Thursday, July 5, 2007

Will Climate Advocacy Pay for Shareholders?

That's Alternative Energy Stocks' headline for a comparison of four U.S. coal companies with the founders of the U.S Climate action partnership. I am not impressed with G.E.'s performance.

Remember six months does not an investing career make, although it can sure seem like it, on both the upside and the down. Or when you have a 180 day note coming due.

So far, shareholders of the big coal companies have done much better than shareholders of the US Climate Action Partnership companies. The former have received a year to date total return (including dividends) of 24.7%, which easily exceeds not only the return on the market as a whole, but also is slightly higher than my proxy for the energy sector, XLE, the iShares energy sector SPDR, which returned 22%. In marked contrast, the original partnership companies returned only 7.7%, which was below the total return on the S&P500 for the same period.

On a more optimistic note, the four companies that I have actually been buying for my own and client accounts (shown in gray) have returned a much more respectable 11.7% over the period, although naturally our returns varied from this because we did not purchase an equal-weighted portfolio of these 4 companies on January first. These selections are based on my subjective analysis of how much these companies actually stand to benefit from climate change, as well as traditional valuation and governance factors.