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Published: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:28:49 EDT

Last Build Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:28:49 EDT


5 Energy Questions for President Obama

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:28:49 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With a focus on jobs and the economy, Americans may see energy as being subservient to these larger aims. Even President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who meet in their first debate tonight, often couch their discussion of energy in terms of job creation and economic strength.

Yes, oil and gas creates jobs and spurs the economy, and the shale boom can help America reach the ever-elusive goal of energy independence. Beyond the usual rhetoric, though, there is the nuance and detail that politicians just loathe to get in to when the timer is running and America is watching. Energy is a complicated business, and sound bites help no one when it comes to energy policy.

With that in mind, here are five questions about energy policy for Obama to answer. ...

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5 Energy Questions for Mitt Romney

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:26:25 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. is set to become the Middle East of the 21st century, proclaimed a Citigroup report earlier this year. And that's, more or less, Mitt Romney's platform when it comes to energy.

The shale boom and the revolution in drilling technology mean that if there there's a will -- and a hands-off federal government, as far as the Republican Party has it -- there's a way in making America energy independent. In fact, Romney says we can accomplish the task in eight years. He's not the first American politician to set the ambitious goal of energy independence, though all who have come before him have failed. Yet, thanks to the shale boom, the goal is ever more in reach, or at least, within reason. It also leads to some important energy policy questions that haven't received enough focus amid the sound bites over creating jobs through oil and gas and getting away from "our addiction to Middle East oil."

With that in mind, here are five questions for Mitt Romney to answer about the implications of trying to make America energy independent in eight years. ...


Einhorn Has Been on GM Ride for a While

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 14:53:43 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- David Einhorn detailed his long thesis on General Motors on Tuesday, sending the stock into overdrive, but investors should be aware that there's very little that's new in this news.

In fact, Einhorn's firm Greenlight Capital first disclosed a stake in GM in its second-quarter 2011 13F filing, and it's added to it since, reaching roughly 16 million shares in its most recent 13F in August, making it one of Einhorn's largest publicly disclosed stock holdings. Einhorn also said during a July conference call with investors that GM was undervalued, when shares had dipped below the $20 mark.

Still, Einhorn's presentation at the Value Investing Congress in New York has sparked a rush of buying interest in the automaker, whose shares were trading up nearly 3% at $23.70 on volume of 17.8 million, more than double its average daily churn. ...

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Why Tim Cook and Apple Need to Apologize to My Mom

Fri, 28 Sep 2012 15:12:05 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Forget about Apple Maps. We're done with apologies that Tim Cook and Apple have now made for the major slip committed by a company synonymous with perfection. Tim Cook and Apple can now move on to offering my mom a major mea culpa.

Among the more remarkable milestones in the cultural phenomenon that now has entire families seated at the dinner table staring down at individual Retina displays rather than individual portions of steak and peas was the day a message arrived from my mother this year bearing this signature: "Sent from my iPhone." New York Jews like me always worry about mothers intruding in their lives from the cradle to the grave, but meddling in the world of a younger person's technology?

Mind you, my mother has had the same Toshiba laptop for near a decade, still uses her AOL account (LOL) as her primary email address, and still wakes up each morning to listen to terrestrial radio on a faux-wood grain-finished countertop receiver bought at Radio Shack when the word "Tandy" still had relevance in the world of technology. ...

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Buffett's Berkshire Earns $3.1 Billion, War Chest at $40 Billion

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 17:46:36 EDT

(Berkshire Hathaway earnings results updated with performance data for subsidiaries) NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reported earnings of $3.1 billion in the second quarter, down from the year-ago period when the company earned $3.4 billion, though a "paper loss" in the value of derivative contracts is included in the financial results.

As a read on the U.S. economy, operating results improved in many of Berkshire's consumer-linked affiliates, as well as for most of its housing-related subsidiaries.

Based on Buffett's preferred metric of operating earnings, Berkshire's $3.7 billion in the second quarter was $1 billion above last year's same quarter results. The decline in the value of derivative contracts was over $1 billion. ...

Click to view a price quote on BRK-A.(image)

How Chesapeake Energy Can Be Saved (From Itself): Opinion

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 15:00:49 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Poor, misunderstood Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. He's really the victim, isn't he, in the current controversy over his fiefdom otherwise known as a publicly traded company owned by shareholders.

One thing is likely: No matter what anyone else thinks -- including some of the biggest pension funds in the world that would like to see the Chesapeake CEO put on a leash -- McClendon probably thinks he is the one being unfairly targeted. ...

Click to view a price quote on XOM.

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The Day Exxon Mobil Became a T-Bill

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 13:46:13 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It ain't easy being Exxon Mobil.

Whether it's the attacks from President Obama on Big Oil and its excessive profits, or the global warming lobby, it's tough for the biggest of the Big Oil companies to find any love among its gas guzzling public.

The stock market is supposed to be a different story, though. Sadly, it isn't. ...

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Chesapeake Energy Takes Its Head Out of the Sand

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 12:30:59 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Chesapeake Energy's board of directors has finally taken its head out of the sand.

The basis for the board's decision to not renew CEO Aubrey McClendon's controversial ownership interest in company wells (once its first ten-year term ends in 2015) and set to work now on negotiating an early termination can best be described this way. It's one part the directors trying to cover their butts, one part Chesapeake acknowledging (at least for a day) just how tone deaf it has been when it comes to criticism, and one part hope that the continued descent in its shares can be reversed and shareholder confidence restored.

