Monthly Archives: November 2013

Lights Dim At LDK As Deadline Looms

Doug Young  Dim lightbulb photo via BigStock I haven’t written about LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) for a while, so it seems like the release of its latest quarterly results might be a good chance for a final look before the lights go off permanently at this struggling solar panel maker. Somewhat appropriately, LDK announced its results on the same day it also said it continues to negotiate with international investors who are still waiting for an overdue payment on their bonds. (company announcement) The bondholders have just...

Why Have Ceres’ Sorghum Plans Soured?

Jim Lane Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin As Ceres points towards minimal plantings of its sweet sorghum hybrids in its key market of Brazil for next year, investors ask two questions. Will sweet sorghum realize its vast potential, and when? Just when many observers hoped that Ceres, Inc. (CERE) would dramatically expand hectares planted with its Blade hybrid sweet sorghum, the 2014 planting outlook was released last week and the total hectares crashed from 3000 in 2013 to 1000 in 2014. It’s a far cry...

Capstone Infrastructure: How Bad Is The Worst Case?

Tom Konrad CFA Disclosure: I have long positions in MCQPF and AQUNF. Capstone Infrastructure Corporation (TSX:CSE, OTC:MCQPF) has been trading at a significant discount to its peers because of a  power supply agreement which expires at the end of 2014.  Capstone is seeking a new agreement with the Ontario Power Authority for its Cardinal gas cogeneration facility, a process which has taken much longer than management expected. The cardinal Cardinal plant currently accounts for about a third of Capstone’s revenue and a quarter of earnings before interest, taxes, and depreciation (EBITDA), but two-thirds of distributible income.  The high fraction...

Alternative Energy Funds In The Lead

By Harris Roen Alternative energy MFs and ETFs posted record gains in the past 12 months. Guggenheim Solar (TAN) and Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) are the top two performers out of more than 1,500 ETFs. Firsthand Alternative Energy (ALTEX) and Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX) are in the top ten for over 28,000 mutual funds. Mutual Funds Returns overall have been spectacular for alternative energy MFs. Even the lowest performer is up 27% in the past 12 months. The best performers are those strongly invested in solar, specifically ALTEX and GAAEX,...

SunTech’s Sunset Illuminates State Ties

Doug Young  Sunset for Suntech. Photo by Tom Konrad As the sun rapidly sets on former solar pioneer Suntech (OTC: STPFQ), I thought I’d take a look at the latest reports that show just how closely the company relied on state support. At the same time, another major development has seen Suntech’s shares finally de-list from New York, where they have traded since its 2005 IPO. The de-listing is something that should have happened long ago, even though investors continued to bet that Beijing would rescue Suntech ever since...

Hannon Armstrong Yeild On Track For 7% in Q4 With More To Come

Tom Konrad CFA After the close on Thursday, November 7th, Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (NYSE:HASI) declared third quarter earnings.  Results were in-line with my, and other analysts’ expectations: Earnings per share (EPS) of 14 cents, and a declared dividend of 14 cents as well. This more than doubled the second quarter’s 7 cent EPS and 6 cent dividend. Note: I have a large long position in HASI. HASI remains on track to reach managements’ dividend target of “over 7% of the $12.50 IPO price” (22 cents a quarter,) and provided some additional guidance for future dividends....

SolarCity – Crisis or Opportunity?

By Harris Roen The latest earnings numbers released by SolarCity (NASD:SCTY) show a mixed bag of results. Total revenues have been rising for the past 4 quarters, and the number of customers SolarCity is signing up continues to soar. All is not rosy, though, as operating expenses relative to net loss continue to increase. This article dives into the reported numbers, looks at important customer trends, and asks whether SolarCity is still a stock worth investing in. Revenues: Not a record, but steady growth Revenues for the third quarter came in strong for SolarCity, at $48.6...

Earnings Season For Ten Clean Energy Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA The third quarter earnings season has been quite eventful for my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013 and six alternative picks model portfolios, so much so that writing about them has taken a back seat to keeping up with the announcements.  There were a number of earnings disappointments and earnings announcements which were in line with my expectations but the market treated like disappointments. These resulted in an overall decline of 2.5% for the portfolio since the last update, even as my industry benchmarks, the Powershares Wilderhill Clean Energy (PBW) and my...

