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Professional Credentials: The reports that I write are my personal research and opinions. They are not associated with any firm or organization, and are not intended to be taken as investment recommendations or advice. They combine my passions of economics, finance, writing and education, and... More
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  • Strong Earnings Season For Biofuels

    This earnings season was a strong period for biofuels, and trends are in place that should be supportive through the rest of 2013.

    Renewable Energy Group (NASDAQ:REGI) started things off on May 1st.

    DateOpenHighLowCloseVolumeAdj Close*
    May 10, 201312.5012.6212.0012.48676,10012.48
    May 9, 201312.3412.9212.1212.75509,60012.75
    May 8, 201312.0012.4511.9612.28599,40012.28
    May 7, 201312.1012.1311.7511.97669,70011.97
    May 6, 201312.0012.2011.3912.03646,60012.03
    May 3, 201311.5012.0511.0711.851,127,20011.85
    May 2, 201310.6211.5010.0211.354,115,40011.35
    May 1, 20139.549.989.539.91293,2009.91

    The stock is up over 25% since that time. It closed at $12.48 today the 10th.

    Syntroleum (NASDAQ:SYNM) released on May 3rd.

    DateOpenHighLowCloseVolumeAdj Close*
    May 10, 20136.006.215.635.80103,7005.80
    May 9, 20135.546.215.545.96348,9005.96
    May 8, 20134.115.754.065.51493,7005.51
    May 7, 20134.124.214.034.1612,1004.16
    May 6, 20134.054.233.964.0537,8004.05
    May 3, 20134.204.203.994.0068,5004.00

    The stock is up 45% since that time. It closed at $5.80 today, the 10th.

    BIOX (OTC:BXIOF) released on May 9th.

    DateOpenHighLowCloseVolumeAdj Close*
    May 10, 20130.570.700.570.7080,4000.70
    May 9, 20130.620.620.500.5058,1000.50

    The stock is up 40% on the news. BXIOF.PK started the month at $0.41.

    04/30/20130.4000.4100.4000.4104,5500.0102.50%

    KiOR (NASDAQ:KIOR) also released earnings on May 9th.

    DateOpenHighLowCloseVolumeAdj Close*
    May 10, 20134.314.564.274.37225,0004.37
    May 9, 20134.904.904.424.43409,9004.43

    KiOR is the only biofuels firm I track that didn't rally on the earnings news. It however is a bit different from the above firms in that it is a cellulosic biofuels company. KiOR closed down 1.35% today at $3.37.

    The first quarter earnings for these stocks were inflated because of the receipt of the 2012 tax credit. Income earned over the entire year of 2012 was in some cases totally accounted for in this quarter. That boost in earnings will not be repeated going forward. There are however trends in place that should be supportive for biofuels through the rest of 2013:

    1) The $1.00 tax credit passed.

    2) This year if there is a battle over the extension of the tax credit, it should boost RIN prices, not depress them like it did in 2012.

    3) Margins are currently strong, feedstock prices are stable to falling, fuel prices are stable to rising, RIN prices are strong with D4 RINs near $1.00.

    4) Production is lagging the level needed to reach 100% of the EPA quota, which should be supportive of RIN prices.

    5) RINs starts trading on the CME May 13th, and have been trading on ICE since May 7th, which should help the efficiency, confidence and remove fraud from this market.

    In conclusion, the economics that were disastrous for biofuels in the second half of 2012 have been reversed. RIN prices have strengthened, fuel prices have firmed, feedstock prices are relatively low and stable, the tax credit bill passed and 2013 production lags its quota target. All these factors combined to produce a very solid Q1 2013 earnings season. Current margins are strong, and the economics appear in place to continue this trend into and possibly through and beyond Q2 2013. Investors in this industry should pay attention to the margins as a way to gauge the potential fortunes of this industry.

    Disclaimer: This article is not an investment recommendation. Any analysis presented in this article is illustrative in nature, is based on an incomplete set of information and has limitations to its accuracy, and is not meant to be relied upon for investment decisions. Please consult a qualified investment advisor. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author's best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in SYNM over the next 72 hours.

    May 24 9:03 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Climate Change Consensus Bubble Burst By The Facts At Near 95% Confidence Level

    In a recent article about the gold bubble I had a quote from Fortress Investment Group's Michael Novogratz defining what made a bubble "successful."

    Gold was a classic bubble...it had such a compelling story...bubbles come around spectacularly good stories that are believable.

