Archive for investing

Two Renewable Energy Penny Stocks

I asked my readers at Alternative Energy Stocks what companies they wanted to know more about, and the two most requested were a transmission and wind company (CPTC.OB), and a company looking to make oil for biodiesel from algae (PSUD.PK)

Click through the links to read the results of my research.

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Ten Renewable and Energy Efficiency Companies To Buy In a Downturn

I Just completed a series on Ten Renewable and Energy
Efficiency companies to buy when the market hits bottom.  These are solid
companies, and a market downturn is a great time to aquire any and all of them.

I also mentioned a few more which almost made it into the
list in the introduction and also here.

Note: I and/or my clients have positions in all the stocks mentioned.

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Electricity Transmission & Distribution investing

Electricity transmission is one of my primary investing themes, as a reasonably priced way to benefit from the boom in renewable electricity generation… here is a lit of related articles, the most recent posted yesterday:

  • How should investors react to NIMBYs fighting transmission lines?
  • My top transmission stock pick for 2008 (plus battery and CHP picks)
  • A transmission stock pick from Fortune magazine.
  • HVDC and FACTs
  • Sector overview
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    Top Ten Lists: My Stock Picks for 2008 and Most Blogged Stories of 2007

    I did two top Ten lists to bring in the New Year. First, I picked ten speculative plays in renewable energy and energy efficiency that I think will do well. This was a 3 part series:

    Part I: LED Stocks and Ultracapacitor stocks
    Part II: Batteries, Distributed Generation, combined Heat and Power, and Electricity Transmission
    Part III: Geothermal, Wind and Wave Power stocks, and a Solar Short

    My second Top 10 list is plain fun… we used an algorithm to see what stories cleantech bloggers were linking to in 2007, and I did a short summary of each. Here is my Ten Most Blogged Cleantech Stories of 2007


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    Top Five Environmental Stocks for Gifts

    For the Shopping season, I’ve just publised an article on a gift that’s greener than just giving more “stuff.” Help your young ones prepare for their future (and the future of the planet) with my Top Five Stocks to Give as Gifts this Holiday Season.
    Green Gift

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    October Investing Articles Index

    I’ve been writing a lot about how we’ll get around in the face of much higher oil prices. Several articles this month deal with how we can best invest in the eventual solutions.

    October 2nd: Efficienct Transit and Transmission Stocks from Fortune Magazine.

    October 7th: Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs

    October 14th: Better Ways to Invest in Peak Oil: Bikes and Public Transport

    October 21st: An In-depth look at Geothermal Technology

    October 24th: Presentations from Montrose and the Keiretsu Forum Academy

    October 25th: What we can learn from the Arizona Renewable Energy Assesment

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    Updated Alternative Energy Investing for Beginners

    New Alternative energy Mutual Funds and ETFs have been popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, so I’ve updated my previous Introduction to Investing In Renewable Energy, whith a new one which also considers the new ETFs CELS and GEX.

    As it turns out, I like some of the new options.

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    Investing In Cleantech 101: October 23, Denver CO

    I am helping to organize a workshop on investing in Cleantech companies targeted at private equity investors, in conjunction with the Denver Chapter of the Keiretsu Forum.

    Click here for information and registration information.

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    A beaten-down battery company

    I’m bullish about the battery industry, because I fee that rising oil prices and consumer awareness will lead to accellerating adoption of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles over the next decade. So I’ve been researching the battery industry, and trying to look for companies that can benefit without being tied to a single battery chemistry, since I doubt the conventional wisdom that some company will perfect the Lithium-Ion battery, and that will be the solution for all mobile energy storage.

    I just did a write up on one company that I think not only has technology that is applicable to a wide variety of chemistries, but it’s also selling for less than what I think its assets are worth.

    The company is Electro Energy Inc. (EEEI), and you can read more by clicking here.

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    What I told Bill Paul

    Mea Culpa, I’ve been falling behind keeping this blog updated… but most of you probably realize that the real stuff goes on at AltEnergyStocks these days. Over the last two weeks, I wrote a series of companion pieces to a series of articles that were published on energy Tech Stocks, based on a long interview Bill Paul, the writer did with me. Here’s an index to them (and they each contain links to the interview articles.)

    1. Large Scale Electricy Storage

    2. Plug-In Hybrids and Battery Stocks

    3. & 4. Improving Transmission and my Ambivalent stance on Biofuels

    5. Light Emitting Diode (LED) Stocks

    6.Cellulosic Ethanol and Sustainable Forestry.

    7. Alcoa and Blue Chip Stock Picks

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    Why the future of Big Biodiesel my not be so Bright

    I’ve been out of town a couple days, but the article I left to be published on AltEnergyStocks while I was gone is causing some controversy… I look at
    what might happen to the biodiesel industry if Big Oil starts to use animal fats and oils in their refineries. At least one reader didn’t like what I saw.  You may not like it, either, but you can read it here.

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    Two Utility Scale Electricity Storage Stocks

    While many investors are excited about the potential of wind, solar power and ethanol, I am more interested in those technologies that will make it all possible. One of the oft-cited problems with wind and solar power is that they are not usually produced both when and where they are needed. Last year, I wrote an overview of large scale electricity storage technologies. Today, I take a look at two stocks that are well postioned to profit from these technologies.

    You can read about VRB Power and NGK Insulators here.

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    Energy Efficient Homes & Performance Contracting

    I have now posted the last two articles in my series on the WGA Energy Efficient Buildings Workshop.

