The Euro debt crisis and an ongoing slide in commodities prices have contributed to a recent swoon. A minor bright spot has come from the cleantech stocks, which have outperformed the overall index for some time.
A little more than two years ago, Standard & Poor’s and the TMX Group, which operates the TSX, announced the launch of a new investment index to track cleantech companies. Those investing in the twenty component companies, including familiar names such as 5N Plus, Westport Innovations, Newalta, Ballard Power, Cascades, Algonquin Power and Innergex Renewable, would have beat the overall TSX performance handily at any point since the index was launched. Year to date, the cleantech index is up 1.7%, while the TSX has lost 5%.
Cantech Letter took a look through the 149 publicly traded cleantechs in Canada (92 from the TSX Venture Exchange and 57 from the big board) too find the top performers so far this year. With just six months to go until the third annual Cantech Letter Awards, could winners come from the cleantech sector? We count down the top five performing cleantech stocks in Canada so far this year.
1. Xebec Adsorption (TSX:XBC) +315.7%
Price on December 30th, 2011: $.095
Price on June 29th, 2012: $.395.
When 2012 began it seemed Xebec Adsorption barely had a pulse. Today the company’s turnaround is in full swing. Xebec’s run began early on February 3rd, when the company announced it would explore the value of its patents. That day, shares of the company closed up 42% to $.27 cents. Those looking for more concrete proof were sated midway through May when Xebec reported net income of $3.2-million or $.08 cents a share for Q1, 2012. Xebec, whose adsorption technology is used to remove impurities from natural gas, hydrogen and other gases, says demand for its “proprietary industry leading products has never been greater.”
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2. Pure Technologies (TSX:PUR) +60.4%
Price on December 30th, 2011: $2.83
Price on June 29th, 2012: $4.54
In 2011, Calgary’s Pure met its first real headwinds in a run that had seen it grow its revenue from just $14.75 million in 2007 to more than $48 million in fiscal 2010. For Pure, which develops and sells monitoring and surveillance technologies for critical physical infrastructure such as bridges, oil and gas pipelines and, especially, the water and wastewater industry, 2011 could be summed up with a single word: Libya. For a decade, the company had been charged with monitoring the Great Man-Made River Project there. The massive undertaking, which began in 1991, supplies water from the Sahara Desert to the coast of Libya, where the vast majority of the population resides. The civil war that began in February and ended with the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi last October meant the company evacuated all its employees from the country, which had placed a a ban on financial transactions with the government of Libya. The company’s Chairman summed up the reversal of the company’s fortunes this year when the company reported that it had earned $3.2-million in it first quarter: “What a difference a year has made for Pure,” he said, adding: “We have come full circle with respect to our Libya operations and stand poised to generate healthy revenues in other key regions based on our successful track record and diversification efforts. ”
3. ATS Automation (TSX:ATA) +44.8%
Price on December 30th, 2011: $6.45
Price on June 29th, 2012: $9.34
Cambridge, Ontario based ATS was founded in 1978 and employs more than 2400 people worldwide. The company has tackled more than 15,000 projects in its history, ranging from programmable conveyors to robotic cells, to adhesive bonding. The failure of ATS’ Photowatt division meant some disastrous recent numbers. The company lost $18-million in 2011, followed that up with a $5-million loss in Q1 and, finally a $67-million skunking in Q2 of 2012, when it bore the brunt of the Photowatt mistake. But in May, ATS released its Q4, 2012 results. Compared to last year’s Q4, revenue was up 17% to $173-million. Earnings came in at $3-million or four cents per share, compared with net loss of $79.5 million or $. 91 cents a share in the same period last year. CEO Anthony Caputo said the company had “turned the corner on solar separation” and is now “solely focused on our core business, which is robust and growing.”
4. Natcore Technology (TSXV:NXT) +42.8%
Price on December 30th, 2011: $.56
Price on June 29th, 2012: $.80
While solar didn’t quite work out for ATS Automation, Natcore is looking to break through with its technology, which is licensed from Rice University in Houston. Natcore replaces the traditional chemical vapour deposition method used in solar applications with a wet chemistry process. The process, which was granted a patent licence agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory last December, removes the need for silane, which is highly toxic and flammable. Natcore can also use the waste materials from the initial production of the silicon wafers or from the production of semiconductors, which allows facilities currently using the chemical vapour deposition method to potentially lower their cost of goods. The company believes this technology will replace expensive vacuum based furnaces with a silicon dioxide-based film that is grown in an environmentally friendly chemical bath. Last week, Natcore announced it had agreed to take on research and development work for five solar device manufacturers, who want to know if Natcore’s black silicon and liquid phase deposition processes can help them reduce costs and improve performance of their solar products.
5. Questor Technology (TSXV:QST) +34.5%
Price on December 30th, 2011: $.275
Price on June 29th, 2012: $.37
Calgary-based oilfield services company Questor develops clean air technologies to destroy noxious or toxic hydrocarbon gases. The company says its incinerators provide up to 99.99% combustion efficiency “without any particulate matter, poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons or unburned hydrocarbons. ” The routinely profitable Questor posted a profit of $487,438 in Q1, 2012, after earning $1.19-million in fiscal 2011.