Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Week In Cleantech: March 31, 2012

Jeff Siegel March 26: Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) Upgraded to $49 A123 Systems (NASDAQ:AONE) announced today that it will have to replace battery modules and packs that may contain defective cells. The replacement is likely to cost about $55 million. The stock is down about 4 percent in pre-market. If the broader market stays positive today, the damage could be contained. I expect to see a number of follow-up articles blasting A123 because, well, the company works in the electric vehicle space and it's received government support. The combination of the two makes it a popular target....

Lux Research Dissects Lithium-ion Battery Mythology

John Petersen We all know that you can't have a cost-effective electric car without a cost-effective battery. We also know that a small but vocal hodgepodge of ideologues, activists, politicians and dreamers wants everyone to believe that rapid and stunning advances in lithium-ion batteries will finally make the dream a reality after a century of one abject failure after another. I frequently caution readers that it won't be anywhere near as easy as the proponents claim. In a new report titled "Searching for Innovations to Cut Li-ion Battery Costs" Lux Research did a yeoman's...

Six Questions to Ask a Venture Capitalist in the First Five Minutes

David Gold So, you’re at a networking event and you get an opportunity to talk with a Venture Capitalist (VC) for just a few minutes. After breaking the ice with quick introductory formalities, you present your elevator pitch, right? Wrong. How can you possibly capture that VC’s interest if you don’t know what excites them? Would you try to sell meat to a vegetarian or bricks to a carpenter? Not if you knew a little about their needs and interests!  When you are raising money, you are selling yourself and your company to your prospective...

Sell Wind ETFs if Support is Violated

Steve Sollheiser  Both Wind ETFs are showing interesting chart patterns. In the PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio (PWND) chart we can see a Falling Wedge patern, that consists of two non-parallel trend lines that engulf price. The upwards trend line has been tested for 5 times, which is an indication of its strength. The support trend line was tested four times, which confirms its validity and the accuracy of the pattern. The Falling Wedge, contrary to intuition, is a Bullish pattern which predicts a breakout upwards and an uptrend in 68%...

Why the Sell-off at New Flyer?

Tom Konrad CFA Heavy duty transit bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries (NFI.TO/NFYEF.PK) released its fourth quarter earnings and annual report on March 21, quickly followed by analyst downgrades from CIBC and Canacord Genuity. Too far, too fast Over the next few days, the stock fell from over $8 to below $7, although it is still well above the level where followers of my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2012 would have purchased ($5.65) even after dividend payments worth $0.22.  After a rise like New Flyer has had over the last three months, some investors took the...

Op-Ed: Vote Against Vestas’ Proposed Board

Vestas' (VWDRY.PK) Board of Directors intend to grant management share options at a strike price one-third BELOW book value. The Board of Directors is rewarding management for its mismanagement and past profit warnings. This will not help restore investor confidence. Given Vestas' valuation, it is time for shareholders to stand up for their interests: Investors should vote against all nominees for Vestas Board of Directors at the AGM on March 29th. The strike price of Vestas' share option scheme is only the latest in a series of decisions disregarding shareholder interests. Vestas needs to change! Vestas needs a...

Electric Drive – Still Crazy After Five More Years

John Petersen The sunshine, lollipops and rainbows electric car press was at it again in mid-March. This time they were gushing over a $3,800 report from Pike Research predicting that automotive lithium-ion battery prices will fall by more than one-third by 2017. According to Pike, the market for Li-ion batteries for transportation will grow from $2.0 billion annually in 2011 to more than $14.6 billion for 28 million kWh of batteries by 2017. For those without a calculator handy, the figures work out to a future industry average price of $520 per kWh in 2017 versus a current...

Lead-Carbon Batteries: Cheap Classic Chemistry With 21st Century Performance

John Petersen Overview Mark Twain quipped, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Truer words were never spoken, particularly when it comes to the batteries that most of us use and curse on a daily basis. If you have a car, you have a lead-acid starter battery that needs to be replaced every couple years. Cellphones and laptops offer similar trials and tribulations unless you upgrade your electronics regularly. When our cars don't start or our electronics don't work, we invariably blame the...

