Lime Energy, or Lemon Energy?

Tom Konrad CFA Last week, when Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) announced that an internal investigation by its audit committee had revealed up to $15 million in misreported revenue, my first instinct was to sell, especially because the misreported revenue included not only revenue assigned to the wrong period, but possibly completely fictitious revenue.  Whenever a company reveals accounting problems, it's bad.  But there are levels of bad. As Garvin Jabusch, Cofounder and CIO of Green Alpha Advisors and manager of the Sierra Club Green Alpha Portfolio put...

Power Plant Costs & The Case For Energy Efficiency

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a presentation that was given by FERC officials on the phenomenon of rapidly rising costs in US power generation (presentation link at the end of this post). The FERC, or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is America's energy watchdog. The presentation begins by noting that across America's major electricity hubs, power prices are up significantly on last year (between 62% in the Midwest and 123% in NYC) and that, unfortunately, this probably isn't an anomaly. In fact, the presentation argues, there may be something secular at play. Two main trends are noted....

Energy Recovery Recovers Its Own Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Energy Recovery (ERII:  Nasdaq) has announced a breakthrough license of its hydraulic fracturing pump to oil and gas patch service provider Schlumberger (SLB:  NYSE).  Called the Vorteq by Energy Recovery, the pump features the company’s core pressure exchange technology, representing an entirely new approach to driving the chemical-laced water producers send deep into the earth to extract oil and gas.  Energy Recovery develops and markets components and equipment for fluid flow and pressure cycles found industrial processes.  Its patented pressure exchange devices are designed to take advantage of energy created in...

LSB Industries And Activist Fund Position Themselves For Board Election

With the resignation of four non-independent directors and reduction in the size of LSB’s board, the company has managed to appear to be making a step towards reform while making it harder for the activist fund to gain influence. Gaining influence in a tightly controlled family firm is never easy. It looks like the task just got significantly harder for Engine Capital in its quest to unlock shareholder value at LSB.

Selling Pressure Comes Off Lime Energy

Tom Konrad CFA When Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) reported accounting problems, including the possibility of fictitious revenue on July 17th, investors abandoned the stock, unwilling to own a company in which they knew the financial statements to be misstated.   Over the next two weeks, Lime found a floor around $0.90 (down from over $2 on July 16th), as those investors who would sell at any price were replaced by those who, like me, feel that $0.90 is less than any reasonable estimate of LIME’s true value even in liquidation. Volume then dried...

The Pros Pick Three Green IT Stocks For 2014

Tom Konrad CFA Green 2014 image via BigStock Being green is not all about wind turbines and solar panels.  In fact, it’s usually greener to be smarter about using what we have than to replace it with something new, no matter how green. My panel of professional green money managers understands this.  When I asked them each for their top three green stock picks for 2014, there were as many picks focused on smarter resource use as there were solar stocks. I recently gave...

Can Rubicon Hire Bring Shine Back To Sapphire?

by Debra Fiakas CFA On Friday Rubicon Technology, Inc. (RBCN:  Nasdaq) announced the appointment of a new chief operating officer to manage the company’s sapphire materials production.  Rubicon is a producer of materials used in electronics components, including the company’s specialty, monocrystalline sapphire materials.   Rubicon chose a seasoned operator for the COO post, which now encompasses functions previously carried about by managers in two different positions.  The new hire, Hany Tamim, was previously with SunEdison (SUNE:  Nasdaq), the developer and producer of solar cells and modules.  He has experience in managing crystal growth and...

The Sustainable Infrastructure Income Trust

Tom Konrad CFA Jeffrey Eckel Jeffrey Eckel has an investor relations problem. No, there has not been any scandal involving fudging the books or sweatshop labor.  Rather, most investors simply don’t seem to “get” his company. His company recently went public as a REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, and the traditional REIT investor likes the familiar.  They invest for income, and for many, a track record of past income and dividends is a must.  While Eckel’s company manages $1.8 billion of securitized energy efficient and sustainable infrastructure...

