Monthly Archives: June 2013

Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013: First Half Review

Tom Konrad CFA I missed my regular monthly update on my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013 model portfolio last month, and a lot has happened to the individual companies since.  Because of this, I will split this semiannual update in two parts.  This part will look at the performance of the portfolio as a whole, and the reasons it's lagging its benchmarks.  The next part will look at the news driving the performance of specific stocks. Since the last update on May 5th, my portfolio has advanced 3.0% for a 10.5% return for the first...

More Sorghum Sowers

by Debra Fiakas CFA Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin   The post “Ceres Plants Seeds of Success” featured seed and trait developer Ceres, Inc. (CERE:  Nasdaq).   This agricultural technology company develops seeds and traits for high-energy, low-cost feedstocks  like sorghum.  Ceres is not the only player in the sorghum game. The presence of large agriculture products suppliers like Monsanto Company (MON:  NYSE) and Dow AgroSciences of the Dow Chemical Company (DOW:  NYSE) provide some validation of sorghum demand even if also triggering competitive concerns.  DuPont’s Pioneer HiBred...

Ceres Plants Seeds of Success

Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin   I posted about sorghum’s designation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an advanced fuel last December.  Renewable fuel producers that use sorghum as a feedstock are obvious beneficiaries.  Ceres, Inc. (CERE:  Nasdaq) is an agricultural technology company, developing seeds and traits for high-energy, low-cost feedstocks  -  sorghum included.  I expect Ceres to be on the winning end of sorghum trade as well, especially since the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has set standards for carbon intensity of transportation fuels that appear...

Outstanding Annual Returns for Alternative Energy Mutual Fund, ETF Returns Mixed

By Harris Roen Mutual Funds Annual returns for alternative energy MFs are excellent, up a very respectable 23% on average. Not a single MF is trading down over the past 12 months, with even the smallest gainer up over 14%. Three month returns are more variable, but are still up 4.5% on average. Shorter term returns have all turned negative, though they are in line with recent drops in the broader market. For example, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index are down about 4% for the week, and around 3.5%...

Obama’s Climate Plan

James Montgomery Yesterday President Obama spoke at Georgetown University about his plans to broadly address climate change. Ahead of his actual talk, the White House released the gist of what he would propose. The EPA, working with states, industry, and other stakeholders, will establish new carbon pollution standards. "Tough new rules" will be established similar to those that exist for toxins like mercury and arsenic. These new rules, as anticipated, will target existing power plants as well as new ones. The federal government will make available up to $8 billion in loan guarantees for "advanced...

Solazyme Breaks Up With Roquette

Jim Lane Solazyme and Roquette dissolve their nutritionals JV; Solazyme to accelerate under its own flag; stock plunges. What’s up? Who said “sorry?” on the way out the door? It was a terse announcement that crossed the wire early yesterday morning from Fortress Solazyme, without warning except perhaps to equity analysts that hopped on a hastily-arranged call. Solazyme (SZYM) and Roquette Frères were announcing the dissolution of their two-year old joint venture, Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals. The cause, “divergent views on an acceptable commercial strategy and timeline for the manufacturing and marketing of joint venture products” and in...

Three Clean Energy Stocks That Won’t Keep You Up At Night

Tom Konrad CFA If you want to green your portfolio, but the wild swings of First Solar (NASD:FSLR), Tesla (NASD:TSLA), SolarCity (NASD:SCTY), and even clean energy ETFs like Powershares Wilderhill Clean Energy (NYSE:PBW) are a bit too much to let you sleep at night, you’re not alone. A reader recently suggested I write about more green stocks like Waste Management (NYSE:WM), which readers can own and not worry about too much.  I thought it was an excellent suggestion; I’ve recently been writing much more about much more exciting or terrifying stocks, because there is simply a lot more...

Two Exciting Alternative Energy Themes For Summer

By Harris Roen Summer is here, and the sun has been shining on alternative energy. Two investment themes in the changing alternative energy landscape have emerged as potential profit centers for investors. To take advantage of these trends, the Roen Financial Report has added in four new companies to the list of about 250 alternative energy companies that we track for our readers. Investment Theme #1: The growing domestic Japanese solar market In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has committed to growing renewables as a domestic energy source. According to Mercom Capital Group,...

