The Nordic impact stocks had a difficult 2023 with share price declines across the board. Positive investments were few, but three stocks managed to deliver returns of more than 200%. Thus, 2023 was another dire year for the investors – no matter if they were investing in large caps or small caps. Things are, however, looking brighter for 2024 – both from a macro economy perspective and from a stock market perspective with valuations at an extremely low level.
All Nordic impact sectors delivered negative returns in 2023. CO2 & Carbon Capture sector weathered the storm with a drop of only 9% with 4 out of 6 companies in the sector delivering positive returns. On the other hand, the Power2X & Fuel Cells sector was particularly hard hit with a drop of 56%.
Rising interest rates and higher risk aversion have especially impacted companies in development phase (typically small caps) and companies with debt laden investment projects (typically large caps). Companies with existing businesses, low business risk and in markets with strong demand have had a much better year and they are among the best performing stocks. Hence, companies related to the biogas sector have in general performed well, while companies riding on a hype and exaggerated growth expectations have suffered, like companies within food & beverages and mobility, have given their investors a hard time.
Overview of the performance of each sector in 2023
With valuations having come down considerably we believe that there are interesting investment opportunities across the board. The Waste Management sector offers some low risk opportunities – especially the companies involved with proven technology and businesses – and the Power2X & Fuel Cells offer some high risk/high return possibilities.
The top 5 best-performing impact stocks in 2023
Not surprisingly the best investments of 2023 include companies associated with the biogas sector which is significantly impacted by the trend towards sustainable (and steady) energy and the move away from Russian gas import. We believe the biogas sector and the associated companies will have great opportunities in 2024 as well.
Investment companies offers a diversified investment and, if funding is secured, a relative low risk investment too. Two of the top five 2023 impact stock are renewable energy investment companies and that could also be the case for 2024. CO2 and carbon capture is still early stage technology and may thus high risk. The last top five impact stock is from this sector, but is active within the capture of NoX – a proven technology that, however, lacks widespread recognition from customers. The investors, however, may believe that the time has come, for the share price has gone up for the Danish small cap company Photocat in 2023.
Top five stocks by share price return in 2023
BPC Instruments (332%) (Nordnet) is a global Swedish-based technology company delivering technologies and services to biogas plants. The company offers analytical instruments enabling more efficient, reliable, and high-quality of research and analysis for industries in renewable bioenergy and environmental biotechnology. BPC focus on green technologies, renewable resources, and sustainability.
CAMBI ASA (265%) (Nordnet) is a developer of technological systems and processes that break down waste and sludge. The technology is mainly used for sewage treatment and for handling food waste, which is later broken down into biogas. The business is mostly run via production facilities around the Nordic domestic market.
EAM Solar (217%) (Nordnet) is an investment company that acquires, owns, and operates a number of photovoltaic systems. The company acquires solar power plants that are mainly already in operation on the European market. The business is conducted based on the subsidiaries, for example, EAM Solar Park Management, which takes care of the day-to-day operations of the business.
Mangora (58%) (Nordnet) invests in renewable energy solutions, such as wind and solar power. The company is active in the entire value chain, from the identification of investment opportunities to the complement phase. Magnora operates worldwide, with the largest presence in the Nordic market.
Photocat (52%) (Nordnet) develops and produces photocatalytic surface treatments to remove NOx. More specifically, their technology provides a cleaner air environment by reducing pollution in cities or other places where poor air quality threatens the population.
World-leading energy giant has blown far away from its all-time high, but is on its way back
Ørsted (Nordnet) develops, constructs, and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, renewable hydrogen and green fuels facilities, and bioenergy plants. With a commitment to combating climate change, Ørsted plays a crucial role in advancing the transition to a more sustainable and carbon-neutral future. The company’s dedication to innovation and environmental responsibility has positioned it as a key player in the global energy revolution. The company has a market cap. of DKK 154B and an enterprise value of DKK 200B. The firm currently has 15.7 GW of installed capacity, 5.3 GW under construction, and an additional 9.8 GW of awarded and contracted projects.
