Monthly Archives: September 2009

Better, or Beta?

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA My Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio has produced unexpected out-performance.  Is it because of high beta (β) in a rising market? I recently asked why two portfolios which I had designed to track green energy mutual funds ended up out-performing them by a wide margin.   This is the first of a short series of articles looking into possible causes.  Could the portfolios be outperforming because the stocks they contain rise more when the market rises (and fall more when the market falls) than do the mutual funds they were designed to track?  In...

Battery Investing for Beginners, Part II

John PetersenLast Friday I published "Battery Investing for Beginners" as an introductory piece for investors who don't know much about the energy storage sector but are interested in learning more because of the hugely successful initial public offering by A123 Systems (AONE). Since the article was well received and there seems to be a good deal of reader interest, I've decided to continue the theme with a series of articles where I'll try to build a contextual framework for the industry and show where various types of energy storage devices and their manufacturers fit into that framework. Since I...

What Is Peak Oil?

Charles Morand Peak Oil is a term that has become common currency in energy debates in last three years, due in large part to the spectacular rise in the price of crude between 2005 and the end of 2008. But what does Peak Oil actually mean and, more importantly, what do I mean when I use it in my articles? In the purest and original sense of the term, Peak Oil refers to the point in time at which the rate of oil production (as measured, for instance, in barrels per day) peaks. This peak,...

A Better Way to Play Green Stocks?

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA My Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio continues to outperform all benchmarks and expectations... is it luck, or did I stumble onto a better way to invest in green energy stocks? I continue to be stunned at how the portfolio which I intended as an easy way to duplicate green energy mutual fund performance at much lower cost continues to blow those green mutual funds out of the water.  I last published an update on this portfolio at the end of May, and was shocked to find that it had beaten the funds it was...

Who You Are

Results from our survey of readers. Thanks to everyone who participated in our reader survey last week.  Our randomly selected winner has been notified by email, and the book has been mailed.   Most valuable to us were the comments, and we appreciate the overwhelming encouragement from the vast majority of commenters.  But we're realistic enough to know we can always improve the reader experience. What You Said Here are a few ideas I plan to act on: Tom, the stocks that you cover range from solid established companies, to pie in the...

Battery Investing For Beginners

John Petersen I've been blogging about the energy storage sector since last July because batteries, single purpose devices that most of us take for granted unless they need to be recharged or replaced, are an essential enabling technology for cleantech, the sixth industrial revolution. With this week's impressive launch of A123 Systems (AONE), the tsunami of investor interest I've been predicting since last fall has finally arrived. Since the A123 Systems IPO has introduced an entirely new class of investors to the energy storage sector, this seems like a particularly good time to go back to square...

Shorting The Least Green Companies

Newsweek recently released its 2009 Green Rankings for America's 500 largest corporations.  Investors would do well to examine the bottom of the list, as well as the top. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA I'm getting more and more company in worrying about a market peak.  If you, like me, are  Interested in green investing, and hedging your exposure to a market decline, you should probably also be interested in turning Newsweek's Green Rankings upside-down,  and use some decidedly un-green companies as a hedge against the market risk of your greener portfolio.   If you believe that...

Climate Change & Corporate Disclosure: Should Investors Care?

Charles Morand On Monday morning, I received an e-copy of a new research note by BofA Merrill Lynch arguing that disclosure by publicly-listed companies on the issue of climate change was becoming increasingly "important". The note claimed: "e believe smart investors and companies will recognize the edge they can gain by understanding low carbon trends." I couldn't agree more with that statement. It was no coincidence that on that same day the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit UK-based organization that surveys public companies each year on the state of their climate change awareness, was...

