Longtime readers of this space might recognize the gist of this teaser just from that headline, but it has been reformulated and is getting pushed harder and harder of late, so I couldn’t resist another look at it.
The ad is for the Oxford Club and their Communique, a relatively inexpensive newsletter (according to the compilation of reviews I’ve collected on this one so far, the average opinion is a bland “eh.”)
Here’s how the ad launches:
“This $3 Utah Company Could ‘Bring Down’ OPEC
“Its breakthrough BCT-1 technology enables a whole new way of producing megawatts of cheap, commercial power.
“It’s about to divert $401 billion to shrewd investors….
“A few years ago, research scientists – working at a small western U.S. company – made an amazing discovery.
“Called BCT-1, it revolutionizes the way that electrical power is generated. Just imagine a whole new way to produce thousands of megawatts of cheap, commercial power…”
The teaser goes on to tell us about how this new energy resource could knock OPEC on its keister … and who doesn’t like the idea of that, even if it is, to be charitable, a bit of a “pie in the sky” keister-planting at the moment?
The language is strong with this one … and the “promises” even stronger …
“You see, this idea is so big, that power plants using it can generate enough power to light every American city and town…
“Bottom line: It’s an alternative energy source for power plants with the potential to cut OPEC’s exports to the United States by 51%.
“That amounts to $401 billion dollars a year – hard earned cash that can wipe out the pervasive conditions that are choking off the U.S. economy… rising unemployment… and soaring foreclosures.
“It’s about to put billions of dollars into the hands of investors who know how to play the BCT-1…
“As an Oxford Club member in good standing, this is your invitation to join them… and to experience potential gains of 1,100%.”
How about a bit more, including some clues?
“The first BCT-1 plant is already on-line, producing over 20 megawatts of clean, green electricity. It’s being sent over the grid to light over 18,000 homes in a large California city.
“Incredibly, most Wall Street analysts are completely ignorant with regards to BCT-1 technology, and few investment houses are even aware of the company.
“And yet every time this company brings a new BCT-1 power plant on-line – it can build them in just 9 months – it shuts off the need for more OPEC oil… and funnels cash into its bank account.”
But wait, there’s more! This is, if you haven’t guessed yet, a geothermal power generation company — so yes, the cutting of oil imports from OPEC by 51% is not exactly around the corner just yet.
“This Company has Been Quietly Buying the Geothermal Sites No One Else Wants… Now It’s About to Payoff in Spades…
“With all the attention – and money – flowing to the “hot steam” geothermal sites, little attention has been paid to warm-water geothermal fields… thought to be useless for generating power.
“But the CEO of this company – armed with USGS field data, and the BCT-1 technology from his engineers and scientists – is acquiring all the warm water sites he can get his hands on.
“Many of these agreements are off-the-radar, private deals, negotiated directly with the landowners.
“And now it’s paying off in spades: the company has access to over 3 million acres available for geothermal project development… and the BCT-1 technology to make it all happen.
“But time is of the essence on this opportunity. Already, long-term power purchase agreements have been inked for the first 22 megawatts (a preliminary agreement for the next 110MW is being negotiated as this goes to press) with customers who are lining up to snap up all the power this company can produce.
“Another plant capable of over 40MW is being designed to share the hot water resource where the first plant is located. (The total potential there is over 200 MW.)
“Clearly, not moving on this opportunity could cost investors a bundle in future gains… ”
OK, so as with all good things, they had to invent a new name for it so you couldn’t go figger it out for yourself — “BCT-1.” I’m pretty sure the company doesn’t use that acronym, but I’ll throw out a wild guess that it means “Binary Cycle Technology”.
What this company really is doing is developing geothermal power plants (that might be more accurate if you consider the term “developing” to broadly include “thinking about developing”) that, using generator technology from United Technologies (UTX), can make geothermal electricity generation feasible in lower-temperature areas. Meaning, instead of having to be in the Geysers in Northern California, or in Iceland, or in other super hot spots, you can drill down to get “pretty hot” water in other areas and turn that heat into electricity.
