The Challenge of 2006: No Mega-Garage in the Park

The biggest story of 2005 in Walnut Creek, according to CC Times regulars, was our underdog campaign to stop the commercialization of downtown’s Civic Park. … New rumblings out of City Hall appear to be on the right track – a new library plan must scale back or eliminate the garage structure. We’ll be ready to resume the fight in 2006 if that changes. … Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year! …

Investing lessons from 2005

Well, with the markets closed and the S&P 500 up just 3 percent for the year, I’m happy to say my personal investments posted just shy of a 9 percent gain for 2005. In my self-directed account, I ended the year with shares in the powerful mutual fund Perritt Micro Cap Opportunities (PRCGX, closed to new investors as of this fall), and the individual stocks Citigroup (C) and the British bank Lloyds TSB (LYG). … The biggest lesson was: Stop the excessive trading – by which I mean jumping out of a stock after less than a year – and never pay transaction fees for a mutual fund. Just a few trades this year cost me more than 4 percent. Another thing I learned was that picking a good stock yourself is a lot more fun that watching the small moves of a mutual fund. With the high dividends and value of both Citigroup and Lloyds, I’ll be happy to have them in my portfolio for years to come. …

Looking at one analyst’s picks for 2006

Bloomberg News columnist John Dorfman, president of Dorfman Investments in Boston, is out with his top stock picks for the New Year. Since his 2005 picks have pulled in a 13 percent return and the new crop includes some nice dividend yields, let’s take a look at a couple of Dorfman’s favorites that meet up with some of the EnviroInvestors criteria: Devon Energy (DVN), an oil and gas titan, is giving back to the environment by recycling water from natural gas wells for habitat creation, and spent $2 million to build an island for whooping cranes using dredged material from a canal in Mesquite Bay. Dorfman likes its sky-high growth since 2001 and thinks there’s still room for more with Devon trading at 11 times earnings. Analysts have a strong-forward outlook for Devon, predicting forward P/E of just seven times earnings. Devon also pays a small .30 dividend. … Though Dorfman’s list includes plenty of stocks we can’t second, Schnitzer Steel Industries (SCHN) (including the Pick N Pull chain of auto wrecking yards) is also worth a look, especially if like us you’re one of those investors who enjoys the idea of buying a company that once sold you that still-pristine used radiator for your 1989 K-car. The recycling firm trades at just seven times earnings, with a small dividend to boot. …

Sustainability in action: Interface Inc.

As well as trumpeting newsworthy events on the corporate sustainability front, it’s important to recognize the leaders in the field. Floor-covering firm Interface (IFSIA) and its founder, Roy Anderson, have been pushing the envelope for a decade. Read about Interface’s mission here and here. … Interface is one of the firms proving that sustainability is good business. Despite some bumps, its small cap stock is currently trading around $8 a share with a one-year target of $12, a forward looking P/E of $14.64 and a strong buy rating from analysts. …

Brambles’ CHEP praised; Alcoa’s got an admirer

BusinessWire is reporting on CHEP’s award from the Logistics Association of Australia for environmental excellence in its returnable package associated with production of GM Holden’s HFV6 engine. … CHEP is a subsidiary of Brambles (BI.L), which trades on the London Stock Exchange. … “This was very much a joint venture project with Holden, from concept to delivery, and the credit needs to be shared equally with our partners. By working closely with Holden, we set out to develop a packaging solution that not only met the project’s environmental and operational objectives, but also added value at every step in the supply chain,” said Gill Valadon, CHEP’s business development manager. … BusinessWire is also reporting that Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) Environmental, Health and Safety unit recently invited Alcoa Fastening Systems (AA) to provide a briefing on Alcoa’s sucesses. … Alcoa, a leader in sustainability and green business, is trading around $29 with a .60 dividend. …

New buy: High-dividend Lloyds TSB

As with most investors, I’m a sucker for trading. Without much cash for new buys, that means I end up dumping one holding for the new. In September, I dropped a low-performing mutual fund for Citigroup (C). That one has paid off so far. … One of my favorite sources of information – from buying cars to picking stocks – is Motley Fool. A free Fool e-mail this week recommended Lloyds TSB (LYG), pointing out, among other tips, that Lloyds currently boasts a 7.4 percent dividend. Lloyds’ dividend has grown steady over the four years it’s traded on the Big Board. So, I dumped a second slow performing fund and bought Lloyds for a long-term hold. … Citigroup’s environmental platform is here, and here’s Lloyds (pdf). Citi is a world-mover on the microfinance and sustainability front, while the much smaller Lloyds focuses on reducing its own corporate drain on natural resources. …

Novelis: Strong buy for the sustainability focused investor

Novelis Inc. (NVL), a spinoff of Canada’s Alcan Inc. (AL.TO) trading on the NYSE since January 2005, is showing strong buy signals for the sustainability focused investory. Novelis is trading near its low for the year with a 0.36 dividend for a 2.10 percent yield. Last week, Novelis’ Brazil facility won the government’s “Top Gold Award” for health, safety and environment. PR Newswire is reporting the three-area award as a first for any company in Brazil. … Novelis specializes in rolled aluminum products and aluminum can recycling, operates in 11 countries and has more than 13,000 employees. Its management system includes a program of 45 global environment, health and safety guidelines. … “Excellence in [environment, health and safety] is directly related to our operation performance in areas such as quality and delivery,” said Tadeu Nardocci, president of Novelis Brazil. “It is central to our overall discipline in operations and our dedication to continuous improvement. We are extremely proud to win this award.” …