Monthly Archives: April 2016

SunEdison: Giving Optimism A Bad Name

by Paula Mints Potentially stranding a significant number of solar development plans as well as some assets, SunEdison (SUNE) finally took the step that many expected and filed for bankruptcy. Pondering where things went wrong for the troubled firm leads to a winding road of overexpansion, debt and the traditional sidekick of highly visible companies and people, hubris. Hubris, of course, happens quite often in the corporate world and there is a long list of companies that were swayed by it – who knows, one is probably being swayed at this very minute. In the solar...

Amyris Inks $100M+ Biofene Supply Pact

Jim Lane In California, the Eco-Emirs of Emeryville, Amyris (AMRS) executed a five year Biofene supply agreement with a global nutraceuticals company. Upping the ante from January This new, long-term agreement replaces the parties’ one-year purchase agreement, which was previously announced on January 4, 2016. More on that deal here. Under the new supply agreement, the mystery customer has agreed to a larger Biofene purchase in 2016 with an expected revenue contribution of approximately $9 million and to minimum annual purchase commitments in each of the remaining years of the agreement. In addition, under the new agreement, Amyris...

Net Metering Is the Solar Industry’s Junk Food

Shoppers who bring reusable bags to the grocery store buy more junk food. This example is part of a growing body of behavioral psychology research showing that when we feel good about ourselves for doing one thing right, we give ourselves permission to be careless in other areas. The solar installation industry seems to be falling into the "reusable shopping bag" trap. Solar itself is the reusable shopping bag. The junk food is net metering. Net metering is a simple, intuitive way to pay for solar generation at retail rates. But it puts solar companies on...

Water Utilities Keeping The Flow In Cash Flow

Fiakas Water Utilities Keeping The Flow In Cash Flow by Debra Fiakas CFA After a long series of posts on suppliers of water infrastructure, from fire hydrants to filters and from taps to treatments, it is now time to look at the companies selling water.  The majority of water utilities is owned by municipalities and is beyond the reach of investors.  However, there is a clutch of publicly traded companies that peddle water as a business. Which water utilities make sense to return hungry and risk wary investors? A short...

Biobased’s Hot Babes Hook Up

Comet, BioAmber in big cellulosic sugar partnership Jim Lane In Ontario, Comet Biorefining has signed an off-take agreement with bio-succinic acid producer BioAmber (BIOA) for cellulosic dextrose from Comet’s upcoming first commercial plant in Sarnia, Ontario. The dextrose will be produced from agricultural residues using Comet’s innovative technology. The agreement also provides increasing shape to the development of an biobased industrial cluster in the Sarnia region of Ontario a corn-growing region where farmers will provide agricultural residues which will be processed into industrial-grade cellulosic dextrose by Comet. In turn, BioAmber will be the offtake partner for those...

Three Water Recycling Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA The water series continues as we attempt to get arms around the very large market to package, deliver, purify, treat, and recycle water.  As the need for water increases with population and economic activity, the use of waste waters has become an imperative.  In this post we look at three companies helping to clean up, reclaim and otherwise recycle waste water. Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. (ESPH:  PK) has introduced several water solutions that can be used in agriculture, mining, industry, or municipal applications.  The company’s flagship Ozonix Technology is a chemical-free system to recycle...

Water Gleaner Stocks: Value In Sludge

by Debra Fiakas CFA There are well over 3,000 companies around the world that are involved in some element of wastewater treatment, providing a broad mix of technology, equipment or engineering services to generators and collectors of fouled water.  A small group in this wide field is gaining visibility  -  the ‘water gleaners.’  Like the peasant women picking up stray grains of wheat left behind in the empty field of Millets famous painting, some see value in effluents, sewage and run-off.  In this post we look at three small-companies with novel technologies to harvest water. New Sky...

A Buying Opportunity for Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs?

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Funds Trade Down for the Year Alternative energy mutual funds have taken a hit, down 6.5% on average over the past 12 months. Just three of the 15 mutual funds we track are up for the year. The largest gainer, Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Inv (BIAWX), is only up an anemic 6.2%. Much of the difficulty is due to a drop in solar stocks over the past 12 months. For example, if you look at the top weighted holdings of Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX), nine out of 15...

