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...

The New Golden Age of Railroads

John Petersen Did you know that both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have billion dollar investments in railroads? If so, did you ever wonder why? For Mr. Buffett, it's an indirect investment through Berkshire Hathaway, which bought the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad outright in February of last year. For Mr. Gates, it's a direct 10.04% stake in Canadian National Railway. The reason is simple. Railroads are the cheapest, cleanest and most energy efficient ground transportation networks in the world, which effectively guarantees them an increasingly important role as the world comes to grips with...

Less Well Known Autonomous Car Stocks

Car manufacturers have fully embraced self-driving or autonomous cars.  It is not because they have heard a loud clamor for such technology from consumers.  No, automakers are keen on the idea because manufacture of self-driving cars could help them overcome the short comings of highly cyclical sales pattern associated with its car dependent upon a single driver.  In other words, they are in it for themselves whether consumers benefit or not. If consumers are not so important, at least investors should benefit. Besides the car manufacturers there are a few smaller companies that can give investors a taste of the self-driving car phenomenon. LiDar and...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Shimano

Tom Konrad CFA I missed Shimano (SHMDF.PK) in my recent list of bicycle and scooter stocks, but in many ways, Shimano is the best of the lot. Shimano Inc. manufactures bicycle components and fishing and rowing gear, with the bike segment accounting for about four-fifths of sales, but I had not realized that they were public until I received a note from a reader in response to my recent article on bike and moped stocks. In that article, I noted that, while bike sales rose in response to rising oil prices in 2008, bicycle repairs surged...

Manufacturers Going All Out for Self-driving Car Tech

There is a clutch of self-driving cars and cars with autonomous driving features on the market today.  Drivers just cannot seem to get enough of them.  Apparently, the idea of zooming down the highway with little to no responsibility holds considerable appeal.  Then again, maybe it is the novelty of the idea that will eventually give way to the next fad. In August 2018, Cox Automotive revealed the results of a survey that found fewer Americans are embracing self-driving technology than previously thought.  A surprising 49% of respondents said they would NEVER own a fully-autonomous car.  This is up from 30% naysayers two years ago. Views...

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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Three Mass Transit Operators

Tom Konrad, CFA Government budgets are putting pressure on mass transit operators, but the best public companies are likely to benefit from the trend. Three recent Economist articles led me to question my assumption that rising oil prices should be good for mass transit operators.  In the August 19th edition, there was an article about mass transit service cuts in Atlanta, as well as one about the likelihood of rising rail fares in Britain.  In crisis, there is also opportunity.  Reading beyond the gloomy headline of the Atlanta article, it becomes clear that the...

List of Alternative Transportation Stocks

Alternative Transportation Stocks are publicly traded companies that offer transportation options that use less fuel per passenger-mile or freight-mile than traditional options. Includes mass transit (both rail and bus), bicycles, and two wheel vehicles. A. P. Moller - Maersk Group (MAERSK-B.CO) Accell Group (ACCEL.AS) Blue Bird Corporation (BLBD) Bombardier Inc (BDRBF) Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (0MK5.L) CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive (ZHUZF) Canadian National Railway Company (CNI) Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) CSX Corporation (CSX) Cubic Corporation (CUB) Dorel Industries (DIIBF) Firstgroup, PLC (FGP.L) Giant Manufacturing (9921.TW) Grande West Transportation Group Inc. (BUS.V) Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (GLDD) Greenbrier (GBX) L. B. Foster (FSTR) Merida Industry Co. Ltd. (9914.TW) National Express Group (NEX.L) New Flyer Industries (NFYEF, NFI.TO) Norfolk...

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...

The Four Best Peak Oil Investments

Tom Konrad CFA The best four stocks I've found in my six month quest to find the best peak oil investments. I apologize for being a tease.  Since March, I've been writing this series I've called "The Best Peak Oil Investments," but in many cases what I've actually done is to warn readers to stay away from particular sectors.  This bait-and-switch was compounded for my syndicated readers at Seeking Alpha when their editors decided to re-title the early articles in this series "Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On."  If you've stuck...

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (GLDD), An Oil Spill Cleanup Stock

Tom Konrad, CFA Great Lakes Dredge and Dock is curiously in the center of a many emerging trends, some of which are not yet being talked about. I've been watching Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (GLDD) for a few months as a possible alternative transportation stock to talk about for my Best Peak Oil Investments series.  My thinking goes like this: barge and river transport are two of the most fuel efficient ways to move bulk cargo.  Barges are even more energy efficient than rail freight for most uses, according to the Congressional Budget Office. One...

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...

The L.B. Foster / Portec Rail Products Takeover Saga

Tom Konrad, CFA LB Foster (FSTR) may not succeed in their attempt to buy Portec Rail Products (PRPX) unless they raise the offer price. As a Portec Rail Products (PRPX) shareholder since 2007, I've been watching the saga of L.B Foster's (FSTR) attempt to buy the company fairly closely, and it's been a lot more interesting than we could expect.  I've put together a detailed time line at the end of this article. Offer Premium The tender offer came at only a 4% premium compared to the price the day before it was announced, leading...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Nine Mass Transit Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA In 2007 and 2008, high gasoline prices gave a large boost to mass transit ridership. Here are the stocks that might benefit if that scenario repeats itself. Americans are notoriously attached to their cars, but high oil prices in 2007 and 2008 led many to get on a bus or train.  According to a 2009 paper Transit Ridership Models: Present Status and Future Needs by Grace Galluci and John D Allen, Ph.D. from Chicago's Regional Transportation Authority, current published transit ridership models do not yet incorporate changes in gasoline prices.  The authors consider...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Bicycle and Scooter Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA When gas prices rise, more people turn to bicycles for transportation.  Will these bike and scooter stocks ride in the oil price's slipstream? UPDATE: Here is an article on one more bicycle stock that should have been on this list: Shimano (SHMDF.PK). A 2008 survey of bicycle retailers found that the vast majority of bike store owners felt that their sales had increased because many people were turning to bicycles for some of their transportation needs because of high gas prices.   95% of store owners reported that they had new customers because of...

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...