Has the listed Australian clean-tech sector turned the corner?

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Australian clean-tech stocks outperformed the overall market in the September. Will it continue?

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Call it coincidence, but the listed Australian clean-tech sector is having one of its rare good runs, and it’s come just as the country introduced its carbon price.

No one expected a carbon price to have much impact on clean-tech stocks, mostly because they thought the effect would be gradual and long term – although it might add to sentiment.

But the carbon price has also coincided with a reversal in fortunes for the fossil fuel sector – the coal miners in particular as the heat comes out of the China market in particular.

So much so that the ACT Australian Cleantech Index has outperformed the general market for both the month of September and the first quarter of 2012/13.

“With the faltering of confidence in resource stocks, maybe this is starting to signal increasing confidence in more sustainable companies that rely on longer term benefits for their shareholders and the wider community,’ says managing director John O’Brien. “Or is that just the optimist in me speaking!”

O’Brien said that the Australian CleanTech 20 – representing the biggest of the 70 stocks in the $7 billion index – has had even better performances than the wider index over the last quarter.

 

Among the best performers in the last month were Intec, Eco Quest, lithium miners Galaxy Resources and Orocobre,Energy Developments, and electric bike company Vmoto.

The worst performers included solar companies Solco and CBD Energy (since suspended), Genisis R&D, Island Sky, Papyrus Australia, Electrometals, Cardia BioPlastics, Hot Rock and BioProspect. Two companies, Green Rock and BioProspect, are at risk of being kicked out of the index because they have invested in oil and gas prospects. The index is looking to include energy efficiency company Energy Action, which has been one of the strongest stocks on the ASX in the last year.

Of course, the last quarter should be put in perspective. Over any other time-frame – six months, yearly, or three yearly, cleantech stocks trail the performance of the broader market by a considerable margin, and all still less than half of their peak $16.3 billion value at their height in mid 2007.

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