    Well, if gold is a bubble, climate change is the Hindenberg of all bubbles, and just like gold, the climate change bears are finally getting their day in the media. The Wall Street journal recently published an article titled "In Defense of Carbon Dioxide." The article wasn't written by some "flat earther," "denier" or "political hack," it was written by a very mild mannered, well reasoned physicist from Princeton and an engineer/Apollo17 astronaut and former Senator. Hardly the type of people that can be easily dismissed as a kooks or crazies.

    Why I consider climate change a pseudo-science hype bubble is simply because the facts pretty much prove that position. Just like gold, the whole concept was a spectacularly good story built on myths, and as long as people were making money, no one had an incentive to look behind the curtain. Now however the political atmosphere is changing, scientists are becoming bolder and willing to speak the truth, and what they are exposing will likely make the scandals of Benghazi, IRS Gate and the AP phone taps look like picnics. Why this is important to investors, and why the Wall Street journal find it important to run such stories is because there is an entire "green economy" that is almost totally dependent upon the carbon causes global warming myth. If the political atmosphere changes in Washington towards climate change, the political risk to these industries and firms is enormous.

    In this video from CNBC, Joe Kernan interviews author Professor William Happer, and does a great job highlighting what I consider many of the "smoking guns" that expose this climate change movement as a hoax. The most damning of the evidence is how the CO2 model simply violates the most basic of scientific principles; cause and effect. In a cause and effect model by definition the cause must lead the effect. The timeline is critical. People smoke and then they develop lung cancer. The smoking must precede the development of lung cancer. CO2 simply doesn't lead temperature, climate scientists don't even deny that, nor do their data sets demonstrate that. Simple common sense and a basic knowledge of the carbon cycle would lead the CO2 believers to the truth. During an ice age, there is very little life and the cool oceans absorb CO2. As the sun warms the earth, the glaciers melt, things grow, respire, decompose and the oceans warm and release CO2 much like a warm bottle of Champaign.

    The data, covering the end of the last ice age, between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago, show that CO2 levels could have lagged behind rising global temperatures by as much as 1,400 years. "The idea that there was a lag of CO2 behind temperature is something climate change skeptics pick on,"

    Even after they "adjust" the data, CO2 still lags temperature.

    His team compiled an extensive record of Antarctic temperatures and CO2 data from existing data and five ice cores drilled in the Antarctic interior over the last 30 years. Their results, published February 28 in Science, show CO2 lagged temperature by less than 200 years, drastically decreasing the amount of uncertainty in previous estimates.

    The second most damning bit of evidence is that the computer models on which this entire science is based make the gold models of 2 years ago look accurate. As pointed out in the video the common myth is that 98% of all climate scientists agree that CO2 is causing global warming. The problem is, science relies on science, statistics and mathematics, not a "consensus." Climate science is the only field of "science" I know of where the conclusions are reached in a fashion much like the Miss America pageant, by "consensus." Back in 1492 the "consensus" was that the earth was flat, but as we now know, the "consensus" didn't make it so. The following graphic highlights just how wrong these climate models are, and how close these models are to being proven false by almost any statistical measure.

    (click to enlarge)

    Unfortunately for climate scientists, and fortunately for those seeking the truth, science really does matter. The overconfident climate scientists blinded by their own political agendas were extremely eager to publish plenty of data in a rush to ensure that their funding gravy train remained full and flowing. Like all myths and bubbles, that will only succeed for so long before the truth catches up and exposes the whole thing as an illusion. An elaborate, extremely expensive and disruptive illusion, but an illusion all the same. Why the above chart is so damning for those who seek the truth is that it speaks the language of science, not the social politics of a cocktail party consensus. If in fact there is a 98% consensus in the field of climate science, their "science" is headed for a cataclysmic disaster, and it won't take a meteor from space to cause its extinction, it will only take their published works.

    The above chart shows a model with a 95% confidence interval. Anyone that has even an elementary school knowledge of the scientific method knows that science doesn't prove things, it disproves things. Science experiments establish a "null hypothesis" and then set out to disprove it. The way you disprove a theory is to measure data that falls outside of a certain confidence interval, usually 90 or 95% for the hard sciences. That is why scientists always say things like "with 95% confidence" or "we are confident at the 95% level" when they discuss research and findings. If you look at the above chart, the current temperatures are resting on the extreme lower outside of the 95% confidence band. There own model is already proven invalid at the 75% confidence level, which is the darker orange center band. The problem this creates for the "consensus" scientists that blindly jumped on this global warming bandwagon, it that now the undeniable facts are coming to light, and their own research is buying the rope that will be used to hang them. Already, it is almost safe to say that at 94.9999999% this model has been proven invalid, the null is rejected, but it has yet to cross that magical 95% level that will grab the headlines and more Seeking Alpha articles when it happens.

