Down and Out in 2011: Headlines from Possible Futures

Tom Konrad, CFA If you don't know what could go wrong in 2010, it could still hurt your portfolio. In Nassim Taleb's Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, he describes an exercise at one of his early jobs.  In order to become aware of risks they otherwise might have overlooked, they were to assume that they would lose all the money under their management in the coming year, and they work backwards to figure out how that might have happened. This struck me as an excellent idea, which investors...
climate change in plain sight

Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight

Information asymmetry, climate investing and the active management edge. By Garvin Jabusch The theory of efficient markets says all stock prices are perpetually accurate, because investors always have complete and up-to-date information about their holdings. But as any casual observer knows, information and topical awareness are not evenly distributed, even among professional analysts. Reality is always far more complicated than equity markets can quickly assimilate, meaning information asymmetry is a constant. While usually considered a type of market failure, information asymmetry is frequently used as a “source of competitive advantage.” The person with the most information is best equipped to make the best...

The Short Side of Clean Energy

Green Energy Investing For Experts, Part I Tom Konrad, CFA You don't have to be long Renewable Energy stocks to have a green portfolio.  Shorting, selling calls, or buying puts on companies and industries which are heavily dependent on dirty and finite fossil fuels not only makes a portfolio greener, it can protect against the effects of a permanent global decline caused by peak oil. Nate Hagens presented this slide at the 2009 International Peak Oil Conference:   It shows his conception of the different schools of thought among those of us who understand peak oil.  Those represented in...

A Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio

Yesterday, I outlined a strategy to approximately replicate the performance of a Clean Energy mutual fund at much lower cost, with only a couple hours of effort.  I gave a cost example based on $5000 invested in 5 stocks, with another $1000 worth of a single stock added in each subsequent year.   This is the procedure I would use to select the initial five stocks. Collect all the top five or ten holdings of the available Clean Energy mutual funds.  This data is available from Morningstar, and on fund sponsor's home pages. A few of these holdings may...

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.)   ...

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...

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...

A Year Later: Market Up, Clean Energy Down

Tom Konrad, CFA When I called the peak a year ago, it was too soon for the broad market, but not for clean energy stocks.  I think both have room to fall, but clean energy may bottom first.  Almost a year ago at the start of June, I wrote saying "we're near the peak" of the stock market.  I was too early, and admitted it in August.  But I also said that it was a bad time to be in the market: the risks of a decline far outweighed the potential gains of remaining in an...
Weather Risk Managment: Solar Put

How Weather Risk Transfer Can Help Wind & Solar Development

by Daryl Roberts The Need To Accelerate Renewables Adoption Renewables are growing rapidly as a percentage of new electric generation, but are still being assimilated too slowly and still constitute too small of a fraction of total generation, to be able to transition quickly enough to scale into a low carbon economy in time to mitigate climate change. The issue of providing public support, with subsidies and other reallocation methods, is a politically charged subject. High carbon advocates, for example American Petroleum Institute, argues that support for renewables distorts the market. On the other hand, it has been argued, for example by...
active vs passive investing

Permaculture Design and Stock Market Investing

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Passive Investing And Modern Agriculture: Parallels Today's stock market is a dynamic and scary place. Once choosing stocks to invest in based on the fundamental value of the companies they represent (called fundamental or value investing) was the dominant paradigm for investors.  No longer.  In 2017, JP Morgan estimated that only 10 percent of trading came from fundamental investors. The vast majority of trading now comes from computer based algorithmic trading, and passive investors following pre-defined rules, such as index investors.  According to Morningstar, nearly 45 percent of all stocks are owned by passive investors.  These should...

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...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners: How Many Stocks Should You Own?

Tom Konrad, CFA In stock portfolios, deciding how many stocks to own involves weighing a trade off.   A smaller portfolio can be built (and sold) with fewer commissions, and also requires less time to research.  On the other hand, a portfolio with fewer stocks will gain fewer benefits of diversification, and likely be both more volatile and harder to sell in a crisis.  These trade offs are also affected by the size of the portfolio, and the market capitalization and liquidity of the companies in the portfolio. Diversification is widely accepted as a nearly costless way to reduce...

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...

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...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part II: How Much To Invest

Tom Konrad, CFA In Green Energy Investing for Beginners, Part I, gave information to guide the choice of green investment vehicles (mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks.) This article is intended to help investors decide how much of their money to put into those vehicles. An informed decision of how much to invest in green energy is at least as important as how you make the investment.  The choice between green Exhange Traded Funds (ETFs) and green Mutual funds rests on a difference of about one percent per year, caused by differences in fees.  Yet in the first three quarters...

Green Energy Investing for Experts, Index and Wrap-Up

Tom Konrad, CFA My Green Energy Investing for Experts series looked at ways shorting could both protect your portfolio against market decline, and make it greener by shorting decidedly non-green companies.  This is an index of the entries, plus one more industry for you to consider. Green Energy Investing for Experts, Part I made the case that shorting stocks that are particularly vulnerable to peak oil or climate change is a good way to hedge a portfolio of green stocks against a market decline while making the whole portfolio greener. Green Energy Investing for Experts, Part II looked at...