Should I Sell My Mutual Fund To Go Solar?

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA An enthusiastic solar volunteer recently asked me: “What can I invest in to prepare for the next financial crisis?” The situation made the question deeply ironic. The woman asking me was trying to help people invest in solar systems through Solarize, a nonprofit, community-sponsored group buying and discount program. Our town of Marbletown, New York and the neighboring towns of Rochester and Olive have just launched Solarize Rondout Valley, a campaign open to residential and commercial building owners in Ulster County. Solarize campaigns are designed to make it easier and cheaper...

The Problem With Proxy Ballots

Vote With Money Instead by Garvin Jabusch Many people assume that engagement with public companies through proxy voting and resolution filing is the best  if not only  way to see positive environmental, social, and governance outcomes from your investments. For me, this approach misses a fundamental point of market-based solutions: you make in investments in the most compelling ideas that reflect what you think is likely to grow, where you think the economy is headed, and yes, outcomes you support. That means using investments to favor firms that are already making innovative sustainable contributions to the global economy...

What Good Is Shareholder Advocacy?

By Marc Gunther.  Last week, ExxonMobil added Susan Avery, a physicist, atmospheric scientist and former president of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions, to its board of directors. Shareholder advocates, led by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which has been organizing shareholder campaigns at ExxonMobil for nearly two decades yes, two decades welcomed the appointment. Tim Smith, the director of environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareowner engagement at Walden Asset Management, said in a news release: “This action by the board is encouraging for shareowners and we want to commend Exxon for this prudent and...

The Trump Trade

by Garvin Jabusch The first two weeks under the Trump administration have been a shock to the system. With the change in administration, how will you approach your stock portfolio(s)? For starters, your fundamentals should remain unchanged. For me, that means looking for great companies in expanding markets that are enabling long-term economic growth, and reducing systemic risks. Of course, this also means buying these stocks at low valuations. Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett were right about ‘wonderful companies at fair prices.’ That is never going to change. With that said, let’s look at what has changed and...

An Investor’s Reaction to a Trump Victory

See my response here: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/how-one-clean-energy-investor-is-reacting-to-a-trump-victory Tom Konrad

Your Portfolio is Hooked on Fossil Fuels

Garvin Jabusch Oil addiction photo via BigStock You are drilling for oil and natural gas, and you probably don’t even know it.  What, you say you’ve never been near a drilling rig, and aren’t even sure what one looks like?  You’re still drilling, because companies you own are drilling. Many financial advisors and asset managers routinely assume that broadly diversified stock portfolios will have holdings in fossil fuels companies.  Even most stock mutual funds that identify themselves as ‘green’ funds contain natural gas and even oil holdings. This...

The Catholic Church Shouldn’t be Investing in Abortion Clinics

Tom Konrad CFA Jesus Saves, but where does he invest? Photo via Bigstock. This article is not about the Church, or abortion.  As far as I know, the former does not invest in the latter. This article is about investing, and morality. Since 350.org began its campaign to get endowments and pensions to divest from fossil fuels, I've heard two basic criticisms of the movement from my colleagues in the investment management profession. Endowments selling their fossil fuel investments won't stop us from using fossil...

With the Cleantech Hype Gone, the Real Investment Opportunity Begins

David Gold The bubble has burst. The hype and euphoria of 2008 and 2009 is a distant memory. Fueled in part by the externality of the handouts from the stimulus package, and the (now fleeting) spike of natural gas and oil prices, cleantech has experienced its own mini dotcom era now followed by a dot bomb phase.   The politicization of Solyndra, the fracking revolution (that has dramatically increased U.S. fossil fuel reserves) and the realities of what it takes to build successful cleantech companies have all brought the cleantech venture capital space crashing back to earth....

Six Simple Steps to Protecting Your Portfolio With Puts

Tom Konrad CFA Storm Sailor (Photo credit: Abaconda) Sailing into a Storm Despite the unresolved European debt crisis and America’s fiscal cliff, stock markets remain buoyant.   With politicians bickering, that is mostly due to aggressive action from central banks.  Yet despite the Federal Reserve’s third (and largest) round of quantitative easing (QE3) and the European Central Bank‘s unlimited bond buying program, politicians still have the capacity to throw a monkey wrench in the world economy.  Worse, doing nothing is all they have to do to mess things up.  Doing nothing is what politicians...

The Difference between Reality and Pandering

Garvin Jabusch Innovation and increasing economic efficiency have always been the keys to profits and wealth. Getting more value out of systems without commensurate increases in inputs is the definition of growing efficiency, and it has been the engine of human economies since someone figured out how to use energy from a water wheel to grind grain instead of doing it by hand with a stone bowl and pestle. With that development (to simplify), a couple family members could run the wheel, freeing up everyone else for other pursuits. This kind of gain is the hallmark, to greater and...

Navigating the Clean and Bloody Streets of Europe

Tom Konrad CFA Blood In the Streets Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild Image via Wikipedia Baron Rothschild was an 18th century British nobleman who supposedly originated the phrase "Buy when there's blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own."  Although accounts differ, Rothschild was a successful banker, and supposedly made a fortune buying in the panic that followed the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon. True or not, the...

Money Managers See Value in Clean Energy Sector, but Hesitate to Call the Bottom

Tom Konrad CFA Three green stock specialists see individual stocks at attractive values, but think it's too soon to call the bottom for the sector as a whole. Last month, I wrote that I'm again finding clean energy stocks that I think are bargains, and listed ten.  I was not ready to call a bottom for clean energy, and in fact said I expected the market to get worse before it gets better, so investors should keep some money on the sidelines to wait for more opportunities to emerge. In a little over a month...

An Elephant Hunter Explains Inflection Point Investing

John Petersen In "An Elephant Hunter Explains Market Dynamics" I discussed the two basic types of public companies; earnings-driven companies that are “bought” in top-tier weighing machine markets and event-driven companies that are “sold” in lower-tier voting machine markets. Today I'll get a bit more granular and show how "sold" companies usually fall into one of two discrete sub-classes that have a major impact on their stock market valuations. As a starting point, I'll ignore the China-based companies that are listed in the US because their quirky metrics would only confuse the analysis. Then I'll break...

An Elephant Hunter Explains Market Dynamics

John Petersen Friday afternoon was a strange time for Axion Power International (AXPW.OB). After trading 200,000 shares early in the day, Axion filed $28 million mixed shelf registration with the SEC at about one o'clock and the fly on the wall reported the filing within minutes. It seems that some stockholders were spooked by the news and assumed that Axion would sell stock right away instead of waiting for the fall deal season. Their knee-jerk selling shoved another 1.1 million shares into the market in three hours and made Friday the second heaviest trading day in Axion's history....

The Big Short and Picking a Money Manager

If you're going to have someone else manage your money, consider their incentives carefully. I just finished reading Micheal Lewis's excellent book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine on the Wall Street's role in the subprime mortgage meltdown and the few investors who saw it coming. I began with a low opinion of the effectiveness of the vast majority fund managers and advisors who manage other people's money for a living, but the the highly-paid gross negligence and/or incompetence of the people running the CDO operations of the big Wall Street banks in the years leading...

My #1 Rule of Investing

Tom Konrad CFA Rules of Investing Warren Buffett says "The first rule of Investing is don't lose money; the second rule is don't forget rule #1." Jim Hansen at Ravenna Capital Management and publisher of the Master Resource Report about oil and other energy news has a "prime directive" (a la Star Trek) about oil prognostication which is "never predict prices." These rules have to be taken metaphorically, not literally.  Buffett's rule is too general to be useful.  I take his message to mean that care to avoid losses is more effective than...