Inflation scares and reality hits green transformation basket

Equities 5 minutes to read
Peter Garnry

Head of Equity Strategy

Summary:  Rising inflation expectations will eventually hit nominal interest rates. Or at least that is the interpretation in equities, with yesterday's session showing our commodity sector basket was bid while interest rate sensitivity themes such as green transformation was selling off hard. Analysts are still very positive on green transformation stocks with a median price target 29% above the current price, but it is clear that investors are beginning to question whether they are paying too much for future growth. In today's update we also take a short look at Vestas which reported Q1 earnings today.


Back in early March, we first noted that green transformation stocks were turning from gold to dust as reality hit investors. While 2020 was a breakthrough year for green transformation stocks as oil and gas stocks were plunging on pandemic driven demand plunge for gasoline and jet fuel. This year, the table has turned with black energy and commodities taking the lead while green transformation stocks have been hit hard being the worst performing theme basket year-to-date down 9.1%. Our commodity basket is up 19.4% this year.

But yesterday’s session was interesting in that interest rate sensitive (those with either high debt leverage or aggressive equity valuations) theme baskets were hit hard, but without a big move in the US interest rates, while the commodity theme basket was up 0.5%. This was, otherwise, the pattern we observed back in February during the correction in Nasdaq 100. It indicates that the market is getting scared about inflation and how it will impact nominal interest rates and operating margins going forward.

Our green transformation basket (see below) has experienced pain across many of the sub-categories but especially the fuel cells & hydrogen segment and solar have experienced the biggest declines as strong performance last year has reversed. Our guess is that investors are beginning to calibrate their views on the green transformation and asking whether they are paying too much for future growth. As Warren Buffett said over the weekend at his shareholder meeting, it takes more to equity investing than a positive industry outlook. In other words, in the end it is all about the quality of the company.

NameCategoryMkt Cap (USD mn.)Sales growth (%)EPS growth (%)Diff to PT (%)5yr return
Panasonic CorpBattery & energy storage28,930-13.9-55.520.857.5
Ganfeng Lithium Co LtdBattery & energy storage21,93218.93.315.5400.0
Albemarle CorpBattery & energy storage18,921-12.8-27.9-2.8154.9
Alfen Beheer BVBattery & energy storage1,63432.191.615.8NA
CarbiosBioplastic40913.3-45.020.0289.6
Avantium N.V.Bioplastic187-28.63.970.6NA
Good Natured Products Inc (*)Bioplastic17765.5-57.665.0488.6
Symphony Environmental Technologies PLCBioplastic5518.746.4NM381.1
Aker Carbon Capture AS (*)Carbon capture1,080NANA36.4NA
Tesla IncElectric vehicles648,89938.12617.1-8.41,467.0
NIO IncElectric vehicles62,149202.337.953.3NA
XPeng IncElectric vehicles23,247151.8NA77.4NA
Zaptec AS/NorwayElectric vehicles46940.4NA50.2NA
Blink Charging CoElectric vehicles1,479125.8-60.651.310.1
Waste Management IncEnvironmental services59,4690.7-4.80.7157.8
Veolia Environnement SAEnvironmental services17,818-4.3-50.116.149.4
TOMRA Systems ASAEnvironmental services7,1383.836.0-7.9361.3
Cleanaway Waste Management LtdEnvironmental services4,478-1.142.0-8.5302.2
Plug Power IncFuel cells & hydrogen12,36255.0-292.5122.11,181.3
Ballard Power Systems IncFuel cells & hydrogen4,838-14.3-26.975.81,061.4
Bloom Energy Corp (*)Fuel cells & hydrogen3,98015.358.360.3NA
NEL ASA (*)Fuel cells & hydrogen3,44712.0NA45.6434.3
ITM Power PLCFuel cells & hydrogen3,217-82.3-37.275.93,021.8
Ceres Power Holdings PLCFuel cells & hydrogen2,95923.5-33.462.11,173.2
China Yangtze Power Co LtdHydro70,14117.418.021.897.2
Verbund AGHydro28,350-20.324.9-19.6503.3
Brookfield Renewable Partners LPHydro15,2202.5-182.815.4211.6
Meridian Energy LtdHydro10,169-2.4-56.10.3188.4
Enphase Energy IncSolar17,34619.341.353.36,557.8
Xinyi Solar Holdings LtdSolar13,33435.482.957.2357.4
Sunrun IncSolar8,8457.4NA85.3478.7
SolarEdge Technologies IncSolar11,360-9.6-35.538.7880.6
First Solar IncSolar7,848-2.632.718.242.5
Scatec ASASolar4,09042.2NA29.6539.5
Orsted ASWind60,221-27.2-86.322.6NA
Vestas Wind Systems A/SWind40,66015.0-24.4-3.6207.3
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SAWind23,0261.3NA13.796.0
China Longyuan Power Group Corp LtdWind11,7924.118.620.6150.6
Northland Power IncWind7,53724.220.429.3137.4
Boralex IncWind3,1406.517.039.9160.5
Aggregate / median values1,262,35712.03.329.3329.8

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group
* Peter Garnry has personal holdings in these companies

Despite the recent sell-off, analysts remain bullish on green transformation stocks with a median price target 29% above current price. Today, Vestas representing the second-biggest company in the wind segment published earnings. Vestas missed on Q1 operating income due to Covid-19 bottlenecks with components stuck in the Suez Canal and lower activity generally, but the market was buoyant about the order backlog hitting €44.7bn vs est. €34.1bn sending the shares up 8%. Like so many other companies Vestas is feeling the pressure from rising commodity prices on steel and transportation saying it will begin meaningfully increase prices on wind turbines.

Our view is still long-term positive on the green transformation and is the biggest transformation of our economy since the digitalization started 25 years ago. It will create huge opportunities for investors but over time many companies will not be able to live up to expectations. The biggest risk to the basket is aggressive equity valuations which could become a major headwind for equity returns despite growth if the uptake in revenue and earnings is slower than what the market is currently discounting.

Source: Saxo Group
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