Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crusty Is Turning Into A Tie-Dyed, Environmental Wacko

Of late I've been listening to Dead CDs, wondering if the Fish will do a Midwestern tour this summer, and thinking about joining Nebraskans for Peace. I can trace the beginning of this behavior back to my purchase of Power-One, a leading manufacturer of solar/wind power inverters. That investment led to a position in JA Solar, a Chinese solar panel manufacturer. I'm in danger of morphing into an environmental wacko. Since I'm not a total convert yet, I hope I've bought my two alternative energy positions cheap enough to make me a prosperous wacko. Also, to keep this behavior from becoming religion, I remain very happy with my nuke related investment in Shaw Engineering and a passel of oil and gas producers.

The stock market appears to hate the alternative energy space. After a number of years as "high flyers", solar companies have fallen out of flavor. Markets are concentrating on the possibility of less governmental subsidy due to budgetary restraints and have killed valuations. Companies can be had for a couple multiples of cashflow. Even if inventory gluts, reduced margins, and falling sales do materialize and cut last years earnings in half, a purchase today represents only 5-6 times EBITDA and since solar is not going away, that's a very attractive entry point.

JASO sells for 3 X EBITDA, 1 X Book, has a 30% ROE, and very little debt. It has been around for a long time and is well respected. As a local company, it will do well as China builds out its solar plans and has facilities and joint ventures in all other areas of the globe. It has been a big player in Europe, solar's number one locale, and will be a big player as the rest of the world picks up any slack from European retrenching. They just reported 1st quarter results which were excellent and the guidance was positive as well.

Renewability, high oil prices, Mid-East tensions, and cheap valuations are all working in this wacko's favor. Peace.

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