Monthly Archives: January 2011

Dividend-Paying Energy Efficiency Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA Clean energy investing is not on for growth investors, traders, and speculators.  Conservative income investors can invest in green companies as well, and dividend paying energy efficiency stocks deserve pride of place in their portfolios. In my clean energy investing workshops, I tell attendees that investing in clean energy stocks does not have to be riskier than investing in any other sector.  The key to investing in clean energy with a low risk profile is the same as low risk investing in any other sector: find stable, profitable companies selling at reasonable valuations. ...

Electric Vehicles – The Opportunity of Which Decade?

John Petersen Hardly a day passes without some talking head breathlessly describing electric vehicles as the opportunity of the decade. The fine point most investors miss, however, is that the decade they're describing won't begin until 2020 and for the next seven to ten years electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla Motors (TSLA) and lithium-ion battery manufacturers like Ener1 (HEV) and A123 Systems (AONE) will hemorrhage cash as they try to traverse the trough of disillusionment that runs through the cruel black heart of the valley of death. The following graph is a stylized view of the...

General Electric: Seeking to Define the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen General Electric (GE) is a standout company that supplies products and services in the alternative energy and environmental fields. GE also has a robust stake in smart grid technology; its energy division alone has products that include power delivery, smart metering, charging systems, and power sensing. According to Cleantech, GE is a player in 5 of the 6 critical business areas affecting smart grid development.   As part of their commitment to shape the future of the smart grid, GE committed $200 million for entrepreneurs, students and other innovators as a “call to action” for...

The Market Slowly Catches on to the Good News at Electric Vehicle Company Balqon

Tom Konrad CFA A recent financing transaction dramatically changes the outlook for heavy-duty electric vehicle company Balqon (BLQN.OB). Last summer, I mentioned Balqon Corporation (BLQN.OB) as one of ten electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid vehicle stocks as part of my Best Peak Oil Investments series.  At the time, I thought that Balqon's short-haul electric trucks were a better fit for EV technology than electric cars, but that Balqon's constant need for investor funds made the common stock a bad investment because of probable dilution.  Overall, I thought the stock was worth watching, in case the funding...

MasTec (MTZ): Connectivity to the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen An important part of the smart grid will be devices that connect the user to the grid, or “reading points”. These reading points go way beyond the current meter reading system that just monitor the amount of energy used. The long held belief that meter reading was the only way to monitor household and business’s consumption is quickly being replaced with alternate ideas.   MasTec (MTZ) is a contracting firm with $2.1 billion in annual sales focused on utility and communications infrastructure. It specializes in communications, high-speed Internet and electric distribution, as well as...

Nick Hodge’s Night Time Solar Energy Tease

Tom Konrad, CFA NiMH battery company that's going to "make coal and oil obsolete" sleuthed out. I can't help but chuckle at the hyperbole of some promoters of alternative energy stocks.  We can wish that coal and oil will be obsolete tomorrow all we want, but it ain't gonna happen.  That's just what Nick Hodge was claiming in a recent teaser for Highpower Technology (HPJ).  How do I know it's Highpower that Hodge is hailing as the answer to all our hopes?  Because Travis Johnson, the Stock Gumshoe told me so.  Travis is the same...

Understanding the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen The modernization of the electric grid is an exciting investment opportunity that promises to be one of the biggest energy investment stories of the early 21st century. Smart Grid systems will provide large growth opportunities for many companies around the globe. This is being accomplished through a combination of updating existing technologies along with the creation of new systems aimed at improving the quality of the electric grid. By understanding how the dream of a smart grid will become a reality, an informed investor will be in a very good position to...

Alice in EVland Part III; Cost Benefit Analysis For Dummies

John Petersen Sometimes I think bloggers like me are the real dummies. We spend so much time delving into the minutiae of a stock or sector that we manage to obscure the big picture with too much detail. I've certainly been guilty of that particular flaw over the last couple years and want to offer an apology to readers I've confused rather than enlightened. Yesterday a reader sent me a copy of a presentation that Exide Technologies (XIDE) used in its December 2010 Investor Meetings. The slide on page 6 of the presentation did a great job...

