Rare bright spot for clean-techs
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Tony Featherstone is a Morningstar contributor and a former managing editor of BRW and Shares magazines.
Finally, some good news for Australia's beleaguered listed clean-technology sector.
In a rare result, the Australian CleanTech Index rose 6.1 per cent in August and outperformed the sharemarket.
Clean-tech stocks have consistently underperformed the S&P/ASX 200 and Small Ordinaries indices over four years.
The clean-tech index hit its all-time low in July, ironically in the same month the carbon price became effective, as interest in listed clean-tech stocks seemingly evaporated.
Biofuel, waste and geothermal were the worst-performed clean-tech segments in 2011/12, posting falls of 30 per cent to 45 per cent.
These contain many small, non-revenue-earning companies that were hit harder than the broader sharemarket as investors shunned riskier stocks.
Uncertainty about carbon pricing, despite its legislation, and a fierce public debate on its merits in 2011/12, took a heavy toll on the listed clean-tech sector.
Initial public offerings of clean-tech companies on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) have dried up and the SIM VSE, an emerging specialist clean-tech exchange in Australia, still has only two listings.
There appears to be much more capital-raising action by private clean-tech companies.
A bounce in the listed clean-tech sector is desperately needed, although one positive month does not make a trend.
The Australian CleanTech Index, a measure of 72 ASX-listed stocks, has lost 20.3 per cent over six months, compared to a 1.2 per cent gain in the ASX 200 Index. The three-month performance is also poor.