Congratulating A123 Systems On Its Very Successful IPO

John Petersen This morning Reuters is reporting that A123 Systems, Inc. (AONE) increased the number of shares offered in its IPO from 25 million to 28.1 million and sold those shares at a price of $13.50. If the underwriters exercise their overallotment option, which is usually the case in IPOs of this size, the total IPO proceeds will be $437.5 million before costs, commissions and discounts. This IPO has been a long time coming but it was worth the wait. I want to congratulate the A123 team and the underwriters on a job well done. Assuming full...

A123 Increases IPO Price Range

John Petersen This morning, A123 Systems Inc. (AONE) amended its registration statement to increase the price range for its proposed IPO to $10.00 to $11.50. I take this as an indicator that their IPO road show has been well received and the offering will go to market in a timely manner. While I've avoided commenting on A123's prospectus, business or financing plans, there is one point that deserves some attention. Their prospectus summary says: According to A.T. Kearney, the global lithium-ion battery market for automotive application in HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs is estimated to be $31.9...

Forestry Stocks and ETFs: The Back Door to Cellulosic Biofuels Investing

Probably the safest way to invest in cellulosic biofuels is by investing in cellulosic feedstocks.  Two Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) make this easy and inexpensive, although three individual stocks give better exposure to just biomass. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA It's the Biomass, Stupid! Although they have considerable political momentum, cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels are not the best way to use biomass in order to reduce carbon emissions.  Greater carbon reductions can be had at lower cost by cofiring the same biomass in existing coal plants.  If the goal is more ethanol to displace gasoline, wouldn't it make more...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Cleantech Indexes, Funds and ETFs)

Charles Morand This is the third installment of my review of the book book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World". The second installment covered geothermal power and energy efficiency and the first installment covered wind and solar. This post reviews three interrelated chapters on the world of cleantech and alt energy indices, funds and ETFs. Two of these three chapters are my favorite in the book so far -  they provide very useful information for the novice investor with an interest in alt energy investing but limited time and knowledge for successful stock picking.  Cleantech...

Getting to Know AltEnergyStocks.com Readers

In order to improve AltEnergyStocks.com, we're trying to get to know our readers better. We've put together a short survey, and in order to make it worth your time to tell us about yourself and how we can improve the site, we're offering an incentive.  One respondent will win a copy of Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World, of which Charles has reviewed the Wind and Solar and Efficiency and Geothermal chapters so far. Please take a few minutes to complete our short reader survey. Thanks! The AltEnergyStocks.com Team Note: This contest will end when we...

Another Look at the Algonquin Power Income Fund

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA The Algonquin Power Income Fund (AGQNF.PK) has been one of my star performers in an excellent year.  Is it still a good investment at these prices?  Since I recommended the Algonquin Power Income Fund (AGQNF.PK/APF-UN.TO) in January as a renewable energy income stock for 2009, the company is up 69%, in addition to the C$0.02 monthly dividend, worth approximately another 8% through August on the US$1.82 purchase price, making it the second-best performing of my ten picks (after Cree, Inc (CREE).)  However, since the major basis for my recommendation at the time was the...

Toyota Tests And Rejects Lithium-ion Batteries For The Prius

John Petersen Over the last couple of years, the mainstream media has been awash in reports of how automakers are lining up to build fleets of PHEVs and EVs using lithium-ion batteries as a principal power source. I've consistently argued that investing in objectively expensive lithium-ion battery company shares on the basis of testing decisions was dangerous. The reason for my caution is simple, a decision to test a new concept is very different from a decision to commercialize a proven concept and failures in the preliminary testing stages are far more common than successes. In...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Geothermal + Efficiency)

Charles Morand Last Thursday, I reviewed two chapters from the recently published book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World"*. This post reviews two more.  Geothermal Energy Alexander Richter, Glitnir Bank (now Íslandsbanki) Geothermal is one of the most interesting forms of clean power generation there is. As noted by the author, the most convincing argument for geothermal electricity is the fact that it operates at capacity factors in the upper 90s. This makes it the only renewable technology suitable for baseload power with the exception of dam-based (i.e. large-scale) hydro. However, as...