Richard Platte Jr., lead manager of the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund, has a problem with the premise of our first interview question.
Asked at the 2102 Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago on Wednesday if socially responsible investing means sacrificing performance for investment scruples, Platte initially ignored the question in order to set the record straight.
“Morally, not socially, responsible investing,” Platte said. “If George Schwartz [CEO of Schwartz Investment Counsel, Ave Maria’s investment advisor] heard you say that, he’s jump to correct it, so I just want to point that out.”
He then noted the fund’s five-star rated, risk-off portfolio that looks for “solid, well-run companies to invest in for the long term.”
“About 5% of our Russell 1,000 benchmark is off limits, because those companies invest in areas that are inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and something with which we disagree,” he explained. “There’s an incremental diminution of return any time you outright ban something like that, but performance is solid nonetheless.”
Banned sectors are what one would think; for example, companies that in any way invest or participate in the promotion of abortion and abortifacient pharmaceuticals, embryonic stem cell research or pornography.
“So an organization like Planned Parenthood wouldn’t make it past our screen,” he added. “We’ve had conversations with company executives where they say, ‘It’s only a very small part of what we do.’ Well, even so, if it’s any part of what they do we won’t invest.”
Ave Maria’s Catholic Advisory Board is a who’s who of famous Catholics from the sports, money and political world, including Notre Dame coaching legend Lou Holtz, CNBC host Larry Kudlow, Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and pro-life activist Phyllis Schlafly.