The stock is opening down $2.10 at $69.62.
Ask Pictet Clean Energy Fund manager Philippe de Weck where he finds investment value in a world more concerned about the economic recession than reducing emissions and the short answer is in technology pioneers.
LEDs, or energy-efficient light-emitting diodes, shine in de Weck’s investment universe as they are “ultimately how we are going to light the world,” he said in an interview at Pictet & Cie’s headquarters in Geneva. “Cree is really at the cutting edge of the LED chip technology.”
Cree Inc., based in Durham, North Carolina, is the fund’s largest holding among LED developers and has more than doubled in the last 12 months as demand grows for lighting that saves on power bills while generating fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.
De Weck’s fund returned 32 percent in the year ended May 3, a “respectable” performance for a “volatile sector” that beat more than half his peers when adjusted for currency moves, Ben Guest, chief executive officer of the clean-tech investment manager Hazel Capital LLP in London, said in a phone interview.
By comparison, the benchmark WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index gained 6 percent in the same period, while the SAM Smart Energy Fund advanced 53 percent. De Weck’s performance was held back by Iberdrola Renovables SA, the biggest wind parks owner and his largest holding, which dropped 8.9 percent.
Most clean energy shares have suffered since the United Nations global warming talks stalled in Copenhagen in December and as President Barack Obama’s administration debates the shape of legislation aimed at cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
De Weck’s favored holdings for his Luxembourg-based mutual fund, which has about $750 million under management, include Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a Seal Beach, California-based operator of natural-gas fuel stations, and Westport Innovations Inc., a Vancouver developer of natural gas engine technology.
“You can really get bang for your buck in terms of cleaning up the energy supply by moving from coal to gas. Or oil to gas,” said de Weck, who is 36. Emissions can be cut in half combusting gas instead of coal and almost half as well for oil....MORE