Author: Mark HenwoodBroad market indices were mixed this week and so were Camino’s PurePlay™ indices.
The Solar index followed last week's 7.0% gain with a small 0.2% decline. The index members were also mixed with 15 stocks increasing and 19 stocks declining. Most notable in the group was Centrosolar (OTC:CEOLF) which gained 26.2% for the week. The stock jumped on the 23rd after the company announced provisional results that were above expectations. Sales for the quarter were up 86% over the previous year and EBITDA almost tripled. One analyst suggested the stock was undervalued.
Camino’s Renewable Electricity index managed a small 0.1% increase with 8 stocks climbing and 15 retreating.
Biofuels reversed last week’s 1.5% gain with a 1.9% loss. There were 7 advancing stocks to 8 stocks falling. Several of the ethanol stocks (Aventine (AVR), Pacific Ethanol (PEIX), Verasun Energy (VSE) seemed to benefit from coverage by Oppenheimer whose analyst believes that overcapacity in the sector will resolve itself in the next 12 to 18 months.
Fuel Cells slumped 5.1% on 1 stock advancing and 6 stocks declining. FuelCell Energy (FCEL) reported a sale to Posco (PKX) which was well received by the market, resulting in a 11% price increase for the week. The sale involved delivering 25.6 MW at a contact value of USD 70 million, or over USD 2,700 / kW. Analysts believe this number is below cost but will help the company reduce its cost. After years of losses FuelCell needs to get it right and get its costs down so it can compete in a very competitive natural gas fired electric generation market.
Solar ETFs: It came as no surprise that solar ETFs have been launched by Claymore (TAN) and VanEck (KWT). These two providers worked hard to differentiate their products by using slightly different company selections and weighting schemes. Unfortunately they didn’t decide to compete on cost coming out at an identical 65 basis points.
The result is indices that have a 74% overlap in their 27 constituents. Between the two indices the only company not included in Camino’s Solar index (34 constituents) is MEMC Electronics (WFR). By our computation in 2007 at most MEMC has a 25% exposure to solar so we’re not sure why Claymore included it. We don’t think it currently belongs in our PurePlay™ index.
Going forward we expect these ETFs will have comparable performance and very high volatility. We routinely calculate Sharp ratios for our indices in an effort to assess the risk/reward profile of the sector. Over the last 365 days our solar index’s Sharpe ratio was 0.8 and over the last two years the ratio was 0.48, both periods measured against the 13wk T-Bill. Traditional fund managers would probably not find these values attractive, particularly considering their high beta. That said, we think there are plenty of opportunities in the sustainable energy sector.
Mark is the founder of Camino Energy, an information provider specializing in globally traded sustainable energy stocks. He also is an investor in sustainable energy stocks. Mark has no positions in solar.