Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coca-Cola Suffers Big Blow in Investment Community

KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. of Boston, Mass., a world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards, has removed The Coca-Cola Company from its Broad Market Social Index (BMSI). The BMSI consists of all companies within the Russell 3000 that pass KLD’s screening criteria.

This means that large institutional investors like Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equity Fund (TIAA-CREF), the nation’s largest pension fund, will ban Coca-Cola from its CREF Choice Account, the world’s largest socially screened fund for individual investors with $7.9 billion in assets and more than 200,000 investors.

“Such action by KLD is a very serious matter for any company, but especially for one like Coca-Cola that spends billions of dollars promoting itself as socially responsible which it is not,” said Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.KillerCoke.org). Because of Coke’s widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses and fraudulent business practices, the company has, like big tobacco, become a pariah to those concerned with socially responsible investing,” added Rogers.

At the end of December, the CREF Social Choice Account held 1,250,500 shares of Coca-Cola common stock valued at more than $50 million.

KLD applies a two-step research process to determine the BMSI. First, companies involved in alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling, nuclear power and military contracting are excluded from consideration. KLD also evaluates companies’ records in qualitative areas such as community relations, workforce diversity, employee relations, environment, non-U.S. operations, and product safety and use.