What Is Important in the Financial World (4/17/2013)

Yahoo_LogoShrinking Green Energy Sector

The race to replace fossil fuels with "green" energy slowed last year. As the industry struggled, China took the lead among nations with green energy investments. It is not much of a prize, as the many countries have decided the environment is not as important as the economy. A study by Pew that covered the green energy sector in 2012 showed:

Although 2012 investment levels worldwide declined 11 percent, to $269 billion, the clean energy sector weathered the withdrawal of priority incentives and initiatives offered by governments in numerous key markets, demonstrating its resilience. Reliable clean energy investment data have been collected for nine years now. Looking at the data in three-year increments, average clean energy investment increased by at least $90 billion triennially - from an average of $64 billion in the 2004-06 period to an average of $156 billion in 2007-09 and $245 billion in 2010-12.

In other words, things got better in the industry, even though they got worse. Among the major categories of clean energy - wind, small hydro, biomas, solar, geothermal and marine - China's investment was well ahead of the next two nations - the United States and Germany. China's investment was $65.1 billion, the U.S.'s was $35.6 billion and Germany's $22.8 billion. With the rise of shale oil and gas, "green" may continue to shrink for years to come.

Microsoft Strikes Patent Deal

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) continues to claim that Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android uses some of its patents. The world's largest software company has used this leverage to get companies that use Android to sign licenses with it to protect them from legal action. Microsoft got a big win in this ongoing effort, cutting a deal with the owner of Foxconn, one of the primary manufacturers for several smartphone firms, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). Microsoft said of the patent deal:

Microsoft Corp. and Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn, signed a worldwide patent licensing agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for devices running the Android and Chrome OS, including smartphones, tablets and televisions. While the contents of the agreement are confidential, the parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from Hon Hai under the agreement. Hon Hai joins a growing list of contract manufacturing and original design manufacturing companies with Android and Chrome patent licenses.

Toyota Global Hybrid Sales

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) posted worldwide sales data for the period that ended on March 31, including sales of hybrids, which many analysts believe is the future of the industry. The Japanese car company said of its global hybrid sales:

[C]umulative global sales of its hybrid vehicles topped the 5 million unit mark as of March 31, 2013, reaching 5.125 million units.

Positioning response to environmental issues as a management priority and based on its belief that environment-friendly vehicles can only truly have a positive impact if they are used widely, TMC has endeavored to promote the mass-market adoption of hybrid vehicles.

Last year, hybrid vehicles accounted for 14 percent of TMC's global vehicle sales and 40 percent of its vehicle sales in Japan. As of this month, TMC sells 19 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in approximately 80 countries and regions around the world, and between now and December 2015, TMC will launch a total of 18 new hybrid vehicles worldwide and is committed to augmenting its product.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AAPL, GOOG, MSFT, TM
Read Full Story