Improved working conditions and energy efficiency have helped create a virtuous circle for the Canadian manufacturer of active wear.
Textile and clothing manufacturers need to be conscious of working conditions including the physical state of factories and their treatment of employees – particularly in emerging markets – to maintain the integrity of their reputations in the industry that originated the ‘sweatshop’ tag.
Between 2002 and 2004, serious allegations about exploitative labour practices were levelled at Montreal-based apparel maker Gildan. Following these claims, the company underwent an externally verified remediation process to improve practices at its production sites in Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti. The result was the Gildan Code of Conduct, and this marked the start of the company’s development of best-in-class environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices within its industry. This discipline has helped the company improve productivity, lower costs and generate stronger returns for shareholders.
The data simply proved too strong: as expected, the Federal Reserve has increased the base US interest rate to 75bps amid strengthening economic indicators. These include:
•Growth: GDP increased at an annualised rate of 3.2% in Q3, and was followed by a recent surge in services activity last month
•Unemployment: the jobless rate fell to 4.6% in November, its lowest level in more than nine years
•Inflation: the Consumer Price Index rose 1.5% in the year to September, suggesting that inflationary pressures are rising
The central bank’s willingness to hike was evident in the Federal Open Market Committee’s minutes from its November meeting, which stated: “Members generally agreed that the case for an increase in the policy rate had continued to strengthen”.
Our view is that US interest rates will likely continue to chart an upward trajectory as the extraordinary monetary policies of the post-financial crisis era give way to pro-growth fiscal stimulus and deregulation. We believe that this environment favours small- and mid-cap (SMID) stocks.