I know a lot of First Solar shareholders are disappointed in the stock's action today,
so I thought Israel Kamakawiwo'ole would be appropriate.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Corrected closing price.
FSLR closed today at $285.03 up $0.03 (+0.01% ). Here's our post from Monday:
First Solar to Beat and Raise, Market Yawns (FSLR)
...As grandmother used to say "Secular bear markets aren't just about declines [although they can be doozies], they're also about multiple contraction."
"Grandma, what's a doozie?"...
You know the old political maxim, "As goes Madrid, so goes Topeka".
(or is it "As goes Guam so goes Samoa"? [but only in primaries])
From The Guardian:
Spain has launched an ambitious plan to reduce energy consumption and save millions of euros on oil imports by cutting the speed limit to 50mph and handing out millions of low-energy use light bulbs.
With the introduction of a broad swathe of measures between now and 2014, Spain's socialist government hopes to reduce Spain's oil imports by 10% per year, cutting consumption by 44m barrels and saving €4.14bn (£3.25bn).
During the country's sweltering summers, air conditioning systems in public buildings will be set no lower than 26C (79F). In winter, Spaniards will be allowed to turn the heating no higher than 21C (70F), with hospitals being the only exception....MORE
From the Kansas City Star's prime buzz blog:
Will Kansas drive 65?
Roll back Kansas’ speed limit to 65?
That’s the suggestion from a government task force looking for ways the state can shrink its carbon footprint....
...The speed limit idea is actually one of several the task force studied. Here's a list of their full recommendations:
Kansas Energy Council
Greenhouse Gas Policy Committee
Preliminary Policy Recommendations for Discussion with full Council on 8/13/08...
From Forbes: MIT professor Daniel G. Nocera has long been jealous of plants. He desperately wanted to do what they do--split water into hydrogen and oxygen and use the products to do work. That, he figures, is the only way we humans can solve our energy problems; enough energy pours down from the sun in one hour to power the planet's energy needs for a year. In January, only a month after reevaluating his methodology in the face of a frustratingly slow process, he finally found a way. "For six months now I've been looking at the leaves and saying 'I own you guys!'" Nocera's discovery--a cheap and easy way to store energy that he thinks will be used to change solar power into a mainstream energy source--will be published in the journal Science on Friday. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited--and soon.">>>MORE When I saw the headline I thought the story would be a variation on this:
MIT professor Daniel G. Nocera has long been jealous of plants. He desperately wanted to do what they do--split water into hydrogen and oxygen and use the products to do work. That, he figures, is the only way we humans can solve our energy problems; enough energy pours down from the sun in one hour to power the planet's energy needs for a year.
In January, only a month after reevaluating his methodology in the face of a frustratingly slow process, he finally found a way. "For six months now I've been looking at the leaves and saying 'I own you guys!'"
Nocera's discovery--a cheap and easy way to store energy that he thinks will be used to change solar power into a mainstream energy source--will be published in the journal Science on Friday. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited--and soon.">>>MORE
When I saw the headline I thought the story would be a variation on this:
New solar energy collector so efficient it works at night
That's neoseeker's headline. This isn't going to make Nanosolar obsolete, yet.
Here's the story from the Idaho National Laboratory....
UPDATE: I was just reminded that I should explain: This is a snapshot. Money flows are best looked at as trends. Now you know where to follow the trend.
We've had a link to the Wall Street Journal's Markets Data Center since the day the blog went live. On the left, under Environmental Capital.
It's worth a look around. Today the Money Flows page tells us FSLR has the seventh largest negative money flow:
TOTAL MONEY FLOW
|Company||Price||Chg||% Chg||1-wk |
|Money Flow||Tick |
|Up/Down Ratio||Money Flow||Tick |
|PwrShrs QQQ (QQQQ)||$45.84||0.27||0.59||2.57||$-54.95||$210.99||$265.94||79/100||$-59.58||$53.06||$112.64|
This is a handy list of companies that may have the technology to destroy* your plans for world domination. Or your portfolio.
We’re all familiar with standard photovoltaic solar panels, and many of us are starting to become acquainted with solar thermal tech that uses the sun’s heat to generate power, but there’s also a third option. Over a dozen startups are working on ways to use mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight hundreds of times onto tiny highly-efficient solar cells. Called concentrating photovoltaic technology (CPV) the systems are meant to cut back on one of the most expensive parts of traditional PV: the silicon-based solar panel.
CPV startups say the latest tech can provide solar systems at a lower cost per watt but with as much or more power. Though many companies are just starting to bring products to market, and the systems seem to require a lot of moving parts, these 13 companies are working out the details:...Go to e2t for the lucky 13.
*For some reason that sentence reminded me of the line quoted by Robert Oppenheimer on the occasion of the detonation of the first atomic bomb:
For our friends in Tornado Alley.
It's been about a year since I last wrote about Louis Michaud, the retired engineer from Sarnia, Ontario, who believes he can create and manage the power of tornados and use the resulting energy to produce electricity. He has formed a company called AVEtec Energy Corp. and for the past year has been trying to get the funding and partnerships required to do a decent scaled-up demonstration of his vortex engine. "The biggest breakthrough has been in media attention," jokes Michaud, who has been keeping me up to date on his work (check his latest presentation here). He is, however, having a tougher time turning curiosity and genuine interest into financial and strategic commitments.Back when I wrote about AVEtec in the Toronto Star, Michaud was just working with a prototype vortex engine in his garage with a one-meter diameter. At one point he was approached by Discovery TV, who wanted to film a one-hour show about his work....MORE
I'd be very careful if I were long. Failure to close sbove the $317.00 all time high would not be a good portent. It's got nothing to do with the company, just the way the solar stocks have been acting after earnings reports. Last I saw, FSLR was up $15.00 pre-market, not as much oomph as the $30.00 pop after-hours yesterday.
