A study by the Genocide Intervention Network, conducted with Bloomberg, has found that companies that invest in countries with poor human rights practices make bad investments, both financially as well as ethically.
''For years, investors could see the moral reason for taking action in Sudan but had a hard time locating a financially equivalent alternative in which to put their money,'' Adam Sterling, director of the Sudan project, told the International Herald Tribune. ''This study offers investors plenty of alternatives to being in Sudan.''
The study examined investments of 37 multinational companies linked to Sudan and found that the highest offenders underperformed their peer groups by an average of 46 percentage points in the first year, 22 in the second year and 7 percentage points in the fifth year, based on benchmarks of annualized historical return on investments.
Morningstar mutual fund analyst Christopher Davis said most major mutual funds typically vote no or take no position on human rights proposals unless they have a socially responsible mandate.
If a quantifiable argument can be made that doing business in Sudan is costly, a company must act, he said.
''When it becomes a business risk, it becomes a fiduciary issue,'' Davis said.