Monthly Archives: July 2008

Why Investing Should Be Moral

Last night, a recent finance graduate introduced himself to me, telling me he had attended my presentation at the Colorado Renewable Energy Society on July 24th. (the whole presentation is available after the link, scroll down to Jul 24.)  He said he wasn't invested in clean energy because "Investing is about making money... there's nothing moral about it."   I'm sure I was quite sarcastic when I replied, "That sounds like a finance major." I believe that finance and economics, as they are currently taught, make people less moral.  I'm not talking about God.  I'm personally agnostic with tendencies towards...

Vote on What I Should Research Next

I'll pick 2-3 from this list, based on reader response to this poll, for future articles. You can vote for more than one company. - tom Which Companies Should I Write About ( polls)

Batteries for HEVs, Batteries for EVs

I'm a longtime fan of electric vehicles (EVs) as well as Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), in all their variations.  When it comes to investing, I think the best way to invest  in on the growth of electric transportation is batteries, partly because pure play battery companies exist (although my top battery pick, Electro Energy (EEEID) , has been one of my poorest performers, in a classic case of a cheaply priced company getting even cheaper. Given these interests, I was speaking to the President of Porous Power Technologies, a private battery components firm a couple weeks ago...

Equus: A Solar Inverter Play For Free!

Equus Total Return (NYSE: EQS) is a closed-end fund that trades at a 42% discount to its net asset value (NAV). The fund invests primarily in both debt and equity instruments of small-caps and private companies. Each quarter, management must report the fair value of its net assets, but the stock market value of Equus is much lower than that of its net assets. Here's a chart showing Equus' discount to its net assets for the last five years: As we can see, Equus is used to trading at a discount to its NAV, but...

The Week In Cleantech (Jul 20 to Jul 26) – Will The US Solar...

On Sunday, Edgar A. Gunther at Gunther Portfolio provided some silicon updates from Intesolar North America 2008. Solar investors never get enough silicon updates, so here's another one! On Monday, Stacy Feldman at Solve Climate told us that China was now making increasingly more wind power parts. Actually, she is reporting on an article that was written last week and that I missed because I took a break from the Week In Cleantech last weekend. With regards to Chinese companies active in wind, we already list some in our Cleantech Stocks section, and will be sure to keep...

Readers’ Choice

I get a large number of emails asking "What do you think of Company X?"  Unlike Jim Cramer, I don't have a lot to say about companies I have not been following, so all I usually do is point the reader to the most recent related article (something they could have found with the search feature in the right nav bar), if I have written one.   However, this spring I decided to research a couple companies solely based on reader's requests, and the articles have proven very popular, especially the one on Petrosun's Algae Farms. The recent surge of...

Alternative Energy & Conventional Energy: Is An Image Worth A Thousand Words?

It wasn't long ago that people still believed the price of energy commodities - and crude oil in particular - had a greater impact on alt energy stocks than did general movements in equity markets or even fundamental factors. The logic went something like this: even though oil and most of the sub-sectors that make up the broad alt energy space (e.g. solar) are not in direct competition with one-another, expensive oil is the number one driver behind governments searching for alternatives to the way we currently meet our energy needs. For a time, this theory may have...

Clean Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs

UPDATE 3/4/2011: An up-to-date article on selecting green mutual funds and ETFs can be found here. by Tom Konrad For new investors looking to green their portfolios with clean energy, the first thought is usually mutual funds.  The following three are available in North America: Mutual Funds Expenses New Alternatives Fund (NALFX) 0.95% + Sales load Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy Fund  (GAAEX) 1.64% ...

Cleantech Investing For EcoGeeks

by Tom Konrad.  This story is cross-posted on EcoGeek.org As lovers of green gadgets, EcoGeeks probably know as much about what's new in clean technology (a.k.a Cleantech) as anyone on the web.  So if you're an EcoGeek thinking about investing in companies which make the technology you know and love, you will probably take comfort in the old adage that you should invest in what you know.  An EcoGeek investing in clean technology companies will have an advantage understanding how a company makes money, and what is a needed innovation with a large  market,  and what is simply a...

The Dawn of the Alternative Energy Age Report

The following is a Special Information Supplement by our Featured Company sponsor Guinness Atkinson Funds. Excerpt from The Dawn of the Alternative Energy Age Report: Written by Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy Fund Managers “In the 20th century, mankind's massive material and financial progress were only made possible by the exploitation of oil. Oil was a main force in global geopolitics and the driving force behind unprecedented industrialization. Oil has been such a powerful lynch pin that it is hard to believe that its days of prominence may be waning. But as demand for oil steadily increases...

Hammond Power Solutions: A Cheap Power Regulation Play?

We have discussed on several occasions the investment opportunities related to power regulation and renewable energy. I have also recently written about the value approach to investing. I came across a stock today that I believed fell into both categories: power regulation (transformers) and value. The stock is Hammond Power Solutions (HPS-A.TO or HMDPF.PK), a firm that makes transformers for a number of applications, including wind turbines. While revenue and earnings have been ramping up quite nicely over the past four years, the stock price has been trending mostly laterally (albeit in a volatile manner) over the...

A Geospatial Wind Power Supply Curve

by Tom Konrad David Kline, and his team at the National Renewable Energy Lab, wants to help China exceed its target of 30 GW of installed capacity by 2020 by miles.   How is he helping?  By developing a methodology to help the central planners find the "Geospatial Supply Curves" for wind within China's regions.  By a geospatial supply curve, he means the available sites for wind farms at each levelized cost of energy (LCOE,) associated with the geographical data as to where that capacity would be installed. The team's technique combines geographical wind speed data with turbine...

The Week In Cleantech (Jul 6 to Jul 12) – GE A Real Play...

On Monday, GreenBiz informed us that new cars in California would have to display a global warming score. This is interesting, and it would be good to see data on whether it actually impacts consumer behavior. On Tuesday, David Ehrlich at the Cleantech Group reported that cleantech investments had hit a record high. Interesting results, though I suspect that if problems in capital markets persist and VCs can't find acceptable exits things could change. On Wednesday, Katie Fehrenbacher at earth2tech outlined ten things we should know about nat gas vehicles. An ambitious proposal by Pickens, but I...

Performance Update: Sell and Short Recommendations

Investors are getting  bearish these days, which comes as a surprise to me, since I'm used to being in the minority.  I was a bear when I first took the leap from mutual funds and started trading stocks in 1999, and am a bear still.  I wish I'd turned bullish for a couple of years at what I consider to be the large bear market recovery of 2003-2006, but I didn't.  However, since I was (and still am) bullish on commodities since around the same time frame, I can't complain about my returns over the period. This spring, I...

Investment Ideas From the One-House Grid

In June, I wrote how intermittent power sources such as photovoltaics and wind would have to compete with baseload technologies such as IGCC "Clean Coal" and nuclear for capacity on the grid.  The key problem is that neither baseload technologies nor intermittent technologies are able to match themselves to the fluctuations of demand.  This creates a need for technologies which can fill the varying gaps between supply from these sources, and normal energy use.  From the comments, it seems like I was not completely clear how intermittent and baseload power cause problems for each other, so I will start...

Large-scale Energy Storage In Focus

I recently came across an interesting report released in June by the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental think-tank, on large-scale electricity storage. The ability (or lack thereof) of the grid to take in all that new renewable power ranks as one of the main near-term risks to the growth of the alt energy sector, and cost-effective storage could go a long way in alleviating grid concerns. The report outlines the main technological options for storage along with their strengths and weaknesses. Although I wish there was more information on the costs of these technologies, as this is currently...