Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We're So Proud! Our Most Popular Post for March Was "Biofuels: "Abra Cadaver! Sweden Kills Thousands Of Bunnies And Uses Their Corpses To..."

As I said in January's "We're So Proud! Our Most Popular Post this Month...":
Even worse, the bit folks want was originally posted in October '08....
January's fav will be below.
Well, this month's most popular is actually from October '09:
News junkies saw this story last week. I decided to post it today because a) this is a good headline (think N.Y. Post or Daily News good), b) it reminded me of a post from 2007 and c) the related stories are a little off-kilter. From The Local (Sweden's news in English):

The bodies of thousands of rabbits culled every year from the parks in Stockholm’s Kungsholmen neighbourhood are being used to fuel a heating plant in central Sweden.

The decision to use Stockholm’s rabbit cadavers as bioenergy to warm Swedes living in Värmland doesn't sit well with Stockholm-based animal rights activists....MORE
Credit for 'Abra Cadaver' to The B.S. Report.
And the story I was reminded of?

Totally off-topic: Kentucky Fried North Korea

Choi Won-ho has made six trips to North Korea in the past two years, struggling each time to convince the reclusive government there that the time was ripe for a chicken franchise.
"I told those guys that Kentucky Fried Chicken would come sooner or later," said Choi, president of a company that has franchised 70 chicken restaurants in South Korea. "I told them it would be better to have an indigenous Korean brand, with takeout delivery."...MORE

And a good thing too, if you remember what happened to Herman der Grosse's cousins.*

rabbits nibbling
Herman, in happier times. Then:

No More Monster Bunnies for North Korea

The fate of 12 German giant rabbits delivered to North Korea is in doubt. The breeder who sent them suspects they have been eaten by top officials rather than used to set up a bunny farm. Berlin's North Korean embassy denies the allegation. One thing is sure: the country will have to find another seller....More

Look at these guys:

From das Kaninchen to der Hasenpfeffer-

200701122151 ITA says "Karl Szmolinsky, a 67 year old, East German pensioner that has bred rabbits the size of dogs for 47 years was asked by North Korea's ambassador whether he might be willing to sell some rabbits to set up a breeding farm in North Korea. Each of his German Grey Rabbits can feed 8 people and will possible reduce if not stop solve the food shortage crisis in North Korea." Via boingboing

"Obama: 'Fat-cat' bankers owe help to U.S. taxpayers (BAC; C; GS; JPM; WFC)":
From USAToday:
President Obama, already at odds with bankers over big bonuses and new regulations, plans to urge executives at a White House meeting today to provide more loans to small-business owners.
Top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers said Sunday that Obama will remind the bankers of the taxpayer help they received during last year's financial crisis.
"We were there for them," Summers said on ABCsThis Week With George Stephanopoulos. "And the banks need to do everything they can to be sure they're there for customers across this country."
During a taped interview broadcast Sunday night on CBS' 60 Minutes, Obama blasted banking executives for opposing tighter regulations on Wall Street and for awarding themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses after they had repaid federal bailout money.
"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," Obama said....MORE
From our Oct. 4, 2008 post:
Citi Slicker

Fat Cat

Save Me! I'm a BSD Dammit!

fat cat

Country (wide) Cousin (It's BAC!)
Fat cat!

A pattern appears to be emerging.

Ma, ya got any pictures of the pot-bellied pigs?
Or maybe the neighbor kids?

Green Jobs! "Legalizing Marijuana to Be on Ballot for Californians"

I like to think of it as the "Audacity of Dope".
From ABC News:

Advocates Say Pot Would Be Economic Boon; Opponents Expect More Crime, Dropouts and Deaths
Richard Lee is a well-known businessman in Oakland, Calif. His business is marijuana -- and it is booming.

From his coffee house selling medical marijuana, to his trade school for marijuana growers, Oaksterdam University, Lee employs 58 people and pays hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in taxes.

But last week, Lee achieved what is arguably his biggest success yet, after California's secretary of state ruled that his campaign to make marijuana legal had gathered enough signatures to place the issue before voters this November.

"I've always thought since I grew up in the '70s that cannabis prohibition is unjust and hypocritical," Lee said.

The initiative would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. It also would allow the growing of up to 25 square feet of marijuana per residence....MORE

We've only had a few posts on the subject:

6% of all power produced by BC Hydro is used to grow marijuana.

Afghan farmers say no to opium, yes to pot

California Votes on Budget Measures, Girly Man Governor on Dope.

...Careful what you wish for, you might get it all:

Here's Marley and Tosh in '75:

"Are The Mosaic Company's Bears Hedging Their Bets Ahead of Earnings?" (MOS)

From Schaeffer's Research:

Short selling and call buying have been rising in tandem on this fertilizer concern

Fertilizer specialist The Mosaic Company (MOS) is on deck to release its is fiscal third-quarter earnings figures after the close of trading on Wednesday, with analysts anticipating a profit of 64 cents per share from the company. In the same quarter last year, Mosaic earned 18 cents per share. Historically, the company has been a poor performer in the earnings limelight. In fact, the firm has missed Wall Street's expectations in three of the prior four reporting periods, while topping forecasts only once. On average, MOS has fallen short of analysts' estimates by about 38% during this time frame.

Heading into tomorrow's report, it appears that investors are expecting more of the same from MOS. For instance, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.70 arrives higher than 90% of all such readings taken during the past year, meaning that this ratio is just 10 percentage points shy of an annual bearish peak. That said, this ratio has trended lower since setting a near-term peak of 0.79 on March 19, hinting that calls are beginning to gain traction among options speculators.

SOIR chart for MOS

Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) also points toward an increased preference for MOS calls. Specifically, the stock's 10-day ISE/CBOE call/put volume ratio of 4.05 indicates that calls bought to open have more than quadrupled puts purchased during the prior two weeks....MORE

"Solar Patent King Boeing Teams Up With Stirling Energy Systems" (BA)

We last visited Stirling in "Solar: "Pssst, D'ya want an Equity Play on New Energy Congress' #1 Ranked Technology?" where we mentioned the proposed Tower Automotive IPO and Dublin traded NTR plc., at the time of their $100 mil. investment a 51% holder of Stirling as indirect plays.

Yesterday earth2tech had another angle:
A little known fact about Boeing: It’s got more solar patents than anyone else in the U.S. (14 solar thermal patents since 2002 as of January, according to cleantech patent tracking law firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti). So sooner or later the defense contractor would want to commercialize ‘em. This morning Boeing says it has teamed up with solar thermal company Stirling Energy Systems to develop Boeing’s high-concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar power technology.

