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Code Pink Plans Protest Aimed At iShares Aerospace ETF

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Code Pink Plans Protest Aimed At iShares Aerospace ETF
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Code Pink, the women-led organization focusing on ending U.S. wars, is planning a protest this week at BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK)'s annual shareholder meeting in New York.

“Code Pink, Action Corps NYC, The Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi Alliance, the Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center, Enlace, Granny Peace Brigade, Gulf Coast Raging Grannies, Muslim Peace Fellowship, Peace Action New York State, Show Up America, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace NYC Chapter 34, War Resisters League NYC, World Beyond War and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom are planning three days of activities to highlight the firm’s investments in weapons, civilian and military alike,” according to Code Pink's website.

That paragraph comes from a post titled “NYC: Protest the War Profiteers at BlackRock.”

What Happened

Code Pink takes issue with BlackRock's investments in aerospace and defense companies such as General Dynamics Corp.(NYSE: GD), Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC).

Though not specifically mentioned by name, Code Pink called attention to the iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (CBOE: ITA).

“BlackRock even has an iShares fund that exclusively profits off of weapons of war,” said Code Pink. “We are calling on Larry Fink and BlackRock to hold themselves accountable, and demonstrate their own commitment to social responsibility by divesting from weapons makers.”

Fink is the CEO of BlackRock. The company is the parent of iShares, the world's largest issuer of exchange-traded funds.

Why It's Important

Home to more than $6 billion in assets under management, ITA is the largest aerospace and defense ETF. The fund tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Aerospace & Defense Index.

ITA, which allocates 11.11 percent of its weight to Dow component Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), has been a popular play since Donald Trump won the White House. Investors allocated $2.14 billion to ITA last year and the fund has taken in another $802.55 million since the start of 2018.

What's Next

Code Pink criticizes some other BlackRock investments, saying the company “also invests in civilian gun manufacturers. They position themselves as a company that is socially responsible, yet they continue to invest in weapons. They are making a killing on killing.”

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this year, BlackRock has proven to be one of the most proactive asset managers in terms of engaging gun manufacturers and retailers. BlackRock quickly informed investors that its actively managed funds would liquidate exposure to civilian firearms makers and retailers and that its passive products, including ETFs, have only scant exposure to the companies. 

Last month, iShares introduced a small-cap ETF featuring no exposure to gunmakers or retailers.

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