Renewable Fuels Proposal: “Complete Capitulation to Big Oil”

Jim Lane Obama, in trouble on healthcare, sounds the retreat on renewable fuels; industry groups aghast as EPA targets next-generation, non-food biofuels for biggest cuts; slashes corn ethanol also. Major push-back expected following “complete capitulation to Big Oil”. What are the political, economic drivers? What’s the impact, and how will industry respond? In Washington, the EPA released its 2014 proposed standards and volumes for renewable fuels. The volumes, as widely expected, include substantial reductions from the statutory standards in the original Energy Independence & Security Act. The announced proposed volumes met with united...

Solar Rooftop Lease Securitization A Ground-Breaking Success

Sean Kidney Last week we blogged that  SolarCity (SCTY) and Credit Suisse were about to issue a new $54.4 million, climate bond – a rooftop solar lease securitization. It’s out: BBB+, 4.8%, 13 years. The long tenor is interesting – and great. And S&P’s BBB+ rating suggest those credit analysts may be beginning to understand solar. This bond has been long-awaited by the green finance sector, who are hoping it’s the harbinger of things to come. I did get the chance to look at the S&P opinion. Their rating reflected, as they put it, their views on over-collateralization (62%...

Everything Going for KiOR – Just Not Very Fast

Jim Lane What’s up with the cellulosic biofuels leader? Good news, bad news? If you have ever spent any time reading up on ion thrusters a next-gen engine technology that NASA recently employed on the Dawn spacecraft you might chuckle when you think of the plight of poor KiOR (KIOR). The good news about ion thrusters is that they can ultimately achieve speeds of 200,000 miles per hour, ten times that of the Space Shuttle. The bad news is that the Dawn took four days to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour. Yep, zero...

KiOR: Too Early to Jump In

by Debra Fiakas CFA Kior's Columbus Facility Last week cellulosic ethanol producer Kior, Inc. (KIOR:  Nasdaq)reported its strongest quarter production and financial results since the company first started commercial operations at its Columbus, Mississippi facility.  Kior turned out 323,841 gallons of ethanol fuel in the three months ending September 2013, bringing total production for the year to 508,975 gallons.  Along with the third quarter report, management did a bit of boasting over record production of 167,087 gallons in the month of October.  That represents a 2.0...

Graftech Manages the Heat of Competition

by Debra Fiakas CFA Products like Graftech's ultra-thin heat spreader help customers manage the heat. Investors think restructuring will help Graftech do the same. Feeling the heat of competition, graphite materials supplier Graftech International Ltd. (GTI:  Nasdaq) has initiated a restructuring of sorts.  The company’s two highest cost graphite electrode plants will be closed.  Those are located in Brazil and South Africa.  A machine shop in Russia will also be shuttered.  Locks will go on the doors in these locations by the end of...

Is The Largest Solar Manufacturer a Bargain?

by Debra Fiakas CFA   In the previous post on Canadian Solar (CSIQ:  Nasdaq) I suggested a multiple of 10 times the consensus estimate for earnings in 2014 might be a compelling value for the solar module producer.  Putting a value on is competitor Yingli Green Energy Holding (YGE:  NYSE) is not so easy given the string of losses reported by Yingli.  The usual price to earnings multiple cannot be used to value a company swimming in red ink.  That leaves the multiple of price to sales.  Yingli trades at 0.5 times sales compared to the one-to-one multiple...

Tesla Tussles With Chinese Squatter

Doug Young  US electric car maker Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) has landed in the headlines with an escalating trademark dispute in China, casting a spotlight on Beijing’s ongoing efforts to bolster the country’s intellectual property (IP) protections. China has made great strides in its IP protection in the last 5 years, resulting in a healthier business environment where both domestic and foreign companies can feel more secure that their trademarks, copyrights and product designs won’t be illegally stolen and copied. But this latest case involving Tesla shows there is still more work to do, especially in trickier areas...

New Reports See Solar Outlook Brightening

James Montgomery Sun emerging behind saguaro by Tom Konrad Scanning the new crop of reports from IHS, NPD Solarbuzz, and Navigant, here are a few key themes that emerge: Demand Is Shifting to Asia. Global solar PV demand reached 9 GW in 3Q13, up 6 percent from the prior quarter and nearly 20 percent from a year ago, according to Solarbuzz. China's share of that 3Q demand exceeded 25 percent, compared to 10 percent just two years ago. Meanwhile, the National Energy Administration reportedly has increased its 2014 targets for...