Dilution for Dummies – Why A123 Systems is Undervalued

John Petersen Bartenders are smarter than most investors because they know what dilution is and they never get it wrong. Unfortunately, the markets have made such a bogeyman out of the word 'dilution' that public companies often suffer extreme backlash from financing transactions that should have existing stockholders on their feet and dancing in the aisles. Today I'll try to clear up some of the profound confusion that runs rampant in the minds of retail investors. Every bartender knows you can't dilute a beer by adding a shot of whiskey. The boilermaker is always stronger....

Stop-Start Realities and EV Fantasies

John Petersen Last week Johnson Controls (JCI) released the results of a nationwide survey that found that 97 percent of Americans are ready for micro-hybrids with stop-start idle elimination, the most sensible automotive innovation in years. A micro-hybrid turns the engine off to save fuel and eliminate exhaust emissions when it's stopped in traffic and automatically restarts the engine when necessary. While the overwhelmingly positive consumer response didn't surprise me, JCI's short-term growth forecast for micro-hybrids did. I've been writing about the rapidly evolving micro-hybrid space since 2008 and during that time the market penetration forecasts have...

Plug-in and Hybrid Locomotives; Another Sweet Spot for Axion Power

John Petersen I'm a cynic and a heretic when it comes to plug-in vehicle schemes because most defy the laws of economic gravity and violate a cardinal rule that Ford engineers developed for the EcoStar light delivery vehicle program in the early '90s: – The unloaded weight of a plug-in vehicle should never exceed 70% of its loaded weight. Investors who pay attention to this simple rule can easily distinguish between pipe-dream vehicle electrification schemes that are nothing more than feel-good eco-bling and realistic vehicle electrification projects that make economic sense. For the last...

Beacon Power Delivers Flywheel-Based Power System to Bechtel Bettis, Inc.

Beacon Power Corp (BCON) announced that it has delivered a flywheel-based power system to Bechtel Bettis, Inc., under a contract that it announced in March 2005. The demonstration system, built using a Smart Energy 6 flywheel, is designed to provide a high cycle-life, reliable source of stored energy for a number of potential applications. "This system we've delivered to Bechtel Bettis is an example of our strategy to address additional market opportunities beyond our primary business focus of providing advanced technology solutions for electric power systems," said Bill Capp, Beacon Power president and CEO. "We continue to seek...

An Elephant Hunter Explains Inflection Point Investing

John Petersen In "An Elephant Hunter Explains Market Dynamics" I discussed the two basic types of public companies; earnings-driven companies that are “bought” in top-tier weighing machine markets and event-driven companies that are “sold” in lower-tier voting machine markets. Today I'll get a bit more granular and show how "sold" companies usually fall into one of two discrete sub-classes that have a major impact on their stock market valuations. As a starting point, I'll ignore the China-based companies that are listed in the US because their quirky metrics would only confuse the analysis. Then I'll break...

Common Sense in Energy Storage Investing

John Petersen In the wake of last fall's initial public offering by A123 Systems (AONE) I wrote a four part series on battery investing for beginners. Over the last six months, changes in the storage sector have been coming at a fast and furious pace and many of my recent blogs have focused on technical minutiae rather than the stock market. They've led to heated debate with die hard EV advocates who don't understand the difference between technical and economic reality and religious belief, but I'm not sure how useful they've been for investors who see the potential...
Biogas as a source of hydrogen

There’s Hydrogen In That There Biogas

I don’t suppose that anyone actually dreams of hydrogen, but in the bio-economy there just isn’t quite enough of it and we read about it and sometimes think about it so much that we might as well be dreaming about it. For those newer to the field, one of the problems of using biomass to make a fuel is that a carbohydrate contains around 53% oxygen by weight and needs about 16% more hydrogen that it contains to make a hydrocarbon fuel. That’s one of the reasons that biofuels are often esters (such as biodiesel) or alcohols (such as ethanol),...

