Monthly Archives: October 2014

Hoping Tesla Will Fail

By Jeff Siegel If you don't believe that folks are waiting impatiently for Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) to slip up, look no further than today's action on the stock. After the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was selling fewer cars and offering new incentives, the stock tanked 6 percent. Of course, as it turned out, the decline in sales was only in the U.S. And it didn't take long for super genius Elon Musk to tweet the following message: Credit Suisse analyst Daniel Galves followed up on the piece, noting that...

Power REIT: Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Tom Konrad CFA It Could Have Been The First Yieldco Light at the End of the Tunnel photo via BigStock I first became interested in Power REIT (NYSE MKT:PW) in 2012 because of the company's plans to become what would have been the first US-listed "yieldco," i.e. a clean energy power producer paying a high level of reliable dividends to investors.  The company was an infrastructure Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) with a single asset: its subsidiary, Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway (P&WV) which owned 122...

Hydrogenics: Powering Up

by Debra Fiakas CFA In the last post on Hydrogenics, Inc. (HYGS:  Nasdaq) in April 2014, the stock seemed to be languishing on news of a potentially dilutive common stock offering.  At the time profits still seem illusive.  However, over the last few months circumstances have improved.  Shares of Hydrogenics have moved higher on the company’s recent introduction of a fuel cell power system for medium and heavy duty vehicles.  Additionally, in July this year Hydrogenics was chosen by Ontario as one of five grid storage projects.  This has turned HYGS into an interesting stock to watch. ...

Will Investors Flock to SunEdison’s Emerging-Market YieldCo?

by Tom Konrad CFA SunEdison is proposing something entirely new: a YieldCo with a focus on projects in Africa and Asia, but it's a long way between an S-1 filing with the SEC and and IPO. The June launch of SunEdison's (SUNE) first YieldCo, TerraForm Power (NASD:TERP), transformed the parent company's prospects. Now it wants to repeat the performance with a first-of-its kind YieldCo that will focus on investment in Africa and Asia. A YieldCo is a publicly traded company that is formed to own operating clean energy assets that produce a steady cash flow,...

Solar Bonds and Other Green Income Investments Compared

by Tom Konrad CFA Clean-energy stocks’ performance over the last couple of years proves that it’s possible to do well – sometimes very well – while doing good. Unfortunately, it’s also possible to lose a lot of money. Case in point: solar installer SolarCity’s stock (SCTY) price has more than quintupled since its 2012 IPO, but has fallen 40% since the start of the year. Swings like these are just too wild for many investors to stomach. So the news that California-based SolarCity launched the first public offering of solar bonds last week likely piqued the interest of sustainability-minded...

Five Solar Stocks For 2015

By Jeff Siegel Times sure have changed! In 2006, I attended my first Solar Power International (SPI) conference in D.C. It was a no-frills event but loaded with valuable information I used to help Energy and Capital readers get a jump on the solar bull market that ran from 2006 to 2008. Truth be told, we cleaned up. But nothing lasts forever. And when the market nosedived in 2008, solar stocks were not exempt from the ravenous bears that mauled everything in their path. Of course, as the broader market began to inch back up in 2010, solar...

Solar Bonds For Small Investors

By Beate Sonerud SolarCity (NASD:SCTY) is issuing US$200m of asset-linked retail bonds, with maturities ranging from 1-7 years and interest rates from 2-4%. Wells Fargo is the banking partner. While the bonds are registered,SolarCity expects the bonds to be buy and hold, and not traded in the secondary markets. The bond is issued for small-scale investors, with investment starting at US$1000, giving this bond issuance a crowdfunding aspect. Choosing such a different structure allows SolarCity to diversify their investor base – the company stresses that small-scale investors are a complement, not substitute, for large-scale institutional investors. While...

Fuel Cell Follies: Off-Roading

by Debra Fiakas CFA Consumer adoption of hydrogen-fueled vehicles could have quite a catalytic impact on the entire fuel cell industry.  Two of the public fuel cell technology companies come to mind first:  Plug Power, Inc. (PLUG:  Nasdaq), FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCEL:  Nasdaq) and Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP:  Nasdaq).  These companies have been toiling away for years on fuel cell technologies, finding success on the periphery with industrial, campus and power generation solutions.  All three companies trade at modest prices and could look like great bargains for investors with an extended investment horizon.  Forklift Fuel Cells...

