A Profitable Smart Grid Penny Stock Aims for a NASDAQ Listing

Tom Konrad CFA A NASDAQ listing could bring a quick profit to investors who buy now, but beware the business risk. Ambient Corp. (ABTG.OB) offers an Internet Protocol (IP) smart grid communications platform to electric utilities.  So far, they have exactly one customer: Duke Energy (DUK).  Duke selected Ambient's X-series communication node solution, which flexibly gathers data from multiple smart meters and relays it to the utility.  For instance, in some cases Duke is using Ambient's nodes to gather data from both Echelon Corporation's (ELON) smart meters using data over powerline technology, and Badger Meter's (BMI) smart...

Advanced Energy: Bargain Green Stock Turns Around

by Debra Fiakas CFA Everybody likes a bargain.  Investors really like a good cheap buy.  A review of our four alternative energy industries revealed three stocks trading below industry average multiples of forecasted earnings. This is the final article in the series, the first looked at Ormat (ORA:NYSE), and the second looked at Kadant (KAI:NYSE).    The first week in November 2014, could have been a turning point for trading in shares of Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (AEIS:  Nasdaq).  The company reported flat sales in the quarter ending September 2014, compared to the same quarter last...

ABB: Improving Transmission and Distribution Efficiency

Diamond in the Rough Alternative energy stocks are usually exciting, development stage companies with break-through technology which just might to totally transform the way we live.  Unfortunately, that's a better description of a speculative lottery ticket style company than a solid investment which will provide solid, long-term capital gains.  So it's always a pleasure to find a company whose products are so commonplace that we don't even notice them, even when we see them every day, and yet is involved in essential work to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  I took this picture in...

Comverge, Diverge, or Merge?

Tom Konrad CFA Comverge (COMV) has a great residential demand response business.  The company lacks focus, but the stock has significant upside as an acquisition target. As part of my ongoing series on energy management companies (see these articles on World Energy Solutions (XWES) and EnerNOC (ENOC)) I spoke with Comverge CEO Blake Young. The Comverge Advantage Comverge is the strong leader in residential demand response (DR,) one of the most cost effective grid stability solutions.  Even within demand response, residential DR is an excellent niche, because working in the market for residential DR...

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part III

Two Strong Grid Stocks in Hiding Tom Konrad, CFA A look at two transmission (or "Strong Grid") stocks I missed previously: EMCORE Group and AZZ Incorporated. In part I of this series, I made the case that 2010 might be the year that transmission stocks caught investors' attention, as smart grid stocks did in 2009.  In part II, I looked at the transmission stocks in our Electric Grid stock list, and compared their financial strength.  My initial screen, based on Current ratio, Cash on Hand, Debt, Cash from Operations, P/E ratio, and dividend yeild allowed...

Equus: A Solar Inverter Play For Free!

Equus Total Return (NYSE: EQS) is a closed-end fund that trades at a 42% discount to its net asset value (NAV). The fund invests primarily in both debt and equity instruments of small-caps and private companies. Each quarter, management must report the fair value of its net assets, but the stock market value of Equus is much lower than that of its net assets. Here's a chart showing Equus' discount to its net assets for the last five years: As we can see, Equus is used to trading at a discount to its NAV, but...

Grid-scale Energy Storage: Lux Predicts $113.5 Billion in Global Demand by 2017

John Petersen Last month Lux Research released a bottom-up evaluation of the cost effectiveness of eight energy storage technologies in six grid-scale applications throughout 44 countries, including all 50 U.S. states. Their report titled "Grid Storage under the Microscope: Using Local Knowledge to Forecast Global Demand" predicts that annual global demand for grid-scale energy storage will reach an astounding 185.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2017 and represent a $113.5 billion incremental revenue opportunity for an industry that currently generates sales of $50 to $60 billion a year. In the grid-scale sector alone, Lux predicts an average...

My Portfolio’s Latest Casualty And Addition

The Casualty Last Monday, I discussed how I had recently reviewed Railpower Tech with a view to potentially adding to my position on grounds that: (a) the company had a fair amount of cash in the bank, which reduced the need to go to capital markets for financing for a while; and (b) that it was getting badly battered by general market conditions, potentially offering an attractive entry point. Although my portfolio has taken a beating in recent weeks, I remain ready to take small positions in stocks if I feel they are being unfairly bashed, including in...

