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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Green Energy Investing for Beginners: A Small Investor’s Perspective

This is a guest post by Brad Wright, who felt that my "Beginners" series was a too high level to really live up to the name.  He's probably right about that, so here is his effort to bring it down to basics for the small Canadian investor.  The links and section headers are mine.   Tom Konrad. Motivation The goal of this article is to assist with your future investments by explaining investment options, how they work and potential alternatives that may be of interest to you. The take away I’m looking for is with a little research you can...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part IV: Model Portfolio

Tom Konrad, CFA My target sector allocation for Green Energy Sectors: How much to put in Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass, Biofuels, Energy Efficiency, Alternative Transport, and enabling technologies such as Smart Grid and Transmission. In Part I of this series on green energy investing (see also Part II and Part III), I suggested readers "structure your portfolio to reflect the technologies which are actually going to make a difference."  This is not the same as investing in a market portfolio, because the market tends to overemphasize the most exciting or familiar (as opposed to the most useful) technologies.  This...

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...

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 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...

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.)   ...

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...