Beijing Calls Taxis For Stalled Chinese EV Firms

Doug Young Beijing is turning to an old trick in its bid to boost new energy vehicles, with word of a major new program requiring local governments to buy huge volumes of electric taxis and buses to jump-start the struggling sector. I have to slightly commend China’s government leaders for their determination to boost clean energy vehicles with this kind of program that’s likely to produce a major jump in new sales. But at the same time this kind of program also looks quite ominous, as it will result in a flood of immature technology coming onto...

China Plans Aggressive Renewables Deployment But Falling Incentives

Doug Young Lofty targets contained in a new report show that China intends to push ahead with ambitious plans to build up its renewable energy sector. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this new report is word that Beijing finally intends to sharply reduce the inflated state-set fees now paid for solar and wind-produced power, in one of the sharpest indicators that it expects the industry to stop depending on government support and become commercially viable on its own. Such state support through a wide array of measures, which also include export credits and low-interest loans,...

Earth to Cellulosic Ethanol: Glad You’re Here, What Took So Long?

Jim Lane  Part I of II Cellulosic ethanol arrives at scale “The five years away forever” put to rest but are there troubling waters still ahead? For whom, and why? There’s a gigantic disconnect between two sections in the country as to whether the United States should be celebrating the success or the failure of cellulosic biofuels biofuels made from crop residues, energy crops, and other feedstocks including municipal solid waste, and which feature a 60 percent or greater full-lifecycle reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional gasoline. The supporters On the one...

Earth to Cellulosic Ethanol: Glad You’re Here, What Took So Long?

Jim Lane  Part II of II Cellulosic ethanol arrives at scale “The five years away forever” put to rest but are there troubling waters still ahead? For whom, and why? There’s a gigantic disconnect between two sections in the country as to whether the United States should be celebrating the success or the failure of cellulosic biofuels. Supporters and detractors alike saying that the wave of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol refineries is a new wave in technology or the latest round in a wave of unimportant hype. We looked at the supporters, the detractors, the...

In the Middle(sex) of the Organics-to-Power Sector

by Debra Fiakas CFA A post in June featured Middlesex Water Company (MSEX: Nasdaq) as an unlikely player in the waste-to-energy game.  However, Middlesex has proven a capable project integrator, capitalizing on its collective knowledge of process engineering to launch a turnkey alternative energy service.  A successful waste-to-energy project in the Village of Ridgewood, New Jersey has placed Middlesex squarely in the middle of the organics-to-power sector.  Ridgewood taps its waste water for methane to power an electric generator.  The power is used at the Ridgewood Water Pollution Control Plant, making the plant self-sufficient for electricity. The...

Politics and Debt Rain On Chinese Solar

Doug Young The solar power sector has become a highly volatile place these days, with company stocks rallying one week on upbeat news, only to tumble days later on more downbeat signals. Much of the volatility owes to 2 factors that have created big uncertainty: protectionism and doubts about funding for many new power plants now being announced. Both of those factors are at play in a new string of downbeat news on industry lead Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ), as well as struggling Chaori Solar (Shenzhen: 002506) and the now defunct former superstar Suntech. Of these...

Two New Reasons to Buy SolarCity

By Jeff Siegel DISCLOSURE: Long SCTY. Well, SolarCity's (NASDAQ:SCTY) latest news probably won't be enough to silence the bears and scare off shorty, but it has stopped the bleeding a bit. After falling more than 25% over the past month, SCTY has stabilized after announcing a new loan program that will allow customers to buy a solar energy system outright instead of leasing a system. Thanks to the company's massive scale and low cost of capital, SCTY will now lend directly to customers. This is a huge advantage over having customers seek out...

Do Falling Alternative Energy Funds Returns Signal Danger?

By Harris Roen Green Mutual Fund Returns Falter Returns for green mutual funds have slid as of late. Longer term, however, alternative energy MFs are still showing strong gains. All MFs are in positive territory for the past 12 months, and 6 out of 14 funds are up double digits. Three year returns have faired even better, showing an annualized return of 14.3% on average. Short term, however, almost all the funds have given up a significant amount of their recent gains. For example, Firsthand Alternative Energy (ALTEX), the MF with the best one-year returns, gave up...