Monthly Archives: August 2010

Seven Greentech “Experts” and Their Stock Picks

Tom Konrad CFA Not many self-proclaimed Greentech experts know what they're talking about, and fewer can effectively make the case of Greentech investing. When I attended the MoneyShow last week to moderate a panel, I also stayed around to see what people who held themselves out as Greentech or Cleantech experts were saying.  Since MoneyShow attendees do not pay to get in, all the revenue comes from presenters.  I was asked to moderate my panel because I made it a condition of helping them advertise the show, but many of the presenters I saw were on stage...

Why Baby Steps For Fuel Efficiency Mean Major Revenue Gains For Lead-acid Battery Manufacturers

John Petersen If EV evangelists have everything their way and lithium-ion battery developers can achieve their lofty cost and performance goals, your long-term future may include a car with a plug. While we wait for that glorious day to arrive your short-term future will almost certainly include a car with stop-start engine technology. The issue is simple – sitting at a stop light with the engine running wastes fuel and fouls the air. Depending on traffic, weather and driving habits, the waste can range from 5% to 15%. On a personal level the waste may seem modest,...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Why Invest for Peak Oil?

...and Why Not Invest in Oil Companies? Tom Konrad CFA The purpose of this series on peak oil investments has been to highlight companies outside the oil sector that are likely to benefit from increasing oil prices.  This article explains why we should expect oil prices to rise. What is Peak Oil? There are many definitions for peak oil.  In its most basic form, Peak Oil is the moment of highest production.  World oil supplies are finite, and so we cannot continue to produce oil in increasing quantities forever.  It's a mathematical certainty that at...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Shimano

Tom Konrad CFA I missed Shimano (SHMDF.PK) in my recent list of bicycle and scooter stocks, but in many ways, Shimano is the best of the lot. Shimano Inc. manufactures bicycle components and fishing and rowing gear, with the bike segment accounting for about four-fifths of sales, but I had not realized that they were public until I received a note from a reader in response to my recent article on bike and moped stocks. In that article, I noted that, while bike sales rose in response to rising oil prices in 2008, bicycle repairs surged...

What Does GM Really Think About The Volt?

John Petersen I love IPO registration statements because they have to provide full and fair disclosure of all material facts and forward-looking statements must "bespeak caution." The following quote from the risk factors section on page 19 of the prospectus included in the Form S-1 Registration Statement that NewGM filed yesterday says everything you need to know about the Volt and the other plug-in vehicles that currently reign as media darlings. "In some cases, the technologies that we plan to employ, such as hydrogen fuel cells and advanced battery technology, are not yet commercially practical and depend...

Opportunities In China’s Extraordinary Battery Companies

John Petersen Over the last couple years I've spent enough time in Asia to be fascinated by the growth opportunities and terrified by my own ignorance of the culture and the business dynamic. Since I know that I don't understand Asia, I tend to give Asian battery companies less attention than they deserve. Today I'll try to rectify that oversight. I'll also be adding New Energy Systems Group (NEWN) to my Chinese companies tracking list with a start date of June 30th. The first Asian company most investors think of when you mention batteries is BYD Co....

Earnings Season Surprises In Energy Storage

John Petersen Now that the earnings season is almost over, a review of surprises in the storage sector seems appropriate. Before digging into performance surprises, however, I want to share a surprising excerpt from "Reinventing Capitalism: How to jumpstart what the marketplace can’t," an interview with Bill Gates that served as the closing presentation at this month's Techonomy 2010 Conference. While I commend the entire video for those who have 50 minutes to spare, I was particularly intrigued by Mr. Gates response to a question about whether we could reasonably hold out hope that Moore's Law class gains...

PFB Corporation (PFB.TO,PFBOF.PK)

Tom Konrad, CFA PFB Corporation is a manufacturer of energy efficient building materials, including SIPD and ICFs, based on expanded polystyrene.  The company's sales have fallen in response to the housing downturn, but less so than most of the housing industry, despite a strong balance sheet and cash flow.  I consider the stock a buy below C$6. NOTE: I'm taking a break in order to take a trip to California for some vacation and to moderate a panel at the San Francisco Moneyshow.  This article was written in January 2010, but I delayed publication for seven months because...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Bicycle and Scooter Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA When gas prices rise, more people turn to bicycles for transportation.  Will these bike and scooter stocks ride in the oil price's slipstream? UPDATE: Here is an article on one more bicycle stock that should have been on this list: Shimano (SHMDF.PK). A 2008 survey of bicycle retailers found that the vast majority of bike store owners felt that their sales had increased because many people were turning to bicycles for some of their transportation needs because of high gas prices.   95% of store owners reported that they had new customers because of...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Six More Electric Vehicle and Hybrid Electric Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA My Ten Electric Vehicle (EV) Stocks article drew considerable attention and comments, including suggestions for stocks that did not make the ten.  Here are my takes on the EV stocks suggested by readers. All of these companies do have something to do with electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), but many were omitted from the original list because EV and HEV exposure was quite small as a fraction of total revenue.  This matters because, even when a small segment of a company is growing rapidly, it can have very little effect on...

Energy Storage and the Edison Blowback

John Petersen Last week I stumbled across a disturbing quote from Thomas Edison that was published in February 1883.   "The storage battery is, in my opinion, a catchpenny, a sensation, a mechanism for swindling the public by stock companies. The storage battery is one of those peculiar things which appeals to the imagination, and no more perfect thing could be desired by stock swindlers than that very selfsame thing. ... Just as soon as a man gets working on the secondary battery it brings out his latent capacity for lying. ... Scientifically, storage is all right, but,...