Monthly Archives: August 2012

Two Weeks In Cleantech, 8-31-2012

Jeff Siegel August 21: What Will Happen to Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL)? Following the hypocritical “unfair subsidy” complaint against China solar panel producers along with the 31 percent import duty placed on them by the US government, the Chinese have now responded through their Commerce Ministry by stating that the United States must cut support for six government-backed renewable energy programs or face unspecified penalties. And so continues the trade war, which was launched by the sour-grapes management of SolarWorld,(PINK SHEETS:SRWRF) and supported by those in Washington who have no clue how bad this could be for the...

The 6 Hottest Ways to Alleviate Food vs Fuel

Jim Lane With the US drought, food vs fuel has returned as an issue. What alternatives are scientists, entrepreneurs developing to take us beyond the old debate? With the US drought, food vs fuel has returned as an issue. What alternatives are scientists, entrepreneurs developing to take us beyond the old debate? In the past week we published a report that the chairman of Nestle, Peter Brabeck-Lemathe, has called anew for a ban on making biofuels from feedstocks that can also be used in food production. The backdrop for Brabeck’s comments is the US drought, which...

Don’t Let Waste Go to Waste

Marc Gunther Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It sounds simple. It’s not. Just ask Bill Caesar, who runs the recycling and organic growth units of Waste Management (WM), America’s biggest trash company, which has $13.3 billion in revenues last year. It’s hard to get many cities and towns to embrace recycling. It’s hard to get homeowners to figure out which plastics go into which bin. It’s expensive to build out the infrastructure needed to separate materials, and ship them to customers. And now, to make matters worse, the prices that buyers are willing...

Jobs at Gevo

by Debra Fiakas CFA Management teams at the helm of public companies often shade the realities of their competitive or strategic situation, alternately painting better circumstances or downplaying declining fortunes.  There are myriad ways of giving management’s guidance a reality check.  Renewable bio-chemicals developer Gevo, Inc. (GEVO:  Nasdaq) is on my “watch list” as one of the more interesting companies in the Beach Boys Index.    Gevo’s financial results missed the consensus estimate in both the March and June 2012 quarters, but management made claims of important victories.  Gevo has won important decisions in the disagreement...

No Eeyores for KiOR

Jim Lane Analysts are bullish as KiOR’s (KIOR) drop-in biofuels technology transitions to commercial phase – what factors are driving all the good vibes? There are a lot of Eeyores around the advanced biofuels space these days – well, around the United States and to a great extent the EU as a whole, really. Gloomy, pessimistic, chronically depressed. Investors have been, in a similar mood, hammering advanced biofuels and biobased material stocks – in some cases to within a few bucks of cash on hand. KiOR, by contrast, has been generally able to create and sustain its...

A123′s Deal With China’s Wanxiang Would Value the Stock at $0.55 a Share

Tom Konrad CFA A123 Systems battery cell products (Source: A123)  It was no secret that A123 Systems (NASD:AONE) was desperate for money.  It’s also no secret that Chinese companies are interested in buying Western companies, especially when they can acquire useful technology in the deal.  So this morning’s announcement that Wanxiang Group Corporation, a Chinese largest autoparts manufacturer which has significant US operations, had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to invest up to $450 million in A123 through a combination of bridge loans, convertible notes, and warrants seems...

First Solar Goes to Thailand; US Stays in OPEC’s Grasp: The Week In Cleantech,...

Jeff Siegel August 15: First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) Moves to Thailand In an effort to continue its steady expansion, First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) has set up a Thailand operating subsidy and has officially opened its Bangkok office. The Thai subsidiary is charged with the responsibility of expanding FSLR's market for utility-scale solar projects. Senior Manger of Business Development told reporters. . . “The long-term energy fundamentals in Thailand are very favorable for a solar power solution to meet their growing energy needs, and we will continue to invest here as part of our strategy to develop sustainable,...

Energy Recovery: A “Slender” Stock

by Debra Fiakas CFA Investors who in the small-cap sector are familiar with the profile:  a company with a great invention that ends up with a business narrowly-focused on a particular market or customer group.  If it is a public company, the stock price is equally thin  -  if it trades at all.  Energy Recovery (ERII:  Nasdaq) is one of those slender stocks.   Over the last year ERII has traded in a relatively tight range between $3.50 at the high point and $1.55 on the low side.  The stock is seemingly stranded today 29.4% off the...

