Will Climate Advocacy Pay for Shareholders?

On Monday, we learned about big coal companies pushing back against the major US corporations of the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP,) which advocates for mandatory regulation of greenhouse gas with their own lobbyists.   Since I have advocated buying companies that take a proactive stance on climate change, I thought it might be instructive to compare the returns of the original ten members of US-CAP with the returns of the big coal coal companies (more companies have since joined,) over the six months since the Climate Action Partnership issued their Call for Action on Climate Change.   The Payoff ...
DSI vs AVCI top holdings

Are ESG Funds All That Different?

by Jan Schalkwijk, CFA ESG investing is all the rage these days. That is, investing that includes the non-traditional  environmental, social, and governance factors in the investment process.  Its appeal to the broader investment industry is twofold: 1) The writing is on the wall: as wealth is passed down to younger generations who in the aggregate care more about values alignment, the asset management industry does not want to lose the assets and the fees they generate. 2) Thematic investing is popular and ESG is one of the hottest themes. Wall Street is not going to miss out. Much like crypto...
heat pump with colors of the Ukranian glag

Twelve Green Investment Themes From Putin’s War on Ukraine

By Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Horrific, Tragic, Unprovoked, Heartbreaking.  There is no lack of adjectives to describe Putin’s war on Ukraine.  And while there probably can’t be too much coverage of the tragedies and war crimes, many others can write those far better than I. As an economic and stock market commentator, the adjective I will focus on is world-changing.  There is no doubt that the first land war in Europe since World War II, piled on top of a global pandemic, is already reshaping the economy in dramatic ways. Some of those changes, like Europe switching away from Russian gas and...

The Big Win You Missed

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA My friend Jan Schalkwijk, CFA of JPS Global Investments just asked me if I had any thoughts on Kontrol Energy (KNR.CN, KNRLF), a Canadian smart building firm I had never heard of. (I just added it to AltEnergyStocks.com's Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid stock lists.) The stock had just shot up after the client sold and went on a kayaking trip.  It had disclosed a sensor for detecting COVID-19 from the air. While I didn't have anything to say about the company, I did have some thoughts on dealing with the emotions around missing out.  Since it's...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part I: Stocks, Mutual Funds, or ETFs

Tom Konrad CFA Investing in green energy can be good for both the climate and your wallet.  How good depends on choosing the right investment vehicles (mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks) and sectors to invest in. This will get you started. More and more investors are investing in green energy.  According to the Cleantech Group, the Cleantech sector is now the largest sector for venture capital investment.   Green Energy is not just for venture capitalists.  Small investors have done well in 2009.  Since the market bottomed at the start of March, the average green energy mutual fund topped...

Why I Sold My Utility Stocks

In times like these of financial uncertainty, regulated utilities have traditionally been considered a safe haven.  But that is changing.  The Dow Jones Utilities Average was down 30% in 2008, vs. a 34% drop in the Dow Industrials.  Not much of a safe haven. In a recent interview, utilities analyst Daniel Scotto noted, that the utility industry offers "a lot less security" than it used to.  His reasoning is based mainly on the fact that the regulated portion of utility company's business is smaller than it has been in previous recessions, making them vulnerable to lower growth (or even...

Voting and GameStop

Only a couple weeks ago, I quoted the market aphorism, “In the short-run, the market is a voting machine, but in the long-run, it is a weighing machine.” It comes to mind again now that Robinhood types are short squeezing hedge funds with GameStop (GME) and other nostalgia stocks.   It's another example that any strategy that relies on valuation affecting prices in the short run (like stonks betting that GME would go down because it lacks a viable business) is incredibly risky.  It's also incredibly risky to bet that any trend driven by popularity will last.  Eventually, there are going...
climate change in plain sight

Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight

Information asymmetry, climate investing and the active management edge. By Garvin Jabusch The theory of efficient markets says all stock prices are perpetually accurate, because investors always have complete and up-to-date information about their holdings. But as any casual observer knows, information and topical awareness are not evenly distributed, even among professional analysts. Reality is always far more complicated than equity markets can quickly assimilate, meaning information asymmetry is a constant. While usually considered a type of market failure, information asymmetry is frequently used as a “source of competitive advantage.” The person with the most information is best equipped to make the best...

