Aerovironment’s New Farm Worker

by Debra Fiakas CFA Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had their starting point in military exercises, carrying surveillance cameras and even bombs to sensitive sites.  Drones as we have come to call them have also zoomed across the horizons of adventuresome consumers, who see sport and entertainment possibilities.  However, drones offer time and cost savings, quality and accuracy in data gathering and safety to a host of scientists, engineers and infrastructure operators.  According to industry research firm Markets and Markets, the unmanned aerial market is estimated to be $13.2 billion in the current year and has the...

What I Learned During Last Week’s Visit With ePower

John Petersen Last week I spent a couple days with ePower Engine Systems working my way through a variety of business and technical due diligence issues. As always happens with new clients, it was a full immersion course in how ePower’s technology works, what the documented performance of the current tractor is, and how that performance is expected to change as ePower: transitions from a four cylinder engine designed for stationary use to an EPA compliant six cylinder engine designed for the trucking industry; automates a new charge control system that will opportunistically charge the batteries in...

New Flyer Consolidates Leading Position in Transit Bus and Parts Markets

Tom Konrad CFA On June 21st, leading North American heavy-duty transit bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries (TSX:NFI, OTC:NFYEF) announced the acquisition of its third largest competitor, North American Bus Industries from private equity firm Cerberus Capital. The following Monday, New Flyer management held a call to discuss the acquisition with analysts.   Here are the highlights. Cost and Financing: The C$84 million cost to New Flyer consists almost entirely of the assumption and discharge of NABI’s existing debt.  This will be funded with C$64 million by issuing to the world’s second largest bus maker Marcopolo S.A. for C$10.50 a...

Another Chance To Buy Power REIT On The Cheap

Tom Konrad CFA An earlier version of this article appeared on the author's Forbes blog on June 3rd. An article about Power REIT (NYSE:PW) that came out on Seeking Alpha on May 30th has sent some investors running for the hills.  The article has since been removed from Seeking Alpha.  According to PW's CEO, David Lesser,  Seeking Alpha’s editorial staff concluded that it had reached unsupported and erroneous conclusions after discussions with him and Ryan Griffin, the article’s author.  Ryan Griffin told me that he did not have time to respond to the...

Ameresco, New Flyer, PFB: Q1 Efficiency Earnings Highlights

Tom Konrad CFA Performance contractor Ameresco, Inc. (NYSE:AMRC) reported earnings on May 9th. Revenues were below analyst expectations, but Chairman, CEO, and President George Sakellaris put this down to timing issues, and stuck by his full year guidance. Strong growth in the firm’s backlog and awarded project’s seem to back up this relatively optimistic view.  From the earnings call transcript e are very confident about the improving market conditions in few of our regions, as well as continued growth in our all other offerings. These are expected to be the growth drivers for the near-term. We are also...

Will Electric Bicycles Get Americans to Start Pedaling?

by Marc Gunther.  First Published on Yale Environment 360 Electric bicycles are already popular in Europe and in China, which has more e-bikes than cars on its roads. Now, manufacturers are marketing e-bikes in the U.S., promoting them as a "green" alternative to driving. Most Americans know about Tesla , the Chevy Volt, and the Nissan Leaf. But what about Evelo, the eZip Trailz, and the Faraday Porteur? The first three are, of course, electric cars. They benefit from a lot of media attention and generous government subsidies, including a...

When Isn’t a $68M Civil Action Material?

Tom Konrad CFA David and Goliath (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Last week, I investigated the Goliath vs. David civil action in which Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) and Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad (WLE) are attempting to prevent Power REIT (NYSE:PW) from foreclosing on the lease of the 112 miles of track owned by Power REIT and operated by WLE under a sublease with NSC. As in Biblical times, Power REIT, in its role as David, looks likely to surprise the market with a legal victory.  I calculated that any victory could lead to payments...

Where Electric Vehicles Make Sense

Tom Konrad CFA Electric Transit Buses Coming to North America   Quayside electric bus in Newcastle. Photo credit: LHOON On June first, New Flyer Industries (TSX:NFI, OTC:NFYEF) unveiled its first all-electric bus prototype. New Flyer is far from the first manufacturer to launch an electric bus.    The first deployment of electric buses on a commercial route was at the end of 2010 in Seoul, using buses developed by Hyundai and Hankuk Fiber. Wikipedia lists twenty manufacturers of electric buses worldwide.  Even in North America, Balqon Corporation (OTC:BLQN), a...

