Missouri government’s terror-free investing pays off

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | 12:37 p.m. CDT; updated 12:14 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s new terrorist-free investment fund proved to be a financial success in its first year, outperforming an international index used as a benchmark, the state treasurer’s office said.

Missouri, in a much publicized move, began investing a small portion of its money last year in a specially crafted international index fund that screens out companies with ties to governments identified as sponsors of terrorism.

Treasurer Sarah Steelman said the special international fund yielded a 28.05 percent return in its first 12 months of operation, which concluded July 31. That exceeded the benchmark return of 23.91 percent in the MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks changes in stocks in 21 foreign countries and includes the companies excluded from the Missouri fund for having terrorism ties, she said.

The Missouri fund handles an investment of about $5 million, a rather small portion of the state’s money. The dollars at issue come from the Missouri Investment Trust, which consists of taxes on athletes and entertainers and is used for various cultural programs.

The investment fund is managed by State Street Global Advisers. It subcontracts with Conflict Securities Advisory Group to screen out stocks of companies that have financial interests in countries sanctioned by the U.S. as sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and North Korea.

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