Who’s a Fat Cat?

Tom Konrad CFA A Fat Cat. Photo of "Cauchy" by author. Friday, in a generally positive article about Lime Energy (NASD:LIME), I noted that the top five executives at the company seemed overpaid in comparison to one of their nearest rivals, Orion Energy Systems (NYSE:OESX).  Since this was not based on in-depth research, and is a pretty serious allegation about a company I’m otherwise enthusiastic about, I decided to do some more digging. Who is a Fat Cat? Using data on executive pay from Morningstar, I compared executive pay at...

Ameresco (AMRC): Clean Energy One-Stop Shop

Tom Konrad CFA Contrary to common belief, the greatest barrier to the adoption of clean energy is not the cost.  In many cases, cost is not a barrier at all: it's an advantage.  That's because energy efficiency measures are usually so cost-effective that they not only pay for themselves, they can often pay for the addition of flashier clean energy technologies such as solar and wind. For institutions in the Federal and MUSH (Municipalities, Universities, Schools, and Hospitals) sectors, the main barriers are lack of capital and expertise.  Lack of capital arises because such institutions traditionally consider...

How Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Soar Like Solar

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHP) are a niche market.  They shouldn’t be. Disclosure: Long WFIFF, short LXU puts (a net long position.) A Better Mousetrap? Ralph Waldo Emerson never said “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”  The mousetrap that likely inspired the misquote was invented seven years after his death.  Unfortunately, many people take it literally.  GHPs have all the hallmarks of a better mousetrap: They do the job of heating and cooling a building more efficiently than any other option.  Despite...

Lime Energy’s Long Dark Year Of The Soul

Tom Konrad The last year has been hard on Lime Energy (NASD:LIME Disclosure: I own this stock.)  The company discovered problems with its internal reporting over a year ago, and the effort to restate the books and establish proper controls took much longer than anyone expected, in large part because the internal investigation uncovered additional problems as it proceeded. While the company was in danger of delisting, creditors were reluctant to provide funding, and this led the company to sell its two most capital intensive businesses: its asset development business, and its ESCO business.  The ESCO business required backing...

Can Rubicon Hire Bring Shine Back To Sapphire?

by Debra Fiakas CFA On Friday Rubicon Technology, Inc. (RBCN:  Nasdaq) announced the appointment of a new chief operating officer to manage the company’s sapphire materials production.  Rubicon is a producer of materials used in electronics components, including the company’s specialty, monocrystalline sapphire materials.   Rubicon chose a seasoned operator for the COO post, which now encompasses functions previously carried about by managers in two different positions.  The new hire, Hany Tamim, was previously with SunEdison (SUNE:  Nasdaq), the developer and producer of solar cells and modules.  He has experience in managing crystal growth and...

A Clean Energy REIT: Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure

Tom Konrad CFA On April 18th, Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (NYSE:HASI) IPOed on the New York Stock Exchange.  HASI is one of only two publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) dedicated to sustainable infrastructure.   The other such sustainable REIT is Power REIT (NYSE:PW), which I have written about extensively.  PW is both illiquid and involved in significant litigation, two factors which may put off the conservative investors who gravitate towards REITs.  In December, Power REIT purchased the land...

Five Alternative Energy Stocks I’ll Research “One of These Days”

I have more ideas than I have time to explore them, and it's getting out of hand.  I still need to write the promised articles on Evergreen Solar (ESLR) and Lithium Technology Corp (LTHU), but there are many others that have caught my attention over the last six months or so.  Since the list keeps getting longer, I thought I'd just give you a taste of some of the companies in my inbox, and why they seem interesting.  Since I may or may not ever write articles about any of these, I thought I'd give people the opportunity to...

Waterfurnace 7 Series vs. Climatemaster Trilogy Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Best of the Best

UPDATE: I just looked into the 7 Series vs the Trilogy 40 in more detail here and came to a slightly different conclusion. Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) launched its new highly efficient 7 Series geothermal heat pumps (GHP) today.  The 7 Series commercial release beats Climatemaster’s (a division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU)) Trilogy 40 as the first commercially available GHP with a variable speed compressor.  The Trilogy 40 is currently available as part of a pilot program, and is expected to be commercially available...

