Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part I: Stocks, Mutual Funds, or ETFs

Tom Konrad CFA Investing in green energy can be good for both the climate and your wallet.  How good depends on choosing the right investment vehicles (mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks) and sectors to invest in. This will get you started. More and more investors are investing in green energy.  According to the Cleantech Group, the Cleantech sector is now the largest sector for venture capital investment.   Green Energy is not just for venture capitalists.  Small investors have done well in 2009.  Since the market bottomed at the start of March, the average green energy mutual fund topped...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part III: Before You Invest

Tom Konrad, CFA Before you consider green stock market investments, invest in yourself. A reader of my article on asset allocation for green energy investors brought up an important point: we may have green opportunities in our own lives, such as improving the energy efficiency of our homes, which will return much safer and higher returns than green stocks, especially when the market as a whole is as overvalued as I currently believe it is. Homeowners typically have a large number of high-return energy efficiency investments they can make.  Since energy efficiency reduces energy use, it both produces returns...

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...

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...

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...

Why Do Green Energy Experts Buy Solar Stocks? 

Tom Konrad CFA Green energy experts accept that solar panels are one of the least cost effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.  Nevertheless, many buy solar stocks.  They should rethink their investment strategies. I recently spoke on "Stock Selection in the Era of Peak Oil and Climate Change" at the ASPO 2009 International Peak Oil Conference.  Whenever green energy enthusiasts find out that I analyze green energy stocks professionally, they react in one of two ways.  Many want to know my top stock pick in general (New Flyer Industries NFI-UN.TO/NFYIF.PK) or in their favorite sector (see below.)   ...

When to Sell: Five Rules of Thumb

A common complaint about investment writers is that we are always willing to tell you the next stock to buy, but we don't always get around to telling you when to sell.  I'm as guilty of this as most: generally, I write about the stocks I'm interested in... which are the ones I'm buying, not selling.  And, although I write the occasional negative article (Petrosun Drilling most recently, but also US Sustainable Energy and Global Resource Corporation), these were more stocks to avoid, rather than stocks which had seen their run. This is unlikely to change.  For a start,...

Preparing for Catastrophe: Is your global warming portfolio ready for rising sea levels?

A Worse-Case Scenario I believe that a large part of global warming denial is fear: fear that if we acknowledge that global warming is happening, we will be morally obligated to do something about it, and that the problem is too large for us to do anything effective.  I also believe that denying the problem is certain to render us all ineffective in dealing with it. But getting over our global warming denial is not the only obstacle in our way to dealing with it.  Global warming is already happening, and  future temperature rises are already inevitable given the...

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...

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....

Asking the Right Questions: Why Invest in Clean Energy?

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Often, knowing more about a company is less useful than knowing just a few of the right things.  Knowing the right questions to ask can help investors wade through a sea of mostly irrelevant information. Take a moment to answer the following poll: Suppose you want to know if fictional solar Company MySolar will outperform other solar stocks. Which fact would be most useful in your decision?(poll) The key to this question was the stated goal of "outperforming other solar stocks."  An investor who is only hoping to achieve returns equal...

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...

The Black Swan and My Hedging Strategy

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable changed the way I trade; I can't give a book higher praise.  This isn't a book review; since the book is over two years old, and I did not get around to reading it until this Spring, I direct readers to this Foolish Book Review, which agrees with my viewpoint quite well, and to the New York Times for a detailed critique.  The latter seemed overly nit-picky to me, but then I'm a fan. Human Biases Recently,...

Five Hedging Strategies for Stock Pickers

Investors who feel the market is overvalued have two options: move into other asset classes (cash, bonds), or hedge their market exposure.  Hedging your exposure does not have to be rocket science, but it does require diligent attention to the market and your portfolio.  I recently discussed how it makes sense to be out of the market if you expect that there is a good chance of a large decline, even if that means there is as much of a chance of missing a large upswing as there is a large decline. In my estimation, this is one of...

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...

Better, or Beta?

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA My Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio has produced unexpected out-performance.  Is it because of high beta (β) in a rising market? I recently asked why two portfolios which I had designed to track green energy mutual funds ended up out-performing them by a wide margin.   This is the first of a short series of articles looking into possible causes.  Could the portfolios be outperforming because the stocks they contain rise more when the market rises (and fall more when the market falls) than do the mutual funds they were designed to track?  In...