That philosophy is like asking several installers to quote you for solar systems... they offer you wildly different prices and system sizes in different configurations with various financing options. You know that all renewables are good, so you ask them to draw straws to see which one gets to install solar on your home. But it's all good, because you have a solar system, and that's good enough for you.
Most of these yield cos sell energy on long term contracts which makes predicting future electricity prices much less important than you seem to assume.
Further, higher profitability today provides a larger cushion against any sort of adversity, including electricity price swings. I totally agree with you that predicting far in the future is tricky. The whole point of this article is that many yield cos are trading on the assumption of *future* dividend growth, and that I prefer ones with higher dividends today.
Back to the solar analogy, most US-listed yield cos are like solar panels that the salesman tells you are not producing much power now, but will produce a lot more in a few years' time. The ones I prefer are producing a lot of power now, and should continue producing a lot of power into the future. They may deliver some growth on top of that as well.
The big advantage of a stock over a solar installation is that you can sell it easily. If you want to "break even" just sell it, and you will get back something close to what you paid for it (maybe more, maybe less, and minus a few commissions.) If you try to sell a solar installation on your home, you'll only recoup a tiny fraction of the installation cost. Hence, "payback" for stocks is an even more meaningless measure than for solar.
The profitability of a stock trade is always a combination of capital gain or loss (what you can sell it for), and dividend yield. Capital gain or loss usually dominates the profitability equation, but the future price is strongly influenced by future yield and expectations of future yield and how they compare to future interest rates. Hence, understanding current and likely future yield is the key to understanding the economics of stock ownership.
In this article, I did not try to predict future interest rates- not matter what they are, the yield cos with the higher future yields will be worth more than the yield cos with lower future yields. If interest rates stay low or rise only modestly, the higher yielding companies will be the better investments. If interest rates rise rapidly, all yield cos will suffer, but the lower yielding yield cos will suffer more..
IF you think about it in terms of yield over inflation, like you seem to want to, you reach the same conclusion. We don't know what future inflation will be, but we do know that a higher future yield is more likely to exceed future inflation than a lower future yield.
I chose the categories based on the investments of the yield cos I was looking at.
What do you mean by "skeptical of the net yield?" Dividend yield is easy to calculate: annual dividend divided by stock price... there's not a lot to be skeptical about.
As for "Certified Investment Counselor" that's not a particularly meaningful term, although Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) are, and one of these may have been what you meant. It's easy to get confused with all the financial certifications out there. The only ones I think are worth much are CFP and CFA (I hold the CFA ("Chartered Financial Analyst") designation), as well as the CIC, which is a slight variation on the CFA charter.)
CFA, CIC, and CFP require several years of study each, but many of the others require little more than a weekend workshop. While there are many good (and many bad) financial planners and counselors who don't hold one of these designations, other designations are not worth a whole heck of a lot except for impressing the uninitiated.
Yes, it's on their website, which has both English and Dutch versions. Here's the English: http://www.accell-group.com/en. However, Accell has a variable annual dividend which is based on the previous year's profits (fairly common for European companies.) The yield I gave is based on last year's dividend. I expect next year's will be higher since business is better this year.
And, yes, yahoo finance is lame. You can find better information on Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/ACCEL:NA
It seems like a good first step of dealing with the timing mismatch between solar production and load would be to point all new PV panels west. Does anyone know if there are efforts in that direction?
Patrick O'Leary- Try reading the whole article before you comment. I made that point in the "Investing Efficiently" section.
Sorry, Patrick, you are right, and I apologize. I was writing this article to a strict word limit, and that's a part I cut out, although it remained there in my mind.
I do have a companion piece solely about building a stock portfolio coming out in Renewable Energy World that does make that point.
Here's what it will say, at least if the REW editors don't cut it (the article ran rather long):
"...increasing the energy efficiency a your home or paying up-front to install solar (as opposed to signing a lease) have financial returns similar to fixed income securities. While the attractiveness of installing solar varies widely from state to state depending on the level of incentives and sun available, energy efficiency investments usually have incredibly attractive returns. A good indicator that a home solar system is an attractive investment is if a solar leasing company like SolarCity is willing to lease it to you. If SolarCity can make money leasing you a system, you'll probably do well making the investment yourself."
In the context of this article, residential applications for solar make sense. I'm talking about investments for individuals, and few individuals can invest directly in commercial solar (except by buying stocks.) I agree commercial solar is a different type investment decision than residential solar, but it simply is not relevant in the context of this article.
I think your points about small commercial are valid, I just don't think they apply to the audience I had in mind when I wrote this article (people with < $100K to invest and limited time to think about it.) This is a "quick" guide.
Why don't you write your own article about how to invest in a small commercial installation? I can give you contact information to get it published on REW, or I'll publish it on AltEnergyStocks.com if you know what you're talking about and write coherently. If you're not willing to do that, stop whining that no one else is writing about your personal obsession. You can reach me by email at tom at alt energy stocks dot com.