Ever since Ørsted changed its strategy in 2008 to focus on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, which was a bit of a gamble at that point, Ørsted has been the champion of the green transition with deep emphasis on wind energy. However, for the past few years, Ørsted has faced major issues with rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain issues, and halted US projects and impairment costs of 28.4 BNDKK. The share price hit 1400 DKK in 2021, while it is currently trading at 367 DKK corresponding to a 74% drawdown since the top. Interestingly, Ørsted has taken action to solve some of their issues including cancelling projects, and the interest rate also seems to be declining. The share price hit 252 DKK in November of 2023 but has since then made a 45% increase, and the worst issues might be behind them.
Going forward, Ørsted will invest DKK 475B ($68 billion) to achieve a 2030 goal to install 50 gigawatts (GW) of power capacity. Ørsted currently trades at a P/E of 16.8 and a EV/Revenue of 1.92 for 2024E and a P/E of 14.6 and EV/Revenue of 1.82 for 2025E. It might be time to buy the Ørsted stock with the worst issues behind them, a continued leadership position in the global market of renewable energy, positive momentum in share price, and a fair valuation. However, the company still has a lot to prove, but if they do so, they should be able to deliver compelling returns going forward.
The share price development of Ørsted in 2023 vs. Kapital Partner Nordic Growth Exchanges
The waste management sector, characterized by its essential and non-cyclical nature, often presents a stable investment opportunity with long-term potential, driven by increasing environmental awareness, regulatory demands, and the growing need for efficient waste disposal and recycling solutions. In 2023, Cambi ASA significantly outperformed the rest of the sector with a 265% increase.
Overview of the returns in 2023 for the stocks in the Waste Management sector
Energy Production Equipment & Services
The Energy Production Equipment & Services is providing technical equipment and machines to other energy producing companies. The sector includes industrial giants like Vestas and the sector’s customers include energy producers like Ørsted. The sector is to some extent influenced by oil and gas price fluctuations and industry trends, but also interest rates which has impacted the customers’ investments and the high inflation which has increased production prices significantly.
In 2023, BPC Instruments AB, delivering technologies and services to biogas plants, became the best-performing impact-stock with a 332% increase – the best performance of all the Nordic Impact stocks.
Overview of the returns in 2023 for the stocks in the Energy Production & Services Management sector
Power2X & Fuel Cells
The Power-to-X and Fuel Cells sector offers exciting investment opportunities in the evolving landscape of clean and sustainable energy technologies, but investors should also be mindful of the evolving regulatory and competitive landscape in this rapidly advancing field. None of the stocks delivered a positive return in 2023.
Overview of the returns in 2023 for the stocks in the Fuel Cells sector
Food & Beverages
The food and beverages sector is heavily driven by consumer demand and having strong brands is a major advantage. Investors should focus on considering factors such as changing consumer preferences, health and sustainability trends, and global supply chain dynamics to identify promising opportunities. In 2023, only the salmon farming company Nordic Aqua Partners AS and FMCG company Humble Group AB delivered positive returns.
Overview of the returns in 2023 for the stocks in the Food & Beverages sector
CO2 & Carbon Capture
The CO2 and Carbon Capture sector presents compelling investment opportunities for companies involved in capturing and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is a small sector consisting of only 6 stocks. Notably, 4 out of 6 stocks delivered positive returns in 2023.
Overview of the returns in 2023 for the stocks in the CO2 & Carbon Capture sector
The mobility sector includes among others ride-sharing platforms and the development of electric vehicles with the purpose of lowering emissions and costs for consumers while increasing flexibility. Mobility is the smallest sector we track with totalling five stocks. None of the companies delivered a positive return in 2023, with the producer of the electric vehicle Zbee, Clean Motion, being the best performing stock.
Overview of the returns in 2023 for the stocks in the Mobility sector