"Just when I think I'm out, they puuuullll me back in," Michael Corleone famously bemoaned in
The Godfather: Part III
. So it is with Global Portfolio readers and the fuel cell and alternative energy sectors.
I thought my
piece last month was a sufficient update on a sector that I find a great, long-term opportunity, but one I only like to touch on briefly from time to time.
No way -- readers continue to deluge me with opinions, questions and complaints. (
suggested I "go back to grade school and pay attention to ... basic chemistry lessons." Another reader, who asked to remain nameless, decried the story as "pretty lame.")
And now, with
Vice President Gore
climbing in the polls, it may be time to keep a close eye on the sector, considering his affection for alternative energies.
Judging from the passion that possesses the fuel-cell crowd, it's clear that someone needs to tap into this reservoir of belief to solve our nation's energy problems. Seriously, though, many readers brought to my attention two broad fuel-cell plays that are worth mentioning.
The first is a unit investment trust called the
Fuel Cell Portfolio
. A unit investment trust (UIT) is a fixed portfolio of securities that matures over time, a sort of
closed-end mutual fund with a fixed life. While a UIT does offer access to a number of sectors that are not covered by mutual funds, UITs also have a number of drawbacks. They typically are expensive and have high sales and management fees. Information about them is often difficult to obtain. One must contact a broker or the company that offers them to get performance results and the like. (See Dagen McDowell's
article on UITs for more information.)
The Fuel Cell Portfolio has a 15-month term and includes many of the heavyweights in the industry, such as fuel-cell developer
and Canadian electric generator producer
, as well as diversified energy companies such as
. Information about the fuel-cell portfolio and how to purchase it is available at the firm's
In addition, investors can access fuel-cell companies through the
New Alternatives Fund. The fund invests in a wider range of alternative-energy companies than fuel cells, including solar power. It includes companies such as fuel-cell developer
and solar-power developer
( APWR). The fund is up 53.73% this year, much better than the rest of its
category of small-cap blended stock average, which is up 6.24%. It requires a $2,500 initial investment and carries an expense ratio of 1.13%
Many of these stocks have done very well the last couple of weeks. AstroPower is up 103% since late July. As
have pointed out recently, many drug stocks have slipped because of Vice President Gore's attacks on the drug industry. One can't help but wonder if the opposite trend is at work as alternative-energy fan Gore leads in the polls.
If that's the case, I'll get pulled back into the fuel-cell passion yet again. Nevertheless, keep the emails coming. I enjoy them.
David Kurapka's Global Portfolio column appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on TSC. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he does not own shares in any companies or mutual funds mentioned in this column. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback and invites you to send it to