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...

A Clean Energy Inflection Point in 2013? The Best ETF to Play the Trend

Tom Konrad In 2007, it seemed like clean energy was finally becoming mainstream.  Both candidates for the US Presidency accepted the need to act on global warming, even if they did not agree on the degree, and clean energy stocks were rising even faster than the broad stock market. Then came the 2008 financial crisis, and many Americans discovered they had much more immediate worries than the slow but inexorable warming of the planet.  Fossil fuel interests and the politicians who benefited from their donations  played to the new mood by providing a worried populace with the excuse they wanted...

Is the New Smart Grid ETF GRID All That Smart?

Tom Konrad, CFA First Trust Launched a Grid Infrastructure Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) on November 17th.  Although the First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Smart Grid Infrastructure Index Fund (Nasdaq: GRID) is labeled a "Smart Grid" ETF to capture popular excitement around smart grid technology, it covers the whole grid infrastructure sector.  This broader focus is good for clean energy investors. I've been an advocate of investing in electric transmission and smart gird stocks since early 2007, and for almost a year now, a regular reader has been telling me to create a transmission ETF so he can buy...

The Very Quick Guide To A Green Portfolio

Tom Konrad CFA For many, the decision to get out of fossil fuels is an easy one.  It may be because it's the right thing to do, or because we see the risks of investing in businesses built around an unsustainable economic paradigm.  This article is not about that decision; it's about what to do next. The Green Portfolio: What And Why To a lesser extent, it also depends on what we mean when we say "green."  For simplicity, this article will focus on making your portfolio Fossil Fuel Free (FFF), meaning that the portfolio should...

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...

Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs Go In All Driections

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Funds, Solid Long-Term Gains Returns for alternative energy mutual funds are virtually flat on average for the past three months, down slightly at a loss of 0.3%. The best short-term performer is Pax World Global Environmental Markets (PGRNX), up 2.1%… Over the longer term, returns for alternative energy mutual funds remain very strong. MFs are up 14.7% on average, with all companies showing double-digit gains on an annualized basis… Returns for ETFs are ranging widely Returns for ETFs are ranging widely, both in the short and long...

Alternative Energy and Climate Change Mutual Funds, Part IV

Tom Konrad CFA Cherry picking the holdings of green energy mutual funds. So far in this series I've concentrated on trying to pick the best of the Alternative Energy and Climate Change Mutual Funds.  This is a difficult task, because while I found in Part III that most of the funds' performance has been better than comparable index ETFs, these mutual funds' costs are quite high, even by the standards of most mutual funds, as I discussed in Part I.  In part II, I tried looking at the sector breakdown of the funds' holdings, to see if...

Did You Just Buy a Sustainable Mutual Fund? No.

Garvin Jabusch Did you just buy a sustainable mutual fund? No. The answer is no because human economies are still so far from real sustainability that even a highly idealized portfolio of our most sustainable enterprises necessarily still falls short. Ultimately, the best any portfolio can do is mirror the reality of the world, and today, still, even the best representatives of sustainability can be found wanting compared to what will be required if we would like to keep society thriving indefinitely. At best, whatever fund you just bought can only be described as, to a greater or lesser...

In Clean Energy, Active Management Pays

Alternative Energy and Climate Change Mutual Funds, Part V Tom Konrad, CFA Actively managed clean energy funds have been producing better returns than index funds, despite much higher expenses. I've long been critical of the costs of Alternative Energy mutual funds, but I now regret that stance.  Past Performance of Mutual Funds When I recently surveyed the performance of Alternative Energy mutual funds, I found the results were pretty good, at least in comparison to the oldest sector index fund, the Powershares Clean Energy Index (PBW).  See the following chart below, which shows...

The Bull Market For Alternative Energy Funds Continues

By Harris Roen Robust Alternative Energy Mutual Fund Returns Alternative energy mutual funds remain a strong investment sector, showing extremely robust returns in June. On average, MFs gained 28.1% for the year, and every fund posted double digit returns. Also without exception, all funds are up for the past three months. More importantly, long-term returns for alternative energy mutual funds have greatly improved in the past year. In June 2013, the average three-year return was 3.0%, with three out of 10 funds showing losses. Green ETFs Increase Gains Green ETFs have significantly...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Cleantech Indexes, Funds and ETFs)

Charles Morand This is the third installment of my review of the book book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World". The second installment covered geothermal power and energy efficiency and the first installment covered wind and solar. This post reviews three interrelated chapters on the world of cleantech and alt energy indices, funds and ETFs. Two of these three chapters are my favorite in the book so far -  they provide very useful information for the novice investor with an interest in alt energy investing but limited time and knowledge for successful stock picking.  Cleantech...

Alternative Energy Mutual Funds Post Stellar Performance, ETFs Variable

By Harris Roen Mutual Funds Alternative energy MFs have had stellar returns in the past three and 12 months, all showing gains in the double digits. ETFs have also done well on average, but returns are much more variable, as detailed below.   Returns remain excellent for alternative energy MFs overall, with annual returns ranging from 54.5% to 15.8%. The average MF is up 31.3% for the year, and not a single fund posted a loss in the past 12 months. Three-month and one-month returns also look goodeven the funds that did not make...

Alternative Energy Funds: 2014 Review

By Harris Roen Mutual Funds (MFs) Falling fossil fuel prices have hampered 2014 returns for alternative energy mutual funds. Returns are slightly down on average for the past three-month, with a third of funds showing losses. Monthly gains fared worse, with only 2 out of 14 funds in the black. One-year returns are flat on average, and range from a high of 8.3% for Gabelli SRI Green AAA (SRIGX), to a low of -14.3% for Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX)…   Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) Alternative energy ETFs had a wide range of returns for 2014,...

Do Falling Alternative Energy Funds Returns Signal Danger?

By Harris Roen Green Mutual Fund Returns Falter Returns for green mutual funds have slid as of late. Longer term, however, alternative energy MFs are still showing strong gains. All MFs are in positive territory for the past 12 months, and 6 out of 14 funds are up double digits. Three year returns have faired even better, showing an annualized return of 14.3% on average. Short term, however, almost all the funds have given up a significant amount of their recent gains. For example, Firsthand Alternative Energy (ALTEX), the MF with the best one-year returns, gave up...

Alt Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs Shine, But Risk Remains

By Harris Roen Mutual Funds (MFs) All of the alternative energy MFs were up handsomely in the past three months. The biggest gainer was Firsthand Alternative Energy (ALTEX), up 27.3% for the quarter, which also moved ahead in its ranking. Even the lowest three-month gainer, Brown Advisory Winslow Sustainability Fund (BAWAX), was up an impressive 9.2%. One-year returns were more variable, ranging from a gain of 18.0% for AWATX, to a loss of 11.7% for ALTEX. This has much to do with the solar holdings in these funds. For example, companies in ALTEX...

A Diamond In The Mutual Fund Rough

The credit crisis and ensuing collapse in equity markets hasn't been especially good for the mutual fund industry (especially of the equity type). Over the weekend, I ran a search on Morningstar's Fund Quickrank using "U.S. Stocks Funds" as a category and "Total return %: 1 Year" as a ranking field. The top-five ranked funds (as at March 20, 2009) and their performances are outlined in the table below, excluding fees. The group average, containing 9,978 funds, is -40.43%.   Fund Name Ticker 1-Yr Total Return (%) Gabelli ABC GABCX -1.52 ...