Monthly Archives: June 2012

Energy Storage: Q-2 2012 Review and Analysis

John Petersen While I jumped the gun last week and published my third quarter outlook for the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors early, it's worthwhile to take a look back and see how my tracking list of companies performed over the last quarter and examine the past to see what the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup portend for the coming quarter. So without further delay I'll present my price performance table for the second quarter that ended on Friday. Q-2 was a dreadful quarter for Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) and ZBB Energy...

Fixing Leaks, Diluted Pacific Ethanol, and “Another Solyndra”: The Week In Cleantech: 6-29-2012

Tom Konrad June 25: Pure Technologies Expands in the US Pure Technologies Ltd. (TSX:PUR, OTC:PPEHF) today announced plans for a major expansion of its Engineering Services business through the establishment of up to five new regional offices in the United States.  Last year, Pure was struggling when the Arab Spring stopped work at their biggest customer, a Libyan water authority, but the company did an admirable job cutting costs and developing business in other parts of the world.  Work (and payments) from Libya resumed this spring, and the company's business in North America is growing at a breakneck...

KiOR IPO: One Year Later

by Debra Fiakas CFA One year ago biofuel developer KiOR, Inc. (KIOR:  Nasdaq) raised $150 million in through its initial public offering.  The anniversary seems like an appropriate time to revisit the company’s progress  -  and valuation of KiOR shares. KiOR’s claims its demonstration plant proves its proprietary catalysts dramatically accelerate the conversion of biomass into hydrocarbons.  KiOR’s bio-crude can then be put through conventional “cracking” processes to transform the bio-crude to gasoline and other petroleum products.  The company claims yields of 67 gallons of fuel per bone dry ton of biomass such as wood...

Death Valley Days: The Biofuels Financing Saga

Jim Lane Commemorative plaque at Burned Wagons Point, Death Valley. Photo by Philippe Pierre As bio-based companies race across the Valley of Death, in the dash for scale, who’s getting financing now, and how? The path to financing success in bio-based project development used to be a little less complicated. Raise seed money from friends and family.  Series A and B with your friendly local VC, to prove the concept and build a pilot. Bring in a strategic for the Series C and D and the...

LDK Posts Steep Loss Amid Mounting Industry Pressure

Steve Leone   Margin squeeze photo via Bigstock China's LDK Solar(LDK), a producer of polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules, has reported a steep quarterly loss that underscores the dramatic industry-wide shift that has occurred in the past year. In a weaker-than-expected fiscal first quarter statement posted Tuesday, LDK reported a net loss of $185.2 million, or a loss of $1.46 per diluted American depository share (ADS). During the same period a year ago, the company posted a net income of $135.4 million, or a $0.95...

Green Shoots for Green Building: Seven Stocks to Play the Trend

Tom Konrad CFA Rockwool insulation (Photo: Achim Hering) Signs of Green Building Growth Rockwool International (COP:ROCK-B,OTC:RKWBF) recently announced the establishment of the insulation manufacturer’s first US factory, in Mississippi, about 30 miles outside Memphis, Tennessee.  The firm has been seeing double-digit annual sales growth in North America, driven by interest from do-it-yourself chains and insulating commercial buildings, and expects this growth to continue. The company’s rock wool insulation, sustainably made from stone and recycled materials, can provide improved fire protection when compared to traditional insulation products. Rockwool is far...

Will A123’s Batteries Make the Great Leap from Design Bench to Store Shelf?

by Debra Fiakas CFA In my last post Paper Power I outlined the attempt to develop a battery using carbon nanotubes and paper.   The materials seemed a bit unbelievable and it sent me into the history books to look at the battery.  In the mid-1700s Ben Franklin may have been the one who first coined the term battery to describe the capacitors had strung together for his experiments.  We all know about the scientist, turned politician.  What is less well known is that the ancients may have also attempted a battery-like instrument now called the “Baghdad Battery.” ...

One, Two, Three Uses for A123’s New Batteries

Tom Konrad CFA  A123 Systems battery cell products (Source: A123) A123 Systems′ (NASD:AONE) announcement of a new battery technology able to operate at both extremely high and low temperatures has the  headline writers dreaming of cheaper electric cars. Electric cars may be dreamy, but they are just one application of the technology.  There are at least two more, with significant near term potential. 1. Is it really about electric vehicles (EVs)? Sure, it would be nice to be able to trim $600 of the price tag of a Tesla (NASD:TSLA) Model...

