Small Talk: Clipper struggles as investors put returns above good intentions

Green energy is a great idea. The problem for both those trying to produce it, and other businesses serving the nascent industry, is that investors will not support a company simply because it is doing the world a favour.

The analysts pore over the green group's results and market updates in exactly the same way as any other and if there is any sign of weakness, sell notes are sure to follow. Take Clipper Windpower, the AIM-listed company that makes turbines for windmills.

Clipper's share price has fallen by 85 per cent in the last 12 months as analysts have suspected that for various reasons there are better ways for investors to make returns.

In its trading statement at the end of last week, Clipper said: "The current economic and credit conditions in global markets, coupled with lower energy prices, are resulting in reduced capital expenditures by the company's customers and delays in the timing of turbine deliveries. Accordingly, Clipper is planning approximately 15 per cent to 20 per cent lower production levels for 2009." A loss is now expected for the second half of 2008.

The group produces a vital service for the protection of the environment. While it is true to say that Clipper is itself motivated by profit, the fact that investors are getting as far away from AIM as possible is undoubtedly having a knock-on effect on green energy development.

Armor has sights on death-ray defence

It may sound like comic-book science fiction, but plans are afoot for the military use of a death-ray laser that will be able to zap an enemy to dust from several miles away.

While it may take time for the technology to be used in anger, it has already been developed by the US aerospace giant Boeing, which has fitted such a weapon to a C-130 Hercules military cargo plane, calling its cannon the Advanced Tactical Laser. The laser can be fired up to 20km and would employ 100 kilowatts of energy.

Thankfully, Armor Designs, the US-based AIM-listed defence group, reckons it will eventually develop the means to protect those targeted by the laser. It went into production earlier this year, making personal armour designed to protect the police and soldiers caught in gun battles. It has so far targeted police forces in Latin America tackling armed drugs gangs. The next stage will be to produce vehicle armour for protection against improvised explosive devices in the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan.

But executive chairman James St Ville, the scientific brains behind the operation, reckons Armor has the technology to develop a shield that protects against the effects of the laser. Armor's stock is up 10 per cent on a year ago.

Number of companies leaving AIM rises amid economic woe

AIM, the market that allows everyone to make money in the good times, is starting to struggle to keep its allure. Very few small-cap companies are able to raise any money, either through initial public offerings (IPOs), or through secondary fund raising, as investors fret about putting their cash into anything that is not a secure large-cap business with clear revenues.

According to a survey by the accountancy group Baker Tilly and the law firm Faegre & Benson, 67 per cent of institutional investors think that it will take at least another year for the market to recover.

There can be very little point in small but ambitious privately owned groups listing on AIM, given the costs involved and the lack of money available. There is little liquidity and almost the entire market is trading down.

On Thursday and Friday last week alone, at least six companies ceased trading on the market, and while that may be a drop in the ocean compared to the overall list of companies on AIM, the number leaving the market is steadily on the up.

A spokesman for the London Stock Exchange, which runs AIM, said: "Current economic conditions are tough for every equity market, and, because AIM is a growth market, perhaps it is more adversely affected. We do get a bit frustrated, however. When a big company like Woolworths struggles, it is down to the company, but when it is a small company, it is because of AIM."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)