FSLR

All posts tagged FSLR

Oil dropped below $114 today after hovering around $117 per barrel. But I still think the long term trend is up.

According to Kevin Kerr, editor of a commodities investment newsletter,

“The U.S. is filled with gas hogs, but the developing world is catching up. Last year, Chinese drivers bought 5.5 million cars, minivans and SUVs and 3 million commercial vehicles, up from just 1.6 million vehicles sold in 1997. Sales are expected to grow 15-20% this year. Looking down the road, China’s auto sales are expected to grow by 1 million vehicles annually through 2015.

“Meanwhile, India is poised to rocket past China as the world’s fastest-growing car market. Sales of passenger cars in India increased 12.17%, to 1.5 million, in this past year.

“As a result, China’s oil imports are expected to nearly double by 2020, and India’s oil imports are projected to more than triple over the same time period. So while $120 oil and $4 gas may seem expensive, it’s likely that in three years, we will have $250 crude and around $8 gas. I wonder if the ‘experts’ will still be debating whether oil prices are high by then.”

Seems like someone else agrees with my prediction of $8 per gallon gasoline!

Solar energy stocks have also been on a tear lately. I had shorted First Solar (FSLR) earlier this year and I closed out my position with a small profit. However, since then its spiked from $195 to nearly $295! I would’ve made a lot more money if I had just gone long! It’s currently sporting a very high PE ratio of 143. Despite its ~50% jump, I don’t feel comfortable buying stocks which have absurd valuations. As Buffett’s mentor Benjamin Graham believed, you should always look for a margin of safety. There’s no safety in over-paying for a stock.

But regardless of the increase in green energy stock prices, I think alternative energy sources will take a lot of research and time before they can replace oil as a major source of the world’s energy. Until then, I’m happy to keep holding on to my dividend-producing canroys.

For any of you that think ethanol is a viable long-term alternative, I strongly recommend reading Time Magazine’s article: The Clean Energy Scam.

[Amazon Rainforest surrounded by Sugarcane fields]

This is a picture of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest which has now been replaced by sugarcane fields to produce ethanol. Yes, its a cheap alternative to Oil, but it is in no way a better or a green solution. In the US, using a food source to produce energy is even more moronic. But until we start having our own food riots, I doubt the government subsidies will go away.

I’m currently on a short trip to India. For the past 2-3 years, India’s economy has been booming. There is construction everywhere and they’re building new malls and apartment complexes like crazy.

Even though I’ve been living in the US for the past decade, before that I spent 12 years in India. There’s been so much development in my city that I can barely recognize some of the areas. The people have definitely become a lot more prosperous and their standard of living is on the rise too. Up until 10 years ago, there was 1 new car model introduced every 5-10 years. This year, there are 30 new car models slated to be released!

Along with the booming economy and growth in jobs and salaries, there’s also jump in asset prices. Real estate has become insanely expensive, having jumped 10 fold since 2000. The stock market has also increased substantially. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index which is a weighted index of 30 stocks has doubled since February 2006. This rapid escalation has created an investing frenzy among average people in India and I think the market may be getting somewhat speculative.

Unlike the US, where non-accredited investors cannot invest in a stock’s Initial Public Offering (and other high-risk investments), in India anyone can invest in an IPO. Right now Anil Ambani, son of legendary industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani and the 6th richest man on earth, is raising $3 Billion via IPO for Reliance Power.

Based on his track record and networth of $45 Bilion, which comes mainly from his 35-50% holdings in his 4 public companies Reliance Communications, Reliance Capital, Reliance Natural Resources and Reliance Energy, that doesn’t really sound like a lot. However, the financial report of Reliance Power for the year ending on March 31st 2007 shows it had revenues of ~$562,000 and net revenue before taxes of ~$135,000. After taxes and carry forward losses, its net income was only $3,900!!!

In order to give it a market cap of over $3 Billion, the market is assuming there will be a tremendous amount of growth in the next few years. Considering that the money is ear-marked for buying the land and building energy plants, thats some serious growth that investors are banking on. I’m no accountant and I haven’t even fully read Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, but that seems like a pretty lofty valuation.

You’d think that a company with few assets and little revenue would have a tough time raising the money. However, on the very first day is was over-subscribed by 10 times. The period of allotment for the IPO is about 3-4 days and its presumed that it will eventually be over-subscribed by 100 times!

Somehow, this reminds me of the excitement and speculation surrounding Enron in 1999! While Reliance Power probably wont go bankrupt due to fraudulent accounting, I really think the market is getting a little frothy. This doesn’t mean the stock won’t make initial investors money. It might. And the Indian stock market might go up 50% this year too. In fact, it might go up 20% a year for the next 10 years.

But paying such a high valuation for a stock with no earnings and no assets isn’t really investing, it’s mostly speculation. Speculation isn’t always bad. But you should know the difference and set you expectations (and allocation of risk capital) accordingly. Once of the best books about investment manias is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds which was written over a 100 years ago.

Reliance Power’s valuation puts it in the same league as First Solar (FSLR). FSLR had revenues of $350 million and a net profit of $30 million last year. Yet, based on the hype surrounding solar stocks, its market cap went as high as $23 Billion. On Monday, its market cap was $18 Billion and I shorted it. Since then it’s dropped ~17%. Lets see how they both turn out.