The Week In Cleantech: Powersecure, Altair Nano, Zipcar, Waste Management, and Maxwell -Apr 27, 2012

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Jeff Siegel and Tom Konrad

April 23: Solar Grade Silicon Industry Under Pressure


April 24: Will PowerSecure (NASDAQ:POWR) Bounce Today?


  • PowerSecure International (NASDAQ:POWR) announced today that it landed $10 million worth of new orders for its smart grid power systems and LED area lights. Some of these deals are actually repeat orders, which certainly offers some confidence for the company’s products. That being said, I don’t know how much today’s announcement will effect the stock. Earnings are a couple weeks away, and I suspect most investors that don’t want to take on much risk will hold off on making any moves until those earnings are released on May 2. Traders, on the other hand, could end up playing this thing today for a quick one. We’ll find out shortly.
  • Altair Nanotechnologies (NASDAQ:ALTI) announced this morning that it has entered into an economic cooperation agreement with two Chinese cities to promote the development, production, sale and deployment of energy storage systems. I think ALTI is smart to expand its presence in China, and at the end of the day, deals like this could really bolster the company’s growth prospects. I actually like this company and made a boatload on it a few years ago. But the battery space is incredibly competitive right now. And given the uncertainty of the market, I’ll likely view these smaller battery companies from a distance this year. Still, I wish nothing but success for ALTI.

April 25: Zipcar (NASDAQ:ZIP) Raises Profitability Outlook

JS: Zipcar (NASDAQ:ZIP) announced Q1 results today. For the first quarter, revenue increased 20% to $59.1 million compared to $49.1 million a year prior. Total membership also grew 23%.

I’ve actually been a fan of the car sharing model for years. In fact, I first wrote about car sharing back in 2006, before Zipcar went public. Interestingly, the company I focused on for that article was Flexcar – which actually merged with Zipcar in 2007.

Today, Zipcar is the major player. And I wish nothing but success for this forward-thinking company. Of course, car sharing is not monopolized by Zipcar. There are a few others that are also doing quite well. Take Car2Go, for instance – a company that’s been building some nice momentum recently.

This particular car service offers the advantage of not having to book a car in advance or commit to a return time and location.

I’m particularly fond of the company’s San Diego operations, too. This is where car2go boasts 300 electric cars in its fleet.

Quite frankly, as we start to see more and more electric cars on the road, I suspect the car sharing model will quickly adapt and take advantage of the fuel and maintenance cost advantages of electric vehicles.

There’s actually another car-sharing operation in Chicago called I-GO. This small outfit boasts 36 electric vehicles in its fleet – all of which are charged at solar-power charging stations around the city.

Of course, Zipcar isn’t sleeping on this. The company actually launched its first large-scale electric vehicle program in Chicago last month with five Chevy Volts, and is looking to add another 20 electric cars to its fleet this year.


  • Daimler Buses is winding down North American operations.  Production of Orion transit buses will cease after fulfillment of current orders.  This should help the remaining North American Transit bus manufacturers, including New Flyer (NFYEF.PK).  (Thanks DLane.)

April 26: Waste Management (WM) Dumped by Investors: You Shouldn’t


Waste Management (NYSE:WM) is dipping on a slight earnings disappointment this morning.

I like this company as a long term income play.  Although, contrary to popular belief, we will stop throwing away as much trash because of resource depletion, WM has been assiduously re-positioning itself to help customers reduce their waste streams, and to make the most (in terms of biofuels, electricity, and recycled commodities) of the remaining waste stream.  In other words, unlike most of the industry, WM is preparing for a more sustainable future.

That sustainable future may be arriving by stealth right now, in terms of decreasing volumes which most people attribute to the economic downturn.  I’m not so sure.  This change in the waste management industry will be (at least in part) secular, rather than cyclical.  Higher commodity prices are driving reduced consumption, reuse (think FreeCycle and eBay (NASD:EBAY) , and recycling.

But the transition is likely to be slow enough that forward thinking companies like WM will be able to transition with it.  Wait a few days for the impact of this earnings disappointment to sink in, and pick up a little to take advantage of the well protected 4% annual yield.


LINN Energy (NASDAQ:LINE) announced Q1, 2012 results today. Net loss narrowed to $6 million, from $446.6 million a year ago, and production increased 51 percent to average 471 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day.

While my primary focus is on clean, alternative energy, it is unwise for any energy investor to put all his eggs in the alternative energy basket. This is why we are well diversified throughout the energy sector, and certainly have a piece of the booming domestic oil & gas market. LINN Energy is currently my top pick here. It has one of the best hedging programs in the industry, it’s expansion plans are aggressive, yet rational and also well underway, and it offers a fat 7% dividend. And yes, I do own shares. I’d be crazy not to.

April 27: Analysts Downgrade Maxwell Technologies (MXWL), Market Makes Sure It’s Dead

TK: Maxwell (MXWL) is selling off badly as growth investors abandon ship as analysts respond to lowered guidance by downgrading the stock and chopping earnings estimates. I don’t expect to see the stock back near $16 anytime soon, but once the value investors come in to absorb the selling by the growth investors, I think people who buy today below $10 could see a quick 20-30% profit.  If so, I’ll probably hold mine. I like this company long term… I just prefer to buy when others are panicking.

For more, see my coverage on Forbes:

I may write more later today, if anything new comes up.


  • TK – Long NFYEF, WM, MXWL. 
  • JS – Long LINE

Jeff Siegel is Editor of Energy and Capital, where his notes were first published.
Tom Konrad CFA is Editor of, and a blogger on, where the note on WM was first published.


  1. Bought some MXWL today at 9.30
    Love this weekly commentary and thanks for the shout out on the Orion news!
    -D Lane

  2. It’s an experiment, but I’ve started writing short daily blogs as stuff likes Maxwell hits my radar on my Forbes blog. I’m re-using it (plus Jeff’s “Modern Energy Roundup” here as The Week in Cleantech (TWICT).
    TWICT was a feature we had on AltEnergyStocks in 2007-8, but then Charles Morand stepped down as Editor and we did not have anyone who wanted to write it. Don’t know if I’ll continue it (it takes a lot of time) but it does seem to be popular, so I’ll keep it up for a while and see how it goes.


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