Exide’s Recent Price Collapse Was Unjustified

John Petersen After the market closed on Monday, Exide Technologies (XIDE) released surprisingly poor second quarter results, a $3.6 million loss that included a $5.7 million charge for several years of reporting irregularities at a small Portuguese recycling subsidiary. The market's reaction was absolutely savage as the stock collapsed from Monday's close of $4.48 to Friday's close of $3.01. In my view, the reaction was unjustified and has set up a tremendous buying opportunity for investors who are willing to look beyond the headlines and focus on core business fundamentals. To put things in perspective, Exide's...

Investment Opportunities in Large Scale Electricity Storage

The Economist had two great articles last week on two of may favorite themes in renewable energy, which I missed getting to Charles in time for  The Week in Cleantech.  Both deal with modernizing the grid to deal with the vagaries of wind.  The first is an in depth look at electricity transmission via High Voltage DC, a subject I recently wrote about in an article on ABB.  The second dealt with compressed air energy storage (CAES) which is the second cheapest way to store electricity, after pumped hydro.  Unfortunately, I have not found good ways for the stock...

NanoMarkets LLC Forecasts $8.3 Billion Annual Market For Smart Grid Batteries By 2016

In August of last year I wrote an article titled "Grid-based Energy Storage: Birth of a Giant." Over the last 12 months I've written a series of follow-on articles that discuss the principal classes of manufactured energy storage devices and the companies that are making or planning to make products for smart grid energy storage applications. My entire archive of articles on the energy storage sector is available here. One of the biggest problems I've encountered over the last year has been a dearth of reliable third party information that can help investors understand the breadth and...

Lithium-ion Batteries and How Cheap Beat Cool in the Chevy Volt

Since November of last year, I’ve argued that cheap will beat cool when it comes to the commercialization of battery chemistries. As details on the design and construction of the Chevy Volt battery pack emerge and are publicized on sites like Green Car Congress and Popular Science, it’s clear that cheap Li-ion chemistry has already beaten cool Li-ion chemistry and many of the concerns I’ve expressed about using Li-ion batteries in cars have been considered and resolved by thoughtful automotive design engineers. It bodes well for the introduction of PHEVs as long as the tax incentives remain in place,...

Paper Batteries

by Debra Fiakas CFA A comment left recently on one of my earlier articles mentioned Vendum Batteries, Inc. (VNDB:  OTC/BB), a developmental stage company working on battery power solutions.  When looking into Vendum I expected the usual flowery promises investors hear from every other battery developer  -  some new metal alloy for the electrodes, an alternative electrolyte, or maybe a creative form factor.    However, Vendum is not just any battery “wanna-be.” Ok, Vendum does have an alternative electrode, but it is not just a tweak of the usual metal mixes.  It also has an alternative form factor,...

Battery Investing For Beginners, Part 4

John Petersen In "The Sixth Revolution: The Coming of Cleantech," Merill Lynch strategist Steven Milunovich heralded cleantech as a new investment theme and forecast a period of gut wrenching change followed by an age of plenty. A few days later venture capital icon Vinod Khosla warned his audience “500 million people on earth enjoy a lifestyle that 9 billion people will want in 2050.” The differences between these two informed viewpoints are more than a little stark, but they highlight a frightening truth about cleantech: for the first time in human history the fundamental drivers of a technological...

A Tale of Two Battery Companies

John Petersen The last few weeks have offered a fascinating object lesson for believers in Benjamin Graham's theory that "In the short run the market acts like a voting machine, but in the long run it acts like a weighing machine." Since January 4th I've watched in awe as Exide Technologies (XIDE) lost roughly 30% of its market value and Ener1 (HEV) lost closer to 40%. The difference is that Exide took a voting machine beat down because it lost a well-known but financially immaterial customer while Ener1 seems to be caught in the early stages of a...

Energy Storage: Q-2 2012 Review and Analysis

John Petersen While I jumped the gun last week and published my third quarter outlook for the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors early, it's worthwhile to take a look back and see how my tracking list of companies performed over the last quarter and examine the past to see what the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup portend for the coming quarter. So without further delay I'll present my price performance table for the second quarter that ended on Friday. Q-2 was a dreadful quarter for Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) and ZBB Energy...

