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Nuclear Energy Investing
The Energy and Capital editors take a look at nuclear energy stocks and offer two ways to play the nuclear revival.

Note: Parts of this article originally appeared in Wealth Daily. We felt it was important to share this nuclear energy article with you. It's from Wealth Advisory's Steve Christ. Enjoy.


In the U.S., no new nuclear power plants have been built in 30 years. But that could all change under a McCain presidency (I'm not backing either candidate in this article. I'm simply presenting what has been said for this article's purposes.).

McCain has already called for the construction of 45 nuclear plants by 2030, and said that his goal was 100 new nuclear plants.

And if it's not nuclear energy dependency, we desperately need a new source, as electricity demand in the U.S. alone is expected to grow 40% by 2030. We already know too well the "pocketbook" pains of $4 oil, $13 natural gas and exploding electric bills.

Here's more from Wealth Advisory's Steve Christ.

"Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admit that John McCain is the best friend that the U.S. nuclear power industry has these days.

In fact, the entire industry had to have been practically bowled over with glee recently when he called for a crash program to build 45 new reactors by 2030 along with a long-term goal of building 100 such plants.

It was enough to make the "no-nukes" crowd wince. Meanwhile, holders of nuclear energy stocks applauded.

But McCain's love of nuclear power isn't just some newfound crush in the wake of $4 a gallon gasoline. McCain has always been aglow about nuclear power.

Maybe it was all of that time he spent in the Navy aboard ships that never had to be refueled. Or maybe it is just because he recognizes that there is no realistic solution to our energy problem that doesn't include nuclear power - especially when you factor in the possibility that cap and trade could become reality.

Either way, McCain has put the U.S. nuclear industry back on the front page again. And this time, the public seems to agree with him.

The Nuclear Revival: Paving the Way for Nuclear Energy Stocks

In fact, according to a recent poll by Zogby, about 67 percent of Americans support building more nuclear power plants to expand the nation's energy portfolio.

Those figures represent a stunning reversal of fate for an industry that was dead and buried only a few years ago.

Even Barack Obama has joined in, saying that while nuclear power was "not a panacea", it is worth investigating its further development.

So in true campaign style, he's all for nuclear power, except of course when he's against it. Go figure.

Now before any of you political junkie types decide to send me some nasty email about what I have said so far, don't even bother. I don't have a horse in this race. My political idealism was crushed a long time ago under a mountain of broken promises.

To me government is nothing but a giant and corrupt black hole. In it, light doesn't stand a chance.

Even still, putting your political viewpoint aside, it would be hard to argue that nuclear power doesn't have a certain amount of inertia going for it these days.

The shadow of those cooling towers has definitely dimmed and thirty years later nuclear power in the U.S. is back. And in the wake of Three Mile Island, the U.S. is now playing catch up with the rest of the world where nuclear power never left.

Of course, that is something of a larger theme here lately. While the rest of the world has been doing everything in their power to find and develop more energy sources, we have done nothing but twiddle our thumbs.

So here we sit, in an economy pushed to the brink by high energy prices and inaction. And if you want to know why I'm so cynical about politicians that's part of it-they do absolutely nothing until there is a crisis.

As a result, no nuclear power plants have been built in America in more than 30 years, and few U.S. companies have invested in the technology to build new plants. That's true even though the U.S. draws about 20% of its electricity from 104 working commercial reactors.

High Energy Prices Add Up to More Nuclear Power

Now I admit part of the reason for this has been economic. Twenty years of cheap oil and natural gas has certainly played a role. But those days are over now, leaving only the fear of nuclear power to conquer to complete the comeback.

Now consider this the next time you open up your power bill...

The US Department of Energy reports nuclear power costs 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour (including operations and maintenance costs). Now compare that to:

  • Coal at 2.37 cents per kilowatt-hour;
  • Natural gas at 6.75 cents per kilowatt-hour; and
  • Oil at 9.63 cents per kilowatt-hour

That's part of the economic math that has seventeen companies preparing license applications for as many as 31 new reactors. That's in addition to the 15 construction and operating permits already under review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In fact, four to eight new nuclear plants are on track to be in operation by 2016-17.

Of course that doesn't exactly match the 112 new nuclear reactors that were built between 1957 and 1990, but it is a start. Moreover, it is a far cry from the 124 reactors that were cancelled partially as a result of Three Mile Island.

So clearly the tide on this issue is turning.

2 Ways to Win with the Nuclear Energy Stocks

For investors that means a following a growth trend that is already firmly in place in the rest of the developing world. All told, about over 30 new reactors are under construction in 12 countries with over 100 new plants currently being pursued.

Here are two easy ways to play the trend by buying shares of these two exchange traded funds:

  • Market Vectors-Nuclear Energy ETF (AMEX:NLR)-This fund is down off of its uranium based highs in 2007. But with uranium prices now projected to go as high as $90 a pound this heavily materials weighted EFT is rising.
  • PowerShares Global Nuclear Energy (NYSE:PKN) - A relative new fund, PKN allocates 47% to industrials, 24% utilities, 15% to mining along with an almost 10% weight to technology. That makes this less susceptible to uranium prices than NLR, which devotes 33% of its holdings to mining.

But no matter how you decide to invest in this trend, I think its pretty obvious that the nuclear renaissance has begun-no matter who wins the election."

For more information on Steve Christ and the Wealth Advisory, click here.

Good Investing,

Ian L. Cooper
http://www.energyandcapital.com

 

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In case you missed our other investment opportunity highlights, here's what we covered in Wealth Daily, Gold World, Energy and Capital, and your free blogs for the week of June 30, 2008.

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