It's not a coincidence that the company released the announcement on the same day that press reports indicated the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an informal investigation into Chesapeake's Founder Well Participation Program. It was also no coincidence that Chesapeake stressed in its press release today that the board had not reviewed McClendon's personal loans, a statement that the board seemingly included to counter what the company's general counsel said in a press release last week. ...

Click to view a price quote on CHK.

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Westport Innovations: This Is Where It Gets Interesting

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 06:59:35 EDT

(Westport Innovations story updated for latest Nasdaq short interest data)

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I want to say it's time to buy Westport Innovations, but that might be reckless advice given the seemingly limitless free fall in shares of the natural gas engine maker. What I will say is that it's at least time to put this stock back on your watch list, but don't expect more than to watch it fall even more than it has already.

I think it's all that can be said right now of Westport Innovations, as shares slipped below the $30 mark on Tuesday, for the first time since last December, a long ride down from above $50 mark the shares hit on March 21, and its 200-day moving average now a distant memory. ...

Click to view a price quote on WPRT.

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Chesapeake Energy: When Does the Stock Become a Buy?

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 13:26:03 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I'm not the biggest fan of crowd-sourcing as a means of reaching stock investing decisions, but I do think in the case of controversial U.S. oil and gas company Chesapeake Energy, it's worth putting the simply question to investors: Does this stock deserve a look after its recent slide?

Shares of Chesapeake are down 20% year-to-date, trading at a share price the company hasn't visited since the financial crisis. Sub-$2 natural gas is part of the story, but the company's balance sheet issues and the lightning rod represented by CEO Aubrey McClendon have also helped to push - and keep - shares in the penalty box.

The most categorical way to answer this question in the negative -- while still finding a basis for investment -- is to argue, as RealMoney columnist Dan Dicker did this week, that there are plenty of other natural gas stocks beaten down to bottom out share values because of the sub-$2 natural gas pricing environment that don't have the baggage of Chesapeake . ...

Click to view a price quote on CHK.

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What's Buffett Buddy Lou Simpson Doing on Chesapeake's Board?

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 13:53:56 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Phil Weiss, energy analyst at Argus Research, thought there was something not quite right with Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon when he spoke this week at an industry conference, the same day that Reuters reported on the $1.1 billion in personal loans that the outspoken and controversial CEO had taken out and linked to holdings in Chesapeake Energy wells.

"He is usually full of energy and talks about how great his company is, but when he was speaking on Wednesday, there were times that it seemed like he was mumbling. He did not sound like himself at all," Weiss said. "I've seen him live at conferences and at three analyst meetings and then on countless calls, and I've never heard him present like he did this week," Weiss said.

The "self" that Weiss refers to is the smooth-talking CEO, and that fits a red flag checklist put down on paper years ago by value investing giant Phil Fisher to help investors find companies best to avoid. In his book Common Stocks for Uncommon Profits, Fisher made the case that among the biggest red flags with stocks is a highly promotional management team. ...

Click to view a price quote on CHK.

Click to research the Energy industry.(image)

Energy Companies Are Exhibit A in Shareholder-Rights Battle

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 11:41:55 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Citigroup shareholders' "stinging rebuke" of CEO Vikram Pandit's $15 million pay this week is a skirmish in a potentially precedent-setting war that some of the biggest institutional investors will be waging at annual meetings.

New York City and California state pension funds, among others, are expecting support for proposals that allow shareholders with a 3% stake (held for at least three years) to nominate board directors.

Large shareholders have been waiting for this chance for years. Boards are famous for indulging management and playing into CEOs' interests. A lawsuit brought by the Chamber of Commerce and others that was resolved in late 2011 -- which challenged the Securities and Exchange Commission over its attempt to implement a similar proposal on a market-wide basis -- has opened the door to challenges targeting individual companies. ...

Click to view a price quote on NBR.

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GE Earnings: The Battle Between Margins and Financial Engineering

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 15:29:46 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- GE is one of those market behemoths that defies the idea that earnings is a needle-moving event.

Think Big Oil stocks like Exxon Mobil, or more generally big name stocks that tend to trade in a range for extended periods, and take longer to break out of those ranges than any one earnings report can accomplish, even if their meet, miss or beat of the bottom line gets plenty of headline attention.

When it comes to GE specifically, earnings is a battle between operating margins in the core industrial businesses, and the legacy of GE Capital. ...

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Buffett's Ultimate Vote of Confidence in Berkshire Hathaway

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 15:01:11 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Is there life after Warren Buffett for Berkshire Hathaway shareholders?

Sometimes the simplest, most easy to overlook answer to the most complex question can provide the most comfort to shareholders.

The existential crisis renewed this week by the revelation from Buffett that he has prostate cancer has brought concerns about his CEO succession plan back to the fore. ...

Click to view a price quote on BRK-B.(image)

Irreplaceable Warren Buffett Isn't Basis for Investing

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 17:05:56 EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett's revelation about his prostate cancer sent shares of Berkshire Hathaway down 1.3% on Wednesday, a deeper dip than the broad market but not exactly panic.

There's the deserved praise about Buffett's outsize role at Berkshire behind the share selling, and the market reaction gives some support to the most obvious case: He is irreplaceable.

Being irreplaceable, though, and all of the fears about succession and post-Buffett Berkshire Hathaway that come with it, does not preclude the stock from being a good trade. ...

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