An Elephant Hunter Explains Inflection Point Investing

John Petersen In "An Elephant Hunter Explains Market Dynamics" I discussed the two basic types of public companies; earnings-driven companies that are “bought” in top-tier weighing machine markets and event-driven companies that are “sold” in lower-tier voting machine markets. Today I'll get a bit more granular and show how "sold" companies usually fall into one of two discrete sub-classes that have a major impact on their stock market valuations. As a starting point, I'll ignore the China-based companies that are listed in the US because their quirky metrics would only confuse the analysis. Then I'll break...
moneybags

How Free Commissions Change The Game For Small Investors

Why Free Commissions are a Game-Changer For Small Investors by Tom Konrad, Ph.D. CFA Last month, Charles Schwab (SCHW), E-Trade (ETFC), and Ameritrade (AMTD) all dropped their commissions for online stock trades to $0. They also dropped commissions on options contract to $0.65 per contract. The change opens up cost-effective individual stock investing to even the smallest investor, and also allows many more investors to use option strategies.  For those wondering if there is a catch, and how these brokers will make money with $0 commissions, see here.  The short version is that they make money on your cash deposits, and from...

What Good Is Shareholder Advocacy?

By Marc Gunther.  Last week, ExxonMobil added Susan Avery, a physicist, atmospheric scientist and former president of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions, to its board of directors. Shareholder advocates, led by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which has been organizing shareholder campaigns at ExxonMobil for nearly two decades yes, two decades welcomed the appointment. Tim Smith, the director of environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareowner engagement at Walden Asset Management, said in a news release: “This action by the board is encouraging for shareowners and we want to commend Exxon for this prudent and...

Should I Sell My Mutual Fund To Go Solar?

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA An enthusiastic solar volunteer recently asked me: “What can I invest in to prepare for the next financial crisis?” The situation made the question deeply ironic. The woman asking me was trying to help people invest in solar systems through Solarize, a nonprofit, community-sponsored group buying and discount program. Our town of Marbletown, New York and the neighboring towns of Rochester and Olive have just launched Solarize Rondout Valley, a campaign open to residential and commercial building owners in Ulster County. Solarize campaigns are designed to make it easier and cheaper...

UltraPromises Fall Short

When I first came across ProShares' UltraShort ETFs, I thought they were a brilliant idea.  They seem to promise a multitude of advantages for investors: The ability to hedge market or sector exposure without having to go short.  (Going short requires a margin account, and US law prohibits the use of margin in most retirement accounts.) They should have a better risk profile than shorting.  With an UltraShort, you can't lose more than your initial investment.  With true shorting, the potential losses are unlimited.  As the underlying index rises, each percentage gain creates a smaller dollar fall, while...

Preparing for Catastrophe: Is your global warming portfolio ready for rising sea levels?

A Worse-Case Scenario I believe that a large part of global warming denial is fear: fear that if we acknowledge that global warming is happening, we will be morally obligated to do something about it, and that the problem is too large for us to do anything effective.  I also believe that denying the problem is certain to render us all ineffective in dealing with it. But getting over our global warming denial is not the only obstacle in our way to dealing with it.  Global warming is already happening, and  future temperature rises are already inevitable given the...

The Black Swan and My Hedging Strategy

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable changed the way I trade; I can't give a book higher praise.  This isn't a book review; since the book is over two years old, and I did not get around to reading it until this Spring, I direct readers to this Foolish Book Review, which agrees with my viewpoint quite well, and to the New York Times for a detailed critique.  The latter seemed overly nit-picky to me, but then I'm a fan. Human Biases Recently,...

Clean Energy Stocks Shopping List: FAQ

Stocks may be expensive now, and the temptation is to buy before they get even more expensive.  Why patience makes the brokerage account golden. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA On Friday, I started a series on stocks I'd like to buy when they are cheaper.  The first was on clean or efficient transport stocks which will benefit from both Climate Change regulation and high oil prices due to Peak Oil. Before I continue on with my Clean Energy Shopping List series, I think it's worth talking about the underlying strategy, since it can be counter-intuitive, and I expect that many...
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