by Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe | August 20, 2008 1:16 pm
Aha! You think for a moment that the Gumshoe has returned from vacation early to jump on a hot new stock tip … but you’re wrong, my friend.
I’m still not here, but my ethereal presence is calmly posting a rerun of a stock we snooped out many months ago, with a few new notes to update you.
The catch is, back when the Alternative Energy Speculator first started teasing us about this stock, before Summer came to the Northern Hemisphere, the “Pickens Plan” hadn’t yet been officially launched by our favorite billionaire, so we weren’t yet being teased with the fact that we could “follow an oil billionaire to natural gas profits.”
The Pickens Plan has been heavily advertised this summer — you have in all likelihood seen the commercials it on TV, since that’s the heart of the outreach strategy for T. Boone Pickens (and he’s got the money for plenty of advertising when he sets his mind to it).
This plan essentially involves a strategy to use windmills for electricity generation, which will free up domestic natural gas to be used for transportation, and cure us of our addiction to oil imports — there’s a certain elegance to that, and there is at least some infrastructure for natural gas vehicles in place, and a national distribution system, even if there aren’t many actual fueling stations yet. That elegance hides a large number of stumbling blocks, I’m sure, but it’s at least an intriguing plan. And God knows, he’s not the only one who’s finally realizing that wind power is efficient and cheap — though the cows in Texas apparently like the view of wind turbines much more than do the vacationers on Cape Cod or Florida beaches.
But the big tease in these ads is for the natural gas stuff — and one of the companies that might profit is, in fact, owned by T. Boone Pickens himself. Actually several are, but this particular one teased in the ad is a company that develops natural gas engines for heavy trucks, and that is poised to benefit from a “superfund” to push the switchover to cleaner trucks in California ports, most of which are located in areas that are already cursed with heavy smog and particulate pollution. These ports are extremely motivated to cut diesel use, so that’s where this company has a chance to make a name and a market for itself.
So yes, for those who have been paying attention lo these many months, this one is the same stock I wrote about in March — Westport Innovations. Since then, it has sold shares in a new offering to list on the Nasdaq (just last Friday), and the shares have come down quite a bit from recent highs. You can go here to read up on the full analysis of the original ad and the other readers’ comments about the company, but do note that the ticker is different now — it still trades in Canada at WPT, but the new US ticker, now that it’s off the pink sheets and on the Nasdaq, is WPRT.
The other big natural gas transportation stock that Pickens is a major holder of, by the way, is Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) — they build the fueling stations for natural gas, and were also partly-owned by Westport until recently (they may still have some shares, not sure — CLNE was formed, largely due to Pickens’ influence, using some Westport assets, which is how they came to own part of it). Selling CLNE shares was one of the few profit drivers for Westport over the last year or so, they’re still a ways away from mass producing the heavy truck engines that are teased here, though their Cummins Westport joint venture is churning away nicely and spinning off profit, other initial partnerships with truck and engine makers have been signed of late, and their heavy truck engine plant is supposed to open next year.
I continue to hold shares of WPRT personally, and I write about them on occasion on the Irregulars site.
Just a few more days of reruns, and then your beloved Stock Gumshoe will be back to wow you with new wit and wisdom — happy investing!
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