    The third article (here) talks about some of the “above code” standards, such as Energy Star and Built Green, why I feel the code should resemble these standards a lot more than it does now (above code should mean measures that are not viable on a pure economic basis, but that people want because it makes them feel good… when total cost of ownership is taken into account, these “above code” standards actually produce homes that are cheaper to live in and own than houses built just to code.)

    I also talk about several companies that my benefit from a move to wide adoption of these above code standards, as well as from energy retrofits of existing homes.

    Article number four (here), talks about the trend to performance contracting, where a building owner contracts for a certain level of service (lighting levels, temperature, etc.) with a third party, and that party upgrades the building’s efficiency, with the savings from efficiency gains not only paying the energy bills, but also paying for the upgrades (which can include solar panels and other renewable energy projects as well as energy efficiency upgrades) as well as a profit for the contractor.

    Investing in Energy Efficient Homes
    Investing in Performance Contracting

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    Some difficulties getting information on Global Resource Corporation

    I have been looking into Microwave Waste-to-energy pioneer Global Resource Corporation (OTC:GBRC) for the last couple weeks… much of it spent in phone tag with Global’s CFO. I didn’t get anything from him, but the firm’s 10K and other SEC filings made interesting reading.

    I was left with a lot of unanswered questions, and an urge to short sell the company. You can read about what I found on my AltEnergyStocks column, here.

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    ABB Group: Efficient Electiricty Transmission and Distribution

    TransformerThis week, I highlight ABB, (the maker of all those boring green boxes most people see every day without even wondering what they are) in my AltEnergyStocks column.

    As I have written before, a smarter, more efficient grid is key to integrating more renewable energy and replacing fossil fuels. ABB is well placed to profit from the increase investment that’s needed. You can read the whole column here.

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    Indigestion After the Coal Binge

    Many energy advocates are concerned about the construction of new conventional electricity generation. This is not only due to the harmful effects of mining, using, and disposing of the waste from coal, natural gas, and uranium, but also because there is only so much electricity demand. My Alt Energy Stocks column this week exproles the possibility of utilites building too much conventional generation to need any renewables at all.

    Utilities often say that they will have trouble meeting future demand… this was the justification for the coal plants (now mostly replaced by nuclear) planned by TXU. But these projections massively underestimate the potential of imporved energy efficiency which most studies put at about 1.2% acheivable savings per year, but I believe could be much higher with changes to the regulatory landscape.

    To read the entire article, click here.

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    Coal Companies vs. US-CAP

    It’s unfortunate, but even many environmental advocates also have money invested in companies that are doing a lot to make our world a lot less pleasant place to live. After all, we need to put our money somewhere, and a nonprofit salary isn’t going to fund your 401k to the point when you can retire after having saved the world if you’re money is in CDs.

    However, renewable energy and more generally progressive companies that advocate for action on global warming are giving us more and more opportunities to profit from our principles. Here is a brief look at how the stocks of the members of the United States Climate Action Partnership are doing in comparison to Big Coal so far this year.

    Coal is off to an early lead, but if you want reason to hope, I give a few at the end of the column. But the best reason for me is the ability to sleep at night.

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    How to avoid Stock Scams

    My AltEnergyStocks column this week talks about signs to look for to help you aviod falling for stock scams. Investment scams foolw whatever trend is hot at the moment, and right now, that’s renewable energy. Here’s how to make sure your money is helping to reduce our carbon footprint, not financing some shyster’s trip to the Bahamas.

    As an example, I take a look at US Sustainable Energy, a biofuel company that shows some worrying signs….

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    An insider’s take on the Ethanol Industry

    I have a sequel to my article on the competitive landscape of the corn ethanol industry up today on Alt Energy Stocks. In it, I discuss insights I gained from a talk by Mark Wong, President and CEO of Renwable Agricultural Energy, a private corn ethanol producer.

    Here’s the link.

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    A Hard Look at the Ethanol Industry

    My weekly column for AltEnergyStocks again doubles as part of my study for the second CFA(R) exam.  The Equity valuation part of the curriculum contains a chapter by Michael Porter on analyzing competitive pressures in an industry.  I decided to apply it to the corn based Ethanol industry, and, as often is the case, it changed my way of thinking about the industry.  I’ve never been bullish, because I worry about a classic commodity squeeze: both ethanol and the main feedstock (corn) are commodities, and are subject to forces outside the industry which effect their prices.  For instance, if corn harvests were to be poor because of drought or pests, at the same time that oil prices fell, many ethanol producers would be forced out of business because their costs exceed their selling prices.

    I also went on a little rant about the typical measures of Energy Payback and Energy Return on Energy Investment (ERoEI) often used in the industry.  These measures are often used to criticize ethanol, but it is a weak criticism, because they do not take into account the time value of energy: namely that a kWh of electricity today is a lot more useful than a kWh produced 30 years from now.  We should instead be thinking in terms not only of how much energy we have to use to get energy out, but also in terms of how soon we get that energy.

    I propose a couple measures, of Energy Net Present Value (ENPV) and Energy Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) which I think would give us a clearer view of the undying energy economics (and hence the potential economic profitability) of various energy production technologies.  But that is a column for another week.

    This week, here are my thoughts on competition in the corn Ethanol industry, and how it might affect your investments.

    If you have a subscription, there’s also an excellent article in the NYTimes on ethanol in Hawaii.  I think it ties in well to this one, and the one I wrote last July about renewable energy in Maui.

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