    With the temperature data resting on the extreme lower edge of the 95% band we are only one short cold spell away from determining this model null and void, rejected with a confidence level of 95%. The question, and congressional investigations that this will or should surely spawn, is how can 98% of "scientists" form a "consensus" on a model that has been proven invalid at the 95% confidence level? How can so many be so completely wrong? This will surely go down in scientific history as one of the greatest examples of the politicization of science, group think and scientific malpractice since Piltdown man. We are teaching this invalid "science" is almost every classroom in America? China is teaching their children engineering so they can build more coal burning power plants, and here in America we are teaching our children an invalid junk science more appropriate for political or social sciences than the hard sciences. The implications of this are extremely broad reaching, and the political risks and consequences are unlikely discounted in the price of green economy stocks such as wind, solar and ethanol yet, but one single congressional investigation piled upon top of the Benghazi, IRS and AP investigations can change all that in the drop of a gavel.

    Some other interesting data provided in the article and videos is that:

    1) Elevated CO2 levels are great for crop yields and agricultural productivity.

    2) Submarines have CO2 levels well in access of those found in the atmosphere today.

    3) Glaciers have been disappearing long before the industrial age, in fact they started receding over 10,000 years ago with the ending of the last ice age.

    4) Very few if any of the hysterical claims of extreme weather and the impact of climate change stand up to scrutiny. By the way, this video created years ago proves the claims haven't held any credibility for quite some time.

    The cessation of observed global warming for the past decade or so has shown how exaggerated NASA's and most other computer predictions of human-caused warming have been-and how little correlation warming has with concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As many scientists have pointed out, variations in global temperature correlate much better with solar activity and with complicated cycles of the oceans and atmosphere. There isn't the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather.

    5) When primates first walked the earth CO2 levels were 10x where they are today.

    6) CO2 is the element of life. Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon. The dangers of labeling an element critical to life as a pollutant is an insanely risky action, especially when the Government, sometimes totalitarian in nature, is in charge of enforcement of CO2 regulation. China already claims their infanticidal one child policy is helping the environoment.

    7) Most importantly, CO2 has continued to increase and global temperatures are flat to falling. There has been no material temperature increase in over a decade.

    In conclusion, why investors should be interested in, and the Wall Street Journal and CNBC are giving press coverage to climate change is because of the tremendous political and headline risks that are associated with it. Industries like wind, solar and ethanol are almost 100% dependent upon and manufactured by governmental policies. Without government support, many, if not all firms in those industries are doomed to bankruptcy. Mid-term elections are less than 2 years away and the Republicans have a chance to strengthen their hold on the House and a chance of capturing the Senate. In Washington a week is an eternity, and with two years, there is plenty of time for a cooling spell to push the climate models way beyond the 95% confidence level envelope and the congress to add yet another investigation to their already full dance card. In my opinion a scandal weakened administration is the ideal time to address the politically charged issue of climate change, and now that more and more real scientists are willing to speak up and challenge the "consensus" by writing articles for the Wall Street Journal, appearing on CNBC and refusing to be bullied into silence, the likelihood of a congressional investigation only grows, and the political risk to the "green economy" grows with it. The outlook for coal, natural gas, utilities and petroleum should also improve as well.

    Disclaimer: This article is not an investment recommendation. Any analysis presented in this article is illustrative in nature, is based on an incomplete set of information and has limitations to its accuracy, and is not meant to be relied upon for investment decisions. Please consult a qualified investment advisor. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author's best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

    May 20 1:17 PM | Link | 10 Comments
  • Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: Flexible Pricing Pt #2

    Recently I wrote an article titled "Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: Flexible Pricing." It covered the new trend of flexible pricing in the movie theater industry. The article caught the attention of the good people over at The Good Guys To Know Show, who did a 30 minute interview on the topic. If you are interested, the show interview can be found here. Stock Symbols included in the original article were: AMZN, BTN, CIDM, CKEC, CMCSA, CNK, CSTR, DIS, DWA, EBAY, EXPE, IMAX, MCS, NWSA, PCLN, RGC, RLD, SNE, TWC, TWX.

    Disclaimer: This article is not an investment recommendation. Any analysis presented in this article is illustrative in nature, is based on an incomplete set of information and has limitations to its accuracy, and is not meant to be relied upon for investment decisions. Please consult a qualified investment advisor. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author's best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice.

    Disclosure: I am long BTN. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

    May 11 9:54 AM | Link | Comment!
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