Solar REITs Unlikely to Win Favorable IRS Ruling

by David K. Burton In early 2013, many in the solar industry appeared to be thinking that the IRS’s blessing of a solar REIT would be provided within weeks. It is now the middle of 2013, and it appears the thinking from a few months ago was at best irrational exuberance. Three events have triggered a change in perspective on solar REITs. First, Hannon Armstrong’s (NYSE:HASI) private letter ruling request as to its REIT status is now public. Prior to the ruling being made public, the industry scuttlebutt was that the ruling would bless rooftop solar as REIT...

China, EU Solar Talks Less Cloudy

Doug Young After a disastrous round of talks last month that broke down almost as soon as they began, China and Europe look set to try again with a new round of negotiations to resolve their dispute over the EU’s claims of unfair state-support for Chinese solar panel makers. Much has changed since the failed round of talks in late May, including a growing number of individual European leaders who want to resolve this dispute through negotiations rather than trade wars. As a result, this new round of negotiations will take place between top-level government officials, an important...

Gevo Restarts Production

Jim Lane As Gevo recommences the switchover to bio-based isobutanol at its first commercial plant, we look in-depth at 2012′s contamination issues and the prospects and path forward. In Colorado, Gevo, Inc. (NASD:GEVO) announced that it has resumed commercial production of isobutanol at its Luverne, Minn. plant in single train mode, successfully utilizing its proprietary Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology (GIFT). “I am pleased to report that we have been successful in operating our full scale fermentation and our GIFT separation system that separates the isobutanol from the fermentation broth. This serves to further validate our...

Japanese Solar Manufacturers Get Their Groove Back

Junko Movellan The Skies are Brightening as Manufacturers Resume Spending to Improve Efficiency Almost one decade ago, Japanese PV makers dominated global PV production Sharp (SHCAY), Kyocera (KYO), Sanyo (now part of Panasonic) and Mitsubishi Electric represented about 50 percent of global production in 2005. When German and other European markets expanded quickly, a great number of companies in Europe and Asia, specifically China, jumped into the “potentially” profitable PV industry. They rapidly ramped up their production and brought down costs, leaving Japanese companies behind. When the Japanese government decided to pump life...

Income From Hydroelectric Power

by Debra Fiakas CFA Are you an investor hungry for current income?  Is there a green line of global warming fear running through your investment selections?  I have stock that fulfills both requirements.  Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (BEP:  NYSE) is a renewable power producer with assets in Canada, the U.S. and Brazil.  Brookfield generates over 5,900 megawatts of power each year from plants running on river water, wind or natural gas.  Another 2,000 megawatts is apparently under development in Canada and Brazil. What Brookfield does best is hydroelectric production.  The company claims over 170...

LEDs: A better light bulb. Again.

by Marc Gunther.  So you remember CFLs, right? The curlicue bulbs? The time they took to go on? The harsh light? Despite their drawbacks, compact fluorescents have sold fairly well in the US. They save customers money. Utilities promoted and subsidized CFLs, particularly in California. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) pledged to sell 100 million of them. Time magazine put one on the cover. By 2012, CFLs represented 27 percent of the bulbs installed in the over 3 billion medium screw-based sockets in the United States, according to a Navigant study quoted by NRDC. Other researchers put the number lower, about 20 percent,...

California’s Other Ethanol Producers

by Debra Fiakas CFA In the last two posts Pacific Ethanol (PEIX:  Nasdaq) and Aemetis, Inc. (AMTX:  OTC/BB) got all the attention.  Both companies have crafted their facilities to accept lower-cost sorghum as an alternative feedstock, opening up the door to lower carbon intensity measures for their ethanol output.  There are other ethanol producers in the state, which we believe are still relying on corn as feedstock.  Which companies will remain in operation in California is not yet clear.  Standards sets by California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the carbon intensity of alternative fuels favors local producers and...

The Battle for California’s Ethanol Market

by Debra Fiakas CFA For all the fuss, investors might think California’s ethanol market is another Gold Rush.  The Midwest-based ethanol producers are up in arms over California’s attempt to set standards for renewable fuels sold in the state.  My recent post, describes legal maneuverings by South Dakota-based ethanol producer Poet, LLC and others to block a ‘carbon intensity’ standard imposed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).    Under the CARB standard the carbon intensity of alternative fuels includes elements for power and other inputs as well as transportation and distribution.  The formula CARB is...