The Ethical Investment Mid-Cap Portfolio returned 8.73% for the quarter, underperforming the All Ordinaries Accumulation Index which rose 11.06%. This brings the total return for the portfolio over the past year to 8.42%, and 7.05% per annum over the past three years.
High levels of volatility continue to be a factor in Australian and global share markets. After falling 8.98% in the last three months of 2018, the Australian share market has bounced back very strongly, rising 11.06% in the first three months of 2019.
The top performing investments for the quarter included the ethical fund manager and superannuation fund, Australian Ethical Investment (+47%), Bellamy’s (+40%), Invocare (+39%) and Cleanaway Waste Management (+33%). Other top performers included the New Zealand based renewable energy companies, Meridian Energy (+24%) and Mercury NZ (+12%).
These strong returns were somewhat offset by the poor performance of Blackmores (-21%), which fell strongly after the company announced lower sales in China, as well as Redflow (-19%), Hansen Technology (-14%) and Challenger (-10%) which fell strongly after the company reduced their profit guidance.
During the quarter we added to a couple of the smaller holdings in the waste management and recycling company, Bingo Industries and the telecommunications company Superloop. We also took advantage of the lower share prices by adding to our holdings in Challenger, HansenTechnology and MercuryNZ.
We like Bingo Industries as it currently has over 50 per cent of its earnings from recycling, and it has an opportunity to significantly contribute to the development of the circular economy in Australia. The company has also made a long-term commitment to turn all its facilities into urban solar power stations to provide renewable energy for its facilities, to export electricity to the grid, and to reduce its carbon emissions.
During the quarter we reduced our holding in Technology One and G8 Education. Bellamy’s was removed from the portfolio in March after the stock was becoming increasingly volatile with unpredictable profitability. We decided to remove the stock at a small profit to help reduce risk.