A wild ride for solar

Solar stocks took a big hit on July 15 when reports came out that Manchin wouldn’t support the package.

On that day, First Solar plunged 8.1%, Sunrun dropped 6.4%, Sunnova Energy International fell 5.0%, while SunPower was down 3.4%. The Invesco Solar ETF (TAN) tumbled as much as 7% at one point before ending the session with a 2% loss.

But with Manchin’s reversal, sentiment has completely changed.

As of Thursday morning, First Solar climbed 14%, Sunrun jumped 19%, Sunnova Energy International surged 23%, while SunPower edged up 12%. It looks like a huge victory for the sector as the Invesco Solar ETF rose 5%.

“The entire clean energy industry just breathed an enormous sigh of relief,” said Heather Zichal, CEO of American Clean Power, a trade association that represents solar and wind energy companies. “This is an 11th hour reprieve for climate action and clean energy jobs, and America’s biggest legislative moment for climate and energy policy.”

Despite Thursday morning’s surge, however, Sunrun, Sunnova Energy International and Sunpower are still down year to date.

For those who don’t want to pick individual winners and losers, ETFs like TAN, the First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF (FAN), and the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN) could provide a good starting point for further research.

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Is coal dead now?

Climate advocates point out that Manchin has longtime ties to the coal industry.

Manchin helped found coal brokerage firm Enersystems, Inc. in 1988. And according to CNN, he had a between $1 million and $5 million stake in the company in 2021.

CNN further notes that financial disclosures show Manchin making over $536,000 from his share in Enersystems last year. To put that in perspective, his Senate salary was $174,000. To be sure, coal is no longer making headlines in the investing world. In fact, the only coal-focused ETF — the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (KOL) — stopped trading in December 2020.

But the industry is far from dead.

Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP), a diversified producer and marketer of steam coal to major U.S. utilities and industrial users, recently raised its cash distribution to investors by 40%. The stock is also up 68% year to date, in stark contrast to the broad market’s double-digit decline.

Another example is Peabody Energy (BTU), a coal producer headquartered in St. Louis. The company’s products are essential for electricity generation and steelmaking. Its shares are up 94% in 2022.

Manchin’s surprise deal, however, did shock coal stocks a bit. Alliance Resources Partners is down 2.4% on Thursday morning, while Peabody Energy slipped 3.6%.

Fine art as an investment

Stocks can be volatile, cryptos make big swings to either side, and even gold is not immune to the market’s ups and downs.

That’s why if you are looking for the ultimate hedge, it could be worthwhile to check out a real, but overlooked asset: fine art.

Contemporary artwork has outperformed the S&P 500 by a commanding 174% over the past 25 years, according to the Citi Global Art Market chart.

And it’s becoming a popular way to diversify because it’s a real physical asset with little correlation to the stock market.

On a scale of -1 to +1, with 0 representing no link at all, Citi found the correlation between contemporary art and the S&P 500 was just 0.12 during the past 25 years.

Earlier this year, Bank of America investment chief Michael Harnett singled out artwork as a sharp way to outperform over the next decade — due largely to the asset’s track record as an inflation hedge.

Investing in art by the likes of Banksy and Andy Warhol used to be an option only for the ultrarich. But with a new investing platform, you can invest in iconic artworks just like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates do.

About the Author

Jing Pan

Jing Pan

Investment Reporter

Jing is an investment reporter for MoneyWise. Prior to joining the team, he was a research analyst and editor at one of the leading financial publishing companies in North America. An avid advocate of investing for passive income, he wrote a monthly dividend stock newsletter for the better half of the past decade. Jing holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree, both from the University of Toronto.

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