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...

Clean Tech Investing and the Democrats’ Victory

What are the implications of the Democrats' electoral victory for the clean tech industry? That probably won't become clear for a few more months. In the meantime, Red Herring, one of my favorite technology magazines, just published this short piece on the topic: "U.S. election a mixed bag for Cleantech". The early conclusion of industry insiders interviewed for the article is the same as ours - namely that the defeat of Proposition 87 won't be a signficant event in the long-run...and that the future looks overall bright. Happy reading!

Energy in the Great Depression

Energy in the Great Depression Eamon Keane With the focus on the size of the ECB's balance sheet and eurozone bond auctions, it can be difficult to see the big picture of where this is going. Concerns about oil and climate change have taken a backseat to the foreboding sense of doom. To see the implications for energy it requires a look at the direction of the financial system. In recent times every 40 years or so there has been an upheaval in the monetary system, as Philip Coggan explains in his excellent...

The Truth Ain’t That Incovinient Anymore, So What’s Next?

I attended Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth lecture in Toronto tonight. I assume many of you have seen the movie so I'm not going to go into the details of the presentation, which is essentially the same as the movie give-or-take a couple of slides. Instead, I'm going to share with you some of the thoughts I had as I was listening to the former VP. Firstly, I bought this whole climate change thing a long time ago and I've seen the movie, so substantively I got very little out of this. As with the movie, I...

2012 Energy Stock Predictions

By Jeff Siegel Domestic Oil to Reign in 2012 Last December, I made three predictions for 2011: The mounting solar glut problem would be rectified by the end of the year; Domestic oil and gas production would increase significantly, regardless of environmental concerns related to fracking and tar sands production; and With the introduction of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF, domestic sales of electric cars would reach no less than 10,000 units. Well, two out of three ain't bad! A Sad Season for Solar Toward the end of 2010,...

What has Changed in the Alternative Energy Investment Landscape?

Is the time right to invest in alternative energy? We’ve seen a lot of this before in the 1970s and 1980s. Solar and biomass hot, big regulatory pushes, and then companies and investors lost a lot of money when things changed. We’re still a bit skeptical. We’re also all about not getting pulled in to each and every overpriced hype (read, the ethanol race) – but fundamentals are fundamentals. And they’re hard to ignore and pretty darn impressive. We think the real question today is not “are alternatives a good investment?��?, but “which ones have legs and make a...

Climate Change & Corporate Disclosure: Should Investors Care?

Charles Morand On Monday morning, I received an e-copy of a new research note by BofA Merrill Lynch arguing that disclosure by publicly-listed companies on the issue of climate change was becoming increasingly "important". The note claimed: "e believe smart investors and companies will recognize the edge they can gain by understanding low carbon trends." I couldn't agree more with that statement. It was no coincidence that on that same day the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit UK-based organization that surveys public companies each year on the state of their climate change awareness, was...

What Obama Did To Coal Investors, What The Next President Might, And How Investors...

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Investing in the past is a good way to lose money.  Just ask anyone who has been investing in coal stocks since Obama we re-elected. A glance at the chart above shows that the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (KOL) is down about 50% over the last four years, even while the broad market (as represented by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)) has gained almost 50%.  But even if we knew this was going to happen, should investors have rushed into the energy sectors most loved by liberals: That is, Wind, Solar,...

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...

Introduction to Investing in Renewable Energy

UPDATE 3/4/2011: An up-to date article on selecting green mutual funds and ETFs can be found here. Why Invest in Renewable Energy? Given all the attention that renewable energy is getting in the news over the last couple years, investing in renewable energy has become a hot topic.  People are drawn to renewable energy for one of several reasons: To fight Global Warming To prepare for Peak Oil. To improve Energy Security and local economies. To cash in on the above trends. The beauty of investing in renewable energy companies is that these goals are not...

Investing For The Anthropocene

by Garvin Jabusch Jack Bogle is flat wrong. I mean, within his worldview and that of Modern Portfolio Theory, he’s right, but in the Anthropocene, he’s wrong. Bogle, founder and retired CEO of the Vanguard Group, is known for championing the superiority of low-fee index funds. His firm’s largest product, the $155 billion Vanguard 500 Index Fund is the perfect poster child for his philosophy. It closely tracks the S&P 500 Index of America’s largest companies, and it has a fee of only 0.06% inclusive. The S&P 500 has performed better than most actively managed portfolios over time, so...

A Few Dividend Paying Alt Energy Stocks

As I've discussed previously, things haven't been easy of late for alt energy stocks, especially those of the pure-play kind. A few days ago, I was asked which, if any, alt energy stocks I could recommend in this environment. My answer was: none. While people continue to go on television claiming that alt energy's problem has to do with falling oil prices, in my view the real risk at the moment has do with financing - financing for the companies producing the technologies and financing for their customers. The two business models are simultaneously under attack: for...

The Renewable IPO

By Greg Pfahl Renewable IPOs in 2010 2010 proved to be a much better year for the initial public offering and renewable energy companies, perhaps surprisingly, saw their share of activity. In 2010 there were more than double the number of initial public offerings than in 2009, and we also saw a significant increase in secondary offerings as well. Worldwide public investment in renewable energy increased 21 percent last year, with China representing 20 percent of the 2010 market, according to VB/Research of London. The REW 40 Index is up 15 percent over the...

Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) Tax Equity Conference Brief

I recently attended the Solar Energy Industry Association's (SEIA) Finance and Tax Seminar in New York. The subject matter in this event delved into issues related to tax equity finance.  Each panel session was moderated by a tax attorney or an accountant, and most of the content of the sessions consisted of technical tax law. To place the discipline into context, one speaker noted that the tax equity renewables investing deal volume in 2018 was $2-3B for solar and $9B for wind, and the number of tax equity participants is roughly only 25-35 large corporations.  So unless there are changes...

Renewable Energy Stocks By Dollars Per Watt

Tom Konrad CFA Disclosure: I and my clients own HASI and BEP. I have short call positions in NYLD and PEGI, and short put positions in PEGI. Dollars per watt ($/W) is a lousy measure of the economics of solar, but it persists. Most likely, it persists because it seems familiar.  We can pay $4 for a watt of solar, or $4 for a Iced Hazelnut Macchiato at Starbucks.  Unfortunately, while the analogy may seem apt, this is a lot like knowing you’re getting a Macchiato without knowing if it’s a Tall, Grande, or Venti.  The actual energy production from a...

Will Rare Earths Cripple the Green Economy? Part 3

Eamon Keane This is Part Three 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. There have been several forecasts made for future demand. Approximate data was derived from Byron Capital Market’s own estimate and the data contained in Oakdene Hollins’ May 2010 report “Lanthanide Resources and Alternatives” for others . Figure...
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