Green Energy ETFs Compared

UPDATE 3/4/2011: An up-to date article on selecting green mutual funds and ETFs can be found here. Green energy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are the simplest way to invest in the sector at reasonable expense.  Here is what you need to know to choose. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Why ETFs? Investors interested in a simple way to invest in a diverse basket of renewable energy and energy efficiency companies should consider Exchange Traded Funds (a.k.a. ETFs) first.  Although green energy mutual funds will be more familiar to many investors, they come with costs that are difficult to justify...

Alternative Energy Mutual Fund and ETF Year End Update

By Harris Roen Alternative energy investing was very profitable in 2013. This article reviews how green mutual funds and ETFs performed in 2013, what stocks were most favored by these funds, and forecasts where funds should go in 2014 and beyond. Alternative Energy Fund Returns 2013 has been the year of the comeback for alternative energy mutual funds and ETFs. As of close last week, green mutual funds are up 37% on average. Without exception, not one of the 13 mutual funds ended down for the year. ETFs did even better on average, up 43%, with 14...

Carbon ETFs/ETNs: Playing Copenhagen

Charles Morand At $126 billion transacted in 2008, up from $11 billion in 2005, the global carbon market is the fastest growing commodities market in the world and, provided that an agreement is reached at the COP15 conference in Copenhagen and that the US adopts a cap-and-trade program, this growth could go on for several more years. Yet this is a market that remains comparatively unknown for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the rules surrounding it are very complex. Unlike other commodities, to successfully invest directly in...
do well do good card

Are Aspiration’s Deposits Really Fossil Fuel Free?

Fossil Fuel Free Claims If you are reading this, you've probably also seen advertisements for Aspriation's “Fee-free and fossil fuel free” banking services. Like the advertisements the company's product page encourages visitors to “Earn high interest on what you save with an account that is fee-free and fossil fuel free.“ As a professional green money manager, I know that “fossil fuel free” is in the eye of the beholder. For many mutual funds, “fossil fuel free” simply means avoiding the 200 largest fossil fuel companies, but investing in the 201st largest fossil fuel company, even if its primary business is mining...

Green Mutual Funds and ETFs Show Signs of Life in 2015

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Fund Recovering Alternative energy mutual funds are continuing to recover from a slump which started in fall 2014. Annual returns range greatly, though, from a high of 15.6% for Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth (BIAWX), to a low of -15.8% for Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX). The large 12-month drop by GAAEX was precipitated by painful losses in some of its top weighted holdings… Alternative Energy ETFs Remain Volitile Green ETFs are showing a wide variety of returns, reflecting the volatility of the renewable energy sector....

A Better Way to Play Green Stocks?

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA My Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio continues to outperform all benchmarks and expectations... is it luck, or did I stumble onto a better way to invest in green energy stocks? I continue to be stunned at how the portfolio which I intended as an easy way to duplicate green energy mutual fund performance at much lower cost continues to blow those green mutual funds out of the water.  I last published an update on this portfolio at the end of May, and was shocked to find that it had beaten the funds it was...

A Buying Opportunity for Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs?

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Funds Trade Down for the Year Alternative energy mutual funds have taken a hit, down 6.5% on average over the past 12 months. Just three of the 15 mutual funds we track are up for the year. The largest gainer, Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Inv (BIAWX), is only up an anemic 6.2%. Much of the difficulty is due to a drop in solar stocks over the past 12 months. For example, if you look at the top weighted holdings of Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX), nine out of 15...

Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs Returns Flatten

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Fund Returns Alternative energy mutual funds have given back some of the gains they have enjoyed since the beginning of the year, though they are still up almost 20% on average. All MFs are in positive territory, with annual returns ranging from 9.8% to 40.9%. MFs are also up nicely for the week and month, but on average are down slightly in the past three months. These returns are very different than those of just five months ago, when alternative energy MFs were doing almost twice as well… ...

