Can Public Equity Investing Have Impact?

by Garvin Jabusch There’s an argument in the world of impact investing that goes something like, "impact happens only through private investments; there is no real impact, apart from shareholder engagement efforts, in public equity investing." An associated perception is that investment impact means capitalizing an enterprise beyond what would happen otherwise, meaning private equity alone has the power to provide real impact. But is this true? Publicly traded corporations are the largest and most visible social and environmental bellwethers of the global economy, and the high allocation to public equities in most investor portfolios means public equity...

Do You Need To Invest In Oil To Benefit From Expensive Oil?

Two months ago, Tom told us how he'd dipped a toe into the black stuff (i.e. bought the OIL etf) on grounds that current supply destruction related to the depressed price of crude oil would eventually lead to the same kind of supply-demand crunch that led oil to spike during the 2004 to mid-2008 period. If you need evidence that the current price of crude is wreaking havoc in the world of oil & gas exploration, look no further than Alberta and its oil sands. The oil sands contain the second largest oil reserves in the world after...

Growing Market Skepticism Towards Chinese Renewable Energy

Bottom line: Weak share reactions to upbeat news from Trina, ReneSola and Ming Yang reflect investor skepticism towards new energy stocks, as they face lingering issues of overcapacity and phasing out of government subsidies. A flurry of upbeat news is in the headlines today from 3 of China’s largest new energy equipment makers, led by a return to the profit column for solar panel maker ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) after a year in the red. At the same time, wind power equipment maker Ming Yang (NYSE: MY) also announced its latest quarterly results that were quite upbeat, and solar panel...

Alternative Energy & Conventional Energy: Is An Image Worth A Thousand Words?

It wasn't long ago that people still believed the price of energy commodities - and crude oil in particular - had a greater impact on alt energy stocks than did general movements in equity markets or even fundamental factors. The logic went something like this: even though oil and most of the sub-sectors that make up the broad alt energy space (e.g. solar) are not in direct competition with one-another, expensive oil is the number one driver behind governments searching for alternatives to the way we currently meet our energy needs. For a time, this theory may have...

Alternative Energy Stocks In 2013: Winners And Losers

By Harris Roen Alternative energy stocks had an epic year in 2013. The widely watched Ardour Global Alternative Energy Index Composite (AGIGL) was up 53% in 2013. That’s double the 26% return for the S&P 500. In fact, 2013 marked the largest annual return for the AGIGL since 2007. In January 2013, I predicted that “…low interest rates and plenty of corporate cash will be a strong driver of stocks in 2013, including the growth industries within alternative energy.” That forecast turned out to be true and then some. This report drills down...

2013: Green Economy Inflection Point

Garvin Jabusch There are a few truths that make the fundamental case that investing in the emerging next economy is the clearest path to long term competitive portfolio performance. First, innovation – meaning improving economic output without increasing material or capital inputs - always wins. This is simply how capitalism works, money chasing the best ideas, and has been the basis of the industrial revolution. Second, successfully mitigating the worst effects of economically and societally disastrous climate change (that we're not already irreversibly committed to) will save enormous costs, provide generational investment opportunities and also be inestimably economically stimulative....

Carbon War Room CEO: “Radical Incrementalism Will Fail”

Tom Konrad CFA The Richard Branson-backed nonprofit, the Carbon War Room is a group that thinks big in the battle against catastrophic climate change.  They're only interested in attacking problems with the potential to reduce carbon emissions on the gigaton scale, that is reducing emissions by a trillion tons a year.  No one nonprofit or even one multinational company can deploy the necessary capital to seize a fraction of the opportunities on this scale.  An annual gigaton of carbon emission reductions requires between $300 billion (Energy Efficiency) and $2 trillion (Solar PV) in up-front investment, according...

Will Rare Earths Cripple the Green Economy? Part 2

Eamon Keane Rare Earths 2 Eamon Keane This is Part Two of a three part series based on a rare earth elements (REE) review which is available for download at slideshare, where references can be viewed.  Part 1 is an introduction to REEs. Part 2 analyzes REE consumption and refining and Part 3 looks at how REEs might affect the green economy.  So where do all those REEs go? Figure 8 shows the estimated flows for 2008 . Although Chinese consumption is shown as 60%, this is only for the...