High-concentration solar PV technology uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a high-efficiency photovoltaic cell. The technology provides more power than standard photovoltaic solar panels, and tends to be smaller in scale than the massive solar thermal plants (that don’t use PV) that are being built in the world’s deserts these days.

Boeing started developing the concentrating solar PV tech (dubbed XR700) back in 2007 in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program. Stirling Energy Systems, which has the exclusive worldwide license to develop, deploy and commercialize the tech, will now use solar cells from Boeing’s subsidiary Spectrolab for the technology, and plans to deploy the systems commercially by 2012.

Stirling already makes utility-scale solar thermal technology based on a stirling engine called the “SunCatcher” solar dish. Stirling engines were invented centuries ago, and can be more efficient and quieter than internal combustion engines and use a closed system of gases to generate power. Most solar thermal technologies, by contrast, concentrate the sun’s rays onto liquid, which powers a turbine....MORE

Here's the press release (2 page PDF) from Stirling.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Pacific Ethanol announces bankruptcy reorganization plan" (PEIX)

My ethanol posts have been less serious than this, the five-day action from BigCharts:

It may be time to start paying attention to the group again.
If I could just remember their names.
From the Los Angeles Times' Money & Co. blog:

Energy company Pacific Ethanol Holding Co. revealed Monday that it had filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan after being hit hard by fluctuating prices for the biofuel and its main source, corn.

The subsidiary of Sacramento-based Pacific Ethanol Inc. would restructure its $293.5 million of debt into a combination of equity and $115 million in debt. The company would relinquish ownership of its four plants to lenders led by European bank West LB AG while continuing to staff, manage and operate the factories.

The plan, filed in a bankruptcy court in Delaware on Friday, also allows for a $35-million credit line for plant operations that could help reopen the company’s facilities in Stockton and Madera. The plants, including others in Oregon and Idaho, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May.

Creditors and the bankruptcy judge must first approve the reorganization proposal for the unit.

The parent Pacific Ethanol once was an industry golden child that boasted of an $84-million investment from Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates. Gates’ Cascade Investment firm has since sold its 21% stake in the company.

Pacific Ethanol Holding expects to exit bankruptcy around the end of the second quarter, but if negotiations result in an acquisition agreement with the lenders, the company said it would modify its reorganization plan.

The parent company's stock plunged 41% on Monday to $1.17. It was trading off another 5 cents to $1.12 at about 10:10 a.m. PDT Tuesday.

Electric Vehicles: "Wait! Did Better Place Just Change Its Business Strategy?"

We don't post much on the EV biz. Fascinating as it is I don't see it making money as a portfolio-type investment. Mr. Agassi has run an almost perfect PR/marketing campaign, you'd have to try not to have been exposed, so we do pay some attention.
From The Big Money's Shifting Gears blog:

Battery swapping, battery swapping, battery swapping. This has been Better Place’s alleged strategy for getting around the problem of limited ranges for the current state-of-the-art in electric cars. When your battery runs out of juice in a Better Place car, you pull into a swapping station where an automated system switched your battery for a new, fully charged one. This sounds great, but when Better Place CEO began stumping for it—and stump for it he did, pretty much everywhere, all the time—the idea was met with a hail of skepticism, and not just from the media and EV wonks. Major automakers said it was a dumb idea because no one would every agree to develop a standardized battery. Some even suggested that it would be dangerous.

CEO Shai Agassi disagreed.

But has Better Place heard this and made an adjustment? So it would seem, if this MarketWatch video is any indication. Better Place’s plan is first described in terms of charging infrastructure, and only then is the battery swapping scheme showcased. Makes sense. Charging in the go, or at home, is more palatable than the idea of having to locate a battery swapping station. Charging stations are also easier to build and install, and with the right technology, they require no real monitoring. ...MORE

"LDK Solar Not Interesting After Q4" LDK

One of the harshest put-downs I ever saw was an elderly socialite matriarch listening to an eager-beaver from the family office going on and on about their superlative relative performance.

She knew more about this stuff than he ever would and rather than cut him short on 'relative performance' she cut him dead with "You bore me".

Kinda like the BloggingStocks headline. Here's the story:
The solar power industry is no doubt a fascinating long-term thesis; future solutions for global energy needs, ones that involve alternatives to oil-based platforms, will be in demand. Even so, that doesn't mean I have to like LDK Solar (LDK) after its fourth-quarter report.

According to, LDK Solar didn't score a win in the analyst expectations game. The call was for 12 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, the Chinese solar entity brought in only 3 cents per share. The top line was okay, but as indicated, margin quality wasn't necessarily the greatest. According to Reuters, management is counting on margin improvement in the coming year. That's cool.
But is it cool enough for me to buy the company's ADSs? No, I'm afraid not.

The earnings miss is bad enough. But the drop in the share price is even worse. At the time of this writing, LDK Solar was off by 7.5%, and volume was cooking; the number of shares traded will be pretty high by the end of the current session....MORE
The stock closed down 7.8% at $6.50.
Here's another angle from Schaeffer's Research (3/29):

LDK Solar Co., Ltd. Bears Betting on a Post-Earnings Plunge

Investors are none too happy heading into the solar firm's quarterly report

Solar wafer manufacturer LDK Solar Co., Ltd. (LDK) is scheduled to release its quarterly earnings ahead of the open tomorrow morning, and judging from the stock's sentiment backdrop, investor expectations are set pretty low for the event. Checking in with the analyst community, Wall Street is expecting the company to post a profit of 12 cents per share, a figure that is impressively higher than LDK's loss of $1.25 per share in the same quarter last year.

Historically, the company has been a volatile performer on the earnings stage. During the most recent reporting period, LDK posted a profit of 27 cents per share, some 430% better than the consensus expectations for a loss of 8 cents per share. However, the firm missed by 123%, 250%, and 48% in the three quarters prior. On average, LDK has fallen short of analysts' estimates by about 4% during this time frame.

Apparently keying off the past year's poor fundamental performance, options traders appear to have set the bar pretty low. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.68 arrives higher than 84% of all such readings taken during the past year. What's more, this ratio has trended higher since March options expiration, jumping from its March 19 reading of 0.95, in the 65th percentile. This rise in LDK's SOIR indicates that puts are being added at a faster rate than calls among near-term options, pointing toward growing bearish sentiment among these speculative investors....MORE

I have dishonored my ancestors: "Copper jumps to 19-month high"

Credibility falls like Cherry Blossoms in gentle spring rain.

