Wall Street Turns Bearish on Global Warming Stocks as Hysterical Bubble Peaks

Despite Hollywood and the media’s love affair with Al Gore, it seems that the smart money on Wall Street has turned cold to the concept of global warming.

As has been noted by many skeptical scientists, this current period of temperature rise that began in the ’70s may actually have peaked in 1998. Yet, the real hysteria surrounding this issue reached a zenith with the cataclysm of Hurricane Katrina, and the arrival of the equally disturbing schlockumentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

As the world became more and more focused on climate change issues, shares of alternative energy companies skyrocketed like tech stocks in the late ’90s. Unfortunately, according to a Bloomberg article published Monday, the party might be coming to an end right around the time interest in this subject is skyrocketing (emphasis mine throughout):

The smartest money in global warming stocks may be scurrying to the exit just when the enthusiasm for alternative-energy companies is at an all-time high.


``As an investment play,'' global warming is ``a bubble'' and ``social short-term craze,'' said Ken Fisher, who oversees $35 billion as chairman of Fisher Investments Inc. in Woodside, California.

Fascinating. Of course, just as the media played into the hype of the Dot Com bubble in the ’90s, so has all the attention on global warming driven up shares of climate change plays. Now that the dumb money has driven these shares to astronomical levels, the smart money is running for the exits:

Hedge funds, whose managers are among the highest-paid professionals on Wall Street, have turned away from the group, including solar-and wind-power producers, ethanol and biodiesel makers and fuel-cell manufacturers, as their shares trade at a record relative to earnings.

How does media hype play into this?

Speculation that demand for alternative energy will soar has made the industry's shares more expensive. The Bloomberg World index is valued at 44 times estimated earnings, up from 28 times in June and about triple the ratio for the MSCI World.

Ask yourself how much this sounds like the recent tech bubble:

Companies in the Bloomberg U.S. Energy-Alternative Index are even pricier. Based on forecast earnings, their shares are valued at an average of 60 times. Five of the 12 members of the index reported losses in 2006.

Shares of SunPower, which have risen 158 percent since the company's initial public offering in November 2005, trade at 49 times forecast profit. S&P 500 companies on average are valued at 15.7 times estimated earnings.

Sound familiar? Remember all the tech stocks trading in the hundreds even though they had no earnings?

``By itself, I don't know that global warming is a viable investment theme,'' said Malcolm Polley, who oversees $1 billion at Stewart Capital Advisors LLC in Indiana, Pennsylvania. ``It's largely Wall Street's answer of trying to create something where there really isn't anything that exists.''


Alternative energy ``is all the rage,'' said Stuart Schweitzer, New York-based global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, which oversees about $1 trillion. ``That does not mean that as an investor you'll be able to make money.''

Of course, none of this should surprise anyone. After all, as was pointed out here, here, and here, amidst all of the hysteria created by the alarmists, there’s a lot of money being made advancing the tenets of this junk science.

Caveat emptor, ladies and gentlemen. Of course, in this instance, such an ominous warning applies to the science you choose to believe as well as the products you consider for purchase, wouldn’t you agree?

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Noel Sheppard's picture