Battery Investing for Beginners, Part 3; Resetting The Cheap vs. Cool Baseline

9.30.09 Cheap vs Cool John Petersen I've been blogging about pure-play energy storage device manufacturers since July 2008. By mid-November I'd assembled a short list of thirteen pure-play public companies that accounted for almost 25% of the $30 billion global battery market. Frankly I was shocked to learn that major battery manufacturers like Exide (XIDE) and Enersys (ENS) that report billions in annual sales carried tiny market capitalizations when compared with far riskier technology development companies like Ener1 (HEV) and Valence Technology (VLNC) that would be little more than rounding errors on the big boys' financial statements....

Energy Storage: A Bloody Q3 is Creating a Great Buying Opportunity

John Petersen Tom Lehrer is frequently credited with a quip that perfectly summarizes my feeling about the financial markets in the third quarter, "Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" During the quarter we were given box seats to classic political opera in two acts. Act One was set in Washington DC while Act Two moved to Europe so we could hear the same tortured songs of woe in a different language. We all know the opera has to end with the immensely popular "Kick the Can Chorus," but we suspended disbelief, bought into...

Beacon Power Announces Major Patents for Flywheel Technology

Beacon Power Corp (BCON) announced that it has recently been awarded a United States patent for the unique design and construction of its composite flywheel rim, and that a few days ago, it received a written notification that another U.S. patent on the rim is to be granted in early February 2005. The composite rim is a key component of a flywheel energy storage system, as a rim's mass and ability to spin at high speeds have a direct relationship to the amount of energy that can be stored. Beacon Power, a pioneer in this technology, has been...

Vehicle Electrification – Press Releases, Production Decisions and The Hype Cycle

John Petersen Writing an investment blog on hype-riddled sectors like vehicle electrification and energy storage is tough because the topic is emotionally charged and expectations are often based on political promises, issue advocacy, press releases and mainstream media stories that never tell the complete truth. As a result I spend a huge amount of time debunking popular mythology that's 180 degrees out of sync with business realities and responding to commenters who refuse to believe cars with plugs will be: Five to six times less efficient than HEVs when it comes to reducing national gasoline consumption; Nine...

How Growing HEV Markets Will Impact Battery Manufacturing Revenues

John Petersen For the last three weeks I've been writing about why rising oil prices, tightened CO2 emission standards in Europe and accelerated CAFE standards in the U.S. will combine to foster rapid implementation of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology in the automotive industry and result in huge revenue increases for all automotive battery manufacturers. These articles have generated record numbers of comments and questions from readers that want a clearer understanding of what the rapidly changing demand picture means for battery investors. While I generally try to avoid revenue forecasts because they require pricing assumptions...

Hidden Gems? Why Green Investors Should Look at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Ener1

Part 2 of 2 Bill Paul Neither Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd., which trades OTC under the symbol DWOTF, nor Ener1 Inc., which trades on NASDAQ under the symbol HEV, is an obvious candidate for having hidden potential. Heck, Daewoo isn’t even a green energy stock. Or is it? Lost in the hubbub of Copenhagen and Congress, there’s been important news about both these companies that strongly suggests – at least to me – that each has plenty of undiscovered potential that will really start paying off over the next 18 to 24...

Axion Power: Improving on the Conventional

by Debra Fiakas CFA While the rest of the battery industry is trying to perfect new technologies, Axion Power International (AXPW:  OTC/QB) has been working on a fix for conventional lead acid batteries.   Low cost made the lead acid batteries popular even from the early days when a French scientist first introduced the configuration in the mid 1800s.  Lead-acid technologies represent about half of batteries made today.  Unfortunately, lead-acid batteries have low energy-to-weight and volume.  Storage times are limited.  They also have corrosion problems.  The active materials in lead-acid batteries change physical form during charge...

Battery Investing for Beginners, Part II

John PetersenLast Friday I published "Battery Investing for Beginners" as an introductory piece for investors who don't know much about the energy storage sector but are interested in learning more because of the hugely successful initial public offering by A123 Systems (AONE). Since the article was well received and there seems to be a good deal of reader interest, I've decided to continue the theme with a series of articles where I'll try to build a contextual framework for the industry and show where various types of energy storage devices and their manufacturers fit into that framework. Since I...