Paper Batteries

by Debra Fiakas CFA A comment left recently on one of my earlier articles mentioned Vendum Batteries, Inc. (VNDB:  OTC/BB), a developmental stage company working on battery power solutions.  When looking into Vendum I expected the usual flowery promises investors hear from every other battery developer  -  some new metal alloy for the electrodes, an alternative electrolyte, or maybe a creative form factor.    However, Vendum is not just any battery “wanna-be.” Ok, Vendum does have an alternative electrode, but it is not just a tweak of the usual metal mixes.  It also has an alternative form factor,...

Maxwell Technologies: Selling by Growth Funds Looks Done

Tom Konrad CFA Since Maxwell Technologies(NASD:MXWL) lowered guidance in their first quarter conference call at the end of April, the stock has fallen by 58%, and is currently trading at $6.65 compared to $15.80 before the earnings call. This fall has been considerably more dramatic than the lowering of analysts’ price targets.  These now stand at an average of $16.40, down about 20% from two months ago. Insiders have been actively buying the stock since it hit $10, and continue to do so.  Such active buying reflects conviction that the stock is trading well below fair value. With both analysts and...

Energy Storage: Q3 2012 Winners and Losers

John Petersen I usually write a quarterly recap to summarize what happened in the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors, but Q2 was a tough enough period that I don't see much sense in dwelling on the bloodletting. So instead of focusing on the past, I'll offer a quick summary table with lots of red ink and turn my attention to Q3, which is shaping up as a time of bright opportunity for some companies and profound risk for others. I expect three companies in my tracking group to perform very well in Q3 –...

3 EVs in the News: The Week In Cleantech: 6-15-2012

Tom Konrad and Jeff Siegel June 18: Is First Wind's New Joint Venture Worth $3 Billion? JS: First Wind Holdings, LLC (First Wind) and Emera Inc. (TSX: EMA) announced today the closing of their transaction to jointly own and operate wind energy projects in the Northeast U.S. through a new company called Northeast Wind Partners.  More here. June 19: Rio Earth Summit Looks Unlikely to Mend Broken Promises TK: The optimism of 20 years ago has been replaced by disillusionment and an uncertain future.  More here. June 20: Renewable Energy Industry Pushes Back Against Bad Press TK:...

Gevo marching: GEVOgraphy expands to Malaysia; advantaGEVOus ruling in Butamax case

Jim Lane Gevo signs agreement for cellulosic biomass development in Malaysia, as the company secures a crucial win in preliminary injunction battle with Butamax over IP. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) signed a collaborative agreement with the intent to site a cellulosic biomass isobutanol facility in Southeast Asia, with the Malaysian government’s East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), Malaysian Biotechnology Corp (BiotechCorp) and the State Government of Terengganu. The company is in the final stages of evaluating additional partners to complete the biomass to isobutanol value chain. The collaboration offers a diversified feedstock, organized approach and the opportunity...

First Solar’s New Research Platform: Big News for Intermolecular

Tom Konrad CFA Two years ago, it seemed like First Solar (NASD:FSLR) could do no wrong.  The company could manufacture it’s thin film Cd-Te photovoltaic (PV) cells at a fraction of the price of traditional crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells.  First Solar was the first company to break the $1/W barrier for manufacturing cost. That was then.  Now, a supply glut caused by overbuilding and reduced subsidies has dramatically slashed the price of c-Si cells.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts that demand will not catch up with supply until 2014, even in their most optimistic scenario.  In May, the...

OECD Analysis Suggests That Electric Cars Are Not Ready For Prime Time

John Petersen On June 14th the International Transport Forum of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released a Policy Brief that asks the rhetorical question "Electric Cars: Ready for prime time?" I was very surprised that the OECD, an organization of 34 democratic, industrialized and overwhelmingly western nations, would even ask the question. I was even more surprised by their conclusions that most claimed benefits of electric passenger cars are illusory while the societal costs are $9,000 to $15,000 more per vehicle than conventional automobiles. In other words, every EV produced and sold makes society poorer. No...

Solar Inverter Shakeout: 3 Survivors, 2 Buyers, a Loser and a Wildcard

Tom Konrad CFA Inverter for a solar array. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Solar inverter stocks are looking cheap, but until the weaker players are forced out, they are likely to get cheaper. The major publicly traded solar inverter companies are Power-One (NASD:PWER), Satcon (NASD:SATC), SMA Solar (OTC:SMTGF), Siemens (NYSE:SI), Advanced Energy Industries (NASD:AEIS), Schneider Electric (OTC:SBGSF) and upstart Enphase Energy (NASD:ENPH).  Over the  last year the industry has faced eroding margins and an increasingly competitive environment.  This parallels the problems of solar manufacturers: the industry has too much...