Abgenoa: A “Yieldco” in Solar

11/04/2014 10:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

We are quite bullish on renewable energy, particularly solar power. Over the last four years, American solar energy capacity has grown 418%. Yes, that is pretty incredible growth, explains Briton Ryle, editor of The Wealth Advisory.

But still, the US gets just about 1% of its power from solar. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that residential deployment of solar panels is on pace to grow 38% in 2014. Total installations are up 79% over last year.

Much of the reason for the quickening pace of deployment is cost. The per-watt cost of solar has plummeted from $76 in 1977 to less than $0.36 today.

Solar power is coming; the stars are aligned right now. And as it happens, there is a new business model for solar power companies that cuts out much of the risk and adds solid income for the dividend investor.

Like a royalty trust pays—where most of its cash flow is paid out as dividends—companies in the renewable world have spun off “yieldcos,” fancy talk for “yield company.”

The yieldco buys the installation from the parent company, providing the parent company with cash to fund new developments. The yieldco, in turn, acquires a steady stream of income from the installation, which it will use to pay dividends and fund other purchases.

There are several yieldcos trading on the market right now. Our favorite is UK-based Abengoa Yield (ABY), which was spun off from Spain’s Abengoa SA (ABGB) on June 13, 2014.

It sold 25 million shares and raised $721 million at the IPO. At its IPO, Abengoa Yield owned 11 power generation assets, all of which were built by the parent company, Abengoa SA.

It has 710 MW of renewable energy generation, 300 MW of conventional power generation, and 1,018 miles of electric transmission lines. Of these assets, 68% are in North America and 71% are renewable energy, mostly solar.

Abengoa Yield has a “right of first refusal” deal with its parent company. That is, it gets the first shot at buying any new power generation assets that the parent company wants to sell. This is significant as there is a lot of competition for power generation with signed distribution agreements.

Abengoa’s power generation assets all come with signed 20- to 30-year distribution agreements. That means regular income is virtually guaranteed.

That’s why Abengoa Yield revenue jumped from $88 million in the first half of 2013 to $169 million in the first half of 2014.

Abengoa Yield will pay out 90% of profits as a dividend. Right now, that works out to $1.04 a share annually. But that dividend will rise in the coming years.

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