As fossil fuel prices power higher due to pandemic reopening, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and insufficient investment in production capacity over recent years, organizations are increasingly turning toward infrastructure updates focused on sustainability.
The market for green buildings was worth $238.91 billion in 2021 and is projected to be worth over $383 billion by 2030 (1). This demand growth has implications for investors seeking green or ESG opportunities for portfolio inclusion.
In fact, that last dynamic is one of the most decisive in our estimation: businesses – especially publicly traded ones – are forever locked in a competition for capital. The ESG movement has drawn new lines on the game board over the past decade, raising the bar above simply “generating strong returns on invested capital” to include, among other things, “creating a more ecologically sustainable world.” (2)
But the infrastructure we already have in place is, in most cases, not well aligned with that principle. Businesses operating facilities designed and built 20, 30, or 50 years ago need to invest in major construction projects to bring themselves into alignment with investors seeking to direct capital toward sustainable enterprises.
The RE100 (www.there100.org) is a group of more than 360 companies worth more than $2.75 trillion in revenues that have pledged to fully transition to renewable energy. Starbucks Corp. (Nasdaq:SBUX) is one of many participants in the group that has already achieved this milestone, along with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT), Clif Bar & Company, and SAP (3).
In addition, the World Green Building Council reports that many recent changes to the economic and regulatory landscape have begun to drive a historic trend toward rising demand for green construction (4).
Therein lies one of the most interesting opportunities around for investors targeting growth over the coming decade: Green Infrastructure. With that in mind, we take a look below at some of the most interesting stories in the Green Infrastructure space.
LSB Industries Inc. (NYSE:LXU) engages in manufacturing, marketing, and sale of chemical products for the agricultural, mining, and industrial markets.
The company also owns and operates facilities in El Dorado, Arkansas (El Dorado Facility), Cherokee, Alabama (Cherokee Facility), and Pryor, Oklahoma (Pryor Facility), as well as facility for Covestro AG (Covestro) in Baytown, Texas (Baytown Facility).
LSB Industries Inc. (NYSE:LXU) recently announced that it entered into an agreement with Lapis Energy to develop a project to capture and permanently sequester CO2 at LSB’s El Dorado, Arkansas facility.
Lapis, backed by Cresta Fund Management, a Dallas-based middle-market infrastructure investment firm, will make 100% of the capital investment required for the project development. The project will commence immediately, with expected completion by 2025, subject to the approval of a Class VI permit, at which time CO2 injections will begin. This is the first carbon capture and sequestration project announced in the state of Arkansas and the third CCS project from ammonia production in the U.S.
“We are very excited to partner with Lapis and take our first step to becoming a supplier of low carbon or ‘Blue Ammonia’ — allowing us to participate in what we believe will become a large future market,” stated Mark Behrman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of LSB Industries. “This project is very compelling for us from both environmental and commercial perspectives. Carbon sequestration is a proven means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ammonia production and our El Dorado facility is uniquely located above deep geological formations with the capacity to sequester decades of CO2 production from the plant. Our customers, particularly our industrial customers, need solutions to help them decarbonize their supply chains and low carbon feedstocks represent an attractive opportunity to accomplish this goal in the near-term, while technologies for more sustainable no carbon or ‘Green Ammonia’ production continue to become economical.” (5)
Even in light of this news, LXU has had a rough past week of trading action, with shares sinking something like -21% in that time. That said, chart support is nearby, and we may be in the process of constructing a nice setup for some movement back the other way.
LSB Industries Inc. (NYSE:LXU) managed to rope in revenues totaling $190.2M in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 114%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company is battling some balance sheet hurdles, with cash levels struggling to keep up with current liabilities ($82.1M against $104.9M, respectively). (6)
Eco Innovation Group (OTC US:ECOX) is what you might call an “upstart” on this list. It’s an OTC name. It has a tiny market cap. It’s much earlier stage than any other names covered here. And all of that should be taken into account as you consider the company.
