Where To Next For Solar PV Stocks?

Charles Morand There was an interesting post in Barron's tech trader daily on Monday discussing how solar PV stocks are coming under pressure, in part because product prices are falling further than expected. About a month ago, I discussed the potential return effect for households in given states of removing the $2,000 ITC cap. Such measures, it seems, are failing to kickstart demand, and solar recovery might end up being significantly slower than many had been expecting. Case in point, since hitting a high of $11.49 on June 11, the TAN ETF is down about 12%. KWT, for...

Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio Update: Oops!

My Quick Clean Energy Tracking Portfolio has solidly outperformed its benchmark... was it bad design? Tom Konrad, Ph.D. On February 27, I used the top holdings of the (then six) clean energy mutual funds to design a tracking portfolio intended to replicate the performance of those funds at much lower cost.  If my methodology was sound, the tracking portfolio should produce returns within the range of returns of the mutual funds on which it was based. If all went well, the returns would be at the upper end of that range because of the way I chose to emphasize...

AAER: Tailwinds Or Hot Air?

Charles MorandLast week, I added a little to my position in AAER (AAERF.PK). I first took a long position in AAER, the Canadian-based MW-size wind turbine maker, over two years ago. I've since pared down it significantly, both because I wanted to take some profit after a meteoric rise in share price in Q4 2007 and later because of the company's seeming inability to get orders for more than a couple of turbines at a time. Although there was, before the credit crisis hit, a severe shortage of wind turbines and wind turbine components, barriers to...

3 Month Performance Update: Ten Green Energy Gambles for 2009

This year, I published a list of 10 clean energy stocks I thought people should buy, and, because of readers' requests, also published a list of ten speculative clean energy companies.  For the most part, these speculative companies were chosen because they have compelling technology or manufacturing capability, but were not profitable or were only marginally profitable, and they had been beaten up because they would likely all need to raise money this year. That means that if the financial crisis eases quickly, these companies should be able to raise money on favorable terms.  If the crisis continues or...

Performance Update: 10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2009

I promised I'd do a performance update on my 10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2009 each quarter.  Here is the first (although readers got a mini-update in mid February, because I decided I didn't want to use double-shorts.) Company  Ticker Change 12/27/08 to 3/27/09 Dividend & Interest The Algonquin Power Income Trust AGQNF.PK +7.14% 5.36% Cree, Inc. CREE +59.96%   First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF FAN -10.73%   General Electric GE -32.50% 1.94% Johnson Controls JCI -25.97% 0.77% New Flyer...

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...

Dipping a Toe in the Golden Stuff

And I'm not talking about gold, but I liked the play on this title. Last December, I wrote about a report that claimed that solar stocks were the best play on the cleantech revolution. In that article, I analyzed the two solar ETFs: the Claymore/Mac Global Solar Index ETF (TAN) and the Market Vectors/Van Eck Global Solar Energy ETF (KWT). At the end of the article, I said I had an open buy order on TAN. That buy order expired unfilled in January as the suckers rally progressed, but TAN then dropped to the...

Two ETF Reshuffles

For readers who are tracking my 10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2009 portfolio, take note that I now think that SDS is a lousy hedge.  So in the model portfolio I'm personally tracking, I replaced each dollar of SDS with $3 of cash and $2 short SPY, an ETF which tracks the S&P 500.  Because I'm tracking the portfolio as a way to see how well a reader would perform, I did the replacement at the closing prices on Feb 11th, the day the article where I explained why not to use doubleshort ETFs (and short, ultras, or triples,...

Why I Sold My Utility Stocks

In times like these of financial uncertainty, regulated utilities have traditionally been considered a safe haven.  But that is changing.  The Dow Jones Utilities Average was down 30% in 2008, vs. a 34% drop in the Dow Industrials.  Not much of a safe haven. In a recent interview, utilities analyst Daniel Scotto noted, that the utility industry offers "a lot less security" than it used to.  His reasoning is based mainly on the fact that the regulated portion of utility company's business is smaller than it has been in previous recessions, making them vulnerable to lower growth (or even...

10 Green Energy Gambles for 2009

The credit crunch made me reassess my investing strategy last September.  First, my expectation of the lack of availability of credit for companies without reliable cash flow led me to sell several early stage and troubled companies.   Second, my experience of attempting to re-orient my portfolio in a hurry convinced me that I simply own too many companies.  For the purposes of diversifying company-specific risk, nearly all the benefits can be achieved with as few as 10 companies, if those companies have sufficiently different performance characteristics. In less ideal circumstances, 20-40 companies will usually be sufficient.  I currently own...

Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2009

UPDATE: Here's how this portfolio performed in 2009. Here is a mini-portfolio of ten Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Stocks I expect to do well in 2009.  Last year, I brought you ten speculative picks in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, and I evaluated them against clean energy mutual funds and ETFs on Monday.  I chose to go with speculative picks, because I did not expect readers to be interested in the stodgier, value-oriented picks I usually prefer. Given the lessons of the credit crisis, if you still prefer speculative picks, you're an inveterate gambler.  If I get...

Update: Ten Speculations for 2008

A year ago, I brought you  10 Alternative Energy Stocks I thought were worth speculating on for 2008. I revisited these in June, when a balanced portfolio of the 10 was "up 11.4% for the year, compared to the S&P 500 which is down 4.2% and the NASDAQ Clean Edge US Index, which is down approximately 14.3%."   Speculative picks tend to do better than the market as a whole in bull markets, and worse in bear markets, so given the steep drop in markets since then, I would normally expect these more speculative picks to fare worse.  This is...

Trading Alert: EarthFirst Canada (ERFTF.PK or EF.TO)

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on the upcoming Clean Power Call in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). In a nutshell, the Clean Power Call consists of an auction conducted by the government-owned integrated power company to award long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) to private wind developers. This is the model that has dominated in Canadian wind power so far. The notable thing about this model is that the PPA facilitates access to financing significantly for successful bidders, since the counterparty is a proxy of a credit-worthy government. EarthFirst Canada (EF) (ERFTF.PK or EF.TO)...

My Portfolio’s Latest Casualty And Addition

The Casualty Last Monday, I discussed how I had recently reviewed Railpower Tech with a view to potentially adding to my position on grounds that: (a) the company had a fair amount of cash in the bank, which reduced the need to go to capital markets for financing for a while; and (b) that it was getting badly battered by general market conditions, potentially offering an attractive entry point. Although my portfolio has taken a beating in recent weeks, I remain ready to take small positions in stocks if I feel they are being unfairly bashed, including in...

Performance Update: Sell and Short Recommendations

Investors are getting  bearish these days, which comes as a surprise to me, since I'm used to being in the minority.  I was a bear when I first took the leap from mutual funds and started trading stocks in 1999, and am a bear still.  I wish I'd turned bullish for a couple of years at what I consider to be the large bear market recovery of 2003-2006, but I didn't.  However, since I was (and still am) bullish on commodities since around the same time frame, I can't complain about my returns over the period. This spring, I...

Performance Update: 10 Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap

Unlike my Ten Speculations for 2008, my Solid Clean Energy Companies series will be much more difficult to benchmark.  The intent of the series was to list some "stocks to buy when you think we've hit bottom."  Since I obviously don't know when you think we've hit bottom (My opinion: not yet), I don't know what prices you'd have paid. Instead, I'll look at what would have happened if you bought only those stocks which dropped 10% since I wrote about them, and you bought them at the close that day, in equal dollar amounts.  Here's...
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