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...

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...

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...

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...

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: 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...

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...

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: 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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...