Intemperate March 16 post: "Commodities: They Just Rang a Bell at the Top "ETF First From First Trust: Platinum, Copper Miner ETFs" (FCX; RTP; SCCO)"

Like drunken monkey, analyst swaggers on with "Is China on the verge of a commodities unwind?" (FCX; RTP; SCCO; PLTM)":
...Two days later platinum hit $1638 and copper $3.4048. Here's the 30-day platinum chart from Kitco:

Spot platinum is trading at $1581, down $24 today. Copper futures are at $332.65.
Copper hit a 19-month high on Tuesday, as a falling dollar and rising risk appetite boosted prices, with positive expectations for fund flows and metals demand going into the second quarter.

Benchmark copper for three-month delivery CMCU3 on the London Metal Exchange traded at $7,821 a tonne from $7,770 at the close on Monday.

Copper, used in power and construction, touched a high at $7,835 a tonne, as the euro hit a one-week high against the dollar on relief that debt-laden Greece was able to raise funds from the market. [USD/]

"The whole Greece situation has settled down a bit (and) risk appetite has picked up on the back of that," said Dan Smith, an analyst at Standard Chartered. "There is a lot of volatility surrounding the end of quarter -- the next few weeks will be tough to call.

"Everyone is anticipating new money coming from the funds but we don't know how much it is going to be." A weak U.S. currency makes metals priced in dollars less

expensive for holders of other currencies....

Auspicious update, below.

Stocks closed generally mournful and reflective.

Currency devaluation reflects silently on still and glassy water.

Traditional Japanese view of the cherry blossoms (sakura) with reflecting water and a shrine (the Jefferson Memorial) in Washington, D.C..

Invest in Kirin

Mindfulness overrated

Sensei insensate

If you missed it, the Sakura festivals have passed Tokyo on their way north, Kanazawa and Nigata today.

The D.C. blossoms will be prime April 1-4 according to the Washington Post's Breaking News blog.

"The Future of Thin Film: Beyond the Hype" (FSLR; GE)

From Greentech:

2002 - 2008: The Promise

From only 17 MW in 2002 to 966 MW in 2008, thin film's rise over the last decade has been remarkable indeed. Fueled by the greatest success story in the PV industry -- cadmium telluride producer First Solar -- the technology has captured the imagination of industry participants and interested observers alike. First Solar represents the disruptive potential of thin-film PV in full: high throughput (1,011 megawatts in 2009), competitive efficiency (11%), and an industry-leading cost (currently 83 cents per watt), enabling significant profit (the only pure-play solar company to be listed on the S&P index)....

...2009 - 2010: Trials, Tribulations

Or so the hype went. As of 2010, only one other company besides First Solar -- triple-junction amorphous silicon firm United Solar -- has produced in excess of 100 MW annually. The cost structure of most amorphous silicon, considering its low efficiency, is barely competitive with crystalline silicon, and CIGS producers have encountered technical issues in manufacturing that have forced them to delay commercial production since 2007. To make matters more difficult, capital constraints made banks and developers shy away from thin film in favor of more mature and abundant crystalline silicon modules for projects in 2009. First Solar aside, one would have to admit that the results have yet to live up to the talk. As Asian crystalline silicon PV producers continue to ramp down costs and increase capacity beyond the gigawatt level, the question must be asked: will results ever meet expectations, and if so, when? In other words, will thin film fulfill its potential and make meaningful inroads into the solar energy landscape, creating new markets in the process? Or will it be relegated to a bit-player role in the growth of the global PV market?

2010 and Beyond: Inching Towards Inflection

As detailed in GTM Research's just-published report Thin Film 2010: Market Outlook through 2015, assessing thin film's impact on the global PV market in the years ahead requires an understanding of the factors that influence demand for this technology, and of how these factors interact when determining technology selection in PV markets. After a comprehensive analysis of more than 160 manufacturers, extensive data collection, and analysis that spanned three months, it is possible to trace the evolution of key aspects of the industry over the next three years. The following set of insights emerges as a result.

1. Thin film capacity will exceed 10 GW by the end of 2012. Thin film manufacturing capacity grew from just 349 MW at the end of 2006 to over 4.4 GW by the end of 2009, more than doubling every year, which reflected the attractiveness of investment in thin film due to the impact of the polysilicon shortage during that time. From 2010 onwards, the rate of expansion is expected to slow significantly; this reflects more sober plans in the aftermath of global oversupply, low consequent capacity utilization, and the lack of financing. Still, there will be over 10 GW of thin film capacity by the end of 2012, and there is room for upside adjustment if demand grows faster than expected. Amorphous silicon is expected to constitute a dominant majority at 5.65 GW, while CdTe and CIGS will have roughly even capacity share at 2.47 GW and 2.11 GW respectively.

2. Best-practice producers across all technologies will achieve costs of 80 cents per watt by the beginning of 2012, but there will be significant variation across producers. The figure below displays forecasted module costs for the beginning of 2012. CdTe costs are expected to drop to about 70 cents by this time. While possible tellurium price spikes present some risk to these numbers, the threat is limited by a thinner film and higher feedstock utilization from efficiency gains. In the case of amorphous silicon, it is expected that single-junction technology will hit its practical efficiency ceiling (8% to 8.5%) for many producers by 2012, and will start getting phased out thereafter. Tandem-junction, which just began to spread its wings in 2009, will take its place and become more representative of the a-Si market, at 10% efficiency. Costs for these technologies are expected to range from $0.80 to $1.20 per watt. CIGS should show an exponential improvement in costs from 2010 to 2012, due to the commercialization of high-throughput manufacturing through roll-to-roll processes by a few producers. For these firms, costs could be as low as 80 cents a watt. On the other end, smaller fabs that persist with glass substrates could be up to 50% more expensive, at $1.25 per watt....MUCH MORE

Watch Out First Solar: "GE outlines R&D efforts with CdTe thin-film technology" (FSLR; GE)
First Solar, PrimeStar Solar and Cadmium Risks (FSLR; GE)
GE sees solar becoming $1 bln business
GE's Immelt reduced to whining after homicidal rant from Jack Welch (GE)
And many, many more. Use the 'Search Blog" box.

EPA Says No Carbon Rules on Power Plants Before Election

Okay gang, ya got nine months, now innovate, innovate damn you.
Umm, sorry.
From Bloomberg:
The Obama administration will put off until at least January requiring permits for greenhouse-gas emissions by industrial polluters such as power plants and oil refineries.

The Environmental Protection Agency will take “sensible” steps to begin regulating greenhouse gases, the agency said today in an e-mailed statement.

The decision to phase in new rules is aimed at providing industrial polluters and state governments enough time to put in place new technologies to reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions that scientists link to climate change, according to the EPA.

“It gives large facilities the time they need to innovate, governments the time to prepare to cut greenhouse gases and it ensures that we don’t push this problem off to our children and grandchildren,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement....MORE

Miracle on Probability Street: One in a Million Happens 300 times/day in U.S.!

