Clean Yield Asset Management takes a long-term approach to investing, favoring high-quality holdings and diversified portfolios to limit risk.
Our approach to the stock market is to focus on individual companies, while considering economic sector trends and monetary, economic, and geopolitical developments in the U.S. and around the world. We seek stocks that are undervalued relative to the cash that a company generates, especially cash in excess of the company’s ordinary business needs. We also favor high-quality companies in strong financial shape that have a record of consistent earnings and dividends. We particularly favor those that are well managed, with robust profit margins and an emphasis on sustainability. We believe that companies with top managers that adhere to high standards of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) performance will be industry and stock market leaders.
We take a long-term approach but are aware that things do change, sometimes rapidly. We typically sell a stock when its long-term business prospects decline, its stock becomes substantially overvalued, its ESG profile deteriorates significantly, or we find more compelling investment ideas. We trim large holdings as a matter of prudence—within capital gains tax constraints—to reduce a portfolio’s risk.
We employ four equity portfolio strategies: core, equity income, aggressive, and sustainable solutions. We work closely with our clients to determine which of these is the best fit for their goals and risk profiles. We can also adjust these strategies to accommodate individual clients’ social and financial interests.
For balanced accounts, we buy investment-grade bonds and typically ladder maturities to reduce the risk that interest rates might be unattractively low when bonds mature and need to be reinvested. Given the historically low interest rates of recent years, we generally have limited bond maturities to several years out in anticipation of more normal (higher) rates in the years ahead.
Finally, we usually maintain cash reserves of 5-15% in our portfolios. Though we’re not “market timers” who jump into and out of markets, there are times when conditions are extraordinarily favorable or unfavorable. This is a business of probabilities, not certainties, and when market prices are substantially above long-term norms (reducing likely future returns), we will build up cash reserves toward the high end of the range so that when more favorable opportunities arise, we will have the means to take advantage of them.
When appropriate for a client’s risk profile, we offer a variety of impact investments as part of portfolios. These investments typically make up 1-5% of an account and range from community investment notes to private equity and debt offerings of small food and agriculture businesses. Learn more about Clean Yield’s impact investing here.