2015: a Mixed Year for Alternative Energy Funds

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Funds Trade Flat for the Year Alternative energy mutual funds followed the overall stock market this year, closing about flat on average for 2015. The story gets more interesting, though, when you look at gains in the last quarter. Sectors such as solar and wind took a big hit by September, but then rebounded handsomely before years end. Green MFs were up 7% on average for the past three months, with 14 out of the 15 funds trading in the black…   ETFs are Widely Lower 2015 was a year...

Should “Green” Funds Invest in Fossil Fuels?

Marc Gunther Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking Rolling Stone story (Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math) and 350.org’s “Do the Math” divestment campaign raise important and difficult questions about fossil fuels. One that is starting to roil the world of socially-responsibly investing is this: How should mutual funds that strive to be “green” or “sustainable” or “socially responsible” deal with the fossil fuel companies in their portfolios? Should they divest, as McKibben argues? That was the topic of a column I wrote last week for the Guardian Sustainable Business, which generated some noteworthy responses. It’s part of the British newspaper...

Strong Returns Continue for Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Fund Returns Alternative energy mutual funds have posted extremely strong returns across the board. Gains have shown a wide breadth, with all MFs up for the last 12-month and 3-month periods. In the past year, all funds are up double digits. A new fund has been added to our tracking system, Calvert Green Bond A (CGAFX). This fund started trading in November 2013, and is the first green open end bond fund designed for retail investors. CGAFX focuses at least 80% of its assets on “…opportunities related to climate change...

Alternative Energy and Climate Change Mutual Funds, Part III

Tom Konrad CFA Past performance of green energy mutual funds. In part I of this series, I looked at the full costs of alternative energy and climate change mutual funds.  I concluded that they were quite expensive, ranging from over 2% per year, to almost 6%.  In a stock market that has historically produced returns of about 10.5% per year, but has been flat for the last decade, even 2.5% in expenses per year would have resuted in a substantial loss of value.  In order to make up for the drag on returns, these mutual funds will...

How the Gabelli Green Growth Fund Got Its Five Stars

Tom Konrad, CFA An interview with John Segrich, CFA, portfolio manager at the the Gabelli Green Growth Fund (SRIGX). When I did my recent past performance comparison of clean energy mutual funds, I found that the Gabelli Green Growth Fund (SRIGX and SRICX) beat all its rivals by a long shot over the last three years, earning a coveted five-star rating from Morningstar.  In general, I'm a skeptic about short-term past performance: If you look at enough funds, sooner or later you'll find one that has had great performance by sheer luck.  Even when a few years'...

Can Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs Continue to Beat the Market?

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Fund Returns Alternative energy mutual funds have proven to be an excellent investment over the past year or more, but those gains have flattened out as of late. MFs are up 33% on average with even the lowest returning fund, Gabelli SRI Green AAA (SRIGX), up 15% for the year. The alternative energy sector is by far beating the overall market. For comparison, as of April 21 the tech heavy NASDAQ was up around 27% for 12 months, the S&P 500 by 20%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average...

How Green Is Your Mutual Fund?

By Harris Roen Not all alternative energy mutual funds are created equal. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, a reporter asked me which alternative energy mutual funds were the most focused on renewables, noting that many mutual funds hold non-energy related companies such as Apple, PepsiCo and Google. The answer to this question is not as straight forward as one might think. This article sorts out which mutual funds are truly invested in the dynamic and growing green energy sector, and which ones are more peripheral.   Greener Than Thou–Revealing How Much...

Alternative Energy and Climate Change Mutual Funds, Part I

Tom Konrad CFA Understanding the costs of green energy mutual funds. It's been a bit over a year since I last looked at the mutual funds in the Clean Energy sector.  Each year, I comb through their  portfolios for new ideas on where to invest my own funds and those of my green-minded clients, with the added bonus of being able to help readers make better decisions about which fund, if any, is right for them. This year, I looked at the eight mutual funds from AltEnergyStocks' green mutual fund list.  In order of fund size,...