From Scientific American:

Why Our Brains Do Not Intuitively Grasp Probabilities

Have you ever gone to the phone to call a friend only to have your friend ring you first? What are the odds of that? Not high, to be sure, but the sum of all probabilities equals one. Given enough opportunities, outlier anomalies—even seeming miracles—will occasionally happen.

Let us define a miracle as an event with million-to-one odds of occurring (intuitively, that seems rare enough to earn the moniker). Let us also assign a number of one bit per second to the data that flow into our senses as we go about our day and assume that we are awake for 12 hours a day. We get 43,200 bits of data a day, or 1.296 million a month. Even assuming that 99.999 percent of these bits are totally meaningless (and so we filter them out or forget them entirely), that still leaves 1.3 “miracles” a month, or 15.5 miracles a year.

Thanks to our confirmation bias, in which we look for and find confirmatory evidence for what we already believe and ignore or discount contradictory evidence, we will remember only those few astonishing coincidences and forget the vast sea of meaningless data.

We can employ a similar back-of-the-envelope calculation to explain death premonition dreams. The average person has about five dreams a night, or 1,825 dreams a year. If we remember only a tenth of our dreams, then we recall 182.5 dreams a year. There are 300 million Americans, who thus produce 54.7 billion remembered dreams a year. Sociologists tell us that each of us knows about 150 people fairly well, thus producing a social-network grid of 45 billion personal relationship connections. With an annual death rate of 2.4 million Americans, it is inevitable that some of those 54.7 billion remembered dreams will be about some of these 2.4 million deaths among the 300 million Americans and their 45 billion relationship connections. In fact, it would be a miracle if some death premonition dreams did not happen to come true!

These examples show the power of probabilistic thinking to override our intuitive sense of numbers, or what I call “folk numeracy,” in parallel with my previous columns on “folk science” (August 2006) and “folk medicine” (August 2008) and with my book on “folk economics” (The Mind of the Market). Folk numeracy is our natural tendency to misperceive and miscalculate probabilities, to think anecdotally instead of statistically, and to focus on and remember short-term trends and small-number runs. We notice a short stretch of cool days and ignore the long-term global-warming trend. We note with consternation the recent downturn in the housing and stock markets, forgetting the half-century upward-pointing trend line. Sawtooth data trend lines, in fact, are exemplary of folk numeracy: our senses are geared to focus on each tooth’s up or down angle, whereas the overall direction of the blade is nearly invisible to us....MORE

"What's Driving Heavy Call Volume on MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc.?" Takeover Speculation? (WFR)

Call volume spiked on 3/17, 3/23 and 3/29.
What's Trading has the graphic, it's pretty dramatic, here's their verbiage:
Unusual activity in MEMC (WFR) today. Shares are down a nickel to $14.63 and 29K calls now traded, compared to 5,750 puts. The action includes the buyer of 4500 April 14 – May 15 call spreads at a nickel, which might roll a bullish position from one month to the next (The spread has traded 9000X total). May 18 and April 15 calls are among the most actives. May 15, April 14, and May 14 puts are busy as well. Implied volatility is up 3 percent to 43.5, but with no obvious news to explain the jump in WFR options activity Monday morning.
Schaeffer's Research commented after the 3/23 spike:

Despite a rather lackluster showing on the charts, option traders are buying calls on MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. (WFR) like they're going out of style. On Tuesday alone, for example, speculators on the International Securities Exchange (ISE) bought to open 6,358 calls on WFR, compared to just one lonely put that was purchased.

WFR price chartPlus, the equity has racked up a 10-day ISE call/put volume ratio of 54.62, as traders have bought to open nearly 55 times more bullish bets than bearish during the past two weeks. This ratio ranks higher than 98.3% of other such readings taken during the previous year, indicating that option players on this exchange have almost never shown a greater appetite for calls over puts.

In the same bullish vein, WFR's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) currently stands at a 52-week low of 0.23, as short-term speculators are more optimistically aligned toward the shares now than at any other time during the past year.

In fairness, it's possible that some of these calls were purchased to hedge short stock positions. Short interest on WFR increased by 7.7% during the past month, and these pessimistic positions now represent a respectable 6.9% of the security's float....MORE

Every two or three months WFR is rumored to be an acquisition candidate, here's the rumor in January, 2010. Here's the latest via Forbes:

MEMC shares up on takeover chatter -

...Shares of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc, which makes silicon wafers for the semiconductor and solar industries, rose as much as 14 percent on speculation that the company received a takeover offer from German chemicals group BASF.

However, analysts said they doubted there was such a proposal and MEMC is not seen as an acquisition target.

'At these price levels, I think the stock is rich, the valuation is high. I think it's primarily a rumour,' Hapoalim Securities USA analyst Gordon Johnson said by phone.

MEMC is an attractive target at $10 to $12 from a valuation perspective, Johnson said.

MEMC and BASF were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Shares of the company pared some of their early gains and were trading up 6.3 percent at $17.12 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

'I don't think that MEMC is looked at as an acquisition target because its key end markets are facing significant pressure and I think that any buyer who knows these markets will know that MEMC will reach a lower price later this year,' Johnson said.

The company's stock has fallen 80 percent in the last one year.

'It is a rumour, it is very hard for us to view this as a strategic situation,' said Ben Pang of Caris & Company.

'MEMC Electronic shares and its call options are active on takeover speculation,' said Frederic Ruffy, options strategist at New York-based Web information site

"Muni Bonds, Dividend Stocks, and Upcoming Tax Hikes" (DVY; MUB)

From Bespoke Investment Group:

The tax on capital gains and eligible dividends is set to rise from 15% to 20% in 2011 and also up to 23%+ for earners over $200,000 because of provisions in the new health care bill. So dividend stocks should be going down and tax exempt securities like municipal bonds should be going up, right? Over the last six months, at least, DVY (the dividend stock ETF) has risen by more than the S&P 500 tracking SPY ETF, while the national municipal bond ETF (MUB) is down 2.05%.

As 2011 approaches, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming tax hikes on capital gains and dividends will impact these ETFs. Common wisdom would say to stay away from DVY and buy tax free muni-bonds, but other factors like the direction of interest rates will likely impact these ETFs even more.

If you simply don't want to get hit with the tax increase, though, own non-dividend paying stocks and tax-free munis and don't sell them for gains.

Easy enough, right?

Al Gore, No Score: "How a big bet on oil went bust" (GS)

We've had a few posts on Kleiner, Perkins' investment in Terralliance, links below.
From Fortune:
In the summer of 2008, Erlend Olson thought he had finally hit the jackpot.

