The Sustainable Infrastructure Income Trust

Tom Konrad CFA Jeffrey Eckel Jeffrey Eckel has an investor relations problem. No, there has not been any scandal involving fudging the books or sweatshop labor.  Rather, most investors simply don’t seem to “get” his company. His company recently went public as a REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, and the traditional REIT investor likes the familiar.  They invest for income, and for many, a track record of past income and dividends is a must.  While Eckel’s company manages $1.8 billion of securitized energy efficient and sustainable infrastructure...

LEDs: A better light bulb. Again.

by Marc Gunther.  So you remember CFLs, right? The curlicue bulbs? The time they took to go on? The harsh light? Despite their drawbacks, compact fluorescents have sold fairly well in the US. They save customers money. Utilities promoted and subsidized CFLs, particularly in California. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) pledged to sell 100 million of them. Time magazine put one on the cover. By 2012, CFLs represented 27 percent of the bulbs installed in the over 3 billion medium screw-based sockets in the United States, according to a Navigant study quoted by NRDC. Other researchers put the number lower, about 20 percent,...

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...

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...

Energy Efficiency Stocks Rally on Shaheen-Portman Bill

Tom Konrad CFA Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Photo credit: sskennel) and Sentaor Rob Portman (official photo) While the chance for broad energy reform to come out of our dysfunctional and divided Congress are slim,  there is one area of broad agreement across the aisle: Energy Efficiency is good for jobs, and the environment.  Much can also be done at modest or no cost to the taxpayer. Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are reintroducing their Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, supported by a broad range of industry leaders, energy efficiency advocates, and...

The LED Gold Rush

Tom Konrad CFA Last week, a prominent display of $10 LED light bulbs from Cree, Inc. (NASD:CREE) arrested my attention as I entered a home improvement store. These were officially launched in March, and are similar to a 40 watt-equivalent bulb I bought in 2009.  I still have that bulb, which I use for outdoor lighting, because Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) take too long to warm up in the winter.  It’s still going strong.  The only problem: it cost $50, and used as much energy as a CFL for the same amount of light. Four years later, we have...

Misreported Revenue, Part I: Lime Energy

Tom Konrad CFA In my model portfolios of ten clean energy stocks for 2013 andsix alternatives, three companies are currently delaying earnings announcements for various reasons, and at least two of the three will be restating previous results. Many investors flee the scene at the first whiff of accounting problems: All investors rely on a company’s financial statements (directly or indirectly) to value companies.  If there is  any doubt as to the accuracy of those statements, they believe it’s better to invest elsewhere. In contrast, I believe that we never have anything like an accurate picture of what is going on...

Lime Energy Sells ESCO Business to PowerSecure

Tom Konrad On March first, Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) announced the sale of its Energy Service Contracting (ESCO) business to PowerSecure International, Inc. (NASD:POWR). The deal will provide Lime with approximately $1.9 million in cash, plus the assumption of $9.9 million in liabilities associated with various ongoing projects, offset by $6.3 million in assets transferred to PowerSecure.  This makes the effective purchase price of the business approximately $5.5 million (not the $11.9 million I earlier reported).  The deal should be good news for both Lime and PowerSecure shareholders. From Lime Energy’s Perspective After nine months of worrying about misreported and potentially fictitious revenue, it’s...

Trading Strategy Around Lime Energy’s Possible Feb 2 Delisting

Tom Konrad Several readers have asked me if I still recommend buying Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) now that it looks like the company could be delisted from NASDAQ on February 2nd.  I won’t go into the details of why, when, or how, since John Downey has done an excellent job of covering that in the Charlotte Business Journal. Instead, I’ll look at the various possible scenarios, and how it will likely be best to trade the stock.  To understand what will happen, we first have to decide A) will Lime’s appeal against delisting be granted? and B) Will Lime be able to...

Three Money Managers See LED Industry Shining in 2013; Their Stock Picks

Tom Konrad LED lights on an outdoor tree. Photo by author This is the third article in my series based on my panel of green money managers’ predictions for 2013.  The first article looked at what they expect 2013 holds for the Solar industry, and the second looked at their predictions  for the Smart Grid.  This installment focuses on the LED industry. Jeff Cianci: Faster than Anyone Expects Jeff Cianci is Chief Investment Officer at equity investment fund Green Science Partners. Cianci says “The trend toward LED lighting for...

Why I’m Selling Rockwool

Tom Konrad CFA Photo: Cubes made of rockwool for indoor cannabis cultivation by D-Kuru/Wikimedia Commons. While some users may use Rockwool insulation to grow their highs, the recent highs in the stock price have led me to sell part of my holdings. Earlier this year, I bought Rockwool International A/S (COP:ROCK-B, OTC:RKWBF) with the intention of holding it for the long term. I chose Rockwool because it was expanding in the US, provides excellent international diversification, has a strong balance sheet with no net debt, and (not least) is a leader in...

Ameresco Revenues Fall Off Fiscal Cliff

Tom Konrad CFA The climate of uncertainty caused by deadlock in Washington is leading to penny-wise, pound foolish behavior at all levels of government, and Ameresco, Inc. (NYSE:AMRC) felt the pain severely in the third quarter. Framingham, MA based Ameresco helps institutions, mostly government entities, improve their energy infrastructure and reduce energy use without capital outlays or increases in energy budgets.  It does this by using the cost savings from energy efficiency to finance the capital outlays, allowing schools, hospitals, and the like to insulate or install solar panels while sticking to existing budgets, and often producing some savings.  To take three examples...

Selling Pressure Comes Off Lime Energy

Tom Konrad CFA When Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) reported accounting problems, including the possibility of fictitious revenue on July 17th, investors abandoned the stock, unwilling to own a company in which they knew the financial statements to be misstated.   Over the next two weeks, Lime found a floor around $0.90 (down from over $2 on July 16th), as those investors who would sell at any price were replaced by those who, like me, feel that $0.90 is less than any reasonable estimate of LIME’s true value even in liquidation. Volume then dried...

Energy Recovery: A “Slender” Stock

by Debra Fiakas CFA Investors who in the small-cap sector are familiar with the profile:  a company with a great invention that ends up with a business narrowly-focused on a particular market or customer group.  If it is a public company, the stock price is equally thin  -  if it trades at all.  Energy Recovery (ERII:  Nasdaq) is one of those slender stocks.   Over the last year ERII has traded in a relatively tight range between $3.50 at the high point and $1.55 on the low side.  The stock is seemingly stranded today 29.4% off the...

Lime Energy, or Lemon Energy?

Tom Konrad CFA Last week, when Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) announced that an internal investigation by its audit committee had revealed up to $15 million in misreported revenue, my first instinct was to sell, especially because the misreported revenue included not only revenue assigned to the wrong period, but possibly completely fictitious revenue.  Whenever a company reveals accounting problems, it's bad.  But there are levels of bad. As Garvin Jabusch, Cofounder and CIO of Green Alpha Advisors and manager of the Sierra Club Green Alpha Portfolio put...

The Efficiency Tango: A Deeper Look at Geothermal Heat Pump Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock A couple weeks ago, I compared the efficiency of the two most advanced geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) recently launched by Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) and Climatemaster, as division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU).  Like most things in life, it turns out that heat pump efficiency is a lot more complicated than just comparing a couple numbers. Since I concluded that Waterfurnace’s 7  Series heat pumps were slightly more efficient than Climatemaster’s Trilogy 40 pumps, one of Climatemaster’s district managers pointed me...