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Former Wall Street Journal energy and environment reporter Bill Paul is senior investment adviser to (
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  • CBD Energy, SFC Smart Fuel Cell: From Small Fries to Big Shots?
    From Small Fries to Big Shots? CBD Energy and SFC Smart Fuel Cell Look Promising (Pt. 2 of 2)

    Posted: For the Week of Dec. 27 – Jan. 2, 2010

    Here now are two more small alternative energy companies, both of which look to be just starting to hit their stride. How far they’ll go only time will tell, but each seems to warrant a closer look.

    Take note: like the vast number of other pure-play alternative energy firms with intriguing growth prospects, neither of these is U.S.-based. Rule of thumb: whether you’re a big institutional or small individual investor, to succeed in alternative energy, you must scour every corner of the earth.


    First up: CBD Energy, an Australian renewable energy firm that trades on the Australian Stock Exchange under the symbol CBD.

    CBD looks to be starting down the road to becoming a fully-diversified renewable energy company with solar, wind and energy storage projects across Asia. It just got what the company called “strong” institutional support for a new round of capital that will go toward acquisitions, including the recently-announced purchase of eco-Kinetics Pty. Ltd., another Aussie firm that is involved in solar PV, solar thermal and wind installations, both residential and commercial. CBD also just signed to deliver wind turbines to a Chinese company, another first for the firm. CBD’s share price has roughly tripled since last spring; however, it’s still selling for only pennies per share. (No, CBD is not yet in the black.)

    Next up: Germany’s SFC Smart Fuel Cell AG (Symbol SSMFF.PK), which describes itself as the market leader in fuel cell technologies for mobile and off-grid power applications serving the leisure, industrial and defense markets.

    In partnership with DuPont (Symbol DD), SFC just got a glowing preliminary review from the U.S. Defense Department for its lightweight portable power packs that soldiers can use in the field. The review isn’t complete yet, but so far DOD believes that “This product and its technology could offer a significant advancement in the area of soldier portable power in the field.”

    SFC isn’t in the black yet either, but its third-quarter loss did narrow by more than 50% vs. the year-earlier period.

    For Part 1 of this series – which discusses prospects for World Energy Solutions (Symbol: XWES) and Ram Power Corp. (Symbol: RAMPF.PK) – please see: From Small Fries to Big Shots? World Energy Solutions and Ram Power Appear Promising (Pt 1 of 2).

    Disclosure: NO POSITIONS
    Dec 27 2:02 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Why Green Investors Should Look at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Ener1
    Hidden Gems? Why Green Investors Should Look at Daewoo Shipbuilding And Ener1 (Pt. 2 of 2)

    Posted: For the Week of December 14-20, 2009

    Neither Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd., which trades OTC under the symbol DWOTF, nor Ener1 Inc., which trades on NASDAQ under the symbol HEV, is an obvious candidate for having hidden potential.

    Heck, Daewoo isn’t even a green energy stock. Or is it?


    Lost in the hubbub of Copenhagen and Congress, there’s been important news about both these companies that strongly suggests – at least to me – that each has plenty of undiscovered potential that will really start paying off over the next 18 to 24 months.

    South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding was just awarded a contract by German utility RWE AG’s (Symbol: RWEOY) renewable energy unit for up to three vessels specially designed to install offshore wind farms. The contract reportedly could be worth upwards of half a billion dollars, depending on whether RWE picks up the option on the second and third ships. The first ship is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

    A couple things: at present, offshore wind power is going gangbusters thanks to healthy project returns that one European investment bank puts at around 15%. But installing the new large wind turbines under often harsh conditions requires a special kind of vessel. Daewoo’s reportedly will be the first – quite possibly the first of many. (Simultaneously, Daewoo just said it may build a wind power equipment plant in China.)

    As for Ener1, seasoned green investors may think they know everything about this lithium-ion battery manufacturer. If Pike Research is correct, the future is bright for all li-ion battery manufacturers, Pike having just forecast that the global li-ion transportation battery market will total nearly $8 billion by 2015, compared with $878 million in 2010.

    But the big li-ion winners should be those companies whose batteries also meet the critical need of providing energy storage for power grids. The really big winners should be those companies whose li-ion batteries also go into cars whose manufacturers can provide the rapid recharging infrastructure that consumers have indicated they want.

    Tuck this away: Ener1 is the battery supplier in the world’s first project linking grid storage, electric vehicles, rapid recharging infrastructure and solar power. Other participants in the just-announced Japanese project include Mazda Motor Corp. (Symbol MZDAY) and Kyushu Electric Power, which trades in Tokyo under the symbol 9508.

    Footnote: in Part 1 of this series, we explored the undiscovered potential of PFB Corp. (Symbol PFB), Vodafone Group (Symbol VOD), and Telefonica S.A. (Symbol TEF). For more please see: Hidden Gems? Why Green Investors Should Look at PFB, Vodafone And Telefonica (Pt. 1 of 2).


    Dec 14 8:57 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Raymond James Says Oil Markets Ignoring Big Iranian War Risk
    October 5, 2009
                Raymond James & Associates said this morning that oil markets are ignoring what the brokerage believes is a “better than 50% probability that some type of military confrontation with Iran . . . will occur in the course of the next 12 months.”
                “(NYSE:H)ere we are, in the midst of what some are calling a ‘Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion,’ with the Iranian regime playing hardball and tensions palpably rising in the region, and the oil market just yawns,” Raymond James stated in its “Energy Stat of the Week.”
                The brokerage essentially argues that, in the wake of Teheran’s disclosure of a secret nuclear enrichment site, attempts at sanctions by the West aren’t likely to work, and thus it is a very distinct possibility that Israel will exercise military force to prevent Iran being able to build a nuclear weapon.  
                A conflict with Iran “could have huge implications for the oil market,” according to the brokerage’s oil experts. “The market seems to be oblivious to the fact that Iranian retaliation against airstrikes would almost certainly involve the mining of the (Strait of Hormuz), which could end up blocking all shipments out of the Persian Gulf. This would effectively halt 20% of global oil supply, a supply disruption without parallel since the Second World War.
    “Were such a scenario to materialize and persist for several months, it could make the oil shocks of the 1970s look like a picnic,” Raymond James concluded.
    Oct 05 10:28 AM | Link | Comment!
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