From the AP via Yahoo Finance:
Ahead of the Bell: Analysts bullish on First Solar, but concerns with US market persist
Two solar industry analysts on Thursday raised their targets on First Solar Inc. after the company posted strong second-quarter numbers, but another analyst tempered that enthusiasm because of uncertainties in the U.S. market....
...The earnings report prompted Lazard Capital Markets analyst Sanjay Shrestha to up his price target from $350 to $400 and his 2008 earnings per share estimate from $3 to $3.95, citing the company's ramp up, efficiency and throughput gains and a lower cost per watt in Malaysia....MORE
"Very, very sharp and a good writer (not your typical PhD. prose, eh?). Yesterday's post is worth a read even if you don't care about Kansas or coal. It's a very entertaining civics lesson."Mr. Pickens began the "Townhall" portion of his promotion strategy in Topeka yesterday, here's the story:
Earlier today in Topeka was the kick-off for the series of town hall meetings that oilman T. Boone Pickens is having to publicize his Pickens Plan.
Doors were to open at 3:30 p.m., but if you got there that late then you probably didn’t get a seat. Here’s a snapshot of the crowd outside - I believe someone ran out to get them bottled water, so no one passed out in the heat. So I heard. Inside there were cookies....
...Representative Annie Kuether, ranking Democrat on the Kansas House Energy Committee, kicked off the introductions. Memorable quote: “We had quite a conversation, as you know, about energy last legislative session.” Lots of laughter in the room.
Kuether introduced Governor Sebelius. Sebelius too continued the metaphor of energy conversations, and discussed the energy crisis in America right now. She concluded with “When you’re in a hole, it’s time to stop digging.” The crowd seemed to agree. Sebelius then introduced T. Boone Pickens, and here they are below....Much More
That's a taste. She can even make eminent domain issues interesting:
...Eminent domain was not directly mentioned. However, I imagine what he is referring to is that under the Energy Act of 2005 the federal government (thru FERC, I think) has the power to declare transmission-constrained or -congested areas of the country “corridors of national interest.” Then within those areas, it can use eminent domain to build the lines.
How does eminent domain work? It’s really complicated. I don’t have a good answer. Sometimes it just takes the form of an easement, which allows the original landowner to retain some form of possession as well as other land rights. Sometimes it takes the whole schmeer, title included....
And that's something you'll be hearing about as we go forward.
UPDATES here. Six days after Tulsa, Okla.-based Semgroup's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, details of its wrong-way oil trades remain in short supply. Neither the company nor its creditors are talking. Saturday, in his first public statement since the bankruptcy, former Chief Executive Thomas Kivisto said he wanted to reassure Semgroup's 2,000 employees; but he gave them no reasons to feel hopeful. With the Securities & Exchange Commission investigating, a class-action suit in the works and a grand jury demanding trading records, the truth will soon emerge. And it won't be pretty. What is known for sure, gleaned largely from an affidavit written by Interim Chief Executive Terence Ronan is that Semgroup buckled under margin calls against losses of $2.4 billion in the company's trading accounts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Incredibly, $290 million of those losses are owed the company by Kivisto for losses from personal trades using capital fronted him by Semgroup....MORE
Six days after Tulsa, Okla.-based Semgroup's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, details of its wrong-way oil trades remain in short supply. Neither the company nor its creditors are talking.
Saturday, in his first public statement since the bankruptcy, former Chief Executive Thomas Kivisto said he wanted to reassure Semgroup's 2,000 employees; but he gave them no reasons to feel hopeful. With the Securities & Exchange Commission investigating, a class-action suit in the works and a grand jury demanding trading records, the truth will soon emerge. And it won't be pretty.
What is known for sure, gleaned largely from an affidavit written by Interim Chief Executive Terence Ronan is that Semgroup buckled under margin calls against losses of $2.4 billion in the company's trading accounts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Incredibly, $290 million of those losses are owed the company by Kivisto for losses from personal trades using capital fronted him by Semgroup....MORE
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I respectfully disagree but at least he's humble and lovable.
If you thought you heard Cramer call a bottom during Tuesday’s Mad Money, you were right.
“It smells to me like something, in fact many things,” he said, “have at last changed for the better.”
“I am indeed sticking my neck out right here, right now,” Cramer continued, “declaring emphatically that I believe the market will not revisit the panicked lows it hit on July 15. and I think anyone out there who’s waiting for that low to be breached is in for a big disappointment and [they’re] missing a great deal of upside.”
“Stop waiting,” he said, and “buy the next dip because I think it might be the last big one.”
Cramer pointed to five specific clues that proved to him that the market was about to turn up....
...“My bottom call isn’t gutsy,” Cramer said. “I think it’s just a smart call that all the evidence points toward.”“Bye, bye bear market,” he said. “Say hello to the bull and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”>>>MORE
From the New York Times' DotEarth blog:
David M. Herszenhorn, who covers Congress, sent me a note from Washington today on an interesting hearing held to explore the role of efficiency in cutting Americans’ expensive energy appetite.Here’s David’s report:
WASHINGTON -– Dan Reicher, Google’s guru of all things related to energy and the environment, came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday with some ideas on how to keep Earth from overheating and poor families from freezing this winter in the face of sky-high prices for heating oil.
A central proposal, laid out in testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, was a national program aimed at cutting heat and electricity bills in 10 million low-income homes over a decade. The existing federal “weatherization” program saw its Energy Department budget eliminated recently. The hearing was called “Efficiency: The Hidden Secret to Solving Our Energy Crisis.”