ABB: Improving Transmission and Distribution Efficiency

Diamond in the Rough Alternative energy stocks are usually exciting, development stage companies with break-through technology which just might to totally transform the way we live.  Unfortunately, that's a better description of a speculative lottery ticket style company than a solid investment which will provide solid, long-term capital gains.  So it's always a pleasure to find a company whose products are so commonplace that we don't even notice them, even when we see them every day, and yet is involved in essential work to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  I took this picture in...

Lime Energy: Delivering Energy Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA The high upfront cost of efficient buildings (and efficiency in general) is more than offset by the significant long term rewards, as you can see from the McKinsey chart below. Despite the long term benefits, the upfront cost is often a barrier, especially to government entities in today's tight budgetary environment. Performance contracting offers them a way to square the circle between the long term budget benefits of efficient buildings and the often significant capital cost. This works by funding the capital improvement with debt secured by future energy savings. An...

Looking for Cash in Old Refrigerators

by Debra Fiakas CFA Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCI:  NYSE) is a typical small company, toiling away in seeming obscurity and struggling to get proper valuation of their success.  There is little glamour in old refrigerators and washing machines, but ARCA has figured out how to wring cash from recycling our household appliances.  In the last three fiscal years the company converted 1.6% of sales to operating cash flow. Unfortunately, things have turned a bit sour in the world of old Frigidaires and tired Maytags.  Last week ARCA reported financial results for the quarter ending September 2015.  The company suffered...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Geothermal + Efficiency)

Charles Morand Last Thursday, I reviewed two chapters from the recently published book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World"*. This post reviews two more.  Geothermal Energy Alexander Richter, Glitnir Bank (now Íslandsbanki) Geothermal is one of the most interesting forms of clean power generation there is. As noted by the author, the most convincing argument for geothermal electricity is the fact that it operates at capacity factors in the upper 90s. This makes it the only renewable technology suitable for baseload power with the exception of dam-based (i.e. large-scale) hydro. However, as...

The Spray Foam Industry: Moving to Soy?

by Scott Schnelle As an energy consultant for home retrofits, I often have customers and acquaintances ask my opinion regarding green technologies and energy efficient products. Undoubtedly, with the recent surge of the green movement and a shift toward becoming more environmentally sustainable, now is a great time to invest in these types of products. One product that has been getting more and more attention lately is spray foam. The product itself has been around for many years, but it has recently risen in popularity for a couple of reasons. Here, I’ll discuss spray foam briefly...

Lights of Energy Focus

by Debra Fiakas CFA It is the season of lights.  Lights for Hanukkah.  Lights for Christmas.  Energy Focus (EFOI:  Nasdaq) has been having a season of lights all year.  The company reported $62.3 million in total sales of its LED lighting products in the most recently reported twelve months.  Customers included large business and industry, property owners and the military.  The oil and gas industry is an important market vertical. Energy Focus really shines for the U.S. Navy with its explosion proof LED globes in all the colors the Navy needs to provide military personnel safety...

Three Stock Alerts: CREG, EFOI, OPTT

By Harris Roen Three volatile alternative energy stocks release earnings reports. Two of the stocks jump, one drops. China Recycling Energy Corp (CREG) More Info Latest earnings report for China Recycling Energy Corp shows a huge jump in revenues and net income. Insider selling, however, has led to stock losses. CREG is down 75% from where it was trading just this March. Seeking Alpha Energy Focus, Inc (EFOI) Profits...

Baldor Electric (BEZ): Efficient Motors Drive Profits

Tom Konrad, CFA Baldor Electric Company stands to benefit from new Federal energy efficiency standards and other efforts to improve industrial energy efficiency. One of the lesser-known provisions of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) will be to require efficiency standards for the majority of industrial electric motors.  This will be a boon for motor manufacturers when EISA comes into effect in December 2010: efficient motors require higher quality materials and manufacturing, and so can be sold for higher margins.  A major beneficiary of this transition will be Baldor Electric (NYSE:BEZ).  Baldor is...
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