7 min read

CEOs Are Having an ESG Glow-Up

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Hi there,

Welcome to March! February is actually the longest month in the year, and we’re eagerly looking for signs of spring. Markets are tense this week as the shelling and strikes in Ukraine continue and sanctions on Russia pile up. Corporations are also working to isolate the eastern European aggressor – and protect their reputations – by selling stakes and ending partnerships (BP, Exxon, Shell, Delta Air Lines) or halting shipments and exports (UPS, FedEx, GM, BMW). There’s even a cultural element with a ban on the Russian soccer team and reports of a vodka boycott.

We’re seeing the war spill over into the virtual world as well. Cryptocurrencies are having a moment after credit cards in the region stopped working and sanctions were imposed on Russian banks. The Ukraine government and a nonprofit supporting it have raised over $54 million in crypto and NFTs from investors around the world. The conflict is providing a better argument for decentralized, digital money than the hype and ads preying on FOMO, but officials worry it could soften the blow of sanctions.  

Now, a major matter of concern for the private sector is the risk of ransomware attacks stemming from Russia. There’s been a spate of cyber crime in recent days with major companies like Nvidia, Toyota, and logistics giant Expeditors being hit. Organizations need to invest in good cyber risk management to protect their operations and sensitive data, or they risk losing millions of dollars and trust. Employees need to be on guard, especially those with the propensity for opening emails like “click to see cute cat.”

Companies involved with cyber security are outperforming the broader market amid the heightened worries. Below are the three most popular ETFs and their gains in the last month (as of Tuesday’s close). For perspective, the S&P 500 is down over 6% during this period.

News you can use

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  • US tech companies are stepping up to help and protect those affected by the violence in Ukraine. Google has disabled live traffic data. SpaceX has activated its satellite internet service. Tesla is offering free charging for all EVs in border areas, and Airbnb will provide free, temporary housing to 100,000 refugees. Social media companies are focused on taking down Russian propaganda, misinformation, and ads.
  • Oil & gas company Chevron is buying Renewable Energy Group for $3.15 billion to grow its biofuels production capacity. The announcement sent REGI shares over 40% higher on Monday. There were a record 973 merger and acquisition deals in the global energy sector last year as large companies rushed to decarbonize.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook’s $99 million pay package is on the line tomorrow at the company’s annual meeting. The executive pay plan, which will be voted on by shareholders, is seeing some noteworthy opposition from an influential proxy voting advisory firm and the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

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