A bit player in semiconductors for years, the former NASA engineer had made an improbable metamorphosis into a burgeoning oil-exploration kingpin. His company, Terralliance Technologies, a secretive startup in Newport Beach, Calif., had developed an algorithm for telling petroleum engineers where to drill.

Never mind that Olson was an electrical engineer with no background in oil. He had convinced some of the world's most sophisticated investors, including Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Kleiner Perkins, that his unconventional approach was legit. Kleiner would go on to bet a whopping $93 million on Terralliance, a sum that may be the storied firm's largest venture investment ever.

Terralliance hadn't found much oil, but its founder and CEO was so adept at locating cash reserves that he believed he was about to close a deal that would seal his company's future -- and his fortune.

He had come to New York that August to negotiate a financing with Temasek, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, which Olson had been romancing for months. The price of oil had recently soared to $145 a barrel, and Temasek planned to invest $1.1 billion, valuing Terralliance at more than $4 billion.

A hulking figure with a glassy-eyed intensity, Olson had assured his investors that an infusion of this magnitude could lead quickly to a public offering worth as much as $60 billion. That would make Olson, as he wistfully recalled later, a "three-comma guy."

Olson wasn't alone in counting commas. Kleiner Perkins thought it was on the threshold of its first mega-win since Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) IPO in 2004. Goldman Sachs, which had been betting shrewdly on plummeting housing prices, envisioned another killing. Passport Capital, a young San Francisco hedge fund, anticipated burnishing its reputation for energy investments. John Fredriksen, a Norwegian supertanker mogul who had lent Terralliance $50 million only months earlier, stood to score a quick hit.

All told, the investors had sunk nearly half-a-billion dollars into Terralliance, an astounding sum given the audacity of the company's aspirations -- and the paucity of its accomplishments.

Why experienced investors pumped so much capital into such a risky venture is just one mystery in the tale of Terralliance, a saga that has not been comprehensively told despite the high profiles of the players involved.

Kleiner Perkins, a firm that loudly promotes its most promising investments, for years didn't list Terralliance on its website and declined multiple requests to comment for this article. Despite interviews with many of the key people involved, it's also not clear what exactly Terralliance's technology purported to do, or how well its investors understood it....MORE

July '08: "What the hell happened to Kleiner Perkins? (John Doerr et al [Gore])"

April '09: "Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins feels sting of investing in oil"

Energy: "Gasoline vs bimbos with big hair"

From FT Alphaville:

We didn’t say that..

Stephen Schork of the daily energy Schork report did. And here’s the graph, charting exactly that. Gasoline versus err, bimbos, by which he actually means entertainment spending in the US as a percentage of total consumption expenditure (the reference is to Snooki in case you’re really curious):

Now, the reason he’s pointing the above out is because gasoline spending as a percentage of total expenditure, according to his stats, has been heading steadily higher since January 2009. Spending on entertainment, meanwhile, has been falling. Which appears to indicate a fine balance between the two.

Although, as he also points out, savings — which dropped to their lowest point since November 2008 — should be considered in that equation too.

Nevertheless, the point is, will refiners shortly be coming up against a consumer demand threshold with respect to the prices consumers will or will not be capable of tolerating? And if they do, how will they respond?

Gasoline prices have in part been rising because refineries responded to the glut in product supply over the year by cutting utilisation rates — that is, they reduced production, shutting down refineries altogether or closing an increased number of facilities for maintenance. Here’s a good chart from KBC Energy Economics reflecting the trend:

This had the effect of bolstering prices enough to incentivise much of the gasoline and other refined products held in floating offshore storage to be transported back inland over the course of the winter:

But now Goldman, for one, believes gasoline prices will have to fall...MORE

"El Nino to influence climate patterns to midyear: WMO" (Good for Haiti)

Later today we'll have more on the bets that insurers and re-insurers are making.
From Reuters:
The El Nino weather pattern warming the Pacific Ocean since June, has peaked, but is expected to influence climate patterns worldwide up to mid-year before dying out, the World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday.

However, the United Nations agency said that forecasting uncertainties meant it could not rule out the possibility that El Nino would persisting beyond mid-year.

El Nino, driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, can create havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region, unleashing droughts in some places and heavy storms in others.

"The most likely outcome by mid-2010 is for the El Nino event to have decayed and near-neutral conditions to be re-established across the tropical Pacific," WMO climate scientist Rupa Kumar Kolli told a news briefing....MORE

From the Associated Press:

"Ready Or Not, Here Comes A Corn ETF" (CORN)

From ETF database:

Recent years have seen the launch of hundreds of new exchange-traded products, many of which offer increasingly granular exposure to various asset classes. The latest innovation comes in the commodity space, where Vermont-based Teucrium Trading LLC filed with the SEC for an ETF that invests in Chicago Board of Trade Corn Futures. The Teucrium Corn Fund (CORN) would hold a portfolio consisting of three separate corn futures contracts, including:

  • 35% in the second-to-expire CBOT Corn Futures Contract
  • 30% in the third-to-expire CBOT Corn Futures Contract
  • 35% in the Corn Futures Contract expiring in the December following the expiration month of the third-to-expire contract.

So CORN would fall somewhere in the middle of the “contango” continuum for futures-based exchange-traded products. The fund would “roll” its holdings less frequently than ETFs like the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) that invest only in near-month contracts, but less frequently than UNG’s cousin, the United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund (UNL), which invests in the near-month contract and the contracts for the following 11 months.

The impact of contango–an upward-sloping futures curve–on bottom line returns can be significant in commodity products, a fact some investors have learned the hard way (see Three ETFs That Could Be Crushed By Contango). The market for corn futures in currently contangoed; December 2010 contracts cost about 10% more than contracts expiring in July (the second-to-expire contract)....MORE

Ethanol: "German Firm Wins Right to Make Beer Called 'Fucking Hell'"

British tourists have been known to steal the town's signs.
From Der Spiegel:

The village that inspired the name: Fucking, Austria

The EU's trademarks authority has permitted a German firm to brew beer and produce clothing under the name "Fucking Hell". It may be an expletive in English, but in German it could refer to a light ale -- Hell -- from the Austrian town of Fucking. Whether it will be brewed there is another question.

The European Union trademarks authority has permitted a German firm to register the brand name "Fucking Hell" for a new beer, much to the irritation of the Austrian village of Fucking.

In English, the term "Fucking Hell" is just an expletive used to express irritation or surprise. In German, it could refer to a light ale from Fucking in Upper Austria, because "Hell" is a term for light ale in southern Germany and Austria.

The problem is that Fucking has no brewery, and the town's mayor, Franz Meindl, is not aware of any plans to build one there, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported on its Web site.

