The Ave Maria Catholic Values Fund, which trades under the symbol AVEMX, is the best example of a socially responsible fund I have encountered. It has been a long-term owner of Lowe’s, which accounts for almost 4% of the overall portfolio, and Lowe’s has dragged the overall performance of the portfolio upward by delivering 17% annual returns over the course of its inclusion in the Ave Maria Funds.
The problem? It hasn’t been enough to keep the pace of a traditional benchmark like the collection of stocks in the S&P 500. In the past year, the S&P 500 has been up 7.4% while Ave Maria has been down 3%. In the past three years, Ave Maria is up 10.3% annually while the S&P 500 has advanced 17.3%. Over the past five years, Ave Maria is up 12% per year while the S&P 500 is up 17% per year, and the ten-year difference is two and a half percentage points: Ave Maria up 5.5% while the S&P 500 has been up almost 8.0% annualized.