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It’s not easy being green…

images-6.jpegThanks, autumn, for finally showing up here in the Northeast. I can stop feeling sorry for all those sweaters sitting in store windows as women strolled by in tank tops. I’m not surprised that this press release issued late last week by Ann Taylor (ANN) said “unseasonably warm weather” had cut into October sales. Or that the otherwise tepid results reported by West Marine (WMAR) (10-Q here) got a boost from “extended warm weather late in the boating season.”

While some companies make small talk about the weather, the subject of big climate change doesn’t seem too popular. After stowing my 6 pairs of flip-flops at the back of the closet, I scanned last week’s filings for allusions to global warming. Many firms referred to the potential costs of compliance with government proposals to reduce greenhouse gases, or bragged about voluntary efforts to go green. But companies had little to say about the possible business effects of climate change itself.

The subject did pop up now and then. For example, Genzyme Corporation (GENZ) (10-Q here) listed ‘”evere climate change” as one of the “risks and uncertainties” it faces – along with terrorism, armed conflict, and diseases like SARS and bird flu. And battery maker Exide Technologies (XIDE) noted in its Q that warm winters and cool summers could reduce demand for some of its products, though it didn’t mention climate change directly.

One company did stand out from the crowd with a 10-Q Al Gore could be proud of. Simpson Manufacturing (SSD), which makes building supplies, said flatly that “global warming could materially and adversely affect our business,” cited the evidence for warming and discussed how a hotter Earth might cause the firm’s bottom line to wilt.

The point of risk disclosures isn’t to win a worrying contest (my mother would beat everyone anyway), but rather to highlight risks specific to each company and its industry. Still, I wonder why more SEC filings don’t consider the possible impact of shorter sweater seasons.