(Bloomberg) -- Activist investors are expected to carry out fewer environmental and social campaigns this year after the strategy proved less lucrative than other shareholder agendas, according to business consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal Inc. 

An analysis by the firm found that activist campaigns focused on operational or strategic change outperformed the market by an average of 9.4% over the past six years. By contrast, campaigns focused on environmental and social issues saw the weakest relative returns, outperforming the market by just 0.2% on average for the same period, according to a report published on Tuesday. 

“As investors focus more firmly on returns in 2024 in a challenging market, we expect to see a decline in ESG-related campaigns and a renewed focus on metrics such as margin growth, cash generation and return on capital,” said Andre Medeiros, a managing director of A&M. 

A&M’s analysis is based on 550 public campaigns by shareholder activists launched between the start of 2016 and Oct. 31, 2021, against companies headquartered in Europe and the US. The firm then looked at the total shareholder return for each company over the subsequent two years following the campaign launch and compared that return to either Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index or the S&P 500 Index, depending on where the company was located.

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