Monthly Archives: January 2016

Exelon’s Dividend Siren Song

by Debra Fiakas CFA When the market gets volatile, many investors dive behind the protective shield of dividends.  Exelon Corporation (EXC:  NYSE) is an owner of nuclear power generation plants and is included in Crystal Equity Research’s Atomics Index of companies using the atom to create energy because more than half of its power output is generated at nuclear power plants.  The company offers a handsome dividend near $1.24 per year.  Granted it is not a small-cap company, which is the usual target for this column, but yield is beguiling.  At the current price the dividend yield is...

Renewable Energy Group Teams Up With ExxonMobil For Cellulosic Biodiesel

Jim Lane Two giants hook up to bring cellulosic biodiesel to scale. A new source of biodiesel feedstock, and a new source of renewable fuels. In Iowa, ExxonMobil (XOM) and Renewable Energy Group (REGI) have agreed to jointly study the production of biodiesel by fermenting renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste. REG has developed a patented technology that uses microbes to convert sugars to biodiesel in a one-step fermentation process similar to ethanol manufacturing. The ExxonMobil and REG Life Sciences research will focus on using sugars from non-food sources. Terms were not disclosed. Readers will...

First Solar And Trina: Dueling Ratings

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Solar module producer First Solar, Inc. (FSLR:  Nasdaq) received a boost last week from a new rating upgrade from Hold to Buy.  There are at least fifteen sets of analytical eyes scrutinizing First Solar.  The prevailing view on First Solar had been ‘hold’ or ‘neutral’ with a median price target of $70.00, representing a 13% return potential from the current price level. Solar power generation has on a roll in recent years as lower solar cell prices have helped find demand at higher volumes.  The U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association...

BYD Increases Profit Projections On Accellerating EV Sales

by Doug Young Bottom line: BYD’s EV sales are likely to see strong growth based on government-supported buying in China this year, but could slow sharply in 2017 if China’s economic slowdown accelerates. Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker BYD (HKEx: 1211; Shenzhen: 002594; OTC:BYDDY) shot into the headlines in 2008 when investment guru Warren Buffett bought 10 percent of the company. But it has struggled to find a mass audience for its cars since then, at times raising doubts about its future. That seems to be changing recently, as a nascent surge in its home China market has...

What the L.A. Methane Leak Tells Us About Investing

by Garvin Jabusch Sempra Energy’s leaking gas field in Porter Ranch, CA, near Los Angeles, has been making national headlines recently, as it now enters its third month of being the largest methane leak in U.S. history. How big is that? The LA Times says that, “by early January, state air quality regulators estimate, the leak had released more than 77 million kilograms of methane, the environmental equivalent of putting 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the air.” 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and counting. In addition, methane isn’t only a powerful greenhouse gas, it can...

Yin and Yang of Yield for Abengoa

by Debra Fiakas CFA   The atmosphere started getting uncomfortably hot for power developer Abengoa SA (ABGB:  Nasdaq)  in early August last year  -  and it was not just the seasonal high temperatures in the company’s home town of Seville, Spain.  Management had finally admitted that operations could not generate as much cash as previously expected, causing worries about Abengoa’s ability to meet debt obligations.  At the heart of the company’s cash flow woes is the reversal of Spain’s policies on solar power that has reduced subsidies and feed-in tariffs for solar power producers. In August 2015,...

Pushmi-Pullyu: Biofuel Incentives Come Together In A Strange Creature

Jim Lane Sometimes, the set-up of the transition from fossil fuels is as pretty and impractical as Dr. Doolittle’s Pushmi-Pullyu. The Digest investigates. As you may have noticed in the stories around the launch of the Great Green Fleet, it is a complex maze of relationships when it comes to a technology benefitting from mandates like the Renewable Fuel Standard and the California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and various carbon taxes and tax credits. For example, a renewable fuel does not qualify under the Renewable Fuel Standard if it is to be used in an ocean-going vessel, but...

Molycorp: Holding a Stinky Bag

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Last week news agencies reported plans by Molycorp (MCPIQ:  NYSE) to move forward with plans to sell major assets as part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy.  Molycorp was the single largest producer of rare earths in the U.S. until it discontinued product at its Mountain Pass mine in Colorado.  Molycorp filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2015 after it became apparent that it could no longer support the debt on its balance sheet on historically low selling prices for its rare earth materials. The turn of the tide for Molycorp...

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2015: Income Comes In First; Growth Shrinks

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA 2015 was a very tough year for energy stocks, especially income oriented energy stocks such as (mostly fossil fuel) MLPs and (mostly clean energy) Yieldcos.  Not only did oil and gas prices drop dramatically, but most other commodities did as well.  Low commodity prices hurt commodity producers, but also commodity recyclers and efficiency companies that help reduce the consumption. Against this backdrop, I'm happy that my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2015 model portfolio ended the year in the black, with a 5.8%...

Green Bonds: 2015 Year End Review

by the Climate Bonds Team Another successful year for the green bond market with 2015 issuance hitting $41.8bn making it the biggest year ever for green bonds. Achieving scale hasn’t been the only reason to celebrate the green bond market at the year-end; the real success is the geographical spread of green bonds across the world. Green bond markets are popping up all across the world, in Brazil, China, Estonia, Mexico and India… just to name a few! Green bond market momentum continues to build after a successful COP in Paris. ...

Hydrogenics: New Capital, New Orders

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Hydrogen technology developer and fuel cell producer  Hydrogenics, Inc. (HYGS:  Nasdaq) closed out last year ‘following on’ with new capital and new fuel cell orders.  The company staged a public sale of its common stock through what is frequently referred to as a ‘follow on’ offering, coming along as this one did some years after the company’s initial public offering.  The pricing of these new shares of common stock was ‘followed’ quite closely by announcement of a new order for Hydrogenics fuel cells by a forklift manufacturer in North America.  The appearance...

2015: a Mixed Year for Alternative Energy Funds

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Funds Trade Flat for the Year Alternative energy mutual funds followed the overall stock market this year, closing about flat on average for 2015. The story gets more interesting, though, when you look at gains in the last quarter. Sectors such as solar and wind took a big hit by September, but then rebounded handsomely before years end. Green MFs were up 7% on average for the past three months, with 14 out of the 15 funds trading in the black…   ETFs are Widely Lower 2015 was a year...

10 Clean Energy Stocks For 2016

Tom Konrad CFA The History and Future of the "10 Clean Energy Stocks" Model Portfolios 2016 will be the eighth and possibly final year I publish a list of ten clean energy stocks I expect to do well in the coming year.  This series has evolved from a simple, off-the-cuff list in 2008, to a full blown model portfolio, with predetermined benchmarks and monthly updates on performance and significant news for the 10 stocks.  While there is much overlap between the model portfolio and my own holdings (both personal and in managed accounts), the model...