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and chairman of the joint committee, said he planned to include the weatherization proposal in a bill later this year. “I am very interested in the low-income home weatherization program,” he said. “And I’m going to put in some legislation to move it up.”>>>MORE
From the press release:
Montreal, Quebec, July 29, 2008 – 5N Plus Inc. (TSX:VNP) is pleased to announce that its new German facility is now operational. The facility will begin shipments of cadmium telluride and other products as well as recycling activities in accordance with 5N Plus’ contractual obligations, which called for commercial operations to be achieved by July 31st, 2008. The facility is owned and operated by 5N PV GmbH, a wholly-owned German subsidiary of 5N Plus, and is located in Eisenhüttenstadt, in the state of Brandenburg.
“We are extremely pleased that our new German facility is now operational and that we have met both our cost objectives and the very tight schedule that we initially laid out” commented Mr. Jacques L’Écuyer, President and Chief Executive Officer of 5N Plus. Mr. L’Écuyer added, “This international expansion has been a huge undertaking for 5N Plus and we are delighted by the outcome. We take this opportunity to thank the 42 employees of our new German subsidiary for their hard work and welcome them to the 5N Plus team. We would also like to thank the many employees of 5N Plus who have been involved in the construction and commissioning of our new facility”.
As we said earlier today "So where does it open tomorrow? Beats me, I'm flat." Here are our First Solar posts. I didn't listen to the conference call, I'll wait for the transcript to come out. The post from ClusterStock has copious notes including a chunk of the analyst Q and A. Earnings up 57% is very good but we are starting to see a pattern where nothing is good enough in the solars. Also the stock backed off its afterhours high. More tomorrow.
Here are some early reactions:
From 24/7 Wall Street:
First Solar Lights The Sky (FSLR)
...Lazard's Sanjay Shrestha hit the nail on the head with his hugely positive call yesterday, and you can see what he's expecting ahead since he was considering the second half more important than the first half of 2008....
From Tech Trader Daily:
First Solar FY Q2 Revs, EPS Crush Ests; Stock Soars
...UPDATE: On the company’s post-earnings conference call, FSLR said it sees full year revenue of $1.175 billion to $1.225 billion, well ahead of the Street at $1.04 billion. The company also said that its Malaysia facility is ahead of schedule, and contributed $47.4 million to Q2 sales. Shipments in the quarter were 103.2 megawatts.
First Solar (FSLR) Blows Away Q2 Consensus EPS, Revenue
New Guidance for FY08:
- 470-485MW of shipments
- $1.075-1.225B in sales
- $37M in plant start-up costs
- $60-$62M (20% to COGS) in stock-based comp.
- 31-33% GAAP operating margin , tax rate 27%,
- YE2008 share count remains unchanged 83-84M
- $550M capex
LIVE COVERAGE: Conference Call (paraphrased)
Michael Ahearn (CEO), Bruce Sohn (President), and Jens Meyerhoff (CFO) will be on today's call.
Focus remains unchanged, continue ramp up, develop in Europe, utility
114 MW production, 48MW per line annually, 5% increase over Q1 from efficiency improvements
10.7% effieciency up (.1%)
Cost per watt 1.18 ($0.06 of ramp cost)
Construction ramp well $47.4 million to sales (Maylaysia plant 1), expected completion by end of year...MUCH, MUCH MORE
From Blogging Stocks:
The SEC announced that it will fine Pax World Management $500,000 for violating its own restrictions on buying stocks. Pax World is a 'socially responsible' investment company, operating mutual funds that do not invest in companies which produce harmful things like weapons, alcohol and tobacco.story:
I guess the return on cluster bombs and cancer sticks was just too tempting....MORE
Pax World Management Corp, a mutual fund company that touts its socially responsible investment policies, has settled with regulators who charged it violated its own guidelines with investments that included companies that derived income from gambling and liquor....
Talk about your sector drift.
Oh well, there's always:
Welcome To ViceFund
Invests in alcohol, gambling, tobacco, and aerospace and defense industries.
From the Denver Post:
The Denver billionaire's company plans to generate and transmit wind power.
Denver billionaire investor Philip Anschutz is plugging into the red-hot renewable-energy field, announcing plans to develop multibillion-dollar wind-farm and transmission-line projects.
The Anschutz Corp. said Tuesday it has acquired the rights to a proposed $3 billion, 3,000-megawatt transmission project that will run from Wyoming to Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The 900-mile project will carry power from a 2,000-megawatt wind farm Anschutz is developing in Carbon County in south-central Wyoming....MORE
Solarworld AG, Germany's third- largest solar company, led solar stocks higher in Frankfurt trading on speculation General Electric Co. will make a bid.
Solarworld rose 2.80 euros, or 10 percent, to close at 30.43 euros, the biggest one-day gain since May 30. Conergy AG, Germany's second-largest solar company, jumped 13 percent, while Phoenix Solar AG added 8 percent.
``There's a rumor that GE wants to bid for Solarworld,'' said Burkhard Weiss, an analyst at HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt AG in Dusseldorf who has an ``overweight'' rating on the stock. ``I don't think there's anything to it.''>>>MORE
From Popular Mechanics:
Legendary Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens recently detailed his plan to wean America off foreign oil by blanketing the Great Plains with wind turbines. But Pickens also has a lesser-known plan that is centered on another commodity, one every bit as vital to America's future as energy—water. If it all works out, his water plan could remake Pickens as a whole new kind of baron.
Pickens is in the planning stages of a $1.5 billion initiative to pump billions of gallons of water from an ancient aquifer beneath the Texas Panhandle and build pipelines to ship them to thirsty cities such as Dallas. So far, no city has taken up his water company, Mesa Water, on the offer. But company officials and experts agree that a continuation of the drought impacting large portions of the United States could turn Pickens into something of a water baron. His yet-to-be-built pipeline would follow the same 250-mile corridor as electric lines carrying power from his wind farms. Pickens prompted the creation of a public water supply district, run by his employees, that can claim private land for the pipeline route through eminent domain. (Follow the pipeline's path here.)>>>MORE
HT: Dr. Hazlett at the Climate and Energy Project:
T. Boone Pickens in T.opeka today - doors open at 3:30 p.m.
...From the evidence of my email (which is numerous but probably not representative of a broad slice of Americana), the following topics are of interest to many of the folks who plan on attending:
Water. Another of Pickens’ future projects (not an official part of the Pickens’ plan, I don’t think) is a water pipeline running from the Ogallala to major TX population centers - read this article for more info.
