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More Than 30% of S&P 500 Companies Cited “ESG” on Q1 Earnings Calls

Earnings

By John Butters  |  June 7, 2021

During each corporate earnings season, it is not unusual for companies to comment on their ongoing corporate goals and initiatives. Given the growing focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors by investors, did companies in the S&P 500 comment on these factors during their earnings conference calls for the first quarter?

To answer this question, FactSet searched for the term “ESG” in the conference call transcripts of all the S&P 500 companies that conducted earnings conference calls from March 15 through June 4.

Of these companies, 154 cited the term “ESG” (in reference to environmental, social, and governance factors) during their earnings calls. This number is the highest overall number of S&P 500 companies citing “ESG” on earnings calls going back at least 10 years. The previous record was 127, which occurred in the previous quarter. At the sector level, the Financials (27), Industrials (24), and Utilities (18) sectors had the highest number of S&P 500 companies citing “ESG” on earnings calls for Q1.

No. of S&P 500 Cos Citing ESG on Earnings Calls

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, 27 more S&P 500 companies cited “ESG” on earnings calls in Q1 2021 relative to Q4 2020. At the sector level, nine of the 11 sectors recorded an increase in the number of companies citing “ESG” on a quarter-over-quarter basis, led by the Consumer Discretionary (+5) and Financials (+5) sectors.

No. of S&P 500 Cos Citing ESG on Earnings Calls Q121 vs Q420

Of the 154 S&P 500 companies that cited “ESG” on earnings calls for Q1 2021, 32 (21%) also discussed the terms “decarbonization” or “clean energy” (or both) during their earnings calls. Twenty-five companies (16%) discussed the terms “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or “diversity and inclusion” during their earnings calls.

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John Butters

Vice President, Senior Earnings Analyst, Investor Relations

Mr. John Butters is Vice President and Senior Earnings Analyst at FactSet. His weekly research report, “Earnings Insight,” provides analysis and commentary on trends in corporate earnings data for the S&P 500 including revisions to estimates, year-over-year growth, performance relative to expectations, and valuations. He is a widely used source for the media and has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business News, and the Business News Network. In addition, he has been cited by numerous print and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, MarketWatch, and Yahoo! Finance. Mr. Butters has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to FactSet in January 2011, he worked for more than 10 years at Thomson Reuters (Thomson Financial), most recently as Director of U.S. Earnings Research (2007-2010).

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