The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union said in a statement that it had rejected a complaint that the trade mark "Fucking Hell" was upsetting, accusatory and derogatory.

"The word combination claimed contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons. Nor does it incite a particular act. It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell," the Office said in its statement.

EU Trademark Office Has No Problem with Name

"Fucking Hell" was an "an interjection used to express a deprecation, but it does not indicate against whom the deprecation is directed," the Office added. "Nor can it be considered as reprehensible to use existing place names in a targeted manner (as a reference to the place), merely because this may have an ambiguous meaning in other languages."

That is good news for German marketing executives Stefan Fellenberg and Florian Krause, who own the rights to the brand name, and who had referred to the town of Fucking in their application to register it.

Tittelconsulting, a marketing agency, said in a statement on Monday that the owners will use the trademark to manufacture a variety of products including clothing and beer. "It includes the marketing of a beer among other things," Tittelconsulting said in a statement.

The new brew was likely to be presented in August or September, it added. Contacted by SPIEGEL ONLINE, Fellenberg declined to give further comment, so it's unclear where the beer will be brewed.

It is likely to heighten Fucking's fame, which is something Meindl, the town's mayor, isn't happy about, given the trouble the name has caused it over the years. "Twelve or 13 town signs have been stolen. We've taken to fixing them with concrete, welding and rivets."

The Bavarian towns of Kissing and Petting have the same problem, as does the eastern German town of Pissing. But so far, there are no plans to name a beer after them.

"Geithner Talks Up Citigroup Exit, Fannie, Freddie, AIG" (AIG; C; FNM; FRE)

Now that's a portfolio!
From Stocks to Watch Today (yesterday, 6:43 pm EDT):

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” this afternoon with Maria Bartiromo, and when asked whether the U.S. will sell a stake in American International Group (AIG), he punted, instead extolling the firm’s progress with a vague promise of an exit.

“AIG, as you have seen, is making incredibly rapid progress in putting in place [a] restructuring plan that brings down the risks in AIG financial products which is where a lot of the risk was concentrated,” said Geithner. “All driven by the objective to make sure we are minimizing the risk of loss to the taxpayer and to get the taxpayer out of the companies as quickly as we can.”

Geithner went on to describe the lack of tools to deal with non-bank firms, such as Fannie Mae (FNM), and how the current legislation under discussion would give the government power to “dismember” failing parts of those companies, using the analogy of drawing a “fire break” around a house on fire.

Other tidbits:

What do we do about the looming disaster in commercial real estate? “Commercial real real estate will still be a problem for the country and we are working through that process [...] it is going to put a lot of pressure on small banks across the country who got themselves too exposed to commercial real estate [...] It is a good reason to make sure we are providing capital to the small banks across the country.”

Will the government back the holders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FRE) paper? “We will provide whatever amount of capital is necessary to make sure that those two institutions will meet their obligations, past and future.”>>>MORE, including video.

Speaking of "Now that's a portfolio!" here's a fine one:

The Securities Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes Files Arbitration Claim Against UBS Seeking Recovery of $300,000 for Losses Sustained in Lehman Brothers 100% Principal Protection Notes and Fannie Mae Preferred Stock

Here's what was playing in the office the week Fannie and Freddie were put into conservatorship:

"HSBC Ejects Carbon Traders From Index" (CLE.L; TRE.L)

Goldman Sachs owns 19% of Climate Exchange Plc. wich in turn owns the Chicago Climate Exchange founded by a friend of President Obama, Richard Sandor.
Links below.
From the New York Times' Green Inc. blog:

The banking giant HSBC removed two companies involved in carbon trading from its Climate Change Index on Monday because they had lost too much value.

Analysts from HSBC said the cause was mainly that governments had failed to come up with a timetable for a global climate deal at the United Nations summit in Copenhagen in December.

“Carbon trading was the major loser from Copenhagen,” HSBC analysts said in their March 21010 Quarterly Index Review. “Cap and trade needs hard targets and binding rules – and Copenhagen delivered neither,” HSBC said.

The two companies ejected were Climate Exchange and Trading Emissions. Both companies are based in the Isle of Man and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Climate Exchange owns the European Climate Exchange, the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange. The chairman of Trading Emissions, Neil Eckert, is also the chief executive of Climate Exchange.

Among companies joining the index were Renesola, a solar manufacturer with a heavy focus on China listed on the London Stock Exchange, and Universal Display, a United States-based lighting manufacturer listed on Nasdaq....MORE

Carbon market clouded by uncertainty

Jan. 27, 2010
Zeitgeist: "Davos Dialog Will Downplay Carbon, Talk Up Energy And Infrastructure"

Jan. 27, 2010
Carbon Markets Are Under ‘Dark Cloud,’ Merrill Says

Jan. 29, 2010
Carbon Traders Quit Emissions Market Amid Drop in Demand (JPM)

Feb. 8, 2010
How big is the threat to carbon trading? (CAO.L)

March 1, 2010
Sorry Carbon Traders, Your Time has Come and Gone

March 1, 2010
Sorry Carbon Traders, Your Time has Come and Gone, part II: "Carbon Market Under Existing U.S. Law Not Likely, Xcel Says" (XEL)

March 3, 2010
"Hopes for $2 trillion global carbon market fade" and "Ecosecurities to shutter US office" (JPM)

"The Stakes of Carbon Trading Are Losing Their Sizzle" (CAO.L; GS: JPM)

Carbon Trading: How to (Maybe) Make Money Out of Thin Air: And One of my Favorite Carbon Cowboy Quotes
...But the exchange acknowledges that on some of those outside projects, it is authorizing the sale of credits for cleanups that had been performed anyway. Richard Sandor, the exchange's chairman, says that doing so rewards "early action" and encourages other landfills to capture methane too.

Mr. Sandor says the exchange's main goal is to help develop a commodity that has financial value under any possible future U.S. law that to regulates greenhouse-gas emissions. The debate over whether or not a polluter would have cut its greenhouse-gas emissions without the financial incentive of credit sales is "quite interesting, but that's not my business," Mr. Sandor says. "I'm running a for-profit company."...

Richard Sandor, Barack Obama and the Founding of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CLE.L)

US Presidential Election & Carbon Markets: Is The Climate Exchange Story Overdone? (CLE.L)

The Greening of Wall Street

CARBON KING: Economist Strikes Gold In Climate-Change Fight

Pollution Credits Stoke Trader Hiring Wave at Banks

Monday, March 29, 2010

"This Market’s Not Big Enough for Citi" (C)

A follow-on offering.
[he means following "AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE BERKOWITZ: Why the Fairholme founder finds AIG, Bank of America and Citi very attractive now." (AIG; BAC; C)" -ed]
From MarketBeat:

Monday’s trading in Citigroup is turning out to be among the most active of the year, relative to the market as a whole. The catalyst, of course, is the Treasury Department’s announcement of its plan to sell down 7.7 billion shares of the bailed-out Wall Street giant, giving traders further detail about an exit that’s been widely anticipated.

