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A Good Week for Green Funds

With the holiday season upon us, it is important to recognize those people trying to make this world a better place. In honor of that goal, today's article continues my annual holiday tradition of reviewing the best- and worst-performing socially, religiously and environmentally friendly funds.

The best performer for the five trading days ending Dec. 20 is Powershares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (PBW). The exchange-traded fund added another 3.13% this week to an already phenomenal year.

Nearly half the fund is invested in alternative energy sources. The largest holdings include First Solar (FSLR), Suntech Power Holdings (STP) and Evergreen Solar (ESLR).

Some of the biggest contributors to the fund's performance this week were two ethanol producing companies. As President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 into law, these companies' stock prices rebounded from what has been an abysmal year. The bill requires the quadrupling of alternative biofuel usage over the next 15 years. The fund's holdings of Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) and Verenium (VRNM) bounced 51.33% and 18.76%, respectively.

The second-best performer this past week was the First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge US Liquid Series Index Fund (QCLN), which rose 1.95%. This fund also benefited from its holdings of Pacific Ethanol and Verenium. Two additional winning positions include Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings (AVR), rising 26.24%, and China's Yingli Green Energy (YGE), up 15.14%.

While most of the funds on the best-performing list select stocks based on environmentally friendly criteria, the worst performer list is littered with funds that screen out socially irresponsible equities. The worst performer was the brand-new (DFCCX)DFA CSTG&E International Social Core Equity Portfolio (DFCCX), which lost 4.17% for the week.

Losing slightly less, the (DEUFX)Domini European Social Equity Portfolio (DEUFX) shed 3.68% investing in 25.5% U.K., 14.4% French and 12.3% German stocks. Among its holdings that were hardest hit are Turkish Ihlas Holding, down 12.61% on reports implying that it would be difficult to get a new banking license after its Islamic bank failed, and Poland's gas monopoly, Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe I Gazownictwo SA, which leaked 9.48% of its value after a price hike was rejected.

The third-worst performer, down 3.68% for the period, is the (VCSOX)Valic Social Awareness Fund (VCSOX). This fund excludes companies in the nuclear energy, military weapons, alcohol, tobacco and gambling casino industries. The worst offender in its portfolio is Macy's (M). The retailer's 8.94% decline could be blamed on global climate change, as bad weather contributes to a weak holiday season already suffering from high gasoline prices eroding discretionary spending.

Another holding, National Oilwell Varco (NOV), sank 8.25% after announcing the acquisition of Grant Prideco (GRP).

Best-Performing Socially Responsible Funds
Ranked by returns for the week ending Dec. 20
Fund Ticker Rating Fund Type 1 Week Total Return
Powershares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio PBW C+ ETF 3.13%
First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge US Liq Ser Index Fund QCLN U ETF 1.95%
Winslow Green Growth Fund WGGFX C Open-End 0.45%
Ancora Homeland Security Fund ANHCX U Open-End 0.32%
Powershares Global Clean Energy Portfolio PBD U ETF 0.22%
PowerShares Cleantech Portfolio PZD A+ ETF 0.17%
Winslow Green Solutions Fund WGSLX U Open-End -0.40%
Fidelity Select Environmental Portfolio FSLEX C Open-End -0.42%
Citizens Small Cap Core Growth Fund CSCSX C- Open-End -0.51%
Legg Mason Partners Social Awareness Fund SSIAX D Open-End -0.52%
Source: Bloomberg

For an explanation of our ratings, click here.

Worst-Performing Socially Responsible Funds
Ranked by returns for the week ending December 20
Fund Ticker Rating Fund Type 1 Week Total Return
DFA CSTG&E International Social Core Eqty Portfolio DFCCX U Open-End -4.17%
Domini European Social Equity Portfolio DEUFX U Open-End -3.68%
VALIC I - Social Awareness Fund VCSOX C- Open-End -3.19%
MMA Praxis International Fund MMPNX A- Open-End -3.13%
New Alternatives Fund Inc NALFX A- Open-End -2.93%
Professionally Managed Portfolios - Portfolio 21 PORTX B- Open-End -2.67%
Citizens Global Equity Fund WAGEX B+ Open-End -2.56%
VALIC II - Socially Responsible Fund VCSRX C- Open-End -2.51%
MMA Praxis Value Index Fund MVIAX D- Open-End -2.48%
AXA Enterprise Socially Responsible Fund EGSBX D- Open-End -2.21%
Source: Bloomberg

For an explanation of our ratings, click here.

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