It was another discouraging year for Canadians investing in
clean technology companies -- but the companies that survived are
giving the industry a glimmer of hope within the gloom, the Globe
& Mail reported.
After a dismal 2011, the past year was supposed to see some of
the beaten down public firms in the sector showing their stuff and
gaining momentum. Instead, several players collapsed, and many of
those that remain have seen their stock fall dramatically. Only a
handful have managed strong returns over the course of the
Two companies that were once considered Canadian high fliers --
solar panel makers Arise Technologies Corp. and Day4 Energy Inc. --
are now gone. Arise went bankrupt and Day4 was delisted and sold
off to its managers. Meanwhile, stocks of Canadian-traded
geothermal companies are now at a fraction of the prices they
changed hands for a couple of years ago, and several wind energy
players -- such as Finavera Wind Energy Inc. and Western Wind
Energy Corp. -- are selling off assets to bigger players.
Still, there are reasons for optimism. In mid-December,
California-based SolarCity Corp., a company that leases solar
panels to consumers and businesses, had a very successful initial
public offering of shares. The stock jumped about 50% on the first
day of trading, and is still well above its launch price.
The successful clean technology companies will be the ones that
can take advantage of the shift in the market to commodity pricing,
or can show they have proven technology that works on a commercial
scale, said James Chepyha, vice-president of investments at
Chrysalix, a venture capital firms based in Vancouver that
specializes in energy. Essentially, investors should look for
companies that "are addressing real market needs on a sustainable
basis," he said.
As was the case in 2011, the most stable companies have tended
to be dividend-paying utility-type firms that have portfolios of
renewable power projects with long-term contracts. Some of these,
such as Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. (AQN.TO) and
Northland Power Inc. (NPI.TO) have eked out small gains in 2012.
Boralex Inc. (BLX.TO) -- although it doesn't yet pay a dividend --
has jumped around 25% over the course of the year, while Sprott
Power Corp. is up by about 50%.