Citi’s share price is down nearly 3% to $4.19 a share on the news.

Over the last few months, breaking developments and shifting expectations about the government’s handling of its Citigroup shares have made the bank the only show in town during slow market days.

So far on Monday, almost 700 million shares in Citi have changed hands. At one point in the day, that volume was more than 27% of New York Stock Exchange composite volume. It has since slipped a smidgen below 25%....MORE

MarketBeat had an earlier post wherein the Treasury said they would sell the stock in 2010 with a link to the Treasury news release:

Government Officially Announces Plans to Sell Citi Stake

"Cree: The Street Sees The Light; Gabelli Says Buy; Lazard Ups Ests" (CREE)

From Tech Trader Daily:

Cree (CREE) shares are getting a modest lift today from a pair of upbeat notes on the LED lighting company.

  • Gabelli & Co. analyst Hendi Susanto this morning launched coverage of Cree with a Buy rating and a price target of $100 a share. “We believe the secular growth of the LED industry combined with the company’s new capacity expansion, projected earnings growth and consistent execution on cost reduction will result in continued earnings upside,” he writes. Susanto projects EPS of $1.35 this year, $2.20 next year and $2.85 the year after that....MORE
Yesterday's Funniest Headline: "Uptrend Spotted in Shares of Cree (CREE)"

Cree Inc. CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO Charles M Swoboda sells 77,500 Shares (CREE)

Is Brigantine Advisors Analyst Ramesh Misra (PhD.) the Dumbest Guy on the Street? (CREE; FSLR)

17 Projects Shaping the Future of LED Lights (AMAT; CREE; GE; PANL; PHG; UTEK)

Cree Crushes Street Estimates; Stock Leaps (CREE)
(lots o'links)

"AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE BERKOWITZ: Why the Fairholme founder finds AIG, Bank of America and Citi very attractive now." (AIG; BAC; C)

Putting the symbols into the headline, first thought "Hey I know my ABC's."

Second thought, this headline from September 16, 2008 (the day AIG became a majority owned subsidiary of the U.S. Treasury and one day after Lehman filed for bankruptcy):
Lehman's U.K. Landlord Says AIG Insures Rent Payments (AIG; LEH)
I disagree on AIG but, as the old saying goes, it takes a difference of opinion to make a horse-race.

We last saw Mr. Berkowitz in "Who Scores Big on a Move in Citigroup? John Paulson, Bruce Berkowitz, George Soros; the usual suspects".
Here's the interview, from Barron's:

After the Apocalypse

BRUCE BERKOWITZ, THE FOUNDER OF FAIRHOLME CAPITAL Management and president of the Fairholme Fund (ticker: FAIRX), has a very straightforward investing approach. He looks for undervalued companies -- preferably ones that throw off a lot of cash -- and he runs a concentrated portfolio.

His philosophy, which is supported by a lot of in-house fundamental research, has led to very strong investment performance. As of March 24, the fund's 10-year annual return of 14.29% bested the Standard & Poor's 500 by a whopping 15 percentage points, placing it at the very top of Morningstar's large-cap blend category. In January, Morningstar named Berkowitz one of its three "managers of the decade." He received the top nod for the domestic stock-fund-manager category, both for 2009 and the decade....

...Turning to the portfolio today, you have some big financial names, including Citigroup, AIG and Bank of America. What's your overall assessment on the health of the financial firms?

There is always a flip side to a difficult environment, whether it is Citigroup, Bank of America, AmeriCredit [ACF], Regions Financial [RF], or any of the financials.

During a difficult period, normally everyone is focused on what I would call the pig in the python -- the pig being bad debt -- and wondering if the python is going to live. But what is not thought about too much is that while that is happening, those institutions that can write new business are going to do quite well. That's because it is during tough times that you write your best business, whether it is an auto loan, a mortgage, a credit card, whatever. Your standards are significantly tighter because of what has happened. You've gone from one extreme of loose, easy credit to the other credit extreme, of giving credit to people who maybe don't even need it.

Let's just assume that the average commercial loan is about three years and that the average consumer loan is, let's say, five years, all in. Peak values probably occurred in late 2006, early 2007 -- and things began to unravel in mid-2007.

So there has been enough time now where financial companies, if they are still around, are getting over the hump of the bad debt and, at the same time, have taken on new loans. So they are through the worst of it with their loans, which they have been writing off at a furious pace. And the loans that they've been making since around the end of 2008 have been quite good.

One of your holdings is Citigroup, which has been through the wringer. What's the upside?

We initiated our position at the point when the stock started to recover. It was in the low-single digits, and we've made a few dollars on Citi -- but nothing to write home about. Yet, it's a global brand, I like the government being their partner for now, and the balance sheet is better than ever.

Citigroup has had two years of intense scrutiny by the government. And the company is hated by investors. Citi reported a loss for last year, but they generated a tremendous amount of cash. So they are rising from the ashes of the quite stupid moves they made in the past. Hopefully, those moves, which were clearly exacerbated by the recession, will not be made again.

What gives you confidence in the management team led by Vikram Pandit, the chief executive?

I see a better job being done than before. But I must admit that the jury is still out.

Still, compared to the price you pay now for what you are getting, there is a reasonable margin of safety. The patient is recovering, and I can see a full recovery.

What is the stock's intrinsic value?

I don't know. It's a reasonable amount, but the range is wide, depending on management moves in the future. But I see value beyond the price of the stock today.

What got you interested in Bank of America, which is a newer holding?

Bank of America also has been under intense scrutiny, but now, it is time to start to appreciate the asset side of the ledger a bit more. And I don't see how we get hurt from here, given that there is good potential for returns. How much? I don't know. It is more important for me to think about how much we could potentially lose than how much we can make.

So it sounds like you think that the ship has been righted, so to speak.

When you think about Bank of America, Citigroup and others, including Wells Fargo [WFC], they and a half dozen others are the financial system of the United States. The financial system in the United States doesn't work without Citigroup and Bank of America and, hence, the government's involvement. But what's nice about the government is that at the end of the day, it will make a profit on all of its investments in these companies.

There are just certain institutions that are interwoven into the fabric of the United States. That's the case with Citigroup and Bank of America, which make up a key part of our banking system. The same is true for AIG in the insurance area.

What's to like about AIG?