Wind. Gotta have transmission to get wind to market. Where do we get the transmission?
Natural gas. Is there enough? What about issues with imports? And affordability?>>>MORE
U.S. legislation extending renewable energy and energy-efficiency tax credits failed a key procedural vote on Wednesday and lawmakers will now set the bill aside, at least temporarily.
The extensive tax package includes measures providing an eight-year extension of solar energy investment credits, and a one-year extension of tax credits for biodiesel, renewable diesel, and wind power.
The bill required 60 "yes" votes in the 100-member Senate to move forward, but received only 51, with 43 opposed....MORE
Which brings to mind this Environmental Capital post from last week:
Solar Subsidies: Is Less More?
Is there a silver lining to America’s here today, gone tomorrow support for clean energy?
Conventional wisdom says one big reason America has lagged places like Europe in solar and wind power is because it’s been stingy with subsidies. The U.S. hasn’t been as generous, and subsidies only last for a year or two at a time.........But guess what? While Europe’s flirtation with smaller solar-power subsidies is spooking the sector, the impending demise of subsidies for solar power in the U.S. is driving a last-minute stampede....MORE
I saw some anecdotal evidence of the phenomena last night on a two million dollar rooftop installation. I don't believe the owners would have decided to go ahead with the project without the "Limited Time offer".
Update: Environmental Capital has these thoughts-
...Of course, the upside—such as it is—is a mini-gold rush the year the credits expire. U.S. solar power is having a banner year right now. Despite uncertainty over the federal tax credits, the U.S. wind industry stormed into second place worldwide this year. Plenty of states, led by Texas, have their own incentives that make clean energy attractive regardless of what Washington does. Another interesting point: America’s wind resources (that means “wind”) are so good, European power companies are eager to plant wind turbines in U.S. soil with or without government help.
Another thing to remember amidst all the wailing and gnashing of lobbyists: Since they were introduced, the U.S. renewable-energy tax credits have never lapsed. With energy rapidly becoming the bellwether political issue this year, it’s hard to imagine this year will be a miserly trailblazer.
When this news crossed the wire a couple weeks ago I decided against posting it:
Solar, polysilicon strategies pay off for Hoku Scientificthinking "the company is so small and besides, who needs another polySi manufacturer".
Today Eric Savitz informs us:
Hoku Scientific (HOKU) shares are sharply higher after the company announced a 10-year, $298 million contract to supply polysilicon to China-based Jiangxi Kinko Energy, a manufacturer of silicon ingots, wafers and related products....MORESome of the older HOKU stories in the link-vault:
Premarket: Cuckoo for Hoku
Hoku, JA Solar vs. Nitpicky Investors
From Division of Labor:
(These folks are pretty funny for economists)
An interesting thought from the July 25, 1908 NYT:COLORADO SPRINGS - George E. Roberts, President of the Central National Bank of Chicago, and ex-Director of the Mint, was the principal speaker at to-day's meeting of the State Banker's Association. He said in part:
"The first objection to the guarantee is that it ignores the fundamental defect of our currency system, its rigidity. There is an actual need for money to handle the business of this country in the Fall of the year than in the other seasons, and the guarantee plan does not meet that demand.
"The second objection to the guarantee of deposits is that it eliminates character as a necessary factor in the banking business."
The DoL stroll through the Times' archives includes:
Masses vs. Classes c. 1908
Transportation costs and hotels c. 1908
Olympic events c. 1908
Tax on Cupid c. 1908
On inventions c. 1908
From Cleantech Media:
Cedar Park, Texas-based ultracapacitor developer EEStor could be a step closer to shipping its first product, announcing the certification of production milestones and the enhancement of its chemical purification processes.
The secretive startup has made bold claims for the performance of its upcoming solid-state electrical energy storage unit, yet the company has some significant partners backing its claims, including Toronto-based electric vehicle maker Zenn Motor (TSX: ZNN), Silicon Valley's Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), the world's No. 1 defense contractor....MORE
Here's Tyler Hamilton writing at CleanBreak:
And the story at TreeHugger:
...So what does all this mean? Hmmm... I honestly haven't a clue. Couldn't tell you if this is important or not, so I issue a call: Is there an engineer in the house who can decrypt this technospeak?
As for EEStor, I suggest Mr. Weir hire someone with skills in the art of "plain language" to write his future press releases. Ugh...
grilled cheese analogy once....
That $450 figure has a whiff of December '99 about it. Picking a target price is more art than science with the default being projection of the current trend. The last three earnings releases from FSLR resulted in these moves the next day:
Nov. 8 up $57.31; +34.9%
Feb. 13 up $52.90; +30.1%
May 1 down $28.64; -9.8%
So where does it open tomorrow? Beats me, I'm flat.
First up, 24/7 Wall Street:
Despite the drop in oil prices and despite a bear market in general, it is still easy to find those who think some alternative energy stocks are headed much higher. That is still the case for shares of First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR). This morning we have seen a note out of Lazard Capital Markets analyst Sanjay Shrestha still calling for this as a "Buy" ahead of tomorrow's earnings from the solar technology leader. As you look on you'll see that this upside target with an implied 30% gain/goal is actually more conservative than some other more impacting calls out there and his target went up only after last earnings....MORE
Mr. Shrestha is one of the top analysts* in the sector (we also like the folks at Cowen).
