Giant Appeals Court Victory For Biofuels

Jim Lane As DuPont’s (DD) Jan Koninckx put it in his understated way, July 28th was “a good day for biofuels.” But it was the biggest victory in the courts for biofuels, ever. Specifically, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Americans for Clean Energy and other renewable fuels advocates, agreeing with the petitioners that the Environmental Protection Agency erred in how it interpreted and used the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver in the Renewable Fuel Standard law in setting low renewable fuel volumes for 2014-2016. In Americans for Clean Energy et al v. Environmental Protection...

Tetra Tech’s Two-Penny Disappointment

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Tetra Tech’s (TTEK:  NASDAQ) quarter earnings report last week was met with high drama as traders reacted with surprisingly vehement disappointment over the recent financial performance of the engineering and technology business.   The company’s stock price gapped down in the first day of trading following the announcement, falling through a significant line of price support.   The shares continued to fall and finished the week at a price not seen since mid-April 2017 before the stock began its recent drive higher. The drama unfolded after Tetra Tech reported net earnings of $0.52 per share on $498 million in total...

Can Investors Recover Faith In Energy Recovery?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Despite reporting the highest gross profit margin in Energy Recovery's (ERII:  Nasdaq) history, investors were sorely disappointed with financial results in the Company’s second quarter ending June 2017.  On the first day of trading following the earnings release the share price gapped downward and closed even lower under above average trading volume.  This is likely because there was some expectation that Energy Recovery could finally report a net profit in the quarter as sales of the Company’s flagship PX Pressure Exchanger to the desalination market had appeared to pick up in recent months.  Unfortunately the Company reported...

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2017: Summer Harvest

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Colossal Fossil Failure With a president actively hostile towards renewable energy and focused on promoting fossil fuels, it would be easy to think that clean energy stocks would underperform their fossil cousins.  The exact opposite has been true.  Despite the administrations' efforts and tweets bragging about new highs for the Dow, energy funds are down over 10% for the year.  For example, the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE), largely composed of oil and gas companies, is down 13% for the year.  The tiny coal sector did better, with the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF up 18%. Even so, Trump's...

How Much Could Another Yieldco Pay For 8point3?

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA When SunPower (SPWR) and First Solar's (FSLR) YieldCo, 8point3 Energy Partners (CAFD), went public two years ago, I used the financial nerd joke in 8point3's ticker symbol as a launching point to explain what "cash available for distribution," or CAFD, means. In that article, I cautioned against the risks of using a short-term cash flow measure for long-term investing decisions. That risk is becoming more and more real for investors in 8point3 because the YieldCo is using  short-term, interest-only financing to fund its long-term investments. All of 8point3's debt matures in 2020, and refinancing that debt will...

Corbion Bids To Acquire TerraVia

Corbion Bids To Acquire TerraVia In California, Corbion has made a $20M stalking horse stock and asset purchase bid for TerraVia (TRVA). The purchase agreement provides TerraVia with a binding bid of $20 million in cash along with the assumption of certain liabilities, which is subject to higher or otherwise better offers. As part of the transaction, Corbion will be assuming the ongoing financial obligations of the business and its joint venture ownership, therefore the total financial commitment is expected to be in excess of the cash purchase price. Through this proposed transaction, TerraVia employees, who bring with them a wide...

Solid Play in Solid Waste

by Debra Fiakas CFA The last article “Advanced Disposal Services:  Hauling a Heavy Load” on July 18th inspired a closer look at the solid waste management sector in which it competes.   The solid waste industry is growing at a good pace between 1.6% and 2.0% per year, largely on population growth and the human penchant for consumption and waste.  In the U.S. solid waste collection is still populated by many localized, family-owned businesses, despite the emergence of several large consolidators that now command as much as 55% of the revenue in waste handling and disposal.  Fragmentation creates...

