Posts Tagged SUN

Are you a Lumberjack?

When I tell people I’m from Portland, Oregon, I usually get one of two reactions.  The first one goes like this:  “Oregon?  What the hell is in Oregon?  Are you a lumberjack that lives in a forest?”  The second is more along the lines of, “Wow!  Portland is so cool!”

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While Oregon is known for many things – hippie vibe, lumberjacks and big trees included –  it is becoming more and more recognized for its nature-friendly mentality and “green” ideals.  This, most likely, is the inspiration behind the expansion of companies like German-based  SolarWorld, one of the largest solar energy businesses in the world, into the Portland area, an otherwise slightly ironic choice for a company that revolves around the sun!

According to a recent New York Times article, “Here Comes the Sun, Right?,” the United States, once the world’s leading solar manufacturer in the 1990s, currently produces only 5 percent of the world’s solar panels due to an increase in interest elsewhere.  Even with recent support from the federal stimulus package signed by President Obama, “only a fraction of 1 percent of the electricity in the United States comes from solar panels, leaving ample room for the market to grow.”

Expanding in the midst of an economic recession may sound risky, but SolarWorld doesn’t seem concerned.  Quite the opposite, they argue that solar energy can provide both jobs and energy security and is thus part of the solution.

What do I say to all of this??  Bring on the sun!

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M&A returns. Time to sell your T-Bills.

I am not an economist. So please don’t come screaming back at me if, after reading this you decided to drastically change your investment strategy and in three months time your portfolio doesn’t look like you’ve just won the lotto.

Because it won’t.

That said, there are some encouraging items in the news recently to indicate that our hobbled economy is at the very least beginning to stabilize. And, moreover, if you take a closer look, for certain industries it may already be back on the rise.

I am told that one of the indicators that an industry or economy is on its way out of a recession is that merger & acquisition activity begins to take off again. Basically, the companies that fared the best through the worst have taken a look around again and found they are in an advantageous position relative to many other companies, and that now would be a good time to buy while the market is still pretty cheap.

So I found it heartening, when, earlier this week I ran a query for the term “acquire” in Google News, and found quite a few items.  And from immediately recognizable names: Sanofi Aventis, General Steel, Cisco.

The hi-tech world has been a-buzz with the possible Sun-IBM merger.  This, of course, has now crashed and burned in spectacular style, but the thing to note here is that, at least it was being explored.  As a slight aside, I have to share the best e-mail subject line to hit my inbox this week – it came from VON Magazine, paraphrasing (I’m sure) the departing words between the two companies after negotiations fell through: “IBM to SUN: ‘Drop Dead’.” Priceless.

But more encouraging words came from NYT BITS columnist Claire Cain Miller, who reported that venture capitalists’ confidence is creeping back. Quoted in Claire’s piece is Mark V. Cannice, executive director of the University of San Francisco Entrepreneurship Program, who said that he doesn’t think an upward trend has begun yet, but that the economy in general seems to have broken its downward spiral.

The Telecom industry in particular seems to have kept moving along steadily, and M&A activity has also begun again.

Maybe don’t put all the cash you’ve squirreled away back into the market yet, but after a long winter, things do seem to be looking up.

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