Radiant View 4 : Q3 2023

RADIANT VIEW

THE RADIANT QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER
VOLUME 4 - Q3 2023

Through this communication we hope to keep you apprised of key developments at our firm, share a timely thought on an ESG or impact-related theme, and highlight inspirations that remind us that good things are going on in the world. As a newer business, we are deeply grateful for all those who have given us an audience, supported us in organizing meetings and went out of their way to hear our story—whether virtually or in person. We welcome the opportunity for continued engagement and open dialogue, including feedback on the content of our newsletter.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement.
Best,
Heidi & Kathryn, co-founders

RADIANT BUSINESS UPDATE

As a business, we are approaching two and a half years since our official launch and the two-year track record of our flagship US Smaller Companies strategy (link to Small Cap Growth factsheet). On September 30, 2023, the key milestone we celebrated was the one-year track record of our US Small Cap Core strategy (link to Small Cap Core factsheet). The strategy is primarily offered through an institutional commingled fund offered to US accredited investors* and qualified purchasers through a private placement limited partnership. We are currently offering early investors a discounted management fee (effective in perpetuity) for a limited time. We’re hoping that a combination of our performance track record and a significant financial incentive will demonstrate the confidence we have in our approach and might motivate a subset of clients to be early investors in our boutique. We would be pleased to share the details—please contact us directly if you are interested.

We also crossed nine months of managing three global equity model portfolios. Positive Trend Quality is a global broad market complement to US Smaller Companies, while the other two portfolios are listed impact strategies, investing in companies aligned to specific themes within the UN Sustainable Development Goals;

  • One Life—focuses on the interconnectedness of all living things, leveraging the concept of ‘one health’ as promoted by the WHO**, in an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems. The strategy is broadly diversified across multiple sectors.
  • Positive Transformation—targets investment in companies that represent the technological ‘engine’ of the world economy, recognizing that transforming the ‘engine’ must be our focus if we expect to meet the challenges and opportunities associated with a future that will look very different than the past.

We are especially proud of the performance results we have achieved in our first fifteen months as sub-advisor to the HSBC Radiant US Smaller Companies Fund—RESCX (link: https://www.morningstar.com/funds/xnas/rescx/quote ).  Across the board, we are encouraged by the strong results we have delivered in different market environments, demonstrating not only the resilience of our approach, but also that evaluating environmental, social and governance considerations are accretive to risk-adjusted return.

Our first Sustainability Report (https://radiantesg.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/RadiantESG-Global-Investors-Sustainability-Report_2022-1.pdf), published earlier this year, highlights our achievements when it comes to sustainability in our investment practice and our business.

Crossing these important milestones, we are especially grateful for the broader Radiant community who continue to advise and guide us—your wisdom, insights and candor are so appreciated!  As we’re often told, “it’s early days,” but we are confident that we have built something truly special and enduring as we look forward to the bright future ahead of us.

 

*Accredited Investor – https://www.investor.gov/introduction-investing/general-resources/news-alerts/alerts-bulletins/investor-bulletins/updated-3

**One Health Tripartite (WHO, FAO, OIE) plus UNEP working definition, November 2021

RADIANT FEATURED THOUGHTS

We were proud to have been featured in a number of media publications, speaking engagements and podcasts over the year. This quarter’s highlight :

  • We published our views on the timing for Small Cap equities in our paper Why Small Cap Now 

Upcoming :

  • Radiant co-founder Kathryn McDonald interviewed on TheIMPACT (from the NYSE floor)
  • Radiant co-founder Heidi Ridley featured in the Heartbeat for Hire Podcast series

For access to other news as well as our thought papers, please visit here

ESG PERSPECTIVE

What the UAW Strike can teach us about the ‘Just Transition’

At Radiant, we’ve been quoted many times as saying, ‘without the S, there will be no E’.  By this we mean that a true transformation of our energy system, transportation, agriculture, and infrastructure to one that is ‘cleaner and greener’ simply won’t happen if we gloss over the impact to human lives that will result from massive economic changes.  In 2019, the International Labor Organization (ILO) published a study that concluded 24 million new jobs would be created globally by 2030 in a shift to a greener economy[1].  The report came with many important assumptions – not the least of which were those related to public policy– but it very effectively refuted the claims by many that a planet-friendly economic transition would necessarily spell disaster for labor.  The headline statistic of net job gain tells only one part of the story.  The more challenging aspect of an overhaul on the scale that is required is the obvious point that the people losing jobs are likely not the same as those gaining new ones.  So, what is to be done with those who are destined to lose out?

To date, there has been a technology focus in discussions of a green transition, but only hand waiving when it comes to the immediate effects on workers.  This is part of the reason ‘E’ has been turned into a political wedge issue, pitting labor against the environment.  Workers are afraid – and rightly so –that they will be forced to bear the cost of environmental externalities that we have all produced, with no participation in future upside.

The principle of a ‘just transition’ rests on the greening of the economy in a way that is inclusive.  It involves, ‘maximizing the social and economic opportunities of climate action, while minimizing and carefully managing any challenges through effective social dialogue among all groups impacted, and respect for fundamental labor principles and rights’[2].  To some, this may sound fanciful, but there are plenty of good reasons to get this right, as the UAW strike against the Big Three auto makers has demonstrated.  As the strike entered its sixth week, it was estimated to have cost the US economy $9 billion[3].  This massive labor action, and its ripple effects, can teach us a lot about why we (corporations, investors, the government, even individuals) need to plan for a ‘just transition’.

