Weekend: Six Stocks to Ride to Energy Independence
Editor Steve Christ takes a look at forty years of energy promises and offers six stocks to ride to the promise land.

Welcome to the Wealth Daily Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in investing and links to our most-read Wealth Daily and sister publication articles.

Like most people, the high cost of gas really eats at me and my wallet.

I was reminded of that this morning when I filled up my tank. I honestly wasn't sure whether I should pay the man, or call 911 to report a crime...

At $3.86 a gallon, $145.00 came out of my pockets to avoid being arrested as I filled up my Chevy Suburban. That's highway robbery compared to last year, when the same fill-up used to burn me for “only” about hundred bucks.

The good news is that I can afford it.

But when I pulled away, it made me wonder how people less fortunate than I manage to get through the week.

Between the high cost at the pump and the sticker shock at the grocery store, it's pretty clear to me that a vast proportion of the folks in this boat must have it pretty rough.


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Promises, promises

That drives my anger and frustration to new heights as I think about all the promises I've heard about the energy independence we'd achieve someday.

In fact, these promises go all the way back to President Nixon who once promised:

We will break the back of the energy crisis.
We will lay the foundation for our future capacity to meet America's needs from America's own resources...

Over forty years and thousands of promises later, we not only are still waiting — but we're actually worse off than when we started this crusade.

It's B.S. and it's just one of the many reasons I don't believe a single thing the government tells me. Call it cynical if you will, but it's well-earned.

America, in my view, has suddenly become nothing more than an empire of lies. It pains me to say that, but it's true.

As for the price at the pump, the current president recommends I just suck it up and pay the man as he adds his name to the list of leaders promising an energy nirvana... not tomorrow, of course, but some time in a fuzzy, far-off future.

In the meantime, President Obama said laughingly, “If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know... you might want to think about a trade-in.”

Fair enough. I get it. Nobody made me buy the Suburban... But the larger truth is this: You don't have to drive a Suburban to feel the pain. Anybody who drives feels the pinch, regardless of the type of car they own.

Meanwhile, the President is more than happy to help Brazil develop their own deepwater oil reserves with $3 billion in financing for Petrobras while drillers here at home continue to get buried under a mountain of red tape.

In other words, drilling is a great idea just as long as it happens somewhere else.

So much for energy independence...

But let's face it: Anybody waiting for the government to accomplish anything is going to be waiting for a long, long time.

The only thing these folks are serious about is getting re-elected. And when it happens, energy independence will come from where most innovations do: the private sector. And that won't have much to do with Uncle Sam.

For investors, that means riding the companies that are actually working to bring about real changes to how we use and produce energy...


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6 Ways to Invest in Energy Independence

That being said, here are six companies to keep an eye on as that elusive concept edges toward reality.

1. A123 Systems (NASDAQ: AONE)

Way down off its post-IPO high of over $25.00, this $6.00 stock produces lithium-ion batteries that make electric cars possible at mass market prices. Its innovation is nanostructured electrodes that result in lithium batteries that are more durable and safer than those in cell phones and laptops. Over time, this promises to be one of the winners.

2. Amyris Biotechnologies (NASDAQ: AMRS)

This company's genetically engineered yeast turns sugars into a building block of diesel fuel, which is usable in the existing transportation infrastructure. Needless to say, advanced biofuels could help reduce the use of gasoline and diesel.

Earlier this week, Raymond James Analyst Pavel Molchanov upgraded Amyris’ stock from Market Perform to Outperform with a share price target of $31, commenting, “with shares down 13% since March 24, erasing virtually all of the year-to-date gains, we believe the risk/reward profile has become more attractive”.

3. First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR)

A long-time favorite of our own green guru Jeff Siegel, FSLR produces "thin-film" solar panels based on cadmium telluride, which are cheaper than conventional silicon panels. These innovations have made the company one of the world's largest photovoltaic manufacturers. According to a recent report, solar panel companies may add as much as 28 gigawatts of new generating capacity in 2011, the equivalent of about 25 new nuclear reactors.

4. Siemens (NYSE: SI)

From wind turbines to the smart grid, Siemens is working on the technology that will ultimately help make alternative energy less expensive. Generation, transmission, and distribution, Siemens literally has a hand in it all — including in oil and gas. At $138 a share, the company is trading at just 1.12X sales and carries a PEG ratio of just 0.38. That's cheap.

5. Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)

Morgan Stanley calls this company “America's fourth automaker”. Someday in the future, that may be true...

Morgan Stanley's latest report estimates electric cars will reach 7% of total U.S. car sales by 2020; previous estimates have placed that figure closer to 1% or 2%.

6. Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE)

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the bull market in natural gas companies has a long way to run. In fact, according to a IHS CERA research study released last week, the U.S. has enough natural gas to meet current demand levels for more than 100 years.

Clean Energy is the largest provider of vehicular natural gas (CNG and LNG) in North America. And at a mere $7 for a full tank, that makes natural gas a transportation fuel of the future.

Of course, until that day comes, it's going to be me and my Suburban — even with a $150 fill-up. It's the only way I can get my kids, the wife, the dog, and all of their stuff safely to the beach house. And a day or two in the sun can make you forget about the high cost of gas real quick...

As for more great investment ideas, check out the week's top-read Wealth Daily and Energy & Capital articles below.

Your bargain-hunting analyst,

steve sig

Steve Christ
Editor, Wealth Daily


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Weekend: Six Stocks to Ride to Energy Independence originally appeared in Wealth Daily. Wealth Daily is a free daily newsletter featuring contrarian investment insights and commentary.
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