Buying Opportunity at Renewable Energy REIT, Courtesy of Disgruntled Shareholder

Tom Konrad CFA Power REIT (AMEX:PW) aims to be the first renewable energy infrastructure Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). The Renewable Energy REIT Renewable energy advocates have been calling for a change in the tax laws to allow renewable energy within the REIT structure.  A REIT is allowed to pass profits directly through to investors.  These profits are not subject to double-taxation like most corporate profits.  Owning shares of a renewable REIT would be much like owning a slice of a wind or solar farm.  This would open up the renewable energy investment opportunity to everyone, not just...

A Green Peak Oil Company Expanding in North America: Stagecoach Group

Tom Konrad CFA What’s the budget-conscious way to travel in the US? If you buy in advance, flying is still reasonably priced, but increased security and wait times mean that it’s quicker to drive for shorter trips. With current high gas prices, driving is increasingly expensive. Except on a few routes, Amtrak is slow, has very limited service, and costs a bundle. In our new peak oil world of $4 gas and, more and more people are opting for bus travel.  The young like it: My girlfriend’s daughter travels by bus almost exclusively, even though she owns a car....

New Flyer Sees Bus Market Revival

Tom Konrad CFA Highlights from New Flyer Industries’ (TSX:NFI, OTC:NFYEF) first quarter conference call The Numbers New Flyer announced first quarter results on May 9.  The results were: Q1 2012 Q1 2011 Earnings up; reverses loss $2.7 million profit $6.4 million loss Revenue up 6.2% $227.6 million $214.3 million The improved numbers mostly arise from a more favorable product mix, and the benefits of New Flyer’s restructuring, which removed most of the debt burden.  The North American transit bus market remains very competitive, and this competition...

Why the Sell-off at New Flyer?

Tom Konrad CFA Heavy duty transit bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries (NFI.TO/NFYEF.PK) released its fourth quarter earnings and annual report on March 21, quickly followed by analyst downgrades from CIBC and Canacord Genuity. Too far, too fast Over the next few days, the stock fell from over $8 to below $7, although it is still well above the level where followers of my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2012 would have purchased ($5.65) even after dividend payments worth $0.22.  After a rise like New Flyer has had over the last three months, some investors took the...

Historic Oil/Gas and Gas/Coal prices provide opportunity for fuel switching

Oil Gas and Coal Gas Ratio That sound you hear is the stampede of shale gas drillers away from dry gas plays. The irrational exuberance of shale gas drillers, chief amongst them Chesapeake's voluble Aubrey McLendon, is leading to an impressive destruction of capital. The long run marginal cost is significantly above the current spot price. With natural gas storage bursting at the seams, natural gas is reverting to its historical nuisance byproduct as drilling moves to liquid rich plays. While not sustainable in the long term, the present pricing situation presents opportuinities to...

Time to Buy One of the Best Peak Oil Investments

Tom Konrad CFA The Euro crisis rolls out a bargain in the stock of a leading e-bike manufacturer. A little over a year ago, I concluded a 27 part series looking into non-oil stocks that might benefit from rising oil prices by picking what I thought were the four best stocks I had found in the process.  I had not yet bought any of the stocks picked because, as I said at the time, I personally do not...

New Flyer: An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Tom Konrad CFA A couple readers have asked me if they should accept the New Flyer (NFI-UN.TO/NFYIF.PK) Rights offering to exchange their C$5.53 principal 14% subordinated notes for nine shares of New Flyer common stock.  The answer is most emphatically YES. When I last wrote about New Flyer, I knew that they were planning to convert from their unusual stapled security structure to a more conventional share structure, but I was not certain how they could entice IDS holders to go along with the swap.  Now, it's clear.  The New Flyer IDS is the...

Questions About Dividend Spook New Flyer Investors. Why I’m Buying

Tom Konrad CFA If I could only own one stock, it would not be a stock.  It would be a Canadian "income deposit security:" New Flyer Industries which trades in Toronto as NFI-UN.TO and on the Pink sheets as NFYIF.PK. Cyclical industry New Flyer is the largest of the five suppliers of heavy duty transit buses in North America.  Unlike its competitors, New Flyer is focused solely on transit bus sales, parts, and service.  The company has industry leading technology, offering a full range of bus styles and propulsion systems, including  diesel, liquid or compressed natural...