“A Good Idea Before Obama … now a Slam Dunk!”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, November 26, 2008

The ad we’re looking at today is from Street Authority, and I’ve already had one reader send it in with some suggested solutions (she was largely right, of course — one of the many benefits of having the wisest readers in cyberspace!)

Today’s selling story is all about wind — which means we have to sneak in all the cliched jokes and puns we can find. I’ll get you started, and you can throw in as many others as you like:

These newsletter ads are usually full of hot air, and they “blow.”

I can already hear my wife working up a snide comment about my own personal wind capacity, so I’ll leave it there. Your turn!

On to the point, you say? This ad is from Street Authority, yet another of the investment newsletter publishers that’s “just down the road” from Gumshoe Headquarters here in Washington, DC. The particular newsletter they’re selling today is StreetAuthority Market Advisor from Paul Tracy — their special deal today is three months for $40, but I think we can all do the math and determine that the annual subscription price is $160. Not outrageous compared to many, but more than you’re likely to find under the couch cushions.

Hulbert doesn’t track Paul Tracy’s newsletter, and I think I’ve only written about it once before, so I can’t tell you anything about his performance, even anecdotally (if there are any of his subscribers among the great Gumshoe faithful, feel free to pipe up and share your experience). His last pick that I wrote about was when he was riding Warren Buffett’s coattails to tout CarMax (which has done poorly since April … but then, what hasn’t?)

Here’s how the ad begins:

“The Government Made Millionaires of Thousands of Dell, Oracle and Amgen Investors — Guess Who’s Next?

“(This investment was a good bet even before Obama was elected … now it’s a slam dunk!)”

The argument, in not so many words, is that the government can push companies into massive spasms of profit — Dell and Oracle because the government spent a lot of money upgrading its own systems in the early 1990s (and, of course, funding the continuing development of the internet), and Amgen because of the big government research funding push in biotech in the 1980s.

And Tracy thinks the next big push will be in wind power …

“A small group of 20 to 30 stocks is going to be flooded with so much new cash that several are likely to be up more than 10-to-1 in the next three or four years. As I’ll explain in a minute, there’s a very real possibility that a few of the stocks could shoot up 100-to-1. What we’re going to do today is narrow those 20 to 30 down to today’s two or three best buys while they’re still dirt cheap.

“The Next Way Congress Will Make Investors Rich

“Here’s a four letter word I want you to repeat to yourself when you’re wondering where to invest your next dollar: ‘wind.'”

That’s definitely not the four-letter word I’ve been using in recent weeks as I make portfolio decisions — frankly, it’s probably not even in the top ten. But I’d have to use lots of asterisks and ampersands and pound signs to share my words with you here in this family publication, so #*&@, I’ll move right along.

Tracy goes on to talk about the huge promise of wind power in general, and about the big investments made in this sector by some smart people — including T. Boone Pickens:

“The billionaire oil man is wagering $12 billion on what will be the world’s largest wind farm, spanning the Texas panhandle. He has already ordered 667 turbines from General Electric.”

Of course, no mention is made of the fact that the collapse of natural gas prices, and the surfeit of available credit for capital projects, has slowed this and many other big alternative energy projects — Pickens announced a couple weeks ago that he has pushed back much of his massive wind farm project, though he still says it will move forward eventually (he thinks natural gas needs to be around $9 for wind power to be competitive for electricity generation, it’s not far above $6 at the moment).

And Tracy also fails to mention that some other wind projects have been slowed or scrapped — FPL, the Florida utility and one of the major wind investors in the US, has also scaled back its future wind generation plans a bit of late.

But there are many, many people who are bullish on wind power in the long term, and who think that the Obama presidency will lead, as promised, to massive investment in alternative energy research and infrastructure — so a bit of a delay in Boone’s project isn’t necessarily any reason to ignore wind power in general.

So what are the specific investments being touted by the StreetAuthority folks?

Here are the clues we get:

“Is business actually too good for this company? This Spanish outfit is the poster child for the global backlog of wind turbines. It has already sold its entire production run for the next two years. Its stock is up +401% in the past five years and it is making so much money in the wind business that it sold off its solar power division to focus completely on wind. Completely vertically integrated, it designs and makes its own blades, root joints, gearboxes, generators, converters and towers. And it develops wind farms itself, something most of its competitors can’t do. The company has 32 factories in Spain, Italy, North America, Germany and Norway, nine of which were built in just the past 18 months.”

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That’s Gamesa, which trades here on the pink sheets at GCTAF. This is one of the major firms in the sector, to be certain, and it does have a pretty big footprint — like the largest firm in the business, which we’ll see mentioned in a moment, it’s a European company with a core business in the very active wind business in Western Europe, so do keep in mind that, as with most of the big wind players, you’ll probably run some currency exchange risk on this one, depending on whether you think the dollar or the euro will have the upper hand in the years ahead.


