Monthly Archives: January 2012

Controlling Feedstock Costs Creates Value in Biofuel Companies

Jim Lane Companies creating opportunities in feedstocks are getting lots of love from investors, and giant downstream partners like BP and Shell. What’s up in the new upstream? It has not escaped the attention of investors that Renewable Energy Group’s (REGI) IPO resulted in a $262 million valuation for a company actively earning $2.11 per share through the sale of 200 million+ gallons of biodiesel, while Ceres recently increased the target for its IPO to a valuation above $500 million, despite being, in essence, a pre-revenue company. What gives? The secret, it turns out, is in feedstock. In...

Ten Reasons Why Electric Drive is Stranded on The Bleeding Edge of Transportation Technology

John Petersen The first thing every securities lawyer learns is that technology is a two edged sword. On the leading edge, developers of cheap innovations that ramp rapidly over a few years build thriving businesses that deliver market beating returns for investors. On the bleeding edge, developers of expensive technologies that can't be implemented at relevant scale for years morph into financial black holes that suck the lifeblood out of portfolios and teach a new generation of investors about an insidious market phenomenon the Gartner Group refers to as the hype cycle. The second thing...

Obama’s “All of the Below” Energy Strategy

Jim Lane Obama unveils an “all-out, all of the above” energy strategy. But is it really “all of the below”? Just election talk? Is ginning up a bioeconomy shelved for a year, or just a week? Meanwhile, hopeful news from Novozymes (NVZMY.PK) and the World Economic Forum. In Washington, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union speech, and dashed hopes and expectations of a revival strategy for US industry through encouraging growth of the bioeconomy. His annual presidential address became the first in a number of years to avoid any mention of biofuels, ethanol,...

Minimizing a Key Threat: State of the Union Address 2012

Garvin Jabusch Americans, rightly, prefer specifics and plans, as opposed to rhetorical vision and platitudes, from their president in their State of the Union addresses. We couldn't agree more, so here are our thoughts about President Obama's 2012 address, with respect to our area, the next economy and investing therein. President Barack Obama delivers the 2012 State of the Union Address (Image source: whitehouse.gov) Two years ago, President Obama in his State of the Union Address said, "The nation that leads the clean energy economy will lead the global economy and America must be that...

Dark Clouds Threaten German Clean Energy Ambitions

John Petersen During the fourteen years that I've lived in Switzerland, the Germans have been the world's staunchest supporters of green power and alternative energy. Their aggressive development of wind power was breathtaking, as was their warm embrace of photovoltaic power. Over the last few weeks, however, there has been an ominous change in the mainstream German media's tone as the political class finally comes to grips with the unpleasant reality that rooftop solar panels are worthless on short, grey winter days and "For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no...

The Hard Truth About Solar

By Jeff Siegel Solar Competes With Natural Gas From 2005 to 2008, I made an absolute fortune in solar. And it was insanely easy, too. Hell, back then you could pretty much just pick any random company with the word “solar” attached to it, and watch your money double, triple, even quadruple. Yes, those were three great years. And I live very comfortably today because of those three years. But the solar market isn't what it used to be. Last year, solar stocks got slammed. And while most expect to see a recovery in the space this year,...

Understanding Manufacturing Economics for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

John Petersen I have a new favorite word AGGREGATION! At the risk of sounding like a reporter, I’m going to summarize a pre-holiday news story you might have missed but need to know about. In late November the PJM Interconnect, the largest of nine regional grid system operators in the US, announced that it had begun buying frequency regulation services from small-scale, behind the meter, demand response assets in Pennsylvania. The first resources brought on-line by PJM were variable speed pumps at a water treatment plant and a 500 kW industrial battery array...

A123’s Elegant Financing Transaction

John Petersen On Friday A123 Systems (AONE) announced a direct registered offering that's an elegant example of a well-structured financing transaction in a difficult market. A123 had a solid financial base before the offering and the stock was starting to turn a critical corner into an upward trend. The new financing should add momentum to that trend. The first stage deal terms are pretty straightforward. The investors will buy units consisting of one share of common stock and one common stock purchase warrant for $2.034 per unit, a 10% discount from the closing price of A123's common...