Inexpensive Grid Stability Solutions

Tom Konrad, CFA With all the discussion of grid based energy storage for renewable energy integration, the two cheapest and most mature solutions are overlooked.  They are also the solutions most often overlooked by investors captivated by the story of clean technology. A few years ago, I put together some graphs to show this as dramatically as possible.  I surveyed the available data on energy storage and other grid integration technologies for the costs of existing installations, and calculated average cost per installed kW (power), per installed kWh (energy) and round trip efficiency (the percent of energy...

Is AMSC Ready to Get Back to the Future?

Last week a jury found in favor of the United States government in a suit brought in 2013 by the Obama Administration against the Chinese wind turbine producer, Sinovel Wind Group (601558:  Shanghai).  Sinovel was found guilty of stealing technology from American Superconductor (AMSC:  Nasdaq) that had supplied Sinovel with converter hardware and software solutions.  Sinovel may have to pay hefty fines when the final sentencing step is completed in June 2018. American Superconductor (now called AMSC) had already brought a private suit against Sinovel in China two years before the Justice Department filed its case.  The China court dismissed the case for lack of...

Smart Grid Sector Gaining Traction from Stimulus Funds

Digi International Positioned for Growthby Joyce Pellino CraneCaught between a maturing sector and a nascent one, Digi International, Inc., (Nasdaq:DGII) is stirring opposition among research analysts, who view its recent acquisitions as either a brazen entry into an emerging area, or a compensatory cover for poor performance.Over the past five years, the company has ventured into the smart grid sector through several acquisitions of wireless and cellular technology companies. One industry observer, who did not want to be quoted, said acquisitions artificially increase revenues during a down economy.  Another, who asked not to be identified, said the Digi...

Democratizing the Grid

by Daryl Roberts In a previous article I investigated the question of whether private sector capital was being stimulated sufficiently enough to build out renewable infrastructure on pace to reach climate goals.  I found that on the upper end, giant institutional funds were only mobilizing a tiny fraction of their total Assets Under Management, due to regulatory constraints and uncompetitive yields.  On the lower end, smaller scale funding seemed to be growing, with facilitation from intermediaries, fintech aggregation services, and increased access at lower levels to complicated derisking strategies. But I now find reporting that capital is over-mobilized, that solar may...

Digital Electrification: Less Waste, More Capacity

One potentially huge contributor to decarbonization of the economy could come from dramatic efficiency gains obtainable from digitally improving the power quality of electricity, as it is being generated, transmitted & being consumed.   The enabling technology is emerging from developments in computing that is associated with the Internet of Things (IOT). DOE estimates indicate that approximately 38.2 quads of electricity are produced, from all sources, but that 25.3 quads, or 66.2% is deemed “Rejected Energy”, so only 33.8% of generated electricity is actually being used.  Within that 66% a distinction is recognized between “Losses” & “Waste”: Loss is non-recoverable, I2R...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #2 National Grid (NGG)

Like Quanta Services, (#8 in this series), National Grid PLC (NYSE:NGG) allows investors to participate in the massive build out of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure necessitated by years of neglect and the growing need to decarbonize our electric infrastructure.  See the article linked above for more detail on these two forces driving the sector. Having its origins in British electricity deregulation in the 1990s, Nation Grid is a regulated utility in Britain and the United States, and operates high pressure gas pipelines and high voltage transmission in Britain, and electricity transmission and natural gas distribution in the Northeastern...

The Electric Grid Index

Charles Morand A little while ago, we received the following request from a reader: " when are you going to start an ETF or mutual fund called "Energy TS&E". T for transmission, S for storage, and E for efficiency. I guess you need an index first. I'm thinking Quanta, Amer Superconductor, Exide, Axion, Itron, Echelon, etc. There is no good one stop shop for this subsector. Sign me up." While we don't plan on launching a licensable index or a mutual fund because of all the regulatory thicket we'd...

Are Solar PV and Wind Incompatible with Nuclear and IGCC?

Paul Denholm, a Senior Analyst at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), sees an upcoming struggle between renewable sources of electricity such as photovoltaics (PV) and wind with low-carbon baseload alternatives for space on the low carbon grid of the future.  These baseload alternatives are nuclear and Internal Gasification Combined Cycle coal plants with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (IGCC w/ CCS, refereed to by advocates as "Clean Coal). This may come as a shock to advocates of the idea that Global Warming is such a big problem that we will need all forms of low carbon electricity, because the...
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