“Locked-in growth for years ahead. In April, China declared an ambitious target of expanding wind power capacity to 100,000 megawatts by 2020, up from just 5,600 megawatts today. That’s great news for this company, China’s largest maker of gearboxes — the most critical and complex part in a wind turbine. It plans a four-fold increase in production in the next two years… and is aiming to become one of the top three global gearbox makers. It already supplies General Electric and just raised $272 million through an IPO to fund its massive expansion.”

This must be China Wind, a little Chinese manufacturing company that last year made a big push into manufacturing parts for turbines — it’s closing in on half of their business now, and they are indeed aiming to quadruple their production capacity with their current expansion plan. There’s an interesting quick article from Cleantech News about China’s wind turbine industry, which, although it doesn’t boast industry leaders like the Europeans, manufactures more than half of the world’s turbines and is the fastest growing market for wind power equipment. China Wind trades over the counter at CWSI, and released earnings about two weeks ago — you can see the earnings release here. This is a teensy one — it looks like the market cap is right around $50 million, the shares trade at about 80 cents now, and net income per share in the third quarter was three cents.

They’ve done a lot of diluting since coming public not long ago, I assume largely because they’re trying to fund their big expansion projects, but so far they remain profitable — so that’s something. With everything being cheap these days it’s hard to stretch for a smaller, seemingly riskier company like this, but there’s certainly a chance that as a small Chinese manufacturer of a key component, they’ll be extra leveraged to the expected spike in demand.

“Your safest bet of all: the world’s #1 wind power stock. For a sure play in wind power it’s hard to go wrong with the world leader. This Danish wind turbine company is winning the battle for global dominance, with about 23% of the world market. And its shareholders have been amply rewarded: over the past five years, its stock has risen +449%. It produced enough turbines in 2007 to power about 4.5 million homes. It has plants in Denmark, Germany, Australia, India, Italy, Scotland, England, Spain, Sweden and Norway. In May it announced it is spending $250 million to build the world’s largest wind turbine tower factory in Colorado.”

That’s the big daddy I mentioned above, Vestas (ADR pink sheet ticker is VWDRY). I’ve written about these guys before, since as the world leader in wind turbines they’re certainly the first firm that comes to mind when you get interested in this business. Back when I wrote about Vestas in May they were being touted as the “one stock to buy” before their earnings release — and the earnings were indeed good, helping to drive the shares up a big higher to the mid-$40s. Unfortunately, down the tubes it went from there — the company is still the world leader, but folks don’t love the business (or the stock market) quite as much, and the shares are now trading for about $15.

And finally …

“33 in 1. Here’s the perfect solution for any investor who wants to profit from wind power but who doesn’t want to keep track of shares in Spain, Denmark and Hong Kong. This exchange-traded fund (ETF) gives you all three stocks we profile above… plus 30 other wind-related stocks… running the gamut from equipment makers to utilities with wind operations. Its assets are spread across the globe, mostly in Western Europe (65% of assets) and the balance in North America and Asia. For international access and the ease of buying the entire industry with one purchase on the Nasdaq, you pay only 0.75% in annual fees.”

Whaddya know, it’s an ETF! And there are only two ETFs right now that are focused exclusively on wind power. This particular teaser is for the PowerShares Nasdaq OMX Clean Edge Global Wind Energy Index ETF (PWND). Long name, eh? The other ETF in this sector is the First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy Index Fund (FAN). The performance of both ETFs has been almost exactly the same during their fairly young lives, and they hold many of the same stocks, but in general PWND is slightly more concentrated, and is more exposed to the big European players like Iberdrola, Vestas, and Gamesa. There’s an interesting article that compares the two here, from August, if you’d like to split hairs — but it’s hard to be sure which of the two might perform better without knowing whether or not Vestas, for example, will have a bad quarter.

So is that windy enough for you? I don’t currently hold any of the stocks or ETFs mentioned above, but I would generally agree that it seems likely that the world will continue to push for increased electricity generation using wind … that doesn’t mean these shares will boom next year, or the year after. It’s always possible that a very weak economy and lower prices for competitors like coal and natural gas will slow the development of the rapidly growing wind turbine farms around the world.



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November 26, 2008 10:10 am

Each government stimulus plan strikes out including yesterdays introduction of $200b into asset backed securities. We are a long way from economic recovery and, as a result, excessive consumption of oil/gas. By the time energy demand around the world picks up (??another 8 years), new technology may have easily replaced wind. What would you rather have – small solar panels on your roof (or maybe a solar balloon floating in the stratosphere) or a giant bat-killing, bird-mutilating turbine in your backyard?
Have a great Thanksgiving.

November 26, 2008 10:34 am

Sorry to say, Gumshoe, but your reference links are not working at all, in this article. HOWEVER, that is the only quibble I have. THANK YOU, for an AWESOME write up, as usual~!
I DO have to also add, Medstuff, above, has a very valid point. Solar and even newer technologies may yet come to the fore, and throw everything helter-skelter~!

November 26, 2008 10:38 am

Ahh! Notice I said bird mutilating. Do you really want to confront a beat up Canada goose?

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