And from Tech Trader Daily:
First Solar: Street Optimistic On Tomorrow’s Earnings Rpt
The Street is optimistic about tomorrows Q2 earnings report First Solar (FSLR), by far the biggest U.S.-traded solar stock by market cap. The consensus view is for revenue of $216.9 million and profits of 58 cents a share....Read it all, seriously.
*In late March he put out these targets:
Here are the targets on several stocks:
- Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER) maintained BUY with $26.57 current price, target price is $40.00.
- Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ: ESLR) maintained BUY with $8.39 current price, target price is $15.00.
- First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) maintained BUY with $209.50 current price, target price is $250.00.
- SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR) maintained BUY with $68.24 current price, target price is $185.00.
- Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd.(NYSE: STP) maintained BUY with $34.45 current price, target is $90.00.
That ENER call would cover a lot of errors, the stock closed yesterday at $66.42.
And get this, every stock on the list is up.
Granted STP's twenty cent (not percent) increase brings to mind this Warren Buffett quote:
"Now I'm known as a long-term investor and a patient guy, but that is not my idea of a big move."
In this 1999 Fortune article "Mr. Buffett on the Stock Market". Granted the time and tape he was talking about was even worse:
December 31, 1964: DJIA 874.12
December 31, 1981: DJIA 875.00
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Okay Mr. hedgie music critic, so you didn't care for the selection that accompanied yesterday's FSLR post?
(First Solar to Beat and Raise, Market Yawns (FSLR))
Let's try some 32nd note market commentary:
This MarketWatch piece is an excuse to lift a Bespoke chart that succinctly explains "Crude Oil and Natural Gas Prices Reliably Intertwined?":
Investors punished natural gas stocks on Tuesday, with earnings updates from oil major BP and refining giant Valero on tap, along with falling oil prices and problems for Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria....MORE
Here's another of Bespoke's wonderfully simple charts:
here for the verbiage.
Tell me about it.
In pushing the US to produce all of its electricity from environmentally friendly sources in 10 years, former Vice President Al Gore points to the accomplishments of the technology industry, especially the dramatic gains in computing capability, as an example of what tech innovators can do.
"Think about what happened in the computer revolution," Gore said on NBC's Meet the Press programme recenty. "We saw cost reductions for silicon computer chips of 50% for every year and a half for the last 40 years," he said. "We're now beginning to see the same kind of sharp cost reductions as the demand grows for solar cells — they build new, more efficient facilities to build these solar cells."
Gore, who has formed a group, The Alliance for Climate Protection, for solar cell creation, was referring to Moore's Law, which explains the dramatic gains in compute performance. It stems from a 1965 paper written by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, which found that the number of transistors put on a chip doubles every 18 months.
But does Moore's Law also apply to the solar energy industry? The short answer is no....Go here for the long answer.
Trina had jumped ahead of the herd's movements, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece by establishing a strong presence in Italy where they have a 26% market share. By being early they were able to make the connections and develop the relationships. Enel is a big dog*.
Chinese solar companies Trina Solar Ltd (TSL.N: Quote) and Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP.N: Quote) have signed separate supply agreements with a unit of Italy's biggest power company, Enel SpA (ENEI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the companies said on Tuesday.*From ENEL's homepage:
Suntech said it would supply Enel.si with 30 megawatts of photovoltaic solar modules later this year and in 2009.
Trina said it would supply the company with 17 MW of modules starting this year.
Enel is a world leader in generating electricity from renewable sources. It plans to spend 7.4 billion euros on such investments by the end of 2012.
Enel is Italy's largest power company and Europe’s second listed utility by installed capacity. It produces and sells electricity and gas across Europe, North and Latin America. Further to the acquisition of the Spanish utility Endesa, together with partner Acciona, Enel has now a presence in 21 countries with 75,500 MW of generating capacity (on 31st December 2007) and serves more than 50 million power and gas customers....
"Trina Solar Renews Contract in Italy, A Key Solar Market Now That Spain Is Sputtering (TSL)"
"SunPower: Italy Next Big European Solar Market, Trina Solar Contract Encouraging (SPWR; TSL)"
Trina Solar in Three-year $158 Million Pact (TSL)
Your Pick: " First Solar Q2 Preview: Citi Sees Major EPS Upside". Or: " First Solar Q2 : Solid, No Blowout, Eyes on Malaysia" (FSLR)
They're both from ClusterStock:
The Street is expecting upside in Q2 from First Solar (FSLR) (reporting July 30th, after close), but leave it to Citi to expect even more. After all, FSLR won't hit Citi's $450 price target through garden-variety outperformance:And:While the Street is broadly expecting a beat, we think FSLR should deliver enough EPS upside even in spite of what are apt to be lower margins out of the gate given initial under-absorption from the aggressive ramp in Malaysia. Going forward, we think Street models should pull in by nearly a full Q as FSLR is likely to raise full-year shipment guidance...MORE
AmTech's John Hardy remains wildly positive on First Solar (FSLR). He doesn't recommend a trade into earnings (Wednesday, July 30th, after close), but he thinks his long-term thesis is intact: the stock is going to the moon....
...The Bulls Will Point To:
- No silicon constraints as with traditional players.
- Opening of US utility market given low-cost solution....
The Bears Will Point To:
- Limited operating history.
- Must ramp production capacity very quickly in order to fulfill backlog commitments and expectations....MORE
First Solar to Beat and Raise, Market Yawns (FSLR)
Mandy Rice-Davies anyone?
...But John Rice, a General Electric Co vice chairman, said GE sees cap-and-trade as the way to go.