Oh, and yes, the company is still — just as it was the last time I wrote about them — Raser Technologies (RZ), currently trading for closer to $2 than $3, and heavily teased by these same Oxford Club dudes, and others, at substantially higher prices. Nancy Zambell was touting it at about $3.70, before the shares took their most recent dip down. Tim Fields pushed it about 18 months ago near $10, and I think the first time I wrote about an Oxford Club tease for this one was was back in May of 2008, also at about $10, when they introduced the theme that this was something that “George Bush was told behind closed doors” and that it would bring OPEC to its knees (they never, unfortunately, used the word “keister” … a terrible missed opportunity).
That’s not to say that the fact that RZ was touted with similar breathless “buy it now” language when it was trading for five times the current price disqualifies it from being an interesting investment now — but hopefully it helps to quell any urgency you might have been feeling, Raser has been “just around the corner” from revolutionizing power generation in the US for a while now … and it’s also been talked about more than once as being on its deathbed. Doesn’t mean that glory or demise couldn’t suddenly come to Raser this week, but I’d think that there’s probably time for the patient investor to read up a bit before throwing any money at this one.
Geothermal energy isn’t quite the “hot” story that it was last Spring, when this same stock (and several others) were in heavy rotation in teasers that used tantalizing terms like “slow volcano power” and “sonoma grizzly power” … but then again, most of the stocks are a lot cheaper now than they were then, and some of them are even profitable, or see profitability somewhere around the next bend. Raser isn’t, according to most people, in that “almost profitable” camp just yet — though they are probably the geothermal company that is best at promoting itself to investors and ingratiating itself with politicians, for whatever that’s worth.
The steadier stocks in this sector include Ormat (ORA), which is probably the profitability standard-bearer for pure-play geothermal stocks, Calpine (CPN), the biggest utility in this space, with a massive geothermal portfolio in the Geysers, and United Technologies (UTX), which obviously has a lot more on its plate and doesn’t move that much, if at all, based on their geothermal work.
Smaller companies that are currently generating power or are trying to build plants include Sierra Geothermal (SRAGF, pink sheets), Polaris Geothermal (PGTHF, pink sheets), Nevada Geothermal (NGLPF, pink sheets), Western Geopower (WGPWF, pink sheets), and US Geothermal (HTM), among a few others. I’m pretty sure those have all been teased by one geothermal stock tout or another in the last couple years, and they’re all much cheaper now than they were when I first noticed them.
If you’d like a little look at the continuing interest in geothermal power generation, there was a good article in the NY Times a few months ago that summarized some of the key points, including the possibility of enhanced federal funding. My read on that article is that there’s quite a lot of potential for geothermal using water injection without having to resort to using lower-temperature sites like Raser is doing, but I am certainly not an expert on that. One of the Wall Street Journal blogs also did a good update a couple month back on geothermal, the Department of Energy’s plans, and stimulus money.
And if you’d like a little pro/con for Raser, two thoughtful bloggers have put out arguments in recent months — one of my old favorites, 10QDetective, has been calling attention to RZ’s promotional hackery and lack of, um, money for a long time, and Tom Konrad over at AltEnergyStocks owns shares and calls it “too cheap to ignore.”
Personally, I love the idea of geothermal power … but …
I might just be a bit too jaded after seeing the little companies in this space get propped up by newsletter after newsletter. These days I’d be a lot more comfortable buying Calpine or Ormat (I don’t currently own either, or any of the other stocks named in this article) than any of the little guys mentioned above, including RZ — not least because of the big capital outlays that geothermal exploration and production require.
Though who knows, if cap and trade takes off along with increased requirements from states for green electricity, and clean energy generators start getting better premium prices and bigger up-front investments from utilities and customers to build and expand plants, some of these little guys may well pay off handsomely some day. They also might go broke. Though, to be fair, it was only about 18 months ago that Calpine itself came out of bankruptcy, so there’s no guarantee that being big will make you more stable every time.
I know we’ve chatted back and forth over many of these stocks over the past couple years, and I imagine there are still a lot of great and glorious Gumshoe readers who own or have owned these shares — if you’ve got an opinion, please feel free to share it with a comment below.
And if you’ve ever subscribed to the Oxford Club and their Communique newsletter, click here to submit a review — perhaps you can move the needle either up or down from the current “tepid” range.