Canadian Insulation Companies Likely to Benefit from Next Budget

Tom Konrad CFA On March 22, the Conservative Canadian federal government released its proposed 2011 budget. The biggest news about the budget is not what is in it, but the fact that it is likely to lead to a no-confidence motion in Parliament, and bring about a new election.  One provision of the conservative budget is the C$400 million ecoEnergy Retrofit program was included in the budget as a sop to lure support from the New Democrat party, but proved insufficient to gain their support. Canadian insulation manufacturers hailed the inclusion of the home insulation...

Will We Have Too Much Generation for Renewables?

Too Many Brownies Before Dinner "When you feed your kid six brownies before dinner, you can't expect him to eat the salad, no matter how good it is."  So says Leslie Glustrom, a long term renewable energy advocate.  This is her metaphor for why Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) has been reluctant to pursue Demand Side Management (DSM) and renewable energy projects in Colorado as they have been in Minnesota.  Because Xcel is currently constructing 500 MW of new coal-fired generation, and they are also interested in a 300-350 MW IGCC plant by 2013, they may have little demand for...

Is Cree, Inc. (CREE) Likely to Burn Out?

Tom Konrad, CFA Pioneering light-emitting diode (LED) maker Cree, Inc. looks overvalued. Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, can be made to shine more brightly by increasing the power to them.  This has the unfortunate effect of overheating the leads and shortening the lifespan of the LED.  A similar effect may soon hit the stock of LED maker, Cree, Inc. (CREE.) Since I began the tradition, Cree has been a mainstay of my annual portfolio of ten stocks for the next year, published each January (See the 2008 and 2009 lists.  The Cree-free 2010 list is here.)  LEDs have been among...

Lights of Energy Focus

by Debra Fiakas CFA It is the season of lights.  Lights for Hanukkah.  Lights for Christmas.  Energy Focus (EFOI:  Nasdaq) has been having a season of lights all year.  The company reported $62.3 million in total sales of its LED lighting products in the most recently reported twelve months.  Customers included large business and industry, property owners and the military.  The oil and gas industry is an important market vertical. Energy Focus really shines for the U.S. Navy with its explosion proof LED globes in all the colors the Navy needs to provide military personnel safety...

A Little More Respect for Lime Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Lime Energy (LIME:  Nasdaq) reported exceptional sales growth in the quarter ending June 2015.  Revenue from the company’s energy efficiency solutions was $32 million, increasing and impressive 135% compared to a year ago.  Sales were boosted beginning by the March 2015 acquisition of EnerPath, a provider of software solutions for utility energy efficiency.  However, several of the company’s utility programs were expanded and that drove organic sales as well. Is it time to give Lime some new respect? In the renewable energy sector, efficiency programs are often overlooked...

Current Picks: Busses and Energy Efficiency

Over the weekend, EnergyTechStocks published two articles based on an interview with me. The first was about my conviction that Peak Oil induced rising gas prices is going to lead to a rush into mass transit building by cities, or investing in mode-shifting last September.  I've since written about opportunities in rail transit stocks, (P.TO, TRN, PRPX, and WAB), and more recently Hedging your peak oil risk with your lifestyle.  However, I have been frustrated until now that the only pure play bus stock I've been able to find is Firstgroup PLC (FGP.L, FGROF.PK), the British based owner of...

Clean Energy Stocks Shopping List: Five Energy Efficiency Stocks

Stocks may be expensive now, but they won't be forever.  Five energy efficiency plays to buy when they're cheap again in efficient HVAC, desalination, thermal imaging, and lighting. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA This article continues my Clean Energy Stocks Shopping List series.  In the first, I looked at five clean transport stocks I'll be looking to buy when the market falls.  In the second, I took a step back, and outlined why it makes sense to wait for better prices than to buy these companies now.  Here are five stocks I'll be looking to buy  in my all time...

PFB Corporation (PFB.TO,PFBOF.PK)

Tom Konrad, CFA PFB Corporation is a manufacturer of energy efficient building materials, including SIPD and ICFs, based on expanded polystyrene.  The company's sales have fallen in response to the housing downturn, but less so than most of the housing industry, despite a strong balance sheet and cash flow.  I consider the stock a buy below C$6. NOTE: I'm taking a break in order to take a trip to California for some vacation and to moderate a panel at the San Francisco Moneyshow.  This article was written in January 2010, but I delayed publication for seven months because...
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