GE, the second-largest U.S. company by market value, makes both energy-producing devices from equipment for coal plants to windmills and energy-consuming products like jet engines."We believe that a cap-and-trade program can provide a reliable market pricing mechanism for carbon," Rice said....MORE
Keep an eye on Mr. Rice:
Will John Rice take over GE from Jeff Immelt?
The next two home heating seasons are shaping up to be financially brutal for homeowners. Heating degree days will be colder than the thirty year average and any disruption in natural gas supply will have us at $20.00 gas by Dec. '09. There's a reason we posted "Centaurus, Carlyle Carve Gas Caverns as Traders Bet Prices Rise" and:
From our Aug. '07 post, Investing in Natural Gas:
Natural gas futures are down.
The September contract is trading at $5.82 down 21 cents.
The January '08 was $8.20. If you know anyone with (large) gas storage capacity (besides Uncle Dave on a fishing trip) drop me a line....
From CXO Advisory:
Reader Henry Bee of Vancouver, Canada asks:
"You have probably heard of the historical 6:1 crude oil/natural gas price ratio. This relationship is said to be mean reverting based on the thermal equivalence of the two commodities. Does this ratio have any predictive power for the future prices of oil or natural gas? If there is no predictive power for this ratio, then it could mean that the thermal equivalence itself shifts over time. And hedge funds who are long natural gas right now are making a huge fundamental mistake."
If there are relationships, we hypothesize that a high (low) crude oil-natural gas price ratio should predict a future increase (decrease) in the price of natural gas and/or a future decrease (increase) in the price of crude oil. Using the monthly composite U.S. refiner cost of crude oil (nominal dollars per barrel) and the monthly U.S. wellhead natural gas price (nominal dollars per thousand cubic feet) for January 1976 through April 2008 (388 months), we find that...
The following chart plots the crude oil-natural gas price ratio over the entire sample period. Visual inspection reveals no reversion level and no regular cycles. The range of the ratio is roughly 5 to 20....MORE
Oil accelerates losses as dollar rises vs. rivals. And: Cramer on BloggingStocks: Not buying the oil/dollar story
First up, from MarketWatch:
Crude-oil futures accelerated their losses Tuesday, as the U.S. dollar strengthened against other major currencies, pressuring dollar-denominated oil prices.Crude oil for September delivery dropped $3.43 to $121.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.On the currency markets, the greenback rose against most of its major rivals, with the dollar index gaining 0.8% to 73.26....MORE
From Blogging Stocks:
TheStreet.com's Jim Cramer says don't blame the currency, it's all about supply and demand.
How often do we hear that this currency as the culprit of the m.o. of everything that the "sophisticated" types think is happening. It is almost conspiratorial:
I am not an unsophisticated player....MORE
- the Fed raises rates;
- commodity prices come in because they are a hedge against the weak dollar;
- oil fluctuates in price because of the dollar;
- the dollar controls stocks and bonds.
From MIT's Technology Review:
Researchers show a low-cost route to making materials for advanced batteries in electric cars and hybrids.
A new way to make advanced lithium-ion battery materials addresses one of their chief remaining problems: cost. Arumugam Manthiram, a professor of materials engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, has demonstrated that a microwave-based method for making lithium iron phosphate takes less time and uses lower temperatures than conventional methods, which could translate into lower costs.
Lithium iron phosphate is an alternative to the lithium cobalt oxide used in most lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers . It promises to be much cheaper because it uses iron rather than the much more expensive metal cobalt. Although it stores less energy than some other lithium-ion materials, lithium iron phosphate is safer and can be made in ways that allow the material to deliver large bursts of power, properties that make it particularly useful in hybrid vehicles.
ndeed, lithium iron phosphate has become one of the hottest new battery materials. For example, A123 Systems, a startup based in Watertown, MA, that has developed one form of the material, has raised more than $148 million and commercialized batteries for rechargeable power tools that can outperform conventional plug-in tools....MORE
Monday, July 28, 2008
At least that's what the stock was saying today. Up $4.44 on a down 2% day. They report after the close Wednesday.
Sometimes it seems that the action is singing to you.
Note the sweet moves of the youthful Mr. Ahearn, before he is directed by counsel to resume insider sales.
Here's We Got the Beat
Remember that we have seen three reports* that were followed by downticks and believe it is the new trend in solar. "Evergreen Solar Q2 In Line, But Shrs Fall On Light Outlook (ESLR)"
ESLR- in line
MEMC- swing and a miss.
All three down. As grandmother used to say "Secular bear markets aren't just about declines [although they can be doozies], they're also about multiple contraction."
"Grandma, what's a doozie?"
Update: Here's a headline from Tech Trader Daily, great minds and all that:
July 28, 2008, 7:26 pm
Atheros: Beat-And-Raise Qtr; Stk Off On Margin Worries
From the press release: Net sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 were $3.5 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion, or nearly double the amount posted in the same period a year ago. Mosaic's gross margin for the fiscal 2008 fourth quarter was $1.3 billion, or 37.1% of net sales, compared with $456.2 million, or 27.1% of net sales, a year ago. Fourth quarter operating earnings were $1.2 billion, compared with $359.8 million for the fourth quarter in fiscal 2007. Financial performance continued to benefit from strong agricultural fundamentals and customer demand that drove significant increases in selling prices. Mosaic also had effective operational performance and the Offshore segment results benefited from positioning of lower cost inventories. These positive factors were partially offset by significantly increased Canadian resource taxes and royalties in the Potash segment, and by higher raw material costs for sulfur and ammonia in the Phosphates segment....MORE The stock was up $0.33 in after-hours trading. From MarketWatch:
The Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) announced today net earnings of $862.5 million, or $1.93 per share, for the fourth quarter ended May 31, 2008. These results compare with net earnings of $202.6 million, or $0.46 per share, for the quarter ended May 31, 2007. Net earnings for Mosaic's fiscal year ended, May 31, 2008, were $2.1 billion, or $4.67 per share, compared with $419.7 million, or $0.95 per share, in fiscal 2007.