USPS Study: EV Economics Depend On Smart-Grid Revenue

John Petersen On August 28th, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service published the results of a feasibility study titled, "Electrification of Delivery Vehicles." While the feasibility study reaches a foregone conclusion and recommends the purchase of a 3,000 unit demonstration fleet, I was surprised by the high level of Federal subsidies the Inspector General thought necessary to bring EVs within Postal Service capital investment policies. I was even more surprised by the conclusion that the tipping point in the economic analysis was revenue from ancillary vehicle to grid, or V2G, services. The...

Millennium Cell Awarded U.S. Army Hydrogen Battery Contract

Millennium Cell Inc (MCEL) announced that it has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Program contract by the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. The Company will assess the feasibility of operating its hydrogen battery technology in conjunction with a 5kW PEM-based fuel cell using water containing a variety of impurities. Preliminary tests conducted by Millennium Cell suggest salt water and other non-potable water may be adequate for use with the Company's Hydrogen on Demand® technology.

Just One Sector – Fuel Efficiency Pure Plays

John Petersen In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote "in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Today he probably would have written "in this world nothing is certain but death, taxes and rising oil prices." There's no escaping the misery, but astute investors who take the time to understand the fundamental trends can profit as the misery unfolds. For the short term, I'm convinced the biggest opportunities will be in fuel efficiency technologies for cars and light trucks. After 20 years of complacent stagnation, the US started to get serious about light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency in...

Micro-Hybrids – The Fuel Efficiency Innovation of the Decade

John Petersen I've been writing about micro-hybrid vehicles and stop-start idle elimination since May 2009. It's a cheap and simple fuel efficiency innovation that turns the engine off while a car is stopped at a light and automatically restarts the engine when you take your foot off the brake. It's not gee-whiz sexy, but it can boost fuel economy by 5% to 15% in city driving and dramatically improve urban air quality by reducing idling. What could be more sensible? When I first wrote about stop-start in "Why Advanced Lead-acid Batteries Will Dominate the HEV Markets," the...

Grid-based Energy Storage: Widely Misunderstood Challenges and Opportunities

John Petersen The most widely misunderstood subject in the field of energy storage is the potential for grid-based applications. They fire the imagination because the grid is so pervasive and the need is so great. They also present immense challenges to storage technology developers because the fundamental economic value per unit of grid-based energy storage is very low. While the subject of grid-based storage provides rich fodder for media reports and political posturing, the reality bears little relation to the perception. On March 9th, Lux Research published a sorely needed reality check in a new report titled "Grid...

Arotech Receives New Contract to Supply up to $24 Million in Zinc-Air Batteries to...

Arotech Corporation (ARTX) announced that its Electric Fuel Battery subsidiary has received from the US Army's Communications and Electronic Command (CECOM) a new contract to supply up to $24 million in zinc-air batteries and adaptors to the DoD over the next three years.

Plug-in Vehicles Are A Luxury No Nation Can Afford

John Petersen I'm going to apologize up front for revisiting a topic that inevitably draws furious comment from readers who just don't get it, or who refuse to get it. I understand that it's painful to learn that politicians, environmental advocates and the mainstream media have been lying about critical issues, but that doesn't make exposing the lies less important. So I'm going to endure the slings and arrows of the eco-religious one more time and use a new example to show that plug-in vehicles are a luxury no nation can afford. Ener1 (HEV) is a pure-play...

Bob Lutz Is Wrong About Tesla

By Jeff Siegel Does Bob Lutz like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) or not? The bigwig car exec who probably knows more about the car industry than practically anyone else, has certainly tipped his hat to the electric car-maker and to Elon Musk, but when it comes to the stock, he's perpetually bearish. Of course, I've yet to find anyone who can really make sense of the stock. On a technical basis, it's pretty much always been valued at levels that never really coincided with the reality. But the Tesla story has never been about just the technicals. Tesla's valuation...