Quick Notes on Maxwell Earnings

Tom Konrad CFA Maxwell Technologies (NASD:MXWL) recently reported second quarter (Q2 2012) earnings.  Revenue growth was sluggish (for Maxwell), up 6% year on year and 1% below estimates.  The culprit was continued weakness in ultracapacitor revenue, which down slightly from Q2 2011 because of weakness in Europe. Earnings, on the other hand, surprised strongly to the upside, at 9 cents per share, compared to estimates of only once cent, based on strong cost control and improving product mix.  Strong growth in Maxwell’s Chinese hybrid bus and wind turbine businesses continue to drive profits. Crucially, management maintained their 15% to...

Codexis, Shell to Part Company

Jim Lane Codexis expects to lose all of Shell funding, win freedom to operate globally (excepting Brazil). Pyrrhic victory or the necessary price of freedom? In California, Codexis (CDXS) announced that it expects to obtain rights from Shell to market its CodeXyme cellulase enzymes to other cellulosic biofuels developers, (excluding Brazil) and that Shell will discontinue its $60 million enzyme R&D program, which will result in the loss of 116 full-time jobs, or a third of the company’s staff. Raizen, the Shell-Cosan JV, will remain Codexis’ largest shareholder. Yesterday, as the company reported Q2 earnings, Codexis CEO John...

Western Wind to Sell Company, Avoid Proxy Battle

Tom Konrad CFA Western Wind and the Toronto Hedge Funds Last October, Western Wind Energy (TSXV:WND, OTC:WNDEF) received an unsolicited takeover bid of $2.50 a share from Algonquin Power (TSX:AQN, OTC:AQUNF) to buy the company.  Before the bid, the stock had been trading in the $1.20-$1.25 range, but President and CEO Jeff Ciachurski felt that it did not fully value the company’s projects and assets, including approximately $1 per share of US tax assets which the Canadian company Algonquin would not be able to use. Large shareholders at the time were in favor of the sale, including at least one shareholder...

Two Weeks In Cleantech: 8-11-2012

Jeff Siegel August 1: Siemens (NYSE:SI) Lands Major Australian Wind Turbine Deal Yesterday morning, New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group announced that it's now looking to invest up to $833 million for an expansion of the the utility's solar power programs. This investment seeks to facilitate the developing of an additional 233 megawatts of solar capacity. The expansion is expected to create about 300 direct jobs annually over the next five years. In 30 days, Mitsubishi Motors will launch its all-new Mirage global compact car in Japan. At a cost of between US$12,800...

Solazyme, Gevo, Amyris earnings, outlook: the 5-Minute version

Jim Lane As Solazyme, Gevo and Amyris report on results for Q2, update forward guidance – what does the data reveal about demand, supply of advanced biofuels and co-products? We digest down analyst reports, company comments into a 5-minute summary of “news you can use”. In California and Colorado, the newswires have been working overtime this week in advanced biofuels, as several industry titans reported their latest quarterlies and subjected themselves to public scrutiny, which sometimes resembles the Puritan practice of mounting minor offenders in the public stocks and pelting them with rotten eggs and tomatoes. But it...

The Wanxiang Transaction Is Not Necessarily A Permanent Solution For A123’s Problems

John Petersen On Wednesday A123 Systems (AONE) announced the execution of a Non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with the Wanxiang Group that will, if successfully implemented, restore A123 to a sound financial footing. Since the basic deal terms are a good deal more complex than the reports one reads in the mainstream media, I think a drill down into the detail may be helpful for investors who want to understand what a restructured A123 will look like. The critical document for this analysis is the MOU included as Exhibit 99.2 to A123's recent report on Form 8-K. The...

There are Always Buyers

There are Always Buyers – even for Clean-tech deals. An Update from the Street. In the movie Wall Street, Michael Douglas plays a greedy, ruthless banker who hangs everyone out to dry in order to win. His motto is “greed is good”. Well, his character’s antics have turned out to be more reality than fiction as we uncover more real life blunders of Wall Street bankers. What does this have to do with our current markets? Everything, really. Since 2008, only select stocks have performed well in the overall market and the clean...

Finavera to Sell Wind Project for Three Times Its Market Cap

Tom Konrad CFA On July 23rd, Finavera Wind Energy (TSXV:FVR, OTC:FNVRF) announced a deal to sell its 77 megawatt Wildmare Wind Energy Project to Innergex Renewable Energy (TSX:INE, OTC:INGXF.)  The sale will come as a great releif to Finavera’s long-suffering shareholders, who have seen the stock halve in value since the start of the year. I included Finavera in my annual list of clean energy stocks this January because, even at the time, Finavera was trading at a fraction of the value of its wind projects, despite a weak balance sheet.  Since then,...