...Analysts surveyed by FactSet Research had predicted the Plymouth, Minn.-based fertilizer and feed company would earn $1.65 a share on $2.81 billion revenue. Mosaic shares rose 0.5% ahead of the report to close at $122.66
Net sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 were $3.5 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion, or nearly double the amount posted in the same period a year ago.
Mosaic's gross margin for the fiscal 2008 fourth quarter was $1.3 billion, or 37.1% of net sales, compared with $456.2 million, or 27.1% of net sales, a year ago. Fourth quarter operating earnings were $1.2 billion, compared with $359.8 million for the fourth quarter in fiscal 2007. Financial performance continued to benefit from strong agricultural fundamentals and customer demand that drove significant increases in selling prices. Mosaic also had effective operational performance and the Offshore segment results benefited from positioning of lower cost inventories. These positive factors were partially offset by significantly increased Canadian resource taxes and royalties in the Potash segment, and by higher raw material costs for sulfur and ammonia in the Phosphates segment....MORE
The stock was up $0.33 in after-hours trading.
From the Financial Post:
Crude oil has fallen as much as 15% from its peak, natural gas has lost a third of its value and gold has dipped more than 7%. Energy and materials stocks in the Canadian equity market meanwhile, have taken part in the downtrend with declines of 19.3% and 15.4% from their recent peaks, respectively.
But they failed to fully engage in the upside for commodity prices during the second quarter, Merrill Lynch Canada strategist David Wolf said in a recent report titled “Commodity stocks if the run isn’t done.”
He expects further weakness in these sectors going forward, which is a primary reason for his bearish call on the S&P/TSX composite index.
However, Mr. Wolf said he continues to hear from international clients looking for an entry point into Canada’s commodity boom.
So since not everybody is as bearish as Merrill, they thought it was worth a look at the TSX materials and energy sectors for stocks that are off more than 20% from their peaks, are Buy-rated, and have better-than-average earnings momentum....MORE
"While most funds have been dumping stocks in India's sliding market, billionaire global investor George Soros has turned contrarian on India," says international expert Nick Vardy who now suggests "bottom fishing" in India.
"According to the Times of India, the Hungarian born Soros -- who since last August is again actively managing his famed Quantum fund -- recently went on a buying spree in India making investments valued at $140 million in a wide range of Indian companies....
..."According to Lipper Analytics, three India-focused funds rank among the 10 worst-performing funds globally in May. Stories about India's much vaunted middle class and the country's outsourcing prowess have evaporated from the global financial press virtually overnight....MORE
...in Topeka Wednesday afternoon, July 30th, Heritage Hall of the Expocenter.
Maril Hazlett of the Climate and Energy project is trying to keep the economy of eastern Kansas from coming to a halt:
...Come one, come all. Presuming you have no conflict with work.Here's her post at the CEP blog.
World oil prices are overvalued and "not realistic" because the market is being manipulated, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
"The market should be free and these commodities should compete in a free setting," Ahmadinejad told NBC's Brian Williams in a taped interview in Tehran....MORE
"Good morning Brian, death to Israel"
Here's the video*.
* Mr. A. didn't really begin with "Good morning Brian, Death to Israel" He did, however, say "nuclear weapons are so twentieth century". Watch the video, something big is going on here.
Here's the story in reverse chronological order.
From 24/7 Wall Street:
If you trade small-cap alternative energy (or less-brown energy stocks) , then Capstone Turbine Corp. (NASDAQ: CPST) has likely come across your desk. Despite a recent pounding with a 35% pullback, shares are still up nearly 200% from last year's lows.
We noticed a severe volume alert yesterday morning at Volume Spike which appears to be twofold with a market drop and lower energy prices and on what may have been an institution lightening up on its shares.Today we have Lazard Capital Markets analyst Sanjay Shrestha coming to the defense of Capstone Turbine. Shrestha notes that yesterday's (and recent days) sell-off on macro events alone with a volatile energy market gives an opportunity for new funds to get into the stock....MORE
From FoxBusiness, the day before:
Capstone Turbine Corporation Addresses Statements Made in Interview with Bloomberg Reporter
...an interview with Darren R. Jamison, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer....
The Bloomberg article, published on July 21, 2008, quotes Mr. Jamison as saying that sales estimates in the mid-$50 million range for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 "are very obtainable and reasonable." The article also quotes Mr. Jamison as stating that the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 "is a reasonable date" for the Company to achieve an annual profit. Mr. Jamison's comments were in response to questions about an analyst's specific financial model indicating a revenue target in the mid-$50 million range for the year ended March 31, 2009 and profitability in 2012. The comments were not intended to represent management's financial projections or outlook in general.The Company does not publicly disclose its internal financial projections....MORE
And the Bloomberg article that started it all:
Capstone Turbine Targets Profit by 2012, Chief Says
Capstone Turbine Corp., whose miniturbine powers buses being tested by New York City Transit as a fuel-efficient alternative, may boost sales 66 percent this year and be profitable by 2012, Chief Executive Officer Darren Jamison said....MORE
A Robert Shiller Commentary from Project Syndicate:
Could the television image we’ve all seen of the Greenland ice cap crumbling into the ocean because of global warming somehow - indirectly and psychologically — be partly responsible for high oil and other commodity prices? The usual explanation of today’s scarcity and high prices focuses on explosive growth in emerging countries, China and India in particular, whose demand for scarce resources is “insatiable.” But psychology also matters in speculative markets, and perhaps that image of the Greenland ice disappearing makes it seem all too plausible that everything else- land, water, even fresh air - is running out too.HT: Mark Thoma
Let’s take a case study, the last generalised boom-bust cycle in commodity prices, which caused these prices generally to rise (more or less) from some time in the 1960’s until the 1980’s, and then generally to fall until the mid-1990’s. Maybe images matter just as much as substance in explaining that....MORE
Britain has serious energy problems, this is just a sideshow.
