This fund has relatively low exposure to ESG risk compared with its peers in the US Equity Large Cap Blend category, earning it the second highest Morningstar Sustainability Rating of 4 globes. 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 Pioneer Core Equity Fund is its low Morningstar Portfolio Carbon Risk Score of 7.24 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. The fund aims to avoid, or limit exposure to, companies in violation with international norms, such as the UN Global Compact or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
One potential issue for a sustainability-focused investor is that Pioneer Core Equity 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. By prospectus, the fund aims to avoid, or limit its exposure to, companies associated with controversial weapons and tobacco. Yet this goal is far from achieved, as the fund exhibits 1.78% exposure to controversial weapons. This compares with 1.62% for its average peer in the US Equity Large Cap Blend category. The fund has relatively high exposure (10.30%) to companies with high or severe controversies. Controversies are incidents that have a negative impact on stakeholders or the environment, which create some degree of financial risk for the company. Examples of types of controversies include bribery and corruption scandals, workplace discrimination and environmental incidents. Severe and high controversies can have significant financial repercussions, ranging from legal penalties to consumer boycotts. Such controversies can also damage the reputation of both companies themselves and their shareholders.