If you didn’t know already, President Obama is on a clean energy kick, weaving the industry’s benefits into his final State of the Union address.
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“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy,” he said.
Instead, he praised the clean energy industry as being cost efficient and a creator of jobs: “Solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more Americans than coal – in jobs that pay better than average.” He also noted, “wind power is cheaper than dirty, conventional power.”
These remarks may bode well for solar stocks in the coming year. Goldman Sachs (GS) may have gotten a jump on those investments. Earlier this month the firm turned more bullish on First Solar (FSLR), predicting the stock will be a strong performer in 2016. It also lifted price targets on SunPower (SPWE) and 8point3 Energy Partners (CAFD), a limited partnership owned by First Solar and SunPower to own, operate and acquire solar energy generation projects.
Elon Musk’s SolarCity (SCTY) is also favored by the firm despite its ongoing fued with Nevada’s Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. The state’s Public Utilities Commission is cutting rebates to customers. As a result, the company is cutting 550 workers in the state and attempting to relocate affected employees to business-friendly states, according to a company press release.
Earlier this week, Arch Coal filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, becoming the 49th coal company to do so. The filing could be viewed as another ominous warning for an industry that has been crippled by a rash of bankruptcies driven by tougher U.S. regulation and foreign competition.
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Speaking on FOX Business Network ahead of the president’s address, Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, warned these bankruptcies will hurt Americans on fixed incomes.
“They are going to see their electric rates and all their fuel costs skyrocket,” he said. Murray, who is a vocal critic of the president’s clean energy policies, added he has, “destroyed the American power grid…it is not only a case of cost, it’s also reliability.”
As for corporate America in general, in a departure from last year’s address, the president did not mention specific companies. In 2015, CVS (CVS), UPS (CVS), Alphabet-owned Google (GOOG), Tesla (TSLA) and eBay (EBAY) got a shout out. This year, he kept it sector specific with a nod to manufacturing and autos, noting, “Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years.”
U.S. new-vehicle sales raced to 17.47 million in 2015, besting the previous high of 17.35 million set in 2000. This week the national average for a gallon of gas is $1.956 as tracked by AAA.