From the Financial Times:
EDF’s planned takeover of British Energy risks creating serious competition problems in the UK electricity market, rival companies and customers have warned.
A deal that values British Energy’s equity at about £12.5bn ($24.8bn) could be announced this week. It is backed by the UK government, which controls 35 per cent of the company and wants to get the industry moving on building more nuclear power stations.
But electricity companies and industrial users have called for radical changes to protect competitors and consumers. The business and enterprise select committee makes the same call on Monday in its report on energy markets.
An EDF deal would mean “essentially handing the British nuclear industry to the French government”, says Dieter Helm, an energy expert at Oxford University....MOR
SemGroup co-founder Tom Kivisto this weekend attempted to reassure employees of the embattled company, following his removal as chief executive and president amid investigations by federal regulators and the United States Attorney’s Office.
‘’Tulsa has always rebounded well when bad things happen to one of its corporate citizens,'’ Mr. Kivisto said Saturday at a news conference where he refused to take questions from the media.
‘’With an investigation under way, I cannot answer any of the pressing questions or comment on speculations regarding the SemGroup situation,'’ he said. A full transcript of his statement was published on the Web site of newspaper Tulsa World.
Kivisto added he believes ‘’as the facts and truths surrounding this chain of events are revealed, the SemGroup employees will regain their trust in what they initially believed'’ about the organization.
The comments came one day after Bank of America sued Mr. Kivisto and his trust organization in Tulsa federal court for $12.8 million and interest unpaid on a 2006 loan....MORE
These are heady times for the thin-film solar industry. The sector’s dominant player, First Solar, has been on a tear of late, recently announcing it would build a second 10 megawatt power plant in Nevada, while Miasole, once thought to be ailing, has staged an impressive comeback, raking in an eye-popping $220 million. Nanosolar has developed a new ultra-fast solar cell printer, and even giants like IBM and Applied Materials have gotten in on the game.
In the face of such intense competition, how will HelioVolt, a well-funded outpost of CIGS manufacturing in Texas, fare? The company hopes a new hybrid, super fast CIGS process it has developed in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which combines its patented FASST process and NREL’s non-vacuum deposition technique, will help even the odds....MORE
From the press release:
Climate Change Capital ("CCC") is acquiring the US strategic environmental consultancy, M.J. Bradley & Associates, it was announced today.
The move, for an undisclosed sum, is the latest in a series of strategic moves in the US by the UK based investment banking group and fund manager dedicated to the low carbon economy. These include the acquisition of the business and assets of Quality Tonnes, a carbon project developer, and opening an office in Washington D.C. for policy and market development. CCC's activities include investing, through its Carbon and Private Equity Funds, in companies and projects that help mitigate climate change. CCC manages the world's largest private sector carbon fund....MORE
From the Wall Street Journal:
An unprecedented cutback in driving is slashing the funds available to rebuild the nation's aging highway system and expand mass-transit options, underscoring the economic impact of high gasoline prices. The resulting financial strain is touching off a political battle over government priorities in a new era of expensive oil.
A report to be released Monday by the Transportation Department shows that over the past seven months, Americans have reduced their driving by more than 40 billion miles. Because of high gasoline prices, they drove 3.7% fewer miles in May than they did a year earlier, the report says, more than double the 1.8% drop-off seen in April....MORE
And oil has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with it.
China plans to install its first long-term deep-sea subsurface mooring system in the Arctic Ocean, to monitor long-term marine changes, the Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.
The system will collect data on the temperature, salinity and speed of currents at various depths around 75 degrees north in the Chukchi Sea, where Atlantic and Pacific currents converge above the Bering Strait. That will allow studies of the impact on China's climate of changes in the Arctic, Xinhua said....MORE
They do however correlate with the overall equity market, which is why we paraphrase Chairman Mao from time to time:
...The reason, to paraphrase Chairman Mao's statement "The guerilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea" is that climate/energy investments swim in the larger sea of the markets....The guys at AltEnergyStocks scare me, I sometimes think they are reading my mind. In May I noted:
AltEnergyStocks comes slamming home with the post I was going to do, but better, backwards and in heels:...Last week AES did it again. This time Charles Morand beat me to a graphic depiction of recent trends with "Alternative Energy & Conventional Energy: Is An Image Worth A Thousand Words?":
It wasn't long ago that people still believed the price of energy commodities - and crude oil in particular - had a greater impact on alt energy stocks than did general movements in equity markets or even fundamental factors.
The logic went something like this: even though oil and most of the sub-sectors that make up the broad alt energy space (e.g. solar) are not in direct competition with one-another, expensive oil is the number one driver behind governments searching for alternatives to the way we currently meet our energy needs. For a time, this theory may have held true as far as short-term movements in the prices of alt energy stocks went - but is it still the case?
About a quarter of the way through the book Technical Analysis for Dummies, there were no doubts left in my mind that technical analysis wasn't my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I do like data and enjoy looking at charts as far as general trends are concerned. I therefore thought I'd take a look at a few basic charts to see if, at least visually, there appeared to be any relationship between movements in energy markets and movements in alt energy equities....
...Of course, nothing conclusive can be drawn from this small exercise, and since I am a bottom-up stock picker I only partially care about what makes the market move in the near-term. My primary interest in doing this was to see if, should we enter into a period of energy price correction, I should keep my eyes open for promising companies that may trade at a discount due to non-fundamental factors (i.e. supply and demand in the market).
From this brief analysis it seems as though I might be better off with continued troubles in equity markets as a whole for finding alt energy bargains.
Go here for the charts and Tom Konrad's comment.