Baron Emerging Markets Fund's holdings are exposed to average levels of ESG risk relative to those of its peers in the Global Emerging Markets Equity category, thus earning it an average Morningstar Sustainability Rating of 3 globes. Competing funds in the category with ratings of 4 or 5 globes have less ESG risk in their holdings. ESG risk provides investors with a signal that reflects to what degree their investments are exposed to risks related to material ESG issues, including climate change, biodiversity, product safety, community relations, data privacy and security, bribery and corruption, and corporate governance, that are not sufficiently managed. ESG risk differs from impact, which is about seeking positive environmental and social outcomes.
One key area of strength for Baron Emerging Markets Fund is its low Morningstar Portfolio Carbon Risk Score of 9.71 and very low fossil fuel exposure over the past 12 months, which earns it the Morningstar Low Carbon Designation. Thus, the companies held in the portfolio are in general alignment with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
One potential issue for a sustainability-focused investor is that Baron Emerging Markets Fund doesn’t have an ESG-focused mandate. A fund with an ESG-focused mandate would have a higher probability to drive positive ESG outcomes. The fund exhibits relatively high exposure (10.01%) to companies with high or severe controversies. Companies with controversies may be involved in incidents such as corruption, employee abuses, and environmental incidents that have a negative impact on stakeholders or the environment. Severe and high controversies can have significant financial repercussions, ranging from legal penalties to consumer boycotts. In addition, they can damage the reputation of both companies themselves and their shareholders.