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The Financial Times reports that Terry Smith, a highly regarded fund manager, is arguing that "Unilever has 'lost the plot' and its management prizes displaying its sustainability credentials at the expense of running the business."

According to the story, "The founder of Fundsmith, a top-10 shareholder in Unilever whose stellar long-term record has helped him amass a large retail following, used his annual letter to investors on Tuesday to hit out at the global consumer goods group.

"The maker of Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Magnum ice cream has set out ambitious climate and social targets and is trying to prove that sustainable business does drive superior financial performance."  But Smith wrote in his letter that “Unilever seems to be labouring under the weight of a management which is obsessed with publicly displaying sustainability credentials at the expense of focusing on the fundamentals of the business."

KC's View:

I suppose this depends on the definition of "fundamentals."  I think that if companies can turn a profit, even a healthy profit, while embracing the tents of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), that strikes me as healthy for the planet (not just the bottom line), good for the soul, and pretty fundamental.