written by reader The American Prius

By xiexgp@gmail.com, March 5, 2014

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Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
March 5, 2014 11:07 am

That’s Westport Innovations (WPRT), I’ve covered it quite a few times over the years and mentioned it as the solution to this pitch in our free email back when the pitch first started circulating a couple months ago.

Here’s what I said about it when I last looked at the stock, back in January when I reviewed stocks for the Irregulars:

Westport Innovations (WPRT) – I suggested Westport five or six years ago, when it was emerging as a natural gas engine technology company with appealing prospects in the heavy truck business. It has suffered from “overpromise/underdeliver” almost every year since then, with waves of enthusiasm for the story crashing as it became clear, again and again, that the future promise of actual earnings was continually pushed further out into the future. The stock has had two bad years now, so is it finally looking appealing again?

Not really. Every time I look at them when the price is falling I think it should be attractive, but then I look at the financials and the company just can’t generate any kind of profitable volume. Revenue climbs every year, but costs climb too — and often their huge R&D investments mean that costs climb faster — I think there’s a great place for natural gas engines, particularly in heavy trucks and fleet vehicles, but the business case has never caught up with the promise, partly because it would probably take a really strong sustained government incentive program to make natural gas engines and natural gas refueling stations get to the kind of critical mass that could make companies like Westport or Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) profitable. As investors we continue to look at the potential of, say, the 16,000 heavy drayage trucks in Southern California ports where the air quality concerns are high and think WPRT should get a huge boost in business, but then we note that competitors are selling other solutions there, too, and Westport has probably gotten less than 10% Of that fleet in the five years since they started trying to spur alternative development for that specific market. And that’s with natural gas at bargain prices, and, depending on who you ask, a reasonable business case for switching to natural gas engines even without government subsidies. In five years, WPRT has seen revenue grow by about 120%, but operating costs have grown by almost 400% and the share count has more than doubled. (Westport is again saying that it thinks it can effectively generate an operating profit by the end of 2014, similar to promises they’ve made regularly since 2007). I’m going to keep WPRT on the watchlist, because it’s such an appealing story that I’m sure it will be actively teased again soon, and it may end up working eventually — but it’s not the potential growth stock that I thought was worth speculating on back in 2008, it’s now a “show me” stock that has to do something to get their costs under control or prove the scalability of their business (ie, the potential that they might someday grow revenues faster than they increase their costs) before I can buy it again. It sure looks cheap for folks who remember seeing it at $40 or $50 in past years, and they raised cash fairly recently so they’re not on the verge of going bankrupt or anything like that, but in my opinion it’s not cheap enough to be worth buying just on potential. After this kind of multi-year beating you’d at least like to see the company have some insider buying. Nope, none for WPRT on either the US or Canadian exchanges — though they hand out shares to employees like candy and it looks like the employees often sell them.

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SageNot
Guest
SageNot
March 6, 2014 3:21 pm

No insider buying & most employees sell whatever stock handouts they receive??? Hmmmm!!!

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hunt4gain
Member
hunt4gain
March 6, 2014 10:58 am

I think PSIX is a better stock in the same type.

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baygreen
Member
March 6, 2014 1:40 pm

Not until Obama lets the US DRILL BABY DRILL, if he would have listened to PICKEN’S and pipelines instead of Warren Buffet/Obama Rail Road hauling oil at 10 $ a barrel more than pipelines, he would not be in the jam he is, and we are stuck with him as he does what he wants. There is a Constitution but it is not for the middle east ans Islam. Pipeline technology is so far ahead of Warrens trains hauling Warren oil tankers through every town, it is not the Rockefeller Rail Road anymore , nor the global warming and EPA which takes on average 7 years to get any kind of permit when in other modern countries the norm is 2 years at the most, 7 years is a lot f unemployment and Obama has 2 terms 8 years of people waiting for the check at the mail box. Big oil pays more in taxes than there profits what other business does that and survives. The Government, D C , let the States be States, half of them are broke and guess who they supported, pretty easy to figure out but you have to have common sense, not wonder if I vote will I get elected for voting right and not left. China is the only winner and they will throw the key away if Obama does not bow . Children and Grandchildren are born to his debt, and it is not an easy fix if people don’t work like capitalism works not dictators. We have the knowledge but we have a leader that never led just look at ILL. they use IOU’s to pay the Govt. employee’s. He throws Canada our great neighbor under the bus and they will move there product to Asia/China on the interest from his loans that we pay for. You can be safe but you still have to go outside. Keep picking up the teasers Travis we now you work.

