auditing and supplier relationships and worker empowerment.
Ethical Partners really enjoyed meeting with James, hearing about the inspiration behind Outland Denim, the challenges they have faced and seeing how Outland Denim's philosophy of making sure that no one loses out so you can “win” at fashion can be achieved. We also gained lots of valuable insights into how Ethical Partners can approach discussing these issues and ideas with other fashion companies that we meet with.
Emma McCarthy recently joined Ethical Partners. Emma is a passionate final year law student and joins us as Sustainability and Advocacy Assistant. We are honoured to share with you her reflections on the recent UN Global Compact conference, and how it inspired her, as a new recruit to the global sustainability and human rights community, on her journey to fight for change.
During August 2020 the Fund returned 4.10% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 3.05%, outperforming by 1.05% (after fees). Overweight positions in Consumer Staples and Industrials added to performance while stocks in General Insurance and Building Products detracted from performance.
It appears that the Australian economy will be asked to grow itself out of debt post COVID rather than experience an increase in taxes once the economy is more stable. So what are the long term projects that would change Australia for the better? It was quite timely indeed then that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently released its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP). It appears to us that AEMO has put down the framework for how Australia will operate with less coal fired electricity generation given we have an aging fleet which will be gradually de-commissioned over the next 20 years.The AEMO Plan is a whole of system blueprint for the evolution and change the electricity market will experience in the 20 years to 2040. It expects 63% of the current coal fired power stations to close by then based on company disclosures and end of life assumptions. Herein lies Australia's great stimulus opportunity.
The last quarter has been the best of times for unprofitable but growing companies and the worst of times for value managers and others trying to buy equities with any margin of safety. Speculative activity in markets has been driven by excess central bank liquidity and real yields moving to -100bps, pushing risk assets higher, the valuations of technology companies up to levels not seen before and gold to all-time highs at around $2,000 USD per ounce.