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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Accell and Six Other Bicycle Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA This article gathers all the bicycle and e-bike stocks I've found in one place, and takes a look at a recent find: Accell Group (ACCEL.AS). When I first became interested in alternative transportation as a peak-oil investing theme in late 2007, I was frustrated at my inability to find very many good alternative transportation stocks: The list of bike stocks I found was already very out-of date, and the lists of rail transit and bus companies I found did not distinguish between publicly traded companies I could invest in, and private companies I could...

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...

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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Maersk

Tom Konrad CFA Containerized shipping is the most efficient way to move goods, but few ships are nearly as efficient as they could be.  One company is steaming ahead of the pack. It seems obvious that more international trade increases greenhouse gas emissions.  After all, if we buy local products rather than products made halfway around the world, we will save all the carbon emissions required to ship them to us.  It also seems to make sense that rising fuel prices will lead to a decrease in international trade, as companies reduce fuel use by assembling things...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: Pure-Play Mass Transit Suppliers

Tom Konrad CFA I'm attempting to bring this series on peak oil stocks to a conclusion in which I can choose five stocks that should benefit from rising oil prices.  One sector I feel should be represented is suppliers to mass transit companies, but I only looked at the percentage of revenues coming from mass transit and rail when I brought you my list of nine mass transit stocks.  From that list, the following companies get substantially all their revenues from mass transit, passenger rail, or rail freight: New Flyer Industries (NFYIF.PK/NFI-UN.TO), is the largest manufacturer...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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: 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...

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...

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...