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John
Member
John
March 6, 2014 2:30 pm
Reply to  baygreen

Isn’t it time to look up the definition of corruption? Add endemic and you’ll see all answers right before you.

bobbill
bobbill
March 6, 2014 3:22 pm

Today in regard to our nation’s state of affairs Riley (William Bendix) would say “What a
Revoltin’ development this is!”

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max
Guest
max
March 6, 2014 11:55 pm
Reply to  bobbill

well john hyrma I think we should throw you under the bus you think all that oils is ours were the most foreign owned country on the planet and the past 8 terms of office has bin nobodys’ friend especialy not the average americans it make me sick to think about it

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john hryma
Member
john hryma
March 6, 2014 7:24 pm

Thank’s. Cathy Kandravi for your comment. I like your last comment about Obama throwing Canada under the Bus. As a Canadian and a neighbour of the USA. Why can’t we share our wealth(oil) with you? During the cold war IN THE 50’S; the USA was ready to send jets to Canada in case of invasion from Russia. Its time we pay back our dues and send our OIl to you tax free. Please let us remain the best of friends and Neighbours.

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Mike
Guest
March 7, 2014 7:50 pm
Reply to  john hryma

Bingo, you hit the nail on the head, it is all about payback for Buffett who invested heavily in rail, so he doesn’t want to see pipeline, and he let obuma know it in no uncertain terms as major donor.

Slick Rick
Guest
Slick Rick
March 6, 2014 8:16 pm

BLDP is on fire and has done better than any of the stocks listed above! http://finviz.com/quote.ashx?t=bldp&ty=c&ta=1&p=d

As far as the “Aw Shucks” guy is concerned , supposedly a deal was worked out that he would say we should pay more in taxes , and in exchage Obama would veto the pipeline., thereby giving the right for Warren to ship the oil via his railroads. What a FRAUD !
My advice to Warren would be to take his own advice sell half his shares ,and PAY TAXES to the government ,,,,,,,and then donate what is left to hospitals , charities and soup kitchens .

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quartercrazi
Member
quartercrazi
March 7, 2014 12:30 am

Thank you Stiles Watson for your comment regarding psix & it was a great pick exactly 1 year ago today when it hit its 52 wk low of $19.50 and closed today at +$81. Don’t think i ready to buy at that price but will keep an eye on it for investor profit taking price drop.

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takeprofits
Irregular
March 9, 2014 12:14 pm

It is hard to argue against the conservative position Travis takes regarding Westport who has indeed had a hard time generating any kind of profit. That being said, the speculator in me says the company will eventually prove the thesis that natural gas is the fuel of the future and may even spread from mostly business vehicles to personal cars when enough re-fueling stations have been built. Maybe the current potential profit position lies more in that buildout? FACT: I have made excellent profits 3 times on Westport, once on a direct purchase and TWICE using regular CALL options and I am now considering long dated LEAPS based on the current low as the “out of favour” status can easily change over the next year or two at most. You simply get a much better bang for your buck than buying the actual stock.

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arch1
Member
March 11, 2014 2:32 pm
Reply to  takeprofits

Myron; I agree with your analysis but the problem is not the engine which is what Westport is working on. Just about any engine that will run on gasoline or diesel will run on NG. Before Henry Ford built his first auto he built engines that ran on city gas. Natural gas is a low density fuel [a little better than hydrogen] and must be stored in its liquid phase to get any kind of driving range out of it. At present that means either high pressure tanks[like welding cylinders] Or a thermos-bottle like tank,so capacity is limited. I see no chance of the infrastructure being built out beyond larger cities any time soon for refueling. You may have noticed its been a long time since Obama mentioned NG as a motor fuel, there is no funding for building fueling stations & is un-economic for private sources. At present pricing NG works out to about $1 a gallon but remember pump price for gasoline carries a tax load of 32 to 70 cents taxes per gallon and gasoline contains over twice the energy of NG so price right now is no real advantage. Your guess as to when things will change is as good as mine but I think at least 10 years.

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