Yingli’s Hopes For Government Rescue

Doug Young Bottom line: Yingli looks set to receive a government bailout from Beijing. Beijing is telling one of the nation’s biggest policy lenders to provide money for struggling solar panel maker Yingli (NYSE: YGE) before it defaults on a bond payment due next month. Last week Yingli said it was in desperate negotiations with 2 groups of creditors, including one holding 1.4 billion yuan ($220 million) worth of bonds set to mature next month. (previous post) The other group is owed another 1 billion yuan related to an Yingli bond that came due last year,...

Some BYD Buyers Wanted Subsides, Not Electric Vehicles

Doug Young Bottom line: A new report spotlighting suspicious sales by BYD shows that last year’s EV explosion in China was fueled by people seeking to pocket government subsidies. A story from China’s new energy (electric) vehicle space is shining a spotlight on the challenges companies are facing after becoming too reliant on government support. It is a twisted tale involving electric car maker BYD (HKEx: 1211, OTC:BYDDF), and shows how its boom in sales last year may have been largely due to big government rebates for buyers. BYD experienced a rocky road over...

Water Treatment Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA In a game of word association many investors might respond Veolia Environmental SA (VIE:  P or VEOEY:  OTC/PK) at the mention ‘water reclamation.’  General Electric (GE:  NYSE) and Siemens (SIE:  DE or SIEGY: OTC/PK) might be next choices.  These three companies have been ‘go to’ sources for water treatment by municipalities and industry. Indeed, it may take a behemoth to address water issues.  In January 2015, the World Economic Forum declared water as the number one crisis impacting the world, recognizing the dire circumstances of water supplies.  Over 660 million people  -  one...

Water Quality Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA Pipes, pumps and values are only part of the drinking water story we began telling last week.  The Ecological Society of America estimates that the U.S. spends more than $2 billion annually on clean water projects in an attempt to prevent pollution and clean contaminated water.  Water quality is a diverse market, beginning with projects to promote natural ecosystems which are the ultimate ‘water filter.’  The market extends to water treatment facilities, filtration systems and purification technologies among other solutions to ensure that our drinking water is safe. The market for water quality...

Mueller: Solid Profits In Liquid Infrastructure

by Debra Fiakas CFA The dire condition of drinking water systems in the U.S. has been made glaringly apparent with the recent debacle in Flint, Michigan that has left numerous citizens in the community suffering from chronic health conditions as a result of contaminated water.  We had no further than our own coverage group to find a company that could help solve problems the drinking water system.  Mueller Water Products (MWA:  NYSE) is a supplier of water meters, pipe fittings, valves, pipe repair components, and fire hydrants.  Mueller’s Echologics leak detection solution gives water utilities details on water...

Comparing Community Solar Subscriptions And Yieldcos

By Tom Konrad, Ph.D. CFA Community solar is gaining traction in many states. The concept, also known as shared solar or solar gardens, originated in the mid-2000s as a way to allow broader participation in the ownership of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, while also encouraging local development. Community solar broadens access to solar beyond homeowners with suitable roofs. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory report from 2015 estimated that 49 percent of households cannot own solar because they do not own their own home, or they live in high-rise buildings with insufficient roof space.  Rooftop solar is impractical for many...

Shriveling Yingli Fends Off Bond Holders

Doug Young  Bottom line: Yingli is likely to get sold or announce a major government-led restructuring, which could include bankruptcy, before a new round of 1.4 billion yuan in bonds comes due next month. In what looks like a case of deja vu, fast-shrinking solar panel maker Yingli (NYSE: YGE) is in the headlines again as it looks set to default on 1.4 billion yuan ($220 million) worth of bonds set to come due next month. The default would be Yingli’s second within a year, after it failed to pay off part of another big bond that matured last...

Nordex Issues First Green Schuldschein

by the Climate Bonds Team German green debt instrument raises €550m ($621m) for wind energy and gains Climate Bonds Certification. German wind company Nordex (NRDXF) is the first Schuldschein issuer to label its issue as green. The green issue is verified under the Climate Bonds Standard and sector specific Wind Standard. Assets include wind power manufacturing and infrastructure around the world. Nordex employed DNV GL to verify the green Schuldschein against the Climate Bonds Standard. The deal was split across four tranches with 3, 5, 7 and 10 year tenors. The joint underwriters were...