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3 Renewable Energy Stocks and the Top Investors Behind Them

By Scott Levine – Feb 19, 2014 at 10:46AM

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Following the most successful investors can often help guide the rest of us to successful investments of our own.

Tempting as it may be, it's far from advisable to blindly follow the most successful investors into their investments. Nonetheless, following the top investors and examining their picks may help to provide the rest of us with a good starting point for our own research, or it may validate an already formed thesis. Let's take a look at some of the biggest names in the investing world and where they have decided to allocate their funds.                                                                                 

This sunrise is a shade of green 
Each quarter hedge funds must disclose their long positions in the Form 13F filing. In its most recent 13F, for the fourth quarter of 2013, Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund managed by David Einhorn, disclosed a 1.3 million share position in SunEdison (SUNEQ) -- a position which is currently valued at around $19 million.

SunEdison released fourth quarter earnings this morning. The company showed GAAP revenue of $551 million and GAAP EPS of ($1.07). The company operates in two segments: semiconductor materials and solar energy. The semiconductor segment met revenue expectations for the quarter, bringing in $206 million -- a decline of 10% quarter over quarter and 10% year over year. However, the company plans on divesting its semiconductor business, choosing to focus solely on the solar energy segment. GAAP revenue for the solar energy segment equaled $345 million for the quarter -- a decline of 10% quarter over quarter and 7% year over year. 

The company retained 127 MW on the balance sheet, but a majority of this is allotted for the yieldco for which  it just filed an S-1 in preparation for its IPO. The yieldco would be comprised of solar projects built and owned by the company. Distributions made to investors would be based on the 20 year power purchase agreements. The company believes that the yieldco will afford it low-cost financing to further pursue the development of PV projects, with the goal of doubling installations by the end of 2014.

Shining bright in the Great White North   
Two weeks ago Canadian Solar (CSIQ 5.51%) announced that it had agreed to sell its fourth utility-scale solar project located in Ontario, Canada to a fund managed by investment powerhouse, BlackRock. Scheduled to begin construction in the first quarter of 2014, the 10 MW facility located in the Township of Oro-Medonte is scheduled to begin commercial operations in the third quarter of 2014, after which Canadian Solar will continue to provide operations and maintenance services. 

In a year that saw a number of solar stocks double and triple, Canadian Solar shares rose 777% in 2013 -- largely due, no doubt, to the fact that it was one of the few profitable solar stocks. Third-quarter diluted EPS for the year were $0.56. The company is scheduled to release fourth quarter earnings in early March.

Although BlackRock doesn't have a position in Canadian Solar, it does have positions in a number of other PV manufacturers.

The winds of change     
When it comes to big investors, there's arguably, no name bigger than Warren Buffett. So, it was only logical that MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway, enter into the largest supply order to date for Siemens AG (SIEGY 0.94%). Two months ago, MidAmerican placed an order for $1 billion worth of turbines, which will be used for the development of five utility-scale wind projects in Iowa. 

Siemens and its wind turbine offerings most recently surfaced in the news when Deepwater Wind announced an agreement with Alstom, which will supply the turbines for Deepwater Wind's offshore wind farm located off of Block Island. Although Siemens is frequently the supplier of offshore wind farms (it has about 2,300 MW worth in service), its name was absent from this deal -- but not regarding the other domestic offshore wind farm. Cape Wind, to be located in Nantucket Sound, chose Siemens to supply 130 of its turbines for the project. 

Foolish final thoughts
The American energy landscape is rapidly changing. In the process, many investors are eager to take advantage of the transition, but they question how to do so. Following top investors and how they play the transition can inform our own decision-making. I believe all three companies, SunEdison, Canadian Solar, and Siemens, offer compelling arguments for investment. The backing of Einhorn, BlackRock, and Buffett certainly doesn't hurt, either.

Scott Levine has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Canadian Solar Stock Quote
Canadian Solar
$36.56 (5.51%) $1.91
Siemens Aktiengesellschaft Stock Quote
Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
$70.94 (0.94%) $0.66
SunEdison, Inc. Stock Quote
SunEdison, Inc.

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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