But it does have an interesting model moving into commercial-stage operations. The company is actively nurturing the work of top inventors in the US and Canada, helping to bring their best green-tech ideas to life and then signing exclusive licensing deals to commercialize the results. Company communications suggest it will be launching some of its pipeline projects this year (7). One of the most interesting has potentially profound implications for the cannabis industry. But, for our purposes today, its ECOX Spruce Construction subsidiary is the relevant point.
Eco Innovation Group (OTC US:ECOX) announced just this morning that its ECOX Spruce Construction subsidiary has been issued an official General Contractor’s License by the State of California (License no. 1091210). The license was issued on Friday, May 6, 2022. As previously communicated, ECOX Spruce Construction plans to focus primarily on Green Infrastructure projects.
“Obtaining a GC License is the initial step for our ECOX Spruce Construction subsidiary formed early this year, and it will allow us to expand operations in the rapidly growing Green Infrastructure space,” stated Julia Otey-Raudes, CEO of Eco Innovation Group. “Our focus on ecologically sustainable infrastructure is core to the ECOX business. Large chains such as Starbucks, for example, are actively building out locations in California to be resource positive, using solar infrastructure, additional efficiencies, and reclaimed wood construction. A growing number of major organizations are moving in the same direction.”
According to the company’s release, ECOX expects the trend toward ecologically sustainable construction to accelerate as fossil fuel prices soar and the ESG movement continues to put pressure from a financial direction on companies to transition to more sustainable infrastructure models.
ECOX Spruce Construction, Inc., was founded as a California corporation in January 2022. It is ECOX’s second green construction subsidiary, following the 2021 establishment of the Company’s Canadian construction company, Spruce Engineering and Construction of Alberta.
Eco Innovation Group (OTC US:ECOX) CEO Otey-Raudes added, “We believe the trend toward green construction is only in its very early innings and has the potential to become one of the most powerful growth opportunities over coming years for the application of new capital and resources. Now that we have our GC License in California, we can aggressively attack this market opportunity with the objective of becoming one of its true leaders in the decade ahead.”
Johnson Controls International PLC (NYSE:JCI) bills itself as a company that engages in the provision of building products, energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems.
The company’s technology and service capabilities include fire, security, HVAC, power solutions and energy storage to serve various end markets including large institutions, commercial buildings, retail, industrial, small business and residential.
Johnson Controls International PLC (NYSE:JCI) recently announced that the company will share insights from a recent global sustainability study highlighting business investment priorities to achieve net zero goals during a webinar featuring Forrester on May 17, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. CT. (8)
The panel includes guest speaker Michele Pelino, principal analyst, from Forrester and Katie McGinty, vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer, Johnson Controls. The session will be moderated by Phil Clement, chief marketing officer, Johnson Controls. Together they will discuss the study results and provide guidance to help commercial, industrial and institutional leaders achieve their sustainability goals.
“Business leaders see sustainability as top-tier business priority. We’re excited for this conversation in which we will share how leaders can increase investment in sustainability initiatives to improve business efficiency, drive resilience and security in their operations — all while addressing urgent climate challenges,” said McGinty. “We see a clear trend of customer demand for unique service and partnership models like our innovative OpenBlue technologies and comprehensive solution suites such as Net Zero Buildings as a Service partnership offerings. These solutions allow them to focus on their core business while we drive customized, scalable steps for planning, execution, financing and reporting for their sustainability journeys.”
Recent action has seen a bit more than -20% tacked on to share pricing for the company in the past week, but this action is running counter to the larger trend in the name. That said, JCI has evidenced sudden upward volatility on many prior occasions. In addition, the company has benefitted from a jump in recent trading volume to the tune of 110% above its longer-run average levels.
Johnson Controls International PLC (NYSE:JCI) has a significant war chest ($1.8B) of cash on the books, which must be weighed relative to about $11.7B in total current liabilities. One should also note that debt has been growing over recent quarters. JCI is pulling in trailing 12-month revenues of $24.7B. In addition, the company is seeing major top-line growth, with y/y quarterly revenues growing at 9%. (9)
Other key players in the Green Infrastructure space include Honeywell International Inc. (Nasdaq:HON) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP).
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