Coming Clean on GreenOP-ED: Backers of eco-conscious businesses should stop the hot air about the companies’ profitability. Monday, May 2, 2011
Los Angeles has the people and the climate to be a world-class leader for clean tech companies.
So it should be easy to name one green energy company from Los Angeles that makes money for its shareholders.
There isn’t one.
It is not just Los Angeles. Green energy companies all over the country are creating a lot more press than profits. And it will get worse before – if ever – it gets better.
That is not what most of us heard from the streets and media of Los Angeles recently. Thousands of people were in town for an alternative energy conference whose main message was “Time to invest in green tech.”
I will save you the trouble: If you are thinking about buying green energy stocks, don’t.
Not if you need the money for retirement, college or anything besides impressing your friends with good intentions.
Most people touting new energy products at the green gathering were probably unaware that Los Angeles is one of the most energy-rich areas in the country. Los Angeles was into oil when oil was alternative energy.
Many of the great cultural and educational institutions of this area were built with the profits from oil stocks. Getty, anyone?
The oil fields of Wilmington contain at least 3 billion barrels of oil – the third largest field in the country. And they are just one of 50 oil fields in the area. There may be many more containing many more billions of barrels of oil.
But we will never know as long as large portions of Los Angeles remain off-limits to companies that want to explore for oil.
Owners of oil rigs feel they need to disguise their wells. That is how bad it is.
But oil companies like L.A.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. cannot disguise their energy profits. Over the last 10 years, total returns have averaged 25 percent a year. This far outperforms other stocks of such iconic L.A. companies as the Walt Disney Co., whose 4 percent average return over 10 years has left some investors wondering if it should be drilling for oil instead of making movies.
Northrop Grumman, SoCal Edison: Their story is the same – good companies with average stocks.
People in the investment business only have two sources of information about how to value a share of stock: We can listen to what the company says. Or watch what it does.
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