Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Week in Cleantech (Feb. 24 to Mar. 1) – Solar: From Darling To...

On Sunday, TraderMark at Fund My Mutual Fund opined that the solar sector was headed for a shakeout. Well, he didn't quite opine that...he reported the major points from Greentech Media's Solar Market Outlook event. The main conclusion is that it's not only 2008 that's going to be a tough year for solar, but rather the next 3 to 4 years as the industry matures and consolidates. TraderMark argues that the solar sector will follow a boom-bust-echo path; we're currently just exiting boom times (read: incredibly rich valuations times) and the whole think is about to go bust, but...

Pick the Next Stocks I Research

I plan to write about a couple of the companies that readers asked about two weeks ago.  I'd like to research the ones of interest to as many readers as possible.  Let me know! polls - Take Our Poll UPDATE: I'll publish articles on CPTC.OB and PSUD.PK soon. If the stock you want to know about is not in the poll, please leave a comment here, and I'll do another round at a future date. Tom

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #2 National Grid (NGG)

Like Quanta Services, (#8 in this series), National Grid PLC (NYSE:NGG) allows investors to participate in the massive build out of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure necessitated by years of neglect and the growing need to decarbonize our electric infrastructure.  See the article linked above for more detail on these two forces driving the sector. Having its origins in British electricity deregulation in the 1990s, Nation Grid is a regulated utility in Britain and the United States, and operates high pressure gas pipelines and high voltage transmission in Britain, and electricity transmission and natural gas distribution in the Northeastern...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #3 Waste Management, Inc....

In large part, the transition to clean energy will involve using our resources much more efficiently than we do now.  One large potential feedstock for biofuels (and arguably the only one which is truly sustainable) is our trash.  As the world economy grows, and the available stock of natural resources diminishes, society will have no choice but to use what we have more efficiently and throw less of it away. In addition to the now familiar recycling of Aluminum, glass, cardboard, paper, and plastic, yard and construction waste will find its way to cellulosic ethanol plants, and used cooking...

The Week in Cleantech (Feb. 17 to Feb. 23) – Does The Residential Real...

On Monday, Richard T. Stuebi at the Cleantech Blog gave us the heads up on a McKinsey Global Institute study on energy 'productivity' (read efficiency). MGI makes an good case for policy-makers to pay more attention to energy efficiency, and the authors outline what investment commitments would have to made in different sectors for their ideal scenario to be realized. One interesting insight - the residential sector would be near the top at 25% of investment flows. Are retail energy efficiency solutions one piece of regulation away from taking off? On Tuesday, Nick Hodge at Seeking Alpha told...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: These Almost Made It

In the future, I plan to avoid doing lists of ten stocks. I've found the writing to be somewhat repetitious, and I suspect some readers feel the same way.  Look for more threes and fives. That said, there are more than enough solid companies with strong clean energy arms.  These companies are my favorite investments right now, both because I think that now is a time to play it very safe in the stock market (I'm also increasing my cash reserve), and because these companies allow me to use Cash Covered Puts. Since I do have several...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #5 Trinity Industries Inc....

Peak oil is likely to have everyone re-examining their transportation options over the next few years.  Rail will likely be one of those options given special attention because rail transportation is inherently much more fuel efficient than road based transport. I first mentioned Trinity Industries (NYSE:TRN) in November as a rail transit related stock.  I didn't give it an in-depth look because rail transit is only a tiny part of its business, but investors interested in the broader rail sector will be very interested. Not only is Trinity focused on the most energy efficient form of land transport, its...

Readers’ Choice

I often get questions from readers asking me what I think about this alternative energy company or that one.  Much of the time, I simply have to say "I haven't researched it."  What can I say, I'm not Jim Cramer.  Even when I do have an opinion, and the question is left in the comments (my rule is, if you want free advice, you have to be willing to share,) it's probably not researched in the depth that the person was hoping for. For all of you wondering about my take on a specific stock, please let me know...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #6: Sharp Corporation (SHCAY.PK)

I don't write frequently about solar stocks, especially photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers.  While the industry is almost certain to be a spectacular growth story, it's also a story that everyone already seems to know about.  Trader Mark put it well: "these stocks are too driven by retail hands."  The PV story clicks with people, and when that happens, they often buy stocks with little regard to what they are worth.  PV stocks are so psychological, we'd all do well to lie down on a couch before buying. As the IRS is unlikely to allow psychotherapy as an "investing expense," I...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #7 Deere & Co....

The first and last word in any discussion of biofuels should always be "Feedstock."  Feedstock is the "Bio" out of which biofuels will eventually be made, whether it be corn, sugar, jatropha, algae, palm oil, switchgrass, forestry waste, or municipal solid waste.   Before the era of peak oil, we lived in a world of plenty, which meant that we could squander energy, not only by driving Hummers, but by feeding energy intensive products such as corn crops to livestock, and by dumping "free" sources of energy such as garden waste and used cooking oil into landfills. The era of...

The Week in Cleantech (Feb. 3 to Feb. 9) – Happy Year Of The...

On Monday, Lisa Lee at Reuters informed us that banks were to weigh CO2 emissions in power lending. This is, without a doubt, the story of the week. However, anybody who has been following this space knew that the writing was on the wall. Cai Steger at The Invisible Green Hand put together a comprehensive list of coal power projects that have either been canceled or put on hold due to environmental concerns in the recent past. Somewhat paradoxically, the same week, a major US coal export terminal announced that it was boosting capacity. Don't be fooled, although coal...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #8 Quanta Services, Inc....

It may be a stretch to call a company with a P/E ratio in the high 30s "cheap," but in the case of Quanta Services (NYSE:PWR), it's a bargain.   I won't repeat myself about why electric transmission and distribution (T&D) investments are a good bet.  Put simply, the grid has been long neglected, and improved long distance transmission is essential to bringing large scale renewables such as solar and wind onto the grid. How does Quanta fit in?  They build transmission line for utilities.  When I ask industry insiders what company is best placed to actually string the wires...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #9 Koninklijke Philips Electronics...

Readers of this blog are well aware that I'm a fan for energy efficiency in general and efficient lighting in particular as good investments as more and more people and companies reduce their energy use in order to lower costs and green their image.  With the exception of niche players such as Cree and Lighting Science, efficient lighting is dominated by General Electric (GE), Osram Sylvania (a division of Siemens (SI)), and Koninklijke Philips (PHG.)   I'm a fan of all three of these companies, and both GE and Siemens are honorable mentions in this series. While Siemens and GE...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #10 United Technologies

Like most conglomerates, United Technologies Corporation (UTC), (NYSE:UTX) won't be found in any of the Clean Energy indices, but its growing portfolio of clean energy businesses makes it fit well into a diversified portfolio with a clean energy tilt.  A conservative capital structure and solid earnings and cash flow, and a decades long history of constantly increasing dividends make this a company that I'm comfortable holding for the long term.   In terms of sustainability, the company has been recognized by Dow Jones as in the top 10% of the world's most sustainable companies.  Long before it became fashionable for...

The Week in Cleantech (Jan 27. 30 to Feb. 5) – Renewable Fuel Credit...

A few weeks ago, I argued that signs were pointing toward an imminent return of diesel powertrain technology in North America. On Monday, however, Mike Millikin at Green Car Congress informed us that US new-car shoppers did not see diesels as a likely mainstream powertrain. Instead, hybrids really seem to have captured the imagination of US car shoppers. The respondents' perception of diesel seems rooted in stereotypes dating back to the 1980s, which I suppose is normal given that that is when US drivers last experienced diesel engines to any significant degree. It will be interesting to see whether...