Friday, December 29, 2006

Last Working day of 2006 - Some Ethical Investing Thoughts

The following extract from an FT comment today really says much about the
way the world thinks today, alas:



Vice beat virtue in 2006. Putting your money into sinful industries such as tobacco, alcohol, gambling and arms beat the market comfortably. In the US, the Vice Fund, which invests only in these sectors, is up 23 per cent for the year. The Ave Maria Catholic Values Fund, which excludes companies that violate Catholic doctrine, is up only 13 per cent. How did this happen? Charles Norton, Vice Fund manager, told the Financial Times’ US edition (interview at [url=][/url] that the gambling industry had a banner year – Las Vegas Sands was up 150 per cent for the year at one point. Altria, the world’s biggest tobacco producer, is the fund’s biggest holding and has gained 24 per cent this year. In general, he described vice stocks as defensive as consumers continue to spend money on sinning even in hard times. So vice should not be an unsustainable boom... "

Perhaps as a result (so I like to think anyway) my investments are c.15% down this year.

However the
FT today also had a piece about about possible web winnersfor 2007.
Possibility number two, is Nicetech-type software. One of my holdings is
in an odd British company called ZYZGY (LSE/AIM: zyz). ZYZ has a large investment in Nicetech of Cambrridge UK

The FT says
"...A second convergence that could provide fertile ground for the next user-generated internet craze is the one that is starting to bring together the worlds of web-browsing and videogames. The result: virtual worlds such as Second Life, where users are represented by fictional characters or avatars. This is partly just a product of an “arms race” between websites trying to build their own online communities, says Mr Levchin. With too many sites competing for attention, those with the best three-dimensional graphics should stand out. However, it also represents a variation on the social networking craze. Appearing in the guise of an avatar leads to different forms of online behaviour, says Geoff Yang, a venture capitalist who was an early backer of MySpace and is now an investor in the virtual world, Gaia. Unlike MySpace, “where you talk about the real world, this is a fantasy role-playing thing, or a Disneyland,” he says. It is too early to predict whether any of the virtual worlds will become a true mass-market hit. Despite recent media infatuation, Second Life still has only a small active base of users and has suffered growing pains. The extent of the experimentation underway in these alluring virtual worlds, however, suggests this may be the place for the next craze..."

The Second Life web craze was much criticised during the recent Jesuit Directors of Work
conference but many disagreed with the criticisms as well.
Reading a good novel can be a form of escapism and sometimes with the state of the real world, a little escapism may be no bad thing. Hopefully however my pension investments
will in 2007, escape from their downward trend.

A very Happy and prosperous New Year to all or any who read this.


  1. My last trade of 2006 was to SIPP a few more ZYZ shares
    (these showed just after the closing bell yesterday)

    Publication next week of a +ve AGM statement would be good
    but the results last week and their accompanying statements
    were imho already excellent and more good news
    as soon as next week may be too much to hope for.
    Details of the media co involved with Nicetech
    and also more info about the new computer games deal,
    would be good but these may take a month or two to emerge.

    I'm still intrigued by the telephone mention of "reverse" and wonder
    (so dyor) if a reverse t/o is in the offing whether
    involving one of the ZYZ unlisted investees or a new co.

    Given the excellent track record of ZYZ under Mr Lipscombe's chairmanship
    I'm content to SIPP more from time to time pending
    further news during the first half of next year.

  2. 59 million ZYZ shares were traded
    on Friday some 58.5 million more than usual. The trades were at an absurdly low 0.30p compared with the normal share price of nearer 0.50p. - Odd?


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