REX American: Culturally Frugal

by Debra Fiakas CFA Among the surviving public ethanol producers in the U.S. is REX American Resources (REX:  NYSE).  Based in Ohio, REX American is an ethanol fuel producer with owned nameplate capacity near 215 million gallons per year.  Additionally, the company distributes by-products of the ethanol production process, including distiller grains and non-food grade corn oil.  REX has full or partial ownership in six ethanol production plants located in the Ohio, South Dakota, Illinois and Minnesota. The company relies on corn feed stock for its dry milling ethanol production process.  Like any other ethanol...

Recycler Priced for Recovery

by Debra Fiakas CFA Shares of Appliance Recycling Centers of American (ARCI:  Nasdaq) has trended downward over the last year, despite some strong fundamental progress in the company’s position the recycling sector.  The corporate name tells at least part of the company’s story.  Besides recycling appliances such as washers, dryers and refridgerators, ARC also sells new and like-new appliances right out of the box.  The company has eighteen stores branded ApplianceSmart across the country.  Services to electric utilities and other energy companies related to energy efficiency programs provide yet another revenue source. In the twelve months...

Oh, No! Renewable Energy Group CEO Departs

Oh, No! Renewable Energy Group CEO Departs Intirim CEO plans no strategy change Jim Lane In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REGI) announced that Dan Oh has resigned as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors. The resignation was effective July 3, 2017. The Board of Directors appointed long-time director Randolph (Randy) L. Howard as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Howard is a 33-year veteran of Unocal, has been on the REG board since 2007 so, a familiar face at 67, may not be in the...

The New US Solar Trade Dispute

by Paula Mints In 2012 SolarWorld, facing significant price and margin pressure from cells/modules imported from China, filed trade petitions in Europe and the US under section 337 of the 1930 Trade Act. As a refresher on the Trade Act of 1930; this was the infamous Smoot-Hawley Act which began as a protection for farmers but after much debate fed by many special interests it was eventually attached to a wide variety of imports (~900). Other countries retaliated with their own tariffs. The US trade deficit ballooned. Smoot-Hawley did not push the world into the Great Depression...

Stock Picks for US Energy Dominance

Tom Konrad, Ph.D. CFA Thursday night (Friday morning in Sinapore) CNBC Asia's Street Signs program must have had an interview cancellation, because they needed someone to give them 3 energy stock picks in response the Trump's "Energy Dominance" speech on last minute notice.  They sent me (and probably a bunch of other people) an email two and a half hours before air.  I did not see it until 20 minutes before the actual interview.  I warned them that I do clean energy, not fossil fuels, but apparently they had no other takers who were awake and able to...

Power REIT: No News Is Good News

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA I first wrote about Power REIT (NYSE MKT:PW) in 2012, when the tiny real estate investment trust unveiled its plans to become what would have been the first Yieldco by investing in the land underlying solar and wind farms... before the term 'Yieldco' had even been invented.  In the years since, the company made some progress buying land under solar farms.  According to the most recent shareholder presentation, they now own land under seven solar farms totaling 601 acres and 108 MW, in addition to their legacy railroad asset.  These assets produce...

China Everbright Greentech

by Debra Fiakas CFA Investors based in the U.S. need to look far and wide for new stock issues from renewable energy companies.  Capital markets activity has slowed in the last couple of years, in part to due to their own success.  In reaching new efficiency in energy production, renewable energy companies are generating their own internal capital and are not as dependent upon the capital markets.  The Hong Kong market has come to the rescue of U.S. investors with a ‘green’ offering China Everbright Greentech Ltd. is now trading on the Hong Kong Exchange with the...

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...

Electrovaya’s Battery Bargain

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week management of Electrovaya Inc. (EFL: TSX; EFLVF:  OTC/QB) were forced to issue a statement stating there were no fundamental developments to explain a dramatic decline in its share price.  The stock was trimmed back by 30% in two days under exceptional trading volume.  Electrovaya has developed proprietary lithium ion polymer batteries for grid storage and transportation applications.  Other than financial results for the quarter ending March 2017, the Company has had little to tell investors about the batteries, its customers or any other topic. Electrovaya distinguishes its lithium ion batteries among...