Renewable Energy Group Raises $72 Million in Biodiesel IPO

Jim Lane In Iowa, the Renewable Energy Group IPO priced last night, and the company’s shares began trading Thursday on NASDAQ under the REGI symbol. The company sold 7.2 million shares at $10 per share, well below its midpoint target of $14 per share announced last week, with total proceeds of up to $82.8 million if all over-allotments are covered by underwriters. Without over-allotment sales, the offering will raise $72 million. UBS Securities LLC and Piper Jaffray & Co. are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated and Canaccord...

Updating My Buy Exide and Short Tesla Paired Trade

John Petersen On November 15th I suggested a paired trade where investors would buy 11.5 shares of Exide Technologies (XIDE) and short one share of Tesla Motors (TSLA). Over the last two months, investors who made the trade on November 15th would have realized the following gains. 15-Nov-11 13-Jan-12 Net Entry Exit Gain Buy 11.5 Exide -$30.59 $36.69 $6.10 Sell one Tesla $33.93 -$22.79 $11.14 Pair trade total...

Tesla Stock Collapses But Looks Massively Oversold

by Clean Energy Intel Image Source: Tesla Motors, with permission. Having traded in a tight range for most of the day, Tesla Motors (TSLA) collapsed in the last 45 minutes of trading on Friday. The stock hit a low of 22.64 and closed at 22.79, down 19.3% from its previous close. Although it was reported to have bounced 7% in after hours trading, the price action remains a clear worry. More worryingly, the move took place on what became the third highest volume day of the last...

The True Story of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds

Sean Kidney Where did all the CREBs and QCEBs go? Mystery solved. The US has for a long time used tax credits to promote the development of oil and gas and other industries. With tax credits the bond issuer still pays a coupon, but their payment is subsidized, effectively lowering the rate of interest paid. The Obama administration brought in a big program of credits for renewable energy bonds. The plan was that States, large local governments, tribal governments and public power bodies would issue bonds to finance energy efficiency or renewable energy. The US ...

An Elephant Hunter’s Theory About Axion Power’s Price Surge

An Elephant Hunter's Theory About Axion Power's Price Surge John Petersen Over the last few days I've been inundated with questions from readers who want to know why Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) has smoothly surged from a low of $0.25 on December 30th to a closing price of $0.58 yesterday. The short answer is the stock is finally emerging from the mother of all supply and demand imbalances and the persistent sellers that punished the price over the last 20 months are almost out of the picture. Since I believe we're witnessing the beginning of an entirely...

Sunny Day for Solar Stocks and the Shorts Come Off

L. Myron Clark Solar energy stocks took a huge jump today in U.S. trading.  While the sheen faded slightly as afternoon skies turned overcast in the eastern U.S., as of the NYSE closing bell about half the sector was up 20% or better.  Absent major industry news or earnings blowouts, short covering is the most plausible explanation for the sudden sharp rise.  Among the biggest winners were: Hanwha SolarOne Co. Ltd. ADS (HSOL)  +36.80% JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. ADS (JASO)  +34.72% JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. ADS (JKS)  +31.86% ReneSola...

Tier One Chinese Solar To Continue To Outperform

by Clean Energy Intel TAN v STP, YGE and TSL Source: Barchart The chart above tells a particularly interesting story. Back in November of 2011, having been bearish on solar for some months, we argued that the market was finally beginning to see a process of rebalancing in the solar sector. A key component of this of course related to a number of announcements from Chinese solar players that they would bring a halt to new plans to expand capacity - at least until the end of 2012. This factor,...

Electric Vehicles: No House of Cards

Tom Konrad CFA Once again, John Petersen  has gone too far with his petrol-head arguments against Electric Vehicles (EVs.) In a recent article fetchingly titled, Why The Electric Vehicle House of Cards Must Fall, he argues that because "the incremental cost of vehicle electrification an up-front capital investment of $190 for each equivalent barrel of oil saved." Since the oil price currently barely tops $100, he considers this (to put it mildly) a bad investment.  He concludes, Electric drive proponents are selling a house of cards based on fundamentally flawed assumptions and glittering...