The UAW strike has not only provided a tidy remedial course on the macroeconomic ‘Factors of Production’ (labor, capital, and natural resources), but has also given us a real-time lesson in the stresses to an industry that exist at the intersection of ‘E’ and ‘S’.  The UAW strike could be summed up as the Union demanding wage increases and benefits greater than what GM, Ford, and Stellantis would abide, with the Union arguing that its members were asked to make sacrifices during the 2007-2009 bailout and continue to be under-rewarded even though the Big Three have prospered over the past decade, earning over $250 billion in profits. The auto manufacturers argue that they simply cannot afford to pay workers more, in part because of the cost of retooling their production lines to produce electric vehicles (EVs) – especially in light of the fact that EVs are not yet big money makers, and likely won’t be for some time. 

Other factors came into play, of course:  the eye-popping salaries of auto company execs, the share buybacks that have supported the stock price for investors, and the Inflation Reduction Act (which is arguably a subsidy to companies, helping fund their ‘green transition’)[4].  Another forward-looking concern on the part of the Unions specific to EVs has been that the production of EVs requires fewer employees and different component parts including batteries that are often produced by non-union labor.  And it is the non-union manufacturers, like Tesla, that cause the Big Three to lose sleep at night.

On October 25, the UAW reached a tentative agreement with Ford, that, if approved, will include wage gains, cost of living increases, enhanced benefits for retirees, and the right to strike over plant closures – a clause specific to the future of EV production.  The deal with Ford now puts pressure on Stellantis and GM.  If the ‘pattern bargaining’ of the past holds, they will agree to roughly the same terms, but as of now, those negotiations are still in flux.  The automakers have been hit hard by the effects of the strike and reaction to negotiations[5].  Ford, for its part, saw its share price decline by over 12% on October 26 as it withdrew earnings guidance for the coming year citing unknowns about the effects of the strike.  The company also indicated it was pushing out planned investment on EVs, referencing consumer demand and competition, but will the newly negotiated contract with the UAW also have a chilling effect on EV production?  This remains to be seen.

At its core, the UAW strike illustrates the significant challenges to labor, capital (and yes, natural resources) when it comes to transition.  Who should pay the price and who should reap the rewards? It is a tangled problem with no easy answers, but we do believe that some companies are doing a better job than others when it comes to recognizing labor as being on par with technology when it comes to green transition in any industry. Importantly, this does not require a wholesale capitulation to labor’s demands, rather a thoughtful roadmap for change that includes a plan for labor that is both equitable and as well-considered as plans for technological innovation.  While we are careful not to overgeneralize, we do believe that corporations that take steps toward the principles of ‘just transition’ will be better equipped to deal with a changing landscape than those who are backed into a corner by, say, strikes.  The UAW strike may be a cautionary tale of what is to come.

[1] Flagship report: World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with jobs (ilo.org)

[2] www.ilo.org

[3] United Auto Workers strike: Cost to US economy tops $9 billion | Fox Business

[4] Note that in August 2023 the Biden Administration announced a federal package of funding and loans amounting to $15.5 billion specifically aimed at supporting a ‘strong and just transition to electric vehicles’ (Biden-Harris Administration Announces $15.5 Billion to Support a Strong and Just Transition to Electric Vehicles, Retooling Existing Plants, and Rehiring Existing Workers | Department of Energy

[5] GM said publicly that the strike was costing $200 million per week.

RADIANT INSPIRATION

We find inspiration all around us – people and organizations doing work that is deeply meaningful and deeply necessary. These are two examples that we hope you find inspiring, too:

 

 

The Words of Elif Shafak

We had the opportunity to hear Elif Shafak, Turkish-British novelist, essayist, public speaker, political scientist and activist watching the TED Countdown in October 2022. Her poignant observation of trees is both provocative and inspirational. Perhaps the most thought-provoking perspective is that while “human time is linear…tree time is circular. Both the past and the future breathe within the present moment.” We might be well served by thinking of life in much the same way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiwIvp7aKRk

 

 

The Words of Richard Powers

Sticking with the ‘tree’ theme, we cannot resist recommending the book The Overstory by Richard Powers, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Meticulously researched and ingenious in its construction, it contains especially elegant explanations of why new growth forests are no substitute for old growth, and how trees communicate with each other (yes, communicate—that part isn’t fiction!)

The Overstory – Richard Powers

 

Going forward, we warmly welcome any inspirations or initiatives you might come across that would be worthy of sharing with our broader community. Please feel free to email us your thoughts.

 

Disclaimer :

This newsletter is being furnished to you on a confidential basis. Any reproduction or distribution of this newsletter or accompanying materials, if any, in whole or in part, or the divulgence of any of its contents without the consent of Radiant Global Investors, (“Radiant”) is strictly prohibited. The information contained herein does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase any security or investment product managed or advised by Radiant Global Investors (“Radiant”). Any such offer or solicitation for an interest in any product may only be made by means of delivery of an approved offering memorandum or prospectus (“Offering Document”). The information in this presentation is qualified in its entirety, and subject to, the information contained in the relevant Offering Document. Radiant Global Investors is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor offering investment management portfolios for both Institutional and Retail investors.  For more information please visit https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/316920

All supporting factsheets and performance results supplementally presented within the links above should be reviewed independently with an understanding of the specific disclaimers included on these supporting documents.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.    

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