Morally Responsible Investing Takes Faith into Account

Ave Maria Mutual Funds, the largest family of Catholic mutual funds in the United States, has a compelling mission and clear moral vision

by Sponsor Content Team | Updated 12 May 2017 at 7:02 AM

When people invest in mutual funds to help them achieve their financial goals, they do so primarily for diversification purposes as they grow their portfolio. Yet investing in morally responsible mutual funds has become increasingly popular as more and more Americans seek to align their portfolios with their religious beliefs.

Investors who choose Ave Maria Mutual Funds — the largest family of Catholic mutual funds in the U.S., with over $1.8 billion in assets — enjoy an added level of reassurance and comfort: They know there is a moral screening applied to the companies chosen for smart investment opportunities.

The experienced team at Ave Maria Mutual Funds ensures that all investments are screened to eliminate any company that is engaged in the support of abortion, pornography, or embryonic stem cell research — or any company that makes corporate contributions to Planned Parenthood. Ave Maria, with its pro-life, pro-family focus, thus provides a vehicle for investors who want to align their investments with their moral beliefs and faith-based values.

Ave Maria Mutual Funds (avemariafunds.com), headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, adheres to morally responsible investing guidelines that are established by the funds’ distinguished Catholic Advisory Board, which includes legendary football coach Lou Holtz, economist Larry Kudlow, entrepreneur Tom Monaghan, and Princeton University’s Dr. Robby George, among others. The result is a family of five no-load mutual funds with a track record of producing strong investment results and adhering to key pro-life and pro-family values.

This compelling and powerful combination is why Ave Maria Mutual Funds, since its inception in 2001, has provided professional investment management to investors across the United States.

“We look for investment opportunities first. Only after we’ve done the security analysis do we see if the company has offended any of the moral screens. And if it has, we won’t put that stock into an Ave Maria Mutual Fund portfolio,” says George P. Schwartz, CFA, chairman and CEO of the firm. He is responsible for the development and implementation of its investment strategy and is co-manager of the Ave Maria Value Fund and the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund.

Ave Maria’s success is due in large part to its philosophy — one that puts equal weight on investment performance and on pro-life, pro-family values.

“Investors can get good investment results,” says Schwartz, “and they get that without compromising their conscience.” Three of the Ave Maria Mutual Funds are rated four stars by Morningstar (Bond, Growth, and Rising Dividend).

Ave Maria Mutual Funds launched its first fund, the Ave Maria Value Fund (Ticker: AVEMX), on May 1, 2001. Since then, it has added three additional stock funds and one bond fund. The largest of the funds is the $900 million Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund (Ticker: AVEDX). There is also a money market account with check-writing privileges.

Ave Maria has enjoyed success and significant asset growth due in large part to its philosophy — one that puts equal weight on investment performance and on pro-life, pro-family values. The creation of the fund family was the brainchild of Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, the founder and former CEO of Dominos Pizza, along with the late Bowie Kuhn, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball. Both men had clear, specific objectives — and they approached another Catholic, George P. Schwartz, with their idea almost two decades ago. Schwartz’s long-term track record as an experienced investment professional was well documented.

“As a Catholic, I thought there was a need for this, and I thought there was a real business niche as well,” says Schwartz. “There was nothing like it in the marketplace at the time.”

The fund family:

  • is advised by Schwartz Investment Counsel, Inc., a registered investment adviser established in 1980. The adviser invests in securities only if they meet the funds’ investment and religious requirements.
  • has professional portfolio managers and analysts who average over 20 years of investment experience.

Consider the firm’s very clearly defined and principled investment philosophy.

Ave Maria Mutual Funds:

  • emphasizes companies with superior business characteristics;
  • uses independent analysis and proprietary screening supplemented by Wall Street research;
  • purchases shares of what they believe are financially sound companies when they are out of favor and attractively priced;
  • buys across market capitalizations if price represents a significant discount to their intrinsic value appraisal;
  • knows that contrarian discipline may reduce the risk of loss and enhance returns; and
  • sells stocks when they no longer meet the standards of the investment team of professionals.

Here are two excellent examples of the companies in which Ave Maria Mutual Funds invests.

Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund (AVEDX):

  • 3M Company is one of AVEDX’s long-term holdings. 3M has strong brand equity plus a robust patent portfolio (over 10,000 patents), which gives the company strong pricing power and high margins. 3M consistently generates returns on vested capital above 20 percent. The company has increased its dividend for 57 years in a row, and since 2011, the dividend per share has grown at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate.

Ave Maria Growth Fund (AVEGX):

  • Copart, one of AVEGX’s long-term holdings, is positioned to remain the leader in the salvaged automotive market because of high entry barriers. Copart matches thousands of sellers with over 100,000 buyers around the globe, and its competitive advantage keeps growing as its adds more sellers and buyers every year. This is a growing, profitable industry with positive, underlying drivers — miles driven, vehicle fleet age, vehicle complexity, and salvage rates. Copart has consistently generated an operating margin above 30 percent, and returns on invested capital above 20 percent.

As George P. Schwartz, the firm’s chairman and CEO, notes, “My staff and I will continue to work hard at managing these funds to produce good investment results, all within the moral guidelines established by the Catholic Advisory Board.”

No wonder Ave Maria Mutual Funds is the morally responsible investment option for an increasing number of clients across the United States. They manage money in a value-oriented manner — with the goal of preserving and growing wealth in line with investors’ strongly held moral beliefs.

For important disclosure information for investors, click here. And for a complimentary, no-obligation information kit, please call 1-866-AVE-MARIA or go to https://avemariafunds.com.

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