Here is a company that is tremendously solid, but just really blew it on the derivatives, which has been a worry of ours for decades. You can go back 10 years and read how little disclosure there was on derivatives.

AIG is in partnership with the government, and it still has risks. And you have to make certain assumptions that there will still be adverse developments with the derivatives portfolio and with the property-and-casualty reserve. But this past year was a chance to start to get it right in terms of reserving. So, we have held stakes in different parts of AIG's capital structure, including the debt and equity. AIG is starting to recover. It is a global brand. Some would say that they've lost their brand, I but don't see that. All of my insurance is now with AIG.

The company, with the aid of the government, has done a reasonable job of restructuring its balance sheet and lowering risks.

Go through AIG's 500-page 10-K [the comprehensive financial report that is required annually by the Securities and Exchange Commission] -- it came out last month. You will see that the company is generating cash, that it is stabilizing, that it is starting to grow in certain areas, and that it has been paying the government back. Eventually they will be able to pay the government in full....MORE

Morgan Stanley on InterOil: "Mischaracterization of the Investment Debate: Stock Set to Outperform in April" (IOC)

Most analyst writing is so bland. I like the guy who not only tells you the stock is going to run but the month it will happen. The fact that such fore-knowlege* is available to very few makes it extra-special.
From the research report:

...InterOil Corp. (IOC, $62.01, Overweight, Price Target $120)...

Investment conclusion: The primary investment debate concerning IOC is whether they will be able to execute their upstream sell-down and enter into an LNG and condensate agreement on attractive terms.

We believe that the relative attractiveness of IOC’s assets will attract partners at attractive prices and that these partnerships will transform the company and unlock its asset value. Negative media claims, as highlighted on Friday, mischaracterize the investment debate, in our view. As per previous negative claims (inability to discover hydrocarbons in PNG or sufficient
resource to support LNG trains), we believe these recent negative claims will be disproven.

What's new: Late last week, a confluence of negative reports triggered a 12% sell-off in IOC’s shares into the March quarter-end, a more vulnerable period for funds.
These reports written by entities with a disclosed short interest focus on a plaintiff’s 2009 legal filings (not new) involving the CEO and cite statements made in a late 2009 bankruptcy filing (not new). We believe these claims were taken out of context and do not represent a
material risk to IOC or change our views on the stock.

The irony is that last week other news flow, with two major LNG deals being completed in Australia, was actually supportive of IOC. We continue to expect either a condensate or LNG deal in April/May: either event would challenge the position of “doubters.”

What’s really new: Australasian LNG environment remains supportive. Recent transactions provide positive momentum on both Asian interest and pricing, with Shell/PetroChina acquiring the remaining shares of Arrow Energy for $0.87/mcf and CNOOC agreeing to purchase 3.6 mmtpa for 20 years for approximately 10.75/mcf to $21.75/mcf, depending on crude prices.
We view Australian CBM precedent transactions as close to a 60% discount to IOC’s offering due to higher LNG costs, a higher tax regime and no liquids content....MORE

HT: ShareholdersUnite

*From our post "Manipulating the Dow Jones Industrial Average":
*Speaking of specialists in the old days, one of my favorite stories is how Joe Kennedy and the boys decided to form a pool to manipulate the Google of the 1920's, RCA. From our June '07 post "Robert Kennedy Jr., Global Warming and Wall Street":

...Already a wealthy man Joe Kennedy had another Wall Street trick up his sleeve, a classic pump-and dump. In 1929 he and some other rascals got together to run the .com of the day, Radio Corporation of America.

What a run it was! The pool picked up $5 million in ten days. My BLS inflation calculator says that's a bit over $60 million today (although the PBS special linked below says $100 million).

When the question arose as to who should manage the pool the answer was easy. Who better than the specialist in the stock, Michael J. Meehan! PBS did a good job on their show "The Crash of 1929", even interviewing Meehan's grandson. Here are some of my links, Senate Hearings (4 page PDF), 1948 SEC chief counsel memo on the Act of '33 (5 page PDF), Colliers story on the early SEC.

One of Joe Kennedy's most quoted comments:
"It's easy to make money in this market," said Kennedy, famously, to an associate. "We'd better get in before they pass a law against it."
See also the Libby-Owens-Ford pool. Good times, good times.

A123 Trades at 52-week Low, Fisker Free to Sell Stock (AONE)

The low came on the 22nd at $13.66. The stock has traded as low as $13.90 this morning, just 40 cents above the $13.50 offering price and down six bucks from the first day closing price of $20.29.

Last Wednesday we posted "A123 Insiders Soon Free to Sell as Lock-Up Period Ends" (AONE)" with the stock at $15.59.

Here's the S-1 for Fisker's stock.
Here's the S-8 registration for the employee's stock.
Here's the price action via BigCharts:

"InterOil Responds to Allegations" (IOC)

UPDATE: "Morgan Stanley on InterOil: "Mischaracterization of the Investment Debate: Stock Set to Outperform in April" (IOC)"
Original post:
After that brief interlude it's back to IOC!
The stock is up 63 cents at $62.64. It looks 'heavy', I wouldn't be surprised if it closed down today.
From the press release (you'll note they don't use Business Wire; a Berkshire Hathaway company):
InterOil Corporation (NYSE: IOC) (POMSoX: IOC) believes that allegations made in an article concerning certain litigation which has been ongoing in Texas since 2005, have been raised now in an attempt to divert attention from the successful operations of the company. Operations conducted by the company which were evaluated by independent engineering evaluations consultants, GLJ Petroleum Consultants Ltd., resulted in an increase in our gross best case contingent resources estimate by 889 million barrels of oil equivalent resources, to a revised total of 8.2 tcf of natural gas and 156 million barrels of condensate, in the past fiscal year. The article was timed to benefit recent short selling activities. The "short" interest in InterOil increased to 3,548,056 shares in mid-March.

InterOil's policy is to not provide commentary on ongoing litigation beyond the description of it appropriately and consistently set forth in our Annual Information Statement and Form 40-F available on our website or from the SEC. In our Annual Information Form (AIF), filed on March 1, 2010 the Company continued to disclose that Company's Chief Executive Officer, Phil Mulacek, and his controlled entities Petroleum Independent & Exploration Corporation and P.I.E. Group, LLC, together with the Company and certain of its subsidiaries, are defendants in Todd Peters, et. al. v. Phil Mulacek et. al.; Cause No. 05-040-03592-CV; pending in the 284th District Court of Montgomery County, Texas (see page 43). Appropriate details concerning this long running action are provided.

InterOil and its subsidiaries were not party to, nor otherwise involved in, the Nikiski Partners filing referenced in the article....