Analyzing Solar Stocks With False Assumptions

Dana Blankenhorn The lessons of technology investing also apply to solar investing. The decision by Evergreen Solar (ESLR) to move to China has some analysts saying "ha-ha" over solar energy. But in fact it reveals a basic fallacy in the way solar power, and solar power stocks, are analyzed by Wall Street. It's a manufacturing assumption. Solar panels are said to be a manufacturing business. So if prices are going down, that's bad. If governments are no longer seeing solar as just good PR, if they're treating it as a real industry that has to make...

Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies; Taxing Peter To Buy Paul’s New Car

John Petersen Industrial subsidies have been an important feature of the American economic landscape since the late 19th century for one simple reason – they work. After the steam locomotive proved its ability to quickly and cheaply move people and cargo long distances, the government launched a massive effort to span the country with steel rails and bring the benefits of a rapid, safe and reliable national transportation system to all its citizens. After electric lighting proved its merit, the rush was on to build a national infrastructure and bring the benefits to all. After the internal combustion...

Solar Tracer at the Penny Stock Arcade

Dana Blankenhorn This article is no longer available. Disclosure: None Dana Blankenhorn first covered the energy industries in 1978 with the Houston Business Journal. He returned last month after a short 29 year hiatus because it's the best business story of our time. In between he covered PCs, the Internet, e-commerce, open source, the Internet of Things and Moore's Law. It's the application of the last to harvesting the energy all around us he's most excited about. He lives in Atlanta.

Finding the Apple Computer of Solar Power

by Joseph McCabe, PE Have you noticed the corporate pitches that compare their products to iPhones or iPads to try and force the feeling that they are "like Apple"? Bill Ford just pitched the Ford electric car in this manner. If Apple is the gold standard, the question becomes, what solar company is closest to being just like Apple? I think the answer is none, at least not yet. The Apple Model Apple has a design culture that attracts design professionals to their product. They also have a completely vertical integrated product where their case, graphical...

Renewable Energy and Cleantech Mutual Funds and ETFs: Does Tax Efficiency Matter?

Alternative Energy and Climate Change Mutual Funds, Part VI Tom Konrad CFA My recent article, In Clean Energy, Active Management Pays, started a bit of a controversy.  Rafael Coven, the Index Manager for The Cleantech Index (^CTIUS), which is the index behind the Powershares Cleantech Portfolio (PZD), left a comment on Barrons and sent me an email saying, "Your comparison of funds and ETFs ignores the tax efficiency differences which are very significant." Rafael is right that it's important for many investors to consider taxes before making an investment decision, and that ETFs are often more...

A Solar Penny Stock Worth Watching?

Dana Blankenhorn As a rule "penny stocks," public companies routinely selling for less than $1 a share, and sometimes just a few pennies, make me nervous. While the intent is laudable – to give small investors a chance to bet on long shots just like the boys on Sand Hill Road  – the result has always looked like a rigged casino. Because of its low capitalization and small float it's easy to “pump and dump” a penny stock, boosting its value with some publicity, then selling it short. And if the deal were worthwhile, why isn't the smart...

Energy Storage, The Valley of Death and The Elephant Hunters

John Petersen Most readers know I'm a lawyer who works in small company finance. Clients come to us in their earliest development stages and upgrade to a larger law firm when they need more comprehensive service than a boutique firm like ours can offer. As a result, I've spent over 30 years guiding entrepreneurs through the "Valley of Death," an exhilarating, treacherous and often terrifying period in the life of every business that begins with the signing of incorporation documents and ends when cumulative cash flow turns positive. Most companies that enter the valley of death don't...

Solar Energy Scam Season

Dana Blankenhorn Any hot investment field is ripe for scams. It's that time for solar energy. Sun Energy of Australia says it has been making “solar inverters”  since 1987. Its directors appear to all be legitimate businesspeople. But look a little more closely. What is a stock photo of the old Merrill Lynch bull doing there? A flower? The Earth, seen from space? And click the “language” icons on the home page. They don't lead anywhere. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has told the Sydney Morning Herald it suspects stock fraud, adding the same outfit...