The Week In Cleantech: March 24, 2012

Jeff Siegel March 20: Another Solar Stock Disappoints IBC Advanced Alloys Corp. (TSX-V:IB) (PINK SHEETS:IAALF), a beryllium alloy producer that's doing some ground-breaking work in the world of nuclear fuels, announced this morning that its advanced castings are being supplied for the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle, which is expected to dock with the International Space Station in a little over a week. For the sake of clarification, IBC serves a variety of industries, including automotive, telecommunications and a number of industrial applications. But I actually started following this one after discovering the...

LNG Exports Would Help the Environment

Tom Konrad CFA Photo: Robin Lucas, via Wikimedia Commo With friends like these, who needs enemies? The Sierra Club is fighting new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals, because they believe LNG exports would reward and encourage producers of shale gas. Fighting shale gas has blinded them to the bigger picture. If LNG exports were to reward shale gas producers, they would have to be significant enough to raise the price of domestic natural gas. Such large exports would also lower...

Ceres, Inc.: Taming, Mapping, and Enhancing Genomes for Bioenergy

Jim Lane Newly-public Ceres (CERE) makes major breakthrough on miscanthus; is the gigantic energy grass ready for prime-time? Why is miscanthus driving so much attention, yet deserving more? In California, followers of NASDAQ prices noted yesterday that shares in the newly-public Ceres (CERE) rocketed up 15 percent to close at $17.52. What happened? It was revealed yesterday, in the peer-reviewed, online journal PLoS One that Ceres and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University in Wales have completed the first high-resolution, comprehensive genetic map of miscanthus. The full article is here. In other...

The Week In Cleantech: March 13-19, 2012

Jeff Siegel March 13: Do Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Shorts Get Burned? LED-maker Energy Focus, Inc. (OTCBB:EFOI) announced this morning that it entered into a 5-year cooperation agreement with Communal International, Inc. Under the terms of the deal, Communal will introduce Energy Focus to new potential customers in Asia and assist in reducing manufacturing cost. This is a stock we played a few years ago for massive gains after the company landed a number of deals with the U.S. Military. Not sure how today's news will impact the stock, but it could be good for a quick pop....

Solar: More Downside Risk Before Buying Opportunity Emerges

by Clean Energy Intel In the past month since we recommended taking profits on our Tier One Chinese Solar trade, the sector has been hit heavily – largely driven by margin erosion and a generally less than encouraging earnings season. The key question from here is whether or not we are once again at prices which offer a buying opportunity. The answer is probably not quite yet. Source: Barchart The chart above shows the percentage change in three Chinese tier one solar stocks plus the solar ETF TAN in the period since...

Geneva Motor Show Highlights – The Revenge of the Internal Combustion Engine

John Petersen March is Motor Show time in Geneva and it was fascinating to witness the shift in emphasis away from plug-in vehicles as European automakers highlighted their accomplishments in fuel efficiency technologies like HEVs, micro-hybrids and dual fuel drivetrains that can switch back and forth between gasoline and compressed natural gas. While there were modest displays for Tesla (TSLA), Fisker and other emerging brick-makers, and space was set aside for the obligatory plug-ins that most real manufacturers are toying with, the substantial majority of front-line vehicles at display entrances and halo cars on turntables were HEVs...

More Pain Ahead for Solar Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA Clean Edge's Clean Energy Trends 2012 contains some disturbing predictions for solar stock investors. Clean Energy Trends 2012, the annual report from Clean Edge by Ron Pernick, Clint Wilder, and Trevor Winnie, was released today. On the surface, it seems like good news for the solar sector.  Although headlines in 2011 featured much bad press for Solar PV, the industry has not been "withering on the vine." Here are some key points in the report:   Combined global revenue for PV increased from $71.2 billion in 2010 to $91.6 billion...

Buffet Bet Comes Out for Solar

by Sean Kidney Warren Buffet is a famous proponent of value investing and he surely received a sign of the value in solar investments over fossil fuels last week. The MidAmerican Energy $850m Topaz solar project bond we mentioned a couple of weeks ago was so successful that a second tranche is expected to cover the remaining debt of the project. The offer was oversubscribed by $400m which would have mopped up the total $1.2bn of debt in the project; Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) controls MidAmerican. In contrast, Buffet’s investment in $2bn of bonds from gas company...