Why Oil & Shipping Firm A.P. Moller-Maersk and Steelmaker POSCO Are ‘Green’ Investments

by Bill Paul There's no such thing as an "experienced" alternative energy investor. The sector simply is too new. Also, like an iceberg, most of it lies hidden beneath the surface. To succeed in these uncharted waters, I believe that alternative energy investors (a group that eventually will include all investors) need to follow a particular set of guidelines that I've started identifying in recent articles. The first guideline is that you must be a long-term investor with a time horizon of at least three to five years. Otherwise, you'll miss out on most of the incredible financial payoff...

The Ontario Green Energy Act: What Can Alt Energy Legislations Do For Investors

Dedicated legislations have been at the core of some of the most impressive regional growth stories in alternative energy, most notably in Germany with the Renewable Energy Sources Act or in California with the various legislative solar initiatives. On Monday, the Canadian province of Ontario became the latest jurisdiction to join the fray as lawmakers introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. Why should investors care? Because such legislations have been at the core of some of the most impressive regional growth stories in alternative energy.  As a bit of a backgrounder on Ontario, there...

Gas Consumption – An Image Is Worth A Thousand Words

So goes the old adage. We thought the following, recently published in The Economist of gas consumption in 2003, fully embodied the true essence of that phrase. Have a good day!

Cleantech Venture Capitalists Beware – What You Don’t Know About Energy Can Kill You

Oil prices quietly (at least in the cleantech world), slipped below $80 last week, off some 50% from their highs a few months ago. Did I say 50%? Yes 50%. And gas has slipped, too, as with some variations, natural gas historically trades at a roughly 10:1 price ratio of Barrels to MCF. It's easy to get caught up in the cleantech hype and forget that only 10 years ago this year oil prices fell two thirds, caught between rising supply from a decade of drilling and nasty Asian flu, triggered in part by, wait, a financial debt...

Saudis Confirm Switch from Oil to Solar

By Jeff Siegel You probably wouldn't recognize him if you saw him on the street. Heck, you probably don't even know his name. But Ali Al-Naimi is one of the most powerful men in the world. As the Saudi oil minister and chairman of Saudi Aramco, Al-Naimi is not particularly popular with U.S. oil producers, especially after telling the media he didn't care if oil prices crashed to $20 because it was not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut production  regardless of price. Still, he remains the most influential oilman on the planet. Listed as one of Forbes' 50...

Alternative Energy Stock Returns, Past and Future

By Harris Roen Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at work driving these markets are complex, counterintuitive, and sometimes mysterious. This article looks at what has been driving the price of alternative energy markets, and as a result, alternative energy company stocks. Looking ahead, we will also consider what should affect the direction of alternative energy stock prices. Past trends in Alternative Energy Stocks The Wilder Hill...

Cleantech Venture Capitalists are Human Too

David Gold Sectors like solar, biofuels and smart grid have received a significant overweighting of venture capital investment compared to other sectors. Is this because they are better investment opportunities or because venture capitalists (VCs), being human, invest in what they know and who they know? While many entrepreneurs may not believe it, VCs are human, too. In my last post, “Human Capital, Not Venture Capital, the Biggest Cleantech Need,” I discussed how the greatest challenge today to growing a successful early-stage cleantech business is the shortage of successful, experienced cleantech entrepreneurs. But finding the right...

Top Questions to Ask a Venture Capitalist in the First Pitch

David Gold Katherine Connors, Miss Iowa USA 2010 throws the ceremonial first pitch.  Source: Cathy T, via Wikimedia Commons You landed your first pitch at a venture capitalist’s (VC) office. You’ve practiced the pitch and have your laptop fired up to deliver. So, like a sprinter at the sound of the gunshot, you dive in hard and heavy to make sure you get through the deck. After all, you might only have one chance to excite them with your company’s story. Inevitably, with all the questions...